LET GO: Now With The Hunter Shea Seal of Approval


Late this past week, I uploaded a short horror story to Amazon. I’ve written about Let Go previously (here, for instance) – it’s a pretty straight forward zombie story, but my beta readers enjoyed it and early reviews have been kind.

One such beta reader, fellow author Tommy Muncie, posted his thoughts on his personal blog (here), writing that Let Go “stands out because it’s more about the human emotion than it is about the violence and the conflict…” and has “a feeling that’s slightly more Stephen King.”

Tommy is not the first reader to tell me it has a Stephen King vibe and, well, they’re right I suppose. King was a definite influence on me, and I’ve credited the man with being almost personally responsible for making me a serious reader-slash-book hoarder back when high school lit classes were destroying my eagerness to seek out books for entertainment. That’s maybe another discussion for another time, though. But, yes, King is a definitely influence.

Strangely enough, Tommy is also the second reader to draw a comparison to Breaking Bad. Now that is a purely unintentional happenstance, and I don’t really see it, but will happily be lumped in with such a fine series!

The real big news, for me, was finding out that horror author Hunter Shea grabbed a copy. And what’s more, that he enjoyed it. And that he enjoyed it enough to leave a 5-star review on Goodreads. I’ve pulled some quotes from it, as shown above, but you can check out the full review here.

When Shea tweeted me about this over the weekend, I was initially panicked, nervous, start struck, and hugely relieved! He’s a great guy, and I’ve been a reader of his for a very short while but have certainly liked what he’s put out. It’s incredibly gracious of him to have taken the time to write about my story, and I’m both flattered and incredibly grateful. So, yeah, Let Go now has some serious bona fides to go with it!

This week, I’ll be running some promos in a couple newsletters in the hopes that I can draw a few more eyes to Let Go. If you’ve read the story already, I could really use your help in the form of more honest reviews. If you haven’t read Let Go but would like to, you can pick it up for .99c at Amazon.


Original post:

LET GO: Now With The Hunter Shea Seal of Approval

Let Go

Let Go eBook

Earlier this year, I wrote a hard science fiction cosmic horror story called “Black Site,” which will be appearing in the upcoming Clones: The Anthology this spring/summer (and holy crap, wait until you see the cover for that book! WOW!). This story was a bit of a challenge for me on several levels and required a lot of rewriting before I was comfortable enough to submit it for edits and feedback for future revisions. It’s a story I am damn proud of, and there’s a lot of layers to it, but once it was finished I needed something a bit more straight-forward to focus on, something that was driven a bit more deeply by character rather than concept.

One night, while emptying the dishwasher, a man named Everett Hart told me his story. His was a simple story, but one filled with loss and uncertainty. Everett was unmoored by the tragedies life so often brings us, and he’s closer to the end of his life than the start of it. He told me these things while sitting in a restaurant known for its fried fish, during what must have been the start of a zombie apocalypse.

Everett’s story can be found in the short horror story Let Go, and it’s available now at Amazon.

While Everett struggles with letting go of his particular baggage, writing Let Go was a way for me to, ahem, let go of the haunting complexity I encountered while writing “Black Site.” It was a way for me to let go of that previous story with a bit of a palette cleanser.

Unlike “Black Site” the focus is not on any particular high concept idea(s), but on a character and his emotional challenges. I wasn’t looking to reinvent any particular wheels with this one. I just wanted to tell a straight-forward, character-first kind of zombie story, and I think I did OK in that mission.

Mostly, though, I just wanted to tell Everett’s story as he told it to me one evening after work while I was occupied with household chores. I think his story is one worth telling. It’s a story of loss and grief and trying to cope with those unexpected moments when life completely flips the script and upends your expectations. It’s also about coping with the unknown, in all the various guises the unknown can appear in. This is a story of life, and life after death.

Buy Let Go At Amazon

Let Go

2015 Writing In Review (plus a shameless plea and a peek at 2016)

Last year was a banner year for me in terms of sheer accomplishments. 2015 was definitely my best year as a reader, my wife gave birth to our son (OK, so this is more her accomplishment than mine, but I’m at least 50% responsible for her enduring 9 months of morning sickness, back aches, heartburn, and the random thumping, kicking, and punching of various internal organs, that all resulted in our little bit of awesomeness that is a tiny, hilarious human who deprives us of much-needed sleep), and I was at peak productiveness writing-wise. It’s this last part I’ll be writing about today because this is, largely, my silly little author blog.

So, 2015 in terms of writing – I was in three anthologies, released a solo novel, and published a short story that originally appeared in one of these anthologies.

I also finished the manuscript for a novella, tentatively titled Mass Hysteria!, of approximately 50,000 words. I’m estimating this brought me to about 180,000 words of fiction written across the year. This is an awful lot of writing for me! I also wrote 141 blog posts, figure those are about 500 words each, a nice conservative estimate which gives me an additional 70,500 words written. *Phew!*

In terms of sales, 2015 was a definite improvement over my first year as an author-publisher, but still fairly insignificant in terms of income and paid sales. Income doubled over 2014, but not enough to off-set expenses put toward self-publishing my work, which means my indie career is still a far-cry from being a successful endeavor and I’m starting off 2016 heavily in the red. Expenses in 2015 were also double those of 2014 thanks to larger promotion efforts and editing (Emergence is a bigger book than Convergence, and more words means more money spent to edit).

A successful writing career is built on hard work, talent, and a whole lot of luck. Although I’ve got a few dedicated and devoted readers (thank you!), I haven’t yet gotten lucky enough to really break through. Although, in its first week of release, Emergence outsold the entire previous year’s worth of sales for Convergence, it was not enough to break-even on the expenses generated by editing, formatting, cover design, and marketing. I did run a couple free promos for Convergence, which were pretty damn successful in terms of volume, but had little impact in terms of carry-over toward more sales of Emergence or my other works. I gave away about 7,000 copies of my first novel, which is awesome, but I suspect a very large number of purchasers were simply collecting a free title. I saw little in way of new reviews and only about 4 percent of those ‘buyers’ went on to pick up my other titles. It’s a bit distressing, but also a lack of simple, pure luck. I just haven’t found my audience yet. That said, the word of mouth surrounding the solo release of my controversial short story, Revolver, generated a good amount of interest and sales, but it’s definitely not a best-seller by any means. Furthermore, Revolver is a very unsubtle and highly polemic work that may not exactly be the best entry-point for my work; I have to expect that title to maybe turn off a lot of new readers, actually. The good news is, those that do like it seem to be enthusiastically supportive of it, which is freaking awesome!

Unfortunately, all this means that a lot of the big stuff I had wanted to do in 2016 will likely have to wait. This comes down to easy economics, since I can’t spend money on making more art without that art making money to spend. One project I had wanted to tackle was producing audiobooks of my DRMR novels, but this is a very expensive undertaking and could easily set me back several thousand dollars. This would be on top of getting Mass Hysteria cover art and edited. And I’ve begun working on another sci-fi novel that I should be able to finish sometime this year, but finding the time to really sit down and write is getting more difficult (psst – having a kid can be a huge time drain! Who knew? But seriously, he’s awesome and it’s worth it. But still.), so everything is still kinda TBD on that front.

This means that some plans for 2016 are being shifted around a good deal. I’m seriously considering shopping around Mass Hysteria. If I can hook even a small publisher with this title, it’ll save me a lot of money in terms of editing and artwork. It’s an apocalyptic horror story, and there’s a few horror houses that I think it would align pretty well with. Kindle Scout could also be an option, but kind of a last resort for now since they require a completely finished book for submission, which still leaves me on the hook for editing and cover design costs. So we’ll see what happens there.

I’m determined to get Mass Hysteria released in 2016, but the when of it all is very, very murky at this point. Those two December anthologies have also given me two more short stories that, in about six-months time, I’ll be free to release as stand-alone titles, which means The Marque and Preservation will need an extra bit of work to get ready for their individual debuts. Again, though, I have zero idea what kind of timeline I’ll be able to operate on with those, and that’s a little bit scary and disheartening. I wanted to have a solid timeline to plan out releases for this year, but the financial aspects are seriously cloudy. So, hey, if you want more books from me, get buying them! Tell your friends to buy them! Buy copies for your friends, family, loved ones, enemies, neighbors, pets, dolls, future readers, strangers at the bus-stop, pantsless subway riders, your reading club, whatever.

One bright spot, and I need to keep in mind that it’s still early, but my inclusion in The Cyborg Chronicles, the latest release in Samuel Peralta’s acclaimed series of The Future Chronicles anthologies, looks to have given my profile a slight boost. In 2015 I went Kindle exclusive and have stayed there for a while. In the wake of my Chronicles story, it seems a few more readers are borrowing my DRMR books, so that anthology could be a nice entry point for new readers to find me.

Diversification is key, really. Readers weren’t finding my solo works, but look to be discovering it a bit more now that I was fortunate enough to get invited into a release as large as The Cyborg Chronicles. I may be appearing in a couple more anthologies in 2016, but the ink isn’t dry enough for me to discuss those details yet and anything can happen. For instance, I was slated to be in a fourth anthology last year, but the publisher dissolved before the book could be released. So, for now I’m only focusing on my cli-fi novel currently in progress. I’ve got a good 5,000 words built up there at the moment and plenty more on the way.

Cli-fi, sci-fi, what is this? What’s this about? Again, too early to discuss, but it’s a future-Earth story set in the days after humanity has firmly wrecked the world and climate change has significantly altered the geographic landscape. It’s a bit of a seafaring story with rogue military squads, pirates and salvagers, and mermaids. Wait, mermaids? Maybe mermaids. We’ll just have to see about that.

2015 Writing In Review (plus a shameless plea and a peek at 2016)

Books, Depression, and Writing: My 2016 Resolutions

I don’t often make New Year’s resolutions, but there’s a few things in my life that probably need changing if I’m going to try and be not only more effective in leading myself around in this world, but also happier.

Happiness is a big issue for me, as I’ve become keenly aware of over the last few months of being a new and sleep-deprived parent with an ever increasing temper. I suffer from depression, have, in fact, for quite a long while now and for the last two years or so I have been able to keep it mostly controlled with a prescribed medication called Lexapro. I haven’t written about this before, and I actually don’t think anyone, until now obviously, has really known about it beside my wife and doctors.

Some days are harder than others. I haven’t experienced truly crippling depression, the kind where I can’t even make it out of bed, although I’ve gotten close and my thinking process can get a touch dark and haywire at times. And if I’m not careful I could make (and have almost made) some pretty devastating choices regarding my interpersonal relationships simply because saying ‘fuck it’ seems much easier in the short term.

The medication helps, but there are still some proactive steps I need to take to ensure my own mental well-being. I’ve noticed over the last few months, particularly in the wake of our near-year-end shootings and the frothing hysteria of the far-right, anti-Obama, it’s-the-end-of-the-world, hooray-Biblical-Armageddon fear-monger types, that if I’m not careful I can let the world cripple me a little too easily. Thus, my first resolution of 2016:

  1. Limit my use of Facebook. This is the big one. My top priority. It’s often advised that those who suffer from depression not watch the news. The endless stream of reportage on how awful the world is only helps to reinforce the depressive’s viewpoint that the world really does suck and that everything really is hopeless. This is a problem. Facebook only helps feed into this. As bad news circulates, friends, family, and followers begin chiming in across your social media platforms, interjecting their own viewpoints. Which would normally be fine, until you realize just how many of them are either ignorant, spiteful, hateful, and generators of filth and believers in nonsensical conspiracies, as their BS begins to overpower and drown out the more rational minded. Some are just talking to the wind, others are preaching to the choir. And if you disagree, those who have never commented or Liked anything you’ve posted in the past, are among the first to hop on board and remind you how stupid you are. Over the last few weeks there’s been some posting about how bad the insular nature of Facebook friends can be, as we tend to seek out those who are similar to us, particularly in the wake of posts calling for Trump supporters to unfriend non-Trump supporters, an act that, I must admit, I am guilty of. Some question why this is a necessity, and my response to that is, why, exactly, do I need to have all these homophobic, mysgonistic, xenophobic, racist bullshit posts capturing my eyeballs? Why is unfriending the asshats so bad? It’s just proof of the awful state of the (in this case, very limited) world, and for a depressive it’s likely better to not be seen or heard. As it stands, my timeline is often cluttered with these asinine, bullshit ‘1 Like = 1 Prayer” memes, worries about how Obama is coming to take our guns (he isn’t, hasn’t, and won’t), pro-Trump rhetoric, anti-Muslim rhetoric, All Brown People Are Terrorists rhetoric, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and…fuck, why are these people my friends and followers again? It sometimes gets more and more difficult to parse out why I associate with these people (even in the loosest sense possible). If anything positive can be drawn from it, then it’s that these people can at least serve as a good reminder of the type of people I desperately hope my son doesn’t grow into, and the type of person I do not want to be. Because, let’s face it, if either of us become so damaged that we’re willing to support a fascist for president, we’ve seriously lost it and I’ve failed as a parent and as a human being. Frankly, though, the bottom line is that I don’t need this crap in my life, and Facebook, or at least my particular Facebook feed, seems to have devolved into the unmoderated comments section of any given website. The central question is, is this something I need? Is there a positive net effect to being active on Facebook? And right now, I don’t think there is. It’s a time-hog, useful largely only for procrastinating when it’s not all about people telling me how I should feel bad about whatever their cause du jour may be, or why I should feel bad because they don’t like my cause of the moment (Internet protip: you can ever only care about one thing at any given time, and that one thing is determined by the most vociferous follower/friend/family member who barely interacts with you online or off). While I won’t be scrapping my Facebook account altogether, I must make a concerted effort to, at the very least, limit my use of it. I think I’ll also be unfollowing, possibly even unfriending, a good number of people for my own sanity (and also because it’s my Facebook page, and I can choose who is connected with it). So, there’s number one.
  2. Write more. Writing makes me happy, and one of the best ways to stave off depression is to do things that make you feel good. 2015 was a bit of a banner year for me in terms of productivity. I wrote and published Emergence, appeared in three anthologies, and completed a new manuscript that should make its way to market sometime in 2016. I’ve also been invited to take part in a new anthology set for late spring/early summer release and have begun work on a new science fiction novel. Writing helps me cope in a lot of different ways, but it is also, first and foremost, a business. I’m a professional author and this helps me get food on the table and gas in my car, in addition to funding the release of my future projects. Or at least it would if I had enough sales to support myself and my family independently as a professional author (see #6 below). Hypothetically, the more I write, the more I can sell. Maybe 2016 will be the year I can good and truly test this claim, but there’s only one way to really know.
  3. Read Less. Now this is a bold proclamation! Let me explain though. I’m a compulsive book buyer and a bit of a NetGalley addict, which means in addition to purchasing a large number of novels and ebooks, I also have an enormous stockpile of ARCs, or Advanced Reader Copies. Too many to read, in fact. So my goal for 2016 is to request less ARCs and work on catching up with the titles already on my Kindle. I want to put ARCs on the backburner entirely, sooner rather than later, so that I can focus on the incredible backlog of owned titles that are presently sitting in my ever-expanding digital To-Read pile. Forgive me for making a rather misleading claim with this one! The goal isn’t actually to read less, but to refocus my priority and to read less ARCs, and give my attention to books I already have. I love reading. However, I don’t love it when reading feels like a chore.
  4. Read More. More non-fiction, in particular. While I have a whole ton of fiction and plenty of ARCs to get me through 2016 (and beyond!), I really need to peruse more non-fiction. For the last few years, in my annual reading round-ups, I’ve noted that non-fiction titles are a large deficiency in my reading habits, and this is something I want to address in the new year. I’ve got plenty of non-fiction titles on my Kindle, and a good number of them in my Audible wishlist; I just need to make more time to absorb them.
  5. Buy Less Books! This is a huge, huge, huge issue for me. I’m a compulsive reader, and, almost by default, a compulsive book buyer. I do recognize that psychologically, there is a certain satisfaction that comes with one-clicking a Kindle title and having it appear almost instantly on my tablet. This got out of hand in 2015, and with a three month old vying for household resources and attention, I must be much more conscious of budgetary needs and buy way less books. As it stands currently, I have an enormous backlog of titles both bought and in ARC form. I also signed up for a library card a few months ago, and it’s high-time I started using it. My local library has a pretty good digital collection, so I can score plenty of free reads – a number of which have populated my Amazon wish list in hopes of a price drop – without even leaving the house. It also makes it that much easier to balk at the asinine purchase price the Big 5 publishing houses tag most of their ebooks with, selling titles for the same cost as a hardcover novel and many times for more than the paperback version. This became a source of frustration in 2015 when I wanted to buy John Scalzi’s Lock In for my Kindle, which cost around $9 whereas Amazon was discounting the paperback down to, at one point, less than $5. I refuse to pay $15 or more for an ebook. And I won’t buy an ebook that costs more than the paperback, which means if I want it right then and there on my Kindle, I won’t be buying that book period. After perusing my local library’s digital collections, I’ve found a terrific way to continue reading my favorite authors and titles of particular interest without breaking the bank. And for those bemoaning me with “But $15 isn’t a lot of money,” well, no, in the grand scheme things of it’s not, and if I only bought a single title a year maybe I could excuse it. But I’m practically a bulk shopper. And with a three month old in the house, $15 is half a container of formula – so if I have to choose between buying the next Clancy or keeping my baby healthy, it’s a no brainer. Also, I have to save up money for publishing my own titles and hawking my own wares in 2016! The local library and the Kindle Owners Lending Library are most certainly the way to go from here on out!
  6. Worry Less About Other Writers. Writing is a business, but fellow writers are not competition. We’re all in this together. This resolution is all about trying to not compare myself to the success of others – I can certainly try to reach the same level of success my friends have achieved, but I also need to not berate myself over my own (perceived) failures. So far my work has been fairly well received by critics and readers, but sales are lackluster. Sometimes in talking about this business with my writer buds, they’ll lament about how they’re “only” getting 50 sales a day, and I just sort of cry into my beer wishing I were getting even 50 sales a month. What am I doing wrong? Do I really suck that badly? Is my work uninteresting, dopey shit? Are people finding my work? Or do they maybe discover it and just ignore it? Why? What am I doing wrong? It gets to be a cyclical bit of recrimination, and in the nature of cyclical things, this resolution points a bit toward resolution #1. While I certainly do not want to limit contact with other writers, I do want to limit my own feelings of failure and inadequacy. Some of this can be addressed by writing more and putting more work out there, opening up my chances of discoverability even wider. I was invited into several anthologies over the course of 2015 and was tapped for another one set for 2016, so I maybe don’t suck that badly. But still, I’m not getting any movie or TV deals; my stories don’t debut at #1 and their staying power is ridiculously short lived. Sales come in tiny spurts, one or two a week if I’m lucky. Clearly, I am so very much not an insta-best-seller like several of my author friends, and while I celebrate their success and am truly happy for them and immensely proud of them and their work, there’s a part that stings. I’m not owed a single goddamn thing – I realize this. I also realize that my feelings are nothing more than petty envy. I need to stop wishing for success and figure out a wait to earn it. Maybe success will come, or at least a modicum of success, and maybe it won’t. Until then, I need to stop worrying about it and remind myself that I’m just not there yet. It’ll happen one day. Maybe this resolution should have been titled Quit Being So Fucking Insecure. Yeah, that’s a bit more accurate…

So, there you have it. My resolutions, coupled with a peek at my damaged, scarred psyche. What are you big resolutions for 2016?

Books, Depression, and Writing: My 2016 Resolutions

Finished With Mass Hysteria!

Mass Hysteria! is done!

Or at least the first draft is. There’s still plenty of adjustments and edits that need to be made before it goes off for formal development and edits sometime in 2016. But for now, it’s finished.

You may recall I mentioned writing a short companion piece to this story in an update last month, but I think I may hold off on that one for now.

I’m itching a bit to get back into the sci-fi groove, but I’m also a bit too burned out on all the real-life horrors of late to want to continue writing about cannibals and humans decimating one another so completely and so viciously.

Since my last blog post on my writing affairs, and in between finishing Mass Hysteria! right after Thanksgiving and today, we’ve seen terror attacks on Paris, on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, and in San Bernadino yesterday (some refuse to call these last two terror attacks, but I’m calling it like I see it.). In the US, we’ve now had more mass shootings than we’ve had days in the year thus far (336 days, 355 shootings. But it’s still fairly early on the Eastern Standard Time zone at the time of this writing. Those shooting numbers will go up again soon, if not today then by week’s end, no doubt).

So, no. I’m not in a particular mood to write about yet more horrors at the moment. Mass Hysteria! took a bit of a toll on me, and it got brutally dark in some areas. For now, then, any more stories in this world are off the table.

Mass Hysteria! is a complete story all by itself, so no worries there. Whenever it does release, you’ll still get the complete arc and know everything you need to know. The story I had tentatively titled Checkmate was little more than a subplot I had to drop and which was not working well with the central narrative of the story proper. I’m also becoming of the mind that…well, I dropped it for a reason. It wasn’t working. It just was so not working. Maybe rather than trying to shoehorn a separate short story out of it, it’s better to just move on. I’m not even in a particular rush to edit, which is probably a good thing (and besides, I can’t afford it right now, so that helps, too). I need to come up for some fresh air for a little while and get some distance between myself and the work.

And then there’s that itch for sci-fi again. Science fiction is where I made my dent with the release of Convergence and Emergence. There’s a third book to be done, eventually. Maybe not right now though. Not until I’ve gotten my head into a little bit better of a space for the long-term commitment it would require.

The idea I’m tossing around now is, actually and funnily enough, post-apocalyptic. And although that doesn’t exactly inspire all kinds of happy thoughts, I think the kernel of the idea carries with it a certain amount of hope for mankind as a whole. We are, as a species, survivors, and it’s important to remember that, even when things get as bleak as they are at the moment, and especially as anger threatens to consume us. It’s easy to be angry, less so to be hopeful (at least for me).

And that’s what I need to write about right now. Survival. Change and adaptation. But most of all, a little bit of hope that can shine against the darkness.

Finished With Mass Hysteria!

Black Friday Sale: Get CONVERGENCE For FREE

Featured Image -- 3583Today’s the day – head over to Amazon get my debut sci-fi thriller ebook, Convergence, for the low, low price of totally free!

This offer is good for today only, so act fast!

If you prefer the physical format, you can buy the Convergence paperback and save 30% by using the code HOLIDAY30 at checkout (terms & conditions here; offer good until Nov. 30).

If you’ve already read Convergence, please take a moment to leave a review and let other readers know your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be long at all, and I’ve seen reviews as short as “It’s great!” on other book pages. It will only take you a moment, but it can have a tremendous influence on other readers out there.

Here’s the synopsis:

Jonah Everitt is a killer, an addict, and a memory thief.

After being hired to kill a ranking officer of the Pacific Rim Coalition and download his memories, Everitt finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a terror cell, a rogue military squadron, and a Chinese gangster named Alice Xie. Xie is a profiteer of street drugs, primarily DRMR, a powerful narcotic made from the memories of the dead. With his daughter, Mesa, missing in post-war Los Angeles, Everitt is forced into an uneasy alliance with Alice to find her.

Mesa’s abduction is wrapped up in the secrets of a brutal murder during the war’s early days, a murder that Alice Xie wants revenged. In order to find her, Jonah will have to sift through the memories of dead men that could destroy what little he has left.

In a city where peace is tenuous and loyalties are ever shifting, the past and the present are about to converge.

Publisher’s Weekly* called CONVERGENCE a “smart splice of espionage and science fiction. … frighteningly realistic. Well-drawn characters, excellent pacing, and constant surprises make this a great cautionary tale about technology and its abuses.”

“From the opening page of Convergence I was hooked. The dystopian world building is well done and the descriptions are vivid. The technology is imaginary and different…great characters and plenty of suspense/action.” – Nicholas Sansbury Smith, author of Extinction Horizon and the Orbs series

Convergence is fast-paced, full of action and a thrilling ride from start to finish. There is violence, depth of feeling, explosions, car chases and tenderness. The book has everything and is perfect for those who like their SciFi gritty, edgy and realistic.”
J.S. Collyer, author of ZERO

“kept me on the edge of my seat the WHOLE friggen time! The writing is tight. The world building is incredible, and the story itself is pretty compelling! A+”
-Melissa “Book Lady” Caldwell, Must Read Faster

“A cyberpunk thrillride through a future America under Chinese rule. The conflict between the humanity of the main character, Jonah, and the things he has had to do to survive in this harsh new world makes ‘Convergence’ an absolute pleasure to read.” – SciFi365.net

Also available: Emergence (A DRMR Novel, Book 2) for only $3.99.

Emergence-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

The Thrilling Sequel to Convergence

Still recovering from the events that befell her in Los Angeles, Mesa Everitt is learning how to rebuild her life.

The murder of a memorialist enclave changes all of that and sets into motion a series of violence that forces her into hiding.

Hunted by a squad of corporate mercenaries, with the lives of her friends and family in danger, Mesa has no one to turn to, but she holds a dark secret inside her skull. She has no knowledge of that secret, but it is worth killing for.

The ghosts of her haunted, forgotten past are about to emerge.

“Hicks writes like Philip K Dick and Robert Crais combined, making for clean, exciting prose. He focuses on the story and never lets go.” – Lucas Bale, author of the award-winning Beyond The Wall series

“It has all the gritty Cyberpunk of the first book plus a more fully-realized world in which to immerse yourself. Excellent.” – SciFi365.net

“Excellent, fast-paced thriller with fantastic world building. Mesa is a troubled yet strong heroine that captivates you from the first page.” – E.E. Giorgi, author of Chimeras

Click here to buy Emergence!

Black Friday Sale: Get CONVERGENCE For FREE

Guest Post: What’s In A Name? by Chris Holm

What’s in a name?

Chris Holm


I have a confession to make: I suck at naming characters.

I’m not kidding. Once, while working on a first draft, I realized my book featured three Jakes. Which, apart from sounding like an ill-conceived second sequel to CHINATOWN, probably made the story a little tough to follow. (Note to self: THE TWO JAKES was a massive flop. Even among hardcore mystery fans, that joke ain’t likely to land. Not that that’s ever stopped you before.)

Even when I manage to avoid repeating myself, the names I’m drawn to have a certain sameness to them, like those parents who name their children Braden, Caden, and Jaden. That’s fine for triplets, I guess. (An aside to parents who do this: I’m being polite because I want you to buy my book. It’s not fine. In fact, it may constitute cruel and unusual punishment.) But in a work of fiction, it pierces the illusion of a wide and varied world, and pulls back the curtain of authority we writers hide behind.

When I sat down to write THE KILLING KIND, I wanted to avoid my usual naming rut. I wanted names that sounded lived-in, authentic. So, as a music geek, I turned to an unlikely source for inspiration: the real names of punk artists who use stage names.

Straight-laced FBI agent Charlie Thompson has little in common with her namesake, whom Pixies fans know better as Black Francis. Ditto her partner, Henry Garfield, who takes his name from Black Flag front man turned spoken-word artist Hank Rollins.


True Detective Season 3?
True Detective Season 3?

Though I changed the spelling a tad, my rockabilly stoolpigeon Eric Purkhiser is named after the late, great Lux Interior of The Cramps.

This guy doesn’t look cut out for Witness Protection.
This guy doesn’t look cut out for Witness Protection.

And Hendricks’ best bud Lester Meyers is named after legendary punk innovator Richard Hell (born Richard Lester Meyers) of Neon Boys, Television, the Heartbreakers, and the Voidoids.

Former Special Forces Lester Meyers is probably way buffer.
Former Special Forces Lester Meyers is probably way buffer.

Not all my characters are named after punk musicians, of course. Rough-hewn hitman Leon Leonwood takes his name from the “L.L.” in L.L. Bean, as a nod to my adopted home state. I likely cooked up Chicago Mafioso Monte D’Abruzzo’s name after a particularly tasty glass of Italian red. Alexander Engelmann’s surname was taken from Glennon Engleman, a St. Louis dentist who moonlighted as a hitman. (Posthumous congratulations, Glennon: you’re no longer America’s most hated dentist.) His alias—L’Engle—was borrowed, with apologies, from Madeleine L’Engle, author of A WRINKLE IN TIME. And casino pit boss Bernie Liederkrantz keeps the stage-name theme alive, although he’s certainly no punk musician—he’s a felt-based game show host better known as Guy Smiley.

“You there! Counting cards! I’m going to have to ask you to come with me.”
“You there! Counting cards! I’m going to have to ask you to come with me.”

But what of my lead character, Michael Hendricks? The truth is, I tried out several names before I found one that stuck. He began life as Michael Stark, after the warrior angel and Donald Westlake’s nom de plume, respectively. But that struck me as too cheesy—like Chase Stone or Slade McFacepunch. Plus, the world’s already got a Ned Stark and a Tony Stark. How’s poor Mikey going to stack up against Iron Man and the Lord of Winterfell? (No, really, fanfic authors: I wanna know.)

So how’d I land on Hendricks? I tend to think of Michael as a little prickly and unapproachable, but oddly compelling. One day, when I was editing the opening chapter of THE KILLING KIND, I read this and it clicked:

“[Hendricks] missed the dark greens and cold blues of northern New England, where even the hottest summer sun failed to warm the deepest hollows of the forest, and the water ran cold all year long.”

Cold, piney, unapproachable, and a little bit James Bond-y… yeah, I named him after gin.

One last thing: Hendricks burns through a goodly number of aliases over the course of THE KILLING KIND—each of them an easter egg, a winking reference. But those, I think, I’ll leave you to discover.

chris holmChris Holm is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011. His critically acclaimed Collector trilogy made over forty Year’s Best lists. His latest novel, THE KILLING KIND, is about a man who makes his living hitting hitmen, only to wind up a target himself. For links to Chris on Twitter and Facebook, visit http://www.chrisholmbooks.com.

Guest Post: What’s In A Name? by Chris Holm