Friday, December 20, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday #2 - Avalanche

I put the last piece of bark meat in my mouth, savoring the smoky flavor before chewing and swallowing what may be the last piece of food I eat in this frozen wasteland. I enjoy my meal though as I stare out on the blizzard that is quickly making its way toward me, expelling curtains of snow a half mile from where I sit. Very light flurries of snow, white and blue – the color of the pixel blood that comes with a storm like this – dust my cooking stones, slowly putting out the fire I worked so hard to build.


I stand up and stare out on the coming blizzard some more, unconvinced that it will pass by me as my oracle suggests it will. The storm is headed straight toward me, and it only seems appropriate that it would strike me head on seeing as my supplies have run exhausted, my energy has nearly run out, and my clothes have run their course. Looking down at my tattered pants, I can see how white my skin has started to turn in the peekaboos of the heavy denim. I don’t even know what I will sleep in tonight. The long johns I have been using to keep me warm are at the end of their time. The thread has come loose and most of the fabric has unraveled. Blue pixel blood marks where the thorn bushes brushed across me while I travailed the wilderness last week.

I watch the snow come down in a curtain of white, leaving me to wonder if this really will be my last day here in Crystbeck. I have hated this horrible wilderness since I was banished here months ago. Most die within the first few days of being exposed to such brutal cold and unrelenting weather. Little did the Council know that I was raised in wilderness survival – especially in this type of climate. Unfortunately, even though I’ve bought myself a couple of months in this terrain, I still have yet to find the entrance to the Sacred City beyond this. I’ve even entertained thoughts of flagging down pilgrims who are in the midst of their journeys to the Sacred City, but I haven’t seen a single one since being banished here.

So maybe this is where I’ll die.

I pick up my cooking stones and carry them inside the shallow cave, placing them next to the pots and pans I haven’t used since last week. The blizzard is sure to destroy me by the morning. I have no more materials to make another fire. No more food to keep from going hungry. No more arrows to be successful in hunting. Everything is used up or useless.

The snow flurries make their way into my cave, forceful and without manners. The blizzard is dangerously close now. I will not bother trying to fortify my cave against it. It takes hours for me to move the boulders in front of the entrance, and I only just saw the blizzard while I was eating my last piece of bark steak.
The only thing I can do, the only action I am able to take is to wrap myself in my bark blanket and slide myself within the sleeping bag I serendipitously managed to find on one of my hunting excursions. I bundle myself in at the very back of the cave, watching the blizzard move closer and closer to the entrance.

Minutes later, the white curtain finally drapes over the entrance to the cave. I close my eyes, proud of the actions I took to get myself exiled. The world will be a slightly better place because of me. I made a change to things, and that change will resonate throughout future generations. I may not be around to see those changes, but at least I’ll die knowing I was responsible for them.

A thunderous boom shakes the air. I open my eyes to see rubble crumbling down over the cave entrance, blocking the white light that had at all times of the day pierced my eyes with its harsh illumination. Within seconds, the entire front entrance to the cave is blocked by dark-colored rock, all of which had somehow careened down from the mountaintop above me.

An avalanche. The rock will keep me safe and warm from the blizzard, but now I will die from hunger and lack of oxygen instead of the cold.

How ironic.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Holidays Are Here...

This Friday I will be posting another Flash Fiction Friday piece, and then my blog will be quiet until after the holidays. I'm heading back to Arizona for a bit to spend time with friends and family, and during that time I have a story to finish up for The Untold Podcast and some preparations to make for the writing projects I will be tackling in 2014 - one of which is my non-fiction piece, Of Dreams and Faith, which I will be getting back from my editor in the next week.

Here's a brief glance at some of the things I'll be putting out in 2014:
Of Dreams and Faith
The LZR Project
Expired Reality 3

I'll catch you all in the New Year!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday #1 - Spotlight

Jackson waited until the little pink sphere shot up from behind the garbage cans before he let loose a series of shots from his rifle, plastering the insides of the creature across his garage door. He turned and spotted the faint pink color of an arm or a leg peeking out from behind the thick mailbox post. A series of shots tore the post apart – and the demon who was hiding behind it – scattering wood and tender flesh across the asphalt road.

“Where’s that damn light?” he called out. Waiting for a response from the other side of the garage door, he spotted another demon scurrying up the large pine tree in front of his house like a squirrel. Jackson blew a hole in the foliage, destroying the foul beast before Kara answered him from within the garage.

“Almost there! Just a few more wires to connect.”

“Well hurry up!” he shouted, glancing down at his rifle. He knew he only had a handful of bullets left. After that, he would have to retreat into the garage, grab Kara, and flee into the dark neighborhood. With his house being the only one with power – generated from an electric generator he had purchased on a whim some years back – it was the only lit up spot in the neighborhood. But it left the property looking like a bug light in a dark field. Every manner of evil was closing in on them now. Jackson surmised that if Kara could get the two spotlights in the garage working – souvenirs from the ten years he worked at the Brickstone nightclub before it went out of business – he could use the lights to keep the vermin away long enough to fix the truck so he and Kara could get out of here and flee to the location of the ringing bells emanating from the center of town.

“Done!” Kara shouted. The loud shuffling of the garage door opening up made Jackson nervous. Demons began moving toward his driveway quicker, as if the sound of the garage was enticing them. Jackson shot one, then another, cringing as guts and blood spewed out across his concrete.

He walked backwards until he was at the giant spotlight. Kara’s face was pale under the garage lighting. Her once ruby red lips were doused in purple bruises, and her gorgeous eyes – emerald in color – were black and blue. The disease was taking its toll, and Jackson had to force himself to focus on the task at hand and not on the time that Kara might or might not have left.

He waited until a cluster of the hideous demons were at the entrance to his garage, each one hesitant to step inside for fear of the light that spilled from the lamps overhead. Jackson grinned and then flipped the switch on the spotlight. A bright spark and a loud buzz were followed by the lights going out, leaving them in complete darkness.

Jackson aimed the rifle in front of him, straining his eyes to see the demonic figures in the dark. Kara held tightly to his arm, her grip weaker than he remembered it being. “Just stay calm, sweetcakes.”

“I don’t...” her grip vanished from his arm, and he heard her topple to the floor.

“Kara?” he called out, refusing to lower himself to the ground or lower the weapon. He strained his hearing, listening for the pitter patter of demon feet. They were covering the whole entrance of the garage now. “Kara? We just have to check the circuit breakers, okay? We might have blown a fuse. Kara?”

He heard her coughing, spitting something up. Probably the orange goop she had coughed up earlier.
“Kara, honey, I need you to get to your feet and come with me, okay?”

“Leave me...”

“No, damnit! Get to your feet!”

His vision adapted to the dark, and he could see a multitude of dark shadows, short and brightly colored, gathering at the entrance to his garage. He knew he didn’t have enough ammo in the rifle to kill them all. He could go out the back way...but he didn’t want to leave without Kara.

“Human.” The voice, low and scratchy, definitely originated from a female somewhere amidst the crowd in front of him. He wondered if it might be the witch, Evanescence. “Your time is up.”

“I won’t go down without a fight.”

“But you will go down.”

Jackson finally lowered himself, keeping his rifle steady on his knee with one hand, using the other hand to reach back for Kara, whose body was trembling something fierce. “Are you still with me, Kara?”

“Cold...” she whispered.

Jackson thought he saw one of the demons charge into the garage. He fired a shot, heard flesh splatter, and the raspy voice chuckle. He stood to his feet. “Come at me. What are you waiting for?”

“We don’t wait. We anticipate. You are meal to us.”

He fired another shot, hit another demon. Another shot, another casualty. Four more rounds went out, and the fifth clicked empty in his gun. He held the rifle out in front of him, ready to defend himself to the death. Kara coughed, wheezed, and then went silent. He knew she was gone from this plane. His beloved was dead.

Blue dots suddenly appeared in the distance, behind the gathering unit of demons. Dozens of dots. Then hundreds. Then thousands. Jackson squinted and strained his vision, realizing they weren’t dots but eyes. Blue glowing eyes.

“This victory goes to the Almighty!” a thunderous voice shouted just before Jackson’s eyes were blinded by radiant light.

Other Flash Fiction Friday pieces - 
#0 - Valentine

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

House of Leaves - Book Review

Trying to review this book in full is a difficult task. House of Leaves is no ordinary book. There are so many layers to this piece of fiction (it is fiction, right?) that trying to dissect them all would keep me here for the rest of the month. The only thing I can do is try to sum up my experience with House of Leaves, one of the most unique - and ultimately terrifying - books I have ever read. 

After peeling back the layers enfolding House of Leaves, you find that the core of the book is about a house, the house on Ash Tree Lane. A photographer named Will Navidson moved into this house and set up cameras all over the place to try and do a documentary about his new life with his girlfriend, Karen, and his two children, Daisy and Chad. Soon after moving into the home, Navidson stumbles upon a terrifying reality - his house is bigger on the inside than the outside. What begins as less than an inch of extra space found within the house, quickly turns into an ever-growing interior that in no way matches its outside visage. Once the house has expanded within, a mysterious hallway is discovered by the children – an ever-evolving hallway that is at one time ten feet long, and at another, a dark hundred. As Navidson begins to investigate this strange anomaly, he finds that where the hallway should appear in the yard outside, it does not. This particularly horrifying and uncanny part of the documentary is titled "The Five and a Half Minute Hallway."

The book then proceeds to detail the expeditions Navidson – and other characters – embark on to find out what is in this hallway and why the house has this uncanny spacial anomaly, all while dealing with the effects this terrifying intrusion has on the Navidson clan. The fascinating thing about this book is the antagonist - the house. This isn't just a normal haunted house, this is a monstrous enigma that shakes the Navidson family - and those who attempt to help the Navidson family - to their core. Once one enters the dark hallway, they are subject to the house's somewhat demonic nature. Light does not exist inside the corridors of this other realm, neither do adornments, such as furniture, decorations, or even floor molding at the bottom of the walls. Within this strange abyss, one is met with a constantly shifting maze of blind corridors, doors that lead to infinity, and a constant growling of a creature - possibly the house itself - hiding in the dark, a presence that reminds me of Gmork from The Neverending Story (the film version).

While that is the core of House of Leaves, what falls under the most speculation throughout the book is the entirety of Navidson's video documentary. Titled, "The Navidson Record", the video documentary of the terror that greets the family in the house on Ash Tree Lane eventually goes public and viral, and many critics begin to either praise it for its powerful artistic nuances, or criticize Navidson for creating an elaborate - and yet seemingly impossible - hoax. This public reception causes a man by the name of Zampano to try and prove or disprove the Navidson Record by interviewing the survivors of the ordeal, researching the house and the history of the house, and pouring over hours and hours of video footage of the "Five and a Half Minute Hallway."

The book actually opens up with Zampano's death under mysterious and questionable circumstances. Johnny Truant, a friend of one of Zampano’s neighbors, comes across all of Zampano’s research and findings on the Navidson Record and decides to pick up Zampano's mantle and find out what all the hooplah surrounding the Navidson Record is, adding his own experiences – and questionable life story – to the already complex layer of narrative.

The most unique thing about House of Leaves is the format of the book itself. As your own journey into the hallway in the house at Ash Tree Lane progresses, the formatting of the book becomes weirder and weirder, forcing the reader to experience a dose of claustrophobia, emptiness, or confusion, much like what the characters in the book experience. Text spirals as you descend a dark staircase, nearly blank pages with single words gives you the feeling of loneliness, and to add to the confusion, almost every page is filled with footnotes with Johnny's, Zampano's, the editors, or other's commentary. And the footnotes sometimes have footnotes. Which sometimes reference other footnotes. What adds to the confusion and reality of the book is the fact that some of these references are real (in our world) and some are made up for the book itself, adding to the fiction building blocks that help to make this book seem real.

I found myself avoiding this book at all costs late at night after everyone had already gone to bed. I now tend to see the darkness differently, shadows as more diabolical than they really are. This book gives fear a new definition because there is no standard antagonist in this story. The house is the antagonist, a house whose origins are never really fleshed out, yet provide much for theories and guesses and storytelling. Is the center of this terrifying house really a bottomless pit? Is the house itself a dimensional portal to another realm? Is it Heaven or Hell? I have no ability to explain the house properly. It is just something you will have to experience yourself when you enter the pages of this spectacular book.

I am very quick to give this book five stars, if for anything at all for the effort the author put into layering this book as if it were indeed the Maze of Minotaur referenced multiple times in the story. Although the book is not without its flaws - sometimes the footnotes to footnotes and convoluted text can become a real pain to try and get through, slowing down the intensity of the book and making me want to take a break from reading it for a while. Even though I won't go into the ending of the book, I have to say that part of it was somewhat unsatisfactory. The author seemed able to tie up a few loose ends and bring resolution to some of the main characters, but others seem to be left open with no indication as to where they are headed by the time the last page has been read. I will say that this book would make a heck of a twisted and entertaining movie.

A fun side note is the fact that Mark Danielewski’s sister, Anne Danielewski – known professionally as singer, Poe – recorded an album, the Haunted (which I remember listening to many years ago), which was put together partly to compliment House of Leaves, with such tunes as “House of Leaves”, “5&1/2 Minute Hallway”, and “Exploration B”.

House of Leaves is an experience, plain and simple. It's not just about characters exploring a house full of winding staircases, dark hallways, and endless darkness. It's about your own journey into the "Five and A Half Minute Hallway." Your own journey into darkness. Your own journey into madness.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday #0 - Valentine

It's here, folks! The first Flash Fiction Friday. Fridays are meant for winding down, goofing off, and getting ready for the weekend. That's why I picked Friday's to put out some new fiction for you to enjoy. The perfect start to your weekend.

Today's piece is entitled Valentine and involves a brand new character by the same name. The timing of this piece is a few months after the Black Earth series. The Dark War is over, the Earth is tattered and torn, and settlements are starting to pop up in different areas around the globe. One particular settlement has been erected out of the ruins of a city many fans of my Black Earth series will be familiar with - Providence.

So, without further ado, I proudly present the very first Flash Fiction Fridays piece....

Her feet hurt from the thousand mile hike from Serentina to the dark valley that stood between her and the city on the other side. Or rather, what used to be a city. Providence - once a sanctuary for those wanting to flee the Dark Army - had been reduced to rubble once Evanescence and her forces of evil marched through the city months earlier. Valentine wished she could have been here to help defend against the witch, but Fate had given her another destiny to fulfill. One just as satisfactory. One involving killing – and lots of it.

Valentine pulled her crimson cloak tight in front of her, making a mental note to tailor a bigger sized cloak once she was finished with her business here. The cloak she wore now seemed to be shrinking, and soon her skin would be left exposed to the cold. 

With a final push of determination, she began her short trek through the valley. Her night vision – a gift bestowed upon her by the Sec – allowed her to maneuver around the dead bodies strewn across what was once a battlefield. Now it stood only as a graveyard to mark humanities darkest season. The stench of blood and entrails rose into her nostrils and she breathed it in as if it were enhanced oxygen meant to nourish her lungs, lending a metallic taste to the back of her throat, soothing her somewhat enraged mind.

When she reached what were once the tall gates of Providence – now a heap of stone and ash – she took a moment to observe the scattered candlelight, kept alight within small glass canisters that hung from different points throughout the city to give it its soft, orange glow. The scent of burning wood tickled the back of her throat, replacing the metallic blood fever, and she remembered campfires with friends before the Sec took hold of her, before she became who she was today – an assassin slave.

The sound of footsteps came at her from the right, but she did not flinch, nor did she pull out her ancient Scion blades to attack the individuals responsible. Instead, she held her head down, underneath the hood of her cloak, and folded her hands within each other. The less anyone could see of her, the better. She glanced down at her worn, brown boots and wondered if she could find a new pair of shoes in this place. It would require money or rummaging, neither of which she was willing to offer up. She would already have to expel her energy on crafting a new cloak from the special material she had acquired in the last place she had the chance to call home.

Four figures came out of the shadows, each holding a weapon: a chain link, a bat, a two-by-four, and a pistol. The fourth figure, the one with the pistol, was female. Valentine could deduce that from the individual’s simple hourglass shape, even though the woman could easily be mistaken for a man from the garb she wore. Each individual wore a patchwork of leather and metal pieces, giving them the appearance of bandits.

The man with the bat grunted, stopping a few feet in front of Valentine. “Look at this pretty specimen. I didn’t think cuties like you still existed.”

“Little Red Riding Hood!” the guy with the chain link squealed.

The third man and the woman both remained silent. Valentine decided to give them a chance to talk their friends out of doing anything stupid. Valentine wanted to fight, wanted to cast the blood of these four morons across the streets of Old Providence - as it had been called by some - but she would control herself if it meant she could complete her task and leave sooner rather than later.

“What brings you here?” the man with the bat asked.

Valentine said nothing. Her goal, the reason she was here in Old Providence, lay just up the street. She could sense the corpse.

The man with the bat stepped closer, cautiously attempting a peek under Valentine’s hood. “I asked you a question.”

Valentine moved her arms up, adjusting her sleeves, flashing the sun mark on her right hand, and then returned to her original position.

The man with the bat raised his weapon. “I asked you a question, Little Miss Red.”

The female with the gun grabbed his arm and pulled him back. “You don’t want to do that,” she whispered.

“Why the hell not? This is our city.” He turned to Valentine. “We don’t take kindly to trespassers.”

“Because,” the woman with the gun explained, “I’m pretty sure this is Valentine. The mark on her hand...the Sec owns her.”

The man’s eyes scanned Valentine, his teeth grinding loudly as he did it. “Impossible. The Sec died in the war.”

“She’s right,” the man with the two-by-four stated. “That cloak...see how it shimmers?”

The man with the bat took a closer look at the material that made up Valentine’s red cloak. “That doesn’t mean it’s blood. Could be silk.”

The man with the two-by-four nudged the man with the bat, moving him to the side. “Please,” he said to Valentine, “we don’t want any trouble. Get what you came here to get, and please be on your way.”

Valentine wasted no time in passing between the four individuals to continue into Old Providence.

“You’re going to let her in just like that?” the man with the bat grumbled. “She could be a thief.”

“We have nothing to steal,” the sensible man said. “Besides, I’m sure she’s Valentine. I recognize that cloak anywhere.”

“Soaked in the blood of her enemies,” the female added.

Valentine left them to their pointless discussion. Whether Valentine was a thief or not, she would have entered the city, either through peaceful means or by force. Bloody good force.

Walking down the street, Valentine looked up from beneath her hood at the rubble on both sides of her and attempted to match the layout with the pictures she had seen of what Providence looked like before the Dark War. She imagined the tall buildings, the beautiful lights, the little shops. She let her imagination run rampant, imagining horrific scenes of terror when Legion and the Dark Army entered the city. Chaos, Evanescence, Legion’s master entity. Nathan Pierce had fought them all. In the end, Evanescence took her army and ravaged the city. Then she went after those who had fled to the mountains, but by the time she reached them, everyone had found hiding places within the caves and forests. The witch wasted no time in setting the forests on fire, and sending her demon Hellhounds into the caves. Hundreds were slaughtered.

Valentine saw the massive black puddle of dragon’s blood shimmering across the concrete and then scanned the area for the corpse she was here to collect. Positioned on the sidewalk, encircled by clusters of various colored flowers and tea lights, a large mass of white sheets caught her attention. Valentine approached to examine the pile and found that the symbol of the Sec had been clumsily painted on the top sheet, telling her this was the body she was here to retrieve: the body of a hero. This was the body of a girl who had fought the dragon, Chaos. This was the body of a girl who had sacrificed her life for the one she loved, to give him a chance to battle the darkness, to give him a chance to escape.

Without ceremony, Valentine lifted the mass of sheets – all of which were wrapped tightly around the corpse – in her arms and began her long journey back to Serentina.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December Update

I can't believe it's December already. Man, the year has flown. As we near the end of another season, here's a little update as to what you can expect from me in the near future -

This Friday is the first Flash Fiction Friday (FFF)! I'll be posting a brand new piece of short fiction which I'll put up on my blog on Friday - and a new one every Friday after that. I expect all stories to take place in the same universe/canon as my Black Earth and Expired Reality series, so if you were wondering what happened after the events of Black Earth: Exodus, then you might want to check out these stories...

I am also currently writing up a story for 'The Untold Podcast'. Right now, the story is called The Factory, but that's probably going to change before the story is converted into audio format for the podcast. I managed to blow out about 1500 words in the first draft last night, and I really like where the story is going. To give you a hint, The Factory takes place shortly after the events of Black Earth: Exodus, but involves brand new characters. That's all I'm willing to reveal right now.

On top of those two writing projects this month, I will also be working on the profiles for VRKA (which will be 'activated' in January), crafting more of The LZR Project (which has a tentative release date of March of 2014), and just enjoying the holidays with my family and friends.

Come back on Friday for Valentine, the first Flash Fiction Friday installment!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to tell all of you that I am supremely grateful for your support of my blog, my writing, and my career as a writer. I am a very blessed man to have fans, and even more blessed to have such a great cloud of friends and family who support my God-given calling as a writer. I hope each and every one of you have a great day today! Great things are coming in 2014, so stay tuned to keep tabs on my upcoming projects.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

VRKA Delay

VRKA (the virtual real-time knowledge assistant), a mock computer database on my website, was originally scheduled to go live this month, but I have quickly realized that I still have a ton of work to do on some of the profiles I am trying to put together right now. I really want this to be a quality addition to my website, and in that regard, the release will be moved to January, at which time the very first character profile will be released - David Corbin.

Friday, November 22, 2013

NaNoWriMo Victory!

I just crossed the 50,000 word count finish line in my NaNoWriMo novel, The LZR Project! This was my ninth year participating in NaNoWriMo, and this was my ninth year winning it. But even though NaNo is over for me this November, it doesn't mean the manuscript I was drafting is anywhere near done. I cranked out a ton of episodes in the short story series, and a  lot of the story arcs are coming together nicely. Some of the story lines that were started in the Black Earth series are popping up to offer answers to questions many of my readers asked after ending the series, which is a great thing. This series seems to be turning into a bridge of some sort between the Black Earth series and the Expired Reality series, so it will be a perfect introduction for those who haven't had a chance to check out my Expired Reality series yet.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The LZR Project - Cover Peek

Here is the cover design I have been working on for The LZR Project. I was originally going to do a different color scheme for each episode, but I've decided to keep this same design for all covers and just change the episode number on them.

And in case you missed my blog post yesterday, here's a little tentative info about The LZR Project...

The first episode (Episode #0) will be released Tuesday, March 4th as a digital download. I am considering using Gumroad for the release of each of my episodes, but I'm not certain about that yet. I'd imagine the price for each episode will be around $1, and episodes will probably be released on a weekly basis, possibly every Tuesday. Once all episodes have been released, I'll turn around and publish the entire series in paperback format. Also, originally I wanted to take episodes down after they were up for a couple weeks to force people to purchase the paperback at the end if they wanted to catch up, and I think I'm going to scratch that idea and keep the previous episodes up as new ones are released so anyone can catch up at anytime.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update #5 - 42,000 Words. Almost there!

42,000 is the current word count in my NaNoWriMo novel, The LZR Project. I have a multitude of episodes written out, with quite a few more that still need to be started, giving me plenty of material to work with to reach the 50,000 word goal in no time. In fact, my plan is to finish NaNoWriMo by this coming Thursday night.

So, here are my ideas for the execution of The LZR Project. The first episode (Episode #0) will be released Tuesday, March 4th as a digital download. I am considering using Gumroad for the release of each of my episodes, but I'm not certain about that yet. I'd imagine the price for each episode will be around $1, and episodes will probably be released on a weekly basis, possibly every Tuesday. Once all episodes have been released, I'll turn around and publish the entire series in paperback format. Also, originally I wanted to take episodes down after they were up for a couple weeks to force people to purchase the paperback at the end if they wanted to catch up, and I think I'm going to scratch that idea and keep the previous episodes up as new ones are released so anyone can catch up at anytime.

Anyway, those are just my initial thoughts on what I want to do with this thing once it's finally finished. I already have the cover template finished, and I'll be releasing a sneak peek at that next week. First things first though - I need to finish NaNoWriMo!

Friday, November 15, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update #4 - 35,000 Down, 15,000 To Go!

I am now 35,000 words into my NaNoWriMo novel, The LZR Project. I think I have about thirteen episodes done, which is really great progress since I have ideas written out for about thirty-four episodes. My characters are starting to get a little bit out of hand, but that's expected. As a writer, you expect your characters to do all sorts of surprising things - like cause other characters to get into car accidents when there was no intention on my part for that to happen. Oh well. You live, you learn, you write.

On Tuesday, I will be announcing a tentative release date for the series itself, along with details regarding the release frequency and cost of the episodes. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update #3 - Over 28,000 Words And Counting!

Yesterday I passed up 28,000 words on my NaNoWriMo novel! Considering this is the start of the second week of NaNo, I'm pretty excited about my progress so far. With the 28,000 words comes eleven episodes of The LZR Project already written out, with more than twenty episodes to go. For the most part, each episode is still based around its own plot while contributing to the overall story arcs that flow through the entire series. There are also a few episode two-parters which are just really big episodes that need to be cut in half to keep the flow of the episode lengths equal.

 Also, in the next few days, I will be announcing a tentative release date for the first episode of The LZR Project and details surrounding each episode's price, means of downloading, and subsequent episode release schedule.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Zazzle Stores Now Open!

I am happy to announce the opening of the two Zazzle stores I've been working on. Each store is still a little rough around the edges, but I'll be working on them in the next few weeks to get them to 100%.

The first store is called Defiance Goods, and features products created around my Black Earth novel series. The second store is called Nokei Curiosities, and features products created around my Expired Reality novel series. Right now, I have a few basic items in each shop - like watches, medallions, keychains, and even an exclusive 2013 Christmas ornament, but my plan is to add new items and designs to each store each week.

Check out what I have going in both shops and order something for yourself or for someone you know who is a fan of my writing! All of it just in time for the holidays.

Friday, November 8, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update #2 - Over 22,000 Words So Far

This afternoon, I crossed the 22,000 word count line in my NaNoWriMo novel, The LZR Project. Out of the thirty-four episodes (short stories) I plan to write, I have at least nine full episodes sketched out. The amazing thing that I am encountering while I blow through this NaNo goodness is that my Black Earth series is pushing itself into my storylines, connecting the dots between both of my novel series (Black Earth and Expired Reality) and even answering some questions that readers of my Black Earth series may have had after reading the entire series - such as what happened to Ryn at the end of the series? And as always happens in my novels, certain surprise characters are begging (or forcing) their way into cameos or important roles in some of the stories.

Writing these episodes is so much fun, I almost don't want NaNo to end. But even when it does end, even after I do reach the 50,000 word count goal, I will continue writing because I would like to start releasing these episodes near the beginning of next year, and to do that, I want to have the entire series written out, edited, and with cover designs.

My goal now is to reach 25,000 words by the end of this weekend, and end next week with my ninth year of NaNo under my belt.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update #1 - Over 10,000 Words So Far

As of this morning, my word count is over 10,000 in my NaNo manuscript. That 10,000 words makes up a little over four episodes of my short story series, The LZR Project. I still have over twenty-five more episodes to sketch out, but I think I'm on the right track so far, both to finish NaNo early (hopefully by the end of next week) and blow out the drafts of all of these episodes before the end of the month.

On a related note, I have been working on a rough cover template I'll be using for all of the episodes of The LZR Project when they are released on a scheduled basis after the new year. I'll post what I have in the next week so you can all have a peek.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo Has Begun...

Yes. We are now within the boundaries of November, meaning I am caught in the grasp of the greatest writing challenge known to man - NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Each year, thousands of people from around the world participate in the month-long challenge to write 50,000 words. 50,000 words in thirty days. This will be my ninth year competing in and completing the challenge.

My goal this year is to write out thirty-four episodes of a short story mini-series called The LZR Project. These thirty-four episodes will then be polished and released in timed intervals on my website. When all episodes have been released, I'll release The LZR Project into paperback and digital format. This project has me almost more excited than any other NaNoWriMo event from years past, so I may end up finishing NaNo early, albeit with a massive case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

So, for the rest of the month, this is what you can expect from me -
1.) An unhealthy intake of caffeine
2.) High levels of hyperactivity due to a massive outpouring of fictional goodness and the aforementioned caffeine abuse
3.) Questionable hygiene
4.) Sudden mood swings due to frequent interaction with highly emotional and volatile fictional characters
5.) Month-end aversion to sunlight and anything related to the outdoors
6.) Inability to separate real-life from fictional world

Well, wish me luck! If you want to connect with me in NaNo world, here's a link to my profile -

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Coming Soon: Flash Fiction Fridays

While doing the October NaNoWriMo Prep Challenge this month, I've come to the realization that I absolutely love doing flash fiction, short stories, and novellas. In that regard, I have always been afraid of releasing any kind of work to the public for fear of my own editing skills and/or piracy. But with the digital age upon us, and my own editing skills up to basic par, I have decided to start doing some weekly fiction.

Each week, starting in December, I will post Flash Fiction Fridays, a blog segment that will spotlight a piece of flash fiction I wrote from scratch that week. I'll usually start the piece in the beginning of the week, use my weekly writing meetings with my good friend Jelani to polish and edit it, and put the piece out both on this blog and on other social networking on Fridays. The pieces will also be available on my website, and when I have written out enough of them, I'll probably combine them into a paperback and/or digital volume.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Free Time

When I'm not spending time with family, working on my writing projects, or sleeping (which is overrated by the way), these are a couple of the 'free-time' things I've been up to lately...

Currently, I'm reading House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. I'm a little more than halfway through the book, and I have to say this is probably the creepiest book I have ever read. I'll admit that aside from the Han Solo trilogy - which is my all-time favorite book series, I consider Stephen King's Dark Tower series to be my second favorite.

Until I started reading House of Leaves.

This book's premise is a bit too confusing to sum up outside of a full-blown book review (which I will definitely be doing once I'm done reading it), so I'll just leave you with this Goodreads link, and you can check out a description and reviews of the book yourself - To say the least, I absolutely love this book. It does lean heavily at times into some heavy sexual content, but other than that, the book does a tremendous job of pulling you into its multiple layers.

When I'm not reading, I am usually gaming. I grew up with video games (my dad introduced me to the Atari 2600 and the Commodore 64 when I was growing up), and it is by far my favorite past time now. The only problem is that I can be very ADD with video games, playing them halfway through and then moving on to others, sometimes playing three or four at a time, but never really fully appreciating any particular one because the plots, controls, characters and other aspects get lost in the confusion.

I've been consciously making an effort as of late to focus on one or two games and stick with them until they are beat or mastered. The only exception is Half Life 2: Deathmatch, which I play everyday on my lunch break. The two games I'm currently playing right now are Guild Wars 2 (which I'm always constantly jumping into anyway, even though my computer has to push itself to the max just to run it at all in lowest graphic settings), and....

Dead Island. Dead Island is a game I picked up about a year ago and promptly returned a few days later. I just couldn't get into the game for some reason, but I found it at a bargain price a couple of weeks ago and decided to give it another try. I sure am glad I did. Once you have the mechanics of the game down, it's a fun and satisfying zombie slashing adventure. It also has a lot of collection elements to it, and a decent loot system, which makes it an all-around favorite for me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NaNo Prep - Side Character Story #2 - Ridley Grant

Today's October NaNoWriMo Prep Challenge is to write up a background story for another one of the side characters in my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel, The LZR Project. In this short snippet, I go into a bit of detail about my character, Ridley Grant, a policewoman who went undercover within one of Lysallis' worst gangs and got her own brother killed in the process. While she deals with the guilt of that atrocity, she is approached to join the Lazerblades in their quest to put Mr. Big behind bars once and for all...

Ridley Grant
“Get on the ground!” Ridley shouted. As she pointed the gun at the young man, she stepped carefully over the branches and loose forest foliage, careful not to lose her footing or slip on the moist leaves.

The man slowly lowered to the ground and fell flat on his stomach, interlocking his hands over the top of his head.
Ridley pulled a pair of handcuffs from her waist and carefully locked the man’s wrists together. She let out a sigh of relief and then stepped back from the man, taking a seat on a nearby stump to catch her breath before she would have to make the walk back to the clearing where her cruiser was parked.

“You don’t know what you’re about to bring down on your head.”

Ridley kept the gun aimed on the young man, chewing on the pride that came with the fact that she had just chased down one of Merana’s toughest gang members. “If you think you’re going to scare me, you’re wrong.”

The young man peered out from under his mop of dark brown hair, his green eyes a bit translucent in the foggy haze moving lazily through the forest. “You’re dead.”

Ridley caught her breath, her side in pain from the chase, and took out the pack of cigarettes she kept in the front pocket of her police uniform. Staring at the Lucky brand logo on the package, she traced the way the L met up with the U, evoking memories of roller coaster rides when she was a child, while the four-leaf clover after the word 'Lucky' reminded her of how lucky she was to be alive.

“Did you hear me?”

Ridley took the pack of cigarettes and tossed it at the young man, hitting him the cheek. “Today is the day I quit smoking.”

“What? Today’s the day –“

“Yeah, I know. Die. Today’s the day I die. Apparently you don’t know me too well.”

“Ridley Grant. Thirty-two. Cop on the force for nine years now. Your brother was killed by one of my crew a few months ago.”

“Yeah. I started smoking a few months ago. I promised myself I would stop after a few weeks. Better late than never, I guess.”

“I don’t care about your smoking habits. I’m telling you, you better let me go.”

“I’m not holding you down.”

The young man shifted his legs, and Ridley positioned the gun toward one of his knees. “Go ahead. Get up. You’ll be missing a kneecap when I’m through with you.”

“You think this is a joke?!”

“You young ones are so arrogant, you know that? You’re the one who’s finished. You were the head of the Rolenda gang, and I just cut you off. Your associates will scatter. Your name – Rolenda – whatever that means, will fade. You’re done. And did I mention I quit smoking today? I’m pretty proud of that fact. Can you just let me enjoy this one accomplishment?”

The man turned his head so he was facing away from Ridley, mumbling incoherent words to himself.
Ridley heard the shuffling of leaves and quickly aimed the gun toward the line of trees to her left. A group of officers came out of the fog and surrounded Ridley and the young man on the ground.

Captain Scott, his face always carrying his trademark thick gray beard, approached Ridley, grabbing her arm to help her to her feet. “You look a little winded, Grant.”

The group of officers lifted the young man off the ground and escorted him through the trees toward the clearing.

“I’m just tired.”

Captain Scott smiled. “Tired, huh?”

Ridley nodded. “Yeah, tired. I quit smoking today.”

Captain Scott slapped her on the back. “Well, congratulations, Grant. I’m happy to hear that. You’re going to need your health for the next assignment I have for you.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that sir?”

“A transfer. And a promotion. Both, actually.”


“I put in a request for you to become the head of a special project the government is putting together.”

“As long as I don’t have to work with an office full of women, I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”

“You’ll be working with the Lazerblades.”

Ridley said nothing, simply stared down at the pack of cigarettes laying on the ground, wondering if she should pick them up. The amount of credits a pack of cigarettes cost nowadays made it a waste to just leave them there in the foliage like that...

“Take a day or two off. Get some rest. You’re going to need it.”

She looked into her captain’s eyes. “Why me?”

“You’re the best.”

“Really, sir, why did you pick me?”

Captain Scott gently placed his hand on her shoulder. His massive emerald class ring stuck out on his old-man-hands like a zit on a model’s airbrushed face. “The Lazerblades have managed to get themselves in more trouble in the last few years than all of my officers combined. But they’ve also gotten results – locking away many of Lysallis’s criminals. The Enera Government wants the big fish put away though...for good.”

“Mr. Big?”

He nodded. “The Lazerblades have agreed to join forces with the government to create a special task force. In other words, they are being given the government’s resources to stop Mr. Big. We’re calling it – well, David Corbin is calling it – the LZR Project. I want you put in charge of their task force. See to their needs, and be the liaison between the government and the Lazerblades. I want this project to be as streamlined and efficient as possible. You’ll receive a promotion – both in title and pay – and we’ll get you set up in housing in Lysallis.”

Ridley smiled. “I’m honored that you thought of me for this, sir.”

“Just do me proud, will you? It’s not an assignment I regard lightly.”

“Yes, sir.”

Sunday, October 20, 2013

NaNo Prep - Contest Round #3 - Point Blank

Yesterday's October NaNo Prep Challenge was a contest entry requiring a backstory of  the antagonist of my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel, The LZR Project. Mr. Big is the antagonist, and I had to do a story that made the reader empathize with his motivations for being a villain.

Here's the entry I wrote for the contest. It's called Point Blank. Enjoy!

Point Blank
Janet Doyle straightened out her navy blue skirt, tilted her head to get her blonde hair to fall behind her shoulders, and tapped the microphone to make sure the system was up and running. Clearing her throat, she looked up at the two police officers and the man they held restrained between them: Mr. Big.

Janet extended her arm and the microphone toward Mr. Big. His eyes, filled with calm, looked down at the mic and then up at Janet. When he didn’t say anything for almost a full minute, Janet pulled the microphone back toward her and sighed.

“So, you’re not going to talk, huh?”

Mr. Big straightened up. His white t-shirt stretching over his massive form was stained with blood splotches and mud. His nose had stopped bleeding, but his right eye was beginning to blacken. He smiled though, a smile that told Janet not to get too close. “I’ll give you an interview, Ms. Doyle. But only if you ask the right questions.”

“What are the right questions?” Janet asked.

He smiled, refusing to answer the question of questions.

Janet huffed. “Why did you kill that woman in the bank?”

Still no answer. Just that smile.

“What possessed you to rob the bank, leave the money, and kill someone? You could have done that on the street, or even in the woman’s home.”

Mr. Big nodded. “Now you’re doing your job as a reporter. You’re digging.”

“Answer my question.”

“Why do you think certain people deserve to die, and certain people deserve to live?”

Janet pondered the question for a moment, trying her hardest to figure out a way to outsmart the criminal before her.

Mr. Big grinned, this time differently, more modestly, as if he had all the answers but wasn’t prone to give them up easily. “You’re trying too hard. You’re trying to outsmart me, when you should be trying to investigate me. Do what you do best, and not what your human instinct – your heroic nature – is trying to get you to do.”

“Who do you think you are? Playing with people’s lives, as if they are –“

“Chess pieces.”

“Yes. Chess pieces.”

“Don’t mistake my seemingly crude action – killing a woman in broad daylight – as confirmation that I think of life as a game. Hardly. This life is nothing more than each of us doing what we can with what we have. It is survival. Survival is not a game to those trying to survive.”

Janet took a deep breath, calming herself before asking the next question. “David Corbin and the rest of the  Lazerblades just succeeded in putting you behind bars for good. I mean, what do you have to say about that? How does that fit into your speech about doing what we can with what we have? You failed in that respect. You’re handcuffed, there are at least two dozen officers here to make sure you don’t get away, and you’re going to be locked up in prison for the rest of your natural life. It’s over, Mr. Big. Over.”

“Your statement about things being over for me assume that you have the power to see the future. You don’t, I can assure you of that.  A reporter with real clairvoyance would be unstoppable, and I have already proven in the past that you are stoppable.

“My capture simply proves my point. David Corbin put up a fight with everything he knows of me, everything he knows of this environment – this office complex, everything he knows about fighting. He fought. He won. He did the best with what he had.”

Janet scoffed. “You killed a woman in cold blood. If David hadn’t stopped you, someone would have. One of these officers would have shot you in the back when you weren’t looking. Eventually, everything would have caught up with you.”

“Your interview is all over the place, Ms. Doyle. Do you want to talk about me or the woman I killed?”

“Her name was Whitney Setterfield. But I guess that information is irrelevant to you, isn’t it?”

“Quite the contrary. Her name is everything to me.”

“You’re a monster, you know that?”

“Your opinion is unbiased as always, Ms. Doyle.”

“The Lazerblades – all of them – said they saw you shove the barrel of your gun into her chest and pull the trigger without hesitation.”

“Why hesitate when I aimed to do just what I did? If you know what you should do, why hesitate in doing it? See, that’s why we have such a corrupt and backwards society. The public thinks it is safe behind these walls of policemen and policewomen. Did you ever think about these officers as walls though? Walls that we, as a society, build around ourselves? When these walls get high enough, when they surround us, when we wake in the middle of the night to find ourselves in darkness, in a room of walls and no doors and no windows, what will we do then? These walls fire back when we bang against them, they crumble down on our heads when we try to collapse them. We are simply building the very army that will destroy us in the end. If we moved now to make sure these walls weren’t built to begin with, we would forever be free. But everyone hesitates or justifies their action or inaction.”

“The police are here to protect us.”

“We can do that ourselves just fine. If I gave you a gun, if I taught you how to load it, how to hold it, how to fire it, how to clean it, you would be fully capable of using it to defend yourself from people like me.”

“You’re saying Whitney Setterfield died because she didn’t know how to operate a gun?”

“I’m saying Whitney Setterfield died because she didn’t care to defend herself.”

“What’s the real reason you shot her? What’s the real reason – the deep-rooted motivation – you killed her tonight?”

“My purpose since the beginning has been to wake people up.”

“Wake people up? Whitney isn’t awake. She’s dead.”

“But your hero...David...he’s awake. I saw it in his eyes when we fought.”

“You killed Whitney because David needed a wake-up call?”

“This city needs a hero. It already has a villain – me. I didn’t choose to be this city’s villain, but that is what I have become, and that is okay with me. I will be called a villain if it means what I do has impact on this society. My goal is change. If I can’t directly change things, I will move David Corbin to change them. And when those changes are made...when the wheels have been placed where I want them, when they have been started, they will move Lysallis into a future of structure, a future of peace and prosperity.”

Janet lowered the mic and shook her head. “You belong where you’re going.”

“Because this city doesn’t deserve me.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

VRKA Pages Up

Earlier this month I mentioned the new change coming to my website - VRKA: Virtual Real-Time Knowledge Assistant. VRKA is pretty much an online collective of profiles, articles, and other pieces of info giving a deeper look into the characters, places, and items from my Black Earth and Expired Reality series.

I've been working the past few nights on putting up an introduction page to VRKA, and creating the cover page for the 'mainframe' when VRKA actually goes 'online' in November.

VRKA Introduction Page -
VRKA Mainframe -!vrka-mainframe/cg1s

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NaNo Prep - Side Character Story - Vector

Today's October NaNoWriMo Prep Challenge is to write up a background story for one of the side characters in my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel, The LZR Project. In this short snippet, I go into a bit of detail about my character, Vector, who was originally introduced in my Black Earth series as a time-traveling heroine.

The rain fell like drops from a sprinkler system, drops she used to run through as a child on hot summer days. She could smell the sunshine in those memories, hear her siblings laughing as they ran through the grass. Her heart warmed with the thought and brought a rare smile to her face. But all too soon the memory faded, and she was faced with the reality of the cold wind and temperamental weather.

Vector didn’t bother pulling her soaked cloak closer to her flesh, as it had lost its ability to keep her warm with the storm’s precipitation. Instead, she braved the cold as she sat at the very top of the Eiffel Tower and marveled at the beauty of Paris. Lights scattered around the city shone like jewels, sparkling beneath the sheet of rain. She took a deep breath of humid air and forced herself to soak in the memory of this moment. Ever since she was a little girl, she had wanted nothing more than to visit Paris. And now, here she was, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, taking a break from time traveling. Taking a break from her blessed curse.

She opened her eyes and examined her hands, watching rain water carry the blood from her wounds. Each stream traveled down her fingers, to the tips, and then careened off of her and into the great expanse below. It had a cleansing affect, not only on her physically beat up form, but on her mind as well. Her ability to time travel was doing things to her mind – warping it, bending it, sabotaging it. She did her best to fight back, forcing herself to remember her younger years, forcing herself to remember who she was beneath the waterlogged cloak, beneath the bloody rags, beneath her scarred flesh.

That was why she had come to Paris – to remind herself of who she was. It had been one of her childhood dreams to come here. Now that she was here though, all she wanted to do was leap back into the timestream and do what she could for David Corbin. She had so much to warn him about, so many of Mr. Big’s tricks to alert him to, so many obstacles to hold his hand through. But even though there was so much she could do, it didn’t mean she would do it all. She wanted to help David stop Mr. Big. That was it. She didn’t want to dip her hands into history or the future too much. She had a gift (more a curse, sometimes) and she wanted to use it to save humanity. To save humanity, she would have to help David stop Mr. Big. Once that was done, she could die peacefully. Without regret. Without second thoughts. Without screwing up all of eternity with her meddling.
Vector felt tears welling up in her eyes, but she fought them away, telling herself it was just rainwater on her face. Now was not a time to be weak. Even though the timestream was tearing her body apart, she had to keep bandaging herself and keep moving forward. David needed her. Humanity needed her.
She felt for the ring on the middle finger of her left hand. The skin had long since melted and formed around the piece of radioactive jewelry, deforming her hand so badly that she hated to look at that particular finger. Instead of examining her shortcomings, she closed her eyes and thought of her next destination: Lysallis – that city of sin and grace.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

NaNo Prep - Contest Round #2 - Lady Lysallis

Yesterday's October NaNo Prep Challenge was another contest entry requiring a description of one of the settings found in my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel using all five senses. My entry is a description of the city of Lysallis - as a sultry female during the night, and an infected, dying victim during the day.

Here's the entry I wrote for the contest. It's called Lady Lysallis. Enjoy!

Lady Lysallis
At night, Lysallis puts on a show, revealing the sultry female vixen she really is. Her neckline sparkles with cloisters of neon color, buzzing in the night with a tune that all her denizens know by heart. Stockings of taillights and streetlamps cover her slender legs. Her hair, a beehive of skyscrapers, reaches to the starry sky in hopes to flaunt her beauty to all of Anaisha. Her scent is arresting, a mix of sex and blood. Her eyes – the very life of Lysallis – look upon her tenants with ferocity and playfulness. In the comfort of darkness, Lysallis desires intimacy with her murderers, her lovers, and her protectors, touching them tenderly with hands made of sin and glamour.

But  during the day, when light pierces her spirit, Lysallis abandons her audience and, crippled and torn, rests her eyes, shutting them to the noise of herself. While her alley veins carry the toxic blood of her playthings, killing her from the inside, her denizens speak crassly to her in a cryptic curse – tattooing  colorful discourse across her brick and cement skin. In the end, Lysallis is betrayed by those she shelters, her spirit injected with litter and filth, her flesh marred with man’s uncontrollable ego.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tiki-Toki and Timelines

A while back I published an interactive timeline that I created using Tiki-Toki, an absolutely brilliant online timeline creator. My struggle in the beginning was to figure out what to post on the timeline without spoiling the books in my series for those who haven't read them yet. I wanted to give the fans something unique to dive into, but not make it so in depth with plot information that I ruin things for new readers. So, I slapped together a basic chronology of events I felt could fill a small timeline and left things alone.

Lately, with me taking a harder look at the facets of my writing business, I've realized I've been throwing away a really great resource that can be used to draw new readers into my series as well as satisfy the sense of discovery most of my fans have. The timeline that Tiki-Toki allows you to create enables you to import images, write small stories according to what you want in the timeline entries, and even link to outside content - such as purchase links for my books, or character profiles on my own website. You can even put in audio and video files, neither of which I've had the time to mess with though.

Seeing how this has been a neglected resource for me, I've spent the last couple of days updating the timeline with some new images and background, and tweaking some of the settings here and there. And over the next couple of weeks, I will be writing out new entries and polishing up the ones that are already in there. I'm even going to be connecting the timeline to VRKA - once VRKA is live and functional on my website.

I still have a ton of additions and updates to do to the timeline, but for now you can browse what I have and explore the world of my Black Earth and Expired Reality series.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NaNo Prep - Plot Background Story - Order From Chaos

Today's October NaNoWriMo Prep Challenge is to write up a background story for my NaNo novel's plot. For The LZR Project, my NaNoWriMo 2013 novel, the Lazerblades join with the Enera government to stop the criminal mastermind, Mr. Big. In this short piece of writing, I go into the events that led to the Enera government agreeing to join forces with the Lazerblades to stop Mr. Big and put him behind bars once and for all.

Order From Chaos -
The twinkling skyline of Lysallis filled David's vision, dazzling him with its beauty. Against the black backdrop of the night sky, beautiful emeralds and sapphires and rubies sparkled, giving off an innocent visage to the rats and scorpions scurrying beneath their surface.

Moments later, his view of the skyline swung upward as he missed the edge of the roof, tumbled down the brick wall, and landed in a dumpster. David fumbled with the garbage bags, accidentally ripping one open and pushing his hand into a pile of refuse. He cringed, pulled his hand out, shook it off, and found the edge of the dumpster. He pulled himself out, his muscles aching with the effort, and attempted to get his bearings. Mr. Big had been heading south when David attempted to leap the gap between the roofs...and failed.

He pushed his earpiece in with his left hand while he wiped the garbage off his right onto his pants. “I lost him.”

“We still have him – “

“Copy that, you still have him? Where is he?”


“Guys, where is Mr. Big?”

David rushed through the alley and came out on the street. Shops – most of them closed, with their neon welcome signs dormant – lined the road on both sides. Street lamps refused to give their glow. The scent of sewage seeped up from the pothole near his feet. David always marveled at how downtown Lysallis could at one time be a vibrant chest of glittering gems and also a murky toilet full of filth.

“He’s still heading south, toward city hall.”

David ran down the dark city street, afraid to imagine what Mr. Big was planning on doing near city hall.

Thunder boomed. Alarms rang out.

David pressed in on his earpiece. “What happened?!”

“City hall. Emergency units are en route.”

David stopped running and took a moment to catch his breath.

“I merely did what you couldn’t do, David.”

He pressed in on his earpiece. “Mr. Big.”

“You know as well as I do that politics are the bane of this fine city. Get rid of the politics – or at least stall them a bit – and maybe those of us who want change can have time to turn things around.”

“Don’t do this. Please, don’t do this.”

“Your pleas do not fall on deaf or uncaring ears, David. I sympathize with you and your efforts to bring peace to Lysallis. But while you believe peace is the most important jewel in the crown that is Lysallis, I believe order is what will save the day. Order from chaos.”

“I’ll catch you, Big. I’ll catch you. I’ll put you away forever.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Before that happens though, I will bring change to Lysallis. I will bring order. City hall was only the start. Every great plan has to have a start, right? Go there. See the beginning, the root, of change. Once you’ve taken that into account, that change has begun, keep your eyes peeled for order to sprout out of the chaos I have created. It is only inevitable.”

“I’ll stop you.”

“Please don’t. You would only be stopping what you so desperately want yourself. Because see, out of order, comes peace. You think you can go from chaos to peace. But really, you must have order in the middle of those, to bring an established foundation for peace, right?”

“Where are you?”

“Give up trying to find me. Focus your energy on cleaning up the chaos. Help restore order. Help bring the peace you so desperately seek.”

Sunday, October 6, 2013

NaNo Prep - Contest Round #1 - Burning Time

Yesterday's October NaNo Prep Challenge was actually a contest entry requiring a back story of my NaNoWriMo novel's protagonist, which in this case is David Corbin from my Expired Reality series. He is the central character in my NaNo novel, The LZR Project, and the backstory I picked to write about him involves the clocktower that collapsed on an orphan girl years before the books take place.

Here's the scene that I wrote and entered in the contest. It's called Burning Time. Enjoy!

Burning Time
Amidst the smells of burning wood and ancient dust in the shaft of the burning clock tower, David thought – however brief the thought was – that he also sniffed jasmine. It was a silly thing for one to smell jasmine while escaping a crumbling twenty-story clock tower, but it was a scent he knew from his past, because it was a scent his mother used to walk in when he was younger.

The brief scent of jasmine did nothing to stall his feet though, which raced down the zig-zag flights, creaking and splintered, down toward the main lobby of the tower, Veronica and Carrie taking the lead in front of him.

Dark hands made of thick smoke grasped at him, like the bony appendages of the dead attempting to pull him into the Depths. He refused to slow down, stop, or give up, knowing that there were only a few more stories to get down and then they would be free of this towering prison.

“We’re not going to...cough...make...make it!” Carrie shouted.

Veronica grabbed her friend’s arm and forced Carrie to move faster down the steps, careful not to step wrong on the weakening wood. “We’ll make it.”

David had his doubts, but he kept them to himself. Above them in the top of the tower, only minutes earlier, he had saved Veronica’s life. Tabitha Rose had attempted to kill Veronica and Carrie in an act of revenge against David. He wasn’t about to let his own rescue attempts be in vain, and would die three times over to give his friends a chance to live another day, even if it meant crumpling to his doom under this burning debris.

The smoke moved faster, as if it was being blown by demon’s breath down the shaft. David felt the heat tickle his neck, and rip the sweat from his body, but he refused to slow down. When they reached the bottom step, he gave Veronica and Carrie a shove out the door, as if a few feet of distance would matter in his rescue attempt.

As soon as David escaped into the dirt lot, he sucked in a gasp of fresh night air and kept running. When they were finally far enough away to be considered relatively safe from imminent death, David dropped to his knees and took a trilogy of deep breathes, exhaling each slowly, willing himself not to pass out. His lungs burned like the rotting wood of the clock tower, and his muscles were beginning to scream at him for what he had just put them through.

Veronica took hold of his shoulder. “You saved us, David. I owe you my life. You know that, right?”

He said nothing.

By the time he realized there had been an explosion, he was already on his back in the dirt, particles of sand and dust filling in the cracks of his eyes, nose, and mouth. When he opened his eyes, the dizziness kicked in. He heard Veronica’s muffled tone ask if Carrie and David were okay. When his vision cleared, he realized Veronica had bleeding scratches across her face, and Carrie’s hair was jumbled atop her head, splinters of wood littering her brown strands.

David looked out at the clock tower and watched as the whole crippled citadel toppled to the ground in a massive cloud of dust and smoke.

“Tabitha was up there,” Carrie said in a low tone.

David waited for the dust and smoke to reach them before putting his shirt up over his mouth. He closed his eyes and waited for it to pass them. When things cleared, he stood up and began walking toward the pile of rubble, afraid that he might find Tabitha’s dead body buried beneath the debris.

“She had it rigged the whole time, didn’t she?” Carrie asked as she and Veronica came up behind him.

Veronica nodded. “She had to have. We didn’t put a bomb in there. “

David approached the spread of wreckage and began stepping over broken beams, fire embers still peering out of their wooden surfaces. Various iron pieces protruded from the debris, no doubt pieces of the clock itself asking for help to be put back together again. David could offer none. He was on a mission to find Tabitha’s body, dead or alive, so he could put his mind at peace.

He stepped over a particularly rotten piece of beam and almost twisted his ankle retreating from stepping on a small hand he found coming out from under a large scorched gear. David bent down and grabbed a piece of the gear that wasn’t sharp, and quickly stumbled backwards once the metal burned his palms.

Veronica and Carrie rushed over and helped him carefully remove the large piece of metal with a few pieces of unburned timber. When the gear was to the side and out of the way, David buried his scorched hands in his shirt in an attempt to extinguish the pain, and looked down where the clock gear had once sat.

The little girl’s face had been burned beyond recognition. In fact, her little hand was the only limb that wasn’t blackened by the burning hot gear.

Carrie turned away and began dry heaving off to the side. David turned to Veronica, who simply stood, arms crossed, staring at the burned corpse as if it was a tabletop puzzle missing a few pieces. “The ring on her good hand?” Veronica asked.

David quickly glanced down to the little girl’s hand and noticed the bright yellow ring on her middle finger. “What about it?”

“She was a homeless. Maybe a runaway, but more than likely an orphan. Some of the homeless around here wear those yellow rings. They say the rings remind them that they are worth gold, and it helps get them through the tough days.”

David turned and walked away from the destruction, no destination in mind. He knew he had to get away, had to put as much distance between himself and the sorrow that had already begun to wrack his spirit. Sirens rang out through the city. He had saved two lives, only to lose one who was worth more than all of them combined.

Friday, October 4, 2013


* Virtual * Real-Time * Knowledge * Assistant *
Those of you who have visited my website in the past know of The Compendium, a virtual database I put together that features profiles on the characters, artifacts, technology, and other elements of my Expired Reality and Black Earth series. I am currently redesigning The Compendium - which will soon be referenced as VRKA - to reflect a new 'computer database system' that will be introduced at length in Dark Horizons, the upcoming third novel in my Expired Reality series. Much like The Compendium, VRKA will be a website addition which will contain character profiles, artifact summaries, world history, and other various chunks of knowledge from both series, and will make this information available on the website on a regular basis beginning this January.

All current Compendium entries will be polished (some rewritten) and rolled out again once VRKA has been released, along with a semi-brief introduction as to what (or who) VRKA is. For now, I'll give you a hint - remember that computer virus that Howard Grey infected SilverTech Industries with in the Black Earth series...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October NaNo Prep - Story Premise

Today is the first day of the October NaNoWriMo Prep Challenge, and the activity of the day is to write out the premise for the novel we will be working on in November. I'm not going to post each activity that I do every day, but I will be posting some of what I am sketching out to give all of you a great idea as to what The LZR Project - my NaNoWriMo 2013 'novel' - is all about.

The LZR Project is a 24 episode short story series within my Expired Reality universe centering around the alliance created by the Lazerblades and the Enera Government for the purpose of capturing the criminal mastermind known as Mr. Big. Each episode will serve as a great stand-alone story, but will also connect to previous and future episodes. Episodes will alternate POVs, meaning one episode may be told from David Corbin’s point of view, while another episode may be told from Veronica Amorou’s point of view. This will allow for great character depth.

The main story arc that The LZR Project will be covering is the Lazerblade’s attempt to capture Mr. Big and put him in prison for good. Many other story arcs will weave around this main arc, including friction between David Corbin and Sean Amorou on the use of violence and lethal weapons, the emergence of a brand new superhero who attempts to capture Mr. Big by themselves – potentially creating a mess for the Lazerblades, and the ongoing struggle that David Corbin endures while trying to save a city from the clutches of a madman without going mad himself.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sign Up For The October Email Newsletter

After being on hiatus for - well, I don't even remember how long it's been on hiatus for - but my email newsletter is back and better than ever! A brand new and much improved issue will be going out the beginning of October, and there are tons of exciting projects on the horizon that I just can't wait to reveal to everyone. Sign up here to get put on the list to receive October's issue, along with all future issues, in your email inbox.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The LZR Project...Back From The Dead

Rough design of the LZR Project logo
Many months, and maybe some years ago, I spread word about a series I was working on called The LZR Project - a fictional mini-series set in my Expired Reality universe detailing a program set up between the Anaishain government and the Lazerblades to stop Mr. Big. The series takes place before the Expired Reality novels, and would showcase your favorite characters - and some new ones - and go into some back story as to why they are the way they are in the ER series.

Sadly, life interrupted my plans to do much with The LZR the time. Now I am bringing this idea back from the dead and will be using NaNoWriMo 2013 to sketch out a 12-part series. I know I mentioned earlier that I would be rewriting Dark Horizons for NaNoWriMo this year, but I'm changing that up because The LZR Project needs to be written - mostly from scratch - and NaNoWriMo is the perfect way to do so. Of course, I'll also be working on the third novel in the Expired Reality series, Dark Horizons, side by side with my NaNoWriMo project. Needless to say, there will be a lot of Expired Reality story material coming out of the woodwork very soon.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Darkest of Horizons

For over eight years now, I've been toiling and carving my way through a beast of a manuscript titled Dark Horizons - originally titled Crystal City. At least, Dark Horizons is the title of this project for the moment. I'm sure it'll change at some point before publication, only because everything else about this manuscript has changed in the last eight years.

Dark Horizons is the third installment in my Expired Reality series. The series itself has gone through drastic changes of its own over the years - the most noticeably with the shift in genre from young adult to edgy Christian speculative fiction. But Dark Horizons has seen the majority of the changes because drafts of this book were written up before my genre change and after, and I have yet another draft rewrite to do before I am satisfied with where this series is going.

I think the third book in any series can be a difficult challenge, especially if the series itself is planned to run a dozen or so installments. The first book of any series sets up characters and plot. The second book goes into the plot a bit more and even digs a little deeper into the characters. By the third book, you're pretty much building a rudder by which the rest of the series is going to move with. Dark Horizons is a crucial volume in my Expired Reality series, and because of that I am taking many pains to make sure it's a phenomenal piece of fiction that lines up with the tone and storylines I am trying to establish for the ER series as a whole.

And that tone is a dark one. Whereas my Black Earth series is somewhat dark and gloomy, there was an overall feeling of redemption by the time the series came to its end with the fourth book, Exodus. But seeing how Dark Horizons is set to be the third novel in a 12 + book series, I have to have the redemptive moments and the moments of victory come fewer and farther between.

With the second book in the series - Lost Birth - ending on a low point, Dark Horizons opens up with the main character, David Corbin, wallowing in sorrow. His character is one I have worked years and years to refine, and I think I'm finally catching my stride with him, especially with the opportunities Dark Horizons will give me to add some more dimension to him. Whereas he started out the series in Endangered Memories as a washed up, unemployed hero, Lost Birth, the second novel in the series, saw him as a man on fire who was ready to risk everything to save the love of his life. After the death of someone very close to him at the end of Lost Birth, Dark Horizons will open up with David in the darkest place (metaphorically) he has ever known. This darkness will be used to flesh out much of his character and show him as not just a hero, but also an anti-hero of sorts.

Some of the anti-hero came out in Lost Birth when David attempted to take an innocent girl hostage to escape the police, and he ended up getting her shot. The incident opened up the doors for where Dark Horizons is going to take David - on the run from police, on a course to save the world.

I am really excited to reach the day when this manuscript - in it's polished form - can finally see the light of day. Before that can happen though, I have to continue my epic struggle with this beast and get it under control.