Saturday, June 8, 2013

Father's Day Sale: Cheap Comic Fantasy for Cheap

In honor of Father's Day (the upcoming holiday will be third I've been qualified for), I'm dropping the price of my novel The Fountain of Eden to 99 cents until the strike of midnight—or whenever I get around to changing it back to regular price—on June 17th.

So, dads and everyone else, go snag yourself a copy if you like zany comic fantasy like Christopher Moore, Terry Pratchett, Jasper Ffforde, Robert Rankin, or A. Lee Martinez. Hell, it's not even a dollar. Cheap entertainment for, well, cheap. I promise you'll least once. ;-)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"The Fountain of Eden" Gets a Makeover

That's right, a makeover. As in, a new cover (don'tcha just love that ch-ch-chilling buddha). Here it is.
In honor of this dubiously momentous event, the book will be free in the Kindle store tomorrow, March 27th, and March 28th. The cover art is by Jeanine Henning.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Somewhere in the Shadows" is now available!

The horror anthology "Somewhere in the Shadows," to which I contributed a story, is now available at Amazon. I had much fun writing the short story "Words," in which a writer is attacked by his own writing. Andrew Hudson was the maestro who put this thing together, and I commend him for all the time and effort he expended to get this thing out into the world. Neil Jackson did an amazing job on the cover art and Paul Dail wrote a great introduction. The finished product looks great, from the stories themselves to the formatting and the cover art, everything turned out well. This ebook exclusive contains stories from Andrez Bergen, Amber Keller, Dean Giles, Jonathon D. Allen, Marissa Farrar, Andrew Cyrus Hudson, Craig Jones, C.M. Humphries, and myself.

I submitted "Words" a few months ago, and was honored to find, when I received an early version of the anthology, that it had been chosen as "the closer." I've purchased a copy myself in support of the cause and will be reading it over the next few days. So go snag yourself one. It looks like a great read for horror fans. And thanks for your support.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Six Sunday - 11/4/2012 - From "Words"

Before I can react, a pair of the's jump forward and knock me to the ground. Pinned on my back, some H's and V's scurry over my face and clamp onto my lips, holding my mouth open. I twist my shoulders and manage to slither away from the words before they can shove anything down my throat. I smack my face to dislodge the vise-like upper-case letters from my mouth.
I scramble to my feet and start to run, intending to bash my way through the legions of inky soldiers, but two steps later some parentheses wobble into my path and trip me up with their curvy bodies. I fall onto a bed of exclamation points; their tips stab at me like sharpened pencils and their knobbly points bash into me like malevolent massage balls.


Although the release date of the anthology this story will appear in, called "Somewhere the Shadows," has been delayed (something about the cover art, from what I understand), I assure you that it is coming any day now. Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to head over to Six Sunday and check out the short, sweet posts from all the fine writers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reading, reading, reading...

In a usual year, I'd say I read about 40-50 novels. But in 2011 my reading dropped significantly, and I decided to get back into it and read like a fiend in 2012. Last November I created an account at GoodReads, and back in January I signed up to a challenge over at Goodreads to read 150 books this year.

What. The. Hell. Was. I. Thinking.

It's been tough to keep up with my goal because I have a two-year-old at home, I work an almost full-time day job, and I've more than a handful of stories bouncing around in my head. Excuses, excuses, right? But then again, there's nothing I enjoy more than a good read. And I am of the firm opinion that reading is studying my craft.

So far this year I've dropped 127 books (how many words? who knows?) into the dark, subconscial regions of my brain. Which means I've got 23 books left to go, with 60 days to get there. There are a handful of short stories in the READ tally, as Goodreads doesn't differentiate between full-length digital novels and standalone, short story ebooks (thank the web gods that be).

So I'm gonna give you the rundown on the best books I've read--so far--this year. The top 5. In my opinion, the best of the best. They fall in no particular order.

1. "The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

I love DiscWorld. But I also love Terry Pratchett, no matter what he's writing. I buy this dude's books in hardcover, bro. And this is a goodie with a mind-bending twist on an ago-old premise that I'm somewhat amazed no one's thought of before. But I'm quite glad that Sir Pratchett (or Mr. Baxter, perhaps) did. I look forward to the sequels. The Long Earth is a tale of dwindling resources, parallel universes, and misguided love—and loss—on an airship, with a robot/supercomputer looking on.

2. "Pines" by Blake Crouch

J.A. Konrath introduced me to Blake Crouch. Not in person, but still. Konrath's blog was my first stop when I began looking into indie publishing. Then I read Draculas, an independently published book Konrath cajoled Crouch, F. Paul Wilson (more on him later), and Jeff Strand into co-authoring with him. From there it was onto Crouch's Andrew Z. Thomas series. And now . . . Pines is a page-clicker for the newborn digital age, an expertly crafted horror thriller with a sci-fi twist. A must-read for horror fans.

3. "The Dirty Parts of the Bible" by Sam Torode

A retelling of the Jewish tale of Tobias and Sarah set in 1930's America. Laugh-out-loud funny and heartwarming, Dirty Parts has it all. Love, and fire, on a railcar speeding across the country. This book is one of the good ones, with a Forrest Gump kinda feel to it. Perhaps one of the all-time good ones.

4. "Black Wind" by F. Paul Wilson

Yay, it's historical fiction by horror/thriller/suspense/conspiracy author F. Paul Wilson, who is a doctor in his spare (wait...huh?) time. This is the other guy Konrath introduced me to. I've been reading the hell out of his Repairman Jack series over the last year or so (I'm currently reading the 12th of 15) and devouring just about everything else in his catalog that I can get my digital claws into. I think it's easier to get into authors like this if you own an e-reader. I honestly don't have room on my physical bookshelves for 15 paperbacks, even if R.J. is the best series I've read in years. (You should see the TBR shelf. The horror, oh, the horror. I mean, I've got Lincoln sitting there, and Of Human Bondage, both of which I doubt I'll ever get to.)

5. "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" by Catherynne M. Valente

This is a true fairy tale that kept me riveted to its pages. I believe a sequel just came out or is due out any day now. At some point, I will be purchasing it.


Yeah, you might like these books. But then again, you might hate them. No book is for everybody, as every new author finds out when the reviews start coming in.

I'm still not sure I'll be making my goal, as I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this month and November is going to be write, write, write. So if you know a good fantasy or horror short, let me know, as I may have to cheat a little bit more and read a number of shorties to reach the 150 book goal. Wish me luck! I may need it...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Six Sunday - 10/28/2012 - From "Words"

The words on the Kindle's screen are still pidgin, but now they're moving. Letters grab punctuation marks for partners and jump, spin, twirl, whirl across the screen to some unknown beat. Watching the frenetic movement makes me dizzy, and I have to look away before I puke all over myself.

When the nausea passes and I look back down at the Kindle, the words are still dancing. Then a capital W's three spidery legs arise from the undulating screen like periscopes from the sea and scrabble for purchase in reality. The tiny twenty-third letter of the English alphabet quivers when it pops into the world, as if the ink is in ecstasy to be free from its electronic prison, and then lifts off and sails into the air.


I'm going to ignore the fact that it's been over three months since my last blog post and plow right on ahead. So . . . I've got a short story in an upcoming horror anthology called "Somewhere in the Shadows," put together by Andrew Hudson, who I commend for the amount of time and effort he put into putting this thing together and getting it out there.

I really wanted to do a story about a haunted Kindle, and that was the inspiration for "Words." Although, as with most stories, by the final draft it ended up having a few unexpected twists I hadn't planned on at the start. Either way, check out the anthology. It also has stories from Jonathan Allen, Andrez Bergen, Marissa Farrar, Dean Giles, Craig Jones, C.M. Humphries, Amber Keller, and the man himself, Andrew Hudson.

It should be released any day now, so I'll let you know. Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to head over to Six Sunday to check out the sweet, succinct posts from all the fine writers.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Researching Bodhidharma

Writing a novel sometimes requires research. You want to get your facts straight, or they're all going to laugh at you.

As dramatic as that scene from Carrie may be, it's really not all that bad. Sometimes the answer is just a Google search away, but sometimes a writer must go a little deeper than that. For my first novel, "The Fountain of Eden," I researched mythology and delved into some classic fiction. For the next one, I'm researching the life and times of Bodhidharma, the times being 5th-6th century India and China.

I've learned many new things about Bodhidharma in recent days. There are many conflicting accounts of the life of this pivotal figure in the development of Zen Buddhism, as is to be expected with someone who lived (and . . . died? . . . well, that, like most things in life, is debatable) over 1500 years ago.

The oldest mention of Bodhidharma is in "The Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks," written in 645 by Daoxuan, a Chinese historian who modern day historians thank very much for all the useful writings he left behind. There are also a handful of later accounts, each putting their own little twist into the Bodhidharma legend.

What all this conflicting information means is that I can pick and choose what I want to use and drop the stuff that doesn't fit my story. I can shuffle dates as needed, and make some other stuff up and throw it into the novel because I like it and I think it's fucking cool. That's my prerogative as a writer of fiction.

But aside from Bodhidharma's life, I also want to get a good grip on the time period. How was it back in India in the late fifth century? What were people besides Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu up to in early sixth century China?

Well, I'm getting there. For now, I'm fascinated by his life.

I've been reading "Tracking Bodhidharma" by Andy Ferguson. Ferguson takes a modern-day jaunt along Bodhidharma's ancient path, beginning in Guangzhou in southern China, where Bodhidharma is said to have first set foot in the Far East. Weaving past and present into a brilliant narrative, Ferguson's storytelling is engrossing (especially to someone researching Bodhidharma), although it doesn't delve much Bodhidharma's early life, in India, which is where his story begins. Ferguson's book will leave you with a new impression of China and remind you that, no matter where they live, people are people, just trying to get by.

Next on the reading list are Heinrich Dumoulin's "History of Zen Buddhism" and Jeffrey L. Broughton's "The Bodhidharma Anthology."

As a side note and a shout-out to an excellent book, one of the most interesting and entertaining takes on the Bodhidharma legend I've read is the "Zen Katha" by Partap Sharma. It is a play, and Sharma does an excellent job of tossing just about every Bodhidharma legend he can into twenty-four scenes in two acts.

As for the upcoming novel, I've got a few chapters sketched out, a few scenes written up in my notebook, the first chapter pretty much done, chapters two and three worked up into skeletal form. But I'm-a-keep reading for a while, because I want to be fully immersed in Bodhidharma's world before I begin seriously typing down some prose.

So I'm curious about how other authors research. Do you have a go-to guy or gal you contact when you need some solid information? Or do you Google it and hope whatever shady website you pull the information from is legit? (Don't get me wrong, I love Wikipedia, which has become the "go-to" place for information online and really isn't all that bad, but I do keep in mind that just about anybody can toss their brains around over there. So I find multiple sources and verify! Sometimes this requires a trip to the library. Or at the very least checking the freaking links at the bottom of the Wikipedia page.)

Again, I will leave you with some sweet tunes. This one's an old, obscure Bob Dylan number redone by Old Crow Medicine Show.

The video is effing hilarious, no? Did you see those kids and the old men in the crowd there towards the end of the video? And I love the fact that these dudes, these musicians, these artists, are in the peep show, spotlight flickering, half-naked chicks all over the place, and what are they doing?

They're playing their music.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Untitled. Very Untitled.

So I'm gonna start using the blog as a sounding board. Throw ideas and thoughts out there, and such.

"Oh yeah? Is that a good idea, you think?"

I don't know. Don't really care. Let there be songs, to fill the air.

"Uh, what?"

Sorry, lost track of things for a second there. But see, also, at the same time I'm gonna keep all my, er, devoted readers updated on the progress of the new novel.

"Wow. Just . . . wow. Let me tell you, the excitement levels are ripping holes in the roof."

No, but it's interesting. Really. See, I'm writing an (or is it a? ah, screw it) historical fiction novel on Bodhidharma. But it's not gonna be your typical, boring, stodgy brand of historical—

"Didn't you already go into all that in a recent blog post where you used all sorts of unnecessary foul language? Where you were, uh, sort of talking to yourself, just without the quotation marks, which for some godsforsaken reason you've used this time, and which as far as I can tell is a desperately waving flag that whatever crazy mind disease you've contracted has crossed some effed-up line of no sane return?"

Yep to all of that, whatever it was you just said. And I think I've done the whole "talking to myself" thing before. But back to the novel, which is coming along nicely for being envisioned just a week ago. My notebook is filling with scribblings at a frightening rate. I've also got a couple thousand words typed down in a doc file called "Daruma," which is the Japanese version of Bodhidharma's name, and what Bodhidharma will be called throughout the story by those close to him. A nickname/not-nickname, if you will. Just because the modern Japanese language didn't exist at the time doesn't mean it doesn't work. This is fiction, people. You'll find out about the name early on in the novel.

"Wow. Sounds . . . exciting. How long's this thing gonna take you to finish?"

A while. Maybe a year to completion of the final draft. My wife and I have a nineteen-month old daughter, and I work at a day-job, so I write and research when I can, usually long after the sun's gone down while everyone else in the house is asleep. Plus, I'm addicted to reading fiction, and it cuts into my writing time.

"Excuses, excuses."

Good ones, too. Well, most of them, at least. Dad/husband is my number one job. But when I start reading a good story, I'm hooked. But no regrets. Whether it's contemporary or classic, fiction or non-fiction, each book read is a learning experience. In "Daruma," I'm thinking of including three or four "flashback" tales of the Buddha's most famous encounters with Mara. But I'm gonna do 'em in the fashion of Trickster tales, a la Coyote. Mara will be a pivotal figure in the novel, perhaps consuming more scenes than Bodhidharma himself. Mara's daughters will also play parts.

"Yeah, great to get to know you personally, you jackhole. And how you doing with the historical aspect of things?"

The what-what-what-now?

"You know, the research portion of this great big project you're working one?"

Oh. That. Yeah, I think my reading of non-fiction is going to skyrocket in coming weeks. I shudder at thought of the boring historical facts that will soon be filling my head, but I'm sure I'll learn something, which is always a good thing. But the book's not just about events that happened 1600 years ago, even if those events shaped the modern world. This is story. This is humor. This is myth. This is knowing/not-knowing. This is life.

"Knock it out, son. Just knock it out."

You're right. And in honor of the first encouraging words you've ever "said" to me, I'll leave you—me—us—everybody—with some sweet, mellow tunes . . .

Lyrics | Grateful Dead lyrics - Ripple lyrics