Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"All the Stars in My Eyes" and "In the Land of Dead Dragons"

And they're up! The last of the three short stories that I planned on putting up before the summer.

Just like "Alive," these are two stories that I just had a ton of fun writing. Both in the first person, both characters who could safely be accused of being a little heartless.

The first, "All the Stars in My Eyes," is a near-future sci-fi story about a doubler, someone who uses state-of-the-art tech to take the place of celebrities when they have to tap out for a bit. Seems like the need for the actual actor/actress to be on set is diminishing over time, so this is about a time when the need to actually be at their own meet-and-greets and on their own press tours is tenuous.

Here's the synopsis:
She's a doubler. Hired to take the place of imperiled celebrities.
She lives in the spotlight that isn't hers, revels in adoration she never earned. A composite of a failed actress and state-of-the-art disguises, she's lived the celebrity life for so long that she's starting to believe she deserves it.
The second story, "In the Land of Dead Dragons," is a LitRPG short story about a woman trying unriddle her brother's lifestyle. In the absence of anything to go on in realspace, she dives into the most popular VR-RPG in the world, The Realm of Avarill, and tries to find anyone who might have encountered her brother in the years that he played the game.

And the synopsis:
Orin the Dragonslayer has vanished from The Realm of Avarill -- the most popular VR-RPG in the world. In his place, Valystra de Fere approaches.
She comes seeking Orin's legacy, tales of his heroics, and the cold trails he left behind. All so that, back in realspace, she might better understand the brother she fell out of touch with so many years ago.
I added a series title, because I'd genuinely like to write some more stories using this setting. The one I'm starting to outline probably won't be nearly as silly!

Thanks and enjoy!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Alive in Obsolescence: A Cyberpunk Short Story

It's up! The first of three short stories I'll be self-publishing through Kindle for now, each of which will feature cover art from my talented sister.

This is a story I wrote about a year ago as a return trip to a post-apocalyptic setting, this time with a cyberpunk slant. Here's the synopsis:
The world is dying. Thick smog chokes the skies and the oceans are acrid and toxic. As a pleasant alternative to riding out extinction, humanity is retreating into battery-powered VR simulations.

Unfortunately for Shilo, his battery has run out -- and hard reality awaits.
The other two will be up within the next week or so, with one being a litRPG story and the other a kind of sci-fi take on celebrity worship. I'm wrapping up final edits on them now.


Friday, May 11, 2018

Evaline Cartwright makes a return trip!

"The Lonesome Dark" was the first short story I ever got published. I had a fantastic time during the process and was very thankful Ragnarok Publications tossed me into a volume with other authors that I respect immensely.

While I continue plotting out further adventures with Evaline Cartwright, the magick-scarred gunslinger of "The Lonesome Dark," the original short story will be making a comeback thanks to Outland Entertainment.
The new volumes, entitled Brigands and Scoundrels will have all new cover art by Daniel Rempel, and editing will be done by Alana Joli Abbott and Melanie R. Meadors (with first edition credit going to JM Martin). The books will have stories in them by Bradley P. Beaulieu, Lian Hearn, Rob J. Hayes, Anthony Lowe, Anthony Ryan, Linda Robertson, Cat Rambo, Erik Scott de Bie, and many more. Not only will the books have stories that appeared in the original anthology, but each volume will feature a brand new story from fantasy authors not included in the original volume or the ebook companion.
Excited to see how it turns out! Check out the full post here:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Stuff on the way!

It's been a while, but with my time as an undergrad coming to an end this summer, I have some more stories on their way towards merry self-publication!

Without getting into details (yet), it will be a batch of three short stories that I'll be making available through pretty much as many sites as possible. Kindle will be a certainty, but I'm looking into others such as B&N, Kobo, and Drive Thru Fiction. All of it will depend on which ones accept short fiction.

Beyond that, I'm looking to get an unpublished piece LORE OF THE RELUCTANT short fiction up on Kindle as a free purchase. The Weird Western Anthology thing is still in progress, though, with graduation on the horizon, I'm guessing that one won't see completion until winter. I'd also love to get more movie reviews up on the blog. I love writing them, but I can rarely keep them brief. If I can keep up with it, I'll post some in the short term.

Until next time!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Movie Review: The Homesman (2014)

"You are not socially acceptable."

THE HOMESMAN opens with a very awkward marriage proposal on the part of a woman living alone in Nebraska Territory to a man who can barely stay awake during their dinner. Mary Bee Cuddy (Hillary Swank) is a farmer in an unforgiving part of the country, eking out a fair living but unable to find anyone willing to marry her, which is beginning to cause her great distress.

Meanwhile, as winter picks up, three wives of nearby homesteaders have all gone insane. Unable to cure the women, the church of the nearest town elect Mary Bee to take the three back east across the Mississippi, where they'll be sent back to their families. Before the journey can even begin, Mary Bee runs across a man calling himself George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), left to die with a noose around his neck and an unsteady horse beneath him. Agreeing to help Mary Bee transport the three women back east in exchange for his life, the five of them set out into wilderness unsure of what they'll come up against.

THE HOMESMAN, which marks Tommy Lee Jones' third film in the director's chair, is (for my money) one of the best Westerns to be made in recent years. Though Jones himself has made the claim that the film has little in common with a traditional Western aside from time and location -- and he's right -- it still fits neatly within the boundaries of a revisionist Western, with its goal of treating familiar imagery with a healthy dose of realism.

The film shines a light on the treatment and overbearing expectations of women on the frontier, and does not shy away from depicting the conditions which first impelled these three women towards insanity. Even Mary Bee, who is the overseer of the journey, finds it difficult escape the pressures of being a single woman. Though only thirty-one years old, she perceives herself as someone who is missing the train, so to speak, to becoming the wife she believes she *must* be and achieving her womanhood in the process. Although she is the one driving the wagon, she and the other three women are all on the same journey, suffering the same affliction at varying intensities. (This also makes the title of the film tragically ironic in context.)

THE HOMESMAN is a very cynical film, and very aware that the conditions that plague its main cast are not going to go away for decades. Its very premise illustrates this, kicked off by a group of men who would rather send their wives away forever than to deal with their suffering. However, it still focuses on a facet of the frontier that very rarely takes center stage in the genre. It's beautifully shot, well-written, and the cast is all around solid. Tommy Lee Jones has created a Western that meshes the aesthetics of the classics with the themes of modern cinema. It's not very optimistic, but then again the West rarely was.

* * * *
4 out of 4 Stars

Sunday, October 23, 2016

BLADES OF ELSINGR (Lore of the Reluctant #2) is Out Now! Also, an explanation...

Things moved quickly this week! The cover art was completed and I was able to get the second story in the Lore of the Reluctant series published this morning. Check out the link above for the Amazon Kindle version.

So, since this has been a long time coming, and I've gotten a couple stories published since the first book, let me explain what this series is and what it's attempting to be:

A little over three years ago, I set a goal for myself. I would self-publish at least three novels, regardless of subject/genre, in an attempt to 1) Learn the process of getting a novel to the market, 2) Build a kind of portfolio to show that I can continuously produce full-length projects, 3) Basically just keep myself writing and learn from whatever feedback I was able to get.

The result was the Lore of the Reluctant series, something I've been kicking around for years. Three friends from our world who wake up in a high fantasy realm, complete with everything they'd need to quest without incident. New bodies, new memories, and entire lives to draw upon so that they'd never miss a beat. By the time the series picks up, they've been at it for a while and they're getting kinda bored with the whole prospect. If they can't get back to Earth, they just want to settle down in a quiet city somewhere, but the Realm of Shiloft has other plans for them.

Each book is meant to be a light, standalone "day-in-the-life" story in the vein of the old Conan and Red Sonja novels. Almost nothing plot-wise carries over between novels expect for location and the trio's wanting to just quit the whole thing. My goal is to write at least three of these, keep them short enough so that they can be read casually, ensure the novels don't lean too heavily on each other, and hopefully make them funny as hell.

BLADES OF ELSINGR is the second entry, with one more being written as we speak. I have other projects in the air right now (that I've mentioned here before at one point or another). Work on it will probably progress in earnest over the winter break.

That's it! Please give the story a look if you can, post some feedback if you have the time. Otherwise, I'll see you next update!

Friday, September 16, 2016


ALIEN ARTIFACTS, a sci-fi anthology which features my weird western short story, is out in stores now! Here's the description:
What might we run into as we expand beyond Earth and into the stars? As we explore our own solar system and beyond, it seems inevitable that we’ll run into aliens … and what they’ve left behind. Alien artifacts: what might they reveal about us as we try to unlock their secrets? What might they reveal about the universe? 
In this anthology, nineteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors explore how discovering long lost relics of alien civilizations might change humanity. Join Walter H. Hunt, Julie Novakova, David Farland, Angela Penrose, S.C. Butler, Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin, Juliet E. McKenna, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Andrija Popovic, Jacey Bedford, Sofie Bird, James Van Pelt, Gini Koch, Anthony Lowe, Jennifer Dunne, Coral Moore, Daniel J. Davis, C.S. Friedman, and Seanan McGuire as they discover the stars and the secrets they may hold—both dark and deadly and awe-inspiring.

My contribution, "The Haint of Sweetwater River," is about an alien device that just might have had an influence on the run-in with the stockgrowers of Wyoming and Ella "Cattle Kate" Watson. Digital copies can be purchased just about anywhere, while the paperback edition can be had on Amazon and Zombies Need Brains official store. (I think copies will end up in Barnes and Noble, but can't be sure there.) Check out the "My Books" section for your options.

Additionally, my publisher, Zombies Need Brains, is running a Kickstarter for their newest round of anthologies. If you like what they've released so far, and wouldn't mind reading more stories about robot invasions, encounters with Death, and underwater civilizations, then consider supporting their project.

Bye for now! (And wish me luck on the upcoming semester!)