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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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.


Night_Plague_Cover_for_Kindle

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

(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!

7 Tips for NaNoWriMo

(Tip Thursday: Every other Thursday (or so), I’ll post writing/editing tips that I’ve personally found useful.)

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It’s time to head back to Camp (NaNoWriMo) for July. In fact, today marks the end of the first week. Here are a few tips for participating writers looking to quickly grow their word counts.

 

  1. If you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo before, you’ve probably heard of word sprints: choosing a fifteen minute slot (usually using notations such as on the :00 or :30, etc, to account for timezone differences online) and competing with other writers to see who can write the most during that time. However, even if you can’t find sprinting partners, word sprints can still be useful if you play against yourself for the “high score”. Set a timer for fifteen minutes or so and see how many words you can write! Record your current record and try to beat it.
  2. Similarly, some writers like the Pomodoro Technique: working nonstop in sets of 25 minutes with 5 minute rest breaks in between.
  3. If you really need an extra push to shut down the inner editor and keep on writing, sites like The Most Dangerous Writing App or Write or Die, which penalize you by deleting words if you hesitate, can be useful.
  4. While writing, elongate descriptions as much as you can. A few big paragraphs do wonders for the word count. If you’re like me and tend to underwrite the first draft, this can actually end up being beneficial in the long run, too. Remember to focus on all five senses, rather than just sight, and on both the external and internal worlds.
  5. Unless it’s absolutely vital, don’t get caught up in choosing names or conducting research during the first draft. Just leave [Friend’s Name] or a similar tag in the text if you run into a spot where you’re not sure what to put down and come back to it during the second draft. You can even replace whole scenes with temporary stubs – for example, [Jacob and Julie have an argument about when to leave for the hospital] – if you get stuck on one.
  6. Even if you’re more of a pantser, try the headlights method of outlining – that is, try planning out content for just the next chapter or so. This gives you an opportunity to focus on the story as separate from the act of writing, which in turn frees up time to focus on simply getting the words down as fast as you can later. After all, writer’s block most commonly comes from two sources – a lack of motivation to write or not knowing what happens next in the plot. Having a plan – even a loose, subject to change, short-term one – helps with both of these obstacles.
  7. Keep a physical or digital notebook on hand. If you run into a problem, like a plot hole or an inconsistency, write it down rather than worrying about fixing it now. If your word processor has a comment function, it can be useful for the same purpose. You can also simply highlight any sections you know will need editing later, then give yourself permission to put them out of your mind for now. Don’t come back to your comments or notes until the second draft. Keep moving forward.

Are you participating in Camp this month? Feel free to share your progress or any of your own tips in the comments.

Monday Blues: 14

(“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 regular schedule is back for July.)

14

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A Novel by Peter Clines

What It Is: A genre-blending speculative fiction novel about a man named Nate who notices more than a few oddities about his new apartment building.

Why You Should Read It: With a twisting plot, fun characters, and atmospheric setting, 14 has it all. If you’re like me and enjoy books where genres blend and break, acting as tools rather than limitations, you’ll enjoy the way it mixes together styles ranging from crime to science fiction to supernatural horror. I also enjoyed how, even with all of that going on, it remains fairly character driven throughout. Reading it reminded me of walking down an unexplored mountain trail, always pushing ahead just a little farther to see what surprises are around the next bend due to the environment shifting with the elevation. Despite its hefty page count, I devoured this one quickly. There are some aspects that felt a bit rushed towards the end and a few questions that went unanswered, but on the whole, 14 was one of the most entertaining and memorable books I’ve read recently. Definitely go into this one spoiler free if you can.


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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.

Ember’s Wings (Poem)

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

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Ember’s Wings

Sunset
Set me free
Rainbow of firelight

They pushed me away
You told me to stay
I became as one with you

Colors like coal
My mind ablaze
A spark that lights my soul

Smoke, fire, ashes
I’m in love with the sky
I’ll abandon the world

On ember’s wings I’ll fly


I’m working on a poetry chapbook with plans to publish it this summer.
Feel free to join my email list for a discount when it releases and a free copy of my novel, Night Plague.

Summer Writing Goals

(Friday Updates: I’ll post updates from my projects (about) every other Friday).

With my vacation from school well under way, and summer officially beginning next month, it’s time to get my writing goals organized (I’ve got a few game design projects going on too, but that’s a whole other post). Here’s what I’ll be writing over the season:


Writer’s Games 2018

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Each year, The Writer’s Workout hosts a contest in which participants write 1 short story a week for 7 weeks. Each week has its own theme, announced on Friday, with a story based on that theme due 72 hours later. It also offers feedback for each story and publication in the contest’s anthology for the top 5 stories of each theme. The contest is currently in its third week. I’ve dabbled with short fiction, but this is the first time I’ve really focused on it. I have to say, it’s definitely growing on me, and I feel like I’ve already learned a lot. It’s paying off, too – I found out just yesterday that my story for the second theme (silence) took 1st place! New, a post-apocalyptic fairy tale about a robot and a mermaid-like creature, will be published in the upcoming anthology.

The current round of the contest is closed to new entrants, but another will be starting in August. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to practice their short fiction. It’s been a great experience so far.

Re-Publishing Night Plague

Night Plague, my first novel, was originally published in 2014 by Severed Press. Its contract expired a couple of months ago and it’s quickly gone out of print, so I’ll self-publish and re-release it on June 10th to get it back out into the world. I’m currently taking the opportunity to review and edit it to bring it up to par with my current works (I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the four years since its publication). The changes are minor, but I’ve found that the little details definitely do make a difference. Reading it over again is actually pretty fun, since I keep on running into moments I’d forgotten about.

If you’re interested in reading Night Plague, subscribers to my email list will get a free digital copy upon release.

Querying or Self-Publishing Paragon

Paragon, a dark/high fantasy thriller about a wayward scientist who wants to rewrite his world, is my favorite child longest running novel project. Although I’m doing one more read-through to make sure it’s as polished as it can be, it’s essentially ready to go. I haven’t decided whether I want to query agents for it, or if self-publishing would be the better choice. I’m really torn. It’s also not particularly commercial in style, so I’m not sure whether the latter is an option or not. Either way, though, I’m excited to share it soon. If I do commit to shopping it around then I can’t say for sure how long the process will take, but if I go the self-publishing route, it’ll release sometime before 2019. I’ll post updates as they happen.

Finishing the Final Draft of The Atlantean Crown

I’ve got a few plot tweaks to make to the The Atlantean Crown, a YA sci-fi novel about a power-hungry princess and an impending apocalypse, and it’ll also need one more read-through for polish, but this one’s also within in range of querying or self-publishing this summer. At the very least, I’m aiming to finish the final draft. In terms of how it’ll actually release, it’s in a similar situation to Paragon.

Finishing a few First Drafts

There are a couple of other novels I’m not quite ready to talk about yet, but both are near ‘the end’. While not as high of a priority, I’d love to knock out their messy first drafts.

Participating in Activities and Challenges: Camp-2018-Writer-Profile-PhotoFrom Ninja Writers 30 Day Writing Challenge to Camp NaNoWriMo to Ela Thier’s 6-Day Freewriting Challenge, I’m pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and participating in as many activities as I can. It’s always interesting to meet other writers and try out new approaches to the craft. After all, with school on break, this is the best chance I have to experiment, grow, and of course, write like mad.


Whew! I don’t know if I’m going to manage all that, but I’m damn well going to try.

What goals are you writing towards over the summer?

 

 

Breaking Windows (Poem)

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

Night Sky Window

Breaking Windows

We pass windows as we walk.

We want to reach out,
touch our fingertips to the cool, smooth air

– the skies –

on the other side,
but are afraid to smudge the glass.
We ache to break through,
but don’t want to hear the sound

– the shatter –

to see what we knew in ruins,
and know we can’t repair it.
After all, the world on the other side might be illusion,
made of poison,
where the rain falls like fire.
We don’t know where we are isn’t better,
so we keep the windows closed,
their latches locked.
We keep walking,
turning away,
scared of our own reflections.

When I stop
and put my palm to the glass,

– so cold and fresh on my skin,
like a thirst finally sated
by the season’s breath –

the window cracks.

 

Halloween House (Short Fiction)

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

Source: This is a slightly longer story from the 2017 Fall Writing Contest at The Write Practice and Short Fiction Break (this piece didn’t place, but was shortlisted).

Prompt: A love story themed around the autumn.


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Even though a year had passed since Emma had seen Clyde, his face looked exactly as she remembered it. Unkempt amber hair framed painfully familiar features. His lips seemed as tender as they had during the first and last kisses they’d shared. His soul shimmered in his speckled blue gaze.

She smiled, and he smiled, too.

“Emma…”

Clyde’s voice drifted through the otherwise silent bedroom, and Emma savored it like a favorite song replayed on the radio after years of static. That sound – so deeply embedded in her memories – was all the proof she needed that he was really there.

“I shouldn’t have come,” he said, his smile wilting.

Emma searched for his gaze through the dusky flickers of candlelight. He was right. Maisey and the rest of her friends would think her insane if they knew about her visits with her former fiance. Her reputation would never recover from the scandal. “I don’t care,” she decided. “This is what we want, so what does it matter what everyone else thinks? You’re the only one I need.”

“No, Emma…” His features tied themselves into an anxious shape she’d never seen them in before. “I…don’t want this anymore.”

Her joy disappeared as if she’d been dunked beneath the autumn ocean. Her mouth opened, searching for words and failing to find any that made sense.

“You’re miserable, Emma,” he sighed. “We both need to move on.”

“No!” Emma startled at the volume of her own voice. “I waited for you, just like I will next year! I don’t mind, as long as we have Halloween night.” Her fingers wrapped around the cross pendant laying across her chest – the same one that had once belonged to him.

His eyes hardened, narrowing in on the pendant. “Give that back to me, Emma.”

She shook her head, her grip tightening around the cold silver. “If I don’t, you’ll keep coming back, won’t you?”

“You may as well be holding me hostage,” he growled. “Do you really think this is anything like what we had? Clinging to memories won’t give us our old life back.”

Three knocks echoed up through the floorboards from the front door below.

Emma held Clyde’s stare for a few seconds longer, sucking down the hurt with a deep breath. “Don’t you go anywhere,” she ordered. “I’ll be right back.”

***

Emma pounded down the stairs, the house groaning beneath each footfall like a weary, living thing.

Her visitors were probably the same damn kids who pranked her each year. She lived in the so-called Halloween House, after all. The neighborhood entertained itself with tales of strange voices, inexplicable shadows, and slamming doors. Boys and girls in costume had taken it upon themselves to knock on the door during the dead of Halloween night as proof of their bravery.

She grimaced with an anger that wasn’t entirely directed at the children when she reached out for the doorknob, already imagining the shouts she’d use to shoo them away. If those brats were searching for a good scare, she’d give it to them. This was the one night of the year she shared with Clyde. No one was going to ruin it for her.

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