Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wrapping Up Another Year

Well, this is it. We find ourselves on the cusp of a new year. I've neglected the blog once again (like that's unusual, right?) and would feel pretty bad if I didn't do one last post to close out this year. But what to report? I decided to write a post doing a very short recap of my successes and let you see what I have planned for the coming year. I'm excited about what's on the horizon. So, here it is...

2013 was a good year. I had several wonderful surprises in my personal life and I released a couple of books, both of them southern literature. First there was Lathem's Lament, followed shortly by Rabbit on the Run. I recently heard some feedback from a friend whose mother read Rabbit on the Run and he said she really enjoyed it. It's feedback like this that makes the tedious hours spent creating a story worthwhile.

If you follow this blog or know me personally, you know that I took up studying math using a website called Khan Academy. I started doing this seriously one year ago. When I began, fractions were my arch nemesis. I was unable to do any calculations with fractions. Anything more advanced than that, forget about it! I'm very pleased to report that I have now mastered 81% of the subject matter on the site and am studying precalculus and trigonometry. In the coming year, I hope to be studying advanced calculus.

I hope to carry the momentum of my writing into 2014. Back in March, I gave a sneak peek at the books I was working on. From that list, two of the books were released. Youthanasia is currently shelved until I find motivation to continue it. Carniville is currently in the last few stages of editing. I hope to release it sometime in February. My first beta reader gave excellent feedback for things that needed changing in addition to telling me that it was a good murder mystery. I'm excited about that! Consuming Darkness is another I hope to get out to all my readers in 2014, but it requires a rewrite that will take some time. With that said, I hope to have it out by the end of next year.

At the moment, the book that really holds my heart is called What Goes Around that I briefly mentioned here. This is a creepy horror story that I hope will unsettle anyone who reads it. At the time I announced this story, I was only scratching the plot's surface. Presently, I'm about 200 pages into the manuscript. I won't rehash the synopsis here as you can read it on the other post. However, I will give you a glimpse of the paperback's cover. I hope this book will be ready for release sometime around summer (unless, of course, I switch things up and release it closer to Halloween--how appropriate).

That about sums up what I've been doing and what I hope to accomplish. 2013 was a good year and I hope 2014 will be just as good, if not better. I hope your year has been just as good and I want to wish you a prosperous new year. Feel free to leave any comments or feedback. As always, thanks for stopping in!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Special Deal...and *ahem* an announcement

First, apologies for being MIA for over a month. I've been busily working on several novels and moving one, Carniville, ever closer to publication.

Second, I want to tell you about a special deal I've cooked up for all of my readers (and everyone else in reader-land). If you'll allow me to stand atop my soapbox for just a moment. I promise I won't take long and I'll make this as painless as possible...

I've slashed the prices of all of my books at every one of my distributors. This includes Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Every book and story I have available is a meager $0.99. Heck Starbucks coffee is more than that! What could be better than grabbing a novel (or two or three) for a buck or less than five bucks?

In addition, if you purchase a digital version from Amazon, you can also get the paperback copy for an extremely reduced rate (or maybe even for free, depending on the book) through Amazon's Matchbook program. I promise to sign it for you if you see me and want me to. It would be my pleasure.

This special pricing is for a limited time only, so act now. This is a great opportunity to try my writing if you've never read any of my work before. Also, if you're not into horror stories, but enjoy crime fiction, or you like southern literature but hate science fiction, then you're in luck! I write across several different genres. I have books in horror, crime, science fiction, southern literature, and more. Maybe you've read my horror and wonder whether I can pull off writing southern literature? My advice is to part with 99 cents and find out. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

I also have to mention that I reduced these prices today and one distributor in particular hasn't reflected the price change yet. This is Barnes & Noble. They should have the newer, lower prices within a day or two if you insist on getting a copy for your Nook. Since Smashwords distributes my titles to iTunes, Kobo, etc., it will take a few days (or maybe even a week) for prices to trickle out to those retailers.

Oh, I almost forgot, I also have another promotion that I mentioned a while back that I want to reiterate here. I currently have a BOGO free offer for two of my novels over at Smashwords. Details can be found here.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. See? That wasn't so bad, was it? Now for the other announcement:
I have already dropped out of NaNoWriMo! Yes, that's right. I'm a big fat quitter. I had an idea and started off okay, but, quite frankly, I have way too many books in the hopper that I'm currently working on. Most of you probably weren't aware that I was even participating and, therefore, you probably don't even care. Instead of just winking out like a match in the dark, I decided to make my withdrawal formally, here on my blog. Maybe I'll pick up the story later. Maybe I'll put it aside and work on it during next year's NaNoWriMo. Time will tell. In the meantime, I plan to continue working on Carniville, the next novel slated for publication. In addition to Carniville, I'm working on What Goes Around and Consuming Darkness.

I hope you'll take advantage of my reduced pricing or, if you've already read my books, please tell a friend who might be interested. Stay tuned for more information about the release of my murder mystery, Carniville. And, as always, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Rabbit is on the Run

I have a new book out called Rabbit on the Run. This is a novella of southern literature--quite a departure from what I normally write. The story is set in the Depression-era south, about a field worker named Gordon Mosely who is running for his life from a lynch mob determined to see him swing from a rope for a murder he didn't commit. You can see the cover over in the right sidebar or click the link above to find where the story is available as well as read a little trivia about the story's concept.

If you're into southern literature, then may I also recommend my novel, Lathem's Lament. Despite taking place in different times, I think both stories go well together and compliment one another, especially if you're a fan of a bygone era.

These will probably be the last of the old southern tales I write for a while. I tend to write any story idea I fall in love with, regardless of worrying about staying within the boundaries of a certain genre, as some of you may already know. I'm working to try to finish several books I've already started, which I mentioned in this post and provided sneak peeks of the book covers. While I'm still planning to release those books, new ideas have come to me that I've fallen in love with and some of those have taken priority. My usual plan is to write the first draft of a story and then push it aside to mellow while I return to other works that have, hopefully, already mellowed. Lathem's Lament and Rabbit on the Run are two of those from the last batch of ideas that I've now harvested (so to speak). Carniville is in the editing process right now. Youthanasia and Consuming Darkness are still up in the air.

Lately, I've been returning to my roots: writing horror, and this is reflected in my next batch of story ideas. Currently, I'm hard at work on a story called What Goes Around, about nine children who vanish from a carousel in 1958, in front of their parents. Sixty years later, the children miraculously reappear when three teenagers sneak into the amusement park and spin up the old carousel. I've written nearly one hundred pages of this book, but recently put it aside to edit Carniville. I'm anxiously looking forward to returning to it as well as beginning some other stories I've recently had ideas for. That's about all the inside scoop I have to offer at the moment, and why I've been so aloof from my blog. Hopefully, I'll have more stories ready to publish very soon, stories that all of you who're reading my blog or my books. I want you to be satisfied with what I put out there for you. Thanks for stopping by, and keep a lookout for my next releases!

Monday, September 2, 2013

What's new, pussycat?

Sorry I've been MIA for a while. I've been busily working on some new projects. My son and I began a new silicone Halloween mask. He had never created one, so I wanted to walk him through the process with me. I figured it would be a fun learning experience, which it was. The sculpture turned out really well, as you can see from the picture(s) below. Unfortunately, when we began separating the plaster mold, it broke, so that was the end of that project. All that work down the drain. Eventually, I'll start over as Halloween draws closer.

In other news, I am wrapping up my novella, Rabbit on the Run, which will soon be available via all of my typical distributors. I will provide links for anyone interested in obtaining copies once it is officially released. In addition, I am dividing my time to edit Carniville, a murder mystery involving human oddities; rewriting The Consuming Darkness, formerly known as The Shadow People, the first novel I'd ever written and has undergone many rewrites. (Most of these books I've mentioned in a previous post, which you can read here).

I've stalled on Youthanasia, a science fiction novel about the pros and cons of immortality, due to a lack of enthusiasm. That's not going to stop me from finishing the story and publishing it, though. When I say "lack of enthusiasm", I don't mean it's a substandard or mediocre story. It just means that some other ideas have stolen the spotlight in my imagination and I'm choosing to focus on them right now, which I will talk about in a minute. Also, I've kind of run up against a wall as far as the plot is concerned. I'm not sure where to go with the story while keeping the reader engaged in finding out what happens next. After I let it ferment and mellow for a while on the back burner, I'm sure I'll find a way around that obstacle.

The story who holds my heart at the moment is a new work of horror that I'm currently writing called What Goes Around. I've only spent two days working with it and, already, I've managed to put down a little over twenty pages worth of story. If you don't know what to make of that, let me just clarify by saying that the words are flowing like Niagara Falls; coming extremely easy, which isn't always the case. Since it is still in its infancy, I won't divulge too much, but I will give you the synopsis to whet your appetite. It goes something like this:

In the fall of 1958, in front of onlooking parents, nine children riding a carousel suddenly vanish. Despite efforts to explain the phenomenon, the children were never found, questions went unanswered, and the amusement park was closed.

Until Now...

Nearly sixty years later, three teenagers sneak into the newly-opened park on a dare and spin up the old carousel. They face a startling discovery when the nine children unexpectedly reappear. The boys and girls look the same as the day they vanished, but something is fundamentally different, because...

What Goes Around, Comes Around

I'm excited by this story's potential and hope readers are, too. I've already developed a cover for it and plan to hone this story into a reasonable facsimile of the product I see in my imagination. If I'm successful, then this will be a creepy romp through a sinister landscape that keeps readers captivated, turning pages to find out where these children have been and what mysteries the merry-go-round holds. Already, while writing it, I've given myself plenty of goose bumps. I hope I can pass them on to anyone who chooses to indulge in the story. As I get nearer to finishing it, I'll release a sneak peek of the cover.

Finally, I have some exciting news about an available title. My novel, The Old Royal, has been optioned to be made into an audio book. The narrator is a talented individual named Stephen Self. I've already listened to his audition for the book and his performance of the first chapter. I'm excited by what I've heard and anxiously await the finished product, which will be available on iTunes, Audible.com, and Amazon. Once I know the details for where you can get a copy, I'll post the links.

Stay tuned for further details. And, as always, thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The virtue of knowing where you're going

Before I jump into the meat of this post, I want to address something I'm sure will pointed out by more astute readers of this blog. I've mentioned before why I don't post advice about writing. Some of you may think this posting will run counter to that notion, but I'd argue that it doesn't exactly. When I said that I don't like to dole out writing advice, what I was referring to was the actual nuts-and-bolts mechanics of writing. Nor will I blow sweet-nothings in your ear in order to try convincing you to sit your butt in the seat and commit to writing when you don't want to. Hell, I don't even do that when I don't feel like it...anymore. Although, there was a time I did do that. Also, every writer is different, approaching the task a different way with various motives. Writing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Therefore, I will assert that I do not create blog posts instructing other writers how to go about the task of writing.

There. Now that my little disclaimer is out of the way, I want to talk about why I think outlines are a good idea when writing. Again, you might be pointing to the disclaimer, saying "Hey! You just said you wouldn't tell others how to go about writing." To which I would agree and point out that I am only illustrating why I think they are good to use. This blog is about me, my writing, and my other hobbies. Now, I don't always use outlines when I write, at least, not the traditional outline we learned in school. But, I do use some form of outline, in the loosest sense of the word.

If you're like me, the word outline probably makes you cringe as you think back to that rigorous, structured form the teacher made you write in grade school. Forget that. Unless, of course, you think back on it with warm regards. If that's the case, then, by all means, embrace it. Also, if that's the case, then you probably already use outlines. For the rest of you, I want to paint a better picture of the outline. It doesn't have to be that stodgy old tool you're imagining. When I sit down to write, I don't like feeling confined by rigidity and rules. I think that stifles creativity, which should flow like a river, free and wondrous. So, my writing environment is as free from rules as possible. I want to be comfortable. My outlines hold to that philosophy and can differ from outline to outline. One might be a list of bullet points, each corresponding to major plot points I want to cover in the story. Another may resemble that more rigorous, traditional outline if I can visualize the story more deeply and want to capture those details for days or weeks down the road when I might potentially forget them. And, still, others may resemble notes more suitable to appearing on napkins, pieces of cardboard, or what have you.

The outline is only there to serve you, the writer, in whatever capacity helps. When you're writing a novel, it's like setting off on a quest through a forest. You might clearly see the trail heading off into the trees and gleefully follow. But, at some point, that trail may begin to disappear among the brush until you are lost among the trees. Having an outline is like having a compass and map as you navigate the unfamiliar territory. If you've written before, I'm sure you can recall times when you've sat down to write and soon find yourself floundering with what you've written, unable to determine where you are in the plot or where you need to be heading. If you've outlined, you can reference it to get your bearing and get back on course. I've done this and been thankful for having my outline to keep me on track.

I've mentioned that I go about creating my outlines differently each time. Here's why: each story, like people, are uniquely different. Stories demand different kinds of attention. Sure, I've written spontaneously without having the benefit of an outline, but these are rare cases for me. More often than not, I will have some form of outline as I get started. These outlines may contain the high-level bullet points I mentioned earlier, illustrating the course of the story from a bird's eye view. Typically, obstacles will crop up during the course of writing, however, that need to be circumnavigated. At times like these, I will resort to making another outline, one more granular, pointing out how to get me from point D to E in the larger outline. But, as I've said, my outlines differ from story to story. Case in point, I've also written with a partial outline, leading me the first chapter or two into a story. Once I get to that place where the trail ends, I stop writing, pick up my outline and brainstorm about where I want to go from there. Then, I will sit and outline the next chapter or two until, finally, I have reached the end of the book. Each of these techniques depend on the story I'm writing and whichever one feels good to me at the time.

This is how I go about writing. Every writer is different, so I don't recommend you do things like I do. Unless, of course, you feel comfortable doing this. Writing is hard enough as it is. Feeling good about how you approach and feeling comfortable while you're doing it are keys to finishing. So, if you find that you can't finish a story because you often find yourself lost in the woods, maybe creating an outline to chart the rest of your journey will help you across the finish line. It's definitely beneficial for me. And, if you came here seeking writing advice or words of motivation, I don't want to disappoint. Instead, let me recommend a blog that I find instrumental in these areas. Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds is a great source for writers and he's very funny (at least, I think so). Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Better late, than never

I know it's been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that. Since that last post, I released my latest novel, Lathem's Lament. It seems that a new release would be an exciting occasion for any author. So, you might be wondering why there wasn't more fanfare. Well, that's because I've been very busy--er, distracted--lately. You see, I've been concentrating my efforts in areas unrelated to writing. Namely, I recently gained custody of my youngest son, which is a huge relief and something I've been working toward for some time. However, there are still some legalities I must contend with, which are causing distractions.

But, of course, you didn't come here for any of that extraneous stuff. No, hopefully, you're here to learn more about my latest book. Well, thanks for your interest! Let me indulge you. Lathem's Lament is a Southern Gothic that I released April 4th. It's the story of few residents of a Georgia farming community in the summer of 1952. The main family, the Whitfields, are worrying about their oldest son, Lathem, as he fights in Korea. In addition, they also must contend with failing crops, mounting bills, some nefarious neighbors, and racial clashes.

The plot of the book came to me after reading several authors, namely, Faulkner, Caldwell, Steinbeck, and, probably more importantly, John Grisham. It may strike some people as odd to see Grisham's name among those who influenced a work of southern literature. First, I want to point out that I was largely inspired by William Faulkner's presentation in his book, As I Lay Dying. I thought it was brilliant how he told the story from each character's point-of-view. Of course, Faulkner is probably best known for his stream of consciousness, which is something I don't necessarily enjoy, but did execute. In my book, each chapter is from a different character's perspective, even their thoughts. What better way to get to know the people in the story than to get inside each one of their heads? Second, I have to give John Grisham a large part of inspirational credit, because it was his book, A Painted House, that really fueled my desire to write a southern novel. After reading his book, Lathem's Lament had taken root and began to grow quickly in my mind.

If you're a fan of southern literature, I highly recommend you read Lathem's Lament (of course, you saw that plug coming, didn't you?) Also, if you're not really a fan of southern literature, I'd still recommend it. Despite the rural southern setting, this book is an engaging character study, chock full of diverse characters with varying situations. And, what Southern Gothic doesn't have a supernatural element? As an added bonus, I've included the first chapter of my next story, Rabbit on the Run, at the end of the book. (You can find a lineup of my next couple of books here.)

So, if you haven't gotten a copy yet, see the book's page on my website for links where you can get your copy today. I think you'll enjoy it. And, if you do, please, leave a review. I'd certainly appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sneak Peek!

I may or may not have said in the past that I will no longer give any sneak peeks of any works in progress because the design can dramatically change before I actually release a book. Well, screw that! I'm feeling saucy. Maybe it's this beautiful weather. Maybe it's because my math studies are going so well. Who knows? Better yet, who cares?

I know I enjoy getting glimpses into other writers' minds when they share where they are with a story, especially when some of those stories are still near the edges of their radar in terms of being released. I figured I would share some of the things I am working on and give you a bit of information about their status in the process. A word of warning before we proceed, however. Keep in mind that some of these books are still in the creation process, so they are still very much apt to change. In addition, the synopses on the covers you will see are most likely going to change. Currently, these are placeholders, but they do reflect my intentions (more or less). Side note: you might think I'm a bit odd for creating the book covers before I've written the story. "That's not how (insert famous author's name here) does it!" Well, f***k (insert famous author's name here)! is what I say. I'm not that person and this is how I do it and find inspiration to keep plugging away. We cool with that? Okay then, so, here we go...

First, I present to you, Lathem's Lament. This is a Southern Gothic novel I have been kicking around since 2010. I wrote it after reading several classical southern writers such as Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Caldwell, to name but a few. I enjoyed many of their stories so much that I decided to try my hand at a story that was brewing during my reading. This is the end result. This story is already in print, but won't be available to the public until later this month or (very) early April. I've received a lot of positive feedback from my beta readers and have a couple of other beta readers going through it now. Anyone familiar with Faulkner's As I Lay Dying will see a similarity in the book's format. I really loved how he wrote each chapter as a different character's POV and wanted to do that with one of my own.

Next, we have Rabbit on the Run, another Southern Gothic, this time from the Depression-era. Currently, this is a novella. I just finished the first draft of this story this past week. For some reason, I'm finding that writing southern literature is loads of fun. I questioned whether southern literature still had a sizable audience and then remembered that Joe R. Lansdale is doing pretty well, so I guess the answer is Yes. Anyway, I show some of the hideous mentalities of society in this story, about a black man wrongfully accused of killing a white girl and flees a lynch mob. Hopefully, it will meet with a warm reception. I'll have to see what my beta readers say first.

Youthanasia is my first foray into real science fiction. It deals with the pros and cons of curing aging, something that really piqued my interest when I listened to a presentation given by a scientist named Aubrey de Grey. He's very passionate about this field of study and claims that we will eventually cure aging, and probably sooner than anyone thinks. If that doesn't grab your attention and give it a good shaking, then you need to check for your pulse. Needless to say, the gears of my imagination began to spin and I came up with this story, which follows a geneticist who has secretly taken a serum he and some other researchers developed, which stops the aging process. The reader gets to see the pros and cons of this polemic subject first-hand from the character's POV and decide for themselves whether they would want to live forever, or not. While researching this story, I corresponded with a biologist in the field to pick his brain on some of the finer points. Hopefully, I will do his feedback justice. Regardless, I will dedicate this book to him and probably send him a free copy for all of his help.

This is a book I'm sure I've mentioned in the past. Carniville is a locked-room mystery I created using an apartment complex of sideshow workers when they were not touring the freak show circuit. First, I wanted to try my hand at writing a locked-room mystery, something which seems very difficult for me not only to solve when reading one, but also to develop using my feeble brain. Secondly, I decided, failing to achieve that first point, I'd at least have an interesting cast of characters for a good crime story. During the writing of this story, the words flowed nicely. Eventually, however, I hit a brick wall with the plot, so I put it aside (yes, these other stories are what happen when I fall into a rut during my writing). I will let this one mellow until I can return to it with a solution for traversing that wall I mentioned. The cover's too damn good to let go to waste!

Last, but certainly not least, is Consuming Darkness. This is the first novel I ever wrote. This is what started it all. Yes, you can blame this abomination for the madness I unleash upon the world from my twisted, depraved mind. Originally, this was titled The Shadow People. I've rewritten it three times (so far). There's another rewrite waiting, I just haven't begun yet, but I have a good idea of what I want to do with it. I hope that this book will eventually be a fresh new horror story (in case you don't know my feelings for the horror genre to-date, here it is) with an admiring nod to Lovecraft's Call of Cthulu.

So, there you have it. Several of the books I have lined up for your future reading pleasure. I can assure you, that's certainly not all of them. There are a couple of other stories in the works, at various stages, I just don't have covers for them, so there isn't really anything to show.

UPDATE: Seems I forgot to link to my feelings on the current state of the horror genre. Consider it fixed. Like I said, I have a feeble mind.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why I don't do HOW-TO posts about writing

As you may know from perusing my blog, posts about how to write are scarce if at all existent. You might ask why this is? I thought I would take this opportunity to explain to you why. First, there is no hard and fast rule for writing. Uh, wait. That's not true. Okay, there is at least one hard and fast rule about writing. Want to know what it is?

Okay, here it is:

I know, I know. There, there. Don't feel like I was being mean. That wasn't my intention. I was just being frank. It's the truth. It's as plain and simple as that. If you've come here looking for inspiration, then I apologize if you can't get it from my blog posts. Really, I do. I once subscribed to several author blogs, hoping to glean bits of wisdom and motivation to help me finish a book. More often, I spent most of my time reading someone else telling me that little piece of advice rather than putting it into practice. Essentially, I was procrastinating and looking for commiseration from other writers.

Secondly, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of writers out there eagerly willing to dispense with writerly advice about writing. Not only on blogs, but in videos as well. Just check out the Youtubes. Instead of tossing my two cents into the advice ocean, I choose to spend my time writing, or doing any one of my other hobbies like photography, mask making, guitar playing, and learning math and science (which, both, exercise my tired old brain enough).

Thirdly, I see much of that advice as mechanism to enable procrastination. Much of it is long in the tooth, comforting a person about their procrastination (because, truth is, we all procrastinate) while patting them on the back and delivering a pep-talk. Let's face facts. If you truly want to exorcise that book from within you, you'll sit your ass in the chair and do it. Don't wait for someone to blow sweet sugary smoke up your ass. Just DO IT!

When I first sat down to write a book, I had read Stephen King's On Writing. That book was a motivational machine that got me psyched and ready to write. I followed his advice (the best I could) and sat down everyday to bang out my thousand words. Some days, the words flowed like water over Niagara Falls; other days, I was like a cranky old man with an enlarged prostrate, trying like hell to squeeze a few drops. In those instances, I would vow to make up the difference on another day, thus rolling my deficit forward to be paid later. That amounted to amassing a large snowball of words waiting for me to dispense like an avalanche. But, here's the deal: I did it! After about three months, I had my first draft complete. It was roughly 90,000 words. Unfortunately, I still haven't polished that turd into something publishable, but I learned a hell of a lot from the experience, not least of which was the discipline to sit down and power through the difficult days. Neither, did I let writer's block stop me. Since that time, if I've hit a snag, I set the work aside and worked on another story. Kind of like knitting several different scarves, all of which are various lengths. Eventually, I get them all finished and released.

Fourthly, the reason I don't like to dispense writing advice is because it's like doling out financial or legal advice. It's not a one-size-fits-all task. I may not write like Stephen King and you may not write like me or Stephen King. Everyone gets to the finish line in their own way. You might like writing a hundred words a day instead of a thousand. Some writers are content to bang out a book in a month or (please!) even a week. On the other hand, I like to take my time, honing it and polishing it until it's the best I can make it. Then there are those who are content to just proselytize the desire to write a book and never set out on the journey. You may be one of the latter. In that case, my advice is all for naught. I could've best used my time to work on my own writing. Who knows?

Lastly, I don't consider myself any kind of authority on the process of writing. I don't hold an MFA or any other credentials for that matter. I'm just a guy who has written. I don't even have a huge audience (maybe not even a small audience, who knows?), but I have written. Sure, I need motivation from time to time, so I visit writers' blogs to help get me in the mood. I've whittled the list of blogs I read down though. Instead, I now consult only one or two, and sometimes, not even for motivation, but to learn some new marketing strategies (btw, if you're a marketing genius and have some tips to help me increase sales, shoot me an email). If you're hell bent on reading author's blogs to help kick your muse in the ass so he/she will sprinkle that magic dust, then I recommend subscribing to an author who tells it like it is and one you can relate to. For me, that's Chuck Wendig's blog, Terrible Minds. Chuck shoots straight without sugar coating his advice and he speaks candidly, which really appeals to me. Be forewarned, he's profane (probably why I like it).

So, if it's warm and cozy writer hugs you're looking for here, I apologize. Please, if you really want to write that book, take my one bit of advice mentioned above. That's really all you need. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Buy One, Get One Free!

I decided to give book readers a special early Valentine, a buy one, get one free offer. Beginning today, if you purchase either An Adverse Anthology or Majoring in Murder, (digital versions only) you will find a special promotional code in the book that allows you to purchase the other novel for free. That's right, FREE!

This is my thank-you to my readers and potential future readers for picking my books from the multitudes of choices out there. As a reader myself, I realize many people appreciate a good deal. Someone suggested I add a bonus short story, but that didn't seem very appealing to me. Any author can throw in a short story that's lying around. Instead, I decided to give the reader something bigger and better, another whole book.

The offer is valid from now until February first next year (Expires 2/1/2014). Again, simply purchase either An Adverse Anthology or Majoring in Murder (digital versions only). The free coupon code for the other book is at the end of each story. All you have to do is enter the code during checkout to get the book absolutely free.

But wait, there's more! Act now and I'll throw in a complimentary set of steak knives capable of cutting through Titanium and remaining sharp enough to slice through this tomato! Okay, just kidding about the knives. But, seriously, I understand there are some cunning people out there who might purchase the first book, download the second, and post both coupon codes to the interwebs so all their friends can get two books for free. After all, the coupon idea I came up with isn't foolproof. So, I encourage you to share this offer with friends and family (hopefully, you'll enjoy the stories, tell them, and they'll at least buy one copy), thus helping me spread the word. However, if you insist on undermining my super-fancy security, then so be it. All I ask is this: please, if you download the book(s) and read them, return to where you got them and leave an honest review. Reviews are the only feedback I get from my readers. I always enjoy hearing what you think of my work, even if it is critical.

So, what are you waiting for? Go get your free book. I hope you enjoy them! And, remember, please leave a review when you're finished reading. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Getting my knowledge on!

When I was younger, I didn't care for learning mundane school subjects. I didn't care for Literature because I hated reading the things my teachers wanted me to read; they always seemed stuffy and non-entertaining. And I didn't even want to consider math. Word problems only gave me headaches. If Bobby had 12 red apples and someone gave him 5 green apples, how many apples would Bobby have? My answer: too many damn apples. Math became nonsensical to me after basic arithmetic. Who's bright idea was it to toss in the alphabet?!

I managed to squeak by Algebra and, surprisingly, did very well in Geometry. I guess, because it was mainly remembering postulates and theorems. I left Geometry with a final grade of 104--sweet! I still needed another math credit to graduate high school, so I ended up taking Business Math, which was essentially learning how to balance a checkbook and other practical shit. Yeah, back then, I thought I was cool.

In retrospect, I realize I was a naive dumbass. It wasn't until I was in the Army that I finally began to understand the value of education. The Army taught me how to teach myself. I was fortunate enough to score well on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), which opened up the spectrum of military jobs I could choose from. I was initially going to become an infantryman, but my dad curtailed that by asking, "What are you going to do when you get out?" and then answering his question with: "There's not a big demand for killing people." So, I chose to repair helicopter engines, although, I had never worked on any kind of engine in my life. With no previous exposure to draw upon, my education for that particular job was a true learning experience.

I managed to graduate engine repair school and worked as a helicopter mechanic during my service. Luckily, every helicopter I worked on flew successfully, which is even more lucky considering I was required to fly with the test pilot after major overhauls. When I was discharged, I floundered in several menial jobs. I really wanted to be a fireman, but didn't know how to go about getting my foot in the door. The best thing I could think to do to minimize my odds was to enroll in technical school to become an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician); another field I knew nothing about.

Unlike my classmates, I paid for the education out of my own pocket. I hadn't occurred to me to apply for any grants and/or scholarships. Since I didn't have much money and paid the tuition out of my own pocket, that was just an added incentive for me to buckle down and do well. My class started with somewhere around 30+ students. Many washed out quickly. I studied harder so as not to piss away my money. Fortunately, I graduated with about 12 others (only about 7 of us went on to become state certified). I eventually got a job with an ambulance service, and not too long after that, I finally became a fireman at a local station.

I had realized a major goal early in my life. Eventually, however, the stress and low pay (can you believe the salary was only $18.6/year?!) took its toll on me. I knew I had to get into another line of work. During a Sunday shift, I sat down in the station's kitchen and looked through the classifieds. I had composed a list of the qualities I wanted in a career; it was numerous. I began going through the job listings, first the As, then the Bs, etc. I compared whatever I knew about each job against my list of criteria. What really caught my attention were the salaries for Programmers. I didn't know shit about computers, not to mention, programming, but those guys were making some serious bank. In contrast to my paltry salary, they were rich! I decided that was what I wanted to do.

Since I didn't know where to begin, I knew I needed to talk to people more knowledgeable in order to find out what I should learn and how to transition into this new field. First, my father-in-law donated his old 286 computer to me. Second, I went to the local bookstore and browsed through the various programming books. I had no idea what made VB different from C or Pascal different from the rest. I remembered that there were a LOT of jobs listings for C programmers and...man, those salaries! I ended up buying a book to learn the C programming language. Later, I learned that I had chosen the more difficult of the languages as my first. However, I persevered and, within a year's time, I was writing small programs. Of course, these were not overly complex, and it took much trial and error, but I managed to learn the fundamentals. It was time to start circulating my resume.

Obviously, I simplified the aforementioned process of my learning to program. I studied for several hours every night when I arrived home from work, and read chapters of my (many) books during my lunch breaks at the jobs I had after leaving the fire department. But, I did manage to bridge the gap and transition into a career programming computers. I won't bore you with those details. Suffice it to say, that I have been doing it since 1995. During that time, I've continued to stay abreast of the latest technology by reading books on those subjects. But, that isn't what prompted me to write this post. Recently, I've become interested in learning things I neglected in my youth.

Since math and I have never gotten along well, (with encouragement from my friend Mark Mans) I decided to try learning advanced math. Just like when I started learning to program computers, I have my sights high: to understanding advanced Calculus. Of course, I'm not delusional. I know that's a huge undertaking and I won't get there in a year's time, and probably not in two years. So, instead, I've gone back to the beginning and started brushing up on arithmetic and pre-Algebra. I plan to become proficient in each discipline until I can progress to the next, and then, the next. I've purchased several math books from Barnes & Noble and am nearly finished with the pre-Algebra book. It's exciting to finally comprehend the things in school that gave me such headaches long ago. Now, we're at the crux of this post.

While I've been good about studying fairly regularly on my own using the books, there was still something lacking. Recently, I discovered the Khan Academy website. There, anyone can create a free online account and learn a wide array of subjects using their instructional videos. Of course, I jumped right into the math disciplines. The videos are beneficial for helping to simplify difficult concepts. If you enjoy receiving rewards to fuel your motivation (as I do), there is an achievements section in your profile to view badges you obtain when you reach certain milestones. In the past three days, since stumbling onto this website, I've spent somewhere between ten and fifteen hours watching videos and practicing lessons. I've discovered the fun in math. Math can be sexy!

I know those last two statements probably sound weird, especially if you don't really care for math. Many people don't like math. I can understand. Heck, I used to be one of those people! Time has changed my opinion, though. I don't intend to change careers by becoming more proficient in math, but I sure don't see how it can hurt to broaden my knowledge. So, if you're interested in learning math (or, science, humanities, etc.), but don't see yourself going back to school, then try it for yourself. After all, it's free, so why not give it a try.

As for my writing, if you came here hoping to learn of my status, then I won't disappoint you. I've recently been busy editing a Southern Gothic novel called Lathem's Lament, which I wrote several years ago and put in a drawer. My wife has been asking me about it, so I decided to take it out and finish it. Currently, it's being read by my beta readers. Stay tuned to learn more about it and when it will be released. And, as always, thanks for stopping by!