Friday, January 31, 2020

Signal Boost ~ "Clockmaker: A Steampunk Novel" by Kristen Brand

Find it Here!

Before the weekend hits, I've got a new deal for you. From Silver Empire comes this new Steampunk novel from superhero author Kristen Brand! For those long for high adventure, you'll definitely find it here. The newpub revolution continues.

The description:

Melek is used to living life on the edge.
The captain of her own airship, she makes her own destiny. The Sultana is her home, and its crew is her family. 
But she’s not used to living on the edge of financial ruin. Work has dried up. Her ship needs repairs, and her men need to be paid. 
When she thinks all is lost, an arrogant and obscenely wealthy man named Aldric Lesauvage hires her to get him and his possessions to Istanbul. Quickly, and without any questions asked, of course. Melek has little choice but to accept the offer, even though she knows he’s hiding something. 
Her other choice is to give up her ship. And that’s a choice she won’t make. 
Kristen Brand returns to her steampunk world and launches into the skies of Europe with Captain Melek and her airship! Vivid characters, action-packed scuffles, and mechanical creations abound in this exciting tale. Readers who love bold heroines, high flying adventure, and science that pushes the boundary of morality will love Clockmaker! 
Will Melek discover what her passenger is hiding before it’s too late? Or will the automatons of her nightmares finish off the Sultana and its crew once and for all? 
Join Melek’s crew and buy Clockmaker today!

You can find Clockmaker on amazon here.

In this day and age supporting upcoming authors is paramount to creating a new ecosystem outside the failing Oldpub model. If you want things to change then it is important to look into those hoping to make said change.

For example, here is a bundle of adventure stories from upcoming authors available at StoryOrigin. Be sure to give their hard work a look over. There are many writers putting out quality work and trying to share it with you.

I'm one of those authors. Check out my superhero meets fantasy noir adventure today!

The Newpub revolution is here!

Find it Here!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Misery Inc.

One of the reasons I had taken to starting the Cannon Cruisers podcast with a friend of mine is because I abhor modern cinema. That is because it is utterly miserable. I wanted an excuse to watch and cover films that weren't mired in the modern obsession with wallowing in the mud.

This sounds strange coming from me, who as a teenager spent much of my time seeing anything that looked halfway decent and spending the rest in the arcade just outside of it playing Drummania and House of the Dead 3. It was a big part of those years for me. Looking back now, much of what I saw wasn't very good but it did feel like there was a serious attempt to entertain the audience at the very least. Yet, as I got older I began to gain interest in older entertainment that I missed out on and drifted away from what Hollywood was spitting out into the crowd.

Cannon Cruisers is meant to focus on Cannon Films at their peak of output when the Israeli cousins Golan and Globus ran the studio between 1980 and 1995. They were the masters of throwing everything at the wall to see if it stuck in a way no one will do today. They might not always be winners, but they're always interesting, and fun to discuss. We even do non-Cannon episodes that also focus on movies outside of Cannon's in the same time period, and there are obvious trends we notice while watching. As a time capsule that era is an intriguing one.

In the early 1980s much of the films were still shaking off the doldrums of the 1970s and still have a bit of a hangover of misery porn to them. But most decades usually find their identity a few years in and the 1980s showed themselves as being a time of identity crisis. Someone once said it was simultaneously a time of fear and dread over instant annihilation and a time of excitement and progress that is going to eventually lead to a better tomorrow. All this at the same time. While this is contradictory, it also led to a lot of interesting stories that could go one way or the other. But even the downer premises usually had more hope to them than anything the 1970s put out. This time period was where content was more important than selling misery, and that is why it is still looked on fondly.

As a contrast check out the action films of Chuck Norris against the Death Wish movies. Same genre, different bent. Which one of the two typically had the more hopeful ending? Even the non-Death Wish Bronson movies of the time had brighter ends. It just seemed like leaving the protagonist broken and empty was a mandate for '70s style cinema.

But even as movies with crazier ideas and more hopeful outlooks such as Ghostbusters, Innerspace, and The Goonies, took over there was still a segment of Hollywood that longed for their preferred decade of misery and destruction in the '70s. They didn't like this sea change and fought it wth every bit of vitriol they could muster up.

Take for instance the movie Radio Flyer from 1992. This is a film that came, bombed, and vanished into the ether where it belongs. But Hollywood really believed the public would go ape for it. They were so out of touch, even then.

At the time when the above mentioned movies were big hits, this is what Hollywood wanted to sell you. From the wiki:

"Mike (Tom Hanks) observes his two sons fighting, with one insisting that a promise doesn't mean anything. To make them understand that a promise does mean something, he tells them the story of his youth. Young Mike (Elijah Wood), his little brother, Bobby, their mother, Mary, and their German Shepherd, Shane, all move to a new town after their father/husband leaves them. There, Mary marries a new man, Jack, who likes the others to call him "The King". Unbeknownst to Mary, the King is an alcoholic who often gets drunk and beats Bobby. The King also plays Hank Williams’s Jambalaya (On the Bayou) over and over again while drunk. 
"Seeing that Mary has found happiness at last with the King, the two boys are reluctant to tell either her or the police about the abuse. Instead, they try to avoid the King by exploring and having adventures amidst the turmoil and traumatic experiences. After the King beats Bobby so badly that he ends up in the hospital, the King also gets bitten on the arm by Shane and is arrested. However, following the death of his mother, the King is released and returns to their house promising never to drink again. Unfortunately, while the boys are at school, the King lied about the promise and nearly kills Shane. In the process, the two devise a plan for Bobby to escape the King once and for all. Mary also starts to catch on to Jack's true nature and, in the end, requests a divorce due to all the times he beat Bobby and for his heavy drinking. 
"Inspired by the urban legend of a boy named Fisher who attempted to fly away on his bicycle, the two convert their eponymous Radio Flyer toy wagon into an airplane. With it, Bobby flies away, and the King is finally arrested by Officer Daugherty, a friendly and caring police officer. Though Mike never sees Bobby again, he continues to receive postcards from him from places all over the world."

Sounds like a fun time, right?

Of course, not every movie has to be bright and sunny, but a movie about child abuse that ends with a boy running away from home and dying is not a story that enriches anyone watching. It offers the viewer nothing. It's misery porn. No one with a healthy mind would greenlight something this sickening or think it is worth producing.

And yet Hollywood was salivating over making it and having you watch it. This was something you needed to see.

Also from wiki:

"David Mickey Evans' script for Radio Flyer was a hot property around Hollywood, and Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures started a bidding war around it in November 1989. Warner had eyes on it as a vehicle for veteran director Richard Donner [...] Just before Thanksgiving, Columbia gave Evans a huge sum for a first-time Hollywood screenwriter: $1.25 million. The deal also gave Evans the opportunity to direct, even though he had no experience in said field; Douglas believed he had the vision to pull it off. This was the first film Columbia put into production under the ownership of Sony, as well as one of the first films to be greenlit by the studio's new management, led by Peter Guber and Jon Peters. 
"Filming started on June 18, 1990. [...] Donner had Evans rewrite the script extensively to find a way to balance escapist fantasy and child abuse without alienating the audience. 
"The film's original ending featured a present-day coda where a now-adult Mike, played by Tom Hanks, takes his children to the National Air and Space Museum, where the Radio Flyer/Plane hybrid is displayed next to the Wright Brothers' flying machine. Test audiences were confused by this ending and re-shoots led to the modern-day prologue and epilogue seen in the final film."

What exactly about this story was worth getting so excited over and spending all this money on? This is a cartoonish glorification (or demonization, if you're feeling braver) of the concept of escapism. It makes it out to be completely useless and for the mentally unsound who can't handle reality. In an era where imagination was not in short supply, this film almost feels like an attack on the whole notion of escapism and the imaginative and creative stories people were making at the time. The whole idea is disturbing.

But because this was an era where high quality was being served to you at a high rate, audiences didn't put up with it. The film bombed, and was quickly forgotten.

The entire project was a failure.

"The film opened to mostly mixed to negative reviews from critics and lackluster box office results."

The reviewers (back when they had common sense) were about as harsh as audiences.

"Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin both criticized the film for presenting fantasy as a way of escaping child abuse. Said Ebert, "I was so appalled, watching this kid hurtling down the hill in his pathetic contraption, that I didn't know which ending would be worse. If he fell to his death, that would be unthinkable, but if he soared up to the moon, it would be unforgivable—because you can't escape from child abuse in little red wagons, and even the people who made this picture should have been ashamed to suggest otherwise.""

But again, this is what they wanted you to see. This is what they wanted you to pay your hard-earned money for. This is what they wanted settling in your mind as you leave the theater. To what end? How does a story like this benefit anyone watching?

Movies like this exist to beat you down.

Author John Gardner once wrote a book called On Moral Fiction that to this day is blasted by moral nihilists as being finger waggling from the squares hoping to keep the edgelord rebels down. Pundits of the 1970s reacted to it like a crucifix taken to vampires.

Keep it down, EvilT0k3r666. No one is trying to take your black metal records from you or make you wear a tie. The point of the book is that every piece of fiction should have a moral point: not a moral lesson. Because stories exist to be moral. The fact of the matter is that every piece of good art, even trash, has a moral point to it. More than all art being inherently political: all art is inherently moral. But you don't hear that being bandied about much these days.

Tragedies show the follies of falling from the true path. Comedies poke fun at the offbeat or straying from the norm. Action stories have heroes stopping villains from destroying the good. Dramas are about tense situations where the just seeks to find a way from being crushed by the unjust. Horror stories consist of rules being violated and everything going to hell as a result, sometimes literally. It's all moral. That's why we connect with them, and why we find ourselves to attracted to the idea of a good story.

And doing it ironically is not an excuse. By being ironic you are admitting such things exist and are going out of your way to highlight it with your own take. You're just too cowardly to outright say it. The morality remains.

Radio Flyer was released in 1992, a transitional period in culture. It was the first dud Richard Donner had made in a decade, but it wouldn't be his last. At the same time, Cannon Films were nearing the end, and action movies had begun to lose themselves to self-seriousness and were becoming more and more obsessed with anti-heroes. Cinema in the 1990s, as a result, is a pretty sad place. Slowly, Hollywood began to wean the audience away from imagination and wonder and back towards their dark and empty grey slop. As a result, they divided their base.

Again, instead of continuing to make what the audience wanted, they not only steered away from that but tried to warp the public's tastes at the same time. If you doubt me then try to name 10 blockbuster movies from the 1990s that are actually good, or better and more creative than what came a decade previous. Movies meant for mass consumption don't have to be total trash. You can find many from the 1980s, but you would have to struggle in the 1990s. Why is that the case, seemingly out of nowhere?

Why indeed.

You saw the same pattern with rock music. When it started via Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, and the like, it was meant to be fun and energetic with a touch of the blues to balance it out. Throughout the decades there were multiple attempts to poison the genre and turn it self-serious and overly-processed robotic nonsense. They were trying to rip the soul out.

By the 1990s both the blues and the testosterone were ripped from rock leaving crybaby whining amidst overproduced guitars and lyrics filled with self-loathing hatred of the world. Soul Asylum even wrote a song about it, themselves admittedly part of the problem.

And now rock music is, for all intents and purposes, gone. It was lost to Misery Inc. and its hatred of you and me. You can bring up Obscure Band X as proof it is not dead, but they will never be allowed to have an audience to the extent the old artists were afforded. They will never be allowed outside of their box, and finding them was purposely made next to impossible. Why should you listen to that, anyway? We have perfectly good misery for you here on MTV!

Hollywood might have been lost to this long ago, but there were always those who went against it, and fought the system that tried so hard to stomp a boot on the neck of its audience. But they were eventually crushed. Misery Inc hates you, and wishes you were dead. How can it be anything else? They are producing trash and telling you it is filet mignon.

The odd side of this is that it is bad movies such as Miami Connection that are seen as trash. Sure the directing is bad, as are the writing, acting, and general production values, but there is a legitimate effort at telling a story here. It is an action movie, and the action is good (if cartoony). The music is enjoyable. The goofiness is endearing. The core moral of the movie, even if ham-handed and bizarre, is actually healthy and correct. The spirit behind the film-making transcends its shortcomings to make a movie that is well worth seeing for genre fans. It succeeds as an action movie and its low quality aspects add charm. This movie is not trash at all.

On the other hand, Radio Flyer and other such misery fiction, is trash. They don't offer anything on a moral level, they are meant to bring you low, which does not benefit anyone. Demoralizing your audience is not a goal of good fiction or art in general. If that is your goal you need to reevaluate what you're trying to do.

The #1 rebuttal against criticizing this approach is that this bad art is supposed to "make you think" and "force you to question your values" and other such nonsense. Make no mistake: it's nonsense.

To be real, if you need a piece of fiction to make you think then you have bigger problems than what entertainment you consume. Fiction can help you to think or feel, and allow you to look at the world in different way, but it isn't the job of art to jar the audience out of the good and true in order to do that. The job of art is to connect and enforce ideas we all already understand in order to bring us together. You can help the audience think about things in different ways, but you aren't tasked with dismantling and leaving them a broken, anti-social mess. We have terms for those who would prefer subverting others instead of lifting them up, and none of them are pleasant.

You can't stand together with others if you hate them and everything they stand for. This is why we have so much division right now. Weaponizing art into misery bullets has left everyone firing at each other instead of coming together. You can't understand or empathize if you can't comprehend how someone can have different views than your own without them being irredeemably evil or monsters. And these days very few can empathize with anyone who doesn't think as they do. Thank Misery Inc for this current state. This appears to be what they wanted the whole time.

But times are changing. We're in the roaring '20s now, which means anything can go.

Audiences are getting sick of misery. The death of the old publishing industry and draining profits of Hollywood show as much. The corporate period of art appears to be passing away. We're about to enter a new age of art, and we are more than due for it. What will it consist of? Who knows, but it is doubtful to be as full of content creators who despise us. Things are about to get interesting.

So get ready. Misery Inc. is crumbling, and about to collapse. We are dynamite, and we're ready to explode. Then we can pick up the pieces and start again.

I've got a book of magic, powers, noir, action, gangsters, heroes, and monsters. Check it out today!

Find it Here!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Story Sheets: "Last Exit to Shadow City"

Welcome back! It has been a bit of a big week since my newest book, Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures was released for everyone to read on the 23rd of January. Early reaction has been strong, and I'm ecstatic with how readers are enjoying the stories within its pages. It's been a long time coming.

You can still read it for yourself of course. Seven top notch hero stories with some of the best action you're liable to read this year? I couldn't imagine turning that down, and you have many options available to enjoy them. For instance, it is currently part of a promotion on StoryOrigin among other adventure stories. Check it out here.

But that doesn't mean these posts will be slowing down. I promised we would continue on, and that's what we're going to do. In fact, we still have three stories left to cover in the collection.

Today we continue with the fifth tale, and the second longest piece in the collection. Today it is time to talk about Last Exit to Shadow City!

"The cold air shifted, and Rhodes whipped around. Instead of a man, he found a pair of long spindly dark arms spiraling from the shadows. They snapped like a lasso against his face and right arm, cutting off his cries. The shadow limbs slung backwards with him—into the stone wall!"

This is going to be a difficult story to talk about without spoiling, since so much of it is about the discovery of a sinister world running somewhat parallel to Summerside and the reveals that come from the new information. Going too far in will explain too much from previous stories even without proper context. As a consequence I might need to be more vague than usual in this entry. My apologies in advance.

In many ways this is a sequel to just about every story before it, including the previous Knives in the Night. Where in that one we met the Inner Light, or at least one member of them, officially, we now get a glimpse of the sort of horrors they deal in up close. A lot of what was established in those stories is expanded on here.

This was one of the final pieces I wrote in this series, in fact it was the second last. After spending the majority of the others teasing something happening behind the scenes, I wanted a story that would spell out in no uncertain terms just what is the sort of thing the Inner Light is involved in, and why those such as The Seeker or Walker would want to stop them so very badly, and why others might want to join the cult-ish figures. There is a lot this story needed to get across. Because of this, there is quite a bit of darkness in this tale, and not very many pleasant implications of what would happen should the villains be allowed to get what they desire. In short, this could be seen as a bit of a peek into the potential future Summerside might meet if the heroes within these pages fail. As such, a balancing act of tension and reveals was required.

On the other hand, despite it being written so late compared to the others, it was still one of the more difficult stories to write in the book. I had many false starts and turns that just didn't pan out correctly. Even though I knew the world so well by that point, I still had issues getting what I wanted across. There were a few reason for this.

Rhodes, the main character, isn't the type to talk about himself. He's not mysterious like The Seeker, brash like Walker, or as boisterous as Flatline, or as naive as Concrete. He is very much a normal guy just doing his job, a man with a family and an all around decent human being just trying to survive. I had to pry a bit to get him to fully reveal his true colors and what he's made of while the chaos erupted around him. He's the most normal character here flung into the most outlandish situation in the entire book.

The villain(s), on the other hand, were far easier to wrap my head around. The sorts of people who would end up loving this place are not your usual boy scout types. No, you would expect glorified ninja assassins with an affinity for metal to love this shadow world. And they do. They also are not that difficult to understand in order to write. What was a bit harder was making it so that they remained cogent despite deliberately soaking themselves in such insanity. There has to be some sort of sense in stories, even when you wouldn't expect any.

The most difficult part of writing this piece was to make sure the promise I made in the earlier stories pays off with the reveals here. That was the most important aspect to avoid diluting with too much darkness. Each piece revealed is an important piece of the overall puzzle that comes together at the end of the book to form a complete picture.

And from what readers have told me, it was worth the wait.

A slight spoiler, but not much of one.

Unfortunately, at this point, I'm struggling to not go into spoilers. There is too much to potentially reveal that would ruin some of the fun for readers.

I can say that just as with Rhodes, the kids that show up here were also meant to be normal. With a story that so heavily tilts towards the weird and potential bleakness, they are very important to anchor normality and aide Rhodes into finding his way through the shadows. At the end of the day, this really is a battle between good and evil, after all. It is very important to show that even in the dark places that there remains light slipping in.

Even as the poison of the city threatens to end his very existence, Rhodes needs to keep his eye on the prize and find his way back out into the light of day, both for the children and those waiting for him back home. It is a bit of a theme throughout these stories, but it is at its most overt here, and it only could have come this far into the collection.

As for its placement among the other stories and why it is fifth out of seven, it is because there are way too many reveals for the sequencing to be any earlier than this. At the same time, the last two stories after this are both better to close on a thematic (especially the sixth story) and a narrative note (especially the seventh) than this one is, which meant its placement here was where it needed to be. It's here because it has to be here.

I look at sequencing the same way I look at albums or playlists. There is a certain flow and balance that has to be achieved to really allow each piece to both breathe on its own and work as a segment of the whole. It's a bit of an art.

Bad albums front-load with three or four barn-burners in a row, then leave all the slower paced and mid-tempo songs to form the last two-thirds, creating an album most will get bored with before reaching the end. Or the sequencers (stupidly) put a ballad as the first track and wait half the album to finally put in a rocker thereby throwing off any consistency. At that point the listener is too confused to enjoy the songs, and are instead constantly pausing or skipping tracks.

Balance is needed, and I don't think short story collections are any different than albums or even best of compilations. It's an aspect of editing that must be factored in where it wouldn't normally in a straightforward novel. Just throwing the tales together in order based on release date is the lazy man's option. Only sycophants will go for that. Collections work differently than the norm, since you're telling more than one story to the reader. You have to sort them in a way that makes them want to keep reading through the entire set.

The last thing a writer should want to do is jar the reader out of the world, and sequencing is very important to maintain that investment. It might not even be something they notice you doing, which makes it that much more vital to get right.

For example, starting Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures with this story would have thrown off the entire pacing of the work and undercut several other stories that come later in its pages. This is also what made it a challenge to right, as the reveals had to be enough to justify the reader waiting this long to get to them as well as not stepping on the toes of any other tale around it. That was a rough time.

More so than the content of the story, this is what made it tough to write. I had to keep much in mind beyond just the plot itself.

An inspiration for the mood

The mood of this piece was another difficult balancing act. It's atmospherically the darkest story, but not content-wise, and at the same time I couldn't dilute the impact of the setting.

This led to a lot of leaning on the characters and their quest to escape the shadows and not focusing too hard on the horrors, instead letting the readers imagining it for themselves. I had to trust my readers to use their imagination, which is the one thing I will always rust them with using. What was more important in Last Exit to Shadow City was returning back to civilization and stopping the hunters pursuing our main characters.

That's where the title for this came from. Rhodes took a wrong turn and landed in this shadow city, and now needs to find a way out. Though there might not even be one. There's another reason the title is what it is that relates to the above, but that might constitute too much of a spoiler to go into for those who have yet to read it. It's a shame, but that's just how it is. Part of the fun of storytelling is discovering it for yourself.

Every story in this work is about the difference between light and dark, what matters the most to each, and if they can be reconciled without conflict. Since they are action stories, I think you can guess whether they can be or not. However, there are those that straddle the line, and some of those who fall on either side. At some point, lines are drawn and there is no more waffling or posing. You will have to choose a side.

This story is about those who have chosen their preferred place, and where it leaves them. The results are not as pleasant as many would hope, but that's just how it is. Eventually we all have to make choices, and what we choose is not always going to be able to be reversed. We all come to our last exit, sooner or later.

And that's where I'm going to leave this entry off.

Should you read the book you will understand the parts I am purposely leaving out and being vague on. You will also understand why it is necessary. There are just too many reveals I can't speak about here.

Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures is full of weird tales and action stories that are sure to knock your block off and leave you begging for more. Check it out to read Last Exit to Shadow City and six more stories of fun and excitement.

You won't read anything else like it this year.

Find it Here!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

New Release: "Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures"

Find it Here!

It's been a long time coming, but my next book, Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures is out today!

My seven stories of madness in the dark city is finally ready to be unleashed on the world. Pick up your copy right now to get it on it.

The official description is as follows:

Vigilantes fight from the shadows. In Summerside, Dark Magic poisons the dying city of cultists and gangsters. This is where heroes are made. 
A man with a deadly touch, an ex-hitman, a concrete teenager, an invisible myth, and an indestructible knight, are but a few of those who stalk the midnight hour. 
In these seven stories you will meet those fighting for the soul of the city, and those hoping to bring it to a brighter future. But is there anything left worth saving in a world of death? 
Powers or Magic. Only one will win this war.

Featuring stories that were in the Crossover Alliance Vol. 3, Silver Empire's Paragons, and the PulpRev Sampler, as well as brand new tales written just for this collection, readers are in for an onslaught of short stories and novelettes featuring hot blooded action and weird adventure. You're not going to read anything else like this!

For the full story behind each piece, I've started a series on the blog called Story Sheets. You can read them all here on the site. The most recent post was on the longest tale in the collection, Knives in the Night. As you can tell my the post lengths I put quite a lot into them!

The full story selection includes:

6. Lucky Spider's Last Stand
7. When the Sunset Turns Red  

What you are looking at here is a set of seven stories that all take place in the same world and city, in roughly the same time period, and feature an interlocking overarching story and a cast of characters that all have their own tales to tell. This is not a fix-up novel or random collection of short stories: this is a single piece and was made to be read as a whole, just as a typical book would be. In fact, word count wise it is my longest book released so far, as long as a typical novel.

I grew up with superhero stories and adventure tales, but with these seven stories of mayhem, I wanted to take them back further to their pulp roots while moving beyond simple modern superhero tropes that we've been stuck in for far too long. I wanted to be rooted in the past and the future at the same time.

This is even further away from a traditional "superhero" story than Gemini Warrior was, and that was closer to old school Burroughs-influenced Isekai than any comic book from the big corporations. Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures is filled with hard hitting noir-influenced hero stories that grip at the throat and don't stop squeezing until the end. You want action? I supply it without apology or regret.

I can't leave my readers with anything less! They know what they want.

As for what said readers think? Here are some impressions from early reviews:

"Conflict abounds, between powers and dark magic, between good and evil, between rivals just squabbling for turf. If you want to know what happens, you are just going to have to pick up this volume. I suspect you’ll have a hard time putting it down."
"The novel greatly entertained me and I was completely hooked on the plot and characters. The villains were bad guys who rationally and conscientiously chose to do evil by embracing unnatural powers via magic? Deals with the devil? The authour again leaves the choices to the readers. The heros are equally complex and face moral dilemmas while combatting villains and facing a hostile indifference of the very inhabitants the former defend everyday."

I'm ecstatic of the reception, and that my readers are so geared into what I'm writing. These stories took a long time to write and cobble together (over two years!) and to see readers enjoying them as much as I did writing them is such a pleasure.

You can be one of them!

At the same time I managed to get the paperback out on day one, too! Us dead tree Luddites have got to stick together, after all. I made extra care to make sure it looked the best it could. You can get the 370 page behemoth here. I told you it was a big book!

If you wish to see what the full physical version looks like, here is a reminder:

This is the final version!

Enjoy the slightly different design. I wanted to give physical owners something different since it does cost more to own a printed version, and I think the torn page design looks better in person like this. And with a 370 page book you definitely get a lot for the price. I know it's going to look great on the shelf! Once again, you can find the paperback here.

But while you're here, why don't I share some goofy pictures I made for fun to support the book? We do live for the weird here at Wasteland & Sky.

While constructing the cover for this book using the great Kukuruyo's art, I began to learn Inkscape and very quickly found myself having fun with it. So what better way to learn to use the thing than to create crazy pictures in the program? Since I was already working on the cover I figured why not make some goofy ads with it? Let it never be said that my brain works as it should.

Because I am a music hipster, I even went out of my way to create CD art for it using images I found online. Why did I do this? Why NOT do this? I did write Grey Cat Blues and stuffed it with obscure musical references, after all. This is right up my alley.

The only question is: what section of a music store (remember THOSE?) would these show up in?

Be sure to leave your guesses in the comments.

Here's the front:

Can you hear the overbearing power chords?

Here's the back. I made this one to look more like a standard ad would:

Once again, the images in the pictures are not mine

Here's the full sleeve with track numbers:

Not going to lie, this picture is the nerdiest thing I've ever cobbled together

You can just imagine this sitting on the new release shelf next to the new Black Keys and Decemberists albums, can't you? Is there a connection between the story titles to the colors used, or am I just being needlessly obtuse like a typical indie rocker? You be the judge.

I'm not a subtle guy.

On top of this weirdness, I made some more standard advertisements, such as these:

Which, again, comes across like it's a poster for a show tonight. I seem to have a knack for mimicking late '90s musical art trends for some reason or another. Come in and join me. First drink's on me.

The last one I made was this:

I went a bit further with this one, but I wanted it to look like an old fashion poster ad, so here we are. It's easily the most normal of all this madness.

As you can see, I am very excited to get this book out to you, the readers. The post might have gotten a bit silly but this is a release party! What other time can a writer celebrate than with a book release? Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures is here!

So strap in and enjoy yourself. This is an adventure worth taking, and you'll never be quite the same again once you reach the end. You're going to have a blast.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Story Sheets: "Knives in the Night"

This is the week! On Thursday, January 23rd, my next book, Someone Is Aiming for You & Other Adventures is officially out. It's been a long journey to get here, which is more or less where this series of posts have originated from. I'm writing them to show exactly how much there is in this book. Today I'm going to continue on our journey through.

Get ready for another edition of Story Sheets!

The battle of powers against magic might have started with the first story in this series, Someone is Aiming for You, but that was only the beginning. This is the one that really nailed down what I wanted to do with the world.

Today I'm going to talk about the longest story in my upcoming book as well as the one located in the dead center of said collection. It's time to discuss Knives in the Night.

"For a moment, he thought he saw a black mist streaming across the roof of the bar. He blinked, and it was gone. The downpour continued unabated, and the bar looked normal once more. He rubbed his eyes. Lack of sleep could screw with you something fierce. 
"He put it out of his mind. Business first, then he could continue the real job."

When I first conceived of the world of Summerside, there were four characters that came to mind right off the bat. The first was The Seeker, and the second two were Flatline and Concrete. You've already met all three of them by now. The fourth one is the protagonist of this story. Each member of the quartet is quite different from each other, but this one is not quite like the other protags we've met so far.

As you can tell from the color coding of these posts, as well as the book cover for Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures, black and white is a key theme for the stories in this collection. We run the gamut of the darkest black to the lightest white. What I wanted was a character who wasn't a hero or a villain, but someone out for the own ends just as a modern character would be. This character would then come to the point where he would have to confront the divide between dark and light and make a choice. He wouldn't be able to hide behind convenient potting like modern hero stories do. That battle between the two views is the focal point of this story.

The man simply known as Walker is an invisible myth. He doesn't really exist anymore, if he ever did to begin with. All anyone knows of him are stories that are questionable at best. One night he awakens in a rain storm, and visible. Inches from his goal, he now must backtrack and take on a whole new job when everything falls apart not long later. This is the story of The Abyss That Speaks, and the fight ahead of him.

Walker ended up being an abrasive wildcard teetering on the knife's edge and, as a consequence, ended up making this story longer than I had originally planned it to be. When writers talk about characters taking over their stories? That was very much the case with this one. He just refused to cooperate.

But of all the stories, I think this one does the best job of setting up the way Summerside feels after dark. Coming after Under Suspicion in Summerside which encapsulates the daytime, this one focuses on your Average Joe after dark as they come in contact with things well beyond their scope. Walker happens to be one of those things, and even he meets more than he bargained for.

What helped me get into the head-space I needed to write this down was music, particularly some Retrowave. When I'm in a creative mood this is the musical style that is best to bring out what I need.

For example:

Shadows shine darkest in the brightest lights.

In order for light to be effective, dark has to flex what it has. Without the contrast it just looks like a big blur of grey where nothing matters and everything is the same. The atmosphere and setting have to be dark, but dark to the point where what's good about it can be seen by passersby like my readers. There is something worth saving out there.

This is why of all the stories in the collection, Knives in the Night focuses the most on the Inner Light, a force only touched on a few times in tales before this. To understand just how dark or light Walker is, the darkest force imaginable must be shown to test him where the light leaves him unimpressed. He needs to see the way things really are, as many of us do before we make a choice.

Before this story, the Inner Light were little more than glorified drug dealers and murderers, but here they are revealed to be a whole lot worse than just that. In a world where someone can walk into your head as easily as they can your front door, it means a lot to say there is an even deadlier force out there in the night.

The Inner Light is the dark force lingering under the rusted over ideals of the new world. What they are is a mystery, but it is clear they are no paragons of justice. While they aren't the main antagonists of every story here, their presence is felt throughout and they are a driving force for much of what goes on, even tangentially in some cases. The hard part was to maintain their threat level without giving too much away and taking away their mystique. The whole point of them is that they are nearly as invisible is someone like Walker, and yet are still opposed to each other.

Another contrast is how, unlike the Inner Light, you do learn something about Walker. Despite being a man who would rather be invisible, he has much to him that still makes him human, in the end. In a way this makes him the opposite of even The Seeker, who is inscrutable, as he is just someone who wants to disappear from it all without any purpose beyond his mission. But he can't just vanish. Not yet. Of all the characters in this collection of stories, Walker is the one who actually is an old school vigilante.

But he's not an anti-hero. There is a very big distinction between an anti-hero and a vigilante, and I'm certain you'll see what that is by the end of this one.

An inspiration

There is a lot to Knives in the Night, and that is why I made it available to newsletter subscribers for free. What better audience than this kind enough to sign up to hear more about these stories?

This novelette was too long to submit to any market. Unfortunately there isn't much of a market for pieces between 10,000 and 40,000 word novelettes and novellas. It's not their fault, the audience just isn't there for them. But it also meant the three longest stories in this collection, the novelettes, were more or less not feasible to be sold via traditional avenues. At the very least I wanted to test out one of them for response, so I gave this one for free via the newsletter and via amazon standalone (I've since taken it down since it is redundant now) and it did gain more subscriptions, but since it is part of this set I couldn't just leave it there forever while compiling the rest. As a consequence I will be offering newsletter subscribers something new in exchange for taking this exclusivity from them. It was there for over a year, so it was definitely time for a change, anyway.

Now for some random facts about this one.

As for the title, I already explained that this title was originally the name of Endless Nights in Villain City, but it works here for people who will be able to see similarities between the two of them. The original title never fit and I couldn't think of one that worked. Once I found one that focused on the night it finally clicked. Now I can't imagine it being called anything else.

Despite being the longest story, it might have been one of the easiest in this collection to write. Once I understood why Walker was there, and what he wanted, he led me through the entire adventure in quite a quick amount of time. It was also the fourth story in the collection that I wrote, so by this time I had a handle on what was going on with Summerside. Whether Walker being the easiest character in this strange world for me to write says something about me or not is up to you. The story still took some time to go through regardless. It's still quite long, after all.

The reason it is dead center in the collection is because it fits there. The world by now has been established by the first three stories and allows readers to jump right in and understand what is going on around them. However, at the same time it doesn't quite close anything off in the wider context of them to the extent that it should be placed further back with the final three. The story in the center of a collection should represent everything around it and highlight the overall themes at the same time. It needs to be the most balanced story, not too brash and not too obscure. Knives in the Night is the perfect anchor for this set of adventures.

Continuing the tradition of not having an origin story (though one tale might be construed as one, it does not end the way such stories do conclude), we are dropped in the middle of a completely foreign situation and are made to piece together who Walker is and where he comes from with just that. This feeling of alien other-worldliness in a familiar setting is a feeling I wanted to establish before we move into truly bizarre territory in the next story . . . but that's not for today!

That's all for this entry. Remember, this Thursday, Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures is finally out! You can read Knives in the Night and six more fantastic stories there. See you then! It's going to be a blast.

Out this Thursday!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

What We Can Leave Behind

After finally hitting the '20s and realizing it is, in fact, a new Current Year, I couldn't help but look around and see that nothing changed magically overnight. That just won't do! Instead of waiting for the world to catch up to me, I think I'm going to complain instead.

In all seriousness, every decade brings its new flavor to the mix, and the '20s will be no different. It's going to happen no matter what we do. But that means things as they are now will have to change whether we want it to or not. Dead weight is going to be cut and left to rot in the mists of time.

That said: what are some of the things we can leave behind in the '10s?

The cheeky answer is "everything we brought over from the '00s" though that is a bit simplistic. Here is the main stale trope we can finally ditch. We can throw away stories more focused on ourselves than the world around us.

I'm talking about inward fiction.

Ever since the '90s there has been an absolute dearth of new ideas in mainstream fiction, and most of it stems from the vain obsession with looking at ourselves in the mirror. I'm not sure if those arose with trying to "connect" with Gen X when they were children, and they just never stopped trying to make products that appealed on that shallow level. In super science and comic stories there one would once find endless worlds out in space (and some even under our own!), countless alien races, and unlimited supernatural phenomenons, it looked as if the future was limitless. Sure it might have been a naive utopianism, but it was something.

Then came the stories where the most intense supernatural or "scientific" event that occurs is the knowledge of parallel universes. The laziest trope, writers used this as an excuse to tell over sized stories in small spaces where the scope never raised beyond a quarter of an inch outside the main character's periphery. No more looking at the skies, no more discovering new and exciting things. It's all about the only fascinating thing in the universe: me.

Just look at comics and how they refuse to move on from endless variants of the same character who can never die fighting the same rehashed cast of villains who can never be defeated. And if they are killed they can just replace them with the same exact character again, only this one his different colored hair or skin from another universe. There is no end in sight, and no hope or salvation for the world. "Unlimited possibilities" does not translate to "infinite versions of the same Earth". It's boring.

At the same time, so are stories focused on broken people crying about being broken, then ending the tale accepting that they're broken and doing nothing about it. Standing in place and spinning 360 degrees is not interesting. It's tired and been done so many times that it is well beyond stale. Yet we keep telling that same story over and over again.

We used to be able to imagine other things other than what we see in front of us everyday. Then one day we stopped. Surely we can go back to doing that again.

We can ditch the rotting carcass of "realism" that has yet to produce anything worth preserving, and bring back the wonder and the excitement. Let's go insane with it! We can, and have, done better than what the modern world currently offers. 

Though, to be fair, the modern world is also insane.
As an example, I just finished reading Leigh Brackett's Last Call from Sector 9G and had some thoughts about it.

For one, the story was written in 1955 and it doesn't quite feel like it. The era was full of misery and strife in her field, and yet she produced this gem in Planet Stories that could have just as easily come out of Weird Tales in 1929. It has a more timeless feel.

Lloyd Durham is a boozer, ready to let his life fall apart, when he is given a simple job on a secret assignment. He is soon dragged into a ring of chaos that includes interplanetary travel, noir-ish intrigue, twin planet politics, dark shadow birds, and, of course, a woman. Durham goes through a rapid series of events in this novella (remember those?) that allow him to finally stand on his two feet and face a better future. And perhaps there is more to the universe than he first thought?

So right away you have betrayals, potential romance, and a mysterious creature that is never quite explained in the story. This is classic weird fiction, and she did it in a time when magazines such as Planet Stories were being slandered for not getting with the times. And yet, her story ends up being far more timeless than any of the other material in the genre fiction magazines at the time. Which is just as well, since they were all mostly gone by then. The novella format that allowed stories like this to exist would follow it into oblivion not long later.

This story is an art we've lost.

She was also smart enough to know that this is fiction: it's not the real world. She didn't have to make the bad guy play a lazy analog of a US President she didn't like. She created original characters and situations. No one in the last few years appears capable of that anymore, at least not in the mainstream world. 

This also applies to modern stories that actually do feature meeting other worlds as opposed to endless variation of Earth: they're often just lazy analogues to 20th century political conflicts. Or even worse: 21st century political conflicts. There is more to the world and universe outside your backyard, so why do so many stories feel as if they can't get out of it? It is as if they want me trapped and require me to think a certain way. The wonder has disappeared.

The excuse used to be that this downgrade was "new" and you were afraid of "change" and must get over your stodgy way of thinking. It's new! Don't you want to be cool like everyone else? Don't you want to be one of us, fellow individual?

Well, the 90s ended twenty years ago now. This sort of thing isn't new anymore. We've had modern joyless slop going on over two decades and closer to three.

That's longer than we had classic action movies, adventure cartoons, or even good punk rock. If all those things had to go because they got old and were out of date, then surely this means cast-offs of '90s pop culture needs to go now, too. Right? That is, if that was ever the argument to begin with instead of a smokescreen to destroy everything that came before. If I ever sound paranoid about this, it is because experience has taught me that shysters will lie to destroy what you love in order to get their way. Now that they have what they want, and it has been a proven failure, they will do anything to cling to their cardboard thrones.

Leigh Brackett didn't need to change with the times to be a success, and yet, ironically, doing what she did would be considered revolutionary now because no one is doing it. Being genuine without being destructive is a revolution. This means going backward is the new going forward. Everything is crazy now, but I suppose it IS the roaring '20s.

But if we're going with the "Current Year" means "things have to change" argument, then let's do it!

Start creating stories that don't require a modern lens to view them in. Be creative! Make something that doesn't need post-modern classroom theories or political talking points from the Good Guy Party to operate. That's different, isn't it? Why not try that?

What can you lose, at this point?

Because of her skill as a storyteller, and her penchant for being entertaining and creative over being clever and cute, Last Call from Sector 9G is a minor classic. We would all do better to imitate her mindset going forward. The pulps were, for all intents and purposes, over by the 1950s, and yet she still wrote them regardless, and did it expertly. That's the way to be, and an inspiration for us going into the 2020s.

I'm going into 2020 hoping for a bit more from the decade ahead, and I don't think I'm alone. Nobody's going to know what tomorrow brings, and I doubt anyone expected most of the '10s to just be more of the void that was the '00s, but that doesn't mean it will be like that forever. As certain parties like to clamor: things change. So let's change it in a better direction.

Are we allowed to have fun again? Are we allowed to enjoy over the top fun without having to wink at how smart we are for enjoying it? Are we allowed to view stories of a philosophical bent that aren't about how everything is pointless or how things will work out when the Good Guy Party finally dictates the world's policies? Can we grow from this dead end styles and finally move on?

We're due for a mindset shift into something better.

Already this year has started off strong with a new issue of StoryHack (I'm in this one!) featuring some of the best writers around from Jon Mollison to Dominika Lein. If there is a magazine out there that remembers the spirit of action and adventure, it hasn't done it quite as well as StoryHack has. You sign up for unabashed fun, and that is what you are delivered. Just check out this fantastic cover!

We're starting off the year with a bang. Ain't no one escaping out of this room without getting filled with pulp-flavored lead first. There's been enough moping and downbeat slop to hold you down to last a lifetime. We're going to give you something better.

Also, I have been posting about stories in my upcoming anthology here. So far I am three tales in with an additional four to go. If you've missed this series, I suggest checking them out. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I've also included the first story for free in a book giveaway with such authors as J. Manfred Weichsel at StoryOrigin. You can get it, along with some free books here.

Not a bad way to start off the year.

And, lastly, On the 23rd of January I have a book coming out called Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures. This is a collection of my hero stories set in the city of Summerside where powers meet magic in a knock-down drag-out slobber-knocker. You're definitely not going to want to miss this one. In fact, if you want to read it early there are still ARCs available at booksprout for free. The only stipulation is leaving a review on amazon before release. Otherwise, it's only a week away!

Early word has been great! I told you I wouldn't be leaving January this year without doing some damage, and I stand by that. And we still have 11 months to go.

So while we're ready to leave a lot behind entering 2020, we're also remembering to bring forward what has worked in the past and what will carry us into the future. It's time to leave the dead weight behind.

There's only greatness to look forward to ahead.

Out January 23rd!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Story Sheets: "Endless Nights in Villain City" & "Under Suspicion in Summerside"

In our second installment of this new series I'm going to continue going through the stories in my upcoming book, Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures.

The last post was a surprise success, so I'm going to keep this up for the foreseeable future, or until I run out of released stories to talk about. Whichever comes fist. Chatting about unreleased material doesn't do a lot of good to anyone if they can't experience it for themselves.

So this week I'm covering the next two stories in the collection. This would be the rather short Endless Nights in Villain City and the slightly longer Under Suspicion is Summerside.

Some of the content ahead isn't for the squeamish.

Before we begin I would just like to mention that you can get an advance reader copy (ARC) of the book here, ahead of its release! The only cost is an amazon review. Just thought I'd let you know!

Now, on to the stories!

"I have always hated the sun, but it was particularly harsh on the day I abandoned it. In a world of light, I lived for the dark, and the day was particularly bright at the time I fell upon the Truth."

This is a bit of a tone shift from the first story, but not by that much.

The reason this story exists is because I needed to show how bad things could get for those in Summerside who choose to do the wrong thing. There is a hint as to the dark side of the world in Someone is Aiming for You, but this one shows it from a normal man who just wants the world to burn. There is a reason some such as him is out there to begin with.

Despite it's placement here, it's not the second short story I ever wrote nor is it the second story I wrote in this series. It took awhile. In fact, I wrote this one on a whim one day after puzzling about the concept in my head for weeks. Puzzling out if it would fit in with the others was definitely a concern.

I have it second in the collection because it sets mood and because it's chronologically the first story. It turned out to be very important for the overall group.

So why isn't it the first story here if it's the first in the timeline and it is so important? That's because it is meant to build mood, not establish it. This story doesn't set anything, but builds on what was already introduced in the first story. Despite its chronological placement, it isn't a "Side A, Track 1" standard setter.

When building a collection of stories the very first story is the equivalent of the first chapter of a book, or, as alluded to above, the first song on an album. Even if the tales are unrelated in your collection the premiere entry still sets the mood and groundwork for what comes next. And the truth is that Endless Nights in Villain City doesn't set the mood as well as Someone is Aiming for You does. Being that the story is from the perspective of a villainous character and is the darkest story here it does not give an accurate representation of what the rest of them will be like.

This is also why it's the only story here written in first person, unlike the rest of the set.

First person is a perspective used to bring the reader directly into the action. It puts them directly in the shoes of the protagonist. I figured that after having some distance from The Seeker in the first story that being thrown right up against one of the things he is fighting would give the reader some perspective on why he is what he is. This is also without taking any of the mystery around him away. At the same time it makes the threat more immediate and obvious to the reader when they see what it's capable of up close.

I think I succeeded, which is why it was accepted to run in the now out-of-print Dimension Bucket Magazine alongside a set of great writers with fantastic stories of their own. Before this I had only ever submitted it to one other anthology where it was rejected for being too dark for the purposes of the theme. I had some good feedback in this story, and everyone who has read it found it unsettling, which is good since it is a horror story.

The reason I chose the title was sort of haphazard. Originally it was called Knives in the Night, but that better described another story I wrote so I gave that one the title instead. I wanted a title that gave a sense of the protagonist's goal, as well as what he viewed as most important, since this is ultimately a story about achieving a destiny. It might be a dark destiny, but he is the main character so he gets to be the focal point of the title regardless of how I feel of him. Bad guy or not, he's still in charge here.

Whether this says a lot about me or not is for you to determine, but Endless Nights in Villain City was the easiest story in the collection for me to write. I'm sure the length is a part of it. That said, everything flowed from the first minute I met Horace Abalone. I knew just wanted he wanted, and where he was going, and what he would achieve to get there. Everything flowed from the moment the sun began to hurt his eyes and he walked into that alley.

Normally I'd go on longer, but since the story is fairly brief, I would be going into spoilers. If you want to see how disturbing things can get, I highly recommend checking it out when Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures comes out on January 23rd!

But that doesn't mean leaving you early today. Instead, here's a bonus: the third story in the collection. I am talking about Under Suspicion in Summerside.

“We don’t live in that era anymore, babe. People hate these Crusaders, for good reason.” He ran a hand through his purple hair. “We’re a long way from when they were untouchable saviors even a few years ago. This is the Trash Age, ruled by people like me. As a media lackey, you’re supposed to do your job and show those failures as what they are—government funded tools or deluded vigilantes looking for a place to die. I’ve seen your pathetic articles.”

I alluded to the fact that this is the unluckiest story in the collection, so I think I should explain why first.

Under Suspicion in Summerside was the third story I wrote in this series, which meant I was still figuring out the form when first writing it down and shaping up the world it took place in. It went through many revisions before I finally got it done the way it needed to be.

At the same time I had submitted it to at least two outlets who lost the story in some capacity. It was a bizarre experience. Nonetheless, I used the opportunity to sharpen it further.

The reason this story exists is because I wanted a story that showed the baseline of the world, especially during the day. Summerside is more than just what goes on after dark and readers needed to know and experience that. If every story took place after sunset then it would only give you a fraction of the idea of what the stories are about and why society operates the way it does. Otherwise you might be left wondering why anyone would fight for a place as bad as Summerside is after the sun sets. There is more to it than the bad, just like a real city.

As can be understood from the first two stories, things can get pretty dark. So I wanted a tale that showed more of the daytime and the brighter side of the world. There are normal people that live outside of the fringes caught in the middle of this mess who just want to live their lives. At the same time, it isn't a different world, so I also wanted to show how the day and night border on each other.

In other words, this is a bridge story. The main characters are a pair of civilians, and a pair of hired enforcers who deal with trouble during the day. Therefore the main plot consists of what appears to be a normal bank robbery where what goes on in the edges paint a slightly different picture of what is really going on. It is necessary to build the world of Summerside to show that normality exists and is worth fighting for.

This is why it's the third story here after the first sets the tone and the second sets the stakes. The third presents the good worth defending, and what the day to day strife in the city looks like. With these three, the tone is effectively set for everything to come.

It's also the only story in the anthology shown from multiple POVs, aside from the first. I needed that scope to show more of the world in the small storytelling space I had available here. The multiple POVs in the first story are to show the reactions to the appearance of an anomaly like The Seeker and how he appears from different angles; in this one it is to show there is a living and breathing world outside whatever protagonist exists in these stories. This normality is needed, both after the darkness of the second story and some of the strangeness to come after this.

Then there are the main characters. Aside from the civilians, there are two with powers.

Flatline and Concrete are pulp-style nicknames more than titles, and their powers were designed to be contradictory to each other. Flatline's electricity allows him offense and energy, but not much in the way of defense. Concrete's is pure defense and sturdiness, at the cost of power and speed. As a consequence, their personalities also clash, but only a bit, despite being partners on the job. Concrete is the newer recruit, very naive and figuring things out, so not so reliable. Flatline is brash and confident, but too self-reliant due to the experience gap and working alone. Despite this, they work together to do jobs as hired enforcers to put a stop to crime during the day. It's all for a paycheck, at least, so it seems. They're the most normal people with powers in the book--that I can guarantee you.

The fear and paranoia contributed to the title. The city is a place where anything can happen, and death might visit at any time. Naturally, everyone is a suspect in a world like this. But perhaps there is more to it than that? Maybe there is more to the danger than the bad we see before us. Trust is not that easy to obtain, especially in a world like this.

Originally I wasn't sure how many stories I wanted for this collection. After all, I had never written one before starting these. But I was able to par it down to seven, and wrote accordingly. Every piece had to offer something new to the world that the others didn't, and come together to form a full picture by the end. Under Suspicion in Summerside was necessary to set up the part that mattered the most: the normal everyday people caught in the cross-hairs. There are people worth fighting for. You're going to need this going forward, especially as it carries over into future stories.

I put all seven together to make a full frame of the world. They all form together to become a single piece. You will definitely see what I mean when all of them are read through.

That's all for this edition. As said before, if you want to read a free Advance Reader Copy of my new book then you can get it at Booksprout here in exchange for a review. Otherwise, stay tuned for the next post, and then the official release on the 23rd. There's more to come.

2020 is going to be big! This is just the start.

Coming January 23rd!