I grew up on the east side of Cincinnati, Ohio, in a newly built neighborhood buffeted by woods. I graduated from Anderson High School and then attended the University of Cincinnati graduating with a Masters in Criminal Justice Technology of all things. It sounds like I should be out solving cyber-crimes or something, but in reality it was mining datasets and statistics. Not quite as cool as saving the world from hackers, right? I also studied psychology, sociology and philosophy.
I enjoyed anything that was dark as a kid. Loved telling campfire stories and enjoyed watching scary movies and reading creepy things. It didnâ€™t matter if it was fiction or nonfiction. I read about witches, zombies, folklore, vampires and, of course, big foot. I discovered Stephen King when I was ten and it was over. I devoured anything he wrote and then moved on to Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, and H.P. Lovecraft. I loved â€˜Salemâ€™s Lot, The Shining, Ghost Story, Carrie but it wasnâ€™t until I stumbled upon Skeleton Crew that I fell in love with short fiction. The idea that in just a few pages a writer could tell a complete story and illicit a response was incredible to me. My favorite book is The Alienist by Caleb Carr which details a serial killer stalking the streets of late 19th century New York City.
The dreaded â€˜show donâ€™t tellâ€™ pitfall!
Dialogue to me is a perfect opportunity to reveal things quickly and easily, either about the characters or the plot. Instead of giving paragraph after paragraph of backstory, I find it sometimes easier to let the reader into the characterâ€™s world a little more by way of dialogue. I also always try to infuse humor in the dialogue too, it helps. A bit of teasing can bring out some great banter between characters, which tends to keep the pace consistent and the story moving forward. I also think if you can picture the conversation as it unfolds, almost like an imagined movie, itâ€™s easier to make it seem realistic.
I enjoy coming age pieces, revenge storylines, unexpected heroes, and redemption, all with a few bits of darkness sprinkled in.
Itâ€™s interesting when people ask me what style my writing is or what genre do I tend to write most of my stories in, because Iâ€™m honestly all over the board. I describe most of my pieces as Twilight Zones with a darker slant and bigger twists. Most people would consider Starter Apartment as horror and I wouldnâ€™t disagree.
While I do have family and friends that help with regards to spreading by word of mouth, for the most part, marketing is a one man endeavor. I use social media quite a bit and also use Amazon and Facebook ads to help bolster interest. I routinely have giveaways or discounted prices a few times a year. I also have a monthly newsletter that always has a free short story in every issue. Every little bit helps.
I think flawed characters, ones with relatable fears and doubts are easy for readers to identify with. We all have something weâ€™re afraid of or anxious about. If all characters were perfect, theyâ€™d be boring. Who wants to read about someone who has never made a mistake or never had a single problem to overcome? I think giving them real world issues, letting them make mistakes, having them suffer a bit, all helps breathes life into them.
I do think characters change as the story grows around them. Just as we change with our daily experiences, so do characters through the course of the story. As an author, sometimes, we are just along for the ride. The characters will react to things in ways we might not have predicted and take the story in a direction we werenâ€™t prepared for. Can we struggle against it? Yes we can. But I have always
Editing is always a tricky thing for an author. Iâ€™m currently the Managing Editor for Storyteller Magazine and do freelance editing as well. Iâ€™m in a somewhat enviable position in that I have other editors I work with to help with my work.
For those looking for editors, Iâ€™d strongly suggest to make sure they enjoy the genre the piece is written in and also have edited the type of work before. Itâ€™s important to ask questions and important to be honest about your expectations and concerns.
I always imagine what the story might look like and have the characters act it out as if on the screen. So, in a way, I always like to think my pieces would translate well to the screen. Now, do I think all works would translate well to the screen? No. Do I think itâ€™s productive for authorâ€™s to imagine their work in that way? I think it depends on the author and the work. If it helps them describe the setting well or set the tone properly then I say go for it. As with most â€˜rulesâ€™ of writing, I think itâ€™s all dependent upon the story.
Thatâ€™s a tough question. Authors need to be correct. (Nothing worse than getting called out for getting it wrong) But at the same time, writers donâ€™t want to dry out the subject and bog down the story with too many facts and too many details trying to get it right. A little detail and a little fact go a long way.
Iâ€™m a free writer, meaning I donâ€™t have everything outlined or thought out. I typically start off with a very general idea. It might be a setting or just a character and I start to write. Most times, Iâ€™m not sure if it will be a book or a short story or somewhere in between until it tells me. Itâ€™s been a very productive method for me.
Everything inspires me. It might be just a conversation or a line from a book or a commercial on TV. There is inspiration in our daily lives that sometimes go unnoticed. Those little flecks of ideas, might be enough for entire story, but they are definitely enough to add some dimension to a character or a moment in a story. I have a fifty-five page idea file that I keep all of those things in which has over ninety ideas in it.
I write every day and I surprise myself every day. Nothing more incredible than creating something out of nothing, right?