Friday, December 30, 2011

Divine Intermission: A Comedy

2012. Supposedly, this is the year our world ends.

I'm not normally one to fall victim to fads - even though I wore my fair share of cutoff jean shorts when I was a kid and I sported a totally rad mullet between the ages of 10 and 14. Those weren't fads, though. I was just awesome.

My point is this: I don't want to jump on the apocalypse bandwagon. I simply want to pose a question for you.

What would happen if the creator of the universe simply walked away from their godly duties to take an epic smoke break?

In "Divine Intermission," the first novella in a series to be published throughout 2012, the multiverse is crumbling apart because the gods aren't doing their jobs. A depressed writer and electronics salesman named Carl has been trapped in an endless series of doomed realities in which he relives different versions of the same basic life, all the while sensing that something is amiss on a cosmic level. Carl soon finds himself in the presence of immortal beings and is sent on a quest that might bring him face to face with his own magnificent Creator.

Then again, he may just get killed.

2012. The Year of the Dragon. The end of the world. The year after 2011 and before 2013.

This is the year of "Divine Intermission."

Available as an ebook on January 10.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Year, New & Old

There are only a few more days left before year's end and it would be a mistake to leave my blog untouched before 2011 slips quietly into the dark on New Year's Eve.

As an indie author, I think it's important to step back and look at what has been accomplished. Sometimes the fear of failure and that nagging haze of uncertainty can keep an indie creator from moving forward. By looking at what you've done and planning what you'll do, you set yourself up for greater success.

So, here is a brief list of things I accomplished as a writer in 2011. And after that, I'll share some of my plans for 2012. I'd love to hear about your own successes and plans for the next year.

In 2011...

- I published an ebook of short stories.

- Then I published a print version of that same book.

- I published an e-short story about demons and bowling.

- I published the first part of an ongoing science fiction serial.

- I published my first novel in ebook format. It was much longer than any of my previous works.

- I was interviewed by gracious and friendly bloggers.

- I wrote a guest blog.

- I tried to raise money for Relay For Life through downloads of my works.

- I met several awesome writers, bloggers, readers, and a particularly talented graphic designer.

- My novel was featured in a giveaway contest featured on another author's website.

- My novel received fantastic reviews on Amazon.

- One of my short stories was published in an online literary magazine.

- I released a soundtrack of original music inspired by my novel.

I'm pretty stoked when I look at this list. In January of 2011, I was only focused on finishing the novel. I had no idea that by the end of the year, I'd have accomplished all of this other fun stuff. Everything turned around for me when I decided indie publishing was the way to go. It was at that point that I started developing a plan for myself. Success followed. I was free to create and publish on my terms; this freedom allowed me to build momentum.

But the momentum only pays off if I have a plan.

In 2012...

- I will finish and publish a humorous fantasy that's been resting in my hard drive for the past year.

- My serial scifi project will be published every two months.

- I will blog on a regular basis. And I will conduct at least one blog tour - that is, once I figure out exactly how to conduct a blog tour.Tips are appreciated.

- Book two of the Godblood Saga will be published by September of 2012.

- My horror novella will be published by October 30.

- I will start working on a second series featuring science fiction and adventure for young readers.

- I will write. And when I don't feel like writing, I will write even more.

This list is half the size of the other. I anticipate some changes as the year comes and goes, but at least I'm going in with a plan. I had no plan in 2011 and look at the accomplishments. I can only imagine what will happen when I go into 2012 with a solid agenda.

Feel free to share your plans for 2012 in the comments below. You may inspire me to adjust my own list!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting Back To Business

A quick explanation for my recent "vacation": I got a new job. And despite the fact that I can work from home with this new job, I found my schedule torn asunder by appointments and training sessions. When I wasn't working, I was exhausted and I let the creative side of my life fall apart. Temporarily, at least. Things are settling down and I'm getting into a routine. Let's hear it for discipline... yay!

So here I am, half way through NaNoWriMo and ready to tackle something with my imagination.

While I plan the sequel to my fantasy "Children of Aerthwheel," I am going to switch gears a bit and begin work on what I imagine will be a cut-throat horror project. To give you an idea of what I'm hoping to achieve with this other novel, let me cite a few of my favorite horror pieces and tell you why they scare the bejeezus out of me.

"The Mist" by Stephen King

One of my favorite novellas by Stephen King, "The Mist" is the story of a group of strangers stranded in a convenience store while Lovecraftian creatures wreak havoc in the mysterious haze outside. Frank Darabont adapted this story to film and did a wonderful job of emphasizing what I think is one of Stephen King's greatest gifts: the ability to stir tension amongst strangers and divide humanity in the face of horrible circumstances. The monsters in "The Mist" are terrible; but sometimes, the greatest monsters are the ones who look like us.

"They Live" by John Carpenter

I'll admit, the fact that this movie features Rowdy Roddy Piper in a seemingly serious role can sometimes confuse a person. But it works, okay? Trust me. This is John Carpenter's take on the notion of Big Brother, except we aren't exactly being watched by humans. I wouldn't be surprised if there are conspiracy theorists who claim this film is a documentary. Though this isn't as frightening as some of my other picks, the idea itself is creepy enough. When I saw this as a teenager, I had to get my hands on a pair of sunglasses. You know, just in case.

"I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson

This is the quintessential vampire/zombie infestation novel. Richard Matheson, who I consider to be the grandfather of modern horror, gives us a story of ultimate isolation. His protagonist, Robert Neville, is the last human alive in a world filled with vampires. Matheson's depiction of Neville's mental state is superb, ranging from near psychosis to logical reasoning. If you think you like vampires and you haven't read this book, do it now. Stop reading this post, go buy the book on Amazon, and read it as soon as you can. Also, there are tons of movies based on this book; none of them are as complex as the novel.

"The Thing" by John Carpenter

My all-time favorite horror film, "The Thing" is based on the equally-excellent short story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. This film, just like the story that inspired it, has all the elements that create perfect horror. We have characters who are isolated from the rest of civilization; they face a creature that is impossible to identify and capture; the relationships amongst the characters are dynamic and are eventually pushed to the breaking point by sheer paranoia. John Carpenter's version is slightly different than the original story, but only in ways that make it stronger as a film. For the horror film buff, see this movie. For the horror fiction fanatic, read "Who Goes There?" as soon as you're done reading "I Am Legend."

So there you have it. Four movies or books that scare the hell out of me every time I watch or read them. These are the stories that inspired me to write horror in the first place... with the lights on, of course. Over the next few months, I will let you know how this new horror novel is shaping up. I would like to start posting excerpts soon. I may even try writing it publicly (at least portions) and let you leave some comments or feedback.

Until then, be sure to check out my first novel "Children of Aerthwheel" or my book of short stories "Prismatica." Happy reading!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fiction Friday - Rose and Blade 4

It's Fiction Friday! That means you get a piece of my original fiction... for free.

This is the third chapter of "Rose & Blade," a novella related to my published novel "Children of Aerthwheel." For the previous chapters, see the link at the top of the page.

Rose and Blade


In the balcony outside the queen’s chamber, Deliera sat on a stone bench and gazed at the courtyard below. A team of gardeners tended to the vast bed of pale roses that filled the middle of the great lawn.

"The roses look like white sand from up here, don’t you think?” Queen Adelia asked.  She stood in the doorway between the chamber and the balcony. When Deliera only nodded, Adelia said, “You are weak.”

"Yes, sister Queen," Deliera said. "Yet still I breathe
Adelia leaned on the stone wall of the balcony next to her sister and said, "Is there pain?"

"A bit," Deliera said, "but it passes easily. I think of something else and it goes away.  A moment ago, I thought of the young roses that fill your courtyard. How they’ve grown so strong despite the poisoned dirt into which they burrow. And that pleasant thought drove the pain into hiding, at least for a time."

Adelia sighed, "I wish my healers could help you."

"They've done all they can," Deliera said with a deep sigh. "This is a sickness no conjurer can touch."

At each of the four corners of the palace walls stood a single priest, each wielding one of the sacred holder’s stones to produce a protective field about the entire structure. Most of the time this membrane of energy went unseen; but there were moments when, for one reason or another, the layer flickered or resonated.  And when it did this, it was visible to all who happened to be paying attention.  In these instances, it was obvious that the field was blue and dome-shaped.  Each priest stood guard for eight hours at a time until another came to replace him. 

They were a loyal lot, theses priests who served Adelia.

"Do you know what's happened?" Adelia asked.

"I sensed it," Deliera said. "I felt it yesterday. I haven't been able to sleep since."

"Two dozen of my soldiers are dead," Adelia said. "Did you know that?"

"Yes. Though not by Azariel's hands. Not exactly."

Adelia's eyes swam in tears that threatened to explore the curves of her face, "Have I created this for myself?"

Deliera smiled, "The wheel turns. We fight its weight or we follow the path it carves."

Adelia stared at the sky beyond the protective field above her palace. There were no clouds and only an ashen blue oblivion, a reminder of the ways her ancestors had broken the world so long ago.

“It turned against my men. It fought against my own wizards, the very priests who would protect it from Azariel's mutant forces. What does that mean? What have I done to anger it so?"

"Perhaps it prefers to be called a man," Deliera said with a hint of a smile. "It is, after all, a human being. And he has a name."

"But he is ours," Adelia said. "He is our gift from the old mages. How could he turn against us?"

"I believe you know the answer to this question," Deliera said.

"And what do you suggest, sister?"

Deliera sighed and said, "This gift, as you call him, merely serves fate as do we all. His path is drawn as plainly as yours. Perhaps it has diverged from your own, but the lines may yet intersect before all is finished. He is no gift. He is a human, a powerful human, and he has a purpose. You cannot deny his purpose by keeping him in that tomb."

"If he's gone, then my priests will lose their power," Adelia said.

"And that, sister, is why Azariel took him," Deliera said. She drew a deep breath and said, "Without the gift, you are weak. And the war will continue."

Tendrils of blue energy began to drift from Deliera's head towards the protective dome generated by the wizards. She said, “I can help, though. This is why you keep me in your chamber, is it not? So you may utilize the power I wield.”

Adelia grasped her sister's wrists and said, "Don't do this, Deliera. Come back."

Her sister drew the spirits and spoke what they felt. Their knowledge was hers, but for a time.

"He is torn between worlds," she said with the voices of spirits long dead. Her eyes shimmered silver as she spoke. "He does not belong here. His destiny is forged in fire and written in blood."

Adelia slapped her sister across the face. Deliera's eyes went pale green again and she gasped for air. Her body trembled.

"Forgive me," Adelia said. "You mustn't waste your energy. Not now, not at the twilight of your life."

"I want to help," Deliera said, "but I cannot reach into their realm as I once did."

Adelia moved forward and held her sister in an embrace. The truth was simple.

Deliera would soon be in one of the very spirits with whom she could communicate.

"You're not as strong as you used to be," Adelia said. "Just rest. Don’t let your illness overwhelm you, sister."

Deliera gazed over the wall of the balcony and said, "This sickness, it's not the curse you claim it to be.  It's no virus or disease.  I have the secrets of the gods trapped in my mind, you see?  The spirits left these things in my head and I can't let them out on my own.  So they're killing me.  All the knowledge of the ancient gods is trapped in my head and now I’m bleeding out.”

A tear danced down the side of Deliera's face and she said, "I wish I could help. Let’s hope Azariel misunderstands the importance of the man he freed from the earth."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tease It Tuesday - The music of Ideamen

It's Tease It Tuesday, where I tempt you to enjoy the imaginations and talents of artists far more skilled than myself.

This week's Tease It features the band Ideamen from Chicago.

I discovered the Ideamen earlier this year while trying to find music to listen to while I wrote what would be "Children of Aerthwheel." The moment I heard the song "Cavity," I knew there was something special about this band.They had me from the first hook.

With flavors of punk, progressive, alternative, and groove metal, the Ideamen offer a brand of music that is not available on most radio stations. What brand is that, you ask?


Fresh and unique. Original.

That's not to say I don't recognize some of their influences. I can hear hints of bands like Faith No More and maybe some System of a Down; if you listen closely, you can also hear echoes of bands like the Doors, Stone Temple Pilots, and Incubus.

Despite this, everything they do is presented in a refreshing and interesting way. Each song is like a novella set to music, filled with thoughtful and clever lyrics. There is a story in every verse, a climax in every chorus, and by the time any given song is finished, you can't help but feel like something magnificent has just occurred.

I can't say anything else but this: Buy their album. Find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. And tell everyone you know that the future of music is here.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Fiction Friday - Rose and Blade 3

It's Fiction Friday! That means you get a piece of my original fiction... for free.

This is the third chapter of "Rose & Blade," a novella related to my published novel "Children of Aerthwheel." For the previous two chapters, see the link at the top of the page.

Rose and Blade


The automaton’s internal engines whirred and whined as it spoke to Azariel.

"Three battalions await your orders."

It was a pear-shaped machine built by the older people and salvaged for Azariel's personal use, now outfitted with a transmitter that allowed him to communicate with his soldiers. The robot stood chest high and filled the air with bitter steam. On its domed head was the transmitter that would send Azariel's orders to the troops at the far edge of the territories.

The hall was silent, save for the machine's persistent buzzing. Azariel's companions, mostly fellow warriors and soldiers, stood in quiet anticipation.

"Allow me a moment to gather my thoughts," Azariel said with his eyes closed. He stood at one of the hazy portholes that overlooked the ocean side of the airship. In the distance were the great steel behemoths that once bore holes into the ocean floor and leeched black blood from the planet itself.

"My Lord," the automaton said, "fifteen hours have passed since the battalions reached their current positions. They grow impatient."

“Open a direct feed," Azariel said. "Let me speak to him, Tinker."

The machine whirred and clicked, then Commander Delaquar's voice thundered through a small speaker on the automaton's chest. The hall was filled with his curse-ridden proclamations. He spoke in what many called the Mud Tongue, a lower and cruder form of speech handed down from the old people. He was a reformed mutant from the edge of the Outland, one of the few who had retained enough of their humanity to integrate into what remained of this so-called society.

He was in mid-sentence when the feed opened. He growled, "...and if you don't give us a damn order now, we'll just march right up to the enemy lines and start fighting on our own. You tell him that, you God forsaken robot! You tell him he can kiss my sweating ass if he doesn't want to give an order!"

"You just told me yourself, Commander Delaquar," Azariel said.

"Lord Azariel," the Commander said, trying to restrain the angry tone of his voice. "I apologize for the profanity, but my men need an order. It's bad enough we've traveled miles into the Outlands, almost to Lucero, but we're also low on rations. We've encountered no priests and the heat is worse here than I've ever seen in my life. Two of my men have heat sickness or some kind of radiation flu. It's been fifteen hours since we arrived at these filthy ruins and we have no idea what we're doing."

"Those ruins are the relics of your own ancestors," Azariel said. "Treat the place with some damn respect."

Azariel felt himself slip into the Mud Tongue. He smiled.

It was a natural and welcome transition.

"Ancestors or not," Delaquar said, "we're running the risk of getting pinned down here. So please let us know what the plan is, Lord Azariel. Or we'll make our own."

“The plan is simple, Commander. There is a vault beneath the so-called ruins upon which you stand. It is buried approximately one hundred seventy two feet below a structure called Bunker C, at the end of an underground service elevator shaft. You get to that vault and you open it, but you have every available weapon drawn when you do so. Do you understand?"

"What's in the vault?"

"Something unique," Azariel said, "and very valuable to the Good Queen."

"A weapon?" Delaquar asked.

"Some might think so," Azariel said. "It is a man. A very old and important man."

Delaquar said, "My Lord, should we be afraid of this old man?"

With a half-smile, Azariel said, "You should worship him."