“The Minotaur” cover update!

Keith Draws is working on the typography for the cover, so I’ll show you some of what he’s come up with. Let me know which version you like the best!

“classic” font, axe in front of the N
“classic” font, axe behind the N
“stylish” font, axe behind the N
“stylish” font, axe in front of the N

“The Minotaur” cover update!

Thanks to Trevor Smith for painting an unbelievably awesome cover for “The Minotaur”!

I originally planned to publish it as a stand-alone novella, as it is only around 20k words, but then an idea popped into my head (a dangerous affair anytime me + ideas collide!), and I’ve decided to make it a collection, but one where all of the stories tie together in a general way: An ancient genie shares stories of how humans foolishly used their wish after releasing him, spanning thousands of years from the Fertile Crescent 6000+ years ago, to a few hundred years in the future.

More on that later. In the meantime, here’s the finished cover!

12 year old Billy Jacobs battles the devil for his soul on the hardest pinball table ever created

A Christmas Tale II

Chapter 1

CHAPTER ONE

Christmas time is supposed to be full of cheer, good food, and goodwill toward men. For Tabitha and me, Christmas time… well, let’s just say it isn’t our favorite holiday. Each year we put on a pleasant, smiling, cheerful face for our spouses and our kids, but Tabby and I both hate it with a passion. Especially now, but I guess I’m thankful that we’re old now and it won’t matter much longer.

***

My earliest memories of Christmas are from age three. I don’t remember much other than receiving a brand new gaming console that I had to share with my sister Tabby, who is a year older than me. The gaming console was nowhere near as memorable as my fully animatronic Professor Puzzleton doll. And not just the small doll without all the goodies. Santa must have known I was a good boy by the fact my Professor Puzzleton was the full-sized four foot tall version, complete with computer software to interact with and upgrade the professor’s abilities, along with a full year’s supply of board games, coloring books, and sing-a-long activities.

My father, Jason Gould, was a realtor at the time, and by my third Christmas he was earning more than mom. Rochelle Gould, my mother, worked as a financial analyst for one of the largest banks in the world, and from what she and Dad told me later, was bringing home six figures per year in salary alone. With bonuses… let’s just say that between the two of them, Tabitha and Avery Gould were spoiled little shits—but to be honest, so were Mom and Dad.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with living in a six thousand square foot mini-mansion and being dropped off at elementary school in a $140,000 Mercedes or a $125,000 BMW SUV. Once in a while it was Dad’s fully restored 1969 Dodge Superbee. He once told me he spent almost as much restoring it as he did on his Mercedes. We didn’t have servants, but I don’t remember Mom ever spending more than a few minutes actually cleaning anything other than the dishes after dinner. I barely remember Anita and Devonne, our regular housekeepers who showed up twice per week to do the chores none of us wanted to bother with.

Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 5

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

FIVE

“Granite Base, this is Alpha-1. Launch Sequence stand-by.”

“Roger Alpha-1. Begin activation sequence.”

I listened to the comm chatter from Launch Control and the pilots while my goggles displayed vast amounts of information. The engine bay information window was bordered in red that turned to yellow as the Icarus’ power plant ramped up for blast-off. There were only two weapons pods, both defensive in nature, though I wondered how effective they would be should we pop out of the mountain only to find a thousand Kai warships waiting for us. I cycled through the acceleration creches, finding my parents’ two rows down from me, both a healthy green.

“Admiral Shaw, we’re cleared for launch,” the pilot’s voice said over the comm. Captain Jun was a female according to the display data next to her name, but she sounded like the gruffest, toughest Marine my brain could imagine.

“Roger that,” my father replied in a tight voice. “Let’s light ‘em up and get the hell off this rock ASAP.”

I turned my attention back to the engineering window. The fusion reactors had been steady at five percent until a few minutes ago when they began to slowly climb into the thirty percent range. I watched, holding my breath involuntarily, as the numbers inched into the low forties, then suddenly ramped up to ninety before leveling off and continuing their journey to one hundred. I expected the ship to vibrate or hum just like in all the movies, but I felt and heard nothing. I wasn’t sure if the gel in my creche was dampening any sensations. I could still hear the muffled noises of the last few sailors climbing into their own creches after securing the rest of the passengers. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

FOUR

Mom and Dad talked for a while, though not before sending me off to a corner of the room to read. I had finally calmed down enough to begin once again daydreaming of the strange, shiny ship being prepped a dozen meters down the corridor from me. I felt ashamed that I had cried like a baby, but my mother forced me to admit I’d sneaked enough looks at the holos on the Wire to have a terrifying grasp of what the Kai did to their enemies.

Both Mom and Dad admitted to being just as frightened. When I asked how come they didn’t seem scared, my dad looked away when my mom said they had both done their share of crying over the last few years and didn’t have much—if any—tears left in them. The thought of crying so much that I couldn’t cry ever again scared me almost as much as what I’d seen the Kai do to our colonies. The only thing more terrifying, according to Dad, was how once the Wire went dead, truly awful things happened.

There were rumors the aliens harvested humans for food, used them in disturbing genetic experiments, even dissolving every living person in giant vats of acid. The tales that made me shiver were the ones describing how the Kai set everyone on fire.

I’d burned myself with a nanosolder tool when I was eight. It took almost a month for the wound to completely heal, and hurt even with the pain blockers the doctor prescribed. I shivered again at the thought of that kind of pain all over my body. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

THREE

I tried to raise a single eyebrow again, as this was certainly different than any of the True Responsibilities I’d imagined.

“Hey, good one!” he said with a laugh, and it even made my mom chuckle. “You almost got it.” He changed back to Serious Dad. “Denny, you don’t pay much attention to the news, do you?”

“Not really,” I answered.

Adult news was usually boring unless it had footage from one of the colony worlds under attack, or an important space battle (but those were typically labeled “disasters”). Mom never let me watch any of those news stories, and had done her best to firewall my comm so I couldn’t pull grisly details (and pictures or video) from the Wire. I knew why she didn’t want me to watch them, at least I thought I did, and it had to do with her own experiences in combat.

Mostly, the news always sounded like a bunch of voices all talking at once. Today in blah blah blah, this bad thing happened, a lot more bad stuff happened, here’s the weather and then sports. I did my best to tune it out, but because of my accelerated schooling, thanks to both of my parents being officers in the military, I knew a lot more than most of my peers about what was happening in the galaxy.

I didn’t seek out the news that most adults paid attention to, but I didn’t ignore it either. A lot of the stuff going on around the galaxy made no sense to me for a long time, but I’d learned a lot of “context” (a concept I still struggled with) which made connections between people, places, and events easier to understand. Ever since I found out about Mom and what happened to her at Janus, I paid more attention than ever to any news that entered the small bubble of my world. Continue reading

Launch Sequence I (a “Genesis-6” story in “End of the Line” universe)

SOME of you have arrived because you’ve read “End of the Line.” Some of you are probably VERY angry at me for what I’ve done to humanity. I would like to remind you, before you launch a plasma grenade through my window, that EotL is just a story. Fiction.

I would also like to remind you that as bitter and depressing as EotL was, it of course was NOT the end… though I doubt anyone will be prepared for what becomes of humanity. Don’t worry, it’s pretty good. Keep in mind that I’m judging my own writing, so you should be wary of any claims I make about it being “pretty good.”

Right. The chapter preview at the end of EotL is “Launch Sequence II.” What you are about to read is actually the first novella of the sequel, and takes place before LS-II. Don’t worry, it all ties together. EVERYONE DIES! Haha, just kidding. Maybe. We’ll see.

ONE

My mother held my hand so tight that it began to hurt. She gave me a soothing look, but I could see the fear in her eyes. I didn’t really understand what was happening, but I knew that all of the adults were scared. The thunderous booms that filtered down through the underground complex resonated regularly. Every thump caused Mom to jump a little, and each time she would squeeze my hand even more.

“Mom, you’re hurting me,” I said after another powerful explosion made the world around us vibrate.

“I’m sorry, honey,” she replied, relaxing her grip, then giving me a quick hug while holding a small smile on her face for a few seconds. “I’m just nervous.”

Another boom, this time louder than any previous, rumbled down the walls. I could hear other children crying, whimpering in the line all around us, along with the voices of parents doing their best to soothe them. Just like my mother was doing for me. I wondered again if I was dreaming.

—|—

A week ago, I was playing in the park, beating my friends at video games, and practicing with my school’s basketball team. At ten years old, I didn’t pay much attention to the adult things like the news unless my father left the tablet screen open to the cartoons, though some of the cartoons made no sense. Chancellor Ryley was a woman who looked almost like my mother, and I didn’t understand why some cartoons showed her as a donkey, or why the aliens we were at war with were stuffing apple pies into her exaggeratedly large mouth.

Sometimes I liked to read the sports section. Earth was two hundred light years away, but they had all of the best leagues and sports, as some sports couldn’t be played on colony worlds if the gravity or atmosphere wasn’t right. Once in a while, my own name was in the local sports section, along with those of my teammates. Sometimes we got our pictures in the news as well. My father printed a hardcopy of the time I made the news by scoring the winning basket in the championship game when I was eight.

It was a distraction from the hushed whispering—sometimes even shouting and shoving—that the adults did over what was happening in the Coalition. All of us kids were told not to worry about any of that, only to focus on the next game, the next day, the next homework assignment. It was easy for me, though it made me uncomfortable around certain adults, as they sometimes forgot to stop worrying and focus on the next game, day, or work assignment. Continue reading

Read Indies – Find Good Indie/Self-Published Books!

The gang over at ReadIndies is going to attempt to read one of my travesties. Haha, good luck on that. Betting lines are open that two reviewers will go insane before someone contacts me and threatens legal action ;). Here’s some info, go give their lists a shot and find something good to read. It HAS to be better than the drivel I vomit up.

Have you heard about Read Indies (http://readindies.blogspot.com/) where you can find book selections, top picks, and recommended reads? If you’re looking for something new to read, a great place to start is Book We Recommend (http://readindies.blogspot.ca/p/books-were-reading-recommend.html). There are also pages for specific genres:
 
Best Fantasy Books (http://readindies.blogspot.com/p/best-fantasy-books.html)
Best Horror Books (http://readindies.blogspot.com/p/best-horror-books.html)
Featured Authors (http://readindies.blogspot.com/p/featured-authors.html)
Hot Reads (http://readindies.blogspot.com/p/hot-summer-of-indie-reads.html)
Top Picks (http://readindies.blogspot.com/p/top-indie-reads.html)
Best Sci-fi Books (http://readindies.blogspot.com/p/best-sci-fi-books.html)
Best Mystery Books (http://readindies.blogspot.com/p/best-mystery-books.html)
Best Romance Books (http://readindies.blogspot.com/p/best-romance-books.html)
Best Children’s Books (http://readindies.blogspot.com/p/best-childrens-books.html)
Best Fiction (http://readindies.blogspot.ca/p/fiction.html)
 
Read Indies started out as a place where indie authors go to learn about important writing-related issues. Now it’s also a great place for readers to learn about great books. Periodically, you’ll also find recommendations from international bestselling author Robert Stanek (http://.www.robert-stanek.com/). In particular, Robert will be highlighting hidden gems, overlooked books, unsung heroes, and new favorites. Robert Stanek will also be helping to shape the following lists: Best Fantasy Books, Best Horror Books, Best Mystery Books, Best Thriller Books, and Best Children’s Books.

Le $.99 / Free Sale (this weekend)

This weekend, I’m offering all of my books at either $.99 or Free @ Amazon!

Angry Sale

Including my latest release “Diabolus”

The Return to Innocence: Chapter 1

Hrmmm… if you know me, you know how much I hate vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Can’t stand them these days, but that’s because they’ve oversaturated my interests, or they’ve ruined my interest (keep in mind, I grew up reading “Salem’s Lot” and watching “American Werewolf in London”). But a few weeks ago, I suddenly had three pretty good ideas for vampire stories.

My vampires… they aren’t angst-filled teenagers who never actually do anything except pine for whomever they are in love with. I’m a bit old school when it comes to Vampires. Stay tuned for more chapters =).        

          I.

“Sir,” Manfred said, poking his head around the doorway into the library. “Davis is here to see you.”

“Davis?” I asked, looking up from the history volume I’d been engrossed in.

“Yes, sir. He states that he is in distress and must speak to you right away.”

“Very well,” I said, closing the cover of the thick tome and laying it on the small end table next to my chair. “Show him in, please.”

“Sir…” Manfred trailed off, looking a bit out of sorts. It was unusual for him.

I gave him a questioning look, but he shrugged his shoulders then disappeared. Less than a minute later, Davis walked into the library.

“Davis,” I said warmly. I stood up and took a step toward my old friend.

“Stay back, Elian,” he said, reaching into his coat pocket.

Continue reading