Shawn Burgess Author

The Tear Collector Ranks 27 for Most Popular Books This December

We are excited to announce The Tear Collector has just appeared at #27 on Goodreads Most Popular Books published this December 2019.

Here are just a few of the reviews from Speculative Fiction and Indie enthusiasts:

Jill Squire
I was given an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Mr. Shawn Burgess’s “The Tear Collector”, for me, proved to be a riveting and fun read regarding coming of age and horror.

Mr. Burgess captured with uncanny certainty the angst of adolescence awkwardness, sharp pain of loss, the need to belong, loyalty born of pre-adulthood and inner strength for teens. He weaves these facets through his beautifully paced and chilling tale of horror & mythos in such a way that the reader can seamlessly harken back to those awkward, uncomfortable times, and yet relate to the main characters so very easily as an adult reader.

I was reminded – a bit – of the movie “Stand by Me” while reading this story.

Mr. Burgess managed to brilliantly pull off a story told from the perspective of young teens, yet write it to be thoroughly enjoyed by adult fans of thrillers & suspense.

I look forward to more from this writer!

Cassondra Walker
Readers of Shawn Burgess’s online work have been eagerly awaiting the release of The Tear Collector, and they will not be disappointed. Technically in the horror genre, The Tear Collector is much more than a tale of terror and gore – although I definitely recommend reading it in the daylight hours. Deft prose combined with thrilling, pell-mell action carry the reader page to page, wild anticipation stronger than the undeniable dread. A band of young boys, brought together by camaraderie in the face of small-town bullying, encounter an ancient evil only to discover that they are its true prey. But why? And how is this possible? Burgess weaves a complex tale of love and loss, betrayal and revenge, that will both terrify and haunt his readers. Although the characters are middle-school children, this is definitely a book for adult readers, who will find Burgess’s work thoroughly engaging. “Love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave:” Can this love, this jealousy ever be buried?

The mystery of Grief Hallow consumes you from the very beginning and takes you on a chilling, suspenseful ride with Brooks and his friends as they try to figure out what is plaguing the quaint town of Harper Pass.

Thrillers and mysteries are my favorite genres and The Tear Collector, Shawn Burgess’ debut novel, did not disappoint. All the twists and turns throughout the story – many of them leaving me with my heart racing and my mouth ajar – kept me wanting more. Along with the strong story line, the descriptions of both the characters and the surroundings make you feel as though you are there trying to solve this town’s disturbance.

This book weaves together friendship, mystery, horror, and intellect. This page turner is one that will keep you on the edge of your seat, mind racing, and hoping it doesn’t end!

I was fortunate enough to be given an advance copy of Shawn Burgess’s debut novel in exchange for an honest review, and Shawn did not disappoint. Although the horror/science fiction is not my normal “go-to” I enjoyed this book and tore through it in one sitting. The story is fast-paced, tightly plotted, and creepy as hell. As others have mentioned, the plot is reminiscent of Stranger Things and Steven King in that it involves a group of young boys solving a gory mystery of supernatural origins in their tight Tennessee town, so fans of those shows/books should enjoy this wild and graphic ride. Shawn is gifted in his ability craft descriptive scenes of intrigue, tension, and bloodshed. Reader be warned, The Tear Collector is not for the faint of heart. The books opens with a horrific and fatal forest fire and does not slow down from there. I was routing not only for the main protagonist, Brookes, but also a number of secondary characters, including a dedicated but overwhelmed Sheriff and an unlikely hero in need of redemption. Although the boys appear to solve the mystery and exterminate the evil that haunts their town, Shawn leaves several threads hanging and I can’t wait for the sequel!

For more reviews about The Tear Collector on Goodreads, click here.

Book Giveaway For The Tear Collector Has Ended


The giveaway included a signed ARC of THE TEAR COLLECTOR, a fast-paced paranormal thriller being compared to Stranger Things and Stephen King’s IT.

Read below for an excerpt from The Tear Collector:

Have you seen Margo Combs?
Contact Detective Holt (918) 555-0155
You may choose to remain anonymous.

The misdeeds of our ancestors are debts passed from generation to generation. They lurk, hidden in the shadows, waiting for the right time to collect. For the residents of Harper Pass—their debt is due.

When a young autistic girl goes missing from a small Appalachian community, the residents of Harper Pass descend into chaos. Brooks Raker and his friends stumble across the police investigation, and as they dig deeper into the mysterious events, the boys realize the fate of their missing classmate pales in comparison with the evil lurking in the shadows of the quiet little town.

With four boys who believe something sinister is at work, and an ambitious reporter breathing down his neck, Detective Holt of the Harper Pass Police Department must confront his doubts and follow the evidence. A chain of disappearances and suspicious deaths, leads Holt to the doorstep of the mysterious and reclusive Professor Wadlow who may know exactly what has come to collect in Harper Pass.

Can the detective and the boys work together to unravel the dark secrets of Harper Pass before those secrets devour them all?

Blogger Shauna Asks Shawn About The Tear Collector, Past Works, and Life

In this interview with Blogger Shauna from Sunnyvale, CA, Shawn Burgess talks about his upcoming book, The Tear Collector, his past works, and his life.

“My debut novel, The Tear Collector, will be my first publication. I’ve written for years, especially in my teens and early twenties. I wrote a one-act play that opened four nights at the University of North Florida, which is probably the closest thing to publishing something. My ultimate dream and plan was always to be a novelist, but life happened somewhere in between, and my writing fell by the wayside. The Tear Collector is the first thing I wrote creatively in over twenty years and the first thing I ever submitted for publication.”

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DM Shepard Reviews The Tear Collector

DM Shepard gives a thought-provoking review of Shawn Burgess’ upcoming Adult Fiction, Paranormal Thriller-Horror Novel, The Tear Collector.

“The parallels we find between fiction and real-life at times can be ironic and unsettling at the same time. Shawn Burgess’s The Tear Collector is paranormal thriller/horror novel about a group of boys in a small town who are trying to help the police find their missing classmate, Margo Combs. She’s an autistic girl who has gone missing in the woods. As the clues come unraveled and bodies pile up, they realize that Grief Hollow is more than just a name.”

She goes on to say, “I have mentioned it in other reviews. I hate the question, “what is this story like?” or “What author is this writing like?” But I do have to admit the theme and style in this story reminded me greatly of two stories by Stephen King: IT and the Body (better known as the movie Stand by Me). It also kind of reminded me of a mash-up of the Monster Squad and the Sandlot. Shawn uses the themes of camaraderie and support as the boys of the Markland X Crew are forced to band together to unravel the mystery of Grief Hollow or suffer the same fate as their classmates.”

To read more of her review, click here.

The Tear Collector – Coming This Fall

Writing in the Age of Diminished Attention Spans

Think an average reader has less patience than they did in 1850, 1950, or 1990? I’d argue the answer is an overwhelming yes and that that delta grows wider by the day. We live in an age of sound bites and video clips, a scintillating, all-you-can-eat buffet of distraction at the fingertips of our readers. Multitasking reigns supreme, doing dishes while listening to a podcast, folding laundry while watching television. We encounter more stimuli in one day than someone a hundred years ago may have encountered in a month. So, how can we tear through this wall of brain bombardment and get someone to give their undivided attention to a book, a format that by its very essence demands shutting out all other distractions?


What I mean by this is that you need to set the hook—and set it deeply—at the onset of the story. Most readers are not going to wait twenty pages for this to develop. Remember, you’re not just competing with other books, but also other mediums. Give the reader plenty of reason to keep turning pages and not make that dreaded reach for their phone or remote on the bedside table.


While there may be nothing new under the sun, there are infinite combinations of stories and characters. Strive to be as original as possible. No one wants to read the shadow twin of a story that already exists.

While storytelling is formulaic to some extent, I would argue that the most successful authors create stories that become memorable for their unique differences versus any commonalities they share with other similar, preceding works. Think different angles and fresh spins.


The days of page after page of long exposition of every minute detail are over. All of these small details are important to build your world and atmosphere, but they can’t be strung together in a mind-numbing thread. They need to be spattered in throughout the manuscript, a sentence here, a paragraph there.

Readers demand that the plot moves. If you’re going to take me to a grocery store with your MC, don’t take me down every aisle while they waffle between choices, unless you’re establishing some important behaviors or characteristics about your MC. Hit the high points, the parts that are vital that I know as a reader and that relate to either the plot or character. The rest can come as succinct summation.

While pacing varies based on genre and the story being told, poor pacing is a sure way to lose your reader in a hurry. The moment they consciously recognize there’s a problem with the pacing is the same moment their mind begins to wander to all the other things that are clamoring for their time and attention.


At its essence, this is as simple as asking, do your readers care about what happens to your characters? They may be rooting for something good or bad to happen to a character, and either of those is good. Reader indifference is the real concern. If they’re not invested in your characters, they’ll lose motivation to keep turning the pages. They’re not going to care what happens in your story if they don’t care what happens to the characters in it.

Certain elements can forge that deep connection between your characters and readers: voice, relatability, crisp dialogue, well-formed characters with personalities distinct from one another, etc. Each of these is important and work together to make your readers ultimately care about the fate of your characters.


The world is changing at an incredibly rapid pace. But what hasn’t changed is people’s desire for a great story that they can connect with. And everything aforementioned is just one person’s humble opinion, mine. So that being said, it’s your story, and the person that knows how to best write your story is you. But these might be some helpful things to consider when you are crafting and revising it.

Dialogue: Make or Break

Writing dialogue can be one of the most challenging aspects of crafting a story, but it’s essential to get it right. And if you struggle with this, you’re not alone. Many writers do, and some will even avoid it at various spots in a manuscript, opting instead for telling, supplying descriptions of an exchange.

Without effective dialogue, a story can fall apart at the seams. No matter how good the surrounding narrative and plot are, having lousy dialogue is a sure way to lose a reader.

But dialogue doesn’t have to be the enemy. It can actually be one of the most effective weapons in a writer’s arsenal. It’s a great way to drop the reader right into the action with fast moving sequences.

I use dialogue to accomplish three main objectives in my stories: move the plot, character development and escalating tension.


No matter what genre you write in, moving the plot is essential to keeping your reader invested in a story. Nearly all dialogue should move a plot forward. If it’s not, and it’s not illuminating something important about one of the characters, it probably doesn’t belong.

Dialogue allows us to introduce conflict between characters, or resolve it. It replaces the need for lengthy explanations that detract from the story.

To find out if a dialogue sequence is effective, ask yourself one simple question. Do I know more about the plot than I did before? If the answer is no, you should strongly consider removing or revising it.


Dialogue is indispensable for character development. It can provide back story in chunks, provide insight into a character’s motivations and beliefs, or show if they are being duplicitous or genuine in their dealings with multiple characters. It helps a reader pick up on the nuances of your characters. And sometimes, what your characters don’t say can be just as important as what they do say. And don’t underestimate a reader’s ability to make inferences from the breadcrumb clues you leave in your dialogue. You can use this to slowly drive your reader toward something you want to reveal, or to lead them astray intentionally. One last point on character development, make sure you know your characters inside and out. A good test for this is, if you take away who a quote is attributed to, would you still know the character that’s saying it? Not in all cases, but in many, you should be able to make that inference.


Dialogue is a great way to introduce conflict and escalate tension. If your characters have diametrically opposed motivations and viewpoints, have them have a heated argument. It’s a great way to amplify tension and reveal what your characters are up to without spelling it out for the reader. I use this method frequently to keep a reader engaged.

To illustrate these three points, here’s a narrative excerpt versus a dialogue exchange, both conveying relatively the same information.


Tony turned to drugs to battle the deep shame he felt after his father molested him. His struggles with addiction led him to St Joseph’s. Here, and only here, with Father Ryan, had he learned to feel safe again. Though the calling tugged at his insides every day, begging him back to the streets for another hit. He was one bad batch away from a grave.


“Tony!” Father Ryan shouted. “Where are you going?”

“No where, Father,” he muttered, casting his eyes to the floor and removing his hand from the door latch.

“You know curfew. It’s for a reason, Tony. A recovering addict has no purpose outside of St. Joseph’s this time of—“

“I can’t do it anymore, father!” A tear steaks Tony’s cheeks and his body trembles. “I need it to deal with it. What my…what my dad did to me.” His lip quivers and he sobs. “I can’t live like this.”

“You might not live at all if you walk out that door. You’re a bad batch away from being in the morgue. What your dad did to you wasn’t your fault, Tony. Don’t let the sins of your father destroy you. These last two months, I think we’ve built a level of trust, yes?” Tony nods, flashing wounded eyes. “So trust me. I’m begging you. It gets easier. It’s why you’ve come here. To get clean. Don’t throw everything away now.”

I think the dialogue exchange above accomplishes, moving the plot, character development and escalating tension. But it also sheds light on Tony’s relationship with Father Ryan, as well as giving a glimpse into Tony’s internal conflict. It’s also much more engaging for a reader than its narrative counterpart.

Dialogue does and will continue to play a pivotal role in my stories. I love how it can lift characters off the page, and how versatile it is. It acts like a utility player in baseball. It can play multiple positions effectively, and if used wisely, can solve multiple issues for you in a manuscript.