Coming Soon – The Powers That Be

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Earlier this year, I was in an anthology entitled WOOL Gathering. I am lucky enough to be in a writer’s group called LOOW. We have all published stories set in Hugh Howey’s WOOL Universe and have stayed connected even as most of us have moved on to writing our own brand of fiction. WOOL Gathering served as a nice collection of short stories set in (and around) the silos and all the proceeds went towards the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program.

Cover3We wanted to keep writing together, so we planned another anthology — this time with the theme of superpowers, which will be called The Powers That Be. There are nine fantastic stories inside with most of the same authors who wrote for our first collection and a few new faces as well. On the right is the cover, designed by LOOW member David Adams.

Here is a list of the stories to be included in the collection:

  • Cassie Dreams of Flying by Carol Davis
  • Lucky Chance by Wes Davies
  • Repose by Thomas Robins
  • Who Will Save Supergirl? by David Adams
  • Yankari by Ann Christy
  • Hotbox Runner by Paul K. Swardstrom & Will Swardstrom
  • We’re Coming For You by Logan Thomas Snyder
  • Faster by Samuel Peralta
  • To Sacrifice A King by Will Swardstrom

In addition to a great line-up of stories, Ernie Lindsey (author of the amazing book Super) agreed to write the foreword. If you like stories about superheroes and those gifted with powers, this is the collection for you.

But, by far the best thing about this book is where the money is going. Just like with WOOL Gathering, we’ve agreed to send the proceeds to someplace else besides our pockets. After recently adopting our son, my wife and I have spent more than enough time at the hospital to see what amazing work the doctors, nurses, and support staff do on a daily basis. Even more than that, the children who visit the or even live at the hospital are heroes in my book for their courage and will to fight on.

With that in mind, we’ve agreed to donate the proceeds to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana, specifically the Sickle Cell Clinic to help the patients and families cope and live with this disease.

The book is currently out for formatting, but once it is back from that, we should have a release date soon. I’m really excited for people to read this book and for the hospital to see some much needed money to help people cope with Sickle Cell Anemia.

Collaboration Celebration!

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A month ago, I got an email from my author friend Lyndon Perry. I first got to know Lyn through WOOL fan fiction. His story The Last Prayer is a great Silo tale and it really shows how great of a writer he is. We share some other aspects of our lives as well. Both of us are teachers for our day jobs and both of us like to mess around with multiple genres. Lyn’s stories run the gamut from horror to sci-fi to young adult to cozy mysteries. (Seriously — his book Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut is perhaps his best yet.)

The ReturnAnyway, back to the email. Lyn had read my short story Contact Window. He told me later that when he’d read it, he put it down, but couldn’t stop thinking about it and the possibilities of the universe. he ended up writing a story set in my universe, which he called The Return. It’s a quasi-sequel to CW; I might write a true sequel for the characters of CW someday, but he took it in a totally different direction. In fact, the direction he took it in was a total surprise and a total treat. I hadn’t expected the story to begin with and I never would have expected the way he took it.

I ended up adding a little at the beginning and a little rewrite in the middle, but most of the story is his. And it’s a wonderful little tale it is. It shares the same universe and the same little nod of humor that the original story includes as well.

To celebrate the release of the new story, and to give an introduction to the Contact Window Universe, I’m making CW FREE Monday and Tuesday. Pick it up and then get The Return for just 99 cents. Read both and leave me and Lyn a review of our stories. And let me know if the universe of Contact Window is one that is worth exploring in future stories. After I finish my next novel, my writing slate is fairly clear and CW might make a return appearance.

New Release – Jam Night

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Jam NightAbout a year ago, I wrote a short story inspired by things that were going on at the time. There had been some Internet bullying of indie authors, so I worked out some demons by writing a fictional story informed by my time in junior high. I can’t say by any stretch that I enjoyed junior high (with the exception of Mr. Henry’s Geography class and my 8th grade band trip to Michigan), but my experiences developed who I am.

Who am I?

I am a person who was bullied. Even now, over 20 years later, when I write that statement, my heart hesitates. Even admitting it makes me wonder if someone will retaliate against me. You might scoff, but that fear still runs through me to this day.

I was going through my blog the other day and found the story I’d posted, which I called Jam Night. I read through it, dusted it off a little, tightened up the wording and added a few hundred words to the narrative. It isn’t a long story — coming in just under 2,500 words, but it is one I needed to tell. I don’t care if anyone buys it or even reads it, but I wanted to put it out there for anyone who might be going through a tough time at school, or in their personal life with bullies. It is a trite saying, but it does get better. The first couple years of high school were no treat, either, but I can honestly say that a small group of friends made my final few years in high school some of my favorite memories.

Ultimately, writing the story helped me to tackle a few of my own demons left over from junior high. Will I ever be rid of all of the demons? I doubt it, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe those demons are there to remind me what it’s like to be on the side of the bullied. As an adult, it’s easy to say kids should just “suck it up,” but for them, the fear can be crippling and debilitating. I hope this story can at least help one person in that regard.

Uncle Allen — a Sneak Peek

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This morning I emailed off a short story entitled Uncle Allen, its blurb, an Author’s Note, and a signed contract for an upcoming anthology. It’s inclusion in the anthology isn’t exactly secret, but I’m still holding off on saying I will actually be in it until the producer and editor read and approve my story. I’m playing with the big boys (and girls) here and I am scared to death I’m going to screw it up. Seriously…looking at the list of authors in this book and then my name somehow on this list makes me think I won some cosmic lottery. The sales and reviews these guys (and gals) have is ridiculous compared to the measly handful of sales and reviews on my books and stories. There is no way I deserve to be in this book, but I’m not running away from this opportunity.

However it goes though, I’m done and at peace with the story I submitted. By now, I’m sure you may be wondering when you will get to read Uncle Allen. If all goes well, it will be early January. But, for my blog readers, I’ll give you a sneak peek here:

“Hello Rachel!” Grandma Naomi called out as the car came to a stop. “We’ve been waiting for you to get here.”

Whew. She at least remembers my name.

“We?” Rachel asked, hoisting her suitcase out of the backseat.

“Oh yes. Me and your Uncle Allen, of course.”

“Of course.”

“We almost had more visitors, but they left just a minute or two before you got here,” Grandma Naomi said. “Funny looking though. Kinda glad they didn’t decide to stay.”

That stopped Rachel. She knew she’d been all alone on the gravel road coming into the farm. While the road continued past the driveway, it was rarely used, and Rachel hadn’t seen any dust from the road when she arrived. But she had been distracted listening to the music on her phone. Perhaps she simply wasn’t looking for a car and missed it.

“Really? What were they here for?”

“Hmm…now that you ask me, I can’t quite remember. I’m sure they were here for your Uncle Allen, though. They always have been,” Naomi said, putting her watering can down next to a row of marigolds. She bent down — an amazing feat considering her advanced age — to pluck a few dead flower heads off the plants. Rachel, though, was still concerned about the visitors to the farm prior to her arrival.

“Who were they grandma? You say they’ve been here before?”

“Oh yes,” her grandmother replied. “Those men have been coming here for a long time. I wish they would just go away, but they won’t leave me and Henry alone. They just felt…off. Like they were here, but not here at the same time. Strange clothing, and their accents…I’m not even sure they were from this country. Could have been spies. You know–the Soviets.”

And there it was. Her grandma was combining fact, fiction, and history together. While Rachel had been recognized and greeted on the way in, suddenly Naomi was somewhere in her own past, and was apparently reliving some political thriller at the same time.