New Website Domain Name Extensions – What’s In It For Authors?

Author Domain NamesMost people are familiar with the domain name extension “.com” (dot com) that ends the majority of websites. “Com” was meant to be short for commerce, but it really gets used as a catch-all for things that don’t belong in other web extensions like .gov, .edu or .org.

Bar Chart of Domains as of 13 Apr 2014

Bar Chart of Domain Extensions as of 13 Apr 2014

As you can see from the report I pulled from domaintools, the extension “.com” is currently the undisputed king of website name endings.  But that may change soon.

Since November 2013, new extensions are being released each month:  .today, .tips, .photo, .sexy, .vip, .lgbt, .cool, .ninja, .social, .love, and many more are already  available,  and there are more coming out each month.

Of interest to authors – .blog, .guru, .diy, .bio, .events, .how, .reviews, .expert and more are already available. These are coming soon: .fans, .new, .buy, and .free. In Jan of 2015, the extension .you becomes available. That should be interesting. And I’m sure we could make all kinds of interesting sites out of the ending “.ing”.  And there are many more soon to come…

…including .author. [Read more...]

2014 Writing Process Blog Tour

Fellow Minnesota Author Michael Merriam asked if I’d participate in a virtual blog tour about writing process. Actually, he told me if I didn’t do it, “terrible misfortune was certain to come my way! Very soon!”  

Fortunately, I know Michael is a liar. The man makes up stuff all the time. Good stuff. Check out Michael Merriam on Goodreads  if you don’t believe me.

But it sounds like fun to participate. (And why take a chance, right? I mean “terrible misfortune”? Yikes!) So here is some info about my current work and writing process:

What am I working on?

The Invisible Flying Pony Series

Those familiar with my horror-comedy short story, Pinky The Invisible Flying Pony Vs The Giant, Carnivorous, Poisonous, Exploding Spider-Leeches  will be thrilled to learn that there are more adventures of Payton and her B.I.F.F. (Best Invisible Flying Friend) coming soon! Their adventures with the Spider-Leeches  kick off a series of stories that ramp up the monster-factor till even H.P. Lovecraft himself would be proud.

Each of the short stories will stand alone, but the overarching series involves a global battle between The Shadow Government of the United States (complete with a Shadow President voted in by Shadow Constituents, natch) and a sinister occult group (is there another kind?) Alien Robot Zombie Dinosaurs! Ghostly Demonic Were-Vampires! Superpowers! Classic Rock! Squeezy Cheese! And more! Did I mention  illustrations? Shhhh….

Join the Cult of Zero mailing list to be notified about the horrific fun.


Lure is a short story that haunts me. I mean, it keeps me up at night. Not because it’s about a spooky lake-town called Hill City, MN. Not because the town really exists. Not because it’s about a fish that catches people. It haunts me because the damned story isn’t finished yet. The genre and tone are very similar to my first published story, Big Game.

The story starts with our hero, Shannon – a sports reporter who uses a cane to walk due to a spinal injury. Shannon is called to Hill City to manage the affairs of her father who has gone missing. When his fishing boat turns up covered in blood, Shannon puts her journalistic investigation skills to use. What she discovers will change herself and Hill City in ways too terrible to mention…

…but what fun is that? So I’m gonna mention it, and you’re gonna read it. Um, when it’s finished, that is.

Evil Looks Good

I’m also working on a novel called Evil Looks Good.  The story starts with your standard-issue good vs evil in the form of modern-day demons (the people-possessing kind) and the modern-day demonslayers who fight them in the modern-day shadows. But a new power is rising. Something so terrible that the demons actually turn to the demonslayers for help! What could be so bad that it makes demons and demonslayers consider working together? Is the enemy of my enemy my friend? You’ll be surprised.

More than just a novel of dark fiction, This story is outgrowing the confines of a novel, and it’s quickly becoming a multi-media event that I can’t wait to share with you.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

A Bachelor’s of Philosophy Degree gives one a… compelling perspective on life, the universe and everything. Cross that with a dry sense of humor (thanks, Dad) and a lust for the gothic (thanks Mom) and I think my story ideas and storytelling style are distinctive .

I try to write on the edge of genres where things are more interesting than the norm. I call my work Dark Fiction and not Horror. Horror is easy. It’s harder to write stories that can still scare without the excess gore and violence. It can be difficult to ride that line between brooding and bloody, but I enjoy reading things that frighten you much more once you realize what’s really going on, than those that hand you fear on a silver platter. The unique flavor is worth the extra effort to me as both as a reader and a writer.

Oh and Abra Staffin-Wiebe once called my writing as “coy as a virginal village maiden.” So there.

Why do I write what I do?

I previously answered the question Why Do Authors Auth?  but the short version is that writing is my happy place. It probably sounds absurd that anyone would consider impossible monsters, imminent death and the inevitable end of the world to be a happy place. But there you are. At least, that explains why I write, but why do I write what I do?

I’ve always had an interest in the paranormal. In middle school, I decided I was going to be a parapsychologist and read all I could on the subject. I distinctly remember the disturbed look I got from the county librarian when I checked out the entire 133.x section of the library. All thirteen books at once (both the limit of what one could check out at one time, and what would fit in my backpack.) ESP, psychokinesis, astral/ethereal travel, vision questing, the afterlife, ghosts, demons, possession, exorcism, etc… All of which make for great storytelling fuel.

How does my writing process work?

I read a lot of authors claiming to have THE ONE AND ONLY BEST WRITING PROCESS EV-AR. Yawn. I believe their process works for them, but none of their processes worked for me. It took me a long time before I finally realized that each author has to find a way that works best for themselves.  So I constantly analyze and dissect other writers’ processes. I try. I see. Through trial and error, I take what works for me, and throw out what doesn’t.  My current process goes more or less like this:

  • Ideas – I have more story ideas than I’ll ever be able to write. As ideas come to me (mostly while in the car) they tend to gestate in my brain, sometimes for years. I don’t usually write them down. If they are good ideas, they will stick around. If they keep coming back to me, and if they expand beyond a core concept, I’ll make a note in Evernote under Story Ideas.  Sometimes the idea expands into something more. I might actually open a word doc file and start writing a scene or two. When I actually decide to ‘work’ on a story, it graduates out of the idea process and this is the general iteration:
  • Chase the MuseMost of the time I don’t know what I’m going to write (or even which story I’m going to work on) till I get there.  I don’t have a goal, and I don’t count words. Some evenings are unproductive, but sometimes I’m up till 4AM and write a few thousand words, so it all averages out. At this level, I’m living with the characters, grammers n’ spellng be damned.
  • Check the Structure – I spend a lot of time  at the 20,000 foot view, looking at the big picture/plot/structure to see how things are laying into place. I might shift around or even delete large sections as the story takes shape. Sometimes I adjust the structure of the story to better fit what’s happening with the writing, and sometimes I adjust the writing to fit the structure of the story. I tend to use the Document Map feature of MS Word to keep an eye on this general outlining. I might actually work in Evernote or scratch paper for this part of the process. In the case of a novel, where there are lots of plot threads, I’ll import the project to y-writer and perform this “structure check” by printing out and reviewing/editing the actual story outline.
  • Tighten the Writing – As the sections ‘gel’ into place, I get more meticulous with word choice, voice, surroundings, transitions, etc. I’ll tighten sections of writing that are too long, or too loose, or add details to areas that are too plain, or break up dialog with narrative, etc. Show don’t tell, active not passive, etc.  This is also where I lose entire evening writing sessions to research of the strangest subjects. Author Tip: Delete that browser cache…
  • Repeat- I keep going over these last three steps, writing content, checking that the structure holds, and cut, cut, cut till the story bleeds.

When I think I’m actually finished, I’ll turn it over to crit group and peers for review/feedback. Then revise to what I call a rough draft. If I’m self-publishing I’ll start working with an editor towards a final draft. Or if I’m seeking traditional publication, I’ll start on the querying process.

Tag! You’re It!

Here are some fine, fellow authors I’m tagging to perpetuate this virtual blog tour. Check out their posts next week!

Author Lyda Morehouse

Author Lyda Morehouse

Lyda Morehouse

Lyda Morehouse leads a double-life.  By day, she’s a mild-mannered, award-winning science fiction writer and major otaku, but at night she dons a slinky nightie and writes best selling romance novels as Tate Hallaway.  Lyda has written five published  novels in her AngeLINK universe: Archangel Protocol (winner of the Shamus award for best new paperback of 2001), Fallen Host, Messiah Node, Apocalypse (winner of the second place Philip K. Dick) and Resurrection Code.

Tate, meanwhile, is far more prolific having written nine novels five in her Garnet Lacey Series (Tall, Dark & Dead, Dead Sexy, Romancing the Dead, Dead If I Do, and Honeymoon of the Dead), three in the Vampire Princess series (Almost to Die For, Almost Everything, and Almost Final Curtain), and Precinct 13.

Lyda Morehouse on Goodreads

Tate Hallaway at Goodreads

Author Jamie Schultz

Author Jamie Schultz

Jamie Schultz

Jamie Schultz is an author of dark fantasy and horror. He has worked as a rocket engine test engineer, an environmental consultant, a technical writer, and a construction worker, among other things. He lives in Dallas, Texas, having long since departed the frozen arctic tundra of Wisconsin where he grew up. His first trade published novel, Premonitions, is due out in July from Roc.

Jamie Schultz on Goodreads

Carole Lanham

Author Carole Lanham

Author Carole Lanham

Carole Lanham is the author of twenty-four short stories  and three books, The Whisper Jar (Morrigan Books, Oct 2011),  Cleopatra’s Needle (Black Daisy Press, coming in 2014),  and The Reading Lessons (Immortal Ink Publishing, Jan 2014).  Her work has twice appeared on the preliminary ballot  for a Bram Stoker award, she was short listed for The
Million Writers Prize, and she has won two national  writing contests.

Carole Lanham on Goodreads

What Is A Birthday Ungift?


Photo Credit    - Rebecca Selah

In addition to all other inalienable Birthday rights, I hereby add – The Birthday Purge and the Birthday Ungift.

  • Birthday Ungift (noun) – Something you give up on your birthday that makes you happy to have it out of your life.
  • Birthday Purge (verb) – The act or process of choosing and removing Birthday Ungifts from your life.

In addition to receiving gifts on your birthday, you are allowed to get rid of a thing you no longer want, without question, regardless of the value or source. That thing that you are giving back to the world is your Birthday Ungift. The process of ungifting it is called a Birthday Purge. [Read more...]

Snickers #MonsterSatisfaction Giveaway!

Godzilla + Snickers + Fandango + FREE!

In case you didn’t know, there’s a new Godzilla movie being released on May 16th 2014! Yes, the Heavyweight King of the Kaiju is back! No doubt, Godzilla will  go for an afternoon stroll through some city, leaving a swath of destruction in his wake. (Including a train. There’s always a train. Can you have a Godzilla movie without a train? Apparently not.)

To help promote the new Godzilla movie, the folks at Snickers Brand have given  me a prize pack to give away! Some lucky person out there is going to win Five Free Snickers Bars and a $15 Fandango gift card! [Read more...]

New Tips For Making The Best Password Ever

Best_Password_EverOne of the most popular posts on this website about DARK FICTION is my method on  How To Make The Best Password Ever.  (Go figure.) But a  lot has changed since I posted that back in 2011, and I thought I would share how I’ve recently improved this method to both increase my online security and make it easier to manage.
[Read more...]

Bridging The Author / Audience Gap

Mind The GapThe Gap Between “What The Author Meant” And “What The Audience Got”

Recently, I attended/recorded a live reading by Minnesota author William Alexander at  Dreamhaven Books. William read/acted out a section of his latest book, Ghoulish Song. William has professional theater training and experience, and if there was any doubt about this, it was resolved by his live performance, which was glorious.

The section he read describes when the protagonist, Ailie, gets separated from her own shadow and has a discussion with it. The shadow spoke in hushed tones that gave me goosebumps as William read them aloud.

I purchased a copy of Ghoulish Song  from William and took it home.  While reading the story, I came across the part that William had performed. As I read it to myself, I realized that William’s reading was quite different from my own. His tone was dark and disturbing, while my own interpretation was subtle, almost bland. I was interpreting it as a kids book, and not as a scary book.

There was a definite difference between what William was thinking when he wrote it, and what I got from it when I read it. I’m not sure if there’s already a name for this difference, so I’ll simply call it The Gap.

Mind The Gap

There will always be a difference between the author’s intention while writing the book and the actual picture created in the readers’ minds while reading the book. This is bigger than just the audience and authors of written works. It’s an inherent side effect of the way the world works, and how we communicate.   [Read more...]

Is That All? 2013 in review

2013_The_Year_In_Review_1040x4002013 was an altogether odd year. Keep in mind that we weren’t even supposed to HAVE a 2013. The world was supposed to end on 21 Dec 2012, and… well, it didn’t.  Kinda like that old roommate of yours from college who dropped by to stay “for a couple days” and now he’s been living with you for several months…. Yeah, it’s kinda like that. No one really knew what to do with this bonus year, and I can safely say that few people made the most of it.

So what exactly did we do with our bonus year? [Read more...]

What Is Speculative Fiction?

What Is Speculative FictionThe Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group (aka MNSpec) occasionally does some public events, such as the 2013 Speculative Fiction Writers Showcase  which I hosted at Acadia last month. Whenever we show up in public, the question always comes up:

What is Speculative Fiction?

For the record, no one has ever asked me to explain the categories of Fantasy or Science Fiction. Most people learn at an early age that if a story has dragons in it, then it goes in the fantasy section, and if it has time travel in it, then it goes in the science fiction section. But then someone came up with time-travelling dragons and pitched a spanner in the works. Imagine the poor librarian, trying to decide where to put a book about cybernetic fairies, or spaceships powered by dwarven runes! [Read more...]

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – FINISHED!

14 November, 2011

I purchased Skyrim, the fifth game in Bethesda’s ‘The Elder Scrolls’ series. The previous game in the series was called Oblivion. After playing Oblivion all the way through, I had no hesitation dropping $60 to pick up Skyrim.

27 November, 2013


You read that right. 100% of all achievements completed!

After two years of playing this game, (only interrupted by occasional bouts of Mass Effect and Dragon Age,) and 376 hours  of gameplay, I can safely say that I’ve “Finished” Skyrim. I backed up the 1,195 saved games and uninstalled the game client. Done. Moving on. [Read more...]

5 Frustrations with Google HOA (Hangouts On Air)

From Audio Podcast to Video Bliss (Almost)

For a few years, I recorded and edited the podcast for the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group. I would record our monthly writers’ discussions on a Zoom H4n, then dump the sound file into Sonar, add a voiceover intro/outro (some intros were provided by fellow MNSpec authoress, Abra Staffin-Wiebe) then export to wav, import to Adobe Audition, trim the ends, convert to mp3, tag and upload.

Check out the results for yourself here: Listing of all the MNSpec Writers Group Podcasts.

Now even someone who sucks at math could tell you this process was high-maintenance. It took two to three hours of post-production for each hour of finished audio. For all of the TENS of fans who listened to the podcast.


Then I discovered Google’s “Hangouts On Air” (or #HOA ) HOA is a feature that allows you to stream a Google Hangout video chat LIVE on google plus, and auto-post to when the chat is completed. So instead of hours of audio post-production, I figured I could switch to HOA, stream the meetup in a video hangout, which not only added the freakin’ video, but also gave our group the ability to remote-in to the writers’ group meetup, plus the presto-uploaded youtube video with all it’s sharing/commenting/analytic-tracking glory, and all with NO post-production.

Sheer. Genius.  Or so I thought. [Read more...]