Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!


It’s no secret or surprise that October is my favorite month, so to celebrate I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card on Halloween! All you have to do is sign up for my quarterly, totally spam-free newsletter, in which you’ll receive exclusive offers, occasional chances to win free stuff, and information on new book releases. That’s it!


Sign up for exclusive content, author interviews, quarterly updates, and chances to win free stuff! Click to subscribe.

The drawing will be done via Facebook Live over on my author page, which you can find by clicking here.

That’s it! Good luck everyone and have a spooky Halloween!


crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76Every writer has their favorite books when it comes to improving their craft. Some are universally loved (like the first two on my list), must-owns on every writer’s bookshelf. But when you browse Amazon for a good book on writing, there are so many choices that it can become a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out. In honor of NaNoWriMo, I’ve put together a short list of books that have helped me over the years. I hope they help you, too!


1 – The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. E.B. White – Also known as “My Bible.” Odds are, you’ve read this already, or at least browsed its pages. If not, I suggest you head on over to Amazon and grab yourself a copy. The book is concise and the information it contains is crucial for clear, stylish writing. I occasionally peruse the pages and attempt to beat certain passages into my head. It’s simply the best book on writing guidelines and tightening your craft.


2 – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – You didn’t really think you’d read a “Best of” list on writing and not see this masterpiece on it, did you? Okay, let the obligatory swooning over King’s masterful command over the language commence. He’s the best at what he does and I’m sure few would disagree with that statement. Although On Writing is partly a personal memoir, it’s still amazing and the lessons he teaches in the latter half of the book can’t go ignored. Whether you’re a fan of King or not, if you plan on taking a crack at this writer thing, On Writing needs to be on your bookshelf.


3 – Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels by Peter David – So, this isn’t a book on novel writing per se, but I think Peter David’s experience writing them, and his stellar work for Marvel Comics (The Incredible Hulk and The Dark Tower), are important to note. Bottom line: Peter David is a writer. And while this book is geared more towards comic book writing, Peter’s message remains on the importance of storytelling and structure. To me, that information is just as important as the technical aspects. Peter David is a master in his field and he has valuable information to bring to the table, a lot of which I think crosses over into other mediums.


4 – Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee – Like my third suggestion, this book doesn’t have anything to do with novel writing; it’s all about how to take the story in your head and make sense of it, structure it, and breathe life into it. If you’ve seen the movie Adaptation with Meryl Streep and Nicolas Cage, then you’re already familiar with this book. McKee’s Story is a wonderful book that has helped me organize the scenes in my head, and give my plot and subplots substance. Want to know why every Hollywood movie seems more or less the same? Well, McKee explains it all in great detail. Want to master the art of the Three-Act Structure? Five-Act Structure? It’s all here. I find this book incredibly helpful and I think both newcomers and veterans can benefit from giving this book a read.


5 – Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing by Constance Hale – It’s hard to pick a favorite on this list, but Constance Hale’s book on the power of verbs is an enlightening experience. A lot of writers will make the mistake in using too many adjectives (myself included), but Hale’s book explains why you don’t need them at all. The basis of this book shows how nouns and verbs can drive your sentences, and stronger word choices can make your prose pop. This is a fantastic read and I find myself going back to it time and time again. It’s complete with optional exercises at the end of each chapter. Again, I believe this book can service novices and veteran writers alike. If you only check out one book off this list, I think this should be it.


6 – Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland – Writers seem to fall on two sides of the fence when it comes to outlining: I love to outline! or F that Noise, outlining kills my creative output, man. If experience has taught me anything, no opinion on outlining is wrong. I happen to be stuck on the fence spikes and haven’t found a way off. Sometimes I outline, sometimes I take my chances and roll with it. Each project is different. Lately, I’ve found outlining more helpful, and Weiland’s book has been a big part of it. In it, the author stresses that outlines shouldn’t tether you to your story. It teaches you to treat them more like guidelines, a road map you can feel free to deviate from. I happen to like this method best. It keeps me from wandering too far from my story while allowing it to ebb and flow where it needs to. Also, if you plan on cranking out an entire novel in November, a solid outline will make your month easier.


7 – Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon – Is it December? Did you just crank out a whole 50k word novel? If so, I applaud you. That’s fantastic. Now the question is: what do I do with it? Manuscript Makeover was one of the first writing books I read and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. Although it does offer tidbits on prewriting and characterization, the value is within the revision process, what to look for and how to look through an editor’s eyes. It offers tips and tricks on how to tighten your story and the prose itself. I always skim the pages and implement Lyon’s advice into my current project before sending my manuscript off to an editor. I love the chapters on revising for genre, and also the copyediting and marketing sections in the back of the book. It’s a must-read for anyone looking for the best chance to impress an agent or publisher.

Honorable mentions: Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright. Crystal Lake Publishing’s Writers on Writing series.

These are my favorite books on writing. I hope they help you in one way or another. What are yours?

9 Best Horror Movies on Netflix Halloween 2016

Let’s face it – NETFLIX’s movie selection is a lot like trick or treating; sometimes you get a King Size Kit Kat bar (YAAAAY!) and sometimes you get a Sugar Daddy (BOOOOO!), the latter always more prevalent. There are a ton of films in the NETFLIX-VERSE that will waste your precious time. Luckily, you have me here to help you out. And if you’re like me – and you are – you have no minutes to waste on bad movies. Those days are gone, friends. This year, I decided to compile a list of horror-movie goodies you can feel confident about stuffing into the pillow sack of your mind. Here are 9 horror flicks to spice up your 2016 Halloween.


1. PONTYPOOL – This Canadian zombie flick is inventive, claustrophobic, and mind-bending. Taking place primarily in an underground broadcast booth, Pontypool follows a washed-up DJ as he reports on the apocalyptic madness taking place in the outside world. This movie is weird enough without being too weird and the creep factor is amped in this one. Solid watch.


2. JOHN DIES AT THE END – The book is better, no doubt, but the adaptation is way above average, especially considering my expectations. In the mood for something more quirky than scary? JDATD is your movie. It has laughs, strong elements of horror and science fiction, and thrilling moments of bizarro. Of course, I’d recommend the book over the movie, but we all know you won’t do that. But you should. Because books are always better.


3. DEATHGASM – This movie reminds me a lot of Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (Braindead). Maybe it’s the whole New Zealand thing, or maybe it’s the over-the-top, volcanic eruptions of gore. Deathgasm follows two death metal aficionados as they unknowingly summon demons from the netherworld. Chaos unfolds quite formulaically, but the movie is fun nonetheless. The gore factor is off the charts, which – I mean – is fantastic. If you’re in the mood for a low-budget bloodbath with some light (and sometimes corny) comedic relief, you could do no better than Deathgasm.


4. HUSH – This movie really took me by surprise. Just when I thought the whole “Home Invasion” sub-genre couldn’t get original anymore, Hush comes out and completely blows me away. It’s about a deaf writer who gets stalked by a murderous psychopath while staying at a secluded cabin in the woods to finish her next novel. I will say no more other than this was a heart-pounding thriller that kept me on edge the entire 90 minute runtime. Watch it. Now.


5. NEVER SLEEP AGAIN – I’m a huge Nightmare fan. It’s my favorite of the “classic slasher” flicks. Freddy Krueger haunted me as a child and I find myself frequently revisiting the originals. This documentary was a fun trip and the four-hour runtime flew by. If you like documentaries and The Nightmare on Elm Street series, then this is worth an afternoon of your time.


6. WE ARE STILL HERE – One of the more original haunted house flicks in a long, long time. Legitimately scary. I knew nothing about it before pressing play other than it was universally liked among horror lovers. I suggest you do the same and just press play.


7. BASKIN – Probably the weirdest movie on this list. It’s a foreign film, so if subtitles aren’t your thing, you can skip this. Also, I go back and forth with loving this movie and thinking “what in the hell did I just watch?” Seriously messed up movie, but visually engaging. What the film lacks in a decent story and character development, it makes up for with unsettling the audience and the overall bizarreness of individual scenes. Judge this one for yourself.


8. THE HALLOW – I watched this last week and I was pleasantly surprised how well it was done. The movie centers on a family staying at a house in Ireland, and while there, they are stalked by forest demons who desire to kidnap their baby. The first half of this movie is a little slow, but at the halfway point it unfolds with nonstop action and creature-feature horror. The demons look pretty cool and original, although toward the end they really show off the movie’s budget. Still, worth adding to your Halloween watch list.


9. PAY THE GHOST – Based on the Tim Lebbon novella, Pay the Ghost is about a father who loses his son at a crowded Halloween street carnival. Years later, the father is convinced his son is still alive and tries to unravel the mystery surrounding his disappearance. This movie is not very well reviewed, but eff that noise – I enjoyed it. It’s an entertaining horror-thriller that doesn’t try to do too much, and the acting is actually one of the finer points of the movie. Sarah Wayne Callies of The Walking Dead fame brings it like always and Nic Cage isn’t typical crazy-man Nic Cage, full of laughable acting choices and outrageous facial gesticulations. Worth a watch, especially around the Halloween season, as it incorporates many Allhallows Eve themes and captures the ambience of our favorite time of year.



greggifuneSavages by Greg F. Gifune, released last month by Sinister Grin Press, is one of those books that fires on every cylinder. For me, it satisfies on every level, combining great characterization with a suspenseful, well-paced plot that leaves the reader guessing at each twist and turn. Greg has penned a bloody, thought-provoking piece of survival horror fiction. This isn’t your average lost-on-a-desert-island story, and while I won’t spoil the fun here, I will say it’s one of the most original tales I’ve read in a long time. Continue reading → AUTHOR INTERVIEW: GREG F. GIFUNE