Last week, I finally completed a full draft of the third novella in the Earths in Space series.

I had been struggling with it since January, and I took several lengthy breaks to work on other projects, primarily the RIP series (Volume 1: Choices After Death coming soon!). Each time I returned to the story, it never quite felt right. It had some good moments, yes — enough to motivate me to keep going with it.

The story needed to happen. I knew that, especially since I had already written drafts of the fourth and fifth novellas and most of the sixth. There were holes in character development that needed filling. The crew needed one more story before the events in Episode Four.

But I kept making mistakes in execution. The plot involves a zombie-like threat in a space ark that gets snagged in Pluto’s orbit. I didn’t want to do the usual zombies, though. The Walking Dead does great zombies, and I don’t have anything to add to that type of living dead, flesh-eating monster. I wanted a new type of living dead monster — one that eats energy. Continue reading

An Earths in Space snippet

Enjoy this quick little dialogue exchange from the next Earths in Space, definitely still a work-in-progress:

“Are you having fun filling my ship with toxic fumes?” Gilmore asked.

“Fan’s running,” Amena said. “What do you think so far?”

“It looks like you haphazardly flung your paintbrushes every which way.”

“Good eye. Yep. It’s called abstract expressionism.”

“And what precisely are you expressing?”

“Colors are fun.”


Keep an eye out for Earths in Space vol. 2: We Must Evolve, coming later this year. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the first volume, Where Are the Little Green Men?

A benefit of writing and reading

I had a random thought last night:

A beneficial side-effect of creative writing and reading is getting into heads and points-of-view that aren’t your own.

Understanding other people’s perspectives is an essential life skill. It leads to empathy, compassion, and tolerance, and it reduces the number of times someone angrily says, “How can anyone in their right mind think X?!?!?”

Good writers allow their characters to express views the writers themselves don’t believe. This is vital. The good guys can’t all have identical worldviews. There can be some common ground, but distinctions need to be drawn. And would you want to read a book in which all the sympathetic characters appear to be mouthpieces for the author’s opinions? Continue reading

How not to write a bad review

Not everyone likes everything, and that’s fine. There is no such thing as a flawless work of entertainment, whether it’s a book, movie, play, or TV show.

The world is vast and complex, and we each perceive it from a different angle. We notice things others miss, and other people notice things we miss.

A movie’s flaws might grate on certain audience members, diminishing or eliminating their enjoyment. Someone else in the same theater might be willing to forgive those flaws, and other people might not even notice those flaws because other aspects of the film are dazzling enough to distract them. And others might still find those flaws grating, but they’ll put up with them because they enjoy other qualities within the movie.

This has nothing to do with intelligence. Everyone’s just looking at the movie differently based on their unique life experiences leading up to that point.

Some things appeal to larger numbers of people, but nothing appeals to everyone and it’s okay to express that opinion.

The key, however, is remembering that it’s just an opinion. Continue reading

Want to win some prizes?

Platinum Book Reviews is sponsoring a weekend-long Facebook event Aug.17 and 18, so log on to your FB account and join the Multi-Author Release Extravaganza!

There will be a bunch of contests and a bunch of prizes provided by the participating authors. It’s an opportunity to learn about new books released in the past year, and many of the authors will be on-hand during their respective events to say a digital hello. Lots of different genres will be represented.

I’m one of those participating authors. My timeslot starts at 2:30 p.m. CST on Saturday (or 3:30 p.m. in my native EST). I’m giving away copies of Earths in Space to a pair of lucky winners. I’ll be there to chat.

Come join the fun!

“Doing great and getting better”

In one of my other lives, I help out at a martial arts school. Whenever we ask the kids how they’re doing, they know to respond, “Doing great and getting better, sir!”

It’s an attitude worth adopting, regardless of what we’re doing.

How’s that book coming along? Doing great and getting better!

How are you doing with your fitness goals? Doing great and getting better!

How are you adjusting to your new job? Doing great and getting better! Continue reading

Fun with titling

I previously announced my next title as RIP vol. 1: Choices. Today, while printing out free samples for tomorrow’s Hanover Book Festival, I decided the title needs to be RIP vol. 1: Choices After Death.

Two words. One prepositional phrase. And it feels like it makes all the difference.

“Choices” kept feeling too vague and generic to me. It certainly fit a theme of the book, as the earthbound ghosts in RIP are basically in purgatory and it’s up to each individual to decide whether to work toward Heaven or waste away until Hell calls. Plus, Rip himself has to choose to snap out of his funk and to embrace his mission to stop the wicked ghosts from haunting the living.

So I was definitely on the right track by including “choices” somewhere in the title. But it wasn’t enough. It didn’t distinguish the book, didn’t help it stand out. It didn’t spark the imagination in any way. Continue reading

Come to the Hanover Book Festival

HBF 2013 postcard sq


If you’re in or around Central Virginia Saturday, please stop by and meet a whole bunch of authors. Maybe even buy their books. Since my books are only digital, I won’t be handling any money, but I will have free samples and cards to hand out. Come say hello!

Sorry to those of who you aren’t in Virginia. I’ll make sure my next post is less geographically specific.

Making paranormal rules is fun!

This article was originally written for C.J. Brightley’s blog during the Blogger Book Fair, and I’m re-posting here in case you missed it.

I’m writing a series about ghosts, but before I started, I had to figure something out: What on Earth can ghosts do?

If I was writing a series about police officers, I’d need to research and learn about the laws governing their behavior on the job. If I was writing about tigers, I’d need to learn everything I could about tigers. But there aren’t any concrete, factual accounts of ghosts. Tons of stories and legends are out there, but to what degree my stories conform to existing folklore is entirely up to me.

That means I got to make up my own rules, and I couldn’t get started on the first draft until I sorted out what some of those rules were. I was certainly free to change my mind along the way—and I did—but I needed a tentative rulebook to get started. Continue reading

Limited-time editing discount

By the way, I also do manuscript editing, and I’m having a “Welcome, August” sale! (Note that the comma indicates I am welcoming August. Without the comma, “welcome” would be an adjective modifying August.)

I usually charge $6 per 1,000 words, but for the first seven days of August, I’m knocking off 10 percent, bringing it down to $5.40 per 1,000 words. Editing a full 100,000-word novel would then cost only $540, which is a price with many bargain-like qualities. As usual, I’ll edit the first five pages for free so you can see how I work.

All you have to do is contact me by Aug. 7. If your book isn’t quite ready, that’s fine. I’ll hold the price.

You can reach me at

(Sorry, but I don’t do erotica, nor would you want me to.)