Category Archives: Writing

The Nietzsche Files I: Beyond Good and Evil

BeyondGoodAndEvilGreetings Dreamers!

I do apologize for the long silence in my writings, and for the lack of finishing up my latest work, “Beyond Good and Evil”.  However, as promised, I have finished the final two chapters, and the entire story, unabridged and uncensored, is available on Amazon Kindle for $0.99.

Amazon Link

I’ve opted to put this on Kindle to recoup some of the costs associated with running this website, and to expand my readership with all the new programs Amazon is offering.

For those just joining us, here is a brief synopsis of the story:

“From the darkness of the Richmond city streets a figure emerges to fight the battle beyond good and evil.  Irritated by the iniquity of the Richmond Police Department, a vigilante by the name of Nietzsche takes matters in his own hands to solve crimes that remained unsolved for years.

A murdered family draw him from the shadows, their true killer never detected or found, leaving two hapless puppets to answer for a crime most heinous.  Beyond human comprehension, a dark being  wanders the streets of  Richmond perpetrating crimes upon those who present a threat to its unknown goals.

Embark on an adventure of mystery, paranormal and murder to catch the eater of sins.  Leave your emotion behind, look through the eyes of a sociopath, and solve the crime before darkness is unleashed.”

Lost Haven

losthavenfeaturedGreetings, Dreamers!

Summer has come and as a result I’ve been busy.  But fear not, I have been working on new material, including Book II, The Unkindness.

Today’s post is to remind everyone that there is an interim novella available on Kindle called Lost Haven.  This story happens a few weeks after the Halloween events in Waking Dream: Devlin.  The purpose of this novella was to give my readers a better understanding of my concept of Weirdness.  There are several different forms displayed in this novella, hopefully enough to spur your own creative juices so you can help me build the world.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I created the Waking Dream universe so that others could add to it, long after I am gone — such as Lovecraft fans continue to create new stories around the Cthulhu mythos.

Lost Haven is a fast paced story about a mysterious group of individuals called The Order of Seers.  It features several new characters as well as a couple of characters from the first book.

I had to throw my hat into the Zombie genre, just a tad, and give my take on the phenomenon.  While the story is primarily dark fantasy, it does have horror elements.  I try not to limit the story, because life nor the universe is limited.  Anything can happen in the Waking Dream.

You can buy Lost Haven for a mere .99 cents on Amazon!  It is certainly worth it for anyone who wants to explore the Waking Dream even further.

Soon, I will be releasing another novella, right before Book II.  “Shadows on the Soul” completes my trilogy of terror and my homage to H.P. Lovecraft, which started with “The House of the Dead Timbers” and “The Case Study”.  “Shadows on the Soul” will be available by the end of summer.  Even though they are horror tales, they all related, in some way, to the Waking Dream.  Can you find the connections?

I thank you all again for your wonderful support of my writing.  I hope you enjoy it.

Books to Dream By

used-booksGreetings, Dreamers!

I have not forgotten about the rest of the story I started, however, lately I have been working on several different projects that have been coordinating.  But, things are moving along nicely.

Before I get into today’s post I did want to mention that there are several things coming out over the next few months that may be of interest to you:

1) The Little Book of Dreams: This is the bible or Necronomicon for the Waking Dream.  It is a major expansion on material that I have already published on The Way of the Weird. I feel its time that you should know more about the Waking Dream.

2) Getting to Devlin:  This is a Waking Dream Young Adult novel, with events leading up to the first novel, Waking Dream: Devlin.  This is a collaborative work.

3) Super Secret Project:  I am collaborating with others on a series and though it is not a Waking Dream novel, it will have elements of the Waking Dream woven within.  I will have more information on this in the coming months.  I am very excited about the project.

4) Waking Dream: The Unkindness:  I have been working diligently on this book, however,  I feel I want to take my time  until others are more familiar with the series.  Fear not, it is coming, and you won’t see it coming.

5) Shadow of the Soul: This is another Lovecraftian piece I am working on for exclusive publication on Kindle and it will be finished by mid summer.

I thank you all for your continued support!  Now, my top 13 books to dream by.  These books were major inspiration to my writing, and I feel everyone interested in my work would find these books equally inspiring:

  1. Illusions by Richard Bach
  2. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  3. The Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein
  4. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  5. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
  6. Experiences by Arnold Toynbee
  7. Dune by Frank Herbert
  8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  9. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  10. The Stand by Stephen King
  11. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  12. The Seekers by Daniel Boorstin
  13. Watership Down by Richard Adams

I mention these particular books because they were instrumental in helping me formulate my ideas about life, spirituality and the universe.  All of these I have read numerous times, and each time, I find something new and noteworthy as a read.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Happy Exploring!

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Blog Tour: Great Minds

sleep-tight_826049Greetings, Dreamers!

Mark Meier, a fellow writer, asked me to join a blog tour last week.  I am very grateful to be recognized by my colleagues and be asked to join in the fun!

Before I answer the questions for the tour, I’d like to introduce another blogger/writer with amazing insight and ability, Victoria Craven.  Victoria runs the blog, The Autodidact in the Attic, which focuses on the macabre, horror and a wide variety of intellectual stimulus.  Here is her bio:

V.L. Craven lives with her husband and pets. She writes fiction—both short and long—and reviews of books, films & art, as well as essays, articles and interviews with all sorts of interesting people.

She’s always appreciated the darker side of life, which is the focus of her blog The Autodidact in the Attic, (see also its Facebook page). TAitA has reviews of books, films, art, apps and games (and interviews with creators of those things) that will appeal to people with an interest in the macabre or gothic.

Other Ways to Interact with Her:
On Twitter: @vlcraven
On Tumblr: vlcraven.tumblr.com
On Goodreads: V. L. Craven

She will be posting her answers to the blog tour questions next Monday, so do yourself a favor and check out her amazing site.

Now on to my answers:

1) What am I working on?

I am always working on a variety of projects simultaneously,  that’s just how my brain works.  Right now,  I am doing a serial short story on this blog, writing Book II in the Waking Dream Series — The Unkindness — and I am involved in a collaborative series with two other authors (details to come later this year).  My Waking Dream Series is the primary focus and I am always doing research as the it covers alternate history, philosophy, and science.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write novels and short stories.  My short stories tend to be very dark.  My favorite short stories are the ones I write in Lovecraftian style.  I am no Lovecraft, mind you, however I have enormous respect for his creations and imagination.

The Waking Dream series is really a mixture of many genres, so it is very hard to put it in any one box — I am not a fan of being pigeonholed.  The Waking Dream Series is an attempt to blur the lines between fantasy and reality.  Much of the subject matter is based on years of research.  I have always been fascinated with the paranormal and the supernatural — specifically the potential of the human mind.  The Waking Dream is my attempt to present a plausible framework for readers to suspend their disbelief and explore their own lives.  Life is a dream, if you really think about it.  We always have control over how our lives go, no matter the situation.  And once you believe that, you can do anything.

The Waking Dream series has elements of horror, paranormal, supernatural, romance, dystopia, apocalyptic events and fantasy.  It is very dark.  One of my fans put it, “It’s the Matrix meets The Stand”.  The first book is my Fellowship of the Ring. It is the twilight before the sun sets on our world. The subsequent books will descend further into the darkness of reality and the human mind.

One final note, there are many things hidden within the stories and novels, tying them together as well as giving avid readers something to discover within the text.  Everything in the Waking Dream Series is carefully calculated.  What have you found hidden within the story?

3) Why do I write what I do?

I love to create worlds.  The Waking Dream is, as I mentioned, an attempt to impart all I’ve learned about the human condition and get the reader to explore and create their own dream.  The world seems to be at an impasse, and we are not moving forward as we should from a philosophical sense.  While the Waking Dream is fiction, there are elements of truth in ever sentence I write — the things I believe to be true.

I write the Lovecraftian stories because I want his legacy to continue, as well as many other authors.  Being able to create a story that emulates the master gives me a sense of humility.  Many writers have walked in his footsteps, but his personal commitment to his craft is something to be admired, respected and remembered for all time.

4) How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a specific process for writing.  When I feel like writing, I write.  And because I have a wide variety of projects I am working on at any given time, I choose the project to work on that most suits my particular mood.  I believe that an author needs to be prolific to be successful.  Very few authors become successful with one book, or even their first book.  The more work you have out, you have a better chance of being discovered by new readers.  It is a snowball effect.

One thing I do tend to stick to in any project is that I usually begin with an illustration.  Next to writing, illustrating is one of my favorite hobbies.  I have over 50 illustrations for the Waking Dream,  as well as maps.  I want the Waking Dream to be similar to the Cthulhu Mythos so that other authors can contribute their own stories to the ever-growing Waking Dream Universe.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this little excursion into my writing career.  Perhaps you’ll be interested in reading my work, which is listed on the right side bar.  Please be sure to check out Victoria Craven’s answers next Monday on her blog.

Happy Monday!

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The Lovecraft Effect

HP LovecraftGreetings, Dreamers!

Kat over at “The Gore Splattered Corner” blog asked me to write a guest post on how H.P. Lovecraft influenced my writing and my writing style.

Lovecraft and his style have always fascinated me.  I have been a fan since I was very young, and it wasn’t until recently one of my reviewers pointed out the similarity in style and writing.  Creating a mythos for Waking Dream was my goal from the beginning, but not expanding upon the Lovecraftian Mythos.  Since then I’ve tried my hand at a couple Lovecraft inspired stories, and have begun a minor expansion of the Mythos. This article explains how I got where I am as a writer.

You can head over to The Gore Splattered Corner and read my little trip down memory lane.

Thanks Kat for letting me ramble on your page!

The Ramblings of a Weird Author

MichaelHibbardGreetings, Dreamers!

I wanted to take a moment and talk a bit about who I am and what I write.  I’ve gained quite a few new followers so I though it was time that I gave you a little more insight into me, what I write, and what inspires me to continue.

I am laying it all out there, because I am a communicator, well, online that is.  In real life, I’m a bit of a recluse, and am not really good in social situations, which I am working on.

Who were my inspirations?

I’ve been an avid reader since I was really young.  The first adult book I read was “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving.  I’ve always loved the supernatural, so I continued with other authors such as Poe, Lovecraft, King, Bradbury, F. Paul Wilson and many others.  Oddly, my two biggest influences were Lovecraft and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Lovecraft is an inspiration because he loved description, words and his creation of the Cthulhu Mythos.  Fitzgerald is an inspiration for his writing style, his ability to expose the dark underbelly of our society, and for giving us my favorite book, The Great Gatsby.

The Waking Dream is not all that I write, but it is a huge focus on my career because it spans so many genres and deals with many social issues, both for adults and young adults.  I love to write horror, especially Lovecraftian Horror, because I do love a good scary tale, and it seems that there are not enough new ideas coming out.  I have not been scared by anything that has come out lately.  I abhor slasher type books, because the news does a pretty good job of covering that genre.  It’s all too real and close to home.

The inspiration for the Waking Dream truly came from my personal quest to understand the nature of reality.  I am inspired by a variety of things: the change of seasons, weird happenings, interactions between people, philosophy, religion, science and the paranormal.

When Did I Start Writing?

I really started writing stories when I was 12.  I was attending a Catholic School in Woodbury, New Jersey.  It was very old, and the basement was very creepy.  I wrote a screen play about dark rituals happening in the basement at night.  My teacher at the time, Mr. DuBois, fully supported me filming it and got permission for me to do so.  Unfortunately, before we could do the film, my parents moved to Pennsylvania.

I was an avid Role-Player, and I’ve played just about every table-top game there is, and I enjoyed being the storyteller more than the player.  I would write very involved campaigns, which were essentially interactive stories.  Then when I got on the internet, I went crazy in the chat rooms with story lines, and had three channels devoted to different settings.  Castle Nightshade was a high fantasy storyline set in a world I created with over 100 people playing at any given time.  Night City was a vampire based storyline with many of the same people playing back and forth.  And then finally, The Waking Dream which only had 12 players as a private group.

My first novel, which was published by Phantasm Books, is my crowning achievement as an author.  I was very pleased to have my book recognized so quickly without having been published anywhere before.  Waking Dream: Devlin is just the first of many to come.  I enjoyed writing it, hated the editing process, and have stressed the promotion.  But in the end, I am happy with what I have produced.

Here is the list of books I have written to date:

What is the Waking Dream All About?

I do get a lot of people who are very confused about the subject matter contained in the Waking Dream.  I have many journals with all of the particulars about the Waking Dream Universe, because it is quite expansive.  I am trying to create a world that is wholly unique, but emulates Cthulhu Mythos, or Frank Herbert’s Dune.

I am fascinated with the universe.  I rarely watch any non-science shows, because I want to understand the nature of reality.  So, I started the Waking Dream as a synthesis of all the concepts I feel to be true about our universe.  If the universe were just a dream we should be able to control it.  It’s just a matter of learning how to.  We are all children, no matter how old we get.  But, we tend to start to disbelieve that we have the power to change it.  We get wrapped up in politics, our daily jobs, acquiring things, and we stop believing that life really is very magical.  The fact that we exist at all is magical in of itself.

The Waking Dream is targeted to people who want to believe and it is appropriate for young adults, as well as adults.  I explore social issues, so there is a lot of allegory in the novel.  I also explore topics that plague our children today, such as coming of age, self-mutilation, poor self-esteem, dealing with loss, and how to fit in.  On the social level, I address self-sustaining communities, religion, reincarnation, the degradation of society, politics, and the struggle between good vs. evil.

What Do I Do for My Day Job?

Currently, I am a data analyst, and I do enjoy it, because it has helped my ability to market my book, and self-promote.  It all comes down to numbers.  But, on the side, I am a programmer and I can program in 11 different computer languages.  All of it self-taught, as I am a true autodidact.  Structured learning is not my thing.  I tend to learn better when I can move at my own pace.

However, I did not start out in this field.  I have had many many different jobs in my 43 years.  Here are the ones I can remember:

Gardener, Greenhouse Worker, Pastry Chef, Sous Chef, Line Cook, Toy Store Manager, Video Store Manager, Blockbuster Assistant Manager, Medical Sales, Web Designer, Project Manager, Grounds Keeper,  Coder, Software Architect, Business Architect, Graphic Designer, and now Published Author.

All of the jobs I’ve had contributed to my experience as a writer.  I have learned something valuable from each of them, though I wasn’t necessarily happy in each job.  Working at a toy store during Christmas was an absolute nightmare!

What Are My Hobbies?

I am a firm believer in the saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.  Those of you who frequent my blog know that I try to post at least once a day.  But I also have my facebook pages, my four secret twitter accounts, and my main @arkangyl account.  So I do love social media.  But my other hobbies include:

Drawing/Illustration (I have designed all but one of my book covers), Guitar, Drums, Music in general, Cooking, Console and PC Gaming, Role-playing, Poetry, Reading, Philosophy, Quantum Physics, Mathematics, Programming Apps and Board Games.

Writing I do not consider a hobby.  This is what I ultimately want to do for a full-time job, and I feel confident that I will get there.  As I’ve said to my other fellow authors, who are just starting out, it takes patience.   Everything requires work and honing one’s craft.

Why Did I Do This?

First, I really did this because I wanted you all to know who I really am.  I believe that it is important to engage my friends, (I hate the term followers).  I do no spend all night looking for people to follow.  I tweet and if someone follows me, I’ll follow them back if it seems we’d be friends!  I always respond to everyone who engages me, because I do not want to sit on some pedestal and have people adore me.

Second, I am what I write.  I am not writing to become rich and famous.  I doubt I could deal very well with fame, as I am a recluse, as I mentioned.  If you know who I am, perhaps you’ll be more interested in the stuff I write, and more importantly, you’ll understand why I write the way I do.

Again, thank you for listening, and I am always interested in a good conversation, either here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

If you hit the Interview Menu at the top, you can listen or read about my other interviews.

Happy Friday the 13th, my friends!

Self-Publishing is Not a Sin

Greetings, Dreamers!

Today I wanted to just talk a bit about Self-Publishing for all my friends and followers who are also self-publishing.  I have learned a great deal about the industry, and the traditional publishers are starting to see that they are quickly becoming antiquated.

My first book Waking Dream: Devlin is actually published through a real publisher.  However, my novellas and Immortal Memories are self published.

After a great deal of thought, it occurred to me that most publishers are now moving to Print On Demand and eBook services.  The same exact services that one can get through Amazon, CreateSpace or Smashwords. So I’ve decided, at least for the moment, to stay with self-publishing.  But here are some observations that you may find helpful.

Good Investments:

If you are not a graphic designer, then you should definitely get someone to design the cover for you.  The cover does say a lot about a book, regardless of the saying.  I have read some really terrible books with amazing covers, and some really good books with very bland covers.  But customers do judge your book by the cover.  It is worth paying 300 to 400 dollars for a nice cover.

If you are not an editor yourself, you should definitely have someone edit your work.  But, you can do it yourself if you turn on ALL of the proofing features in your Word Processor, and read why it is flagging something.  But, it is a good investment to get a good editor to make sure that the book flows, that you have continuity in tense, and the dreaded “missing word” syndrome which I often suffer from.  Make sure you get an editor that likes your genre, any old editor will not do, and make sure they have a good track record.

If you are not familiar with print formatting, it can be very difficult.  There are many videos and articles on formatting your book for print, but it is usually fairly cheap to have a professional do it for you.

After that, the only other good investment is making sure YOU read your novel a few times.  When you think you’re done, read it one more time.  Yes, it can get tedious, but it is a very good investment in your time if you want to be successful.

Bad Investments:

Do not ever pay for reviews.  The only thing a reviewer should get is a copy of your book.  Paid reviews are a waste of money, and you run the risk of paying money for a terrible review.  There are many blog reviewers on WordPress.  You simply have to send them a query and ask if they’d be interested.

Ads on Facebook, Twitter, or GoodReads are a waste of money you can invest in other things, such as flyers, business cards, posters and copies to sign at an event.  I did a great deal of experimentation on this, and I have found unless you are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for high profile websites, you are just throwing money down the drain.  You should be the advertiser.  You can go to forums, join book clubs, and groups on various social media outlets.  You are your own best marketer.  You wrote it, so you know how to sell your book.

Swag item give-aways are another waste of money.  Most people will come get your swag, then leave.  If you want to do give-aways of your books for reviews, that is the best thing you can give away.

Do not pay for entry into an award!  Any award that requires you to pay for it, is probably not reputable, and the award will mean nothing.  Some of the real book awards, such as the Bram Stoker, or the Amazon Breakout Novel Award are reputable, and they also will consider self-published books.  There are many others out there, you just have to do some searching.

Organizations:

A professional writer’s organization is an excellent investment.  Some require you to have been published, even if its just a short story.  I am a member of the Horror Writers Association which does not require you to be published to become a member.  The Author’s Guild will also allow self-published authors once they hit a certain number of sales.  But they both offer services that help authors establish themselves and become more successful.

Social Media:

Here is one of the biggest things I’ve been analysing for quite some time.  I have found that the best social media outlet to advertise your book is Twitter, without a doubt.  But, you should be thoughtful about your tweets, and don’t tweet every 5 minutes “Buy my book”. You should craft a variety of tweets, trying to include your tag-lines, or short quotes, or even review excerpts.  You can # the genre you are in, and ask for RTs.  Which brings me to my next point, followers.

Finding followers is an onerous task.  You shouldn’t just start following anyone you see in your recommended, or other author’s followers.  Use the search tool to find tweets by people who like you genre or the themes in your book.  Follow these people.  Also follow other authors, because its not a competition.  Writers are readers too, and I have found that they will RT you if you return the favor. Make sure that only 25 to 30 % of your tweets are about your book.  Tweet links to things related to your book subject matter, or other books in your genre.  Let your followers know that you’re a real person, and ALWAYS respond to your followers when appropriate. Remember, you need them more than they need you.

The next most important social media aspect is blogging.  You are a writer, so you can certainly come up with things to blog about!  This allows your readers to see what kind of person you are, how well your write, and it allows you to engage them in comments.  Blogging has been the biggest part of gaining readership.  If they like your blog, chances are, they will buy your books.  And don’t just blog about your books.  Blog about writing and offer tips.  Write flash fiction, short stories or poems.  Anything that will show your fans that you are dedicated to being a writer, and not just sitting back waiting for the millions to come rolling in.

Pricing:

Be reasonable when pricing your book.  There is nothing wrong with a .99 cent book.  In general, readers are more apt to buy your book if its between .99 cents and 4.99, depending on the length.  If you are self publishing,  the lower the better to get lots of people buying and reading it, and hopefully review it.  My guideline is usually, .99 cents for anything less than 17K words, between 17K and 40K  1.99 to 2.99 and anything above that between 2.99 and up.  Pretty simple really.

My final note on self-publishing is that you have to be patient, diligent and realistic.  The publishing world is changing, so don’t give up just because you have slow sales.  Keep writing, be prolific, and make sure your work is polished.  There are more than enough readers in the world, and they will always want new books to read.

Whether you are self-published or traditionally published, you will not be quitting your day job with your first book.  At least not when its initially released!

Good luck!