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Sunday, October 9, 2016

I'm Paul Dale Anderson, and I Kill People for a Living (TM)

SF writers love to astound people. Suspense writers love to leave people hanging, oftentimes from cliffs and sometimes from ropes. Thriller writers love to take people on fast roller coaster rides. Mystery writers love to lead people on a merry chase, often with hounds nosing up the wrong trees while the fox hides in plain sight. We horror writers love to shock people.

I read aloud from my works recently at a public library. I was the last writer to read that afternoon. I shocked people awake by saying, “I’m Paul Dale Anderson, and I kill people for a living.”

The nine mostly-mainstream writers who preceded me identified themselves as fiction writers or biographers or historians or journalists who celebrate the lives of either real or fictional people in books.


I write about death and dying.

I identify with serial killers. I identify with trained assassins. I kill people for fun and profit. I love to get into the minds of my villains as much as, or perhaps more so than, the minds of my protagonists. I want to show why, as well as how, people do what they do.

Like I said, we horror writers love to shock people. I write shock suspense stories that cross genres, but all of my stories and novels turn into cautionary tales. I am the executioner who holds an axe over your head, and I love to watch the hairs on the back of your neck bristle.

Make one false move, and feel my Instruments of Death!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Anima and Animus: Writing from a female POV

As I work on The Girl Who Lived, the sequel to Spilled Milk, I’m acutely aware I’m a male writing from a female’s point of view. I have been both lauded and criticized for attempting to understand the female mind and portray a female POV in my novels. “How can a man possibly understand what it’s like to be a woman?” I’ve been asked. Here is my answer.

I love women. I’ve been married to three different women during this lifetime and I’m in an ongoing intimate relationship with another. I’ve lived with women all of my life. My mother was a woman. My grandmothers were women. My aunts were women. More than half of my cousins were women.

My daughter is a woman.

Most of my teachers have been women. Many of the writers I read regularly are women. Many of the students in classes I teach are women.

I am a trained observer of women. I learned to be an objective observer first in journalism classes and then in graduate-level psychotherapy classes at several universities. More than half of the faculty on my thesis and dissertation committees were women. Most of my therapy clients were woman when I was in active practice. I have had access to women’s innermost thoughts and feelings during hypnosis sessions.

I am a good listener. Women tell me they love to talk with me because I listen to them and show I’m actively listening to them by my responses to their statements.

And, lastly but not least, I am a human being. All human beings inherently have both male and female traits. I was likely a woman in at least one of my past lives. I was a female in the womb before testosterone kicked in and defined my anatomy and restructured my brain. Carl Gustav Jung said I have an anima as well as an animus. I believe Jung was right.

Yes, Virginia, I CAN write from a woman’s POV. And women CAN write from a man’s POV. Whether I write accurately or not is up to readers to decide.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I’m supposed to be on my way to New Orleans, but I had to cancel my scheduled appearances at Bouchercon in New Orleans this week because of pending deadlines. I need to finish another novel before I attend the World Fantasy Convention in October. I also have planned signings at Rockford Public Library and Ida Public library between now and WFC. And I have a 6,000 word story due at another anthology before the end of October.

I guess there’s no rest for the wicked, is there? Heh heh.

Instead of driving south to meet and greet so many of my good friends who write mystery and suspense, I’m spending the day at home with fictitious friends from Spilled Milk and Darkness. They tell me their continuing stories and I dutifully record their utterances in words on paper. Like the newspaperman I once trained to be, I try to listen and observe without intruding myself into their lives unnecessarily. From time to time, I do ask pertinent questions. But the stories I write are their stories and not mine. I’m merely an interested bystander.

I can’t help but be reminded of the opening lines of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question….
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

Telling stories is like that for me. Let us be the silent observers who visit humanity in the best of times and the worst of times. Will you come with? I promise to show you things you have never seen before. Or, if you have, to offer you a new perspective.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

My Return from the Dead

Coming back from the dead is never easy.

I deliberately killed myself off twenty-five years ago. I stopped writing fiction to help my wife overcome chronic life-threating illness. Instead of writing fiction, I earned several masters degrees and worked on doctorates in educational psychology and cognitive neuroscience. I learned hypnotic techniques to help prolong human lives and improve the quality of life. I made a name for myself as a hypnosis instructor and author of journal articles.

But Paul Dale Anderson the author of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and thrillers was buried and forgotten.

When I returned to fiction writing in 2012, it took two long years for my novels and short stories to again appear in print. I’m still in the process of resurrecting my backlist, but new Paul Dale Anderson novels are now available as paperbacks and e-books.

I began making live personal appearances in 2014, and this year I’m doing the full convention circuit. I’m getting my face and name out there to show people I’m still alive.

I have been back in the fiction game for four consecutive years, and I am about to have a breakthrough. Breakthroughs come when an author publishes consistently for at least five years in one genre or related genres. Breakthroughs occur when name recognition and writing quality reach critical mass.

It takes at least five years before people in this industry take you seriously, five years of writing your heart out, five years of pitching and submitting manuscripts to agents and editors, five years of attending conventions and doing readings and book signings, five years of reaching for the golden ring, missing it by millimeters, before you can grab hold and hang on.

It takes five years for word to get around that your work is worth reading. Any writer worth his or her salt who sticks around for more than five years should notice a breakthrough at the five year mark.

It takes ten additional years to produce a bestselling book. Your writing improves with each book you write, so the more books you write, the better your writing becomes. Sales, also, are accumulative, and the more you write the more books you’ll sell. And the more you sell, the more readers will recognize your name. The more people who recognize your name, the more books you’ll sell. It’s a vicious circle. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Writing is a numbers game.

In order to play the writing game and have a chance at winning, you need:

1. Name recognition

2. Facial recognition

3. Genre recognition

4. Quality (Content) recognition

5. Peer recognition

People will want to buy your work only if other people buy your work. You must fist show that other people like and trust you. Humans are socially conditioned to do what they see other people doing. That’s why books have lots of blurbs from other bestselling authors and reviewers on their covers and in their front-matter.

That, my friends, is a hard truth most writers refuse to admit.

I now have a New York agent, one of the best in the business at a literary agency I respect. I have made new friends, many of them bestselling authors, who know my name and like my work. I help fledgling authors with reviews and blurbs. I have found heaven on earth and I am once again alive and well.

Watch for my breakthrough novel to appear from one of the Big Five publishers. I’m hard at work on a sequel and three stand-alones.

I’m scheduled to appear on panels at MidAmeiCon II, the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, in August. I’ll be at BoucherCon in New Orleans in September.

Life is good.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (Simon and Schuster, June 2016) is an intriguing mystery filled with psychological insights and captivatingly complicated characters. Nicolette Farrell thought she escaped Cooley Ridge, North Carolina, when she was eighteen, but her father and brother still live there so she has to return to help brother Daniel sell their father’s house. Patrick Farrell now resides in a nursing home because his memory comes and goes unexpectedly. Sometimes he recognizes Nic as his daughter. Sometimes he doesn’t. He lives in a world where time isn’t real and the people he loves are only pictures of the past.

Time plays a big part in this novel where the past still haunts the present. Author Miranda expertly manipulates past, present, and future until readers question what is real and what isn’t, makes readers wonder who the real monsters are, and keeps one reading until all of the loose ends are neatly tied up and truth is revealed. Tic toc, Nic. It’s truth or dare time.

This novel is full of insights into relationships. Everyone, including Nic, has secrets they try to keep hidden from outsiders, from friends and family, and even from themselves. Nic eventually comes face to face with all the skeletons in their closets, the monsters that hide in the woods behind her father’s house.

Everything changed ten years ago when Corinne Prescott, Nic’s best friend, disappeared. Now another girl is missing, and Nic and her family and friends are prime suspects. Were both girls murdered? By whom? This is, after all, a whodunit.

Tyler, Nic’s former boyfriend, could have done it. So could Jackson, Corinne’s former boyfriend. So could Daniel, Nic’s brother. So could Nic’s demented father. So could Bailey, friends with Nic and Corinne, whom Corinne had bullied. Nobody is above suspicion.

They say you can’t go home again. They say you can’t return to the past. Author Miranda proves the naysayers wrong.

If you like first-person mysteries with complicated characters, you’ll love All the Missing Girls. Highly recommended.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Devil Made Me Do It Again and Again

The Devil Made Me Do It Again and Again

I love short stories. I grew up in the pulp era and read short stories and novellas in monthly magazines printed on pulp paper. I haunted newsstands weekly and bought arm loads of pulp magazines to devour at home. I graduated to buying and reading paperback collections of short stories, then to hardbounds borrowed from the library. I have fond memories of reading Grof Conklin’s sf reprint anthologies filled with stories from the pulps, and original anthologies of stories that contained stories by my favorite pulp authors. Periodically, I reread some of those stories. Each time I reread a story I discover something new I missed the first time around.

The Devil Made Me Do It Again and Again (Crossroad Press, May 2016) is a collection of ten of my own stories that appeared in magazines or original anthologies over the past forty years, plus three new stories never seen before in print. I wrote a brief introduction to each story, and Irwin Chapman wrote a revealing Introduction to my Foreword. I included some of my hard-learned secrets of writing in an Afterword.

Crossroad Press published a nice reprint of my earlier The Devil Made Me Do It (Miskatonic University Press, 1985) as an e-book in 2014, and The Devil Made Me Do It is currently available for Kindle or Nook at or It’s also available from Kobo. The paperback is out of print.

It seemed natural to offer the latest collection of my short stories to Crossroad Press, and I’m very happy with their editing and cover art. You can order copies for your Kindle at or for your Nook at

Monday, May 16, 2016

Paul Dale Anderson Writer: Advice to New Writers

Paul Dale Anderson Writer: Advice to New Writers:   Advice to new writers who want to become professional authors or the trials and tribulations of all fiction writers It’s ti...