Several events have brought TIMING to my attention recently. I’ve been writing for decades, of course, but my first publishing contract with Curiosity Quills Press showed up just under three years ago. It’s been such a wild ride! I’ve loved every minute of it. Still, it sometimes amazes me how slowly the cogs of the publishing industry turn.

The catalyst for these thoughts came from Robert J. Defendi. He’s been writing a multi-part blog chronicling the story of his first published novel– Death by Cliche— coming soon. I heard him mention the audiobook of it at LTUE in 2013. I listened to it that summer and loved it. At SLCC that September, I talked to him about it and was floored to find out it wasn’t a published book, ONLY an audiobook! Since I do acquisitions for CQ, I told him he should let us publish it. It’s happening now, but well over a year later.

Did I ever tell you I once had a publisher contact me two years after I queried them with an acceptance?

Currently, I’m writing the final Actuator book. That series has taken a LOT longer than I expected. The anthologies between each book take TONS of time, but I think they are so awesome that it’s worth the wait for the readers. Still, I never would have guessed.

Sundown 01 Cover

The real reason I wanted to write this is SUNDOWN, my superhero comic. It took me years to find an artist willing to dedicate the time it takes to launch this comic. Then we had several colorists and letterers drop out. We finally finished issue #1 almost a year ago, and I’ve been querying comics publishers ever since. (No, Marvel and DC are NOT accepting submissions from outside artists.) I exhausted the list of comic publishers. Luckily, I found somebody interested in the project. Artisync!

It took so long to get them, that the artist moved on to a different project. Fortunately, Artisync has artists. So we are basically starting over a couple years later… but the project is happening.

Since it took me YEARS of rejection after rejection to my queries to sell my first short story and then contract my first novel, I think I can safely say you have to be patient in this business.

Am I patient? Pfft! No! :) But I keep working on new projects all the time. So while one thing is stewing (like the comic or an anthology) I work on something else. It keeps me from going crazy waiting for the slow machine to finally crank out the work.

I guess the advice here is to just keep writing. Whatever you do, don’t stop and wait. Finish a book, set it aside, and write something else. Between each of the Actuator series books, while I waited and worked on the anthologies, I wrote entire other novels. Salvation was one. Thug #1 is the one I just finished. So, whatever happens…




Book Review: Five Out of the Dark


Five teenagers who’ve recently discovered they have magical powers and are living in the Seattle underground feel it’s their responsibility to protect unsuspecting humans from otherworldly foes.

Things are going well until Johnathan, their unofficial leader and the boy sixteen year old Paige is in love with, is bitten by a changeling – the venomous saliva causing him to metamorphose into a ravening beast with each full moon.

Paige vows that, no matter the cost, she will find a way to cure Johnathan of the evil that has embedded itself in his soul. But Johnathan’s monthly transformation and daily personality roller coaster aren’t the only problems they have to deal with.

The Five are also gearing up to face their toughest and most dangerous enemy yet—a powerful and ruthless Warlock who will go to any means, including high school, to build his Dark Army.

My Review: This book is like Harry Potter in the Seattle underground, so automatically cool. It’s full of teenage angst and romance, but against a backdrop of werewolves and demons. The magic system is enigmatic and intriguing. The characters are fun, especially the main girl who is tough and strong willed. Anderson doesn’t pull the punches, leading to a shocking and powerful climax.

About the Author: Holli Anderson has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing–which has nothing to do with writing, except maybe by adding some pretty descriptive injury and vomit scenes to her books. She discovered her joy of writing during a very trying period in her life when escaping into make-believe saved her. She enjoys reading any book she gets her hands on, but has a particular love for anything fantasy.

Along with her husband, Steve, and their four sons, she lives in Grantsville, Utah–the same small town in which she grew up.

I’ve been to a lot of conventions and other events with Holli. She is more than a fun person, I consider her a friend. We not only share a publisher, we are both Space Balrogs. Although I’ve known and shared tables with her for years, the only excuse I can offer for waiting so long to read this book is that I usually avoid series until they are all the way finished so that I don’t have to wait out long cliff hangers. This book justified my position. Luckily, book two is out and I can get that now. Also, I get to beta read book three before it’s out, so envy me. If you love Urban Fantasy, you won’t regret reading this book.

Book Review: Bieber’s Finger

Bieber's Finger An intergalactic pop idol dies in a tragic murder. But one of his most devoted fans isn’t ready to say goodbye. Twana Burch, super-fan, waits outside a concert venue for a glimpse of Bieber, the object of her obsession. Her whole world changes when his limo explodes. In the blast, she catches a souvenir, his finger. In the midst of recent controversy surrounding illegal cloning, Twana concocts a plan to resurrect her pop idol and rescue his career by booking him at the biggest concert event in the known universe: The Pan-Galactic Prom Show. Meanwhile… The warrior crew of a dying race of alien creatures sets out into space in a search for help to rescue their war-tattered planet. Their tools: entertainment and propaganda. Their target: The Pan-Galactic Prom Show.

My Review: This book is hilarious! The two stories progress to a climax until you can’t stop until you reach the end. A master of suspense and humor, this book has everything from familial love to genocidal war. It packages deep and touching humanity in media hype and snickers. A cross between Spinal Tap and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I had to get book 2 before I finished book 1, because I couldn’t wait! It’s a good thing they are both out, or I would have been angry.

As a second note, I listened to this as an audiobook. The author is an amazing reader! His voicing talent is exceptional. I honestly don’t know why he isn’t making his whole living reading audiobooks. It is among the best audiobook presentations I’ve ever heard.

About the Author: Craig Nybo lives with his beautiful wife and kids in Kaysville, UT. He works as a creative director for mediaRif.com, a digital agency. Craig writes novels, short fiction, and screenplays. As a musician, he has released several records with friends under the band names, Rustmonster and The Big Sky Country Boys. Craig also records solo work. He has released three records under his own name, Zombie Sing-a-long, and a sequel album, Zombie Sing-a-long: Whistler and the Children (Parts 1 & 2).

As a filmmaker, Craig has written and directed many short films. He also writes and directs many commercials and industrial videos as part of his profession. Aside from writing, Craig enjoys playing in the Rocky Mountains, rock climbing and canyoneering.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Craig Nybo on panels, in games, in bands, and on writing projects. He’s one of the most professional musicians and artists I’ve ever met. Women want him and I want to be him! That’s not an exaggeration. His creative studio is flippin’ amazing! If you’ve never had the chance to read Nybo’s work, Bieber’s Finger is a great book to start with.

Cover Reveal: The Actuator RPG

Actuator RPG E-book Cover

I’m thrilled to announce The Actuator Role-playing Game has been picked up by Final Redoubt Press! This is a module suited to work with any role-playing game system. The full version will be released digitally and in print this August, just after book 2 in the series: Return of the Saboteur. I hope to have copies for sell at Comic Con. The cover art is courtesy of Curiosity Quills Press, who published the books. If you can’t wait, you can get the beginning of the game now for free right here. A shout out to Robert J. Defendi for making this possible!


#bestbadpitch #bestbadquery Contest

Apparently, my bad query wasn’t the best last year, so I’m in the game again. This year, my best bad query and best bad pitch are sure to be the best… at being bad. Thanks to Sharon Bayliss for coming up with these awful contests so even the worst of us can excel at something.


Therez no way 2 tell U how amazing this book is in just 141 chars. But I’ll tell U the title and it’s full of lovin’ goodness. Then Ull know. UNICORNS IN SPACE! Right?!!! <3 <3 <3


Dear editor,

Imma make you a millionaire. Check it… I talked to my friends and they said what needs to happen is a book that has everything in it. I mean EVERYTHING!!! So that’s what I got. Magic, mythologies, a lot of cute guys, and chicks fighting for them, and true love, lot’s of love. The only thing it needed was space, so we did that, too. Plus, the main characters a unicorn. What? Why, you ask? Because it’s like Harry Potter. That chick put together two ideas at once; magic and high school. And Twilight with the vampires and love. That was big, right? So the trick is just putting together TWO IDEAS and it will be huge. So we put together like six ideas that have never been put together before– and the best ones space ships and unicorns!


That’s the title, or maybe the series. And I’m halfway through the first book. Sarah, my BFF, says it’s like the best book ever. She read it twice so far. Even better than those lame ones I said before. Some of the ideas are so good I can’t even tell you, until you sign a contract. But I will say this, the love scenes are soooo sweet and perfect.

anywayz, totally text me at the number below and tell me what you’ll give me if I let you in on this sick book deal! Then I’ll send you pics of the stuff I wrote BY HAND, because we think that would make people like it more, because it’s like her journal.

~Shanna Kewl
385-555-3349 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

The Dungeon Escape

Last weekend at CONduit, the Space Balrogs debuted my newest game, The Dungeon Escape!

Character Example

An evil wizard has captured and enslaved a large group of humans and dwarves, planning to sacrifice them to raise Gornash the demon to wreak havoc on the earth. The wizard botched the ritual, resulting in his own horrible death and leaving all the intended victims free, deep in a dungeon. Now they must fight their way past traps, dark magic, and monsters if they ever want to see the light of day again.

This is a role-playing game for huge groups of players… like hundreds. The audience each gets a character sheet, like the one shown. There are eight different professions to choose from: Brawler, Healer, Tinker, Teacher, Hunter, Farmer, Trader, and Sorcerer. They choose their gender, race (human or dwarf), and skill. Then, as the game progresses, they have an ability they can use once, they pick things up with their hands, and lose hit points. When they get to one hit point, a special kicks in. The character sheet is designed to be ripped as the game goes, so they don’t need pens or anything during the game.

A group of panelists draws encounter cards and rolls dice. The players react to the action as it unfolds. A combination of luck and strategy determines if they survive.

The games both went really well. I even had people asking if this game was available to buy. (Maybe, we’ll see.) We got great feedback and figured out how to adapt it to large groups. We are planning to play it full scale at Salt Lake Comic Con in September, so come and join us!

Cover Reveal! The Actuator 2: Return of the Saboteur

Actuator 2 Ebook Cover

We have cover art! This series had been a huge undertaking. I’ve been thrilled with the amazing covers by the talented Michelle Johnson. You can add it on Goodreads now. For those of you waiting for the next book in this epic saga, it comes out on July 20. The paperback will be coming out the same time as the e-book for this one. Also, I’m having a book release party at a real bookstore soon after. That’s different than the usual FB release parties we’ve been having. I’m pulling together the stories for the next book in the series now: The Actuator 2.5: Armageddon Chronicles! Although it is a short story anthology which is technically outside the main trilogy line, you won’t want to miss the amazing reveals in it. To whet your appetite, here’s a quick blurb for Return of the Saboteur,

Chaos seized the Earth while Machine Monks fight to keep the prized ‘Actuator’ safe from enemy attacks. The ‘Great Change,’ which swept over the prior landscape of the world, left the protectors of this wondrous machine weary, and vulnerable. The only viable resolution for the monks is to push forward and locate the key that can shut down the fantasy realm surrounding the base. If they succeed, Xenwyn will die.

Meanwhile, Jon Van Allen is haunted by the enormous death toll on the rise throughout the earth. He bravely accepts the mission to recover the next key when no one else can find it. Despite pain from his prior injuries, he refuses to let the rest of humanity suffer—even though he and his love, Glass, might not survive to see each other alive again. The burden of allowing millions to suffer needlessly proves too much—especially if he can fix what has caused the living nightmare enslaving the globe.

Desperate to keep Xenwyn alive, Red McLaren determines to find a magical cure to heal her, hoping he can administer it before Jon returns with the critical key. However, every time Red takes Xenwyn across a new border into a superimposed ‘fantasy’, her life might end.

This leaves Dragon Star with no choice but to locate the Saboteur before it’s too late. The architect of the reigning dark world may have some insight that will help them alleviate the resulting disaster. If not, he at least deserves to suffer like everybody else.

Each in their own way fell short in their roles to protect the world from the disaster that unfolded…. None ever dreamed the Actuator—designed to make the world better—could yet make the world even worse.

Don’t miss the next exciting installment in The Actuator series! If you haven’t started it yet, get the two-time best-selling book 1: Fractured Earth on Amazon now.