What Are MacGuffins?

 JULES You win. Jules raises his hand off the briefcase. JULES It’s all yours, Ringo. PUMPKIN Open it. Jules flips the locks and opens the case, revealing it to Pumpkin but not to us. The same light SHINES from the case. Pumpkin’s expression goes to amazement. Honey Bunny, across the room, can’t see inside. HONEY […]

Lies New Authors Tell Themselves

 Nothing makes a professional author chuckle like listening to potential writers deciding to get into the field. Far too many think it’s easy to write a book and then have publishing companies dump shipping containers of hundred dollar bills on your front lawn. While this is a theoretical possibility (E.L. James comes to mind), it’s […]

Ghost Town Writers Retreat

I will be a guest instructor at the upcoming Ghost Town Writers Retreat in Georgetown, Colorado in August. There’s a lot of fantastic folks who can help you with your writing, plus Georgetown is an actual ghost town in the Rocky Mountains. I hope to see you there! Visit their website for more information. I’ve […]

It Takes a Village (Full of Weirdos)

 I’ve been writing off and on since 1977. More off than on, just like my normal mental state. The first few stories I horrifically assembled were based on some dreams with the antics of some of my friends mixed in. I was still in high school and I hung out with the freaks, geeks, and […]

The Horror of Addiction, With Compassion for the Addict

Guest Post by Mark Matthews, editor and contributing author to “Garden of Fiends”   Horror is at its best when it reveals a larger truth about the world we live in. In putting out the submission call for Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror, there were a couple of specific guidelines I was looking […]

Adding Sexual Tension

 Sexual tension can always be expected in any romance or erotica story, but it can always work as a major or subordinate plot point for your speculative fiction work. While the ideas I point out here are not specific to any genre, they can be used in any work to spice things up. So what […]

Creating Tension with a Ticking Clock

How can you tell when a clock is really tense? When it’s all wound up. Creating tension by using some form of a limit is one of the easiest methods to ratchet up the tension in any manuscript, from novel to play to movie script. When many newer authors first hear about adding in a […]

Organizing Your Projects

 Like most of the authors I know, I’m not a naturally organized person. Sometimes it’s a struggle to force myself to get the major plot points or non-fiction chapters mapped out before I start on a new project. After installing a giant electronic whiteboard I picked up on CraigsList, I was able to see the […]

Things to Consider Before Starting a Career as a Writer

Everyone knows it is easy to write novels and short stories. All you need is a pencil and some form of paper or a computer. That’s the only requirements to become a famous and rich author. OK, you can stop laughing now. If you’re seriously considering starting a full-time writing career, there are several seemingly […]

Notes on Creating Dark Creatures

 Back in the late 1970’s, I played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons two or three nights a week. Wait, I should correct that. I worked at AD&D because I was always the Dungeon Master. I had to come up with new quests, places, characters, and even creatures. All of my players had access to copies of […]