Night Plague (2018 Edition) Out Now!

Hey all, sorry for the recent hush here. I’ve been scrambling to meet my June goals, but I’m happy to announce that one of them is finished. An updated and re-published version of my first novel, Night Plague, is out in the world and ready for reading!

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Humankind will soon be extinct.

 A mysterious pandemic cut through two-thirds of the population in just four short years, and within another four, it will decimate everything – and everyone – left. As the last days tick by, relentless and ruthless, the reclusive Mason Mild finds himself torn between a peaceful end and a brutal immortality. Between his hopeless, but comfortable days with his family, and something new…something violent and wild.

Have the fang marks above his heel dealt him an early demise or a second birth?”

Check it out on Amazon
Download Free from my Email List

If you feel like adding a few extra vampires and a dash of end of the world dread to your summer, you can find both digital and paperback versions on Amazon, or get a hold of a free digital copy through my email list. If you opt to give it ago, enjoy!

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I hope the night brings you plenty of sweet treats, a pleasant autumn-colored evening, and the fun sort of scares.

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Childhood Friend – Flash Fiction

If you’re looking for a short, spooky read, you can find Childhood Friend, the 1st place flash fiction from the All Hallow’s Prose Halloween competition, on the WriterWriter blog, along with the other winning stories offering bite-sized helpings of horror.

Read them Here.

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LGBTQIA+ Halloween Derby


For fans of LBGTQIA+ fiction, there’s a Halloween Derby going on at Prolific Works with a variety of free paranormal LGBTQIA+ stories.

I’ve got a couple of stories offered here as well, including a new Prolific Works exclusive called Like the Stars, so if you read them, I’d love to know what you think.

Read them Here.

 

My Halloween Recommendations

If you’re looking for more scary stories, these are my personal favorites.

Book: The House of Long Shadows by Ambrose Ibsen

A deceptively terrifying haunted house story with fantastic imagery – I could see the setting so clearly in my mind after finishing it that I may as well have watched a film. This is one of the few horror novels that managed to genuinely crawl under my skin, and one in which I cared about the outcome so much that it got me out of my analytical “writer brain” and turning pages quickly.

Movie: The Babadook

One of the few movies I’ve watched more than once. What seems like a simple, maybe even a little cheesy, movie at first glance hides a powerful metaphor – for grief, for anger, for the mental pains we sometimes try to stuff in the closet – but which always seem to creep out somehow. What’s scarier than that?

Game: The Cat Lady

A chilling, powerful slow burn of a game that delves into its character’s psyche – and the player’s. The game sinks deeper into darkness than nearly any other peace of media I’ve experienced, but it offers glimpses of hope and beauty, too.

Thank you for reading, and have a fantastic November!

(Apologies for the lack of posts lately, too. School has been eating me alive, but I’m hoping to pull out of its grip a bit next month. Although then comes NaNoWriMo. Good luck to any fellow writers participating!)

Smile (Flash Fiction)

(Flash Fiction: Every fourth Monday, I’ll share a flash fiction story.)

denny-muller-532461-unsplashThe cupboards were nearly empty, and within a few days, they would be.

Melody, sluggish from hunger, dug through the last cans of tuna and bags of stale chips. The electricity had died a couple of days ago, so she needed something she didn’t have to cook. So much for her dreams of culinary school. Filet Mignon and chocolate Chambord cake were things of the halcyon past.

Sighing, she settled on a bag of chewy cheddar popcorn a few weeks passed its expiration date. Lacking the energy to make it upstairs to her bed, she plopped herself down on the couch. She wrapped a blanket around her shoulders – the heat had wilted with the electricity, and it was nearing the beginning of winter. Soon, it would snow.

She had nothing to do but stare at the wall and a blank TV screen while stale seeds got stuck between her teeth. Her eyes wandered to the pictures lining the stairwell. Her mom, her dad, her older brother. The End had taken them away six weeks ago, and now their faces only existed behind the glass, flat and still.

Melody’s gaze watered without her permission. She clamped it shut while soggy popcorn sat on her tongue. Her days were as empty as the kitchen shelves. She cherished no one and nothing, and no one and nothing cherished her. She’d used up all of her sorrow and all of her fear…now her insides were as empty as her outsides.

Another Melody smirked at her from the photos, her eyes as bright as the summer sun behind her. That version of herself also remained only within wooden frames, as dead as the rest of her family.

Melody laughed, the noise leaving her mouth as if her lips had taken on a mind of their own. The girl in the photos had thought she’d had a future. So had the millions the End had taken. She’d –

A giggle echoed from somewhere outside her curtained windows. At least, she thought that was what she’d heard, before she realized she had to be mistaken. Her gaze shot up, her ears waiting intently with every expectation of disappointment.

But the sound came again, followed by a second joyful voice. It was muted, but she wasn’t mistaken. There were people. Other people. Other survivors.

Melody got up and ran to the door, her body reacting before her mind could. She reached out for the knob, sucked in a breath, and broke the seal protecting her house from the rest of the world.

Her eyes stretched wide when she saw them on the street. Men. Women. Children. She managed a noise – a wordless squeak – and one man looked at her, his arm wrapped around the shoulders of a young boy who eyed her curiously through sunny blue irises. Fellow strangers followed suit, and for the first time in weeks, she was seen in the eyes of someone else.

“Hello there,” the man stepped closer and held out his hand in greeting. “Didn’t think anyone else was still holed up around here.”

She saw something on his face that she hadn’t in a long while – a smile.

Melody fought back her tears. Her future wasn’t gone. All she had to do was seize it and start a new story.

She smiled, too.

Writer’s Block Kit

(Story Craft: Every 3rd week of the month, I’ll post writing/editing techniques that I’ve personally found useful.)

While we all experience it for different reasons, writer’s block is a universal experience for anyone who commits words to the page. Sometimes we might be unable to focus due to other events going on in our lives, sometimes we might be writing an emotional scene we’re not quite sure we’re ready for, and other times still we might simply be unsure about what plot developments should unfold next. There are countless reasons why we might put off putting down words, but regardless of where your blocks tend to come from, here are some techniques for breaking through them that I’ve personally found useful:

Capitalize on your Imagination for Inspiration

  • Deeply visualize the current scene using all of your senses. Walk through a few moments of life in that scene. Experience it.
  • Imagine you are a character within the current scene – how do you feel mentally, physically, and emotionally in the current moment?
  • Roleplay (even if just in your head) as one of your characters in your present moment – how do you feel mentally, physically, and emotionally in the current moment?
  • Imagine asking the characters what they want to do next, and their response.
  • Imagine what might happen between the scenes in your story – in the moments without conflict, when the characters are simply living their lives. What does this say about the characters and the world? Can any of these ideas inform existing scenes or start new ones?

Consider Story Structure/Brainstorm

  • Put yourself in your ideal reader’s place. What would they want to happen next? What would they expect? What would surprise them? What happens to each of these ideas when you subvert them to their opposite?
  • What narrative role does the current scene serve? What goals are you trying to accomplish by writing it? What is the most important thing a reader needs to take away from this scene? How can you emphasize this in the scene?
  • What goals does each character have in the scene? How can these goals drive the events?
  • Conflict moves plot. What internal or external obstacle, however minor, is your POV character trying to overcome in this specific scene? If there isn’t one, can you add more conflict to drive the events?
  • Sometimes a change in pacing is what the story needs to build momentum. If the story’s recent events have been low intensity, is there a way you can ramp up the intensity in this scene, or vice versa?

Free/Speed Write

  • Free write about the scene you’re stuck on, working through your worries and letting out whatever ideas pop into your head.
  • Free write about entertaining or interesting moments that take place in the unwritten spaces between the scenes in your story.
  • Free write about why you love the project you’re working on and why you want to finish it.
  • Try setting a timer for 5 minutes, and in that time, continue to write your scene without stopping, even if the words coming out are drivel. Think of it almost like an attack on the block. Move the plot forward no matter what it takes. They’ll be time to edit later. After the timer goes off, take a breather for at least 2 minutes, then if you’re still stuck, set it again and repeat the process. Software that forces you to write without stopping can help. It can also be fun to check how many words you wrote in each 5 minute session and jot down your “high score” – then try to beat it!
  • You can use a similar process to the above with the longer, more relaxed Pomodoro Technique, which uses 25 minute work sessions and 5 minute breaks. Sometimes the simple promise of a break can help ease the tension of working through a block.

Change up the Environment

  • Listen to different background music.
  • Meditate for 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Stand up for 1 – 3 minutes.
  • Grab a snack.
  • Move from your current position to a new environment. For example, if you’re writing at home, try taking off to a cafe or library to work, or perhaps sitting with a notebook in a park for a while. Even something as simple as moving from a couch to a desk, or vice versa, can help.

Take a Break!

  • Sometimes you’re simply overtired, burned out, need some time to think, or occupied by other responsibilities, and that’s okay. Write a few ideas in brackets at the place of the block if you can – even if they’re iffy – then take your mind off writing. Make sure to get some rest too: our minds mull over ideas subconsciously when they aren’t busy, so the new insight you need might just pop into your head when you least expect it, so long as you give your thoughts some breathing room.

Of course, there comes a point where if you want to break through a block, then all there is to it is to keep on writing. Release yourself not just from your inner editor, but from the imagined expectations of your future audience, and get the first draft done. Editing comes later. All you have to do now is tell yourself the story.

“It’s very hard to tell, at the end of your writing day, whether you’ve done great work or bad work. The quality of the writing is hard to judge until you’ve had some sleep and got some perspective on it. And the more I learn about the writing process, the more I suspect that there is no such thing as a bad day at the keyboard.

The good days are when you perform; the slow days are when you learn to perform better. The only bad days as a writer are the ones when you are too cowardly or too lazy to sit down at the keyboard and give it everything you have.”
— Chris Cleave

One Song (Poem)

(Poetry: Every 2nd week of the month, I’ll post a poem or atmospheric piece.)

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One Song

Stars flicker uncountable,
like the notes in a silence song
sensed only on the outskirts of hearing,
even while our bodies play the melody with
our drumming hearts,
and with each    rest    beat we exhale –

every decision we make
is a step in our dance,
watched by the wondering Universe

while we write lyrics with our life story
and send the    echoes    into

everything.

New Weekly Schedule

Hello readers! Today was my first day back at school for the fall, so to make keeping up with the blog a bit more manageable, I’ve adjusted the schedule. From now on, there will be a new post every Monday, as well as monthly project updates and occasional misc. posts.

Look for new content according to the following schedule:

Monday Blues (1st Week of Month)
Monthly media recommendations
Poetry (2nd Week of Month)

Short poems or atmospheric pieces.
Story Craft (3rd Week of Month)
Tips for writing, revision, or game design.
Flash Fiction (4th Week of Month)
Flash fiction and a weekly prompt.
Monthly Updates (Last Day of Month)
Project previews and updates.

Thanks for sticking around throughout the recent schedule changes. Have a great September filled with good books and strong tea!

New Short Stories

It’s been an exciting day as a writer.

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It was announced today that The Puppet Beast, a dark fantasy short story, placed within the top three in the summer writing contest from Short Fiction Break magazine and The Write Practice. Check it out on Short Fiction Break.

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Another of my shorts – a scary microfiction story called Night Sentinel – was published today in 101words magazine. Give it a read online.

I’d love to know what you think about either of them.

(Also, apologies for the recent radio silence here. August has kept me busy. I’m aiming to sink back into the schedule in September.)

Monday Blues: The House of Long Shadows

(“Monday” Blues: At the start of every other week, I’ll recommend a new world – a book, a game, a podcast, etc – to escape into. Or at least to look forward to after a hard day’s work.)

The House of Long Shadows

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A Novel by Ambrose Ibsen

What It Is: A horror novel in which a “Videotube” star challenges himself to renovate an abandoned old house in a bad part of town within a month. A contract for a television show on the Home Improvement Network is on the line – and therefore his dreams of success and stardom – but the house itself has other plans.

Why You Should Read It: There are two elements that make this novel special: the imagery is incredibly vivid and it’s genuinely scary.

I read a lot of horror and ghost stories, but this is one of the few that actually got my heart beating faster not only while I was reading it, but also for a while after setting it down each night. It left behind plenty of goosebumps, too. There were several times when I intended to sit down and read just one chapter and ended up rushing through page and page during the dark hours of the night, while everyone else slept and my own house seemed far too still – definitely chilling in a fun way.

It was actually after I finished the novel when I appreciated just how good the imagery within it is. Normally, the scenes I imagine while reading a book fade shortly after finishing it, but days after reaching the end of this one, I can still see the house, its surroundings, and its ghastly inhabitants as clearly as if I’d watched a film.

The character development is also quite well done. The protagonist, Kevin, is a little plain but relatable. His simple, earnest desperation to achieve his dreams makes it almost too easy to root for him considering how poorly you know his plans are going to go just judging by the genre. It also made a lot of his risky behavior more believable, which is something the genre as a whole tends to struggle with. It was interesting how he was more or less the only major character in the book – it definitely made me as the reader feel closer to his struggles.

The only aspect I have mixed feelings about is the ending. It was poetic in a way, but also a bit predictable. I was admittedly hoping for it to end differently – but maybe that itself says something about how invested I was in the story.

Overall, The House of Long Shadows managed to pull me out of my analytical “writer brain” that I sometimes read with and coax me into genuine emotion. I’m not sure what else I can ask for from a good book.


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If you’re looking for even more books to read over the summer, you can download my YA apocalyptic novel, Night Plague, for free from my email list or Instafreebie. Right now it’s also included in several multi-book giveaway packages with other free, fun reads:

Last Night on Earth (Poem)

(Thoughtful Thursday: Every other Thursday (or so) I’ll post a poem or atmospheric piece.)

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Last Night on Earth

and we sit below the sky
as the sun dips down and goes to sleep,
and we know it won’t wake up,
not this time,
and though we ache to feel it just once more,
we remember its touch on our skin,
we breathe it in, taste the cold night air,
and sink into the wide open stars
cradling this world like a palm with
frail, loving fingers still holding on
until the last breath comes,
and we wait,
immersed in stories that seem to stretch time –
our echoes won’t ever fade.

 

Friend (Flash Fiction)

(Flash Friday: Every other Friday (or so), I’ll share a flash fiction story and the prompt that spawned it.)

Source: This prompt came from a page in this workbook, which I highly recommended.

Prompt: Begin a story with the following sentences: “How did you know?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer. I thought I had been careful. I thought she


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“How did you know?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer. I thought I had been careful. I thought she honestly liked me as a friend. As a person. No, that couldn’t be – not if she’d known. Her interest in me had to be because of what I was. It had to be because of her job with the Agency. I was her enemy, not her friend.

She smiled weakly, “I hoped, before I knew. You seemed different than other people.”

“Different?” I frowned. I’d tried so hard to blend in, to pretend to be human. I’d failed, then.

“Not in a bad way. You didn’t seem to walk around with the same sets of assumptions and expectations we do. You were excited and horrified by different things.” She smirked, “you even laughed at my jokes.”

She paused, as if all of this was just another joke and I was supposed to keep on laughing. I didn’t. I didn’t think I’d ever laugh again.

Her face fell. “Still, I must admit to spying on you. I saw you in your original form. I’m sorry. I’ve been a terrible friend.”

I swallowed, trying to pretend the hurt wasn’t there. “Friend? Why would someone from the Agency still call me a friend?”

Her eyes widened. “Oh no, I’m not from the Agency! I was searching for someone like you because I was hoping you’d take me with you to the stars! I’m sick of Earth.”

She’d used me, then, but I still found myself smiling. I should’ve said no, but I knew that I wouldn’t. I also knew how much she’d love my home – the planet her people called Luyten b.


If you write your own story with this prompt, feel free to post it in the comments!