Archive for Ray Garton

NEWS BLAST 02.22.2014

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2014 by brandonlayng

Win a Copy of Clive Barker’s The Midnight Meat Train Special Definitive Edition!

One lucky DRP customer will win a copy of The Midnight Meat Train Special Definitive Edition when they order a DRP Big Box this weekend. This is a signed, limited edition hardcover and all you have to do to win this free book is to purchase a Big Box this weekend (Feb 21st-23rd). The lucky winner will find a ticket waiting inside for them. Order more Big Boxes to increase your chance of winning. Convince your friends to buy one and you can share the book (maybe keeping it at each house on alternating weeks, or they can just give it to you as an awesome gift because they think you’re great).

What’s in a Big Box?

1x Deluxe Signed Slipcased Hardcover or Premium Signed Hardcover from Other Publisher (retail: $45 – $300)
1x Signed Limited Edition Hardcover (retail: $40 – $60)
5x Trade Paperbacks (total retail value: $50 – $100)
1x Dark Regions Press grey t-shirt; sizes avail: S, M, L, XL, 2XL and 3XL (retail: $19.95)
1x Surprise Book ($10 – $195 retail value)
1x Exclusive One-Time 25% Off Coupon Code Included (expires 03/20/2014)
1x Dark Regions Press Bookmark
Exclusive Sneak Peek into The Midnight Meat Train by Clive Barker Special Definitive Edition
Extra Bonuses Included at Random!
Plus, FREE U.S. shipping!

Here’s the link to order now.

Good luck!



Interview with Justin Gustainis, author of Known Devil

Gef Fox writes honest, entertaining, and intelligent reviews of movies and books in a wide spectrum of genres. But there are also excellent interviews with authors on the site, Wag The Fox. Here’s a great one with the Justin Gustainis, author of the Occult Crimes Unit Trilogy, from Angry Robot Books (a favourite publisher of mine). The interview is followed by a review of Hard Spell, Book 1 of the series.

Find it here:



Ultra Cool One-time Only, CD T-Shirts

Cemetery Dance has recently announced their first ever surprise in-stock t-shirts. This is a one-shot printing and will not be available beyond the quantity they currently have, so you need to snap these up quick. Printed on Gildan heavy cotton tees, they are available in M, L, XL, & 2XL. The cost is a steal at only $18, plus shipping. Order yours today!



Emma Newman Interview

ARB is posting the occasional author interview on the website and I thought it might be interesting for readers out there to hear from the authors with the possibility it might encourage you to pick up a book from this excellent publisher. The newest interview is with Emma Newman, author of The Split Worlds series.



Holiday Fiction

I’m a little late getting this one out because I haven’t been keeping up with my regular round of author websites like I once did. But I was very happy to find out one of my favourite authors (who has had a huge impact on my own writing) posted a piece of short fiction on his blog during Christmas time.

Follow this link

to read, “People at Christmas Time” by Ray Garton. And make sure to leave a comment or two to let Ray know how much you enjoyed the story or any other piece of his writing.


 If you’re an author or publisher and you have something coming out, and you would like to have another mouth spread the word, drop me an e-mail at foxtat2-at-hotmail-dot-com. I’m always happy to help out.


PUG: The Making of a NaNoWriMo Horror Novel

Posted in Contests, News, PUG/NaNoWriMo with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2013 by brandonlayng

PUG: The Making of a NaNoWriMo Horror Novel

November is almost upon us, which means crazy meatheads like me are stretching our fingers in preparation to cram 50K of words into a month from out of thin air. Since I haven’t been interviewed in a while and my two zodiac signs (Leo & Rooster) are growling and strutting for attention, I figure I’d introduce you to my November project, PUG, by asking myself a few questions. In the process maybe you’ll understand what inspires me, why people get the crazy idea to let their mind & fingers spazz out for a month, and possibly – hopefully – I will make you want to either follow my progress or even better, join me on this fun-freakin-tastic journey.


– I first heard about NaNoWriMo, a challenge for writers (amateurs and professionals alike) to write 50,000 words in one month, from my friend, Jodi Lee, back in 2007. You can find out more info about the challenge and the non-profit organization at . My first two novels took me forever to write and I thought I could use the extra motivation and a deadline for a real word count would put the pressure on me I needed to write my third book. I won that first year and the one after that. Those two books are the still as yet unpublished Sin in Skin and A Walk Amongst the Dead. I’ve worked on a few other novels between then and now, and a whole slew of short stories (some of those have been published, lol). Mostly, I’ve been editing those two NaNo books, because they are awesome. I mentioned in a previous post how I got a little help from one of the writers I most admire, Ray Garton (read his books and you’ll understand why I think he’s totally fucking cool). After his read-through, I was humbled and encouraged by his advice. I then turned into a hermit with his head buried in draft after draft of his novel.

*BTW I’m finally getting up the guts to send AWAtD out to one of two publishers I most want to find a home for my book with. The problem is, they are both holding open submissions and I can’t decide which to send it to. A little advice on that front would be a great help everyone. So share your two cents in the comments section, please.

What is PUG about? Give the people a synopsis, why don’t you?

Okay, here’s the official NaNo synopsis:

Bob Ballard and his wife, Linda both grew up with a family dog and they want their newborn daughter to enjoy the same experience. They bundle up baby Alexandra and make a trip to the local animal shelter. There Linda falls in love with a pug. They adopt her and decide to name her, Sugar (“because she’s so sweet”), but baby Alex doesn’t seem to trust the new family pet. Her parents think their little girl will grow to love her new puppy.

But they don’t know Sugar. And they didn’t bother to ask where the shelter found the dog.

Soon neighborhood cats will go missing and the crazy cat lady next door will accuse Sugar of being behind the disappearances. Bob begins to suspect he should have trusted his daughter.
Will he convince Linda their dog is evil before it’s too late? Or will she have to see the danger herself before she will listen?

What inspired the idea to make the monster an evil Pug dog?

A couple of years ago my wife adopted a pug from a local shelter. She named her, Cupcake. Cupcake was a rescue from a puppy mill, was only a year old and had already given birth to a litter of pups, and had spent most of her so far short life kept in a kennel. If you’ve ever met a puppy mill dog you know they are either aggressive or nervous. Both of our dogs (we also have a Boston Terrier – my puppy – named, Mickey) are puppy mill rescue dogs. But whereas Mickey is obsessively clean and rarely makes a mess outside of the area of his dog pad, Cupcake is not. She eats her poo. I tell everyone she does. It annoys the hell out of me. She’ll poop and pee on her pad or in the vicinity of her pad and then will eat her poo to spread the mess around. She mushes it into the floor, smearing it all over. We’ve researched the behavior. We’ve tried dozens of solutions. None work. I understand why she does it. But it still drives me nuts. Sometimes, I think she does it to be a little evil. That’s ridiculous though. She’s too cute to be evil. Or is she?

You’re taking a whole month, putting everything else aside, and writing a short novel/novella. What challenges might stand in your way? How will you keep yourself motivated?

Ha, ha, ha, ha, and ha! It’s going to be a challenge for sure. My wife just broke her foot. She’s the one who keeps our home running. She’s amazing at it. If I’m the home security, she would be considered the home manager. I have Crohn’s disease and as a result of all the bleeding, I’m severely anemic and fatigued, which means I can’t keep up with the day-to-day around here at the speed she does. One of my other duties around the house is taxi driver for everyone (including extended family) and that means when someone needs to go somewhere I’ll need to put down the writing to get in the driver’s seat. I’ll also be spending half of my day doing the final polish on that other manuscript I was taking about and preparing a submission package. I have a five-year old and a twelve-year old (who’s Asperger’s Autistic).

To deal with all this and get those words desperately down on electronic/real paper I plan on stealing any second I can to sit and write. I’ll be seeking the help of my pain medication, smokes, and a crap ton of movies. I’ll also make sure my inspirational books like, On Writing by Stephen King, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, and The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass are close by. I will be dragging my laptop into the bathroom with me – not in the shower, of course.

And I will be learning to say, “Leave me alone. I’m writing.” To everybody.

I also plan on writing an update on my progress once a week and posting it to my blog to keep me honest. I’ll be looking for your help with this, my readers. Your encouragement is much appreciated. In my next posting I’ll be asking you to send me pics of your evil looking dogs so I can post them on the blog for all to see. Get your cameras ready. The winners of most evil dogs will be in for some canine-related prizes.

Any advice to others who are considering taking the November NaNo plunge?

Yeah, don’t stress about it. This is suppose to be challenging, but it’s also meant to be fun. I had more fun then stress by the time I was done – both years I won. I remember the astonished sense of pride I felt when I managed in the final push to write 9K of words in a 3 ½ hour coffee shop bonanza. I bragged to all of my friends I’d done it. None of them had ever attempted such a feat. They thought it was pretty amazing.

Now, what if I didn’t finish in those two years, how would I feel? I’d have been proud of myself for trying and I would have kept on trying. Those books I started working on wouldn’t sit on a shelf gathering dust because (like what actually happened both times) I would have taken a month off and went right back to writing them. Even at 50K the book is rarely done. Your first draft will most often be only half-finished and then there are the drafts that come after as you edit. Think of it like a trip into outer space. You have your rockets strapped on and you thrust out of the atmosphere, that’s NaNoWriMo work, the thrust for adjustment and the coasting that comes after isn’t so hard, but it will take longer. Finishing the book just becomes your way of maintaining orbit. Either way, you’re out of this world until you are completely done and the book is off to publishers. Then you’ll be so excited because it’s time to blast off again.

Good luck to all of you getting your NaNo groove on this year. And to the others… I hope to hear the clicking of your keyboard during NaNoWriMo 2014.

Now a message from our sponsor.

Pugsalicious dog food. Filled with meat by-products in a blood-based gravy. Your pug will say, “Yummy” and keep that rascal from making a home in your empty stomach cavity.

Dorchester Publishing and the Future

Posted in News, Ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2010 by brandonlayng

Dorchester Pub changing format focus

Horror World: A message from Don D’Auria


J A Konrath: A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing

Is anyone else as scared as I am by this move from Dorchester Publishing? In case you didn’t know, Dorchester Publishing has a little imprint called Leisure Books, a major promoter of mass market paperback HORROR fiction. You know how all of your favourite horror authors put out limited print runs of books with small press publishers at prices that can be prohibitive for the average low-income reader? Well, Leisure Books is the company that put them in your hands in a nice sized and affordable version. You want to have that same pleasure of reading their gruesome tales, then Dorchester says the future is to drop a few hundred bucks for a digital reader and then pay the same for the e-book as you paid for the print. I’m feeling ripped off, aren’t you?

If you’ve been reading my past postings on the ‘Net, you know I was a supporter of Dorchester Publishing for being one of the few major publishing houses keeping the horror genre alive. But now I hear the bell toll and it tolls for thee.

I’m jumping the gun with all of this Doomsday stuff, right? I don’t think so. Here’s why — from a reader’s and author’s perspective.

Why am I going to spend a few hundred dollars for a Kindle or iPad or other e-reader device so I can read a book that has no feeling of permanence? If I drop my e-reader and it breaks, I’ve lost my entire library. I might have backed the books up on my PC, that’s good, except why would I clog up my hard drive for the sake of a back-up? With print books, I have no need to buy or make an extra copy. On top of that, if I want to read those books on the go again, I have to spend another few hundred dollars to buy a replacement e-reader. This is getting pretty expensive don’t you think? if I drop a print book in a puddle, I take it home and dry it out, worst scenario I buy another book for a few bucks. E-readers save space, you say? I don’t doubt that but why does that matter? Your e-reader would run out of memory space if you bought enough books too. I realize the number of books they can hold is quite large but you and I both know holding a piece of plastic doesn’t equal to the feeling of owning a print book.

Now here’s where it goes bad for publishers switching to digital-only formats. Why, as a reader, do I need them? I need the writer who created the story. If you want to argue that a writer’s work is not the same quality before it goes through the editing process, you’d lose that argument. The profit margins for a writer to self-publish an e-book outweighs those of going with a publisher. The editing process can be hired and even after spending money on that you come out ahead of your earnings if you go with a publisher instead. There are many reputable and quality freelance editors out there and they don’t want a continuous portion of your profits, giving you a tiny slice of the pie in return. That leaves the publisher offering you one thing in return for the large percentage of the profit margin you give them and that thing is their name. How much longer will that hold value? With writers turning to their contracts and seeing how much they are losing in profits to publishers just for the comfort of what is essentially their sponsorship of a product that has no physical weight or value, the way a print book has, it can’t be long before they see how much easier it is to self-publish their e-book. Writers like Brian Keene and Scott Nicholson have already looked into or are doing it.

How many books do these publishers think they can sell when authors can undercut the price themselves? The goal of most professional writers is two-fold; get the book read by as many people as possible and make enough money to keep writing. Using the numbers from the Konrath blog posting; $2.99 or $6.99? Which one do you think you would buy, if it was the same book? If it’s the same book, would seeing the publisher’s name on the more expensive one affect your buying choice? In a time of economic instability, I don’t think the consumer cares about the publisher’s name on an electronic document.

And that’s the other thing. It’s not even a book, it’s a novel-length electronic document. A book is a physical thing you can hold in your hands. E-books are insubstantial things, it’s the e-readers that are the physical part of the product. As a result the true value of the work is in the author’s words entirely and the publisher is selling you nothing but the rights to access those words. An author can do that themselves. So why would a reader or an author give that kind of power to a publisher?

Let’s take a trip back in time to say… any day you want in the past when publishers put out print books. Those print books came in all manner of quality, some were gorgeous like early Stephen King hardcovers or one-read fall-aparts like the majority of the 80’s paperbacks. Submissions departments at all publishing houses were jammed, crammed, thank you ma’ammed out the ying-yang with authors trying to get them to put their novel in print. Two reasons for this: prohibitive cost of self-publishing a print book and the stigma of self-publishing. I mean who had the money or room to get their own printing press? When it comes to e-books I’ve got a printing press right here on my lap. Anyone with a computer can make an e-book. By going an all-electronic route publishers are driving themselves into a dismal future. In no time at all, writers will wake up and smell the scam, realizing they don’t need publishers anymore; they need freelance editors. Where will that leave the publisher? Bankrupt. Of money and the talent that provides them with a product to sell.

There is still value in the print book industry. Jumping away from the niche that makes you necessary is not the way to go. Wasting money printing books that will not get sold is just that, wasting money. I walk into the local bookstore looking for Ray Garton, Douglas Clegg or so many others and I’m very lucky if I find a single copy of their new book. The rest of the shelf is filled with Stephen King, Dean Koontz and the other big names. Multiple copies of their books from twenty-thirty years ago. I mean come on, who doesn’t have those books yet? What rock are these people living under? You can find those books at second-hand stores and yard sales for crying out loud. Why did the publisher just waste thousands of dollars printing so many copies of them? I’d like to find the buyer for the bookstore and kick their ass. Is it any wonder why authors like Garton, Keene and others sell better through online stores and small press than through big publishers? These big box store idiots don’t have copies on the shelves because they’re waiting for some guy or gal to come out from under the rock to buy that Stephen King book they missed. Mid-listers are in the middle of the list because buyers and publishers put them there. You can’t expect to get new readers if they’ve never heard of the book. Believe me, Dean Koontz doesn’t need the advertising money to let people know he has a new book out, his readers know before the publisher drafts the contract. And they wonder why print sales are dropping.

I’d buy a print book from a major publisher because they make them best. I’ll buy an e-book from the writer because he/she deserves the money. Major publishers offer me nothing for buying an e-book that the writer can’t give me.

Publishers should switch to a POD style of publishing; it can work. That is if the buyer who places the order at the bookstores wakes up and smells the over-priced coffee. Because they are a huge part of the problem. Book stores rarely push a new author unless the hype around them is already huge. The end result of not pushing their product is driving publishers out of business and that will do more harm than good to the bookstores. If publishers can’t make money putting out books in print and have to switch to an all digital format, there goes the book stores and the libraries. Both publishers and book stores still have some power over the message they send to the newest generation and the message they are now sending is impatience at the same time they devalue the physical book. Less books on the shelves mean fewer jobs for these kids. Not just there, at the bookstores but at the libraries too. Remember that episode of The Simpsons when they go to the library and find there are no books, only a computer with every book downloaded onto it? With the current trend how far off can that kind of future be? All those books on a computer just waiting for one EMP blast from the sun and they are gone. Print books will survive. The printed word has survived thousands of years. Can the same be said for the digital word?

It’s a dangerous business they’re playing in. One that could rob the world of its treasures. One with far-reaching consequences to an industry and more widely, the economy. It’s not adapting, it’s suicide.

The real question is: does the kid reading Twilight on his or her iPad even care?

Just a note: Since I posted this rant some interesting news has hit the writer blogs. They say the proof is in the pudding and if Brian Keene isn’t an ingredient in Leisure Books’ pudding mix, I don’t know who is then. Here’s what he has to say about why he’s decided not to continue with Dorchester Publishing’s new format.


Posted in A Writer's Journey with tags , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2010 by brandonlayng

The Value of Animals

This topic has come up before in A Writer’s Journey – not directly – and I said I would tackle it in a future edition. As writers we value our friends. They are kind enough to read over our work, pointing out a misspelled word or a faulty fact. They are there to take us out for drinks when we’ve been locked in our offices spending too much time playing with fictional people. Our friends keep us grounded in reality. In most cases these friends have their own homes, their own lives and jobs, which means they can’t be there for us 24/7 to remind us life is more than what happens between the pages of a book. That could very well be the reason many writers have pets.

I have a couple handfuls of pets. I consider them all my friends. Having pets during my life helped inspire my story, “Backyard Holes”, which you can find here. It was a commentary on those people who collect pets as a possession and the parents who enable their children to neglect animals without respect for their fragile lives. I’ve known people who treat their animals this way (none of them were writers, I might add).

Cats are listed in the bios of many writers. Ray Garton has a small pride of felines running around his house. I think if you looked through your stacks of books you’d probably find half of the back pages where the hundred word blurb about your favourite sits include a mention of a pet, and often considered a member of their family. Why are pets so damn popular among writers?

I watched a brief video tonight sent to me by my local aquarium store. It’s from a segment on The Discovery Channel showcasing a new aquarium exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. Here’s the link watch it yourself: . Watching it will help you to understand what prompted me to write this edition of A Writer’s Journey tonight.

In my 38 gallon tank I have many friends. I call them my meditation buddies. 1 Rope Fish (he’s eel-like and reminds me of a watersnake), 2 Silver Mollies, 1 Rainbow Killi, 1 Golden Algae Eater (roughly 8″ long, he’s the Goliath of the tank), 6 Serpae Tetra, 1 Glass Cat, 1 Black Platy, 1 Long-fin Albino Cory Cat (he’s died over 20 times and has earned the nickname “Frankenfish”), 1 Spotted Cory Cat, 2 Pearlescent Angels, 1 Black Lace Angel, and 1 African Dwarf Frog. I list them all here because I want you to see the variety, which is important to me. I think non-creative people have a tendency to fill their aquariums with large amounts of the same fish. If you googled my meditation buddies, you would also see that many of them are strange fish and that’s important to me as well. I never become bored with them after the thousands of times I’ve sat in front of the tank watching them in an attempt to clear my mind. They have unique personalities that have been known to inspire my characters. The Serpae Tetra don’t have individual names, I’ve simply called them, “The Kids”. The Rope Fish is called, “Noose”. I can’t take them out and interact with them. I can only watch them interact with each other; like my characters. I have zero control over them short of letting them live or killing them. It’s therapeutic while I watch them because it reminds me that while I write I have very little control over the book’s path. I can’t make things happen. I can watch and record what happens. Get yourself some fish and tell me that on a bad night you don’t become mesmerized by their antics. It’s better than tv – better than most tv these days at least.

In our house we also have a Lop-eared Dwarf Rabbit. He’s fluffy and cute. Ripley also has buckets of attitude when he feels he isn’t getting the attention he deserves. He thumps his hind legs when he’s pissed and rings his bell if he wants you to let him out to investigate. I have a harness for him and take him out for walks in the front yard. His curiosity reminds me that even in the gentlest creature is a thirst for adventure and a fighting spirit.

We have two geckos, a Petri Gecko (desert gecko) and a Golden Gecko (rainforest gecko), and they both have different personalities. The Petri acts like both a playful squirrel and a tiny Pit Bull. The Petri also squeaks when he’s irritated. The Golden is skittish until you pet him and calm him down. At night the Golden rests on the back wall of his aquarium and stares at me. The Golden kind of reminds me of Norman Bates at times. I took him out one time and he freaked out, separated his tail which waggled mindlessly in my hand while he ran away. Scared the shit out of me. I was traumatized.

The last of our pets is a Boston Terrier with a cat complex. I believe in addition to unique personalities animals can also develop mental disorders. My dog has the OCD of a cat, constantly cleaning himself. I’m not talking about long, slow licks of his testicles like a normal dog; he cleans his paws all of the time and curls up against you like a cat would. His smile is infectious though. He has a goofy bug-eyed grin that softens your heart.

I’m around these animals every day. It’s like living with the cast of a book or a house full of friends. They are invaluable to my writing. Whether it’s because I have to take a break to feed or take care of their needs or watching them behave gives me the answer to a plot problem, they are always there to help me. Would I have made it through the stress of writing a book without my animal friends there to make me laugh? Probably, but with a few more mental scars than I did with them by my side. 24/7 they’re there to remind me to write an extra thousand words.

Ask any writer with a pet and they’ll tell you writing would be a lot harder without their friends. If you don’t already have a pet, I suggest you get one. There’s an animal out there that suits you. Your writing will benefit from it, even if it’s only because you are a little less stressed out when you sit in front of the keyboard to pound out the next best seller.

If you have a pet and find it helps you to write in some way, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below.


Posted in A Writer's Journey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by brandonlayng


A Writer’s Little Black Book

Every writer should have a “little black book”. Mine’s brown faux leather, slightly larger than my wallet (though not as George Costanza thick) and lined. I’ve picked up some replacements because they were only two dollars but they weren’t lined and I’ve had to cut out a thicker piece of cardstock from the back and draw lines on it. I can’t write a straight line on a blank piece of paper if my life depended on it (and that idea goes in the little brown book). That’s what the book is for; ideas. You need to have an idea book.

“Why?” you ask. Because ideas may be coming to you like crazy right now but there will come a day when the pressure is on to think of one and it just won’t come. It hides in the corner of your brain. It’s shy, you see, and you want to bring it out to show to everyone. It helps if you have a way to get in contact with it. Your little book is like a phone book, the ideas written in it, a way to get a hold of the story. With this book you’ve got its number and you can call it up to coerce and cajole it to the party taking place at the home of your word processor. This is a lot of analogies and metaphors, but I think you get the point.

The little book is important. There are times when themed anthologies will arise that you want to submit to. You’ll think, “Hey, I thought of a great idea for that a week ago while I was waiting in line at the grocery store”. If you had a little book, you would have written that idea down between putting the bags in your trunk and starting the car. Without the little book it’s possible you will remember glimpses of the idea but not the whole thing. A nugget is better than dust when it comes to literary gold, remember. You can grasp the importance, I’m sure. You’re all smart people and you probably already have a file saved in “Documents” labelled “storyideas.doc” or “bestsellers.rtf”. How often do you update it though? How many amazing tales were lost in the wind between work and getting home to your computer? Quite a few I imagine. Whole nations of ideas have been lost that way for me. A computer file is not enough.

“What about a PDA?” you ask. Expensive little book I say. Seriously, they’re great and after you figure them out, easy to use, some even have spellcheck. Here’s the thing. Have you seen the cellphone commercial where the two guys bump into each other and their cellphones go flying, they both break. The one guy says to the other, “It’s okay, the cellphone company will just replace it.” The other guy says, “I’m not with that company.” A PDA can be replaced if it gets broken, but your ideas saved in the file on that delicate – fragile – microchip can not be replaced if the handy gadget ends up under the wheels of a passing semi truck or flushed down the toilet.

If those things happened to a book, it would mostly survive and still be legible. If you absolutely need to have a digital copy, there’s no reason why you can’t type out the ideas each night on the home PC from the book. A book is also cheaper and more likely to be left where you dropped it by any passerby, making it easier for you to go back and retrieve it. A PDA will be halfway to the pawnshop by the time you realize it’s missing. You also don’t have to recharge your book. It will stand the test of time – there are copies of DaVinci’s sketchbooks in museums all over the world. How many Commodore 64s do you see in museums? Can you read the old programs on them while you check them out? Technology becomes outdated very quickly and twenty years from now, you won’t have the old technology to access the files saved on your ancient PDA (Hell, it’ll be a classic version by next year).

In other words people, your little book of ideas… should be an actual book. If you need anymore convincing, think of this: one day when you’re super famous and you die, your family will make a bundle selling it in an auction. Come to think of it, keep that in mind when you go out to buy one. Leather means they’ll get more for it, as opposed to one with Winnie the Pooh on the front.

Make sure it’s small enough to fit in your pocket or (ladies) purse. It’s good if it has a ribbon to mark your last entry page and a band to keep it closed. Mine has both and I find them very useful. Like a mini-skirt, they make for quick and easy access. Keep a ballpoint pen with your book; not a permanent marker (it bleeds through and runs when wet) or a pencil (it smudges and fades). Make sure it’s a good pen, ask for one for Christmas if you have to, but don’t skimp on the quality here. You don’t want it jamming up or running out when that Novel of the Year comes to mind. When an idea does come to mind, write it down and then leave a blank page after it before you write down your next story idea. This way if you come up with something to add later but you’ve written down a new idea since then, you still have room to embellish on the first idea. Always keep the book close. In your pocket during the day, by the bed when you got to sleep.

Now this next part will sound stranger than the rest. Don’t go back and read your ideas. Not unless you are stuck for an idea or remember a specific one for an anthology or book you really want to write.

The beauty and power of your book lay in its very existence. By being around it, it gives you confidence to come up with new ideas and write them when you are taken away by them. There will be ideas that you don’t write in the book because they have to be written right away. The little book of ideas will help you do that because you’ll never worry about running out of ideas or feel like you have to hurry up and get that mediocre idea fleshed out so you can start on the great one because you don’t want to lose both of them. It’s a failsafe. With it around, you’ll also find it easier to remember your ideas without having to look them up. Somehow its close proximity gives your creative memory a boost and keeps them fresh in your mind like a preservative does for McDonald’s fries. It’s like the airbag in your car. It’s there, you know it’s there and that makes you feel safer than if it wasn’t, you hope you never need to use it but if you do, it’s a lifesaver.

You get the idea. I know you get them, so go out and buy a little book for your ideas and write them down.

If you have any thoughts on the this post I’d be happy to hear them. Comment below and tell me about your own ways of keeping track of your ideas. I whole-heartedly encourage discussion.

Speaking of discussion. I recently approached another author to do an interview for the AWJ blog series and he has agreed. This man is a powerhouse for using modern media (the Internet) for promoting his work. He’s a ghost story master with several new books out that have simply blown me away in their ingenuity and I’ll be asking him not just about those books but also how he has come to embrace and use the Internet in his work. Hopefully I’ll be able to have that posted for June, so keep your eyes peeled and this blog bookmarked so you don’t miss it.

If you haven’t read them yet, be sure to go back and read the previous interviews with Nate Kenyon and Ray Garton. Those two gentlemen have a lot to teach. I know I’ve learned a great deal from both of them. I hope to have more interviews to post in the future and if you have any suggestions of Horror authors you’d like to see appear in a future installment of AWJ feel free to make a suggestion at anytime in the comments section.


Posted in Announcements, Free Fiction, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2010 by brandonlayng

I know it’s been a while since my last Announcements posting. Been tied up; bound with twist-tie ropes and gagged with fresh tampons soaked in pickle juice. Now that’s an image. As per usual I’ve compiled a brief set of postings of new material available from writers and publishers I’ve come to respect and trust to provide quality work. At the bottom, I’ll list a few of my own things available for your current consumption.

Ray Garton: Scissors a crazy psychological horror novel. The titular* theme of the book is disturbing to most men and though women may find it giggle-worthy at first will soon be shivering alongside their spouses as they read. Available from most bookstores. Read the Spine Busters’ review at

Order Scissors

Douglas Clegg: Neverland available now in most bookstores and online. I am currently reading this one and should have the review ready in the next week or so. Written in Clegg’s disturbing gothic ghost story style, this coming of age story revolves around summer vacation for a young boy and his siblings who are initiated into the mysteries of a rundown shack with its dark inhabitant who they come to worship. The volume itself is a beautiful work of publishing with astounding artwork inside. It’s affordably priced and worth the buy just to hold it in your hands. Clegg also has extra content on his site that enriches the reading experience. I encourage everyone to sign up for his newsletter. It’s a great way to get access to free e-books by this suspense master, as well as upcoming news, contests and games.

Order Neverland

Douglas Clegg’s Website:

Nate Kenyon: Sparrow Rock should be available by the time you read this. I’ve yet to be disappointed in anything I’ve read from Mr. Kenyon. Which means I can’t wait to get a copy of this one for myself. I want to learn what dark things lurk in the shadows of Sparrow Rock. Pick up a copy. It’ll be worth the read.

Order Sparrow Rock:

Jack Ketchum: According to his Twitter postings. Next month Leisure Books will be re-releasing Joyride with the novella Weed Species. Available now is his book, Cover, which you can find both online and at most bookstores.

Order Joyride/Weed Species

Order Cover

Tom Piccirilli/Shroud Publishing: All You Despise (Limited Edition Hardcover) this is a second printing of the rare collectible novella by noir horror talent Tom Piccirilli, whose witty and disturbing prose makes his work something entertaining and worth shivering over for days afterward. The print-run this time is only 50 signed copies with a foreword by Brian Keene and illustrations by Alex McVey.


David Dunwoody: Empire is now available at most bookstores in a slick Trade Paperback version. Just picked up my copy the other day and would be reading it already if Clegg’s Neverland hadn’t smelled so good. I’m excited to tear into it though and you should be too. It’s a great value for this volume.

Order through his site: 

Now onto me I guess.

Another of the Poppa M’s Bedlam Tales is up over at the New Bedlam E-zine. Head on over to to have a read and get into the season with a buggy tale called Spring Fever.

For those of you who need more bug love read my short story Can of Worms and many other crazy tales by a lovely bunch of people by picking up a copy of Courting Morpheus from Belfire Press It’s available in a gorgeous trade paperback at an affordable price. Other authors include: M.R. Sellars, Geoffrey Girard, Angela Gray, Louise Bohmer, Bruce Barber, Camille Alexa, Ann Tupek, Jeff Parish, Kevin J. Hurtack, Donna Shelton and David de Beer, edited by Jodi Lee with a foreword by Alethea Kontis.

FREE STUFF! I’m giving away free stuff for stalking me on Twitter (not actually stalking, that’s a crime, replace stalking with “following”). I’ve pledged myself with tweeting everyday until year end and I’m hoping to get to 666 Stalkers (followers) by that time. To say thank you to those already tracking my tweets and to those who want to start, I’m sending out pdf copies of my short story Movie Night which originally appeared in the Darkened Horizons: Halloween Special Edition. Plus if you recommend to a friend, you can get a second gift simply by having them DM me your name on Twitter. Movie Night is my ode to 80’s horror classics like A Nightmare on Elm St. But with my own twisted impression. You know you want it. Plus it’s easy to get.

Enough for now. New Announcements soon I hope.


Posted in A Writer's Journey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by brandonlayng


I’m Not Here to Teach, You’re Here to Learn

I’ve read quite a bit on the subject of writing, everyday actually. I boot up the computer and check out writing sites, I buy a ton of books (new and from discount bins, because some of the best ones have discontinued printing) and I get the magazines. Writing magazines are wonderful. They give quite a bit of targeted advice but I learn the most from the fiction I read.

I write a lot myself, and I edit just as much if not more. Despite all of that, I can’t teach you how to write. I’m not qualified to and even if a piece of paper (doesn’t matter what college or university gives it to you) said I was, it would just be a bunch of crap written in fancy lettering lying and telling me I can do the impossible. Understand this first important rule of writing; no one can teach you how to do it.

You can be taught proper grammar (or as we liked to call it when I was a kid, “Proper English”) and the rules of how to formulate a correct sentence but most of those rules are broken at times by the best writers. For instance an annoying trait I see often is the usage of the word “off”, i.e. “He was off the hook”, when it should be, “He was off of the hook”. It screams lazy to me to leave the “of” out, but I’m sure I do many things others want to yell at me for doing. No one can teach you when to break those rules to create a string of words more beautiful than a Spring blossom covered in morning dew. When to break the rules and when to follow them is a skill you’ll learn for yourself on your journey. Hemingway loved using long sentences strung together with a pile of “and”s in Farewell to Arms and initially I was incredibly infuriated by it, then he won me over. The story was too powerful to let a three letter word hinder my reading it. Don’t get me wrong, I continue to inwardly cringe anytime I find more than one “and” in my own work. At times it is a necessary evil much like the other three letter bane of good writing; “But”. When I sit down to edit my writing I try and eradicate that sneaky bastard as best I can and I owe that piece of advice to Stephen King’s On Writing.

You can be taught the difference between tenses (Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages has a very decent section on the subject as well as the writing manual mainstay, Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style). You can be taught the effectiveness of passive versus active sentences. You can be taught characterization or plot structure and it won’t mean you’ve written the great American/Canadian/Chinese/Russian/Etc novel. You can’t be taught that kind of magic. That’s something I’ve learned from everything I’ve read. I have a dozen favorite writers – whose works I feel compelled to buy when I see them on the shelf, without fail – and one of those writers is Clive Barker. Not so much his earlier works, the next statement applies to his later, larger volumes. Barker writes with a magic I cannot fathom. It is a mystery to me. I’ve studied it over and over. The magic is not the subject matter, though his books are filled with it, yet the words, each sentence is magic to read. Coldheart Canyon was lengthy and at times dragged on in despair. I can say that in confidence along with the fact that I could not put the book down and stop thinking about it. The words stayed with me, gnawed actually. His sentences leave me breathless and it has nothing to do with what they are describing. Ask me to explain it. I can’t. I want to learn though. Neil Gaiman has some of that magic in Neverwhere. Ray Garton has a way of making me care about characters that I never knew before until I read Live Girls. Stephen King writes characters that are depicted with a brutal honesty, I appreciate that and think to myself, “Yeah, that’s how I’d react if I were stuck in a store with monsters waiting to eat me just on the other side of the window.” I’ve never known helplessness when reading, the way I felt during my time with Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. These are a few of my gods of writing whose works I read like scripture, trying to glean that secret knowledge – not so I can write like them, so I can learn to write like me. I never want to be referred to as “the next Stephen King” and neither should you. It is perhaps intended as a compliment but don’t short yourself. Be the kind of writer that others are compared to. No one can teach you to be that. Stephen King and all of the other writers I mentioned earlier learned to do what they do by living life and learning from everywhere and that made them unique.

And that’s the thing of it.

I will spend a lifetime learning how to write. Learning everyday from too many sources to name, picking and choosing what will make me the writer I will become next week or the week after. The most important lesson I’ve learned from all of this has been that the writers I most admire have never stopped learning how to write.

They do it by writing. They do it by reading. They do it by listening, and by talking. They do it by doing it and never stopping. These writers devour the written word and regurgitate it onto the page so that what you have is one delicious pile of pages bound to contain it all for our pleasure. Reading it you can learn, become your own form of writer. It won’t be the kind of writer you were taught to be and you shouldn’t be.

Just remember the purpose of this blog series. I’m not here to teach; we’re here to learn. Together.