writing

Singing the Praises of Short Stories

Banner for short storiesHello, all, from the world’s worst blogger!

I love a good short story. I’ll admit to feeling daunted when I pick up a mega-novel — like I’m tackling something that’s going to take forever, and the feeling isn’t much different when I sit down to write something lengthy.

But a short story? Can be like a small but very gourmet meal.

The trouble is, short stories are damned hard to market, because the common wisdom is “Everybody hates short stories.” They don’t, but promo sites won’t handle them. So… what to do with the shorties that I’ve written and love, and that other folks have written and would like to put out there in front of some eyeballs?

I created a Facebook group. There, you’ll find links to my short stories, and those of some very talented other folks. All genres: SF, romance, horror, family drama, you name it. Come on over and take a look — you might find something you like! And, for the most part, they’re only 99 cents. (Or free.)

Come on. You know you want to!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/705897606412292/

writing

The Silo Saga Continues… Finally!

Hidden v2After only four years… the saga of the California silo continues, and you can pick up your copy at Amazon today!

Seventeen years ago, the California delegates to the National Convention were herded underground and locked into a silo while bombs exploded overhead. They’ve all done their best to survive since then — some of them with the help of mind-numbing drugs pumped into the water supply.

Now, the head of IT is dying, and the people around her believe they should have a say in who her replacement will be. They aren’t aware that this isn’t a democracy, that they’re all being watched from somewhere else, and that Laura Wayne has already chosen her successor. She’s picked 24-year-old Connor Brownell, the stepson of the mayor — but Connor has secrets of his own, hidden deep inside the silo.

There’s someone else down below, a man who’s carefully bided his time for all these years. He’s made himself essential to those around him, and when he finally decides to head upstairs with all those followers at his heels, he may not only discover a painful truth, he may destroy everything.

writing

New Season, New Plans

At least… new season, continuation of the same plans!

When I got into the indy publishing game 3 years ago, I had no real plan in mind — other than to write books, publish books, make money from books. Not an astonishing amount of money, mind you — that comes with a lot of baggage I was pretty sure I didn’t want to handle. So… a little money. A little success.

I kept seeing other people saying, “Write more books.” So I did that.

Now I’ve got 44 titles up on Amazon, which seems like a pretty impressive catalog. Six different genres, each of them populated with at least a half-dozen books. All of them with pretty covers.

So here we are in the autumn of 2016… and now it’s time to crank up the publicity machine. Which means Carol training herself to blog and post and tweet and comment on a reasonably regular basis. Which means buying some ads and keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for good things in 2017.

In the meantime, have a picture. Hope your day is a tranquil — but successful — one.

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writing

Too Many Voices…

I’ve been meaning to post for… well, six months now, which is probably enough time to convince you that I’m a terrible blogger. At the very least, an unreliable one. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Slapping a couple of random thoughts up on Facebook (usually accompanied by a random photo of something) is one thing, and putting together an essay that I figure other people would enjoy reading is a whole ‘nother one.

But blogging is nothing compared to putting together a new book for publication.

gray lake crop

Last fall, I ran out of juice. I had several new stories underway, but couldn’t put together the ambition to work on them. Time went by, then more time went by… and I’d made no progress. Then, after the holidays, I had a sudden burst of inspiration and put together all the pieces for a brand-new series. I zipped through first drafts of the first three books, bought the covers, laid out a publication schedule… and then I ran out of gas again.

Why is that? you might ask.

Because the world is full of voices. People with suggestions. People who were happy to tell me just what worked for them. People who posted their sales numbers, which are up in the stratosphere compared to mine. People who were complaining about one thing or another (or a lot of things). That’s a LOT of noise, particularly for an introvert who’s easily overwhelmed by too much input — and it resulted in my completely running out of gas again. I wanted badly to publish these new books in April and May, but every time I looked at them, my heart would sink. The whole world started to look like that picture of the lake I included up above: gray and stormy. Not only couldn’t I envision publishing anytime soon, I couldn’t envision publishing at all.

Then a friend suggested, “Listen to your heart.”

Which is what I wanted to do all along, but other people were telling me I was wrong. Telling me the choices I’d made wouldn’t work, that I should tinker and juggle and cut and redo. Buy different (and much more expensive) covers. Good advice, maybe — for someone who’s not me.

For me, writing is very personal. Most of the time, I’ve done the tinkering and juggling all alone, without offering anyone else the chance to weigh in. Usually, I’ll reach a point where I can look at the story and say, “This is finished now. This is the best way I can tell this story.” At that point, I hit “Publish.” Some of the stories have done very well, from my perspective, at least. Others have faded nearly into oblivion. They didn’t work for the readers.

Would they have worked better if I had let other people weigh in, and followed their instructions? Maybe. But for me, part of the heart of the story would be gone. The story would have become a group effort, and not just the product of my struggling writer’s soul, the story I needed to tell, in its own time, in its own way.

I’m going back to that now. I’m going to turn these new stories loose and see what happens. They may fail; they may succeed to a degree that makes me smile. Either way, they’re true to what I wanted them to be.

I figure that’s worth a lot.

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New Sci Fi for Labor Day!

horizon smallApparently, there’s nothing I like better than going against the flow – ignoring all the rules and “must do”s when it comes to writing and publishing new books. So of course, this new one doesn’t follow the rules either.

It’s science fiction – no argument there. But is it YA? I guess you could say so, since one of the main characters is a 16-year-old girl. On the other hand, the other MC is a 30-year-old shuttle pilot. So if you like YA, there’s something here you might enjoy. And if you don’t like YA… there are other characters to follow. The best I can tell you is, it’s a story about family, and friendship – as are most of my stories – and following your best instincts. It’s a story about people. Tough to fit into a box… like most of us unpredictable humans!

Introducing… HORIZON

For 16-year-old Emilie Hale, life has been good. She and the other residents of New Phoenix are confined inside the walls of their colony, but it’s a colorful place where very little ever goes wrong… at least for the humans. For the Uuvali, the planet’s original residents, things are a little more complicated. They’ve been working as helpers and servants for the past two hundred years, which they’ve been glad to do. They’re quiet, gentle and kind.

They’re also easy to blame.

To Emilie’s horror, when the colony’s infrastructure begins to break down, the adults around her begin to point to the Uuvali as the cause of their problems, calling them lazy, sloppy, and vindictive, and no one is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Not until a handsome supply shuttle pilot arrives for a visit does Emilie find an ally, someone who’s willing to ask questions – particularly of the woman he once loved, the woman everyone thinks is in charge.

Neither Emilie nor Fleet Lieutenant Gain Ford ever wanted to be a hero, but they find themselves thrust into that position when no one else will speak up. If they do nothing, New Phoenix and the thousands of Uuvali will fall victim to a madman… someone who would like nothing better than to see the entire colony burn to the ground.

Interested?  It’s only 99 cents for its first 2 weeks on Amazon! Just click the cover image to go to the Amazon listing page.

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Two new short stories!

Looking for a short story to keep you busy at lunchtime?  I’ve got a couple of new ones…

Boy Named HenryOf Black and Blue Lagoons and a Boy Named Henry

A story for grownups about the mysteries of growing up…

Everybody needs a friend. Eleven-year-old Billy Patterson and his little brother Charlie certainly understand that — until they meet Henry, they’ve got no one to hang out with but each other. Henry loves to explore, and the Patterson boys are more than willing to join him on his adventures. It’s the best possible way to spend a summer.

But there are problems: The boys have been told to stick close to their grandfather’s home. And, well… Henry’s not a typical little boy.

He’s a ghost.

Being of Value smallBeing of Value

His name is Matthew. He’s an A.I. – artificial intelligence, an android who looks fully human. He walks, talks and interacts just like a human teenager. He has feelings, just like a human.

But that’s not enough for some of the members of the community he lives in, and it’s not enough for two visiting teenagers he’s been asked to escort. To them, he’s just a machine – which means they’re free to do with him whatever they choose, even if it means taking part in a game that might destroy him.

His name is Matthew, and he’s desperate to survive. Desperate for someone to care.

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Yet another (slightly) new direction…

Charlie smallIf you’ve kept up with my ramblings here at the blog, you know that most of my writing revolves around the theme of family – and relationships in general.  The entire time I’ve been writing, what’s interested me the most is how we relate to each other, how we bring each other joy and sorrow, encouragement, fulfillment, or pain and depression.  In examining that I look at siblings, friends, parents and children, and lovers, through the lens of contemporary life, science fiction, horror, supernatural mystery… basically, whatever seems to work best as a backdrop.

So when a good friend asked if I’d take a crack at a loving gay relationship, after a bit of thought I decided, “Why not?”  I’ve had gay characters in the background of stories before, but this time, I’ve moved them front-and-center, and the result is If Not for Charlie.

A short, sweet gay romance, about summers of love and loss…

Jeremy Cole is a success, by anyone’s standards: he runs a popular online magazine, and two of his books have hit the best-seller lists. Though he’s quiet and a little clumsy, his family and friends adore him. But throughout his life, he’s known there was something missing – the person who would make him complete. Someone he met years ago, during a summer he spent at the lake with his grandparents. Someone who sent him postcards and dozens of little gifts, someone who led him on great adventures… and then disappeared from his life, only to return a decade later. Someone who comes and goes on a whim, chasing a goal Jeremy can’t begin to understand.

After his grandmother’s death, Jeremy is faced with selling his family’s treasured summer home – and with deciding, once and for all, what to do about Charlie, the only man he’s ever loved.

It’s been gathering a nice amount of interest since I published it yesterday, and I hope the readers who’ve picked it up are enjoying it.  It’s not steamy; like most of my other work it’s… let’s say “safe for work.”  There’s no salty language, but there’s a hearty dose of angst.  And… oh yeah.  A happy ending.  Spread the word.  😉

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It’s a bird… it’s a plane…

My very first favorite TV show was the George Reeves Superman series.  And my very first story was spun off the 1960s Batman show.  So it makes sense that the latest publication I’m involved in (with my writing group, the League of Original Woolwrights, a/k/a LOOW) is a collection of superhero stories!  It’s up for pre-order now, for only $0.99 — the actual release date is January 2, and a paperback version will be available shortly.  All profits go to charity (details below).  Hope you’ll check it out!  Just click the cover image to go up, up, and way… to the Amazon page.  🙂

10509686_10205387917966560_7626109846516463798_n

They walk among us. They are our friends and family, our neighbors… even our enemies. Individuals with extraordinary abilities.

Some view their powers as a blessing. Others, a curse.

From the marvelous to the mundane, each of the charcters in this anthology must come to grips with the burden that has been placed upon them. Some choose to do good for others; some retreat into more pedestrian pursuits, only to discover they can run from everything but themselves. Some find solace in simple acts; others glory in the grandeur of their exploits. Some want nothing more than to disappear permanently. Yet through it all, hope and humanity prevail in unexpected ways.

Featuring nine super stories by ten amazing authors, this is truly an anthology of the extraordinary.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit the Sickle Cell Clinic at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Sickle Cell Disease can cause chronic, lifelong pain. Riley Hospital for Children provides a holistic approach to care for patients affected by Sickle Cell Disease, and also helps family members cope with the impact of the diagnosis.

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For Christmas… a brand-new story!

Santa smallThe original theory, when I stepped down from my day job to become self-employed, was that I’d write in the morning and edit other folks’ work in the afternoon.  Sometimes that actually happens.  And sometimes… my brain just won’t cooperate. The past couple of weeks, I haven’t been able to prod myself into writing anything at all.

Then last night, I was pinged with an idea.  It seemed like a viable one, so as soon as I got up, I grabbed the laptop and got to work.  And 12 hours later… there’s a finished product!  Written, edited, covered, and published.

Introducing: Santa on My Doorstep!

Lisa’s life is just fine. She has a 7-year-old son she adores, a comfortable home, a good job… and it’s Christmas. But something’s missing – something (someone) she firmly denies she needs until a white-bearded stranger shows up at her door and advises her, “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you really want.”

You can find it at Amazon here.

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New release time!

Back in college, I took my first stab at writing some original science fiction — and it came out well enough that I scored a round of applause from my writing workshop when I read the story aloud.  But I had no publication venues open to me at the time, so the story made its way into a drawer… until this past July, when I dusted it off and decided it was worthy of an upgrade.  And publication.

Escape 1 smallA “couple whiles” after it debuted to that first audience, here’s Escape!

Meet Eli Christopher – a 29-year-old factory worker who loves the theater. It’s his only escape from a dusty, frustrating life, a place where his imagination can run free, where he can feel some genuine joy and take a nap in the sun.

This same theater is also a place of terror, for those who can’t bring themselves to leave – the people who scream in panic and beg to stay.

This isn’t Now, and Eli Christopher isn’t on Earth. He’s in a place where silence and obedience are required, where you can never change the status you were given on arrival. Where something as simple as a clean drink of water is a near miracle.

He’s in a place where a moment of joy brings with it an enormous risk: that you’ll be carried, screaming, beyond the black door…never to be seen again.

You can find it here at Amazon.