Hittin’ the road…

…tomorrow at noon to drive down to Columbus, Ohio for Context 23.  If you live in or around the area you should stop by and listen to some great panels and stick around for the fun times at night.  You can click here for details of what my weekend will entail.

Hope to see some of you there!

New Column for Morpheus Tales Magazine

Morpheus Tales is a leading horror, science fiction and fantasy print magazine based in the United Kingdom.  They publish their magazine quarterly in January, April, July and October of each year.  They have included interviews and fiction from leading authors; Joe R. Lansdale, Michael Laimo, Christopher Golden, Ray Garton, among others.  Along side their quarterly print edition, they have a free pdf download on their website each month of the Reviews Supplement, which is a mini-magazine, featuring non-fiction, interviews, columns, articles and book reviews.

It’s in the Reviews Supplement that beginning in October you’ll find my new column, ‘Guidance from the Dark Scribe’.  In each column I’ll talk about practical writing advice, infused with my own personal experience and knowledge of the horror genre.  I will provide links here and add them under the Published Works page as the articles become available in October 2010 and January, April and July of 2011.

Stay tuned!

So You Want To Be A Fiction Writer

‘So You Want To Be A Fiction Writer’ – is the next class I am teaching at the University of Akron (Ohio) come this Fall.  You can now visit UA’s site and read the class description, class topics, location, dates and times and cost by clicking here.  The ‘textbook’ I will be using for the class will again be Writers Workshop of Horror edited by Michael Knost.  You can then go to the top of the page and use their Online Registration to sign up and pay for the class.  

For those of you that are seriously interested in the class below is the Class Objective & Outline what will be covered during the 5 class meetings.

Learning Objectives –

Some of the skills that will be taught during these sessions include:

  • Turning your idea into a book or short story
  • Developing characters, plot, pace, and more
  • How to stay focused and avoid distractions
  • Finding time to write with a busy schedule
  • How to find a Publisher
  • How to promote your work after it has been accepted and released by a Publisher


Topical Outline –

  •  Turning your idea into a book or short story
    • How to come up with ideas that a general audience or a particular niche would enjoy
    • How to expand on a general story idea and be able to compose an effective novel or short story from it.
    • How to organize your thoughts so they are coherent throughout the entire story
    •  Developing characters, plot, pace, and more
      • How to write believable but fascinating characters
      • How to format your plot so that readers will stay focused on the story
      • How to space out character descriptions, action, sub-plots and general scenes while not making it boring for the reader
    •  How to stay focused and avoid distractions
      • How to find your own time to write without the worry of outside distractions of a busy life
      • How to keep your eye ‘on the prize’
    •  Finding time to write with a busy schedule
      • How to find time each and every day to write if it is your passion
    •  How to find a Publisher
      • Where to look for a publisher of books and magazines that accept short stories
      • To self-publish or not
    •  How to promote your work after it has been accepted and released by a Publisher
      • How to use all the media outlets; magazines, the internet, radio, newspapers, etc, to market and promote yourself and your work


So, if you live in the Greater Cleveland/Akron area and are truly interested in being a horror writer or just an overall better writer in whatever your chosen genre might be, this class may be just right for you!

Free Online Class with Michael Knost

On Friday, July 16th at 9:00pm eastern time, Michael Knost will host a Free online class on manuscript formatting.  If you’re serious about becoming a complete writer this is definitely a class you should attend.

More information on the class can be found here.

Some FAQs (revisited)

I want to get a copy of a magazine signed that a short story of yours appeared in or a book signed…how can I go about it?

As there are many crazies that roam the internet (not any of you of course, you’re all cool in my book), I am not going to post my address here.  Although, if you would like me to sign the book or magazine you bought, you can email me at: ty_schwamberger@yahoo.com with an appropriate subject line, such as ‘Sign ____ (insert item) For Me?’ and I’ll email you back with instructions on how to go about it. 

When and why did you begin writing?

The first time I remember writing anything was back in the 5th grade in Mrs. Rudy’s English class. We had a notebook that we had to write so many story stories, poems, etc, each week for credit. My stories were always of the scary variety. I still have the notebook. Perhaps one day I will expand from the story I began back then and make something more out of it.

I have always enjoyed writing, even term papers during my college days.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I have had people ask me who my work most resembles. I always answer that if I had to pick one person that I am in the same vain as, it would be Richard Laymon, though I can only hope to ever be as good as he was.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use a set formula? How long does it take you to write a book?

The first thing I started writing was, Night School, back on May 5, 2008 (published in Nov 08). I hammered out 100,000 words in exactly three months. Even during my school days, I was never one to do outlines, my mind just doesn’t work that way, so I just sat down and started tapping the keys and it just poured out of me. Same goes for my other stuff.  A creepy or disturbing idea or theme will pop into my head and I’ll just sit down and start writing. Basically, I just let the characterization and plot flow and see where I’ll end up – 9 times out of 10 it isn’t what I thought it would turn out to be.

As far as how long it takes me to write something, like I said above, for Night School it only took three months. Short stories are normally 2 to 3 days.

What draws people to horror novels and movies? Why do we, as readers, like to be scared?

I think to some degree that all people like to be scared. It is just part of human nature. Have you or ever notice someone cover their eyes when watching a scary scene in a movie? Sure you have. These people act like they don’t want to see what is happening, but are still looking through the spaces in between their fingers. Some people say we, as humans, are inherently good, I believe that is true but at the same time we all have a ‘bad’ side. It is that bad side that comes out when we stare at the news and watch the devastation that some mad man just caused on the highway or in someone’s living room. If we didn’t like hearing about other people’s misfortunes we would turn off the news, flick the off button on the DVD player or put down the book. But, we don’t. Instead we just shake our heads and think “I am so glad that it didn’t happen to me.”

Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

Simple answer – I don’t. Let’s face facts here people. If someone didn’t want to read/hear/watch about scary stuff happening they wouldn’t have rented or bought that DVD or book. They know what they are in store for and are looking forward to it. Sure, you can make things scary without all the blood and sexual content, but for most people that are into horror, true horror, they expect those elements to be in there and I won’t be the one to disappoint them.

How did you deal with rejection letters?

There are a few things that one is going to consider if they are going to be a writer and try to get something published. One is to ask yourself, ‘Is anyone going to read the stuff I just wrote’ and two, are how to handle rejection letters.

For the first one, it has never really entered my mind. Not because I think I am an awesome writer or that everyone that picks up a future book or story of mine should feel honored to read it, but because when I started out, I wrote for myself. The way I look at it, is that if I don’t like what I am writing than no one else will. That is why you have to write what you like. So, if you are into scary stuff, then write about vampires, werewolves, creatures or some lunatic, don’t write a romance novel. Don’t try to write something that you think someone will want to read or that appeals to the masses, because then you will not only be cheating yourself but the potential readers that want to see something real come out of your mind.

Secondly, it is just a fact of being a writer that you will receive hoards and hoards of rejection letters. I know I did and continue to do so, to this very day. Not every book publisher or magazine will want what you wrote. Some have different story ideas in mind that yours don’t coincide with, while others will simply think your writing sucks. But, hey, that’s OK. You are the writer and not them. So, keep writing what YOU like and eventually, if your stuff is good enough, someone WILL say ‘Yes, we would like to publish your story.’

Just remember to keep the faith and NEVER give up!

What about the horror genre interests you?

I like writing scary stuff simply because that is what I have always been into. I like how a horror writer can make pretty much anything into something scary.

You can start a story with a man walking a cute dog down the street, enjoying the outdoors, his life and his dog. Now, you can make that scary by having a madman in a car jump the curb and taking them both out. Say the dog dies but the guy ends up in the hospital and has to fight for his life. Then after getting out of the hospital, perhaps the guy goes on a mission to find the reckless driver and put him out of his misery.

See what I mean? Even the everyday things we enjoy can turn into someone’s nightmare.

That is what writing horror is all about. Trying new angles on a classic story or character or writing about something no one else has ever thought about before.

What is your favorite horror book?

There are a lot of great horror writers out there and I enjoy quite a few of them. Although, my favorite horror author of all time is Richard Laymon. There is no way I can pick a single book of his that is my favorite. There is just too many of them that I enjoy.

The Michael Knost Commandments for Fiction Writing

Per Michael’s permission to post it here…

The Michael Knost Commandments for Fiction Writing

1. Thou shalt have something to say.

2. Thou shalt populate thy story with living individuals, not

3. Thou shalt give thy protagonist a want.

4. Thou shalt allow an antagonist to (at least temporarily) keep thy
protagonist from obtaining that want.

5. Thou shalt avoid temptations of clichés, puns, info-dumps, and
dream endings.

6. Thou shalt slay adverbs and adjectives with the jawbone of an ass.

7. Thou shalt research everything.

8. Thou shalt ensure thy words perform double and/or triple duties
when possible.

9. Thou shalt circumcise excess.

10. Thou shalt never remind the reader she is reading.

Context 23

Last year I was a guest at Context 22 in Columbus, Ohio, and had a fabulous time.  You can check out the recap from 2009 here.

This August 27-29, I will be returning to Columbus, Ohio, for Context 23.  I will be sitting on a few panels and something is in the works to have a screening of my short film, Cake Batter, followed by a Q&A session.  Should be a great time.

Mark your calendars to be there!