Thursday, May 28, 2015


I'm at the start of a three week road trip visiting friends and family in the southwest. For me this is a balm to the soul, and very restorative in terms of creative motivation and inspiration.

My first stop is Colorado and while yesterday was mostly spent recovering from two solid days of driving, today I took the dog into the mountains with friends and disappeared into a world devoid of civilization. I'll get at least one more walk in the mountains in before I leave and also a lot of reuniting with old friends.

All of this is much needed and welcome. Today, it rained in the middle of the hike and I couldn't even muster up mild annoyance. In fact I enjoyed it. The mountains soothe me no matter the weather.

I made a point of not bringing my phone on the hike so I don't have any pictures from that. So here are some photos of the drive down:

North Dakota was not overly inspiring

South Dakota was slightly more promising

Especially towards sunset

Of course the actual sunset was behind me

The clouds were pretty wherever I went

And sometimes the light was amazing

This was my first sight of mountains (in the distance)

And finally up close

Between traveling and working on revisions for the book I'm hoping to release by October of this year, the next few blog posts might be largely photo based. I hope that's alright with folks.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Well, folks, a tiny blog post today just to let everyone know that I'm headed south for a few weeks.

Here's a shot of the glory that is North Dakota. Prettier photographs coming soon as I hit the south west.  Patience!

Hope everyone is well!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What you shouldn't judge a book by...

We all know the answer to that one, or we at least know the words that finish a well known refrain. But let us examine that refrain and be honest with ourselves.

Which one do you want to buy?

Yeah... even if you don't want to buy either of them, one is eye catching, the other is not. One makes you wonder what kind of story could have inspired that cover, and the other makes you, at best, wonder where that lovely photo was taken. (The answer is the coast of Australia, if you're wondering.)

I made both covers so don't worry about offending me. I was proud of the lefthand cover when I first made it because a. it was only the second cover I had ever made and b. I was literally using google draw to design it. 

I had not yet discovered, or, and I had not yet learned how to use gimp. (Which, if you are an aspiring independent author, and you cannot afford to hire other people to make your covers, you should certainly become acquainted with.) The cover on the right is testament to the usefulness of all three of those resources. 

And yet, even though I didn't know how to make one back when I made the lefthand cover (and it's arguable I still don't), I knew that a good cover was key to selling books. It's the main reason I ran a Kickstarter in October of last year. The two most important things that I was raising funds for were cover art and editing. (I've already told you all how I feel about editing, so I won't repeat myself here.)

People judge books by their covers all the time. And the truth is, old sayings aside, you can't really blame them. Books aren't people (who truly should not be judged by their metaphorical covers) they're small portals into other worlds. And the portal should advertise what kind of world lies beneath as best it can. 

Are there excellent books that have horrible covers? Certainly! Here's one of my favorite books of all time, which is also an example of one of the worst covers of all time. 

It may not seem that terrible without context, but if you've ever read the book you know that it's laughably bad.

Luckily, I was inclined to pick up the book anyway thanks to a number of recommendations. And for anyone despairing for dear Mr. Slavatore, please note that his books have all been redone to look amazing. 

Maybe it's just me, and I'm certainly biased by having already read the book, but I find this one WAY more appealing. 

Good books are hidden behind mediocre to terrible covers all the time, and mediocre to terrible books have been known to hide behind great covers as well. I'm sure that's why the saying advising us not to judge them in such a superficial way came about.

And, to be honest, I only decide whether or not to buy a book based on the first ten pages of actual story. However, to even get to the point where I'm handing over enough of my time to read the first ten pages? You're damn right I judged it by its cover. Then I judged it by its back cover blurb (although I will often skip them because they tend to be either spoiler ridden or overly praise laden, neither of which I appreciate). And if the cover and short description draw me in, then I read the first ten pages and decide whether or not to buy the book.

Ultimately, writing is what sells me on a book (hence the importance of editing), but if a book I've never heard of doesn't catch my eye, what else is going to make me pick it up to begin with? 

I buy books that no one has recommended to me all the time. When I have enough money to spend on physical books I love wandering book stores and picking random books off of the shelf to read the first few pages and see what I like. When I don't have money I do the online equivalent with ebooks. 

The only downside to this method of acquisition is that it is largely cover dependent. Don't get me wrong, I also read lots of books that have been recommended to me whether I like the cover or not. But, without personal recommendations I am unlikely to pick up a book that has an unappealing cover. 

Of course, what makes a cover appealing is subjective. I imagine one or two people reading this are probably looking at the two covers for Rain on a Summer's Afternoon and wondering why I bothered to do anything more than improve the font on the first cover. And it's true you'll never manage to please everyone with a single cover. However, you really only need to attract the kind of people who would like your book anyway. So, think about who those people are, and do your best to create an image that you think will make them stop and wonder what lies beneath...

Hmm... I guess all of that was just a lengthy way of saying, "Hey guys, I redid the cover for Rain on a Summer's Afternoon: A Collection of Short Stories. I also redid the interior formatting for both the ebook and the paperback ( I learned a lot about that while making Blade's Edge and applied those tips and tricks accordingly)."

If the boring cover was keeping you from buying the book, let it hold you back no longer!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why I'm angry...

I started writing this post last year. I put it away for a while because I was seeing a lot of other people --people who I respect and whose opinions I value, people with a much wider audience than I have--writing about the same topic in a very eloquent and forceful manner. I figured I would just be repeating words that everyone had already heard and understood. I assumed that enough was being said about the topic. I thought I didn't need to add my voice to the choir of people calling for justice because surely what was already out there would be sufficient.

And yet, here we are, ten months after Eric Garner's death was videotaped and splashed all over the internet and cops are still killing unarmed people with impunity. Of course, Garner's death wasn't the first of its kind nor was it the last. (Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown are other widely recognized examples.) It's happening frequently enough that I get at least one petition from pertaining to police brutality in my inbox per week. Some of them relate to older cases, some of them are new... none of them have found justice.

We can pretend that it's not about race if you want to. I think that's willfully blind, but hey, if you'd like to pretend it's not about race I'll indulge you... as a thought exercise.

The truth is that whether or not it's about race, the result is the same. The truth is that innocent people are being killed by a group of people who are sworn to protect and defend. The truth is that the victims' race and background shouldn't make a difference.

What matters is that people who are unarmed are being killed by police officers.

That should frighten and anger you no matter what who you are.


Because people are people.

It should disgust you that anyone is being shot, strangled, or beaten to death by police officers despite being unarmed and not acting aggressively. If, for some reason, that doesn't disgust you then I suggest that you check your moral compass; it's leading you astray.

While it's horrific that these incidents are happening at all, matters are made infinitely worse by the fact that the police officers responsible for these incidents aren't being indicted, or worse yet, aren't even being investigated or put on trial.

Unfortunately, now is when some people will insist, "But those men were adults with criminal records," or "But those were large men whose mere presence was intimidating."

Well my first reply to that is, who gives a crap? Having a criminal record does not mean you deserve to be shot on sight when you aren't armed or attacking anyone, nor does being large and 'intimidating.'

Furthermore, if that's your excuse, then what about Tamir Rice? Or how about Sheneque Proctor? How intimidating was the unarmed 12 year old boy who was shot or the 18 year old young woman who was found dead in her cell after being arrested and complaining of asthma?

Why is nothing being done about their deaths?

Sheneque was arrested at a house party for 'disturbing the peace.' She reportedly complained of having asthma trouble and then was found dead in her cell the next morning.

Raise your hand if you've ever been at a party that got broken up by the cops.

*Raises hand* I have. Just a noise complaint, but still, it's happened. What if I had been unlucky enough that a cop decided to take me in on a misdemeanor? I have asthma. What if I'd had an asthma attack? Would the cops have believed me and gotten me an inhaler? Would I have gone to bed and never woken up? Would I have deserved death simply for being a party that was too loud?

And you say, "Well that was an accident, no one killed her."

And I say, "Perhaps, but no one saved her either. And, to make matters worse, no one seems to be looking into her death."

You can pretend this isn't about race, but these incidents aren't being distributed equally amongst all demographics. You can pretend that this isn't about race, but what are the chances that there wouldn't have already been investigations completed for Tamir and Sheneque if they had been white?

It is not ok that any group of US citizens feels unsafe in the hands of our justice system. It is not ok that any group of citizens feels targeted by our justice system. It is not ok that we sit idly by and allow our justice system to abuse any group of US citizens, or residents, or visitors for that matter.

People are people.

People's lives matter.

Justice matters.

We can no longer sit back and let our fellow humans come to harm.

It's time to speak up.

I don't know what the answer is. I know that not all cops are out to kill people who don't deserve it. I know that the root of the problem is much deeper than any of these incidents. I know that our whole justice system is faulty and that that's just the beginning. This problem is huge and tangled, and messy, and complicated, and it is going to take a very long time to fix.

But the first step is simple.

People are people. There is no "they." There is only "we."

We may be different, but we are also the same.

We deserve respect. We deserve a chance to live. We deserve to feel safe. We deserve to feel like we matter.

We do matter.

All of us.

I'm angry, and I don't know what to say to make things better. But I felt the need to say something, and I think the more of us who speak up, the better. After months of indecision, I've decided that there can't be too many voices saying no to injustice.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Half a month gone...

How have I made it to the middle of May without a single blog post? That just doesn't seem right.

Well, I have a good long post ready to go up on Monday. In the meantime, here's Blade's Edge's first ever piece of fan art.

Courtesy of CB Archer

And I've started an official Fan Art page to share the fan art that already exists and encourage others to contribute should they be so moved. 

Also, in case anyone missed it, I was interviewed over on The Fountain Literary Journal a little while ago. 

That's all for now. More on Monday!