Got Thrills?

I’m popping the champagne. I completed three novels this year. Two horror, and one mainstream thriller. All timely and exciting. All reviewed by two critique groups, multiple beta readers, and professionally edited. My ten year professional writing journey has been a blast. Four novels (two sold so far), ten produced stage plays, and two published short stories. Not bad for a recovering engineer. Now, I’m off to pitch my latest books and see if any literary agents / editors are interested.

June 24th, 2019

Posted In: The Lamia, The Lust Gambit, The Night Hag

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LitUp! OC on Tuesday, August 21st. Three exceptional short stories read from the short fiction anthology featuring California, “It’s All in the Story.” Honored to be among these two great authors, Madeline Tighe Margarita (“Earth Angel”) and Anne Moose (“Solving for X”). My story, “Life Dies, and Then You Suck” was fun to read. Seeing a smile or two from the audience reminds me why I write.

August 23rd, 2018

Posted In: Short Stories, Steven G. Jackson

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24 Hour Creative is a creative challenge put on every year at Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano, California. Six writers, six directors, and 30+ actors create six ten minute plays, all within 24 hours. Writers are given a theme at 8PM on Friday, actor auditions are held, and writers write all night to create a stage play. Directors take the scripts and turn them into produced plays with the actors rehearsing all day. At 8PM that night, the show goes on.

This was my seventh stage play on stage, and my fourth year doing 24 Hour Creative. The co-founder and producer, Jennifer Hartline, puts on a spectacular show every year, and this year was my favorite. Each year we remember the show’s co-founder, Bruce Alexander, who we miss dearly. The professional quality is second to none, and to do all this in 24 hours is quite impressive.

This year’s theme was “realistic vs. unrealistic optimism.”

My play, “The Optimism of Youth,” was brilliantly directed by Arash Aiinehsazian, and our stars, Sabrina Paris (Jennifer), Matthew Carter (Hack Thespian), Taite Morrison (Ink Slinger), Erika Maggipinto (Mythmaker Word Smith), and Zara Melikyan (Gogh Between). A playwright can write a bad play, but only the director and actors can make a good script great. And, they did.

Corey Eib creates exceptional videos as part of the social media campaign. Check his work out on Facebook. Just search for 24 Hour Creative to see photos and videos about the performances.

24 Hour Creative will be back, better than ever, in 2019. If you’re in the area, you should make plans to come see creativity at its challenging best.

The director and cast of “The Optimism of Youth,” performed at 24 Hour Creative

February 5th, 2018

Posted In: Stage Plays


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The latest top thriller restaurant lists are now available at Thriller Restaurants. If you’re planning a foodie-themed getaway, you won’t want to miss this.

January 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Steven G. Jackson, Thriller Restaurants

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A Short Story Anthology From the Southern California Writers Association (SCWA)
DP Lyle, Editor and Contributor
Release date: 10-21-17.

Grab your copy today from your local independent bookstore or online at:


Join Maddie Margarita, Steven Jackson, and DP Lyle on Suspense Radio
Saturday, October 7, 2017, at 9 a.m. Pacific


Saturday 11-2-17 at 7 p.m.
Book Carnival
348 S. Tustin Street
Orange, CA
Book Carnival: https://www.annesbookcarnival.comSCWA:



Everything begins with an idea.

Whether it’s building a skyscraper, walking on the moon, or creating a work of art, the idea comes first. The dream, the vision. Then the hard work of bringing the idea to life begins.

So it was with It’s All in the Story.

The idea to publish an anthology began in late 2016 when the Southern California Writers Association (SCWA) Board of Directors approved this project, and the work began. When I was asked to serve as editor for this anthology, I was honored and enthusiastically accepted.

The SCWA provides a forum for encouraging and promoting the welfare, fellowship, spirit, and continuing education of published and unpublished writers in the Southern California area. Monthly meetings feature world-class instructors of all genres, experience, and skill levels who share their knowledge and expertise with the members.

And now, an anthology.

Sixty-four stories were submitted for evaluation. The quality of these submissions was exceptional. An editorial committee read and ranked each manuscript, and though each was worthy of inclusion, ultimately 24 were chosen for publication in this edition. During the ranking process, author identities were carefully hidden from the committee, and all rankings were based solely on merit. The result is an amazing collection of stories.

Everything begins with an idea.

This is particularly true in storytelling. It’s the classic What If? What if this happened? Or maybe that? What would happen next? How would this, or that, affect the protagonist? What responses would it invoke? What feelings and emotions would it stir? What pressures, complications, and obstacles would test the hero? This is the stuff of great fiction.

This is how every story begins, and develops.

Many believe that writing a short story is easier than writing a novel. I mean, doesn’t creating 3000, 5000, or 10,000 words require less effort than hammering out 100,000? In many respects, this is true. A novel takes more time, there are more elements to weave together, and characters and plots must be developed more deeply.

But, with longer fiction, the writer has more “room.” Room to thoroughly explore characters, to devise more complex plots, to offer brighter descriptions, to write longer dialog exchanges, and to craft more exposition that deepens and cements the story.

In shorter fiction, there is much less room to maneuver. Each of the above elements must also be addressed but the reduced word count puts significant limitations on the author. Developing empathetic characters, interesting plot twists, sparkling dialog, and vivid settings is no less important but in shorter fiction, the telling must be economical, concise, and chiseled. No easy task.

Each of the authors who submitted stories for this anthology faced this challenge head-on and all acquitted themselves well. Whittling the 64 submissions down to the 24 selected was a difficult process. But, in the end, the result is a compelling collection.

Each included story roots itself in California—-the history, geography, culture, and the wonderfully quirky folks who inhabit the “Left Coast.” The stories span from 1812 San Juan Capistrano to the California gold rush to the modern-day Newport Coast.

In this collection, you will find heroism, tragedy, humor, and both realized and broken dreams. You will “hear” many voices, and meet a host of memorable characters, each facing unique personal challenges.

A young woman, struggling with her past, unsure of her future, and looking for that interpersonal connection that will allow her to smile again. A couple, both damaged. She by abandonment and a fractured heart; he by war, a broken body, and undeserved guilt. Can love survive that? A would-be photographer who shoots aging surf musicians and a famous-for-being-famous star, each making their own “California Promise.”

We will meet three Cal Tech nerds as they plan to break Vegas; a concert pianist who is damaged both physically and emotionally; a pair of bank robbers who get much more than they bargained for; siblings who take their high desert “full service” gas station to an entirely new level; and even William Randolph Hearst, the vampire.

You will encounter star-crossed lovers divided by culture, race, and social standing; a fallen angel on a quest, and on the run; a demon who devours souls; and a “Kick The Bucket” tour operator as she ferries tourists past famous LA murder sites. You will meet a young boy who seeks the impossible pot of gold at the end of the rainbow only to cross paths with a digger of long-forgotten Orange County graves and a killer who must dispose of a body in a Disneyland motel. Who’s the real victim here? And so many more wonderful characters and fascinating tales.

So, I invite you inside. Get comfy, sit a spell, and enjoy these remarkable stories. Each is beautifully written, thought-provoking, and will linger with you long after the last page.

Welcome to It’s All in the Story.


Introduction by D. P. Lyle

After the Wave Breaks—-Jo Ellen Pitzer

Angel of the Morning—-D. J. Phinney

House at Pooh Corner—-Julie Wells

California Dreamin’—-Casey Pope

Christmas in Santa Ana—-Biff (Harold D.) Baker

Earth Angel—-Maddie Margarita

Filthy Lucre—-Andrew R. Nixon

Full Service—-Steven G. Jackson

I Love California, Except for the Flakes—-Wanda Green

Just for Fun—-Glenda Brown Rynn

The Kick the Bucket Tour—-Jo Perry

Life Dies and Then You Suck—-Steven G. Jackson

Magdalena—-Lani Forbes

Solving for X—-Anne Moose

Splash—-D. P. Lyle

Steps—-Phyllis Blake

The Inevitable Avocado—-Jeffrey J. Michaels

The Quest for Avalon—-Catheryn Hull

The Unpleasantness in Room 27A—-Dana Hammer

The Untimely Death of Sweet Mims—-David Putnam

Verity’s Truth—-Maddie Margarita

You Can Bank on the Breeze—-P. J. Colando

Zolota: Another Gold Rush—-Rose de Guzman

The Mighty and Me—-Janis Thomas


October 5th, 2017

Posted In: Short Stories, Steven G. Jackson

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It’s All in the Story – an anthology of short fiction – is coming soon. I am blessed to have two short stories included. “Full Service” and “Life Dies, and Then You Suck.”

Here is the back cover blurb, along with links to get your copy.

Did you know . . .

• William Randolph Hearst still lurks in San Simeon?
• San Francisco would have been a completely different
town if Russian immigrants had discovered gold rst?
• California’s diverse characters, climate, geography, lifestyles, and history can be as entertaining as they are exciting, sunny, scary, and dark?

It’s All in the Story is an anthology of twenty-four original short stories edited and curated by best-selling author D. P. Lyle. From San Juan Capistrano in 1812 to the Bay Area in the present day, these satisfying bites of contemporary and literary ction are packed with delicious characters and tales that will stay with you long after the last story is devoured.

The official book launch is November 2nd at Book Carnival in Orange, CA. (348 S. Tustin St) at 7pm. You can preorder your copy at: Amazon and You can find out more at:

SCWA Anthology

August 17th, 2017

Posted In: Short Stories

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It’s All in the Story is on schedule for an October publication. Published by the Southern California Writers Association (SCWA), this collection of short fiction is edited by bestselling author D. P. Lyle, and features twenty-four stories from twenty-two authors. You can pre-order it now at:

I am blessed to have two stories included: “Full Service” and “Life Dies and then You Suck.” All proceeds go to SCWA, the perennial writers conference, for support of its talented membership.

I’ve read all twenty-four stories, and I believe you’ll find them entertaining. After all, it’s all in the story.

SCWA Anthology

June 22nd, 2017

Posted In: Short Stories, Steven G. Jackson

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The Southern California Writers Association is publishing an anthology of California-themed fiction short stories in October. The book will be professionally produced and available in bookstores nation-wide. If you are interested in submitting a story, here are the submission guidelines.

February 20th, 2017

Posted In: Steven G. Jackson

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We’ve completed our latest fine dining search for the world’s top restaurants, and we have a new top list, now headed by the Inn at Little Washington. Spectacular food. Incredible ambiance. Perfect service. Yes, you read that right. Perfect. Friendly, with timely jokes and a great sense of humor, the wait staff is meticulous in every detail. In fact, the entire hotel displays a service-forward attitude that can not be improved on. The wine list (and sommelier Lindsay) are wonderful, and the three tasting menus offer a wide variety of options that you are welcome to tailor to your desire. As if that wasn’t enough, after dinner we were offered complimentary 40-year-old port, and a meet and greet in the kitchen with chef Patrick O’Connell, who is uber friendly and personable. They operate around the clock with 38 chefs. What a wonderful experience.

Here are the fine dining restaurants we have visited so far in 2016. Each has received five stars based on my own rating system.

Inn at Little Washington – Washington, VA

Marcel’s – Washington, DC

Plume – Washington, DC

Corduroy – Washington, DC

Kinship – Washington, DC

The Lafayette – Washington, DC

noma – Copenhagen, Denmark

Argent – Oslo, Norway

Ekebergrestauranten – Oslo, Norway

Arroyo Chop House – Pasadena, CA

Playground 2.0 – Santa Ana, CA

Michael’s on Naples Ristorante – Long Beach, CA

Mar’sel – Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

August 3rd, 2016

Posted In: Thriller Restaurants

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Much is written about story structure. My novels utilize what I call a story timeline, which lays a foundation for all of the plot points and character arc transitions that are required in a  great novel.

Listed below are the nineteen unique timeline points I use when designing a story. Two of those listed – Complications and Fall from Grace – are actually multiple actions that get expanded into many specific timeline points.

  • Act I – Inciting Incident (1st 5 pages): initial problem begins; story arc begins
  • Act I – Call to Action: protagonist arc begins
  • Act I – Defining Moment – Crucible: protagonist has awakening and chooses to do something he/she wouldn’t normally do; fears and moral problem
  • Act I/II – First Turning Point / Awakening (~10% of story timeline): plot moves in new direction
  • Act II – 1st protagonist subplot begins
  • Act II – Secondary character arc begins
  • Act II – Complications – nothing works (as many as needed)
  • Act II – 2nd protagonist subplot begins (puzzle to solve, new problem)
  • Act II – Grace state (protagonist hasn’t changed – still trying to solve everything using usual beliefs)
  • Act II – Moment of Enlightenment (~50% of timeline) – the old stuff doesn’t work and protagonist changes course; Midpoint stakes
  • Act II – Fall from Grace – new ways leading to solution put the protagonist in more trouble (as many as needed)
  • Act II/III – The Big Gloom (~90% of timeline) – protagonist destroyed, everything has failed, pt. of no return – chooses to press on
  • Act III – Transformational Moment (things swing in protagonist’s favor)
  • Act III – 1st protagonist subplot resolved / twist
  • Act III – Secondary character arcs resolved
  • Act III – Final Obstacle
  • Act III – 2nd protagonist subplot resolved / puzzle solved
  • Act III – Climax – initial problem is solved
  • Act III – Conclusion – story arc and protagonist character arc complete

This blog post will go into the Act I timeline points.

The first point is the Inciting Incident. This is where the initial problem begins, and the story arc begins. It’s the reason the story is being told. It should happen right away as the novel begins.

Next, the protagonist arc begins, as he or she is Called to Action as a result of the Inciting Incident. Something has happened that forces the protagonist to react and do something about it.

When this action is ineffective in solving the problem, the protagonist has a Defining Moment, a crucible where he or she chooses to do something he or she wouldn’t normally do. The protagonist is now out of their comfort zone. Their internal fears and moral problems are now exposed.

The final timeline point in Act I acts as a transition to Act II. In this First Turning Point the protagonist has an awakening, and the plot moves in an entirely different direction, leading to multiple complications and rising action.

All of this should be accomplished in approximately ten percent of the story timeline (not number of words).

By structuring the start of your novel in this fashion, you greatly improve your chances of  giving the reader a comfortable and recognized flow.

Next up, Act II.

July 18th, 2016

Posted In: Steven G. Jackson, Techno Thriller Books

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