Required Reading

Two posts of note from the past week or so:  one by Brian Keene about being prolific and another from Robert McCammon on writing as a calling.  Read up and take notes.

Sorry for all the links lately rather than lengthy posts.  I spent February going over edits for Blackstone and finished those yesterday.  I have probably a week worth of rewriting ahead of me before I start on another round of proofing.  The good news is that the novel’s shaping up.  I can see the finished book inside my manuscript now, which is always an encouraging sign.

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This is one of the best short films I’ve seen in some time.  I first watched it over at Feo Amante’s website, which is a great place to visit for news and reviews about movies, books and All Things Horror.

The animation in Alma is incredible, as it was brought to life by artists who’ve worked with Pixar in the past.  It’s beautiful, sad and legitimately creepy at the same time.  And all without a word of dialogue.  Watch it.  Twice.

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I learned about this from Cemetery Dance, thought I’d pass it along for those who aren’t on their mailing list.  Writer Ronald Kelly’s daughter is raising money for an overseas trip as part of the People to People program.  You can read about it here

In junior high I was offered an opportunity to be part of the same program.  Unfortunately I did not make it to Europe, though I wasn’t too disappointed because I knew my school’s senior French class always took an annual trip to Paris and I wasn’t about to miss that.  I spent more than three years learning French in anticipation; by the time I was about to graduate, the War of Terror had begun and all overseas trips had been cancelled indefinitely.  Someday I’ll make it to France . . .

Plus here’s an article about Richard Matheson published in Variety a few months back.  It’s nice to see a new generation finding Matheson’s stories, even if most people don’t realize whose ideas Hollywood’s mining.  Personally I prefer Variety over Hollywood Reporter because it’s more business oriented and less celebrity obsessed.

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Genre Map

I came across this diagram not long ago and found it interesting.  I didn’t realize how many genres existed.  Every one has its own writers who are closely associated with a particular subgenre, whether John Grisham and the Legal Thriller, George R.R. Martin with High Fantasy or Nicholas Sparks with Terrible Manipulative Romances.

There’s some overlap to the map, I can see.  For example, what’s the difference between Horror and Weird Fiction?  Isn’t the “weird tale” what horror was called before it became a viable commercial genre in the 1970s?  And how is general horror different from a supernatural thriller or paranormal mystery?  And why isn’t the action/adventure genre represented?

Where would I place my own novels?  I consider Leviathan to be an Adventure novel, but others may consider it an Environmental Thriller.  The Wild Hunt is Horror, yet it involves Fantasy elements from Norse folklore.  Dreamland is a Sci-fi Thriller (also not represented) that’s very psychological in nature.  The Shadow Wolves is a Supernatural Thriller, and my upcoming novel, Blackstone, could be called both Supernatural Thriller or Paranormal Mystery.

Once the genres are sliced too thin, I think their constructs fall apart.  Many books don’t neatly fit into any specific category because they blend genres.  In fact some stories belong to multiple genres at once (think Neil Gaiman’s masterful American Gods).  It was either Richard Matheson or Ernest Hemingway who said — I’m paraphrasing — There are ultimately two types of stories, good and bad.  I tend to agree with that.

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Century’s Best Horror Fiction

On Saturday the mail carrier delivered a package for which I’ve waited the past nine months.  Cemetery Dance published a massive, two-volume anthology called The Century’s Best Horror Fiction.  Edited by genre historian John Pelan, it covers one hundred stories and one hundred authors across the entire 20th century.

These are stunning books; I fully commend Chizmar and his team for such an ambitious undertaking.  This book has been years in the making, as you can imagine, and I preordered it last summer.  It’s a bit pricey at $150 (more for subsequent printings) but well worth the investment.

Looking over the table of contents, I’d say 70-75 percent are stories I haven’t yet read.  Some are incredibly obscure, while others are among the most-anthologized stories ever penned.  In the story notes for every selection Pelan discusses his reasons for including each particular piece and oftentimes recommends alternate tales or authors who almost made the cut (poor Joseph Payne Brennan, overlooked yet again).  That “honorable mention” list could fill a third book; no doubt I’ll try to track down many of those passed-over gems in the future.

I would rank The Century’s Best Horror Fiction among horror’s top retrospectives.  It goes right on my bookshelf between The Dark Descent, Foundations of Fear and the two American Fantastic Tales volumes that Peter Straub collected a few years back for Library of America.

A couple of weeks ago I also received the latest issue of Cemetery Dance magazine, a Graham Masterton special.  There was *ahem* a slight delay between issue #64 and #65, but it’s crammed with great interviews and stories.  I even picked up two Masterton books I haven’t read because the other contributors raved about them.  Here’s hoping #66 isn’t far behind . . .

In other news has anyone else heard about the movie Paranorman?  It’s supposed to come out this summer, and the trailer has me hooked.  It’s a kids’ film, I know, but a kids’ film with monsters.

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Dreamland on Sale



Amazon runs periodic sales on certain items, including my books.  I’ve noticed it in the past with my paperbacks, and last night I realized the Dreamland e-book is on sale for a short time.  Snag a copy of this sci-fi thriller now for cheaper than a buck (regular price $2.99).  And if you dig it, consider leaving a review on Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing, Shelfari or wherever else you choose.  After all, word-of-mouth is the best way to sell books.



When Derek White captures footage of a desert firefight between the US Air Force and a pair of UFOs, his becomes the evidence the world has awaited.  Confirmation of extraterrestrial life, it’s the type of proof that’s dangerous in the wrong hands and revolutionary in the right ones. Many would give their lives to protect Derek’s recording; more would kill to destroy it.

As Derek uncovers a vast government conspiracy, the Men in Black dismantle his life from the inside out. With his sanity at stake, he’s forced to seek the enigmatic Mr. Majestic, the one person who can provide a full disclosure of the truth. Except to find Majestic, he must break into a covert military installation.

Outsiders call the place Area 51, but insiders know it as Dreamland.

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An Apple A Day

Within the past few weeks Apple has announced a change in its digital publishing policies.  Perhaps this is the very simplification on their part for which I’ve waited.  I’m not really certain, so I’d love to hear from any Mac users who have used Apple’s new author portal.  This seems to be geared toward textbook publishers to engage students in interactive learning, as seen in their short tutorial video.  Any novelist can take advantage for their books, however.  I’m intrigued, as my work isn’t yet available across Apple platforms.  (Except this isn’t entirely true, since one can utilize the free Kindle for Mac app.)

I’m not a Mac user, so anyone who has firsthand knowledge on the process can get in touch via Twitter (@JaredSandman) or drop a note in the comments’ section.  Thankee.

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Colbert SuperPAC

colbert rally

Last night Stephen Colbert’s SuperPAC disclosed that they have thus far raised north of one million dollars in donations.  What Colbert’s doing (and Jon Stewart by extension) is some of the best political satire of my generation.  No doubt the show will have more Emmys to add to its sizeable collection come next year. 

He’s rallied around an idea — that corporations are NOT equal to people — and has led a pushback against the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.  I wholeheartedly concur and even sent his PAC some money last year.  If you agree too, consider making a donation.

I'll believe Corporations are people when Texas executes one - b

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Captured: The Ruins of Detroit

Going over the first pass of Blackstone, I’ve accumulated a twelve-page list of random facts and revisions I need to research and address.  This is fewer than I thought I’d have; some books take less back-end research and some require a lot more.  The rough draft of The Shadow Wolves, for example, netted twenty-five pages.

Here are ten things I culled from the list to give you some teasers of what’s in the book.  Some are integral to the story, while others are merely mentioned.

1 — Requirements for inclusion in the National Register of Historical Places

2 — Names of Indiana newspapers

3 — The training and cost of service animals

4 — Architectural terms and specs, particularly the Gothic revival style

5 — How long it takes someone to die in the electric chair

6 — Macro- versus micro-PK

7 — Double-slit photon test 

8 — Project Stargate

9 — The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

10 — Richard Lovelace’s poem, ‘To Althea, from Prison’ 

In writing the novel I drew inspiration from an article published a year ago in the Denver Post.  Check out the book The Ruins of Detroit because these pictures will haunt your imagination long after you stop viewing them.  I mean, who just abandons a public library and leaves all the books on the shelves?

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Blackstone Finished

Last night I finished my sixth novel, Blackstone:  450 pages and 108,000 words.  Today I edited and corrected the last chapter, so now I have a first-pass rough draft.  Getting the story down onto the page constitutes the largest portion of work that goes into writing a manuscript, probably sixty percent or so.  The rest is executed in the coming months, rewriting and polishing through multiple rounds of proofing.  And once I’m pleased with the final product, it’ll go on sale.

This is no time for celebration though; there’s still work to be done.

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