A Tale about Time…

Threshold hits next week, and to be honest, I didn’t expect this release to be as big of a deal as it is. Not “big deal” like it’s going to be massive or successful (though I hope) but it’s a big deal to me and my time as a writer, and the closer we get, the more I realize that impact.

2007. I was halfway through my film degree, and every thought was a lofty ambition. I wrote scripts and short stories and shot films and immersed myself in creativity. There was nothing I couldn’t do with enough ink and caffeine. I had recently discovered NaNoWriMo (though I was far from finding a group) and was certain this was something I wanted to do.

Threshold was a buzzing in my brain that, like most of my stories, started with an idea. It would be a beautiful failure that year, but it would follow me. The story had planted a seed in my brain, and that seed began to flourish. It was an idea that I knew would get under people’s skin – how could it not?

My delight is introducing my readers to something ordinary and building that into something terrible that clings to them in reality. I like to think I am accomplishing that. With Empty Hallways, I capitalized on the inherent creepiness of hospitals. In Threshold, I explore the oddity that is our own reflections.

Have you ever just stared at your reflection? Not yourself, but your reflection: the person looking back at you; the world they are limited to living in. But if you stare too long, things start to unravel. You can say a word so many times, it stops making sense and feels more like a made up sound. I’ve stared at my reflection so long that it doesn’t even compute anymore: just a mess of shapes and colors that follow my impulses. That’s where the fun begins.

If you stare too long at any object, your brain starts canceling out unnecessary information. In other words, your reflection changes. It starts taking on a life of its own. (Yes, this is the kind of insanity that some of my stories start from.)

I tried to gather all of these thoughts and put them onto paper and create a story. I was clearly not ready back in 2007, but the seed kept growing. The vignettes I created back then remain. A couple of scenes in the book are now polished, fully-realized ideas that started back then.

The first scrawled page of what would be Threshold…

Flash forward about ten years. I’m looking for my next novel, when I remember this concept. I start fleshing out the idea, but I’m distracted by flashy concepts and fun new ideas. I continue to struggle with the idea – because sometimes you do. Everything is hard now and again. Some stories come easy; some not at all.

The bones got organized, and life decided to get complicated. I started taking some online classes. Bailey and I bought a house. Then we got married. And through all this wonderment, writing took a back seat. I plinked around a little, I got some things written, but mostly, the author was sleeping.

I have a number of writing groups I belong to – or have belonged to. But while Threshold was still a dusty, shambling mess, a new group formed. We meet pretty regularly. It’s less a writing group and more a support group made of writers. What’s the difference? No competition for starters. We share in each other’s successes and frustrations. We don’t judge. We are there for each other. I’ve had good groups before, but this is an intimate group of honest friends – they’re helpful and even their physical presence and the sound of their typing was its own security. Threshold came together under this group’s support.

It wasn’t this group alone. Bailey has always been there, supporting me through the frustration and the threats and the whining (oh, how I can whine when the book won’t cooperate). My friends regularly asked about how it was coming along. People I met at shows chatted with me about the story, and were excited for it to happen.

Eventually, it did.

Next week, you’ll see for yourself.

But it has been a community effort, whether they knew they were a community rallied around me and a story, I don’t know, but the people in my life are amazing supporters. Thank you.

Threshold releases May 1, kindle and paperback. Preorder now.

Back in the saddle…

As promised, something more lengthy than my quick announcement this week.

First, in case you missed the post: Threshold will be out this year.

Hang on, let me say that again:

Threshold will be out this year.

After a number of struggles, I’ve succeeded in this endeavor. That success bleeds further than simply releasing a book. This has been an exercise in life and existence more than it ever was about the writing, and I was wholly foolish to think it was anything so small. In the time between starting the manuscript and now, I:

  • bought a house
  • got married
  • had a summer reception
  • turned 40

And those are milestones; I am still a human being who has a day job, helps around the house, and tries to have some downtime here and there. Between all these different facets of myself – really, different personas – I got burnt out trying to fit in time for them all.

I was doing too much with too little, and it started to corrode everything. This exacerbated personal struggles I already deal with regularly, which I’m sure you can imagine didn’t help things. In the end, all of it just became more weight when I saw the new deadline approach, knowing I was not going to meet it.

I’m not telling you all this to make excuses for why it’s taken so long to get the next book out. I’m telling you this because it’s important.

You are whole. You are you.

Even when you are struggling – especially when you are struggling. You don’t need to be all of these things for everyone if they are going to break you. You need to carve out the time for you to repair your soul, your confidence, and your energy. You need to understand that it is not only okay that you do that, but it is imperative that you do it.

The world is shifting, and those shifts are creating more stress and pressure than before. We are unfairly comparing ourselves to people we don’t know, in circumstances we don’t have, and beating ourselves up over unfair expectations.

Stop it.

You are you. No one else has to deal with what you do when you do. No one else is in your head. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. They aren’t you.

Instead, look to the world for inspiration, ideas, and assistance. How is everyone else handling their struggle? Can you find a tool in there to help you with yours? Great! Use it. But don’t compare yourself to other people’s talent, or how well people handle their stress. They aren’t you, and they have their own struggles.

I’m slogging through it all myself. I have so many ideas all the time that it’s honestly a weight all itself knowing that I will never be able to write them all. Some stories will die with me. That’s a horrifying notion, but I can’t think about that. I certainly can’t let it consume me. Am I willing to sacrifice my friends and family, events and adventures, so I can try to use every waking moment to empty my head? No. I’m at least realistic enough to know that is a devil’s errand. I have to accept my limitations.

I’m not done writing. I’m getting ready to release my fourth novel – an accomplishment some never get to see. I’m getting better at it, too. I can feel it; I can see it. But writing isn’t the only thing I want to do with my time on this earth. There are a ton of things I want to do, and only one me I can do them with.

So, I’m learning to accept my limitations, and I’m going to turn that understanding into a strength. I’m going to be better for having this knowledge.

I think we all need the grace to be kinder to ourselves; living is hard enough as it is.

 

Raise some Hell…

One week – actually less than – until Motor City Nightmares.

This is the first time I will be attending this show, so I am very excited and completely unprepared for the event. Ok, not completely. I will be preparing for this show in the same fashion I do other shows. I should be fine.

What I am not certain how to deal with is the fact that Clive Barker will be there.

Hellraiser. Lord of Illusions. Nightbreed/Cabal. Imajica.

Holy crap! I am going to be shilling my books while Clive Barker is doing his thing? Maybe this will be good practice for a couple weeks from now, when I will be up to my eyeballs with horror writers who are likely more experienced (and more talented) than me.

Can’t know till you try though, right?

So I am super excited and looking very forward to being surrounded by horror fans and aficionados. I love hanging out with readers in general, but horror fans? These are my people.

And not just because I write in the genre – this has always been my home. I grew up reading the greats – and some not so greats. Saturday afternoons I was glued to the television for the Monster Double-Feature. Elvira, The Ghoul, and Count Scary helped me sharpen my wit and my inappropriate sense of humor.

I’m interested to see who I meet and what their interests are. Horror as a genre is wide and varied. It is its own culture and has its own sub-groupings. I’m still trying to figure out wherein I belong as an author, but I know who I am as a fan. And I am happy to say that I would like me as a writer, even if I weren’t me. But I am hoping that some of the other folks at Motor City Nightmares are interested in what I have to offer as well.

Delays, Waylays, and ‘Bout-times…

We are officially one week from my first event of the year (Blood Bash!). I’m excited because this gets the ball rolling on something different. This year, I am trying a few new things: new events, new tricks, and new formulas. Every year is a new experiment in trying to get myself out there, but this year is going to be more focused. We’ll see if it works.

As always, keep an eye on the Events page; I’ll update it as new events are confirmed.

But the real reason this post exists is for me to own up on a promise I made. Sure, that promise was mostly to myself, but as I said it out loud at least a few times, I should probably brace anyone else who had their hopes up:

Threshold will not release on February 14. It is delayed and I hope to get it into readers’ hands before much longer, but currently, it is behind schedule.

Why has it been delayed? In short, life has its own schedule, whatever plans we have in mind. In long, there have been some drastic changes in work and life schedules around Lockwood Manor. Due to these changes, we are working through some difficulties regarding the work-life-work balance for Bailey and myself. So, as we seek equilibrium with these new adjustments, Threshold is delayed in receiving a thoroughly polished edit. Without one, it remains hidden from the light of day.

And while that is sad news for me, there is some good news. Life, in all of its strangeness, is a cornucopia of opportunity – a rainbow that signals the end of the ugly downpour we’ve been dealing with.

Bailey’s precariously balanced schedule is shifting, and after some long thinks and some deep breathing exercises, she has decided to push toward her dream of being a full-time editor. While there are definite nerves about such an endeavor, this is a truly exciting step for both of us.

So, if you or someone you know is looking for editing services, may I highly recommend Just Ducky Editing? She comes with excellent references and a wealth of knowledge regarding the written word, AND you’d be supporting a blossoming entrepreneur.

Got words that need polish? Reach out to Bailey via her website.

More news about Threshold soon… I can’t wait to reveal this cover.

Cleaning house for 2018…

It really is close enough to just call this year done, isn’t it?

This year isn’t quite done, and I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me, but I thought I would take a moment and be a little better at updating than I have been…

…since my last post was my wedding day. In February. Oops.

Just a reminder that you can also follow my shenanigans on the Facebook page.

But on with the wrapup for 2018:

November 3
Just a couple weeks away, you will find me in Albion at Stirling Books. There will be six authors in total and should be a good time for all. Horror, romance, fantasy, all ages, get your read on!

November 11
The Monroe County Library System is hosting Writers on the River 2018. I will be there with a literal horde of authors, and you should join us! Authors from all walks (including a couple of my favorites) will be representing their books. This may be one of the last chances for you to get something wonderful for your favorite reader before the holidays are upon us.

November 17
The lovely people at the Scriptorium in Clawson have given me the opportunity to take over their delightful store for the afternoon. I’ll have my books on hand, and who knows what else will be happening that day, but I will be there and you should join me. At 2pm, I will be turning my reign of the store over to the imagination and talent of Andrew Lark. It would only benefit you to stick around and get his book too.
THIS IS MY LAST APPEARANCE IN 2018.

And for those of you who have patiently waited for my next novel, I can tell you now: The wait is almost over.

Threshold, a story that has been worming its way around my brain for years (literal years) is finally out, working through the process of edits, and getting everything polished. Threshold will be available for pre-order soon and will release on February 14, 2019. (Yes, there’s a reason I picked that day. I may even explain why at some point.)

Between now and then, I will be looking for a handful of brave souls to be my advance readership to make sure the book is ready for the general public. If you are interested, reach out and let me know. I’m looking for a few dedicated readers, and you may be expected to respond to a survey after, but you will be rewarded as well. More on this in the future.

I will have a short preview of Threshold at all of my November events for you to take home and hold close. A hope to cling to through the winter, if you will.

Now also seems as good a time as any to shamelessly promote my wife’s constant and reality-defying ability to take my stray and problematic storytelling and turn it into something people can actually enjoy. She’s worked with a number of wonderful authors and is always interested in meeting more delightful authors to work with (more work means more reading, right?). You can find out more at Just Ducky Editing.

And with that, I can start throwing dust covers on 2018…

By the time you read this…

…to quote the immortal words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. It’s nothing alarming, but it is an attention-getter, isn’t it?

Then again, maybe it is alarming – if your understanding of the world is based on certain elements of the universe behaving just-so. In that case, you probably shouldn’t have based your status quo on me. That was bad form. But I digress…

By the time you read this, I’ll have ventured forward on one of the last great adventures any being can have. By my calculation, there are only two or three great adventures left in this lifetime – lots of lesser adventures to be sure, and all completely worthwhile – but this is an adventure long overdue.

And even though I’m running out of great adventures, I’m a long way from the end. In fact, this is a brand new… chapter? Book? Whatever your analogy, today is the day that new part begins.

Today is the day that I say “I do” to my first-thing-every-morning, my last-thing-every-night, my ever-vigilant editor… my pretty-much-everything.

Today is the first day of possibly the best chapter of my life. Maybe because it’s no longer my life, but our life, officially. And no, this isn’t where we stop being solitary entities and become one of those congealed couples that cannot separate from one another. She has her solo missions, and I have my own. But we have many more together – because we like each other and want to have these adventures together. It’s part of the reason for the whole marriage thing getting done.

Anyway, sometime in your running around today – maybe even right now because it’ll be easiest, do me a favor:

Take three seconds out of your day, raise a glass, and wish us luck. It’s not that we need it, but I really want this to be an amazing adventure, so I’ll take all the luck we can get.

Thanks.

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Photo by Watership Photography

Back to the Beginning of the End…

In case you missed it, I participated in my very first Facebook Live video earlier this week to announce the much-awaited collected At Calendar’s End: Omnibus. You’re very lucky you didn’t hear the squeal when I actually saw the book for myself.

TL; DW:
– It’s available currently through Amazon and Kindle.
– It’s 700 pages worth of story, collecting the serial installments of At Calendar’s End
– Both versions still include all 12 covers by Brian Ritson from the original installments, PLUS the new art for the Omnibus itself
– The first opportunity to see these in person (and get them signed) is Leon & Lulu on October 22.

ALSO: A short story of mine has been included in an anthology edited and organized by Samie Sands. Black Mass is the story of a man who has a recurring nightmare he can’t escape from… and why it might be better to just remain in the dream. You can find it hidden among the other creepy tales in Night Mares, available now on Amazon and Kindle.

Oh! The places we’ll go…

We are just over a week away from NerdCon in Portland, MI. If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out NerdCon and all of it’s wonderful offerings, please do so.

In the meantime, I felt like now is a proper time to remind you of all the other wonderful events that I will take part in for the rest of the year. You can also find all of this information at any time on my Events page.

August 12, 2017  Portland, MI
NerdCon – Author Panel  11:00am – 11:45am
NerdCon – Table  12:00pm – 4:00pm

September 10, 2017  Ann Arbor, MI
Kerrytown Bookfest  10:00am – 5:00pm

October 22, 2017  Clawson, MI
Books & Authors  11:00am – 5:00pm

December TBD, 2017  Lake Orion, MI
Giving Season Author Fair  1:00pm – 4:00pm

I am also working on a potential three events that are not listed yet. They’ll likely popup sometime in the last quarter (October – December) and I’m very excited to tell you about them… but I’m not going to until they are official.

I know, the anticipation is overwhelming.

The Next Page on the Calendar…

Around this time last year, I was one-third of the way into At Calendar’s End. April was newly published and I was hard at work at the keyboard working on May. At that point, I cannot say that I knew I would finish. It was an intimidating, dare I say daunting, task to look ahead to.

And yet, here we are a year later, come through the other side not only successful, but surprisingly better for the experience. I think I’d like to do another serial in the future, but I have other projects I’d like to accomplish before that.

First on the docket is to bring At Calendar’s End to print. All twelve installments of Calendar are currently available in serialized format, both ebook and now print. Relatively soon, I’ll also be producing an omnibus that collects all twelve episodes into a single binding – which will also be made available to both digital and physical realms.

If you haven’t started reading At Calendar’s End yet, and aren’t sure why you should, maybe this wonderfully insightful review by friend and author Parker J. Cole will help.

Also (and probably most excitingly) Brian Ritson, the brilliant and creative mind behind all of the art that graces my books, has taken the line art from the Calendar series (as well as some new beautiful designs) and incorporated them into a coloring book!

Coloring Book Cover

This is truly a must-have for any fan of the Calendar series – and coloring books!

And finally, I will be showing off the newly-printed books in person at Leon & Lulu on April 30! I’m looking forward to being part of Books & Authors again, and am excited to be able to show off some spectacular art, as well as my newest accomplishment. I’ll be sharing a space with a number of friendly authors – including friend and event companion J. Thomas-Like! I hope to see you there!

In the meantime, you can find all of my books here.

Happy reading!

 

Humblebrag…

But not really. Or at least, not in the actual definition of the word, but the etymological breakdown of it. A humble brag. Because I cannot possibly fathom not sharing this with you all, as it is equal parts amazing and wonderful, but it is still a humbling experience.

So, the long story short is that a friend bought my book for her cousin, an avid reader. Sometime after that, the word comes to me that not only did she like the book, but she has a YouTube channel and is going to do a video review of my book. (At this point, news of such things is as terrifying as it is exciting, as you might imagine.) Time goes by and I hear nothing. Then, all at once, there is a link in my email. “Book Reviews #40: House of Thirteen” it says.

It’s another couple of days before I can bring myself to click the link.

Reviews are scary. They can build you up, or demolish you. Sometimes both at the same time. What you hope the readers will love is sometimes built up too much in your head and they need to point that out to you. Sometimes I rush into reviews like a masochist, but those are always just words. As I learned long ago, “words can never hurt me.” Yeah, right.

This is not just words, though. This is video. This is words with pictures. 1000 words for every picture. 29.97 pictures every second of the video. It adds up to a mountain of intimidation.

But I finally suck it up and click the link, bracing myself for the ugly truth… and what waits there for me is not the reason I will quit writing, but the reason I will persevere. There’s an excitement in her voice that we’ve all heard before: that sound we make when we are excited and want to share this amazing thing we’ve discovered. Except she’s not talking about some random interest – she’s talking about my book!

It’s a walking-on-clouds kind of feeling, and it will last until I realize that I have to somehow raise the stakes in House of Thirteen, Book Two in order to meet expectations.

And that brings us back to terrified, because that’s what I’m trying to write now.

I thought this was a nice segue to announcing the follow-up to House of Thirteen. Book Two will continue the story, and take us further into the mysteries that revolved around out beloved Delaneys. I’m looking very forward to figuring out what kind of trouble Ren and Joe are getting themselves into, as well as what sisters we’ll be introduced to next. And I hope that it will fulfill my expectations, and surpass those of my readers.

To answer Gabby’s one question that I am able to (but not really) in a bit of detail: I do plan on addressing what and why the Delaneys are what they are in more detail. I hope to answer every question I have threaded into the story before I end the series. Unfortunately, there are going to be more questions that answers for the time being, but I’ll get to them all in time. If I don’t, feel free to ask me again.

You can view the House of Thirteen review below. You can follow Gabby on Facebook and Twitter.

If you haven’t reviewed House of Thirteen (or any of my other stories) yourself, please do.

Finally, thank you, Gabby. This means a lot to me.curiousowl