My Sunday Soundtrack: “Coil” by Opeth

Opeth Watershed

Been listening to this one repeatedly for the last few days because I’ve been struggling with the best way to approach a scene involving Donovan’s wife. This song is her song, in a lot of ways. When we last saw Donna Candle at the end of TLM, she was in a pretty fragile emotional state. She was upset, hurt, confused–there’s a lot of negative emotions running through her heart and mind at the end of that book. Amelia said something to me about Donna’s character during our final pass of TLM’s edits: “Don’t forget about this for book 3.”

I haven’t, and I won’t. Donovan and Donna’s relationship has been the foundation of the series, and I know that Don’s actions at the end of book two have damaged that foundation in some ways. I don’t yet know how severe. That’s for Donna to decide.

Drawing Donovan Candle


I decided to take another stab at sketching characters last night. Last weekend I managed to pull off Aleister Dullington. He turned out far better than I thought he would. This weekend, however, I wanted to attempt to draw Donovan Candle.


I began with a photo reference of David Byrne from his younger years. In my imagination, Donovan’s always looked a bit like the singer for the Talking Heads. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that publicly, but it’s one of the reasons why I chose the song “Psycho Killer” for the opening of TLM. Anyway, after many scrapped doodles (because I always have a difficult time getting the correct proportions), Donovan’s face started to come together. The hair didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, but that’s something else I’ve always had trouble with.

When Amelia saw it, she immediately recognized it as Donovan, which is rather interesting because I’ve never really described him (for reasons discussed previously). She did clarify that this is “Book 1” Donovan, and I agree with her assessment. He’s younger and tired (I tried to emphasize the bags under his eyes). He hasn’t yet experienced the horrors of the Monochrome, and he’s much less defined here than he is at the end of TLM.

Before I close, I’ll share a song with you. I listened to this on repeat while I drew last night. It seemed fitting:

More soon.



The Horror Bookshelf reviews ULT!



The Horror Bookshelf reviewed ULT Volume One, giving it a 4.5 out of 5 rating. Here’s an excerpt:

What made me fall in love with this collection was the variety of the stories and the emotional impact a few of them had on me. While I enjoy a straightforward horror story, the ones that really leave a lasting impact for me are the ones that explore more complex emotions and situations. These stories can be terrifying in their own right, but they also stir up other emotions. Keisling utilizes that ability to the max with stories like “When Karen Met Her Mountain” and “Saving Granny From The Devil”. These are engaging stories full of horror thrills and yet they still explore the depths of human nature and add a complex element to his works.

You can read the full review here. ULT: Volume One is available now on Kindle.





For #TBT: Let’s go back in time to 2006. Erica and I were enduring our evening commute. While sitting at a stop light, I popped in the second disc of NIN’s The Fragile (because we still used CDs back in “the Aughts”). The first track—this song—began to play.

Erica knew I was working on a story but she didn’t know what it was about. I kept it a secret from her, mainly because I wanted it to be a surprise. ALT was, in some ways, my attempt at an apology for being a difficult person to live with. We were poor and constantly argued about money. I was depressed, moody, and I hated my job. I was struggling to find a way to balance doing what I love with the day to day 9-to-5 bullshit.

This song—and many others—got me through that time in my life. More importantly, it pushed me toward completing ALT’s first draft.

When the song finished, I started it over. Erica smirked and said, “Is this your new story’s theme song?”

I didn’t have an answer for her back then. Yesterday, while working on the third Monochrome novel, I had an epiphany: this month marks nine years since I started the first book. The catalyst of this epiphany was a bit of dialogue used by our old friend Mr. Dullington: “The way out is through.”

Nine years later, I can finally answer Erica’s question: “Yes it is.”

It’s not every day this happens.


I received the following message from someone on Facebook earlier this afternoon:

I’m writing because I just finished reading “Writers on Writing” and I wanted to thank you for your article, “Confronting Your Fears in Fiction.” I cannot express how much I enjoyed reading this and how beneficial I found it. It really opened my eyes to a different perspective on reading and writing alike. The cat example you gave really helped me grasp the ideals you were presenting as well as recognize places in my own stories where I’m holding back. Reading “Confronting Your Fears in Fiction” has helped me already in the outline I’m working on – making detailed notes for scenes. I’m excited to practice and improve keeping this technique in mind. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it with the world. I hope you are having a marvelous day!

Until I got that message, I’d say I was having an average day. The day job wasn’t too draining today, but I had other concerns. My toilet tank started leaking the night before and I had to call a plumber. It was covered by my home warranty but I still had to shell out $75. So, yeah. “Average” is a good way to describe my day prior to that message.

But now? Knowing that there’s at least one person out there who got something positive from an essay I stressed over for weeks? Yeah, my day’s not so average any more. Now my day’s pretty damn marvelous, and that’s not something I can say about every day.

Thanks, friend. I needed that. 🙂


P.S. WRITERS ON WRITING: VOLUME ONE is available now on Kindle.