Twenty thousand words under the sea

Sometimes, you know it isn’t going to work out, but you try to stay together for the scenes. You know it’s going to hurt them most of all, but still, you just can’t take any more nights being disappointed by the plot. And you will be disappointed by the plot, no matter how much you wish it was otherwise.

Okay, horrible jokes aside, this one sucks. I thought I had enough meat on the bone to flesh out a novella/novel thing and it just doesn’t work. I think the characters are strong enough I’ll keep notes on them, but the plot stinks. It keeps wanting to stray into areas that aren’t my wheelhouse, namely art theft, and the things I need to research (alarm systems, pressure plates, etc.) aren’t exactly things I can just search out on the Internet. Maybe someday I’ll be famous enough that me asking experts about this will seem less criminal-minded and more eclectic, but let’s be real, this thing needs to be tossed in the garbage. Or in reality, backed up in my usual spots, then I can hopefully start clean and change it into something different.

What are you going to do?

Cutthroat is now available for pre-order!

My latest novella and the season three closer to the Adamanta series, Cutthroat, is now available for pre-order! When a Beltine mining facility is found in the midst of an asteroid field, the Lady Contessa and her crew are tasked with destroying it. But they’re beat to the punch by an industrialist and a weapons designer intent on studying the Beltine. What should have been a chance for humankind to give the Beltine a black eye instead turns into a brutal rescue mission as something new and malevolent is unleashed in the mining facility, something even the Beltine are terrified of.

Pre-order your copy here for just $1.99! And if you haven’t, check out the rest of the series. The first episode is free, so hey, you’re not out anything by giving it a look.

Book Bubbin’ 07/15/18 – Last Night in Montreal

Today’s entry is going to be super brief – my grandmother is in the hospital and I’m in a hurry to get back there to visit. Please don’t think that this in some way is a comment on the quality of the writers I’m about to talk about, because all of them are top notch.

My highlight for the week is Last Night in Montreal ($2.99 on Amazon), written by Emily St. John Mandel, she of Station Eleven fame. If you’re new to my blog or haven’t heard me shout it from the rooftops yet, my heart thumps a little bit faster thinking about that book and its gorgeous writing, heartfelt characters, and its beautifully haunting plot. It’s the sort of book I look at as a writer and I’m humbled by the sheer amount of talent on every level that went into it. Have I thrown enough hyperbole her way? No? How about the ability to make a viral apocalypse somehow a bittersweet, hopeful thing (at least for a few of its characters)?

I haven’t read Last Night in Montreal, but judging from the blurb, it’s a more traditional literary piece about a girl abducted by her father and who now lives a life on the move as a woman. That’s a solid premise, and it’s a book I look forward to reading soon.

I’m just going to say it one more time – Emily St. John Mandel is well worth your time.

Other books worth mentioning this week:

Floating Dragon (Peter Straub, $1.99 on Amazon) – Straub is one of those horror greats I chewed up in junior high and high school. Ghost Story was a seminal book in my quest to read everything ginormous and horror-related, one I really ought to revisit sometime soon. I haven’t read Floating Dragon (I wasn’t aware Mr. Straub was still writing, and I should have been), but it looks like one of his traditionally solid horror novels. I look forward to seeing if it has the same sort of delightful ichoric feel of Ghost Story.

The Afghan (Frederick Forsyth, $1.99 on Amazon) – If you’ve never read Day of the Jackal, Odessa File, or Dogs of War, you owe it to yourself to check out Forsyth. His political thrillers hold up well under modern scrutiny. I haven’t read his more modern novels like The Afghan, but if it’s anything like the ones mentioned above, you can expect a punchy, well-informed thriller with a lot of forward motion.

Buck Fever (Ben Rehder, free on Amazon) – In the interest of transparency, Ben is an online acquaintance, but since his novel’s free today, it’s not like you’re out any great sum by giving it a shot. Ben is a terrifically funny guy, and while I haven’t read Buck Fever, judging from the Look Inside feature, this looks to be proof of that. A texan comedy sounds like good medicine to me. Give it a shot!

And that does it for this week. What are you reading?

Book Bloggin’ – 07/10/18

Great! My second entry in, and I’ve already missed a deadline on a new blog feature.

Since I didn’t get around to checking my Sunday edition of the BookBub discounted books for the day, I’ll be discussing a bit about what I’m reading. On a bit of a small vacation last week, I managed to read a goodish chunk of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which I’m pretty impressed with. I like the simple, basic prose combined with the more elegiac interludes and dream sequences. There’s a lot of striking imagery in those spots of the novel, while the rest is focused on crisp momentum and progression, as well as character development in some small doses.

I’ve also been listening to The Rooster Bar by John Grisham. It’s my first Grisham novel since… oh hell, 2000 or so, and it’s a surprisingly good one. I generally tend to prefer his work to many of his peers – he doesn’t generally talk down to readers, and weaves the courtroom specifics in a pretty entertaining manner. I did get a little burned out on his samey characters, but Rooster Bar so far has introduced some likable, fascinating characters that seem pretty interesting so far.

I’ve also been catching up on John Sandford’s Prey novels, and I’m up to Mortal Prey (roughly halfway through the series). I keep waiting to get burned out on them, but truthfully, I’m not. They’re all generally perfectly entertaining novels, leaning more on the side of entertainment than procedure. I’ve mentioned before my own style is influenced in a lot of ways by his – I love his dialogue – nut purely from a readerly perspective, his earliest novels still hold up.

All right, sorry for the brevity of this post, but I’m in a writing blitz at the moment, a rarity after a recent hospital stay. Thanks for reading!

Book Bubbin’ 07/01/18 – Already Dead

Welcome to the newest feature I’ll probably forget to update and let slide for months on end. In Book Bubbin’, I’ll be taking a weekly look through BookBub’s featured novels and talk about one or two that I’ve read and recommend. Alternately, if I haven’t read any, I’ll talk about which ones look interesting to me. It’s going to be a fun way to pass the time in between releases. Feel free to chime in with whatever you pick up yourself, whatever you’re reading, or the like.

This week’s biggest pick for me is Charlie Huston’s Already Dead (featured on Amazon for $1.99 here). A pulpy, hard-boiled suspense series about a PI-type vampire named Joe Pitt circumnavigating various undead gangs of New York, the Pitt novels are lean, angry, and brilliantly written. Charlie Huston eschews a lot of the conventions of writing in favor of fast delivery and action, often times switching between first and third person and doing without quotation marks. If that sours you, think about giving it a once-over with the Look Inside feature. It’s something you learn not to notice remarkably quick.

I’ve mentioned it before, but Charlie Huston’s lean, pulpy style is one of the biggest influences on my Rankin Flats novels, outside of John Sandford. I love that he takes what is a traditional PI story and runs with it to some wild extremes, letting the genre evolve as his characters continue to get drawn into the world around them. I’m also a huge fan of his punchy, to-the-point dialogue.

Already Dead is the first of the series, and arguably the best. It’s a great jumping off point to introduce yourself to Charlie Huston’s work, and if you like it, I highly recommend his Hank Thompson trilogy (a non-supernatural suspense/action series) and Sleepless (a suspense novel against the backdrop of a massive plague inflicting – you guessed it – sleeplessness on the population).

Other books of note this week include Savage Season (Joe Lansdale), the first Hap and Leonard novel and the basis for the first season of the terrific TV series. I haven’t read this one yet but I did love the TV show, so I’m looking forward to diving into it sometime soon. My acquaintance Meghan Doidge also has I See Me, the first in her paranormal romance series Oracle on sale. I haven’t read it, but I mention it for fans of the more romantic aspects of my own novels. Plus, it’s free, so hey, it’s worth a shot for fans of the genre.

And that’s it! Reading anything good?

Adamanta: Trident now up for pre-order!

You can pre-order my newest Adamanta novella here on Amazon. Titled Trident, it follows the crew of the Lady Contessa as they help lead a desperate defense in space of an FTL shipping route against an incursion of the bug-like Beltine. Featuring a huge space battle and dire stakes for humans and their alien allies, Trident is pure fast-paced action and closes out the second season of Adamanta with a bang.

If you haven’t tried the Adamanta series yet, there’s a nifty first season omnibus here that will get you started. It’s a terrifically fun space opera series with a strong female protagonist and a fun, eclectic cast of side characters. Give it a shot!

End of Book

Here’s a weird one for you.

Most of the things I’m afraid of are fairly typical – I’m afraid I won’t make rent. I’m afraid of losing my dogs. I’m afraid of things happening to family. Pretty normal stuff, all things considered. I’ve managed to fight down my two major weird fears in life, those being going blind and spiders. You can read about the former elsewhere on this blog, while the spider thing just took time and effort.

One fear I’ve only recently come down with is a bizarre one. Even calling it a “fear” is a stretch, because I’m not afraid of it. It’s more like… hm… dread?

I’m mildly dreadful then of my low-vision audio book reader’s “End of Book.”

It’s a funny little device, about the size of a paperback in all the dimensions you can think of, save for weight – it’s just a touch heavier (and hurts like hell when I drop it on my foot). It’s this black box thing, with a slot on one end where I input the audio books I get from the Montana low vision audio library. On top, it has some very large buttons – fast forward/rewind, skip, volume, play, speed, etc. In practice, it’s a very simple device that I love dearly because it’s so very easy to use, and it’s loud enough that I can be working or gaming while listening to John Sandford or the newest Joe Ledger novel.


Whenever a novel is nearing completion, I rush over to stop it before it finishes rattling off the finishing notes on the book, which usually consist of the audio book reader rattling off the novelist’s name and publishing house details. Because after all that is one of the creepiest lines I’ve ever heard –

“End of book.”

It’s not spoken in a menacing way. Like everything else about the e-reader, it’s mechanical in nature, spoken monotonously. But that in itself is sort of weird and terrible, isn’t it? The end of a book means something, good or bad. It’s a finish, a conclusion, a journey at its last, and it’s dismissed with a cold “end of book.” No goodbye. No thanks for listening. Just that.

“End of book.”

I don’t like it. I won’t listen to it. And yet every now and then, I find myself drawn to listen to it one more time. Because it’s important in a way I can’t fathom. It’s literary mortality in a box. No matter how much I love a writer, there will always be a final End of Book with no more to come. That’ll happen to me someday too. What’s the legacy I leave behind? Am I proud of that? The answer right now is yes, but will it always be that way?

End of book.