Midian Cometh

I love taking time off from work.  Who doesn't? Not only am I NOT slavishly doing what I get paid to do, I'm also enjoying a three week break from school.  There's been no financial accounting for me last week, or this week.  And I get next week off from that dry material as well.

The last time I had time off, I busily readied Urban Mythos for self publishing as an e-book, and I got it up on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  This week, I spent some additional time on the aforementioned YA Urban Fantasy and published it on Smashwords.

So now for my next trick.  On January 21st, I will publish my earlier novel, The Children of Midian. It needed some serious polish from whence I last looked at it, but I am hard at work readying it.  This is an upper middle grade novel, with some slightly darker themes, but still firmly targeted at the middle school reader. 

Elliot Hanson doesn’t live in an ordinary town, for it harbors a dark secret that leads him out of our world and into Midian. The thirteen-year-old army brat discovers friendship in a community of lost children, but he also finds a legion of werewolves set against them. Feeding on imagination, these ruthless killers serve an even darker leader who intends to destroy every last child, leaving Elliot with no choice but to fight for their lives.

Look for the e-book on January 21st on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and many other fine booksellers.


Support Four Debut Authors and Snag $125!

Four books
Two Days
Great Prizes

With this contest, there is something for everyone and it’s SO simple to be in on the winning!

On November 28 and/or 29, purchase 1 or all 4 of the debut author’s books listed here. Then forward proof of purchase (the receipt Amazon sends you will do just fine) to : motionsrider@yahoo.ca and get up to 4 entries into a draw for a $100 Amazon gift card!

It’s that easy, no reviews, no hoops to jump through. Just a great .99 book or two. Or three or four. AND, if the person who wins the $100 Amazon Gift Card has purchased all 4 books, an additional $25 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to the winner!

On top of that, 2 random commenter’s picked from 2 of our participating blogs will receive $5 gift Amazon gift cards . So, be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think of the promo, the books, or the authors.

Winners will be chosen randomly, one entry per person, per book.

All winners will be announced on December 7th on Wringing Out Words.

“Between” by Cyndi Tefft

It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water's life isn't alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile, and Scottish accent.

After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.

Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven's siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.

Buy it on Amazon

“Until Dawn: Last Light” by Jennifer Simas
When darkness falls, whose side will you be on?

For the past six years, Zoë has been anything but “normal.” Struggling to accept her immortality and thrown into a war that’s been waging in the shadows for over a thousand years, Zoë must now become who she was meant to be, joining the other Chosen to save what’s left of humanity. When the endless night falls over the Earth, will she be able to save the one man who reminds her of what it is to be human, or will it be too late?

Until Dawn: Last Light is a story of death and despair, love and longing, hope and hopelessness, and the ability to survive and keep going even when it seems impossible – when you want nothing more than to give up.

Buy it on Amazon.

“The Kayson Cycle” by Jonathan D. Allen
A stranger enters a dying town and makes a desperate plea…

 The Kayson Cycle introduces the Kayson Brothers, a pair of faith healers who once wowed crowds in a traveling show but went their separate ways after a night in which a healing took a dark turn. Jeffrey Kayson disappeared into the wilderness and William Kayson, wracked by guilt, moved to the failing mining town of Calico Hills to build a nice, quiet life – one that has lasted for over ten years.

His quiet, predictable life crumbles when a mysterious stranger walks into his tavern bearing a proposal to find his long-lost brother and do the one thing that William has sworn to never do again - have his brother heal a woman. William soon learns that he can’t escape his family – or his destiny.

Includes an exclusive sample chapter of The Corridors of the Dead. Please note that this is a Kindle Single, and around 6,000 words in length.

Buy it on Amazon

“Sundered” by Shannon Mayer

A miracle drug, Nevermore, spreads like wildfire throughout the world allowing people to eat what they want, and still lose weight. It is everything the human population has ever dreamed of and Mara is no different. Only a simple twist of fate stops her from taking Nevermore.

As the weeks roll by, it becomes apparent that Nevermore is not the miracle it claimed. A true to life nightmare, the drug steals the very essence that makes up humanity and unleashes a new and deadly species on the world that is bent on filling its belly. Locked down within their small farm home, Mara and her husband Sebastian struggle against increasingly bad odds, fighting off marauders and monsters alike.

But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear them apart, it threatens to destroy them both and the love they have for each other.

Now Mara must make the ultimate choice. Will she live for love, or will she live to survive?

Buy it on Amazon.


Internet Book Fair Blogfest, Jay Eckert

A day later and a dollar short they say.  The internet book fair is/was happening, and now it's Wednesday!  What fantastic time management skills I have.  Nevertheless, here goes...

Urban Mythos
Sixteen-year-old Zydeco Hill uncovers a plot to capture former mythological creatures and expel them to a barren world filled with hungry beasts. Two years since his own transformation from griffin to human, he’s been attending clandestine meetings of the city’s ex-mythological creatures. When the police raid one such meeting, he discovers the conspiracy goes all the way up to the mayor’s office.

As other Mythos vanish from the city’s streets, the deputy mayor demands Zydeco turn in Octavio, the missing leader of their kind. His initial resistance causes the disappearance of both his stepmother and best friend, and it won’t be long before they’re served up as chimera-chow. While trying to keep the mythological truth from the girl he adores, Zydeco must rescue his friends and step-mom. Along the way, he unearths critical information about an even larger conspiracy to rid the world of his brethren, but he needs Octavio’s help to put it to use. The only problem is he has no idea where the guy is hiding.

Urban Mythos is a young adult urban fantasy novel that blends action and romance while dealing with issues of trust and assimilation. It will appeal to readers who enjoy the distinctive voice and humor of S.G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament and Catherine Jinks’ The Reformed Vampire Support Group. 

Available for $.99 at Amazon or Barnes & Noble in Kindle and ePub formats, respectively.

5 out of 5 stars A MUST Read Book!, September 26, 2011 By S. Belveal "Frankie Blooding"

I thought this book was fantastic!

It's a book that isn't getting nearly as much attention as I think it should. This is due to the fact that the market is huge and this one small book in a big-big world.

This book literally held me from the first line.

"My name is Zydeco, and I'm a recovering mythological creature."

I instantly chuckled and settled right in for a fantastic read that swept me away!

Zydeco can be a little dense sometimes, and as a main character, I wanted to reach through the pages and slap him around a bit. But Mr. Eckert's ability to create fabulously rich, multi-dimensional mythological creatures was astounding! I. Couldn't. Put. The. Book. DOWN!

If there is one book you have to read this year, it's by far this one! And you REALLY can't beat the price!

5 out of 5 stars Recovering Mythological Creature in Trouble, September 7, 2011 By Airdale

Zydeco is a "recovering mythological creature" - a teenage griffon exiled to our world. That wouldn't be so bad if the mayor wasn't on a path to rid the streets of Mythos by sending them off to die in a hell dimension. And if Zydeco wasn't dealing with school, a girl, friends and other teenage issues. The combination of teenage-boy-mindset with fantasy and an ever twisting plot is smooth and interesting - think Smallville, but with a bunch of teenage Clarks. My favorite though, is Zydeco's fun, sarcastic narration. Despite the serious threat to Zydeco's friends and family (and himself), this isn't a doom and gloom everyone-is-after-me type book - it's more of a BAD THINGS AFOOT!..I GOTTA FIX EM adventure. Recommended!

5 out of 5 stars Humorous and Entertaining, September 24, 2011 By Annie McMahon


The Best Thing Ever

All right, it's not really the best thing ever, but still...

The other night, while lazily slumped in bed, I realized I had nothing to read. I had finished the last book I'd been reading - Halfhead, by Stuart B. MacBride. This was a physical book, by the way.

I had finished my grad school homework (endless nights of study are quite annoying after working all day). Granted, I had some eBooks available to me I'd reserved from the local library.  I had even checked them out onto my computer with Adobe Digital Editions.  But to read one of those books, I would have to get up and haul my Nook and my butt downstairs to plug the thing into my PC... the Nook that is, not my butt.

That's when I remembered the second book in Rick Riordan's, Heroes of Olympus series was out.  Deciding I needed me a little Percy Jackson fix, I fired up the Nook at my bedside and turned on the Wi-Fi (I leave it off so as not to totally drain the battery). Pressing the "Shop" button, I found myself on the Barnes & Noble homepage.  And what do you think I found?  Much to my surprise and delight, staring back at me was some guy's top recommendations for the day, which included Riordan's, Son of Neptune.  I clicked it, or whatever you want to call "touching the screen with your finger".  Tapped? Yeah. I tapped that book. Well that sounds dirty.  Anyway, I tapped tapped the buy button, confirmed and within seconds the novel I wanted to read was in my hands.

Dude!  Yeah - I've bought some other books for the Nook, but those were mostly bought to "have and get to later".  This was a serious impulse buy.

Okay, like I said. It's not quite the best thing ever, but it made me seriously happy for a few minutes.


Internet Book Fair BLOGFEST

Michael and Amy Leslie have this terrific idea. You may know them as M.A. Leslie, authors of Tristen and the Magic Shop, as well as Liberty (my daughter's favorite).  They've conceived an internet book fair, scheduled October 25th, where folks can learn about a wide variety of books and meet the authors. If you are interested in participating through your own blog, click the big ol' button below to visit their site and register. It promises to be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet and greet!  It's open to self and traditionally published books.


An Odd Moment in the Office

The strangest thing happened at work yesterday.  My boss's boss, who actually will be my boss once my current boss retires (confused yet?) - Rich - let's call him Rich, which is a good idea since that's his name.  So Rich pops his head in my office and quotes something that sounds pretty cool and science-fiction-ish.  One of the things I like about Rich is that he's a bottomless well of movie quotes.

After Rich recites this line, I hem and haw before realizing he must be quoting a movie line.  I blurt out, "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", which is dead wrong, because I know the book quite well and this line did not come from Douglas Adams' pen. Of course, that doesn't mean someone didn't throw that line in the film -- I liked the BBC television version way better -- but I doubt it.

Rich then tells me it's actually from a book he just started reading.  So, now I'm at a loss, and I ask him if it's a new book, to which he replies that it is new to him.  Again, I've got no clue, and it shows on my face. Rich tells me I know this book, so I scrape the inner recesses of my cobwebby brain, but can't for the life of me figure it out. Then he tells me I'm scaring him, which doesn't help.  Rich's follow up comment?

"You wrote it."


Ever had one of those days?

He recently picked up a copy of Urban Mythos for the Kindle. The good news is he likes it and is going to share it with his teenage kids.

And now for a random movie quote, which for some reason came to mind as I wrote the preceding paragraph.

"Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consiousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

...Carl Spackler (Bill Murray), Caddyshack


Vacation, Natural Disasters, and Books

toLet's start with vacation.  It was time to hang with the mouse this year down in Orlando. Yeah, I know. We're always down in Orlando hanging with the mouse, but it's just what we do. We flew down back on the 19th of August. And then everything went to heck.

First, there was the earthquake. These are not particularly common up in the northeast, and when they do occur, they're quite small. I cannot imagine what the folks in the Pentagon were thinking as they evacuated.  It makes me shudder.

While this was occurring, we were watching the weather channel every day, keeping an eye on some hurricane named Ilene. It skipped right on by Florida--we had a bit of wind and that's all--and then launched itself up the coast and wrecked a lot of stuff.  The coast of North Carolina, Virginia, etc. It slammed into Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York and left devastation throughout New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and flooded the heck out of Vermont.

Here's a picture of St. Clare's Hospital in Denville, NJ, where my daughter had her tonsils out years ago. It was taken from an upper floor. The circular drive that surrounds the flag pole is the front of the hospital. What you don't see is the road in front of the hospital, the huge parking lot just beyond the electric & phone wires, or the great big field beyond it near the scattered trees. That's all Rockaway River in this picture.

Last Thursday, we knew the storm was coming and going to hit the tri-state area on Sunday, so we moved our flight from Sunday to Monday. By Saturday, even the Monday flight was cancelled. We got in our rental car Sunday morning, and drove the 20 hours north to get home on Monday, with one overnight stop in northern Virginia. We avoided I-95 once we hit South Carolina, since it is close to the coast. The kids behaved pretty well, thanks to the DVD player we bought at Walmart before leaving early Sunday morning.

New Jersey was a mess. The Rockaway River (see the picture above) had washed away part of I-287 in two  spots, and flooded Denville almost completely. We couldn't pick up our little black pug from the place she was staying in Denville until Tuesday because the road leading to the place was under water. Fortunately, the place was on high enough ground that it stayed dry.  The Passaic River has left unbelievable devastation all over the northern part of the state. Below is a picture of the very large and popular Willowbrook mall in Wayne, NJ. Yes, that brown stuff is river. That's a big mall with a huge parking lot completely under water.

Things are drying out, although it's going to take a long time before folks fully recover.

On the bright and non-hurricane related side, I devoured Cold Vengeance, by Lincoln Child & Douglas Preston. Man, do I love Pendergast novels. My mini review is on goodreads. I also re-read Josh Bezell's, Beat the Reaper on my Nook. What an awesomely fun book.

And when I returned, the library had my reserved copy of Death Sentence (Escape from Furnace 3), by Alexander Gordon Smith. The Escape from Furnace books are like Peanut M&M's. Or regular ones if you're allergic to nuts. 

Well, at least a volcano didn't sprout up in Northern New Jersey while we were away.


Angry Birds - Curse Those Piggies!

I looked over at the couch, and my wife had Rachel's iPod in hand and was playing Angry Birds again. Many has been the evening when she swiped my Nook Color to do the same.  I've convinced her Google Chrome is a good thing, mostly because you can play Angry Birds for free on this nefarious web browser.

It's a stupid game. I play it from time to time, of course, but it is stupid. So the wife says to me, "I need to go kill me some piggies." Off she goes. Next thing I hear is, "Why are they wearing helmets? Who gives a piggy a helmet?" or "How on earth could that piggy wind up there, under all that stuff?" Good questions, all.

So, in honor of all things involving suicidal birds and helmeted piggies, I give you this [key of] awesome take on Adele's, Rolling in the Deep.


Two Ends - Harry Potter & Borders

Friday night, the wife and I were on our way to the movies to see Cowboys and Aliens (not as bad as they say, but not great), when we passed our local Borders Books and Music. Unless you've been hiding in a cavern with the aforementioned aliens, you are no doubt aware that Borders is shuttering its stores.

We were listening to the soundtrack of Wicked as we drove by, and the song For Good was playing. Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenowith sang:

Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good.

We pulled around the corner into the theater parking lot, where the signs for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II were still plastered all over the joint. It was at that moment that I actually felt a deep sense of sadness and loss. If you haven't guessed by now, I am a huge Harry Potter fan as are my two kids. In fact, I would say that J.K. Rowling has been a huge inspiration for my writing. Deathly Hallows was published four years ago, but we always had the remaining movies to look forward to!  This last film (which I enjoyed quite a lot, thanks for asking) truly meant the end.

It was at this Borders five minutes from my house that I took my family for the midnight release celebrations of the Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows novels. It was at this Borders that I spent countless hours browsing, reading, drinking coffee, researching, and above all dreaming. 

And like the seven-book series brought to eight-film life on the big screen, it is coming to an end. While the tale of a bespectacled boy wizard drew to a close with brilliance, sadness, and joy, I only wish I could say the same for this forty-year old bookseller. 

Flash back one week earlier to when we dropped into Borders. The coffee shop was closed. Wandering the busy aisles of people looking for bargains that were not truly to be had, all I felt was a sense of numbness. I walked my daughter past the graphic novel section - she was looking for the graphic novel version of City of Bones - and a teenage kid meandered over to me. 

"It's a total bummer, man. Now where am I going to get my Manga?"

It is. It is without doubt a total bummer. 

Borders is over. Harry Potter is over. Both entwined in my memory. One went out with a glorious bang, while the other went out with a whimper and a shrug.

At risk of copyright infringement or just seeming incredibly sappy, I hereby quote Elphaba (Idina Menzel) in For Good.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you.


Urban Mythos now available for the Nook

I must say, it took me a lot longer to create the Kindle version of the book than the Nook version. Working with an ePub file is a lot easier. It's basically a ZIP file containing a bunch of HTML files, all of which I can deal with since, well, I am geekwriter1. Plus Calibre is really straightforward, and it actually converted the work I'd already done for the Kindle into the format I needed.

In any event, here it is. My YA Urban Fantasy Urban Mythos, available on Barnes & Noble. If you have any form of Nook, or any eReader than can read the ePub format, I hope you enjoy!


Urban Mythos is Available on Amazon

Sixteen-year-old Zydeco Hill uncovers a plot to capture former mythological creatures and expel them to a barren world filled with hungry beasts. Two years since his own transformation from griffin to human, he’s been attending clandestine meetings of the city’s ex-mythological creatures. When the police raid one such meeting, he discovers the conspiracy goes all the way up to the mayor’s office.

As other mythos vanish from the city’s streets, the deputy mayor demands Zydeco turn in Octavio, the missing leader of their kind. His initial resistance causes the disappearance of both his stepmother and best friend, and it won’t be long before they’re served up as chimera-chow. While trying to keep the mythological truth from the girl he adores, Zydeco must rescue his friends and step-mom. Along the way, he unearths critical information about an even larger conspiracy to rid the world of his brethren, but he needs Octavio’s help to put it to use. The only problem is he has no idea where the guy is hiding.

Urban Mythos is available on Amazon for the Kindle. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible!


Urban Mythos - Coming Soon...

Now that I've got the week off from class, it's time for the big announcement.

I've decided to self publish Urban Mythos. My YA Urban Fantasy about a collection of ex-mythological creatures learning to live among us is coming soon. Former Griffin Zydeco Hill, his human love interest, Tameina, and best pal and ex-Gnome Blaine, will debut first on the Kindle. The cover art is ready to go, and I'm in the midst of a very deep editing process.

I am pretty excited about the prospect of doing this. I'll be self promoting right here, on twitter, on facebook and wherever else I can insinuate myself. Keep your eye on the sharpened pen for a contest or two as well!

More to come...


Queries, Space Missions and Angry Birds

During a short breather in my MBA program, I got to thinking about Urban Mythos again. I have about five queries and one submission outstanding on it. The sub is several months old at this point, and I sent a courtesy eMail checking in a month ago. The queries occurred about two plus months ago. The question is, do I wait, or do I start querying again? I fear I won't make a decision before the lull ends ... tomorrow. Maybe in between courses.

Time is precious as I close in on the last two weeks of this leadership course. I just finished my primary contribution to a paper detailing the leadership strengths of the primary characters in the film Apollo 13. I wound up writing about Jim Lovell, the commander of Apollo 13, portrayed by Tom Hanks. I really would have liked to do Gene Kranz, the director of ground control portrayed by Ed Harris, because that guy seriously knew how to lead. "We've never lost an American in space. We sure as hell aren't going to lose one on my watch." And then the absolutely pervasive line, "Failure is not an option." Sure, Lovell said, "Houston, we have a problem," but still.

I have another paper to do in the next week or two. Two? Man, I hope it's two. It's a big paper. Who signed me up for this again? Thank goodness for my Nook Color. I've loaded a ton of required reading in PDF format onto the e-reader so I can take the material anywhere. Did I mention that I bought Angry Birds for the Nook? Yep. The most recent software update for the Nook brought a newer version of the Android O/S, and access to a ton of apps. The downside is I can't seem to pry the Nook out of my wife's hands. She's a bit hooked on Angry Birds.


Even more work than I thought

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted anything on the pen and I get the feeling it's going to be like that for a while. The first week of my MBA program is nearing completion. I'm doing an online program with Centenary College here in New Jersey. Numerous people have told me that the online variation of any MBA program winds up being far more work - incredible amounts of writing - to make up for the fact that you aren't in a classroom for three hours. It sure seems true so far.

I'm on the blackboard system most every night, preparing assignments, doing research, and participating in threaded discussions. When I'm not doing that, I'm reading textbooks and research. By the way, I totally dig that the Nook reads PDFs since much of the research I dig up is in PDF format. Occasionally, the Nook's Quick Office app can't handle certain PDFs so they look all weird and illegible. Then I found Calibre, which lets you convert various file formats to the e-pub format. One such PDF converted nicely.. It's sooooo much nicer reading this stuff on an e-reader than on a PC.

Still, I'm finding time to read fiction. I recently finished the audio book for Scott Westerfeld's, So Yesterday, and I'm still wading through Richard Kadrey's, Kill the Dead, the much anticipated (by me) sequel to Sandman Slim. I think I like the first book a bit more, but it's still a blast. I've just begun to get my sci-fi on with audio book version of Richard K. Morgan's, Thirteen.

So despite my academic and professional pursuits, I'm still a double threat reading-wise.


And so it begins

My MBA program starts this coming week. Life as I knew it, is over.... at least for a couple of years. 

In other news, an entire week has gone by without a rejection letter. That's progress!

And in other, other news. We're the proud owners of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I DVD. Tonight, the family shall chow down on spaghetti with tasty meatballs purchased from Anthony & Sons in Denville. We also have some pasta fagioli, broccoli rabe, various breads, and fresh cookies from their excellent market. All this will be done in front of the television.

Rachel took one look at the quart of pasta fagioli soup and said, "So that's how they spell that?" Yeah, it's one of those words that you wonder how they decided to spell something that sounds like "Fazool" (at least in this part of the country). It's got that dangling "i" at the end. Ah, well.


Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Dang. I'm getting old. I took my son to a college fair down in Edison, NJ last week. Fortunately, he's only a high school sophomore, but come on, now. Is it fair that he's old enough to be thinking about college? That I'm old enough to have a son who's old enough to be thinking that way?

First, the joint was jumping. While my kids were on Spring Break, many schools in the metropolitan area were not. Yellow buses ferried hordes of high school students to the college fair. Most of the colleges that were a good fit for Scott were in attendance. Mind you, you won't find an ivy league university or, say, MIT at one of these. That's fine with me, because those places do not offer merit based scholarships, of which Scott would certainly avail himself.

We checked school after school, both private (wait - did you say $52,000/year for tuition, room & board?) and public (wait - did you say $25,000/year for tuition, room & board?). We dropped by my alma mater - Binghamton University (formerly SUNY Binghamton, at least when I attended), and lo and behold, Scott liked it. How funny would that be if he attended the college from which both my wife and I graduated?

For chuckles, we swung by the Cooper Union table. My grandfather graduated from that prestigious NYC institution 80+ years ago with a Civil Engineering degree. While every other booth had loads of pamphlets and signs, and people talking all about what their school had to offer, Cooper Union had one nattily dressed guy, a very small stack of single page pamphlets, some bookmarks, and a mostly empty table. The fellow looked generally bemused to be there. He said nothing about Cooper Union and focused on what courses Scott needed to focus on during his remaining high school years. When Scott mentioned one statistics laden research based analysis course he has now, the Cooper guy blessed Scott with a quote made popular by Mark Twain.

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Scott was more than happy to share that with his RBA teachers when he returned to school today. The stats guy was amused, and the science guy told him it was Mark Twain.

Anyway, I may need to sell a kidney to put the kid through college. Of course, that would probably only pay for one year of tuition at a public university.


Sick and Solitary

Yeesh, I am sick as ... well ... sick as heck. Yech. But now I'm so very happy. I took my daughter to the library to borrow her huge allotment of YA and other novels. She's on spring break, so it's uber important that she has loads to read, otherwise she'll whine about boredom. More so than usual, anyway. I'm introducing her to Christopher Golden, starting with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But that's beside the point. When we were checking her books out, it turned out my copy of Alexander Gordon Smith's, Solitary was waiting for me.

YES!!!! The entire Lockdown series has been out for quite some time in the U.K., but it has taken its sweet time crossing the Atlantic. At least I have book two in my clutches now. Of course, I'll have to wait until August for the final novel, Death Sentence.

I was in the midst of reading one of those Frankenstein novels on the Nook, but that's officially set aside in favor of this puppy. Plus I'll owe the library overdue fees for the audio book copy of Clockwork Angel, because I've been in and out of the car so often.

Maybe I can't breathe particularly well right now and my head wants to implode from a sinus infection, and the various horse pills I'm taking require some time to work, but having a novel that I've been itching to read makes it almost all better.


French Fry Letter

A week or two ago, my daughter's sixth grade class was given an assignment in which they were to write either a letter to an actual company of their choice, with the content either being a complaint or a compliment. They were going to mail the letter, and let the chips fall where they may. I thought this was an interesting and useful exercise because few people write letters anymore. It seems to have gone out of fashion with the advent of eMail, texting, tweeting, and the various forms of Facebook communication.

Rachel decided to write a letter of complaint to Red Robin, the primarily hamburger restaurant. Now don't be fooled. Rachel adores Red Robin. We travel about an hour west toward the Poconos a few times a year to shop at these outlet stores in Tannersville, PA. On the way home, we'd frequently stop at the Red Robin in East Stroudsburg. We always had a reasonably good meal there for what it was, and the service was generally fine.

Imagine our excitement when word came that Red Robin was opening a restaurant in our local mall. We could not wait and a week after it opened around Thanksgiving last year, we headed over. As one might imagine, an eatery open for a week and with all new employees would have a few bumps in the road. It did, but we expected it, and we had a good enough experience to warrant going back ... frequently.

And go back, we did. Many times. And we've run into people we know countless times. The residents of our New Jersey township crave a decent restaurant. Several years ago, a Damon's Grill opened up, and despite the somewhat pricey nature of the place and extremely spotty service, the joint was always jumping. You'd always find people you knew there almost any day of the week. I can't say for sure why it closed just a couple of years later given how busy it always was, but I'm guessing the crap service didn't help.

Well, four months later, Red Robin remains crammed to the gills with diners most times. The food has always been consistent, and the service ... it's spotty and depends on your server. We've had phenomenal and we've had less so. But it's clearly improved and still improving, despite my father-in-law having a near temper tantrum when they sat a few parties ahead of ours (I wasn't there that day - but my wife tells it well) that had arrived later than we had. They quickly fixed that, and fortunately, I wasn't there to experience it

Here's where my daughter's complaint comes in. Keep this in mind - every burger on the Red Robin menu comes with bottomless french fries. She goes there for dinner with her friend and her friend's family one night. Rachel's a big believer in the Natural Burger - a plain burger - with barbeque sauce on the side. She orders it. It comes - eventually - with no fries. Only hers. No fries. Everyone else's has a lovely pile on the plate. Now Rachel is what you might call a tad shy, so she refused to say anything. Everyone at the table tries to force their fries onto her plate, but she refuses. They'd had some soup, so she really didn't need the fries anyway.

And, Rachel chalked it up to one questionable waiter. Until...

A few weeks back, the four of us head there for lunch. Rachel and I order natural burgers. Awesome waitress. Great service. Everything's coming quickly. The drinks are refilled without us having to ask. The food comes at the perfect time.

No french fries with either of our burgers.

I, of the loud mouth, catch the waitress and ask for the fries. She is baffled that the plate didn't come with them and scampers off, to return moments later with a massive basket of the good stuff.

This is the reason for Rachel's letter of complaint to Red Robin written a week or so ago, sent to Red Robin corporate headquarters. I never did read the letter.

Today, eleven year old Rachel received a Federal Express Overnight pack from Red Robin in our mall. Inside was a very personalized letter on the corporate letterhead, apologizing for what had happened. The letter also serves as a $25 coupon off a meal and an invitation to ask for the manager upon her arrival so that Rachel can keep her apprised of how they're doing.

I'm very impressed with Red Robin, but more impressed with Rachel.


Spring's Sprung. Sort of.

Spring. Spring. Spring. News of the spring. I've found my lawn. It's a mess. There's quite a lot of dog poop to clean up. When the heck did the pooch do all that? I suppose it slunk down through the snow as it melted. (Yes, she's a mountain pug that prefers to climb the snow banks and do her business atop mount stinkmore.)

In other bummer-ific news, I didn't reach the quarterfinals of ABNA. The feedback consisted of one exceedingly positive review, which I'm guessing would have been a vote to stay on the island, as well as one middling review, which was likely a vote that cast me off the island. At least I know my pitch was solid enough to get to the second round. Moving on.

Querying wasn't a focus for me recently. I dabbled in the odd contest over the past year, queried a couple of times and then jumped into ABNA. Most of the time was spent researching agents and writing Ghost Fishing. Now I'll jump in, head first. The thing about "head first", is if you're not careful where you jump, you wind up with a headache or worse.

In any event, it's spring, right? I think I might have mentioned that. I took my kids and my daughter's three best friends to Rita's for ices on the very first day of spring. The four girls sat at the picnic table and slurped up their various flavors, two of which left them crimson mouthed. My mint oreo cream ice, which looked not entirely unlike cold split pea soup, tasted precisely like icy mint oreo ice cream. Yum.

Did I mention we're getting somewhere between three and seven inches of snow tomorrow? Although I'm beyond tired of winter weather, given a choice between more snow and an earthquake/tsunami combo, I'll take the former.


Four Things on my mind

As I write this, four things are on my mind.

First: it's Friday. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Second: Japan. The images I see every morning and night on the news are terrifying, horrifying and saddening. Earthquake. Tsunami. Nuclear Disaster. I'm not going to comment on nuclear energy here. It's horribly ironic, though, that we've taken two sucker punches from mother nature and then cut ourselves off at the kneecaps. In the process, we'll likely have dealt not just humanity, but mother nature a severe blow. I'm not a big prayer guy, but I'm sending them to all the people

Third: A little less than four days from now, I'll know if Urban Mythos made it to the quarterfinals round of ABNA. I'm curious about when I'll see feedback on my excerpt. Will it be when the quarter finalists are announced on March 22nd or prior to that?

Fourth: After much research and discussion, I'm applying to get into one specific MBA program this weekend. Presuming I get in -- there's no reason I shouldn't -- the program will start in April. Yikes!

I will leave you with Steven Tyler's excellent quote from American Idol this past week. When asked about rocker contestant James Durban, he responded:

That man right there has a rich vein of inner crazy.


Moving on and moving up

I recently came to the conclusion that I needed to go for a masters degree. Why, you ask? I guess I'm at that point in my career where I realize I won't be satisfied with doing the same fundamental job I've been doing for the past, I don't know, let's say fifteen years. As some of you may know, I'm what they call an IT Professional.

Here's the relevant definitions:

IT = Information Technology
they = the all knowing, ever present "they"
Information Technology = Computer Geek stuff
Professional = someone who gets paid to be a Computer Geek.

I'm going to date myself now, and by date myself, I don't mean take myself out for dinner and a movie. Nearly twenty-two years ago, I graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton with a Bachelor's Degree in Management.

*Pauses to shudder at the realization it's been that long*

When I left school, I accepted a job at Morgan Stanley, a brokerage firm in New York City, where I was paid to work for twelve hours a day: eight hours as an amateur computer geek performing mundane tasks such as loading reel-to-reel tapes and/or cartridges into the data center tape drives, unloading six-inch thick reports from twin-bed sized Siemens printers, staring at a computer monitor for hours on end to ensure that the monolithic stuff was working, and calling professional computer geeks in the middle of the night when said stuff of theirs wasn't working.

Nine months later, I was deemed a professional computer geek and set loose upon the commercial world of Morgan Stanley. Okay, so basically I was a computer programmer. Some folks like to call it software developer, while others prefer the self-satisfying term, software engineer. However you looked at it - programming computers, developing software, engineering software, or geeking out... I was an IT professional.

About six years and a couple of companies later, I moved on and moved up and into the world of management. I was a HGIC. Head Geek in Charge. That, by the way, is entirely different from the title we have at my present employer - HMFIC. I'll leave the definition of that acronym to your imagination. But, know there is only one correct answer.

As an HGIC, or development manager, it was my job to ensure other geeks wrote software by whatever random date somebody else chose. And frankly, I was still one of the geeks, so I continued to write software, and still do to this day, sixteen years later. Sure, I don't code*** nearly as much as I used to, but I've still got the heart of a programmer.

***Missing definition
code = write/develop/engineer software, program a computer, geek out

Okay, so this brings us to present day. I've been managing my kind for fifteen years. I'm quite sure I was awful at it to begin with, but over time, I think I've become somewhat competent. Hopefully, more than that. But as much as I enjoy the occasional programming diversion, I'm once again ready to move on and move up. Despite my many years of solid experience, it looks like an advanced degree is, while not required, certainly helpful in moving on and moving up.

MBA - Masters of Business Administration. That's the degree I'm going after. It'll be part time, possibly online or a mix of online and on-campus. I'm researching schools now. It's going to take a while - probably three or four years at the pace my home and work life can handle.

What will this do to my writing? Heck if I know, but something will have to give. I'm thinking of ways to balance work, family, friends, education and writing. I think the community aspect of writing may need to diminish if I'm to keep on writing novels, at least when school is in session. I can't stop writing. My brain just keeps pumping out strange and wonderful story ideas, and I need to put them on paper.



A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

I just finished listening to the audio book version of Scott Westerfeld's, Behemoth, the follow up to Leviathan. You can generally find me reading one novel while listening to another on the daily trip to and from work. It takes me a while to get into Steampunk novels, but I jumped right into Behemoth. It's a fascinating genre, one that requires quite a lot of planning.  Westerfeld must have done a serious amount of outlining for this series, because it offers a richly detailed alternate history of the events leading up to World War I.

Now I'm waiting for the audio book version of Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel to free up at the library. But as I often do, when I'm waiting and I'm in the mood, I'll pop in a Harry Potter CD for the drive. So, in went Deathly Hallows. And you know what? J.K. Rowling must have outlined the heck out of the series.

Seriously! When she wrote the Order of the Phoenix, did she plan for Regulus Black's locket to be thrown out with the trash, knowing full well that it was actually Slytherin's locket, which, as one of Voldemort's horcruxes, held a piece of his damaged soul? Did she do so knowing the prominent role it would play in the end of Half Blood Prince and a huge portion of Deathly Hallows? Or, when she set out to write the sixth book, did she look back over her earlier novels, looking for anything she might use? Did she say, okay, I need a little something that one of the kids might have seen. Oh, a locket! Hmm. Yeah. Locket. They'll find that locket. And ... and... I'll make it Hufflepuff's locket! Wait. No good. Riddle was in Slytherin's house. It'll be Slytherin's Locket!

Maybe she didn't even think of it when she wrote Half Blood Prince. Perhaps she just said, it'll be a locket, and then when she set out to write the penultimate book, she had to give it a back story. And then she looked back over the previous novels and said, hey look! A locket! They threw out a locket. I need a locket. Let's make up a story about that locket. Really, it could have been anything. What if it wasn't a locket, but an old chocolate frog wrapper in Ron's bedroom? If I wrote it, yeah, probably, and then Sorcerer's Stone wouldn't have been published, and then where would Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson be? (Maybe they'd have done just as well, but...)

You see, it couldn't have been a chocolate frog wrapper. I think Ms. Rowling planned out almost every last detail, and that's why the novels are so freaking brilliant. It is 100% clear that terrific series like Westerfeld's Leviathan, Clare's Mortal Instruments and Dashner's Maze Runner were not written organically, with events, plot and characters simply unfolding as they might. Do I know this for a fact? Heck, no. But it sure smells like it.


ABNA - Happy Relief

Finally! Amazon updated the ABNA page on their web site today, and my pitch for Urban Mythos enabled me to reach the second round. You can find the complete list of the YA entries that made the second round on the ABNA page. So, now I'm one of 1000 YA novels whose excerpts will be critiqued and scored by Amazon editors and at least one Amazon top reviewer. I'm not sure if the YA group had completely filled up to the 10,000 entries that were permitted, although the General Fiction group had.

So now I wait until March 22nd, when Amazon announces the Quarter-Finalists. Big shout-outs and congrats to my fellow writing buddies Kate Larkindale, Louisa Clarkson, and Tamara Heiner (and hubby) who also made the cut!

Here's the pitch that got me into the second round.

Sixteen-year-old Zydeco Hill uncovers a plot to capture former mythological creatures and expel them to a barren world filled with hungry beasts. Two years since his own transformation from griffin to human, he's been attending clandestine meetings of the city's ex-mythological creatures. When the police raid one such meeting, he discovers the conspiracy goes all the way up to the mayor's office.

As other mythos vanish from the city's streets, the deputy mayor demands Zydeco turn in Octavio, the missing leader of their kind. His initial resistance causes the disappearance of both his stepmother and best friend, and it won't be long before they're served up as chimera-chow. While trying to keep the mythological truth from the girl he adores, Zydeco must rescue his friends and step-mom. Along the way, he unearths critical information about an even larger conspiracy to rid the world of his brethren, but he needs Octavio's help to put it to use. The only problem is he has no idea where the guy is hiding.

At 80,000 words, Urban Mythos is a young adult urban fantasy novel that blends action and romance while dealing with issues of trust and assimilation. It will appeal to readers who enjoy the distinctive voice and humor of S.G. Browne's Breathers: A Zombie's Lament and Catherine Jinks' The Reformed Vampire Support Group.

Maybe I can breathe now and get back to Ghost Fishing.


Melancholy Music

It was a very strange weekend. My daughter had her guitar lesson at 1pm on Saturday. Rachel has played guitar for about 18 months and as it turns out, is kind of a natural. In fact, music is really her thing. She plays flute, tried out and made jazz band in 6th grade (not all that common for 6th graders to make it), has written and performed her own songs on both guitar and keyboard, took voice lessons a couple of years ago and stood up in front of a packed restaurant to sing. It blows my mind, because she's always been an exceedingly shy child. But music is her way of connecting.

The elementary school band teacher was her guitar teacher for the eighteen months leading up to early January. After a while I noticed she was floundering a bit, and not as enraptured with her guitar. I felt strongly that she needed to be in a situation where she might perform in an ensemble. She needed to be pushed in order to get to the next level. The community newspaper had an article about a place nearby called the Academy of Modern Music, in which they had exactly what I thought Rachel needed. Private lessons as well as ensemble performances.

I spoke with Pat Cerello, the guy who ran the Academy, and subsequently brought Rachel over one Saturday to get a feel for the place. He spent fifteen minutes listening to my shy girl play and said she wasn't quite ready for ensemble work, but he'd be glad to take her on in private lessons. We decided to go for it, and believe me, it wasn't an easy decision because Rachel was extremely attached to her current guitar teacher, who'd also been her elementary school band teacher the previous couple of years. The transition from elementary school to middle school isn't always easy, and this, for Rachel, was one more break. Still, she really wanted to do this and was excited at the prospects of working with Pat.

Her lessons started six weeks ago, and I was amazed at how quickly he got Rachel playing more advanced music. He focused and challenged her in an extremely short period of time. The guy was full of great stories, having played with a huge number of people over the years, while also teaching music at NYU and here in New Jersey. My daughter remarked that he was giving her a ton of hard stuff to work on and that she was enjoying it a great deal. By the second week of lessons, Pat told me she was much farther along than he'd realized and began to challenge her even more.

This past Saturday, we arrived at the music school to find a hastily scribbled note on the door that said lessons were cancelled indefinitely. While we stared dumbfounded at the sign, a man walked up the street and asked us if we were there for lessons with Pat. When we replied that we were, he told us that unfortunately Pat had passed away earlier in the week (the Monday after Valentine's Day). Despite being only 56 years of age and in good health, he'd had a massive heart attack, and left behind his wife and two daughters.

This man, Pat's landlord and friend for many years told us that the family was going to continue on with the music school -- Pat had many friends who would take over lessons -- and that they hoped people would stay with them.

Rachel and I stared at each other, completely at a loss. We'd only known Pat for six weeks, and then, for only about 30 minutes or so each week. But the loss struck hard for some reason. I feel awful for his family, and for his friends and students who had come to rely on this talented musician and teacher.

While working with her on a Taylor Swift song (Taylor Swift is my daughter's idol), he would always try to get Rachel to sing because he didn't feel like he could carry off the nineteen-year-old girl voice. He was teaching my daughter bar chords and and explained that while Taylor Swift would play certain chords, she needed other musicians in her band to play slightly different chords. He asked her to consider what would happen if Taylor Swift hired the two of them for her band. Then he paused, and said that, well, Taylor Swift was more likely to hire Rachel for her band. Pat's wife called from the front desk, "You got that right!".

He made Rachel giggle. He made her laugh. He challenged her. Pat made her a better musician in an extremely short time -- too brief a time. The suddenness of Pat's passing shocks me even now. He'll be missed. My deepest sympathies to his family and his many friends.


The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Tom Petty had it right. ABNA judging is underway, and all I can do is wait. Thousands of entrants with just a pitch to differentiate us all. It'll be another couple of weeks until I find out if I make the first cut, which I haven't done before. Of course those previous tries were with a different book.

Meanwhile, I soldier on. I've been spending a lot of time reading and critiquing the revisions on Alex Lidell's terrific YA fantasy, Service of the Crown. It's on the slate to be published by Dial Books, and was a finalist in last year's ABNA. She's done a great job with these changes. When this book comes out - buy it! Hmm. Now I need to find out exactly when it will be coming out.

While that's going on, I'm plugging along on Ghost Fishing, my middle grade adventure. I just finished writing the chapter in which the protagonist encounters a somewhat grumpy chimpanzee poet who wears a suit and fedora. The next chapter is going to be fun to write because I get to introduce the antagonist and some spooky bits. And then it's on to the next location. I've got a bad feeling, though, that my word count is going to be completely over the top for middle grade. Ah, well. I'll deal with that during revisions. For now, the words must fly.

And I've been getting to know my Nook Color quite a bit more. I bought a couple of eBooks from Borders on New Years' Day - they had a big sale - $5 books. And yes, you can buy an ebook for the Nook from everyone but Amazon. But I haven't read them yet, because all the eBooks I reserved at my local library suddenly became available. I was bombarded with eMails listing all the eBooks I initially reserved because, well, I wanted to read something. But I've read The Hobbit and The Stand too many times to count, so I let those reservations expire. However, Seth Grahame-Smith's, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter was a total blast. And now I'm in the middle of Sara Gruen's, Ape House, which is equally terrific, albeit for entirely different reasons.

Did I mention that the Nook Color is the best-selling item in Barnes & Noble's nearly 40 year history?

Back to waiting!


Ice and Other Life Moments

Two days of snow, slush and now.... ice.  Schools were closed today - a very good idea - and I wound up working from home because the driveway was under an inch of ice. I worked from home yesterday because the storm which began yesterday left accidents all over New Jersey, making it extremely hard to get out of my neighborhood.

The groundhog did not see it's shadow, so they tell us we're not getting six more weeks of winter. Somebody might want to tell the meteorologists about that. Oh, I'm sorry they already know, but they're predicting more nastiness for Saturday.

Still, I know spring and summer will be here soon enough, and I'll be complaining about how hot it is. Life is like that. Cold one moment and warm the next.

We're heading to my wife's uncle's funeral on Friday, which is sad enough. On top of that, the father of my childhood best friend (and later on my best man), passed away suddenly yesterday. His funeral is on Thursday, but I won't be able to make it. I'll probably pay a visit on Saturday.  All this brings back painful memories of when my own father passed away six years ago.

Work has been as stressful as I've ever known in my life. The f-bomb has escaped my mouth quite a few times over the last couple of weeks. But in the end, real life and death puts it all in perspective. When my daughter plays her flute or guitar in the living room while I'm working nearby, instead of wishing she'd keep it down, I'm loving every note. Every note.

Life is short. Savor every moment.


Snow, snow go away

Who thought this whole snow thing was a good idea? I was happy to see that first snow fall in December. But now it's nearly February, and there's been some kind of storm every few days. Wednesday, it's some kind of wintry mix that turns into a snow dump. Thursday, it's a it's a Nor'easter. Saturday, it's a clipper system from Canada. Does that make it a Canadian Clipper? Maybe the Los Angeles Clippers should move to Winnipeg?

Every day, the early morning hours turn into a mess of automated phone calls from the kids' schools telling us about a closing, delayed opening or early dismissal (if they didn't call us the nigth before). Then, there I go, out onto the driveway blowing snow every which way, but invariably back into my face, before clearing the sidewalks and the accursed six metric ton packed mound of ice and snow the plow drivers so graciously crammed into the end of my driveway.

I'm ready for summer - no matter how hot it gets.

Did I mention the large swath of lawn I shovel out so that the little black pug should have a place to leave her business? Oh, yes, that's key, because pugs are not long legged, nor do they have much fur on their paws. All my efforts are wasted, though, because Tink turns out to be a mountain pug. She prefers to climb atop the 24 inches of packed snow, her toes/claws spread out wide like eagle talons as she maneuvers her way across the arctic tundra. Whereas it would be quite easy for me to clean up after her in the dug out area, she leaves me a steamy pile sitting atop a distant peak of the Himalayas. I am NOT getting my jeans soaked for that.

Which brings me to my writing.

Hey - don't judge the quality of my segue.

There hasn't been a whole lot of time for my writing because of my current work load. I entered Urban Mythos into ABNA, finished a chapter of Ghost Fishing, and am spending quality time helping out Alex Lidell (ah, the pen name) by critiquing her editor-driven revisions of Service of the Crown. As much as I might be helping her, I'm learning an awful lot about the editing process for an honest to goodness soon-to-be-published novel. It's amazing to experience the transformation of this book's story, which I read and reread along with a select group of other wonderful writers in our writing group. This is going to be a terrific novel. Okay, it already was, but it's going to be, as they say, awesome-sauce.

Wait a minute. Did somebody say more snow this weekend? 


ABNA - The Final Pitch

Thank you all so much for you excellent feedback. I think I've got what I'm looking for in my ABNA pitch. For some reason, I had it in my head that ABNA started this coming week. Fortunately, it's not for another week. Or maybe that's unfortunately? I don't know. It depends on how my Jets do today against the evil empire. It's always appropriate to be in a good frame of mind when entering a contest.

Here's the pitch after all the wonderful critiques.

Sixteen-year-old Zydeco Hill uncovers a plot to capture former mythological creatures and expel them to a barren world filled with hungry beasts. Two years since his own transformation from griffin to human, he’s been attending clandestine meetings of the city’s ex-mythological creatures. When the police raid one such meeting, he discovers the conspiracy goes all the way up to the mayor’s office.

As other mythos vanish from the city’s streets, the deputy mayor demands Zydeco turn in Octavio, the missing leader of their kind. His initial resistance causes the disappearance of both his stepmother and best friend, and it won’t be long before they’re served up as chimera-chow. While trying to keep the mythological truth from the girl he adores, Zydeco must rescue his friends and step-mom. Along the way, he unearths critical information about an even larger conspiracy to rid the world of his brethren, but he needs Octavio’s help to put it to use. The only problem is he has no idea where the guy is hiding.

At 80,000 words, Urban Mythos is a young adult urban fantasy novel that blends action and romance while dealing with issues of trust and assimilation. It will appeal to readers who enjoy the distinctive voice and humor of S.G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament and Catherine Jinks’ The Reformed Vampire Support Group.


ABNA 2011 - Going for it

I have made up my mind. I'm going to submit Urban Mythos to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest next week (or the week thereafter). So now, I've got to tune up my pitch. I've queried it a few times, but the pitch is a little different - not much, but a bit. What do I have to lose, right?

Without further ado, I present to you the first iteration of the ABNA pitch for Urban Mythos. I would love to get your opinions, advice, critiques, comments, or jokes, so please, please, please, let me know what you think. What's the comment box for anyway?

Sixteen-year-old Zydeco Hill discovers a plot to capture former mythological creatures and expel them to a barren world filled with hungry beasts. You wouldn’t think a city kid like Zydeco would care about their plight, except he’s one of them. Two years removed from his own transformation from griffin to human, he’s been attending meetings of a clandestine support group for the city’s ex-mythological creatures. When the police raid one such meeting, he discovers that the conspiracy goes all the way up to the mayor’s office.

As other mythos vanish from the city’s streets, the deputy mayor demands that Zydeco turn in Octavio, the missing leader of their local support group. His initial resistance results in the disappearance of both his stepmother and best friend, and it won’t be long before they’re served up as chimera-chow. Still trying to keep the mythological truth from the girl he adores, Zydeco decides to rescue his friends and step-mom rather than betray Octavio. Along the way, he unearths critical information about an even larger conspiracy to rid the world of his brethren, but he needs Octavio's help to put it to use. The only problem is he has no idea where the guy is hiding.

Urban Mythos, an 80,000 word young adult urban fantasy novel, blends action and romance while dealing with issues of trust and fitting in with mainstream society. It will appeal to readers who enjoy the distinctive voice and humor of S.G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament and Catherine Jinks’ The Reformed Vampire Support Group.


A Surprising Direction

I finally got my butt back into gear over the last few days of the holidays and worked on the alternate chapter one of Ghost Fishing. On a recent post, I ruminated over the style and voice of my Middle Grade WIP. This is the curse of voraciously reading the genre. I set out to write it one way because I was enchanted by the fairy-tale-ish style and voice of Frank Beddor's, Looking Glass Wars. So I wrote.

And then I set my WIP aside to pay some heed to Urban Mythos, which needed some revising based on agent feedback. While I was away from my MG-that-could, I read a few Rick Riordan books whose attitude made me smile and laugh. This gave me pause, and I wondered if my new story would be better served in a slightly more active/snarky/1st person-ish style. I'd had some success with this style before.

Therefore, I crafted a new opening, told in 1st person and with a very different style from the original. Now, I'd also spent some time outlining the plot and character throughlines before I set to work. As a result, the opening chapter had a very different opening scene than the original. Regardless of my style choice, I planned on keeping this new scene. I had a hunch - not so much a preference - just a very strong feeling that if I put the two chapter ones in front of my eleven-year-old daughter, she'd go for the newer version.

It was time to put them to the test. I sat her in front of the computer, with both versions open, and awaited her reaction.

Boy (or should I say girl?) was I surprised. Hands down - the original won. My daughter, Rachel, is not partial to this style of book. In fact, she's as comfortable with Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games, as she is with the Sisters' Grimm and the Mysterious Benedict Society.  Like I said, it's not that I felt strongly about one style versus the other, I just had a feeling. I was wrong.

As a result, I took that new first scene and rewrote it into the original version's style. In the process of doing so, I think I've arrived at a third style - which is mostly the fairy-tale feel, with a bit more attitude. This style lent itself extremely well to the scene I wrote last night. So far, I agree with Rachel's opinion. That little girl (okay - she's pretty much 5' 5" or 5' 6" so not so little, but she's still 11 yrs old) knows her stuff!

And now, fueled on some Starbucks, I'm off to write some more!