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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Goodbye 2015 and Hello 2016

Posted in Uncategorized on January 4, 2016 by brentabell

2015 was a different beast. I only had one short story hit and another accepted for a project that is coming soon. On the flip side, I had many longer collaboration projects released last year. This was very unlike me because I like to try to get a few stories tucked in here and there while I get the longer pieces completed. I found working with other authors on a book has a pretty good upside. I can have a book release that is not an anthology, but not have to write an entire book. It really helps getting a good backlist of titles for readers to choose from.

Looking back at 2015, it looked a little something like this…


March 13th: The first of the Hellmouth Trilogy, Hollywood Hellmouth, drops on an unsuspecting populace. The first book started off as Armand Rosamilia, Jack Wallen, Jay Wilburn, and myself having some fun and putting Solomon through some weird stuff. We published the book and set out to debut the paperback at MidSouth Con a week later.


March 20th-22nd: MidSouth Con found me reuniting with my Hellmouth co-writers to pimp the book in Memphis, Tennessee. The con was a great time and the seeds for later Hellmouth books were planted.


TestimonyMarch 29th: My only true short story for the year, The Testimony of H.J. Pembrooke,  dropped as a stand-alone from Phrenic Press.


July 21st: The second of the unholy Hellmouth series, Hoboken Hellmouth, hit the streets to much rejoicing. Once again, we put all of our culture on trial and roasted it.



September 8th: Solomon finally gets a break in the final book of the Hellmouth trilogy, Honolulu Hellmouth. This book also served as a guide for how to act at cons and examined the problems found in the small press. Overall, fun was had by everyone…

September 11th-13th: I returned for the second Imaginarium convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Armand, Jack, Jay, and myself teamed up to officially release, Honolulu Hellmouth.

MiddletownOctober 31st: Halloween saw the release of the most successful project I’ve ever been involved in, Middletown Apocalypse. I don’t count this as a short story, because once you hit 14k words in a story it kind of becomes a novelette. There is more news concerning this later…

2015 was a good year. I hope to ride the momentum from last year and make 2016 the best year yet.

Looking forward to this year…

The year started off good when I sent the first short story submission in a long, long time. Hitting send on it felt really good and I want to hit the short story road a few more times this year. The Calling, I hope will be released this year. I delve deeper into the White Creek mythos in the book and set in motion much of what is coming in the current White Creek novella and novel being written now. There is an anthology with a rather nasty tale of mine due very shortly. I am also really wanting Southern Devils to find a home this year. I want to have it someplace before I begin working on the second book. And to cap it all off, Middletown Apocalypse, will have a sequel arriving on Halloween again.

2016 is looking to be busy and thanks for staying on the ride!





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