My new short story THE DATE is now available on Amazon! It’s what happens when Simon thinks he can go on a date without Chi…big mistake.
Find out what happens when everything that could go wrong…does!
My new short story THE DATE is now available on Amazon! It’s what happens when Simon thinks he can go on a date without Chi…big mistake.
Find out what happens when everything that could go wrong…does!
My new short story set in the Montague & Strong world is now available! This is the story of how they met and how Simon became immortal. Get your copy HERE.
Here is a brief description:
A Dangerous Client. An Impossible Case. An Offer He Should’ve Refused.
Children have gone missing in NYC.
Detective Simon Strong takes on what he thinks is a routine case-get proof of a spouse’s infidelity. When he digs deeper, he stumbles onto the trail of the missing children, but what he discovers shatters his concepts of reality.
Tristan Montague is a mage on the run. Hiding from his sect and banned from the magical societies, he follows a trail of missing children to NYC. Now, together with Simon, they must prevent more abductions and stop those responsible for the disappearances.
They will face an enemy unlike any other-hungry for power and willing to destroy anyone who gets in their way. Will they locate the missing children? Will they reveal the power behind the abductions and stop them?
2:45 am Tuesday and I’m wide awake. A storm is heading my way promising 18 inches of snow. Everyone in the house is sleeping and my brain is on overdrive, no I haven’t had any coffee…yet. I think the few brain cells I have left would melt if I did.
My current book Tombyards & Butterflies is doing fantastic in its first week of release, but that’s not what’s keeping me up. The second book is nagging the hell out of me. If you are creative you know exactly what I’m talking about. The idea that wont be quiet. The plot point that just wont stop. The character that whispers into your ears when you are driving, showering, doing the dishes or any other activity where a pen and paper( or phone) is out of reach, forcing you to stop and hurriedly get that idea down. And you do, because like a wisp of smoke, if you dont it vanishes and taunts you, remaining just at the fringe of conscious thought.
So I’m up and I haven’t blogged in a while because this latest book has demanded I write-hard and fast. It pushes me to write to the exclusion of everything else and so the blog, like a secret mistress, gets my visits in the dead of night when I can’t sleep. But the story,implacable, unrelenting, is there looking over my shoulder, pacing and tapping it’s foot. It gives me the stink eye and then floods my brain with ideas as if to say,”try writing that post now.”
I manage because I enjoy my blog and writing. My brain is always writing, always dealing with the alchemy of words, spoken and written. A part of me seriously believes that all creatives are slightly mad and unhinged-it’s what drives us and fuels our creative expressions. I can only speak to my experience. Writing a book is mad work. You sit down and have a conversation with the voices-in your head. You weave a story around that conversation and then invite others to jump into a world with you. Sure… totally sane.
Taking a blank page, canvas, or pick your medium, and transforming it into a book, a painting, a piece of music, a piece of you, is the ultimate form of creation. To bring forth something from nothing is the both the most empowering and frightening thing you can do and you must do it. To refuse the impulse is an act of abnegation and the fastest way to insanity.
In an effort to stave off my impending madness I am going to go wrestle with a story that just wont quit. I’ll see you on the other side.
A few nights ago I managed to conduct an interview with one of New York City’s premier supernatural detective agencies: Montague & Strong. They graciously offered to sit with me, drink some coffee (and tea) while I asked them about their work and lives.
Here is the interview:
I’m sitting at a large table in the back of The Last Gasp Brew- a coffee and tea shop located in lower Manhattan when they walk in. Right away you can see the contrast. Simon stands around six foot tall and has a casual air about him. He’s wearing a leather pea-coat, black jeans and a light gray sweater. His bronze complexion is off-set by the shockingly white hair that sits atop his head. He looks around for a few seconds, sees me, gives me a wave and a smile as he approaches. He slides into the chair opposite me.
Behind him glides in Tristan who looks like he just left a martial arts class. His eyes scan the room and he exudes a quiet danger as he enters the shop. He’s wearing what appears to be a black loose-fitting tai-chi uniform. He’s not as tall as Simon, but his presence makes him appear to fill the space around him. His complexion is darker than Simon’s and his hair is a deep black with gray at the temples.
They sit at the table opposite me, both facing the door. Simon and I shake hands, Tristan gives me a curt nod.
Orlando: Thank you both for meeting me here tonight. I know your schedule is usually busy working cases. I really appreciate it. By the way the coffee here is excellent.
Tristan: You only say that because you haven’t tried the tea. It’s our pleasure. Thank you for having us.
I notice that Tristan has a slight English accent while Simon sounds very ‘New York’.
Simon: No one drinks tea anymore.
Tristan: Except maybe most of the civilized world.
Orlando: Thanks again. I didn’t realize how difficult arranging this interview would be. You two must have some of the busiest schedules in the city.
Simon: Well it’s not like we had a choice – what I mean is you are… you know?
Simon makes some gestures I don’t understand with his hands and Tristan sighs.
Tristan: What he means is that he’s happy to be here answering questions. You’ll have to excuse him, sometimes he’s as tactful as a brick.
Simon looks at Tristan and chuckles. He takes off his coat and reclines in the large wing-back chair. His laugh is infectious and I find myself smiling. Tristan responds with a brief smile, but remains mostly serious and vigilant. I get the impression he has assessed everyone in the shop and found no imminent threats.
Simon: What the worst he can do, Monty? He did make me immortal you know. Try and relax.
I look down at my notes and prepare my first question.
Orlando: About that- you’re immortal?
Simon: The technical term is ‘cursed alive’. Apparently Kali-
Orlando: Kali as in the goddess Kali the destroyer? Shiva’s consort?
Simon: Yeah that one. Well I was on this job for Shiva-
Tristan: Which I told him not to take. I distinctly remember advising you against getting involved with those two.
Simon: Anyway- Shiva asked me to get some information, things I’m not at liberty to discuss. Kali found out what I was doing and lost it. She went ballistic and marked me with this.
Simon shows me the back of his left hand. An intricate design is etched into his skin.
Orlando: What is that?
Simon: It’s called an endless knot. She basically stopped me from aging.
Orlando: I’m not seeing the downside. She made you immortal. You don’t age. This may sound odd, but can you die?
Simon: Can you?
Orlando: Well yes, I haven’t been cursed by an angry goddess.
Simon: Well so can I. The problem is that I wont stay dead. Even worse is that I don’t know how I’ll come back. It’s not something I’m eager to test. You know?
Orlando: I can understand your reluctance.
Tristan: His immortality may be conditional, is what he’s trying to say. He could very well die and return as a goat. Which would be an improvement if you ask me.
Simon: He didn’t ask you, Monty.
Orlando: So you don’t know if you’re really immortal?
Tristan: All the indicators are there and several prominent entities have alluded to his altered state-some more violently than others.
Orlando: What can you tell me about the mark Kali gave you?
Simon: It’s part of the curse. As long as I have this-
He shows me the mark again and it seems to reflect the light around us with a subtle golden hue.
Simon: I’ll be hunted every time I use it..also every time I use it, it gets ‘her’ attention.
Orlando: Her meaning Kali?
Tristan looks up at the ceiling and sighs loudly.
Tristan: Here we go. It’s not every time. Your delusions of grandeur are astounding. The universe doesn’t revolve around Simon Strong.
Simon: Her meaning Karma. I don’t even like saying her name out loud. I never know if she’s close.
Orlando: Karma is female?
Simon: You’ve never heard the saying: “Karma is a bitch?”
Orlando: I think everyone has heard that one.
Simon: You have no idea, trust me.
Orlando: Does it do anything special, the mark?
Simon: Yes it’s a source of endless grief. See what I did there?
Tristan: It causes temporal stasis, but we cant really go into much detail.
Orlando: I understand. So Monty?
Tristan: Tristan please.
I take a moment to check my notes.
Orlando: My apologies I have it here that Simon calls you Monty.
Tristan: Because my friend is a bloody idiot.
Orlando: I see, sorry about that, Tristan. You’re a mage. A magic user?
Simon: Oh not just a mage. He’s a ‘Golden Circle’ mage.
Simon makes air quotes as he says golden circle.
Orlando: A Golden Circle mage?
Tristan: The Golden Circle is the oldest of the mage groups on the planet. They have devoted their lives to the deep study of magic and its connection to all life for the betterment of humanity.
Orlando: That’s some mission and quite admirable.
Simon suppresses a laugh.
Simon: I’m sorry. It’s just that Monty can’t stand them because all they do is study. The mages are forbidden from entering and being part of the world or modern society. Monty is currently AWOL.
Tristan: I’m on extended sabbatical. I believe magic should transcend just study and has practical applications as well.
Simon: That’s what you’re calling it now? How long is the extension-forever? I’ve never heard of a sabbatical lasting ten years. I’m just saying.
Tristan: Next question please.
Orlando: What is that you both do?
Simon: We’re a paranormal detective agency. When things go south, sideways and inside out they call us. We take the cases no one else can or wants to take.
Tristan: We provide a unique service to the city and the supernatural community. We investigate matters our clients prefer to keep discreet and on rare occasions prevent catastrophes.
Orlando: That would be the Montague & Strong Detective Agency? Who named it?
Simon: It was going to be the Strong & Montague Agency for Paranormal Investigations, but Monty bought the sign. I still think my titles sounds better.
Tristan: It doesn’t and also M comes before S.
Orlando: You two have an interesting chemistry. How did you meet?
Simon: A few years ago I was working a case- this was before the whole Kali thing- turns out Monty was working the same case from a different angle. We were dealing with some sorcerers who were kidnapping homeless people for a human sacrifice ring. The Dark Council asked me to look into it and stop the kidnappings. Monty and I teamed up and stopped it. I haven’t been able to get rid of him since then.
Orlando: This is the Council that governs the community of supernatural beings in the city? The one led by Michiko Nakatomi the vampire?
Tristan: You’ve done your research. That information is incredibly difficult to obtain. Yes that’s ‘his’ vampire.
Simon: She’s not my vampire. She is a good acquaintance.
This time it’s Tristan who tries and fails to suppress laughter.
Tristan: The Dark Council is a dangerous and ruthless organization made up of Vampires, Weres and other assorted supernatural beings. All of which can be a threat to humanity. The last thing they do is make ‘acquaintances’. He is madly infatuated with her to his and our detriment.
Simon’s phone rings. He looks down at the number and scowls.
Simon: Excuse me I have to take this. Ramirez- que pasta?
He stands and looks at me apologetically as he begins walking away and speaking.
Orlando: Is that urgent?
Tristan: When it’s Ramirez, it usually is.
Orlando: One last question. Why Simon? It’s obvious you two come from very different circles. Why do you stay together? I’m sure as a Golden Circle mage you could have your pick of partners or join any mage society.
Tristan takes a sip of his tea before speaking. He glances over at his partner who is still on the phone and nods.
Tristan: It’s quite simple really. You’re right I could be in any number of organizations, but I’m here with Simon. He can be and usually is a right pain in the arse. The simple truth is that he’s my friend and I’m his. We look out for each other.
Simon returns, downs his cup of coffee and puts on his jacket.
Simon: Hey, I’m sorry, but we have to roll. Some rogue vampire is terrorizing midtown. Can’t have the tourists be on the menu-bad PR for the city.
Orlando: I understand. Thank you again for your time and sitting with me. Maybe we can do this again when your schedule is less busy?
They both stop, look at me and laugh.
Tristan: I’m certain we can fit it in. Once we sort out dealing with the Dark Council, Ramirez and the NYTF, stopping the random deranged being bent on starting another supernatural war and any other fresh horrors that crop up.
Simon is at the entrance holding the door for Tristan. He has the phone to his ear again.
Simon: Monty, let’s go. Ramirez is having a fit.
He gives me a wave and heads outside.
Tristan and I shake hands as he prepares to leave.
Tristan: Try the tea, you wont regret it. Oh and stay out of Times Square for a few hours.
He heads out of the coffee shop. I watch them jump into a 1967 midnight blue Pontiac GTO parked in front. The engine roars to life and then settles into a purr followed by the screeching of tires as they speed off.
I decide to stay in the Last Gasp a little longer, seeing as how my next assignment was in midtown and order the tea.
In an effort to embrace writing here regularly I wanted to share a part of my current work in progress, but first… its Nanowrimo ! This is the month thousands of people get together and try and write a 50k novel in 30 days. Yes, its as hard as it sounds. If you haven’t tried it I seriously recommend it. You will be part of a great community and can share in the experience of focused writing for a month. I wish all the would be authors out there the best of luck in getting to 50k before the 30th!
Now for that excerpt .This is a little different from what I usually write but I wanted to go in a different direction, let me know what you think in the comments below!
Here it goes:
I remembered my grandfather, my sister, and various aunts and cousins, in their coffins and gone forever in the tombyards where the butterflies settled like flowers on the graves and where the flowers blew away like butterflies over the stones.-Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing.
What’s more exciting than chasing a rabid werewolf? Chasing that rabid werewolf in downtown Manhattan. The Village as a neighborhood is a warren of intersecting streets and dead ends. We had been at this for thirty minutes and I was getting aggravated.
“This is what the English did—who lays out a city like this?” I said as we ran down Sixth Avenue. “A grid, Monty would it have killed them to use a grid?”
“The Dutch were here first,” he said. “The English didn’t arrive until 1664. That’s how you get the name New York.”
We chased it down Minetta Lane off Sixth Avenue. The wet dog smell punched me in the face as soon as I turned the corner.
“There’s something wrong with that smell,” I said. “God, he reeks!”
“I didn’t realize you were a werewolf scent expert,” Monty said as he caught up.
“I’m not, but this guy smells like he hasn’t bathed in a year,” I said. “Did you see his eyes?”
“I did,” Monty said. “He seems to be suffering from some kind of reaction.”
“Reaction?” I said. “He tore that poor woman in half. That’s not a reaction. That’s a full-blown infection.”
“It does seem he’s unstable,” Monty said as he looked up and down the street.
“Just a bit, yeah.”
We followed the scent to the end of Minetta and on to Macdougal Street when a large furry blur shot past us.
“Shoot it, Simon! Shoot!” Monty said.
“What do you think I’m doing?” I said as I fired several times.
“Shoot it harder!”
We jumped behind a parked SUV. The license plate read RUFFRDR. It was one of those huge things that wasn’t quite a tank, but could never pass for an ordinary car. I figured there was enough vehicle to protect us from the Were’s razor sharp claws. That theory evaporated as it sliced through the metal and plastic with ease, rendering our cover useless. The SUV fell apart like a block of Legos and I couldn’t help thinking that RUFFRDR was going to wake up in the morning and have a very bad day.
“Really, that’s what you’re going with, Monty? Shoot it harder?”
“Strong,” rasped the creature on the other side of what used to be a perfectly functioning mode of transportation. “I’m going to rip out your intestines and eat them while you watch.”
“Wow,” Monty said. “He’s pissed. What did you do to him?”
“Now would be a good time for magic,” I said. “You know a fireball or two? Or some Were melting spell?”
“Can’t—he’s wearing null proximity rune,” Monty said. “I don’t understand why the silver ammo isn’t affecting him. You did switch out for silver ammo, right?”
“Silver…ammo?” I said, “Of course I packed the silver—shit.”
I forgot to switch the ammo.
“You forgot, didn’t you?” Monty said exasperated. “We’re out here fighting a werewolf, Simon.”
“I know,” I said. “It’s a little hard to miss.”
“I’m going to die,” he said as his voice hiked up an octave. “Out here on the filthy street alongside you, wonderful.”
“No, I just misplaced it,” I said with feigned indignation. “Hey, I had to pack all of the bags while you did your meditation thing to charge the magic you’re currently not using.”
Monty narrowed his eyes and glared.
“Are you saying this is somehow my fault?”
“I’m just saying a little magic would make this go smoother, especially since I forgot to pack the silver ammo.”
I have been away from this blog for a few months due to my insane work and writing schedule. That has since calmed down a bit and so I will be posting regularly.
Its been an amazing few weeks. I had an incredible summer. I have also taken on training seriously. I realized that a healthy body facilitates a healthy mind which means I can write more.
That’s me doing a 500 lb dead-lift and making the only face possible when lifting that much-we call it a squat face lol.
I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the third book in the Sepia Blue series and it has been a blast to write. Book Two(cover above) will be released this month and the story is twisting in some unexpected and surprising ways. By the time you read this-Sepia Blue Sisters will be available. Grab a copy and let me know what you think.
I’ll be releasing some new content soon. I have a new kind of story rolling around in my head and I would like to bounce some ideas here, before I pursue them elsewhere. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated. I truly hope you have had a pleasant and exciting summer.
This is my latest rant so forgive me if I get frothy at the mouth and spittle smacks you across the face.
Reviews. We all know what they are. They govern our purchases and our actions. You wont get that item on amazon if has little or no reviews, no matter how good you think it is. Or worse if the reviews say its bad then, forget it–next product.
It’s social proof I get it. I understand it really I do. Here is what I dont understand. Let’s switch gears for a second, You see a book you like or its recommended to you. You purchase and READ the book. You ENJOY the book. Why is leaving a review to that effect so monumentally difficult(Still dont have the answer to that one)?
Indie authors NEED reviews. They are the engines that drive sales. Yet if you ask every independent author out there they will tell you that the hardest part of marketing is getting those much needed reviews.
So what is the solution?
Have an email list. Yes its that simple. When I released my last book: A DREAM OF ASHES, my launch team was amazing. I had reviews the same day the book went live. This is what having an email list can do. If you arent generating a list of subscribers to your work you are missing a key component of your marketing strategy.
Its a fight against human nature I think. I have been guilty of it as well. I mean to leave a review then the phone rings or I have to attend to something or an email pops up and I get distracted. I forget or worse I think my buying the book was enough of an action of support. Now have to leave a review too? Yes.
The review is what will get others to take a chance on the book. Enough of them will get the book noticed and create momentum giving the author and the work recognition. The review is that important.
I am eyeballs deep into a new course being run by Mark Dawson(Self Publishing Formula) but I will get to why that’s important a little later.
I know I have touched on this topic before but in this post I wanted to go into more detail.
So first a few facts:
From January to December of 2015, the entire calendar year-my books generated…$56.81.
From January to May of 2016 (to date) my books have generated over $2k and Im on track to gross over 5k for the year.
In plain math, in the space of a year( really a few months), I will be making 100x what I made last year. This is mind shattering.
So how did this happen? I got help. Not help as a writer. I got help as an Author.
See last year I was firmly in the camp of “If you write it they will buy.” My books didn’t sell well( most days they didnt sell at all) and I was oblivious to the marketing aspect of being an Author. Until I met John (you will meet him later).
Prior to getting help I had heard of Mark Dawson but I didn’t know who he was or what he did. You have all heard me mention my amazing uber editor Lorelei Logsdon, well she introduced me to John, her husband and the other half of this power couple.
John’s first question to me was “Have you heard of Mark Dawson?”
To which I answered “Not really.” This was back in December 2015. So he points me in the direction of Mark’s free videos which of course( if you are familiar with Mark Dawson) present me with an entirely new perspective to marketing and selling my work. I followed these videos and would ask John for tips here and there.
Another question John asked me was “How large is your mailing list?”
Now I knew mailing lists were important and I had one and in 2015 my list had a grand total of 11 members. At least 4 of those were family.
To date my mailing list in 2016 has 1709 subscribers with a smaller subset being part of my launch team, which is a group of committed fans who have taken on the role to help me launch my books and make them a success. I had never heard of a launch team before I met John. Now I frequently add between 15-30 people a day to my main mailing list.
So where did I get this help and how did I make these changes?
Free videos from Self Publishing Formula and The Author Helper. This site is a treasure trove of information and videos for those willing to learn and apply the lessons contained within.
Where did John learn all of this? With Mark Dawson and the Self Publishing Formula system.But here let John tell you himself.
Watch this video I promise its worth the 3 minutes you will invest.
You still have time to sign up for this course. Its affordable and more importantly its essential to your growth as an Author. My reasoning is that if I was able to learn a great deal with the free videos from Mark Dawson and the Author Helper site. I now I have an opportunity to learn even more from the Self Publishing Formula course.
You can sign up for Mark’s course HERE. It will be closing soon so I suggest you sign up and get this information !
Consider it an investment in your writing career. Just as importantly visit the Author Helper if you find yourself stuck or with questions. Chances are they will have the answer you need. The site is a resource for all Authors and I still drop in almost daily to listen to the podcasts and to increase my knowledge.
I’ve jumped back into the world of Sepia Blue and i’m currently on book two of her series. There is no cover reveal(yet) and the title is a working one so I wont share it yet.
I have to say I have mixed feelings about this trip back into her world. I became so invested in Ava James that I didn’t want to write about anything else. On the flip side I really want to find out what happens in Sepia’s world since I last visited. It’s a great world to write about, a lot darker than the world of the Warriors of the Way and this gives me the opportunity to explore some ideas I have had rolling in my head for while.
I just finished a new book by an excellent new author. You need to get this book and read it.
Here is the synopsis:
The debut psychological thriller that challenges your assumptions
James Davis is born into a life of strife and discord. His father is violent, his mother helpless—until a man calling himself Alistair breaks into his home and kills his abusive father in front of his eyes, protecting him from a final, deadly beating. As soon as the man appears, he vanishes mysteriously into the night, passing from sight and down into the murky depths of memory. Sixteen years later, James is still trying to cope with the events of that night. He has a normal life, a normal job, and normal friends—but he fears his childhood has left him a broken man from a broken home.
And then, just as suddenly as he had all those years ago, Alistair reappears and throws James’s life into paranoia and chaos. Does Alistair’s reappearance promise deliverance from evil once again…or this time has he come for James himself?
This is the kind of book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. It will have you turning the pages to find out what happens next.
I dont want to give anything away. Just go out and get the book. You wont regret it.