Monday, December 29, 2014

Closing out 2014

Whew. Another year come and gone. It's been long, and it's flown by. Some things have changed, some haven't.

Unfortunately, I have to say my writing has been a little sporadic. I've dropped the ball on my blog, and I've taken my sweet time revising and editing Hannah, while getting little done on any new works. That said, I haven't been completely idle. I put out a trio of short stories at the end of June in the form of Paths: Three Short Horror Stories. As well, at the beginning of November, I released the novelette Cenote.

Cenote has actually done really well in the past month, and hopefully that'll continue. 

As far as my advertising, I've done a few various guest blog posts, and quite a few giveaways/free days. That will probably continue into the new year as well. 

Really, if you've been following me this year, there's really not much more to say. It's not like I'm being interviewed on Good Morning America, or Dateline or something. I've submitted a few short stories to various anthologies and contests, but no such luck with most of those.

What's really exciting is what I have coming.

I'm back to work, editing and revising Hannah, and I fully expect to be publishing that book within the first three to four months of 2015. I also do have several other books started and I anticipate finishing and releasing another one before the year is out. I've also got starts for several more short stories and novelettes that I expect to finish.

As you may have read in my most recent guest blog post about building and maintaining your author's platform, one website I haven't made the best use of up to now is Youtube. I fully expect to rectify that this coming year.

I'm getting the hardware and software to record gameplay from various systems, and my plan is to do video walkthroughs, reviews, and play with commentary of several horror games that are available.

Currently on the docket as video games to play are the Dead Space series, Resident Evil 5, and I may play Bioshock. I also have Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within lined up as well. So hey, if you have a video game you want to see me play, hit me up anywhere from my Biography link. Twitter, Facebook, or just email me! I'll see what I can do about adding it to the list. :-)

So as long as I can get and keep my ass in gear, this is going to be a busy year, with lots of new treats for my fans and friends. 

So have a great and safe New Year's Eve, and I'll see you all next year! 

Thanks to all of you for your support!

~ Shaun

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Christmas is on Thursday, so I'll make this pretty quick. I'm sure everyone still has shopping, wrapping, baking, and traveling to do for the holidays.

Some of you know I had my work Cenote free to download for the first day of winter on Sunday. I hope you grabbed one if you hadn't. Even so, it's still only $0.99 on Kindle.

Anyway, while I didn't exactly give away a hundred free copies, the giveaway was a great success in other ways. The short story got it's first review on Amazon, 4 stars even! The good news continued over on, with two new ratings and a review there as well. Really, as an author, there's no higher praise I can receive other than a review, even if it's not exemplary. It means someone read my work and it caused enough emotion in them that they felt like they had to share their opinion of it with everyone else. So thanks to everyone who's read it and for sharing their thoughts on it.

I also want to apologize for my sporadic posts the last six months or so. I've gotten a lot of things worked out though, and I hope to be back on some kind of schedule soon. I have one more post scheduled for this year, just to revisit some of what's gone on, and to let you all in on what I have planned for the coming year. I've got some incredible stuff I want to try, so I hope you'll all stick with me for more posts on monsters, horror, writing tips, and exclusive stories.

Also, if there's something in particular you want to see me address, go to the Biography page and use the link down at the bottom to send me an email. I welcome all correspondence!

And with that, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season! May your evening visit be Santa, and not Krampus!

(What can I say? I love this picture.)

~ Shaun

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Creating a Monster: The Silver

So, my book Class 5 has been out now for over a year, and it's collected it's fair share of good reviews since then. Quite a few have pointed out my somewhat original alien creature, the Silver, as the man in black named it.

I do take a little bit of pride in the alien creature I created for this story, although I'll be the first to admit it's not the most original of creations. The only original thing might be how everything is combined. Since my post of The Hungry was so popular, I thought I would do another post like that, and delve into how the Silver was created for my action/horror novel.

I wanted to start with a fairly basic alien shape. Something most people can picture without too much trouble, even if they aren't overly familiar with the ideas of UFO's and alien beings, so I started with the basic shape of the Grey aliens.

Large, black eyes. Pale, almost translucent skin. Thin and spindly bodies. Large heads.

I did take some liberties with the biology, describing tightly interwoven muscle fibers which make them sturdier and stronger than most humans, despite looking so much smaller and frailer.

I offer no apologies for such liberties.

I chose the form because, as I said, it's almost the stereotypical alien being, and one most people know of and imagine when you bring up the subject. In addition to that though, is the knowledge of what they supposedly do, which is abduct human beings for experimentation. This brings in a subtle level of fear, the idea of being stolen from your own bed, and being subjected to bizarre medical procedures with equipment you don't recognize or understand, by beings you cannot communicate with. So I was trying to tap into that fear just a little bit.

The next thing I knew I was going to do about my alien was that it was going to be a carnivore. I've said in a few interviews that when I sat down to start the story, I only had the idea for the first chapter, and I was going to leave it at that as a short story. I just couldn't stop once I finished that part though. So I knew the alien was going to be eating people, and the small mouth of the Grey aliens wasn't going to cut it. I needed something a bit bigger, with teeth that could do the job.

So I made the mouth wider, wrapping around the face so it could open extremely wide in order to take large bites of it's prey. I also decided on sharp, triangular-shaped teeth that would be good for slicing through flesh or bone equally. Something like these.

Now, if you know much about teeth, you'll recognize that as being from a Great White shark. Nice and sharp and ready to do the job. And, as you noticed in the book, they worked very nicely on the human body. Especially in conjunction with the Silver's physical strength.

Of course, there's one more major feature about the Silver's which sets them apart. They have a natural defense with a symbiotic fungus, which lives on and in their normally perpetually moist skin.

A healthy Silver's body keeps the fungus in check, preventing it from spreading over the body, but keeping it provided with nutrients so that it constantly releases spores into the air around it. When inhaled by any other animal nearby, the spores take root in the lungs (or whatever the organism uses to breath). Roots spread quickly, absorbing bodily fluids at an incredible rate, on top of the damage it does to the body. As fluid gets harder and harder to find, the fungus sends a stalk back up the way it entered the body, typically through the throat, until it finds air, where the tip blossoms like a mushroom, releasing tons more spores into the air. The host is typically dead at this point from internal hemorrhaging and dehydration.

This is not an entirely beneficial relationship for the Silver either, though. If the creature can't stay sufficiently hydrated, the fungus will take root into their skin. They start as black masses on the alien's translucent skin, with feelers and tendrils radiating out from a central point. The roots spreading out visibly under the skin. Eventually, the alien too, will die of dehydration, although the symbiosis means it takes much longer than it would for almost anything else. If a sick Silver can get help in time, they also have the technology to bring the fungus back under control and even reverse the damage it did.

The name "Silver" is the moniker given them by the United States military in their classification of alien beings. Partly due to their relatively close resemblance to the much more common "Greys". It should also be pointed out that prior to the events in Seguro, Arizona, information on the "Silvers" had only been granted from other alien contacts. Hence the incursion being labeled as "Class 5".

So there you have it. A good look at the Alien species known as "Silvers". But the universe is a big place, and they are far from the only beings with which we haven't had documented contact yet.

Who knows what else we might find. Or what might find us.

~ Shaun

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NaNoWriMo and the best part about it.

Okay. I got some explaining to do. I've been slacking off on my blog again and that is unacceptable.

It's November for crying out loud, there's so much going on there is no reason for it. Thanksgiving. NaNoWriMo. Not to mention the two-year anniversary of my blog here.

I've also released a new novelette this past week. Reception has been pretty good already, so be sure you check that out if you haven't already!

Of course, there's also always the flip side. It's two years this Friday that my grandpa passed away, and my entire month of October was...interesting, to say the least. It's surprising how people important to you, that you thought you'd never see again can suddenly pop back up.

So to say things have been rather difficult for me for the past couple months would not be an understatement. I'm not ashamed to say I've been fighting with depression.

That's really not an uncommon thing for authors though. Writing is a very solitary occupation. Between writing, revising, and editing, it's not hard to rack up six to eight hours a day where you're eschewing any kind of interaction with other people. More often than not, you're also doing that inside, in an office type room. So you're going to be lacking in personal interaction and probably sunlight and fresh air, too. The kind of environment an illness like depression can thrive in, especially when returns on your efforts seem sparse.

Things only get worse if your social life outside of your writing isn't exactly fulfilling either. A supportive family becomes that much more important.

Then we have November, and NaNoWriMo. (Check out my own NaNoWriMo adventure from last year here. Or just click on the line to your right that says "Building a Book" )

This can be a very big deal. No expectations of quality. Just a deadline, a personal challenge. It's also so much more than that. People working through NaNoWriMo set up so many events to help people through the challenge. Group writing sessions, message boards, forums, meet-and-greets, and accomplishment parties. 

Yes, a lot of people will say NaNoWriMo is just an excuse for people to write and self-publish a lot of crap that isn't worth the screens you read them on. I don't think that's the best part of the event though. I think the best part is the fact that they've taken one of the most isolated tasks and careers on the planet and turned it into a group effort.

Sure, there are websites like AbsoluteWrite that have forums for writers that are full year-round, but they aren't as well known, and while they do occasionally set up meetings, the population of those forums are much less. Meanwhile, NaNoWriMo has groups set up by location, making it easy to meet up with a fair number of people in your area.

So while the personal challenge is nice, the best part of NaNoWriMo is the connections you can make through it. It might as well be called an Author Support Group.

So, I hope you all forgive me for slacking off. :-P I know technically I still have another blog post to do before the holiday, but given how much I've been on time for the past couple months, I'm just going to say in now in the (fairly likely) event I don't manage another post.

So Happy Thanksgiving all, don't die on Black Friday!

~ Shaun

Monday, November 3, 2014

31 Posts of Monsters: Megalodon

The monsters discovered in fossils have always enthralled us, from T-Rex to Velociraptors, to Terror Birds and Saber-toothed Cats. Most of them, despite a few disparate reports, are pretty much fully accepted as being extinct. Some predators from the past have captured our imagination so much, though, that we can't help but imagine them still roaming the shadows in the darker, and deeper, places of the world.

Name: Megalodon

Size: Estimates range from 50 feet, all the way up to 90 feet in length. It would also weigh somewhere between 60 to 100 metric tons. (One metric ton is 2000 lbs.)

Appearance: Megalodon is a shark, similar to a Great White, but many times bigger.

Threat: High. Megalodon is a predator, and while it would undoubtedly prefer whales or other large animals, anything that fits in its mouth is fair game. This is also an animal that would have no problem bringing down a large boat, so it is easily conceivable that it's existence is being kept a secret due to the fact that there are no survivors from sightings of it.

Sharks have been feared ever since humanity has set out in boats and see their large shapes circling them out of curiosity. Just the idea of a twenty foot shark is enough to send most people scrambling for the beach. Imagine if people knew there was a sixty foot beast swimming around.

Of course, science tells us Megalodon's are extinct and have been for quite some time. The only remains to have been found are fossilized teeth and rarely, vertebrae. One of the things that makes people suspicious is that you not only find teeth in fossil beds as one would expect, but that teeth have been dredged up from the sea floor around the world, from the Gulf of Mexico to the bottom of the Mariana's Trench. On top of that are the rare reports of sharks bigger than anything thought to be swimming around.ou

Animal Planet's recent docu-drama on Megalodon, like their pieces on mermaids, has stirred additional controversy, with many people completely unaware they were watching a dramatization and not really seeing proof that the giant shark is still swimming around, eating whales.

While it would really be something to have Megalodon swimming around these days, there's one big reason it's not. Lack of food. Sure, for one or two Megalodon, there might be enough whales around, but you need more than two for a viable breeding population. That might not be up in the hundreds, but even to have just 50 Megalodon's swimming around, you would need much more full oceans than we currently have. As it is, whales are well known, and some species are rebounding from the way they were over-fished thirty or forty years ago, but they are still not common. In addition, ocean populations around the world are steadily declining from over-fishing and pollution. So there really is no way a breeding population of Megalodon's would have enough food to survive today.

Of course, if you're interested in seeing giant sharks, there's no shortage of movies. JAWS is still the best example, even though it's not a Megalodon. In addition to that are whole series, like the Megashark Vs. series, and the Shark Attack films. For one-off's, you can watch Jurassic Shark, Megalodon, and Dinoshark. How much I would recommend most of them outside of JAWS though is very debatable.

If you're looking for books. Of course you can pick up the original story of JAWS by Peter Benchley. Then there is also the Meg series by Steve Alten. So there is lots of entertainment to pick from.

Happy Swimming.

~ Shaun

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

31 Posts of Monsters: Jersey Devil

So, originally, I said I wasn't going to touch on supernatural creatures for this series. I then figured out there really aren't that many different types of cryptids. Sea monsters, Sasquatches, extinct animals. There's no arguing that there are some creatures that, supernatural or not, have such a history of physical sightings, that they do deserve to be mentioned on lists such as these.

The Jersey Devil is one of them.

Name: Jersey Devil

Size: Anywhere from 3 to 7 feet tall, with a comparable wingspan of 10 to 20 feet.

Appearance: A head similar to that of a horse, with sharp teeth and horns, a relatively thin, spindly body, bat-like wings, a long, thin tail, and back legs that end in hooves. The front legs have been reported as being hooves and claws depending on the witness.

Threat: Low. What? Low? Actually, yes. Despite all the reports of people feeling threatened and terrified of it, and reports of it killing and eating dogs, reports of it actually harming people are all but non-existent. Considering it probably could, if it wanted to fairly easily, it's something to consider that there aren't any reports of it doing so.

The story of the Jersey Devil is something out of a horror movie. It begins with a family that lived out in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The wife, Mrs. Leeds, declared that if she ever gave birth to an unhealthy child that she wished it would be a devil. As it happened, that turned out to be her 13th child (talk about getting busy, and that was in the early 1700's!). As soon as it was born, it screeched, ran around the room, out the door and flew off into the woods. Rambunctious little guy, wasn't he?

Since then, reports of a strange, giant winged creature have persisted through the Pine Barrens and the surrounding communities and witnesses to the creature even include the older brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte.

With such a long history, of course such a creature is going to pop up in entertainment. The New Jersey hockey team even took the name. It's also appeared on episodes of The X-Files and Lost Tapes. Several movies have been also inspired by the legend, if not the creature itself. Most recently is the film The Barrens. Others include Carny and (as one might expect) The Jersey Devil. So there's lots to watch for a little devil-themed entertainment.

What better way to start October?

~ Shaun

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

And there...dangling bloody from the door handle....was THE HOOK!

Seriously, can I get a show of hands? How many people actually remember THAT old campfire tale? 

That's not what I'm talking about today though. I'm talking about a different kind of hook. The writing kind.

In writing terms, the hook is the first line, or paragraph that catches your reader's attention and draws them in. It makes them want to read the rest of the story.

Now, despite what some authors think about hooks. I think you're okay with a little leeway. After all, nobody is going to read the first line or paragraph of your book in a complete vacuum. They'll have seen the cover, read the description, know the genre, and possibly even the author's name and style a little bit. Depending on their interest, they might even have read some of the reviews.

That doesn't mean you can slack off. You need to pull people into the story as quickly as possible so they want to know what happens next. Many well-read people will give a new book a couple paragraphs, a page at most to catch their interest. If you can't manage to stir something in them by then, they'll put the book down and possibly even mark you as an author to avoid.

The question then, is what makes a good hook. The answers vary as wildly as books and genre's do. Honestly, it's actually easier to talk about what doesn't make a good hook, than the things that do.

So, things to avoid.

If your story requires the reader to have knowledge of how the magic or certain technologies work in your world, that's fine, but don't start the whole book with a chapter explaining the intricacies of your system. It's boring, and tells us nothing about why we should keep reading. Some people may like it, but then, some people actually enjoy reading legal documents too. Of course, there will always be exceptions, and if your book is targeted specifically at those readers of legal documents, feel free and be happy. The general public, however, is likely to read a couple pages, get bored, and pass the book off on the first person they see.

Slice of Life vignettes
Some people get carried away with character introductions. They have us meet their main character or two, and follow them around on a regular day before the events of the story actually begin. While it does make some sense from a writer's point of view, to introduce the character and immediately try to make us connect with them, it's usually pretty boring. It's usually much better to work in references and remembrances into the story a bit at a time later on. This segment right away, especially if it goes on for a while, doesn't give the reader the impression that much is going on.

Lengthy Descriptions
Just like if you were on a date, unless it's immediately relevant, for the love of God, don't talk about the weather or the environment. If lengthy descriptions of your character and how they go about their daily lives are bad, talking about the weather and the environment for paragraphs or pages from the get-go is even worse. Environments change much too quickly for such a description so early, that incredible view your character has from the roof of their apartment? It disappears as soon as he goes back inside, and it's unlikely they're going to have that view from street level too. So all that description, all that work, pointless unless you're trying to portray your character's love of sunsets. And even then, see above.

What you do want to start with is action or conflict, or at the very least, the implication of one of those. Not necessarily in the first line, but definitely on the first page, which is generally no more than 200 words.

The bestseller Jurassic Park, doesn't start right away. It's hook is down close to the bottom of the first real page, but check it out.

And then she caught it, another sound blended with the rain, a deeper rumble that build and emerged until it was clear: the rhythmic thumping of a helicopter. She thought, They can't be flying in weather like this.
Makes you wonder, if the weather is that bad where they wouldn't expect anyone to be flying, what must be going on where they would risk it?

John Everson's book Violet Eyes starts you in from the very first paragraph.

Things had pretty much gone South with their vacation for good a couple hours ago when Jess had been making out on the beach with Mar, and had managed at just the wrong moment to slip her hand into a human skull just below the surface of the sand.

Well, that's not good. (Seriously, check it out if you haven't. An excellent work.)

Then you have Stephen King, the master of one-liner hooks.

Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son - Salem's Lot

I'm not honestly sure what it is about King's hooks. They're always so simple, they seem ordinary, but they're worded so perfectly that you can sense the tension just beneath the surface.

For more examples, just look at whatever books you have lying around. Most of them have very good hooks that encourage you to delve deeper from the first page onward.

Plus keep in mind, websites like Amazon allow readers to check out the first few pages of a work before buying, so if you're lacking any significant sales, it might be a good idea to go back and see if you need a better hook somewhere on the first page or two. At the very least, it couldn't hurt.

Before I end off for the week. I just want to point your attention back up to the top. There's a couple good giveaways coming up the first week of October, so check it out, mark it on the calender and snag a few copies of my work.

Otherwise, thanks for coming around. I'll catch you all later.

~ Shaun

Saturday, September 13, 2014

31 Posts of Monsters: Lusca

Of all the places in the world, the Caribbean is actually one that doesn't have many suggested monsters, despite a history of legends. It may have something to do with how clear and relatively shallow the water is in many places. Wherever there are dark places, though, some people will come up with claims that monsters live there. Such is the case with the Lusca.

Name: Lusca, Giant Octopus

Length: 75 - 200 feet long, from tentacle to tentacle.

Appearance: The same as any other octopus, except for its monstrous size. The shape and colors of Octopuses are highly variable though, they're known to be able to mimic many other ocean species, including eels, rays, and fish. They can even change their shapes to resemble rocks and coral.

Threat: moderate. Octopuses are predators, with a hard, sharp beak that is easily capable of cracking open shellfish or piercing flesh. They are also known to eat just about anything they can catch, which includes sharks and even birds. An octopus of significant size would have no problem grabbing and devouring a human being.

While occasional Globsters, like the picture above, are attributed as possibly being giant Octopuses, there is little to actually connect them to such animals. Most such unidentified masses are either found to be decomposing whale parts, or are washed up and then washed back out before they can be tested upon.

Where are the dark places these creatures would hide though? The answer for the Lusca is the myriad of underground rivers and waterways which run underneath central america, connecting many of the famous Cenotes, or blue holes.

These dark tunnels stretch for miles, connecting the inland cenotes with underwater caves out in the gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Many are huge caves as well, easily large enough for a giant, and malleable creature to slip in and out of. The cave walls would also give an octopus ample opportunity to blend into the rock, where only a truly dedicated eye would be able to pick them out.

Giant octopuses (That is the correct term, feel free to look it up.) have been fairly popular in movies. Headlining in such titles as the classic It Came from Beneath the Sea, Tentacles, and the aptly titled, Octopus. It's also had cameo's in such movies as King Kong, and some versions of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. So there's lots of options out there to see them in action.

We're not even going to touch this though.

~ Shaun

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Are you "Professional" ?

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece, based on another opinion piece. The views expressed herein are those of the author of this blog and do not represent the views of any organization, association, political party, TV station, institution, modeling agency, or girl scout troop the author may or may not be a member of. 

Many authors when they're just starting out, are curious for some kind of benchmark. Some goal to reach that tells them they are an actual author. For many, that benchmark is as simple as seeing their first work in print. For some, it's the mark of the tenth book, or the royalty check which denotes their first $1000 earned by their writing. For others, it can mean being accepted into an organization such as the HWA. Recently, an article was brought to my attention which claims to separate the "Professional" authors from what the writer of the article terms, "Hobbyists".

To sum up though, there are ten questions, and if you want to be a professional in the eyes of the author of the article, you have to answer "Yes" to each one. (Or at least 8/10). So I'm going to state my answers to these questions. 

1. Is your home/work messy because the time you would spend cleaning it, you feel is better spent writing? 

Yes and no. I try to keep my space somewhat organized. That being said, when I'm working on a piece, I tend to have notes, reference books, snacks and just general flotsam laying around within easy reach for whatever reason I may have. 

2. Do you routinely turn down evenings with friends because you need to be home writing instead? 

Eh. Routinely? My friends might say yes, and I certainly have turned them down before, but I don't know if I would say Routinely. 

3. Do you turn off the television in order to write? 

Yes. Pretty easy question there.

4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise. 

Yes. I would rather take the brutal, honest truth, than polite praise from someone who is worried about hurting my feelings. 

5. Do you plan vacations around writing opportunities, such as research and/or networking? 

I haven't had a real vacation in several years, so I can answer this one however I like. For shits and giggles, let's say yes. 

6. Would you rather be chatting about the business of writing with another writer than small talk with a good friend? 

This is the only definite NO I have on this list. Networking is important, but to choose networking over spending time with people that actually care about you is just stupid. Or you don't have any good friends left to have small talk with anyway because you do stuff like this. 

7. Have you ever taken a day job that paid you less money because it offered you more time to write? 

Honestly, I haven't, but I would. I am currently job-hunting, but one of the criteria I judge a job by before deciding to apply is whether or not it would give me time to write. 

8. Are you willing to give up a nice home you know you could have if you gave up writing for a more lucrative career? 

Really, I deign to answer this question, on the basis of how badly it's worded and under the small detail that I would have to think about it. 

9. Have you done all of the above for the past 5 years ?

So, we finally have a set question which effectively states "You are not a professional writer unless you've been at it for a minimum of 5 years". My answer to this is currently no.

10. Are you willing to live knowing you will likely never meet your ambitions, but you hold onto those ambitions nonetheless? 

Er. You want to know if I will keep trying for my dreams even if I KNOW I will likely never reach them? Probably not. If it's actually a given that the dreams are unachievable I will probably move onto a different dream, or at least alter my opinion of what success towards that dream means. 

Off-hand, I'm going to guess you're having the same reaction to these questions that I had. It's complete bullshit. With that said, I would like to introduce you to the author of that piece, if you haven't clicked on the link and put the pieces together. 

That article was written by Lisa Morton, the Vice-President of the Horror Writer's Association, and the article was posted on the webpage of the HWA's Los Angeles chapter. 

The article has triggered a fair amount of backlash from authors who feel is is condescending and elitist. Even from such authors as Brian Keene and John Scalzi. Now, there are a lot of issues here to look at, that I'm going to address here. 

First off, the tone of the piece is without a doubt, condescending and elitist, but you know what, that is one person's opinion and they are entitled to it. 

Second, this piece was written by the VP of a major writer's association and posted on that association's website. The average person reading that is likely to assume that is the stance of the organization itself. Whether that is or is not the case is almost irrelevant. Because of who the author of the article is, their position in the organization and the place it was posted, people will assume that it is policy, even if an un-written policy. There is a discussion of this on the HWA's facebook page that I was privy to and one of the official stances is that the members of the board and other position have every right to voice their opinions without it being the opinion of the organization. I'm sorry, when you hold a position of authority, you have to watch what you say. People will take it, twist it, put their own spin on it, and mis-interpret it to heaven, hell, and back again. Mrs. Morton has her own website on which she could have posted her article, but instead she chose to put it up on the page of the association she is only a few steps below being in charge of. If she didn't want her opinions to be attached to the HWA, there were better places to post it. 

Which brings me to my next point. Now that all this hooplah has erupted around her article, Mrs. Morton has started claiming it was meant in satire and to promote discussion. Because after all, she doesn't even pass her own test (tee-hee). Scroll back up and read that article again. Does anything in it sound satirical? Does it read like something meant to be thought-provoking? I've seen some people claim they can see it after having it pointed out, but most agree there is nothing in the article to give that impression. These claims that the article isn't meant to be taken seriously are nothing more than typical political back-pedaling. She wasn't expecting to poke a hornet's nest and now that she has, she wants to claim she didn't mean it. For someone in a position of authority as she is, I find this more foul than the article itself. You made a mistake, own up to it, accept it, and fix it if you can. The fact that the organization is standing behind her only makes it worse, as it is promoting unaccountability for it's higher ranking members. Seriously, if they weren't working so hard to down-play it, it would probably blow right over. 

While this is the internet, and once things are posted they tend to stay that way, there is a few things Mrs. Morton could do to alleviate the situation. I doubt she's going to pay attention to a small-timer like me, but here's my own little list of what I think she should do. 

1. Submit a public apology on the HWA's website for any author she may have inadvertently insulted with her post. 

2. Take the post down. 

3. Mrs. Morton and the members of the HWA's administration should do their best to refrain from commenting on any discussion of the post. Just as authors should never comment on negative reviews of their work.

There, done, simple as that. There will still be discussion for a week, maybe two, but then people will move on. There will always be some people who remember, but beyond them, it'll quickly become a non-issue. 

Of course, this is all just my opinion, and I'm just a "Hobbyist."

Disclaimer #2: I've made my views of the HWA's qualification requirements public in the past, and despite this little PR hiccup, I must say I've been very impressed with their facebook page, which is run and moderated by none other than the current president of the HWA himself. Him and I have actually butted heads on the page during discussions over the qualification requirements and this incident, and while I am still at odds over these issues and feel some of his replies have been a touch political (meaning round-about bs), I have to respect and applaud his high visibility and connection with members and potential members. I may yet join some time in the future (assuming I don't get my ass banned before-hand), but not before they stop promoting Traditional publishing as the core means of qualifying for membership.

~ Shaun

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Short Story: Reflected

Hi everyone. No talk about writing, editing, or any special subject this week. Instead, just a nice little horror story for you all to check out. Enjoy. 


            Barry sat upright in bed, gasping for breath and dripping with sweat. The nightmare again. He looked over at his clock; the bright red numbers telling him silently that it was one thirty-seven am. In the darkness of his one bedroom apartment, he swung his feet out of bed and used them to pull himself out from under the sheets and into the room. Moonlight filtered in through the half-closed blinds, shading the room like a jail cell with horizontal bars. He stood up, carefully stepping among boxes he had yet to pack for moving.
          He shuffled across the hallway and into the bathroom, the light blinding him as he flicked it on with a slight groan. He leaned on the counter for a few minutes, his eyes adjusting to the bright lights. He turned on the tap and let the water warm a little before cupping his hands under the faucet and pulling the water up to his face, splashing it across his forehead and cheeks.
          For the past month he'd had the same nightmare over and over, every night. It felt like he wasn't getting any sleep at all, even though he rarely woke from the dream. He splashed his face again and looked at himself in the mirror. The skin under his eyes hung dark and loose, his eyes themselves red with exhausted veins and arteries. Granules of sleep clung to the inner corners of his eyes. His head throbbed lightly, testament to the sleep aids he took, but which did little to help his search for slumber.
          His neck had started to itch slightly, his hand reaching up and scratching at it automatically. The itch only got worse after a few seconds. He lifted his hand to look and there was blood on his fingertips. He looked into the mirror, craning his head to one side to get a better look and there was a single tiny pinprick in his neck, through which blood was oozing out and moving down his throat in slow drops. He reached into the cabinet and pulled out the small box of band-aids that he kept there. The box dropped to the counter as he watched himself in the mirror. Four more pinpricks slowly appeared in his neck, lining up with the first, blood slowly bubbling from each one to drip down his neck and under his t-shirt.
          He reached for the hand towel that sat in the ring on the wall, pulling it down and wiping away the blood. His eyes widened as he pulled the towel away and saw the claws; reaching around his neck from behind, their tips digging into his skin, causing the pinpricks and the drops of blood. His eyes were locked on the mirror as another hand reached around the other side, its color a sickly pale green.  Its placement mirrored the other clawed hand and its fingertips dug into his flesh.
          He spun around, swinging his arm wide to strike back, but nothing was there. He threw his head left, then right, scanning the bathroom for the creature. He was alone. He turned back to the mirror, and could see the claws at his throat. His hand pulled up and grabbed at the claws, trying to pull them away. He could feel them digging in deeper, the flow of blood increasing. His hand in the mirror grabbed the claws, feeling them under his fingers and against his palm; its flesh ice cold and dry. Its fingers far stronger than his, resisting his attempts to unseat them without the slightest give.
          He swung around again, trying to throw off his ethereal attacker, pulling his t-shirt over his head and off, throwing the blood-soaked thing to the floor. He spun around back to the mirror and still the thing held its death grip on his throat. It's claws dug deeper into his flesh, the blood flowing faster, dripping to the floor, making it treacherous under his bare feet. He grabbed at the reflection and found only the cold glass of the mirror.
          He could only watch, frozen in terror as its head slowly rose from behind him, its pale, green flesh covering a bald head. One eye was simply an empty hole in its skull, the other yellow and oozing pus down its face. It grinned at him, baring split and broken black teeth.  He twisted his shoulders, still trying to get free as more of its fingers drove into his throat, the blood pooling on the blue and white tiles under his feet. He could feel the blood running down the inside of his throat now, the claws worming their way through his flesh. His lungs were filling up and breathing was becoming harder with every second. The creature grinned at him in the mirror and in one smooth motion tore his throat open, exposing the interior of his anatomy as blood showered the mirror. The motion pulled him back and his feet finally lost their grip on the slick floor. He fell back, everything in his sight going dark.
          Barry sat upright in bed, gasping for breath and dripping with sweat. The nightmare again. He looked over at his clock; the bright red numbers telling him silently that it was one thirty-eight am. In the darkness of his one bedroom apartment, he swung his feet out of bed and used them to pull himself out from under the sheets and into the room. Moonlight filtered in through the half-closed blinds, shading the room like a jail cell with horizontal bars. He stood up, carefully stepping among boxes he had yet to pack for moving.
          He shuffled across the hallway and into the bathroom...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Going in the Wrong Direction

We've all made mistakes. When being creative, those mistakes can find us winding down paths we never expected or planned for into a gravel pit from which our creations may never be able to claw their way out. More often than not, if you pay attention, you can see you're going in the wrong direction far ahead of actually getting there and you can turn around, or at the very least cut your lost time. Sometimes though, we have no idea we've wandered astray until it's far too late.

You see this happen a lot in movies. A stand-alone movie becomes a surprise blockbuster and the next thing you know, continuity is out the window as Hollywood tries to pump out a couple sequels to cash in. Good examples of this are the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies. Freddy and Jason both seem to die in every movie, but return the next one with no comment on how they manage it. Of course, now that's part of their campy charm, but as someone who takes storytelling fairly seriously, it's hard not to notice things like that.

Another good example is the movie series Tremors. The original is a great, fun, horror movie. So, of course, they had to try and milk it. Tremors 2 brought in several of the original Graboids, who popped open and produced "Screechers" by the dozens. The third movie brought back Graboids, and Screechers, but then introduced the creatures the Screechers changed into, called, rather affectionately, "Assblasters" (Seriously. Look it up.).

So, what is the point of this post? Am I going to delve into how to tell when you're going in the wrong direction? Not hardly. Your work is your work and only you will really be able to tell if your story has veered so far off course that you're barreling down the hill and into disaster. The most I can tell you is pay attention to your story as you write it. Be aware.

The point of this post is to tell you all of a little story of what might have been.

Now. A little bit about me. I'm a dinosaur/kaiju/godzilla fan. Really. (For those of you who haven't heard, Legendary impressed Toho enough with their new Godzilla that not only are they doing a sequel, they have permission to use other monsters. At San Diego Comic Con 2014, it was hinted at that we may see Rodan, Mothra, and even Ghidorah in the next movie. How mother-freaking awesome is that?!?!?)

Ahem. Anyway. After years of false starts and claims. We are finally getting a Jurassic Park 4 next year. Currently titled Jurassic World. I can't tell you how excited I am. The original Jurassic Park remains to this day the only movie I've seen more than once in the theater, and believe it or not, I read the novel when it first came out back in 1991. I was only in fifth grade. It took me at least two months to work through it, but I did.

However. There have been several false starts on our way to Jurassic World. Many of them seem to have forgotten the message of the original and it's appreciation and respect for nature, as well as the warnings of the dangers of genetic manipulation. One of the ideas that actually made it past the spoken out loud part (If I'd been there, the guy suggesting this would've been slapped on the spot and told to sit his ass down), was the idea that governments were taking the dinosaurs and trying to modify them into soldiers to wage war with. Of course, they rebel, and we have the whole battle of man vs. dinosaur vs. man-dinosaur.

This probably isn't far from what we would've gotten.

But someone did like the idea, and approved people to go ahead with art and model mock-ups to try and see what they would be working with. Thankfully, with actual pictures and models in front of them, they were able to see that it was indeed the wrong direction for the franchise and scrapped it, but it certainly gave us some good nightmare fuel. So, without further ado, I'm going to share with you all, the leaked concept art of the Human-Dino hybrids that was done for the Jurassic Park we (hopefully) will never get to see. 

Yes, that person there is for scale for the Man-Rex.

I believe I promised you some nightmare fuel. 

To help you relax before I release you back out into the interwebs, I have one more image to share with you. 

Fingers crossed. 

~ Shaun

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Building a Book: The Rejection

Rejection. No matter what you do, as a writer, you're going to experience it. Whether it's a short story or a full novel submission, whether it's to press or an agent.

It's not the end of the world.

Even though it will definitely feel like it.

For those curious, yes, my recent work "Hannah" was rejected from my first choice publisher after a 14 week wait. Which means, a few different things.

It was a pretty generic rejection, which means I may want to go through it again. This could be as simple as another quick run-through for any little editing nails that need hammering down, or it might be a good time to send it out to beta readers again and take a good, hard, look at their feedback.

I chose not to do a simultaneous submission, which would mean sending it out to multiple publishers at once for consideration. So, in this case, a rejection means starting the whole wait over from scratch after submitting it somewhere else. Even if I do several submissions this time, most have the same general waiting period, between anywhere from three to six months. Given wait times like that, just to see if your work is accepted or not, it's not surprising people have been turning to self-publishing. Under the old methods, working with presses and publishers, it can easily take years just to find a publisher, let alone get your work into print. (Yeah, a little upset, I must admit, and slightly prone to rambling. Enough of that for now though. I have pizza to finish.)

However, rejection, like bad reviews, is just part of the writing process; and many of the ways to cope are the same.

1. Remind yourself that every author who's ever lived has faced rejection at one point or another. Stephen King has stated that he had over 300 rejection notices before he finally sold his first piece. J.A. Konrath has reported on his blog that he had actually written seven other novels before his agent managed to find a publisher willing to take a chance on his latest one. The first Harry Potter novel, written by J.K. Rowling, was rejected by twelve different publishers before it was picked up, and even then, they told her it probably wouldn't make money. As those authors show, a rejection or two means very little in the grand scheme of things.

2. A rejection, like a bad review, is just one person's opinion. Yes, that one person has the power to say "Give that man a thousand dollars for his story, NOW!", but that is still just one person. It might be that they just didn't feel any attachment to your characters, or doesn't like your writing style on general principle. It could be that yours was the 13th out of 13 similar zombie apocalypse books they'd had to look at that day. It could even be something as simple and unfair as that your book got shuffled in front of them before they had their morning coffee. The point that remains though, is that this is still just one person's opinion. It doesn't mean someone else won't absolutely love it, or even that most other people will absolutely love it. It just means that one person didn't care for it.

The only thing a rejection means is that your piece MIGHT need some more work. It doesn't mean you should quit writing or that you should throw that story away.

As bad as a rejection letter or email might make you feel, the only one who can make you a success or a failure is you. It's a question of either taking the rejection personally and to heart, or tacking it up on the wall as someone you're going to prove wrong.

So how are you going to take that rejection?

~ Shaun

Monday, July 21, 2014

Who is your daddy, and what does he do?

Ten points if you can name the movie the title of this post is from. Fifteen if you can name another line. Points don't actually mean anything, but they're free for me to give out and you'll feel like you won something, so everyone wins, right?

So, other than bringing up a 1990's action comedy, what's the point?

Your characters' need jobs.

Yes, it seems like that would be kind of a no-brainer, but it's surprising how many new and aspiring writers (and occasionally even professionals) miss this simple detail.

Of course, if you're writing a variant of Lord of the Flies or Children of the Corn, you're not going to be too concerned about the characters having day jobs. Most of them are just kids after all. Even then, though, they're going to separate into groups and layers, with certain people being given certain things to do. Social tiers isn't exactly where I'm going with this though.

My point is, it's important in your character development and for the story itself, to know about your character's day job.

Character Development

Even if, during the entire length of your story, the character never actually goes to work, it helps to know what he does. It establishes a fair bit of your character's skill sets, after all, they do need to be kind of good at their job and every job has requirements. An accountant, for example, will be good with numbers, probably adept at using a keyboard, and know a bit about tax law; while a gym teacher will likely be in good physical shape, organized, and have good leadership skills.

A character's job will also have some effect on their appearance. An office worker will look much more professional than, say, a bartender or a landscape worker. Think along the terms of hair length, and how they usually dress.

Of course, neither of these really impact what a character might do or wear in their free time, but most people don't generally wander too far from their routine, even when they don't have to follow it.


Knowing what kind of work a character does tells us more about that character and gives us another aspect to bring up in the story. Things like why that character works there, why they chose that occupation, and maybe an interesting bit from working there. Or, you could go into what drove them to work there, and their true feelings about the place and career they ended up with if they don't like their job.

It's the little things about the characters that we discover on the journey through the story that makes them relatable and thusly, that makes us grow to like them and care about what happens to them. Things like having a job they hate, or love, or how they poked a hole in the bottom of their co-worker's styrofoam cup so their morning coffee slowly leaked out across the desk as a practical joke.

Story Plausibility

Huh? I know, I know. It goes like this. If your story is based on any kind of world like the one we live in, there is one constant. Money. And to get money requires work. How much money one gets depends on the kind of work they do. Money is how your characters afford their rides, their clothes, their houses, and their vacations.

Yeah. So what?

How often do you actually considering while writing, whether or not your character's job will actually provide for the lifestyle he has?

Your characters are in college, and can afford a month-long trip to Brazil on summer break, complete with a fancy hotel and boozing it up day in and day out. Are you really going to just go with the tired cliche` of the super-rich parents?

A struggling artist decides to go on holiday in Europe, traveling through Paris and Rome looking for inspiration. Not if they're actually struggling.

who wants to go to Paris anyway?

Get the picture?

It helps the plausibility of the story immensely when you can explain how your characters can afford the things they do. Even more so without the stand-by's of the super-rich parents or the secret agent with the credit card that has no limit. I'm not saying go into extreme detail, laying out their checkbook or budget or anything, but keep in mind, you might lose some readers if you have some kid that's six months out of high school flashing hundred dollar bills out the window of his super-souped up ride, and nary a mention anywhere in the book of where the money comes from.

We writers ask a lot of our readers for their suspension of disbelief, whether it be shadow demons in closets, true love on the Mekong River, or a hero that manages to dodge every round from a trio of machine guns. The least we can do is provide them with a believable background for our characters, and as I hope I've shown, the right job can go a very long way to do that.

~ Shaun

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Recycle Bin, or 'Bits Box' ?

As a writer, the only thing that comes as close to devastating as writer's block is the sense that your story isn't working like you want it to. Somewhere you veered off the right path and got lost in the woods, which is never someplace that you want to be.

There are a couple different ways this might happen.

1. Your story doesn't stretch far enough.

Basically, this is when your idea that you thought was a novel or novella falls short. Usually by a lot, meaning several thousand words or more. Just keep in mind there's nothing wrong with writing a short story or a novelette. You probably won't be able to throw it up on Amazon by itself, but there are lots of venues still that do take short stories. Magazines, webzines, anthologies are all out there needing material and a lot of them do pay for them. Currently there are even some publishers that are willing to e-publish novella's. 

2. Point of View

You may start wading into a piece working with who you feel should be the main character, only to discover far more interesting things are happening to someone else. This can be extremely difficult to deal with, as a lot of times, changing the point of view (POV) can mean going back and starting over from the very beginning, and nobody likes having work that seems like it was a waste of time. Here's the thing though, it wasn't a waste of time because it led you to a place where you could see the right path. Start over from the beginning if you need to, but keep that first piece handy to remind yourself of what was going on that leads you back to the other character in the first place. Maybe your story will work with a mixed POV, back and forth between the two characters. Or maybe you could turn that first piece into an extra short story, to give the readers something that adds further depth to the main storyline for those who want to know more. 

3. False Starts. 

You revved the engine, hit the gas, and you've made it through the first thousand words when the engine dies. It's not writer's block, it's not a bad story or one that falls short. Something is broken, though, and you're really not sure what. Maybe you've just lost interest in that first thousand words. Maybe you just can't see how to get from point A to point B. It could be that this particular story hasn't quite "marinated" long enough. There's nothing really wrong with the story, but the inspiration for the entire thing hasn't quite struck yet and it's not one that's going to let you force it through. This can be frustrating because it feels like writer's block, even though it's actually subtly different. After all, you have the idea, the energy, but it still won't come out. Like your fingers are frozen just above the keys. What can you do? Well, try reading everything you've done already on that story. Read it from the start, go over your notes, see if something jumps up waving and screaming at you. If that doesn't work, you may just have to accept that it's not the right time for that story yet and set it aside for a while. Busy yourself with other things, start a new piece, maybe even meditate on the issue. It's not giving up if you come back to it later on with a fresh mind. 

The point I'm actually making here is that there are lots of reasons that a piece we're working on might stall out or not come out the way we anticipated. It can be extremely frustrating. It can also be temping to simply drag the files up into the Recycle bin and hit 'Delete'. 


Just because something isn't working out NOW, doesn't mean you won't have that "Eureka!" moment later on, and of all the things I've listed, few are really as demoralizing as having that epiphany and then remembering that you'd deleted all the work you'd done, rendering that new moment of brilliance useless. Even if you end up never finishing a story, you have the start there to play with, twist and mold. Pull it out and poke at it sometimes just for the hell of it. It might turn into a completely different story, or give you ideas or characters for others pieces that might be floundering a bit. Inspiration can come from some interesting places sometimes, and it shouldn't surprise any writer that the key to making one story work might be built from the parts of a story that just never got off the ground. 

So don't throw any of your broken works in the recycle bin. Throw them in the 'bits box' for later.

~ Shaun

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Top 10 Horror Survivors #5 - #1 (SPOILERS)

Welcome back. Once again, this blog post does contain spoilers for some of the most well-known Horror movies, so prepare yourself if you're a somewhat sheltered fan of Horror. (And in what world does THAT make sense?)

If you need a re-hash of numbers 10 - 6, check here.

Now, I think we all know what the deal is, so lets get on with it. My Top 5 Horror Survivors.

5. Ash - Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness

You ever have just one of those days? Ash has had several. From a possessed forest, to demons, undead, and a laughing deer trophy, he's seen most of it. While he does suffer from some issues because of what he's seen (Hey, nobody without issues is going to cut off their own hand with a chainsaw and then strap said chainsaw onto the bloody stump), by the end, he's calm, cool, collected, knows exactly what needs to be done and has no qualms about doing it. Very rarely will you see a character change from just one of the group, fighting to survive, into the quintessential action hero with a quick one-liner for most situations. Ash does it though, and he does it with a smile. So remember, shop smart. Shop S-Mart.

4. Sarah Conner - The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day

If you looked at #10 - #6 and wondered where the women are, they're all here. Enter Sarah Conner. The eventual mother of the savior of the human race in the face of an army of killer machines, she's the hapless damsel in distress to start with. She has no clue what's going on, is scared out of her mind, and has to be dragged out of harms way more times than anyone should be before they get the hint that there's more they can do besides sit there and be shot. She does figure it out though. Once the switch is flipped, there's no turning back and you have one of the most badass mom's on the planet. Lots of mother's go out of their way to provide their kids with the stuff they'll need once they get older. Most kids don't need rocket launchers, machine guns by the dozens, all the ammo to go with, and protection from liquid metal assassins though. Yet, she still provides, even after she's gone. Sarah Conner wasn't just a survivor, she made sure other people would be able to survive as well.

3. Jim - 28 Days Later

Most of the people on this list have two or three movies to turn themselves around in. Jim, however, lives in a world of rage zombies, so it's either learn quick or die. Now, to be honest, we don't really know what kind of person he was before the accident that put him in the hospital, so it could be that his transformation isn't all that big of a stretch. From the start of the movie though, where he's confused, scared, and running his ass off, he makes a couple different turn-arounds. After a while, he understands what he's going to have to do to survive and he makes the effort to ensure he has what it takes. In his fight for himself and his friends, though, it's not just what he learns from the people he's with that changes him. What puts him on this list, and so high on it, is that he also learns from the dangers around him. Not only do the rage zombies show him what other people are capable of, they show him what he might be capable of and he takes that lesson to heart in the process of rescuing his friends. So hat's off to him for making his enemy's strength his own.

2. Ellen Ripley - The Alien Series

Like Ash, Ellen Ripley starts off as just another part of the crew, finding herself thrust into a situation 99 out of 100 people would have no dream of surviving. Yet she manages to persevere, and eventually becomes a badass in her own right. Her companions that she outlasted in the first film were just a basic ship crew, nobody outstanding as exceptional. The second film, her companions are Colonial Marines, guys trained to be badasses, and who subsequently lose their shit one at a time, until Ripley finally steps up into (literally) boots five times any of them could hope to wear. She's no less of a badass in the third and fourth movies either, like her bitch switch not only got flipped, but ripped out of the wall so nobody could reset it. All that experience makes someone who is not just a survivor, but someone to follow if you want to live yourself.

1. Chief Martin Brody - Jaws

It's one thing to survive when it's the only choice you have, it's another thing entirely to throw yourself into a situation you're terrified of and in no way prepared for, just because it's your job. That's why Chief Brody makes my Number One slot for Horror Survivors. Scared of the water? Check. Facing a man-eating shark? Check. Riding with a boat captain that's completely certifiable? Triple Check. Brody had the chance to stay ashore and await the inevitable return (by towing of course) of Quint's boat, but he insisted on going, despite everything else. Then, between him, the captain, and the shark expert, it's Chief Brody that manages to put an end to the reign of terror, using information he just learned the day before. Not only that. Not only ALL that. The experience gets him over his fear of the water. He's not just swimming home after the boat sinks, he's enjoying the swim home. He's didn't just survive the encounter, he came out of it smarter, more experienced, and stronger personally to boot.

So there you have it, my top ten Horror Survivors. Do you agree? Disagree? Who do you think should be on the list? Feel free to offer up your choices in the comments and we can discuss it. 

~ Shaun

Top 10 Horror Survivors #10 - #6 (SPOILERS)

Seriously. Spoilers ahead, if you're a horror fan who hasn't seen a lot of the classics, don't even scroll down. Unless you don't care about spoilers. Personally, I've always been of the opinion that knowing something isn't the same as seeing or experiencing it. Eh, to each their own though, don't say I didn't warn you.

The greatest fear people have, is fear of the unknown. In lots of genre's and media, this translates to the fear of death. Death being that great unanswered... Ah, forget all the psycho-babble for now. What this all basically translates to is this. If you're in a horror movie and you survive, you got DAMN lucky. If you come out at the end stronger or better for the experience, you're a true survivor. That's what this list is. These are the people who faced real horrors, hid, battled, and ran their asses off to make it to the end, were still breathing and were (more or less) whole when the credits rolled.

Note, none of these are really in any particular order.

10. Billy Peltzer - Gremlins, Gremlins 2

Billy starts out as your typical college kid, a bit clumsy and irresponsible, he tries to do the right things in life, but always seems to get the short end of the stick. Enter the cute, fuzzy little pet nobody actually deserves to have. In no time, the whole town is overrun with monsters, driving snowplows through people's living rooms and shooting little old ladies out the second story window. There really aren't any deaths on-screen, but there are several implied, as well as more than a couple vicious attacks. Still, Billy makes the list because he accepts responsibility and faces the mass of angry little beasts. He manages to survive an assault of circular saw blades used as throwing stars and with a little help, saves the day. In the second movie, despite the passage of time, and that it seems like life still beats him with the short stick, he doesn't hesitate for a second to stand up to the menace that he faced before. He came out of the first movie more responsible and courageous, even if he still can't face up to his bosses.

9. Danny Torrence - The Shining

This kid is a survivor. At his age, in order to survive, he has to escape from not only the ghosts and demons of the Overlook Hotel itself, but his from his father who's been driven insane by those same spirits. While he may be scared out of his wits the whole time, and makes a few mistakes along the way that almost cost him dearly, he doesn't stop thinking and manages to get away by outsmarting his father in the hedge maze. He may not be doing so well by the opening of the sequel Doctor Sleep, but for his first brush with terror he learns about his ability, and himself, and uses what he learns to survive a situation that, let's face it, most of us wouldn't.

8. Graham Hess - Signs

While I have a few issues with the movie, only one of which being the "Everything is part of God's plan" bit, you can't deny that for a disillusioned priest, Graham Hess has some skills. A perfect example is the scene in his neighbor's house, where an alien is trapped in the pantry. Almost without hesitation, Hess grabs a knife and uses the metal blade as a mirror to try and see under the door. Then it quickly flips around in his hand, taking off the fingers that reach out for him. Top that off with the way he keeps a perfectly cool head in the final showdown after a night trapped in his own basement enduring an assault from all sides, and you have someone who could stare down almost anything. End it all with reassuring himself of his faith, even in light of aliens from another world, yeah, he's a survivor.

7. Dr. Lawrence Gordon - Saw

Well, okay, so the whole series is about trying to survive the traps. Dr. Gordon was one of the first, and his crime wasn't even all that bad compared to the others who found themselves in similar situations. He is also one of the few who beat Jigsaw at his own game, by not killing his opponent or consigning himself to death. He took the third option and he survived. In a series where people are commonly being frozen solid, having their chests torn out, or having their heads split open like pac-man, surviving under your own terms is a hell of an achievement. He also did learn the lesson that Jigsaw was trying to impress upon people about how precious life really is. So cheers to you Dr. Gordon.

6. Shaun - Shaun of the Dead

Really, you had to see this one coming. I mean, just look at the title of the blog. Let's be honest though, in the face of the zombie apocalypse, how many people would risk everything to protect the ex that JUST dumped them? In the beginning, Shaun is a slacker, low-level job, always sitting around playing video games. Bumming around and having a laugh. Which is why said ex dumps him. Throughout the rest of the movie though, he's pushed to be pro-active and take charge, even if he screws up a few times. Sure, he ends the movie pretty much the same was as he started, but by then he's earned it. He's proven that when it comes down to it, he has what it takes, and the end of the world is not going to find him curled up in a ball under his bed.

Sooo...I had originally planned to just do all ten in one blog post, but this is getting a bit long now, so I'm going to just break it in half. Check back next Tuesday to see who my top 5 horror survivors are. I'm sure you can guess who if you're fans of the genre, but hey, this is my blog and I'm going to go over them anyway. True, this means two weeks in a row some people might have to skip due to spoilers, but if that irritates you that much, hit up the Biography link above and send me a nasty email about it.

Of course, if you think I'm leaving someone out (keep in mind the top 5 are still coming), or you disagree with some of my choices, feel free to say so in the comments. :-) Always nice to keep the conversation going.

Edit: You can skip along to the top 5 now by clicking here. Enjoy.

Catch ya later.

~ Shaun

Oh, and if you missed my extra post for the week, check it out, the announcement for the release of a trio of my short stories you can get on Kindle.