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A Necessary Update – 8/17/2018

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Hello, everyone. I apologize for not updating the website for so long, but a LOT has happened over the last 12-18 months, and I thought I should at least get back to adding my thoughts and such to let you know I’m still alive, still writing.

Almost one year ago (Labor Day weekend, to be exact), our lives pretty much came to a standstill when I went down to the basement to work after Carly went to sleep. It seemed like just another ordinary day, one where I played a video game on the computer at my desk for a few hours, then spent time with her until she went to bed, then would go back downstairs to work on whatever book or story I had going at the time.

The instant I came off the bottom step and my foot hit the carpet, I knew immediately that something was horribly wrong. The carpet rippled, waved, then sloshed. Yep, you guessed it, the basement was somehow flooding. As a homeowner, I can feel your heart dropping into your shoes after reading this. I guess the only positive thing I could say about this is that at least the house didn’t catch on fire. But a flood… a flooded basement is just… Wow.

The panic, the fear, the absolute chaos of worry and a thousand other emotions hit me all at once as I walked through the basement. I’d hoped it was just a little water, like the toilet or shower in the basement bathroom was suffering a slow-ish leak. But the magnitude of what was happening kept piling on more and more as I walked throughout the 1700 or so square feet of carpeted basement. Every. Single Room. Was. Flooded.

Anyone who has ever been through this, you probably know how the next few months went. Fighting our insurance company (who fought hard but in the end, lost, and had to pay for the restoration), living in half of a house that you, your wife, your brother, and six cats had previously enjoyed ALL of, the hard work of ripping out all of the water-damaged baseboards, carpets, padding, furniture, drywall… Then comes the worry about the potential for mold (which, by the way, the house had when we bought it as the previous owners had flooded the basement and never bothered to take care of it, letting it go into foreclosure, but that’s another story for another day). The interruption of our normal, daily lives was like a bomb had gone off in our psyche.

Once we were sure the insurance company would pay (about a month later, when we made it clear our policy damn well DID cover the damage), we were hopeful things would slowly get back to normal.

But then one morning I woke up, and I don’t mean to be too graphic here, but I kind of have to be, I stood in front of the toilet and began pissing blood.

I’ve never given much thought to my own mortality before, other than a few moments here and there after I turned 30, then again at 40. But standing there, at age 44, with a flooded basement and our lives turned upside down, I became so frightened, so sure that bloody urine meant that I was going to die, that I might have only a short time left on this earth, that I literally collapsed on the bathroom floor. The terror of believing your life is going to be over soon… There aren’t really any words or phrases to describe it. Compound that with the fact that I didn’t have health insurance, then add some googling to see that bloody urine was likely a sign of prostate cancer, bladder cancer, cancer cancer cancer. That’s all I could see and I got sick to my stomach once again.

Just as that cleared up (don’t worry, it wasn’t terminal, just FUCKING FRIGHTENING), and our basement was sloooooowly being returned to a livable state (there’s a whole long story in here about how the flooring company fucked us over at the last moment and delayed everything for another few weeks, but again, that’s for another time), some 20 year old dumbass kid hit Carly on her way to work and totaled her car. She was fine, no harm done to her, but the Honda was completely wrecked. The shitty thing about this, beyond losing a car that we both loved maybe a little too much for such a mundane thing as being “just a car,” is that my car was useless to her–mine is a standard transmission, and she had never learned how to drive a stick shift. And the fact that my Saturn is a piece of shit (but a reliable piece of shit) former courier car that has seen far better times but smells like you’d expect a college boy’s dorm after a week of partying… that didn’t help. Neither did our financial situation, as even with the insurance company paying to repair the damage, we were bleeding money on all the things our policy didn’t cover.This was sometime around January.

Then I got sick again, which started the cycle all over again.

But, as you can guess from reading this, things eventually turned positive. We bought her a very nice used Acura SUV, replaced all of the carpets downstairs with laminate hardwood flooring, and even finally wired up the basement with Cat-5 cabling so it no longer looked like a filthy nerd’s paradise ;).

It is now August, and I’m finally back in this chair, writing not just to you, but writing stories again. Somehow, I released Transfer back in May, but only because it had been finished back when the basement flooded the previous September, and all it needed was a couple of good, hard edits to clean it up. I powered through, I’m not sure how, but then collapsed back into a terrible state of depression, one that I’d been wallowing in since the flood. I tried, I really, really tried, to write once everything started getting better, which means from about March or April of this year. But other than fixing Transfer up and getting it published, my brain simply wouldn’t cooperate. I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than “what if my basement floods again?” or “what if I actually do have a terminal illness and pissing blood was just the first stage?” or “what if some other asshole plows into Carly on her way to or from work and this time she’s seriously injured?” or a million other things that my rat-brain tried to convince me would happen.

And, you know, all this time, since November 2016, there was the knowledge that somehow the citizens of this country elected Donald Trump as our president. You can imagine the blow to both of us over that, since we’re very vocal supporters of LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, civil rights for minorities, supporters of both refugees and immigrants, and so on and so forth.

By the way, if this last paragraph angers you, well, I guess the only thing I can say is “too fucking bad.” I won’t apologize for supporting all of those things, for being liberal, or possibly even a socialist. I’m a human being and the pain that many of my friends and family have suffered since the election isn’t imaginary for us, for them, and for everyone else that has been affected by it. So, again, “too fucking bad” if my anger towards our president and those who support him upsets your snowflake sensibilities.

Anyway, like I said, everything is finally back to normal. My brain is clear and roaring to get back into the thick of things. In fact, I’ve already finished another book, a collection of short stories and novellas that will be called “The Minotaur.” Trevor Smith is finishing up the cover for it, but here’s a taste of what it will look like:

“The Minotaur” rough cover by Trevor Smith

Yep, that’s a 12 year old kid battling the devil for his soul over a game of pinball. And yeah, I know it sounds weird, but it’s sort of my tribute to Stephen King. Plus there will be a bunch of other stories, some sci-fi, some not, who knows, you’ll just have to read it so you can send me angry emails telling me what a horrible author I am!

Right now, I’m finishing up a romance-time travel story which is, according to the few who get to read early versions, as mind-bendy as “Transfer” is. I’m also working on finishing up “Skydark,” which is a post-nuclear war adventure tale, then I’m going to try and finish up the other 8-10 books that are 50-90% done but got delayed by all the shit that has happened in the last year.

Okay, thanks for taking the time to read this, and thank you to everyone who kept me going during this last year+ of chaos, terror, and depression. I’m back in the driver’s seat, and I sincerely hope you’ll be right there with me in the passenger seat so we can enjoy these crazy, weird, sometimes dark and ugly, sometimes funny and charming stories together!

Travis Hill, August 17, 2018

Audiobook Narration via Twitch/YouTube Coming Soon!

I’ve decided I’m going to try something new this week. Once my Blue Yeti microphone arrives, I’m going to begin narrating short stories first, then full-length novels while streaming on Twitch. You can find my channel HERE.

Once the stream is done @ Twitch, I’ll upload it to YouTube.

Keep in mind that I am not a professional voice actor, so it might take me a bit to hit my groove. Because of this, I’m going to start with some shorter stories such as “Dragons Are Not Your Friends” and “Bears Are Not Your Friends Either.”

And I’ve also created a couple of very, very awful pieces of art for these two stories just so you have something to look at while listening to my terrible, nasal, annoying voice!

Art skill is definitely NOT my friend…

Why does this weird bear have a rifle and a camera???

“It’s Darker This Way” (Book #3) Now Available!

Book #3 in the “This Way” series is now available at Amazon.com!

“It’s Darker This Way” is ~33% longer than the first two books combined and continues Evan’s story as he once again resumes the search for his missing sister.

“It’s Darker This Way” by Travis Hill
(book #3 in the “This Way” series)

“The Four Horsemen” cover by Tom Edwards

Hey, all, just got the final version of “The Four Horsemen” cover. T4H is the upcoming sequel/prequel/companion to “Skydark.” Many thanks to Tom Edwards for this awesome cover!

“The Four Horsemen” by Travis Hill
Cover art by: Tom Edwards Designs

“Skydark” cover by Tom Edwards

Tom Edwards just sent me the final artwork for my upcoming post-nuclear novel “Skydark.” Still working on this one, but it should be out sometime this summer (2017)!

Tom Edwards Design

“Skydark” by Travis Hill / Cover by Tom Edwards Design
Release date: Summer 2017 – click image for larger version

 

“Launch Sequence” published!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that “Launch Sequence” has been published at Amazon.com:

Launch Sequence I – One week ago, Dennis Shaw was a typical twelve year old boy growing up on Daedalus-IV. Now, with an unstoppable Kai invasion fleet only hours away, Dennis is exposed to the challenges, the decisions, and the horrors of adulthood when his family is forced to flee aboard a strange starship hidden inside a secret mountain base.

As Dennis attempts to come to terms the terrifying conclusion of the Kai’s promise to exterminate humanity, he is overwhelmed by the implications of Project Genesis, Task Force Nightfall, and a newer, more dangerous threat: the sudden onset of puberty and the unpredictable, sometimes frightening emotions that come with it.

*

Launch Sequence II – Special Forces Commander Irina Drazek and Task Force Nightfall have assembled for one final mission: to ensure Project Genesis reaches a successful conclusion, even at the cost of their own lives. Alone and cut off from the Wire, the fifty-two ships of Silver Fleet are all that stands between the Kai’s military might and the Genesis seedships — humanity’s last, best hope to avoid the fate of the Hanura and The Seven.

As the stress and exhaustion of jumping blindly through enemy territory under extreme acceleration takes its toll on Silver Fleet’s crews, Admiral Mattias Huang and Captain Rickus Meyer plan for a final showdown with their hated enemy. With time, space, and options running out, Huang is forced to rely on desperation, his own tactical brilliance, and the Kai’s predictability to complete Nightfall’s mission against impossible odds.

*

“Launch Sequence” is the highly anticipated sequel to “End of the Line.”
60,008 words (250 pages)

Cover art by: Jeff Brown

Launch Sequence (Genesis series, book 2)
Cover by: Jeff Brown

Deja Vu (freewrite)

(disclaimer: there could be a number of errors in this, but I literally just finished writing it about 10 minutes ago!)

ONE

I banged my palms on the steering wheel in time to the music while waiting for the light to change. Twenty more minutes and I’d be home for the weekend. My mind wandered to Marla, a woman I met a few weeks back on an internet dating site. We’d spent two nights together in those three weeks, and my brain hoped that it was only because of my work schedule that we hadn’t been able to connected more often. I felt my heart race at the thought of the skin-tight dress she’d worn the previous Saturday when we’d driven up to Boise for—

The blare of at least three horns shattered my concentration and brought me back to reality. I felt my face turn red as I wondered how long I had made the cars behind me wait to turn left onto Borah Ave. A glance in my rearview mirror once my foot hit the gas pedal made me turn even more red. Their multiple rude gestures and mouthed insults were the proper payment for any dumbass who couldn’t get off his cell phone or stop picking her nose long enough to notice the light had turned green.

I crossed over the first two lanes, my light still a bright green arrow, when a blur caught my peripheral vision. I felt my nerves tingle all at once as I realized a blue Honda wasn’t going to stop at its red light. I couldn’t decide whether to jam my foot on the gas or the brake, but the Honda was moving so fast that I never got to make the decision. A loud bang preceded the crunch of metal and glass by a quarter of a second, the airbags in my Chevy Cavalier filling instantly and whiting out my world.

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Spirit Guide (freewrite)

(DISCLAIMER: this is like… super ultra first draft stuff, I literally just finished it about six minutes ago, so don’t be too harsh, eh?)

“Hey, mate,” a familiar voice said from my left.

I looked over to see the garden gnome sitting on the arm of the couch. A sigh escaped me after I blinked my eyes a few times.

“Great,” I muttered. “You again.”

“Exactly!” the gnome said without moving its lips. “Me again.”

“Go away,” I mumbled. “You’re not real.”

“Are you sure about that?” the gnome asked slyly.

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

I reached out to the gnome, sure my hand would pass right through it since it was nothing more than a figment of my imagination—a figment that had followed me around for the last three days after a binge on what I had thought was absinthe at a local watering hole in San Elira. I still didn’t know what I had consumed, but I knew it wasn’t absinthe even if it was the same electric-green color. My fingers bumped up against the solid ceramic gnome, sending it crashing to the floor.

“Owwww!” the gnome cried, its voice muffled. “What the hell, Mike?”

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General Megatron videobook project update

Here’s a couple more sketches from Vlad Momot for chapter 2 of “General Megatron.”

Vlad Momot
http://vladmomotart.tumblr.com (English)
https://vk.com/vladmomotart (Russian)
Twitter: @VladMomotArt / Instagram: @Vladmomotart

“General Megatron – Chapter 2: The Doom Lord” videobook sketches by Vlad Momot

“General Megatron – Chapter 2: The Doom Lord” videobook sketches by Vlad Momot

“General Megatron – Chapter 2: The Doom Lord” videobook sketches by Vlad Momot

Videobook Project #1 (General Megatron)

Just wanted to post a few images and a voice sample from a new project I’m working on where we’ll be taking one of my short stories and having it voice acted / narrated (Matthew Burtless-Creps & Halli Stewart), then taking that and making a video with a series of sketches (sort of like an audiobook + comic book mash-up).

Here’s Matthew Burtless-Creps with a test voice for The Evil Queen Mother:

These are preliminary rough sketches from Vlad Momot for chapter 2 of “General Megatron.” I’ll post more as they come in, and each chapter will feature the work of a different artist.

“General Megatron” – Chapter 2: The Doom Lord – artwork by Vlad Momot

“General Megatron” – Chapter 2: The Doom Lord – artwork by Vlad Momot

“General Megatron” – Chapter 2: The Doom Lord – artwork by Vlad Momot