Of Superheroes, Zombies, and Bugmen

zombified_3News, news, and more news!

Yesterday I finished polishing up the Crimson Son anthology for my editor to again polish and make all shiny. I know, I already told you that – even gave you a sneak peek. I’m excited to get those stories out to you guys and I had a lot of fun writing them. Release is set for early June so keep an eye out here for cover reveals and more.

Yes, I’ve yet to decide on a name. Part of it is indecision, the other part – I’m working on my overall marketing strategy with Amazon. This novella / anthology is something of a test of those procedures which I’m ironing out for my next big release.

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean it’s a haphazardly arranged book of filler. No, these are some of the best stories I’ve written to date. Yes, it’s a short piece and gives only a little taste of the history in the Crimson Son universe, but there is plenty of depth to each tale. And I don’t mean to be a tease, well, I do, but I’ve been toying with an idea: a Crimson Son sequel.

I never intended one. Crimson Son was meant to be a stand alone. Hell, it started as a short story. All I wanted was for Spencer to escape that Fortress of Solitude. He did. It was messy, and I read a review that said he always seemed like a kid in over his head. Yeah, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. He’s not your typical hero. None of those guys are.

But he was also only a kid who, by the end of the book, had just started to find himself. There’s more to his story percolating under the surface. In fact, it straight up kicked me in the nuts one day and I had to fight to keep focused on my current projects. Not only that but some of these Augments that showed up for the anthology, I’m itching to write more about.

I’m hesitant to put a date on this. If it happens, probably sometime before The Winds of Winter hits the shelves. No, definitely before then. We’ll see how the short stories go over first.

And don’t forget the Immerse or Die bundle due out in the next few weeks! Between that and the anthology, I’m looking for a proof of concept for both my marketing attempts and for the future of Crimson Son.

I’ve already committed to a fantasy series that I’ve got a ton of faith in. Another quirky book about a young man…um…bugman…trying to find his way. First Song, Book One will be out at the end of the year and with any luck, Book Two will be released at the same time.

I also finally have solid news on my zombie story, An Apocalypse of Zombies. Zombified III will be released June 1st! There are some fun stories in this one, none of which take this whole Zombie thing too seriously – which is good. I gave up on taking those shambling organ donors seriously a long while ago.

In my tale, Robert the zombie finds himself crippled by a starving chihuahua. In his zeal to still compete for human brains, he ends up inadvertently ending the Zombie apocalypse. It’s a sad tale. A tragedy. A real tear jerker in the laugh-until-you-puke sort of way.

Okay, book and story updates, done. I should also have another article up at GeekDad this week, so keep an eye out over there as well.

Thanks again for reading!

Advice by the Kilo

I'll let you decide the value of my self publishing learnings. With a fortune cookie, at least you get the cookie.

I’ll let you decide the value of my self publishing ramblings. With a fortune cookie, at least you get the cookie.

Care to partake of my questionable wisdom? Head over to the Iconoclastic Writer and prepare to be astounded by my list of 5 Things I learned Self Publishing.

This isn’t really advice or another drop in the flood of “I can show you how to self publish, too!” posts and books and seminars and videos. Just my ramblings on the subject and a few straight up lessons I’ve learned. There is no “BUY MY SEMINAR FOR MORE SECRETS!” agenda and, as I plainly state, it could all be bullshit.

I met Carolyn at ConDFW this year during a panel on magazines and e-zines. Like most con panels not moderated by Tex Thompson, the topic sort of meandered and the description in the con booklet was provided mostly out of a sense of obligation than anything else. Apparently the things I said landed somewhere near the mark and she asked me to write a guest post for her blog.

I’m hard at work today on the upcoming anthology. Five stories of Augments, new and old, that shed some light on the murky past of the entire super soldier program in the Crimson Son universe. Let me thrill you with this excerpt (which has yet to be picked apart by my editor) from the story, Codename: Danger

Fear soaked Reggie’s shirt. Well, humidity was mostly to blame, but the fear was there. He’d traveled the world on the government’s dime. Of the places he’d been, the humid ones were his least favorite. Remote ones his second least. This place was both. But the fear was a regular hazard of the job.

Sweat. Jitters. A tug at his stomach which could be anything from a threaded knot to a clenching fist. Right now it was a steady pressure.

“What are we at? Two brownstar? five?” Winston asked Reggie. Winston, which wasn’t his real name, knelt in front of a pile of canvas bags to the side of the runway. A pair of bug-eyed mirror sunglasses rested on his forehead and he squinted at Reggie scrunching a nose caked with sunscreen. An open guayabera and a t-shirt underneath, he looked exactly like a white dude in Central America who was trying too hard.

“I don’t know. Two. Maybe three.” Reggie had worked with his CIA handler long enough to develop something of a code to describe his danger sense. When they were in deep shit, brownstar ten. An annoyance, something that might slow them down but not likely get them killed, a three or less.

“Only the one bag?” Winston stooped and dug for the bottom. “Only this one set you off?”

Standing before the pile, he wasn’t sure. Every last canvas lump tugged at his gut. A steady pull – nothing mortal, but palpable. Winston dragged a bag from the bottom and unzipped it slowly.

Inside were stacks and stacks of white bricks.

Reggie knew exactly what it was. He’d seen it before outside the neatly taped and stamped rectangles. Powder. Stuff you could cook into little white stones like shattered sugar cubes and melt in a spoon. Wedge in a glass pipe.

Winston dug through the bag, lifting the bricks like he were delivering a newborn and placing them on the ground. He tested the weight of each in his hands and examined the lining of the bag. “You sure? There’s nothing here.”

“What the fuck do you mean, ‘nothing there’?”

His handler squinted into the blazing sun behind Reggie. “Nothing that isn’t supposed to be.”

“It’s a pile of coke, motherfucker!” Reggie looked at the dirt road leading to the airstrip. The clearing was edged by rolling hills braided with crops. Further out he could see the deeper green of a jungle canopy rising along smooth peaks. The dust had settled and the soviet truck loaded with rebels was already out of sight. “We just gave a bunch of kids some machine guns for a pile of coke. You don’t see a problem?”

Winston sighed and started returning the bricks to the bag. “What are you, MacGruff the crime dog? We lost the last shipment and nobody can say what happened. I brought you to make sure the delivery wasn’t dangerous. Like a bomb or tracking device.”

“Looks plenty dangerous.”

Winston stood. “Getting soft on me, Danger?”

Amazingly, I’m still on target for our June release. I have yet to decide on a title. Might go with Empty Quiver or the centerpiece story The ‘Cane Train and Other Tales. Yep, that crazy one-legged speedster is back starring in his own story. That will be worth the price of admission alone.

Misty Morning Meditations

Misty morning with Old Man Willow

Misty morning with Old Man Willow

I headed out into the woods this week and took along a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring . The weather was cool, the Texas sun mostly hidden, and the bugs not yet out of their winter slumber. Spring and Fall in the Lone Star state are the ideal times to get outside without melting or freezing or being devoured.

The first night it rained all night and on into mid-morning. The sun popped out long enough to warm things and bring a thick mist to the woods the next day. Turns out, reading about Frodo’s journey while hearing the patter of rain on your tent and breathing the earthy smell of the woods and the sweet fragrance of damp pine needles is a pretty unbeatable combination. Waking up surrounded in mist only added to the enchantment.

Reacquainting myself with this fantasy classic…no…seminal work…masterpiece? I’m not even sure how to describe it. The influence can’t be understated – and not just books. I fell down an internet hobbit hole recently chasing down songs and music which Tolkien’s work has inspired, but I’ve got a whole post on that topic I’ll hopefully get up at GeekDad next week. However, one thing kept nagging at me as I read.

I’m pretty sure if it were submitted somewhere today, it would be lost in a slush pile.

I’m not saying this because of any issues with how it might’ve aged – prose or simplistic themes or any other thing which may need updating – I’m saying that it wouldn’t make the cut regardless.

Who is the audience? Children? Teenagers? Adults? Where is the protagonists romantic interest and can a ring or a bromance really fill that void? Who the hell is Tom Bombadil guy we spend so much time with at the start? Why do we have so much word count getting to know the gossip about all the Hobbit families from the Shire to the Eastfarthing then leave them behind?

But re-reading it, I was enthralled. I know, at this point, the Lord of the Rings is ingrained in the collective fantasy consciousness. It’s really impossible to think of it objectively, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that a book like this now would never see the light of day.

Sure, plenty of High Fantasy in the LotR vein has been published since, but have there been any transformative fantasy books? Evolutions of the form that transcend and inspire even partly as much?

Looking at popular lists of fantasy works you see the same names repeated, over and over. Many have created influential works of their own. And while I don’t think we’ve stagnated, I’m not sure if a work of fantasy has been published that recasts that mold in any unique, seminal way. Are we all still writing about Middle Earth? Stuck between the Shire and Mordor?

The other thing which has definitely changed is publishing itself. We sell author personalities as much as the stories they tell. In many cases, it becomes impossible to objectively evaluate an author’s work apart from their image. By all reports, Tolkien was put off by the rabid fans his work inspired. Nowadays, instead of shying from such attention like Tolkien might, you hit the circuits of conventions, signings, and speaking engagements.

Despite the lack of social media and that constant barrage of branding and marketing when it was written, LotR stands on its own and I’m not sure anyone out there is looking for a replacement.

I know, I know. I’ve asked more questions than given answers. And this post is off the deep end of my normally light-hearted geekery and self-pub talks. If I had to guess though, I’d put money on that next evolution of fantasy being just as likely to be uncovered in the Wild West of the self-pub scene as on the shelf at B&N…as long as such shelves are still around.

Any thoughts on this fantasy fans? Answers to my annoyingly open-ended questions?

Killer Fiction from the Indieverse – IoD Story Bundle

IoD_StoryBundleLast Friday I spammed out a quick announcement about a really exciting promotion. One I’ve been itching to tell you guys about for a while now. Like a crawled-through-a-pile-of-insulation sorta itch. Today I’d like to give you more details to whet your appetite.

I know I’ve mentioned Jefferson Smith’s killer website, Immerse or Die before. “Killer” because it eats bad indie books for breakfast. Too be fair, he’s got very stringent criteria for who passes his 40 minute treadmill test, and he always provides a thoughtful analysis. At times, he even explains why he might be wrong about his assessment of a given title. But the fact is only 13 books out of 114 have made the cut.

I was so relieved to know I’d made it into that elite group with Crimson Son that I did a little touchdown dance (thankfully this is before the vlogging began…). Little did I know, there was a second even more excruciating test vetting not just a forty minute chunk but the entire book. Only eight survived that – including, Crimson Son.

I’ve read several of these books: Strictly AnalogThe Commons and Century of Sand, all of which I was turned on to by Immerse or Die. I’m a really picky reader. I’ve got an inner critic that won’t shut up. I can’t read a cereal box without bitching about the prose. And you know what? The inner critic mostly kept his damn mouth shut through those few hundred thousand words.

So when Jefferson contacted me and said “Hey, do you want to be in a bundle of awesome books?” I replied, hell yeah.

Jefferson has really taken the bull by the horns here. He’s heard the constant complaint of how terrible indie books are. About how “savvy” readers ignore books that aren’t stamped with a big name publisher (like say 50 Shades…AHEM). How the indie-verse is something like Reaver space in Firefly – you venture in and terrible, horrible, awful things will happen to you in the most awkward order imaginable. You’ll stumble across someone’s Grandpa in a Box or a pack of raping velociraptors (or both…in a box) and when you finally emerge, you won’t have a shred of humanity or literary sense left.

But Jefferson strapped a few dozen hastily-published trunk novels to the front of his Firefly and flew directly into the heart of this supposed no-man’s land. There, he found prose that rivals anything you’d pay outrageous trad-pub prices to read. Prose that isn’t propped up by million dollar marketing campaigns or famous authors lending their names to John and Jane Doe.

And on April 15th, every last one of these incredible books will be available on StoryBundle.com for the low-low-low price of WHATEVER YOU WANT.

Yep. You name the price.

Even if you already have Crimson Son (if you don’t and you are reading this – the killer robots are EN ROUTE TO YOUR HOUSE…), you simply can’t beat this deal. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Noir, Time Travel, Steampunk, SUPER HEROES – you name the spec-fic flavor, this bundle has it. You won’t find any canned, re-heated, re-packaged, microwaveable, trad-pub ideas here either. Fresh, free-range, non-GMO, innovation and supremely well-executed fiction only independents can bring to the table.

Now you get to put up with the wait along with me.

Itch.

Itch…

Itch……

Dare to be Unmarketable

men-311308_640While trying to put together the new short story collection, juggling the article gig at GeekDad, reading through the first round of critique reviews for First Song, and doing my best to keep Crimson Son in the public eye, I’ve run across a few things on the web which I intended to blab about here and never did.

The first was a post on a blog I follow which talked about getting over self-criticism and not letting it hold you back. The second was an article that a former MFA Lit professor posted with advice (or bitter grumbling, YMMV) for future writers. Yes, this is yet another post about writing – I suck at following even my own rules – but mostly it’s about how this whole crazy process affects what gets into the hands of readers.

The self-criticism post was built on the mantra of “fuck pre-rejection” to which I happily added “fuck rejection.” This comment however, didn’t go over as well. It was assumed I was anti-traditional pub and another of the unwashed masses who walked away from the gates and back into the woods to build their own house. Live like a savage.

There is a righteous anger about badly edited works and the ever-growing slush pile at Amazon and elsewhere where readers are asked to sift through the dregs to find anything of quality. The Gatekeepers, we are told, save us from such misery. To which I say, bullshit.

Keeping in mind that quality is an entirely subjective thing, the writing in traditionally published works can easily be mediocre to terri-bad. Yes, all the commas may be in the right places. The spellcheck run and the covers may be oh so pretty, but some of the crap they unleash is plain awful. What sells is often based on marketing efforts and just how much money they are willing to plow into it.

I’m not sure what is worse – asking a reader to decide on their own whether a book is worth the price or convincing an audience a steaming turd is, in fact, pate and serving it to them on a plate.

True, trad publishers do a great deal of quality control and if we were to compare success rates, they bury self-pub efforts. The safer bet is definitely in browsing their shelves. But is it the most interesting?

Self and indie pubbers have the luxury of taking risks. At some point, a publishing house gets “too big to fail” syndrome. Taking a risk on a new author is an expensive proposition. Printing something other than what happens to be hot at the time becomes dangerous. Profit margins are too thin or the risk associated isn’t worth the time and effort. Being marketable is much more important than quality.

For the self published and indie presses, that’s where we live – that thin, raggedy edge where we don’t fit neatly on the pre-designated shelves.

Of all the advice in the second article I mentioned, the thing that stuck out the most was this: “Anyone who claims to have useful information about the publishing industry is lying to you, because nobody knows what the hell is happening.”

And that’s oh so true.

What I can tell you though is that eBooks are gaining ground. That the early adopters appear to be on board and while sales of readers have leveled out, all it will take is a big push to get things rolling again. A trad pub figuring out that all the steps involved with paper printing/distribution are destroying their profits or a big retailer like Amazon figuring out their Kindles are simply content delivery prices and giving them away so they can make money on that content.

I can also tell you that those unmarketable works are riding high on bestseller lists. People are discovering stories they like outside the electrified gates and concertina wire. So, fuck rejection.

At the same time, more indie writers do need to understand why they might be getting rejected. If it’s the prose, work on it, tirelessly. If it’s the plotting or the the ability to tell a compelling story or any other thing that you OWE TO YOUR READER TO KICK ASS ON, then go back to the drawing board and do it again. And again.

Once that’s all polished and as perfect as you can get it then make that leap. Write something that is just far enough off-center that people can’t easily label it or define perfect audiences for it or that breaks all the expected tropes. Join me in the unwashed masses. Dare to be unmarketable.

At the same time, readers, check out more self published works. Yes, there’s no media machine feeding you what’s “good” so you might have to get your hands dirty. But browse digital shelves. Check out the sample pages. Talk to your friends and find out if they read self published books. Check here as I try to review new self and indie books. No, I don’t use handy stars but what I can do is tell you the good and the bad and let you decide. And when you find a good one tell everyone you know.

Readers, tell me about your experience with finding self-published works. Do you have a preference between trad and self? Does it even matter?

Writers, tell me how your work is unmarketable. Did you skip the romantic interest? Write about a normal kid who has no special powers or isn’t the chosen one? Tried to bring realism and a mature style to a stereotypically YA subject? What did you do?

The ‘Cane Train and Other Stories

Crimson Son by Russ Linton

Crimson Son by Russ Linton

Ooops. Behind on my posting this week. I’m trying to put the finishing touches on my collection of short stories set in the Crimson Son universe. So far, everything is on schedule for June. It will be a digital only release with a possibility for paper in the future.

The collection is an interesting mix of new and old characters. Want to hear more about Hurricane? Of course you do. Everybody loves Hurricane. I’ve got you covered. What about his grumpy guardian, Hound? He makes an appearance as well along with a cast of new Augments and the people in their lives.

Like Crimson Son, the stories in the collection deal with the serious themes and implications of having superheroes roaming the world.

My biggest concern is that unlike Crimson Son, there is no Spencer. Without Spencer’s voice, this universe is a pretty serious place. He was a divisive character – you either love or hate him if the reviews are to be believed – but his smart ass comments gave a certain tone to the overall world. Hopefully people will still find it an interesting place to visit without him.

As weaponized humans and fairly obvious stand-ins for nuclear weapons, Augments were a comment on broader issues. For Spencer, the challenge was living in his father’s shadow and trying to figure out the best way to define family. He cobbled together one of his own – a father figure, a big sister, and a brother while he tried to come to grips with his real family situation. I haven’t yet decided if his story is over, but I needed to go back to this universe at least one more time.

Keep an eye out for the release in June. It may be done with little fanfare. If you definitely want to know, make sure you’re on the New Release Mailing List. This year is going to be a busy one. As soon as I wrap the short story collection, I’m diving back into my fantasy project slated for December.

Looking forward to entertaining you guys this year!

Read this white guy, not those other white guys.

Don’t Read Neil Gaiman

Lots of people have read, seen, or heard about the article posted earlier this week on xojane by K.T. Bradford. Her challenge to “Stop Reading Straight White Male Cis” has been discussed ad nauseum in and out of writer’s circles.

But I just wasn’t digging K.T.’s label for me. It got me thinking: what should I be? I think I’ve got it, but it’s a bit long for the dust jacket:

WARNING: Gaelish Sarcasticus Phallus Domesticatus

There. I want my handful of fans to know: it’s totally cool to challenge yourself to read my drivel.

Okay, I don’t agree with the outrage in certain circles. Everyone needs to broaden their reading horizons. Get a grip. What I do disagree with is the practice of labeling people at all.

Tribalism is an ugly thing. Go check the comments section on that article. Even Neil’s Twitter feed went to shit briefly when he mentioned the article and noted he wasn’t outraged.

Some will blame white dudes for whining. Others will blame the non-white dudes for hypocrisy. The finger pointing starts, the trolls begin to breed, and pretty soon nobody gives a hoot about that well-intentioned article with the click-bait title.

What everyone seems to be missing is that while you’re all hurling insults and upvotes, there’s really only one problem: Neil Gaiman.

Wait! Why is everyone picking on Neil? WE LOVE NEIL!

Neil Gaiman may be a poster child for social activism. He may be a champion for diversity and an unapologetic feminist. His writing may be critically acclaimed, popularly lauded, and just plain AWESOME. But he’s also the poster child for an industry.

The very same industry that has been selling the white-washed view of the world. The very industry that is reluctant to take risks with alternative stories and authors.

As an unabashed fanboy, I’ll be the first to say that Neil deserves every bit of success he’s received. But my point is, the problem isn’t with an entire class of people Neil happens to belong to. This problem isn’t solved or even made remotely better by “not reading straight white males cis for a year”.

I was repeatedly reminded how my whiter-than-the-driven-snow book, Crimson Son, wasn’t “marketable”. Told how boys in the target audience “didn’t read”. Too “niche”. An unclear audience (i.e. not straight up YA.) There was a certain thing the traditional publishers wanted to push, and my odd little book wasn’t quite it.

And here’s the deal – a lot of fiction that has even a subtle focus on gender identity, or sexuality, or even minorities will hear some of the same damn things. Over and over and over.

Publishers that big are about money. They want the broadest audience with the fattest wallets and a story engineered to as close a commercial sure-thing as they can get. They find guys like Neil Gaiman and print money around them. He writes stuff that resonates with lots of people, not the ever smaller groups we keep trying to fracture ourselves into, and people eat it up.

And you know what? I’m fine with that. I’ll gladly take my quirky shit elsewhere and pray people find me in the endless sea of words. The digital revolution has unleashed the floodgates for better and worse. Gate keepers, perception managers, be damned.

Does that mean I don’t think the entertainment industry needs a big ‘ol kick in the ass? Hell no. In our books, our movies, our comics, audiences are demanding to see a world that looks more like them. We’re waking up to the reality. It’s slow and painful and at times, it requires these labels to get the point across, but we’re getting there.

Does this mean I think people who aren’t “Straight White Male Cis” can’t write things that resonate with broader groups? Hell to the double no. They can absolutely trump in human experience what most white guys in America have to say. But too often, like with the article in question, their platform becomes about their label and not about their words. Their appearance and not deed. Their voice gets lost under all this chest beating and posturing as the tribes go to war.

We’re all human. All individuals. That’s all you really need to know. Tell me an amazing story about you. Find some way to get it to me – the big machine or the tiny one. I hope I find it and good luck to anyone, no matter their label, foolish enough to try this writing thing. We all have voices that need to be heard.

Not Exactly Common

51sJ2ySPoqL._SL250_I wanted to vlog today but the weather happened. From sixty degrees to freezing in a matter of days, we’ve got an official snow day here in North Texas. Well, “inclement weather” day. Snow is uncommon. A thing of myth and legend.

How might weather stop me from Vlogging you ask?

There are people here.

Like, people all up in my space. True, I own a house that in other parts of the world would probably fit multiple families comfortably (This is Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas except housing costs). But the fact remains: I have a live studio audience.

Yes, I vlogged before and then uploaded myself to be viewed by the masses without any sort of problem. I am aware that this makes no sense.

So instead, let me draw your attention to the latest self-pub novel I’ve had the pleasure to read: The Commons by Michael Alan Peck.

The Commons is difficult to categorize. On Amazon it is classified as Urban Fantasy and even YA. Mr. Peck’s reasoning behind the choices is sound, but The Commons is so much more. The Matrix as written by Dante might give the reader a starting point. There are no cantos – the writing is smooth and prose fluid – but that classic idea of a journey through the afterlife forms the centerpiece of Peck’s work.

Regardless what it may or may not be, this is a five star book.

Paul, a troubled young man who has drifted between street life and foster homes, is struggling to find his way. He’s found a refuge in the “New Beginnings” group home but he can’t quite let go of his past. He has unfinished business with his lost family and when he sets out on his journey, he has no idea exactly how far he’ll need to go to find them.

His search takes him to a place somewhere between life and death. An Orphean descent into an underworld littered with rest stops, diners, and mythical beings. A place where reality conforms to the personal experiences of the traveller but, in truth, is endangered by a voracious evil that seeks even greater control.

The Commons is another work of fiction that sets a bar self-publishers should strive to reach. And despite that, I can see exactly why this book might have been out of place in the traditional publishing world.

The story starts off quietly enough that you get the feeling this is not the work of genre fiction it claims to be. We meet interesting, detailed characters long before we know exactly what mystical elements may be at play. As events unfold, we aren’t given a road map. The reader is allowed to puzzle these things out on their own. By the end, we reach an almost cliche moment, but any doubt is dispelled by the expert setup which tells us this is not, in fact, your typical ending. It is another stop along the journey.

Peck allows himself to explore real characters inside the genre trappings. Strongest are a wounded combat vet, Annie, and her profoundly autistic son, Zach. At first on the edges of Paul’s journey and then inextricably intertwined, these characters undergo a full transformation of their own. They are given depth through close POV sections which several other characters benefit from as well. The only complaint may be the lack of development in some of the other supporting cast, but in the end, there is only so much space.

Of them all, Zach’s passages shine. Each time we drop into the autistic child’s view, Peck shows the reader how this disorder provides him both weakness and strength. His arc exemplifies triumph in the face of adversity and never once do you feel Peck is lecturing or resorting to shortcuts to depict his disability. Whether or not he has close personal experience with autistic children, Peck provides the necessary illusion that he does and by the time Zach is at his pivotal moment you will be on the edge of your literary seat over the boy’s fate.

Despite the fluid and expert prose, toward the end, there were changes in style which weren’t exactly welcome. However, readers will likely find themselves so engrossed in the story that they make little difference.

Most likely “unmarketable” by traditional standards, this unique blend of genre and style provides a refreshing reading experience amid the young adult landscape of dystopias and vampires.  Even classifying it as young adult is misleading as the book delves into a depth of theme with a fullness of prose you don’t typically find. Regardless the murky shelving, The Commons is a work of urban fantasy that deserves to be heard.

Check Out My New Geeky Gig!

cropped-logo-geekdadWhile it’s been a quiet week here at the blog, I’ve been scheming behind the scenes. The great folks over at GeekDad broke down and decided to give me a gig. Go check out my first post, Tomb of Horrors: Hangover Edition, and be sure to add the site to your list of daily doses of unadulterated geekery.

I’ve also been cranking out short stories for my as of yet unnamed Crimson Son universe anthology due out in June. I think one more solid tale and I’ll be ready to torture my editor with the results. I plan to do a bit more on my own this time on the formatting end, so we’ll see how all that goes.

What this new gig means for the blog is I’ll keep aiming for a post twice a week and my Geekery articles will end up split between here and GeekDad. I plan to focus on gaming, but their broader platform includes all aspects of geekness, parenting and even geek parenting (a hobby of mine).

I’ll keep this short today so you can head over and check out the article, and share it, and leave comments, and bookmark, and all that cool stuff that you know I’d do for you ’cause I’m such an awesome guy. (Oh, and yes, I created the epic header image…)

SEO ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! Keyword “Geek” density at neutron star levels…

Dealing with Rejection through Physical Violence

Assault and Battery, Kidnapping, Breaking and Entering - whatever it takes. (This is the off-camera poster mentioned in the video...)

Assault and Battery, Kidnapping, Breaking and Entering – whatever it takes. (This is the off-camera poster mentioned in the video…)

How many writers can say they got the chance to enter a cage match with an editor? An editor that has rejected one of your precious stories in the past? An open invitation to kick and pummel them mercilessly before a crowd of other writers chanting for blood?

I did exactly that.

On Valentine’s Day.

Well, maybe the cage was a row of chairs in an awkward alcove off the artshow room. And maybe I refused to hit him all that hard. (I get enough rejection letters that I need to keep my options open.)

ConDFW XIV was great fun and the Literary UFC panel was a hit (rimshot please). We had representatives of several martial arts showing off their skills in front of one the larger audiences of the weekend.

Tai Chi stood serenely at the center while Bartitsu strangled his colleague with his own scarf. Krav Maga bounced up and down like she’d been shotgunning Red Bull and kept talking about ripping off fingers and sending the family jewels back to the pressurized cracks of the earth that formed them. Meanwhile, the Tae Kwon Do guys traded elbows to the face and roundhouse kicks to the head. Every so often we’d try to interject how the hell all this violence related to writing.

This was my first time as a panelist at a con. I kept getting this odd feeling of wanting to be…responsible or something. It was disconcerting to treat the little shoulder angel to some prime time. His pitchfork wielding half must’ve been off in the gaming room jinxing dice.

Because of this, I did not assault Adrian Simmons of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. I even checked my swing at the the slow pitch on a naming panel when Tex told an audience member “she’s got the double D’s” (context is everything and my brain is often outside of that.) I even inquired of the audience at my reading if anyone was offended by foul language.

Who the fuck was that guy?

Luckily, there was no video of the literary smackdown, but I did manage to get a recording of the epic reading with Tex. My son filmed everything and then I mangled his efforts. He may have a sick day after my next con, child labor laws be damned.

Enjoy!