Friday, August 19, 2011

Why a reader calls my work “Dark Fiction”

Each week, I have attempted to hone my efforts to reach readers in a way that will matter to you and will also give you a glimpse inside my life and heart. As I have evolved this blog and my messages here, I keep coming back to “What would I want to read?” and “What would I want to know if I were you?”
Finally, the answer has occurred to me. A reviewer of my afterlife novel Under-Heaven referred to my work as “dark fiction.” Up until I read that review, I had always thought of myself as a positive writer with love and hope at the center of my fiction…but I now believe that reviewer was absolutely correct. By now, you all know that I had a pretty horrible childhood.  For me, there aren’t a lot of cheerful memories, and dredging up what few I have is like revisiting a graveyard. I was a somber kid and my childhood was something I survived not something I enjoyed. I don’t blame my parents. They loved all six of us, their children, but they themselves came from dysfunctional homes. They were no more qualified to raise six children than I am to perform brain surgery. My parents did their best but their best was a disaster.
So that’s where the darkness in my fiction comes from. For the first fifteen years of my life, I wanted nothing so much as to curl up into a tiny ball and disappear. Of course I have no choice but to mine those dark emotions. How could I not? BUT I refuse to write a novel with an unhappy ending.
Fiction has to be better than life…or why bother!
I will, however, drag your emotions through the mud. I will make you cry and scream and plead for the characters that I will make you love?  I know sadness and I lived hopelessness every day. I doubt any child has ever prayed harder or longer for the world to somehow get better. Tears streak my cheeks as I write these words, a statement which I know many people find hard to believe. I’m an ex-bodybuilder and a guys’ guy. You’d more expect me to punch something than cry. But when you come limping from the shadows of a difficult past, the scars never really go away. That hurt and pain stays with you…always.
John Locke told me to write a blog that will give you the essence of my writing. This is it. If you read my work, you will care about my characters. You will cry a lot. But by the end of each and every story, I will have you smiling and happy that you are alive. My characters win…but they earn it.
I hope I’ve earned your readership.
Buy my books. It will be the best 99 cents you’ve ever spent.

The Santa Shop is Christmas seen through the lens of suicide, a quick, simple and emotional story that will have you questioning everything from homelessness to charity:

Under-Heaven is the best “dark fiction” book I’ve written so far. If you want a complex and powerful book, try this one.  And if you see this ending coming, I’ll owe you dinner and a new Cadillac:

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Whirlwind of Danger and Magic…

The most disgusting house on the planet, aching joints, Jeckel and Hydel, Fat Duck abandoned, too much swearing…

This past week has been another frenetic seven days in the life of a writer who is still struggling to get control of social networking tools. I have made some pretty good strides on Twitter and have found some automated tools that I think will make life much easier. I also finally got signed into Google-Plus but I haven’t a clue how it really works yet. If you’d been trying to message me on any of the dozen sites I’m signed onto but don’t really yet know how to use, I hope you’ll email me directly at Tim – at- greateastdevelopment-dot-net or contact me through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or this blog…because so far those are the only sites I can really claim to understand.
The first week for Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End has been great. It’s been one of my best sales weeks, if not the best, and the emails and comments I have been receiving are wonderful. Zachary Pill… has also received its first official review, which is posted below (Thank you Patrick Jones!) Don’t forget, please tell your family and friends to buy Tim’s books. Without your help, I have no chance of reaching a wide audience. Please help.
I have some other interesting book news. First, my horror novel set Ancestor books I and II will be released over the next week in ARC (advance reading copy) form. DO NOT read those books if you prefer to believe I always write angelic booksJ. Ancestor is a raw, sometimes foul-mouthed story that will surprise those of you who think my wings are always on. Ancestor is a great story, however, and I hope it stands as a fine example of Maine horror books. I heard there’s another guy writing horror up here—‘also heard he’s pretty goodJ.
Ripped…From My Cold Young Fingers is about to undergo a title change. I don’t understand why, but that book has NOT been enjoying the same success as my other titles…which is baffling to me because it has received rave reviews and is one of my personal favorites. In an attempt to find the right audience, Focus House Publishing has suggested we change the name to my original title: Under-Heaven. My NY agent convinced me to change it because the contents might offend certain religious people. Well, it’s time to see if the right title will help it find its correct audience. Expect the new cover and title to appear…again this week.
Finally, if you haven’t read my latest two stories, you might want to take a peek. I think you’ll enjoy one, the other, or both. Dustin Jeckel and Mr. Hydel can be found at The Blue Porkasis (and four of my other stories) can be found at As always, I would like to thank Susan A. for her amazing Mistress of the Dark Path website and her very generous treatment of the authors who endlessly pester her. Seriously, for you readers there are oodles of great stories and fun things to do and read. Finally, I should mention that several of my stories have now found their way onto this blog site. Just click the links at the top of the page.
Yesterday, I spent the day helping my in-laws move four tons of concrete patio blocks from the manufacturing plant to their home. After that, we shoveled and spread two tons of crushed pea stones onto my walkway and driveway.  As near as I can figure, I personally handled at least five tons of material and my old power lifting injuries flared up a tad today. Fortunately, nothing is inflamed or creaking so loudly that I needed wraps or braces. I might want to spread that type of effort out over a full weekend next time, however.
Fat Duck had one wild night this week, and because he has more fans than I do I realize I am taking a huge chance by telling you any of this: one day earlier this week, my wife reminded me twice that Fat Duck was on the porch and needed to be taken care of, and each time I told her he was fine on the porch and that I’d get to him soon. Well, I fell asleep in my recliner and woke in a panic at 5am the next morning. I raced outside…to find Fatty happily mingling with Original Duck and the twenty or so wild mallards that were all waiting for morning breakfast. Though no physical harm was done, I know that Fatty took it hard because he spent that entire day in a different section of our yard (near the brook instead of the pond). He also refused to sit beside me earlier tonight when I tried to join him on the top step of the porch. Of course, he never lets me sit beside him…so that was nothing newJ.
 I’d like to thank Lynn Hallbrooks for her ongoing encouragement and support. Lynn maintains a wonderful group website called Literary Guild on Facebook, and she is also the co-author of Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning)
It’s been another productive week, which is in large part to the support I receive from all of you. I really appreciate your readership and your friendship. It means so very much. I’m going to end with a fun excerpt from Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End followed by its first review on Amazon. First the excerpt…

Feeling like he was breaking and entering, Zachary stepped inside and heard paper crumpling under his feet. It was pitch black and something smelled rotten. If he’d had an extra hand, he would have held his nose. Unfortunately, his good hand was needed to run along the wall in search of a light switch. He fought the urge to gag when his fingers touched several sticky spots before finally settling on some sort of a knob. He turned it.
Suddenly, light filled a garbage-strewn hallway. If anything, it was even filthier than Zachary remembered. A corridor, ankle deep in trash, led off to the left. Zachary figured it was probably a side entrance to the store. Rising out of the trash to the right was the stairway, also buried in garbage. Kicking several newspapers and bags out of the way, he felt his foot land on something soft and sticky. He lifted his sneaker and found the remains of a jelly donut hanging from the sole. It didn’t look old enough to be causing the terrible smell. Something else, maybe several somethings, must have been rotting under all the mess. He used one of the empty bags on the floor to wipe the worst of the jelly and off his shoe.
Right then, Zachary wished he could turn and leave. But to where? 
Lacking any option, he climbed the narrow stairway covered in old paper, empty pastry boxes, and dirty clothes. How could anyone live like this, he wondered? Making a face, he kept his good hand on the rail, kicked the trash aside as best he could and somehow managed to wade all the way up the stairs. There, on the top step, he found a crushed chocolate cream donut, and on the wall above it a slimy frosting ring where it must have hit before bouncing onto the stairs.
Zachary’s stomach lurched.
Averting his eyes and taking a couple of deep breaths, he knocked on the door.
“One minute, sweetie,” came a woman’s voice. “Just one minute.”
She sounded friendlier than Zachary remembered from the last time he’d heard her on the phone more than two years before. Shuffling, scraping and grunting noises came from the other side of the door. Worried that some animal might spring out at him, Zachary backed down one step.
“I’ll be right there, honey pie,” came the pleasant voice again.
As the shuffling and scraping got louder, Zachary backed down another step. There was one last grunt like a large animal was getting ready to charge, then the door swung inwards.
“I’m so happy to see you, honey pie!” Madame Koochie exclaimed.
She was even bigger than Zachary remembered and even in the dim hallway light he could see her face was so thickly coated in makeup it looked like a kid’s paint project. Her brilliant orange hair (which he thought he remembered being blue the last time he’d seen her) didn’t look to have been combed in months. Zachary looked past her to see his memory about that had been right. The apartment floor and what might have been furniture beyond were just as covered with garbage as the hallway. Zachary could see the path she had cleared to the door. 
The stench wafting out at him was even worse than the hallway.  
“Where’s that wonderful uncle of yours?” she asked.            
“I’m alone,” Zachary said, fighting his gag reflex.
Madame Koochie’s face scrunched. She peered further down the stairs. “Then how’d you get here?” she asked, the sweetness draining from her voice.
“Uncle Ned did bring me,” Zachary said. He didn’t bother to mention the truck he had stolen to do it.
“Oh, good!” Madame Koochie exclaimed. “I haven’t seen Neddy in years.
“Where is that luscious mass of muscles?”
“He left already.” Zachary tried to take only short breaths but the horrible smell wasn’t getting any better. How could he manage to breathe, forget live, in a dump like that.
“Neddy left?”
“He was in a hurry,” Zachary explained. Of course, anyone that knew his uncle would know he was always in a hurry.
“That coward!” Madame Koochie said, all evidence of friendly now gone from her voice. “He’s afraid of a good woman, that’s his problem!”      
Zachary backed down another step.   
“And where do you think you’re going?” she asked, her thickly eyelined eyes focusing on him.
“Maybe I should bring my stuff up,” he forced himself to say, all the while wondering if he’d be better living out in the woods someplace. Besides, without using a bulldozer first, where would he put his things?
She stabbed what looked to be a frosting covered finger at him.
“Every last scrap had better come up here,” she said. “Because if you leave anything in front of my store, I will sell it. Do you understand me? I-WILL-SELL-IT!”
Zachary nodded.
“You get the room off the dining room,” Madame Koochie said. “It’s a little cluttered, but that’s your problem.”
Zachary wanted to run for fresh air but paused to make sure she was done talking.
Her eyes narrowed and her hands went to her wide hips.
Zachary waited.
“Are you a meathead?” she asked. “Because I’ve got no use for meatheads around here.”
Zachary shook his head. Maybe he should have said something else, but he got the impression she wasn’t done talking. So they stared at each other for a few seconds.
“Yep, a meathead!” she finally said and slammed the door.

You can buy Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End ebook here for just 99 cents:

Thanks, Patrick Jones for being the first person to review Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End (Amazon). His review…
««««« (five out of five stars) One of the best books I’ve read in a while, August 7, 2011     
By Patrick Jones
Many thanks to Tim Greaton for writing such a brilliant book...

This book is really FANTASTIC and it's written with such a unique writing style. There is no series, that I have read, that I can compare it to. It's both funny and dark at the same time, and I really enjoyed all of the characters, especially Madame Koochie and her "rockets." Zachary Pill grew up in Boston, but when bats attack and his father suddenly disappears, he is thrown into a whirlwind of danger and magic. From the bats that attack him in Boston, to his forced imprisonment with Madame Koochie and his trips with friends through the nostrils that are just as slimy and gross as they sound, this book is amazing. And to see a wizard boy transform into a dragon was one of my favorite scenes. I loved this and I'm sure many others will as well. I can't wait for the next book in the series. Read Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End. You will definitely not be sorry.

My Thanks: I once dreamt of writing for a living. Though a lot of my time is spent writing for nonprofit corporations and charities around the country, work that is incredibly fulfilling and that I will continue to do long after it is required on my end, each and every day more of my income comes directly from readers of my books. Please know that I couldn’t be more sincere in my appreciation.