Category Archives: New Releases

“So Hungry…” For A Terrifying Tale

Ladies and gents, my paranormal short story, “So Hungry…” is now available for your free reading pleasure in the autumn edition of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.

When a married couple hikes up Starvation Peak near Las Vegas, New Mexico, they encounter a jarring phenomenon, one that might be related to legends of cannibalism from the days of the early settlers…

Click here to read! 

Starvation Peak-Bernal, NM

Help! I’m drowning! Or: How much detail is too much?

It’s always an honor and a pleasure to welcome Howard Weinstein, New York Times bestselling author of the new historical novel GALLOWAY’S GAMBLE (releasing September 20, 2017).Galloway's Gamble by Howard Weinstein

Howie, as we call him, has had a long and enviable writing career that includes scores of novels and comic books in the Star Trek universe, three novels from the original V television series, a bio of baseball legend Mickey Mantle, and Puppy Kisses are Good for the Soul, the true story of Howie’s journey to become a professional dog trainer inspired by his adorable Welsh Corgi known as Mail Order Annie.

Howie became a professional writer at age 19, when he sold a script called “The Pirates of Orion” episode to NBC’s Emmy-winning animated Star Trek television series in 1974—while still a college student at the University of Connecticut.

Today, he’s here to chat about research, credibility, and how to avoid being overzealous when including facts in your fiction. Take it away, Howie!

In fiction, details convey credibility—but can there be too much detail? Personally—as both a reader and writer—I say yes. Not all details are created equal.

Moby Dick PosterTake MOBY DICK (please!). Like most of us, I read “The Great American Novel” in school. Like most of us, I recall little beyond “Call me Ishmael.” What I do remember is more from the abridged but vivid 1956 movie (starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab). Like most of us, I never read the book again.

But my friend Ross Lally did. His impression: Herman Melville wrote two books—one about Ahab’s obsessive pursuit of the white whale, the other a 19th-century whaling text—and smooshed them together. So the plot literally sails along, until—bang!—long detours about whales and whaling. Even done seamlessly, would less have been more?

Prepping for my first historical novel, GALLOWAY’S GAMBLE (Five Star Publishing, September 2017), I did 6 months of research into the time period (1845-1875)—collecting waaay more detail than I could (or should) ever use. To whittle down that bounty, I asked 2 questions:

1) What would my characters know?

2) What does a reader need to know?

I think fiction has more impact and intimacy when readers see through the eyes of characters, not authors. It’s not the writer’s job to dazzle with vast amounts of scintillating research—just because you found it doesn’t mean you have to use it! Details should be included if they either orient a reader in time and place; or illuminate characters’ lives by affecting what they do, and how and why they do it.                                                     Captain Jean-Luc Picard

For instance: I knew very little about 19th century firearms. So I learned a lot—and discarded most of it. The risk of writing “gear porn”—lovingly-excruciating but ultimately incidental minutiae on a given topic—is that readers who already know it don’t need it, and readers who don’t know probably don’t care, especially if the digression bogs down the story. For my story, when it came to guns, I chose a few things that mattered. The typical six-shooter popular in western movies and TV wasn’t even available until after 1873. Civil War-era black-powder revolvers didn’t use the familiar, pre-made metallic-cartridge ammunition, so they were slow and finicky to load. Repeating rifles weren’t widely available until post-Civil War; the single-shot muzzle-loader muskets used by both sides required soldiers to stand up in order to reload—less than ideal in battle. And the gunpowder of the time produced a great deal of smelly smoke.

Civil War ActorI used those facts because they shaped the story. My narrator Jamey Galloway has a visceral wariness of firearms, and questions the wisdom of standing up to reload a musket when you’re being shot at by the enemy. His older brother Jake is a marksman adept with weapons. And all that musket fire could turn even a minor skirmish into smoke-blind chaos. The details I chose sculpted the characters, in turn influencing their actions (and attitudes) that forged the story.

So, what’s the lesson for writers? A selective dash of the right details can season your recipe—but a deluge can spoil the broth.

Civil War Reenactment

Prepare Yourselves to be Heroically Inspired!

Congrats to fellow wordslinger Michael Critzer on the May 15 release of his new book Heroic Inspirations from Hero House Publishing.

Heroic Inspirations Front Cover

The source material for the book comes from the many classes Michael teaches on superheroes as mythology. Heroic Inspirations will be available in all the usual places and directly from Hero House Publishing.

As a bonus, Michael has collected some of the handouts from one of his courses into a short e-book entitled Heroic Archetypes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He plans to give copies of these away to anyone who reviews Heroic Inspirations on Amazon.

Check Michael’s website for details over the next few days and prepare to be inspired…heroically, of course!

Heroic Inspirations Back Cover  Heroic Inspirations Full Cover



Once More, With Feeling

At the Write Stuff writers conference next Thurs-Sat (March 23-25), I will be leading a 50-minute session on “Writing the Compelling Short Story.”

Additionally, the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group will launch their 2017 anthology, The Write Connections, which includes my vignette, “Once More, With Feeling,” about a dying man’s final conversation with his guardian angel.

The Write Connections marks my first publication of 2017. Hopefully, there will be at least two more short stories and a novella coming out from me this year.


The Write Connections anthology



Zippered Flesh 3: Body Enhancements Gone Bad!

Calling all horror and speculative fiction readers. Boosting the signal for a new Indiegogo campaign from Smart Rhino Publications.
Smart Rhino Publications began in 2012 with the horror anthology ZIPPERED FLESH: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! The book included stories by Graham Masterton, John Shirley, Lisa Mannetti, L.L. Soares, Scott Nicholson, and 15 other notable authors. The book was so well-received, we decided to do a second anthology with the same theme.
In 2013, Smart Rhino published ZIPPERED FLESH 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! This anthology included two Bram Stoker Award nominees—”Primal Tongue” by Michael Bailey and “The Hunger Artist” by Lisa Mannetti—as well as 20 other stories. We’re incredibly proud of this anthology.
And now we are pulling together the third in the ZIPPERED FLESH series … and this time you can help with the project! Our main goal for this Kickstarter campaign is to increase our payments to our authors, aiming for professional rates. Our superb writers deserve it! As a small independent publisher, Smart Rhino Publications strives to publish quality books and provide venues for talented writers. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated … and rewarded!
Check out the many great rewards we’re offering for your support! We’re sure you’ll find something of interest, especially if you love horror and suspense fiction.
Zippered Flesh 3 Cover