Which is more challenging?

Family-Eternal-2-Cover-v2-HiResFrom the desk of W. J. Onufer…

A question for all the writers. Which is more challenging- when your Editor makes a lot changes to your first draft…or when they make minimal changes?

My Editor, Christine Piesyk, lives in Clarksville, Tenn. I live in Chicopee, Mass. We edit anything I write together. When I make the trip to Clarksville, we do that together, in the same room, line-by-line. But most editing is done via share screen on Skype.

I mention that, because, this past weekend. Christine took a lookee-see at a short story I wrote, again via Skype. Christine and I go way back. She is, in the very real sense, my writing mentor. Now she’s my Editor. In all the highs and lows of putting out the Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price books since the first one came out in 2015, Christine has been with me for the whole strange trip that it’s been. That means, early on, she’s seen my writing when it’s needed…help. And over the years my writing has improved- mostly because of the doses of humillity Christine has issued me in that time.

It’s not fun but I’m sort of used to those doses of humillity by now. I’m used to Christine pointing out stuff that needs to be rewritten, chopped-out entirely and sometimes, simply trashed and start over. She gives it to me straight when something is working and when it isn’t. And frankly, I count on her for that. We’ve gotten to the point, however, where I get it right more times than not now. Christine didn’t change anything in that short story this weekend. She did correct some spelling. (I’m a writer not a speller.) But no revisions. No rewrites. No moving copy around.

And that, my writer fiends, is more challenging than when Christine goes up one side and down the other on me, on all the things I get wrong. It’s a mini-freak-out of the most enjoyable kind. I got it right? All of it? Seriously?

The only thing more challenging than failure, is success.

I really don’t have any excuse for producing crappy writing. But i’m sure if I do, Christine will let me know.

What has your experience been in this reguard? Which is more challenging- the ego-crushing corrections of your Editor…or the scary new expectations of having to maintain that new level of writing quality when your Editor’s red pen appears less frequently?



A Curious Thing Is Happening

From the desk of W. J. Onufer…

Since the release of my most recent novel earlier this year, I’ve turned my keyboard activities to writing short stories. After the release of The Family Eternal: Part Two, the new Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novel, I felt as if I should jump right back into it and get started on the massive amount of work that goes into completing the first draft of the next book in the series.


I had some ideas, but for some reason, the flow just wasn’t there. It wasn’t jelling. I was forcing it. My Editor told that I should get way from it for a while. Take a break. Come back fresh.

Now those of you, like me, who have continuing characters in your books, know that you can’t just shut that off. You know that your characters talk to you all the time. Hadley’s never very far away from me and demands my attention when she wants to show or tell me something. My temporary inability to put that into words in a long-form novel is on me, not her.

Some might say that I’m having a bout of Writer’s Block. But it’s not exactly that. Writer’s Block is when you don’t have any ideas. But with me, Hadley’s still around. My little Vampire gal muse hasn’t abandoned me. She still talking to me. I’m just not ready quite yet to jump into the deep end of the pool of starting to writing the next book.

So with Hadley still around, I’ve taken to writing Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price short stories. Small, briefer, self-contained pieces that are more concise and quicker to the point. And Hadley I have written several since the beginning of the year- some of which I’ve recorded for our Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price Short Story collection on Mixcloud.


I’m actually having a lot of fun with this short story format. It’s a totally different kind of writing than novel-length books. And initailly at least, it took some getting used to. My Editor keeps telling me that, in short stories, I need to get to the point much quicker. Short stories are a zero tangent zone.

But in writing these short stories, a curious thing is happening-

While writing them, I find that I’m doing something within that, on a consistant basis. This aspect of it is nothing I’m overtly aware of doing. It’s nothing I planned nor made any concerted effort to have this result. But that result is absolutely consistent. It works out the same every time.

That consistency is this: My short stories are never less than 7 pages and never more than 9 pages. Yes. Short and concise.

We all know that 1,000 words is 4 pages, give or take, when you double space on the first draft. So all my short stories clock-out right around the 2,000 word mark.

Every. Single. Time. Without fail.

I finished the first draft on a new one this past evening that came out to 2,200 words- yes, that exact number -and just about a paragraph short of completing 8 pages.

Has anyone else experienced this? A consistency is your writing that you have no awareness of, until you become aware of it? Something that stays the same, with nothing in the way of being pro-active on your part to make that happen?


Don’t get cocky

From the desk of W. J. Onufer…

While waiting for the pending release of The Family Eternal: Part Two, the next Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novel, I’ve been working on some Hadley short stories. Those short stories can be heard in a free listen on our Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price Narrated Story Collection on our Mixcloud page.

This after noon I got together with with my Editor, Christine Piesyk, on Skype. She in Clarksville, Tenn. and me in Chicopee, Mass. (Both in the USA) I had two short stories done and we shared screen to look over them for an edit.

Now I’m used to getting a little beat up by Christine in any editing session. Frankly, I count on her to do that. The longer amount of time that I write, the less that happens. It doesn’t matter how good a writer thinks their stuff is, a good Editor can always improve it. And by now, I’m sort of used to the doses of humilty- to a lesser or great degree -that Christine gives me when we edit my stuff.

But oh man, did Christine slap me around really good on one of those two short stories! She make huge changes. No, she didn’t change the story plot. But she did change how the story was told. It all felt like years ago, when I was first starting out and Christine edited the hell out of everything I wrote. Christine isn’t just my Editor, she and I are also decades-long friends and she was along with me back then. But now, I’m an author who is about the release his 4th novel. I should be past all that new-bie stuff, right?

Not so. Christine made extensive changes to my first draft manuscript of that short story. We actually got to the point where she was writing stuff to add into it. She never does that. In our edits she may change my words, but they’re MY words. She added stuff that were her words. Her original sentences. And I couldn’t deny that her words made the telling of the story so much better. Before we were even done, I told her that I would share the byline on this. Yes, her original writing made that much of a difference and I simple had to give credit where credit is due.

So I was a battered writer who’s ego took a huge hit when we went to edit the second of the two short stories. I was ready for further abuse. Was I getting too cocky thinking that I could just throw some words down and a great story would just happen? I was concerned that I may have gotten to that point. I was concerned that I was starting to write garbage and didn’t know it.

But after a quick look through on my second short story- which lasted about fifteen minutes, a much lesser amount of time than the first – Christine said, “This isn’t half bad.” Allow me to translate that from Editor-Speak. It mean: “This is a good story, well written.” We breezed through that second short story with minimal changes. Humility accepted. Ego on the mend. Single byline intact.

This proved to me, that while I am, in fact, an author about to release his 4th novel, I am still capable of writing garbage. It’s a reminder to keep the cockyness in check. Don’t get sloppy.

Get your copies of Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novels, in paper book or ebook, here:





The Family Eternal: Part Two book cover reveal coming soon!

Before the release of The Family Eternal: Part Two, catch up on the other Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novels, here:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_pop_book_1?ie=UTF8&text=W.+J.+Onufer&search-alias=books&field-author=W.+J.+Onufer&sort=relevancerankTFE2 cover reveal tease

The Say-Nothing Rule

Valentines 2018-3

From the desk of W. J. Onufer…

Being an author and promoting your books is funny a thing. Sometimes one works hard to bring about events that will funnel to a single point of promotion. And if one has a proper lady Vampire character in their books named Hadley Price, one is always reminded to be a class act. If one is a class act, one doesn’t sing the blues about how easy or difficult that hard work is. No one wants to hear complaining. One petite red-headed Vampire in particular.

Other times, events have a way of presenting themselves without working hard to make them happen. They just happen. And if one is smart and takes note of those just-happen events, one can funnel that to a single point of promotion. And if one is a class act, one says nothing and allows everyone to think they’re a marketing genius who worked hard to make those events happen. Hadley has no problem with laissez-faire.

Now I’m hardly a marketing genius. And maintaining at least the appearance of being a class act is a challenge. The Vampire Hadley Price is constantly bringing to my attention those times when I’m not exactly behaving like a gentleman.

But Hadley’s out somewhere looking for a drink of the red right now. So I can get away with breaking the say-nothing rule.

A series of events just fell into my lap recently and presented me with an opertunity to promote Hadley’s books. And I didn’t do one damn thing to create this syncronicity.

So dig if you will, a picture-

The next book in the Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price is called The Family Eternal: Part two. If all goes well, it’ll be released within the next couple of months. It only follows that since there’s a Part Two, there must be a Part One. There is. The Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novel, The Family Eternal: Part One was released in 2016. That Part One is the story of when Hadley Price and Nathan Hughes first met and fell in love. It was the start of a centuries-long Vampire courtship.

And guess what? Valentine’s Day is coming up. Romance ‘R’ us. And do I have a love story to add to your Valentines Day reading! The Family Eternal: Part One! A story with a happy ending that doesn’t end. A love that lasts forever. A Vampire forever.

The Family Eternal: Part two, the next Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novel will be released soon

The events in The Family Eternal: Part Two pick up directly from the end of Part One. What could make the perfect love complete? Hadley and Nathan have a daughter and her name is Svetlana. You think raising a teen age girl is challenging? Try that with an attractive blonde teen age daughter who is also a undisciplined, newly-Made Vampire.

I wish I could say that I was clever enough to come up with a idea like this to promote, not just one, but two of my books. I wish. This is clearly a case of things just happening. Just falling into place.

Oh! Hadley just walked back in the door. Please, don’t tell her that the say-nothing rule has been broken. It’ll be our secret.

The Family Eternal: Part One, an epic romance tale, is available for your Valentines Day reading pleasure.

The Family Eternal: Part Two, the care a feeding of a young Vampire. COMING SOON.

Get your copies of other Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novels, in paper book and ebook here:



A new episode of the Grace and the Author Podcast

A new episode of the Grace and the Author Podcast! Episode# 9.


Watch “The Polka King” on Netflix, then read this

From the desk of W. J. Onufer…

I would hope by now that there is no doubt about my Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror street cred. And while I look like a big, schluppy, middle-aged, white guy, I do, in fact, write the Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price books. I’m an author who writes about Vampires and have several fictional books out on the topic. Hadley Price is my ideal woman. She’s one kick-ass, super-cool, Vampire lady. And I’m the lucky dude who gets to write about her.

Inspite of my middle-aged, white guy, schluppiness, there is something in the way of a nerdy cool-factor in that. Sci-fi/Horror/Fantasy street cred well in place.

Please keep that mind as I relate my experience with something that totally lacks a cool-factor. This thing could be said to be the very manifestation of that which is uncool.

I’m talking here about Polka music. Yes, Polka music.

What, exactly, is my connection to this? And why am I saying something about it?

Currently on Netflix, there’s a new biographical movie called, “The Polka King”. It stars Jack Black as the real-life Jan Lewan. He was a Polish born American immigrant who came here (the USA), started a Polka band and, within that world, became quite famous. He was also a guy who ripped-off people to the tune of five million dollars in a Ponzey scheme to finance that rise to popularity. It’s all there in the movie.

No, I’ve never met Jan Lewan. But allow me to give you a little insight to what happens behind the scenes in the world of Polka music. As the movie portrays, it’s not all happy-slappy dorky music and jolly, seemingly mindless smiling faces. It may be Polka music, but it’s also has it’s darker side of the entertainment business.

My association with Polka music started in 1980 when I got my first radio job at a local AM station. As the new guy, I worked weekends, running the mixing board and cueing vinyl records for two live Polka music programs. They each would come in and sit behind the mic at the talent table. They did the talking and I did everything else.

One of those guys was easy to work with. The other wasn’t. They have both since passed away. And I won’t identify who either one was. Here in New England both were well-known, high-profile figures in the promotion of Polka Music that went back to the 1940s. One of them was a Polka musician. In his elder years he became a regional media celebrity- primarily in radio -who was all about Polka music.

It was then, with that guy, in his elder years, who I had shouting matches with when the microphone was turned off. On the air he was everyone’s kindly grandfather. One time, we had some listeners show up at the station. They were on-air contest winners and were invited in for his live show. With those people, in house, that elder guy played the cute old man. And they ate it up.

But that cute old man was a tyrant when it was just him and me in the studio and no one else. Granted, I was a cocky kid just out of college who would have much preferred being a disc jocky at a power house FM rock station. It took this gig as my first radio job in the hopes that I would move on at some point to another station and into the FM DJ chair. (The short version? Best paid plans. It didn’t happen.) And he was a Polka curmudgeon, at the end of his life, with decades of experience in the Polka music promotion behind him. He and I were not a great mix. Even with that- and with the perspective of hind sight -I was always professional in the studio. I never did anything that warranted his childish rants at me. He used to yell and bang on the table. He even threw things at me. Getting beaned in the forehead with a pencil or a wad of paper was something they didn’t cover when I went to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. The guy was awful. Yes, behind the scenes, everyone’s kindly grandfather was a big Polka jerk.

A few years later, I was employed at another AM station. (Sadly, I never made it to FM). There too, I ran the mixing board for two different (not with the same guys as the other station) weekend Polka music programs. It was now the 1990s and the same time period dramatized in that Netflix movie, “The Polka King”. The two I was associaed with on those two different Polka programs at that station were great to work with. Could it be that I was a few years older and a little more mature than my experience with that first station? Possibly. (Likely.) At this station, it was Polka music but it was fun doing radio with those guys.

It was there and then that I saw the barrage of paper promotional materials promoting Jan Lewan litter the table in the talent booth of the guys I worked with at that station. And every single one of those promotional materials were tacky as hell. Low-class, no-class. Get a complimentary copy of his new album for air-play and also receive mega information about his mail order business. It was quite obvious to me at the time that Jan Lewan was holding up and exploiting the Polish pride banner as he tried to sell crass, really cheap, and over-priced Polish-themed garbage trinkets. I also couldn’t help thinking at the time that this guy was a Jimmy Sturr wanna-be. But he had no where near the class, professionalism and good reputation of Jimmy Sturr. Everyone knew that the real “Polka King” is Jimmy Sturr, not Jan Lewan

So now, years later, it’s 2018. I work at still another AM station that doesn’t have any Polka music programming at all. I haven’t heard any Polka music nor even thought about for a very long time. And I see this movie on Netflix. “The Polka King”. And it stars Jack Black. Surely it would be a comedy. I had just enough experience with Polka music to know that there’s a lot of material for parody. But no. It wasn’t a parody. It was about a name I haven’t heard in quite some time. Jan Lewan. The tacky trinkets guys. And this is a film about his life. Scam people for millions of dollars and they make a movie about you- to the tune of a Polka beat.

I will name two people specifically in my association with Polka music. One of the Polka music hosts on that second radio station I mentioned was a guy named Louis Dusseault. His stage name was “Happy Louie” and he was Polka Grammy nominee. He was a major band leader in the Polka world here in New England. I’ve also briefly met Jimmy Sturr on two different occasions. (Multi Grammy Winner) While Polka music has it’s darker side as any part of the entertainment business does, there are legit players out there. Working with Louie and meeting Jimmy Sturr were great experiences. Both were truly nice guys in person.

Of course, my experience with Polka music is years behind me now. I’ve exchanged by Polka nerdiness for Vampire nerdiness. Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror ‘R’ us in several novels. I exchanged music for books. Truth be told, once I got past the perceived un-coolness of Polka Music, I do have to say that it was a few years of fun being in radio at that time.

It’s sort of the message of Polka Music. Yes, we’re not cool. But we have fun doing it.

Hmm…I’m thinking about contacting Jimmy Sturr to see if he’ll do a Vampire Polka. Or better yet, the Hadley Price Waltz.

Get your copy of Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price books here-