Tag Archives: John Scalzi

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.


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?

Mingling With Celebrity

Most all of us have had our brush with celebrity at one point in our lives. I’ve had a few opportunities to share a moment with someone more known than myself and I wanted to share that in today’s post.

My first recollection of meeting someone famous occurred when I lived in Cleveland. My school used to be in downtown and we had to take public buses and the subway (known as the rapid) to get to and from school. One day after school while waiting with a bunch of other students and a few non-student riders, a fight broke out between two young teens. I was probably in seventh or eight grade at the time. A fancy car pulled up to the bus stop and a large man jumped from the car and broke up the fight. That man was the all time great Cleveland Browns cornerback Hanford Dixon! Together with Frank Minnifield, they were one of the most fearsome cornerbacks in the league and he is also credited with creating the infamous “Dawg Pound” in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The fight stopped almost immediately and he signed autographs for all who asked. I got one as well though he signed them “Top Dawg” instead of Hanford Dixon but any Browns fan knew who that was!

Over the years while in Cleveland, I was able to meet and get signatures from many bands that I listened to: Kreator, Nuclear Assault, and others. There was an awesome record store not too far from my house that booked a lot of bands for signings and I went to many of them.

IMG_2612More recently Twitter has brought me in touch with celebrities I would never have been able to reach otherwise. One of my Twitter followers is none other than Mr. Chuck, or Chuck D. the lead MC for the iconic rap group Public Enemy. Last year I posted about an actual dream I had involving the rapper/actor Ice T and he acknowledged it with a “like.” One of my recent blog posts about John Scalzi earned a message from the author thanking me for liking his books. Then days after that, when I was fortunate enough to sign my name next to the award winning SciFi author Ann Leckie on the author wall at my first book signing, she too acknowledged my post with a “like.” Twitter has been fun reaching new people and moments like these keep me posting.

My most exciting moment of being close to someone more famous than myself was when I was able to skate with Tony Hawk. Yeah, that Tony Hawk. The god-father of skateboarding. It must have been over twenty years ago that I met him and his Birdhouse Projects team in Memphis. My friends and I decided we were going to travel four hours or so from Southern Illinois to Memphis for a demo put on by Tony Hawk and his team. I had to work an overnight shift and when I got off work at seven in the morning, I cleaned up and we loaded in my little Honda Civic 4-Door and drove down to Memphis. My car was a stick and none of my friends knew how to drive a manual so even though I was dead tired, I had to drive.

By the time we made it to Memphis, it was pouring down rain. We drove to where the demo was held but no one was there. We decided we drove this far that we weren’t leaving until we got to meet the man himself! I drove around the square several times looking for the team when we found them driving in a van. They waved at us and pointed to the square and after cutting them off, we all made it to the demo spot. When we got out of the car the rain had stopped. We were the only ones there. The five of us and the five of them. We got to skate around the square with Tony and his team. He even skated on my friend Doug’s board (whose dad later threw it away thinking the broken board was worthless junk!) It was an awesome opportunity to meet with and skate with a legend. It’s a memory I’ll never forget. When I’d tell that to my students while I was a graduate assistant in college, I instantly gained some street cred with my students!

I’ve had my brushes with celebrity. I’ve tried to not act like a fool around people I respect and I think so far I’ve kept it under wraps. When Scalzi sent me that message on Twitter you better believe I wanted to go all “fan-boy” about it but it’s so much better if I don’t.

What about you? Do you have any interesting stories to share? Leave them in the comments below!

As a heads up, I’ll be at the Indie Book Fair in St. Louis on May 7th from 10-5. Stop by and say hi and pick up a book. There will also be 40 to 50 other authors for you to check out. I’ll be doing a reading at 11:40 that morning. Sounds like a great time. Come on out!

On May 18th, one of my stories will be featured on the podcast “No Extra Words.” I’m super excited about this opportunity! Find the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcatcher and subscribe today! They offer new flash fiction stories every week.

Scalzi to the Rescue

I’ve been in a reading slump lately. I’ve been keeping track of what novels I’ve read the past few years in a file just so I can go back at the end of the year and see where my reading tastes have taken me. This time last year I had 9 novels under my belt and about to tackle Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. My list so far is lacking. I’ve read 2 books. 2!

I’m in the middle of Stephen King’s Revival and I enjoy the direction of the story so far. Buuut, I can’t seem to really get into it. It’s been tough to get back to. I can’t put my finger on why.

I needed something else to read. I had to get engrossed in a story. So I turned to the only author I can read without it feeling like I’m reading – John Scalzi.

Scalzi has an excellent grasp of the craft. His words flow. I mean they flow! I enjoy horror and fantasy but the scifi Scalzi offers is brilliantly written. I’ve read Old Man’s WarThe Ghost Brigades, and The Last Colony from his Old Man’s War series as well as Agent to the Stars and devoured them like a peanut butter covered chocolate bar. His writing is well researched, planned, and delivered.

His style and content isn’t for everyone. I’m not going to hate if you don’t like his writing or his politics. It’s not like I agree with everything he says and I don’t have to in order to appreciate his art. I respect his opinions and desire to share them with his fans. Find him on Twitter if you want an entertaining and informative read.

What I appreciate most is his writing. I can read his books unlike any other author. He’s probably become my favorite author in the past few years and I’ve tried sharing his work with others that would appreciate it.

human-divisionWhen I opened Scalzi’s The Human Division the other day, reading felt right again. Before I knew it, I was 60 pages in and eager to continue. I was transported to the universe of green skin and BrainPals. And I loved it! My faith in reading was renewed.

My reading list will probably move faster now. I needed “Scalzi-Therapy” to get back on track.

When your reading gets in a rut, who is your go-to author? Who can you read and immediately be engrossed in their world? Share your favorites below. Maybe we can inspire each other to find new and exciting worlds to explore.


A few things to share.

I’ll be at the Book House in St. Louis Sat. April 9th for my very first book signing! If you’re in the area please stop by. The event will be from 1-3PM and there will be refreshments. It’s a family friendly event and everyone is welcome.

One of my stories will be on a podcast! One of my original stories from (Almost) Average Anthology was selected for an excellent flash fiction podcast. Watch my blog or my website or Twitter for more details as they come along.

I will be at the Indie Book Fair in St. Louis on May 7th. Come meet me and 50 or so other authors at the main branch of the St. Louis library. I’ll be doing a reading from my book as well.

And finally…I’ve recently added Contamination to my list of events. I will be at the horror/scifi con in St. Louis from June 17th-19th. It will be the largest event for me so far! Follow the blog, check my website, or find me on Twitter to get all the details.

Whew! I think that’s it for now. Lots of stuff going on. I hope you can join me along the way. I appreciate all your support!

2015 in Reading

As the new year gets underway, it’s time to share the books from 2015 that kept me entertained and made me think. The list below contains all the books I read this past year. It’s actually shorter than I planned. I did stay busier writing more than I ever have before which took up a lot of my reading time. I guess that’s a fair trade-off!

Other than the books listed, I’ve also been a devoted reader of Daily Science Fiction and Every Day Fiction. I’ve been looking for a horror version of these daily flash fiction sites but have come up empty so far. If you know of any, please share in the comments below or send me an email. I’d love to add that to my daily reading!

Here are my 2015 books in order of when I read them.

John Scalzi: The Last Colony.
George R.R. Martin: Clash of Kings
Stephen King: The Eyes of the Dragon
Phillip K. Dick: The Defenders
David Farland: Sweetly the Dragon Dreams
Stephen Brophy: The Villain’s Sidekick
Apryl Baker: The Ghost Files
Clive Barker: The Damnation Game
Tracy Stewart: Thriller – The Lake Murders
Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice
Brandon Sanderson: Firefight
Jennifer Foehner Wells: Fluency
Jack McDevitt: Ancient Shores
J.A. Konrath: Horror Stories
John Scalzi: Agent to the Stars
Dean Koontz: Hideaway
Angie Fox: Southern Spirits
Joel Ansel: Four Dead Ones
K.R. Griffiths: Panic (Wildfire Chronicles Book 1)

Besides the well known authors like Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, and John Scalzi, I was quite impressed by “Fluency” from Jennifer Foehner Wells. I highly recommend it if you like space dramas with vivid action. Jack McDevitt’s “Ancient Shores” was an excellent, thrilling tale of aliens and Native Americans. And J.A. Konrath…wow! He’s got a twisted side to him for sure! I loved those stories.

My choice of books this past year relied on my mood at the time. I switched from sci-fi to fantasy to horror and back. The only one that doesn’t fit that pattern is “Southern Spirits” by Angie Fox. I was given the book by Angie (it’s signed as well!) so I figured I owed it to her to read it. Though it’s not my type of book (a supernatural cozy mystery) I did enjoy it and was a welcome break from my other reading.

Have you read any of these? What would you suggest for the upcoming year? Leave your suggestions below and we’ll see if we can all broaden our reading in the new year.