Halloween Is Over (Or is it???)

All Hallow’s Eve has passed. All of the free roaming spirits have returned to their graves. Or have they?

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They might have “clocked out” for the season, but a bunch of them are still haunting this blog! PLEASE, help me get rid of them!

This is a Ghost Hunt Contest! Find Ghosts – win a book!!

 

Help me find these ghosts. In turn, I will reward you with points. When all is said and done, the person with the most points will win an autographed copy of Matt Power’s book, “Ghosts of Manor House”

Some ghosts are worth more points than others. The chart below shows the point value for each ghost:

Some ghosts are worth more points than others. The chart below shows the point value for each ghost:

Red Ghost: 1 point

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         RED GHOST FOUND!

Yellow ghost: 5 pointsyellowghost2

Blue Ghost: 10 points

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Green ghost: 25 points

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Orange ghost: 50 pointsoramgeghost3

Purple Ghost: 75 points

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White ghost: 100 points

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Find one, find two, or find them all! Once you find a ghost, post the identity (color) and location of the ghost in the comment section below and then I shall remove the ghost from the blog and distribute to you the earned points. For instance, you might say in the comment: “In the Cat and the Canary article, inside the paragraph that begins ‘the movie is a remake of the 1927 film’, I found a blue ghost.

Or you can email me the identity and location at dwcheely@yahoo.com

The person with the most points wins a free autographed copied of Matt’s book – Ghosts of Manor House

 

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An Interview with Matt Powers – Author of “Ghosts of Manor House” – Part 2

GhostsManor2Welcome to the second part of my interview with Matt Powers, author of the book Ghosts of Manor House .  By now, I hope that all of you have gotten word that you can win an autographed copy of the book. But just in case this news has not yet reached your noggin,’  here goes: I am featuring a Ghost Hunt contest – Find the ghosts that are hiding across my blog and earn points. Whoever earns the most points wins the book!  Click on the link below for more details:

Ghost Hunt Contest – Win a book!

In the first part of the interview, we explored Matt’s influences and learned that he prefers a haunted house that exists as “a being with needs and desires.”  For Matt, a haunted house should have a “mysterious power to it”.  We tested his criteria against the house of his own creation – Manor House. I concluded that Manor House does, in fact, conform to Matt’s criteria and effectively so.  It was an intriguing conversation to say the least!  If you have not yet read the first part of the interview, I recommend that you do so! Click on the link and read, read, read!

An Interview with Matt Powers – Author of “Ghosts of Manor House” – Part 1

In this second half of the interview, I ask Matt questions regarding the book-building process. How does an indie-writer with limited resources tackle issues such as marketing and editing? Also we learn about what Matt does when he is not writing books. He has an interesting profession outside the world of literature.

(The following information was gathered mostly on Sept 25, 26, 27 2017 )

Daniel:  I’m curious about your marketing in general. This is your first published book. It seems you have promoted it quite well. Fifteen people have reviewed it on Amazon, most giving it five out of five stars. 21 ratings, 18 reviews on Goodreads, mostly all positive. How did you generate so much interest?

Matt: I’m glad it appears my marketing is going well, I’ve been working hard at it.

I’ve taken a number of approaches. First off, after finishing the book I started just promoting it to people I know.  I would call it a “soft” launch – the goal being really to get as many reviews as possible.  I gave the book away to people I knew who said they would read it.  Then I pestered them to read it and write a review.

It should be noted – even with friends and family, you need to have a good book to start with. But I think one is more likely to get positive reviews from people you know.

I spent a couple months working on this “soft” launch. Then I had the “real” launch, which wasn’t that different except I actually told the world (via Facebook and Goodreads) that the book was now available. People who then looked at it saw it had positive reviews in the wings.

I truly believe people are more likely to purchase something if they see positive reviews. No one wants to be the first to try something unknown. I did a Goodreads giveaway in August leading up to this launch as well. Then for September I also sent query letters to cool websites like yours –  blogs that I thought would appreciate my book, asking them to read and provide feedback. Also, I created accounts at Instagram, Twitter, and Wattpad

The gearing up continues; I’m always trying to build interest and get people to read (and then write reviews).

In summary, it has been a lot of hard work. Honestly, I was hoping I would have more reviews by now.  But I realize that people are busy and not everyone reads as much as I do.  For the 40 people that  might have my book, I got around 12-15 reviews.  About 30%?  Probably good odds really.  Again it is important to stress that this all starts with a good book in the first place.

Daniel:  I do notice that a lot of people don’t leave reviews.  Still your book has a lot more reviews than any of my books. Of course I never did a “soft launch.”  Next time I’ll do that!

But you are right that it is important to have a good book in order to get good reviews. And Ghosts of Manor House is a good book. Not only is it a great story, but the writing is very good as well. In most self-published books (mine included), I find grammar mistakes or sections or awkward writing. But in your book, I couldn’t find any such things. Did you have an editor?

Matt: To get my book as good as possible I went through many stages.  While I wrote GoMH I had a couple people who would read my writings and give input and check grammar and mechanics.  I went to writing groups where I read chapters and received input.  When I had a good portion of the story done I asked a member of the writing group to read it, do some editting, and provide feedback.  I then took this input and made the changes that I agreed with and then I continued on the story.  I did this twice before I finished GoMH.

When I thought I was pretty much done I had two more people read and edit. I again made some changes and finally thought I was done. Then I sent out query letters to find a small publisher who might be interested.  I sent a lot of letters and I found a publisher.  Together we edited it again –  more changes were made.  I parted ways with the publisher as I found they really didn’t have time to do the pre-marketing type activities I wanted to do.  We parted amicably and I finally had my finished story.

But I look at it now and I see mistakes – mistakes in grammar, mechanics. I see paragraphs that I should have spent more time on.  No matter what, I think we always feel our work could be better.  But at some point we need to call it done and see what the readers think.

Daniel: I didn’t realize that you had a publisher at one time. But in the end you published w/out them. Still in the meantime, they helped you with professional editing.

Without a publisher, editing is difficult. Editors are expensive and many indie-writers, like myself, can’t afford them. What advice do you have for struggling authors that need to have their work edited? I know that the publisher wasn’t your only source for editing, you mentioned writing groups. Are there any other ways for writers to have their work edited? And can you tell me more about writing groups, where to find them and how members help each other?

Matt: I recommend joining a writing club near you.  Then join any and all writing groups the club has nearby.  I didn’t do this but check “MeetUp.com” and there are tons of writing groups.  If you don’t have a writing group try and start one.  I started one at work with co-workers to get more people to read and give input.

Then have friends and family give their imput, which is pretty challenging to do sometimes. I am lucky to have a couple of family members and  friends who are into writing. They gave me a lot of good input.

I did pay for a lot of my editing. A couple  places where you can find people to edit and give feedback are:

Fiver.com : inexpensive but the quality is sketchy

craigslist.com : can find editors here. I didn’t do this because it costs more and I didn’t know the people.

I did use some local editors and writing coaches that I found through people in the writing group. Since I had recommendations and could meet them in person, I felt comfortable spending money on them.

But the number one free way to get input on your writing is to join writing groups; groups where people bring chapters, read, and then critique each other.  You learn a lot about your writing by having it critiqued but also you can learn a lot by reviewing other people’s writing.


 

The next part of the interview will focus on some aspects of Matt’s personal life  MattPowers

Writers come from all walks of life. They are gardeners, meat-packers, homemakers, etc. etc. Matt Powers (pictured on the right) is employed as a game developer at Zynga Inc.

Daniel:  What is you job like? Are there any similarities between what you do as a game developer and what goes into your writing process?

Matt:  I have been a video game producer for a long time.  I started as a game programmer, creating Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo games.  Then I became a producer.  As a producer I manage teams and projects.  I make sure things get done on time, within budget, and at a high level of quality. I have a lot of daily meetings.  I think about the project a lot.  I need to make sure what we are doing now goes smoothly AND try to plan ahead to avoid problems and ensure we continue to go the right direction.  Producers are traffic cops, mentors, organizers, babysitters, tradesman, and planners.

Making video games is fun and very challenging. We are working on technology, trying to push the limits of tech, and we are creating entertainment.  Combining technology and “fun” is tricky.  We have a very creative team and a very technical team working together to make the fun, the art, and the technology all play well together.

Being in a creative business but not being the creative person, I think, keeps my creative juices flowing but without a big outlet.  Writing, I found, is a great way to express my creativity and it is different enough from developing games where I don’t feel like I am working, even though writing is work in its own right.

Daniel: So in the beginning you wrote computer code.

Matt:   Correct. I started programming when I was 10 years old.  My dad worked for Atari and taught me how to program.  I went to college and majored in Computer Science.  I actually got started with writing by blogging for Gamasutra.com.  It is a video game site. 

Daniel:   I took a six-month computer programming class at a community college. Nothing came from it, but on the admissions test, there was one question that I can still remember to this day. “What would you most like to do?” It was a multiple choice question and two of the possible answers were a) Learn a foreign language b) Write a book. I chose “write a book” and that was a “wrong” answer. They wanted to see “learn a language” as the choice.

But you are proof that one can be both a programmer and writer.

Matt:  To be fair, I’m an ex-programmer. : )

Daniel: True.

Matt:  When I made the decision to write a book, I approached it sort of like a programmer and producer. I examined how writing is done, read books about how to write, studied authors (like Stephen King), looked into writing groups, etc.  I wanted to understand the “process” of writing something good.   Then I had to practice, a lot.  I wrote a lot of stuff before finally getting to GoMH.

It helps that I really enjoy reading and I love movies. Understanding other forms of entertainment helped me find my “voice” in writing.

Daniel: Are there any other genres besides horror that interest you?

Matt:  Probably my favorite genre of books would be Cyberpunk – Neal Stephenson my favorite but also Gibson for example.  I also read Fantasy and Science fiction.  I like to mix it up between genres and try different things.  Last night I just finished a fantasy book.  Before that I was reading science fiction.  The next book I read will be horror.

Daniel: What is Cyberpunk exactly? Or better yet, what does Cyberpunk mean to you?

Matt: The proper definition of Cyberpunk is:  a genre of science fiction set in a lawless subculture of an oppressive society dominated by computer technology

But to me it means more than that. It is the use of emerging(bleeding edge) technology into realistic, probable fiction. It is about taking science fiction and bringing into a realistic, modern age.  That is part of it.  Then there is the actual style of writing I associate with Cyberpunk.  When I think of CP I think of being thrown into a story where I am immediately catching up.  The world is assumed, not described immediately.  You are thrown into the deep end of the story.

GoMH is sorta like this – I wanted to create a realistic story that could be true. Then put the reader right into it, figure it out as you go.  And who’s to say Ghosts of Manor House isn’t a true story?  I met Lucas, made a deal, and wrote the story I was told. 


 

And that about wraps it up! If you wish to  read Matt’s articles on the video game site, go to: 

https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/MattPowers/951858/

To buy Matt’s book Ghosts of Manor House, go to:

Ghosts of Manor House

And of course don’t forget to participate in the Ghost Hunt contest for a chance to win a free autographed copy of Ghosts of Manor House

Ghost Hunt

 

 

 

Ghost Hunt Contest! Win a book!

Remember in my last post when I wrote that I would soon have the details on how you can win an autographed copy of Matt Power’s book “Ghosts of Manor House”?   Well How Soon is NOW!!

GhostContestMatt

Several ghosts are hiding in this blog. Find them. Earn points. The Ghostbuster with the most points wins the book!

For further details, click anywhere around those cute pictures that are posted above! You will be directed to the contest page!

Or, you can go to the Special Features section of this blog! Click on the menu and this contest appears as the first item!

An Interview with Matt Powers – Author of “Ghosts of Manor House” – Part 1

GhostsManor2Several weeks back, I posted a review of Matt Power’s Ghosts of Manor House.  It was, is, and continues to be an excellent haunted house story. I am hoping that many of you buy it.  Want some buy links?  Here!  Here! and Here!

I really want to share the brilliance of this piece. With Matt’s permission, I will be giving away a free, signed copy of the paperback book.   That means it’s contest time again!  I will be posting the details of the contest soon. But the important thing to know right now is that I will mail the book to the winner when the contest is over.

Here’s a brief synopsis. In the wake of a family tragedy, Edmund takes his wife and daughter to Manor House for a retreat.  He hopes their time spent at this house will provide the healing they need.  Manor House comes equipped with a staff of servants…and much, much more!  There is more to Manor House than meets the eye, as Edmund will find out.

Manor House has its ghosts, as the book’s title suggests. But what makes this book so appealing to me is that Manor House is more than just the sum of its ghosts. Manor House is an entity unto itself – it’s my kind of haunted house!  In addition, a tall, creepy tree stands over the house.  Like the house, the tree has a consciousness; a will.  It influences the events of the story. It even has a name – Mr. Travels.

Let us dive into a deeper analysis of these entities that Matt has created. What is their nature? How did his imagination conjure such things?   I don’t know the answers to these questions, but perhaps Matt does.  Let’s find out!  I interviewed Matt Powers and I have posted a summary of the first part of our interview.  I hope you will find it enlightening.

Matt’s influences and the nature of Manor House and Mr. Travels

Before reading a novel, I always say that one can get an idea about its content by knowing the stories that influence it. Matt shared with me several of his influences.

Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

The Club Dumas by Artura Perez-Reverte

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Woman In Black by Susan Hill

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

The Shining by Stephen King

Hell House by Richard Matheson

The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman

Matt went on to single out three of these books.

I had/have a tough time finding good haunted house books. After reading Hill House and The Shining and Hell House I had trouble finding other haunted house stories that were the kind I liked.  Which is one reason I wanted to write GoMH.

I asked Matt his opinion on why these three books are so good.

To me a haunted house is an entity, a being with needs and desires. A haunted house has a history and a certain mysterious power to it (which he then said summarizes the houses in those three stories)

I asked Matt if he thinks Ghosts of Manor House meets his own criteria.

I think I succeeded in writing a haunted house book the way I like haunted house books. It has all the elements I would expect. Of course, in the end, it is my readers that will decide.

As one of his readers, I decide that he has succeeded. Matt went on to say:

I wanted my house to be a part of the story about the people and the ghosts.

As far as the story itself, I always like twists – things that make the reader wonder guess, and think.  When the book is over I hope readers of GoMH think about the people and what motivated them.  Is Manor House a good entity or evil or misguided or none of the above?  The fact that people may think about that means that the house must have registered some thought and needs and personality to them.

So far this discourse has been all about Manor House itself. But we can’t forget about Mr. Travels – the scary tree! In the back-story, the tree’s branches were used to hang people, a long time before the events of the story.  I asked Matt is there was a specific inspiration for Mr. Travels.

Mr. Travels came to me after thinking about other entities that could be affected by death – how they may have changed and came to be what they are.

I thought that Manor House needed a buddy, someone to offset him a bit. And I always imagined this big creepy tree in the yard and then starting thinking about all the death this tree probably has seen.  Through the ages of hangings and such.  Then I figured, the tree probably drew those deaths to it and that is what makes Manor House and Mr. Travels similar. But they are also different. Mr. Travels has a need to kill and take the souls of the living. Manor House wants the souls to have company and not be lonely.


 

So that wraps up our exploration into Matt’s influences and the nature of Manor House/Mr. Travels. In Part 2 of my interview with Matt Powers, (Coming soon!) we will explore the publishing process of an indie author. How much work is involved? (Short answer: A LOT!) What does an indie author have to do get his work noticed?  (He has good ideas.)  Also, we discover what Matt does when he is not writing books.  You will be surprised!

So stay tuned – more details on how you can win an autographed copy of Ghosts of Manor House are up ahead!

Special Feature Update! – From Summer to Autumn: The Spirit Remains the Same (The Darker Sides of Ray Bradbury and Herman Raucher.)

Guess what folks, I’ve finally updated the “Special Feature” section of this blog!

And the latest feature that I have for you readers is an article about summer, winter and fall. It’s about the change of seasons.  It’s about the works of Ray Bradbury and Herman Raucher. It’s about themes that carry on from season to season.  It’s about Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked Comes This Way. It’s about Summer of ’42 and Maynard’s House.  I compare! I contrast!

Click on the pic below to see it!

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(There’s a Special Feature section at this blog?)

There sure is!  Take a look at the picture below:

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Now take a look at THIS picture! It has Menus!!!

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(Oooooo!  Ahhhhhhhh!)

Yes it’s all so exciting. Enjoy, my friends! Enjoy!

 

My Virtual Journey to The Spooky Isles!

Greetings Readers!

I was about to begin this post by announcing that I recently had the honor of taking my entourage of haunted houses across the Atlantic Ocean to the scariest places in the British Isles.  Scratch that (which I have!) – these are The Spooky Isles

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As I said, I WAS going to begin my post this way, but I’m sure glad I didn’t because that would have been misleading. First of all,

These houses aren’t mine

They belong to their creators: E Bulwer Lytton, William Hope Hodgson,  Horace Walpole, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, etc. and etc.   Secondly:

Most of the houses originate from the U.K.

Even some of the works of Poe and Lovecraft have their roots in the U.K. as well.  However, I did  write an article for this awesome website.  In the article I explain how British Literature has greatly influenced haunted house lore.  The article is titled:

Everything I needed to know about Haunted Houses I learned from British Literature

The Spooky Isles collects all things “spooky” from the British Isles:  Tales of Scottish fairies, monsters of Shrewsbury, and even Poltergeist Bunnies! I highly recommend this website!

So what are you waiting for? Take a trip to The Spooky Isles.

While you’re there, stop by at my article and say “Hi!”

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Back from my Europe Vacation!

I’ve been away for a couple weeks. Taking in some of Europe’s finest sights.  Included in this post are some of the more creepier photos; after all this is a horror themed blog. But there was nothing horrific about our trip. It was fun!  Some of the things we have been doing in the last couple weeks:

– Dining in Paris Sidewalk cafes
– Taking in some art at The Lourve
– Riding on a train across the European continent
– Attending a beer and brat street festival in Vienna
– Seeing an operatic/symphonic peformance of the music of Mozart
– Attending a mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral
– Taking A day trip to Slovakia
-Visiting  family in Catania
– Shopping at a Sicilian fish market
– Eating at an authentic Sicilian pizzeria

And so much more!

I’ll be back to the haunted house themed posts shortly. A review of The House of Seven Corpses film and the book Eerie by Blake and Jordan Crouch are on the horizon! Stay tuned!

 

Introducing the “Special Feature”

Hello Readers!

I just wanted to take the time to introduce a special feature. It’s called (get this!): Special Feature.  Funny how that works out! It’s a static post that will remain for an undetermined amount of time until a new feature comes along.

Truth be told, I have had a Special Feature for some time, I just never called it as such.   Last October it was The Ghost Hunt game.  During the Christmas holidays (and long after), it was my Christmas Eve Ghost Story. Well I finally have a new Special Feature for ya!  It’s sort of an essay; part fiction, part analysis, part…something. Oh hell, it’s my thoughts on ghosts! Therefore it’s called “Thinking About Ghosts.” (Again, funny how that works out!)

The link to the Special Feature is on the menu at the top of the Home Page.  And it’s also right here: SPECIAL FEATURE!

I hope you will like it!