Monday, December 9, 2013

FLICKERS launch!

Flickers on Amazon
Flickers on Smashwords

At last, Alex and Moira's story continues!

Alex Cronlord has failed.

The zombie apocalypse that she foresaw months ago has come to pass--in part because of her visions. Trapped in the now-quarantined city of Dallas, Alex struggles both with the undead and with her own guilt. She blames herself for the fall of Dallas, for leaving FBI Agent Moira McBain to die, and for the lies she's still telling her father. When Zach, her friend and fellow superpowered fighter, makes a startling confession, it only increases Alex's inner turmoil.

Unknown to Alex, Moira is still alive. Imprisoned in an alternate dimension and facing certain death, Moira receives help from an unlikely source. To get home, she must fight her way past both the soul-sucking Xorda and a frightening and mysterious group of werewolves. She knows who her enemies are. But can she trust her only ally?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Linguistic Love Blog Tour

Today I welcome my editor, Chryse Wymer (she's the reason that Identity Theft was and Flickers will be technically flawless), who's showing off her glorious grammatical gifts (one might even say, her fantastical phrasal finesse) and looking for new clients, too.

Enough with the rhyming, here she is:

Thank you to John Abramowitz, who has graciously allowed me the blog space to talk about grammar. Well, in this case, I’m talking about usage. This is the second part of my series on commas. If you are interested in reading part one, visit A.B Shepherd’s blog at
This month, I’ll be hopping along from blog to blog to share my knowledge on the nuts and bolts of great writing. I am a copy editor, proofreader, and author—published both traditionally and independently. I’m also raffling off Amazon gift cards to get you started on your editing bookshelves. So here goes:

As I said in the previous blog, a comma’s main function is to separate. I wrote about this in detail, as well as the first function of a comma, at
The second function of a comma is to separate coordinated main clauses. (A clause is a sentence part that contains a subject and a verb.) The easiest way to look at this is that if you have two independent clauses that are joined by the conjunctions for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so, then a comma is generally used to separate them, e.g.: The front windshield was cracked [,] and a zombie lay writhing on the hood. Comma needed.
There are a couple of exceptions with coordinated main clauses: (1) when the main clauses are closely linked <Do as I tell you [no comma] and you won’t regret it>; and (2) when the subject of the second independent clause, being the same as in the first, is not repeated. <They were digging through trash cans and shambling across lawns.>
The third function of a comma is to separate most introductory matter from the main clause, often to prevent confusion. The introductory matter may be a word <However,>, a phrase <In the meantime>, or a subordinate clause <If you hate her so much,>. Very short matter may not need this comma <On Friday we have music class>, but phrases of three or more words usually do—and even the shortest of dependent clauses always do. <That said,>. In almost every case of introductory matter usage, a comma increases clarity. It never hurts to use it, and sometimes, it’s absolutely imperative. <While eating, the baby clapped her hands.>
The fourth function of a comma is to mark the beginning and end of a parenthetical word or phrase, an appositive, or nonrestrictive clause—e.g.: “I am sure[,] however[,] that dogs bite harder than lizards.”/ “Doug[,] who is single[,] doesn’t like to dance.”/ “She wants to play Jesus, which is traditionally a baby’s role, at the church’s nativity play.
Join me tomorrow at Robynn Gabel’s blog:, where I will continue to discuss the function of a comma.

Chryse Wymer is a freelance copy editor and proofreader whose main focus is on indie writers. Her clients have been well reviewed, and one was recently chosen as a top-five finalist in The Kindle Book Review's 2013 Best Indie Book Awards in his category: mystery/thriller. For some years, she has been particularly obsessed with William S. Burroughs’s writing, who happened to coin the term heavy metal ... her favorite music. She’s also a published (traditionally and indie) author. You can contact her at, follow her on twitter: @ChryseWymer, or like her on Facebook: For more information and/or pricing, e-mail (above) or visit her Web site: (and yes, the first letter of Web site is capitalized. Look it up on Merriam-Webster’s.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sneak Peek at Flickers!

Just a little farther. Just a liiiiittle farther….
With every creeping step Alex Cronlord took toward her front door, her heart seemed to leap into her throat. Zach was just outside. Soon she’d be off to a movie and… whatever else he had planned. All she had to do was get out the door without being heard. She took another step…. Then another…. Her hand reached for the knob….
“Going somewhere, young lady?” That’s just the sort of thing Dad would say.
Alex froze as the contralto voice rang out from behind her. So close! Arranging her face into pure innocence, she turned to face her mother, who stood a few feet away with her hands on her hips. That’s just the sort of thing she would do.
“Just out with a friend.” Alex squirmed under the glare of those green eyes. “I told you about it, remember? You said I could.”
Technically, that was true, but Alex knew that wasn’t why she and her mother were having a staring contest. Or rather, why her mother was staring at her and she was trying to avoid the sudden impulse to run up to her room and hide.
To be a normal teenager living with a normal family and going out to do normal things. But this….
“I also said that if you’re going out with a boy, I want to meet him first.” Neither the older woman’s tone nor her posture left any room for disagreement. Turning her head, she called, “James!” Definitely the sort of “disagreement” they would have.
Alex let out a deep sigh. Getting up the nerve to ask a boy out had been a big deal for her— who knew if he’d still want to go once her mother got through with him? Next time I’m climbing out a window…. “Come on, Mom. I’m sixteen. Don’t you think—” Before she could finish the sentence, her father’s voice rang out.
Her eyes brimmed over. This wasn’t real.
“Yes, honey?” he said as he descended the stairs. Coming to a stop next to his wife, he wrapped an arm around her waist. The hint of a frown touched his lips as he glanced at Alex. “Everything all right?”
“Dad,” Alex said, letting the words tumble out of her mouth without even stopping for breath. “I’m supposed to go to a movie with Zach tonight and it’s probably the only date I’ll have in my life ever and Mom’s determined to ruin it and—”
Her father laughed, holding up one hand in a “stop” gesture. “That’s a little melodramatic, don’t you think, sweetie? We just want to meet this Zach; that’s all. We’re curious. Are you afraid we won’t approve?”
Well, given that Mom barely approves of me most of the time…. Alex knew better than to say that. “No.”
“Then open the door,” her father said. “Let’s meet him.”
Holding back a sigh, Alex turned and reached for the doorknob….
This was her fantasy. Real life was… complicated.

Thursday, 3:32 p.m.
Alex Cronlord

“You’re still here?
The contralto voice brought Alex out of her thoughts. She was standing in her childhood home all right, but unlike in her daydream, the front door had a deadbolt on it. The windows were boarded over, too. And the stinging sensation in her left arm reminded her of the injection she’d gotten just hours before.
All the energy seemed to leave her body in an instant. She’d have given anything to live in that dreamworld for just a few seconds more. But you can’t. And it’s your own fault. Trying as hard as she could to look like nothing was wrong, Alex turned around. Her mother stood there, just as she’d imagined—but without her father. Holding back a sigh, she said, “Huh?”
“I’m surprised you’re still here. I thought you’d be eager to get back to James.”
Was that bitterness she heard in those last words? “I was just… thinking. That’s all.”
Her mother arched an eyebrow. “Oh? About what?”
Alex knew better than to tell her mother what was really on her mind. She could hear the older woman’s stern reply in her head: “What’s happened has happened. Your life is what it is. Don’t waste time on fantasies.”
“Nothing.” Without waiting for a reply, she turned, opened the door, and stepped through it.
Just like in her daydream, Zach Mason was waiting for her on the porch. But it wasn’t for a date. For some reason, the wiry young man always insisted on coming with her when she went to get an injection. Wish I knew why he does that. As always, his jet-black hair was tied back in a ponytail, and there was a hardness about him that belied the boyish innocence in his features.
“We get attacked on the way back,” Alex said, stepping past him and onto the front lawn. As she walked, her right hand dropped to the gun at her side. Reassurance washed over her as her fingers closed around the cool metal of the butt.
“Full-blown Xorda, or the gimpy zombie kind?” Zach asked. His voice suggested that he relished either prospect.
“The zombie kind. One of them drops right off the overpass and onto the hood of the car. You crash. We get swarmed.”
“Guess we’re taking the long way back to the hideout, then,” Zach said, referring to the abandoned building where a small group of survivors had taken refuge after the city had been overrun. “I take it you had a vision?”
“Always do when I get a shot.”
Alex stepped off the curb and into the street, not bothering to look both ways. Not like there’s much chance of getting hit by a car. As if to underscore that point, a green compact car was parked behind the white Toyota Camry that she and Zach had driven here. A thin film of dust covered the windshield. Several newspapers, still wrapped in their plastic bags, lay on the lawn just beyond the car. She saw no lights on in any of the nearby houses. Mom’s probably the only one left on this street.
When it had become clear that the zombie outbreak was more than just a few people taking bath salts, many Dallas residents had scrambled to leave town before the quarantine was imposed. Alex had opted to stay behind. This was her mess, after all—it was only right that she help clean it up.
Her teeth chattered. It wasn’t cold. As she willed her skin to stop crawling, Zach caught up to her, pulling the car keys from his pocket. “I don’t trust her, Alex. Your mom, I mean.”
Hearing the doors unlock, Alex slipped into the front passenger seat. Technically, she was a licensed driver and he wasn’t, but who followed those rules anymore? Besides, with all the zombie-killing runs they’d done over the last three months, they’d all gotten plenty of practice. “I know you don’t,” Alex said as he started the car. “But I do.”
“Why? She’s Wells Society. They’re bad people.”
Alex turned a glare on him. “My mother and the Wells Society didn’t cause this mess, Zach. I did.”
“Whatever you say,” Zach said, shaking his head. Without another word, he buckled his seat belt, and they set off for the hideout.
They drove past the Browning family’s house. Alex had gone to school with their daughter, Melody, though the two had never really been friends. Through the living-room window, she could see Melody’s mother shambling about. She couldn’t help but wince. I hope she and her dad are okay, at least…. A few blocks later: Dr. Hartman’s office. Her dentist. The windows were all boarded up. Hartman herself was dead—Alex had encountered her during a zombie-killing run a few weeks prior. Pulling the trigger had never been harder. My fault. All my fault.
Seeing a teddy bear lying in the middle of the road jolted Alex out of her guilt. Looking up, she saw a large U-Haul truck parked in front of the house on the corner. Guess moving day got cancelled.
“Couldn’t this guy have parked in the driveway?” Zach said. “Now I can’t see around the corner.”
“Not like there’s gonna be traffic coming.”
“Hey now.” Zach’s scowl was replaced by his familiar smirk as he glanced over at her. “You never know.”
They turned the corner—and found a giant man standing just a few feet ahead of them… right in the middle of the street. He was shambling along, apparently oblivious to his surroundings. “Zach!” Alex said, pointing at the zombie. “Look out!”
There was a terrible screeching noise as Zach turned the steering wheel wheel wildly. Alex held her breath, gripping the door handle so tightly that her knuckles turned white. But it was no good—the zombie filled their windshield as they hit it head-on.
Pain shot through Alex’s head as it struck the dashboard. Then there was black.


Did you like what you read? Tweet about it under hashtag #TheWeaverSagaIsBack!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Good news!


I have just received word that On The Bird books (all of them) will soon be on Oyster! This means that you, or your friends, or your enemies, or that girl you had a crush on in high school who never knew you existed, can read them for FREE! And when they do, I STILL GET PAID! What's not to like?

I'm not sure when exactly the books will go up on Oyster, I'm not sure, but it could be as soon as Monday. For those not familiar with the service, Oyster is basically Netflix for books. You pay a small monthly fee (I think it's $9.95), and in return, you can read any book in their library for no additional charge. Said library contains over 100,00 books, including self-publishers like me and best-sellers like Neal Stephenson or Kevin J. Anderson. Sounds like a good deal to me--what do you think?

Also, I'm proud to announce that an audio-book version of my novel Atticus for the Undead is on the way. I'm not sure of the exact release date yet, but it will either be December of this year or early 2014. Audiobook versions of my other books may follow, so stay tuned for information about that.

And, of course, my new book Flickers (Weaver Saga #3) goes live Dec. 10, 2013 on Amazon and Smashwords! Are you excited yet? Well, are you??

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Flickers Cover And Release Date!

At long last, I can unveil the cover for Flickers, Book 3 of The Weaver Saga! Check out this little beauty--my cover artist Steven Novak has really outdone himself this time!

And we've set an official release date: The book will go live on December 10, 2013! In a couple of weeks, I will post a snippet from the book just to whet your appetite.

For those not familiar with the Saga, my plan was to put a terrifying twist on the usual paranormal romance tropes. The trouble starts when the story's teenage protagonist, Alex, meets the boy of her dreams. That proves to be less than a good thing, however, since the dream involved him killing her! From there, she is drawn into a complicated web of conspiracy and intrigue as she begins to have visions of murders that have not yet occurred. It's a world where no one is what they seem--not the young man at school who seems a little too interested in her; not the brash FBI agent who shows up at her doorstep; and not her mother, whom Alex begins to suspect is involved in what's happening to her.

If you want to sample the Saga, you can read part of Book 1 on Booktrack!

Books 1 and 2 (Weaver and The Void, respectively) are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever e-books are sold.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"A legend, Mr. Wayne"

So one piece of advice that I frequently see given to new writers is "Define your goal." Is finishing the book enough by itself--does your satisfaction come from the act of creation? Do you want an agent? Are you writing a "niche" book with the hope of finding a small cult following? Or are you out for a place on The New York Times bestseller list and a movie deal?

In the two years since I made the decision to start publishing my stories, the answer to that question has eluded me. I certainly find satisfaction in telling stories--I don't think writing would be worth doing if you didn't. And I'm as invested in the development of my characters as a parent in his children. (What does it say about me that I'm nevertheless willing to kill them off with gay abandon? Don't ask.)

But that's not enough. I've known for a long time that I wasn't content simply to invent people and let their adventures bounce around between the four corners of my brain. That's why I was a roleplayer before I was a novelist. I have things to say, and I don't want to just talk to myself. (If you do that, people think you're crazy. Oh, wait....)

That New York Times bestseller thing sounds kind of nice, too. And I wouldn't say no to a movie deal. (Actually, if I got one, I'd probably be so stunned that I'd stand there babbling incoherently.) But while all of those things (making fiction, finding an audience, achieving commercial success) are goals of mine, they're not my goal. None of those things, if achieved, would make me sit back and go "Yup, this is what I got into publishing to do."

So what would? Good question. And a few weeks ago, I realized that I didn't have the answer.

While I was thinking about it, my mind wandered to Batman Begins. (If you're looking for a logical connection between "writing goals" and "superhero flick," don't waste your time.) I remembered something Liam Neeson said at the start of the movie: "If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, then if they can't stop you, you become something else entirely."

To which Christian Bale asks "And what is that?"

To which Liam Neeson replies, "A legend, Mr. Wayne."

And he was right. The reason that the Batman franchise can be rebooted over and over again is that the character has achieved such a stature that the specifics of his adventures hardly matter. He is an icon. A fairy tale. And because of that, individual storytellers can tinker with the specifics of his world and still have their narrative accepted by the audience. Heath Ledger's Joker, for example, bears little resemblance to Mark Hamill's, but I didn't hear many viewers complaining. Which version is right? They both are! And so is Jack Nicholson's. As long as the legend is right, the details are fungible.

The success of ABC's Once Upon A Time is built on the same principle (though in that case the characters are literally fairy tales). Audiences will readily accept a version of the Snow White story that differs radically from either the Grimm's tale or the Disney movie because the specifics of her story are irrelevant. There's a Snow White. There's an evil queen. There's a magic mirror. The rest can take care of itself.

And that's my goal. I want my characters to win a place like that in the minds and hearts of readers. Thirty or forty or sixty or seventy years from now, I want someone to reboot Hunter Gamble's story and name the zombie something other than Sam Pollard. Or make his courtroom opponent someone other than Ellis Boyer. Or even do something really gutsy, like kill off Weldon somewhere in the book. And I want it to be okay that those details are different from the details in my version of the story, because the legend is the same: a hard-charging young lawyer who stands up when no one else will.

Do you think I'm asking too much?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fundraiser for Blood Kiss Movie!

So, maybe you've all heard of the upcoming movie Blood Kiss? That's the one that was written by Michael Reaves (who also wrote for this series; oh, and this one too) and stars Neil Gaiman (do I even need to tell you who he is?) and Amber Benson (Tara from this show). Sounds awesome, right? There's only one hitch: it's an indie film. And that means, if it's going to get funded, we're going to be the ones to do it.

Now, I basically grew up on Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series, so when I heard that one of the people responsible for those masterpieces was making a movie, I was super-psyched to do my part. I was even more psyched when I heard that Amber gets to sing again!) The problem is that I don't have all that much money of my own. So I decided I'm going to raise it.

Starting on Friday, May 31st and going through Sunday, June 2nd, I will donate the first $1,000 in profits from my book sales straight to the Blood Kiss Kickstarter! This applies for all four of my novels as well as my short story. So if you've been waiting for the right moment to find out what On The Bird Publishing is all about, this is it--get a good book for a good cause!

To recap, the things I've written are:

Atticus for the Undead (Hunter Gamble #1)

A zombie on trial for eating brains? Yes, please!

Hunter Gamble is an idealistic young attorney in a very special area of the practice--arcane defense. Funded by enigmatic billionaire Charles McClain and aided by shy-but-energetic research assistant Kirsten Harper, he's making the world a better place--one vampire, zombie, or werewolf client at a time. After all, they deserve their day in court, too, right?

When a young zombie walks into Hunter's office accused of murder (by brain-eating), Hunter's idealism is tested as never before as he struggles to secure the man's freedom. To do so, he must square off against a savvy and ambitious district attorney, contend with a judge who is deeply biased against arcanes, and stand up to a human supremacist group which will stop at nothing--not even Hunter's own death--to see his client convicted.

"...punchy dialogue, sonic action, and vivid description...." Kirkus Reviews
"...creative genius and exceptional writing." Moonlit Dreams

Identity Theft (Hunter Gamble #2)

A man walks into the Texas Capitol. Shots ring out. A young aide lies dead. Sounds like a job for Hunter Gamble, right?

Wrong. After his disastrous "victory" in the trial of Samuel Pollard, Hunter has turned his back on defending oppressed vampires, mages, and zombies. Having accepted a position at his father's giant litigation firm, he's trying the glamorous cases, working in a corner office, and making a six-figure salary... and hating every minute of it.

As Hunter plots his exit strategy, he finds himself inexorably drawn to the case of the Capitol shooter, who is an old friend from law school. As he works to clear his friend, Hunter discovers that there is much more at stake in this case than whether one man was under a spell. Before long, he finds himself pulled into a magical conspiracy dating back to before the Unveiling--and with a singularly cold-blooded wizard at its heart.

The clock is ticking. The search for answers is on. And the author of Atticus for the Undead invites you to come along for the thrill ride--and get the magic back.

"This is a tale of the supernatural at its core and begs to be given a chance."
"Identity Theft is a great read, fast paced and exciting, it definitely keeps the reader on their toes." Lindsay and Jane's Views and Reviews

Weaver (Weaver Saga #1)

Fifteen-year-old Alex Cronlord just met the boy of her dreams. Literally. Unfortunately, the dream involved him killing her. When she encounters him at her school the next morning, Alex understandably freaks out--and her mother's bizarre behavior only makes it worse. What Alex doesn't realize is that she can see the future--which will get her into a whole lot of trouble.

Across town, FBI Agent Moira McBain and her partner Andy Hall investigate a series of house burnings in Dallas, Texas. When a clue leads them to the Cronlords, Moira discovers a disturbing link between Alex's family and her own--which opens an old wound Moira has spent years trying to ignore.

Something is rotten in Dallas, Texas--something involving a secret society, children with extraordinary powers, and human-looking creatures who may literally be out of this world....

Welcome to a different kind of world-wide web.

"Attention fans of The Vladimir Todd Series, Alex Rider, Suck It Up, or even The Reformed Vampire Support Group or James Patterson YA--especially the Maximum Ride series, I've officially met your next obsession...." Ricochet Reviews
"Weaver is one part science fiction, one part paranormal fantasy, and a whole lot of fun!" Candy's Raves

The Void (Weaver Saga #2)

The zombie apocalypse is nigh!

The trouble is, Alex Cronlord is the only person who knows it. She is a Weaver--one of a group of superhuman children who are able to see the future--and she can still remember the vision she had just week ago of being chased by a shambling undead horde. But that's all she's seen of the coming horror, and lately, her visions have mostly been confusing. Dead bodies in dumpsters, a strange place called "Pinnacle," and no sign of a Xorda anywhere. At least, not at first.

As Alex struggles to make sense of these bits of information, a stitch-faced assassin surfaces with a vendetta against Ainsling Cronlord, Alex's mother. Ainsling is a member of the enigmatic Wells Society, a secret order of women who genetically mutate their own children to turn them into fighters against the Xora. She is the person who gave Alex her Weaver powers. And she is the person Alex can least afford to trust.

But when the stitch-faced man steps up his campaign against the Cronlord family, Alex begins to realize she may not have a choice. As she learns the disturbing truth behind her recent visions, Alex must decide how far she is willing to go to save the world.

"It would be a great book to read as a mother with your daughters.... Oh, and anyone who likes Buffy or Angel? You really should read it." Cabin Goddess

"If you're looking for a fun summer read, you can't go wrong with this set."

The Antlerbury Tales

A rogue, a bard, and a paladin walk into a tavern....

That sounds like the start of a joke, but it's actually the start of several pages full of them. This short story follows the exploits of a comically mismatched group of adventurers as they embark on a quest for The Dice, mythical objects with the power to change fate itself, and compete for the affections of a beautiful barmaid.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pipe Woman Chronicles Release Blitz

Release Day Blitz for the 5th and Final Book in The Pipe Woman Chronicles by Lynne Cantwell

Naomi Witherspoon lives in interesting times.  At the winter solstice, she was Seized by a Native American goddess to mediate a power-sharing agreement between all the pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God.  Then, as her relationship with her new boyfriend Fissured, she Tapped a wellspring of strength – her Native American heritage.
Now, Gravid and due any day, she must conduct the mediation of her life.  Will she succeed?  Or will it all go up in smoke?
The answers to those questions, and more, can be found in Annealed, the final installment in the Pipe Woman Chronicles, an urban fantasy series by Lynne Cantwell.

It began at the winter solstice And it ends Now. 

PWC5 - Annealed
It’s zero hour…
Naomi has just two weeks to find a new home for Joseph's grandfather. The old Ute shaman is fighting for his life against a mysterious injection of toxin he received at the hands of the Norse Trickster god Loki. If Naomi is to defeat Loki once and for all, she must learn what it is he seeks under the old man's wickiup. 
She has just one week before she must mediate between the Earth's pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God. If her efforts fail, all of humankind will suffer the consequences.
And her baby is due any day.
In this, the fifth and final book of the Pipe Woman Chronicles, Naomi is in a race against the clock to balance the demands of her body, her family, and her friends – and she must do it while the whole world is watching.
A taste of chapter 10: Jehovah sighed. "White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman, I concede that much of what You have said here is true. Humanity wrestles still with its baser impulses, even as it reaches for the pinnacle of its potential. Math, the sciences, engineering. I never thought they would figure out fractal theory." He chuckled. "I love My children dearly. Soon they will reach the stars. They are ever a surprise and a delight to Me." Lynne Cantwell's take on the excerpt: "Naomi has finally reached the Big Mediation -- the one between the Christian God and all the pagan gods and goddesses that the whole series has been driving toward. In this scene, White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman has just outlined all the ways humanity has trashed God's Creation: ruining the environment, using Scripture as an excuse to treat other human races like animals, and so on. God acknowledges all of that. But it's also clear that He takes great delight in what He has created -- and He has a sense of humor, too."

About the Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne CantwellLynne Cantwell has been writing fiction since the second grade, when the kid who sat in front of her showed her a book he had written, and she thought, "I could do that." The result was Susie and the Talking Doll, a picture book, illustrated by the author, about a girl who owned a doll that not only could talk, but could carry on conversations. The book had dialogue but no paragraph breaks. Today, after a twenty-year career in broadcast journalism and a master's degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University (or perhaps despite the master's degree), Lynne is still writing fantasy. In addition, she is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited and writes a monthly post for The Indie Exchange.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blood Kiss Kickstarter

So today, I'm going to use this space to promote a project that is utterly not-mine. That would be Blood Kiss, an indie paranormal fantasy movie. Let's review the things about this movie that are awesome:

1.) It's Amber Benson
2.) In a role where she gets to sing (!!!)
3.) Starring opposite Neil Gaiman (yeah, THAT Neil Gaiman)
4.) In a movie written by Michael Reaves, who also wrote for Gargoyles (which might actually be the best show ever), Batman: The Animated Series, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, among others

And that's without having seen a minute of the actual movie! But if it's going to get made, it still needs $30k. Now, I could go on, waxing poetic about the need to support indies and all the awesome projects that go undiscovered because they don't have corporate backing, etc. etc. etc.

But I won't, because:
a.) That shit's boring
b.) You've heard it all before
c.) That shit's BORING
and d.) The movie stands on its own.

So come on. Chip in. You know you want to.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bad Romance

So I've been noticing a thing lately. A trend. A trope that's getting used everywhere I turn. It's the "bad boy" love interest (the character can be either gender, but is usually male) and the protagonist (again, can be either gender but is usually female) who "saves" him from himself. Of course I see it in stories that are explicitly romance or paranormal romance novels, but it's even gone beyond that. I'm not going to name names because I'm not out to attack any of my colleagues, but I'm sure you can all think of a few. Lately, I feel like every time I pick up a novel and read the copy on the back, it's the same thing. The sexy dangerous alpha male. The often-more-innocent girl who loves him. Can he overcome his past/flaws to be with her?

Now, look, folks: I've got nothing against a good love story (yes, it really is true, despite how I treat relationships in my books). I even like stories about characters who strive to be better so that they can be "worthy" of the person they want. (I loved the movie As Good As It Gets, for example, which was about Jack Nicholson's neurotic writer doing more or less that. And I also liked the evolution of Spike's character after he realized he was in love with Buffy.) And I understand the appeal of a lover who's willing to change for you--it's a sign of devotion, a sign that you're special enough to that person to be worth changing for.

I get that. I do. And I understand why someone might long for that feeling. I'm human, too. I've had my share of doubts about my own worth (some might say, more than my share). I understand the ego boost that comes from a person trying to overcome their flaws for you. And I'll even admit that I'm not completely above using the trope myself--my next novel will have a couple of "bad boy" love interests in it. But can I just take a second here and point out that the "she can save him" trope is also pretty offensive and problematic?

Let's start with the assumption (which, to me, is inherent in the growing use of the storyline) that the only thing that makes a person (especially a man, given that it really is usually "bad boys") attractive is "darkness." This seems to me to be particularly problematic when used in Young Adult fiction--is this really the message that we want to be sending to our young men? Now,  don't get me wrong--I don't believe fiction makes people violent, any more than I believe violent video games do. People, even children, have freedom of choice. At the same time, though, to the extent that we as writers use our work to inspire people, shouldn't we take more care with the messages we send? Shouldn't we write the change we want to see in the world?

Then there's the danger of giving readers false ideas about how possible it is to really "change" a person. Once again, this is a particular danger when the trope is used in Young Adult fiction. As someone who once had a "white knight" complex and has tried to "save" a few people in his life (self-mockery is part of the reason that my character Hunter Gamble is the way he is), I can tell you--most of them don't save. Sometimes they do. Sometimes you're lucky enough to meet one who has the tools to rise above his (or her) demons. But usually, when you set out to "save" a broken person--they stay broken. And sometimes it can have nasty consequences for you.

And, to the extent that the person doing the "saving"  is female, it perpetuates the idea that a woman's role is to be caring and nurturing. Not that there's anything wrong with being caring and nurturing, but the expectations for who should be that way are highly gendered. I can only speak for me, but I'm not a huge fan of traditional gender roles (for either gender).

Where did we get the idea that a person is either "bad" (which usually means a criminal, a playboy, or sometimes even abusive) or he's boring? Where did we get the idea that it's healthy to stick with someone who acts like a stalker or an abuser? (To me, any time a character does that, the object of their affections should immediately walk the hell away. If some really extraordinary circumstances come to pass, then maybe s/he can re-consider. Maybe. But that should be a slow process if it happens at all.)

No person is perfect, and no character should be, either. Sometimes the bad boy really does have a heart of gold. But can we try some other pairings, too? Would I be a total party-pooper if I said that I thought that this particular storyline needs some editing?

I invite your comments (and am bracing for the likely flame wars.)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hunter Has Another Satisfied Client

Readers continue to be impressed by Hunter's return to the courtroom! The blog Urban Fantasy Reviews gave us their thoughts on the novel on Saturday, April 20th. (Despite the date, I'm fairly certain that the reviewer wasn't high while reading the book!)

Here's just a snippet of what UFR had to say:

"Identity Theft did not disappoint me in the least. I think part of the reason I found this book so enjoyable was that Hunter is a really complex character. He didn't just take a character exactly like the one from the first book and throw him into a new situation. He really gave Hunter some depth, Hunter had some really hard things to deal with, and ended up taking a different course and going to work with his father. I think this actually ended up adding a lot of dimension to Hunter as a character."

You can read the full review here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Identity Theft" is here!

You wanted it, and now you've got it! Hunter Gamble is back in an all new urban fantasy adventure!

Identity Theft on Amazon
      Identity Theft on Smashwords

A man walks into the Texas Capitol. Shots ring out. A young aide lies dead. The killer's excuse? He was under a spell.

Sounds like a job for Hunter Gamble, right?

Wrong. After his disastrous "victory" in the trial of Samuel Pollard, Hunter has turned his back on defending oppressed vampires, mages, and zombies. Having accepted a position at his father's giant litigation firm, he's trying the glamorous cases, working in a corner office, and making a six-figure salary--and hating every minute of it.

As Hunter plots his exit strategy, he finds himself inexorably drawn to the case of the Capitol shooter, who is an old friend from law school. As he works to clear his friend, Hunter discovers that there is much more at stake in this case than whether one man was under a spell. Before long, he finds himself pulled into a magical conspiracy dating back to before the Unveiling--and with a singularly cold-blooded wizard at its heart.

The clock is ticking. The search for answers is on. And the author of Atticus for the Undead invites you to come along for the thrill ride--and get the magic back.

"This is a tale of the supernatural at its core and begs to be given a chance." -IHOGeek
"...Fans of urban fantasies and legal thrillers will love this interesting mashup of the two styles." -Katy Sozaeva, book blogger
"Identity Theft is a great read, fast paced and exciting, it definitely keeps the reader on their toes." -Lindsay & Jane's Views and Reviews

Monday, February 11, 2013

IDENTITY THEFT gets a release date!

And it's official! Phase 2 of the fight for zombie rights starts APRIL 16! Identity Theft, sequel to Atticus for the Undead, will hit Amazon and Smashwords on that day. It will hit Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, and Kobo in the days following.

Can't wait? Try a snippet!

Also, Atticus will be the Book of the Day on E-Reader News Today on Friday, February 15th! Mark your calendars and tell your friends!

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Identity Theft" Sneak Peek

Hi all!

I know it's been a while, but I come bearing good news! Identity Theft, the sequel to the very-popular Atticus for the Undead, is almost upon us! At this point, I'm looking at a mid-March/early April release date. I'll have more details on the exact date in the next week or two, but in the meantime, I thought you guys deserved a sneak peek. First, to your left, you'll see the book's gorgeous cover, designed by my good friend Steven Novak over at Novak Illustration.

And now, a snippet from the book to whet your appetite. Enjoy!

Hunter followed two guards into the jail’s meeting room, where Clifford Hammond waited. Before he’d even stepped into the room, Hunter heard his old buddy say “Oh my God, it’s Mulder!” He chuckled at the use of the old law school nickname—even then, Hunter had made no secret of his intention to practice arcane defense. Cliff approached very close to Hunter and put his arms up as if he were about to tackle Hunter with a bear-hug, but his handcuffed wrists made the task too complicated. The two shook hands as Cliff gave an embarrassed smile.
“Hey, Cliff,” Hunter said, looking his old friend up and down. The man’s hair sat in a disheveled mop atop his head, and his pale skin and rigid posture spoke clearly of fear. He was clad in the standard orange jumpsuit. “How the hell did you get yourself arrested, anyway? The only thing criminal about you is how much money you make—assuming you’re still making the world safe for polluters, that is.” Hunter grinned.
That got a little smile out of Cliff. “I’m still in-house counsel for Varion, if that’s what you mean,” he said, referring to the oil giant. “At least, until they hear about this.” The smile vanished.
“What happened? Come on, let’s sit down.” Hunter gestured to the table and chairs that were the room’s only furnishings. He instantly went into “tape recorder” mode, wanting to get as much information as he could in order to determine how, or if, he could help.
“I, uh, I shot a guy, Hunter,” Cliff said when they were seated, his gaze falling to the metal surface of the table. He visibly struggled to get the next words out. “I killed him. I didn’t want to, but I did.”
Hunter’s brows drew together. “You didn’t want to? You mean it was an accident?”
Cliff shook his head. “This morning when I got to work, I pulled my car into the parking garage and there was somebody standing in my space. He was just standing there, arms crossed over his chest.”
“What did you do?”
“I rolled down my window and told him to move, that I needed to park. When I get out of the car, he handed me a picture of… of the guy I….” Hunter saw tears forming in Cliff’s eyes. Cliff wiped them away with a hand, making an obvious effort to compose himself.
“It’s all right,” Hunter put a hand on his friend’s arm. “So he handed you the picture. Then what?”
“He stared at me with these brown eyes that… they were cold. They were… it was like he didn’t care about anything.” Cliff hugged his arms to his chest, visibly shuddering. “He stared at me and told me to go to the Capitol, right then, and find the guy in the picture, and kill him. He said I’d find the guy in the Capitol Grill. Don’t know how he knew that. He told me I wasn’t going to warn anybody or deviate from the plan in any way. Then he hid a gun inside my briefcase—and walked away. He didn’t give me a name, or a reason, or anything. Just handed me the picture, gave me the orders, and left.”
Hunter tilted his head to one side. “So what’s the missing piece here, Cliff? It’s not like you to go on a homicidal rampage just because a total stranger tells you to. Or ever, for that matter.”
“He put a spell on me.”
Hunter’s posture instantly stiffened. “He what?”
“He hexed me, Hunter.” Cliff reached over and grabbed one of Hunter’s arms, and there was a definite note of pleading in his eyes. “You’ve got to believe me. You’ve got to.”
Hunter held up a hand to calm his friend. “I do, Cliff, it’s just… I don’t practice arcane defense anymore.”
Cliff frowned. “I’d heard that, but I didn’t believe it. That was what you always dreamed of doing.”
“Yeah, well, after the Pollard trial, the dream kind of lost its magic.” Hunter scowled. The trial of Samuel Pollard, in which an intelligent zombie had been charged with eating a woman’s brains, had made national headlines, so Hunter knew that Cliff would understand the reference.
Cliff’s grip on Hunter’s arm tightened, and Hunter saw the pleading in his eyes turn to insistence. “I need you to get the magic back. Otherwise, I’m a dead man.”
“It’s not that simple,” Hunter said, as a memory flashed through his mind for the millionth time in the past year. The hospital. The news report. Chief Garrison’s voice. We are authorized to confirm at this point that the victim is a woman named Kirsten Harper…. “A friend of mine died because of the work I did for arcanes. The Salvation Alliance shot her. In the head.” Hunter’s eyes narrowed.
The horror on Cliff’s face was palpable. Hunter felt the vise grip on his arm loosen. “Oh God… I’m so sorry.”
“Yeah. So am I.” Hunter’s voice dripped with rue.
Cliff sat there briefly in silence. “Well, if I was under a spell, that’s an automatic not-guilty, right?”
Hunter nodded. “Assuming it was involuntary, yeah.’”
Cliff squinted. “Who would voluntarily let someone control them?”
“Some people do. Don’t ask me why, but they do.”
“Well, I didn’t. And proving I was under a spell should be fairly easy, right? I mean, doesn’t magic leave traces?”
Hunter nodded. “You’d need to hire an aurist.”
“A what?”
“An aurist,” Hunter said. “They’re wizards who’ve been trained to see latent magic around a person. Most of the time, if a person gets hexed, it leaves a residue.”
Most of the time?”
“Supposedly, there are a few wizards and witches who are so powerful that they can cast their spells and not leave any traces.” Seeing Cliff’s eyes widen, Hunter said, “But if they do exist, I’ve never met one. Assuming you can get an aurist to look at you before the residue fades, that should prove you weren’t in control of yourself.”
“And I bet you know a few aurists, don’t you? After working with wizards for as long as you did?”
Hunter nodded. “Yeah, I know a few. Some pretty good ones, actually.”
“So get one of them to take a look at me. We’ll take that to the judge, and the charges will get thrown out, right? They’ve got to let me go, with no motive and the fact that I was under a spell, right?” Hunter thought Cliff sounded as though he were trying to convince himself of what he was saying.
“Probably, but….”
“Please? It’ll be easy. No muss, no fuss, no Salvation Alliance nutjobs. Please?
Hunter chewed his lip for a moment, considering. And then, “All right. I’ll help you.”

I'm currently raising money on Kickstarter to promote the book. If you liked Atticus and this scene excites you for book 2, or even if you never read Atticus and this scene excites you for the series, please consider chipping in! Anything helps!