Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Being a Writer: A Guest Post from Steven Lloyd

I’m going to make this as brief and as painless as possible. Can you tell I’m nervous? Good. I don’t hide it well. My name is Steven Lloyd. I don’t have a huge readership or a large body of work. I’ve been writing short stories for twenty-five years. The first fifteen years of my life were dismal. I wanted acceptance from my peers and by my early teens I was experimenting with Cocaine and Heroin. My fear of needles and constant nose bleeds kept me from shooting or snorting.  Instead I ingested it by mixing it with food or drinks. When I hit fifteen, teachers told my parents I was unreachable and I would either be dead or in prison by my twentieth birthday.  Still, my parents believed in me. I owned my place and cleaned up not too long before the writing bug bit me.

I wrote a horror story for an English class assignment—thank God it was Halloween, and I had to read it in front of the class. The writing assignments kept coming, I think because my teacher saw my ability as a future writer. From that day on, students paid me a dollar or two to write their stories for class. For the first time in my life I found something so overwhelmingly powerful that I kept going with my new talent. I left the drugs and alcohol behind about a year later and found my purpose in life: I wanted to write stories.

In 2001, I was searching for myself. I hadn't written anything in ten years and one day my then girlfriend bought me a computer. Voices, once silent, now began to talk. It wasn't long before I hammered the keys. My first acceptance came in 2005 when Naked Snake Press released my short story “When Darkness Falls” as a standalone chapbook. The next year Ellen Datlow mentioned the story in her summation “The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror” 2006. For me it was just as good as having my story published in the book. The book sits on my shelf today.

In 2013 I started collecting some of my favorite stories. Forty-three was knocking on the door and I wanted to leave something behind for readers and loved ones. At the same time an idea for a novel surfaced. I was on fire. A brief description of the novel is below:

When fifteen-year-old Hector McGee skipped the last day of school to go fishing with his best friend Vernon, he didn’t expect to hear a woman’s screams coming from inside the Buckmyer house. He heard a familiar voice, one he knew all too well—the raspy voice of his drunken father—dishing out brutal punishments that only he could give.

It's the 1940’s and Hector McGee is on the run from the Buckmyer brothers seeking revenge after the disappearance of his father. Hector enlists the help of his best friend and several others as they plunge deep into the Dogwood Bottoms seeking the mythical voodoo doctor Pepper Jones. They will have to go through hell to find him and the trip may very well kill them all.

Most of the tales in my short story collection “Strange Roads” deal with real life horror. I wrote a short titled “The Wooden Box” that put me on the map a couple years ago. I knew then I was on the right track. Readers loved it. My most acclaimed stories are in this one collection: The Wooden Box, When Darkness Falls, Brothers, Where There Be Dragons, The Wallet, The Fight of the Century and an excerpt from my forthcoming novel Dogwood Summer. Also includes an introduction by John Paul Allen and various interviews with me.

The writing game is a hurry up and wait business. Nothing moves fast. It’s best to get that out of the way now. Things take time. Strange Roads took over a year to prepare before its release in October. Cover art, interior layout, editing; all this takes time, and I found myself rewriting most of the stories. During all this I wrote two new pieces and slipped them in.

This is not a hobby. Writing is a second full-time job for the serious writer, published or not and I found reading outside my chosen genre helped me grow as writer. Since then I’ve written crime, fantasy, horror and mainstream literary works. Don’t hold yourself to one genre. Move around and draw other things into your reading. Most importantly--have fun.    

Not too painful, was it? Good. Now go out and buy the print edition or download a copy of Strange Roads off of Amazon. You’ll be better for it. I promise. Best to all and happy writing. 

You can download or buy the print edition of Strange Roads here:

Monday, March 17, 2014

You’re never too old to have one more adventure 

Brought to life by Steve Ferchaud’s vibrant drawings, this story for all ages by Dan O’Brien lets us know that it is never too late to have one more adventure. 

An Excerpt:

Robert Pendleton opened one eye as the light of a passing car flashed over the window, shattering the darkness into prisms. He rolled onto his back on the beat-up couch and yawned as he reached his hands up and rubbed his eyes unceremoniously. 

He looked out over the darkness at the digital clock. The red digits spelled out a quarter ‘til midnight––nearly fourteen hours of sleep. He smiled and grabbed one of the cushions of the couch, burying his head in it. Just enough sleep, he reminded himself. Robert felt that anything less than twelve hours of sleep was very nearly too little. 

He grasped blindly for the TV remote. 

Groaning as he lifted his head, he looked at the empty table––his eyes drawn by another flash of a passing car. He couldn’t see clearly, but he knew that the remote had been there before he had fallen asleep nearly half a day ago. 

“Could have sworn….” he mumbled as he pushed himself up and brushed his hand around the top of the table, finding nothing. “Where did….”

Another groan escaped his lips as he lifted his body to a sitting position and threw aside the cluster of pillows that he had gathered around himself. He reached out for the lamp, but instead knocked it to the floor with a resounding thud. 

Robert muttered as he stood up from the couch, and then sank to his knees to search around in the darkness for the fallen lamp. Reaching around on the shadowed floor, shards of the broken lamp scattered like pieces of light. 

He turned his head, peering beneath the large space underneath the couch and saw the reflection of the buttons on the remote. The off-gray piece of machinery was underneath the couch––only darkness lingered beyond it. He reached out as he spoke again. 

“How did it get all the way down there?” 

Robert flexed his hand and strained as he twisted his back to reach farther; yet, the remote remained just out of reach. He pulled his arm away with a huff and craned his neck to the side, staring underneath into the darkness below the couch. 

His eyes widened as he saw the impossible: there was something beyond the remote. He shook his head and closed his eyes, whispering to himself that he didn’t see what he thought he had.

“I saw a little man,” he whispered to himself as he opened his eyes once more and nearly gasped as he did so. 

The figure was closer now and he could make out the outline clearly. A tiny man rested just beyond the remote. 

“What in the name of…?”

“Not here in the name of nobody, laddie. I be a friend though,” crooned the miniscule figure as he interrupted Robert and stepped forward, placing a hand on the darkened and slick surface of the remote. 

A tam-o’-shanter crested his bright red hair, the shaggy mane blending perfectly into his equally crimson, neatly trimmed, beard. 

A billow of whitish smoke drifted from the long-stemmed pipe that he held clenched between his lips. 

Robert fell back and knocked aside the adjacent table. Rubbing his eyes, he spoke a single word: “Leprechaun.”

About the Author:

Dan O’Brien, founder and editor-in-chief of The Northern California Perspective, has written over 20 books––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. In addition, he has spent over a decade in the publishing industry as a freelance editor. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: Contact him today to order copies of the book or have them stocked at your local bookstore. He can he reached by email at

Would you like to win a remarked copy of Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and Loose Change Collection Agency signed by the author and illustrator?

Simply follow the author here and here and a few winners will be randomly selected on March 20th!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Today, I  am happy to share my blog space with Elaine Burroughs (writing under the name of Elaine Calloway), author of Earthbound - Book Three of her The Elemental Clans series.

So without further ado...
I'll turn this blog over to Elaine!

Don’t Forget the Details in Your Setting
By Elaine Burroughs

There are various quotes about details that have been modified over the years, but I think James McBride said it best: “As a journalist, the details always tell the story.”

How true. Details matter, whether you’re a writer trying to incorporate senses (sight, smell, touch, sound) into your manuscript, or whether you’re trying to tell a friend about a movie they should see. The details are what make the subject come alive.

In many ways, details are the difference between telling and showing. Consider the following examples and which ones offer more information for your audience.

Telling: She was tired.

Showing: Kayla let out a long yawn before turning off the light.

Don’t you “see” more in the showing sentence above?

Let’s try another one, just to get your taste buds going!

Telling: Lunch looks good.

Showing: Alex folded the rice into the mound of crawfish etouffee on his plate, and the sizzling spices teased his nostrils. 

With showing (or giving details) the reader can picture the scene easier. It lets each person envision something specific, versus saying “she was tired” which doesn’t offer much visual, audible, or sensory detail.

So remember that as you’re writing that manuscript or describing a TV show, book, or movie to a friend…details count, so be sure to use them!

More about the book and Elaine herself.

Some say history repeats itself, but for Terran, an Earth Elemental, history has returned and slapped him in the face. Along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, the Acobi Fallen Angels have decided to go underground–literally. They are resurrecting an old legend, shanghaiing innocent people into slavery. Underage girls are trapped and kept in holding cells, ready to be sold into the sex trade. Terran must stop the Acobi and keep the public away from the Shanghai tunnels, all while keeping his supernatural powers hidden.

Kelly Habersham, overachieving real estate developer, has finally convinced her father and brothers to give her the Portland condo project, which would require extensive construction near the tunnels. Determined to impress her father and make a name for herself in the family business, she is not about to let a Save-the-Earth guy get in her way.

Terran and Kelly must work together and come to a truce–or they may be the next shanghai victims.

Elaine Calloway

Crafting Stories of the Living, the Dead, and the Eerie In Between.
Elaine Calloway grew up in New Orleans with a love of cemeteries, gothic architecture, and all things
paranormal. She is currently writing The Elemental Clan Series, a good vs. evil
set of tales involving Elementals and Fallen Angels. 

For more information and
to connect with Elaine online, visit her website at

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