Hey! Just wanted to let you all know I’m doing a new Let’s Play series of various Rom Hacks. You can watch now at
Hey! Just wanted to let you all know I’m doing a new Let’s Play series of various Rom Hacks. You can watch now at
The Dark Side of Writing. Writing is a very solitary activity where you work alone, and you have to rely on yourself to fix, finish, publish and market the book. Even though you get reviews on the books, which are the greatest gift you can give a writer, that’s not really feedback. It’s they liked or hated the book, but it’s not the same as that feedback you get on YouTube or from a peer group.
I’ve found it difficult to really connect or be friends with other authors or artists. I think it’s just more difficult since people are more absorbed in their own work and see friendship as networking instead of a genuine expression of comradery. That or they are just pretentious as fuck and think they are god’s gift to writing because they wrote the first draft that a few of their friends said was genius.
I am a very private person. In real life and online at this point. You know my name, you know what I write on here, you know nothing of my real life beyond I work in a small repair shop. I don’t really talk to anyone except for my dogs and my father. I used to be very social, but as time goes on and I become older, wiser, and unfortunately sicker, I found isolation to be a lot more pleasurable.
I deal with mental health issues like anxiety and imposter syndrome. I have back pain, my left wrist goes numb every day, and I don’t know why; I’m always hurting somewhere, but the doctors never know what to say or do. I’m finally going to specialists to get some injections or something to fix these problems, hopefully. I hope it works out.
That’s what a writer’s life is, though. Hope. You hope the book turns out well. You hope people like it. You hope it sells a million copies. You hope that it will be the next big thing. Then it hits you that nobody really cares, do they?
I read that tweet about how so many traditionally published authors only sold 12 copies of their books. I’ve sold a lot more than that. Not millions, some books didn’t even break 1000, but I always got over the average 200 copies in its lifetime. Even then, it’s such a struggle to get to that number, and there’s just no money in it.
One of the biggest factors in my wanting to quit writing is the money. It’s not about being rich or famous. It’s that writing costs so much fucking money it’s insane. Brandon Sanderson just rose 40 million bucks to publish his new books. Four books in a new series, and he raised 40 million for that.
I don’t understand the use of Kickstarter for books, though. If you want your fans to support you, then they would just buy the books. It’s why I never started a Patreon for my writing. I’d rather you just buy a copy, be happy, and I take that 2-6 dollar royalty and be on my way. That’s why I’m not a multi-millionaire like he is. Because he understands something, I don’t.
The money problem when it comes to writing is that in order to sell books, you have to buy ads, so people know it exists. Ads cost money. A lot of money. For every book I’ve sold, I’ve lost money 5x over. I’ve literally well over five figures on marketing without including the time sink that I’ve put in going on 50+ podcasts and growing my own newsletter. It’s a full-time job for basically no pay.
I honestly would rather just give my books away for free and not do marketing at all. I might start doing that because I’d save money. I might start a Patreon and just hope people will give me a dollar or two because they enjoy the work, because trying to sell them retail is a nightmare. It was too damn expensive. It’s too much guesswork and headache.
I didn’t start writing to get famous, but I also didn’t sign up to go into debt trying to get my work in front of hungry readers. Even if a book sold 10,000+ copies as Second Sight did, I still went into debt at least 3x what I made on those royalties. Even at $9.99, I was losing money on ads.
I’m heavily considering just releasing all my work for free now and starting a patreon or donation link to Paypal. I write because I want to entertain you or make your life better somehow. The problem is Amazon won’t let met put the books up for free. You have to go through kindle unlimited, which sucks. I know people say, “oh well, you still get paid with KU” yeah, you get paid like half a cent per page turn. In a 60-page book, I make maybe 20 cents. In a full novel that’s 400 pages, I’d make maybe 2 dollars. Why bother putting up that wall?
The reason I enjoy YouTube more is that discoverability is a thing on there. It may be a pain in the ass. It may be random because of YouTube’s algorithm. But it is a lot easier to rank on YouTube than it is on Amazon. YouTube gives you a chance to rank and do well. Amazon bases it on sales.
So I get into this vicious loop day in and day out. I pay 5 dollars for ads, maybe sell one copy for 4 dollars, and get two bucks off that. That’s 3 dollars to the negative every day, 365 days a year. Some days I sell nothing and just lose five bucks. Amazon ads are basically just gambling. No matter how good your ad copy or cover is, you are still gambling. Most of the time you will lose.
$3 x 365 is $1,095. I am losing AT BEST $1,095 a year to give you a book. That’s just ads. That doesn’t cover the cost of my editor or cover designer or my mailing service that I have to pay $25 a month for to send you emails that you probably ignore or that go into your spam folder. Or this website which costs me like $100-200 a year alone to keep up. Writing is not cheap. Not if you want to have your book out there and have it sell.
People want stuff for free. My step-sister literally whined to me because she couldn’t get one of my books for free. It was 4 dollars, and she couldn’t afford it somehow when she… I’m stopping right there because family drama is not meant to be online. I’m good. My own family doesn’t buy the shit. They expect it for free. So does everyone else.
Being a “bestselling author,” as I call myself, cost me money. I don’t make money on this. I lose money on this every single day. I made more on YouTube, making fun of Ethan Ralph and pretending to give a shit about internet blood sports drama. Even if it was 5-10 bucks worth of donations that night, at least I made something. If no donations came in, I lost nothing.
The only cost I have with YouTube is time. I bought the editing software already for the book trailers and stuff at work. That was 70 bucks, once. Not yearly. I paid for the upgrades later down the line when I moved to Windows 10, but that was just another 70 bucks. A lot less investment than publishing a single book.
I’ve used Cyberlink Powerdirector since 2014, and no editor has ever come close, in my opinion. It just works right. No, I am not sponsored. I honestly don’t like the whole 365 models they do, either.
The only other equipment cost I incurred was my microphone and stand. Two things I had anyway for band stuff I was doing at the time. So you can add that in as the cost of being a YouTuber if you want. I see it as more than just YouTube.
I think you should be able to buy the software once and be done with it. Not have subscription services. The only exception to that rule is cloud storage because I know how much that costs to keep servers running and keeping your data safe. It’s huge. When I worked at Dell, our power bill for one building was like $25,000. I never complain about OneDrive’s pricing after hearing that.
My point is to be in business; you have to have money to start but also have money coming in to pay the expenses of said business. For example. My tech company is doing great. I’ve been advertising quite a bit on Facebook, and I’m getting a lot more calls. That $5 a day I spend on Facebook nets me 10x that on any client I get. I could spend 1000 bucks on ads, and I guarantee you I will get back 50,000 in accounts receivable. With books, it’s the inverse. Pay 5 dollars, and make 1 dollar if you are lucky.
I know people say, “well, that’s because your book sucks. Nobody wants to read a bad book.” Look at the reviews. Almost universal five stars on every single book. I might have 2 or 3 single-star reviews in the entire catalog. Books are just a hard sell. There is no other way to put it.
Would you rather read one of my books or watch me make fun of stupid videos on YouTube? Obviously, Youtube because it’s easier to consume and FREE. The price of the book isn’t the problem. The cover is not the problem. The editor is not the problem. The reviews aren’t the problem. It’s people who just don’t care. My name isn’t Stephen King, JK Rowling, or Brandon Sanderson, so nobody cares. They will take a free book, which costs me money to give away, by the way, and maybe read it or forget they downloaded it. It sucks being a writer.
The only reason I consider continuing is, like I said. The free model. Write for me, give it away for free, and hope people leave a dollar or two in a tip jar. Don’t even bother with Amazon or Audible anymore. They cost too much.
Let me know if you’d be willing to chip in on that idea of giving all the books away on here and just putting up a tip jar.
You can subscribe now to my channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrdA4xmnFMfMzPFmUFAcJ9Q/
So this may be a shocker, but I have been really considering retiring from writing books. I’ve written over 15 books since 2018. I’m happy with the work I’ve done. I just don’t see a reason to keep going at this point. It makes no financial or creative sense. I’m not deleting the books, and I will still be giving away copies to grow my mailing list. But as for new creations, I think it’s time to turn it in and call it a career. At least for now.
I’m burned out. I have no passion for it anymore and haven’t for quite some time. The one thing I am very passionate about, though, is YouTube. I’ve been a YouTube person since 2008 in various incarnations, and that’s what I want to do with my creative energy. Give you YouTube videos that’ll make you and me both happy.
I never felt better creatively than when I was doing live streams and talking to the people in chat. You people made my day, and I miss you all. I know that things will not be the same because I refuse to do drama streams again, but if you have been following me at all since 2008, I want to see you again in chat.
So this happened…
Let’s talk about traditional publishing. I did so on an episode of my old show called Terror Trax that you may have listened to before. Here’s a link to that episode if you want to hear my thoughts back then versus now and maybe there will be a difference.
But here’s the deal. I was talking to the exact same company named above. I appreciate that they are a huge company that absolutely dominates the literary space. They are experts in their field, they know what they are doing, but the problem is they don’t do it for their smaller authors. Let me explain.
Stephen King is the biggest horror author of all time. He’s outsold every other horror author by millions. The only horror author remotely close would be Lovecraft, but I’m not sure how many he sold, but many see him as the Tolkien of horror.
Traditional publishers, just like record companies, used to be the only way you could get a book published viably. Amazon’s KDP platform started in 2007. Ingram Spark, KDP’s biggest rival, started in 2013. Smashwords, yet another large contender in the indie publishing market, started in 2008. The list goes on and on, but all of the big indie publishers didn’t exist until about 2007.
Now straight up. I don’t like the word “self-publish.” I feel like it’s a very bad term and used as an insult in the reading community. People hear the world self-publish and stick up their noses because it wasn’t vetted by one of the big publishing houses.
As if the big publishers haven’t put out piles of shit before, see 50 shades of Grey or its source material, Twilight. Bonus points for 13 Reasons Why which is my literary blood enemy. I could go on for an hour, and I have before on a previous YouTube video, if you can find it, about why that book should be thrown in the closest incinerator.
Traditional publishing was the only game in town since the very first publisher Cambridge University Press which started all the way back in 1534. That’s 473 years of traditional publishing being the only avenue to get your books out there to the mainstream. Everything else was basically a guy who typed it up, got copies printed, and sold them out of the back of his car. Not saying it’s not the same today, but it’s easier with Kindle and Nook being a thing.
Because traditional publishers were the only game in town, that meant they could give the artist a pittance in royalties and more or less own the rights to that author’s brain for whatever amount of time they signed it over for. You wrote a book, they took the rights to said book, and they sold it and gave you an incredibly awful percentage.
Even today, the big authors only make 12% of the cover price of their books on kindle or paperback. 12%. For every dollar, they make 12 cents. Big name artists in the 80’s only got 50 cents to a dollar on every cd sale. You work your ass off; they get the majority of the money, and everything comes out of your end.
Let’s talk about record deals for a second. Not long. Did you know that many artists would record a big album that went Gold or Platinum to only end up IN DEBT with the record label? Dokken’s first album sold 100,000 copies, and they did arena tours. They ended up owing the record label $500,000. THEY WERE IN DEBT to the record company for half a million bucks on an album they got paid $50,000 for in sales!
What does this have to do with trad publishing? Everything. They send you an advance. Say $2500 to $10000. Sounds great. Here’s the problem. They publish your book, and you don’t see any of the money UNTIL you pay THEM BACK in your royalties. So you get $5000. Your book gives you 8% of the royalties because your name isn’t Stephen King.
Your book sells 1000 copies which is good. If you hit 1k copies of your book sold, good for you. We are in the same club. Not rich or even making a living, but we have a very small fanbase who enjoys our shit enough to pay for it. Good job.
Now let’s just be generous and say the kindle book is $10. 8% of 10 dollars is 80 cents. You sold 1000 copies of your debut novel. That’s $10,000. 8% of $10,000 is $800. You made $800 in royalties. Great. I’d love 800 bucks to just fall into my lap, but that 800 doesn’t go into your lap. It goes into the publisher’s lap to pay back the advance they gave you. That advance isn’t a gift. It’s them buying the rights to your book and you giving up 92% of your possible royalties until you pay that back.
So now your book sold, you got nothing but your advance. You think, “oh well, at least the publisher will market the book, and I’ll pay that advance back and start making money.” Here’s the nasty part.
You got $5000. Great. They don’t market the book. You have to. On your own. With no support from them. You have to take the book that you worked on for years and buy ads for it. Go on podcasts. Maybe start your own podcast. Go on a blog tour or, god forbid, a road tour that you have to pay for. You go into debt trying to make that book sell enough to make you some money. That’s the trap. You pay for everything if you want that book to succeed, and you only get 8% of the royalties for it once that advance is paid off. They are going to keep making money off you regardless.
Let’s say the book gets big enough to make it into a movie. Guess who gets the majority of that money? The publisher. You sold the rights. It’s their book, not yours. So you’ve spent all this money for the book to get some sales in… and the publisher is still keeping 92% of your profits and whatever they make off the movie deal. You are their slave.
Let’s go in a different direction. The one I took. I worked with a small indie outfit called Project Fenix. It was started by a few other people and me. We decided we wanted to do a news website, along with some other stuff under that banner. Later on, after that idea went up in smoke, I started writing books and published them through this company that had converted from a news outfit into a small indie publishing house. Things went fine for seven books or so, then I decided I wanted more money, so I bought the rights to all my books from them, and we moved on with our lives.
I then started a small company called Skyblue Publishing which is my publisher. I have hired a full-time editor and a full-time cover designer. I work with a marketing firm that pushes my books. I control the Facebook ads and work with their ad managers on upcoming campaigns, I have this website you are reading this on. I control all of the internal stuff here.
These people work for me. Their checks say Jack Pierce on them. I am Skyblue Publishing, now renamed Jack Pierce Books Company after we had some legal troubles with some past employees and the trademarks. This is a company. It is a business. It has employees, and I pay taxes every year on what I make here and for my tech company that I won’t name here.
Does that mean I’m some crackpot shitting out books that are only the 1st draft and clogging up Amazon’s pipeline? No. The beauty of Amazon is its ranking is based on SALES. Not reviews, not traffic, not how many social media followers, it’s hard sales.
Your book or any product you sell on there is ranked based on sales alone. If you go to #1, as I have many times in my category, it’s because you sold the most copies in that category during whatever time period they are monitoring it.
So all the “self-published crap” that people talk about. The “failed authors” who couldn’t get a real publishing deal with the scammers that we call trad publishing never get seen. They sell nothing. Amazon doesn’t promote you or your product. You have to do it. Just like you have to push it with a trad publisher.
I don’t call KDP self-published. It’s not. Amazon is your publisher. They distribute it, they make the paperbacks, they list it on competitor websites, and they do all the heavy lifting. They are a publisher. They are the BIGGEST publisher in the world. The difference is they don’t give an advance, and they shouldn’t. It runs on meritocracy. If your book is good, and you push it enough, people will read it. Just like traditional publishing.
The only reason to ever traditionally publish is vanity. There is no benefit. Amazon pays 70% royalties on the cover price of any kindle book you publish. 70%. That’s a lot more than 8%.
Amazon pays you 60% of the paperback cover price minus manufacturing costs. It’s kind of a weird equation they do, but even with them, it’s still a lot more than 8%.
Traditional publishing is a scam. There is no upside to it now. They were gatekeepers, and Amazon blew the gate off its hinges. Stop falling for their shit. I didn’t.
I was actually talking to one of them about doing a book deal. I had a great novel written that I was very proud of. One that had nothing to do with the other books. The one novel I wrote wasn’t connected to Second Sight in any way.
I got an agent, they sent an offer. It was very long and detailed. I let my lawyer read it and ultimately passed on it. I tried to work out a better deal than they were offering, but they wouldn’t budge. I said no, and that was it.
I knew that if I left it up to them, it wouldn’t sell. Jill Biden’s biography sold 500 copies. She’s the president’s wife. I shit out that on a good promotional day. I’ve had books sell double that in a week where I only spent $250 on ads.
That’s the thing. I am very stubborn, and at the end of the day, I make the decisions in my life. I knew if I signed that paper giving them the right to change whatever they wanted in the book, it would just ruin everything I’ve built. I’ve always had total control over everything I’ve written or published online. Nobody else ever had the final say in any blog, YouTube video, or book.
It would have thrown 15+ books down the drain with one real stinker that’s worse than Kay is Away was. A stinker I couldn’t unpublish no less. I refused. I wasn’t interested in a deal for 8% of the cover price, $2500 advance, while giving them the rights to change it into some shit I had no say in. Not interested. I can make more than that advance in a month just working at the shop. Don’t need the money that bad.
I wasn’t going to sign anything that would jeopardize all the work and money I’ve put into this collection since 2018 for a book that won’t sell, and it’ll stink to high hell. Even my worst books get four stars. That one would have been 1-starred to hell. No thanks.
If that makes me “self-published” or amateur, I don’t care. I own the rights to my books. I own the copyrights, trademarks, and everything. I am the owner of the company that publishes them, and I don’t want to lose that control. It’s not worth it.
I was going to write a book about this, but I don’t feel like writing 180 pages on this topic. So let’s just do it in one blog post. After all, most non-fiction is just a blog post with 100 pages of filler.
I was sitting at work today when I saw the hashtag #CNNIsTheNewFox come across my screen on Twitter. I rarely look at social media because it’s a waste of time that serves no purpose beyond advertising my books & other projects that need hands-off exposure. The only time I ever use it is to check my ads and adjust them every few days to make sure they are being run the way I want them.
It’s better for me to pay Facebook to spread the word for me than to spend all day grinding, hoping someone gives a shit; spoiler alert, they don’t. That’s why I buy ads and focus on other stuff. There’s no reason to grind on social media. Time is money, and a dollar a day gets me a lot more results than grinding 16-hour days trying to get the same amount of attention tweeting, making videos, and reaching out to bigger names would. Let the social media companies do their job for $30 a month, so I can work my normal job and make $30 an hour.
So what does this have to do with watching CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC? Everything. Just follow me on this journey. If you’ve read my books, you know I like to go into detail. If you need help reading this, then just go to ttsreader.com and paste in the text from this blog post and listen while you cook or something.
I saw this hashtag and thought immediately, “yeah, right… what did they do now?” And the answer to that is? Some reporter called Trump a demagogue and is no longer working at CNN now. So people took that as “CNN is being fascist and censoring anti-trump speech.”
I’ve heard that he was already quitting that day and just wanted to have one final send-off jab at the orange man in question, but I really don’t care if he got fired or quit. I don’t watch CNN. The only news I ever watch once in a while is Tucker Carlson with my dad. Don’t hate on dad just yet. He’s also important to this story.
So my dad is a very level-headed man. He’s very intelligent, reads constantly, and could give you a lecture on basically any topic except technology. That’s my job. Explaining technology to him, but the man does only three things when he’s not working beyond the basics. Read books, watch sports, and take naps with his dogs that he always has in his recliner with him. If he’s in the recliner, all the dogs are in their own individual spots with him sleeping.
My father is also a Christian man. Not a fire breathing; you’re going to hell if you disagree with me type. He’s just a man who wants to live his life the way Jesus did by being a good person, being charitable, and making sure everyone is taken care of to the best of his ability. He never preaches and barely watches the news, but when he does, he gets mad. I get mad too. Probably more angry than he does.
I can tell that Tucker Carlson has a massive bias against the left, so can he, but the left-wing journos at CNN and MSNBC are so ridiculous it’s like a clown show. Constant whining about Trump, his supporters, and white people. It’s a big joke. Tucker isn’t much better in the opposite direction, but at least his show has some variation beyond “orange man bad” for an hour.
If I do get a chance before he turns on Tucker, I will try to redirect him to something less infuriating, like How It’s Made or Sports. I like boxing, hockey, basketball, American Football, all of that. Not the type of fan that buys the jerseys or has a favorite team, but I enjoy watching sports for an hour while I’m eating dinner. It’s relaxing and fun watching a game. You get excited when a great play is made and upset when your team is losing, but it’s fun.
The news is not fun. At all. It’s literally designed to piss you off. Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty of this rant. The news is not good for you, it’s literally outrage porn. It has no value at all. As my best friend Sunny would say, it’s “intellectual junk food.” It’s not good for you, makes you feel like shit, and you watch it anyway because you think, “well, it’s food, and it’s there… no need to cook it or do anything. Just open the bag and eat.”
That’s why the news works. It’s literally a soap opera. Did you know that some soap operas have THOUSANDS of episodes? Do you know how that works? They take a problem, and they explore the same problem over and over again where you think it will eventually be solved… next week. Then next week comes, the problem is still there. It might have gotten slightly better or worse but still not solved… until next week. Rinse, repeat, ad nauseum.
The news is a CYCLE. It’s literally called a CYCLE, because that’s what it is. A cycle just spins around and around. Never goes anywhere. Just keeps going around and around until it stops or goes back the other way. Let me try to make this easier to digest.
Immigration at the southern border is a big problem for both sides. It’s brought up constantly on CNN and Fox News. It’s a divisive issue, but I’m not here to give an opinion on that. Just a simple truth. The US Border Patrol started in 1924. That was almost 100 years ago.
We have been bitching about the same problem since AT LEAST 1924. There are even sources that say it started in the late 1800s. Nothing has been done, but the news is always “monitoring” that situation. It’s on their cycle. It’s part of the wheel that keeps spinning, making them a money factory.
So the problem has never been solved by any president in almost 100 years, even though we have a police organization that’s only job is to guard said border. Great. I’m sure tonight is the night where Tucker Carlson will tell us it’s over. Joe has finally done it and fixed the problem, and it’ll never come up again! Good luck with that. No news topic falls off completely. It’s just put away in a cabinet until they think it’s relevant again.
Different problem. Drugs. That’s another favorite of Fox News and CNN. Talking about the drug crisis and how it’s killing so many people every year. What are we gonna do about it? The same thing we do about all our other news cycle problems. Nothing. Just whine about it and then say we’ll keep you posted as we “monitor” that situation too.
Are you seeing a pattern yet? The news organizations aren’t in the news business. They are in the advertising business. The same business that social media is in. You don’t pay to use Twitter… but people like me pay Twitter to show you ads for my books or other projects. Your data, your attention, and the information that you feed the beast are what give me the ability to show you my books.
Is it nefarious? Am I paying them to brainwash you into making you want my books or videos in your feed? No. I pay them, so you know they exist as an alternative to the stuff that’s already huge and doesn’t need as much if any, advertising.
It’s there because the system does not encourage growth. YouTube’s algorithm is impossible to crack, and they change it often. Why? Because it’s pay to win. Same with social media. It’s pay to win. If you want a big following, you need to get lucky or pay for it out of pocket. Usually both.
The same goes for the news. You hear all this firebrand stuff from Tucker or Joye Reid, and after they are done with one segment of the same shit you’ve heard 50x this week, they go to the same ten commercials you see every night.
How many times do I have to watch Mike Lindell talk about his pillow, coffee, slippers, mattress topper, sheets, and all this other overpriced shit he is shilling? Every Tucker ad break is the same thing. Mike Lindell shilling his overpriced Chinese garbage. That pill commercial where they claim to have all your vegetable vitamins in one convenient pill that costs 40 bucks on Amazon! It’s snake oil! That’s what they sell. Snake oil.
But that’s what the news is. It’s the same 5-6 topics told over and over. They bring out the same topics, same interview guests, same shit over and over. It’s cookie-cutter and processed for maximum impact on you. No problem is ever solved. They are always monitoring the situation. There is no fix in sight because why would you work yourself out of a job?
If the republicans or democrats ever fixed any problem, then what would they run on every 2-4 years? If they fixed the problems, what would the news cover? If the politicians have nothing to fix, and the news has nothing to say, then the people who fund both have nothing to work with, and the advertising bucks dry up.
It’s a grift. It’s literally made to piss you off, so you come back tomorrow to see if it got fixed, but it never does get fixed. That’s the bottom line. It’s literally made to make you miserable. Here’s the amazing thing I’ve noticed, though. It’s not only a cycle. It’s more of a web. This is a crude way of putting it, and I don’t know how to draw, so I will tell you the basic process in text form.
The news has a problem they bitch about
You watch it and get mad
Then you talk to your friends or take to social media to bitch about the problem too.
That problem is now being fixed or worked on by some activist groups from either side.
You go out and talk about that organization for good or bad which spreads the word.
You donate to that organization, whether it be time or actual money.
Another organization pops up to be anti-organization.
The news reports on the happenings with said organizations, good or bad
That pisses you off some more.
Then you watch the news again. You get mad again. The cycle repeats.
The problems aren’t meant to be solved. The news is only there to do three things. Piss you off, make you go vote for their guy, and get your ad bucks. It’s an addiction, just like social media is. It’s time to stop watching the news and go do something more positive. Play with your kids, the dog, go call an old friend, put in some overtime, or just watch the ball game. Anything is better than sitting there getting more miserable because Tucker or Joye has the new outrage to sell you.
This list isn’t comprehensive or complete. These are just 10 films I think you should watch if you love my work as a horror author.
Halloween 1 + 2. Masterpiece. My favorite horror film of all time. They are 1 movie to me since the 2nd one literally just starts with part 1’s ending and continues without a cut or anything. It just keeps going as if the first movie didn’t end. Just so many little things in the first two Halloween movies make it my favorite horror film. I even love the cheap cheap CHEAP fan films that were shot on VHS like “The death of Michael Myers” because they understood what made Michael scary. Something almost none of the sequels did right until Kills.
Halloween 3. I both love and hate that movie. If it weren’t for the Silver Shamrock thing where they are in the fake living room with the snake biting the guy, I’d say it’s pure shit. I love the atmosphere, and the “WTF is going on” feeling I get watching it, but as a movie just kinda love-hate it. But won’t say it’s not scary at points.
The original Scream has some decent tension in it, the sequels are more fun horror and not scary horror, but the reason I put it on this list is that damn scene where Ghostface hides behind the door in Fonzy’s office. I always check behind my doors now because of that.
Halloween 5. The movie sucks, but one scene scares me to death still. The one where the girl looks in the closet and doesn’t see Michael, but he somehow is in there and then kills her in the house. That made me never trust closets again.
Nightmare On Elm Street 2. The first one is great, I love it, but 2 just had a much darker feel for me. It was a lot scarier for some reason; maybe it was the atmosphere or something.
Suspiria. Pure atmosphere. Dark as fuck. Just creepy. Opening kill is so scary, and it also inspired a kill in the scariest game ever made, Clock Tower for the SNES, which might as well be Suspiria, the video game.
Jacob’s Ladder. Just all kinds of fucked up. Silent Hill took so much from this movie that it’s crazy.
Hellraiser Inferno / Deader / Hellseeker. Three movies that are all rip-offs of Jacobs’ Ladder, BUT while you may think they suck for not being about pinhead, really sit down and watch them. They really are incredible films if you look at it on a more atmospheric level.
Stop worrying about pinhead and think of it as another take on Jacob’s Ladder “WTF is going on” type of horror. The imagery in some of the scenes is so horrific and hellish.
These films, while not great as narratives, really explore the concept of hell that’s not just a lake of fire, torture for eternity. It visualizes what the hell would look like for these 3 people.
Hell being more personalized. These are basically what Halloween 3 would have ended up becoming if they kept going that route without Michael. 3 really weird, fucked up movies that make you question reality just like H3 did.
Saw 1. I don’t think it’s scary, but it’s a movie every horror fan needs to see at least once. I’ve taken a huge amount of inspiration from the first saw and the 3 hellraisers I mentioned above in my writing. The white room saga in Second Sight, Condemned was based on Saw 1, and an entire 3rd of The Snow White Murders is done in the same atmospheric styling of Hellraiser inferno’s “snow” scene. Sequels are unnecessary but fun.
Criminally Insane from the 70s. It’s bad. It is stupid. It’s shot on shitteo, as Cinema Snob would say. But it’s a film that’s so bad it’s infinitely rewatchable. Nick Phillips really was the Ed Wood of the 70s when it came to his shitty slasher films like Death Nurse 1 & 2, Criminally Insane, etc.
Here’s a new project I’m working on. It’s about a group of people who throw a suicide party and end up in Hell. Then the main character actually sees what hell is really like, obviously really really dark, scary, bad, awful. And who knows where it goes from there. Point is I want to write my own Dante’s Inferno for 2022, but make it as dark and gritty as possible.
I attempted something like this in Second Sight with the White Room saga that happens right after Norcastle and also the final 3rd of The Snow White Murders happens in Eden (aka the dream world) this is not going to be part of that series. This is a standalone about the actual biblical Hell and exploring the concept in as much dark, gritty, and disturbing detail as possible. Here’s the opening (not edited yet, too early for that).
The gun in Jacob Hill’s hand was made of fine cold steel. It was silver, and polished to a perfect sheen. A beautiful weapon manufactured for one purpose, and one purpose alone. To kill or destroy whatever it was pointed at.
That gun, with it’s perfectly smoothed out barrel which had never been used was pointed at Jacob Hall’s right temple. He stared at himself in a mirror with lit candles on the sink in the bathroom of his small apartment which sat right off of Midlothian Turnpike near Richmond, Virginia.
His eyes were locked with his own in the mirror and for a few moments he could think of nothing. His mind went completely blank. He felt truly free for a moment, but back to the task at hand. He put his finger on the trigger, took a deep breath and pulled it. The gun clicked… it hadn’t been loaded at all.
He flinched as he heard the click and opened his eyes only seeing his reflection in the mirror again. He had not forgotten to load the gun, only that he wanted to see how it would feel in his final moments when the day came, which in his mind was soon.
There was no second guessing it. He was going to take his own life, in that very bathroom, with the candles lit and a revolver in his hand.
He would be shot by his own pistol, with a bullet that he had chosen for himself, and he would finally be free from the horrible world that he had grown so tired of. But today wasn’t the day, he wasn’t ready quite yet.
He had some arrangements that he wanted to make before hand. Some letters that had to be sent, and a suicide not to explain away why he did what he idd. He wanted to leave no stone unturned, and no T uncrossed.
He wanted no one to wonder why, how, or if they could have stopped him. They couldn’t have. They had no choice in the matter, it was part of his plan for years. He was only 23 years old, and from the time he was 7 he knew that he was going to take his own life.
He had been in and out of the psychology offices at Crossroads or various private practices and they all said the same thing. He had depression. It wasn’t quite true at the end of the day.
His raging hormones had been suppressed by drugs given by doctors who some called pill factories and those medicines lead him to his inevitable outcome he faced now. Staring in a mirror with a 38 revolver in his right hand.
The doctors he saw didn’t see him for more than a few moments. They immediately said depression, scribbled on a paper, and sent him off to the pharmacy for his Zoloft, Prozac, Trazodone, or whatever drug of the month they put him on trying to fix his depression.
In reality his depression was nothing more than frustration from a shitty home life he had dealt with for years that was forced upon him. He had no choice in that matter. The only choice Jacob had was his own death.
The day. The method. The notes. The letters. The ending. He had that control in his life and he craved it. He obsessed over it. It became a facet of his life.
He fantasized about his own funeral, and in his mind he couldn’t wait to be gone from this wretched hell he lived in. But it wasn’t time yet… he projected the date. October 31st, 2022. He wanted to die on the 23rd Halloween of his life.
His favorite number was 23. He didn’t know why. That number in particular simply spoke out to him. 23. It was a great number. Started with a even number and ended with an odd number. 2 went into 3 one time. One. Two. Three. Just like the song said. ABC is easy as 123.
He became obsessed with that number and knew that when he finally reached 23 he would be free from this death marble flying through space. He would take his own life. He would get back at all those bastards who passed him over in school.
He would get revenge on his father for his endless drunken beatings, and he would get back at his whore mother who opened her legs to the streets and let ever man regardless of race or gender take their turn with her. She didn’t care.
Man, woman, transgender, even a dog had free reign to her disgusting crevice from which he was birthed. They all came happily, and left happier than before. With a nice parting gift that they would keep for life no less.
He figured that on his 23rd birthday he would die in an automobile accident, but it never happened. He waited, even drove dangerously on purpose, but it just never happened.
I was writing a radio drama called The White Room & Norcastle. They both were turned into a full novel. In retrospect, the novel’s narrative path is a mess. It’s by far the most complex book. It was basically me trying to figure out how to write a 450-page book without studying anyone else’s 450-page book. It went to #1 in October of 2018, so I guess it did well. People seem to like that one a lot.
What can you really say about it? It was the one that sold the most, and it was the inspiration for the rest of the books. Every book has a reference or callback to Second Sight somewhere in it.
Wrote this one second. Didn’t release it for another 2 years, even though it was technically finished in the summer of 2018. It has shifted around in my ranking. I used to think it was complete crap now I think it’s one of the best ones if not the best. The inspiration really came from me watching a lot of law & order at the time. I was obsessed with Law & Order and SVU.
I also had been talking to the devs of a game called “The Infections Madness of Doctor Dekker,” and the talks didn’t go far, but I pitched the idea of me writing a book they could use for the sequel since that game was very bookish. We never really got into any negotiations about rights or publishing because they decided to just go with The Shapeshifting Detective, but I kept writing the book.
It was done in 2 weeks. I wrote the entire thing front to back in 2 weeks. It was very easy for me to write, but it had a ton of rewrites, remakes, remasters, and all sorts of shit before I finally released it. I think I even added a Hannibal Lecter clone at one point who got scrapped. It was just a mess because I was still trying to figure out how to write a long book without adding a ton of what I called “filler,” which, in reality, is not what I thought it was.
Stephen King pads his books to the extreme, and I thought anything that wasn’t dialogue, action, or light description was filler. So I was trying to write a movie on paper and somehow make it 400 pages. It still came out great, though, even if it ran too fast.
I tried to write goosebumps for adults. It worked out well. No real memories of it beyond I was watching Are You Afraid of The Dark at the time and wrote my own episode.
The same feeling as Ghostwriter, but I was watching The Twilight Zone when I wrote that.
I wrote that as an experiment because I had been writing big grandiose books that were full of characters, locations, and globetrotting. I wanted to write something that was just one room, 4 people, and no other scenery or plotlines. Just 4 people trying to solve a problem. Turned out to be the highest reviewed and most loved out of all my books. People really loved Condemned. The audiobook is a wonderful audio drama.
My stepfamily was really pissing me off at one point, and I just wrote a book that was a mix of me getting that out of my system, but also an experiment to see if I could write Second Sight without monsters. Instead of having ghosts, monsters, and flashback scenes like in Second Sight, write something that took what was great about the first 90 pages, aka Norcastle Saga, and do that without the monsters. It came out well. It’s the second-highest-rated book. People ate it up.
I had dreams about a summer camp, where I had all these friends. I would always realize it was a dream, and right before I’d wake up, I tried to get their names and numbers to find them in real life. I can’t remember any of their names, but I was always happy to see them. Then I’d wake up and realize I really had no friends in real life at the time. It was a really depressing period. My girlfriend at the time had left me, and I was very lonely. I figured someone had to be able to relate to that. Wanting to live in a dream where everything is wonderful and perfect. Hopefully, heaven is just the dream world from my books. It would be nice to have your own little world you can create for yourself, minus the instability and negative effects that come later.
I had where people who were terminally ill would ride up in a rocket ship and burn up in space. I know that’s not real but it always bothered me because I swore I read that somewhere. It was like a space test thing, but I can’t find the article anywhere.
I was listening to Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles. I liked that idea of just a bunch of lonely people with no real happy ending. It was heart wrenching, and that book is my take on that kind of story. A group of lonely people who all go to a church at the end, just like how the song ends at a church, and they get hope but not results. That’s how life usually works. You hope for better, but it never comes.
I was watching some of those trapped-in-a-room / death game movies. House of 9, Belkam Experiment, Saw series, Cube, Would You Rather, Panic Button, etc. All of them were trash when it came to the story, and I really liked the idea of doing a follow-up to condemned that took what I liked about all those and made it good. It came out well.
Had a pretentious streak. My girlfriend of 2 years had dumped me. I was very depressed and needed a book to help me through that. Nobody had a book that I could relate to, so I wrote my own self-help book to help myself. I know that makes no sense, but that’s what I did. My shrink told me I should let it all out on the page and I gave her a copy. She liked it. Thought it was very well written and would help people.
Pissed off at social media. Wrote a book about it. Next.
Underappreciated. I really wish this one sold better.
There was a character in Second Sight named Jim. He was really undefined and only showed up in a few scenes inside the Eden, aka the dream world, chapters. He was a wise old man and I really liked him as a character and as a person. He reminded me a lot of my father. My dad had lost two wives to cancer and a third woman he loved before my mom to cancer as well.
So all 3 women he loved at one point died of the same thing. So I wrote it as sort of a book about him, and how he is such a strong person even through all that shit. He survived it, and he loves his kids and grandkids. So I just made an adventure for him. I was originally going to make it turn out that Jim was Rick Levin’s real father, but that never came about in the plot. I’ve also thought about Sam Wolf being Rick’s father or uncle or something. Have some type of familiar connection between all of the main characters of their respective books.
You do finally get to meet Blaine’s parents in Dreamer though. That was a really interesting scene to finally see his backstory told from yet another angle which may or may not be bullshit. Who knows… Blaine is Blaine.
I had just finished watching Scream 5 and also was deep into listening to the Stephen King’s IT Audiobook. I really wanted to combine the two and make my own thing of “what if Stephen King wrote Scream as a novel?” And that’s what I did. It was a bit of a mess, but that was on purpose. It was supposed to be stupid, meta, overly descriptive, boring in sections, and dumb as hell. That’s what Stephen King’s books are, and that’s what 90% of scream movies are. Just stupid teenage drama with a killer on the loose.
Unreleased / Work in Progress
All Her Stars is a companion book that mixes Dreamer & Bring Me A Dream. Can’t really discuss much beyond that but if you loved those, you’ll love All Her Stars.
Second Sight II. Obvious. Can’t discuss it. It would spoil the first book.
See No Evil. Sequel to The Snow White Murders. Continues that story with a new killer on the loose. It’s really good so far.
Slash II / ICU – New killer in Woodland. It may be the same one as before. Don’t know yet.
Kay is Away – I hate that book. Worst goddamn thing I’ve ever written. Absolutely horrid. Only 1 paperback copy exists and even that’s too much. Fuck that book. I unpublished it.
Night fell, and all of the dinner guests had gone home for the evening. Sam laid in his bed next to Jen as he stared up at the ceiling fan, which spun endlessly, rattling its chain with every rotation.
“That was nice tonight,” Jen said.
“Yeah… I think things are finally beginning to look up.”
“A lot better than they were back in Eastport, at least.”
“Yeah… let’s hope that never happens again.”
They both closed their eyes, and sleep came to them quite naturally until Sam was awakened by his cell phone ringing. He woke up and grabbed his phone, barely awake to see that the caller ID read. Unknown number. He dismissed it and tried to go back to sleep… but the phone rang again. The same result. An unknown number. He dismissed it once more, closing his eyes again, even tighter this time.
One more time, the phone rang, and his eyes were wide open. He reached over and looked at the caller ID again. It said “Unknown Number” as it buzzed in his hand. He swiped up on the call button and put it up to his ear.
“Wolf…” he said in a tone groggy enough to make the person on the other end question if he was asleep or completely sloshed.
“Help me…” a quiet and soft voice said on the other end.
“What?” Sam asked.
“Help me… Please… Don’t let them kill me….”
Sam looked at his phone, seeing the time was 2:30AM.
“Where are you?” Sam asked.
“I’m right here… I see you….”
“You see me?”
“Where are you?”
The phone crackled a bit before another voice came on. A much darker, more sinister voice. One that sounded familiar to him, but he couldn’t place who or where it came from.
“Wherever you want me to be,” the voice said as the phone beeped and hung up.
Sam rolled out of bed quickly and reached in his top drawer for his gun. A 38 snub nose he kept just in case of a break-in or something else going on. Something just like this.
He put his back against the wall and grabbed for the chain above his head that would turn on the ceiling fan. He reached and reached but felt nothing. He looked up, and there was no fan. Just a black void above him.
He took his phone, turned on the flashlight, and scanned the room. It looked the same as before, and when he looked up at the ceiling, he saw snow. Pale, white snow. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, and then another. He knew what this meant, and it meant it was all coming back. He was back in Eden.
“Goddamn it… not this again,” He said.
He kept his gun steady and walked out of the room. The door opened right into a hallway, the same hallway from the home he had left back in Eastport. The long winding hallway led into a large open living room with a kitchen at the end, only separated by a wall of wooden bars that were there for decoration.
He looked to his left and saw Abby’s door. The same door that led to her childhood bedroom. The same room she ate, slept, and dreamed in from the age of 1 all the way til 15 when they left this god-forsaken place. He peeked inside and saw her room, just as they had left it two years ago, covered in that pale white snow.
“Abby… are you in there?” he said softly.
No response. He peeked in a little farther and saw nothing out of the ordinary except for the snow, of course. He knew damn well that it wasn’t real snow. It was ash. He turned back down the hallway and went toward the living room, making his way through, checking each corner for anything, and he found nothing. Just the same old apartment covered in snow.
“Why… Why this? Why now? Why can’t this nightmare end?”
He walked to the exit door and threw it open, looking both ways before leaving. On the outside, he found a long hallway that went in two directions. Left and right. Left led to 10 doors, 5 on each side. The other way led to a stairway that went down to the lower floors.
The windows were boarded up, and the only thing he could see was bright white on the outside. He figured there was nothing out there, just another void, just like when he was dragged into Eden the first time to save Dr. Morris. Was he trapped again inside Eden? Or was this something else?
He made his way down the stairs with his gun drawn and at the bottom of the stairs he could see an old lady covered in a blue Farasha dress and a matching head dress.
“Hey… wait!” Sam said.
The woman did not stop; she simply continued away from Sam and the staircase. At the bottom lay double doors which were boarded shut with large planks and behind him led to another set of double doors that seemed a bit tilted sideways.
He followed her slowly making sure every step he took was calculated and every part of the floor would hold his weight. He had no idea what to expect on the other side of those double doors, but he knew that Eden was always full of surprises. He learned that too well back in Eastport. At that moment he realized that it really didn’t matter where he was, Eden would follow him.
He passed through the double doors and saw the woman sitting at an old piano. She played Fur Elise softly in the distance and around half way through she stopped and as she stopped Sam paused as well. She began playing again, and the sound of a church organ came out.
It was a very soft melody that repeated over and over. He knew he had heard it somewhere. Somewhere inside one of the Cyra temples from when he was just a boy.
The mellody continued and he felt at peace as long as it played. He came into the room with the masked woman and listened to her continue her impromptu concert. He listened and enjoyed every second of the music, and when she was done she looked down… and tears hit the piano keys.
Sam stood up to check on her as she stopped moving for quite some time and the tears continued to fall on the keys. When he got to her and reached out to put a hand on back to comfort her, as she did him, she simply disappeared and never returned. Where did she go?
Where did the woman who gave him so much comfort and safety go? She had abandoned him and left him all alone to be trapped within Eden all alone again. He knew he would wake up from the dream, but he wondered if the woman was ever real to begin with or if she was just the dream world playing tricks on his mind again.
He sat at the keys and attempted to play the mellody himself. The chords came out softly and simply. B Flat, F Sharp Flat, A, and E minor came softly from his hands. The notes came softly with a ghostly whisper and he felt relaxed for the first time in years. He continued to play the chords over and over with little arpeggio runs complimenting them and after what he perceived as an hour he stopped.
“That was beautiful…” A soft voice said behind him.
Sam turned to see a girl standing behind him. She was around 5’6, with medium length black hair with blue tips. She was around 25, slender, and very pretty with dark makeup. She was your typical goth girl, and for some reason he felt he had seen her before.
“Thanks…” he said.
“Did you write it?” She asked.
“I’m not sure. I just kind of let it come out naturally. Improvised really.”
“Yeah… Where am I?” Sam asked.
“Does that really matter?” She said.
“I’ve been here before. I know it’s called Eden, but I don’t know anything else about it. It’s the dream world. I already had one run in with this place before. This exact location too.”
“And what does that information give you? Does it bring you happiness or comfort? Comfort in knowing that this is all a dream?”
“Not really… Last time I was here it went a lot worse than it’s going right now. Last time I was dealing with hellscapes, giant black widow spiders, swarms of hornets the size of Saint Bernards. Whatever the fuck a Gloom is. It wasn’t exactly fun. I barely made it out then.”
“Well you don’t have to worry about those things anymore. That’s not the reason you are here.”
“Why am I here then?”
“To find peace… Peace within the darkness of your heart. The only way you will find inner peace and leave this place is if you find what you’ve been looking for here the entire time.”
“I came here looking for Dr. Morris. As far as I know he’s still in Eastport running his clinic.”
“Maybe it’s time you found yourself… but you have all the time in the world for that. Take care…”