The Sunday Funnies

This is what I find encouraging about the writing trades:  They allow mediocre people who are patient and industrious to revise their stupidity, to edit themselves into something like intelligence.  They also allow lunatics to seem saner than sane.”

~ KURT VONNEGUT, JR.

People who have followed the last few issues (and if you have, my gratitude for your return knows no bounds!) know that I have been experiencing a bit of an identity crisis.  To put it in the briefest terms possible, I find that I’m no longer a writer.  Oh, not that I ever was in the strictest sense of the word, but my interest as a hobbyist in creating and describing worlds on the page has waned to virtual nonexistence.  So now I find myself with this visually beautiful website, nothing in particular to do with it, and a score or so of wonderful friends who don’t deserve to be unceremoniously abandoned.  And yet, having lost all interest in writing, which is what this blog is purported to be about, how can I remain relevant?  I guess that’s the real question.

I’ve tried this and that over the past weeks, and you’ve seen me say “from now on, I’m gonna do this, or that,” and then it doesn’t pan out.  So I’m not going to say “from now on” any more.  I’m going to say “here’s the latest thing I’m trying, and we’ll see if it works.”

I’ve always stated with pride that I write in an older style of prose that would be more familiar to readers of the 1930s than the 2010s.  Now I’m going to go to an older style of publication.  Joining such pioneering names as Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I am going to serialize my work right here in my own little weekly newspaper.

I currently have four novels that have never been published.  One is the first one I wrote before I actually put any effort into learning what went into the construction of a novel.  One is the first part of a trilogy that I undertook with a co-author who then tired of the project and abandoned it.  Not being able to continue in the same unique voice myself, I abandoned it as well.  For two very different reasons, neither of those will ever see the light of day.  However, the two remaining have some merit, and they will be serialized here and presented under the tabs above.

Currently being serialized is Chameleon, the story of Colleen O’Reilly, a soldier of Sinn Fein, the IRA, who has grown a conscience and left her old mates behind.  Wanted throughout Europe for crimes already committed and by those former mates for leaving the cause, she has fled to the new world and makes her way using the only skills she possesses in abundance as a paladin for the downtrodden, the last hope of the hopeless.  This was meant to be a series, and I was well into the second book when the peace accords cut the underlying tension away from the narrative, and I moved on.  Nonetheless, the first one told a gripping story of desperation and heroics, and it is currently being serialized under its tab above; Chapter Six of fourteen was just added yesterday.

Once Chameleon wraps up and is available for the ages, I will begin the serialization of Broken English, a murder mystery set in Monterey, California with overtones brought about by the collapse of the old Soviet Union.  Assuming that I have recovered my interest in any form of writing by then, I have a couple of stories that are well-along in their development, my San Diego steampunk opus Stingaree, and an epic fantasy spanning two continents and the ocean between, The Orphan Princess.  The truth is that, if I do return to writing, my intuition tells me that I’m pretty much over the punk genres, steam- and otherwise.  In any case, continuing either of those stories would require me to get my “mojo” back.  Should that happen, the world of The Orphan Princess is large enough to contain a multitude of stories.  And one more thing:  If I am ever honored enough to be invited to participate in another anthology, I will summon my best effort to produce something memorable; in fact, that may very well be the extent of my original writing going forward.  Time will tell.

Of course, I don’t need to be a writer to support my writing friends and acquaintances, nor to promote exceptional writing whenever I find it.  Just know that I favor the independent authors almost to exclusion.  They’re the ones who are out past the edge of the map, breaking new ground and establishing the paradigms that the Big Five will be claiming they invented ten years down the road.  Don’t give up on indies because you got one bad book; someday when a major house is crowing about their latest discovery, you’ll have the pleasure (and the outrage!) of being able to say, “I read a guy who was doing that over a decade ago!”

Interesting Books . . .

I should clarify what I mean by “interesting.”  Most books featured here I have not read.  I either know the author and his or her work, I have read something else by the author and appreciate their quality, or something about the cover, blurb, or both has caught my eye, and I very possibly will read them in the future.  Got it?  Okay, let’s take a look.

TheFallen

The Fallen by Ravek Hunter.  Drystan, Temple Knight of Lyonesse, is sent to retrieve the betrothed of his uncle, the Duke of Tintagel.  This simple journey sets into motion a chain of events that upends the lives of three unsuspecting innocents and everyone they care about.  Betrayal, intrigue, jealousy, murder . . . And love will drive the human condition to its most extreme.  Who will survive the emotional struggle and find true love in the end?  Or will love be lost forever?  There are strange and dark forces working against the struggle in a very unsuspected way.  A healer with a remote background and a dark secret, a soldier with a penchant for debauchery and the moral high ground, and two mysterious brothers from the mystical island of Hy Brasil all have a stake in the outcome.  And the stakes are higher than any of them could imagine.  Free on Kindle (reg. $4.99).

MurderAtKDowns

Murder at Kangeroo Downs by June Whyte.  Book 1 in the Vets2U cozy mysteries.  If you enjoyed watching Rosemary and Thyme – the TV show where two gardeners dig up a dead body in every episode – you’ll love reading about Emily and Maggie, two quirky veterinarians, who travel around Australia treating animals and stumbling over unwelcome corpses.  When Emily and Maggie arrive at Kangaroo Downs to officiate at the opening of its new race-track, they expect to find the usual friendly ambiance characteristic of all small country towns – not the Chief Steward, their very first client, seated behind an ‘engaged’ sign in the local Diner’s restroom – deader than last week’s news.  Not everyone is happy about the new race-track in Kangaroo Downs.  Unexplained accidents have been happening at the track.  Like workmen falling off sabotaged ladders, the starting gates malfunctioning, an administrator getting electrocuted as he tested the two-way radio in the stewards’ room, broken glass found scattered on the track and the caretaker’s tractor up and disappearing overnight.  With a deranged murderer on the loose, all Emily and Maggie want to do is complete their assignment and hit the road again.  That is, until Emily discovers her car stripped of its wheels and CANCELLED written in red paint on the windshield.  Angrier than a couple of bees stuck in a vegemite jar, both Emily and Maggie are determined to unearth the identity of the saboteur.  But are the saboteur and the killer the same person?  What happens when they find another dead body inside the starting-gates at the track?  Will Emily and Maggie find answers to these questions before the first race on Opening Day?  Or will the two reluctant sleuths be the next casualties on the killer’s Cancelled list?  99¢ on Kindle.

 SongsRichmondAveSongs from Richmond Avenue by Michael Reed.  If the adage “nothing civilized ever resulted from the drinking of beer” requires further proof, one needs look no farther than down Houston’s pothole-infested Richmond Avenue.  There, the blurry-eyed denizens of the Relix Club wile away the hours engaged in their two favorite activities – drinking and betting.  Until recently that was good enough for our storyteller, a journalist of questionable work ethic, who undergoes an epiphany following a bus stop meeting with pretty Michelle, a woman he declares has “skin so perfect I doubted she even had pores.”  Could she be his redemption?  Maybe, but first he’d better contend with her baseball bat-wielding former beau, her nihilistic stripper roommate and the suspicious death of a friend, who fancies himself the father of Brute Generation poetry.  Mostly satire, often wildly unpredictable, the only real long shot in Songs From Richmond Avenue would be for its protagonist to put down his beer long enough to learn anything of true value.  $2.99 on Kindle.

DarkGods1

Dark Gods: Take the Body by Arthur King.  Seth, a young soldier is sold into slavery by a corrupt city watch.  In order to escape he is forced into a pact with an ancient wolf-like demon, an old god of his people’s past.  Through its ‘gifts’ he gains the skills, memories and knowledge of those he kills, but at a high price.  Now the Dark Guild, the creature’s old masters, seek to find him and kill him.  They must regain his stolen memories and end this threat to their secrecy.  The powerful guild has members in the nobles and rulers of the land, and paid blades at every corner.  Seth must fight through them all, as he struggles with his new found powers and against the blood lust that his dark alliance brings.  Free on Kindle (reg. $2.99)

HopeInParis

Hope in Paris by Donnalyn Vojta.  This is NOT a children’s book.  In this first volume of the extraordinarily unique suspense series (for ages 16+), unexpected, sweet narrators tell quite a suspenseful and cringe-worthy story.  On top of plot-twists, this book offers a mind-bending twist on narration!  The story is about a young educated Chicago woman, Kelly Donovan, who must escape from her luxurious home to get away from her sociopath boyfriend, Mark Flannery, before he takes her to a woodsy cabin for a little “anniversary get-way.”  She must plot, lie, and pretend to be happy before she can flee her relationship and her own home, alive.  Unforeseen obstacles frustrate Kelly’s efforts to escape, and her family and friends, strangers to one other, must perfectly work together to help her live a life free from threat.  The diverse group includes an insecure drama teacher, a brilliant pharmaceutical engineer, and an international businesswoman with a secret that comes in very handy at one critical point.  This story is uniquely narrated by inanimate household teddy bears, which, notwithstanding their immobility, have interesting thoughts and perspectives on the shocking events and intriguing relationships which form before their plastic eyes.  These plush bears also get a healthy dose of an entertaining blooming romance when Kelly’s plight takes everyone overseas to Paris.  While in France, more scheming, racing to stay steps ahead of Mark, and even physical violence ensue – violence which does not always involve a damsel in distress.  To complicate matters further, some of the characters are not necessarily what, or who, they seem.  Once the plot’s feverish pace decelerates, the group starts to feel some hope, but is the race really over?  $4.99 on Kindle.

BestFriend

The Best Friend by K. Larsen.  What she saw was enough to make her a liability.  Just before sunrise, she went down to the docks to set up a photo shoot she’d dreamed up.  She wanted to capture a colorful graffiti wall to use against the minimalist décor she had in mind for an upcoming project.  But what she accidentally captured instead was about to change her life forever.  The click of her camera shutter was the last untroubled sound she heard.  When a muffled scream ripped through the air, Aubry turned around.  That was her first mistake.  When men dressed in black forcefully shoved a scantily-clad girl into a shipping container and set their sights on her, Aubry ran.  Little did Aubry know, her luck was about to run out.  $3.99 on Kindle.

BeyondTheRails

And don’t forget mine!  Three steampunks and a fantasy, just 99¢ each on Kindle.  Info and samples at the “Books for Sale” tab above.

 

Blogs Worth Reading . . .

LINK #1 will take you to the online home of C.W. Hawes, a prolific writer who has recently been delving into the challenges of marketing and finding your audience.  This is a very worthwhile read for anyone about to release their latest opus.

LINK #2 leads to Through the Eyes of a Stranger, the blog of N.O.A. Rawle.  Noa lives in Greece where she teaches English as a second language, so she knows her way around some literature!  Her job as a teacher takes up most of her time, and she doesn’t get to blog as much as she’d like, but when she finally makes time for a post, it’s a good one.  The current lead article is an interview with Karen J. Carlisle, who recently began the Aunt Enid series.

LINK #3 will buy you a visit to Writers Helping Writers, a spectacularly informative blog run by two professional authors with guest posts from a number I’m not going to sit here and count.  But you can do that.  Go have a look!

LINK #4 will whisk you off to the ongoing writing clinic that is Richie Billing.  Yes, this Englishman named his blog after himself, but I promise you, once you read it, you’ll forgive him!  I haven’t yet read his work, and cannot in good faith tell you he’s a great writer, but he certainly understands the concepts, and when it comes to writing about how to write, he has very few peers!

Finally, LINK #5 will take you to the spectacular website of one Eva Newermann.  Eva is a Norwegian author, artist, and photographer.  A former flight attendant and purser, she draws on a lifetime’s experience traveling the world to write stories of Eve Lowe, a character not too unlike Coleen O’Reilly of Chameleon.  She also paints scenes from the books, and posts drone-photography of the beautiful Norwegian countryside.  Treat yourself to a bit of fine art today.

And that’s 30 for this week.  There’s plenty of good reading material here to keep you busy until I return with who-knows-what on August 5th.  I’m not going to offer a preview any more, because a lot of good ideas come and go in a week.  I can only promise to make it interesting.  Until then, read well, and write better!

On Vacation

As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me, grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear, pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall”

~ VIRGINIA WOOLF

It makes me so uncomfortable for them.  If they’re talking about a plot idea, I feel the idea is probably going to evaporate.  I want to almost physically reach over and cover their mouths and say, “You’ll lose it if you’re not careful.”

~ ANNE TYLER

Vacation may not be the accurate word here.  Rather say I’m on an expedition.  To commandeer a very useful term from Austin Powers, I’ll be away from my desk indefinitely while I search for my mojo.  It’s gone completely.  Nothing I have in progress looks interesting.  I’ve written some scenes, torn them up, replaced them with other scenes and torn them up, because none of them seem adequate.  My pending projects fare no better.  It seems to be a truism that if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, there’s no point in doing it.

We aren’t all writers, and those who are aren’t always writers for their whole lives.  I’ve been a skateboarder, a wargamer, a karate student and assistant instructor.  I’ve explored the desert and the mountains on foot and in 4-wheel drive vehicles.  Sunset Cliffs used to be a favorite haunt of mine.  I’ve been to war.  I’ve been a blue-water sailor, and have developed a fair level of expertise in seamanship, military communications, accounting, and safety, fire, and environmental considerations at a major fuel facility.  I am none of those things anymore, and it’s possible that it’s time to add writer to that list.  As my wife has pointed out, “It’s no fun doing shit that you aren’t interested in.”

Have I lost interest?  I certainly have in the short term.  What I don’t know is whether it will come back, so I’m going exploring, which is a euphemism for playing with my Xbox, my grandkids, my daughter’s dog, watching old movies and TV shows with Dearly Beloved, and just generally enjoying my retirement.  I received the first two seasons of Murdoch Mysteries for Father’s Day, and we’re in the midst of that right now, and I’m deep into a game called NFL Head Coach on my Xbox.  I’m in the final year of my contract with the Houston Texans, and have taken them from a 2-14 franchise to a Super Bowl.  We’re about to begin our second run in the post-season.  Bonnie enjoys this like it was a real game, and since the Chargers have moved on to embarrass LA for the next 50 years or so, this is the only game in town.

If, during all this unrelated activity, the irresistible urge to write comes over me, then I’ll write, but I won’t tell anyone what I’m up to; I think cousin Anne might have the truth of it:  If you tell everybody you know what you’re writing about, then the need to write it becomes somewhat redundant.  I hope it comes back.

If not, then then that’s my fate, but I don’t want to leave anyone cold.  I will continue to add to Chameleon until the whole book is free for a mouse click, and when that’s done, I’ll begin posting Broken English, another old book you’ve never heard of.  By that time I’ll know whether I’m going to be a writer or not.  Whatever the outcome, I have four books for sale on Amazon, all 99¢.  Stepping away from it means I’m going to stop servicing this blog every few days, but if you found value in my posts about the Craft of writing and the occasional humor pieces, fear not; I present here a list of sites that offer content similar to mine, and some extra pages that I could never hope to match.  I’ll be watching my email, blogs, and social media, so if you have anything to say, I’ll get it within a few hours, and reply to anything but trolling.  Enjoy these blogs and sites, and I hope to see you soon!

These sites discuss the Craft and offer insights into the creation of better stories:

Writers Helping Writers.

Richie Billing.

The Old Shelter.

Gisela’s Straightforward Blog (specifics about marketing).

Easy Reader Editing.

Creativity Hacker.

C.W. Hawes.

Cool San Diego Sights (this is a photography site.  I include it here because it is approaching 20,000 photos of every description and its owner, Richard Schulte, has decreed that anyone who would like to use one for a cover or illustration need only credit him and his site, and may then use them freely.)

Some of you may enjoy popular culture.  I know I sure do, and here are a few that are certain to scratch that particular itch:

Nerd Lunch.

MovieBabble.

Michael May’s Adventure Blog.

Life’s Little Mysteries.

Tara Sparling Writes.

There’s a dozen that ought to keep you in insights and chuckles for the foreseeable future.  I’ll be around, I just don’t know what I’ll be doing, but if anything comes up, I’ll pass it along.  All the best to all of you; read well, and write better!

My Starfleet Education

DO NOT SKIP THESE ITEMS!

LisaCron

I usually start with something about me; my books, my blog, my opinions, but this time it’s different.  Other bloggers post when they post, and these two profound items arrived a day apart.  They are incredibly important to authors who are serious about raising their game to the next level, and if I’m going to call myself serious about helping newbies find their voice, these have to be the lead items.  Listen to me carefully if you are a beginning or struggling author seeking ways to raise your game.  Go first to the Writers Helping Writers website and read There Will Be Blood by Lisa Cron.  I once heard a famous author (who I think was Dean Koontz) say that once you know a character’s life-or-death secret, he or she will leap off the page.  I have tried to incorporate that in my own writing, and passed it along to others on many occasions, but he never really explained how to make it work in practical terms.  Ms. Cron does so with depth and clarity, and your writing can only improve exponentially after reading this essay.  There is also a link to her own web page, Wired for Story, which is very much worth a bookmark.  I’ve a feeling you can’t go too far wrong here!

RichieBillingLogo

Once you’ve hoisted Ms. Cron’s wisdom aboard, pay a visit to Richie Billing, another insightful blogger of my acquaintance who expands on her concept with a look, not at characters, but at theme.  His dissertation on the subject is similar in approach, and can be found in his latest blog post.  I highly recommend it be read in tandem with Ms. Cron’s master work above.

It is an accepted axiom (at least among the superstitious!) that good things come in threes, and to round out this trilogy of insights, I will now refer you to my own blog post on the presentation of action, below.  With these powerful tools at your disposal, you’ll be ready to make your own personal assault on the best-seller list of your choice.  Read on, adventurer, then go forth and conquer!

We now return you to our regular programming . . .

Much of what I know about writing, I learned from Star Trek.  Long-time friends will know that I live by the mantra that wisdom is where  you find it.  Once you’ve accepted that particular axiom, it pretty much forces you to keep an open mind, even about things that seem at first glance to be less than optimum.  Gather ’round, kiddies, and I’ll share an illustrative tale from my youth.

It was around 1970, maybe 71, a long time ago by any mortal standards.  I had been out of the navy for a number of months, and while I had gone home to civilianize and make my start at what would eventually become my career, my great-grandmother fell and broke her hip.  She had been my primary caregiver throughout my childhood, and now it was my turn to return the favor.  For four years she was an invalid in a wheelchair, and my primary responsibility.  I couldn’t be gone from her beck and call very often or for very long, and much of that forced idleness went into writing.

Star Trek had been first-run while I was in the navy, and I was unable to follow it on any sort of regular basis, but it went into local syndication following its cancellation, and I ate it up!  I watched and rewatched the episodes, read the novelizations, built models, wrote stories of other ships with different crews, and pored over the ads for Star Trek memorabilia and props in the popular science fiction magazines of the time.

STGuideIt was in the back of one of these august publications that I found The Official Star Trek Writer’s Guide.  The price was a few bucks, not even pocket change by today’s standards, but back then it was a substantial outlay for someone who could only work dog-walking or doing yard work a couple of hours a day.  Well, my rage could be seen from space when this reeking disappointment of a publication landed in my mailbox.  Its 31 photocopied pages had been written on a typewriter that had seen better days, had faded bands on them making whole sections painfully difficult to read, and to top it all off, the “binding,” to abuse a term beyond all sufferance, consisted of two brass brads pushed through the left side.  The printing was so uneven and off-center that I had to take it apart to read some of the pages.  I could have bitten the head off a nail!

STGuidePage2

But I figured that, having paid good money for this thing, I might as well get whatever benefit I could from it, so I laid back on my bed and began to read.  The first thing I read was that this was the “official” guide given to every writer who wrote for Star Trek, and had to be followed to the letter.  I could not believe that, and became angry all over again at the audacity these people had to tell a bald-faced lie like that; surely, no production as professional as Star Trek would hand a professional writer a mimeographed pamphlet and tell him that those were the guidelines!

But then I began to read the main text, and all was forgiven.  As my followers know, regardless of genre, I write pure action and adventure.  As I think everyone is aware, the original Star Trek was pure action and adventure, and to the naive novice writer I was back in those days, this was gold.  Like a genie granting wishes, it taught me three lessons that have stayed with me for almost half a century and been of greater value to me than what I’ve gotten out of books many times the price and size.  I’m going to share them here for anyone who hasn’t had the privilege of reading this priceless little treasure.  May you write well and prosper:

1.  DON’T EXPLAIN STUFF.  You never see writers of western stories have two cowboys engage in a lengthy discussion of the breed of horse they ride, and the relative merits of each in the herding of cattle.  Sergeant Joe Friday doesn’t turn to a bystander and explain the workings of his .38 Special before he demands a suspect’s surrender.  Characters in science fiction and fantasy shouldn’t either.  When the Space Ranger draws his pocket frannistaner or the wizard begins to chant the gunkulation spell, don’t explain what they’re for.  Trust your audience to get it; they’re smart enough to be reading your book, after all!  Show them what it does, let them see the effect, and get on with the story.  Next time they see the thing, it will seem as normal to them as a toaster, simply another part of your created world.  Just keep it consistent; that’s all they really want.

2.  KEEP IT REAL.  It’s the day after tomorrow in the Persian Gulf, and USS Vincennes, an American missile cruiser, has been enjoying a morning-long game of cat and mouse with a pack of Iranian patrol boats.  They seem to be headed back toward their base when two of them suddenly turn out of formation and accelerate back toward the cruiser, whereupon the captain remembers a piece of intelligence that crossed his desk warning of rumors about suicide boats carrying nuclear devices.  All at once these rumors don’t seem so far-fetched any more.  Does the captain then offer a philosophical dissertation on the meaning of duty and heroism?  Does he try to comfort a young female sailor who happens to be on watch?  Let’s hope not!  We like to think he would spend what might be his last moments giving the orders he feels will best resolve the situation.  Just because your story is set on the bridge of a space ship doesn’t change this principle.

3.  KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Readers don’t want to hear the gritty details unless they’re pertinent.  I stood many a bridge watch in the navy, including my share of time at the helm.  The procedure for a course change sounds something like this:

CONNING OFFICER:  “Left full rudder!”

HELMSMAN:  “Left full rudder, aye aye sir . . .”  Spins wheel until rudder indicator shows 25° . . .  “Rudder is at left full.”

CO:  “Very well.  Come to new course one-three-five degrees.”

H:  “Coming to new course one-three-five degrees, aye aye, sir . . .”  Watches compass rotate until it reads 135°, manipulates wheel to get ship stabilized and moving on a straight line along its new course . . .  “Steady on new course one-three-five.”

CO:  “Very well.  Steady as you go.”

H:  “Steady as you go, aye aye, sir.”

Fascinating, huh?  Your audience doesn’t want to wade through all that unless something vital to the plot is going to occur in the middle of it; and even then, it better happen early, or the reader will have tuned out and missed the significance entirely.  The proper method is to replace all that procedural chatter with the captain saying, “Come about,” or “Left thirty degrees.”  Minimize the babble and stick to the story.  The story is everything.  Lock your focus on that, and you can’t go too far wrong.

And that’s what I learned from Star Trek’s cheap photocopied pamphlet.  Wisdom is indeed where you find it, and had I tossed that little bundle of papers aside, I never would have learned those three priceless lessons that will keep your story terse, tense, and moving smartly forward.  Oh, and that cheap little guide . . . turns out that really was what they gave to writers coming on board; one of many dreams about Hollywood to fall by the wayside.

Interesting Reads . . .

OfficersAffair

The Officer’s Affair by Samantha Grosser.  England, 1944.  On the Anzio beachhead in Italy Allied troops are fighting for their lives.  Young men watch their friends die around them and grow old before their time.  From some of the most brutal conditions of the Second World War, two wounded men return to England.  When Danny Lock returns to his wife and children, it is not the joyful homecoming that he dreamt of all those nights in Italy.  Disabled and embittered, he knows he will never resume a normal life.  His young wife Rachel, determined to revive their marriage, struggles to understand the man her husband has become.  But as his hostility towards her grows and the distance between them widens, all her hopes for the future begin to fade.  Then Captain Andrews comes to visit.  His attraction to Rachel is instant, but the tension between the two men seems to stem from an earlier time.  What happened in Italy to make Danny so hostile to an officer he once trusted and admired?  And why has Andrews come to visit him in the face of it?  As all three strive to shake off the ghosts of the war, they must each face their own searching questions about the nature of love and loyalty in this heart-wrenching novel, which explores the lives of a small group of people caught in the devastating legacy of the Second World War.  $2.99 on Kindle.

GirlNextDoor

The Girl Next Door by Lisa Aurello.  Am I a killer?  That is the question haunting 25-year-old Jane Jensen.  When she wakes up in the hospital after a devastating accident, she finds her memory since 9th grade of high school wiped clean.  As she heals, she begins to recover some memories and tries to stitch them together to reclaim her identity.  Regaining all the lost years is proving elusive.  Jane is aware that she’s gone from bullied, overweight schoolgirl to successful corporate wonk in the last few years.  But when the wife of her popular and handsome teenage obsession gets killed in a professional hit, Jane makes yet another transition—to that of murder suspect.  It’s an unbearable position for anyone, but it’s so much worse for Jane—she can’t defend herself from the awful accusation for one major reason:  Jane has no clue if she’s innocent or guilty.  The Girl Next Door will keep readers guessing until the final page turn.  $2.99 on Kindle.

More Than a Game

More Than a Game by Andrey Vasilyev.  Step into a future in which advanced technology creates a virtual world with superior capabilities that allow players to experience real-world sensations.  The popularity of the RPG game Fayroll is growing by the day, attracting millions of users to this alternate reality.  What is the secret of Fayroll?  What makes it so different from other games?  Our protagonist, Harriton Nikiforov is an everyman – a binge drinking, tabloid column reporter who has settled for the humdrum of the everyday, with a job that pays the wages, a neurotic girlfriend who gives him migraines and a boss that gives him constant grief.  Tasked with a new assignment, Harriton suddenly finds himself ripped away from his normal routine of Moscow society life, to a journalistic quest of sorts that leads him deep into the realm of the Virtual Gaming World of Fayroll.  Given explicit orders to write a series of fluff pieces on the game and its developers, Harriton grudgingly accepts the assignment, but soon finds himself enthralled by the virtual fantasy world and its amazing quests, unpredictable challenges, and nearly endless possibilities.  Harriton is reincarnated as a warrior named Hagen and becomes a full participant in the fantasy world, plunging into the exciting world full of action, quests, humor, legendary weapons and ancient secrets.  He meets faithful and courageous comrades and outwits those who are trying to hunt him.  In this world, the thirst for success and vanity of high-level players in pursuit of legendary objects spills into the real world, where high-stakes bets are made on the success of the virtual characters.  Harriton, as Hagen, unwittingly enters into the Fayroll world, where events and decisions that he makes in the virtual space starts to affect his own reality.  His unpredictable character, perseverance, and excitement attract the attention of powerful gamers and influential Moscow elite with a vested interest in Fayroll’s outcome.  It is not long before he realizes that this fantastic world, (created according to the best canons of cult games, Warcraft and Lineage), conceals many dangers.  Can he pass all the tests?  Currently FREE on Kindle.

DownJerseyDriveshaft

Down Jersey Driveshaft by William J. Jackson.  World War on the American homefront . . . but this is not the war against the Axis Powers.  Something sinister and beyond imagining has penetrated the salt marshes and idyllic surroundings of Salem County, New Jersey.  It will take the bravery of strangers and locals, along with some startling new technology, to beat back the tide of this unstoppable nightmare.  For those who have never experienced it before, this is DIESELPUNK.  A reimagining of the early 20th Century, more advanced, more deadly, more classy than what we have today.  It is yesterday’s look with tomorrow’s tech; retrofuturism. This is DOWN JERSEY DRIVESHAFT.  A special sale will be in progress through the weekend for the U.K. – £.99 on Kindle.  For the rest of us, it’s $4.99, but it’s innovative fiction by a author of quality.

And Just for Fun . . .

Not only has the illustrious William Jackson put his dieselpunk opus on sale, but he continues to find time to produce a weekly issue of Atoms & Shadows, his double-barrel film review of an atom-powered B movie, usually from the 1950s, and a classic film noir, two of his great loves . . .  Mine, too hence the constant promoting here!  This week’s films are 1962s The Creation of the Humanoids, and 1949’s Too Late for Tears, which was retitled Killer Bait in 1955.  As always, William not only provides his witty insights and numerical ratings of the films’ actions and themes, but includes links to the complete movies as well.  So pop up some corn, grab a two-liter, and settle back for a classic double feature.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

And that’s 30 for today.  Don’t forget that Chameleon is building in on its tab above.  I have four of the fourteen chapters completed, and eventually my entire portfolio will be available to read for free here on the webpage.  I’d love to welcome you to my literary worlds, and to hear what you have to say about my humble endeavors, so don’t be a stranger.  Read well, and write better!