2017 Year in Reading

Every year in January I revisit the past year in reading and share my books with you. What follows is the list of books and magazines I read in 2017. At a quick glance, I noticed my year was dominated by indie authors (a topic I’d like to revisit in a future post).

I continued to read Daily Science Fiction and Every Day Fiction in 2017, though in all honesty, I don’t read them much anymore. With all the longer work commitments I made, I don’t write short stories. I may on occasion turn back to the short form but I haven’t written any in a while. What that means is my reading tastes have changed. I now read more novels and I think that’s due in part to what I’m writing.

I did get a subscription to Nightmare Magazine, but I’d always lose my place because as new issues were released and I’d download them to my iPad, I couldn’t tell what month they were. So..I ended up not reading as much as I wanted. I still have some catching up to do and most likely won’t renew my subscription because of how far behind I am. It’s well worth the money if you have the time to stay in top of the current issues.

Here is my 2017 reading list.

Magazines

SciFan Magazine, Issue 1

SciFan Magazine, Issue 2

SciFan Magazine, Issue 3

Nightmare Magazine, May 2017 

 

Novels/Short Stories

John Scalzi, The Human Division

Callum Wallace, The Walker

Christa Yelich-Koth, Illusion

Nicole Lutrell, Station 86

Nate Southard, Scavengers

Crystal Lake Publishing, Writers on Writing Omnibus

Joe Chianakas, Nightmares Under the Moonlight

Kevin T. Johns, The Page Turners: Blood

Harriet Darling, The Haunting of Wicker House

Stan Faryna, Francesco Augustine Bernadone

Ryan Holiday, Perennial Seller

Iain Robb Wright, Animal Kingdom

R.J. Batla, Fire Eyes Awakened

Schreyer Ink Publishing, Twilight Madhouse, Vol. 1

Bryan Caron, Year of the Songbird

D.L. Richardson, Poison In the Pond

Greg Alldredge, Lights In the Night

Hellbound Books, The Big Book of Bootleg Horror, Vol.2

Miranda Nading, Eldorado Gold

Michael Bray, Meat

Schreyer Ink Publishing, Twilight Madhouse, Vol.2

Philip K. Dick, Second Variety

Crystal Lake Publishing, Where Nightmares Come From

Derek Murphy, Guerrilla Publishing

Leland Lydecker, Necrotic City

MD Parker, The Ghosts Between

Joanne Van Leerdam, The Silver Feather

Jim Driver, How to Write a Novel the Easy Way Using the Pulp Fiction Method

A.K. Taylor, The Newbie Author’s Survival Guide

Philip K. Dick, The Crystal Crypt

 

Beta Reading

R.J. Batla, Tempus (Beta Reading)

Aaron Hamilton, To Die One Death (Beta Reading)


Have you read any of these? What did you think? What are some titles I need to add to my 2018 reading list?

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Giving Back

Advice from other writers is always something to take carefully. We all have our way of doing things and we all come to success in our own way (I’m still trying to find mine!)

I enjoy encouraging other writers or would-be writers. I know what it’s like to dream of being a writer. I know how it felt when I started and I was clueless to much of the process. I know what it’s like to fret because no one knows who I am or has read my work. It sucks.

I’ve had several writers extend a hand or helpful words of wisdom and that’s been awesome.

Whenever I get the chance to help someone else out I jump on it. Who knows where the next major talent is? In this world of indie publishing where the market is oversaturated with works from misguided “writers” to super-talented authors, I want to encourage and lift up those that need a voice, that need an audience because they’re so talented and others need to know.

Have you heard of Aaron Hamilton, Thomas Gunther, Pamela Morris, Ray Wenck, Brent Harris, or Christa Yelich-Koth? Maybe, but it’s more likely you haven’t. They’re all super talented authors of scifi and/or horror (Or in Ray’s case, thrillers). I love sharing these types of writers with others because we can all use a hand once in a while. We may write by ourselves, but we need a team to share the word about our work.

One of the things I enjoy most about selling at Cons is meeting new authors/writers that are unsure what to do with their work or how to get started. I am as transparent as possible. Indie publishing is not a guarded secret, though many who haven’t tried it are as lost as I was when I started. I share my experience with anyone that asks, encouraging them to work hard at their craft and what pitfalls to watch out for. Not that I have “best-selling author” advice, but I’m more than willing to share my experience in hopes that it will inspire them to take their own journey.

Their voice, like those of the authors listed above, might be what we need next.

I hope when I meet new writers seeking advice they seek additional voices. The more information they can gather, the better informed they’ll be and maybe, just maybe, they’ll break through and be the next major indie sensation. Or maybe not. They may simply be fulfilling a lifelong goal, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

“The Selection” – Characters

In today’s post, I introduce you to a few characters you’ll meet in my new novel The Selection.


The Selection follows the trials of a boy named Eron (pronounced Aaron). He starts as a seventeen year old boy facing his turn in the Selection once he turns eighteen.

Eron is smart, though his grades often don’t reflect it. He’s curious and determined. At times his gentle nature seems to undermine his determination to carry on.

He has two older siblings. The oldest is his sister Samantha. The middle child is his brother Timo. Samantha is married and Timo was forced into the Selection two years before Eron. It’s this experience that haunts Eron as he awaits his turn.

Since grade school, Eron’s been infatuated with a red-haired girl named Mina. She’s a kind and caring person. In the darkest moments of the Selection, his desire to return to her motivates him.

Connor is Eron’s best friend. They’ve known each other since grade school and hang out playing chess or just talking. He’s the same age as Eron and slated for the same Selection.

Bello was once a friend of Eron’s. His bully ways become a turn off to Eron and leaves a constant source of friction between them. He’s the same age as Eron and enters the same Selection.

You’ll find more characters in The Selection, some good and some not so much. Self preservation takes many forms and dangers are everywhere.

Miss yesterdays post on the setting? Check it out here. Come back tomorrow to learn about the main themes of The Selection.

Grab a pre-order copy of The Selection now for .99 and save off the normal price of $2.99.

Bonus: I suck at names! I do a terrible job at coming up with original names. The name “Eron” is inspired by the writer Aaron Hamilton whose been a big supporter of my work. Eron’s brother “Timo” is named after Timothious Smith, a writer I’m connected with on Twitter who shares my info regularly.

 

The End is Here!

It’s Monday September 5th, 2016 and in the US we’re celebrating Labor Day. It’s also the end of the Summer of Writing!

Back in July I created a challenge to write every day called “Summer of Writing.” It was meant to encourage anyone who writes and get them writing something, anything, every day from the 4th of July to Labor Day. We are at the end of the challenge. If you participated, how’d you do? Get more writing done? Focus more on your craft?

I’m proud to say I completed it knowing I wrote something every single day. I worked on projects soon to be released (like my new collection of stories), I worked on existing projects, I wrote outlines, blog posts, and more. All in the name of writing.

I made it a priority. Every morning I wake up, have coffee, and read or play games on my ipad. Instead, I used the time to write before the stress of the day zapped my creative energy. I found writing at the end of the day difficult and often unproductive. Working in the early morning when the house is quiet was the best for me to focus on my writing. There were occasional days when I didn’t get to write in the morning and I’d write in the evening but all day I kept thinking how I needed to get the words out.

That was by far the most important part of the challenge for me. I created a new habit in my life which will dominate my thoughts if I don’t take care of it. I made it more than a hobby or something I’d get to when I had time. I made the time. When I did that, everything else fell into place.

Like all writing some of it was bad, but I feel I’ve grown in the craft because I made a deliberate attempt to do so. Maybe I’m wrong and fooling myself. I’ve gone through moments when I wanted to stop. I thought “Who cares if I keep at it? No one reads what I write anyway.” I expressed that to my wife one morning and in her wisdom she told me not to give up, to keep at it, and if I loved what I was doing to continue no matter what. Those are things we’ve all heard but her words held more weight for me. I trudged on. My focus changed. I found the joy again. Even if I’m the only one who reads it.

The biggest sacrifice I made to create this new habit was my gym time. I used to go semi-regularly with a friend of mine to our local gym. We were one of the early risers and be home around six in the morning. I chose to use that time to write instead. I can honestly say my middle-aged body misses the workouts. Don’t get me wrong, I hated getting up and leaving the house so early. I always looked for excuses to get out of it. The determination I used to build my writing habit needs to be applied to exercising. I’ll need to incorporate working out into my schedule or I won’t be around long enough to see all my amazing fans!

I appreciate all of you that tried the challenge. Lakesha Mathis, Aaron Hamilton, John Smith, and others all attempted to make a change and if nothing else, I hope you were able to refocus your time over the summer to work on your writing.

It has been a summer of growth. Thanks for sticking with me. Let me know your successes or failures so we can all learn from them. Thanks again!

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The Commute by Aaron L. Hamilton

I’m very excited to present a writer I’ve known since earlier this year, Aaron L. Hamilton. If you follow me on Twitter, you’d notice I share a lot of his writing. I enjoy his work and contacted him about coming on as a guest writer for my blog. After a little arm wrestling and a wicked game of rock-paper-scissors, he graciously agreed and offered a new story!

Hopefully you’ll find his work as entertaining as I do. Aaron writes primarily science fiction and has been published in two different issues of Nonlocal Science Fiction.  Check out his story and don’t forget to connect with him at one of his many social media outlets (All links are below the story) He’d love to hear from you.


The Commute

by Aaron L. Hamilton

“I’m Jerry. What’s your name?”

“It’s Norman,” the hitchhiker smiled displaying white, even teeth.

“Nice to meet you,” Jerry said. He took his eyes off the road just long enough to make friendly eye contact. He was a very responsible driver. “Where you headed?”

“There’s a Mobil station off exit 87b where my wife will pick me up. Not too far thankfully. I won’t think you’re rude if you just want to watch the road, Jerry. I appreciate your attentiveness. You’ve been very helpful to us, and we appreciate it.” Norman unzipped his coat a bit. “It still amazes me how you people manage to drive these things independently without killing more of each other.” He turned a dial on the dashboard console, and hot air swooshed from the vents.

“You know,” Jerry grinned, “you’re actually safer flying in a plane than being on the road? I always found that fact unbelievable, but I’ve read it in several places. It must be true.”

“So trusting,” Norman almost hummed, considering Jerry’s statistics. “You don’t mind if I smoke, do you?”

“No, go right ahead.” Jerry’s voice quavered slightly in discomfort. He heard the foil of the cigarette pack crinkle, the flick of the lighter. He even heard the slight crackle of cigarette paper burning away as Norman deeply inhaled. His guest had yet to crack the window, and smoke curled lazily from the burning tip of the cancer stick.

“It’s nearly time for us to begin our journey from our home world in earnest. How do you feel about that, Jerry?”

Jerry’s mouth hung open for a moment as he considered how to politely convey the obvious insanity he detected. “Will there be a lot of you?” His jaw tensed in anticipation of a smoky exhalation that never came, even as Norman spoke again.

“Well, not noticeably, since we can look human easily enough. We’ll come in small numbers at first, until we deem it safe for mass entry. Eventually there will be more of us than you as we cull the human population of undesirables, but all those who’ve assisted us will remain. We took great care to find beings like you: friendly, helpful, compassionate. You’re what will make this a smooth process for everyone. I’ve told you this many times, but if you could remember it you could remember the rest as well.”

Norman used the glowing nub of the first cigarette to light another. Jerry frowned. “What do you mean? I’ve never seen you before in my life. Why would you say that?”

“Jerry, I like you. Everybody likes you, but not a lot of people respect you because you’re too nice. I’ve enjoyed this game every work day for the last three months, but I’m still using you to invade your planet. Even if you remembered me, you wouldn’t resist. You might convince someone more assertive to mess up our plans, but you wouldn’t do anything nearly so confrontational yourself.”

“Is that the gas station where you’re supposed to meet your wife?” Norman allowed himself a private chuckle. The concept of separate genders still amused him.

“The next exit, Jerry. I hope this won’t make you late for work. I know punctuality is very important to you. It shows people you respect them.”

“No, I’ll be fine. It’s not the first time I’ve stopped to help some poor soul stranded on the side of the road.”

“You don’t say.” Norman finished his second cigarette, rolled down the window, and exhaled a gout of smoke into the early morning mist. “Jerry, what’s the thing I’ve told you that you must remember?”

“A man will call me at home during dinner. He’ll insist that I buy flood insurance even though I’ve already got some. He’ll be from Premier Incorporated. I’ll agree to meet a representative the following evening at seven o’clock. I’ll be given special offer confirmation number 177346-B to mention to the representative, good only for a limited time.”

“And what will you do when you hear that number again, Jerry?”

“I’ll buy a one-way ticket to Bermuda for the following morning. I’ll get on the plane and prepare for a whole new life among people who will be just as nice as me.” Jerry pressed his lips together and furrowed his brow in thought. “Why can’t my wife come with me again?”

“Because she’s too nosy, Jerry. She asks too many questions, and you always answer them truthfully. She’s a problem solver, and she would no doubt see an alien invasion as a problem.” Norman silently congratulated himself on his grasp of sarcasm. “Besides, you won’t remember her either once you’re holding that ticket in your hand.”

Jerry signaled and slowed the car as he took the exit. The sign on the gas station promised clean restrooms and an ATM inside. He pulled into the parking lot and checked his watch. There was still plenty of time to get to work.

“Ok, Jerry. Here we are. It’s important to me that you not be late for work, so I won’t keep you. I’d offer you some money, but I know you wouldn’t accept.” Norman put the burning cigarette butt into his left palm next to the first and Jerry watched it blink out.

Jerry pushed the transmission lever into Park. He turned toward Norman and smiled. “That’s right. You’re money’s no good. Glad I could help you. Maybe someday some stranger will do something nice for me.”

“I intend to,” Norman said, stuffing the pack of cigarettes and the lighter into Jerry’s jacket pocket. He shook Jerry’s hand firmly and left with a gust of air before the door slammed shut.

“I quit smoking,” Jerry yelled to Norman through the closed door. Norman only nodded and walked away.

Jerry found himself in front of a gas pump and decided he had time before work to fill up his tank. Then he noticed the tank was full and tried to remember when he’d filled it. Laughing at his lousy memory, he pulled out of the lot and headed for the office.

Carl greeted him as he entered the lobby of the design agency. “Hey, man. You look beat! Hellish commute?”

“No, I mean, I don’t think so. Guess I’m just tired. I honestly don’t remember anything about it from the time I got behind the wheel until the time I pulled into the parking deck.”

“You need to get to bed early tonight.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” They headed upstairs to grab some coffee.

“So, how long did it take you to start smoking again?”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on, it’s me.” Carl waved his hand in front of his nose. “You don’t have to hide it, even though I wish you’d quit. Now your wife, she’ll kill you.”

“Funny, I don’t remember the last time I smoked. Now that you mention it, I do smell it, but I don’t taste it.”

“That’s a bad sign, man. It means you didn’t just start up again today.”

Jerry reached into his coat pocket to feel the familiar shape of the pack. His face twisted in disappointment at his lapse into the old habit. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me today. I don’t even remember buying them.”

“Relax, man. I’m sure it’s just stress or something. I’ve got to get moving, but how about we grab a beer tonight after work? We can talk about it more then.” Carl selected a French Roast from the machine.

“Yeah, that sounds good.” Carl headed off toward his desk, and Jerry studied the coffee machine for a moment and selected a double espresso, no cream. He leaned against the machine, listening to it whir and spit the coffee into the cardboard cup. The coffee smelled heavenly. Maybe he was finally waking up.


You can find Aaron at the following:

Twitter: @AaronLHamilton
Follow his blog at: escalatorshoes.wordpress.com

Review: Nonlocal Science Fiction (Issue #1)

There are numerous excellent science fiction and fantasy journals, e-zines, and magazines out there for consumption. Publications such as Fantasy and Science Fiction, Azimov’s, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and others offer exciting and well written stories by proven and up-and-coming writers. There really isn’t a lack of options when it comes to great science fiction and fantasy.  So where does Nonlocal Science Fiction add to this already well represented field?

Nonlocal Science Fiction is a quarterly anthology published by 33rd Street Digital Press. According to its website, the primary focus is to “expand the science fiction genre by working mainly with new and independent authors and giving them a legitimate outlet for their work.”

At first glance, Issue #1 (published in March of 2015) comes across as a well constructed work. The cover art is tremendous and the formatting and general look of the inside is high quality. I was quite surprised on opening the anthology at how well it looked. Though it was their first offering,  it didn’t suffer from lack of organization or direction. It was clear a lot of effort was put into it.

Going beyond the aesthetics, the writing was pretty darn good as well.

I’ve fallen victim to the pretty book cover of an indie author only to be disappointed by stories with flimsy plots or barely intelligible prose. However there are those moments when I find an indie author and instantly have a new favorite writer (Luke Smitherd, Teresa Lo, and Jennifer Wells just to name a few)

Nonlocal Science Fiction brings a platform to expose new authors to those who might not find them otherwise and they do so for less than a cup of coffee at most places.

The stories range from space exploration to westerns to time travel to world building. The diverse stories provide an eclectic yet interesting mix of voice from emerging writers. This first volume also includes two serials which are sure to keep readers coming back for more.

A few stand-out stories include “Marigold’s Memories” by Reva Russell English about wanting to remove certain memories, “Shoot the Devil” by Nicholas C. Rossis; an interesting time travel piece, and “Catalyst” by Aaron Hamilton; a creation story with a twist. The writing is crisp and the stories engaging.

Not to say that Nonlocal Science Fiction will soon be the “it” place for writers, it does hold its own as a viable, affordable source for great writing by authors unknown to most readers. For the cover price of $2.99 per issue, it’s hard to say it’s not worth it.

You can find issues of Nonlocal Science Fiction on Amazon or through links on their website.

Give it a try. You might find your new favorite writer!