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