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Category Archives: Stories

Around the Web (and FREE)

footprintsminiToday marks the first day of “Footprints” being FREE. The story of a man who travels to his families cabin after his fathers death to deal with his loose. But there’s something out there in the woods. Find out what happens. It’s a quick read, and it’s free for this weekend.

And as a reminder you can get news updates every couple of weeks, and a free gift if you sign up for my newsletter here.

Now for the links for things going on around the web:

Give customers what they want. (A long, but really interesting article from Hugh Howey.)

Gumroad iPhone app that lets authors sell direct. (Droid is in the works!)

What happens to a traditionally published author when his publisher goes belly up?

How accurate are SF space battles? (video)

10 famous authors that failed before hitting it big.

 R.L. Stine wrote 420 books… I need to write more.

The small details in writing.

 

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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in On Writing, Stories

 

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Mermaid’s Curse

Over on G+ a lot of authors started doing #SaturdayScenes. That’s where we showcase one scene from one story we are either working on, or have published. I’ve showcased mainly stories from my published books so far. Footprints, Forgotten Ones, Prophecy by Barlight and Small Bites. Yesterday I posted the first snippet from the novel I’ve been working on, and talking about, since October. “Mermaid’s Curse“.

Google Plus is a great community. Lots of authors around. A lot of readers looking for their authors. But… not everyone is on G+. In fact I’ve met people who were violently opposed to going to G+. Somehow I just realized this morning that I should have been sharing these here, on my blog, as well, to compensate for that.

So I’m going to post the excerpt from Mermaid’s Curse here, as well as links to all of the other snippets. If you’d like to read any of them then you’ll have to head over to G+. (sorry).

Now… on with the scenes!

Prophecy by Barlight
Touch Me Not (A complete short story from Small Bites)
Footprints
Battle on the Walls (from Forgotten Ones)

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Mermaid’s Curse

“Little Mother!”

The sudden, unmistakably masculine, voice pulled Marizza out of her studies. Surely she was mistaken. No one could have been on the little island that the mother, Salvia, had taken her to. The nearest island was a day’s journey, and very few were willing to brave the empty seas with the threat of the kraken so close at hand.

“Little Mother? Are you here?”

Strong, deep, and resonating. The voice seemed to draw her, and she thrust the forgotten book aside running to the door. Pressing her ear to the rough wood, she listened.

Salvia warned her to avoid others. Her abilities were still raw, wild, and untamed. With her magic tied to her emotions, she had already destroyed several small items with a miss placed spell during a fit of rage. Marizza figured out it wasn’t her abilities the Little Mother was trying to temper; it was her own emotional outburst. It would have been easier to temper the magic.

She pressed an ear to the door. She hadn’t heard another person in months, and the solitude was wearing on her. Use to busy streets, and a bakery bustling with towns folk, the utter silence of the forgotten island pressed in on her like a thick fog, smothering her. That voice, with its deep timber and melodic chime, rang through her, dispersing the fog for a bright moment.

“Little Mother! I’ve brought the things you asked for!”

Closer. She could hear the slap of bare feet as the man-made his way up the dirt path. A sailor? Many of them were known to walk unshod. It helped them feel the movement of the sea, they said.

There was more to his voice though. Now that he was closer she could hear a magical aura slipping in through the chiming cadence. Whoever he was, he resonated with a latent power. Another witch? Someone she could be around safely?

The cabin began to feel claustrophobic around her as she heard his footsteps nearing the door. Her fingers wrapped around the cold iron door latch, her curiosity gnawing at her. She could hear his footfalls quicken, feel his vibrant aura of strength just beyond the door.

She yanked the offending wood open—

And came face to face with the most beautiful man she had ever witnessed. His eyes were a startling shade of ice blue, his skin a milky white, almost translucent in the morning sunlight. His black hair hung in wet braids down to his bare shoulders.

Flushing bright red, Marizza lowered her gaze only to be greeted by the stark evidence of his complete nudity. A naked, wet god had emerged from the waters only to torment her.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Stories

 

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A new cover

forgottensmlI’ve been working to get all of my stories edited. Well, I’ve been working to earn money so I can pay someone else to edit them. Then I get to go through, approve most of the edits, then reformat, and resubmit to Amazon and everywhere else. The print book will also soon have the new cover, but it takes a couple days to go through the system.

Forgotten Ones is the latest one to get this treatment. So I decided it needed a new cover to go with the new, updated insides. Something that really shows that it’s urban fantasy.

(Forgotten Ones is my urban fantasy about the goddesses of fate saving the world from a mad god bent on destroying it to get his power back.)

This is the first time I’ve actually bought stock photos to use. I don’t think anyone else has used this particular photo, so that helps. And there are other shots of this particular model that I might pick up for the next book.

I’ve just gotten the edits back for “Small Bites: The Complete Collection” and I’m working on getting those out in the kindle version. I’ll also be updating the four individual books at the same time. For the print version… I’m working on something totally new with full color pages inside, a smaller binding, and basically totally awesome! This is going to take a little time because there is so much to go through and fix.

I won’t be doing this with any other books right now. I’m still busy finishing my novel, and once that is finished I might look into updating a few other books.

Hopefully, I won’t ever send a new thing to print/kindle again unless it’s been edited first. I’m getting better at editing myself, but it’s going to take time to get my self editing up to a good standard, and even then I still want an extra set of eyes to go over everything. So far my new editor has been incredible, and it’s so great to find someone I can work with, who get’s my writing, likes it, and knows how to make it better.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Stories, Updates

 

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Footprints

footprintsmini And “Footprints” is OUT! Only 99 cents for the weekend.

A short story about a man who loses his father, and goes away to a cabin in the woods to deal with the memories and emotions that threaten to overwhelm him.

But he isn’t alone. There’s something in the woods. And now it’s stalking him.

This story has an underlying paranormal aspect, but like most of my tales it is about the human aspect. The emotion and the lose. The paranormal aspect is just a backdrop.

Designing the cover for this one was fun. The footprints started as bear prints in the snow. I had to add an extra toe, and reshape them to give them the right aspect. The trees, are also free-form with a little texture from snow covered trees thrown in.

Also, I have to say that it feels good to publish something. I haven’t published anything since October. It’s understandable since I’ve been working so hard on my novel, but after putting out so many short stories and novellas it almost felt like I was neglecting my publications. The fact that “Zombie Swarm” has been so difficult to write doesn’t make it any easier.

“Mermaids Curse” is now 85% finished, and getting closer every day. I’m working on the ending at the moment. It’s become a high fantasy novel, filled with magic and curses, with an underlying love story that runs through it.

Maybe that’s what my stories are. Stories of heart, lose, and love, set in fantastical places. I love the idea of creating new worlds, and creatures. I love using magic or advance science to do things that aren’t quite possible in this world. But the human aspect, the heart, is just as important.  Now I just need to come up with a tagline for that.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in On Writing, Stories

 

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Necessary End – A Short Story

A few days ago I listened to a podcast and they were talking about an experiment in which a computer was left to evolve on its own, learning to be as efficient as possible. This computer, supposedly, learned to calculate the routes through each chip depending on atoms, and electrical states of each path. It made itself faster, but in so doing it also made itself un-repairable. The computer would only work with that particular chipset, since it was calibrated for that chipset. Once replaced it had to relearn everything again.

I tried to find any reference to the article, but I couldn’t manage to find it.

This story was inspired by that little conversation. A simple, short story. So short that I’m giving it away for free.

If you like it, and would like to read more of my short stories, you can get the full collection of them here.

 

~~Necessary End~~

“We can’t save her.”

The words were so final. They fell on my ears like lead shot piercing my heart. I wanted to fight against it, rebel, scream!

“What do you mean you can’t save her?” I yelled. “She’s wires and components. A machine! Of course you can save her, just take out the broken bits and replace them with new ones!”

Was I hysterical? Did it matter anymore? They had to save her! Didn’t they?

“I wish it were that simple,” he said, lowering his gaze. “She’s a machine, yes, and we can replace many of her parts, but others aren’t as easy to replace, or even repair. It would be like replacing part of your brain with someone else’s. She would function, but she wouldn’t be herself anymore.”

“Then… she’s dying?”

I could tell he wasn’t use to dealing with flesh and blood people. His oil stained smock, and soft hands stained with black and blue marks set him apart. He, like me, cared more about his machines then the people who employed him to keep them running.

So why couldn’t he fix her?

He laid a hand on my shoulder, and I had to work not to shake him off. “I’m sorry. You’ll have some time to say good bye, but her memory is going into a cascading failure. The system won’t last until morning.”

“Can you save any of her?”

“Memories, images, pictures. But not the core structure. Not her. It would be an incomplete copy, incompatible with anything else.”

I slumped in on myself. Some part of me screamed no, but I knew I had to except it. I’d heard of the cascading failures before. The droids were so complex, so individualized, that no two were alike. You could change a joint, an arm, a processer… but the core, the brain, wasn’t replaceable. It just wouldn’t communicate with any other system. The memories could be transferred, data, images, sound, and text, but it wouldn’t be her.

“Go,” he said, patting me awkwardly. “Spend her last moments with her. I think she’d like that.”

I walked into the next room and saw a table with a tin sheet covering a lump. Kathryn.

She looked so vulnerable under that flimsy covering. Wires and metal bits were sticking out from under the cloth, some of them plugged into gadgets on the wall. I didn’t understand any of the read outs, but I understood the meaning.

Kathryn turned as I approached, and gave me a smile. Her large green eyes blinked, the pink hair I’d given her was laying on the table beside the bed. I gently picked it up, and helped her put it back on. She picked it out, she should have it now.

The covering was flat against Kathryn’s chest, and I lifted it up just enough to see underneath… Her chest cover had been removed. Her insides bare for the world to see. Wires, servos, micro computers, all of it flashing and whirring along as it should be.

I lowered the cloth again, patting it down in place, before sitting down beside her, careful of all the cords.

“I’m so sorry, Kathryn. I should have been paying attention. You shouldn’t have jumped out in front of that car just to save me.”

“You’re safe, miss. That is all that matters. You were always my highest priority.”

She lifted my hand to her cheek, a tear sliding down the pseudo flesh surface.

“They can’t save you,” I said, finally admitting it to myself, too. “They said your memory banks were too damaged.”

“I know. I knew before we arrived, but I held out hope… for you.”

“For me? But why?”

“I didn’t want to cause you any more pain, miss.”

“Oh, Kathryn, I love you. I don’t know what I’ll do without you.”

Kathryn patted my head, her fingers stiff and unwieldy. She was already losing some of her mobility as her processor shut down functionality.

“You’ll go on, miss, as you always have. You’ll meet new people, and experience new things. You’ll love, and live, and laugh. And sometimes you’ll remember me and cry a few tears. But mostly I hope memories of me make you happy.”

“He said he’d save your memories for me.”

“Yes, I’m glad. There are many pictures and videos I am sure you’ll enjoy remembering.”

“I’d give them all up, every one of them, to keep you alive.”

Kathryn’s face twitched in a smile, then flattened. The monitor beside her began a long, loud beep that never ended.

I laid my head on her stiff shoulder and cried. My oldest, and dearest companion, and she was gone. They always told us computers were replaceable. They weren’t like humans who eventually wore away and died. Computers, and the androids built with them, could live forever if you just kept replacing parts, right?

But some parts can’t be replaced.

 

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Stories

 

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FAQ: How Long Should My Story Be?

Word length, like many other FAQ’s, does not have an easy answer. It really depends on what you’re writing, what the genre is, how the plot and pacing go, and what the story wants to be. In this digital age we have lot more options. When once novellas were shunned because publishers just didn’t take them. Now they are everywhere because we can publish on our own.

The general guidelines for lengths according to wiki:

Novel over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story under 7,500 words
(Not on wiki, but under 2k is considered flash fiction by most people.)
This is not necessarily typical for what I’ve seen posted elsewhere. Usually novels are quoted as 60k and over, while novellas are 10-60k. This, to me, seems like a ridiculously large variance.

Another consideration is genre. In romance, 60k is normal, while in sci-fi and fantasy it’s more common to see 80-100k+ novels.

E-books have given us a lot more latitude, though it still is proven that people buy longer books more often. In that case, 80k seems to be a “magic number” in word length, as much as anything is “magic” in the publishing world.

But how long should your story be? Ask your story! Does it have a lot of twists and turns in the plot? Then go longer. Is it a simple vignette, a window into a world instead of the whole world, then go short. I’ve seen stories that are as short as 100 words that are worth a read.

The Egg“, a rather wonderfully poignant short story, has hit the front page of reddit several times, and been shared, remade and reused often. “The Last Question” by Issac Asimov, also comes up a lot. Both of these stories are only a few pages long, and yet people are going to be analyzing and rereading them for years to come.
So yes, you should probably write some longer pieces if you are trying to sell books. But, I would caution you to let the stories tell themselves when you can. Sometimes they are going to be shorter, sometimes longer. This doesn’t necessarily make them wrong. It’s only wrong if you don’t stay true to your story.
 
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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Stories

 

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Hooray!

This morning I did an interview on Buddy’s Writing Show. We discussed “Forgotten Ones”, how I got into the whole self publishing biz in the first place, and a bit about my own podcast. It was a great interview, and I was really honored to be his first guest.

Keep an eye out for more episodes. Buddy already has a calendar booked with more guests.

Forgotten Ones” is 2.99 for just a few hours more. It will be $4.99 after tomorrow. 

Also, I’m prepping for NaNoWriMo. I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time I am not very confident that I am going to finish this time.

I worked for three months on “Forgotten Ones”, a 30k word book. I actually wrote the 3000 word synopsis back in May, and it sat on my shelf till August. I actually wrote it in Aug, and Sept, and edited in October. Published it on the 18th.

So… two months to write, half a month to edit…. on just 30k words.

I think it will work a lot better with two projects going because when I get stuck on one I can work on another. That is what has usually kept me writing steadily, and when I get to the end of the month I have to finished projects.

I’m still pretty sure I’m going to work on one of my paranormal romance stories. But I’ve got a few to choose from… so we’ll see.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Stories, Updates

 

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