Friday, November 29, 2013


0881 Lee Goldberg TDMS_STREETS OF BLOODStella Green showed Dead Man co-creator Lee Goldberg the manuscript for her novel Awakening Snakes. The book was great, and her voice was so strong and self-assured, that Lee couldn't believe it was her first novel. So it was a no-brainer for Lee & William Rabkin to offer her an assignment writing the 21st  Dead Man novel. Her novel,  The Rising Dead, has just been released by Amazon's 47North imprint...and is the final "regular" installment in the bi-monthly series before the series returns with REBORN, a big Dead Man Amazon Kindle Serial that's coming in early 2014.  Today we've invited Stella to talk about her experience writing The Rising Dead...

When Lee asked if I wanted to write a Dead Man book, I wasn't sure I could write an action book, but I certainly wanted to try. Who doesn't like stories with tortured characters battling evil, especially when the bad guys are rotting from the inside out? My biggest hurdle came quickly -- the plot.

A detailed outline was something new for me. Of course, this type of planning is absolutely necessary in a book series with multiple authors. Unfortunately for me, the group of fine writers that proceeded me had already put Matt Cahill through many varieties of Hell. Most of my ideas were shot down because they were similar to those of other writers who were in different stages of finishing their books. Some of my other inspirations were, well, let's just say Lee wasn't feeling them -- especially the ones with pirates.

Working with someone else's characters is quite different than working with your own. You have to respect the world they've created. After a few weeks of flailing, I wondered if I was ever going to get it right, but Lee didn't give up on me. Eventually something better came along: the Stranger.

I liked the idea of a character who had lived a dark and difficult life -- like Matt Cahill's -- for hundreds of years. A person would either go mad or become extremely hard. During drives through the desert between Los Angeles and Phoenix I've seen dangerous looking drifters. They make me remember to lock my car doors; they also make me wonder what their stories are. I began calling my character the Stranger because I hadn't decided on a name. Later, I realized he had worked hard to isolate himself and become the unknown, so I let him stay The Stranger.

Lee and Bill were open to a new character, and with their help, I finally had that detailed outline. The actual writing flowed. Now I understand the value of all that prep work.

So I think I've finally got an angle on those pirates that Lee is really going to love...

In the mean time, here's more on my novel The Rising Dead. I hope you like it!
Matt Cahill was an ordinary man leading a simple life until a shocking accident changed everything. Now he can see a nightmarish netherworld that exists within our own. Now he's on a dangerous quest for the answers to who he is and what he has become…and engaged in an epic battle to save us, and his soul, from the clutches of pure evil. 
In the blasted hell of the Arizona desert, Matt hitches a ride with a young couple who meets a terrible fate that he's powerless to stop. The bloody encounter leads him to a mysterious stranger with a terrifying history…who may know the reason for Matt's resurrection and hold the key to finally ending his lonely quest. But first they must survive in an unforgiving wasteland to do battle with a gang of heavily armed smugglers who trade in human flesh.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Two New Kindle Words DEAD MAN Novels!

We're thrilled to announce that there are two more new, Dead Man Kindle Worlds novels available on Amazon -- both by Leigh Grayson! They are The Dead Man: Halfway to Dead and The Dead Man: The Black Nexus.

You can write a Dead Man novel, too. Find out more at the Dead Man Kindle Worlds Home Page.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Amazon Launches The Dead Man Kindle World

We're thrilled to announce that THE DEAD MAN has joined the Amazon Kindle World program. This means that now anyone can write a DEAD MAN short story or novel..and have it published, publicized and sold by Amazon, absolutely free.

If you are unfamiliar with Kindle Worlds, it gives authors the opportunity to write stories, novellas, and books in scores of different "universes" (including Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars) and get significant royalties from the sales of their work. 

The first DEAD MAN Kindle Worlds Tale has just been released... it's Joe Nassise's EATER OF SOULS. Here's the skinny:

Matt receives a cryptic warning of an impending school shooting from a fellow subway passenger just seconds before the man steps in front of a speeding train. The incident has Mr. Dark's hallmarks all over it. Can Matt find the shooter in time to stop a horrific massacre?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Contest Winner's DEAD MAN Novel Now Available!

The winner of our 2012 "You Can Write a DEAD MAN Novel" contest was Barry Napier, and his winning entry, DEAD MAN #18: STREETS OF BLOOD, has just been published Amazon's 47North imprint. We think once you sample the first chapter you'll understand why the judges picked his manuscript from among the 100s of entries we received.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What I Learned Writing STREETS OF BLOOD

From Barry Napier's blog...

Most of you know that I won Amazon’s You Can Write a Dead Man Novel contest last year. The months between October – January were spent writing and editing it. If I’m being honest, I learned a lot from writing it, some of which I think most writers can either relate to or need to know.

First, Lee Goldberg and co. were very kind about pointing out a few of my flaws…flaws that have plagued me since writing my first short story at the age of 14. Among them…I’m too wordy. I tend to wax poetic when it’s not called for. I try to create back story that serves as a story in and of itself (this one, I will argue to my last breath, is often necessary and pivotal for longer works). When I try to write about someone collecting information or being smacked by insight, I tend to come off as too passive.

The great thing is that I have had these things pointed out by editors in the past. But with The Dead Man #18: Streets of Blood, these things were not only pointed out, but highlighted with blood and gore. Writing this book was perhaps my biggest lesson in reigning myself in when I wanted to get too wordy or experimental when it wasn’t called for. This book was equally odd to write because of its content. It’s one of the bloodier things I have written in a while. When you consider the fact that I was writing a faith-based suspense novel at the same time, it was a very challenging and eye-opening few months.

So, while researching parts of scripture for the faith-based novel, I was also having to research old morbid nursery rhymes for my Dead Man book.

I’m not going to lie…it was sort of fun.

So again, a big thanks to Lee Goldberg for helping me through the process. It was an intensive course in writing short novels while helping me to further cripple some of the mistakes that I still wrestle with in my writing.

The Dead Man #18: Streets of Blood will be released sometime in May.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Plotting Death and Destruction

0609 Lee Goldberg ebook V4 TDMS_5A half-dozen authors spent the day together plotting a DEAD MAN novel...not just any book, but our biggest tale yet, both in page count and ambition. The story will be published next fall as a Kindle Serial (six to eight, 10,000 word "episodes" that will add up to one, cohesive novel). The project is being written by Phoef Sutton, Lisa Klink and Kate Danley from a shared outline. So series co-creator William Rabkin and I (Lee Goldberg), along with DEAD MAN author David Tully (THE KILLING FLOOR), got together with them and we all spent the day cracking the story in a "writer's room" setting.

Bill, Phoef, Lisa andI are experienced TV writer/producers so we are very comfortable with the "writer's room" process of hashing out the story as a group, analyzing every character motivation and story beat until we come up with all the moves of the story, which we layout on a white, dry erase board. It was a new experience for Kate and, to a lesser extent, for David, who has been part of a writer's room on some television projects in Germany (where his wife was a network executive).

The writer's room process is wonderful because not only do you benefit from the creativity of everybody in the room, but it also forces you to really explore, analyze and figure out all the angles of your plot and the motivations of your characters.

The group experience also forces you not to give in to the easy, lazy or cliche way of resolving plot and character go further and dig deeper. It means there are some inevitable frustration or disagreements, but it's all positive...because you end up with a much stronger, more-thought-out story.
It's my favorite part of the TV writing experience...spending hours, days and weeks in a room full of smart, clever, outrageously creative writers...all working to together to tell the best possible story.

Our writers room session for THE DEAD MAN went great. We first discussed character and our over-arching, creative goals for the book. Then we started talking broad plot points. Then we drilled down to the novel equivalent of the eternal TV question: "what do we want our act breaks to be?" (Or, in this case, the "cliff hanger" moment at the end of our six "episodes") And once we had that, we got into the nitty-gritty of the specific beats of each "act."

That's where the real work was. We hashed it out in spirited debates while eating lots of food (and, occasionally, diverging into discussions of lame plot points in SKYFALL and the last BATMAN movie. Do you realize Bond failed at *everything* he did in SKYFALL? He didn't do anything right. Still a great movie, though).

We got started at 10:30 am and by the time we finished around 5:30 pm, we'd plotted out the novel and felt great about what we'd come up with.  Or, as one person in the room put it, we accomplished in one day what it would take an author by himself a month or two to figure out. It's going to be a kick-ass, standalone DEAD MAN novel that requires no previous knowledge of the series to enjoy...but that will also satisfy our loyal fans with a game-changing story that acknowledges past events, answers some long-standing questions, sends Matt Cahill in an exciting, new direction.

Now everybody is writing up their portion of the outline, which Bill and I will cobble together into one document and submit to our editors at Amazon Publishing's 47North imprint for their notes. Once we have their input, the authors will start writing.

I wish I had a writers room for my novels...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Streets of Blood Cover

We're excited to share the cover for THE DEAD MAN: STREETS OF BLOOD (formerly known as DREAMLAND), Barry Napier's award-winning entry in our "You Can Write a Dead Man Novel" contest last year. The book will be out this spring.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How COLDER THAN HELL Made Me a Better Writer

Anthony Neil Smith on writing COLDER THAN HELL, out this week on Amazon...

Look, I don’t do supernatural. I just flat out thought that was beyond me. I write crime novels about people doing awful things to each other, no ghosts or monsters or demons in sight. But this Dead Man thing, I was watching it grow with awe. Several friends of mine, also crime writers, got caught up in the fervor and churned out some great horror pulp. And I was jealous. Really jealous. But…I couldn’t do that sort of thing, could I? And not that they would ever ask me, anyway.

But then I got an email from Bill Rabkin—co-creator of The Dead Man series along with Lee Goldberg—who I had met via Tod Goldberg and who was writing a screenplay adaptation of my novel Yellow Medicine. That magical, unlikely email asked me to write a Dead Man novella. Yep, one o’ them spooky, supernatural, knock-em-out, fists and axes and evil spirits sort of books.

I was thinking, There is no fucking way I can do this.

But what I said was, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Fucking yes.”

And then I told them I’d get to work in May, probably have it in a couple of months.

At which point I fell off a writing cliff and had to drag my ass back up the sheer rock face inch by inch.
No idea what happened. I had recently finished a short, punchy third entry in my Billy Lafitte series. I was riding high off some nice reviews and decent sales of All the Young Warriors. But then it was as if words and me stopped getting along. In fact, those goddamn words were bullying me. Taunting me. And I didn’t know what to write.

But I was under contract for Dead Man. I had to write it. I wanted to. It ended up helping me break the drought and get back to the normal flow of things. But it didn’t take two months. It took nearly five, and I even went over the deadline by a week.

The story came to me more easily than I had expected.  At least some of it. If I had to pitch it, it would come across as “The Shining, but on a frozen interstate.” One of the most frightening things I’ve come across while living up north is the idea of being trapped in your car on an interstate or highway due to snow and ice. You’re surrounded by hundreds of others in the same boat, but you’re all little islands of loneliness, seems to me. So what if some horrible virus or spirit or [INSERT SUPERNATURAL THING HERE] was loosed on top of that?

Fine, fine, the guys in charge liked the idea. They just didn’t get the cause of it all. Something wasn’t clicking. Two reasons for that: 1) I was trying to be a bit too ambitious by tying some ancient evil from a previous Dead Man into this one, hoping to cement a place in the “mythology”, and 2) Again, I don’t do supernatural.

Anthony Neil Smith
But I wrote it, including an old 18th Century diary, some Scandinavian settles in North Dakota who met up with evil Native Americans from The Dead Man #5: The Blood Mesa who had some more ancient evil that was older than Mr. Dark’s evil, and so there was a killer on the loose and an Indian golum, and and and…

What the hell was I thinking?

I finally finished it, turned it in, and waited to be told how bad it was.

Now, the thing I discovered about Lee during the outline process is that he is one tough son of a bitch when it comes to ideas. He was shooting them down all night long. I could imagine his Grinch-like sneer as my emails came in, rubbing his hands in glee as he printed them out for the sole purpose of watching them burn.

But after I turned in the draft, something remarkable happened. His heart grew three sizes…for the first half of the novella, anyway. All the other historical/mythology stuff? I had truly wasted my (and his) time. As bad as I thought it was. That doesn’t mean I didn’t try to save it. Of course I did. That was a month’s work! But it came down to Lee telling me, “Rewrite the second half. You’ve got a month.”

And I was all like, “But how do I…what should I…Can’t you tell me…?”

Why come I hadn’t thought of that? So I was learning a lot about how this sort of story works, what’s expected, how to subvert what’s expected and still deliver a good fright. And best of all, I had to write about fifty pages in a month.

In a good week, I can maybe get fifteen pages done. I hadn’t been having good weeks. But still, fifty pages was within my window of doable.

Five weeks later, I turned it in again. And this time the damn thing worked.  We went through a few edits, not so hard at all, and then Jeroen ten Berge put together a killer cover for it. This was actually happening! I was a Dead Man author! Not only that, but the turnaround on this book was a few months—it would be out by the end of January. That, of course, continued to shore up my already good impression of Amazon Publishing. They knew exactly what they were doing.

Once Dead Man #16: Colder Than Hell was out of my hands, my head was spinning with new ideas—how to fix the stalled novel, how to get a couple of other ideas I had into bed together for yet another novel. I was thinking much more like a pulp writer—write the damned story. Faster. Think through the first two drafts in your head, put the third one down as the first. Hey, I did it once, I could do it again.

All in all, this was a tremendous experience. I’m glad Lee and Bill let me play in the Dead Man toy box, and I look forward to trying it again one day, maybe. In the meantime, there’s not an hour I sit at the typewriter when I don’t think about how my writing process has changed for the better after Dead Man.

Hope you’ll check it out. And if you do happen to have travel plans through North Dakota in the winter, make sure to bring extra layers, some gloves, a thick blanket, and a last will and testament. Just in case.