Aliens are Coming!

The aliens are coming!

Well, they’re sort of aliens and they are sort of coming…

To my Wattpad page.

My next Wattpad project is going to be the first season of The Galactic Consortium.

The Galactic Consortium

This is a sci-fi serial about first contact with an alien race, except they are not truly alien, rather Simian — from the same genetic line as humans. They arrive in space above us in the present day, announcing that they terraformed our planet, sent settlers (us presumably) and now they are back, ready to begin the exploration of our galaxy. What happened in the last forty thousand years, why we don’t know any of this, is a mystery.

The Girl in the Tank

My Working Cover*

My Working Cover*

Less than five months ago, lights appeared in the sky. Days later the ships started to arrive. They call themselves the Consortium. They are human, or at least Simian, descending from the same genetic line as humans. They terraformed this planet centuries ago, sent settlers a mere forty thousand years ago. Now they are back, ready to begin the exploration of this galaxy.

For Cheyenne Walker, Chief Petty Officer aboard the Cambridge, a USS destroyer, the arrival of the Consortium is just one more obstacle to finishing her final tour of duty and getting home to her kids. The political upheaval forces the US into an uneasy alliance with the Consortium against China, and puts the Cambridge on the edge of a nuclear blast.

Cheyenne wakes to find herself aboard the Corelean, a Consortium Medical Evacuation ship. Floating in a medi-tank, she wonders if they really can’t repair the wreck of her body, whether these newcomers are friends or foes and most importantly, will she ever make it back to children?

I will be posting on Sunday, Wednesday and Fridays. There are eight episodes, ranging from 12,000 words to 25,000 words. Each episode has it’s own storyline but they build on each other. Eventually this serial will be published on Amazon and elsewhere, but for now the only place to read it is on Wattpad. Enjoy this exclusive sneak peek.

*The above cover is a working cover. When I go to press I hope to have the funds to hire the wonderfully talented Aidana Willowraven.

Help me with this Blurb, Please

My next release, Children of a New Earth, is with my editor as I write this. Meanwhile I am working on the blurb and cover. I hope to have a cover ready to show soon. For the moment I could use some honest opinions about this blurb:

For nearly thirty years, since the collapse of society, Freedom Ranch has been self sufficient, hidden deep in the Rocky Mountains. Amy Beland has grown up hating the small valley settlement and the survivalist that run it. Now it will be up to her to save them all.

Journeying out of the mountains and into what is left of civilization, they discover that much of what they’ve been taught about the collapse is wrong. They don’t find the enemy they expect on the plains beneath their home, which is good because Amy suspects they may have brought a couple with them.

I know it’s not quite ready for print, but I am not sure what to do with it. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed. Please and thank you.

Looking for my tribe

The beauty of being an indie author is this day in age is that writing is less and less about writing what publishers or mass markets want. It’s more about finding your tribe, those readers that are hungry for the kinds of books you write.

I write two different kinds of books. I write contemporary YA with an LGBT bent and I write science fiction/fantasy books. Most publishers will tell you those two genres do not go together. I have been to enough science fiction conventions to know better. LGBT youths often find science fiction a safe place to explore themselves. Many science fiction fans are drawn to characters that stand outside the social norms, whether its sexuality, gender or some other issue.

So I am doing an experiment/promotion/exercise in finding my reading tribe. It works like this. I am going to give you an excerpt of a work in progress. One character, Devon, places two books into the streets Itty Bitty Library. If you can name both books referenced in the excerpt, do so in the comments.

The first person to correctly identify both books wins a chance to be a character in that book. Just give me a name, description and short personality bio. (p.s. It doesn’t have to be yours. You can give me a fictional name you go by in some context or a friend you want to honor.)

Excerpt:

Fourteen year old Ethan Hillcrest spied around the corner. He sighted down the block with his toy gun. “All clear,” he called back to his sisters, Rosie and Esther.

They came around the corner clutching their dolls and shooting him looks that said they didn’t see the need for a military escort at all. He ignored the look.

They went to the shade under the tree in their front yard and set down to play with their dolls. Ethan went and hid behind the trunk of the tree and continued his look out.

He scanned the far side of the street. He scanned the back of the Mondamin U. Inspecting the houses from right to left. Jack was on the corner. He was an ex cop. Occasionally he would sit on his porch and a couple times he told Ethan stories about the old days when he worked the beat.

Next to him was Justin and Danielle Smith. Justin was a cop, and one of the coolest adults Ethan had met, next to his dad. Danielle ran a daycare and Rosie and Esther loved it when they got to go play with the babies. Ethan didn’t care about no babies, but went along anyway.

To the left of the Smith’s was an older couple. Ethan couldn’t remember their names. Mom called out and greeted them whenever she saw them out on the street, which was rarely. She admonished the kids to respect their elders and Ethan did, he always spoke politely to them and laughed at the man’s joke, even though they weren’t funny.

This was the good side of the street. That was friendly territory.

Next door to them was the lesbian couple. Neither Mom or Dad liked them much. They muttered about sin and worried that their influence might lead Ethan or his sisters into sin. Ethan knew there were a couple girls at school who identified as lesbians. He wasn’t sure what the big deal was.

Kitty corner across from the lesbian’s was Lydia Scott, public enemy number one. She ran a yoga studio down on University. Yoga, his mom said, was an evil foreign cult. Ethan had been told that it was a form of exercise, in fact they had done it in P.E. At school. He didn’t tell his mom that. She had already threatened to pull him out of public school and homeschool him more than once. He didn’t want to leave his friends, so he kept his mouth shut.

He spied a redhead coming out of Lydia’s house. There was Mondamin’s newest public enemy.

Ethan remembered Devon vaguely. The adult’s had always said stuff, usually in a whisper, about the boy. But Ethan had kind of liked him. Not that they had much in common, being more than six years apart. What Ethan recalled was that Devon was nice to kids and took the time to include them in his games if possible. Few high school kids did that with elementary or junior high kids.

But this was too much. Devon was wearing a yellow tights, a red skirt and a yellow, women’s top.

“I don’t know how she can put up with this,” Mom had muttered at his father after she came home from the meeting last night. “The shame of it.”

“If I had ever worn women’s clothes,” his father had said, “my dad would have beat me within an inch of my life. Same goes for Ethan.”

Ethan had started, as he eavesdropped from his bedroom, but of course they didn’t know he was listening. Besides, he’d never had any inclination to try on women’s clothes either.

Ethan continued to spy on Devon, slowly pulling back to keep the tree between him and his subject. Devon had two books in his hands and he stopped in front of an oversized mailbox.

It was the itty bitty library they had built three years ago. It had been a school project for Devon. It was a miniature doll house with plexiglass walls on one side. Inside was one shelf with a dozen books or so. Neighbors were encouraged to borrow books for free, and to place new books in if they felt like it.

Mom hadn’t approved. There was no telling what sort of books someone might put in there. Nobody was monitoring the quality or morality of the selection. That might be okay for adults, but there were kids on the block.

It was one of the few times she found herself in the minority. The smith’s valued education, or so they said, and requested the library be built on their property even. Jack, Mr. Rick from the down the street, they all supported the project.

It was the other thing that Ethan liked about Devon. Mom wanted to check and monitor every piece of reading material that came in their house, make sure it taught proper Christian values. That was okay for Rosie and Esther, but he was fourteen, almost an adult. Surely he could decide what to read for himself.

Justin and Danielle read thrillers and when they were done, they went in the box. Jack had once left a survivalist manual in the box, that book was now hidden in the playhouse out back, one of Ethan’s prize possession.

Devon was all about science fiction and fantasy. Ethan had to credit Devon and the itty bitty library for most of the cultural knowledge he had. He would swipe books out of the itty bitty library and stash them in the playhouse. While all the other kids got to watch the latest movies or play the latest video games, Ethan would read the book.

Devon stopped at the itty bitty library and opened the door. He put the two books he was carrying inside and then stared at the shelves thoughtfully for a few minutes. He closed the door without taking anything and headed back towards his house.

Ethan pressed his back against the tree trunk. “Drop has been made, repeat, drop has been made,” he muttered into his shoulder, as though talking into a radio. He glanced at their front window. Mom was nowhere to be seen. He glanced down the street again. Devon was already on the porch, heading back inside.

Ethan stuck the toy gun down the front of his jeans and crossed the street. He opened the door of the itty bitty library and inspected the new books. He knew the contents well enough to not waste time on the others.

The first had a woman with a butterfly on the shoulder on the cover. He read enough of the back cover to realize it had to do with a boy who wanted to be a girl and he shoved it back in. He wiped his hands on his jeans quickly, fearing he might catch whatever it was that made Devon act the way he did.

The second book was a goldmine, Ethan could tell it at a glance. It had a woman on the cover too, but she was wearing goggles, a sure sign of something steampunk. No one at school even knew what steampunk was but Devon and, by osmosis, Ethan, were obsessed with it. Reading the back cover, this novel was not only steampunk, it had zombies.

A cop car pulled up and Ethan started. It’s a free library, that’s the point, he reminded himself. Besides it was only Justin coming home from work.

He turned the cover towards his chest and wrapped his arms around the book. He didn’t know if Justin talked to his parent’s about what they saw, but he didn’t want this title even getting back home.

“Guarding the neighborhood are we?” Justin joked with a nod towards Ethan’s waist.

Ethan looked down and the toy gun and blushed. He didn’t want to be caught playing. He was too old for that. But what else could he do? His mom ordered him to stay outside and watch his sisters. “Sir, yes, sir,” he said.

Ten Problems with Being a Werewolf

Being a Werewolf sounds cool but there are downsides, too.

Being a Werewolf sounds cool but there are downsides, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Being a shapeshifter sounds really cool, but as we see in the first Bear Naked book, there are downsides. What are the challenges that face modern day shifters?

1. Clothing

Wolf form is differently shaped and sized. Anything you are wearing is probably not going to survive the transition. That’s no big deal when you become a wolf, but it is kind of a big deal when you go back to human. How do you explain your sudden nudity? Not to mention the cost of constantly having to purchase new outfits.

2. Guns

Yeah, shifters are about the biggest bad asses out there. But put a forty five in the hands of a wimp and they can still blow a huge hole in your chest. That sucks.

3. Money

Being a werewolf is a lot of hard work, made harder by the fact that it doesn’t pay shit. Remember what Aaron Leidulf says, “you will always have to balance human needs and human society against wolf needs and society”

4. Humans kind of stink

Having a super sensitive nose is great when you need to track something in wolf form, but let’s face it, do you really want to smell the average human? I didn’t think so.

5. Raw meat

You can survive in wolf form if you need to, and that’s really awesome. But it means hunting and then eating your kill raw, and that is a lot less awesome.

6. Not telling

A lot of cool stuff happens to shifters, but they have to keep it to themselves. You can’t just go around blabbing.

Someone's pet wolf? Or Shapeshifter friend in disguise?

Someone’s pet wolf? Or Shapeshifter friend in disguise?

7. Being part of a pack

Being in a pack has a lot of upsides. Your pack brothers and sisters have got your back. You will never be lonely again. But there are downsides too. Don’t expect a lot of privacy. Or choice, the pack sticks together no matter what. You will spend the rest of your life living and working wherever the pack decides.

8. Pack Hierarchy

Have you noticed that most Shapeshifter fantasies are told from the point of view of the alphas? Why is that? Maybe because being one of the betas or worse still, the omega, isn’t nearly as much fun.

9. Other Werewolves

Wolves are territorial by nature and they don’t all play nice. So get out there and defend your territory.

10. Bears are still bigger

Werewolves are about the biggest badasses out there. But they aren’t the biggest badasses. That spot is reserved for Bear Clan.

What do you think are the downsides of being a werewolf? Do they outweigh the benefits, or not? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

And if you haven’t checked out Bear Naked yet, here is the link.

 

Ten Reasons Why You Should Write Book Reviews

Having a new book out now, I thought it might be a good time to hint about reviews. Here are ten simple reasons why you should write book reviews.

  1. It helps the author sell books. Reviews generate buzz, buzz sells books. Let’s face it, most authors have day jobs and have to squeeze writing in around their work lives. If you want to see more books from your favorite author, give them a hand and write them a review.

  2. It helps author get better. Writers work in a vacuum. They spend months laboring over a piece of writing without any feedback. But the only way to improve is to get feedback. Good reviews, reviews that are honest and fair, provide excellent feedback. Several of the reviewers of my first novel said it had too many typos. They were right. I went back and proof read it again and now it’s much cleaner.

  3. It helps other readers. Point your fellow readers towards books they might like. Particularly helpful are reviews that say things like, “If you liked blank, you might like this.”

  4. Pay it forward. You’ve probably been helped by a review. I know I have. When I am on the fence about a book I will read the reviews. They’ve pointed me towards good books many times.

  5. It’s easy. It’s not a book report. You don’t have to stress over your reviews. “I liked it and if you like mysteries you probably will too” is fine.

  6. It helps web sites. Amazon.com, Goodreads, smashwords, they all have some logarithm that decides which books to put in front of which readers. Their computers use reviews, ratings and people with similar reading/browsing history to make those selections. Make those selections more accurate by rating and reviewing purchases from time to time.

  7. It will help you. Those same logarithms determine what you see when you shop for a new book. Writing honest reviews and giving fair ratings means it is more likely that you will see books you are actually interested in the next time you shop.

  8. It’s like being in a giant book club. Critics often accuse the internet of creating separation, but often it brings people together. Sharing reviews on Goodreads and other social media opens the door to discussing books you really like, or discussing why you don’t like the latest best seller.

  9. Have a voice. Our culture is nothing more than a collection of shared beliefs and ideas. It is created by individuals, and yet many individuals end up feeling controlled by their culture. I think it’s because most of us don’t how we each contribute to the collective ideology we call culture. Well, here is one way. Talking about the books that matter to us is like voting on a piece of our culture. Which books will be remembered in a hundred years? Those that people read and talked about.

  10. It gives you something new to share on social media. A lot of us spend a lot of time on Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, you name it. If you just want to lurk, that’s fine. But if you really want to get noticed on social media, be a power user, you have got to share. But what do you have to share? How about a book review?