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


My Father & Mr. Brooks

Many years back, when I was a precocious young lad, my father devised an ingenious method of education and torture – you’ve heard of edutainment? This is tortucation – or it might have been for some other kid.

When I got in trouble, my punishment was not a simple grounding. Instead, I had to read a book and write a book report. At home. Had to. The horror.

I was allowed to choose the book, but my dad got veto. I wasn’t such a fan of writing then, but I already enjoyed reading. The writing… well, you can see where that got to. I was already a reader, I don’t think anything in the world could have stopped that. I had a good system and a lot of encouragement to get me into books. But if ever there were a fundamental set of moments in my life that turned me into a reader, this is where it started.

While I got to choose many of my own “punishments,” on occasion my dad would pick out a book and tell me that was the one I was going to read. It was a test. He’d pick out books he already knew, and ask me questions about them, to see what I was getting from the reading. Often enough, I was getting the story, but not the subtext. I needed to be persuaded into understanding that – I won’t lie, it took years.

But through this process, I was introduced to many of the greats: Isaac Asimov, Piers Anthony, Anne McCaffery, Harlan Ellison… and somewhere among them was Terry Brooks. And of all the authors that attempted to cross the line from the “dad’s authors” camp into my own favorites, Terry was one of the few who truly won me over with his brand of fantasy.

When people recollect their favorite stories, when they get glassy eyed about a story, like they’ve been there – like they’ve lived there… for me, that was Landover, the magical land in Magical Kingdom for Sale – SOLD.

I’m not going to get into the story. I’m not even going to persuade you with anything but the fact that I love it. It was MY Harry Potter… long before Harry would ever figure out his legacy. It’s a series that I have never finished, mostly because I didn’t want it to end. But after last night – close to twenty-five years after that first introduction – I feel like I should finally finish it. I feel like I owe Mr. Brooks that much.

I met Terry Brooks tonight at a signing in one of my favorite places – Schuler Books, Eastwood. (There’s nothing wrong with the Okemos one, I just prefer Eastwood.) He read us a bit of his latest work, he answered all the questions we had to offer. He was charming and down-to-earth and just everything we all hope our idols will be.

And if you have ever met one of your heroes, you know that everything you think about while you are watching them, everything you think about when you are in line, everything you want to say – it’s gone when it’s your turn to say anything. Maybe you are better than me, but I stammered out a thank you. It carried all of the words I wanted to say, and whether he heard all that or not, he still seemed appreciative.

Then I did something I had been debating since I parked my car.

I brought a bookmark. One of my bookmarks. On the front was the House of Thirteen cover, and on the back, I wrote something (in the car, where I left most of my wit and courage).

I wrote: “Terry – Thank you. For a lifetime of inspiration.” Then I signed it.

I handed it to him and stammered out something about hoping it’d be worth more someday. He looked at it, then he said thank you to me.


We talked for a quick second, he asked where he could find my books, and he said he’d check me out. I got a photo, we shook hands, and that’s where my moment ended. Even if it was just banter, I appreciate the hell out of it.

Seriously, Terry Brooks, thank you. For the twenty-five years of wonder you have instilled in me. For being part of a great and wonderful pantheon that I strive to one day join.

For being you. And for doing what you love.

Thank you.


Story time!

I am not a semi-finalist in the Write Michigan short story competition. I am however, excited to read these competition pieces. The judging opens up to the public later today, but you can start reading now. As promised, my submission is below. Make sure to take time to visit the Write Michigan site… it’s hard to pass up 30 short stories begging to be read. Continue reading