Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sequencing my 2015 Anthology

I'm taking some time off to edit anthology of my entire output from last year. Everything is in here from flash, to longer short stories, a new novella and a half and even slightly touched up editions of Numbers 16:32 and Popular Mechanics for Young Widows. There's 23 stories in here and it's a lot to sift through.

I want to treat this like an "Annual" from the comic book world. It's nearly everything I've written in 2014 and is a great way to tie a bow around these ideas and move on to my 2015 writing schedule. Next year's stories seem to be dominated by crime, but I suspect we'll see some more scifi and horror come back into the fold sooner or later.

The most fun I'm having with this is finding the right order to put the stories in. I'm trying to not put anything with similar topics and themes close to each other. Also trying to mix up the length of the stories so that it has a good pacing. I think bands go through this when putting their albums together.

I'm a pretty pulpy writer so creating the cover image is also proving to be quite fun. I'm stuck on something with skulls at the moment. We'll see if a better idea presents itself in the next week or so.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Doin' Time at Xmas - @FlashFridayFic

Flash Friday Christmas challenge was a Santa ornament mugshot in around 150 words.

Doin' Time at Xmas


Martha sighed and put the phone on speaker. She had her hands full this time of year keeping the family business going while she waited on Kris to get out of the Hohaho State Pen.

“Hey sweetie, how’s Christmas going at the shop?”

She let him sit in silence. Martha had been at this table trying to reconcile a pile of shipping invoices all morning.

She still loved him, but was still mad at his pig-headed commitment his work team that got them into this situation to begin with. Rudolph already had two priors and a third strike would send him away for life. Kris thought it would be better accept the blame of the DWI himself. The spineless elves on the scene didn't intervene.

“Sweetie you there?” he asked.

Martha chased another bite of reindeer jerky with some egg nog and let him marinate a while longer.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Passage - @FlashFridayFic

My first attempt at a semi-final round of Flash Fiction resulted in the following story. I ended up more than doubling the word length limit of the story and preferred my final entry "A Foothold In the Orchard." For the sake of comparison I wanted to share this story which was also based on the "light at the end of the tunnel" photo prompt for the competition.


The tube was constricting now that Chae was close to the end of the prison she’d been making her way through over the past three days.  Yesterday she’d had an opportunity to move one of her arms forward when the wall shifted. Had that not happened, her arms would still be pinned to her sides, just like when she’d been fed into this beast head first by her tribe’s elders. 

For now though she needed to rest and save her energy for the final phase of the trial. She lay still and let the annelid’s gentle peristalsis carry her out inch by inch while she slept. With one arm free she could advance through the last section of tube faster than perhaps the Sentinel was expecting. If she was lucky she could catch it by surprise.  

Chae dreamed of Mother’s apothecary while she slept. She’d spent the last year before the rite of adulthood mixing medicine along Mother’s side and grousing about the upcoming trial she and the rest of the children their age had to pass if they wanted to move on to upper grades in school. She could opt out of the trial if she chose. Unlike the others she had no fighting experience. Refusing the trial would guarantee her a life in the service of others who had been brave enough to face the rite of passage and survive. 

Mother encouraged her through the year. Over the months of constant encouragement and guilt Chae’s pacifist convictions keeping her away from the rite eroded enough or her to accept the challenge. She’d spent dozens of hours in the worm upset at her mother persuasive abilities.

Despite their enormity, the worms were much like the small ones in the medicinal garden behind the apothecary. The giant invertebrates had a single large passageway from end to end that was designed for ingesting boulders and stripping them of their minerals and nutrients. They were also large enough to contain breathable, yet dank and putrid air. Other than the single sharp tooth about halfway through the digestive system, the walls of the beast were smooth, and constantly conveying sustenance through the beast until the inevitable end where the deadlier half of the rite, the Sentinel, presented itself.

When Chae awoke again she was about three arm lengths away from the end of the worm. She still couldn’t make out any images, but she heard wailing. An agonized grief. Someone in the trial must have died in the passage. A rarer death of the two possible. She closed her eyes to see if she could identify from the sobbing which sets of parents were now in mourning. 

It was Graham and Chae was relieved. He was a preferred son I the village. The elders had chosen the biggest and gentlest of the creatures for him but he must have proven too large to digest. He’d considered himself a man well before the rite of passage and had attempted to hold her down and demonstrate his pre-achieved status against her will. Chae bit a sizable hole in his cheek while he was on top of her. He’d told each of his friends that he’d been bitten by a wild dog in order to save face and not lose any of his stature. Chae hoped that the worm hadn't suffered while the elders tried to salvage their fortunate son. She found comfort in knowing that Graham, having failed the first stage of the rite would never be considered a man.

Chae’s fingers found purchase in the remaining walls of the backend of the worm and she started to pull herself out. Quickly and silently large beak sliced through the worm’s walls and took of the tip of Chae’s middle finger with it. She retreated and waited. “Eat more,” she encouraged the Chimera she now saw eating away at the back of her pathway out, trying to reach her. She’d poisoned this beast around day two using some of the powder she’d secreted into the trial in her cheeks. 

Two more bites and Chimera roared in agony. The poison in the worm’s blood would cause an unquenchable pain in the chained monster. She would defeat the beast and lay her hand on the sacred headstone without raising a blade. If she mixed her potion properly, the Chimera would likely not be able to guard the stone against any of her other classmates emerging over the rest of this afternoon.

Chae’s eyes had now fully adjusted to the outside world. The elders that circled the worm stood back watched in awe to see the girl struggle to free herself from the remains of the worm. They couldn't help as that would taint the ritual. She’d defeated the Chimera before emerging from the beast. Perhaps she’d been the first to do so. 

The tooth she’d removed from the worm seemed redundant had it not been for the other target she’d been intending to use it on. She dropped it to the ground. It was useless, Graham was already dead, laying near the slaughtered remains of his own passageway. A wreath of flowers had been lain over their intended champion. He still had more mourners and elders around them than Chae did as she pulled her remaining self from the worm. She approached the Chimera and patted its feathered head. She had more in common with this creature than any of the others in their tube. “Sorry I had to do that to you.”

The Chimera had been trained to put up a fight for the candidates, but never go in for a kill. The monster had been conditioned over to the decades to ignore its instinct and accept the worm meat as a greater prize than the much preferred taste of the children inside. Sometimes it forgot its training. Chae never held that against him. 

As an afterthought she walked to the headstone and touched it’s smooth surface marred by runes. Now she finally had more villagers around her than Graham. They awaited the first of three commands they had to deliver on for the first person of the group to complete the rite. As the newest adult in the village, Chae delivered her edict, “Burn the dead.” 

She decided to wait on the other two commands. She was free of the beast and had an adulthood ahead of her to plan out her next moves. She’d let her pacifism somewhere inside that worm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Foothold in the Orchard @FlashFridayFic

I made semifinals in the Flash Friday end of year Flashversary! This time we had a pick of a tunnel leading to light and a 500 word limit.

A Foothold in the Orchard

The clay walls were wet. Somehow it was more hot and humid down here than the tangerine orchard twenty feet above him. Jake’s sweaty hands weren't helping and he slipped again. He wasn't afraid of falling, just screaming on the way down.

“You still down there, boy?” Jake looked up upon hearing the farmer’s slow drawl. The old man’s head looked down the hole, eclipsing the better part of the opening’s light. Jake remained silent.

“Don’t worry. Police ‘er gone. ‘Bout twenty minutes ago,” the farmer said casually, seemingly without any hurry to salvage the man in his dried-out well.

“Good. Thanks. Get me out of here.” Now that his escape from this narrow pit was upon him, he found it harder to keep his grip.

“Now you wait a minute. Policeman says you robbed the credit union. The one on Jefferson Davis and Lee.” He could hear the old man spit something substantial into the weeds on the edge of the hole. Thankfully not into it.

“Don’t worry that bank is insured.”

“It’s a matter of principle young man. You have to live by principles for crissake. I know I do.”

Jake bit his tongue and slipped down another foot. “Let me out and we’ll talk more.”

Jake considered the other hiding places he’d considered: his buddy’s attic, the burned out warehouse, under the overpass. All of them seemed like quaint vacation destinations compared to his location dozens of feet under the ground. In hindsight he should have been more suspect about the easy bargaining with a dotty old man he’d met at the convenience store. The one that was now blocking his way back out.

“Listen, sir!” Jake yelled. “Are you a man of God?” It was a last ditch ploy, but one that had always worked on Jake’s too-sympathetic grandmother.

“Don’t know. What do you think, Officer Philips? Am I a man of God?”

Another man’s silhouette joined the farmer’s at the top of the well. “You chose a poor partner in crime son.” The policeman’s voice carried authority even this far down the well.

Jake’s stomach dropped. For an instant he thought of letting go and ending his life at the bottom of the well. He didn’t want to go back to the prison, but looking down, he noted that there were worse places to end up.

“Let me up. Get me out of here.” Jake yelled. “I’ll take you to the money. I’m turning myself in.”

“Oh we already found your money, son.” The officer held up a small stack of bills. “I got some spending money and looks like ol’ Deke here can finally pay off that outhouse he’s been digging this hole for.”

“Best wishes young man.” The farmer said, somehow sincerely. “If you see my wife down there, let her know I said hi.”

Jake screamed as the two silhouettes disappeared, only to be replaced by a wooden square with a small hole cut in its center.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cardinal Spark @FlashFridayFic

This week's prompt at Flash! Friday was a roaring building fire. It had to be exactly 150 words.

Cardinal Spark

Once the roof collapsed into the bigger fire below there was zero chance of saving the building. Henry considered all of the devotion that had gone into building the congregation up to the point where a capital campaign for the church would even be feasible. He had lost his commitment to his faith long ago, but thought this building would be a final gift to the believers he’d shepherded over the decade.

Watching his church burn, Henry knew this was the retribution for his sins. He threw his clerical collar into the embers of one of the pews and watched it curl. The cinders kicked up again. A gold wedding ring had been thrown into the fire in the same place. He looked over and remembered Sheila was with him. She rested her head on his cheek and whispered into his ear “Do you like what I've done for us?”

Friday, December 5, 2014

Crash Test Impulses @MicroBookends

Micro Bookends flash fiction is tough. 100 word limit and have to start with "sacred" and end with "sound." Also had to incorporate the prompt photo of a fighter jet.

Crash Test Impulses

Sacred words never came when she closed the door of the crash test vehicle. Nancy could never bring herself to pray over the cadavers she’s transported to the labs. She was a woman of science and to bring mysticism into this cruel but necessary work would betray her own commitment to rationalism.

She put a cloth bag over the cadaver, resting the sewn in pressure pad over the corpse’s forehead. She gave the thumbs up to the engineer in the booth. Nancy wondered if this grandmother ever thought she’d be in the cockpit of a fighter jet. Nancy laughed, relieved that the din of the jet would cover the sound.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Inland Tides - @FlashFridayFic

Another entry for Flash! Friday. This week's prompt was an image of a woman wading in an ocean tide.

Inland Tides

Monica's toes explored the cracks in the highway pavement hoping for a nibble. The lobsters made their homes in the crevices of the old interstate that had once bisected Atlanta. The road and most of the city that had gone underwater back when her parents were still children. With the water up to her chest, anyone floating by on a raft wouldn't know she was pregnant. Even the baby’s father, if he were to ever own up to it. 

A spine poked her big toe and she immediately took the tickle stick from her belt loop. In two steps, Monica had the small lobster in her bag with the others.  She now had enough to sell at the flotilla. Hopefully none of her customer were former clients from her old line of business. Soon she’d have enough to move inland and make certain her child didn't have to come of age in this drowned echo of a city. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

New Fiction Short: The Bronze Shade

I've shared a new short story on the fiction website Farther Stars than These. "The Bronze Shade" is my response to the blank eyes in those ancient Greek statues that used to creep me out as a kid.

An excerpt:

As they filled my cradle, I had worried that the drowning would be painful and I started to thrash, begging for my caretakers to take me out. Now I am thankful that they rebuked my pleas for mercy and had weighted me down with the stones. I cannot tell if their motivation lied in their commitment to the task at hand or the lifetime of money I’d paid to have it done to me. (Laughing ~1 min straight.) I awoke from the bath, no longer subject to my millennia of dreams. Yet with no eyes to see, I question if I am still in the dream.

Jeanie sat in the board room and reviewed her last page of notes from last week’s interview with Haetor. She trusted the court-appointed translator’s notes from the sessions; he had no motive to deceive her. Was it bad to emphasize Haetor’s last statement in her presentation? It was the one coherent section from any of her interviews and she wanted to use it to add some humanity where she failed to find any. Everyone deserved a fair trial. . . 

Read the rest at :

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Noir Society Vinyl

Just a single piece of flash fiction this week for Flash! Friday. A phonograph theme.

Noir Society Vinyl

The parties were always the same: After polite introductions, Paulson took requests for the first hour then played another hour of curated recordings from his own collection. The twenty people seated before him were a shadow of the original Adventurer’s Society that had birthed their splinter movement. These refined men and women were those dedicated to the darker, more sinister, and truer experiences in the world around them. Through pain, one could better understand life.

Paulson slid the vinyl disc from the plain matte black sleeve. Careful not to graze the incision on his thumb from the night’s earlier blood ritual. He may have been a practitioner of the black arts, but was no masochist. The polite chatter, clinking glasses, and even the whimpering of the corgi puppy in Dame Grenier’s lap stopped as he laid the needle on the record. With a hiss and a pop the audience were treated to Paulson’s latest sound recording: a murder by strangulation.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sequestered Vessel @FlashFridayFic

Another Flash Friday entry from this week's prompt.

Sequestered Vessel

He didn't have the breadth of thought he was once capable of, but Byron was more than able to preserve his sense of self and his desire to reclaim his life. Byron had tracked down Dr. Skinner after the previous scientists had no answers to share.

There was a chain of command that Byron was killing his way up and everyone blamed the same thing: the government sequesters. Thanks to legislative gridlock, all funding for the secret Permanence Project had been frozen. Eight months in, and no end to shutdown in sight, the Project and is mission of permanent life through consciousness transfer had been abandoned.

Byron, had been in a temporary host, awaiting a human vessel when the lab was shut down. But now he was a macaque with a knife hunting for answers.  If Dr. Skinner had no answers, Byron was more than happy to embrace the instincts of his current vessel and open the man’s neck.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Honeymoon @FlashFridayFic

Another Flash Friday entry. This week's prompt was a macaque on a balcony. 


Wyatt heard his wife’s terrified screaming from the other room. He ignored her and kept shaving. She’d been doing that every time she looked out their honeymoon suite window to the balcony and down the ten stories to the bay below. He hoped her occasional shrieks weren't bothering the other guests. 

Shelley was silent again. Wyatt thought it would be good to buy some kind of hood for her in moments like this. His contract guaranteed a million dollars a year for the first ten years of their marriage so expenses like these were insignificant. 

He heard the balcony door slide open and the screaming started again. Wyatt burst out of the bathroom and found his wife poised on the rail outside. Shelley stopped screaming. Her tail was straight up. He looked at the carefully balanced monkey and slowly approached. He couldn't let her die two days into their marriage. If she did the bet would be off.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Traveling Haze @MicroBookends

Tried my hand at Micro Bookends flash contest this week. You have 100 words, a photo prompt and have to begin with "word" and end with "blind." Very tough.

Traveling Haze

Word of the haze arrived with a klaxon’s blare only an hour before the rouge cloud arrived. The defoliant, a leftover echo of a failed weapons test, enveloped the path between Jacob’s house and the hospital. They should have planned ahead to make certain that he and Evie were off the island during her last trimester in case this happened.

The hospital said they’d find a way to send a nurse as the baby was presenting breach. Looking out the window, Jacob saw her. The oxygen tank would save her lungs, but she wasn’t wearing goggles. Only squeezing her eyes shut. The acidic haze threatened to render her blind.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rolling Brotherhood of the Vision Family #FlashFiction

Back at it for Flash! Friday. We had a train theme and 160 word limit

Rolling Brotherhood of the Vision Family

Honey gripped the knife handle to the point where her fist was as white as her robes. She was ready to do everything in her power to keep Brother Gemini from getting to the Apostle first.

Like every Saturday morning, Apostle had strapped himself to the front of the outside chassis of the train engine. Their leader was receiving God’s treasured guidance as a whisper in the pummeling wind as the train accelerated through the mountains and away from the judgment of any one land-anchored community. She’d secreted her weapon from her bunk in the wives car, and quietly made passage through the two children’s cars, the worship and fellowship cars before noticing Gemini trailing her.

Now was it was her last chance to escape before she could bring another of the Apostle’s babies into the Vision Family. Honey kicked Brother Gemini away and started sawing at the straps holding the Apostle to the front of the train.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Trackside Mechanics #FlashFiction

This week's Flash! Friday had a train theme and the usual 160 word limit

Trackside Mechanics

The pops of distant gunfire verified that his fellow riders from what remained of the National Guard were making good use of their time while Seamus tried to get the spray container to give up its contents. It wasn’t the first time he had to stop the whole operation to fix the one of the five dozen cylinders of pesticide that comprised the majority of the train.

 He looked up and found his problem. A mottled severed hand had somehow screwed itself into the end of the industrial sized sprayer on this side of the cargo container. He snorted at the thought of the vermin finally learning how to stop their own extermination. Seamus dislodged the obstruction and pink vapor immediately sprayed out. The hand disintegrated leaving behind its engagement ring. Seamus collected this treasure to add to his collection of artifacts from the first leg of their journey to eradicate the zombies that had been rampant these last decades.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tools of the Trade #FlashFriday

Another week of Flash! Friday. We had a horse theme and 160 word limit

Tools of the Trade

Ace liked his blackjack the best of all his collections tools. It was heavy enough to pack a wallop on any bankrupt jockey groveling for another loan extension, yet small enough to chuck into a bush if a copper happened to cross his path. Looking at the horse though he’d wished he brought his pliers. The blackjack was doing no good.

After a few more unsuccessful punches he tried opening the race horse’s mouth. The beast clamped down on his fingers after swallowing his beloved blackjack. Ace looked up at the horse almost challenging the thug to continue his assault and remembered the jockey’s last words before blacking out in a gasping pile “you can’t get the money back. I made the horse swallow it.” Ace was going to have to return with a bag of oats and play the waiting game instead of strong-arming the beast. Not just for his boss’s wad of money, but for his blackjack.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Snowfall Cave #5MinuteFiction

This was a stressful version of Flash Fiction where you're given a prompt and have 5 minutes to write a little story. I think I was holding my breath for this whole challenge. Definatelyy worth attempting again. The Writer's Network hosts this challenge.

The Prompt:

Your character takes shelter in a small cave on a mountain for the night. When he/she wakes in the morning, there’s three feet of snow on the ground. What do they do?

The Result:

Snowfall Cave

Warren looked out at the snow, pleased. Three feet of snow would have done the trick. Everything was flat and smooth. The side of the mountain only had sparse trees poking from out from the drift. Everything else was flat and smooth with no hint at the what lay beneath.
He sniffed and rolled up his sleeping bag, making sure to place the deconstructed sniper rifle in the center of the mass. He double checked his pockets to make sure his two spent casings were still there. Any evidence of such a high caliber weapon would lead straight back to him once the snow thawed and the dead remains would be discovered.
He hoisted the bag over his shoulder and locked his snow shoes in place. If he was lucky he’d be able to find fresh tracks and get a few more in before hunting season kicked off in two more days. Warren had no clue why the beasts even had a season, they we’re taken off the endangered species list a decade ago and were worthless as meat. Killing Sasquatch should be fair game no matter what the time of year. He even told that to the city commission last time they had a hearing on the matter.
Warren pulled a plug of chaw out of his back pocket and packed it into his gums. He’d packed light on food, and the tobacco would keep him from getting hungry till later in the morning. As soon as he had the pack of leaves in his cheek, he noticed the rank smell. He considered he’d bought the chaw past date, but then he heard the heavy breathing.
Warren looked over his shoulder stood face to chest with an incredibly tall Sasquatch. Like his quarry yesterday, this one was grey. They could have been kin. Warren gulped his tobacco and didn't have time to grimace from the distaste before the monster struck him down with a claw-handed blow. With a grievous roar, the Sasquatch had begin his own hunting season.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Big in #Ukraine

Happened to look at my sites web traffic for the month and saw a massive spike in traffic from Ukraine. Stay safe readers in Ukraine!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hollow Bishops #FlashFiction

Here's the other short I wrote for the chess prompt at Flash! Friday. There was a 150 word limit.

Hollow Bishops

The rooks were the easiest to shape, given the medium. Almehide made those first in sets of four. Two he would coat in a patina and glaze in the clay oven at the center of his hovel. Pawns came next, then royalty and knights.

Almehide held onto the bone and used the tip of his carving blade to carve out a path for his small chisel to attempt making a bishop once again. His problem was, once the marrow had been sucked out of the femur, the material would become too delicate create the gentle tapering of the bishops miter. Every piece Almehide cracked and had thrown into the fire. He looked out the window longingly, hoping for another opponent to challenge at this game of royals. This nemesis didn’t need to know the game. Almehide would happily teach him. But after his lesson, he’d play for real stakes. He was hungry to complete his collection.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Dry Tortuga Rook #FlashFiction

Had some fun writing up two pieces of flash fiction today from a Chess prompt at Flash! Friday. I had a 160 word limit with this one.

Dry Tortuga Rook

Dr. Mudd reminded him that dead ones would be easier, but that’s not what Grünfeld was trying to accomplish. Grünfeld selected the largest of the palmetto bugs from his bowl. He was certain that it had enough brain mass to learn a rook’s simple move set. That’s why he’d scratched the castle onto its elytra with one of the doctor’s old needles.

Grünfeld set the bug on one of the homemade board’s white squares. With his other hand he put a bread crumb near the base of the piece occupying E7. The bugs weren’t as starved as the men in Fort Jefferson, but they would rarely resist the bait. The palmetto bug made his way to the crumb and in doing so knocked over Dr. Mudd’s queen. His nemesis and physician laughed. It was a long way from the self-automated game he dreamed of, but in Grünfeld’s defense this was only his first phase of training the bugs.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yearly Pumpkins #flashfiction

Had a lot of fun writing this bit of flash fiction over the weekend at The Angry Hourglass. The prompt was an image of a pumpkin and there was a 360 word limit.

Yearly Pumpkins

There were grey feathers at the base of the pumpkin and it was still warm to Tessa’s touch. The farmer didn't see Mildred around, but she knew this pumpkin had been selected for the year. Tessa fetched the stakes and rope and went about cordoning off the pumpkin for whenever Mildred chose to return.

The farmer had dozens of seasonal workers that she could have delegated this task to every year, but Tessa felt obligated to do this herself. Mildred was a vestige of her ill-conceived attempt to section off part of her pumpkin patch for raising ostriches. With no family of her own to shape her priorities, Tessa had taken to these wild hairs. She’d picked Mildred up as a chick as a trial run more or less. She wanted to see what it took to keep her and feed her as a yearling before committing to a flock. 

Somewhere in that first year, she lost the heart to harvest the bird. The only revenue she’d ever made from Mildred was in selling her eggs to curious visitors at the farm stand on the front of her property. It was an impulse purchase from out-of-towners and she never had repeat customers. It was barely worth the money and not worth the maudlin behavior of the bird hunting for her eggs in the weeks after Tessa had removed them.

One morning, weeks before the seasonal help came on to help operate the patch, Tessa found Mildred alone in the field. Sitting. The farmer approached, yet kept a safe distance. The bird pecked and preened at the bed skirt of feathers beneath it and Tessa caught a glimpse of the pumpkin she was incubating.

Tessa sectioned off the pumpkin. In restricting the Mildred’s nest, it inadvertently became the main attraction of her patch. In the crisp air that swept in the autumn year after year, Tessa always considered the bird and its nest. After the gourd rotted away and the ground froze, the bird never hunted for her lost chick. The farmer continued to question what the two of them were trying to harvest.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Artwork incoming

Well that didn't go well. Had a setback on the cover art for the kids novel. Somehow a shadow army of zombies escaping downtown and a pair of sour patch kids grimacing while walking on a lake weren't the best fit for the kids book. I would like to write the book that this would be a great cover for though.

I think the next draft is going to be awesome though. More to come on that soon.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New Book Announcement - The Brothers Patchwork: Bandits in Burlap

I'm happy to formally announce that my first novel will be available in mid-September. It's quite a bit different than the work I've been publishing as of late, but those were good tests for me to work out the kinks in the e-Publishing process before sharing a full blown story.

The Brothers Patchwork: Bandits in Burlap is actually a children's novel that I wrote in after developing the stories with my own kids every night. It's an adventure yarn about two brothers that receive a mysterious quilt in the mail. That they soon discover that the gift sets them on a course for danger in an unexpected place, decades away from home.

I've had some great feedback from early readers and I can't wait to share it with everyone once it comes out next month. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this one.

Look for a cover reveal soon.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

#Clickbait Marketing my Books

The wife and I love Clickbait article titles. I thought it might be a fun exercise to retitle Numbers 16:32 and Popular Mechanics for Young Widows with clickbait to see if we get more downloads.

Numbers 16:32

  • You won't believe what this old man does after church!
  • 93 pages of unexpected horrors (page 8 is the worst)
  • 10 signs you're barn door's open

Popular Mechanics for Young Widows

  • This one hurts. .
  • Meet the modern marvel that will make you stand up and cheer 
  • READ: The one weird trick that this woman uses to stay organized

Friday, July 25, 2014

Popular Mechanics for Young Widows is Live on @NoiseTradeBooks

I'm really excited to share a new story with you: Popular Mechanics for Young Widows

Lamar devoted every waking moment of his last months of life secretly tinkering with a mysterious contraption in his garage. After he passes away, his wife must learn how to live alone and keep herself from letting the recently discovered machine spiral her life even further out of control.

Like Numbers, I'm making this one free for everyone on NoiseTrade and $0.99 at the online bookshop of your choice. Please let me know what you think of it and share the link freely with others. I have an open door/open source policy so any and all feedback and sharing is welcome.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cover Reveal: Popular Mechanics for Young Widows

I'm happy to share the cover for my latest short story/novella. Look for more information on downloading it soon.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

#LifeHack Fast Overnight Water Refill for #KCup Machine

I'm usually a patient person except when it comes to refilling the water chamber on our Keurig. The water from our refrigerator comes out incredibly slow. So what I just discovered is that I should just put in a bunch of ice from our ice maker in there at night and it will all melt in the morning.

This makes me feel like a genius. Kinda like when I think that picking up my socks off the floor with my toes saves me the two seconds it takes to just bend over.

Friday, June 27, 2014

@thebirthdayboys "That's all the birds."

For health reasons I never binge watching, but the wife and I just knocked out the entire first season of The Birthday Boys on Netflix.

Cover Blues

Popular Mechanics for Young Widows is all done. . . sort of. Everything's proofed, and formatted, except I don't have the cover right.

WIth covers I like to come up with the idea then give my rouch clip arty version of the cover to a professional to interpret in the best way they see fit. This time I'm drawing a blank. It has to be intriguing without giving too much away.

Here's my gallery of fails so far.

This just doesn't read. The crummy clip art makes the protagonist look like a criminal, but that's fixable. Color scheme is pretty yuck to boot.

This is just boring. I'm sticking with purple or pink as the primary color.

I'm basically trying to illustrate one of the main themes in the novelette which has to do with technology creating a large barrier in the protagonist's reintegration into life after the death of her husband. Once I get the image locked in, I'll send a note to the mailing list and we'll move onto this summer's other large publishing project: Patchwork!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Proofreaders Ahoy

Proofreaders are doing a diligent job of working through the new story and giving feedback. Sounds like the title "Popular Mechanics for Young Widows" seems to be sticking. I've learned that 401k was established in 1978 and the percocet was released for the first time in 1976. Looking forward to more random bits of research facts as proofreaders send me more notes.

Friday, June 20, 2014

If your going to fake a reality show, do it like this

I understand the artifice in many reality shows. I can remember the first Subway commercial in Pawn Stars. At least in Urban Tarzan they wear their fakery on their sleeve.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Patchwork Edits are in

In an unexpected surprise I received the draft of Patchwork back from the Editor last night a couple weeks earlier than expected. While this is written to be a chapter book written for elementary aged readers, I'm leaning toward ePublishing it as a non-illustrated preview copy while I figure out the traditional independent route. So look out for that in the month ahead.

Friday, June 6, 2014

My Writing Trends

I've been a little more self conscious about writing this latest novelette and have noticed these things about my writing:

  • I've started being much more liberal in editing down. I've been cutting out parts that I love for the sake of tightening up the story.
  • My mantra is shorter, shorter, shorter. I like short video games and movies that are 90 minutes long. If I can tell a short story in the time it takes to watch a movie, then I'm doing my job.
  • I tend to lean on characters asking themselves questions. Why is that?
  • Once the story is ending, I'm not one for a long goodbye. Let's wrap up these endings and go about our day.
Now that I'm self-aware of these, I'll try playing around with these conventions in the next work.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Who Needs a Movie?

The theme for the next book. . .

Preparing a Tidal Wave of Content

While I'm wrestling the latest proper novella through the final stages of ePublishing, I'm preparing some other content for serialization. I really like getting snatches of content at a time so through it would be fun to do this with Royal Ladybugs of Maryville and possibly the kids story.

Also happy to be providing some new writing in a new format very soon. More to come on that at a later time. in the meantime here's a sense of what it could be about:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Barnes & Noble Nook store now open

The Nook was the first eReader we owned. And despite it being generations old at this point, we still use the heck out of it. I'm happy to say that I've finally worked through some back end challenges and now Numbers 16:32 and all future content will now be available on Nook.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Strategies for the Super Toy Run

In looking up the Sears Wish Book video for the prior post I remembered the Toys 'R Us Nickelodeon Super Toy Run. Somehow I think I remember my strategy from when I was a kid daydreaming about how I'd maximize my time in the store:

  1. Run to the video games grab all of them
  2. Hit up the Popples. Grab a Pound Puppy for my sister if I see one.
  3. Don't grab a bike it will slow you down.
  4. Clear out the action figures just like you did the video games.
  5. Save all remaining time on Transformers. Skip the Go-bots. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sears Wishbook is awesome!

Please pardon the inaccuracy in the image depicted on the cover of an upcoming story I'm publishing that starts with a fresh copy of the Sears Wish Book. I mashed up two covers into something fresh. Perhaps a catalog from a parallel universe. String theory and commerce!

There's nothing terribly ironic of LOL about this video I just thought it was interesting to that there was once an infomercial for a store catalog.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Progress report: Popular Mechanics

In finishing the newest short story for June's release, I've hit quite a wall. I know how things begin and the middle, but rarely know the endings until about a week or two before my self imposed deadline. It's only now that I've noticed it's a pattern. In writing the two novel drafts, and in "Numbers" and "Popular Mechanics" I've had the same problem. 

The answer been usually the same I'll throw my hands up give what I have done so far to my wife. She cuts through the story with sharp eye and that's they catalyst that somehow triggers the appropriate ending. After that it's a quick ride through the rest of the rollercoaster. 

"Popular Mechanics" now has an ending that feels appropriate and I can't wait to hear what readers think about it. It's a great progression from Numbers and I'm looking forward to posting it to the eShop of your choice.

I'm off to the artist to see if what he thinks of my rough concept for the cover. Something that really captures the peak of high technology in the 80's.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

United Nations of Readers - Nations Of The World

I squarely in the hobbyist camp of writing. I keep it limited to the train and here and there in the late evenings. In starting to share my work through sites like Noisetrade, it's been amazing to hear from people reading Numbers 16:32 from all over the world.

In honor of an especially huge day of new countries on my list of readers, it's time for Animaniacs!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Summer Writing Preview

I'm working on three stories for release in the three months ahead. Like Numbers, I'm rolling out each one on Noisetrade free for a month before retiring each one to Amazon and the other standard digital shops.

Popular Mechanics for the Domestic Set: Valerie adjusts to the dating scene with the help of the latest technology 1982 has to offer.

The Curious Thing About Molecules: An entirely new kind of apocalypse for people tired of reading about the nuclear, viral and climate change kinds.

The Royal Ladybugs of Maryville: A woman's social club tracks down the criminals the local cops don't dare touch.

I'm genre hopping this summer while plotting out the next proper horror offering in the vein of Numbers. There's also the promise of the children's book being published in physical form at some point on the horizon as well.

Thanks for taking this ride with me.


As a bonus here's the most 90's thing I've seen in a while. TMNT on Oprah.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Last chance for Numbers 16:32 for free

Thanks to each of you for downloading, reading and sharing your feedback on my first short story on Noisetrade. I've done no marketing up to this point, so It's amazing to hear from people all over the world who have discovered the book purely by clicking around. As an avid user of the site, I'd placed the book on Noisetrade as a great way to get the it to my friends and family at no cost. I have discovered a really engaging community of adventurous readers looking to try new authors. 

I will be transitioning Numbers 16:32 to Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, iBooks etc. on May 30th, so if you know anyone that may be interested in reading it while it's free, now is the time to tell them. 

I will be posting a new novelette of a very different genre on Noisetrade at that point. Like Numbers it's a bit of a mash-up involving getting back on the dating scene, high technology, and the the 1982 Christmas Wishbook. Spoiler: It is not a magic catalog actually granting wishes. There's no nasty green moss in this one either. 

Again, thanks for reading and letting me know what you think about Joseph and his discovery down the well.

Until next time, here a fun review of Numbers from I Heart Reading.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Kyle Mooney for Class President

In our house Kyle Mooney is the bright spot in the new season of Saturday Night Live. In honor of his work in Wing and Chris for President, I also want to share one of our favorite clips of his from Norm McDonald.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tiny Review: Muramasa Rebirth

I'm so backlogged on games, that I just now getting around to playing Muramasa Rebirth on my Vita. I picked it up as part of a Playstation Plus sale the other week and have been playing it on the train ever since. Based on the Trophies I've earned so far it looks like I'm about halfway in to both campaigns. Without beating it I initially felt like I couldn't review it, when I sat back and revisited my progress again, I noticed that I had been doing the same thing over and over in the game:
  1. Follow the flag on the map to your next destination 
  2. fight bad guys along the way
  3. Arrive at the flag and fight a boss
  4. Die? Level grind until you can kill the boss.
  5. Kill the boss then backtrack across screens and screens of maps to your next flag destination. 
  6. Equip new swords once you get enough points to forge them.
  7. Repeat
That's literally it. The graphics are amazing though and I think that's why I'm still compelled to play through to the end. I'm certain the last boss is going to be an multi-screen stunner. Until then it's a real grind to get to the end of both journeys.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

New cover art for Numbers

I'm really happy with the new cover designed by @1ndika. I'm into minimalism for covers and was aiming for something akin to my favorite Signet horror covers from the early 80s.

The Noisetrade free download will continue through May until it's replaced by the next novelette. It's about domestic life and high technology. I always have a title last so, more on that soon.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Numbers 16:32 now available for download from your fav eBookstore

I'm happy to have worked out the kinks for ePublishing with Numbers 16:32. It's now available for download from these sites for $0.99 or free! Download, comment, and share. All feedback is welcome. 

Google Play
iBooks (coming soon)

Joseph's Sunday morning routine of church, beer and solitude is interrupted by a ragged screaming coming from the the far side of his farm land. What he finds there will challenge his resolve in ways he hasn't faced since losing his wife or confronting the horrors of the Korean War.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Slow Roll Out

I have Amazon and Noise trade up, but still having issues with Google Play/Books. I'll work on that later. It looks like people have already found the Noisetrade and Amazon books sites with no marketing, so looks like I set them up right.

To thank folks for their patience, here's this:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Waiting Game: Adventures in ePub

I've been wrestling the ePub format to try and get Numbers 16:34 ready for market. So far Amazon looks fine, and Noisetrade was a breeze. But Google Play. . . sigh. It's kicking out an error that none of the other stores have had problems with. I'll work on the others stores later.

I'll have everything go live at once and share all links to store of your choice on the blog.

Also going with the temporary cover image for the story. I'll have someone help me out with a cleaner image based on the temporary one in the weeks ahead.

In other news I've picked up The Other Robot Story as my next project. That one should be done in a month and we'll see what I've learned with getting short stories onto the online marketplace.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

In Defense of Short Games

Every so often I hear someone complaining about how short a video game is and I always break it down the same way. A movie is about $12 (pre-upgrades) for two hours of content. Why do we then have a different set of standards for video games? I love ending a game and wanting more. That's the best criticism anyway isn't it. "I didn't want this to end."

John Waters puts a 90 minute cap on all of his movies and I think that's a great way to ensure that the film your creating is boiled down to essential parts.

Some of my favorite modern short games:

  • Portal
  • Journey
  • Uncharted
  • Fez
  • Steamworld Dig

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Numbers 16:32 Is Done

Officially finished the short story last night and it's off to my reviewers. Like I said in an earlier post this is more in the novelette range, but should prove to be a swift read. 

Giving it about a week for the readers to get back and it should be available on e-readers. More on that soon.

I tried to find a video about farms to celebrate the face that the lead character is a farmer and ended up with this gameplay video of a farming game. Enjoy?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Patchwork Art: Group 2

Here's two more concept pieces for the Patchwork book. I think we have our bases covered here. I'm amazed how similar and different these first four turned out. Always looking for more styles to try even though I think I have a favorite. Can you guess which one?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Writing List

I'm getting faster at my writing now that I've found my groove on the train. Here's the backlog I'm working through in no particular order. Some of this I'll never get to, but it's fun to list out my options.

  • Patchwork 2 & 3
  • Royal Ladybugs
  • Knuckle Justice
  • That Other Robot Story
  • Generations of Quantum Theory
  • Cigarettes for Breakfast
  • Sangrimal 
  • Blood Patriots
  • Small Town Wolves

If you see me on the train, be sure to ask which one I'm working on at the time.

Patchwork Art: Group 1

I'm playing around with the concept of illustrating the first Patchwork book. While I'm waiting for my second round of proofing, I was encouraged to fish for artists interested in joining Team Patchwork. 

I gave five people the same character description from the book and told them to do whatever they liked. Here's the first two that got back to me. I'll post the other three soon. We all seem to have different favorites out of the first five.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

PS Vita Recommendation: Steamworld Dig

Completed Steamworld Dig tonight for the PS Vita. I was holding off on getting it for 3DS once I saw how pretty it looked on the Vita and PS4. It was lot of fun and just the right amount of game for me (~5.5 hours). Definitely worth picking up on your platform of choice.

Steamworld Dig

Monday, March 24, 2014

Word Count

So I'm running into a first time writing insight. I started to write this short story as a short story and now I find out that I'm closer to a Novelette or Novella based on word count. My goal is to just write the story till it's done and deal with it later. I was planning on self-publishing just to get it out to anyone curious to read the thing.

I finally figured out the plot point I was having problems at in the midsection of the "novella" so I'm thinking another day or two and I'll have this thing done.

The setup

I used to spend my daily commute playing my 3DS or Vita. WIth 90 mins each day to kill I'd get pretty far in Guacamelee or Professor Layton or whatever game I was plowing through that week. I did the self assessment thing of determining how many hours I was dedicating to game play in a given month or year and was staggered. It was like keeping a food diary then adding up the calories only to explain the obvious "That's why I'm fat."

So last Fall I decided to attempt to use this 90 minutes writing on the train when I can. Having never written a book before, I didn't know where to start so just tried to commit the bedtime stories we make up for our kids to paper. Paper in this case is my 1st Gen iPad and bluetooth keyboard. It's a flexible set up that I've found good for getting ideas down. Editing is still a bear in Pages. I much prefer the precision of a mouse to the touchscreen.

So this is step one of an unknown number of steps toward a goal that is pretty fuzzy. As I continue to figure this out, I'll fill this blog in with the things that I learn as I write my books and short stories and who knows what else on my train rides. 

If you see me on the BNSF Metra typing away on my odd little set up, please say hi.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cover test

While I'm waiting on my awesome volunteer to proofread Patchwork. I've been playing with different concepts for the cover. I always wanted a minimalist pop look for the Patchwork series to match the punchy tone of the characters and story. Here's idea #1. More to come.

Patchwork Temp Cover 

Also it looks like the short story is actually going to be available before the kids novel. Will be interesting to offer a decidedly mature read a couple months before  Patchwork is made available. Draft one of the short story should be done by tomorrow and I'm planning on toying around with getting it self-published as a little test. After this is back to pick up work on Royal Ladybugs which is a completely different audience than these first two.