This has been finished for a while, but A Means to an Ens had been finished even longer, so this one had to wait its turn.
Two people meet, fall in love, fall out, and fall apart, left wondering what to do with the pieces that remain. A collection of narrative poetry.
Build Yourself Better is a poetry collection, and the final in a trilogy called Pen and Paper, Wood and Nails, which consists of Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages, A Means to an Ens, and Build Yourself Better.
The whole trilogy can be purchased as a set inconspicuously titled Pen and Paper, Wood and Nails, which will also include a fourth collection, B-Sides and Rarities, consisting of poems cut from the first three.
All in all, each collection is a set of narrative poetry, meaning the poems tell an over-arching story. Together, the collections form a thematic, loosely-related trilogy.
Pen and Paper, Wood and Nails gathers four poetry collections:
Permanent Ink on Temporary Pages details a narrator’s struggle to find his place in the world as he drifts through parallel universes, replaces the people around him with fictional characters, scatters his poetry to the wind, and keeps the things he can’t bear to lose by writing them down.
A Means to an Ens follows the last man on earth. Years after waking up to find himself seemingly alone in the world, the narrator heads out on a journey to find any sign of life in a desolate place, but is instead confronted by the ghosts of his past.
Build Yourself Better chronicles two people who meet, fall in love, fall out, and then fall apart, and what they do in the aftermath with the pieces that remain.
B-Sides and Rarities features poems originally cut from the above collections.
Build Yourself Better and Pen and Paper, Wood and Nails will be available in eBook and print formats on February 29th, 2016. Because the chance to release a book on February 29th doesn’t come around very often.
Before then, you can look forward to previews of a few of the poems by keeping an eye here, especially on my Scenes page.
Thanks for everything.
Pre-order links (more will be added as they become available):
In the Year of Our Death, the sequel to After the Bite and In the Lone and Level Sands is now available in print and eBook formats at various retailers, and should go live at several more over the next few hours.
It’s been two years since the zombies first appeared and changed the world forever. Keely and her friends escaped the hell of Seattle and settled down near an abandoned radio station. Bailey finds herself caught up with a ravenous group of survivors. Georgie has set up a courier system to move mail across the remains of America. Will and his friends—all of them orphans now—are out of water and have to leave their quiet suburb for the first time in their lives. Nelson, the engineer charged with running Hoover Dam and powering the American Southwest, breaks his glasses and must wander the wasteland nearly blind looking for a replacement.
Adam, however, knows the truth about the zombies: They aren’t monsters, they’re angels, sent by God to cleanse the world of the survivors, and Adam and his Church of Lesser Humans were put here to help them do it. Armed only with faith, a bus, and the steadfast rule to never allow harm to come to the zombies, Adam knows Judgment Day is coming, and will stop at nothing to herald its arrival.
You can read a sample chapter here as well as download samples from the retailer of your choice.
Store Links (more will be added as they become available):
Things have been exciting lately! I published my first game, Hinterland, and while it was a little bit glitchier than I thought, it’s been mostly smooth. I’ve had a lot of fun with it, and a lot of fun watching people play it on YouTube.
Now it’s time for me to shift my focus to my other big October project. This one is a book announcement.
In 2012 I published After the Bite, a collection of short stories I wrote with my friend Seth Thomas, set during a zombie apocalypse. This was a companion book to a novel we released a year later called In the Lone and Level Sands. Now, I couldn’t be happier to announce the sequel to both: In the Year of Our Death.
In the Year of Our Death picks up roughly two years after the end of In the Lone and Level Sands. Like the previous book, it follows different groups of characters across the zombie-ravaged country. Returning from In the Lone and Level Sands, Keely and her friends live in a motel near a radio station in a small, quiet part of Los Angeles they’ve barricaded off from the zombies and the outside world. Young Will and his group of orphaned teens have been waiting out the apocalypse in a peaceful suburb, but have run out of food and water and have to leave to find a new home. Ruffian Bailey found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and has been running with a bad crowd ever since, until she decides to flee them and try to do some good in the world. Slow but well-meaning Georgie, who could outrun the devil himself on his bicycle, has set up a courier system to shuttle packages and information across the United States. Engineer Stephen Nelson has set himself up at Hoover Dam, where he keeps power running to the Southwest—until he breaks his glasses and has to head blindly into the wasteland to replace them.
At the heart of it all is Adam. Suffering from nightmares of a church fire he survived at the onset of the apocalypse, Adam believes the zombies to be a higher form of enlightenment, and now commits his life to protecting them. His most important mission is to find the man on the radio who feeds daily advice on how to kill what Adam calls the “greater humans” and silence him for good.
After the Bite told the small tales of a zombie apocalypse, while In the Lone and Level Sands serves as a record of survivors at its onset. In the Year of Our Death finds the survivors—and zombies—struggling to survive in a world that changed forever two years ago. Every day now is a war, and this year will claim its fair share of casualties.
So this is how I find myself sitting on a series of finished books. I have to say I like how it feels. On that front, I’m also announcing an eBook collection of all three books:
Buying the three of them together will end up being a little cheaper than buying them separately, but fair warning: This is going to be quite a long eBook.
Both books release on October 20th, 2015. Pre-orders will be live soon, I’ll update with links as they’re available. Also, in celebration, the eBook version of In the Lone and Level Sands will be available for free and/or at a deep discount at most retailers through the month of October.
So that’s that. Stay tuned here for release info, teasers, and other goodies.
I have another nowPlaying post in the works, but I thought I’d break those up with an update on what else I’ve been up to as of late. Before I get to that, I should say the nowPlaying posts will probably be rare from now on. I’m excited to announce I’ve been taken on as a writer over at Cubed3, where I’ll occasionally post news and reviews relating to video games.
I’m about halfway through Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. I’m enjoying it; its style reminds me a lot of Wes Anderson’s movies, as well as Arrested Development. Lots of humor, lots of irony.
I’m also reading Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley. I found it annoying at first (for reasons I’ll detail when I write a full review), but it’s quickly growing on me.
The Leftovers on HBO. I love Damon Lindelof, I loved Lost, but I have to admit that the show lost focus at some point and never quite got it back. I fell in love with the trailer for The Leftovers and knew I’d give it a chance, but it looked like the kind of show that could go anywhere.
There’s a lot of mystery, but it’s a lot more self-contained than Lost was. Unlike the magical island, there are limits to what can and can’t happen, but that doesn’t stop the show from constantly pushing those limits a little further each episode. It’s riveting, it has an attention to detail comparable to that of Breaking Bad (but not quite the character development, not yet anyway). It’s one of few shows that keeps me on the edge of my seat, constantly wanting to know what comes next.
What I’m Working On
Things have been exciting for me on the writing front. I’m maybe 85% finished with a project I’ve been working on for a long time now. It’s a horror novel, and I can’t say much else about it, other than that I will most likely self-publish it sometime next year.
I’m also still working to get things published traditionally. There are certain projects that are better suited for self-publishing, and certain projects I’d rather do the traditional way.
I have a few other things lined up, one of which I’ll talk more about pretty soon here.
This all leads me to a major project I’ve been working on. I was hesitant to get this one out in the open because I’ve never done something like this, so keep in mind there’s a slight chance the following might never come to fruition. I’d like to introduce my project, tentatively titled Let the Moonlight Give You Wings.
That’s quite a mouthful! So what exactly is it?
First and foremost, it’s a game I’m making in RPG Maker VX Ace. I love games, and I’ve always had ideas for my own, but nothing ever really took off. I’ve worked with engines like Unreal Development Kit and Unity, but I’m not good at making models or scripting, so I always reached the limit of what I could do pretty quickly.
RPG Maker, however, is a little more suited to people like me who are more reliant on GUIs, and it’s also easier to make a game without a team of people working on it. RPG Maker also has an amazing community of people behind it for those moments when a single person runs into some trouble during development.
My sister bought me a copy of RPG Maker VX Ace during Steam’s summer sale. I started playing around with it, and eventually a story began to develop. It’s very loosely based on a fantasy novel I’ve had on the backburner for a while, but it’s different enough that I’m willing to consider it its own story.
Because of this, I’m planning on writing a novel based on the game. The current plan is to release the game for free or under a pay-what-you-want model (with a portion of each donation being forwarded to a few people whose scripts my game wouldn’t work without), and completing the game will give you a coupon to get the book at a discount.
Keep in mind, everything from here out is subject to change.
Let the Moonlight Give You Wings is the story of Emery, the oldest child at an orphanage. It’s a hard life for Emery, as she helps take care of the other kids between chores and school. Emery often daydreams about a fantasy world full of magic and mythical beings, and one night, Emery goes to sleep only to wake up in a world not unlike that of her dreams.
All dreams must end, and when morning comes, Emery finds herself awake in her old life. Much to her surprise, however, when she goes to sleep that night, her dream picks up right where it left off.
Emery is caught between a world that desperately needs her and one that seems as though it doesn’t want her, and embarks on a journey to save them both from disaster.
The game itself will have a lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek tone, for the most part. I want to pay homage to all the games I grew up with, but bring something new to the table as well. There’ll be quests, side quests, puzzles, and a lot of backstory told only to those players who seek it out. I like being rewarded for exploration, and my game should reflect that.
A large emphasis will be put on the game’s characters. I currently have a system in place that randomizes most of the game’s conversations. Put simply, pressing the action button on certain objects, characters, signposts, etc. brings up dialogue and comments from the game’s characters, but it’s randomized. You might get a different conversation every time you play it. Having certain characters in the party will make different dungeons and puzzles easier or elicit different responses from NPCs.
There’s also an affinity system in place. Leveling up certain characters will unlock special conversations with them, and eventually allow them to tap into their full potential.
This is a lot of work. Writing out a single event can take all night, but so far, it’s been worth it. My main priority with this game is to tell a story that can only be fully realized in video game form, though I’m still going to try my hardest with the novelization as well.
I wish I could give a timeframe for release, but it’s way too early to tell. Certain things I think will take a while to finish end up taking a few hours, other things I think will take a few minutes end up taking days. There are a lot of variables involved (pun intended) and there’s just no way to say when this’ll be finished, and even then, I have to have people playtest it, look for bugs, etc. I do, however, think it’ll be a few months at the most (knock on wood!) before the bulk of the game is finished.
I’ll hopefully talk more about the game as it progresses. Certain things aren’t set in stone yet, but for the most part, the core of the game is. I’m hoping to eventually devote full posts to some of the game’s cooler features.
And that rounds out some of what I’ve been up to lately. It might not seem like it, but this is mostly backburner stuff. My current major project is coming along nicely, but I’m saving it for its own post, coming up pretty soon.
I recently received my proof copies of the hardcover editions of After the Bite and In the Lone and Level Sands. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out, and now I’m making them available to purchase through Lulu.
I wish I could make these available elsewhere, but I can’t justify the cost to do so. For now, Lulu is the only place to get hardcovers of these books. Paperbacks and ebooks will remain available everywhere they currently are.
After the Bite comes in black satin with gold spine text, while In the Lone and Level Sands comes in tan satin with black spine text. Both books feature glossy dust jackets and black-and-white interiors.
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t want my blog to focus mainly on reviews, yet I have one ready to post at any time, and another one in progress. As it turns out, I greatly enjoy talking about the things I enjoy.
Before I get around to posting those, I thought I’d give an update on the other things this site was intended to focus on.
My main focus right now is on a coming-of-age / magic realism novella. I’m a little over 15,000 words in. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it once I finish it (and in this case, “finish” means finish writing, shelve it for a few months, then edit it and decide if it’s worth existing anywhere but my own hard drive). For now, I’m going to focus on writing it. Its tentative (and likely final) title is “The Afterglow”.
I have a few other projects on the backburner, one of which I’d like to talk a lot more about, but probably shouldn’t, since it won’t be finished anytime soon, let alone releasable. The reason I mention it is that I’m pretty sure I’ll break that silence in the coming weeks, depending on how well it comes along.
Search around the internet, and you’ll find a very unfortunate battle raging over traditional- vs. self-publishing. I think (and hope) the squabble is coming to an end, with both methods coming out of it as valid routes to the same goal, and both methods existing as alternatives balancing each other out. With that said, I don’t prefer or dislike either method. I’m still eager to have certain works traditionally published, but I have turned to self-publishing before. One reason for it is that I enjoy doing it. My first love will always be writing, but putting the finished product together as one package is a lot of fun. It’s hard work, sometimes it’s frustrating (no one can ever know how long I’ve languished over where to place the title on the cover, what size to print a book in, what font to use, etc.), but in the end I enjoy doing it.
It’s always exciting to see new options pop up on the publishing side of things. In my case, these options aren’t necessarily new, but old ones I’ve seen in a new light.
There isn’t a lot to say about either route, at the moment. On the traditional side, I’m submitting short stories and novelettes to publishers for their consideration. There’s a lot of waiting involved, which I understand and don’t mind, but it doesn’t make for an exciting blog post.
On the self-publishing side, I’m putting together hardcover editions of After the Bite and In the Lone and Level Sands. My co-author Seth and I have had a few people ask us about hardcovers, and it’s always a bummer to have to tell them it’s not in the cards. However, I’ve found a happy enough medium to work with. If I get these finished and approve of the quality, hardcovers will be available through Lulu’s store only. (I can’t bring myself to use their expanded distribution options; I would have to charge in the realm of $40-$60 for the books, and part of my self-publishing philosophy is that my books need to be affordable. I paid $40 for the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series, I can’t see myself charging the same for one short story collection by some random not-George R. R. Martin.)
Finally, and this one falls somewhere between “writing” and “publishing,” I’m considering a book of poetry. I had a random burst of creativity a few weeks ago, and the result was over a dozen strongly related poems. I’ve considered submitting them for publishing elsewhere, but these follow a theme and almost form a story, and I think they belong together. I could submit the entire book for publishing, but I’m not sure anyone would want to represent or publish a poetry book by someone who hasn’t published poetry before, so for now I’m leaning toward self-publishing it.
I’ve finally made decent progress with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I started reading it a long time ago, but I found the beginning to be slow, even boring. It’s finally picking up, and it was worth getting through; I’m enjoying the story.
I also recently began The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. The writing is delightful; I find myself smiling almost nonstop through it. The story is magical, although the parallels to previous works like Alice in Wonderland and other writers like Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula K. Le Guin are very strong, and I’m not sure the book will end up accomplishing anything those others haven’t already. But I’m not very far in yet, and anyway, a book doesn’t have to change the world or even change literature to be great. In any case, I’m surprised Studio Ghibli hasn’t made a film out of this one. It would fit right in.
I’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff around here. For example, the “Published Works” link at the top is now a drop-down menu that contains a page for every work listed in there (which it should have from the start, but I hadn’t thought to do it yet). Clicking “published works” will still go to the old page, where everything is on one page.
I’ve also been using the tumblr version of my blog a lot more than I thought I would. It’s great for posting pictures, and I’ve recently begun a project I’m calling “Scenes”, where I put excerpts of my writing over pictures I’ve taken over the years. I do plan to get that project going on here as well, but it’s a little more involved on WordPress, and I’m not sure yet how I want the page to appear. In the meantime, you’ll find the pictures on my facebook, the page for my zombie series, and my tumblr.
So that’s what I’ve been up to, more or less. Now I’ll get back to finishing those review posts, and hopefully, by the time those are up, I’ll have something a little more substantial to share on the writing side of this blog.
I’m excited to announce the release of my novella Six and Seven. I first posted about this project right here on my blog, and since then it’s been finished, edited, illustrated, and now published.
Call it Hell, call it the Underworld, call it whatever you like, a lost soul known only as Six calls it “In” and he’s stuck here. The souls of In spend their time feeding or fanning flames, watched over by strange creatures called Bellows, and staring through the constant snow of ash at seven distant chimneys visible at all times but eternally unreachable.
Then another soul called Seven gives Six some interesting news: You can get Out by climbing up through one of the chimneys, and Seven figured out how to get to them. Six and Seven set off across the ashy plains toward a chimney, and they quickly learn the rules. The only way to reach the chimney is to progress toward it metaphysically, by finding objects from their lives before In. But each object is accompanied by a painful death, which is followed by a memory from Six’s life, and with each glimpse of what he left behind, Six begins to wonder if he truly wants Out at all.
Six and Seven is a novella and a short story that serves as a direct sequel to it. It features illustrations by me.
The e-book is already available at Smashwords for $2.99, and should be available for Kindle and at most other e-book retailers very soon.