Under a Blushing Sky poetry anthology available now

Earlier this year, I saw a call for submissions for poems based on new beginnings. They were to be included in an anthology that would benefit organizations that fight against domestic abuse. The call spoke to me. For several years, I’ve worked directly with domestic batterers, and take my work in serving their victims very seriously.

With that inspiration, I got to work. I whipped up three poems to submit, hoping at least one of them would be considered for inclusion. A couple months ago, I was notified that all three were selected. Continue reading

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The CKFiction Indie Authors Reading Guide

It’s that time of year again. Holiday shopping is in full effect, and you might be racking your brain to come up with unique ideas for all of the loved ones you haven’t been able to visit much this year. #ThanksCOVID. With the current state of the world, books are an even better gift than normal. You know, to help facilitate social distancing and all.

Last year I listed out the ideal demographics for my books. (Hint: like any good salesman, I showed how pretty much all my books are perfect for pretty much everybody.) However, I’m well aware that I’m not everybody’s cup of tea. I get it. I’m weird and have a penchant for making things awkward. My books might not be for everybody. Who would want a fun series chock-full of dry sarcasm, bad dad jokes, and cheesy innuendos? No, that’s probably not appealing at all.

Anyway, I also like to plug the indie writing community every chance I get, and what better time for that than now??

The problem with trying to navigate the self published landscape of indie writers? Knowing where to start. What books are going to be well written? Which books are going to be interesting and unique? The general rule of not judging a book by its cover applies more than ever to self published titles. Let’s be serious, judging a book by its cover is normal. But indie authors may not have the budget for a polished, eye-catching cover design. In terms of lesser established writers, don’t let that sway you to discard the title and move to something else.  Instead, let me offer some suggestions and insight into several really great reads!

Let me break down some personal favorites of mine for all readers:

(**Editor’s note: Clicking on the author’s name will take you to an author spotlight so you can learn more about them.  Clicking on the title of their work will take you to a review, and clicking on “order here” will take you to Amazon so you can add it to your cart.**)

Fantasy – As previously stated, I struggle with this genre, so for me to recommend a fantasy book, then you’ve gotta believe that it’s a great read.

Jon Degler – Princess Olive. Definitely a fun read for adults and young adults alike. Order your copy here and thank me later!

Adam Moore – Compendium Twenty-Three.  Fantasy with a Christian twist. What happens when everyone’s guardian angel becomes visible? Pandemonium.  Order book one here, then check out book two immediately after!

Cait MarieThe Lost Legends and newly release sequel, The Lost Prince.  If you like a little bit of romance to fuel your fantasy stories, these books are great choices.  Order book one here, and book two here.

Katheryn Schwarz – The Blood Dragon.  If you’re looking for ancient dragons, then you can stop searching here.  I never got into the Game of Thrones/dragon phenomenon, but The Blood Dragon drew me into the story right from the start.  Order your copy here.

Sci-fi:

Christian Scully – The Chronicles of Erika Lorenz.  This series is what all vampire stories should strive to be.  The backstory is original and unique, and the action is perfect.  (Although, I think Scully gets a little too much joy from watching his characters suffer.  But hey, that’s just my opinion.)  Order book one here, and book two here.

Mystery/thriller:

Patrick J. O’Brian – I’ve clearly documented my total fandom of O’Brian’s work, and in my opinion, there are simply too many great titles to list. But…the book that got me hooked was Reaper. Plus, it’s the first book of a series, so if you enjoy it as much as me, then you’ll be set for awhile!  Order your copy here.

Ben OnealDie Laughing.  Following FBI Agent Benjamin Kroh, while he hunts a stand-up comedian is a lot of fun.  Order book one here, and book two here.

Horror:

Donna Trovato – It’s Coming for You. This collection of short stories is bound to leave you creeped out and at least a little disturbed!  The stories are original and fun, in a totally horrific way.  Order your copy here.

Short story anthologies:

Fun Size – Are you surprised that most of these authors contributed to Circle City Publishing‘s first project, the Fun Size Anthology? You probably shouldn’t be! All of these authors are friends of mine, and I admire each of their writing styles, so it only makes sense for them to be on this list! If you still aren’t convinced, then order a copy of Fun Size today, and get a preview of several of these writers to see what all the hype is about!

Ephemera – This anthology offers stories ranging from apocalyptic to romance to mystery to steampunk.  It really covers a whole range of genres, and each story was required to incorporate a life lesson and a random word that was assigned by another writer.  Order your copy here.

Nightmare Whispers – Three volumes of horrific short stories.  The stories themselves are beautiful, but horror is the theme.  Get it?  Order your copy here.

Action/Adventure:

Maybe you’ve heard of a series called the Kings of Chaos Motorcycle Club Series?  Man, I sure hope so.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, order your copies from the store page!

Children’s Books:

My Ship Don’t Sink! Know of somebody that is in the process of reproducing?  Looking for a fun baby shower gift?  Pair up this fun children’s book with some bath toys for a perfect present.  You can find this title on the store page, too!

With the holidays fast approaching, and the importance of social distancing, there’s never been a better time to give books as gifts.  Instead of the predictable titles from the likes of James Patterson and Stephen King, why not help support the indie community, and introduce some new authors to your friends and family?  Or hell, just give them the link to this article – there are enough links included to keep somebody reading for days!

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Whispering Nightmares Vols. I, II, & III Available now!

The time has finally come! What better day to treat yourself to something spooky? Dim the lights, hide under a blanket, and check out three full volumes of fresh new horror stories! order your copies today!

All three volumes of Nightmare Whispers can be purchased below as ebooks or paperbacks to suit your need. If you’re curious about what happens when a local ghost story comes to life, you can find my story, Into the Graveyard, in Volume I.

Nightmare Whispers, Volume I: The Darkness Within

Nightmare Whispers, Volume II: Madness Echoes

Nightmare Whispers, Volume III: What Remains

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The Shed in the Woods

Ahh, October in Indiana. Crunchy leaves litter the ground. Crisp air breathes a distinct life into your lungs. And the humidity and bugs cease to exist. The rolling hills of southern Indiana provide a beautiful patchwork quilt as the vegetation changes colors. Reds, oranges, yellows, and browns all intermingle as trees rise from valleys and disappear over hill crests. Perfection in nature.

Hiking through the woods surrounding the massive Lake Monroe reservoir has always been a favorite hobby of mine. I’ve always loved spotting animal tracks and seeing where they lead. On one particular morning hike, I took a tentative step on the slick, morning ground, and heard twigs snapping underfoot. I carefully stepped over a downed tree and surveyed my surroundings. I took several more steps into the rising, morning sun, when a strange shape caught my eye.

I was exploring a new valley when I stumbled across a small, non-descript shed. The structure was very out of place, surrounded by nothing but trees. There were no houses or other buildings in the vicinity, making the placement of this particular structure rather odd. The construction of the shack seemed rushed, and the sturdiness was questionable at best.

I inspected the exterior from a safe distance. A single window along one of the sides was the only feature that broke up the wooden construct. I tentatively approached the window to try to peer in, but it was so covered in dirt and yellowed with age and grime that I couldn’t see in. On the front, there was a solid wood door with heavy duty hinges holding it in place. I grabbed the knob and gave it a turn. Surprisingly, it performed a full turn in my hand. I yanked on the door, but it didn’t budge. Instead, I heard some clanging near the top edge. I looked up and saw a metal flange holding the door closed with a Masterlock keeping the door shut. Curious, I tugged on the lock to try my luck. Alas, it remained firm. I shrugged and decided to move on, completing my morning hike in peace.

*****

Ahh, October in Indiana. Crunchy leaves litter the ground, masking the blood trail to the naked eye. Crisp air breathes a distinct life into your lungs, as long as they’re still functioning. And the humidity and bugs cease to exist; flies no longer circle and swarm endlessly around rotting flesh. Blood reds, yellows, and browns intermingled as the body drained itself of all liquids. Perfection in nature to a demented mind.

On the inside of the shed, a local outcast was fast at work. He sawed and hacked, disposing of the remains of his latest victim. The woman, who had cut him off in traffic earlier that week, had no idea what consequences she would face for her careless behavior. Her family first reported her missing three days prior, and the news story ran just the previous evening.

The countryside killer had just severed his transgressor’s lower left leg with a sharpened hatchet when he saw a shadow move by the lone window. Luckily, he was confident in the lack of visibility into the shelter. A moment later, he heard a tug on the door. He immediately stopped what he was doing, staying silent and still. His pulsed pounded out a rapid rhythm in his ears. He readied the ax for attack, in the event he was discovered. His palms grew more sweaty as he tightened his grip on the hatchet. After another attempt to open the locked door from the outside, peace and quiet returned to the makeshift shed. The killer resumed his work, destroying any evidence that could ever be discovered. Saved by some hardcore hinges and a Masterlock. Peace and quiet. Such a strange concept given the nature of events that occurred in that tiny structure.

The dying trees hold secrets that nobody will ever know about. Some of us wander through the woods, oblivious to the dangers that hide there. Others create chaos, never knowing how close they are to being discovered.  Each sharing the same world, living on complete opposite ends of reality. Peace and quiet. Such a strange concept indeed.

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Authors Supporting Authors

This article originally appeared on CircleCityPublishing.com.

We’ve previously shared tips on how to show support for upcoming authors for free here and here, and for cheap here. With those ideas being provided, we’d be remiss to acknowledge the struggle within the writing community to support each other. What we’ve seen more times than we can count, is authors who are so laser-focused on selling a single copy of their own book, that they miss the opportunity to support the larger writing community in a way that could offer long-term benefit. There is a focus to sell books at all costs, without recognizing that not every reader is their target demographic. It almost seems like there is a competitive approach, as in, let’s see who can sell the most books. Sure, generally, that’s the end goal. But when you’re still finding your place in the writing world, it would be beneficial to ally yourself with other authors who can work with each other and help the collective group.

Social media has provided countless groups for this very thing. The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to the writing community, especially compared to how difficult and limited the resources and options were just twenty years ago (pre-internet). While it’s fun to surround yourself with other writers that you share interests with, it might be more beneficial to find a well-rounded group, ranging from various writing styles, multiple genres, and differing experience levels. That way when you meet a new reader, and you ask them what they like to read, you can give them fitting choices when you make a recommendation. Sure, that recommendation might lead that reader to a different author, but the other authors in your group would ideally be doing the same thing and pointing identified readers in your direction as well. That’s a win-win for everyone involved. Not only that, but it also helps the reader find something that they will enjoy. They can then focus more support on a new favorite author, instead of getting annoyed and/or burned out from having books pushed on them that they aren’t interested in.

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen time and again, are author’s who seem to have the impression that there aren’t enough readers to go around, and that their book should be in everyone’s hands, even if that reader isn’t interested in their genre, topic, style, etc. While it’s true that there is a limited amount of money for readers to spend on books, wouldn’t it be better served if it was used for the benefit of the community, instead of trying to gobble up every reader whether they like your genre or not, $12 at a time?

Additionally, beyond selfish sales approaches, we’ve noticed that authors don’t always practice what they preach. Writers are always asking for book reviews, however, they aren’t the most reliable group to offer reviews to other authors. As previously noted, it doesn’t have to be a full-on, multiple paragraph essay-type book review. A simple “fun read” or “interesting book” work just fine. If you have a blog and want to do a complete book review, then even better. Not only are you letting readers know about a particular book, you’re generating easy content for your site. How can you go wrong with that?

Lastly, also discussed previously, most authors have fanpages on social media, and every author craves likes, shares, and comments. Although, you can have a whole friends list of writers, and will still struggle to receive the kind of attention that’s desired. It can be very defeating to offer support to others, and not have it reciprocated, and the logic behind it is baffling. The golden rule seems quite fitting here, doesn’t it? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Unfortunately, a lot of time, it comes down to do unto others when it benefits you. Or do unto others after they’ve done unto you.

Are you an author that finds themselves in this group of guilty offenders? Well, the good news is it’s never too late to start supporting the writing community!

 
 

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Ephemera: Life Lessons Learned Available Now!

Ephemera: Life Lessons Learned, the latest anthology that I contributed to is available now! Click the link and get your copy today! My story, Bunker 2253, is an apocalyptic tale of survival for a family of three. What would your survival plan look like? A stock of dried food? Access to weapons for defense? An underground bunker, perhaps? You never know what you might need, who you can rely on, and who may be a threat!

Every story has a lesson…

…Every lesson has a story

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Book Review: The Lost Legends

This review comes on the heels of Cait Marie’s debut novel, The Lost Legends.  I’d seen a lot of promotional material leading up to its release, and I was familiar with part of the backstory, thanks to The Lost Warriors short story that was included in Circle City Publishing’s Fun Size Anthology.  Other than that, all I knew was that there was something about cursed pirates, war, and all the good stuff, but that was more than enough to get me excited to check out the full story. Continue reading

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Easy & Cheap Ways to Support an Author

This article originally appeared on CircleCityPublishing.com.

Previously, we shared how to support an author for free. You can review those articles here and here. This time we’ll offer some suggestions on how you can help support your favorite authors if you have a few extra dollars to spend. These are pretty simple and straight-forward, so this post will be pretty short. Continue reading

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The End – 5 Ways to Effectively End Your Story

The opening line of any novel is arguably the most important sentence in the entire story. There are many effective ways to start a story, and there are countless articles with advice on where to start. I’m including some pretty comprehensive guides here, here, and here.

There’s a reason why the beginning is so crucial. Without a hook to draw in readers, then people aren’t likely to stick around for the end. Here’s the flip side though: how many stories have you read that have ended on a disappointing low note? A good story builds tension and excitement throughout to the final conflict. However, building tension is a lot easier than coming up with a satisfying end. Describing a satisfactory conclusion is the ultimate pay off, but it’s also one the hardest parts of drafting the story. Here are a few of my personal favorite methods to end your story.

The happy ending – this is actually not a favorite of mine at all, but readers have come to expect that the characters they fall in love with throughout your story will have a satisfying ending, comparable to what we see coming out of Hollywood.

The tragedy. Now this absolutely is one of my personal faves. How many stories end happily in real life? Life is hard, and I like my stories to reflect those difficulties. I love the struggle and anguish.

The dream – this has become a pretty big cliche in recent storytelling. The reader gets invested in characters and events that technically never happen. When stories that I’ve enjoyed turn out this way, I usually feel pretty bitter. It has the ability to be a clever way to explain some pretty outlandish plots, but at this point it can also be super predictable.

The cliffhanger – I’m going to describe a couple different ways that cliffhangers can be successful endings.

One: leading into the next entry in a series.

Two: leaving the story with an open ending for the reader to interpret. This one is a lot more difficult to do effectively, but when executed properly, it can be a thing of beauty. Each reader then has the ability to interpret the events in their own way, kind of making them part of the creative process. They get to decide how they subconsciously want the story to end, even though it could be completely different from somebody else who read the exact same story.

Lastly, I’ve seen some novels that just end in mid-sentence. This can be super frustrating for a typical reader who needs to have that resolution. If not done well, it can come across as a total cop-out. It could appear that the author couldn’t think of anything good, so they just stopped writing. And of course, the initial reaction is “where’s the rest of the story? Did I get a defective copy?”

As with anything, when executed properly, these can each be a thing of beauty. At the same time though, without adequate planning, each one of these can also turn into a train wreck and be unsatisfying for your readers. A little bit of planning to figure out what works best with your story goes a long way.

Thank you, that is a

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Easy & Free Ways to Support an Author, Pt. 2

Last time we shared the simplest, free-est ways to show some love to your favorite authors. Since then, we’ve put more thought on the topic and have been able to come up with a few more suggestions. If you’re looking for a way to spread the word for your new favorite author, and you’re willing to take a few minutes out of your schedule, these suggestions could offer massive amounts of support. And who knows, it may just be what it takes to push an unknown author more into the mainstream. Continue reading

This article originally appeared on CircleCityPublishing.com.

Last time we shared the simplest, free-est ways to show some love to your favorite authors. Since then, we’ve put more thought on the topic and have been able to come up with a few more suggestions. If you’re looking for a way to spread the word for your new favorite author, and you’re willing to take a few minutes out of your schedule, these suggestions could offer massive amounts of support. And who knows, it may just be what it takes to push an unknown author more into the mainstream. Continue reading

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Filed under Circle City Publishing, Writing Resource