Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Aaaaand done... Really...

Soooo yeah, I said it would take about a week or so to finish up adding things into I Am Nobody... but it was more like a month.  Yeah, work sucks.  Oh well.  Buy, anyway, it's done.  I've reposted the individual chapters as well as the entire manuscript on my website (Full Final Final Final Draft) and you can find them at the bottom of this page if you feel so inclined.

This is as done as it is ever going to be until someone reads it and tells me it sucks and what I need to change.  I promise.  Really.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


So, there I was, the day after i wrote up that gigantic post about being done and I thought to myself, hey self, guess what?  And I was like, I dunno self, what?  Well, you just had this awesome idea for something to add to I Am Nobody, and it's going to take a crapton of work to get it done, and it'll probably take you about a week or so to do it.  And I was like, uhg, really self, you couldn't have told me that like six months ago?  So yeah, then I started making these awesome little changes that I had the idea to make, and I was just about done, when suddenly *dramatic pause* my computer died.  So I had to wait a week and a half for the guys at PC Laptops to fix it for me before I could get back to work and actually finish.  So yeah got a few more days worth of work to go on it, but then I'll really, really, really be done... ish... I hope.

Monday, June 2, 2014

I'm Done... Again... Sort of...

Okay, so I've finished my rewrite of I Am Nobody and have posted it on my website.  It can be found at the bottom of this page in individual chapters as well as the entire manuscript, aptly titled "Full Even More Final Draft".

What happens next?

Well, what I want to do is find a few people to read this book and give me honest feedback.  Things like, did you like it?  Did you not like it?  Why?  What did you like about it?  What did you not like about it?  What changes you would make to it?  Do you like the main character?  Does she seem to act and talk like a teenaged girl or not?  Did you find it particularly frightening?  Did I go too far with the gore, or tension?  You know, stuff like that.  I don't need a spelling, grammar and punctuation checker.  I have a freaking college degree in English.  I just need honest feedback.  If anyone actually reads this blog and would like to volunteer their services for this, please feel free to e-mail me at, and I'll e-mail you a copy of the manuscript.

Why do a whole rewrite at all?

Well, when I first started putting this story together about five or six years ago, I was really set on writing a young adult horror novel.  When I was a teenager, I really enjoyed horror novels, but I could never really find any that were written for people my age, and were legitimately scary.  They all seemed dumbed down, as if the authors were too afraid to just go all out and scare the crap out of kids.  As I began doing my outlining for this book, I started to fall into that mindset myself.  I wanted to write a scary book, but this story was really dark, really violent, and maybe a little too intense for someone in their mid teens to handle.  I didn't want to be the cause of some poor kid spending the rest of his or her life in therapy.  So, I did what those other writers did, and dumbed it down.  I dumbed it down to the point that it was no longer even a horror story, but more of a supernatural mystery type thing.

So, I started trying to sell the previous incarnation of this book, and I got some feedback from agents saying that it was a little too bland, it wasn't exciting enough to keep a teenager's attention, there was something missing, etc.  So I took a look at it, and started trying to figure out why I was getting these reactions from people.

I went to a book signing by Brandon Sanderson at the Barnes and Noble across the street from my apartment, and I laid out the problem I was having for him.  He has always been really great about giving me advice at signings.  He also has a podcast that he does with a few writing buddies of his where they offer advice to amateur writers like myself.  Anyway, he hit the nail right on the head.  He asked me, "well, if you wanted to write a horror story for teens... why didn't you write a horror story for teens?"

And so I went back to my original concept of the story.  The really dark, really violent, and really scary version that I originally planned to write before I lobotomized and neutered it all in one.  And I thought to myself.  This.  This is what this story is missing.  I should have just written it this way to begin with.  Hey idiot, remember when you were a teenager reading Stephen King because no one writing horror books for people your age could get it right, you just did what you really hated other authors doing when you were a kid.  I remember being really annoyed that authors of young adult books put on the padded gloves while writing, and never really treated me like a soon to be adult.  And so I said to myself.  Welp, lets see what I can do to change this thing.

What has changed in this version?

This version of I Am Nobody is 50% longer than the original version.  I added just under 50,000 words to it. 
I tried to give Mia, the main character, a bit more personality.
I added in far more graphic descriptions of the murders.
I added in far more graphic descriptions of Mia's reactions to them.
I added in new powers for the killer, and upped the craziness and brutality of his actions.
I added in several new subplots, including one about Mia's own amateur investigations of the murders, a moral dilemma about being able to kill another person, and a plot by the Hunters to kill Death that Mia gets herself caught up in the middle of.
I added in a bunch of new lore for the Grim Reapers and the Hunters to better flesh them out as organizations, and to flesh out their rivalry with one another.
I reevaluated my chapter breaks, moving them around, and splitting some to add tension.
I rewrote entire sections of the book from scratch to change the overall tone and atmosphere of the story to my originally intended horror.

Now, horror, I've found, is a very weird thing.  When I first started putting this story together, I asked myself, if I were a teenaged girl, what would I fear most in the entire world?  What would turn me into a jibbering, crying wreck that wanted to curl up in a ball and hide in the closet?  It took me a while to come up with an answer to that.  I actually asked a few women I happen to be acquainted with.  Yes, I know, Eric... knows women...?  Yes, hell might just have frozen over.  The answer I came up with after all of that was rape.  As a man, rape is not something that I personally find very frightening, because the chances of it happening to me are nearly 0.  However, after sitting down and thinking about it for a good long while, I began to understand why a teenaged girl would by, and how it would feel to be faced with this.  I've read many a horror novel where the things happening were not particularly scary on their own terms.  There's plenty out there that frightens me, it's just that most authors never write about that sort of thing.  But I still find some of them scary.  And I've found that if the writer can convey how terrified their character is over what they're being faced with in such a way, the reader can actually feel that fear themselves, even if its over something that they, themselves, are not particularly frightened of.  Really good horror authors can make unscary things scary by proxy through the reactions and emotions of their characters.  That's kind of what I tried to do here.  I took something that I was not very afraid of personally, and put myself in the shoes of my character and tried to describe in very vivid and horrifying detail how she felt and why she felt that way, and hopefully, I did it well enough that the fear comes through to the reader.  I tried to make the book scary through the main character's reactions and emotions, and by manipulating the atmosphere and tone of scenes to give what I feel is a very creepy vibe.  I also changed a few key scenes where Mia encounters the Hunter in such a way that he is pretty frightening all on his own merits, without even taking his actions into account.  He says and does some really disgusting, creepy, completely insane, and just plain evil things.

So, yeah, that's what I've been doing for the last year, rewriting this book into the book that I originally intended it to be.  If you would like to volunteer to be one of my test readers, again, send me an e-mail at

Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Review: Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Soooo, I've posted my review of Skin Game: Book 15 of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher on Goodreads if you feel the great urge to check it out.

Yes, that's right.  I still write book reviews.  I know I haven't posted many in the last year of so on my blog here, because I've been ridiculously busy, but I still have been writing them.  If you feel the great urge, you can check out any that you might have missed here.

Anyway, the latest book in the Dresden Files is AWESOME!!!  I loved it.  Jim Butcher keeps finding ways to keep things interesting with Harry Dresden, even though this is the fifteenth book of the series.  That's a pretty rare thing as far as book series go.  There's a gigantic fangasm moment or two in this one.  One of them involving my favorite Dresden Sidekick, Michael.  So yeah, if you're a fan of the Dresden Files, definitely check this one out.  If you're not, why aren't you?  Go read the first book, Storm Front right now!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Adventures in Mail Delivery Part... whatever part we're up to now...

I LIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!  ........I think.......

Well, after more than a year of working my butt off, the hiring freeze at work has been lifted (again) and they've been able to hire people so that I'm not working 400 hours a week.  And to all of you out there who say there aren't 400 hours in a week, you've clearly never had to work that much before.  A week is bigger on the inside!

Soooo, I'm almost done with my new and improved version of I Am Nobody, it should be finished within the week, and I'll be looking for a few test readers to take a look and be brutally honest about what they didn't like about it.  I'll have it posted on my site, but if anyone out there actually reads this blog, and would like to volunteer their services, drop me an e-mail at and I'll send you a copy of the finished manuscript.  I'm not talking anything like spell checking or whatever.  I just want people to read it, and tell me what they thought of it.  Was it good?  Why?  Was it bad?  Why?  What did you like about it?  What did you not like about it?  What changes would you suggest I make to make it better?  That sort of thing.  It's not a very long book, in fact it's the shortest book I've ever written, at under 140k words (230ish single spaced pages in 12 point times new roman).  In my opinion, it's also the best book I've ever written, but, I always say that, and I'm rather biased anyway.  What I need is someone, preferably a few someones, who can look at it and see any problems that I can't.

And now, with that out of the way, here is a tale of woe and hilarity, a recounting of an incident that took place naught four hours thence. 

So, usually a day after a holiday weekend is pretty terribad.  Mail still comes on Sunday and Federal Holidays like Memorial Day yesterday, it's just not delivered.  Meaning that the Tuesday after the holiday has three days worth of mail to be delivered.  However, this day after the holiday weekend decided to smile upon us poor wretches at the postal service, and things were not so bad.  I flew through my route, getting done earlier than I do on most non-day-after-holiday days.  I reached my final delivery, was all ready to head back to the office, when disaster struck.  I knew it was too good to be true.

Now, for those of you who do not know, there is an often ignored federal law that states a postal carrier is not allowed to hand mail to anyone outside of a post office, residence or place of business.  If the carrier walks something up to your door, he can hand it to you, if you walk out to your mailbox and hold out you hand, however, he is breaking the law by handing the mail directly to you, rather than putting it in the mailbox.  You're putting him is a really awkward position by standing there holding out your hand and expecting him to hand your mail to you, because he doesn't want to be rude, but if his supervisor happens to see him doing it, he's toast.

When I was but a young postal worker, ten years ago when I first started, I made the mistake of breaking this law in ignorance of it.  The woman standing at the mailbox was in a very bitter divorce with the man who lived there, and I handed his paycheck right to her, which she was able to cash because they had yet to close their shared bank account.  I had to pay back then entire lost paycheck to the man out of my own pocket, and I was nearly fired for it.  I managed to keep my job because my defense was pretty good. "How can I obey a law that you never bothered to tell me exists?"  I did get a good, long, LOUD talking to over it though, and it was made very clear, in no uncertain terms, that I am not to hand any mail to any one for any reason EVER!

And that brings me back to my last delivery of the day.  My route is made up of CBUs.  That stands for Community Box Unit.  It's one of those community boxes where the entire street has their mailbox in the one unit, and all of the boxes have locks on them.  You see them a lot at apartments, and in newer residential areas.  Now, if just handing mail to someone who is standing at the mailbox in front of their house is enough to almost get me fired, what do you think would happen to me if I unlocked a locked mailbox and handed its contents to a random stranger that walked up to me off the street?  Yeah, if that ever got back to my bosses, I'd be canned so fast I'd probably get whiplash.

So, low and behold, what should appear before my eyes, by a woman demanding, "give me my mail," after I had closed the box up and was getting ready to head back to the office.

"Excuse me," I replied.

"Give me my mail, NOW," the lady said.

"Okay, which house is yours, I'll see what I can do for you, do you have your key?"

Now, at this point I would like to point out that many people believe if they simply show me their ID that I can hand their mail to them.  This is false.  I cannot hand anything to you outside of the post office, your front step, or inside a place of business, PERIOD.

"We lost our key.  Here's my ID."

"I'm sorry, I can't hand anything to you, even with ID.  It's the law."

I then explained how she could get a replacement key for her box, and how to place her mail on temporary hold at the post office so that she can pick it up there if there is anything important that she is expecting.

Now, throughout this exchange, this woman was acting very suspiciously.  We mail carriers are trained to notice such things.  She kept fidgeting, as though she knew she was doing something wrong and did not want to be caught, and she kept looking over her shoulder toward one of the houses as if she was checking to make sure no one was watching her.  Additionally, she was acting with a great deal of hostility toward me, which is another sign that she might not be 100% legit.  With all of the identity theft going on these days, and with so many people who get their paychecks mailed to them, security of the mail is a very high priority, and any carrier worth a damn is going to have red flags and alarms going off in his head over this sort of behavior.  If anyone acts in a manner that is, in any way, suspicious to the carrier, that carrier is to get away ASAP and report this person to the police.

The woman would not take no for an answer and began arguing with me over it.  I just kept telling her the same thing over and over again.

After she saw that I wasn't going to budge on the issue, she changed the subject of the argument.

"How dare you argue with me," she said.  "I'm a woman."

Inwardly I thought, "yeah, and?  What's your point?  Men and women have been arguing with each other since the beginning of time.  What makes you so special?"

Outwardly I said, "you're the one that's arguing ma'am.  You're the one that's being hostile and yelling.  I just told you no.  No means no."

"No," she replied.  "When a woman tells a man no, it means no.  When a man tells a woman no, it means nothing."

"Well, this time it means no," I said with a smile.  "Have a nice day ma'am.  Call that number to get your keys replaced."

And with that, I drove away, with her shouts of "I'll have you fired for this," echoing behind me.  And as I drove back to the office I called and reported the incident to both the police and my supervisor.

Now, I don't know about you, but I find her attitude toward men rather... unrealistic.  I know that I could never respect a woman who let me walk all over her like this woman thought she could walk all over me.  That's what a relationship is built upon.  Mutual respect.  I get the feeling, and this is pure speculation from the events as I remember them, that this woman is in the middle of a divorce, and trying to get something out of her former husband's mail.  And honestly, with the attitude that she displayed toward me, I don't blame the guy for dumping her one single bit.  I could never be with a woman that respected me so little, just as I could not stand to be with a woman who would allow anyone to treat her this way.

So, anyway, as I got back to the post office my supervisor was on the phone with this lady.  She gave me a wink, covered the receiver and told me, "yeah, you were right.  This chick is a total psycho."

I leaned in to listen and found that the lady was not, actually yelling at my supervisor, she was yelling at the police, and just happened to be still holding her phone up to her face so we could hear.  The yelling stopped abruptly in what we think was the lady getting tazed.  And it could not have happened to a more deserving individual.

Let that be a lesson.  Trying to steal mail that does not belong to you is a serious crime.  We postal workers take the security of the mail very seriously, and the police take threats toward us equally as seriously.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Commercials... and book reviews.

Okay, I have a bit of a beef with the people making commercials.  Namely the commercials that have dead celebrities CGed into them.  STOP DOING IT ALREADY!!!  Seriously!  Not only is is weird and creepy, but they always look fake and plastic, and they never move right.  And most importantly, it is EXTREMELY DISRESPECTFUL TO THE DEAD!!!  Is it not enough that they spent their lives entertaining you?  Do you really need to use their likenesses to sell crap that people don't need after their deaths?  I'm looking at YOU Dove Chocolate.

In other news, I have a bunch of book reviews I've done that I didn't have time to post here on my blog.  You can find the full list here.  Click the link marked "View" on the far right of each to go to the review. 

Or my big recent one is Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What I'm doing now.

Been a while since I posted on here.  I've been ridiculously busy.  Things are FINALLY starting to calm down after Christmas at work, six freaking weeks after Christmas.

As for writing, I've been working on a rewrite of I Am Nobody.  I've gotten some input from several people I let read it, and have been making some drastic changes to the main character's personality, motivations, and delving deeper into what scares the everliving crap out of her.  I meant this to be a something of a scary story, and none of my test readers thought it was all that frightening.  When I first started planning this story out, I asked myself, if I were a teenaged girl, what would I be most afraid of, and this is what I came up with.  But something isn't scary unless it's built up to be that way, so I've been doing a lot of work on how the character sees these things and reacts to them, showing how terrified that she is, and hopefully that will rub off on people reading it in the new and improved version.  I've also been adding in a few things to make things I thought I had explained well enough more clear, and the ending needs a bit of work too.  I wasn't very happy with the deus ex machina, wave a magic wand and everything is AOK sort of vibe that it had, and so I'm making the climax more about the character learning to control herself, rather than fighting and beating a real monster of a killer.  It's great when a character gets a big magic whatsit to save the day, but what if the big magic whatsit has a mind of its own, and wants to take over her mind and body for its own and send her packing?  It's a bit of a sick twist on a deus ex machina solution that I think will be a lot more entertaining and tense, and fit the mood of the story a lot better.  I'm now about 2/3 of the way through these revisions, and I'll do another draft after I finish to make sure there aren't any glaring plotholes or continuity errors.  After that, it's time to try selling it.  This book is probably the best writing that I have ever don, I just hope that the story, character, and writing are good enough to impress a publisher this time around.  I haven't posted any of the revisions I've made on my website as of yet, and probably won't until this draft has been completed.