Back on the Charts!

It’s been a while since I had a book ranking on Amazon, so I can’t help but share. I didn’t edit this anthology, but I’m super glad to have One Cog in it. #1 in Hot New SciFi Anthologies! If you don’t have it yet, what are you waiting for?

One Cog

Eleven years. That’s how old this story is.

I wrote it in 2012 to enter the Jim Baen Memorial Contest… and took 3rd place. I held onto it for years because of some promised anthology Baen was going to do with the entries. That never panned out. So I submitted it to TWO different anthologies. It was accepted both times. And both of them fell through. I was starting to think this story was cursed. Then last year I sent it to Cloaked Press. They accepted it, and they actually printed it! (And the cover’s pretty great, too.)

So, after a long, hard journey, I finally present ONE COG!

A technician on a mining ship in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter gets an offer from the Captain he can’t turn down. Fix the broken airlock so they can finish this mission and he gets to keep the ship. But how do you fix one broken gear in deep space with almost no resources?

Get it now in e-book or paperback.

30% off Paperbacks!

Hey, my publisher is having a sale for St. Patrick’s Day on paperback books (including some of mine). Not only are they discounted, but shipping is free!

Find them here:


The Worldbuilding Trap

Recently Stephen King tweeted, ““World-building” is a phrase I really wish would be retired. Not only is it sloppy and lazy, it has become trite. Lot of the time the world building takes center stage keeping the story from being told”

I have to say I agree. But my point is to discuss a more sinister trap. Worldbuilding can become a whole project all its own, taking a huge amount of time from the author which never gets converted into anything salable. In many cases, it becomes a kind of shield because it’s easier than actual writing.

I blame Tolkien. I can’t count how many times people have talked about his maps, genealogies, and languages as evidence of his full immersion into Middle Earth and how it became a rich well of source material to draw on. I’ve done this. I once spent ten years with my friend R. A. Baxter developing a world. At the time we didn’t plan on writing anything, but later we turned it into books (cover left and above). But the books, didn’t really sell well. That may be for other reasons, but nobody commented on the plethora of world development materials. I’m not claiming to do work on the same level as Tolkien, but we had maps, an encyclopedia, and everything you can imagine worked out. We actually wrote the books because it seemed a shame to waste all that work.

For the last couple of years I’ve gone down another worldbuilding rabbit hole. The main character is a game designer. As the story progresses, I keep stopping to create the actual games, though. It’s added more than a year to the project already. I know independent games make almost zero money. But for some reason, I can’t help it. I enjoy making them, so I wrote four RPG manuals (covers below), made a 240 card deck-building game, and a smaller 72 card game. I probably have what I need to finish writing the first book, but I’ll need a few more before the series is done.

So I’m giving you advice I don’t take. But I have a lot of books written, so I don’t feel much pressure if I take a long side quest. I actually have a couple of unpublished books I’m still deciding what to do with. If you are writing your first book, I suggest limiting the world building and focusing on the writing… if you can.


Terrifying Lies Podcast

Terrifying Lies is a podcast of horror short stories by the amazing Craig Nybo. Not only is he a great author, but he is an amazing musician. This has synthesized into some incredible cross-over projects, including one where he took lyrics I wrote and made it into a song! But I digress. One of his awesome ideas was to have a band (full band, not just a rhythm section) play improv music while authors read short stories. It was a kind of game where the musicians had to try and match the feel of the story on the fly while still working with each other. Obviously, since Craig’s band is the best at what they do, it worked. And one of my stories put to such music has now been posted under the title:

A Lovecraftian Improv Romp

If that doesn’t get you to go listen to it, I weep for your loss of childlike wonder in the universe. 😉

The whole thing is awesome, but my part starts at 7:30. And so I give this to you as gift… HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

AML top 100

Wow! I just found out one of the anthologies I edited for Immortal Works Press, All Made of Hinges, has been chosen as one of the top 100 most influential works of Mormon literature of all time by the Association of Mormon Literature. Although I can hardly take credit, considering the idea was almost entirely conceived by D. J. Butler, and he was one of three other editors who worked on the series, it is still a great honor to be represented on this list next to pillars of the community like the Work and the Glory series, A Short Stay in Hell (see my related anthology: Windows Into Hell), and The Backslider.

You can see the entire list here:

Kovel Award 2022

Today I was honored to receive the prestigious Edward M. Kovel Award.

I want to appreciate the many people who have helped me reach this new height in my writing career. I couldn’t have done it without the inspiration of so many people. Thanks to each and every one of you.

The Problem with World Building

So, I spent way too long on these RPG game manuals (thanks to Wilbert Stanton for the covers).

And then, predictably, my mind spun a huge epic series of books. I resisted starting them, for all I was worth. But in the end, I just couldn’t stop it. So, I started an outline and some character summaries. If this happens, it will take years. The first draft of the first book, less time, obviously.

My last series (The Actuator) took years to put out, and I think it lost some reader momentum because of that. So if I do another series, I’m toying with writing the whole thing before the first one gets published. And, It’ll probably involve another anthology… or something even bigger.

What have I gotten myself into???

On the plus side, Spring has been very nice this year. 🙂

New RPG Covers by Wilbert Stanton

I’m thrilled to give you an early preview of the covers for a project I’ve been working on for over a year. A good friend of mine, Wilbert Stanton, recently decided to start doing photomanipulations for book cover art. After seeing some of his work, I mentioned that if he was looking for something to practice on I had a four part series I was working on that he could play around with. The results are nothing short of awesome. It probably won’t surprise anybody that he has since been picked up by a publishing company to do covers for them. And I get to say I knew him before he was famous! Thanks, Wil.

I’m actually still in the middle of writing the third book. So, the project is far from finished. He just got these covers done fast and I was too impatient to not put them out in the world. I’m looking for people to playtest the game, so please e-mail me if you’re interested. It’s a rules-light, “unlimited” character system.

Book 1: Cryptic Paradigm

Forget what you think you know about this life. History books spread lies. Most people live blissfully unaware of true human nature. The real history of the earth is the history of magic. The people who wield it and the monsters they make will ultimately determine the fate of the world.

This base rule book covers the basics of how to play a role-playing game for anybody who has never played one before. It also details the fast-paced, rule-light D:2xL RPG system. It covers the world as we know it, and the parts we don’t know. If you’re looking for espionage, underground movements, and military clashes, it’s all here. Of course, the book also covers monsters, magic, and superpowers if you crave a darker urban fantasy adventure.

Book 2: Brutal Relics

From ancient times through the dark ages, elemental magic ruled. Empires rose and fell as monsters and strange humanoid races coexisted, albeit savagely. The balance tipped when magic relics changed the medieval world. If you love swords, sorcery, and epic fantasy heroes, this is the D:2xL book for you. It’s the only time in history when wizards and monsters could live out in the open without fear of being hunted to extinction.

Book 3: Horrible Alchemy

Detailing the magical renaissance, this D:2xL rulebook covers the centuries when magic was forced underground. It also contains vital information for Steampunk and the monsters from classical literature. If you’re a fan of Jules Verne, black and white horror, or noir detectives, these are the rules for you. These stories, set between the golden age of piracy and the turn of the millennium, are sure to give you the dark atmosphere you’re looking for with just a touch of madness.

Book 4: Fractured Spacetime

In the near future, humanity’s destiny splits and follows three different post-singularity paths: Cyberpunk, Nuclear Apocalypse, and Space Migration. All the technology from faster than light spaceships to true artificial intelligence lies ahead of us. If you’re into science fiction, check out this D:2xL rulebook where you can play in the brightest ideal or the darkest dystopia. To save humanity, we must embrace magic and bring all three branches back together to obtain transcendence.

Free Halloween Anthology

I haven’t forgotten you. This year I have a special surprise for Halloween… A FREE Anthology of Flash Fiction stories. It features my story, The Calling, which you might have seen last year. But it’s also got a lot more spooky fun. Get it now!

Excerpt from The Calling:

When she heard the cry of wolves in the distance, Amy closed her eyes and kept quiet. She already knew nobody else could hear them. Her parents said they believed her. They took her to counseling, and had her hearing checked. Friends found it novel at first, but soon stopped sympathizing with her little quirk. In the end, people became impatient, even accusing her of making it up to get attention. College was hard enough without feeling isolated and weird. So, she just kept to herself, waiting for the soulful wail to fade. (Keep Reading…)

If you prefer, you can get this book in paperback.