Cliches and “Center Cut” Dialogue

“Are clichés and commonly said phrases acceptable in dialogue?” My lessons learned on this question: Almost any instance of cliché, even if it’s spoken by a character, is going to get redlined by an editor. If they are polite, they will say “Is there a fresher way to get this across?” Most of the time […]

Author: Year One

As this February ends, I mark 1 year since THE SAMARITAN was released. So while I’ve been a “writer” for as long as I can remember, this is pretty much my first year as an “author.” With that in mind, to celebrate one year as an author, here’s 12 things I learned in the last […]

The Blacksmith of Midwestern Spirit, or, a Meditation on Illinois Heat Some May Classify as Complaint

The cliché thing to call heat is oppressive.  This is the “dark and stormy night” of heat adjectives.  Still it fits our precious, familiar, pure-evil Illinois heat.  We assign it the adjective reserved for dictators.  So be it, but there’s far more to hate and admire.  The melt-the-road-tar days sometimes come in June, they’re always […]

Fred’s Author Commandments

In interviews and discussions, I’ve talked about how, as a new author, I want to use it as an opportunity to really engage with people.  I’ve said a few times that “I’m a fan of readers.”  It sounds strange to some, but it is a one line summary of what I consider to be my […]

Mammoth Book of New Horror is . . . Mammoth

My feelings on this year’s “Mammoth” entry might be a matter of taste over substance.  The stories are rich and well-written, but there was a lingering feel of dust on the pages—not befitting to the proclamation of “new” on the cover.  You can’t go wrong with “Throttle,” a collaboration by Joe Hill and Stephen King, […]

Man Versus Wall

There is a scene in “The Messenger” when Ben Foster learns the love of his life is engaged to another man.  He proceeds to punch a hole in the wall.  To which my wife asked, “What is it with guys punching walls?”  Then she asked me if I had ever punched a wall. Surely I […]