Posts tagged Famished


The cover for FAMISHED: THE FARM is now ready for public … consumption.

I promise you there are no such puns to be found in the actual book.

Artwork by Shane Tyree; designed by Apocalypse Ink Productions.

It’s an interesting experience, being both a graphic designer and a writer. Of course, any author’s going to have ideas and visions about what their book will look like; and I’m no exception.

This time, though, I made a conscious decision that I was not going to do any more than give a basic idea of what I thought an effective cover design might be. I’ve often found that fresh eyes will find things in your work that you overlook, or bring a new area of focus to light.

Shane Tyree definitely managed to do that. I’m very pleased with my decision to hold back and allow others to drive the design cart this time around.

The use of the light in the hayloft is what grabbed me first. That’s a touch I would never have thought of; though the loft plays an important part in the climactic scenes of the book. The warmth of the light does an excellent job of balancing the cooler palette overall. While I use the term “warmth,” there’s quite a sinister quality to the color scheme in that light as well.

The darkness of the barn below is another nod to the conditions of the Farm, as well as the cracks in the upper walls which give a slight vision of what lies beneath. I get a sense of gradual rot and decay which works more effectively than a blatantly ruined building from Shane’s barn, and that speaks well to several themes within the story.

Of course, the axe and its resting place are the most arresting of the images, and leave no doubt about the type of story you’ll be enjoying …

I’m very grateful to Shane for his hard work and his immense talent, as well as to Jeff Meaders of Apocalypse Ink for his fine design work.

Bits, Pieces, Chunks and Excerpts

Never nice to have a horror writer start out referring to bits and pieces, huh? Be thankful I didn’t keep the original title.

I use Twitter for a daily trawl of writing advice. One of my faves is Elizabeth S. Craig (@elizabethscraig), who bills herself as a “laptop-wielding, mystery-writing mom” at her blog, Mystery Writing is Murder.

Today she had a link that really got me interested: How to choose an excerpt to showcase your novel, from Roz Morris’ Nail Your Novel blog (Roz tweets as well, as @dirtywhitecandy). She has some great pieces of advice, but the most important one was:

“Choose an excerpt that shows off your hook.”


FAMISHED has some interesting hurdles to overcome in selecting text for a reading. I’m going to discuss the portion that applies to writing today, and then the portion that applies to the actual performance in a follow-up post.

A good portion of the novel deals with subject matter not for the squeamish, and in a public reading, I don’t want to put off my hosts or their unintended guests – visitors to the bookstore or library who wouldn’t touch a horror novel to begin with. On the other hand, it’s a dark supernatural story, and the people who are coming to hear me likely want a bit of shadow-stuff.

So how do I balance the bits and pieces?

It’s not rocket science, but this was the process I followed:

  1. Cut the first and last chapter from the draft – the beginning of your book is for the sofa, not the stage; and I’m certainly not handing out spoilers at my own reading.
  2. Cut any chapter that hits my personal “squick factor,” the scenes I’m proud of but which I know aren’t for everyone.
  3. Review my alpha and beta reader’s notes for their “squick factor” call-outs, and cut them. I only chose people with strong stomachs to help me finish FAMISHED.
  4. Cut the “surreal scenes,” the one or two places where reality and dream are blending for the protagonist. Again, those are good for sitting, not for stand-up.

That left me with about half a novel. No problem! Next I went back to the non-creepy hooks of FAMISHED: themes of isolation and familial ties.

There are a few scenes that seem attractive when viewed through this lens:

  • The first meeting of our protagonist and the family of antagonists,
  • The first meal at the Farm, which skirts, but does not press, the central horror of the situation,
  • An interview between two isolated prisoners, or
  • One of two rebellions within the family.

Each of those five scenes is thematically tied to the overall novel. They’re suspenseful without being horrific, and they each display an important shift in the rhythm of the story.

Editing’s another key. While I read the work aloud as I wrote it, I read it for a single reader – not for an audience. The beats work differently in your head than in an open room. Roz covers this well in her essay under the headings on “Abridge” and “Write an Introduction.”

The next post will cover coming at this reading as someone with a performance background. I’d like to thank Elizabeth Craig and Roz Morris again for their excellent pieces of advice which sparked this entry.

Talking FAMISHED at Apocalypse Ink

Apocalypse Ink Productions sat down with me over the weekend to ask a few questions about FAMISHED: THE FARM. We went into the amount of research necessary, what drove me to write about such a disturbing topic, the most difficult scenes to write and more.

Read the entire interview at their site.

Book Launch – ramping up

We’re expecting to launch FAMISHED: THE FARM in October 2012 through Apocalypse Ink Productions. I’m just now starting to understand how much has to go into the prep work for something like this! Fortunately, I’m surrounded by smart, savvy and creative people.

For those who find themselve in similar situations, I’ve put together the short-list of what I expect to need to do leading up to October. Buckle up, kids.

  1. Get a Post Office box. I’m not expecting a huge amount of reader mail, at least the printed kind; but it’s probably a good idea regardless.
  2. Establish a tagline for what I write. This was advice garnered from the Lauren Ruth, the wise woman behind SlushPile Tales.
  3. Complete and order business cards. My background in graphic design’s helping out here.
  4. Update the website. This website. I’ve got a number of tips in my hip pocket already from publisher Jennifer Brozek, and am stealing getting inspiration from other bloggers. Of course, this means stepping outside my RSS feed and actually going to their sites for a while …
  5. Establish a routine for blogging. Hey look, first post of that routine. Whaddayaknow?
  6. Press Releases. I’m lucky to count two media professionals among my gaming / friendship circles, who are eager to help here. As an author in a small town, that has a good chance of making a big splash locally.
  7. Library outreach. Again, I’m lucky to know several librarians around the country, to whom I’ll be putting questions. In addition, I’ve sat on the local library board in a volunteer position in the past; and hope to be able to work with them to set up an order for the book and possibly a speaking engagement.
  8. Readings. Local bookstores are sadly dead in my neck of the woods – it’s the Barnes & Noble or nothing. But I do work with the local theatre, and for a number of small businesses such as coffeeshops and wine bars. In addition, I’ve already had a few Chicago bookstores pointed out to me as being friendly to local authors and readings.
  9. Launch party. A dear group of friends are already working on this one. See “wine bar” above. Dawn Gerth and our circle of friends will see to this for the locals, while I’ll need to tap into some city folk to see who wants to open a living room or patio for a wider, if potentially less raucous, party.
  10. Conventions. That’s going to be the rub – finding and financing trips to at least one post-October Con. I’ve not typically gone to them in the past, and that’s clearly going to have to change.
  11. Finally: Keep writing. Keep writing new stuff, keep planning new stuff, keep scribbling down ideas in the dark of night. 1-10 are important, but if nothing new comes out of my head, the work of my hands will be short-lived.

What am I missing? Overstating or understating? Let me know at

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