Posts tagged performance


Q & A at the October 2012 Launch Party

At the book signing, I answered a few questions I’d fielded from others in the past …

How long did FAMISHED: THE FARM take to write?

Since it started as a web serial, I spent three years on the very first draft – but that was only around 2000 words a month. I took my time for most of those sprints, though deadlines caught up to me more than once.

When Jennifer Brozek at Apocalypse Ink Productions asked me to turn the three years of Vorare into a novel, I took another six months to gather that material, weed through it, and collate it into a rough draft. After that it went to my alpha readers for a month, and for a month after that I was in editing / rewriting mode.

Apocalypse Ink took it in hand then, for a first read which resulted in another month’s edits* , followed by a second read for technical mistakes and a final proof by the editor herself. So all told, realistically – call it four years, with three years slow going and a quick one years’ of edits.

* – (my time, not theirs. AIP has always had a very swift turnaround to requests.)

You seem nice. Normal. Where did you get this idea?

As I’ve mentioned over at BookLife Now, horror isn’t always my genre. The request for Vorare was for a dark piece, though; and that set me to thinking about what frightened me the most. What had I seen, or read, that really disturbed me?

I was in grade school when my father took me into his library, pointed to a row of yellowing paperbacks that were placed within easy reach, and warned me: “These books here? They’re pretty scary. Stay away from them until you’re older.” Then he walked out and didn’t look back.

I had a flashlight and a book in bed with me that night, and I read The Picture in the House **. The full text is available at HP for those who are interested, but dad was right – it was nightmare fuel. The slow, easy start made it easy for me to get lured in, and by the time the old man reveals his cravings, I was shaking in the sheets.

That story kicked off the core idea for FAMISHED: THE FARM, and my other fears took it from there.

** – I’m not claiming I understood all the words Lovecraft enjoys at that age, mind. Precocious, yes; freak genius, no.

Have you lost any friends over this book?

Not that they’ve told me! I do have some thoughts on those people who support the work vs. those who relish it, but that’s a post for another day.

Got questions of your own? Email me at and we’ll talk them over.

Famished: The Farm – Signing Party

Signing with a smile.

I’ve mentioned before that I am blessed with an amazing network of friends. On October 26, many of those local friends gathered at Le Petit Marche in downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, to send Famished: The Farm off with a bang!

The photos here are all courtesy of Joe Hirschmugl, a dear friend whose passion for art, music and the written word too often exceed my own. He is a madman with a camera, and provided a number of excellent shots throughout the evening.

We enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches on fresh-baked brioche buns courtesy of Dawn Gerth, a small business owner and remarkable chef – who is, clearly, a woman with a sense of humor around her events. The sandwiches were amazing, succulent without being oversauced, herbed to perfection and served in precisely the correct portions.

The local theatre, Raue Center for the Arts, was kind enough to let my dear friend Melissa Thomfordha (Marketing Director for the theatre) steal a bit of time from their production of The Rocky Horror Show to make the introductions. It was something I hadn’t thought of before, and I’m very grateful to Melissa for both the idea and the help!

I’m pleased to say that I very nearly sold out of my reserve of books, and was able to sign nearly every one. A number of them were earmarked as holiday gifts – strangely enough, not for Halloween. It’s my deep hope that the recipients enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

In addition, I was able to catch up with two of my alpha readers. Kerry Devine is an accomplished freelance writer in his own right, whose current projects include a screenplay. I’ve been fortunate to return the favor as an alpha reader, and I will happily say that when the film is released, I’ll be the first with a ticket. Kerry was invaluable in helping to craft the final scene of Famished: The Farm, and the book’s far better for his suggestions.

With Dan Steele.

The second is Dan Steele, a very dear old friend whose feedback was directly responsible for the prologue of the book. Without it, of course, there’s little to hint at the horror that is to come later in the novel. Dan’s help also sharpened the relationship between Gordon Velander and the entity (or entities) he interacts with throughout the pages of Famished: The Farm.

Listing everyone present would be a difficult exercise – for such an intimate and comfortable setting, the amount of support, heart and enthusiasm that infected everyone present was the greatest gift a first-time novelist could hope for.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart; to all who were present in body or in spirit. For those who couldn’t attend, your smiles were missed but your love did not go unnoticed. Thank you for everything.

If you’d like to assist with a signing party in your neck of the woods, please contact me at! I’m happy to entertain ideas from fans of my work or of writing in general.

All the best –

On Reading

I was an actor long before I started writing. I worked – unsuccessfully – to make it on the Chicago scene.  I’d abandoned that dream, but lately I’ve signed up with a program called “Get Lit(erary),” bringing readings of fiction, drama and music to local establishments. I’ve been able to watch the most common mistakes of novice readers, and would like to address them here.

Reading is a very public performance for people who often work privately. Below are some basic tips for making the most of your readings.

1.       Speak Up and Slow Down. Most people on stage feel that they’re speaking much more slowly than they actually are. You should aim for a measured pace that keeps the audience with you, not stuck behind and straining to understand. By the same token, the person you want to hear your words is the one in the back of the house. If that means raising your voice in a large venue – within reason – then be sure to do so.

2.       Breathe. Allow yourself to take space to breathe between sentences, unless your scene’s at a breakneck pace. Breathe through your nose if you can (especially if you’re on a microphone), and breathe into your diaphragm, not just your chest. This is where speech originates – just above the navel.

3.       Engage the Audience. There’s nothing worse than a reader who keeps their nose stuck in the book they’re reading from. You know the lines, so make a point of delivering them to the crowd. Make eye contact. Look up from the script as often as you can. The audience is here to see you, to connect with you, not just to hear what you wrote. Engaging with the crowd is the biggest thing you can do to keep them entertained, involved – and more likely to buy your book.

4.       Use your Voice. When you come to a tense section of the reading, slow down and lower your voice – or speed up slightly, and raise the pitch. Which you do is a function of the scene (a lurking killer in the house vs. a race through the Ardennes), but by modifying the way you speak, you present the audience with a chance to be caught up in the action. Coming to a romantic scene? Soften your tone and draw the words out. Speak as if you were reading to a crush, or to a committed partner. Again, you know the scene – use a voice that enhances your words.

5.       Always a Full House. It doesn’t matter if the hall is packed or the bookstore has only three chairs filled with the manager, a cashier and a cat. These people are here to see you. You owe them your best. It can be hard to smile through disappointment; but hey – you’re acting now, and this is all part of the act.


Have you had reading experiences, bad or good? Trade a tip in the comments section and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a signed copy of FAMISHED: THE FARM on its October release!


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