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Apr 15, 2016

Mark your calendars. Shining Fury is coming.

SHINING FURY (a Tome of Bill Series Companion) is coming April 29!

I am pleased to share both the cover and the teaser from this, the second companion piece in The Tome of Bill series.

Taking place concurrently with The Wicked Dead, Shining Fury follows Sheila O'Connell - the prophesied last defender of humanity.

Icons, legendary warriors empowered by pure faith and driven by their unerring belief in their own invincibility. For centuries they have stood against the undead as shining beacons of light against the coming darkness.

Sounds good on paper, but don't believe the hype.



At first glance, most see just a shy girl from New York, but to the denizens of the night – vampires, witches, and their ilk – I am a nightmare given flesh, born to raze their kind from this very Earth. I am the Icon, the Shining One, the last defender of humanity against the oncoming tide of darkness.

They say my coming was foretold, that prophecies speak of a beacon of hope who will light the way during the end days. It is said I am destined to vanquish the last of the Magi, and face the Night Spawn in the final battle for the fate of mankind.

If only things could be so easy.

Despite all my power, I am afraid. And if I can’t conquer my fear, face my demons, and overcome the feelings I have for a man I must destroy, then I shall be utterly consumed … and the world will know endless suffering for my failure.



"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

Meg turned to Bernadette. "Revelations?"

"Book of Daniel 12:2."

"Whatever. I'm thinking it's safe to say these guys are in that latter group."

"At least now we know why the streets are so empty," I added, counting at least a dozen of the creatures advancing upon us. They looked like zombies. Bill and Ed had mentioned them to me, but according to them, although real life zombies looked like their fictional counterparts, the vampire hierarchy used them for mundane clerical work of all things. I'd been both amused and insulted to learn the undead equivalent of my old job was entrusted to walking corpses.

The things advancing on us, however, didn't seem to have much interest in paperwork. Their eyes shone red and feral in the gleam of the flashlights as they doubled their pace toward us.

"Brothers," Bernadette called out, "this is the first of the unholy blight we have come here to face. Trust in your training, but most of all, trust in your faith."

I decided to add a bit of practicality. "Swords only," I barked then lowered my voice to address Bernadette. "Let's take them quietly if we can."

"Sound advice," she remarked, drawing her dagger, but stepping back to let the younger, more fit warriors step up,

"We'll hold back, too, unless you need us," Meg said.

I nodded then turned to face the oncoming threat – not quite a horde, but still potentially dangerous. I felt something in my mind tighten, my focus turning to the enemy at hand and, insanely enough, an anticipation of the conflict to come began to suffuse my being.

I drew my own weapon. A part of me was tempted to command the Templar to hold back, that this enemy was easily dealt with on my own. It was a struggle to not heed its call, but I managed to push it down.

To appease that part, I instead let my power fly free. Not all of it. Lighting up the dark street like the Fourth of July could be just as counterintuitive to a stealthy approach as a firefight. However, I let enough out to cover myself in its soft white protective glow, the blade practically singing in my hand as I did so.

I stepped forward with enough Templar to equal the enemy in front of us.

"Take out their heads," Kelly called out from behind. I glanced over my shoulder at her and she added. "I watch a lot of TV. You have no idea how many people screw that up."

Affording her a small smile, I turned away and stepped forward. I held back the battle cry on my lips, instead opting to let swift and savage action do my talking for me.

Though I wanted – almost needed – to launch myself into the center of the fray, I forced myself to hold my position relative to the Templar, opting to engage the zombie on the rightmost edge of their loose-knit grouping.

The pathetic creature only had one complete arm, her ... its other ended in a ragged stump several inches below its shoulder. It hardly seemed a fair fight.

Had I tried anything like this a year ago I, more than likely, would have tripped and stabbed myself. Now, though, I moved with a fluid grace … employing precise steps as if I'd been training my entire life. I side-stepped the creature and kicked its legs out from under it.

It fell forward, not even trying to break its fall with its one good arm. It landed face-first, eliciting a grunt that sounded less one of pain and more air simply forced out of its rotting body.

With no hesitation, I lifted my sword and brought it down in an arc. The human skull is thick and well protected, but my weapon was aglow with the fires of faith magic. I bisected her ... its skull just above the jawline, my weapon sending up sparks as it passed through the creature's head and met asphalt.

Its body shuddered once and became still. Somewhere deep inside of me, I felt a pang of regret. Whoever it had once been, there was little doubt it hadn't asked for this fate. Though I didn't share the Templar's beliefs, I said a small silent prayer nevertheless, hoping that this tormented soul was now at rest, before turning to see how the rest were doing.

It was a similar situation for the most part. The other Templar had heeded the warning and been both quick and decisive. It looked like this battle was over before it had even begun. I let out a breath and my power dissipated from around me.

"If all the legions of the damned are like this, then surely we won't fail."

I glanced to find Vincent a few feet away, having likewise dispatched his foe.

"Don't get cocky," I warned. "Believe me, this is just the appetizer."

A cry from further down the line caught my attention. One of the Templar had stabbed his foe through the midsection, rather than aim for its head. The zombie was now pushing forward, undeterred that it was impaling itself, intent on reaching its target.

"Damn it," I muttered, not caring if I offended anyone's bookish sensibilities.

I waved off the rest still back with Bernadette. Things could get messy with too many cooks in the kitchen. The situation was well in hand. There was no point adding to the existing chaos.

Unfortunately, chaos had other ideas. I took a single step when something entwined around my ankle. Before I could compensate, I stumbled and fell. Great! Some Blessed One I was. Couldn't even walk without my feet getting all tangled in the underbrush.

Except there wasn't any underbrush. We'd been standing in the middle of the street.

"Blessed One, watch out!"

I felt more than saw what was happening. A hand had grabbed my ankle. I know because it grabbed me again, higher up on my leg, exerting pressure as if dragging along the body it was attached to.

This was confirmed a moment later when the beheaded bodies of the undead in front of me likewise stumbled back to life, attacking their would-be vanquishers, most of whom had dropped their guard.

As the not-quite dispatched zombie crawled atop me, I realized that what should have been an easy fight had just gotten a lot more complicated.



SHINING FURY - Coming April 29th to all major ebook platforms.

Mar 21, 2016

Traditional Publishing equals Poverty, but at least I'm not a slovenly Self Publisher

The Guardian published a rather click-baity editorial recently by one Ros Barber entitled For Me, Traditional Publishing Means Poverty. But Self-Publish? No Way. Now, I don't know Ms. Barber from a hole in the wall. A quick Amazon search of her name, however, appears to show she's the author of at least four books ... three of which have covers which seem to have been puked out by a designer not quite qualified to advertise on fiverr. However, let's not start this article off on a judgmental note, now, shall we?

Nah, there'll be plenty of time for that.

I feel sorry for any literate cockroaches
Judging by her article in The Guardian one gets the sense Ms. Barber fancies herself something of a professional.  Mind you, a professional who claims to be making chump change at her chosen profession. That's not so surprising because, as I've mentioned here before, publishing is a really difficult business to make ends meet with.  I don't have a problem with this.  What I take issue with is her stance that making so little as to be forced to eat one's own books for nutrition is still a superior option to Self Publishing.

To back up her lofty position, she lists out seven rather ridiculous reasons why she'd rather sell her children to a work house than dirty her fingers in the muck of us filthy self-publishers.  Let's take a look at them:

You have to forget writing for a living
Her theory here is that if one self-publishes one will have to spend the vast majority of their time marketing and hawking their wares on street corners. That leaves pretty much zero time to actually write those books we seek to sell like snake oil in back alleys. Here's the thing, you CAN spend all of your time marketing. Just like one CAN spend all of their time watching TV, downloading porn, or writing smarmy articles for The Guardian.  But that doesn't mean you have to.  A savvy business owner will be able to find the right mix between promoting their new / existing books and working on their next. Social media, paid advertising, interacting with readers. All of this can be done with a fraction of one's day. I have over a dozen books available, which I've put out over five years while working full time and raising a family ... and some might even call me slow compared to some of the true dynamos in this industry. Amazingly enough, I have managed to do this without giving up either eating or sleeping. Go figure.

Self-publishing can make you behave like a fool
Yep, so can alcohol, drugs, excessive gambling, and convincing oneself of one's own misguided superiority. The author seems to think that self-publishing and being a shit-bag spam-monkey go hand in hand.  And here I must concede it does look like that sometimes.  Go onto twitter and you can literally drown in a sea of BUY MY BOOK tweets.  However, what the author fails to mention is the inverse correlation of spammers and spammers who are successful authors.  Seriously.  The vast majority of successful self publishers I know don't do this.  A few do, but even in their cases they know that to be successful at marketing means standing out from the crowd. Also, if Ms. Barber is aware of how annoying this is, one might conclude that she wouldn't do this herself.  Or perhaps she thinks of self-publishing much like a zombie virus outbreak. One slowly loses their humanity and is forced to wander the internet, eternally moaning for sales in lieu of brains.

Gatekeepers are saving you from your own ego
I will be the first to admit there's a lot of truly terrible self-published material out there.  However, a lot doesn't equal all. Also, are not the best gatekeepers ultimately the end readers themselves?  Now, I, for one, have said all along that if my books were judged harshly by the public then I'd take my ball and go home, happy in the knowledge that I tried. Sure, there are plenty of egomaniacal assholes out there who will be happy to tell you that their books don't sell because readers are too stupid to understand them, but I'd counter one might find that same ego behind the screen of a traditionally published writer who might, for instance, be inclined to write an article about how superior their way is to self publishing, all while complaining about how they've had to sew up their childrens' potato sacks for the third time that week.

Good writers become good because they undertake an apprenticeship. Serving your apprenticeship is important
Probably the one gem in this whole turd pile.  No question, practice makes perfect.  However, that doesn't mean someone can't hit one out of the park on their first or second try.  Even so, there is no denying the difference between a first book and a fifth for many in this industry.

You can forget Hay festival and the Booker
I don't even know what the fuck these are, but maybe that's because A) I'm self published and B) write ... gasp ... genre fiction instead of literary fiction.  Oh well, I have little chance of scoring an invitation to the local yacht club either.  Doesn't mean the fish I catch are any less fresh.

Wait ... Booker? Wasn't that a show on Fox with Richard Grieco? You mean I can't meet him now!?  Kindly excuse me while I go and burn my hard drive.

Tonight we eat like kings ... self published kings!
You risk looking like an amateur
I was about to agree with this one, but then I read it again and saw the big takeaway from this seems to be "Traditional publishers pay for this stuff so you don't have to" Well, no shit.  There's some valid points in here, littered among the vitriol.  I mean, sure, you CAN look like an amateur by having lousy editing and crappy covers (*cough* pot calling the kettle black *cough*), but once again, as a so-called professional, you'd think this would be a pitfall the author of this article could easily avoid. I mean, I run the risk of looking like a pervert every day, but I mitigate that by being smart enough to wear pants when I step outside ... at least most of the time.

70% of nothing is nothing
Well, damn, if that isn't a bombshell.  You know what, 7, 17, or 25% (or whatever is the traditional % these days) of nothing is still nothing as well.  That's some right smart math there.  Here's the thing, there are NO GUARANTEES in this industry period.  For every Stephen King, there will be thousands of people who sell nothing and it happens on both sides of the publishing coin.  Anyone jumping into this business for the sole purpose of getting rich is probably a deluded idiot at best.  However, if the author of this article is to be believed, she's already living in poverty with her writing. Thus, I'm not sure of the superior attitude to be gained on this point.  Congratulations, you're poor, just like so many other authors with a dream. At least you can use your contract as a blanket in the cardboard box you call a home.

I'm not saying self-publishing is the right road for everyone, but articles like these are laughable at best. Self-publishing isn't a drug, a boogeyman, or a mental condition. It's simply another path in this crazy industry.  And, as with all paths, one should consider what is right for them in an objective manner and not with mindless speculation as to how short of a time it is between when one hits the publish button in KDP and when one is digging up their dead grandmother to scream "BUY MY BOOK!" into her ashen face.

Mar 2, 2016

Ten Against the World!

I am pleased to be a part of...

THE INDOMITABLE TEN - A Superhero/Supervillain Novella Anthology

Minotaurs. Nephilim. Demons. Mad scientists. Secret Societies. Superheroes. Supervillains.
What do these things have in common? They are all part of the Indomitable Ten: a tantalizing anthology of novellas that will take you on a wild ride through ten amazing worlds brought to you by science fiction and fantasy greats like:
J.R. Rain
Kris Carey
Jesse Baruffi
Richard Roberts
Karpov Kinrade
Jim Bernheimer
Samantha Bryant
Rick Gualtieri
Drew Hayes
S.L. Dunn
& A.E. Propher.

Find your escape from the mundane with the Indomitable Ten!

Foreword by Tom Reynolds. Presented by Curiosity Quills

Includes: NIGHT STALKER (A Tale From The Tome of Bill) 

Here's a small taste of things to come...



For a long time, the unofficial credo attributed to New Yorkers had been “I don’t want to get involved.” This was all thanks to a well-publicized murder from the 1960’s. Most of us like to think that when shit is going down, we’ll react in a way that would make our mothers proud. In reality, oftentimes putting one’s fingers in one’s ears and going “la la la” is the easier course. The thing is, occasionally it’s the wiser one as well.

Sadly, much like the elven battlemage I play at my weekly D&D game, I wasn’t known for my wisdom.

I’d gone a few blocks at most, the empty streets zipping by in the darkness as I put my speed to good use, when I heard the cry.

It had been faint, easy to miss even in a slumbering city, but my hearing was several times sharper than a normal person’s. Despite my intent to get home and kick my roommates awake so as to brainstorm a solution to my problems, I stopped and listened. The cry came again, followed by the sharp bark of what sounded like a small dog. Had someone’s Pomeranian gotten loose and was, even now, rampaging through the streets while its hapless owner chased after it?

Oh well, that wasn’t my problem. Stupid fucking rat dogs. I was about to ignore it and continue on my way when my overly sensitive ears picked up another voice – this one low, barely audible even to me.

“Scream all you want, bitch.”

That stopped me dead in my tracks. A smart person would have dialed 911. Hell, a smart vampire would too, right before getting the fuck out of there. Not that I believed in playing to stereotypes, but I probably didn’t look like the type who’d be wandering these streets alone at this time. The last thing I needed was a suspicious cop thinking I was a meth-head out looking to score.

It was the small part of me enamored with being a vampire that ultimately decided to pursue what was surely an insane course of action. That’s the thing about waking up one day with super powers. It tends to dull our logic circuits while automatically making us believe in our own invincibility. Of course, it’s that kind of bullshit reasoning that makes people sew up a homemade Batman costume only to end up in the morgue by day’s end.

Damn my sense of social responsibility! Despite knowing the monumental stupidity of what I was about to do, I homed in on the direction of the voices and took off at full speed – hoping to not become yet another sad statistic in a city with far too many.

I glanced around the corner and saw them. Two men, both of average height, stood over their victim an old woman, her brown skin covered in wrinkles, easily seventy, maybe more. She was sitting with her back against the alley wall, holding her little dog protectively. The mutt looked small enough to fit inside a hamster cage. As far as protection went, one would’ve been hard pressed to pick a more useless theft deterrent. The little rodent let out a warning bark every few seconds, but even it seemed to sense how idle its threats were.

This was all happening between two rundown apartment complexes. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what had transpired. Apparently granny there had decided to take Fido for a walk, lest the little beast piss her rug again. Sadly, she’d picked a night when there were predators about.

A small part of me wondered where the cops were. The old woman’s cries had fallen silent, no doubt under threat from the two goons accosting her, but the dog’s shrill yips were plenty loud in the narrow confines of the space.

Almost as if in answer to my unasked question, a voice came from above. “Shut the fuck up!” The sound of a window slamming shut followed a moment later.

Such a wonderful neighborhood.

“You heard the man, bitch,” one of the assailants said, his voice betraying a slight Latino lilt. He picked up a discarded flashlight, probably the old lady’s, and threw it against the wall where it shattered. “Shut your fucking dog up. Or better yet, we will.”

The woman shrank back even further, cradling the dog to her like it was a child. Hell, the little rodent probably was to her. When she spoke, her voice was low and pleading. “Please don’t hurt Mr. Piddles. I gave you my purse, that’s all I have.”

Mr. Piddles?

The two men chuckled and then the other answered, “We don’t want your purse, you old bag. We want you.”

Oh, crap. So much for this being a simple mugging. What is it with the sick fucks in this world? Had this merely been an altercation over a few dollars, I might still have minded my own business. Now, though, shit was about to get serious. It was time to show these assholes that there were darker things afoot this night.



Coming March 5th
Available for Pre-order now for AMAZON KINDLE

Feb 16, 2016

It's a Freaking Fabulous February Fantasy Giveaway!

Do you love reading fantasy books? Who are we kidding? Of course you do! Otherwise, you'd be off posting what you had for breakfast to Facebook or Twitter.

This giveaway is just for you! 50 authors - including yours truly - have teamed up to bring you the ULTIMATE book-lover's giveaway -- a Kindle Fire loaded with 50 fantasy ebooks! Even better, this contest doesn't have just one winner, but SIX! One person wins the kindle, and an additional five people will be given one of the 50 ebooks listed in this giveaway -- their choice. PLUS you can earn unlimited extra entries! Scroll down to learn more about the prizes, or click here to enter:

The Prizes: One Kindle Fire...
kindle_fire_feature_three
Plus these FIFTY Fantasy eBooks!
Synchrony Wardbreaker WildeOmens_HR-2 WrongSideOfHell Flames of Awakening
The Viper and the Urchin The Sunken The Silvering of Loran The Full Moon by David Neth The-Raven
Shade tales of skylge Thea's Tale Demon Princess Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00005]
box of secrets bound in blue Ghost Storm Haunting echoes Blood Phoenix Rebirth
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068] billthevampire Academy of Secrets Ascendancy Stormwielder
THE CAVE MAZE Jules A coronation of kings Journeys of Kallisor Wintermore
The Superiors Sparks PowerPoint Presentation Scrapplings 30SecondFantasy_Cover_border-2
The Mark of Noba The Wanted Child cover large Dawn of the Awakening Arcadis Prophecy Stone's Kiss
BEGGARMAGIC city The Anais Collection The Keeper and the Rulership Witch Ways copy
Well? What are you waiting for? Click here to enter the giveaway.