It’s been a little while since my last book review. That’s not because I haven’t read anything, I’ve just struggled with getting the latest reviews done for various reasons. My most recent read hasn’t offered those same struggles. It was such an enjoyable read, I’ve been anxious to share my thoughts about it!
I feel confident saying that this year wasn’t the best. my day job was more than I could’ve imagined. E-learning for my kids was never part of my plan. That just contributed to my daily stress being more than I could handle for the majority of the year.
Normally, I would be disappointed that I didn’t release a novel in a calendar year. But as I wallowed in self-pity for a lack of publishing in 2020, it dawned on me that just because I didn’t release a novel doesn’t mean that I didn’t do plenty of publishing.
As I mentioned last year, I devoted a lot of time and energy into posting regular content on my website. The same goes for this year, and while I didn’t quite make my mark of a new post every single week, I was very close to that goal and still managed to publish 46 articles this year. My total number of site visits also reflected my increase in content production for the second straight year. While I didn’t quite hit my main goal for the year (so close!), I breezed past my secondary goal late last month, which was a sizeable increase (70%!) over the record numbers I had last year. So if you’re reading this, then thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my posts!
I also (finally) set up a website dedicated solely to Circle City Publishing (CCP). With that, I also began creating original content for that website. I published some really great articles that I think can be very educational for new authors and readers alike.
Earlier this year, CCP released its first anthology of short stories. The Fun Size anthology was a great success for my first effort, and required a ton of work. I handled all the submission reviews and editing duties. I organized the stories, formatted the layout, and got everything ready for printing. On top of that, I created all of the teaser graphics for each story and the cover reveal as well, along with a few marketing images too.
As I’ve previously noted, I’ve also taken on a pet project this year. Because of its fan fiction nature, and the characters belonging to TriStar Pictures, my distribution will be quite limited. At least in a profitable nature. The e-book released earlier last week for free download, I just won’t be able to sell physical copies. Along with this novella, I made my first attempt at designing a cover. I wanted it to hark back to the source material, without being so obnoxiously ‘80’s. If I’m being honest, I think it turned out pretty bitching.
Beyond that, I wrote and submitted six new poems to two projects, one of which I was selected for, and it just released last month. I also had the honor of having two short stories included in other anthologies, unrelated to CCP. Those projects took a lot less organizational work on my end, but the writing and editing process was as thorough as anything else I put out. You can find the Ephemera Anthology here, and the Nightmare Whispers Anthology here. They’re both great collections and you should totally check them out if you’re looking for some shorter, quicker reads!
Lastly, the latest call for submissions for CCP’s second anthology closed on November 1st. I received some great stories for that, and again was responsible for all submission reviews, editing, and formatting. I’ve already worked up story teasers and author intro graphics. I also decided to take it a step further and take a crack at designing the cover for this project too. From there I made cover reveal teasers, and some marketing graphics to go with it.
Oh, one last thing; I feel I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention that I also have a solid start on the next installment in the Kings of Chaos Motorcycle Club Series. I haven’t opened that file in over six months, but I think I left it somewhere between a quarter and a third finished. Wrapping up this series will be my main priority in the coming year.
It seems like this post is simply bragging about everything I’ve done this year. While I am very proud of my output these past twelve months, it’s not intended to be braggadocios. Sometimes we just need to remember what we’re capable of and everything we’ve accomplished. As bad as 2020 has been, it’s been pretty good for my writing career. Thanks for joining me on the journey, and hopefully we can keep it going into a much better 2021!
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
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.
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 Marie – The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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