You are viewing markgunnells

Previous 10

Oct. 19th, 2014

That Time of Year Again!

October...my favorite time of year! Autumn just seems to have a special magic in the air that all other seasons lack. The crispness in the air, the blazing leaves that rain down to blanket the ground, the crackling sound of those leaves as feet shuffle through them or the wind sends them scuttling along pavement. It's just a beautiful time of year.

And then of course there's HALLOWEEN! For a horror writer, I of course love the dark spooky pleasures of the holiday, but my love of All Hallow's Eve dates back to well before I was ever writing. I was one of those kids that grew up on horror movies, and I loved seeing all the decorations and the costumes come Halloween. The candy was just a bonus, the eerie atmosphere and the way the public embraced all things horror for at least one night were the real draw for me.

And I've never lost that love of Halloween. In some ways I feel the public has fallen out of love with the holiday. I see less decorations each year, not as many trick-or-treaters, churches trying to divert attention away from the more horror-oriented elements of the night. And this makes me sad...but does not dampen my enjoyment of the time of year.

And I still celebrate the holiday in my own way. Each October there are certain horror films I must watch--Halloween (original only baby!), Halloween II, H20, Trick r Treat, Pumpkinhead, The Blair Witch Project, Sleepyhollow. I try to read Halloween-themed fiction during the month.

And every year I write Halloween-themed stories. Some years it's only one or two, other years as many as five or six. This year I hope to get four Halloween-themed tales completed before Halloween night. I just find it so much fun, and it delights me in a way that touches that child that still exists in me.

As a published author, it also delights me that I've managed to put out a handful of Halloween-themed books. There is DARK TREATS, from Gallow's Press, that collects 5 of my Halloween short stories. They vary in tone and plot, one of them not even being horror in the strictest sense, but they all revolve around Halloween and celebrate the holiday.

Dark Treats

I also have OCTOBER ROSES, from Bad Moon Books, which is a novella set at a college campus around Halloween, about a student who starts to fear she has been possessed by the spirit of a deceased serial killer who is taking control of her body while she sleeps. I have an affinity for college campus horrors, so getting to combine that with my love of Halloween was a joy.

October Roses

In some ways I'm still a kid and hope I always will be. Halloween, I think, will continue to be my favorite time of year, and I will probably continue to write Halloween tales every October. Who knows, another collection could be in the works.

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Treats-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00EUIFBM0/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_19?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413734700&sr=1-19

http://www.amazon.com/October-Roses-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00A2ET2N0/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413734755&sr=1-8

Oct. 7th, 2014

LIGHTS OUT-Illustration for "The Trick-or-Treaters"

This is the illustration for October in the 2010 Sideshow Press calendar. Tom Moran is the artist. This one inspired a Halloween piece entitled "The Trick-or-Treaters."

October

LIGHTS OUT can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Lights-Out-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00I17EBE0/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_28?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412721371&sr=1-28

Sep. 28th, 2014

And That's Just the Way it Goes

This little blog entry is going to be about endings.

I have one particular book (I'm not going to name names, and try to be vague, as I don't want to ruin the ending of any particular book for future potential readers) where I've had a lot of criticism of the ending. Most of these people say they enjoyed the book and that they understand why it had to end the way it did...but they still don't like it. Because it's not the happily ever after they were hoping for.

Thing is, I don't think it's an UNhappy ending at all. In fact, I consider it a happy ending...it just isn't the perfect ending where the music swells and the couple rides off into the sunset to live together in bliss forever and ever.

Oddly, when I originally conceived of that story, I was planning a more traditional happily ever after, but once I got into the writing of the tale, it just became obvious that wouldn't work, that the story was taking me in a different direction. Now I could have went ahead and forced in that happily ever after...but it would have felt like exactly that. Forced. False.

I am a big believer that the story dictates its direction, not the author. The author that ignores the demands of the story does so at his or her own peril. All other considerations are of lesser importance. That's why when I write I try to be very attentive to the story, listening to it.

Now that might sound crazy, and it's hard to explain because I honestly don't fully understand it myself. But while I go in with a plan, a blueprint, I always leave myself open to change that blueprint when the story starts revealing itself to me, perhaps showing me vistas I hadn't imagined at the onset.

And that includes the ending. Sometimes a story ends exactly as I had thought it would when I started it, but sometimes the story takes me some place I had never conceived, and my job isn't trying to steer it back the way I originally thought it should go, but instead to follow the new path.

And sometimes that isn't what the readers were expecting, and sometimes this could upset them. I understand and respect that, but ultimately I am a slave to the story, not the reader. After all, if all stories ended the way readers expected, there would almost be no reason to read them.

Sep. 14th, 2014

A Rose By Any Other Name...

As a reader, I don't give much thought to labels. Horror and fantasy are my favorite genres, but I'll read a book of any genre as long as it sounds like an interesting story. And I've read a ton of books that are labeled "YA", and my young adult days are a bit behind me. But I've read a lot of stuff that is supposedly YA--the Potter books, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, some of the work by Clive Barker--that I think is wholly satisfying and while these stories are appropriate for younger readers, I don't feel they are necessarily just FOR younger readers.

Because I don't give much thought to labels while reading, I honestly don't give much thought to labels while writing. Again, horror and fantasy are my favorite genres to explore, but if I have an idea that doesn't fit into those categories, I don't hesitate. And usually while writing, I am not even thinking about what genre I may be writing in. I'm just telling a story, that's what I do, and categories can start to seem quite arbitrary. I'm not concerned with writing a horror story, or a sci fi story, or a comedic story, or a romantic story...I'm not really thinking about what audience this story might appeal to...I just want to write a good story.

To go back to the subject of YA, since I have no problem reading and enjoying YA novels, I would not have any problem writing a book considered YA. And apparently I have written one and didn't even know it.

A couple of months ago my newest novel was released, OUTCAST, part of the JournalStone DoubleDown series. Fellow author John R. Little and I both started with a single prologue, one that was intriguing and mysterious and just ambiguous enough that it could be the jumping off point for any number of stories. Then without discussing it, we went off and each wrote our own stories based on that prologue. John came up with a novella, SECRETS, that is intense and violent and also emotional. I came up with OUTCAST.

As typical when writing, I wasn't thinking much about genre or audience, I just had a story I wanted to tell and was excited to tell it. The reviews that have come in so far have been primarily positive, which is gratifying, but much to my surprise the majority of them have classified my novel as "YA." It never occurred to me while writing the piece, and even now I am not sure what causes people to identify it as such.

It does take place at a college and its main characters are mostly young college students, but this isn't the first time I've written stories where that is the case. THE QUARRY and OCTOBER ROSES both take place at colleges with students as the main characters, and neither of those were ever identified as YA. I think what perhaps lends this one more of a YA feel is that the language isn't as harsh as I've sometimes used because it just didn't feel appropriate here, and the violence isn't quite as drastic or grisly, though there is violence here. But does that mean an "adult" novel has to have harsh language and violence?

The YA label doesn't bother me, even though I feel it is rather arbitrary, in and of itself, but then in at least one review it was suggested that because of its YA nature, the book would probably mostly appeal to young college-aged women. Now this one did give me pause.

I've written many horror novels where the main characters are gay, and I've been very pleased that none of the reviews I've gotten have suggested only gay people would enjoy them. So why would the one book I've written with a young college-aged woman as the main character mostly just appeal to young college-aged women?

So it made me wonder, am I unusual as a reader in that genre doesn't concern me, and I find a lot of YA books are actually adult books that can also be enjoyed by younger readers? Does the YA label keep some readers away, assuming it isn't for them?

In the end, I have little control over these sorts of things. I can muse on them, but ultimately I just do what I always do--write the best story I know how and hope those that do take a chance on it will enjoy the tale and be entertained by it.

So is OUTCAST YA? Well, I do think it is appropriate for younger readers, but I mostly think it's just an interesting and entertaining story. So I hope people will give it a chance regardless.

After all, a rose by any other name...

Sep. 4th, 2014

Finding Me Again

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. Sure, I went through the usual phases where kids flit from one thing to another, constantly changing their minds about what they want to be when they grow up. An artist, a scientist, a botanist, but when I was about ten I discovered storytelling, and that was it for me. In junior high, I wrote a lot of really bad teen-angst poetry, as well as some embarrassing “hippie” poetry where I expressed my feelings on everything from the Vietnam War (long over and done with) to gang warfare. In high school, I got really serious about fiction again, and at the end of my senior year I even penned my first novel (which will never see the light of day).

However, it was in college that I feel my writing truly started to flourish. Perhaps it was the atmosphere at Limestone College, the encouragement and accolades I got from faculty, but for the first time I truly felt like a real writer. And I was always writing. It’s almost inconceivable to me now because it feels there are never enough hours in the day to get done even half the things I feel I need to, but in college I was serious about my studies, always did my school work, made time for friends and a social life…and still always had some writing project on the go. I was editor of the literary magazine, won school awards for my writing each year. I didn’t think about it much, but I just had a certain confidence that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and I was absolutely loving it! I was known around campus as “the writer.” Even people who didn’t really know me knew that about me. It was a prolific period, and one in which I totally believed in myself and my ability as a writer.

Then I graduated.

Went out into the real world, got a stressful job in the human services field, started dodging the landmines (and sometimes stepping on them) of relationships…and I started to lose sight of myself. Particularly of the writer in me. I suddenly barely had time for it, and when I did have time I found I didn’t have the energy or the motivation. Work in particular was really sapping me of the energy I needed to pursue it, and after a couple of years I found that I just didn’t write anymore.

What’s more, as unbelievable as it would have been to College Me, I looked at writing as a childish dream that by necessity I needed to toss out with old He-Man action figures and stuffed animals. Every now and then I’d feel that twinge, get an idea that seemed it would make a perfect story, but I just turned away from it. I was utterly lost during that period of my life, adrift, and I truly don’t think I knew who I was anymore.

Then the best thing that could have possibly happened to me happened. I got fired. I ended up taking a 3rd shift job as a security guard to pay the bills. All night shifts where nothing much was happening and I had ample time to kill.

And I started feeling that itch again, the storyteller in me reawakening after a long slumber. I bought this old laptop used out of the paper and tentatively started writing again. And before long I was writing two or three stories a night. I suddenly felt alive again, I felt like ME again. And I realized this was in fact who I was, without the writing I wasn’t fully myself. I was hollow, a shell.

Today I am still working as a guard, though now on first shift, in a wonderful relationship with a man who is the very definition of support, and I’ve managed to get several books published in the small press. Reconnecting in the last few years on Facebook with people I knew in college, they all say they aren’t surprised I’m writing and publishing because when they knew me back then it seemed obvious that I could do nothing else. And that makes me smile, because of those years when I totally lost sight of that. I’m happy to be back.

I’m happy to be myself again.

Sep. 3rd, 2014

LIGHTS OUT-Illustration for "Vamp for Pay"

This is the illustration for September in the 2010 Sideshow Press calendar. Tony Karnes is the artist. This one inspired a fun, cool little piece of vampire flash fiction that I really enjoyed.

September

LIGHTS OUT can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Lights-Out-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00I17EBE0/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_26?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409791395&sr=1-26

Aug. 14th, 2014

LIGHTS OUT-Illustration for "Missing"

This is the illustration for August in the 2010 Sideshow Press calendar. Tom Moran is the artist. I used it as the inspiration for my short story "Missing", part of my LIGHTS OUT collection. With "Missing," I was attempting to divert expectations a bit.

August

LIGHTS OUT can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Lights-Out-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00I17EBE0/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_25?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408060015&sr=1-25

Jul. 22nd, 2014

The Locks Part 2

Here is the second and final installment of "The Locks", the short story I co-wrote with Benjamin Kane Ethridge. The first installment can be found on his blog: http://www.bkethridge.com/wordpress/locked-room-misery/the-locks-part-1/

The landscape had changed. A bone white polished surfaced stretched farther than his eyes could have possible seen. And there were black doors staggered everywhere. They stood upright, held by invisible frames. It was such a surreal display that Edwin checked his skull, thinking perhaps he’d hit his head when he fell off the wastebasket and only remembered the weird plateau outside from brain trauma. But he wasn’t hurt. And what he’d seen, he had a feeling was still there, just from the radiant glow from the window above. That brightness was the moonlight playing off the ghostly white floor.

He dragged the wastebasket back over to the door and slowly stepped up again. It was just as he thought. The endless field of doors was real. He scanned everywhere and noticed each door had an enormous padlock hanging from its handle. The metal was dull compared to the glossy floor beneath, but from the closest door he could tell the locks were engraved with ornate designs and large keyhole mouths opened in their centers.

“What is this shit?” His heart thundered.

He glanced down, about to step off the wastebasket, when he noticed the bathroom door had one of the same alien padlocks hanging there now. It hadn’t been there a moment ago.

Just on the other side of the door someone whispered, “It wants to see…”

“Hello?” Edwin said. “Hey! Can you—get me out of here?”

There was no answer.

“Vicki?”

Silence.

He glanced down at the lock. Examining it further he noticed a small six inch dagger hanging from a hook on the side. Edwin pulled it up and watched the moonlight from outside play off the silver surface. Another examination below revealed the lock had a small porcelain plate the size of a dime resting at its base. He prodded an opening above the plate with the knife, thinking perhaps it was some sort of key. He didn’t expect anything to happen and his expectation proved correct.

Another once over of the lock, he noticed at the top of its brass arrangement of flames and starburst designs was a tear-shaped ruby. He ran his thumb over it and admired the penetrating dark burgundy color of the gem, like crystallized blood.

“It wants to see…”

Edwin whipped around and checked the stalls. He quickly took a knee and put his face sideways to the ground. There were no feet under any of the stalls.

“Come out,” he shouted, picking himself up. “I don’t need this crap.” He went to all three stalls and kicked the doors open.

Nobody.

Vicki could be cruel, but this cruel though? No. He didn’t, he couldn’t think that way.

Edwin stormed back to the door and pulled on the padlock. “—is this shit? Open the hell up! This is stupid! Whoever’s doing this—I’m gonna fuck you up! Hear me? My father’s a marine and he thought me everything he goddamn knows! I will make you hurt, I shit you not!”

A silent beat passed and he kicked the door. The lock lifted and smacked down on the wood with a thick bass sound.

He covered his face with his hands and realized he still had the dagger. In frustration he studied it and dropped it to the side of his leg, bouncing it nervously against his knee. He thought about lifting the door’s hinges but the blade wasn’t strong enough. It would likely just get stuck or snap. Anger built in him. He’d been working on controlling his impulses with the therapist, but here in this bizarre situation he felt entitled to embracing it. Plus, it wasn’t directed at Vicki’s meanness and controlling ways—it was all about the lock. The lock! He deserved to be fucking angry and want to stab someone for locking him in this weird place and kidnapping Vicki, if that’s what happened.

He appreciated the dagger’s sharp edge and shook his head. He could never really stab anyone—see their blood spill out over his hand. He lowered his eyes and fixed on the blood gem and then the small porcelain plate at the base of the lock. A dark realization formed.

“No friggin way. Crazy time here,” he muttered. The indentation in the plate was smaller than a dime and wouldn’t hold that much blood.

Edwin had been a serious cutter in high school during his dad’s worst PTSD times, when he thought there was no escaping the nightly screaming madness, and had no idea his dad would someday heal. So he didn’t flinch about what needed doing—he’d been here before. He placed the blade over the top of his hand and pulled back, making a semi-deep slice. The blood ebbed out and curled down to his fingers and he pressed them together to direct the flow onto the plate. The small indentation filled up with drops that soon expanded into a tiny puddle.

The lock rattled and bucked—then fell open, the heavy top portion dropping to the ground. Edwin squeezed his hand to stop the blood flow. After a moment he took his hand away from the wound, grasped the handle and opened the door.

Stepped out to the field of white.

“It wants to see…” said a voice.

He wheeled around to the empty bathroom. After a moment’s consideration, he slammed shut the door and slid the bolt lock in place. “Fuck whoever you are,” he whispered and turned back around. Doors. So many doors. So many locks. He stumbled from one to another and realized these locks had identical adornments at the top. It wasn’t the blood-drop gem any longer. This was a polished bone shaped diamond.

“No way,” he breathed.

Edwin didn’t know what to do, but hoped he’d end up in a place that made more sense, so he took off running. He went non-stop for ten minutes before his sides started cramping. His surroundings were exactly the same though: white polished terrain and countless doors trapped in empty space. And those locks. All the same. “No, no, no.” He sat down on the slippery cool white floor. “No,” he said again.

He closed his eyes and meditated. His dad had taught him the technique. The moon was still out when he awoke, bright and lighting everything. He got up, wincing at the throbbing cut on his hand and wandered around, checking locks to see if any were able to be pulled open. Every door and every lock was the same. This nightmare wouldn’t end.

A hand caressed the small of his back.

It wants to see.

He jerked around. Nobody stood behind him but he caught sight of a woman entering a door a few feet behind a collection of four others.

“Vicki, wait!” he cried and sprinted for her. The door closed and the lock leapt up and clicked shut. When he got there he beat his fists against the door and screamed her name again and again until his ears rang and his throat went hoarse. He closed his eyes to think, to awaken from this nightmare.

When he opened his eyes, he stared at the bone shaped diamond in the lock. His gaze fell away and rested on the small serrated dagger hanging there. Edwin reached out and pulled it free. He examined the teeth on the edge of the blade. Then he turned his hand over and looked at his fingers. The creases where they bent seemed to imply an outline for dissection, and he shivered at the idea. He’d known these fingers his whole life, seen them grow and used them every day for countless things. They were him. If he mutilated himself, what would come next? What would the locks need next?

A frigid wind lifted around him. He shuddered. His father had taught him the importance of sacrificing for what you loved, and Vicki was hopefully behind this door. But for how long would that be? He was standing around debating and she could get farther away.

Edwin put the teeth of the blade at the bending point of his left pinkie. It seemed the least damaging place to do it, but his stomach turned nevertheless.

He took a knee and pressed his pinkie against it. Going fast would be better, he assumed. Maybe that was true but it was still more painful than he could imagine. The blade was exceptionally sharp however and went through the bone easily. He bled but was surprised by how little the flow was compared to what he’d seen cutting deep as a young person. He applied pressure with his thumb, but knew it wasn’t enough.

It took about fifteen minutes in total to sever the end of his pinkie. When it was off, he placed it, sobbing and mumbling in the dish beneath the lock.

Through his pain and attempts to squeeze the wound, he didn’t notice immediately that the lock had not opened. His dizziness claimed him a second and he staggered back. No way in hell did I just do that for nothing!

Blood kept spilling forth, he put his severed digit under his knee to press it. He thought about making a tourniquet of his shirt but needed two hands to rip it and he wasn’t going to be able to pull that feat off. Then he remembered the necklace Vicki had gotten him when they broke up right before getting married. She’d essentially wanted him to give up his family for her—to prove she was worth more than anybody else. He’d fought back on that hard, and she’d made him pay for it emotionally ever since.

It was a New York Jets necklace because Edwin followed them sometimes, even though he wasn’t much into sports. It was his dad’s favorite team, and Vicki had known that. Edwin hadn’t seen his father in over a year, because she said she didn’t like his politics or how he smoked cigars in the house. But it was probably more that he was a free spirit and Vicki couldn’t stand how he influenced his son.

Edwin grunted and pulled the necklace off. He lifted his knee and was happy to see the blood only dripped out rather than jetted. He wrapped the silver chain just under the severing until there was an intense pressure and the flesh turned purple. He then did his best to tie off the necklace so it would do its job to stave off the bleeding.

His mind actually cleared a little after this and he returned to the dish. He picked up the piece of pinkie and considered where he’d done wrong. This thing wanted a bone, but this body part was still covered in flesh.

A wave of nausea held him a moment. He stooped and picked up the serrated knife from where he’d dropped it. Edwin then began the sickening task of removing the flesh and fingernail from the pinkie finger. He tried to think of it in the most abstract sense, but every now and then he’d remember this is my finger and he’d retch.

He got most of the flesh off the bone. He hoped it was enough. Then he dropped it on the dish.

The lock fell off and the door swished open.

Vicki stood there, waiting for him, tears in her red, swollen eyes.

He ran to her and she embraced him. It wasn’t his style, it wasn’t something he even remembered doing as a child with his mother (how he missed visiting her as well, even though they butted heads a lot), but he wept into his wife’s shoulder and it took a very long time to get control of himself.

“I was so scared I’d never see you again,” she told him.

“Me too, me too,” he managed and wiped his dripping nose on his sleeve.

“I don’t understand where we’ve gone.”

“Makes two of us.”

He searched out the nearest door. His eyes traveled to the lock. The gem was many shades of red, and heart shaped.

A devastating looking, three foot long saw hung from the side of the lock.

Edwin glanced at Vicki and could tell she detected the pain in his eyes, but rather than soothe him, she did what she always did. Her face darkened and judgment surfaced.

“Get us out of here, Edwin.”

He swallowed and tried to answer, but failed.

“I want to see what’s there,” she said firmly and her eyes doubled down with an unspoken threat. “Unlock that door. Show me…. Show me now. I want to see.”

THE END

If you want to read a longer collaboration from myself and Benjamin, please check out our mystery/horror novella LOCKED ROOM MISERY. http://www.amazon.com/Locked-Room-Misery-Benjamin-Ethridge-ebook/dp/B00L8BXD7W/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406112161&sr=1-3

Locked Room

Jul. 12th, 2014

LIGHTS OUT-Illustration for "The Castle in the Woods"

This is the illustration for July in the 2010 Sideshow Press calendar. Tony Karnes is the artist. I used it as the inspiration for my short story "The Castle in the Woods", part of my LIGHTS OUT collection. The tale is my attempt at a rather gothic ghost story.

July

LIGHTS OUT can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Lights-Out-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00I17EBE0/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_24?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405198683&sr=1-24

Jul. 5th, 2014

Guest Blog by Lee Thompson

A Beautiful Madness novel cover (2) (402x640)

A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY

A Texas Senator and his wife go missing… On the same day, their son is slaughtered by an enigmatic killer on the lawn of ex-Governor Edward Wood's residence. Sammy, Wood's drug dealing son, suspects his father of the crime. After all, his old man snapped once before and crippled his wife with a lead pipe. But there's something more to these events…something deeper and festering just beneath the surface…

In direct opposition to Homicide Detective Jim Thompson, Sammy begins an investigation of his own, searching for the truth in a labyrinth of lies, deception, depravity and violence that drags him deeper into darkness and mayhem with each step. And in doing so, brings them all into the sights of an elusive and horrifying killer who may not be what he seems.

A brutal killer on a rampage of carnage…a hardened detective on the brink…an antihero from the shadows…a terrifying mystery that could destroy them all…

Welcome to Lee Thompson’s A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS blog tour! This blog, and the others participating, will receive a paperback copy to give to a random reader who leaves a comment and shares this post.

Throughout the book tour, I’ll be sharing fun facts about my first Mystery/Thriller, and also offering dubious advice to novice writers because I’ve had writers and editors farther along the path than myself give me tips that have helped me tremendously. If you want to up your game, pay attention and pass what you find useful on to those in your critique groups.

If you’re here as a reader, thanks so much. You’re every author’s life source. You’re the yin to our yang. The stories we set down on paper don’t seem to exist until someone else has read them, and the more the merrier.

Handling Rejection

In the eight years I’d pitched short stories and my first novel, I was rejected thousands of times. But as soon as a story came back to me unloved, I’d send it right to another market.

I believe that it’s only through a shift in attitude, acceptance, and repetition, for rejection to no longer bother us.
Until you hit a certain point you’re going to get rejected more than accepted. But the good news is that if you keep working at your craft and learning from your heroes, it won’t last forever. The acceptances will come. You’ll find your audience.

Accept that rejection is part of the process and accept you’re going to fail, repeatedly, at the outset, as you hone your craft, figure out which stories you want to tell and which are commercial, and as you take the time to study the markets to see where this or that story fits the best.

The more frequently we experience something—when your rejections climb into the hundreds—they’ll begin to lose their sting. Sadly, once you hit a point where you can sell everything you write, there’s also a lessening of intensity and a familiarity that never quite matches the thrill your first few novels gave you in terms of validation. Not that the book sales and letters from fans and the latest reviews aren’t sweet, they are. But as success takes the place of what feels like failure you’ll find you have new obligations and responsibilities. So enjoy every bit of success you have as it comes along, take time to savor it (something I’m still trying to learn to do more.)

In A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS, my protagonist Sammy is no stranger to rejection or failure. But he has the stubbornness it takes to keep at his story goal despite opposition and pressure from a killer; the feds about to dig into his history and therefore bringing his illegal activities into the light; his little sister sending a brawler after him because she’s stolen something from Sammy and thinks he’s the one after her; he has a duo called the Cocaine Cowboys wanting to take the business he’s built, and the drug he’s manufactured for the upper crust, and move it through their channels of strip clubs and dive bars all across the country.

His odds, like anyone who feels they have too much on their plate and not enough time to complete their objective, seem slim. But he doesn’t give up. He adapts and makes mistakes and learns and pushes forward despite the disappointments, the setbacks, and the cuts and the bruises. When something matters enough to us, we’ll face death or move the world to resolve things. Sammy has that. But he makes lots of mistakes. Just like me, just like you. And like us, it’s from picking himself up which propels him to the most enlightening moments of his life.

Buy on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Madness-Lee-Thompson-ebook/dp/B00K36ITGS/

Buy the Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/A-Beautiful-Madness-Lee-Thompson/dp/1940544297/

Author bio: Lee Thompson is the author of the Suspense novels A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS (August 2014), IT’S ONLY DEATH (January 2015), and WITH FURY IN HAND (May 2015). The dominating threads weaved throughout his work are love, loss, and learning how to live again. A firm believer in the enduring power of the human spirit, Lee believes that stories, no matter their format, set us on the path of transformation. He is represented by the extraordinary Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary. Visit Lee’s website to discover more: www.leethompsonfiction.com

A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS main page (http://www.leethompsonfiction.com/?page_id=2423)

Enter to win a paperback copy! There will also be a grand prize at the end of the tour where one winner will receive my novel, and four other DarkFuse novels in Kindle format!

Simply leave a comment on this blog and share the link.

Thanks to those who participate.

Happy reading~ Lee

Me and Austin

Previous 10