So I'm a flash fiction anthology. I struggle with short form stories but for some odd reason I love writing flash fiction. Three hundred words to build a world, introduce a character and tell some kind of story with a beginning middle and an end.

My profanity-laden entry, Mile High, deals asks the question: What would happen if Skynet was actually a self aware porn server with dreams of world domination. 300 words is the perfect length to explore a fun throwaway idea. Warning: It's really NSFW. (Mom, dad... you may want to sit this one out)

It was also a departure from my usual fantasy fare. Check it out if you want to sample work by LGBTQ writers. You're certain to find something you like... possibly even a new author to follow. If you don't it's only 300 words.

Check it out:

front-cover

The 2016 Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction anthology, "Flight", is here, and I have a story in it! It's a really cool concept:

A 300-word story should be easy, right? Many of our entrants say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever written.

Queer Sci Fi's Annual Flash Fiction Contest challenges authors to write a complete LGBTQ speculative fiction micro-story on a specific theme. "Flight" leaves much for the authors to interpret—winged creatures, flight and space vehicles, or fleeing from dire circumstances.

Some astonishing stories were submitted—from horrific, bloodcurdling pieces to sweet, contemplative ones—and all LGBTQ speculative fiction. The stories in this anthology include AI’s and angels, winged lions and wayward aliens. Smart, snappy slice of life pieces written for entertainment or for social commentary. Join us for brief and often surprising trips into 110 speculative fiction authors’ minds.

The book us available in eBook form (4.99), and will soon be available in paperback with b/w illustrations inside (12.99) and in a special collector's edition with color illustrations (24.99).


Buy Links

Amazon eBook | Kobo | All Romance | Goodreads
 

03_TheBladeOfBetrayal

The third and final book in my trilogy will be released on ...October 12th. Mark your calendars or add the launch to Facebook.

Over the course of the series the characters have grown from hapless pawns in the schemes of others into players in their own right. Set fifteen years later, the book introduces us to a new generation, most notably, Jessa's son.

Price: $2.99

Description:

For the last fifteen years, the once despotic Empire of Thrycea has flourished under the rule of its benevolent empress. The people are free and life-giving magic promises prosperity for all. When she’s murdered at sea, the fledgling democracy falls into chaos and its enemies close in from every direction.

Her estranged son and sole heir, Torin, is forced to flee as his mother’s hidden enemies come after him as well. High above the seas, the floating city of Archea has encased itself in a magical barrier with no explanation. Old grudges return and their enemy could make anyone betray their allies.

The champions are outmatched at every turn and find themselves bit players in a long running battle for absolute world domination.

Who are the Architects and what is their Grand Design?

 

 

I know it's been a while since I updated the blog so I'm going to get in what I can while I type. I've been hard at work on book three and it is headed to the Amazon store immanently. This is the third and final book for this series, but there may be another in the same universe on the horizon.

I'm toying with a lot of other ideas as I go into the Fall including a screenplay and a graphic novel. I am taking this time to explore creative possibilities as well as look for a day job. (Long story short: Full time writing wasn't for me but I still like writing.)

In honor of the third book I've worked with the incredible Inkspiral Design to re-design the covers and give the books a little more genre specific branding. The books aren't about just one character-- they are about diverse, damaged people coming together to fight against tyranny, oppression and the darker side of themselves.

01_QueenofLiesI've learned a lot about my craft working through these books. When I wrote The Queen of Lies I wanted to tell a intricate story that defied the common tropes in writing. It was ambitious for a first novel... and based on the reviews, it worked. I'm glad I kept the stories self-contained because I don't think I could keep up with a saga that sprawled over multiple books (G.R.R. Martin is apparently struggling with this)

 

02_TheMIrroredCityAfter I quit my day job I started on the Mirrored City. This book was a departure from the first: it was much darker and the cast nearly doubled. It's a little overwhelming in the beginning but for readers who stuck it out to the end were delighted. Sales were weak and reviews were not as strong. At the time I had broken my knee and fell into a depression. I did very little to promote it because of general disillusionment and also because I wanted a third book before I invested in marketing.


03_TheBladeOfBetrayal

The Blade of Betrayal, like the Queen of Lies began its existence as another book entirely first (The Lord of Storms). 60k words into the book I scrapped it entirely. LoS was out there-- time travel, alternate realities... I ultimately had to scrap it totally. The next draft was my first time using an outline. I kept the writing brief and the stories simpler. I couldn't be more pleased with how the character arcs mirrored and intertwined each other almost seamlessly. From now on, no more writing by the seat of my pants.

Which brings me to my first Trilogy complete. So, most likely before Halloween I will have four books in the Amazon store.

box set

 

 

Deadlines can be stressful times for writers. I'm in the final stretch of my third book with the aim of completing by may 30th. I've been banging my head against a wall for the last week on the ending.

Marathon writing is hard. Marathon writers block is hell.

There is no better time to self-medicate with alcohol. Yet, there is no worse time to get completely shit-hammered. So, using science and spreadsheets I invented a cocktail that would give me a buzz through the day and into my all-nighters but wouldn't leave me feeling like shit the next day. So far it's been a smashing success.

Since I'm being eminently pragmatic I also wanted to reduce the harm as much as humanly possible so I wanted a low cost and low calorie alternative to wine and beer.

I call it...

img_0200The Deadline

It's basically vodka and infused water. 

Ingredients

  • 8 oz 80 proof vodka
  • 60 oz water, infused

For the Infusion

  • Cucumber (around half of one)
  • A few limes (more can never hurt)
  • Some cilantro
  • (There are a ton of options here-- fruit medeleys, hot sauces, mint, powdered vitamins, etc. I feel like I'm drinking spa water)

Directions

  1. Basically chop up all the veggies in a pitcher of water and let chill overnight.
  2. Measure Vodka in a second pitcher with a seal-able lid.
  3. Strain infused water and shake. Hint: Making a large batch means you won't over-pour as the day wears on.

Benefits

Alcohol % is 4, better than most beers and wine coolers.

Materials included. I'm paying $0.58 per drink

Calories are about 90 for an 8 oz serving

It tastes healthy, like going to the spa.

Drawbacks

Tons, it's alcohol.

Let me first say that Lev Grossman is something of a inspiration to me. The series is loosely based on the novels but it's also amazing.

Childhood was not a pleasant time for me, nor was it for a lot of us, especially fans of speculative fiction. The term escapism was always tossed about in English classes (where incidentally we didn't learn English, we read books. The first time I heard what a gerund was in Spanish class) as a lesser form of serious literature. Any serious consideration of the "literary canon" will reveal this distinction to be completely arbitrary.

And God forbid anyone read anything because they enjoy it.

Quentin Coldwater, the main character in the magicians is a bit of a fuck up, who grew up reading books about a magical land called Fillory (which is a like Narnia). Many times in the series he states that the books saved him from killing himself. And this is where I love the Magician's critique and homage to the fantasy genre.

A troubled child escapes from reality for many reasons. For some, there is a heroic purpose and a clear cut definition of good and evil. For me, I felt unsafe and powerless. At school, bullies were always a looming threat. At home I found myself in trouble for infractions. So I really liked the concept of having special abilities that would even out the unfairness of what others could do to me.

Magicians_hero_tour_01The Magicians offers both an escape and reflection of painful reality. As a lover of the books, I was already sold on the TV series and the last episode (11) has lingered with me all week.

There is an amazingly acted sequence when the characters literally bottle their emotions that includes one of the best lines ever delivered, "I concur. Feelings are bullshit." This bon mat is followed by the immediate return of emotion, where each of the actors gives a stunning (and character specific) performance as they are overwhelmed by their bottled up feelings.

It was one of those rare over-the-top scenes that actors live for.

What I like so much about the series and books is that there is a real dimension to the characters. They're flawed and irreverent, but they feel real and surprisingly grounded. The real action comes from their struggles with themselves and arguably the series could stand well enough on its own without all the magic.  But it's just so great. But the magic is really cool.

The hand gestures deserve a special call out -- they use a choreographer for "tutting" which is intricate hand motions. It's quite amazing when the characters cast spells.

All in all, it's a show you should be watching.

I've included a tutting video for your pleasure and amazement....

 

 

 

It is with great pleasure that I offer a book by a good online friend... months after I finished it. (Sorry, B)

This is a picaresque sword & sandal saga set in mythical Greece that follows the life and adventures of a man loosely based on Perseus. The story hits many of the bullet points of Perseus's legend but B.A. builds a life and world beyond the story.

51FBwQ20dfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The novel begins at an academy for demigods vaguely reminiscent of the Percy Jackson series, but quickly abandons this conceit to delve into the life of the protagonist. By the end of the book, Perseus is middle-aged so it's more Homer than J.K. Rowling in scope.

Magic and world building are both in full effect. While this world is modeled after ancient Greece, there is divine magic which is cool without ever being used as a "get out of jail free" card in sticky plot situations.

I would not say this is a romance, but the character arc that spans Perseus's life is subtle but interwoven throughout the tale. He is fated to wed Andromeda, and does, but his true romantic interest is Antolios, a son of Apollo. Their relationship has plenty of obstacles and quarrels over the years with partners alternating between being distant and longing for each other's company.

Brock takes us through the myth that made Perseus's career up to his marriage to Andromeda and beyond. Normally heterosexual sex is a matter of course, but given the sub-genre (M/M fiction) and publisher (Dreamspinner) this seems paradoxically bold to give full treatment to a bisexual main character.

There's a level of fearlessness to the depictions of sex which are integral to the concept of the book. Perseus is tormented by his father's (Zeus, if you forgot) philandering ways and is constantly driven to sex against his better judgment. While it might seem gratuitous to some readers' tastes, it is never glorified and the real repercussions are addressed in the text. It ranges from tender scenes,random hookups, prison rape, and every shade in between.

The novel goes on to describe Perseus's post-Kraken adventures. There's plenty pf action and Brock writes fast-paced, concise fight sequences using physical placement and description rather than abstractions like "fought valiantly".  There's an almost perfect balance between action and character development scenes in this book.

I would have liked to see more development of the female characters, particularly Andromeda. The chapter from her POV was one of my favorites from the first part of the novel but she gradually faded into a minor character. I felt there was chemistry between her and the protagonist and more opportunity for agency, but to be completely fair Perseus and Andormeda had a ton of kids.

Not to spoil the ending but in the tradition of Greek drama this book is a comedy rather than a tragedy. We reach a point of closure with the main character that ties into the beginning.

Bottom line: If you're a fan of re-imagined Greek mythology or M/M fiction that isn't afraid of crossing genres, you should check out King of Storms.

[B.A. Brock is both an author and a well-known reviewer in this genre and you can check out his website here. He's even reviewed one of my books. Circle of life etc.]

I thought that being free of the demands of a 9-5 schedule would open my life to its fullest potential. Instead I did even less.

I have not been very busy these last few months. In fact there are people who, in death, have posthumously managed to get more done than I have. I have been in a perpetual state of limbo and procrastination about many things in my life, craft, career, and relationships. On the plus side, I have watched every show and managed to somehow grow fat on my abdomen.

Waaaay back in April I had a plan for how my life would go in the wacky wild realm of independent publishing. I was going to be a boss on the daily. I was going to wake up, exercise, cook breakfast, do social media, write, connect with friends etc. etc. And of course there would be a little time devoted to housework.

It's not like I didn't have the best intentions...

To aid in my efficiency I purchased several months' supply of a product called (somewhat ominously) Soylent, a full day's nutrition in a gallon of mildly unflavored whey protein and essential vitamins. The idea is that you would whip up a batch of this stuff every day and get all your food needs without the fuss of cooking or the decision fatigue that comes with planning meals.

drink_homehero.2364b1811c78

 

It's not made of people and, when freshly made, is quite drinkable. It's slightly sweet and vaguely reminiscent of sawdust but overall it's flavor neutral and goes down like a shake or smoothie. The problems came with overnight refrigeration.

It thickened into a texture that is not something that my primitive instincts told me was not something I should drink. it was an effort of will to swallow it without gagging. I could sip it but that took FOREVER. I researched online. Other customers made similar complaints and the company has updated the product. I made a halfhearted attempt to add flavored oils but I just lost interest.

I still liked the idea in theory, but I was cutting costs. I still have crates of the stuff around the house and I comfort myself that if a zombie apocalypse or global pandemic hit, I'd be set for a solid month.

I must have made my final batch one morning, probably around May, and forgot to finish it. I also put off dumping it out because... laziness. I knew I should probably do something about it but it was in a sealed container. I also began to worry that it would smell. I am very sensitive to rotting smells to the point that I will throw food out before sniffing it. (See: Rancid Chicken)

In August I was attacked by some asphalt and injured my knee, giving me a free pass on any and all domestic chores.

Sometime before August the beige liquid began to separate into thicker beige at the bottom and milky water on top reaching the level of "science experiment". Over the following weeks more of the beige sludge gathered at the bottom and more cloudy water appeared at top.

Normally I would just throw out the entire pitcher. My refridgerator is littered with questionable containers that could probably be washed and re-used but I have no problem throwing them out rather than deal with the ick factor.

(Sidebar: I developed this wasteful habit when I was living with a meth addict who left dishes in the sink. She was not one of those meth heads who cleans so, after I returned from a three week trip to Scandinavia, they were still there. I couldn't take it anymore and I cleaned. At the bottom of the stagnant sink, I found a spoon of peanut butter with a maggot on it and said, "NOPE. Straight to garbage." )

Every time I looked into the barren abyss of my refrigerator I would notice something else that needed to be thrown out: old cheese, Chinese leftovers, a half drank bottle of Ensure from my weight gaining phase. I could have thrown them out but then I'd have to deal with the Soylent.

Today, since I may not have endless weekdays, I finally had the perfect day I imagined when I quit my 9-5. I woke up early, made scrambled eggs, did errands, wrote 2,000 words, took a walk, did my laundry, made the bed. I threw out all of my inedibles. The Soylent pitcher was eerily not as rancid as I expected. There was no smell and the pitcher cleaned up in 30 seconds.

And it left me wondering... why had I put it off so long? What was the big deal? Why had this one part of this one task become so insurmountable that I neglected it for eight months?

When you are self-employed and living alone, without accountability to anyone, it is easy to make excuses, and even the flimsiest one seems valid. The stuff was too gross to touch, it might smell, the garbage bins were too far away, it was too hot, then it was too cold, and it always seemed raining whenever I was in the mood to do it.

I'd like to say a great weight had been lifted at that moment but it was really kinda a meh moment. In fact, the weight had been lifted before that when I started to take steps to take control of my life. It meant cutting back on alcohol and enforcing a bed time so that I had the energy to see a simple task for what it was.

With a good night sleep, I'm unstoppable. Without it, the world is overwhelming and everything is a chore.

Moral to the Story

First, The free pitcher I got with my Soylent is awesome. It remained air tight for nearly eight fucking months and there was no sign of mold or decay. I'm glad I kept it.

Second, if you're feeling that things are spiraling out of control, make sure you're taking care of yourself. It may be as simple as getting adequate rest or exercise.

Finally... like the character in the Shel Silverstein poem, Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout, who simply would not take the garbage out, remember-- It's best to get that shit out of the way before it becomes unpleasant.

I won't lie, praise is great, and especially welcome to be included in a GLBT review site. Most of the books reviewed are romance. I think it's great that there are so many readers out there interested in M/M romance. I think it's equally encouraging that people of all orientations are open to more mainstream Sci Fi/Fantasy that includes diverse characters.

I think that's a good sign for a healthy expansion of the readership out there.

Rainbow Gold Reviews

The review is up on Rainbow Gold Reviews along with a short piece about the importance of inclusivity in fantasy fiction. It's actually been up for a while but... I've been getting my shit together on a lot of various levels lately and blogging has fallen by the wayside.

 

Perhaps, like me, you will find yourself drawn into an exciting new fantasy world that feels like a mix of G.R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ and Terry Prachett’s ‘Discworld’ novels, while retaining a fresh and unique quality that will make you unwilling to put down the book for even a second.

Queercentric Books

I was also treated to another 4.5 star review on Queercentric Books. In addition to reviews, they also feature a weekly mailing list highlighting free and bargain books for authors and readers.

The whole concept of The Queen of Lies was brilliant! A very original and unique story line. I really liked that the story was told from everyone’s POVs. If you’re a fantasy lover, this story will not be a let down. There’s straight lovin’, M/M lovin’, drugs, drinking, and plenty of magic to go around.

 

 

 

 

I've been a fan of the Fallout franchise since the first one where I was able to get gay married to the farmer's idiot son Davin. Davin was useless and you couldn't get rid of him unless you shot him (or sold him into slavery for 300 caps) but I spent endless hours exploring the wasteland.

Fallout4_Trailer_Vault_435x244

And so it was with the enthusiasm of a post college graduate without a regular job that I downloaded Fallout 4.

I pulled an all nighter... that went into the next day. Nearly 36 hours later I finally convinced myself to go to sleep. Over the course of November when all my writer friends were writing their November novels, I was glued to my screen. I took only the occasional break to attend to functions essential for existence: urinating, buying more beer, and watching The Good Wife.

If you've ever said to yourself, "Self, I want to do nothing but play video games," my  only word of caution is be careful what you wish for...

I have done zero publicity for my second book. My third book, meanwhile has been sorely neglected; as has my blog, personal hygiene, and living conditions. I went days without talking to another living soul as I searched for my imaginary son in an virtual wasteland and looting garbage like someone on Hoarders.

I've gotten the faint hint of a pot belly from my lack of physical activity. To be fair, my busted knee kicked off the whole sitting around all day habit but my metabolism is showing the first signs of finally slowing down after nearly forty years of flawless performance.

But, after 62 levels, eighty hours of game play, and two of four possible endings... I'm ready to return to society. I got a haircut, put in more hours at work, and started writing my next chapter.

Book 3 (no working title yet) is a major departure from the first two, focusing on the Travelers and their secrets. I'm very excited to see how everything from the first two is finally fitting together. Stay tuned.