Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hyper Ashley Reviews The Traveler

Ashley is one of those brave (and I mean brave) early reviewers who agreed to take a
look at The Unearthed for me...since then she's been kind enough to review all the sequels.

Here's the link to her latest review. A BIG THANK YOU TO ASHLEY!

Ashley is also an author, hard at work on a novel. I hope to see it soon - and make sure to check out her book review site.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Living By Fear

Not too long ago (five months, actually) I blogged about the middle-grade/YA book I was dying to write for my daughters. In my head this story had to be perfect. It was for my girls and it was my way of empowering kids to think for themselves and harness their imagination to do great things. Very quickly, this story had become more than just a story. It had become a statement, it would serve as a lasting testament of my undying and fierce love for my daughters, it had a message and a point.

It had become important.

At the time I had an outline and half a draft and was chugging along. But because the story had gotten so big in my mind, that not-so-little voice of doubt started to poison my thinking. Who was I to write this book? I hadn't done anything like this before. At that point I'd written paranormal thrillers, comedy shorts, and a zombie short story series. The paranormal books were doing okay, but nothing else had taken off. This book, on the other hand, was for a completely different audience in a new genre and it had a message.

Fear crippled me. Fear made me rationalize putting the book aside "until I was a better writer."

After all, the story was important. And I was, by no means, an important writer. No way did I have the chops.

So I put it away.

I worked on other stories and kept putting out new material, but the book for my daughters was never far from my mind. Soon enough, impatience took over.

When would I be good enough to write this book?

Not yet, I told myself, thinking up more excuses, more rationalizations, and more reasons to do something else.


I was in the bookstore a couple months ago, just browsing the YA section for inspiration. Every book I picked up sounded great, all these authors had put out stories with fresh premises and interesting characters and...again, I couldn't write a book like that.

Could I?

I probably spent two hours in the store that day, wandering the aisles and reading the cover copy on literally dozens of books. I love to see what other authors are doing, not to copy them, but to get inspired to do my own thing.

I left the store with a bunch of books that day and many more ideas for stories, but one thing I noticed was that nobody else had written a book like the one that was floating around in my head.

But I wasn't good enough to write that book.


We've evolved to live by fear. I get why. For probably 98% of our existence as a species we had to worry about our literal survival on a daily basis. Compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, we're slow and not very strong. It's only natural that our evolution would be linked somewhat to fear.

I've lived by fear more than I care to admit. Fear is good when you're lost in a bad neighborhood and it tells you not to go down that dark alley. Fear isn't so good, though, in many other situations. It absolutely sucks when you have a passion to do something that few make a living at.

Like writing.

Fear made me go to graduate school so I could get a good job. You know, the kind of job that would lead to a well-paying career in a respected field. Didn't matter I had no interest in doing that kind of work. I let fear talk me right into doing the "sensible" thing.

Three months into the job, I was miserable.

But fear made me stay for another two years.


It's hard not to live by fear. We're wired to. The safe and the known and the comfortable all conspire to keep us in the status quo. Because it's easier and everything is under control. Right?


Control is a complete and utter illusion. That job you love? It might be gone in six months. Your company could merge with another organization and voila, you're redundant. Your boss, who you got along with so well for many years, could leave and be replaced by somebody that just doesn't like you. The laws governing the work you're doing might change, making your job unnecessary. New technology might be developed that makes your work obsolete.

And on and on.

Said another way, we're at risk no matter what we do so living by fear does not necessarily put us in a better place.


That's a lesson that I have relearn from time to time: living by fear does not insulate us from risk.

And I realized, after that day at the bookstore, that fear was keeping me from writing this book. All the other stories I'd written or were working on, I'd been thinking of those as safe. But like I said, there is no such thing as safe. Paranormal thrillers could fall out of fashion tomorrow and my modest sales on The Unearthed series could take a nosedive. And if that was the case, why the hell not try something new?

So I picked up where I left off on the book for my daughters.


Fast-forward two months and I'm stoked to say I finished it.

OtherWorld is available for PREORDER ON AMAZON right now. I'll continue to polish the manuscript up until the big release, but I can say that I'm really happy with how it turned out. If I had waited another few years so I could grow as a writer, would it have been better? Maybe. Or maybe I would have never written it. I'll never know ;-) Like they say, the best time to do anything is right now, so rather than wait around and see, I just said what the hell and got to writing.

OtherWorld is totally unlike anything else I've done and, since it's YA, there's none of the cynicism that's usually present in my other stuff. It made me feel like a kid again writing it. It was a joy to work on. And to think, fear had almost robbed me of that experience.

To be clear, I'm not saying I'm a courageous person for having written a book. There are many braver acts in this world and much more important things people do. The wider point is: we let fear infect our lives, sometimes without even realizing it. I'd done that with this book. Fear has a way of disguising itself and pretending to be your friend. Fear put on a smile and told me to wait, wait to write this one, wait till you're better, just wait...

Will readers like the book? I have no idea. I've talked before about how authors are the worst judges of their own work. What I think is my strong suit (dialogue), some readers have pointed to as my weakness.

C'est la vie.

I'm okay with not knowing what to expect in terms of sales for two reasons. First, I stopped letting fear get in the way and just wrote the d***ed book. Some might not see that as a victory, but to me that's a win. Because next time I stretch myself to write outside my usual genres, it'll be a little easier. And second, we always live with uncertainty whether we realize it or not. Living by fear doesn't protect you from risk, it only gives you an inflated sense of security. Like the man says, if you're not failing, you're not trying. I'll be okay with failing here.

I'll also be happy if I succeed too ;-)

OtherWorld will be released on August 14th.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Get Bundled Up For Summer

I'm excited to announce I just put out three new bundles!

The first two are for The Unearthed series. By buying a bundle, you're basically getting a free novel:

Bundle 1 ($9.99): The Lost, The Accused and the Damned, The Hysteria
Bundle 2 ($9.99): The Accused and the Damned, The Hysteria, The Traveler

The other bundle is for my zombie series, In The Blood. This series is (so far) four short stories that combined are equal to the length of a novel. I do have plans to extend this series, but probably not until next year (after I get through some more novels!). So for now, you can pick up the whole series as one title here:

In The Blood Omnibus (1 - 4) Zombie Series

Kindle Unlimited subscribers will be pleased to see I've made all these bundles available through KU, meaning you can read several stories for the price of one borrow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Authors United Doesn't Understand Anti-Trust Law

Authors United (AU)'s latest bit of non-sequitur saber rattling is infuriating.

For those not keeping score: AU, an organization nominally designed to support authors, has made a habit over the last few years of bitching and moaning about Amazon's "unfair" practices. Nothing Amazon has done is illegal, nor unfair, to date. On the contrary, Amazon:

  • offers authors better royalties than traditional publishers
  • offers authors fairer contract terms than traditional publishers
  • permits authors to retain complete control over their IP and pricing
  • allows anybody to publish
All of which has led to:

  • MORE AUTHORS making money doing what they love
  • MORE BOOKS being published
Know what happens when you offer fairer terms and better royalties to writers, thus making more books available to readers?


AU, please do us indies a solid and stop going after Amazon. I personally like the higher royalties and better terms Amazon offers, and enjoy retaining control over my IP. I'm pretty sure my indie brothers and sisters do as well.

For the record, AU's arguments don't hold any water (I have a legal background) so I doubt the Attorney General takes their latest missive seriously. So then, you might ask, what's got me so pissed off?

It rankles me that AU spends its time and considerable resources picking these inane fights with Amazon, when it could be doing much more important things, you know, like challenging the Big 5 to get traditionally published authors better contract terms.

There's a reason why they don't and it doesn't take a cynic to figure it out.

For better insight: Joe Konrath fisks.
For laughs: Jen Rasmussen brings the funny.

Monday, July 13, 2015

July and August Releases!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This month and next are shaping up to be 60 days of non-stop releases from yours truly.

Last Night at the Video Store dropped 10 days ago and is available through Kindle Unlimited, meaning you can read it "for free" if you're enrolled. It's a funny little romp and the perfect read if you're got fifteen or twenty minutes to kill.

Next up is probably going to be Through the Narrows, the second book in the historical series I'm co-authoring with Nathanael Green. It's with our editors and cover artist right now. Beta feedback has been great so far. Our early readers are saying it's better than the first book.

After that comes Not Safe For Work, the third and probably final tale in my Close of Business series of wildly profane short stories about the absurdity of office life in corporate America. Since this is the last, I'm swinging for the fences in terms of offending any and all. And the mystery part features a classic locked room puzzle our hapless, witless, and mostly useless protagonist has to solve in order to maybe keep his job.

Following the release of NSFW, I'll bundle the Close of Business series into an Omnibus, which I'll make available through Kindle Unlimited as well. Subscribers can read the whole series "for free."

Hopefully rounding out July will be another short story set in the world of corporate America. It's a weird one (if I had an agent or worked with a traditional house they'd tell me not to put it out!), tentatively called The Boss. We'll see how it does. I like it but it's one of those hard-to-classify stories that readers will either enjoy or hate.

(In case you haven't noticed a theme with my work, it's this: I love writing stories that don't fit squarely within genres.)

Then comes August where I...wait for it...wait for it...hopefully release two novels.

OtherWorld, my YA fantasy adventure, is with my editors right now. I've gotten great feedback and hope to have that out in early August. I can't believe this one's close to publication. Not so long ago, I was writing a blog post about not having the chops to do this book...I'll follow-up about that in another post soon.

The Board, my collaboration with Jann Gott, might be out by the end of August. That's a stretch goal, though, but worst case scenario is it comes in early September. Really excited for this one.


Separate from all this, I'm repackaging The Unearthed series in two new bundles that will be available through Kindle Unlimited as well. That way, KU subscribers can check out "one book" but get multiple titles. Win-win for reader and author ;-)

Friday, July 3, 2015

New Short Story Out!

I just dropped a new short story on Amazon, Last Night at the Video Store.

It's a funny little romp and quick read about three college students slowly drifting apart that takes place during a twenty-minute trip to the video store. (Remember those?)

I usually don't talk about process because I'll bet most readers find it boring, but the development of this story might be of interest, so a quick digression from the normal blogging here...

I actually wrote this story years ago, when I was fresh out of college and looking back with ambivalence about my time as an undergraduate. Showing wisdom beyond my years, I put that draft away to let some time pass so I could come back to it with fresh eyes.

When I did read it again, I was disappointed. The story dripped with sentiment and the existential quarter-life crisis the protagonist faced was, for lack of a better term, little more than navel-gazing.

I came back to it recently and thought the premise was good enough but the execution was lacking. So I took it through a few more iterations, excising most of the protag's inner reflections and focusing more on telling a quick, funny, heartfelt slice of life story. The draft went from 10,000 words to 6,000 after several passes and eventually I got it to this point, where I felt comfortable hitting PUBLISH.

Who knows? It might still suck. Authors are usually the worst judges of their own work. I'm sure readers will let me know if it's horrible ;-)

But enough about process...

One thing I did want to mention. If you had signed up for my Newsletter, you would have gotten a free copy of this story last night before it was even available on Amazon.

Just saying.

And I'll probably do that from time-to-time, send my Mailing List random free stuff. It's just the kind of guy I am.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Let the insanity begin...or continue at an increased rate

I've made The Unearthed free. Its my best-selling book, but far from being a best-seller ;-)

You can download it here:

Barnes & Noble

This is all part of a little experiment. I'm going to leave it up for free for a little while (don't know how long) to see if this stirs up interest in the series.

Still not sure about The Unearthed series?

Well, I'm also extending my Free Book offer. Sign up for my Mailing List and you can read any one of my books of your choosing for free.

I'm not very good at math, but that means with a few clicks you can read TWO OF MY BOOKS FOR FREE, ONE OF THEM YOUR CHOOSING.

Sounds too good to be true, right? It's not, I swear.

But get in now, because like I said I don't know how long I'm going to run this special offer.