Archive for the ‘ Writing ’ Category

It seems I have neglected posting here on my blog for a little bit, but let me assure you that it was simply due to so many exciting things going on here on my end. So, perhaps, I should tell you a little about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard that the city of Baltimore had cut their financial support for the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, one of the city’s historic landmarks. I assign quite a bit of significance to this museum, as it is dedicated to perhaps the most important American horror writer. So when I heard that Literary Landmark Press is putting together an anthology of Poe-inspired short stories to benefit the Poe House, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

I wrote a short story with the title The Blackwood Murders and submitted it to the editors. To my delight I was notified shortly thereafter that my story would, in fact, be included in the anthology The Spirit of Poe, which will be released shortly.

I felt both honored and flattered at the same time. Honored to become associated with something relating directly to Edgar Allan Poe, helping to protect his legacy by no small means. Flattered, because the editors of the anthology actually found my piece worthy enough to be included alongside many other accomplished writers.

I had a blast writing “The Blackwood Murders,” and during the entire time, I saw it play in front of my eyes like an old Roger Corman movie with Vincent Price. That should give you an idea what to expect from the story, and I hope many of you will show your support of the Poe House by purchasing a copy of the book. If you do, please DO let me know how you liked my entry. I’m a sucker for flattery. :)

Once I had that short story finished, I decided that it was time for me to put together a collection of Jason Dark mysteries to sell together as one book. After some soul searching and talking to friends, I have decided to release collections featuring three stories in one book. The first one, which will be available shortly, will therefore feature Demon’s Night, Theater of Vampires and Ghosts Templar in a single volume. In addition, as a bonus, I have decided to include the Jason Dark short story Food for the Dead in the collection. As you may recall, this story was a Fangoria exclusive and ran in five serialized installments in the magazine earlier this year. This collection will mark the first time this story will be available in one piece.

My wife and I are currently finalizing the cover for the release, but expect to hear more about it shortly. Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all the cool developments.

And then, just before Halloween, I had a great idea for a new Jason Dark story. Those of you who read “Curse of Kali,” the latest Jason Dark mystery, may recall that I seriously foreshadowed a story called Fu Man Chu’s Vampire in that book. Well, I had finally had the igniting idea where to go with the story.

Funny enough, at the same time, “National Novel Writing Month” – aka NaNoWriMo – kicked off and there was this huge frenzy of writers around the country starting up new projects. While I do not participate in NaNoWriMo, I decided it was a good occasion to kick off “Fu Man Chu’s Vampire” in earnest, and perhaps against my better judgment.

So, on November 1st I outlined and began writing this exciting new Jason Dark supernatural mystery with the intention to fulfill the NaNoWriMo required 1,600 words a day. I knew it would be hard for me to keep that pace with all the other stuff going on in my life, but I was very determined to give it a good and honest try.

Well, here we are, 12 days later and I am very proud to report that I have not only fulfilled my daily word counts, but exceeded them significantly on most days. As a result, “Fu Man Chu’s Vampire” is rapidly heading for its completion. As I am writing this, I am just about to tackle the book’s final scene, which means, the first draft should be complete later today!

I will then set it aside for a few days to work on the cover for it, before beginning the edits and revisions. Although I had planned not to write an Jason Dark stories in the near future, I am very happy I did. This is the fastest I have ever written any of these supernatural mysteries, and it could mean that, perhaps I will actually be able to release it around Christmas time, or at the very least, first thing in the new year. Either way, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more info on this and other developments. It just so happens that I had another interesting idea for a project that I might pursue in the near future…

Last week I told you about my upcoming middle-grade book, Kitt Pirate and also showed you the cover artwork for the book. Well, as these things go so often, we actually made a number of change to the cover because there were a few things that Juan, my wife and I felt could still be improved.

So, Juan had another go at the cover and added some more detail. The result is an incredible cover artwork, I feel, that is definitely stronger than the one I showed you last week. More fleshed out, it hits the nail perfectly on the head in my opinion and if a solid cover were any guarantee for stellar sales, I am sure that Kitt Pirate would have to become an instant bestseller when it is released. Naturally, things are not all that easy, but hey, one can dream, right?

Preliminary Kitt Pirate Cover

You may also notice from the cover that I have settled upon a pen name for the book. After much deliberation I have decided upon the name Ben Oliver. My wife and I felt that the name has a certain playful quality and a good ring, so we thought for children’s book it may be a good choice. So, there you have it. Let me know what you think of both, the improved cover and the name.

Some of you may recall that I mentioned before that I have been working on a middle-grade book for some time. Well, the book is essentially finished and almost ready to be published and I thought I’d give a quick heads-up, as to what it actually is.

Please meet Kitt Pirate!

Kitt Pirate Logo

As the title suggests, this is the story of a young pirate. A young lad who is captain of a bunch of salty pirates as they sail across the Caribbean in search for treasure and plunder. But they’re not the kind of bunch who will slaughter and kill just about anyone.

Kitt and his gang have a mission. they have decided to take the money from the rich and put it to use to help the poor – of which there are many. Under the oppression of the Spanish, the French and the English, no one in the Caribbean is safe from these greedy, gold-hoarding invaders, and Kitt feels it is only apropos for him to return the favor.

The book I wrote is called “Kitt Pirate: Snaggletooth’s Treasure.” Kitt has come across a treasure map that promises unfathomable riches and for months he and his crew have been sailing across the cerulean seas in search for the elusive island where the treasure is rumored to be buried. When at last it surfaces on the horizon, nothing can stop them… or so they thought.

I have been working with an old friend of mine, Juan Fernando Garcia, to provide me with interior illustrations for the book, as well as the cover artwork. I’ve worked with Juan before, as he was one of the artists on one of the game projects I was producing for Squaresoft, and I knew his style would be perfect. not only is he a killer pencil artist, but he has also branched out into other areas and has recently worked on comic books as well as — I am not kidding you — candy packaging for kids. So, clearly, he was the perfect man for the job, and as you can see from the cover artwork below, it shows.

Preliminary Kitt Pirate Cover

For the past few days I’ve been formatting the book for its digital release and I’ve been tweaking the cover and I am now at the point where I could theoretically upload the book to distribution channels.

There’s only one snag, which keeps me thinking. My name…

I know it sounds weird, but I am seriously considering publishing this book under a pen name. Why would I do that? The main reason in my mind is that it would allow me to separate my horror books from this children’s book. While my Jason Dark mysteries are not overly explicit most of the time, I think they are definitely not suitable for fourth or fifth-graders, at which I am targeting Kitt Pirate. The last thing I’d want is for them to google my name because they liked the book and ending up reading some of my horror fiction. I am sure every parent can appreciate that sentiment — I know, I do.

So, that raises the question, what pen name should or could I use, and that’s what’s holding me up right now. A pen name is something, I feel, I need to take seriously. Not only does it allow me to project something into that name — hopefully an exciting sense of adventure for children — but it is something that will stay with me for a long time, as books do not really outmode. I am sure I will come up with a name I find suitable soon enough, and then it’s off to the races!

As I am taking a self-imposed leave of absence from Victorian England and the supernatural encounters of a certain man named Jason Dark, I have been working no some material to branch out. No, I am not tired of writing Jason Dark mysteries — far from it — but I felt that I needed to add a little diversity to the books I am publishing. The idea is that I want to reach readers that I simply cannot entice to read horror mysteries — such as children.

Yes, you read correctly. I have written a book for children. A middle-grade adventure, to be exact. It is one of those things that happen to you when you’re a parent, I suppose. You start taking an interest in the material your own children are reading and you begin to detect that some of this is actually quite interesting or intriguing. In my case, it sparked an interest to write some stories for children myself.

Easy as pie, you might say, but don’t be fooled. Writing a book for children is a lot harder than writing a book for adults. The reason is quickly becoming obvious when you consider that you are trying to tell a story to someone who has only a fraction of the vocabulary of an adult. Word choice is one of the most critical elements — and one of the biggest challenges — when you write for children.

When we write a novel, it is easy for us to create diversity by spicing up our writing with words of different meaning, sometimes relying on very subtle nuances of these words to create atmosphere, mood or action. This is a lot hard to do when all you have is one or two words for a meaning.

Let’s say, for example, in your children’s book you want to write about a dark and foreboding room. For adults we could draw from a wide variety of words to create the right mood for this. The room could be gloomy, dark, depressing, spooky, ominous, foreboding, shadowy, malignant, pitched in darkness or even tenebrific.

When you write for middle-graders, out of that entire list only two or three words could be really be applied safely. Maybe a few more, depending on the exact age range you are writing for, but the general point I am trying to make is that your vocabulary is severely restricted. In order to be able to still paint vivid images with your words, you end up doing a lot of wordsmithing. I spent a lot of time revising my book over and over again. Not so much for content itself, like it is often the case with my stories for grown-ups, but instead to create sentences that flow easily, that have a solid rhythm. I will check sentences to make sure they are word appropriate, I will double-check sentences to make sure they do not run too long, and I will remove most of my sentence modifiers, rephrasing paragraphs to make the clear and to the point. All of this is essential for young readers to be able to follow your writing.

Much of this is actually good practice when writing for adults, also, but naturally there is a lot more leeway. Starting with the word choices, adults have a much wider knowledge base, usually, a vocabulary upon which we can draw as writers to create more colorful prose.

Naturally, in books for adults, we also want to make sure our sentence structure is not always minimalistic and overly simplistic. While it is never a good idea to get lost in your own convoluted sentences, I do believe that insertions and modifiers can vastly define the style and voice of a writer.

For me, it was an experiment really, to see how well I would do within such limitations. Since English is not my native language I am always very conscious about potential weaknesses in my writing, and creating this book was an exercise for me to really get down to the fundamentals of it all.

Some time soon, I’ll tell you more about this exciting new book. It is completed and I am only waiting for interior illustrations and the cover to be finished.

Seed CoverToday I would like you all to welcome Ania Ahlborn, author of the horror thriller Seed, to this blog, as she is tackling an issue that is not discussed in public very often: hateful reviews. Many authors will not talk about it for a number of reasons, because it is painful, because whenever you’re criticizing a customer’s review you’re dangerously close to sounding touchy and defensive, or for any number of other reasons. By talking about this subject, Ania not only touches upon this subject but she goes one step further and does so from a analytical point of view. It goes a long way to show how professional and serious she is about her work and I am proud to have her on my blog today. So, here’s what she has to say about the Vampire Reviewer.


There’s something to be said for book reviews. Many writers use them as a tool–a stepping stone to improving their writing. They listen to what their audience wants and try to figure out how to make the next book better. But not all reviews are helpful. If you’re a writer who has sold even a handful of books, you’re going to run into it: the dreaded one and two star review.

Believe it or not, this is what keeps a lot of writers as just that–writers, not published authors. There’s a very real and palpable fear in the writing community of being judged, and not just judged, but judged harshly. And while it’s definitely scary to put yourself and your work out into the world, stalling your own writing career because of that fear is downright silly. But writers do it all the time. They do it because of that one reviewer–the reviewer that’s overly harsh, overly critical, and less than specific about what they liked and didn’t like about a work of literature. Every writer has them. Stephen King has a whole army of haters. They’re vampires, and most of the time they huddle in the shadows not under the cover of night, but under the cover of anonymity.

Vampire reviewers huddle under the cover of anonymity

The fact that sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble allow you to post anonymous reviews is a problem. Quite frankly, it shouldn’t be allowed. The second problem: reviews don’t have a word count requirement, and they should. The fact that people can post reviews without it being tied to them in any way, shape, or form, is basically giving that person license to be an idiot. And while some may say ‘what’s the big deal?’, if you’re a writer, it’s a very big deal. A single mindless comment can bring even the best of us to our knees.

I’m not saying that one and two star reviews shouldn’t exist. I’m a believer of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and if you have an opinion, don’t be afraid to speak your mind. But with reviews, there’s a fine line between critique and critic. Critique puts something on the table, be it a comment on character development or plot. It offers the writer some incite on why the reader didn’t like what they read, and while even the most constructive criticism can sting, it’s at least helpful. The critic is the guy who tosses out one and two star reviews like they’re going out of style. They’ll say something like ‘this book sucked, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody.’ How does that help anyone? It doesn’t offer a potential reader any incite on why the reviewer thought the work was bad; but worst of all, it strips the writer, for just the briefest of moments, of the hard work, the effort, and the dogged determination they put into that novel… and for what? For someone to shout ‘you suck!’ from the rooftops and run away before they can be identified.

Putting a novel up for sale is a hell of a task

I’m a firm believer that if someone isn’t a writer, there’s no way for them to truly understand how much emotion goes in to producing a piece of work. And then there’s the bravery part. Putting a novel up for sale on a site like Amazon, where anyone in the world can purchase it, read it, and judge it, is a hell of a task. It’s hard enough to be judged for any multitude of reasons throughout our lives. It’s even harder when that judgment doesn’t have a name or a face, or, quite frankly, anything constructive to say.

So the next time you’re ready to post a one or two star review, by all means go for it. But stop, take some time, and put some effort into that review, because the author very well may be reading it as soon as you post it, and that author is just as human and imperfect as you are. The only difference is that they’ve got their head on the chopping block, and you’re the one wielding the axe.


AniaBorn in Ciechanow Poland, Ania Ahlborn’s earliest childhood memory is of crawling through a hole in the chain link fence that separated her family home from the large wooded cemetery next door. She’d spend hours among the headstones, breaking up bouquets of silk flowers so that everyone had their equal share. She’s been drawn to the spookier things in life ever since.

Ania has been dabbling in fiction since the age of twelve. She attended the University of New Mexico, where she received her BA in creative writing. Seed is her first published work.

You can find Ania online at www.aniaahlborn.com

Focussing your distribution

There is a saying that goes “Money begets more money,” meaning that the more money you have, the easier it is to make even more of it. The rich get richer, because they can make more lucrative investments.

Talking to many authors over the months, I think we can also draw a parallel here to books. “Sales beget more sales” is a mantra I think most authors will agree with. The more you sell, the more your book will be recognized, the more word of mouth it will generate and the higher it climbs in recommendation- and sales charts.

I am pointing this out, because I want to make you think about your distribution strategy for a moment.

Many authors try to cover as many bases as they can. Any outlet they can get their books listed in, they will do so. The believe is that it is a way to maximize exposure and thus generate more sales. Even if a small distribution portal makes only one sale every six months, it is still a sale, right? Money in your pocket and a reader.

I had the same idea initially but changed my approach over time. I delisted my books in all outlets that do not really perform. That means, I took my books off Google, I took them off Diesel, I took them off Smashwords and a number of other more specialized outlets. For the longest time I didn’t even upload my books to Apple’s iBookstore any more either.

Instead, I am driving all my potential sales to Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Kobo these days. These three are the key players in the market. I have even stopped referring potential buyers directly to the Jason Dark website to purchase their books and instead direct them to the major three also these days.

I am sure that by now you are wondering why I would do such a thing. Surely, I must be losing sales. “No,” I say.

I am no longer diluting my sales, is what I say, and the reason is very simple. “Sales beget more sales.” I am trying to drive every sale I can to Amazon for the simple reason that every single sale made through Amazon, improves my book’s ranking. Improving the book’s ranking improves its exposure. It gets listed higher and more often and as a result I am increasing the chances of the book getting noticed and making another sale which, in turn, makes it climb higher yet, further increasing its exposure and hopefully leading to another sale, and so on. With more sales in a channel the odds of getting additional reviews climbs also, and as we all know, customer reviews are one of the most critical drivers in the entire sales game.

It is very noticeable, I think, that books that make it across a certain magic threshold, suddenly begin to climb at an accelerated pace. They have been discovered. I attribute this phenomenon entirely to the “Sales beget more sales” effect. The sales themselves are perpetuating the book’s success by generating more sales.

So, instead of allowing my book sales to get lost in a labyrinth of a vast number of channels, I am focusing my distribution to the three major players. Companies like Smashwords take pride in the fact that they give you access to many small and some premium channels, but ultimately all of that is for naught. Good luck releasing your book as an iPhone App. Now you’re not only competing with a million other authors, but with about 50 million app developers too, as if things weren’t hard enough as they are. All of that extraneous glitter that companies like Smashwords dangle in front of you is really just a sign of how unfocused they are. Instead of getting their core product – the easy one-step preparation and publishing of eBooks for authors – in shape, for years now they have been chasing down a frazzled track in my opinion. And trust me, their core product needs some serious work.

Every author I talked to in the past 16 months tells me the same story. The real money comes only from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Kobo. Everything else is a trickle. Now, if you funnel that trickle and put it to work for you at one of the big three distributors instead, you may actually have not only those few sales, but you may generate even more by pushing your book further up the search results and rankings.

You may not agree with me, or you may simply be afraid that you might be losing that one extra sale in an obscure channel, but I hope that if nothing else, this has given you some food for thought.

“They just don’t make them like this any more.” Whether it refers to movies, music or books, I am sure you have heard the phrase countless times before. I know I have, and it has been the reason why the Jason Dark supernatural mysteries I’ve been writing are what they are. A throwback to, what I consider, the Golden Era of horror. A kind of story and presentation they just don’t make them like any more.

gothic imageIt seems odd in this day and age for someone to write horror mysteries drenched in gothic atmosphere. While everyone around me seems to be occupied to write modern horror stories that feature either romantic half-monster match-ups or are getting more and more gritty and urban, it appears to me that very few writers actually give a second thought to more traditional horror.

It has led to a remarkable — and very unexpected — side-effect. I deliberately chose the rather unique format for my books and the Victorian England setting to allow me to stand out among what’s currently available, but it has also created the not insignificant challenge for me to explain to people what the Jason Dark supernatural mysteries actually are. People seem to have trouble wrapping their minds around the concept and the initial impressions somehow seem to lead them to wrong conclusions about the stories.

Whenever I drop the term “horror” in a conversation or description, people instantly have preconceived notions. Most people will wave me off right away and tell me they don’t read horror. As a result I find myself explaining to them about the wide gamut that horror actually covers, ranging from something like “Frankenstein,” which many people would probably not even consider horror but an intense character drama, all the way to the ultra-violent and sadistic “Saw” fare. There is a lot in-between and the two ends of the spectrum could not be further apart. Yet, the mere mention of the word “horror” has people dismissing it.

gothic imageEven the term “gothic horror,” which is designed to narrow down the genre somewhat, is all too often misunderstood. I used the term when I released the first Jason Dark stories, because it is what they truly represent. Sadly, too many people associate the term “gothic horror” with pale, pubescent girls wearing too much eye make-up who are desperately crying for attention. Some will see it as a valid lifestyle or fashion trend, but still have only the image of too much mascara in their heads. Neither is what “Gothic horror” means, and neither of it is what my Jason Dark stories are about.

“Gothic horror” is a description for a particular style of horror, which, by tradition, emphasizes atmosphere over graphic violence. A film like the old “Dracula” featuring Bela Lugosi is “gothic,” as is “The Wolfman.” It is all about the creepy imagery and atmosphere. The fog-shrouded forest and cemeteries, castles towering over steep cliffs, things that we know are moving about, terrifyingly dangerous, but we never really see them. Flickering candles in a ghostly house, long, deep shadows and staircases covered in cobwebs. All these are elements of “gothic horror.”

Universal was the master of gothic horror with its early monster movies and the Hammer Film Studios punched it up a notch. Bringing color to the party, they were able to bathe us in deep midnight blue hues, the magnificent crimson satin on the inside of Count Dracula’s cape and the bloodshot red eyes of Christopher Lee. The Hammer horror films were masterfully shot using gothic elements but ramping up their effect over and over again. Sadly, they were often dissed because of their limited budgets, but true fans of the genre will always cherish them for their mood and atmosphere.

It is for those people who love these kinds of horror films as much as I do that I wrote the Jason Dark books. Every time I read and finished a horror novel, I walked away, telling myself, “They just don’t write them any more the way they did.” If you go to Amazon and you try to search for quality gothic horror books you will find yourself in quite a bit of a predicament. Most of them you will probably have read already because they are classics like “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde,” Edgar Allan Poe’s work and such fare. You may be lucky and find a few, rare gems that are newer, but the majority of more modern gothic stories followed on the heels of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and most of those were already more romanticized than gothic.

gothic imageFinding fresh gothic horror content is hard — in fact I find it virtually impossible. As a result people are no longer familiar with the term or these atmospheric settings and the wonderful creepiness these stories often have. By consequence, they also have trouble imagining what Jason Dark stories would be like.

Using atmospheric cover artwork has always been my main approach to ring across the atmosphere of the books. If you look at Dr. Prometheus, for example with its cover that show gravediggers in front of a full moon, to me the message and atmosphere of the story is immediately clear.

In the sixteen months since I have launched the first Jason Dark books, I have found that it has required my eternal attention to somehow bring across the setting and atmosphere of these stories so that they might find an audience. Maybe articles like this one will help getting people excited about these action-packed creepy mysteries.

This morning I received a note by horror writer Gord Rollo that I thought I’d share with you real quick. It is a blurb that he wrote for my Jason Dark series of his own accord — meaning, I did not ask him for a blurb!

Naturally, I feel very flattered that a well-known and traditionally published writer took enough notice of my stories that he actually took the time to write about it. So, here it goes…

“I’ll admit it; I’m a sucker for gothic horror adventures and believe they’re a sub-genre woefully neglected these days. Thankfully Guido Henkel knows how to skillfully and smoothly lure his readers from the gore-drenched pages of today’s fiction back in time to Victorian England where the demons and monsters and vampires stalk the fog-shrouded cobblestone streets of a simpler yet deadly period in history. With Jason Dark, ghost hunter and paranormal investigator, Guido has created a hero for the ages; a fearless avenger of evil keeping England safe from the things that slither and creep within the shadows of the night. So put on your overcoat and top hat and hail yourself a Hansom Cab; you’re about to set forth on a journey unlike anything you’ve experienced since the days of Watson and Holmes. Hang on tight. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to love the ride. Highly recommended!”

Gord Rollo
Author of Valley Of The Scarecrow and The Jigsaw Man

Needless to say that I fell very flattered by his comments.

In other news, I wanted to let you all know that it is time for me to raise the price of Curse of Kali to its intended $2.99. If you haven’t bought the book yet, make sure to grab a copy right now, while it is still only 99 cents and before the distribution outlets all update their prices.

I also want to point out, however, that Demon’s Night will remain at a 99 cent price point. I am positioning that particular book — the first adventure featuring Jason Dark — to make it more attractive for people to start reading their way into the series.

I will make this short today, because I’m busy with some other stuff, but I wanted to post these tidbits real quick.

Another guest blog of mine showed up around the Internet today. This time I am writing about eBooks and how There’s more to eBooks than MOBI and EPUB, over at The Creative Penn. If you are a self-published author, I think you should head over there and take a gander. Even if you disagree or think you’re settled just fine, read it, just for the perspective, perhaps.

fangoria 3030 coverIn other news, I wanted to remind everyone to pick up Fangoria issue #303. It contains the second part of my Jason Dark serial Food for the Dead, and you don’t want to miss it. You better hurry, because in about a week or two, this issue will disappear from newsstands already, to be replaced with the next one. I would hate for you to miss one installment in the serial, just because I forgot to remind you all.

Speaking of Food for the Dead I also wanted to give a quick shout-out to my writer buddy Joe Nassise, who – upon my urging – has taken it upon himself to actually edit the serial for me. If you’re not familiar with his work, make sure to check it out. He is a fabulous writer with great stories to tell. Joe did a wonderful job tightening some of my writing and making it more concise.

Writing the Fangoria piece was particularly challenging for me, because I had to write to spec. Not like a short story where they tell you, write something between 7,000 and 10,000 words. Here I had to write every single one of the five installments on spec to fit in 820 words. That is the space and guideline I was given. Fitting the entire story into that framework, making sure the cliffhangers worked while also ensuring I am picking up the story in a sensible, easy to follow way every month was quite a challenge. I spent hours brooding over paragraphs, trying to cut the word count down. What do you do when you are 20 words over budget, but every single one of your words matters? Occasionally I just went crazy and deleted an entire sentence, only to notice after it was gone that, perhaps, it wasn’t all that necessary after all.

Demon's night coverIf you enjoyed Food for the Dead so far, I would like to urge you to pick up one of the other Jason Dark mysteries. Demon’s Night is a great way to get started in the full-length stories, or if you want to check how the latest Jason Dark adventure reads like, give Curse of Kali a try. Both are still available for only 99 cents on Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Kobo Books.

But ultimately, the Jason Dark supernatural mysteries are designed so readers can pick up any one of them at any time and just get to reading. They are all stand-along mysteries and you don’t need to read them in order or anything. Just pick the subject matter that appeals the most to you – vampires, demons, ghosts, or whatnot – and give it a try.

You know, of course, that you don’t even need an eBook reader to read eBooks, right? Use Amazon’s free Kindle software and you can read all Kindle books on your laptop or desktop computer – even on your cell phone, if you wish.

So, what are you waiting for? I really can’t make it any easier for you.

Over the past weekend I was visiting the World Horror Convention 2011 in Austin, a place where horror writers from all over the country get together, share ideas, tips, experiences and lots of beer.

I was on a panel on Friday afternoon, carrying the title “Fresh Blood,” during which I had the chance to relay my story as to how I got into writing. It was a nice, lively panel with some great fellow authors, some of which had great stories to tell. I was happy to see a healthy turnout and hope that those of you who had the chance to attend enjoyed the session and got some entertainment value out of it. (I doubt we were really giving advice per se, since we mostly relayed war stories, but you never know.)

There were a couple of fine panels and sessions during the show most of them involved Brian Keene in one way or another. As a matter of fact, Brian was virtually omnipresent at the show, appearing on every other panel while also holding book readings, hanging at the parties and the mass signing, of course. In fact, when, on Thursday night, I arrived at the hotel where the conference was hosted, Keene was still having a panel at 10:30 at night. Talk about a working man here.

Peter Straub was also walking the hallways relentlessly and appeared on panels almost every day of the conference. In the times in between he was talking to other authors and signing books all the time. I had the chance to chat with him myself and enjoyed it greatly. After all, Peter Straub is not only one of the most prolific writers in the horror genre, eclipsed perhaps only by his friend and occasional collaborator Stephen King, but he is what I would call a writer’s writer. He is the example we are all striving for, not only in volume and sales, but also in quality.

But there were many other memorable moments for me, such as my meeting Gene O’Neill, whom I had talked to online a number of times but had never met in person, as well as Gord Rollo. Gord, as you may know, is a writer very much to my taste as his stories — and his interests, as I found out — are usually rooted much more in traditional horror than modern goreware.

I have made many more acquaintances and hopefully new friends during the show and I am very much looking forward to meeting them all again.

The one thing I did notice during the convention, however, was how absent digital technologies were in all the discussions. Practically all writers came from a traditional background and interestingly enough most of them view eBooks as a sideshow — something that may become interesting at some point, but is not at all at the forefront of their minds. Well, with all due respect, I think it is time to put some educational panels together for upcoming writers conferences that explain to writers that the digital revolution has not only arrived but is about to devour the few scraps they are receiving from the traditional publishing houses.

In the meanwhile things have been moving on here as well, of course. I had decided to take a 10 day Internet sabbatical and disappeared almost entirely from social networks for the time being. I also responded to email only in small time windows during the period and did almost no Internet browsing. These things, combined, are such time sinks that I felt I had to turn my back on them to get some work done just before the show. I am glad to say it did work out well and I may have to do it again, more frequently.

The thing is that I spend so much time trying to get my Jason Dark books noticed that on many days I find no time to actually write. I don’t like those days. I love writing and I feel somewhat robbed of the privilege on days where everything else is bogging me down. It is hard however, to simply sit back and ignore the fact that my book sales are small and stagnant and I constantly feel the need to be doing more to increase my books’ visibility. Ultimately, however, it becomes so frustrating when you see that not only time is fleeting away between your fingers in chunks that could choke a T-Rex, but that in many ways it is for naught. Oftentimes all the effort results in a single 99 cent sale and that is clearly a bad value proposition for the time and energy spent.

So, I have decided to fret less and instead write more, and hopefully I will be able to show some results in the not too distant future.

More guest blog posts should be coming up in the next weeks — they have been delayed by the various site operators for reasons beyond my control — but for the time being, check out this cool interview on Geeks of Doom were I had the chance to elaborate on many things regarding my books. I am sure you will find it an interesting read, and perhaps it will even inspire to pick up one of the books. Don’t forget, Curse of Kali is still available for only 99 cents on Amazon and at Barnes&Noble.

In the meanwhile, let me remind everyone also that I do offer eBook formatting as a service, so if you would like to get your manuscript turned into a proper eBook, feel free to contact me for a quote.