Sunday, December 9, 2012

Something Fun

Yesterday Dec 8th was ‘Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day’ I discovered this just a little too late to participate. Maybe I can pretend I came here from yesterday.

Of course donning outlandish costumes is not really my thing. If I were to celebrate this holiday, I like the suggestion of dressing like you came from the terminator world. This calls for wearing lots of torn black clothes, beat-up armor and cool sunglasses.

I guess I will have to mark the calendar for next year.

What type of time traveler would you pretend to be?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Longest Trek

Book signings are always fun, and next Saturday November 10th I’m making my longest trek to date to promote Shepherd’s Fall. I will join Larry Kerr author of By the Light of the Moon at Eljay’s Books in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 2pm.

So join us if you are in the area.

Larry was born and grew up in western Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lock Haven University and attended graduate school at Penn State. He worked various jobs before beginning his newspaper career.

Larry was a reporter/photographer at two small newspapers in western Pennsylvania prior to taking a position as a copy editor at a newspaper in south central Pennsylvania. He held that job for nearly ten years until moving into web programming. He now works for an agency that serves the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Always interested in fiction, Larry began writing in earnest in 2004. His first novel, By the Light of the Moon, was published in March 2011. His second novel, which is historical fiction and set in the Civil War, came out in September 2012.

In addition to his first novel, several of Larry’s short stories have been published and he won honorable mentions in two local short story contests.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mutated Memories

I live in my head.

It’s a scary thought, probably more terrifying than most of the tales I write, but it is an undeniable truth. As a fiction writer and a programmer, I spend a great portion of my time wrapped up in thought. I wonder how much of my real life, I miss because my mind is somewhere else. My wife Diane sometimes notices and says, “You have that look again, you're off writing in your head.”  She knows me so well.

When I look back over my life, which I don’t spend a lot of time doing for the most part, there are all kinds of milestones: graduations, weddings, funerals, and all the day-to-day moments. But there is another long list of memories that never really occurred: the night Will Shepherd discovered the tombstones on the hill above his house, or the day Jay Watson found the headless corpse moments before the police arrived, or Bruce Kane’s battle with the black onyx gargoyle.

I say it is scary, because these are the memories I write down, the stories I create, and if I’m at all lucky, the memories I will leave behind. What is disturbing is that sometimes these tales seem more real than the actual moments in my life that inspire them. Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t had a mental break with reality, at least no more than most writers, but memory is a fickle thing.

I’m working on a new novel, and part of it takes place in a college much like my alma mater. I’m a little unnerved because the fiction I’m writing seems to be replacing the actual history. Sometimes later when I go back and read the manuscript, I have to think for a moment if that scene is actually the real moments or the fictionalized version.

Of course, all the supernatural elements, the murders and mayhem are fiction, but it is the settings and some of the small details of daily life that seemed to shift back and forth. The names of places etc.
Well at least most of the supernatural stuff is fiction.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Spookiest Fun Place on Earth

It's a week later and I’m still feeling the afterglow of last weekend at Horrorfind. I’ve always loved scary movies, monster makeup, costumes and Halloween. That probably has a lot to do with
why I write paranormal suspense. Horrorfind embodies all things scary, and 2012 was no exception.

  I have attended this convention in the past, but never from behind a vendor table. So this year selling and signing Shepherd’s Fall, gave me a whole new appreciation for all the effort that goes
into the event.

 There were so many booths and displays of cool horror and Halloween memorabilia, and lots of celebrities from some of my favorite horror movies. Where else would I get a chance to have a
conversation with actor Ray Wise, who stopped by my booth and said hello?

 It was a nonstop weekend, and I met so many nice people. The crew from the movie HOGMAUL were a lot of fun, and I look forward to their upcoming film.

 Of course I met a lot of other authors over the course of the weekend who were also selling and signing their work. It is always fun meeting folks who share the passion for telling stories.

Caroline Cooper and Me in front of our tables at Horrorfind
 It is almost certain I will forget someone, so I won’t try to name them all, but I have to give a special shout-out to Caroline Cooper and Sean Adkins who were also first time authors at
Horrorfind and I look forward to reading their work. Caroline wrote The Sun Village Project, and Sean penned Wolfen Bloodlines.

 For me the highlight of the weekend occurred when the producer of Paranormal Xpeditions invited Diane and me along to the filming of one of their upcoming episodes at haunted Ghosts of Gettysburg Walking Tours® Headquarters-where disembodied voices have been recorded and a child has been spotted…a century after his death.

Me, Tina Storer and Diane at our booth at Horrofind

 If you read my blog then you know I write about other people’s ghost stories, well after last weekend, I guess I will be able to write my own account of some paranormal activity, watch for that
in future posts.

 Diane and I had a lot of fun filming the program with the group of guests from the convention at Mark Nesbitt’s headquarters for his Ghosts of Gettysburg Walking Tours® Headquarters. Mark gave us a guided tour of his building where lots of paranormal activity has occurred in the past.

Tina Storer interviewing me about Shepherd's Fall for
an upcomming episode of Paranormal Xpeditions.

Rachel Hoffman, and Tina Storer did an outstanding job as hosts leading us through the investigation. Even though I’m kinda a chicken when it comes to things that go bump in the night it was a cool experience, and some strange stuff occurred that I couldn’t explain away.  I look forward to seeing the upcoming episode and will let you know when and where it airs.

 I have to say that while Horrorfind may be the spookiest show on earth, it was also a friendly, fun weekend. If you like Halloween, horror or suspense literature, and scary movies than I
recommend you check out future Horrorfind conventions and definately take one of the Ghosts of Gettysburg Walking Tours®.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seeing Is Not Always Believing

As I get ready to leave for Gettysburg for the 2012 Horrorfind Convention, I’m reminded of this ghost story. I have to admit out of all the stories I’ve been told since I started writing paranormal suspense novels, this is one of the strangest.

Even before I start to relate the tale, I have to disclose that Brad is a total skeptic, he does not believe in anything supernatural or paranormal, and this is his story. He tries to explain this event as a mass hallucination. I even find that hard to believe, but that’s just me.

When Brad was a young boy, as opposed to the young man he has become, he visited the Gettysburg battle field with his Boy Scout troop. Of course this included a stop at Devil’s Den. Now that area of the battle field has its fair share of ghost sightings, but he didn’t see anything unusual at the rocks.

The troop enjoyed their time exploring the large rocks and then started to follow a trail that led up to Little Round Top. Brad explained that when he was a boy more trees had grown up in this area and were later removed to make the battlefield more authentic to the period of the actual battle. I seem to remember hearing this myself. At the time his troop followed this path, it went through some thick trees and came out in a clearing that was bordered on both sides with split rail fences.

When the troop stepped into the clearing, Brad said it felt like time had slowed down, and a golden retriever ran out across the clearing. The dog seemed to move in slow motion. What must have only been a few minutes felt like it spanned into hours as the dog bolted across the clearing and entered the forest on the other side. When the dog dove into the brush time snapped back into place. All the boys and even their adult leaders had experienced that same slow motion feeling watching the dog.

The path did not continue past the clearing so they returned to the road and followed another trail up to Little Round Top.

A few weeks later Brad returned to the battle field with his parents and wanted to show them where he had seen the dog, but they could not find the path that lead back to the clearing.

Although Brad did some research and discovered Golden Retrievers were used to carry messages during the Civil War he still dismisses the event as a mass hallucination.

After hearing this story, I did a little due diligence and did in fact find references in the form of a quote from  ESDAW European Society of Dog and Animal Welfare, “[t]he American Pit Bull Terrier was used in the American Civil War to protect, [and] send messages”.

So it does appear that dogs were used in the battle fields.

I’m not sure what to think about all these ghost animal stories I’ve been hearing, but maybe I will take a dog biscuit with to Gettysburg this weekend, just in case.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Satan in the Sewing Room

Okay so the title is a little dramatic, with just a touch of melodrama. But this is another true life ghost story I have gathered here for your consideration. I have no way of verifying these stories, and honestly I don’t really want to have a firsthand experience with the dark and scary, but I love to hear about the tales. And honestly they don’t keep me up at night, still I’m not ready to go out and become a paranormal investigator.

I had the pleasant experience of meeting Deb and her husband at my book signing for Shepherd’s Fall at Comics and Paperback Plus in Palmyra last Saturday. Deb wanted a signed copy of my book and then explained to me that her and her husband lived in a haunted house.

At first I wasn’t sure if she was kidding me, but her husband stood there nodding his head and explaining that although he could not see them like his wife, their house was in fact haunted. He went on to tell me that light bulbs burned out on a regular basis in several rooms. Sometimes only lasting a few weeks.

I guess I’m the eternal skeptic, because at that point I’m considering bad wiring. But then he also said that several of their children and friends of the family had experienced and seen the spirits as well.
One of the most disturbing tales involved the sewing room. Deb said that when she first set up the room, she couldn’t spend very long in the space. She felt like a current ran through her body and her stomach grew upset. She also had the sensation of being watched.

Later when she had a carpenter in to replace the windows, his assistant said he didn’t feel good when he was working in that room The carpenter finished the windows, but afterward told Deb that he felt like he wasn’t alone; there was someone in there who didn’t want him there.
Deb’s children also would not go in that room when they were little. They told her that a bad man was in there and they didn’t like to play in there.

For a long time Deb was uncomfortable with that spirit, until she learned from watching Sylvia Browne that she could tell the life-challenged spirits it was her house and if they wouldn’t live in harmony with the living they had to leave. She said after saying that to the dark, shadowy spirit in the sewing room, she no longer got the sick feeling in there.

Apparently Deb’s house is home to many spirits. One night while she was washing dishes she saw the reflection in the dark window above the sink of a man in a white hooded robe with gold trim walking across the kitchen behind her. When she turned to look, he had vanished.
She said by the time this had happened she was no longer afraid of the spirits.

She has also seen the ghost of a red cat fighting and playing with her other two living cats. Animal ghosts are something I had never really heard about until recently, but apparently it is not that uncommon. I wonder if you kill a mouse in a trap if you get a ghost mouse running around your house?

Deb is very sensitive to these things, but other visitors including one of her daughter’s friends have seen and heard the spirits, too. One girl who was friends with her daughter tried sleeping in Deb’s son’s room when she spent the night, because he was off in college. She was in his bed ready to fall asleep when a woman stood at the foot of the bed and told her to get out because she wasn’t Brad. Deb found the girl sleeping on the couch in the living room the next morning.
She would have found me sleeping in my car, but whatever.

Apparently Deb and her husband have found peace living with the multiple spirits in their home. They have lived there for a long time, over twenty years. And it looks like the spirits who inhabit their house have no intention of hurting them or leaving. Deb has grown used to them so she has no plans to send them away. I guess they buy their light bulbs in bulk.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

So Much Fun, So Little Time

Life is racing along like a bullet train on crack. Okay, technically I don’t think drugs affect mechanical devices, but you get the idea.

I have been busy. Two weeks ago I had my launch party for Shepherd’s Fall. Thank you to everyone who attended, I am so grateful for your support. Last weekend I participated in an author panel with Cate Masters, Larry Kerr, Jennifer Harlow, Regge Episale, and Dennis Royer at Supernatural Saturday sponsored by the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop and had a blast.

To top it off, I am working on the final draft of my first book in a new mystery series. More on that later. So, yeah I’m having more fun than circus clown on… well you know what I mean.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

All Work And No Play

In honor of father’s day I just wanted to reflect on good dads and bad dads in fiction. Of course we all remember that Jack Torrance from The Shining was not exactly father of year. I don’t think I will ever forget the scenes of him chasing Danny through that haunted hotel.
And then on the good side there was… hmmm. I’m trying to come up with an exemplary father. Of course Harry Potter’s was dead, and Dorothy’s was dead, and Luke’s was thought dead, but turned out to be Darth, but in the end he turned out okay, I guess. Hercules had Zeus, and he was satisfactory in the father department, but he could be fairly tough. There was Pa in the Waltons and Pa on Little House on the Prairie, but I’m hard pressed to come up with a whole baseball team of fine fictitious dads.

Why is it so many dad’s are out of the picture in popular fiction?

I’m sure there are more examples in fiction; they just aren’t coming to mind. Because I have a great dad in real life, I guess I never thought about it before.

So on this Father’s day I want to say thanks to all the great real and fictitious dads. We don’t intend to take you for granted, but when you do your job well, we sometimes fail to remember.

Can you come up with any great dads in fiction?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Eye of Sauron

With heartfelt apologies to J. R. R. Tolkien I titled my current post. After hearing this latest tale of a supernatural encounter, I had no choice.

Now anyone who knows me, understands I like chilling tales, at least from the safe distance of my imagination, but this story actually disturbed me.
I recently met a guy named Bob who sold me my new cell phone. In the course of him showing me how to use the cool device we started talking about the web, and I showed him my book trailer for Shepherd’s Fall. (I never miss an opportunity to hand out a bookmark or mention my novel. And why not? It took ten years of pounding away at the keyboard to get to this point, so I promote it everywhere I go.)

Anyway I digress. When Bob learned that I write ghost stories, you guessed it, he had one to tell me. And boy was this one a killer.
As a teenager, Bob awoke one night to discover a little girl standing next to his bed sobbing. The fact that he could see through her sent him crabbing backward and slamming into the wall his bed was up against. The girl vanished, and Bob spent a sleepless night.

Over the next few years he saw the girl several times--sometimes her entire figure, other times just a suggestion of body.

Once, a visiting friend took a break from playing video games and went downstairs to the kitchen in the middle of the night. He saw the ghostly girl standing facing the refrigerator. The friend didn’t want her to turn around and see him, so he crept back up to Bob’s room without a snack.
Bob has no idea who the girl is. His family built the home, so it is not like she had lived in it before she became a life-challenged entity.

Bad enough to have one ghost in the house, his father had an even stranger experience. This is the one I find most disturbing.

On the night his father got baptized as a Christian, he came home and saw a giant red eye staring in a window to the master bedroom on the second floor. Angered by the apparition, Bob’s dad charged outside to the window in question and searched for the specter. This to me seemed like one of those bad moves in a horror movie, but then again, this part scares me.
He didn’t see it, but he walked around the yard commanding the spirit in the name of Christ to leave the house, because it was protected by God. This was several years ago and things have quieted down since.

I’m not sure why I find the big red eye more disturbing than other hauntings, but I do, maybe because it reminds me of the red pig eyes in the Amityville Horror.

Luckily Bob and his family haven’t experienced any paranormal events for some time, and he is comfortable in the home. I think I would sleep with one eye open, but that’s just me.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Five Stone Bookstore, A New Independent Bookstore

For the last few months something was missing in our small town. Every time I went to the mall, I would sink into melancholy. It wasn’t hard to understand the reason. Walden Books, the only bookstore in our local town, had gone under.

As an avid reader, and writer, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss. Over the years I had spent a great deal of time and no small amount of money in that store.

I must admit that when I dreamed of being a published author it was in that store that I imagined seeing my books on the shelf. When my first novel Shepherd’s Fall was published in April the fact there was no local store in our town was a cause for slight disappointment.

But nature abhors a vacuum, or in this case business partners Chuck Garman and Bryan Foster realized that no town is complete without a local bookstore.

So I was thrilled to stop in and buy a few books yesterday at the grand opening of Five Stone Bookstore in the Lebanon Valley Mall. This community-minded, family-oriented, family-focused bookstore has a cool mix of books and games, with a section devoted to the local libraries to support their (book) sales throughout the year.

It is a warm, fun, friendly place. I even ended up buying a set of zombie dice after playing a game of it with Bryan. Any game with zombies and brains, and I’m there. Although not to worry, it is a fun dice game with no gore involved.

I encourage anyone in the local area to check out this new store, buy a few books, and try some of the games that the staff is willing to demonstrate. Once again another independent bookstore rises up, creating a warm community for readers and writers. I look forward to seeing Shepherd’s Fall on their shelves. Sometime dreams do come true.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Joy of Holding My First Novel

Paperback:ISBN 978-0-9852490-0-7
Kindle: ASIN: B007WO1YXY
epub: 978-0985249021
It’s not quite the same magnitude as holding my son in my arms for the first time, but it’s still a rush. I’m taking a break from writing about other people’s true ghost stories, and my current work in progress (another dark tale of supernatural suspense,) to just say, wow! I’m sitting here in my office holding a copy of my first novel Shepherd’s Fall. It is a strange and wonderful sensation holding a book that contains my novel.

For me, the story is always alive in my mind, and to actually hold a physical manifestation of those fictitious events in my hands is odd and sometimes still catches me by surprise.

My son just turned twenty-one, and as a parent it is always amazing to watch your children grow into independent adults that are making their way out into the world to create their own lives. So it is strange to think of my book as taking a similar journey and now it is also going forth into the world.

While I will always be my son’s father, and my book’s author, they will both live on beyond me. How wonderful.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Helping Hand

I find that many of the ghost stories passed on to me are about seeing spectral apparitions or hearing strange unexplainable noises. However this story is different. In this case a family actually had an intelligent response from their ghost.

            The Carters, (again a fictitious name in order to protect the privacy of the innocent. sheesh.) bought an old house in Horsham Pennsylvania that dated back to the revolutionary war period.

            The family fell in love with the home from the first visit, despite the fact that it required a great deal of renovation. Up for the challenge, they purchased the house, moved in, and proceeded to commence with the improvements.

            Cue the eerie music; this is when the strangeness began. When the dad, Chuck, (Not his real name, but sounds cool like Chuck Norris.) would start working on a project he would lose tools. This happened on several occasions where he would set down a hammer, screwdriver, or saw, return to use it later and not be able to find it.

            On one occasion he lined a row of nails up on a ceiling beam so he could work his way along it nailing up a board in the ceiling. Before he could climb the ladder with the board, each of the nails, one at a time, fell off the beam and landed standing straight up on the floor.

            The spirit in the house seemed to delight in making it hard on the Carters to change or modify the house.

            After a few months of this, Chuck and his wife were frustrated. So Chuck decided to appeal directly to the presence in the house. He felt foolish, but he stood in their living room and explained to the empty space around him that they loved the house and wanted to take care of it.

            That ended the disturbances, at least the disruptive ones. Going forward Chuck found all his missing tools. It also seemed like the spirit now wanted to aid in the houses upkeep. On several occasions when Chuck required a certain length of wood he would find pieces that remarkably were an exact fit.
            Coincidence or a spectral helping hand?  I’m not sure, but at any rate the Carters were able to remodel the home that both they and their ghost shared a fondness for.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Interview with Dennis Royer

Mayan Calendars, Preppers, and Presidential Elections all have people thinking about change and possible disasters. Author Dennis Royer has tapped into this cultural undercurrent and mined a gem in his new dystopian novel Earthburst.
The United States of America reaches the tipping point where takers outnumber producers. They elect a charismatic president without really knowing who he is, a deranged president with an insatiable hunger for power who in a fit of madness plunges all of planet Earth into darkness. Scattered throughout the wasteland that was once America, isolated groups of women and men conspire to hold on to their humanity, rebels who must be rooted out and destroyed in order for the soulless regime to thrive. In a lonely Pennsylvania valley a naïve young man trundles face first into a storm of evil armed only with his faith and motivated by his love for a girl enslaved.

Dennis Royer has enjoyed a lengthy career in information technology as a programmer and network administrator. He began writing novels in 2000 as an artistic release from the unforgiving logic of bits and bytes. As a resident of rural Perry County, Pennsylvania, Dennis derives inspiration from his bucolic surroundings. His Perry County mystery novels center on the rural lifestyle and include mountain lions, rustic old inns, Native American culture, and buried treasure!
In a departure from the mystery genre, Dennis's latest novel, "Earthburst," is a post-apocalyptic saga set primarily in remote Tioga County, PA.

Having read and enjoyed all Dennis’s previous novels in the Perry County Mysteries Series, I was delighted to read an advance copy of his new novel Earthburst, and was blown away by the epic scope and plausibility of the terrifying future he envisioned. I recently had the opportunity to interview Dennis about his writing process, future plans, and new novel.

GRA: Why write a dystopian novel?
Dennis Royer: The dystopian / post-apocalyptic genre has always been my favorite as a reader, and I always wanted to write my own vision of what life would be like if humanity were stripped of modern technology and forced to live off the land. There are so many scenarios where something like this could happen that it's a real possibility. We've lost so much of our knowledge during the past century that it would be a real struggle to survive. Grocery stores carry only a 3 day supply of food. What happens when the food runs out? Would people cooperate and work together or would society rapidly degenerate into an everyman-for-himself mentality? My current novel, "Earthburst," has just been released this month and explores this issue.

GRA: At what point in your life did you realize you were a writer?
Dennis Royer: In what seems like a lifetime ago, I worked for a consulting engineering firm and was tasked with writing environmental assessments for local municipalities. Dry, boring stuff. At the time I thought I was handed this task because of being the new guy, but during my employee evaluation my boss told me that I wrote with "aplomb." Not knowing whether this was a compliment or a pejorative, I consulted a dictionary. When I found out it was praise, that ended up being the validation I needed to keep me writing.

GRA: Boxers or Briefs? Basically when an idea strikes for a story do you write by the seat of your pants all loosy-goosy like boxers, or do you outline and have more support for the story like briefs?
Dennis Royer: I'm definitely a pantser. I write a brief notes on no more than 2 or 3 pages covering how my story will start and end and the important plot points. I use these notes to keep myself centered, but my characters are the ones who tell their story, not me. I find that detailed outlines stifle my creativity.

GRA: What other genre that you haven’t written would you like to try?
Dennis Royer: I admire authors who can craft intelligent, literary fiction and consider it the highest art form in novel writing. For example, stories like Kathryn Stockett's, "The Help" or Khaled Hosseini's, "The Kite Runner" are inspiring and enduring. I aspire to someday write a literary novel of this caliber.

GRA: What other authors do you read?
Dennis Royer: Lisa Gardner. Her novels are sick and twisted. That's why I like them. I also like Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child. There are so many others. I read or listen to audiobooks about 50 novels a year. I prefer fast paced, plot driven fiction. Oh, and there's a new guy named George Appelt who is getting ready to release his debut novel. I'm really looking forward to that one.

GRA: What is your writing schedule like?
Dennis Royer: I'm a seasonal writer and am most productive during the winter months when it's mostly dark outside. There are too many distractions during the summer. I prefer to write in the afternoon and evening since I have never been an early riser.

GRA: Where is your favorite place to write?
Dennis Royer: My house has a dedicated office where I do all of my writing. Two of my four walls have floor-to-ceiling bookcases loaded with books from my favorite authors. Having all of those friends around me is an inspiration. I close my office door to block out noise and write in the quiet. Playing music is a distraction and frightens away the muses.

GRA: Can we look forward to another book in the Perry County Mysteries Series?
Dennis Royer: I wrote four Perry County Mysteries in four years and had to step away from it to avoid series fatigue. As a reader, I get disappointed when an author keeps a series going long after the ideas run out and the work becomes stale. I didn't want to do that to my readers, although I'm often asked by them when the next installment is coming. "Earthburst" has been a welcome change of pace, and now that I've had a break I might revisit the Perry County series. For all of you Kindle fans out there, I definitely intend to release Kindle versions of this series during 2012.

GRA: Who influences your work?
Dennis Royer: My writing is influenced by a combination of authors. I refer to them as my brain trust: Stephen King for his vivid imagination, James Patterson for his short, fast paced chapters that end in cliff hangers, Ken Follett for his prose, Charlaine Harris for her humor, and Scott Sigler for his fearlessness and marketing savvy.

GRA: What has been the most bizarre experience in your writing career?
Dennis Royer: I had two weird things happen to me on the same day at the same book signing event. A truly memorable day. One guy walked up to my table and asked how he could get published. All of you who are authors know how impossible that question is to answer succinctly. I gave him some vague response and the guy got hostile. He said something like this, "You authors are all alike, holding back your secrets to success. You just don't want to let me in on the game. You OWE it to me to answer my question." Sheesh, I thought he was going to grab my shirt collar and shake me. I finally got rid of him, and a short time later another guy plopped his manuscript on my table and insisted that I read and critique his story about a colony of insects living on an alien world, and by-the-way, the insects also happened to be born again Christians. Needless to say, with those distractions I didn't sell many books.

GRA: What’s next?
Dennis Royer: With the release of Earthburst, I'm in the process of lining up a book tour for this summer and look forward to meeting with my readers. After that, I'll be on hiatus for about a year to take care of personal commitments that have been piling up. Don't worry, though, I'll be back. I have a lot of stories in my head that need to come out. Stay tuned for updates at my website:

Thanks to Dennis Royer.
For action, mystery, and suspense keep an eye on this talented writer. And pick up a copy of Earthburst today, it is available in trade paperback and Kindle versions from, or order from your local bookseller using this ISBN number: 978-1469969435.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Assassin’s Code Book Launch Party

Another fun book event.
I picked up my copy of New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry’s new Joe Ledger novel: Assassin’s Code last night at the book launch party at the Doylestown Bookshop. And I can’t wait to start reading.
Once again I’m impressed with another excellent independent bookstore. The Doylestown Bookshop was hopping last night, as customers perused its interesting and eclectic selection of merchandise, as was Doylestown itself. I never realized what wonderful atmosphere the town possessed at night with its Victorian architecture lit by the glow of streetlamps, inviting restaurants, and retail shops. It felt like a mini-vacation attending Jonathan’s book launch party.
Of course it is always a pleasure to meet up with Jonathan, not only is he a talented author, but he is truly a great guy.
I’ve been looking forward to book number 4 in the Joe Ledger series, and of course I’ve been keeping busy reading Dead of Night, another of Jonathan’s books while I waited for Assassin’s Code, and wow, if you want to read a truly haunting zombie book, then pick up Dead of Night.
As always, the artwork on the cover of Assassin’s Code is fantastic, and it made a spectacular cake. It’s awesome to live in a time when covers can be reproduced in sugar with photographic quality. Check out the picture.
One of the great joys of writing that I didn’t anticipate is meeting other authors and watching as their careers grow. I expect many more great tales from this master story teller.

Check out Jonathan at:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Interview with T. M. Crone

T. M. Crone received her PhD in Molecular Biology before the turn of the century and a B.S. in Horticulture sometime before that. That's why you'll find plants and other scientific dogma piled not so deeply throughout her stories. She lives in central PA with her family where she teaches Biology, Physiology, and whatever else the local colleges throw her way. A nature freak by design, she loves all things natural, with the exception of spiders. You can find her at,

SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS: An Anthology of Scifi, Fantasy and other Strange Tales, is a culmination of her previously published short stories whose themes vary as much as the characters. It is available in
print and Kindle format at

Explore the strange and endless possibilities of the future. How desperate will humans become? Where will exploration, science and politics lead us? What will be the warning signs of the end? Regardless of where you go to seek answers--a distant moon, the back streets of a dystopian society, a grave--the stories within these pages will keep you wandering.

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing T. M. Crone.

GRA: At what point in your life did you realize you were a writer?

T.M. Crone: I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but life takes you down paths unexpectedly. I made a lot of detours, but quite frankly I didn't know HOW to be a writer back then. I was an avid reader of science fiction at a very young age, and I always thought "I can write a better story than that." I would write little stories on sheets of paper and bury them in my backyard, thinking that some day when humans were extinct and alien from another planet would unearth it and read it. Eventually I focused on what was important to me, and that was writing.

GRA:When an idea strikes for a story do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

T.M. Crone: I don't believe in formal outlines. I think they are stilted verse and a waste of time. I used to write by the seat of my pants, but that proved to be difficult, and sometimes after I've written 10s of thousands of words I sat back and said, "what was I thinking?" Now I think through things and write down a few pages of simple sentences "outlining" the progression of my story. Although the story plot takes twists and turns I hadn't anticipated, the words flow much faster and I don't find myself stuck at a dead-end.

GRA:What other genre that you haven’t written would you like to try?

T.M. Crone:
Writing speculative fiction seemed a no-brainer to me, since scifi/fantasy had been such a huge part of my early years in every way, so I haven't given it too much thought. However, there is a story or two bouncing in my head dealing more with medical supernatural themes, and someday I'll write them down. I like dark literary works, like Janet Fitch's novel, Paint it Black.

GRA:What other authors do you read?

T.M. Crone: I have so many favorite authors. My all time favorite current writer is China Mieville. He's brilliant, what more can I say. Brent Weeks, Karen Miller and Neil Gaiman are way up there on the list. Octavia Bulter is another, but sadly, she has left us too soon. I love Janet Fitch, and although my taste leans toward speculative fiction, I would read anything she wrote. I've also read some great works by local writers such as Susan Gourley, Cate Masters, Mike Silvestri, Jon Sprunk, Dennis Royer and Eric Glick. And I here there's a great novel by George Appelt, Shepard's Fall, coming out soon! Can't wait for that one.

GRA:What is your writing schedule like?

T.M. Crone: It's almost impossible for me to have a writing schedule. Between my teaching obligations and my children, sometimes there is little time. I write when ever I can, during the day when my kids are in school or late at night when everyone is asleep.

GRA:Where is your favorite place to write?

T.M. Crone: I have a great writing room with a fireplace and green walls. I am surrounded by reference books and novels written by my favorite writers. 

GRA: Do you ever tie your short stories together?

T.M. Crone: That I've never done. However, I have taken a secondary character from one of my short stories and given him a role in a novel. I love developing quirky, secondary characters. I think they are just as important as the main protagonist.

GRA: Who influences your work?

T.M. Crone: Hmmm... I don't know if there is a specific "who" but there certainly is a "what." I have been inspired by many female novelist, including Octavia Bulter and Karen Miller. They make strong, resilient, sometimes evil female protagonists that I love. In a genre that had been dominated for so many years by the works of male writers, it is refreshing to read scifi/fantasy whose female protagonists are not sex slaves or subservient bystanders. Old time scifi writers just couldn't get the female right, but that has changed.

As for the "what," I think every time I witness an event that doesn't sit right in my conscious, I come up with a story. The initial spark may not appear in the finished work, but sometimes it does.

GRA: What has been the most bizarre experience in your writing career?

T.M. Crone: I wish something bizarre WOULD happen. It would make things more interesting. There has been a few unexpected events. I once wrote a humorous fantasy short story centered around my father who had Alzheimer's disease at the time. The story itself would not give away that point, but when it was published I received an email from a friend asking for permission for her friend to use it in a class on Aging and Dementia she had been teaching. So, somewhere in North Carolina there are students reading my story.

GRA: What’s next?

T.M. Crone: I am in the midst of a few writing projects, including polishing a dystopian fantasy novel that I hope to query soon. I am 20,000 words into the writing of my third novel, a scifi story taking place between worlds.

Thanks to T.M. Crone.

To read more from this talented author you can follow her at:

And don't forget to pick up a copy of SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS at at

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My First Book Trailer: Shepherd's Fall

It's here! The trailer for my novel Shepherd's Fall. It sure is fun to see images that capture pieces of the story and bring them to life. Maybe someday the whole novel will be a movie.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Oasis in the dessert: The Write Stuff Conference

The writer’s journey is predominantly a solitary quest, spending many hours alone in front of the keyboard, but every so often an oasis rises up in the distance promising a reprieve from the solitude. The Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group’s The Write Stuff Conference is one such event.
Held at The Four Points Sheraton located at 3400 Airport Road Allentown, PA, this conference once again offered a chance to meet with old friends and to make new ones. Aside from the camaraderie, there were also, as is always the case at this conference, great educational opportunities. I particularly enjoyed Hana Haatainen Caye’s The Business of Writing - Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Writer, and Mindy Starns Clark’s Making Mr. Right. (Although as a paranormal suspense writer I must admit I was disappointed that Mindy’s session was not about the Frankenstein monster.) Actually, her lecture on adding romance to genres outside of the romance novel was very informative. Both women inspired me to try new things in my writing.

James Scott Bell entertained, educated, and moved us with his keynote speech “Storytellers Save the World: How Fiction Keeps Us From Going Nuts.”

I left The Write Stuff Conference once again refreshed and ready to continue my own writer’s journey. If you have never attended this excellent conference, then I highly recommend you consider it next year.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fraidy Cat: A true ghost tale

As the author of the paranormal suspense novel Shepherd’s Fall, it is probably no surprise that I like ghost stories. I have always loved them since I was a small boy. In a 2005 Gallop poll 32% of all Americans stated that they believe in ghosts. While this is a large percentage of the population, I am always amazed at the number of people who, when they learn that I write in this genre, have personal ghost stories they want to share. For me it is always a treat because I love to hear them.

While I have no way to verify this, the original teller of this tale assured me it was a true story of a dearly departed pet.

Karen (not her real name) is a long time friend of the family. Although people like to share their experiences with me, some are still reluctant to have their name tied to the experience if it is published for the world read. Although 32 % say they believe, many stories are still met with skepticism.

A few years ago one of Karen’s pet cats died of old age in her basement. Karen, a true animal lover, mourned for her lost pet but moved on with her life. That is to say, she didn’t become fixated on the dead cat because she had several others, and a dog.

A short time later, Karen was in her living room watching TV when out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of a gray cat crossing the living room. The movement startled her, but when she turned and looked directly at the space where moments before she had seen the movement, the space was empty.

Like most people who experience something they can’t explain, she dismissed it, until it happened again, several times.

At this point she told her husband, Ralph (also not his real name.), about spotting this gray cat strolling across their living room. Of course their pet cat had been orange not gray, but whenever she spotted this apparition, it was a translucent gray.

Ralph apparently fell outside the 32%. Or at least, if he wanted to believe, simple never saw the cat himself. For most of us, seeing is a good start at believing. Until, one evening when Karen was in the living room, and Ralph entered from the kitchen. He froze in his tracks and asked Karen if she had just seen the phantom cat.

She had and was excited that he had also witnessed the spectral pussy cat.

But he hadn’t. What he had seen was their dog, which was lying on the floor next to Karen. The dog had slowly turned his head from one doorway in the room to the other one at the far wall like he was watching something move across the floor.

Although Ralph never saw the cat himself, he will concede that it sure looked like the dog had.

Karen experienced these events several times over the next few years. However after they remodeled their living room, putting down a new carpet and painting the walls and trim, she never saw the fantastical feline again.

Moore, D. W. (2005). Three in four americans believe in paranormal. Retrieved from

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Book Signing

Meeting a published author is always a treat. Today I went to Tina Crone and Susan Kelley’s (Susan Gourley) book signing at the MIDTOWN SCHOLAR BOOKSTORE, 1302 North Third St. Harrisburg. And although I know both these talented authors, it was still a delight to see them meeting and greeting old and new fans of their work.

Before I talk about the book signing, I want to comment on the MIDTOWN SCHOLAR BOOKSTORE. I stepped through the front door, and found the shop filled with people. There was a band playing music, people sitting at tables enjoying coffee and other delicious looking treats, and customers perusing the shelves. Brick and mortar stores that continue to create an environment that unites readers and writers in such a vibrant way will always draw an audience. I must say, I have visited this store a few times and always enjoy the large selection of used and new books and the excellent atmosphere.

Now back to the book signing: I purchased a copy of Susan’s novel The Keepers of Sulbreth, book one in the Futhark Chronicles. It is available in paperback and also e-book; look for it if you couldn’t make it to the signing today. Just reading the first page, I’m hooked.

I also picked up a copy of Tina Crone’s Speculative Journeys. I can highly recommend this collection of Tina’s short stories because I have read several of them. Go now, run don’t walk, and purchase a copy. Tina creates excellent speculative fiction that will take you to distant moons, the back street of dystopian societies, and even the grave. Keep an eye on this up-and-coming author.

In this age of drastically shifting distribution channels for publication, it still all comes down to one reader connecting with one author’s words. That is when the magic of literature occurs. Both these authors will transport you to amazing new places through their work. For me it was once again a thrill to meet someone who creates that magic.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Attic Door

Inevitably when I write a story small fragments from my life seep into the work. Sometimes the fiction grows more real in my memory than the original event. I suppose that is unavoidable considering the amount of time spent redrafting and polishing a story. In my mind, I live with the work of fiction far longer than thinking about actual memories.

In Shepherd’s Fall, Will Shepherd is disturbed to find the attic door in his old house repeatedly ajar, even after he has locked it. This is a small touch that adds uncertainty, and ups the creepiness of his situation, and its significance is later revealed in the novel.

However, this piece of fiction shares origins with one of my earliest and still favorite ghost stories.

Two of my uncles on my dad’s side of the family, Joe and Charlie would often tell this story when the family got to together for parties and reunions. I always loved when this story would come up, although Uncle Joe and Charlie told us many other stories that would have us howling with laughter, as they both are very gifted story tellers, this was their ghost story.

Apparently my dad’s family moved around and lived in many different homes over the years. In fact they lived in a former funeral home at one point, although this story took place in another location—an old home that had formerly been an inn.

When they moved into this particular home, there was one bedroom on the second floor that my grandmother told the children not to use. Since there were seven children in the family at the time, (my dad hadn’t been born yet,) this seemed like a strange instruction.

My uncles decided that it was silly to waste this space, (and being strong willed boys apparently ignored their mother’s instructions,) so they moved their beds in claiming it for their own.

That night as they lay there in their beds in their newly claimed moonlit room, the attic door swung open. I could always hear the hinges screeching at this point in the story and see the old wooden door swing open with nothing but darkness beyond.

At first they thought it was just wind, so they closed the door and returned to their beds. Then the door swung open again. It was an old building, so they assumed the latch didn’t catch.

This time they slammed the door shut and locked it. Trying several times to be certain the door was secure. When the door flew open the third time, they beat a hasty retreat.

The next morning they moved their beds out of that room and no one occupied it for the remainder of time the family lived in the house.

This was only the first of other strange occurrences in the house.

There were holes in the stairs that went to the second floor. My Grandmother would try to cover them up with oil cloth, but no matter what she used to fasten the material to the back of the stairs, it would come undone.

My uncles claimed these were bullet holes from a shooting that had taken place when the property served as an inn that had been a stagecoach stop. As a small boy I always pictured a Clint Eastwood style old west shoot out. Perhaps the dead gunlingers reenacted their final battle causing my Grandmother's attempts to block and hide the holes to fail.

On another occasion, my grandmother and aunt were in the kitchen shelling peas one night. The rest of the family was upstairs asleep, loud crashes exploded in the living room. When my grandmother and aunt investigated, they found the living room furniture overturned.

According to my uncles, the family didn’t stay too long after that.

Years later when I was about ten, a large group of my family members returned to visit the place. A young couple now owned the old house and they were renovating it. When asked, they said they hadn’t experienced anything strange.

Although I had heard these stories many times growing up, at the last family reunion where all my aunts and uncles were still alive, my Aunt Jane revealed another incident that even my Uncles Joe and Charlie had never heard.

On the day the family moved out of the house, Aunt Jane and my grandfather were in the basement packing some things. My grandfather had found a loose board, (although I always see this in my mind as a plank on the floor, it may have been in the wall. Unfortunately my Aunt is now gone so I have no way to be certain,) when he lifted the board, all the blood drained from his face. My Aunt didn’t get a look at what was inside, because he slammed the board back into place and hustled Aunt Jane out of the basement.

My Grandfather passed away a month before I was born, so I will never know what he had seen. But my family swears they lived in a true haunted house, and this story definitely influenced who I am as a writer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Write From the Gut

At the recent Writer’s Digest Conference in New York on January 21st, one of the editors in the editor’s panel (unfortunately, I cannot give credit where due, because my memory fails me on her name.) suggested to the gathered assembly of writers, that in order to connect with an agent, editor, and reading audience they should write from the gut.
At first glance this sounds simplistic. But as I thought about this later, I realized that so often we (as authors,) get so caught up in all the trappings of creating the technically correct story that has active voice, strong character development, and a dynamic plot that we pray will sweep our audience away, we forget about the passion that drove us to create the story in the first place.
By the ninth or fiftieth draft we are so caught up in polishing that the second guessing begins; maybe the story starts too slow, or… fill in the blank, that we forget what our gut told us in the first place. The passion and instinct that drove us to tell the story is lost under a list of do’s and don’ts and we undermine our own story telling instincts.

Like the old saying goes: no guts no glory, so the moral is write with passion, write with faith, and write the story the way your guts tell you to.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ghost Stories

I have always loved ghost stories. So it was inevitable that my first novel Shepherd’s Fall fit into the genre of paranormal suspense.
Sage advice always recommends that writers write about what they know. Although I have never encountered a spectral apparition, I have talked to many others who have strange and scary tales of the supernatural. As a child I would thrill to stories from my uncles about their experiences living in a haunted house. (More to come about this in a future post.)
From early childhood, I remember racing home to watch Dark Shadows after school. And although Barnabas Collins was my favorite character, it was the ghost of his little sister Sarah that first attracted my attention.
And then there was my favorite Don Knots movie The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. I loved the pipe organ and the creepy old mansion.
Of course Stephen King and Peter Straub both contributed to my education with The Shining and Ghost Story.

I’m not sure why I’ve always been fascinated with these earth bound spirits. Partially I’m sure it’s the fear of their unknown nature and maybe because of all the things that go bump in the night they are difficult to defeat, and then there is a terrifying possibility of becoming one. It is a particularly horrific thought that we might end up trapped in some sort of limbo, unable to enact any real impact on our surroundings, stuck re-living the same days over and over, wait, that sounds like some of my previous work experience.

At any rate, I collected many tales from individuals who swear they are true. I’m sure all this crept into my subconscious mind while I labored away at the keyboard to create Shepherd’s Fall. And while I don’t know any ghosts, I do know ghost stories.