A Changing Wind

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2016 by brentabell



In a couple of weeks, I will be returning to Louisville, KY for the third annual Imaginarium Convention. The con is a great writer-focused weekend with panels and signings plus the dealer room is free of charge. Be sure to pick up a badge to learn more about the craft or stop in to support all the authors and creators in attendance.

Once again, I will be setting up shop with my brother-from-another-mother, Jack Wallen. We will have books and jokes and kilts. Come by to see the kilted boys and pick up some words to consume as we ease our way into October and the Halloween season.

Speaking of the changing seasons, things are also changing in the winds with me. A few years ago, I had a table full of anthologies to sell. At the time, they were all I was focused on. I believed I had to use anthologies to build my name and cut my teeth in the craft. Now, I have stuff for sale that features my name only on the cover and damn, it feels good.

I wish I would’ve gone about it a little differently, however. In retrospect, I learned you need a mix of things in release to help build a base and drive sales. Armand Rosamilia once told me that anthologies are good to help sell the solo stuff. When you have a new book coming out, an anthology is good to help with cross-promotion and hopefully increasing sales. He’s done pretty well for himself and I value the lessons and insights he’s passed on to me.

In the last few years, I have focused almost solely on the solo work. I’ve made a few exceptions like the Middletown Apocalypse books (book two is coming soon) and the Hellmouth trilogy (with Jack Wallen, Jay Wilburn, and Armand Rosamillia). Short stories have been few and far between however. I do have one coming up shortly and I’ll get to that when it comes out. When I peek at the idea notes, they all seem to be novellas or novels. I pretty much have the next five books mapped out, but I didn’t see any short story ideas.

I guess while I try to find balance in my write life (the whole real job vs. writing thing), I need to find a similar balance in my work. To be honest, maybe if I sprinkled in a few shorts, I wouldn’t have issues with ADD and squirrels.

So, I have changed my approach and we’re going to see how it works out. Each month, I will try to finish two short stories. The time has come to get the ball rolling again and try to get the end game started. Maybe, just maybe, in a few years I can go full-time. I know I suck at pushing myself as a product and I hope to learn from one of the masters in a couple of weeks. If anything, I know to listen and try to apply what others have learned into my own approach. Not everything works for everybody, but you never know until you try.

Check you guys on the Upside Down,


Writers: Are you wasting your time?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 17, 2016 by brentabell

I had to re-read this post twice. After thinking about how I’ve been approaching my work lately, I realized I’ve tried to make it work. In the process, I forgot why I started writing in the first place. This was a reflection I needed and now? Let’s have some fun!

C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

A lady found out I was a writer. “That’s so cool!” she said.

“Well, you would think so, wouldn’t you?” I said.

Youtube stars make more money. Singers don’t have to write so much or so long and can do the same performance over and over. Writers may work for years on one project (though I don’t recommend that.) We rarely attract adoring crowds.

Another guy, upon finding out I write, asked, “Is it worth it?”

“Is it worth it?” I echoed, vacillating between anger, sadness and not understanding the question.

“Yeah,” the guy said. “Do you make any money at it?”

“Any? Some,” I said. Jesus! How did a random chat with a stranger suddenly turn into a shitty conversation with someone I don’t like at a family reunion?

That was one of those uncomfortable moments where, in the mind of another, I was a loser. (Not my first time.)


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Being a Plotter vs. Being a Pantster

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 5, 2016 by brentabell

WRITERI’m still not sure which one of these types I am when I write. Do I sit around and sketch out the plot of the book or story? Do I sit behind the PC and let the story flow organically from my brain? Can a person do a mix of the two and still be successful at getting stuff completed?

I started out being a pantster. Once upon a time, I only thought horror novels came from King, Koontz, and Barker. This changed and I was introduced to such great authors as Brian Keene, Wrath James White, Ray Garton, and Richard Laymon. They really captured my imagination and helped to fuel a dormant interest in writing myself. The first thing I read about was how Laymon would sit and let the story flow from him and wherever it went was where it went.

The first few years, I tried this same method. I had an idea for the beginning and the end, but I let the middle develop organically. This worked fine for the short stories and such, but I found myself getting lost in the middle when I translated it to the longer works. I tried to make it work and also would find myself being easily distracted while I meandered through a manuscript.

So, I tried to adapt.

When I sat out to make Southern Devils a novel, I wrote a full outline. For a few chapters, it was nice to have an idea where everything was headed when I wrote. But, I kept finding myself feeling constricted by the outlines I wrote. I could focus more, but I felt like I was telling the characters what to do instead of letting them have a hand in their own destiny.

What was left for me to do?

I tried to meld both methods into something I could use. Instead of an outline, I began to loosely lay out the chapters and only write a sentence or two about the chapter. I know where I wanted to go with it, but I don’t narrow myself down to certain things in the chapter. It helped my focus on the way the story flowed and the characters still had the room to grow. Not having twenty bullet points for what needed to happen in a chapter felt liberating. The story could still grow organically, but I still had a framework to help me stay on target.

Which school am I?



Writing has lots of people telling you which methods are best and how you should go about writing. The truth is you have to develop your own way. It took me three years to really get down a method that worked for me. What methods work for you? Feel free to discuss in the comment section. Sharing ideas is one way writers can help each other out.

Also as a bonus for the parents who have time to read now that the kids are back in school, I have a special going on at Amazon right now. Southern Devils and Wicked Tales for Wicked People can be picked up for the Kindle at the nice price of .99. My fun novelette, Stone Cold Horror From the Stars, is free for your enjoyment. If you read them, please take a moment to leave a review. Grab them quick, the special is only for five days!

Lastly, now I am getting into the first White Creek novel (the 20k words I did have were lost in the laptop crash), a good few thousand words into the Southern Devils sequel, and the editing is complete on The Calling. I hope to have release information and the cover reveal soon. My part of the Middletown Apocalypse sequel has been turned in also for a Halloween release like last year.

Stay cool and we’ll hang out again soon,


And the Devils Rode Through the South

Posted in Uncategorized on June 3, 2016 by brentabell

thumbnail_southern_devils_ebook_coverAfter years of stalls, dead presses, and wanting to be turned into a full novel… Southern Devils is here.

When I first wrote the story, it was a short piece retelling how one of the Confederacy’s greatest generals returned to get his revenge on those who he thought had killed him. Instead, he was used by Robert E. Lee as a weapon to eradicate Sherman’s army as he rampaged through the southern countryside. The story ended quickly and left the whole Civil War an open book.

The openness I left in the story gnawed at me for months. The first press to accept it folded before it was released as part of an anthology about zombies in the Civil War. In fact, the second press that took it canceled the anthology it had been selected for. Luckily, another press took over the project, but then never went anywhere with it. Three presses and three failed attempts to get the original short story out.

I got seriously bummed out. The story held a special place in my heart because it was my first accepted story. On the bright side, by this time I’d had other stories make it to print. The fact I had stuff out there dulled the sting and gave me the time to do what I know I needed to do… what the story dictated I needed to do.

I needed to tell the full tale. My wife told me I needed to do it and she was right. The story deserved to be something more than a short story. (Thanks babe!)

The time has finally arrived. Now, the full story of the Sword and how they kept the Union safe from the unholy  Confederate reanimate hordes can be told. The book is also book one of a trilogy. Book two has been started and my goal is to have the first draft completed by the end of the year. I hope you pick up this little piece of alternate history and think again about what the history books told you.

The book is on Amazon now and ready for you to read on those beach vacations. You can pick it up in print and for your Kindle thingy.

I am also on the Summer of Zombie Tour 2016 with some of the top zombie scribes in the genre. Go to the event page on Facebook and have a bloody June!

Everybody have a great summer and goodnight,


The Smile From Space

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2016 by brentabell

Okay, I know I’m supposed to make my point about why I like John Saul, but I’m still gathering my information and doing another examination of my favorite of his works.

Instead, something else is dropping instead…

Back in 2013, I found a call for an anthology dealing with giant monsters rampaging through the cities of Earth. The call said to think outside of the box. I thought outside the box by writing about a giant pet rock with eyes and a mouth being drawn on by a marker. Yeah, I know, I have some weird thoughts in my head and I wanted to write a tale about a father and a son.

The story did get selected by Grinning Skull Press to be included in their Attack! of the B-Movie Monsters: Night of the Gigantis. It had some nice words in some reviews and people liked the story of Jake and his rampage. The problem with it was its length. At almost ten thousand words, doing anything else with it is a tough sell to other presses due to it being long and being a reprint. So, I felt putting it out as a solo story would be fun and give me the chance to learn some stuff about what needs to be done to bring words to the masses. I want to thank Jack Wallen for the cover and for his guidance through this process.

Stone Cold Horror From the Stars is out now for your Kindle and will be out soon as a nice little chap book. To celebrate, I’m running a sale on Wicked Tales for Wicked People starting tomorrow until April 13th. It’ll only be .99 for the Kindle so you can load up for your vacations this summer. Click here for the pet rock and here for the special. There will be a contest soon for some swag, so read it and get ready to party this summer!

Thanks and goodnight,



Pick it up now at Amazon!

Why is Dean Koontz Loathed in Such Heinous Fashion?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 14, 2016 by brentabell

I found this to be a really interesting question. When I first started reading Stephen King when I was ten, Koontz was the next writer in line for me to devour. I admit, his older works are the better reads, but he always usually gives you a good ride. If you’re on the fence, go and re-read his work. When I need a fun trip through the supernatural, Dean brings it home. Lastly, I’ll save this for another post next week, but I want to discuss everyone’s feelings on John Saul.

Keep turning those pages,

Horror Novel Reviews

Dean Koontz

I’ve heard the extremely prolific Dean Koontz, author of roughly 100 works (plenty of which were number one sellers) of fiction, bashed to hell and back over the last few years. I’ve heard him labeled a hack, lazy, a poor man’s Stephen King, a dime-shelf writer. You name it, I’ve heard it, and to be completely honest I’m mystified by this strange and seemingly odious stigma (it’s not deserved I cry!) that looms over Koontz’s name. For my buck, Dean is one of the most balanced authors in the business.

The man does his research, and checks his facts. The man has built a diverse body of work that covers an expansive thematic landscape. He works endlessly to bring terror to readers sans any significant break. He’s capable of being extremely detailed, without running far too long in the tooth, and when he wants to, he can throw some seriously…

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Are We Still Using Blogs in 2016?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 10, 2016 by brentabell

Armand Rosamilia dazzles us with a good question for the new year. As for my answer, I wish readers would interact more with anybody’s blog. I think the reader interaction helps keep us in touch with everyone and allows a relationship to develop between the author/reader. What do you say?



I used to post a lot. All the damn time, in fact. I’d average 2-3 posts and 2-3 guest posts a week. Tons of information I thought would be helpful, amusing or just something for me. I could also rely on the posts getting shared and commented on and people wanting to join in on the fun. When I started this blog way back in 2009 or thereabout, it was as a struggling part-time author trying to make the leap to full-time author who is so wealthy I never wear the same pair of socks twice. 

I’m a full-time writer but the pair of socks I have on has way too much wear for my liking. 

I podcast. Two podcasts, in fact… (shameless plug time in 3…2…1…)

Arm Cast Podcast – new episode every Friday

Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast – new episode every Wednesday

Both on Project iRadio 

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