#GuestPost: Being Afraid by Robert E. Dunn (@WritingDead)

a living grave cover.jpg“The first in a gritty new series featuring sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams, as she investigates moonshine, murder, and the ghosts of her own past…
 
BODY OF PROOF
 Katrina Williams left the Army ten years ago disillusioned and damaged. Now a sheriff’s detective at home in the Missouri Ozarks, Katrina is living her life one case at a time—between mandated therapy sessions—until she learns that she’s a suspect in a military investigation with ties to her painful past.
 
The disappearance of a local girl is far from the routine distraction, however. Brutally murdered, the girl’s corpse is found by a bottlegger whose information leads Katrina into a tangled web of teenagers, moonshiners, motorcycle clubs, and a fellow veteran battling illness and his own personal demons. Unraveling each thread will take time  Katrina might not have as the Army investigator turns his searchlight on the devastating incident that ended her military career. Now Katrina will need to dig deep for the truth—before she’s found buried…”

***

a particular darkness.jpg

From the author of A Living Grave comes a gripping police procedural

featuring sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams as she exposes the dark underbelly of the Missouri Ozarks . . .
 
DREDGING UP THE TRUTH
 
Still recovering from tragedy and grieving a devastating loss, Iraq war veteran and sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams copes the only way she knows how—by immersing herself in work. A body’s just been pulled from the lake with a fish haul, but what seems like a straightforward murder case over the poaching of paddlefish for domestic caviar quickly becomes murkier than the depths of the lake.
 
Soon a second body is found—an illegal Peruvian refugee woman linked to a charismatic tent revival preacher. But as Katrina tries to investigate the enigmatic evangelist, she is blocked by antagonistic FBI agents and Army CID personnel. When more young female refugees disappear, she must partner with deputy Billy Blevins, who stirs mixed feelings in her, to connect the lake murder to the refugees. Katrina is no stranger to darkness, but cold-blooded conspirators plan to make sure she’ll never again see the light of day . . .

I am delighted to welcome Robert E. Dunn to damppebbles today.  Robert is the author of a number of horror, mystery and thriller novels which are available to purchase on amazon by clicking here.

Today Robert has chosen to talk to us about being afraid.  You would think, being a horror author, that this is one of Robert’s very favourite subjects.  But it’s the not the fear of monsters and demons that’s scaring Mr Dunn.  Oh no.  It’s the fear of writing…

BEING AFRAID by Robert E. Dunn

I want to talk to you about fear. Or—more accurately—I want to talk about being afraid. I’ve written before in other places about experiencing terror and mortal danger. And I’ve written about using the experiences we’ve all had, being afraid and feeling threatened, in writing. This is something different. I want to talk about the fear I experience about writing itself.

A little more than a year ago I was sending out a manuscript for a new book. That’s a daunting, stressful task itself. But my submissions were successful. I had quick responses and a few offers to choose from. Let me tell you that is a good situation to be in but not as easy as you might think. Each offer had its own good points. One was from a publisher with whom I had worked before. They do great work and I have a great relationship with them. I wanted to give them the book. Sometimes we have to go with what we think is best over what we want.

I had an offer from Lyrical Press, a digital imprint of Kensington Publishing. They offered an e-pub contract with print of demand books but no initial print publication. That was all right because the imprint has a great reach and a catalog of great books and authors to attract readers. I tamped down my fears and took the harder choice. It was an amazing choice. But I only knew that after stressing about it for a long time.

That’s a professional fear. Putting your work out there, into other hands, and hoping you have made the right decision for your book. Heck, that’s a relatively minor fear for me. Once you know you can work with the team all is good. Things progress. Then comes publication.

Yes, I think all of us who write for publication, especially those who write books, fear for our work. What if no one likes it? What if someone influential says it sucks? Worse than bad reviews—what if no one even notices? Those are fears that are blunted by experience. Get past the first release or two and you know what to expect. If you know, you can usually deal.

My fear, one I didn’t even know I had, came from that book published by Lyrical Press. A LIVING GRAVE was released in Nov. of 2016. That’s not very long ago. For that book I had been offered a contract for two books with an option for a third. Any multi book deal is a great thing for an author. For a small press author like me it can feel like a huge step up in the publishing world. And that’s the fear inducing thing. Success.

Snicker if you want but a two book contract was terrifying because I had already written the story I had planned. It was a great story. I’m a believer in not selling your work short so it’s great, but that is MY opinion. Book two had to be with the same main character. Did I have another story about Katrina Williams in me? Was it any good? Can I do this? And can I do it on a deadline?

I told myself I could. I told my editor I could. I settled myself and set to work on revising and editing A LIVING GRAVE. At the end of the process my editor asked me what the next book was about. I didn’t know. You can see the fear now can’t you? The first book had been very much an Ozarks mystery with country music, moonshine, bikers, and murder. With only a vague notion, I told my editor the next book’s storyline would include another murder, fish poaching, and evangelical religion. Then I had to write that. Terror.

Most of us know the difficulty of staring at a blank page trying to create a story from scratch. For me it’s a lot harder staring and knowing what the story has to be about without knowing what the story is. The combination of fear and not knowing is very good at pushing your activities in other directions. To paraphrase the bad guys in a thousand movies—Procrastination is an ugly word.

I sucked it up and worked out what I needed to write. Then, of course, life got in the way. I’ll let you in on a secret. I didn’t actually begin writing A PARTICULAR DARKNESS until Aug. 3rd. It was due at the end of November the publication month for A LIVING GRAVE.  I worried but I wasn’t afraid. Because by then I knew. The story, the character, the stakes were in place. I was ready. Then my daughter had a car accident. She was fine but it disclosed an underlying illness that needed talk and consideration and time. Much of that was just worry time. Then a big tree fell on my house. You see where this is going? To near panic. I had given myself four months and one was eaten by life issues.

You will be proud to know I delivered the manuscript two weeks into Dec. My editor was already bogged down and was happy to give the extra time. Revisions went quickly. I gave things a little time then asked about the option on the third book. My editor did not respond right away.

Oddly enough I was fine with that. If they decided not to go on with the series it was about sales. I had confidence in my work. That’s to say, I had done my best and I was happy with that. I want sales but so much of that is built up over a long time. Books are bricks. Sales are the great wall.

Then came the scariest e-mail I had ever gotten. It began with praise. My editor and the team at Lyrical liked my books. They had faith. That made my hair stand on end. A LIVING GRAVE had been out three months so there was no a lot of sales history to base decisions on. Still they wanted to extend the series. Lyrical wanted two more books. And they asked if we could increase the frequency.

Occasional standalone books of my own choosing and my own pace—that I could do forever. Delivering a series on a schedule. That terrifies me. I just finished writing A MOMENTARY LIFE book three of the Katrina (Hurricane) Williams series. I have no real idea what I’m doing for book four. I’m beginning to deal with that. I think I can get one more book out and make it a good one. This newest one has me feeling good. It works and I’m proud of it. So I’m on a high thinking about book four.

The only thing I have to fear right now is the possibility that I might be asked to keep the series going beyond four.

Thank you for this wonderfully honest piece, Robert.

about the author3

robert dunn.jpg

Author photo and bio taken from robertdunnauthor.blogspot.co.uk with thanks

I wasn’t born in a log cabin but the station wagon did have wood on the side. It was broken down on the approach road into Ft. Rucker, Alabama in the kind of rain that would have made a Biblical author jealous. You never saw a tornado in the Old Testament did you? As omens of a coming life go, mine was full of portent if not exactly glad tidings.

From there things got interesting. Life on a series of Army bases encouraged my retreat into a fantasy world. Life in a series of public school environments provided ample nourishment to my developing love of violence. Often heard in my home was the singular phrase, “I blame the schools.” We all blamed the schools.

Both my fantasy and my academic worlds left marks and the amalgam proved useful the three times in my life I had guns pointed in my face. Despite those loving encounters the only real scars left on my body were inflicted by a six foot, seven inch tall drag queen. She didn’t like the way I was admiring the play of three a.m. Waffle House fluorescent light over the high spandex sheen of her stockings.

After a series of low paying jobs that took me places no one dreams of going. I learned one thing. Nothing vomits quite so brutally as jail food. That’s not the one thing I learned; it is an important thing to know, though. The one thing I learned is a secret. My secret. A terrible and dark thing I nurture in my nightmares. You learn your own lessons.

Eventually I began writing stories. Mostly I was just spilling out the, basically, true narratives of the creatures that lounge about my brain, laughing and whispering sweet, sweet things to say to women. Women see through me but enjoy the monsters in my head. They say, sometimes, that the things I say and write are lies or, “damn, filthy lies, slander of the worst kind, and the demented, perverted, wishful stories of a wasted mind.” To which I always answer, I tell only the truth. I just tell a livelier truth than most people.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |

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