Behind The Story

Not many readers know I like to hide surprises in my writing. I want to share one of those with you today.

 

My young adult scifi series “The Forgotten Chronicles” is set on an alien world similar to ours yet orbiting a red sun. I based it off of a NASA travel poster released several years ago for the planet Kepler 186f. I wanted an Earth-like world where readers were familiar enough with how it worked yet still completely alien. If you’ve read The Selection or the follow-up book Rise of the Forgotten, you know what I mean.

What hardly anyone knows is they may have read a story about this series before it was ever released. I had it hiding in plain sight.

I honestly didn’t know if The Selection would ever see publication. I enjoyed the story but still wasn’t sure if I was going to put the time and effort (and money!) into making it a novel I wanted to release. I wrote the book leaving the ending in a way that if enough readers enjoyed it, I could continue the series. As it happened, many readers loved the book and that gave me the impetus I needed to write Rise of the Forgotten. The final book in the series, The War for Truth, is due out in May (and can be pre-ordered for the ridiculously low price of .99. Go here to get it: The War for Truth)

However, one of the questions I often get asked is why are there so many boys born on the planet Anastasia? What causes this? Why does it happen?

AlmostAs an origin story mostly for myself, I wrote a short story called The Long Sleep which answers these questions. If you’ve read any of my short story collections, you may recognize it. I released it in my first ever book, (Almost) Average Anthology, back in 2016. It was the last story in the collection and gives a great explanation as to how things got to be in The Selection.

I released (Almost) Average Anthology in Jan. of 2016, well over a year before I released The Selection. The story The Long Sleep isn’t my favorite of the collection, but it most certainly belongs with my series as an origin story.

So, for fans who like to know behind the scenes info, there ya go. You can get the entire 16 story collection (Almost) Average Anthology for .99 or if you subscribe to my newsletter, you get it for FREE. Either way, I hope you enjoy the dark tales and I hope you continue to follow along with my scifi series. It’s been so much fun to write and the reader response has been amazing.


For those interested in the series, here are the links.

The Selection: ebook, paperback, audiobook.

Rise of the Forgotten: ebook, paperback.

The War for Truth: ebook (special low pre-order price)

 

Advertisements

Book Review: Dark Hollow Road

I was so excited to get my hands on the newest novel from Pamela Morris. Want to know what I thought? Read on for my review!


Pamela Morris’ latest novel Dark Hollow Road is a psychological horror story that grips you from the start.

The novel follows Mary Alice Brown who we’re introduced to early on as the oldest of four children. They live with their abusive and alcoholic father Clay Brown in rural Pennsylvania. The poor family lives far away from outsiders and sticks to their own.

DarkHollowWhen we first meet Mary, we find she’s the victim of abuse at the hands of her father and this sets the dark, eerie tone for the entire novel. Mary comes across as both victim and monster (as the story progresses) and it’s not hard to sympathize with her plight. I loathed her while wanting to help her. Mary fights for everything she has and wants nothing more than to have her family whole. This passion drives her to do what she does though the madness consumes her.

We’re also introduced to a family that moves in next door. Renee, her son Brandon, and her partner Samantha find a house near the old Brown house and soon experience weird situations, culminating with a visit from the Sugar Lady. Contrary to her sweet name, the Sugar Lady is not someone you want to meet.

One of the unique aspects of Dark Hollow Road is the alternating view points. The chapters from Mary’s point of view are in first person and the chapters dealing with Renee’s son Brandon are in third person. Pamela handles this back and forth with great skill and the chapters are fluid and entertaining.

The overall tone of the novel is dark and foreboding. The abuse Mary suffers early in life dominates everything she does. She’s so wrapped up in preserving her family she doesn’t realize how she’s destroying it herself.

I absolutely loved this book! The characters were well crafted and believable. The setting was perfect for the story. The tone and pace were spot on. Do yourself a favor, if you like creepy psychological horror that makes you squirm, try Dark Hollow Road by Pamela Morris.

Self-Doubt Sucks

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know I’ve been kinda down on myself the past few weeks. I’m not normally one to share a lot of personal info (like do you really care that I ate nothing but fruit for breakfast or how work is going?) however I did take the time to share how discouraged I’ve been with my writing.

depression-2912424_960_720Like most writers or creatives, I doubted myself and my skills. I doubted if I should even continue writing. It’s not like many people are reading it! But an amazing thing happened.

I had support.

By sharing my doubts about my craft, many others (maybe even you!) stepped in and told me to slow my roll. You encouraged me to continue what I’m doing because I do indeed have a tiniest clue as to what I’m doing. I do not suck as bad as I thought I did.

I think I go through this mentality about once a year or more. When it passes, I blissfully continue what I’m doing and spend my time writing new stories that will one day entertain and delight readers.

I’d love to make writing a full-time paying gig, but for now it’s not there yet. It may never be, but with encouragement from those brave enough to try my work and like it, I know I’ve got support from those who truly care about the next adventure I write.

It helped me so much to see how many people believed in me. I don’t like sharing my doubts because I don’t want others to see my weakness. I don’t want them to pity me. I have a hard time accepting help and encouragement, a trait I know is not the best. But sometimes, it just needs to come out.

If you’re experiencing something like this, I’m here to talk if you need it.

Guest Post: Simon Bleaken

Hi there, my name is Simon Bleaken and Jason has very kindly given me the chance to say a few words on his blog. Firstly I thought I’d tell you a little bit about myself, and then I’d like to share an excerpt from a work in progress.

EldritchI live in the UK and write in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres. I’ve had work appear in Tales of the Talisman, Lovecraft’s Disciples, Strange Sorcery and in several anthologies including Eldritch Embraces and Space Horrors: Full Throttle Space Tales #4.

Last year I brought out my first collection of short stories A Touch of Silence and Other Tales, and I am currently working on a second collection, which I hope to release later this year.

My biggest influences have to be my favourite authors, among them: Stephen King, Clark Ashton Smith, H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. I am in awe of the worlds those guys built. I’ve always found the boundaries between sci-fi and fantasy often merge with the horror genre, and I’ve never tried to restrict myself to either – but to tell the story that needs to be told.

SilenceBy day I work for an Infection Control Team in a hospital, and it’s a job that keeps me pretty busy – but I always try and make time for writing in the evenings all the same. It was this job, and my constant promise to my colleagues to ‘write an infection control horror story’ that was the origin of the idea for the excerpt of my work-in-progress I’d like to share with you now. This story is planned for inclusion in my forthcoming collection, and is about a survey team who encounter a deadly infection on an alien world. The idea was – what if the disease was utterly deadly, but the cure was utterly unthinkable?


The shovel scraped metal. I froze, crouching in the dirt down inside the grave pit. My heart was racing, and despite the cool breeze coming up from the valley below I was dripping in sweat, my sodden shirt clinging to my skin. I sucked in a shivering breath, fighting the dizziness creeping through my body. I wanted to curl up in a small corner somewhere, to close my aching eyes and sleep. But to do that would be to die.

The fever had started an hour ago, a steady burning at the base of the spine that had spread to the limbs and up the neck into the brain with terrifying speed. I had seen it kill over twenty people in the last thirty hours, and now it was my turn.

I straightened with a wince, craning my neck to glance over at the lander. There was no sign of Gregson. For all I knew he had already passed out, maybe even died.  His infection had been far more advanced than my own, and I had left him writhing and thrashing in the throes of delirium. A flicker of guilt fluttered through me at abandoning him, until I remembered my own predicament. Falling to my knees, I clawed away the remaining dirt until I uncovered the metal casing of the storage unit. A fresh wave of dizziness washed over me as I wiped a shaking hand across my brow.

Come on, keep it together. You can do this.

Fear quickened my heart – both of what I was about to do, and of the disease now consuming my trembling sweat-soaked body. Sliding off the top of the unit, I squeezed myself between the side of it and the wall of dirt to my right. We had used one of the worker units to dig this pit just over a day ago, and I wished we still had them around to help me exhume it again.

I held my breath as I hauled the lid open. It didn’t make much difference. The smell was unbearable in the confined space. Inside the makeshift coffin the corpse was already beginning to liquefy, undergoing some kind of accelerated decomposition. Despite the state of the corpse, I could clearly see the strange fungal growths covering it. They had turned from blue to brown after death.

This foul rotting thing had been a friend once, Jason Cain, to be exact. I probably stared at his bloated discoloured face for a good twenty seconds, part morbid fascination and part shocked revulsion. Here was the brutal reality of death. We put people in the ground and then tried to forget what came next, tried to remember them as we had known them, as if that was how they would stay forever. But there was no time for any of this. I knew I was trying to put off what I had come here to do, but time was no longer on my side.

The hand tore clean away as I pulled it free of the body.

Somehow I managed to keep my breakfast down.

I crawled out of the pit, skidding down the slope beyond in a cloud of dust and grit. I collapsed at the bottom, my whole body shaking as I dragged myself weakly forwards, dry heaving painfully until my stomach and sides ached. Finally, I crawled up against a large boulder and huddled against it, filthy and shaking, drenched in sweat. Every part of my body hurt, and my vision was beginning to blur.

I looked down at the hand I held. It had been a part of my friend once. Now it was just a thing, an object, or that’s what I tried to tell myself. I just wondered how much of it I would have to eat. My stomach churned at the thought.

It’s just meat, I told myself.


If you want to read the rest of the story, keep an eye out for my next book The Basement of Dreams and Other Tales later this year.

KeplersCowboysTwilightVol2If you can’t wait that long, A Touch of Silence and Other Tales is out now in paperback and for the Kindle, and contains ten short stories (nine previously published, and one new one). You can also find my stories (and lots more by other great authors) in the brilliant Kepler’s Cowboys anthology and in Twilight Madhouse Vol 2. from Schreyer Ink Publishing.

I’ll sign off here, but a huge thank-you to Jason for giving me this chance to say hello. If you’d like to get updates on my work, I don’t have a blog yet (it’s on my to-do list!) but you can find me on Facebook at the group: ‘The Stories of Simon Bleaken’.

Why not drop by and say hello?

Book Promos

Hey everyone, I wanted to bring your attention to a few book promos I’m currently running.

The first one is for my book The Selection. I’ve joined with Art of the Arcane to offer over 40 books for only .99 each. You can get The Selection right now for less than $1! Go to Art of the Aracane to see all the amazing titles or go here for The Selection.

ArtofArcaneSALE

 


The next promo is for my newest book Rise of the Forgotten. This is the second in the Forgotten Chronicles series and depending on the day you buy it, can be .99 or $1.99. I’m running a Kindle Countdown deal so grab it early on the cheap. If you’ve read The Selection and want to know what happens next, this is what happens next! Get while it’s on sale here: Rise of the Forgotten.

Kindle Countdown Deal

 


Finally, my short story collection Moments of Darkness is part of a free selection of books available at Book Funnel. There are over 40 horror/dark fiction novels and collections available for free here: Things That Go Bump In the Night.

2018.02 - things that go bump - square_preview

 


Feel free to grab the discounted (or free) books and share with others. I sure would appreciate it. If you have a book on sale or for free, please leave it in the comments below so others can find out.

Thanks!

Excerpt: Master Fantastic by JS Frankel

JS Frankel is an amazing writer who writes primarily young adult scifi and fantasy. He’s been gracious enough to share an excerpt from his book Master Fantastic. Read on and please check out the book and his other books as well.


Synopsis:
High school student Paul Coleman’s life is an ordinary one. His existence takes a turn for the extraordinary when he and his best friend, Rory, are attacked by a winged demon one day. The demon, which calls itself Hekla, possesses the power of sound, and kills Rory with its scream. Paul survives, but the force from the blast has left him mainly deaf.

A year later, Paul is out of school, working part-time, and is fearful of going deaf forever. Although he has learned sign language well, he wonders where his life will go. All that changes when Montague (Monty) Trillian, also known as Master Fantastic, enters his life and requests his services as a sign language teacher for his daughter, Myrna.

Paul accepts, and soon finds out that Trillian is not just any magician, but an Elementalist, one capable of wielding the four elements of Earth with ease. He can also open portals to other worlds, and often does so, visiting those of earth, water, and fire.

Many adventures follow, and Paul and Myrna grow close, but Hekla returns and demands Myrna be given to her. It seems that Myrna is the product of a union between Monty and Hekla, and like all mothers, she desires to protect her own.

Now, Paul must do everything he can to save Myrna from being used for a fate far worse than death, and only the abilities of Master Fantastic can save them all—or can they?


Excerpt from Master Fantastic

Trillian excused himself to make a brief call. He walked out of the room, and I engaged in navel-gazing, but did take a quick peek to see whether his daughter had moved from her position. She hadn’t. My employer then came back wearing an expression of satisfaction. “It’s all taken care of,” he said with a satisfied air. He’d already sold the house?

“I have,” he informed me. “My real-estate agent, Larry Bloom, will go over to your house tomorrow morning, appraise it, and then come here at three-thirty to go over the details with you.” He then cocked his head to one side. “So, are you ready to go?”

“Go where, sir, er, Mr. Trillian?” “We’re going to see what’s behind door number one.”

Come again? His face had a mysterious smile on it. He walked over to Myrna, waved his hand in front of her face to get her attention, and then signed we should go back to the basement. She nodded, put down her book, and dutifully followed.

MASTERFANTASTIC final cover!Downstairs, Trillian ducked behind a partition and changed into his tux. I stared into the mirror he had down there and saw my face. Can you say confused? I didn’t know what to think. Was this some kind of kinky joke? After coming out to face us, he gave me a reassuring smile. “Paul, I know this will come as a shock to you, but since you’re going to be part of this family from now on, it’s only right you should know everything.”

Know what? What was this part of the family stuff he’d started feeding me? I knew it. I’d just signed on to a white slavery ring, and images of being someone’s plaything did a tap dance in my head. “What do you mean, sir?”

Trillian didn’t answer, merely turned and muttered something under his breath, cast his arms out and… holy… oh you gotta be kidding me! A door, bluish-green and pulsating, opened in the air. Around five feet in diameter, it was a door to… where? I cast a quick glance at Myrna’s face, and it looked calm enough as if she’d been expecting it to happen. Me, I was about to drop a load right then and there. “What… what’s going on?”

This couldn’t be real, could it? Trillian turned to us, his smile still in place, something that offered the promise of adventure. “Paul, I’m a performer. If my talents are appreciated here, they can also be appreciated elsewhere.”

Uh, yeah, but this is… weird. “Sir, what is that thing? I mean, you’re not tossing an illusion at me… are you?” Right now, this whole experience gave me an out-of-my body feeling. I was seeing this, but not really believing it. My hand came up to touch my ear, as if to make sure I was hearing the entire truth. He gestured to the portal. It remained open, inviting us in.

“Oh, you mean that? You’d call it a gateway or a door, or maybe even an entry point. It doesn’t matter what you call it. For me, it’s a chance to explore other worlds and show the people there what I can do. I don’t do it for the money. It’s the adventurist in me, yes? Besides, if anyone finds out what I can really do, then I’d never have any privacy. Shall we go?”

Myrna signed to me, It will be fun and then rolled her eyes. What are you waiting for, a bloody invitation?

Holy crap, she’d been playing me the whole time!

 


Pick up Master Fantastic on Amazon today!

Sometimes Ya Gotta Change

Writing a book is an exercise in patience and resolve. At some point the end comes and whether it’s good or not, it’s time for revision after revision before it’s time to share it with someone else. At least, that’s been my experience.

With my Forgotten Chronicles Series, each book has been written with different methods that may or may not turn out for the best. You the reader will be the judge of that.

When I wrote The Selection, it was a NaNoWriMo novel written with very little planning ahead. If you’ve read it, you might pick up on some of the rambling sections or plot points that might not be as solid as I would’ve liked. I wholeheartedly believe it’s still an amazing story worth a read. The action is there and much of the world building was alive in my mind and continues to be so today. It was a story based off an idea I pitched to my wife and son. They thought it sounded interesting and that was that.

After it’s release and the positive response I received from the twenty or so brave souls who tried an unknown author, I started work on Rise of the Forgotten (my latest release). For that book, I wrote a three page outline detailing what and where I wanted the story to take place. The book is much more in-depth than The Selection and explores more of the world I introduced in the first book. The characters have more depth and the story follows four main storylines. Was the change in my approach worth it? You’ll have to tell me.

Sine right around Christmas, I’ve been working on the third book in the series, The War for Truth. This one has been tough so far. I wrote an outline like I did with Rise of the Forgotten, but several chapters in, I needed to change it. I then rewrote the outline, rewrote some of what I’d already done, and continued. A few chapters later, I had to revisit the outline and rearrange chapters to flow better. I also feel I’ve grabbed hold of plot issues early enough to work through them with greater efficiency and skill. I like the process I’ve developed with this book. It doesn’t feel like full-on plotting, but maybe it is. I still feel like I can be creative and not pigeonholed into the outline. It’s something I intend on using with future books.

I share all this because as a writer, it’s imperative to grow. I cannot stagnate with what used to work unless it was phenomenal. I tend to not believe I write the greatest books in the world, therefore I have to improve. Through this series alone, I’ve tinkered with my process so I can write the best story possible at the time.

I encourage you to re-evaluate your process and seek ways to improve. We can all be better.

If you wanna see my progress, feel free to pick up my books The Selection: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 1 (in ebook, paperback, or audiobook) and follow it up with Rise of the Forgotten: The Forgotten Chronicles Book 2 (in ebook or paperback). Let me know what you think.