I Had High Hopes

Back in February, I posted about how anxious I was to get back to writing. I’d even put in some time and made some new words by then. The future looked bright and hopeful.

And then we had a global pandemic.

That sent pretty much everything into a tailspin. I kept my job and I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home. But the disruption was so big and so total that whatever momentum I’d gained, I quickly lost. In those early days of the pandemic, learning how to work every day from home, sanitizing every piece of anything that came into our home, worrying about our toilet paper and Lysol supply, worrying about our kids’ schooling and health, and dealing with a host of other unprecedented challenges took up the bulk of my precious time and mental energy.

Then more worrying about the virus, more worrying about my job, and worry over the state of our deeply divided nation and the man chosen to lead it took up increasingly more room in my head. Add in dealing with the burden of constant pain and I saw months stretch out without a single new word written.

I’m not sure how 2021 is going to play out. I’m hopeful that the US can rejoin the global community and regain a little credibility. I’m hopeful that we’ll soon have a vaccine to combat this virus. I’m hopeful that I’ll make good on my promise of new books. I’m sure gonna try, but these days I just don’t know what life is going to throw at me. I’m apprehensive about making too many promises.

Stay tuned here for more updates. Since I haven’t produced anything new, I haven’t sent out a newsletter for a while, but I’d encourage you to sign up for it here to be the first to know about new releases and exclusive deals.

At the end of the day, I’m still here and I’m still writing. I’m not the type to give up easily.

Stay safe out there. I’ll talk to you again soon.

A Message From the Deep

Greetings from the depths of the murky abyss!

I know it’s been a while since anybody’s seen anything from me. I’ve been kind of distracted these past few months, spending my time playing guitar and rebuilding a new pedalboard.

That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I have a new Badlands novel manuscript a quarter of the way finished and a new weird western half-baked. Plus, I have another horror novel sitting in the wings.

For my creative process, I need space in my head for a story to gestate. Unfortunately, my headspace is limited and it’s been filled up with other stuff. First it was the health issues, then it was lots of overtime at the day job. Now it’s been guitar that’s stolen my attention away.

I’m hesitant to give dates, but it’ll be very soon that I plan to get back to these stories. And it won’t be long after that that you’ll start seeing some new books coming your way. Definitely new stuff out in 2020.

For everyone who’s stuck with me over the past couple of years, I say thank you for your patience. Writing is a passion of mine, but not the only one. Sometimes I get consumed by other things, but I’ll always come back to writing. It’s in my DNA.

See you soon!

It’s Been A While

So I just looked at the date of my last post and realized it’s been a year since I’ve updated anything on this site. That’s too long to go without providing some kind of update, and that’s on me.

My day job has taken up a lot of my time this past year. Too much, actually, but I’m admittedly a workaholic. But when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, right?

I’m in the enviable position to have a day job that I love as much as writing. I suppose I’m a little different than most writers in that respect. So many writers would love to quit their jobs and write full time, but I’ve never really felt that way. I want to keep my day job. I’ve proven over the past couple of years that a person can still write a lot of books and work a day job full time, provided one practices a little time management.

Between 2016 and 2017 I wrote twelve books, six per year, most of them full-size novels. I was really on a roll, churning out some of the best books I’ve ever written, and then a health issue, combined with switching jobs, stopped me in my tracks.

So it’s 2019 already and I’m ready to get back in the saddle. I now have the health issue somewhat under control, and I’ve made enough headway in my day job that I can kick back and work only a 40-hour week.

These things happen. Life throws curveballs. Problems get in the way. Sometimes that means that the writing suffers. Some writers give up. That’s okay if writing truly does not make these writers happy. But to use a bump in the road as an excuse to quit doing something you love? Well, that’s never been me.

I’m two chapters into my next book. I’m working on regaining the consistency I once had, but I’m making progress despite the fits and starts. Once I get back into the habit, the words will begin to stack up. I’ve also set a due date for my next book to help light a fire under my ass.

For those of you who’ve read my Badlands series, I think you’ll be happy to know that I’m writing a fourth full-length Badlands novel. I thought I was done with that series after finishing book three back in 2016, but apparently there’s more story to tell. I don’t outline, so I don’t yet know what’s going to happen to Ed and the crew. But I do know this much: something is coming, from the west.

Something very, very bad.

So thanks for hanging in there with me while I went on this little hiatus. I’m back, and I aim to knock your socks off with this next book. 🙂

I’ll Be Back Soon

After seven years of balls to the wall writing, I took some time off. I bought a new guitar and, after a nearly twenty-year hiatus, I’m back playing again. That’s been a ton of fun. I’m looking at buying a new amp at the end of the year, and that’s gonna be even more fun.

The time off has allowed me to put some distance between myself and my writing. I realize now I was too focused on writing a ton of books and way too focused on sales. It wasn’t fun anymore, but I was too close to see that.

I wrote my first short story when I was seventeen. I also picked up the guitar that same year. I quit both of these hobbies. I’ve now come back to both of them, but this time with the right attitude.

Expect a new novella from me this year. It’s a weird western that I’m pretty hyped about. I don’t really give a shit if it sells. I’m done with watching sales numbers and judging my work by it. Folks will buy it or they won’t. They’ll like it or they won’t. It’s cool either way.

I’m not sure if I’ll be writing at the same pace as before. Depends on how I feel. I’ll be splitting some of my time with guitar, but mostly I play in the evenings, so that leaves the mornings open still for writing.

If you signed up for my mailing list then you’ll know when the new book is available. Thanks for reading and for sticking around. There’s definitely more to come.

I’m Still Here and Still Writing

It’s been a while since my last update and since my last release, so I thought it was a good idea to check in and let everybody know that I’m still here and still writing. I have my recent health issues pretty much under control right now, which has allowed me to get back to focusing on writing new words again.

I’m about a quarter of the way through a weird west novella that I’m tentatively titling Carrion Canyon. It’s been going in fits and starts, but a couple of days ago I had that moment where the story just “clicks” into place. I liken it to the way a puzzle piece or a dovetail joint fits together. For me, this is the moment when I know my subconscious has finally figured out where the story needs to go. I love it when this happens; gets me excited about the book each and every time it happens.

I also have a horror novel manuscript titled Dream Eater that’s sitting at about the 1/3 mark. Once I finish Carrion Canyon up, I might jump back on that one and knock it out. We’ll see where the muse takes me when the time comes.

As for 2018, I have some idea of which projects I’d like to work on. Another Tom Miller novella is surely on the short list. And I still want to write book four in the Badlands series. I think that would be super fun. Outside of these two books, I’m hesitant to speculate. But, rest assured, I’ll be working on a bunch of new stuff and I’ll let you know the moment it’s been released.

Until next time, thanks for reading. Without you, these stories make no sound.

Horror Is Dead?

NosferatuShadowHorror is dead, some say. Many say that about horror fiction in particular.

“The market is glutted,” they say. “Nobody writes horror anymore. That went out with the 1980s.”

And yet horror movies are consistently raking in top dollar at the box office. Stephen King’s It was the number five top-grossing movie of 2017.

Clearly, plenty of folks are watching horror movies. I find it hard to believe that none of these people read.

While some horror writers of yesteryear are denying their roots, there are some fantastic horror writers alive and well and unabashedly writing horror. Ronald Malfi, Tim Curran, Keith C. Blackmore, Joe R. Landsdale, and more.

As for me, I keep coming back to horror. Give me dark and cloudy nights, full moons, creepy shadows, walking dead, and serial killers any day. Even the crime fiction I write has a dark, dark lining.

So I’ll keep writing horror because it suits me. Unabashedly and honestly.

Count on that.



Badlands Trilogy

Several months back, I quietly released an omnibus containing the first three books of my Badlands series. Simply titled Badlands Trilogy, this edition contains three complete novels: Into the Badlands, Beyond the Badlands, and Out of the Badlands.

Badlands Trilogy

At the time, I thought the series was finished, aside from a few more novellas set within the same universe. But as it turned out, I realized there was more story there. Something unique enough, something interesting enough to warrant at least one more novel. Maybe more. I’m not sure how many, but definitely one more go around with Ed Brady and his family.

So if you haven’t yet picked up any of my Badlands books, you might want to consider getting the trilogy omnibus edition. You’ll save a couple of bucks in the process and get all three books in one handy edition.

Stay tuned right here at my blog for more info on the series as it develops. Better yet, sign up for my mailing list. You’ll be the first to know about new releases and you’ll get a free book just for signing up.

Looking Behind, Looking Ahead

Back in 2011, when I published my first book, things were easier. There were fewer books competing for readers’ attention. The Kindle was still pretty new to readers; they were hungry for new books from authors they’d never read. I had a couple of books out and they sold extremely well; better than they should have given my talent level at the time. Even better, I had to do nothing to promote them; Amazon did it for me. I sold thousands of books, positive reviews flowed in, and life was pretty good for a part-time writer.

Then, in January 2013, that all came to a screeching halt.

Literally, overnight, sales dried up. The same books that had been moving nicely through the system for the past two years suddenly went dormant. It was as if a switched had been flipped and the lights just went out. And for all I know about the black box that is Amazon, maybe that’s exactly what happened.

The era collectively known as the Kindle Gold Rush was over.

Many writers quit. I didn’t. Since the end of the Gold Rush, I’ve written an additional eight novels, another five novellas, and fourteen short stories. But no matter how many books I’ve released since the “good ol’ days”, it hasn’t had much effect. My Badlands series sells okay (for which I’m truly grateful), but the other books don’t move much, if at all.

The reasons for this are myriad and anecdotal. The market is saturated with boatloads of books for sale in the Kindle store. Kindle Unlimited has had a negative impact too, cannibalizing sales and driving down payments to authors. And those of us who opt out of exclusivity with Amazon pay dearly; KU books rank higher than non-KU books and are much more visible to customers. In other words, if a writer wants to diversify his risk and reach more readers on more platforms, then he’s gonna get dinged for it.

And don’t get me started on the scammers currently infecting Kindle Unlimited.

Since 2011, most of Amazon’s competition hasn’t really gained much ground. Sony has gotten out of the game. Diesel is gone. Barnes and Noble has pretty much dropped the ball with their Nook effort. Apple still doesn’t seem to care about selling ebooks, despite having their iBooks app on literally hundreds of millions of devices. Google doesn’t seem to care about selling ebooks any more than Apple does.

At least Kobo has upped their game a little. They at least seem like they care and are trying to sell more books and reach more readers. It seems to be working because they’re now my number one sales channel.

There’s also a lot more competition within the Kindle store; Amazon has their own publishing imprints to push now and New York publishing houses have finally digitized much of their backlist books, adding thousands more titles to the Kindle store. Last count I remember, there are something like two or three million books in the Kindle store.

To cut through the noise, it takes a lot of time, effort, and money. Advertising on platforms like Facebook and Amazon are pretty much required now if you want to sell books. And now the latest tactic is “writing to market”, an approach I’m not too keen on. Feels too much like a popularity contest, and pandering isn’t really in my veins.

The good news is that royalty rates for ebooks are still at 70% at most of the major retailers. And the gatekeepers are gone, so we’re still free to write and publish whatever we like. These two factors alone are reason enough to celebrate. If one can still manage to sell books that people want to read, the profit margin continues to favor writers. That’s a big deal.

This is just the state of publishing today, for better or worse. Some writers are killing it in this new market, many are not. It’s always been a lottery to some extent. The world doesn’t owe anybody a living, myself included. And while things might not be easy, I find it’s much better to face reality for what it truly is, not what we’d like it to be.

Every year I reassess my writing business and writing life. Since 2015 I’ve been focused primarily on production. Writing more books. Writing better books. Streamlining the revision, editing, and proofreading processes. Reducing production costs so that I can actually afford to release the books I write without losing my ass on them.

Two years later, that effort has born fruit. My writing is better. I’m WAY more productive now. My books turn a profit, albeit small. I’ve experimented with a new series and I’ve grown my most lucrative series (with more growth planned). I’ve written whatever the hell I want, depending solely on my mood at the time. That’s allowed me to try new genres and to write some books I’m pretty proud of.

But high production takes its toll. Waking up at 4:30 every weekday morning to write ain’t easy, not with a full-time career, a wife and two kids, and all the normal crap that comes with being an adult. Then working weekends on editing, proofreading, covers, and promotion…it all adds up.

Succeeding at anything requires sacrifice, and with that sacrifice, one expects to see some return. So here I am at the end of 2017, looking for a way to quantify that success. Goal-oriented people like myself are always looking for ways to measure success, to show gains, to show progress. In terms of sales, it ain’t looking good for me. But after thinking on this for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been going about the notion of success all wrong.

High sales equals popularity and people tend to gauge success through popularity. Anybody who’s been to high school knows that. And anybody who’s picked up a book and seen “New York Times Bestseller!” stamped across the cover knows it too. If something is popular, it must be good, right? And if not, it must be bad. Right?

I’m not so sure of that.

For years, I bought into using popularity as a measuring stick for my own work. I got caught up in the rat race, in the idea that validation comes from outside.

I was wrong.

As I wind down 2017, I’ve been reassessing things. Over the past six years I’ve proven a lot. I’ve proven that I can produce consistently. I’ve proven that I can write books that folks tend to like (for whatever that’s worth). I’ve proven that I can work full-time as a programmer and still crank out books at a faster rate than the pros who do nothing else but write. And while I’ve gained a lot proving all this, I’ve lost sight of why I write in the first place: to have fun.

So I’ve decided to take back control. I determine success. Nobody else. And to me, success is defined by setting goals and accomplishing them while having as much fun as I can. Success is writing books I care about, books that I think are worthwhile. Books I’d like to read myself.

And to hell with the numbers and what anybody else thinks.

2018 is gonna look a lot different for me than the past couple of years. 2018 will be all about me writing for the love of the story and nothing else. If that resonates with people, great. If not, who cares? Read it or don’t. I have a lucrative day job that I really like, and that affords me the luxury of writing whatever the hell I want, whenever I want to write it. And that truly is a luxury. I don’t have to write something I hate for money and I don’t have to chase numbers for validation. And I don’t have to crank out a novel per month unless I want to.

I’m looking forward to next year more than I have any before it. It’s a wide open road for me.

And that’s just the way I like it.