Tag Archives: the writing life


While Titan Books prepares SHERLOCK HOLMES VS. CTHULHU: THE ADVENTURE OF THE DEADLY DIMENSIONS for July 11, 2017 publication, I’m putting the finishing touches on the second novel in the series, THE ADVENTURE OF THE NEURAL PSYCHOSES.

As soon as I finish editing and polishing the second novel, I’ll write a couple of short stories, then turn my attention to the third novel in the SHERLOCK HOLMES series.

It’ll be interesting to see the book cover for the second novel. Titan revised my book cover at the last minute to what you see on this page. Notice (this is a teaser) the machine, the eye, the magnifying lens, and the tentacles.

Available for PRE-ORDER now! (click here)



I’ll be at three conventions in September.  Please stop by, chat, and get your books signed!

As soon as I have my schedules, I’ll post them on my website and blog.

DragonCon is always trippy, with 65,000 people or so attending. It’s one of my favorites. I love the costumes, shows, parade, masquerade, music, and panels: i.e., everything

Alicia Lurye always does a fabulous job at organizing and running Roc-Con, which attracts 3-5,000 people. Last year, I got to hang out with Brent Spiner: Data from TNG! This year, Alicia’s bringing in Lou Ferrigno, The Incredible Hulk. I hung out with him once before, way back in 2000 at the Grand Slam Star Trek Convention in CA. Returning again this year is J.G. Hertzler, General Martok from DS9 – he’s a GREAT guy & loads of fun! 

This will be my first time as a Programming Guest at BoucherCon World Mystery Convention. Heather Graham, who is SUPER, is bringing in Harlan Coben, R.L. Stine, and David Morell, among others. 

PHOTOS & FUN STUFF! Click here to read all the dirt about me and see some cool photos.

Malice Domestic – this weekend!

I’ll be at MALICE DOMESTIC (Bethesda, MD) this weekend. My panel is SHERLOCK LIVES! (Sunday, May 1, 10-11 am) with John Betancourt (moderator), Lois H. Gresh, Laurie R. King, Bonnie MacBird, and Michael Robertson. I’m psyched to be on a Holmes panel with Laurie R. King – wow! We also have a signing on Sunday at 11 am, directly following the panel.


Holmes_forweb Earlier this week, I finished writing the draft of SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE ADVENTURE OF THE DEADLY DIMENSIONS for Titan Books. I wrote the novel in 6 months. In manuscript form, it’s 511 pages and 104,000 words. 

I now must edit the manuscript before turning it into my “real” editor at Titan. 

Most of my friends don’t understand what this means. 

The term, editing, does not mean a mere checking of spelling and grammar. Sure, if I see proofreading-type errors, I’ll fix them. But what I’m looking for during my editing phase are bigger problems: inconsistencies, redundancies, stilted dialogue, weakening of tone or voice, balance of style, coherent logic, character development, lack of tension, wrapping up of any loose ends, overused words or phrases, BALANCE (worth repeating).

SH_webHow do I explain what I do to my friends, who are not writers? First of all, most of them never ask me about the writing process. They assume that the writer bangs something out, voila, it’s perfect and ready to go, and magically, a publisher comes along and prints it. Anyone can be a writer: anyone. They assume that the publishing house’s editor does all the editing – !

Ask any professional writer if it’s wise to submit a manuscript that requires a huge amount of editing by the “real” editor, and here’s what he or she will tell you: never do it! 

SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE ADVENTURE OF THE DEADLY DIMENSIONS is my 30th book, and I’ve also published 65+ stories. In addition, I’ve written 200+ technical manuals and 100+ medical and scientific newsletters, as well as 50+ science articles. I’ve edited two short story anthologies in the past couple of years. For 20 years, I was a manager of technical documentation, training, and systems analysis. 

This doesn’t make me a god of writing or editing. It does mean that I have a bit of experience. 

Trust me, you do not want to submit a manuscript to a professional editor unless you’ve edited it yourself. 

Holmes1With SHERLOCK HOLMES, I’m reviewing my manuscript to make sure that my Holmes and Watson (and various other characters) conform to Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon. I must make sure that my scientific speculation is true to the time period in which I write. I must add something new and vigorous to the canon without contradicting it. 

Given that SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE ADVENTURE OF THE DEADLY DIMENSIONS has a Lovecraftian/weird twist, I must make sure that my Holmes remains true to character while dealing with something extremely odd. 

I typically ground my tales in science. Even if I don’t divulge the scientific (or otherwise factual) underpinnings, a story must make sense to me, or I can’t write it. Sometimes, I do go off on flights of fancy, and venture into the purely supernatural/metaphysical realm; but this is rare. I’m typically jumping off from fact into fiction. 

So in my first SHERLOCK HOLMES novel, you might think I’m in a purely supernatural/metaphysical realm, but I’m not. And my Holmes knows that I’m grounded somewhere in science, too. 

SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE ADVENTURE OF THE DEADLY DIMENSIONS is the first novel in a trilogy that I’m writing for Titan Books. While my editor and I hash through book #1, I’ll be researching, outlining, and writing book #2. Busy times ahead! 

In all honesty, I’ve never had this much fun. I’m completely obsessed with SHERLOCK HOLMES, and nothing makes me happier than writing these novels.

It reminds me of the time I got to watch STAR TREK as my “day job.” Or when I read 500 comic books as my “day job.”

Writers work like dogs, but we do have our fun.


World Horror Convention – schedule

Stop by my panels at World Horror Convention!

  • Friday, May 8th at 5 pm. The Real True Detective: When Horror Meets Noir, Mystery and Spy Thrillers
  • Saturday, May 9th at 9 am. Making Insane Characters Believable
  • Saturday, May 9th at 3 pm. Weird Fiction Renaissance


FRI 5-6 PM The Real True Detective: When Horror Meets Noir, Mystery and Spy Thrillers – SARNATH

How dark does neo-noir horror have to be? Where do the lines fall where crime fiction becomes horror. Practitioners of the art of crime and thriller fiction shed light on the limits of human depravity.

SAT 9-10 AM Midmorning Madness: Making Insane Characters Believable – SARNATH

From classics like Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” to Stephen King’s Misery, to more contemporary works like Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, both film and literature alike have a soft spot for the insane. But what makes these characters believable and why do readers love a madman or a hysteric woman? Well, say hello to Tyler Durdan and get ready for a trip to the asylum because the first rule of madness is that we don’t talk about madness. And if it’s your first time going mad, well, then you have to scream.

SAT 3-4 When the Weird Go Pro: Exploring the Parameters and Considering the Directions of a Literary Renaissance – SARNATH

Some would call it a Renaissance. Not your daddy’s Lovecraft mythos pastiche, the Weird in the hands of today’s writers owes as much or more to literary titans such as Melville, Borges, McCarthy and Carter. Others talk about the New Weird and consider it a global movement. What is Weird fiction? Does defining the Weird focus or limit its growth? Why now, why is this literary movement so exciting, and what does the future hold for the Weird?

Supernatural Crime Thrillers – 3 Novels in a New Series!

THRILLING NEWS! I just received a contract from Titan Books for the first 3 supernatural crime thrillers in an original series.

I’m extremely thankful to Steve Saffel for believing in me. Huge thanks also go to Jonathan Maberry, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, Nancy Holder, Leslie S. Klinger, Loren D. Estleman, and S.T. Joshi.

I’ve spent the past 4 weeks writing an extremely detailed outline of Novel #1. Now I’m filling in details for Novels #2 and #3. I’ve also been buried in research, which is one aspect of writing that I truly love. Research is a great excuse to read a lot of books and learn all sorts of cool things!


World Horror Convention 2014

I just received my World Horror Convention 2014 schedule. The con is almost upon us, which means (a) I have a lot of writing to finish – immediately, and (b) I must prepare for the con. See you all in Portland!

Friday, 2-3 pm, Writer’s Workshop, in which Paul Dale Anderson and I critique a 50-page partial & synopsis for someone

Friday, 6-8 pm, Mass Signing. If for some insane reason, you want my autograph, please bring books. I will have very few (if any) with me.

Saturday, 11 am-noon, Research for Horror Writing. Horror writers talk about how they research the dark and mysterious past to use in their fiction writing. Christine Morgan, Lois Gresh, Lisa Manetti, Alan M. Clark, James Chambers, Rocky Wood

Saturday, 2-3 pm, You’ll Never Get Out Alive! Advice to New Writers. Professional authors with decades of combined field experience tell the audience everything they wish they could tell their younger selves when they were starting out as writers. Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, Weston Ochse, Lois Gresh, F. Paul Wilson

Saturday, 6:30-9:30 pm. Stoker Award Ceremony & Banquet, in which I not only have fun but this year, have the honor of presenting the Non-Fiction Award along with Les Klinger. I suppose that we must concoct some appropriate babbling (in polite terms, known as banter).

Sunday, 11 am-noon, Between Two Worlds, Finding Time to Write. How do we as writers carve out a big enough chunk from our other lives to sit down, clear our minds, and practice our craft? Lois Gresh, Minerva Zimmerman, Cameron Pierce, Sally Bosco, Sunni Brock



This is a brief post about NecronomiCon with a few choice photos. Overall, it was a fantastic convention, bringing together all who love weird fiction and H.P. Lovecraft’s work for one grand weekend in Providence, Rhode Island. Many thanks to Niels Hobbs, the organizer of the convention, and to the many volunteers who helped him.

I was on a variety of panels:

  • HPL’s Phobias
  • Sex, Gender, and Identity in HPL’s Life and Work
  • Writing Mythos Fiction
  • The New Weird

I also read Willie the Protector from S.T. Joshi’s forthcoming magnificent anthology, SEARCHERS AFTER HORROR (Fedogan & Bremer, 2014).

My final official activity was to appear as the rabbi at the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast on Sunday morning. Officiating (of course!) was the ever-erudite Minister Robert Price along with the ever-hilarious Deacon Cody Goodfellow. The choir was led by the ever-harmonious Darrell Schweitzer.

I had endless fun and wonderful conversations with many people (far too many to list here). It was also a thrill to see S.T. Joshi honored as keynote speaker and recipient of a special Robert Bloch award.

I could go on and on at great length about the con, but I have absurd amounts of writing to do, so I’ll simply show you some photos and bid you adieu — until next time.

In no particular order:

During S.T.’s keynote speech, I showed up via another spacetime dimension and landed next to Sunni Brock.

HPL’s Phobias panel on Friday (photo courtesy of Asylum House) – with Robert M. Price, Lois Gresh, Rory Raven (moderator), Scott Connors and Peter Cannon (not in this photo)

New Weird panel (photo courtesy of Sunni Brock) – left to right, Pete Rawlik, Lois Gresh, Jonathan Thomas, Jason Brock (moderator), Joe Pulver, Richard Gavin, Laird Barron

Sex, Identity, and Gender in HPL’s Life and Work (photo courtesy of Sunni Brock) – with Wilum Pugmire, Lois Gresh, S.T. Joshi (moderator), Caitlin Kiernan, Selena Chambers

Sex, Identity, and Gender in HPL’s Life and Work (photo courtesy of Sunni Brock) – with Wilum Pugmire, Lois Gresh, S.T. Joshi

Writing Mythos Fiction (photo courtesy of Asylum House) – with Vincent O’Neil, Lois Gresh (moderator), Jonathan Thomas, Richard Gavin, Simon Strantzas

Reading (photo courtesy of Matthew Carpenter) – with me was Jonathan Thomas
reading_crMatthew Carpenter

And now for the SILVER SCREEN SPOOKSHOW EYEBALL photos, courtesy of Anya Martin!

Lois, the eyeball, and Niels Hobbs


The eyeball attacks Jason Brock.

Diane O’Bannon wants to eat the eyeball…

…but one lick and she already knows it’s made of something we cannot fathom.

The eyeball amuses Leslie Klinger.

CAUGHT with the eyeball – Wilum Pugmire and S.T. Joshi

Here are a few choice photos from the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast, courtesy of Matthew Carpenter.



Finally, a photo of the beautiful and delightful Sunni and Anya —


World Horror Convention – mini report

WHC3(left photo) “girls just wanna have fun” – with Lois Gresh, Sephera Giron, Mandy Slater, Nancy Kilpatrick, and Rebecca Senese.
WHC4(right photo) Party time at WHC! – with Jason V Brock, Sunni Brock and Lois Gresh at Hotel Monteleone.

Arrived in NOLA on Wed, went to vampire shop with Nancy Kilpatrick, then hit one voodoo shop. Dinner was so-so, a mountain of fried whatevers, the best of the whatevers being the french fries. We hung out with Mandy Slater at her palatial suite at the Hyatt, where she had free wine and cookies. Ran into Ramsey Campbell and his wife, enroute to the swamps to see alligators. The Carousel Bar was like being on an elevator, with my stomach dropping whenever I dared to focus on the fact we were literally spinning – is it a good idea to have a spinning bar when people’s heads are already spinning? Rio Youers kept spinning past with different walls behind him – very strange.

With one-night-only third roomie, Denise Dumars, went to voodoo cultural center, where she taught me everything I’d ever want to know about voodoo. Then several of us went to Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District.

I was dying to see Anne Rice’s house, and we swung by one of her houses and took some photos. Also stopped at a former orphanage, where she housed family members at one point.

After registering for the con, a bunch of us went trolling in the French Quarter. Included were Nancy, Mandy, Sephera Giron, and a couple of people from Toronto (Rebecca and Bob), had absinthe (tres fine), and obtained strange super-sweet yet oddly peppered neon blue drinks in flashing skull mugs. Everyone except Mandy and me disappeared into a chicken shack. God only knows what they were doing in a chicken shack, presumably eating the birds but one never knows with a horror crowd. Mandy and I ducked into a place to spend an hour listening to a great Cajun band.

Hung out with ST Joshi, Jason Brock, Bill Nolan, Caitlin Kiernan, Kathryn, and Jerad Walters, and spoke to Cait about Drowning Girl. I made quick work of the dealers’ room, mainly because people were hawking books so aggressively that I was uncomfortable.

I ended up at the glorious Centipede Press table, where Jerad didn’t have to hawk anything aggressively. His books are beyond beautiful, and I snapped up both the Hannes Bok collection and the HPL whopper art volume. Naughty me, but I couldn’t resist.

Dinner was super-fast the following night due to the signing. Lovely meal with ST, Mary, and Nancy. Attended Heather Graham’s party, and at some point, I talked to Jason and Sunni Brock for an hour – I think it was approx 2 am. Great seeing people like John Palisano, Ellen Datlow, Lisa Morton, Yvonne Navarro, many others.  

WHC1(left photo, courtesy of pasadenalisa) WHC Panel, “Writing Horror” – New Orleans 2013 – with Jay Wilburn, John Urbancik, Norman L. Rubenstein, Alexandra Sokoloff, Lois Gresh and John R. Little.

Somebody told me about a secret dealers’ room, where I discovered all the books I might have bought… but didn’t.

WHC2(left photo, courtesy of pasadenalisa) With William F. Nolan, Anya Martin, Lois Gresh, Tonya L De Marco, Guy Anthony De Marco, Sunni Brock, Beth Gwinn, Jason V Brock, Nancy Kilpatrick and Erinn Kemper at the banquet, WHC, New Orleans.

After the banquet, hung out for a few hours with ST, Mary, Jason, Sunni, Bill Nolan, Erinn, Cait, and Kathryn. Went to bed at 2 am, then awakened at 6:30 to catch my flight home. Whew.

Eeriecon 2013 Mini-Report

This year’s Eeriecon was on Grand Island instead of its longtime location in Niagara Falls. Everyone was excited to see what the new venue would be like, and I’m happy to report that the con suite rocked (one of the key attributes of Eeriecon in past years).

My first panel was the Free-for-All with Jim Gardner and Carl Frederick, one of this year’s  esteemed guests of honor. Shortly after, Jim interviewed all of the writing guests on his annual Late Night Talk Show, and David Clink guffawed appropriately as the sidekick. Friday evening was a blur between the con suite and Sal Monaco’s Dr. Who party, which was incredibly well stocked! Come to think of it, so was the con suite…with whiskey offerings far beyond last year’s amazing array. Last year, we discovered Glayva at Eeriecon. This year, we discovered Fireball whiskey. Arie drank a small amount and instantly fell asleep.

Lynna Merill was kind enough to swap reading times with me, so I started Saturday morning with a rousing 10 am reading slot. I read one of my new dark stories, then joined Carl, Lynna, guest of honor Jack McDevitt, and John Price on a panel called, It’s OK to be Wrong. Hmmm. It took us about half an hour to determine what the panel title implied in terms of discussion. I bet we were all wrong.

Next up, Carl, Jim, Stephen Pearl, and I were on the panel, Romance in SFF vs SFF in Romance. Tongue twister!

Because I was on the tongue twister panel, I sadly missed Dave DeGraff’s annual science talk, which I always enjoy. I heard from Arie that it was interesting, a pop look at Life on Mars. Because I was running the Writer’s Workshop with Jim, I also missed Is a PhD Just a Piece of Paper?, which I would have enjoyed attending.

Speaking of,  the Writer’s Workshop was a lot of fun – great questions, a lively group, and thoroughly enjoyable. I was sitting in for Anne Bishop this year.

Arie’s particle physics talk went well, and then it was time for…

What Line’s Mine? Amy Kauderer definitely outdid herself this year. As with most Eeriecon guests of honor, Jack had a hard time identifying his own lines from way back when. I sat next to Carl, and he also had a rough time identifying his lines from long ago, but midway into the session, he figured out how to chea… I mean, learn from those around him. On my other side, Carolyn Clink did her usual stellar job at chea… I mean, analyzing the lines with her poet’s mind and pinpointing the authors with amazing accuracy. Fun fun fun, as always!

After our annual dinner at the Red Coach Inn (Niagara Falls), it was time for us to head home. Sadly, the hotel didn’t have any available rooms for Saturday night. Note to myself: get the room early for next year’s Eeriecon.

This is the only photo I took at Eeriecon. Our third guest of honor, Fireball Whiskey. If he were on What Line’s Mine?, all his lines would be slurred.


Finally, no Eeriecon report can be complete with mention of Josepha Sherman. She is always missed at Eeriecon. Always.

My thanks to the entire con committee for another fabulous event – you guys rock!