Am I A Real Writer?

All throughout Twitter one can see other writers describing their process…and the superstitions, er…I mean preparations to help them begin writing. I read and take note of these, but I fear I don’t qualify, as I do none of the things I see other writers doing.

Here is a list concerning all the ancillary work in which other writers seem to glory.



Coffee. Let me state now: I do not drink coffee. Not only does it lack the magic powers it seems to give other writers, it tears up my stomach something shocking. I see posts in which folk run out of coffee–or don’t have their favorite brand–and actually admit they can do no writing until the problem is fixed. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I must wonder if I’m a true writer.



Cats. Oh, dear. This is a biggie. It’s not that I dislike cats, it’s that I’m deathly allergic to them. How allergic, you might ask? I was in a production of A Christmas Story two or three years ago, and the director delivered the script to me. As I read over it, I noticed my nose began running, and my throat closed up to the size of a dime. It became bad enough that I considered going to the ER. Before I did so, I called the director and asked if he had cats, as my symptoms were identical to that allergy. He admitted he had several. I wrapped the script in a plastic bag, tied it up, and set it outside. My symptoms abated within moments. THAT’S how bad my cat allergy is. So no cat for me pawing at the keyboard while I’m trying to type. Fuzz balls of death, I call them.



Writing circles (whether formal or informal). I just don’t get it. I can’t imagine showing my unfinished work to a group of other writers for critique. My first draft is usually squalor. Worse than squalor. By the time I type “The End” on a project, I reread what I’ve written and slip into a bout of severe depression. “I’m no writer,” I moan to myself. “I’m just a fraud. Who am I kidding?” Then I see folk extoling the praises of dozens of writers with whom they’re in contact…and so I ask, “But what about me? I’ve written and published several projects! My latest anthology–a post-apocalyptic collection of short stories–is represented by twenty authors, one of which is me! I’ve an original Irish collection, a horror collection, a zombie story that eschews all the zombie tropes! Why not include me?” -sigh- Relegated to anonymity. Again, I could never show my first drafts to anyone, so it’s a moot point.



I’ve a hard time Tweeting with professional writers–the Bestsellers, that is. I admire them, follow them on Twitter, read every word they Tweet or publish…but the thought of communicating with them leaves me feeling even more a fraud. That’s not to say I haven’t done so. Just last night I Tweeted Anne Rice about a political piece she posted on her Twitter feed. No response, of course–she undoubtedly receives hundreds of Tweets a day from folk like me–but I did it. And other than a few Tweets to Stephen King and Nora Roberts, I’ve stayed away from the big boys/girls. (Although I did Tweet actor/songwriter Paul Williams, which wound up being a great conversation, ongoing to this day. He even followed me. Heady stuff!)



I’m an indie-author. Many of the writers I follow have agents and are published through the big houses. But this is my choice, as my limited association with a publisher–this one for plays–wound up being a four-year battle in which the manuscript was “lost,” could I resend it? “No, I received a receipt that you had it, loved it, and was sending it up the ladder for approval. I will NOT send another, as you clearly already have one.” A few years later–after I considered that play a loss–another play that was practically identical to mine opened on Broadway. It was changed in nonsensical ways, and it folded during previews. I sent a short, terse card to the publisher (who shall remain nameless) that said: “If you’d only kept my original material you might’ve had a hit on your hands.” So I’m an indie-author, AND an indie-publisher. That has proven difficult, but ultimately rewarding. Traditional publishing will be dead in twenty years anyway, so I’m not worried about it.

Those are but a few reasons why it’s difficult for me to consider myself an author. But in other ways I have help in indie-authors cheering me on, as I do them. Without their support, I don’t know if I’d even keep at it. I’ve sold several project, and they do okay. Our current anthology is selling like gangbusters, and I believe that’s because it represents twenty different authors–all of whom are promoting the book. It may be the first project of mine I’m truly proud of.

Well, there it is. Why I don’t feel like a true writer. I should add that’s only on bad days (which can be numerous)–the good days fill me with excitement and desire to write twelve different projects at once. I pick one, of course, but I always have another book in the back of my mind while writing the current WIP. I’m blessed with a source of stories that never quits. Whether they are appreciated by the reading public or not doesn’t concern me. I write books I want to read…then I publish them under our publishing banner…BANJAXED Books…for others to either enjoy or ignore.

I get a lot of the latter. But when I hear from someone who reads the work and praises it, it gives me ten seconds of joy. Then I’m back to wondering just what the hell I’m trying to accomplish as a writer.

To quote Vonnegut: “So it goes.”

Anthology News


A Post-Apocalyptic Anthology


Chaos of Hard Clay, published by BANJAXED Books, is a collection of new stories detailing life after the Apocalypse. Within its pages readers will find mutants, plagues, zombies, climate change, and a host of other catastrophes that could change our way of life forever.

Twenty authors bring readers their vision of a world gone mad, a society in ruins, and characters doing whatever must be done for survival. Here you’ll meet the good, the bad, and the mutated–all of them adapted to a way of life readers hope will never occur.

At over 72,000 words, Chaos of Hard Clay represents a sprawling vision of Hell on Earth, brought to you by today’s most promising authors, including:

(in order of appearance)

Olin Wish (Take Me to Your Fucking Leader)

N. J. Reynolds (Black Water)

Luke Kondor (Dust and Fingers)

Jim O’Donnell (Hanging, Just Outside the World)

Daniel Willcocks (When the World Fled East)

G. H. Finn (Grim Diesel)

Vonnie Winslow Crist (Dead Wrong)

Steven Bissonnette (And To All a Good Night)

Ray Pew (How Do They Like It)

Megan Manzano (Verity)

Kamron Taylor (What Remains)

Han Adcock (A Short History of the Future)

Jack Stone (After)

David Henderson (A Game of Tag)

Roxanne Dent (Ghost Woman)

Hákon Gunnersson (What’s Below the Surface)

Jessica Mizell (Been Here Before)

Crystal Leflar (No Tears to Spare)

Justin Bloch (The Beginning, Again)

G. Allen Cook (Endgames and Epilogues)

Launching in December, 2017, Chaos of Hard Clay will thrill readers with extreme images of a world that could easily come to be. Plan to purchase this new paperback and share in the exciting tales brought to you by these engaging authors.

More info coming soon.

Submissions for a New Anthology

I’ve contributed to a couple of anthologies over the past year, and it’s always fun coming up with stories that fit a set theme. Some of them were horror–one was comedy. I said it was fun, but there’s also a certain challenge vying for a coveted spot in any given collection of stories.

Mulling my goals for 2017 I decided to put out an anthology of my own–one dealing with my favorite literary theme: post-apocalypse. I don’t know why I get off on that genre, but give me “Swan Song,” by McCammon, “Canticle for Leibowitz,” by Miller, or the best of the lot, “The Stand,” by King, and I’m a happy camper. I suppose there’s a certain glee in imagining a world without reality TV, insane gas prices, and mortgages. All very pleasant…unless the apocalypse comes about by nuclear war or warring aliens.

So: Chaos of Hard Clay, an anthology of post-apocalyptic short stories. For those who wish to know more before they submit, go to Submissions on the homepage of this website. Writers have plenty of time to come up with something, as stories aren’t due till June 30, 2017. It would be swell to have twenty or so tales to include in this publication, so get thee to it!

The anthology will be put out by our publishing house, BANJAXED BOOKS, and the more contributing writers publicize the collection, the better sales will be. Large sales mean another anthology. We are a cottage industry–my wife, Kathy, serves as editor, and I serve as executive editor and publisher. We also have a pro cover artist. My own books and collections do well, so–with a little help from selected writers–Chaos of Hard Clay should be a hot property.

If time permits, I’ll give feedback on those stories not selected, and, if needed, I may ask authors to amend aspects of their stories (only to make them better).

Good luck, and let’s see some original stories come out of this project. I cannot wait to read your work.


Making Plans For 2017

I hope everyone who celebrates it had a good Thanksgiving. This is the second round of holidays since my father died, and it remains somewhat painful. Still, I’m trying to move on, and my son and wife make it a bit easier.

I’ve decided to spend all of December plotting out what I’m going to write–and when–in 2017. I prefer having a plan over just winging it, and I’m ready to make the move into longer works…something that will require a stricter working schedule.

I also plan to write another musical, which is work of a much longer, more in-depth nature. It’s looking like I’ll have to split my days; mornings for dramatic work, afternoons for prose.

For now, I’m concentrating on my short story collections, especially “Christmas Eves.” If you have not downloaded this particular book to your Kindle, do yourself a favor and get it now! It is comprised of three tales, all told in a different genre:

“The Pariah Prophet”–Dark Fantasy

“She May Be Called a Sovereign Lady”–Science Fiction


Just the thing for this time of year!

I plan to use this blog more in the coming years, as it’s a fantastic way to communicate with readers. Blogging once a week would be optimal, but we’ll see how it goes. It sometimes feels as if my brain is a whirlpool, and once its drained…well, there’s nothing left to contribute until it fills up again. But I’d love to hear from readers, so feel free to message me. And don’t forget to find me on Facebook and Twitter! My tags are at the top of the page.

I wish you all peace and happiness. May the world’s problems be few in this time of goodwill.

Till next time!



Robbed of Sleep Volume 5, Royalties, and Fall

I’ve been publishing my fiction for over a year now, and I’m one of the lucky few who receives a royalty check every month. It’s not an enormous sum of money, but it keeps the family is gas and toothpaste.

Earlier today, I checked my payments records and discovered I had another check coming my way. Giddily clicking the link to see how much I’d be getting, I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw $2.80 in the total box.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Still, it means I’ve sold a couple of books, and I feel fortunate in that. I know folk who publish their work to a resounding silence. I can’t imagine working as hard as I do on my writing only to see it sit–unread–on an obscure Amazon page.

I do not write for money, but neither do I return the royalties when they come my way. I’m no blockhead. Why this month’s check was so low, I’m not sure, but it has spurred me to work harder at marketing my work. Sure, I typically see more than $2.80, but I would hate for that low sum to become the norm.

I suppose that’s why the going wisdom dictates that a writer not look at his payments on a daily basis. If I saw a lowball sum everyday, I’m sure the quality of my writing would take a woeful hit.

Ah, well. I’ve faith that next month’s royalties will be better.

Speaking of my work: I’m proud to announce that I’ve another story in the wonderful anthology, Robbed of Sleep: Volume 5, called Anemone. I consider this the best addition to the series, and I encourage you to purchase it soon. I’ve read it cover to cover, and the tales therein blew me away. It’s too bad some of the contributing writers aren’t making the big bucks, as they have the talent to do so. Then again, RoS might not be as magical as it is without said authors, so I’m glad to be counted among them.

Go to Blog and Buy on this website and click the link beneath the Robbed of Sleep: Volume 5 cover to relocate to the book’s Amazon page. If that’s too much work for you, click the cover itself below this post for the same service.

I’ve more projects in the pipeline, so check back often to see what’s new here. Till then, happy Fall. It won’t be long before the stifling heat and summer things are replaced by chilly evenings, pumpkins, and the crackle of leaves blowing across the sidewalks. All very nice. I’ve an anthology of personal stories of horror and strange fiction that would go well with this time of year–Odd Men Out. Find it over in the Blog and Buy section.

In the meantime, though, here’s the link to the new Robbed of Sleep. Enjoy!


New Short Story

Just a quick note to let readers and visitors know I’ve a short story, “No Easy Trick,” in a new humor anthology, “Ellipsis.”

The stories in the collection range from the silly to the bombastic, and I’m glad to be counted among all these talented writers.

Special thanks to Dylan Callens, my editor on this project, and all my fellow authors in “Ellipsis.”

Go to my Blog and Buy section–or click the cover below–to go to the book’s Kindle page. I’ve been told there will be a paperback edition within days.

Get the book and have a good laugh. Heavens knows we could use one!

Ellipsis cover

Christmas In July Giveaway

My three-story collection, Christmas Eves, will be free for the Amazon Kindle from Thursday, July 21, till Sunday, July 24.

This is one of my favorite personal anthologies, as it covers three distinct genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Humor. The stories within are:

The Pariah Prophet

She May Be Called a Sovereign Lady


Tired of the heat? Need a little (early) Christmas in your life? Be sure to download a copy of Christmas Eves during its brief giveaway. And–as always–do me the favor of leaving a review on Amazon (and/or Goodreads) once you’ve read the stories.

Thanks so much. More soon about my next project.

Till next time.




Starting here/Starting now…

I’ve sharpened the pencils, arranged the trinkets upon my desk a dozen times, and filled a small notebook with notes. I’ve created a new document file on my computer. My schedule is clear till the end of the year. All this means one thing:

I’ve started writing a new novel. A multi-genre quest in a world built from the burning sand up to the rainless sky.

That’s all I can say, other than I am full of excitement, fear, doubt, and curiosity. As always.

Here’s to a new endeavor!



Writing as Medicine

I’m glad to announce my new book of original Irish folktales, Beyont the Banjaxed, is available for purchase.

The format affectionately apes the short story collections of Lloyd Alexander, the grandfather of the YA novel…an author I knew and corresponded with in his last seven years. This is not to say my stories stray anywhere near Lloyd’s level, but my small book is a loving homage to my favorite writer/friend.

Writing the stories almost came to a standstill, however, when I started experiencing strange sensations and voices and was remanded to a psyche ward for three days. I’m not embarrassed by this–mental illness needs to be talked about and researched more than it is. They diagnosed me with having a psychotic episode brought on by lack of sleep for five days and being off my medication. They believe, as do I, that it was a singular event. (As long as I follow a structured sleep pattern, which I try to do.)

Being stripped of normal clothing–and bunking in an empty room (except for two beds) with a heroine addict–provided moments of terror, introspection, and anger. Anger at the world, my family for abandoning me in so dreadful a facility, and, most of all, mad at myself. Nighttime was the worst, as Red says in Shawshank, and the only thing that prevented my screaming in the dark was dreaming up the stories for this book.

Writing is a medicine better than any I’ve ever known, and I take a lot of medicines. When I’m sick, when I’m down, when the money or the love is not there, when the kid breaks a window or neighborhood cats mark their territory on my carport–writing takes it all away. It is both torture and tonic. While I’m in the midst of composition, well before a final edit/polish, I hate what I write. But (paradoxically) it helps me, all the same. It is the injection that rids me of the anger and the fear and the dread. Without writing, I would not need medicine…I would either be permanently interred in the funny farm, or I’d be interred six feet under. Writing is living; writing is life.

Banjaxed Manuscript

Beyont the Banjaxed is my favorite collection of stories, so far. They make me laugh, as they did while I was writing them. I think it my better work, and, if you’re so inclined, I encourage you to give the stories a try. Like all of Lloyd Alexander’s work, it is fit for adults and children. The Gaelic may strain your equanimity, but don’t let that deter you! If you come upon an Irish name that seems impossible to say, pronounce it any ol’ way you like. Once you pay the insulting price of $0.99 for a copy of the eBook, it’s yours to do with–and read–as you please.

And remember: Writing is more than an ephemeral balm. It is a physical remedy to the Universe’s little moments of hilarity. It is also my passion, my love, and, luckily, my vocation.

How sweet it is, even on the gray days.

Banjaxed Cover

Upcoming Collection of Irish Folktales (UPDATE 5/4/16)

(UPDATE: Sickness and other worries took me out in February and March. On the mend now…and writing again. Just finished a submission to a horror anthology–tomorrow I get back to work on “Beyont the Banjaxed.”

Thank you for your patience. I’m hoping 2016 will see several of my projects published and in the hands of readers.)

It’s been a long time coming, but my book of Irish folktales, “Beyont the Banjaxed”, will soon launch.

This has been a personal experience for me, as I set out to emulate the immaculate style of friend, correspondent (until his death), and grandfather of the modern YA genre, Lloyd Alexander. I didn’t copy him, of course, but it was great fun composing each story in a form reminiscent of those wonderful books from my childhood.

This collection of stories is appropriate for everyone–but don’t let that run you off! It’s a fine line, writing something that appeals to adults as well as to children, but I hope I managed to cross it…winded, weary, and unsure of the outcome. It will be up to readers to decide. I’m proud of it, anyway.

I’ll write more when it comes closer to launch time, but: For the nonce, here’s the cover to the new piece.

Banjaxed Cover

If you don’t know what banjaxed means…or are afraid the entire book will be inaccessible to all but the most literate of us out there…fear not: It is not important to pronounce the Gaelic names correctly, and–anyway–I’ll include a pronunciation guide. As for the word banjaxed, I’ll explain the title of the book of stories in my Author’s Note.

Till then have a good one, read something, writing something, and turn off the tube and detox from this crazy political period. It’ll do you a world of good.

As always, if you’d like to purchase my collections so far, click Blog and Buy on this very website. I’m slowly growing my inventory, and I hope to have several more options to choose from my Christmas.

More anon.