Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Spend a night in the land of the dead with DEAD TIL DAWN

Hi everyone,

I'm pleased to announce the release of my new horror novella, Dead 'Til Dawn. This story was inspired by a visit to Gettysburg and my encounter with unusual battlefield fog.

Dead ‘Til Dawn

Disturbing the dead doesn’t prove you’re brave – it proves you’re stupid.

After touring Gettysburg battlefield, Jessica, Tim, and Steve decide to sneak out to the Devil’s Den for some late-night fun. Jessica’s friend Kathy objects, and warns them about trespassing where they’re not wanted.

Undaunted by ghost stories and fueled by his own arrogance, Tim races toward the Devil’s Den. When the group drives through mysterious battlefield fog, they find themselves surrounded by Civil War soldiers looking for a little fun of their own.

Kathy leaves the others to fend for themselves and flees to Little Round Top. Although she’s rescued by a kindhearted Union solider named Charlie, she refuses to believe that what she’s experiencing is real. As the nighttime battle rages on, Charlie introduces Kathy to other weary soldiers, and she quickly realizes she’s trapped in the land of the dead until dawn. 

This Civil War themed ghost story is only $2.99 on Kindle. Order your copy here:

And if you like horror stories, don’t miss Kropsy's Curse. This Halloween-themed short is only $.99 on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Kropsys-Curse-Kelli-Wilkins-ebook/dp/B014IAH848/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1440681198&sr=1-1

I'll be back next week with a look at paranormal romances.

Until then, happy haunting!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

You Can Write Horror – Really!

Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing a horror-related excerpt from my non-fiction writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction. As an author of more than 95 short stories and 19 novels, I’m often asked: Where do you get your ideas? How do I get published? How do you write a book? What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out? 

I’ve answered these questions many times in interviews and addressed them in guest blogs, but I always wanted to say more. One day, I started thinking about everything I’ve learned over the years, and inspiration hit me: Why not write a book on how to write? The result? You Can Write—Really!

This fun and practical book walks you through the story-creating process step-by-step: from getting a great idea to meeting your characters, developing a plot, and on to writing, revising, and submitting your work. I also included helpful tips all writers can use, plus easy writing exercises to get you motivated.

Here’s an excerpt from the section on writing horror:

Horror readers want to be scared (or at least made to feel nervous), so start scaring people on page one. Use a clever hook, details, and setting to pull readers in. Start with a pool of blood on the floor or give us all the details of your haunted house. Let readers experience what it feels like to be chased across a field by a werewolf.

In horror, you can write almost anything and get away with it. Play on childhood fears and things people hate (or are afraid of). Here’s a short list: clowns, creepy dolls, being buried alive, stuffed moose heads, basements, closets, the dark…

As you write, keep the tension and suspense constant. Enhance anticipation and fear in layers. Your novel or short story needs twists and turns to keep the reader engaged and wondering, “What happens next?” Be sure to end scenes (and/or chapters) with a cliffhanger or other danger.

If your antagonist is a monster (of the non-human variety) you must believe your monster is real (whether he’s a vampire, a werewolf, or a slimy sewer creature). If you don’t write the creature believably, readers won’t buy into it. Make your monster as real as any other human character and show him in action.

Because your monster is not human, it’s okay for readers to hate him. They should know he’s bad news from the start of the story, so make him awful. You don’t want readers (or other characters) sympathizing with your monster—you want them to fear him.

TIP: Don’t mix monsters. Only include one primary monster or menace in your writing. Don’t have vampires, werewolves, zombies, and demons running around in the same story, attacking a town during a full moon on Halloween. It’s overkill—and not in a good way.

If your monster is human (serial killer), depict him at his worst. Don’t shy away from showing him doing really bad, socially unacceptable things. Horror stories are generally dark and explore themes and ideas that expose the bad side of people. If you’re not comfortable going to “the dark side” to write terrifying stuff, you may want to consider writing thrillers or suspense stories.

Your human “monster” needs to be fleshed out. Develop his character through details, give him a history, and show why he’s so warped. If your villain is a racist, show readers how nasty he is through his actions, dialogue, or vocabulary. Make readers hate him. Get readers emotionally involved so they can’t wait for him to get what he deserves in the end. (And he will!)

In a way, it’s fun to show two sides to your villain. Maybe when we first meet him, he seems charming and sweet and is a perfectly normal eighth grade science teacher. Later, when we see the torture chamber in his basement, we’re thrown for a loop.

When creating a human monster, take cues from reality. Most predators are cunning, manipulative, without remorse or conscience, and have a sense of entitlement. They’re great at tricking people and identifying weak spots or vulnerabilities. They are practiced liars and good at covering their tracks to avoid detection. In general, people underestimate them. Many serial killers blend into society and nobody suspects a thing—now isn’t that scary?

If you are writing a serial killer-type villain, be sure he exhibits traits consistent with a predator. He can’t be nice. He can appear nice on the surface as he lures unsuspecting people into his van, and he’s very polite—but it’s all for show. Underneath he’s dangerous.

TIP: There are a lot of books about serial killers/predators and their psychological profiles. Use them to understand your character’s thoughts and behaviors. If you are writing about a villain, you might need to know if he’s a full-blown sociopath or just has narcissistic tendencies.

I’ve written dozens of speculative fiction (horror and sci fi) short stories as well as three paranormal romances. For me, creating disturbing villains and exploring the “dark side” of fiction is fun.

Here are two writing exercises to motivate you to write a horror story of your own. How will you scare people?

EXERCISE 1: Take one of these first lines and write a few paragraphs about it. See what ideas come to you as you start writing.

Steve knew his house was haunted, but that didn’t bother him. He had bigger problems.

On a warm June day, the body of Ann Marie Duncan washed up on shore.

“I have to tell you a secret. I’ve got six bodies buried in the cellar.”

Mike got a strange call from Dave on Friday. After that, he never heard from him again.

EXERCISE 2: Here are some wild “what if” questions to get you thinking about story ideas. Pick a few and write three to five paragraphs about each. What if…

…archeologists uncovered a living mummy while excavating in Egypt?

…your character inherited a haunted house and knew the ghosts?

…a killer picks his victims according to their birth sign?

…the weird Goth kid down the block really is a vampire?

…a woman finds a blood-soaked clown hiding in her garage?

If you’re ready to get writing, order your copy of You Can Write Really! here:

 Next week, I’ll be sharing more about the horror genre.

Until next time, you can catch up on all of my writings on my Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/kelliwilkins and my website: www.KelliWilkins.com

Happy Reading,


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Horror – It’s Not Just for Halloween!

Hi everyone,

As loyal blog readers know by now, I divide my time between writing romance and horror. (Yes, I know it’s an unusual combination, but I go with it.) My horror stories tend to be based in psychological terrors rather than blood and gore. They’re set in a wide range of seasons and settings, and my characters run the gamut from small children to mentally fragile suburban housewives. 

I like reading and writing suspenseful tales, and I got to thinking – why does it seem that horror stories and scary movies are only out in the fall?

Yes, we all know that October is “horror month” because of Halloween, but there are plenty of spooky things going on the rest of the year.  Readers and writers of horror fiction know that a good horror story is just as scary on a warm June day as it is at midnight on Halloween. (Remember, JAWS took place in the summer, and a haunted house can be terrifying on a rainy March afternoon…)
So to celebrate the horror season early (If the Christmas stuff can come out in July, I can write about horror in September, right? Where’s the Krampus?), I’m featuring all things speculative during the months of September and October. My blogs will touch on my standalone horror fiction (including a new story!), anthologies, paranormal romances, (including vampires and shifters), writing horror, movies and… whatever else pops into my devious mind.

Let’s start this journey with my latest horror short, Kropsy's Curse!

Late one Halloween night, two young boys venture into a secluded graveyard in the hopes of conjuring up a spirit. Although Kyle is skeptical and would rather be home eating candy and watching horror movies, he reluctantly goes along with Jerry’s plan. He doesn’t believe Ouija boards work—until this one starts spelling out a message…

This Halloween-themed 1500-word short story is a cautionary tale about playing with a Ouija board in a graveyard. It's only $.99 on Kindle:

Here’s a mini-excerpt:

“Where is it?” Kyle whispered.

“Over there.” Jerry swung his orange plastic flashlight to the left. “Why are you whispering? It’s just a graveyard. Ain’t no body here,” he joked, then laughed. “Come on.” Jerry hoisted his black backpack over his shoulder. “Hurry up. It’s almost midnight.”

Kyle’s sneakers slipped on the dewy grass as he followed Jerry down the last hill in the cemetery. He paused and glanced around. The moon appeared as a slit in the night sky. Dark clouds floated out of its way, and a sliver of pale yellow mixed with the blue-black night. Something made a noise off to his right, and he jumped. Maybe they should go home. This didn’t seem like fun anymore.

Kyle watched Jerry head deeper into the graveyard. He wanted to call out to him, tell him his plan was ridiculous, it would never work, they shouldn’t have snuck out and come here. Halloween night should be spent trick-or-treating, watching monster movies, and eating candy—not creeping around in an abandoned graveyard and trying to talk to a dead man.

I hope you’ll check it out!  I welcome feedback and questions from readers and other writers. What subgenre of horror do you like to read (or write)? Zombies, shifters, werewolves (Dog Soldiers, anyone?), vamps, hunters (hello Grimm & Supernatural), Halloween-themed horror, ghosts, possessions, serial killers, creepy monsters….

Drop me a line and let me know!
I’ll be sharing more next week, and until then…

“Unpleasant Dreams”!