Monday, May 26, 2014

New omnibus available, plus new covers

I have collected The Horrors of Bond Trilogy in an omnibus edition now available for the Kindle. That's three novels collected in one. The novels are: Ghosts of the Asylum, Demon Chains, and The Company of Seven. Listing price for the omnibus is $8.99. I might eventually do a print edition, but to be honest, the price usually makes such mega-sized books not worth the attention of most readers, though I'll keep thinking on it.

Also, for the first time in many, many years, I decided to put up new covers for my screenplays, Dark Side of Io and Day of the Dollar, both Amazon exclusives. And because of the new covers, each of these screenplays is available for free through Friday of this week. Dark Side of Io is a horror-science-fiction-action tale based upon my short story of the same name, and Day of the Dollar is my attempt at a spaghetti western, the only piece of western fiction I've penned to this point.

But please be gentle. Both screenplays were written more than a decade ago during a learning phase, and I fear they show some of the roughness of a much younger writer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 21 -- Wool

by Hugh Howey

Started: May 15
Finished: May 21

Notes: Some while back I read the novella which is the first of five parts in this bestseller, and I found it quite interesting and enjoyable. I had planned on reading further eventually, but then I was gifted this book during the holidays last year. The author is one of the brightest stars out of the indie writer movement, though he is no longer strictly an indie.

Mini review: When I read the original novella, I came away from it thinking it was quite good, but I didn't quite see all the fuss that had been made over it and over Howey as a writer. Now I understand. This collection, at a little more than 500 pages, is a damn good story. Damn good. The ending comes on you fast, but it seems appropriate for the tale. And Howey's writing is strong without becoming overly literary. He's a storyteller here, and it shines through well. Not only would indies do themselves a service by studying his writing, but all writers would. This isn't cookie-cutter writing like I see in so many novels today, especially thrillers and some sci-fi, but honest-to-God solid storytelling. Even if you're not a fan of science fiction or post apocalyptic tales, this one would well serve anyone who is a fan of the likes of Stephen King at his best, and I don't mean from a horror aspect but from the writing aspect. If Hugh Howey can continue to write like this, he'll have a strong and long career ahead of him as a novelist. My only critique is that I felt the last section of the book was a little long, a little wordy, especially when compared to earlier parts, but not annoyingly so.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 20 -- Mere Christianity

by C.S. Lewis

Started: May 9
Finished: May 15

Notes: I've never been a huge Lewis fan, though I've only read the first few books of his Narnia series. However, this particular book was quoted some in the book Epic, which I've recently finished reading, and it drew my interest, at least enough to find out more of what it was about. Mere Christianity is actually based upon three radio shows Lewis did in the early 1940s.

Mini review: My wife passed away while I was reading this book, and some might consider it a sign of sorts that I was into Mere Christianity during this time. Maybe it was. Or maybe it was coincidence. I'll not argue either way. But I will say that if the path I follow is the one espoused by Lewis, then that will be my business, my journey; I would likely loose some friends if I began calling myself a Christian, but I think of that as their problem and not mine. And the truth of the matter is I already hold most Christian beliefs, after all I've been baptized, but I would not say I have yet taken a full leap of faith. Maybe that will come. Maybe not. But that's for me to deal with, and God. My spirituality is personal to me and I plan to keep it that way, though I never say never. Maybe next week I'll be an evangelical screaming from rooftops, but I kind of doubt it. Anyway, about the actual book, it is separated into three sections, the first two of which I enjoyed immensely as Lewis made use of philosophy and logic in order to present the Christian position on many topics, topics that are still relevant today. One might even be surprised at how common-sensical Lewis happens to be. The third section, however, got into what Lewis would call "deep Theology," and here I wasn't so thrilled, finding the section quite tedious. But maybe I'm just not ready for that part yet, and maybe I never will be. Are the author's views here unassailable? No, for I've read some criticisms, but I still think Lewis was pretty strong here. For anyone considering Christianity, I would think this should be necessary reading, and even a lot of people today who proclaim themselves Christian would be doing themselves a service by reading this one.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My wife has passed away

As those who follow my Facebook page are already aware, my wife died on Sunday, May 11, Mother's Day, at 2:04 p.m. my time.

It had been a long battle, more than a year of her fighting against Stage IV breast cancer. There were lots of ups and lots of downs. There were a few weeks in March of 2013 in which I had thought I was losing her. Then there were the weeks early in 2014 when I actually believed she had this thing licked because she was energetic and getting around without any aid.

All that has come crashing down.

Yes, I've shed some tears today, and I'm sure more will come. I've also fought back against tears more than once. I was there at her side right until the end, and even beyond. Thank God I've had my strong mother next to me to give support.

I have a lot of thoughts, and possibly a lot of things to say, but right at this moment I'm tired after having been awake for nearly three days and nights at a hospice center. Sleep will not be coming soon as I'm too jittery, too wound up, but I do need to try and rest, especially as I've still got some paperwork and red tape and things to face in the coming days.

And then I've got empty rooms to stare into and closets to empty and all kinds of other things I can't quite wrap my mind around yet.

It doesn't seem real. I keep waiting for her to call for me from the other room. I keep waiting to hear her television on. I keep waiting for her to call my cell phone.

But none of that is ever going to happen again. Never.

And she was only 46. I will be 45 next month. We were supposed to have at least another 20 years together, maybe 30 or even 40. Instead, what we got was 12 years.

I'm thankful I at least got that.

Kelly Morgan, wherever you are, know that you are loved, and you will always be loved. I will take care of our beagle baby, Lily, for ever and ever, and I will never forget you. Despite all my failings, you forgave me everything, and I can never thank you enough for everything you brought into my life. You opened my eyes to so much, and you made me a better person. You made a lot of people better simply by knowing them, and I fear you never realized that about yourself.

I could write on. I could write forever about her. But I have to rest. I'm sure I'll write more at another date.

Kelly, I love you, honey.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 19 -- Epic

by John Eldredge

Started: May 8
Finished: May 9

Notes: My mother's pastor, also a writer, gifted me this book recently as he felt it would be of interest to me. The author here takes the story of the Bible, specifically the Gospels, and makes a claim of sorts that all of us are living in the greatest epic story of all time, that created by God, and that each of us are characters with goals within the broader tale. The author apparently makes comparisons between this epic tale of Christianity with multiple pieces of epic literature and film. Whether or not I agree with the author concerning spiritual matters is beside the point as far as I'm concerned, but as I writer I'm interested in what he has to say. And who knows? Maybe he will sway my thinking one way or the other.

Mini review: Not a bad little book. A little simplistic for my taste, but it still does a good job comparing the story of the Bible to those of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, John Milton ... the obvious choices ... but also to the movies "Titanic" and "The Matrix" and other film and literature.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 18 -- Replay

by Ken Grimwood

Started: May 4
Finished: May 8

Notes: I've had this one on my to-be-read list for some while, and finally got my hands on a copy. This 1988 winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel is about a 43-year-old man who dies (in 1988) and then finds himself transferred back into his 18-year-old self (in 1963), with this scenario repeating again and again and again, something like the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day." Also, thoughts of death and dying and aging are on my mind a lot of late, in no small order because of my wife's continual battle with cancer, so this one should prove appropriate to my general mood.

Mini review: This was a truly, truly fantastic book, perhaps the best I've read this year, and maybe in a while. This one harps back to the days when speculative fiction told a good story while also having something important to say, which is frankly not something I see a lot of nowadays. This is also a novel which does not provide all the answers for the reader, something I appreciate but most readers don't seem to, or at least a vocal crowd doesn't appear to from what I've seen over the years. This novel might feel a little dated today, though not much, but it would be interesting to see a sequel today that has a character in the same situation as the protagonist from Replay; unfortunately, the author was working on such a sequel when he passed away in 2003. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 17 -- Cruelty (Episode: One)

by Edward Lorn

Started: May 3
Finished: May 3

Notes: Earlier in the year this author suggested a couple of e-books for me to read, and once I read them I started thinking it high time I read something by the man himself, especially as I've read some of his material in the past and found it highly enjoyable. Lorn has become known as a horror author, but apparently he is looking to expand upon his writing horizons, and one such expansion includes working within serialized fiction, such as this first episode of his series, Cruelty, which I believe has drawn the interest of some folks in the movie biz. Let's see how he does.

Mini review: As has always been the case so far, Edward Lorn continues to astound me. This was a darn near perfect opening episode, and I could well imagine it as a modern television series on one of the cable channels. The characters are interesting enough, but it's the villain who truly shines in this piece, breathing some new and strange life into the well-known-and-often-worn trope of the mad slasher killer (such as Jason, Michael, Freddy, etc.). Though, in all fairness, and hopefully without giving anything away, the killer here isn't exactly a traditional slasher murderer, and definitely not your average serial killer, but something more. What that "more" exactly is will depend upon further episodes, but there's enough here to draw the interest of any horror fan.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Books read in 2014: No. 16 -- Chill Factor

by Sandra Brown

Started: April 15
Finished: May 3

Notes: This is another novel I saved from the trash can, or at least it seemed so at the time. I pulled my Explorer into one of those do-it-yourself car washes, and there sat this paperback atop a concrete column next to a garbage can. I finished cleaning my vehicle, saw there was no one else around, and absconded with the book. I don't anyone was coming back for it, and I'm always a sucker for free literature. Brown is not an author I've read, but that's a bonus since I always like reading writers for the first time. And there's an additional bonus here as this thriller author is female, and I've been telling myself for some while I need to read more female writers.

Mini review: The gist of the story is a snowstorm traps a woman in a cabin with a man she fears is a serial killer. I could write that story in 30 pages or less. Here it took more than 500 pages. Not all those pages were wasted as there were plenty of subplots and side characters and the like, and it all came together relatively well in the end, but still, I felt like there were too many detours away from the main plot. And I felt a bit cheated. In the end, this was a romance tale, but I felt cheated because the story and the marketing for it don't come anywhere close t to leaning toward romance, at least not traditional romance. Longtime fans of the author might expect this, but I didn't, and it rubbed me the wrong way, but only a little. Overall the writing was pretty solid, the characters somewhat interesting, the scenery more than just background, but I went away from this one with sort of a ho-hum feeling. It didn't completly suck, but it wasn't all that great either. But every book and every author isn't for every reader. So, live and learn. Would I give this author another chance? Maybe, but I probably won't go out of my way to do so.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Indie authors: Has it all been said?

There's an old saying among fiction writers that goes something like this, "Every story has already been written, but not from your point of view." Or something to that effect. Maybe it's true. Maybe not. I don't know.

But I'm not here today to talk about that.

At least not directly, and not about fiction writing.

I'm here to talk about writing about fiction writing, specifically a trend I've noticed over the last six months mainly concerning indie authors and others following the wave of e-book writers/publishers..

What is that trend?

That there's nothing else to say on the subject.

Now before your panties get all balled up in your crotch, keep in mind this is only a blog post and yes, I'm making a generalization and yes, I realize such generalizations do not fit every single little circumstance in the entire universe. I get that.

But I still think there's a trend.

My evidence?

How about Kristine Kathryn Rusch ending her Thursday Business Blog? What about Dean Wesley Smith's blog which during the last year or so has moved from regular advice posts to mostly posts about workshops? What about JA Konrath's blog, which has gone from mostly posts about advice to a mixture of posts of all different kinds, including posts from other writers and bloggers?

Let me add right here, I'm not trying to belittle those authors or there blogs. Each has made changes and moved on for their own reasons, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not grumbling, really. I have no problem with what they've done, and I'm not making a judgement call here, just pointing out what I see as a trend.

And what about the Writers' Cafe over at kboards? Once a home to up-and-coming indie stars, in my opinion its own star is beginning to wane. A lot of the advice is repetitive, or overly opinionated to the point of being silly. And often enough even when help is seemingly solid, it is shot down by someone with a need to ... well, to continually shoot down stuff, even when not needed.

Again, don't get me wrong. The Writers' Cafe is still a great place for beginning indie authors, and the kboards site in general is great for readers. There have simply been atmospheric changes over there of which I'm not all that interested, and I find the site less useful than I used to, though maybe that says more about me than it does about the site itself.

Anyway, back to my point that maybe everything has been said about being an indie author that needs to be said.

Sure, technical details will change every now and then, and promotional ideas will pop up and die from time to time, but at least for the time being, it seems the indie world has settled into a slowdown of sorts, at least concerning the knowledge it takes to become an indie.

But maybe it's just me.

I realize there are still probably plenty of beginning writers out there, and for them all the trappings of the indie universe might look quite daunting. But for me, a lot of this stuff is old hat anymore, and much of it I find quite dull, especially the continual, silly arguments and the self righteousness of some of the writers, editors, publishers, and even a handful of reviewers and readers.

I'm not complaining.


I just see things slowing down. Maybe I've learned all there is to learn, or perhaps I'm not ready for the next level. Whatever it is, there seems to be something dulling in the water and air of late concerning indie authors.

Which probably means there's a bomb about to go off somewhere in the publishing world. A figurative bomb, that is, in case any NSA agents are perusing this post.