Thank You for Powering Up!

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Add a little bit of body textA month ago, I and a group of friends released a new anthology: The Powers That Be. Nine stories all centered around superpowers featuring stories written by some of my favorite people — WJ Davies, Ann Christy, Carol Davis, Thomas Robins, Logan Thomas Snyder, David Adams, Samuel Peralta, Ernie Lindsey, and my brother Paul Swardstrom.

With a month in the books, I am SUPER thrilled to announce we have surpassed 500 combined sales and borrows. The preorder period was amazing, which led right into a phenomenal and fun Launch Party, but what has been perhaps the most rewarding part is the past few weeks when the price increased and people kept buying and borrowing the collection. We’ve been hanging out in the top 35 of the Amazon top Sci-fi Anthology list since our release with a few appearances in the top 5.

What this means is that we will have over $500 to donate to the Riley Hospital for Children Sickle Cell Clinic thanks to all of you. These donations will be greatly appreciated for a long time.

So…for those who have purchased or borrowed the book — THANK YOU. For those who haven’t — it isn’t too late to get on board.

Oh, and if you’ve read it, we would love a kind review. The more reviews the better as we look towards potential marketing opportunities down the road. Again, a huge thank you to all of you.

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Anthology Awesomeness!

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Whoa…time got away from me and I forgot to update you guys over here. In the span of one week in the beginning of 2015, I have two stories in two separate anthologies to tell you about. Let’s start with The Powers That Be.

Cover3Back in early 2014, I was privileged to be in my first anthology — WOOL Gathering. All the stories were centered around Hugh Howey’s WOOL Universe and were penned by authors who had all previously written WOOL stories. It was a fantastic collection that I will forever be proud of. One of the best parts is that all the proceeds will go towards the National Novel Writing Month Young Authors program.

So, the authors of LOOW (the League of Original Woolwriters or perhaps the Loofah of Obstinate Wetness) have brought forth another charity anthology — The Powers That Be. It’s already been for sale for a few days and been holding steady on the Kindle Science Fiction Anthology sales charts. Nine stories, all centered around superpowers. Authors are: Ann Christy, WJ Davies, Samuel Peralta, Logan Thomas Snyder, Carol Davis, Thomas Robins, David Adams, Paul K. Swardstrom, and myself. And, I was able to cajole Ernie Lindsey into penning a wonderful Foreword to the book. All great stories, confirmed by the outstanding reviews we’ve received so far.

My story is called “To Sacrifice A King,” and deals with the oft-overlooked role of superhero sidekick. A touch of humor, a smattering of pop culture superhero references, and a question: do powers really make a hero?

For a limited time, just 99 cents and all proceeds for this book will go towards the Sickle Cell Clinic at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana. The price will go up soon, so get your copy before it’s too late.

alien chrThe next book to tell you about is The Alien Chronicles. Throughout the back half of 2014, I watched a few independent anthologies get published — From the Indie Side, Synchronic, The Robot Chronicles & The Telepath Chronicles. After reading the first three and absolutely loving The Robot Chronicles (enough for it to make my top 18 list of 2014), I approached Samuel Peralta about joining in a future installment. He looked over my meager qualifications and invited me to join The Alien Chronicles.

To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. But I was also incredibly nervous. These anthologies are showcasing some amazing independent publishing talent and I was going to put my stuff up against theirs and say it’s on the same level. I worked hard to put out the best story I could — ultimately drawing back to my roots visiting my grandmother’s farm growing up. My story is called “Uncle Allen,” and has about the same vibe of my short story Ant Apocalypse.

But check out the list of authors joining me: Hugh Freakin’ Howey, B.V. Larson, Jennifer Foehner Wells (her Fluency was on my Top 18 List, too!), Daniel Arenson, Blair Babylon, Annie Bellet, Peter Cawdron (I love that dude), my good friend and writer WJ Davies, Patrice Fitzgerald, Autumn Kalquist, Moira Katson, Samuel Peralta, Geoffrey Wakeling, and Nicholas Wilson. Foreword by my pal Stefan Bolz. Holy Smokes. Edited by the incredible David Gatewood with a cover by the incomparable Jason Gurley and you have about a perfect package. People are going to love this book.

It’s up for pre-order right now and will officially be for sale on Friday, so pick up your copy and get to reading. Between these two books, you can read 24 stories for less than the cost of a Value Meal at McDonald’s. Amazing value for some amazing stories.

Book Reviews – The Fourth Sage & Super

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Oh boy — been a while since I’ve updated this thing. Don’t need to get super-personal, but suffice it to say the past couple weeks have been CRAZY busy. I had a couple conferences to go to, I made a trip to an airport, I hosted my parents and brother at my house to make some much-needed home repairs and updates for five days — it has been crazy.

So, just wanted to ease back into this and give you reviews on not just one, but two books I recently read. I polished off Stefan Bolz’s new book The Fourth Sage about a week ago and then devoured Ernie Lindsey’s Super over the past 24 hours. Both were tremendous and are showcasing how independent authors are putting out outstanding work.


The Fourth Sage – Stefan Bolz

Earlier this year, I read Stefan Bolz’s previous book, The Three Feathers. I thought it was outstanding with a unique voice in a sea of books with generic personalities and stock plots. With The Fourth Sage, Stefan has proved that he is not a one-trick pony and has continued his specific brand of writing to a futuristic world inhabited by Aries and her friends.

10338227_10203080505026343_2241684756519716173_nIn The Three Feathers, Bolz really put a lot of emphasis on fate and destiny to go along with a heavy dose of supernatural and spirituality. There are recurrences of those themes here as well, but with the futuristic corporate society, the metaphysical side is tempered with the science and technology found in Aries’ world. I really enjoyed reading The Fourth Sage and kept rooting for Aries and her friends, even as the deck was continuously stacked against them. Sacrifices are necessary for journeys like Aries’ to succeed, but sacrifice doesn’t always mean the same thing.

There is a positivity present in Bolz’s work that you don’t find in other author’s books. In a post-apocalyptic, authoritarian society, you would expect to find death and depression around every turn, but for some reason, whenever Aries, her winged friend, Born of Night, or any of her numerous friends appear on the page, it is difficult to not smile and know that somehow, someway, their destiny is to survive and even thrive.

Stefan has planned more books in this series and I am very much interested in reading the future installments. Fantastic book, Stefan — good work.


 

Super – Ernie Lindsey

Perhaps the best movie I’ve seen this year was Captain America: Winter Soldier. One of the best things about the narrative of CA2 was the idea that the government (S.H.I.E.L.D.) was directly funding and operating superhero missions around the world. The implications of that, specifically when you combine it with NSA data mining and Edward Snowden, made the movie much more than a superhero flick — it became a modern allegory for our world with Captain America representing the American ideal.

superI didn’t come into reading Ernie Lindsey’s Super with CA2 in mind, but it is hard to distance yourself too much from it after finishing and realizing the complex web Lindsey wove to get to the ending of the book. The protagonist, Leo Craft, is a Superhero Assassin, a distinction he makes at one point to say the Support Group is joins is not superheros that are assassins, but rather people who assassinate superheroes. At first, this sounds terrible, until Lindsey carefully reminds the reader that no one is perfectly good or evil — that shades of grey exist. For some heroes, those shades are lighter, but for others, those shades take on tones of child pornography, abuses of their powers, and betrayal of their countries. For some of those, Craft takes out retribution.

It seems Craft is perfect at his job, but gets a little lazy and doesn’t realize who he hopped into bed with on his latest assignment. From there, the government twists and turns with numerous agencies and multinational organizations takes center stage with Lindsey expertly leaving the reader wanting more at each chapter break. This is one book that I genuinely had a hard time putting down and when my Kindle ran out of battery life, I had to bide my time until it was ready for me to finish the book off.

I thought Lindsey did a great job and left the world open and ripe to numerous other stories or sequels, each of which I would gladly purchase and read. Well done!