2018 Book Release Schedule

It is becoming that time of year again where I sit down with my hopes and aspirations, then set out a schedule that would invariably disappoint me. This is also known as my 2018 book release schedule!

January – Ashwood Falls: Benjamin
February – Jassik Creed & The Meek Prince
March – Star Traveler: Atlas Gambit (#3)
April – Blood in Space: Harvest
May – Ice Storm Chronicles: Curse of Ice (#2)
June – Undisclosed Title
July – Undisclosed Title
August – Star Traveler: Plague of Setaris (#4)

Ashwood Falls: Benjamin – Coming Soon 2018!

You all know how much I love reading and writing. Sometimes I get hit with this feeling of a story because of a conversation or an idea just tickled my fancy. Now, it’s time for you to meet Benjamin.  I’m happy to announce my next novella and it’s based on the Ashwood Falls Series!

Ashwood Falls: Benjamin cover

“I know where you’re trying to go, Benjamin Holly. The question is: Will you make it there alive?”

You have met those in Ashwood Falls and the lives they live protected by those things on the outside but what about people who have yet to make it there or do not even know of it’s existence?

Benjamin Holly is one such man. Alone in the world and trying to find the place he sees in his dreams, he struggles to stay ahead of a darkness that’s following him.

Join Benjamin as he faces his nightmare in a little tourist trap where he must make decisions that could effect him and an entire race forever.

Got thoughts on the idea? Want to discuss writing in general? Why not leave some comments or subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date on all the new things I have been working on?

The Stories of 2017 – Where are They?

Over the year, since I released both Sword of Shadows and Kaon Rising, I have been working hard on getting some more stories told. Life has been very hectic on me which in turn has not given me much time to work on them. I thought it was time to give you an update on what to expect for the rest of the year.

Jassik Creed & the Meek Prince
Yes, I am still developing this one, and there is only 20% left to do on the first draft. There is still editing to be done, so I’m not looking at a release until December of this year. All the art is done, and I am hoping to release samples of it in the future!

Star Traveler 2: Dead in Space
This story went really well but hit a few snags that I was not anticipating both with my work schedule and with some plot issues I did not catch on the outline. 60% of the story is written, and I’m hoping to have the rest done by September of this year

Blood in Space: Harvest
I love this story, but it doesn’t love me. I keep struggling with getting it on paper due to writer’s block. I know there is something subconscious that I need to fix, but it has yet to come to me when I write it. I get to put a few words on paper when I have a moment, but it sits only 40% done. I do want to finish it because I thoroughly enjoy this one but it might not be until January of next year.

Ending
I have a whole bunch of other stories I want to write, and I might release them here and there when the energy hits me, but the biggest part that I have been fighting is writer’s block due to the stress and exhaustion from my job. I just find myself sitting at a computer screen staring at the words wishing the great ideas I just had would finally come out. Have no fear, I haven’t given up yet, and I will get these done. I love them, and they each hold a special part of my heart.

Trying to Unblock that Stupid Writer’s Block

Sometimes writer’s block is not a strong enough word to explain the suffering that a writer can experience when they hit a snag in the road. This has been the case for me since I released the first Star Traveler book. Since then, I have tried to force myself to write on the novella, and the pain has become unbearable at times.

For many of us, writer’s block is not a stop in the path. It can be an excruciatingly painful feeling that wells up in our chest and cause the anxiety to become stronger. This very blog post that I am writing is an attempt to unclog a sense with words but not on the project that is stressing me out.

I want to write, I am desperate to write, but this invisible block bottles up everything until I feel like I’m going explode. The problem I think that is the hardest to swallow is that I cannot figure out what causes these stop up of creativity and is the biggest stress of them all.

I honestly think we need a stronger word to explain the suffering and the pain writers go through like Writer’s Terror or something along that line.

Oh, well. All I can do is hope that this blog post helped relieve some of the pressure and maybe, just maybe, I can get back to the story that I want to write.

Thanks for listening to me.

Exhaustion & Creativity: A Clash of the Titans

There are times where I sit at my computer and stare at the horrible blinking cursor wondering where all the great ideas that I just had decided to run off to. Every time I never have a real answer. For me, it is a struggle to balance my need to be creativity with the actual physical exhaustion and mental drain that my paying job puts on me. Having a family, long hours at work, and the simple fact that after a hard day at work, I just do not want to do anything.

I fondly remember the days when I first had my typewriter or in my teens with my very first computer. I could do school and then spend hours just writing out all the stories that came to my head. There was no care in the world for perfect grammar, trying to make the story make sense and I was full of creativity potential.

Adulthood has been the complete opposite. I have these bouts of creative wonder that I burn to their full extent with hours of typing on the computer, but then it feels like weeks of unending misery as the great thoughts and stories I had on the car ride evaporate as soon as I sit down at my machine.

I know that creativity is in there and I know that I have to battle my depression or find the energy to tell the story I want to, but there comes a time where I cannot win. Those days it has proven to be better to hang up my pen than force it.

I guess in the end, the thing that has been constant is my continued love of stories and my refusal to get up. This rambling blog post is simply my emotions being poured out on the paper to try and work through the thoughts and the feelings I have on this subject. In a way, I’m trying to emulate the kid I once was and enjoy the art of creating that sweating over all the details and worrying all about the red and blue lines Microsoft Word is spitting at me.

I love writing. I know that will never change and I will have a continued battle between my Titans. If this post does anything, I hope it lets any other author in the same situation know they are not alone. We all have our particular monsters we have to beat. Just don’t give up.

From the Archives: Dark World Part 1

Originally appeared in Gateway Science Fiction Magazine in December of 2004.


The planet was dark and lonely when the star ship Republic entered orbit. Massive craters and deep ravines scarred the landscape and made the small planetoid resemble porous candy. Light coming from a white dwarf star in the center of the system was faint; most of it blocked by a thick ring of rubble from an ancient world destroyed long ago. Ribbons of bright yellow lights flowing west to east in the Northern Hemisphere were the only objects of interest on this desolate world. The warm glow was quite appealing compared to empty space and chill of a bleak landscape.

“I’d hate to live in a place like this,” Commander Ryan Parker said to nobody in particular. He sat in the crimson velvet seat of the ship’s executive officer, staring out the Republic’s wraparound view screen that displayed the excavation sight and the surrounding landscape below, on the planet Lyra II. “It seems so lonely.”

Captain Thomas Smyth did not answer the off-hand remark of his friend, but kept his hands steepled in front of him as the starship slowly orbited the planet. He resisted the urge to run his thin but strong hands through his blond hair, a habit he picked up in command school.

It had been a continual emotional rush for him ever since he was ordered from Alpha Centari III to Lyra II. The Space Navy had not been thorough in giving him instructions for this voyage. All the admiral had told him was the lead archeologist, Doctor Bellows, had sent an urgent message to the Earth Colonies United. He stated they had discovered something very fascinating, but needed urgent assistance.  Making best speed, it still took them forty-eight hours to make the trip.  Since his ship had arrived, there had been no answer to their continual hails to the colony.  He was beginning to wonder if he had arrived in time.

“Captain, I recommend we prepare a security detail,” Ryan said, turning slightly in his chair. “Thirty minutes is long enough to wait for a response—especially if the colony is facing trouble.”

Thomas straightened from his contemplative position and shook his head as he stretched his arms. “Let’s give them five more minutes.”

“Aye, aye, sir.” Ryan answered, “but I don’t think five minutes will make a difference.”

The captain had known how long his second in command had been waiting for an opportunity to leave the ship; Ryan had grown up on a world where he had all of outdoors as his playground. Being cooped up in a starship, even one as roomy as theirs was a real trial for the good commander.  “Not to worry, Commander.  You’ll have plenty of time to head to the surface.”

The five minutes seemed long for both the captain and commander. Ryan busied himself by attacking the reports that had been brought to him by Ensign Moti.  Knowing Ryan, Thomas surmised that he was reviewing the status of the star drives, and as a kind of intellectual dessert, calculating in his mind how long it would take them to reach Rigel IV at the standard cruising speed of Warp 4.  He watched as the man laid down the reading, glanced at his watch after the exact passage of five minutes and addressed Thomas.     “Sir, I’ll head for the shuttle—“

The chime of an incoming message alarm interrupted his declaration.  Lieutenant Forge, calling from his seat at the helm panel turned to his superior and said, “Sir, the colony is establishing a communications link.”

“On viewer,” Thomas answered standing and straightening his black belt on his white jumpsuit. The overhead fluorescent light made the four silver bars of his rank sparkle like little jewels on his shoulders.

The worried face of Doctor Stanton Bellows filled the viewer as the scene changed from the planet to the concerned scientist on the planet below. Thomas saw the gaunt and haggard look of the man. His eyes looked frightened and his mouth twitched slightly. His graying hair seemed to be tousled and unkempt.

“This is Captain Thomas Smyth of the Space Navy Vessel Republic.  We’ve been trying to contact you for the past half-hour. What’s going on down there?”

“Apologies, Captain,” Dr. Bellows said. “We’ve had some difficulties down here that has left the communication’s room unmanned.”

Thomas raised an eyebrow in curiosity and continued, “I was informed you had something of importance to tell the ECU. ”

“We have,” he said calmly and then broke in to desperate fervor. “And I wish we had never found the blasted thing!”

“Easy there, doctor,” Thomas said in a calm voice. “What thing?”

Doctor Bellows took a deep breath and apologized. “The past week has been, ah, stressful. What we found was an ancient plaque left by the Threen.   Since its uncovering, well, out of the thirty-four scientists that lived here a week ago, only five of us are still alive.”

***

The elongated royal blue shuttle angled itself slightly, and they only heard a slight rumble as it entered the thin and vile-smelling atmosphere blanketing the planet.  The pilot, an affable young officer named Riley, cocky as most rocket jockeys aimed his craft toward a silver rectangle of metal lying beside the colony dome. Thomas and Ryan sat in the back of the shuttle in beige leather seats with laser pistols strapped around their waists. Four grim-looking security officers, clad in gray suits, held their rifles at the ready.

Another jarring bump woke Thomas from his daydream.  Riley turned to him.  “We’re on the ground,” he said with a thick, not unpleasant southern accent.  “The atmosphere is breathable, if a bit on the noxious side, Sir.”

Standing, the captain said, “Thank you, Lieutenant Riley.  Alert the Republic of our landing and then join us inside.”

“Yes sir, ” Riley offered, nodding to the captain as Thomas disembarked from the rear of the shuttle where the bulkhead had lowered to reveal a portal. Just outside a dark fog hung on the outskirts of the compound, giving the ravines and jagged hills a more ominous appearance.

“It’s like a nightmare down here,” Ryan said staring out toward the black forms of contorted rock.

Thomas slapped him lightly on the back. “Remember this: ‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.’”

Ryan nodded. “I won’t forget, sir. I guess God is even on a dead world hundreds of light years away from Earth.”

“I, myself, don’t care what the terrain looks like,” Thomas said. “I just want to find out what has Dr. Bellows so riled. He is one of the best—and least flappable alien anthropologists in the ECU.”

Ryan nodded as the dark gray pebbles crunched underneath their black boots. “All these dead scientists. It sounds like something out of an Agatha Christie novel.  Or remember that ancient movie?  What was it called?  Oh yes.  Forbidden Planet.”

The two, with their security detail in tow, made their way toward the dome’s wall to a bulkhead sliding door. The octagon shaped orifice slid open with a grind when Captain Smyth hit the green crystal button.  His party stepped in. The door slid shut followed by a hiss of air, which cleaned the room of all remnants of the swamp-like stench. After the required purge of the outside atmosphere, the door opened in front of them and they stepped into a hallway, which lead to a warm, brightly lit little room.

Ryan saw Doctor Bellows sitting in a brown leather chair looking at the fireplace where yellow flame danced and snapped brightly. His weary face looked up at the arrivals and brightened visibly. He seemed glad to see them.

“I’m Doctor Bellows,” he said standing up and extending his hand to the Captain. “Your timely arrival may have saved the lives of our remaining colleagues.”

“You said that other scientists are dead?” asked Ryan.

The doctor nodded sadly. “Yes—yes they are.  It all started last Sunday.  One of our archaeologists uncovered an artifact in dome two. It was a plaque, with a most unnerving inscription.  Just looking at it gave Sarah Watson the willies.  Shortly after the unearthing, everything went haywire.  We have been working hard, hoping to find out what was going on, but we’ve had no such luck.”

“What type of plaque?” Thomas asked looking around the room, his thin face troubled at the mention of the deaths.

“A medium-sized block of polished, white granite, two feet by four feet.”  As he spoke, he pantomimed a rectangular shape with shaking hands.  “I shouldn’t have been surprised about the deaths. The plaque bears a curse.”

“ A curse?”

“Yes,” he said calmly. “The artifact was created by the ancient Threen, the race who once called Lyra II their home.  The writing on its front cursed any transgressor who disturbed the remains of their king. I’m afraid that’s exactly what we did.”

The Doctor’s voice had a hollow sound.  Thomas tilted his head slightly, studying the man, whose pale, sweating brow and colorless lips made him look like he was suffering from shock.

“Well, Doctor, something may be going on here, but I don’t believe in this curse,” Thomas replied putting his hands behind his back. “I believe God is with me and he will defend me from all evil.”

The change in the scientist was instant, if fleeting.  Bellows eyes drew close, and his face darkened. “Faith is an illusion, Captain,” he said icily, “but you can keep it if you think it’ll help you before you die.”

“Die?” Ryan broke in. “You talk as if there isn’t any chance of anyone ever getting out of here.”

“We have disturbed the tomb and—”

“I know, I know,” Thomas said, feeling frustration well up inside. “Will you please tell me your story from the beginning, so I can try to make some sense out of this?”

Bellows paused for a moment.  “It started a week ago. We were digging in Dome two when Dr. Forbes discovered something just below the surface. We quickly activated the sonar array.  Our scans indicated that we were on top of a structure. We were all hoping to find the library of the Threen; a structure mentioned in other inscriptions we had unearthed. We were all very excited.

“We left the sight after work to celebrate.  Our celebrations were interrupted by a piercing scream. We all rushed back to the excavation site. At the bottom of the pit we found Professor James Dunbar dead.  Underneath his body we found a stone tablet that must have been uncovered in his fall. It was written in Threen.”

Doctor Bellows stopped. Thomas raised an eyebrow. “And?”

Bellows shrugged and continued. “The tablet said, ‘Curse be to those who have disturbed the chambers of the King. All shall perish at the sign of the mist.’ Since then when the mist outside covers the complex, someone dies.”

Doctor Bellows sighed. “The first night the fog approached, Doctor Nelson was out with a team looking over site 3B. We heard an explosion. We found his whole team decimated by what seemed to be an exploded plasma generator. Every three days the fog came in and more died; either as individuals alone or in groups. Each death event was as mysterious as the ones before. Professor Tharl Morgan, our radiologist did some detective work and before his death said he had an idea of what was happening but wanted to confirm it before he let us in on his ideas. He died horribly before he could tell anyone. We found him in his room, his body a contorted, dehydrated husk in his bed.”

From the way his voice warbled, the way he rocked back and forth in the chair, the way his eyes danced wildly around the room, Doctor Bellows looked to be close to a nervous breakdown. “Captain Smyth,” he said, the panic in his voice rising, “my daughter is part of this expedition. She has not fallen to the curse yet. Please take her to your ship where the curse cannot touch her! Please, get her off of Lyra II!”

Thomas sighed.  “I wish I could do that, Dr. Bellows, but regulations order me to quarantine this area.”

Bellows blinked, and flexed fingers in a nervous, resigned gesture. “Then I guess she’ll die.”  His voice sank to a whisper.

Thomas folded his arms and said firmly, “Will you quit acting as if your fate is sealed? Give me time to think.  Give me a chance to fix it.”

“It won’t do any good if we cannot leave,” Bellows said halfheartedly.

“If it makes you feel better, I’ll assign my executive officer to guard your daughter. He can make sure nothing happens to her.”

Ryan, who had been standing by the window, smiled. Thomas guessed that his assigned duties agreed with his second-in-command. Watching over the Doctor’s daughter would be a welcome change from his duties on board ship.

Outside it was getting dark as the rotation of Lyra II turned them away from the system’s primary. The fog, which had been clinging to the rocks on the outskirts, now slowly flowed toward the complex like a phantasm.  Ryan turned to his captain, “If we’re going to do anything, it should be soon, Sir.”

“Find his daughter—”

“Cassandra,” Bellows whispered.

Thomas continued, “…Cassandra and don’t let her out of your sight.  Security detail…one guard to each person left alive.”

The soldiers saluted and hurried off down the passageways connecting the domes and the main dining area where Bellows said the crew could be found.

“Dr. Bellows,” Thomas said, turning to him. “I would like to see the pit…and the tablet.”


This is the first story that I got published and thought to re-release it due to Gateway Science Fiction Magazine closing their digital doors so many years ago. If anything, it’s an interesting snippet into the past. 

Only two parts of this story was ever written and only one (this one) was published. It’s sad that the story only sits as a unfinished work on my hard drive.

I’ve considered finishing it here one day.

Dreaming of Dragons – Loving Our Writing

Last week I was driving to our local wal-mart with my 4-year old with me. We were having some daddy-son time by shopping for toys, getting groceries and getting his free pizza from Pizza Hut because of the reader program.

As I was driving, I glanced in the mirror and saw him staring out the window making facial expressions from epic to happy. I had the soundtrack of a Two Steps From Hell blaring and when I asked him what he was thinking about he answered, “Fighting dragons.”

I think as writers, we sometimes forget to stop and enjoy our stories. I know for me, I can get obsessive about my story, making sure that it is working, the grammar is correct, and that there isn’t an obvious error. The problem though is that I forget to stop and enjoy the story. If you aren’t, you’re missing a great part of the entire writing process.

We, as writers, have the power to create people, worlds, and adventures. We should take the time to enjoy the company of our characters and exploring the unknown with them. The time to worry about prose and grammar can come later.

I do not know about you but stories are something I cannot do without and I need to work on taking my time with them. I know that if I do, I can imbue it with more love and magic than I already am.

How about you? Do you enjoy your stories? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

What I hated about Freelancing


It has been awhile since I released anything to my blog and that is because I have been blessed with a career change that was not so draining upon my ability to think. After spending six months in total as a freelancer, I have made quite a few discoveries that anyone thinking about the job should consider.
It sucks trying to hunt down new gigs
The hardest part and what I hated the most was hunting down gigs that I could apply for as many times the gigs out there are from people who do not understand how much an author really costs and so has high expectations for little to nothing in cost.
For every ten applications I submitted, maybe two or three would be nibbles and then one would be for sure but the problem was for every one job I picked up, two finished leaving me behind by one. As I was unemployed and doing this as a means to live, it was a challenge to get all the bills paid.
People demanding masterpieces for a Pittance
This irked me the most. Not because I was greedy and expected people to pay me a lot (as of 2016, the minimum a freelancer should expect is .02 cents per word or $10.00 for 500 words) but there were people contacting me who wanted a 50,000 word novel for only $100 dollars and a timeline of one week including second draft and editing.
Every time I said, “You do realize a good piece of work can take up to six months to write, especially when you are only providing me with a 50-worddescription of the entire story”. The usual response to this was both silence and a lost job or “We can find someone else if you don’t want it” which had me respond, “Go ahead and good luck getting anything decent.”
I can understand people who want to get a decent deal and are usually funding out of their own pocket but at some of the prices offered, it’sdownright robbery and an insult to a writer.
All the Extra Fees
As a beginner freelancer, I am forced to work on projects like freelancer.com or upwork.com and there they charge you a percentage of your income just for getting a job. A lot of these places even charge the client who is trying to hire and so both sides are losing money for the third party service. This, in itself, is not a bad thing because third party companies need money to keep going but it is very hard when you’re hired to write a 500-word article at $10.00 and have to give 20% of that to Upwork for their services. (Take a look at their sliding scale for more information).
The only place I ever found that never did that was writeraccess.com and as of 2017, I highly recommend them. They have a steep application that proves that you can write before letting you onto their program but they only charge the client and not the freelancer for work.
It’s great as a side business
Freelancing is fun, do not get me wrong. I just struggled with it as a full-timeoccupation and it gave me a lot of nights where I just stared at the ceiling trying to figure out what to do the next day. I still do it as a part-time hobby because I could never truly get out of that world but I know longer feel the need to apply to some job because I need the money they are offering.
So, if you are still considering getting into the world of freelancing, try to take these things to heart because at one point you will find yourself staring at the screen wondering a lot of these questions yourself.
What do you think? Did you have a good/bad experience or advice for others? Share it in the comments!

So…You Want to be a Freelancer: Let’s Make Sure You’re Ready


If you have been aspiring to be a writer like I have been for quite a number of years, you have dreamed up this amazing life where you write for a living and can enjoy the awesomeness of creativity. What I am writing to tell you (and what so many writers before me have said) is that the vision you see, does not exist till a long way down the road.
So, you want to be a Freelance Writer is the first step in a series of articles I plan to write on my blog that can give an aspiring writer like yourself an introduction in to the world of freelancing. I have had some ups and downs entering it myself and wanted to share those difficulties with you.
Let’s Get This Straight
Just so there is not any misunderstandings, I want to explain to you exactly what type of freelancing I am referring to. With the advent of social media and the desire of many companies to have blogs a long with their products and services, it has opened up an amazing market of writing that they need filled.
The freelance writing that has the money in it is not the creative writing of short stories and novels like you might think, but the dry copy writing or marketing articles, advertisements and ghost writing. It’s dry, long, and sometimes you just stare at the screen thinking, “How am I supposed to put this article together?”
Honestly, I have come to enjoy working on these types of writings. Instead of taxing my creativity side, these types of articles spend more time taxing my analytical side as it seems to be more of a puzzle to put the research I have done together.
How Do I Start?
The first thing you need to do is to repeat this four times. “I’m not going to make a lot of money at the start”. If you have a day job, I highly suggest you keep it until you are making enough money in your writing to justify leaving. At this point, I have been doing freelancing on and off for six years and still require a day job. Freelancing is pretty much what buys me my toys.
After that, you need to make sure you have the grit and determination to stick with it even when the going gets tough. You will reach a point where you just don’t want to write anymore and that’s not an option. Your money is reliant on you putting out a product and making sure that product is the way the client wants it, not the way you want it.
Finally, the last metaphorical preparation you should do is to be ready for failure. Starting out, you may not give an avalanche of work and you might have to go for a job that is a bit lower in pay than you want. This job is not an instant success story and if you think it is, I would recommend against starting it. Like any business you are starting, it takes time, effort, and diligence to build it up in to anything worthwhile. If you still with it and you have an iota of talent, you could be on the way to a great career!
I’ll cover more in the specifics to the freelancing world in the next post, so stay tuned!

So, I’ve been Freelancing and Noticed Something…


For those of you who do not know, I have recently upped my game when it comes to the freelance writing market with quite a bit of success. I have a good handful of clients that provide work on a regular basis and enough one time jobs to keep me happy. It has been a very interesting experience to delve in to the world of the freelance and wanted to share something that came to mind. 
For anyone reading this who has done freelancing before, you probably can relate to the fact that many of the clients out there on the website like upwork.com and writeraccess.com offer well below the value of what your work is worth. 
At present, the lowest side of the pay is .02 cents per word which amount to $10 dollars per 500 words. In my browsing of the freelance market, I have found clients who want 1,500 to 2,000 words for only $5 or $6 dollars. For every one good job I have found to apply for, there were seven or eight that were just ridiculous in their demand. 
More and more I have found that people who utilize something that is considered art, are routinely never really given credit or value for your work. A good artist friend Kathleen Ruhl has told me about times that clients want expensive work for pennies on the dollar. 
Do not get me wrong, a lot of freelancers are not greedy or want to charge an arm and a leg, but on the flip side clients and people who want to hire a writer or artist need to understand a lot goes in to their work. An artist has to pour their time and creativity in to their pieces while writers put a lot of mental energy in to the pieces they turn out. At the end of the day, I have found myself really exhausted and unable to write the things I want to write due to having to complete an essay or blog someone hired me for. 
What is the point of my little article? If you are a person looking to hire a freelancer, I am not trying to damn you for looking for a deal, but on the other end of the equation, remember that your freelancer goes through a lot to provide you a quality piece and what you pay is truly what you get. 
Do you want to know more about what freelancers go through? I highly recommend taking a look at http://clientsfromhell.net/ for some idea what we have to go through.