Witch on the Run

Happy Holidays! I got you a present early this year: Witch on the Run. It’s about a young woman coming to grips with powers she’s been trying to hide.

You can read the whole thing here on Story Origin. Hey, a superhero origin story on Story Origin… that’s funny! Enjoy. 🙂

Siege War

(Here’s a serial project I started up last week.)
Siege War
Day 1
Half the hoard descended in mass. Due to the cunningly arranged battlefield, they were splintered and isolated. Despite there being no advantage, two still attempted to breach the fortress wall, with no real success. Supplies are full and so far there’s no word from the castle of any infections among the attackers, but we can’t be sure they would tell us anyway. Politics ever taints the information long before it trickles down to us on the front line. Morale is still high on the inside, but we all know it’s just a waiting game – not a matter of if, but when. And the enemy is very good at waiting. They act casual, mulling around and pretending they aren’t even interested, but the anger is always there. They may keep it down today, tomorrow, a week, a month; but sooner or later, they will find a weakness, a crack in the walls. Then they will strike – not a powerful rush of war calls and broken weapons, but a silent spreading of biological agents. The poison will seep in and defile the unsuspecting. I’ve seen it many times before, but never for such high stakes.
Day 2
The rest of them arrived, like warm Trojan horses. It’s still early days, so nothing seemed amiss. Again, two times one of them pushed against the wall. Why two? Is that how many seemingly innocent attempts they believe they can make without raising any alarm? We aren’t fooled. We know they are searching for weakness. But what choice do we have? All we can do is try to keep things calm and avoid drawing attention to the elephant in the room.
Day 3
The wall has been breached.
Only one attacker came through, and did not get far before being routed. Still, it weighs heavily. Why didn’t the others join the sprint? It’s unnatural. Unlike any normal war.
Including the one that briefly entered the fortress, there were two more attempts on the fortress wall. Why two every day? It’s like some kind of hive mind is making puppets out of the seemingly innocuous hoard. Maybe we are all puppets. In the end, one side will win the war. But will the plight of the peasants change? Will the soldiers be any worse off under one king or another? All these questions are just distractions. Our job is to hold out, and so we continue to dance with an unknown partner. So far we remain in control.
Day 4
Five today. I’m not sure whether to be relieved that the pattern finally changed or worried that it’s accelerating. Are they emboldened by having spent so much time examining the battle field, or just acting out of boredom? We have supplies and are well prepared, but the hardest part of the “game” is the mental gymnastics. Are they going to rally a full scale attack or just try to wait us out? Sometimes I catch myself wishing it would just start so we can get it over with one way or the other. But I know better than to entertain such thoughts. The longer we all hold out, the fewer people will die in the end, on both sides.
Day 5
Only one breach today. Quickly routed. The numbers are thinning. It makes me wonder if the enemy has the resources to lay any kind of sustained siege at all. Of course we’re hopelessly outnumbered if they get past. If they infect even one of us, their work will be done for them. Maybe the others are planning something special where we can’t see them? Can’t let myself get distracted. Just hold the line. Nothing else matters.
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Writing the Other


There’s a lot of talk between writers and advice to writers about writing “the other” (someone of a different race, culture, gender, etc., from yourself). It’s a complicated debate. On one hand, there are minorities and underrepresented groups who would like to see more diversity in books and other media. On the other hand, there are many who get upset if people are only represented as stereotypes in the story. On top of that, there are people who feel that if you write a character of a different culture you may take away the ability for people within that culture to write about and have their experiences recognized (it’s called “own voices” if you want to look into it). What is an author to do?

Although I’m afraid people will think this is a cop-out, I think they are all right.

That doesn’t mean you have to do it, of course. It depends what you are writing and what you want your work to “say” to the reader. It’s true that sometimes a homogeneous group of people will interact. So stories about and largely with characters of all the same “type” are legitimate. It is, however, rather limiting in terms of who is likely to relate to the story. It would also be unrealistic to have a book set in any city but the characters never interact with anyone unlike themselves.

It’s also true that just saying somebody is Hispanic or Jewish doesn’t fix the problem. It’s likely to offend people who are being misrepresented. The solution is to actually look up information about these other people and portray them authentically in the story.

What about the old axiom to write what you know? Well, the best solution would be to get to know people outside your own type, well enough to empathize with them. If you really want to dig into social issues and include somebody different than yourself, it’s also recommended to find sensitivity readers. Get somebody who is the type you are writing about to read it and help you get the character right.

If you’re a new writer, this can be hard to do. But as you grow, it’s better to stretch farther. If you only write people like yourself it is likely to limit your audience.

In my experience, no matter what characters an author writes, they tend to put a little bit of their self in each one. The magic then becomes seeing reflections of yourself in people you previously thought to be different.

I started my most recent book, Thug #1, with the intent of writing someone different. Although CJ is not really like me, as I listen to the audio book again, I realize there is still more of me in this henchman than I expected.

See for yourself!

Thug #1 Sale Banner B

99 cent Thug

Thug #1 Sale Banner A

Top Ten Reasons You Should Buy THUG #1 Today:

10- The illustrator, John Christian Perkins, just had a baby and needs money

9- After Avengers: Endgame, you haven’t been able to get your superhero fix

8- Supporting indie authors, artists, and publishers is the right thing to do

7- It’s a great gift

6- If you buy the e-book on sale, the audio book becomes very reasonable

5- The audio book narrator is freakin’ amazing and you absolutely must hear it read by Henry Kramer

4- Winter is cold and curling up with a cup of cocoa to read an action adventure sounds really nice

3- You want to see this mixed-medium project for yourself

2- It’s been too long since you read a really engaging book

1- It’s cheaper than dirt!


Get it from Amazon US now!

Get it from Amazon UK starting Saturday, December 14!

Still not convinced? Check out the Thug #1 Page for more amazing information!

Happy Holidays! 🙂

Thug Ch 7

Ideas Into Setting


One of the things most difficult to balance when writing a book can be how much uniqueness to invent for the world it is set in. It’s easy for some stories, such as historical fiction. For Science Fiction or Fantasy, it can become a huge part of the creative process. Among authors this is referred to as world building and magic systems.

I don’t know if world building is the best name for the process. It’s really just imagining and designing the setting of the story. The most famous example of someone who did a lot of world building is J. R. R. Tolkien. He wrote genealogies, drew maps, and created whole languages for Middle Earth. Few will doubt the depth of the setting he created, especially since it then grew to be an entire literary genre. For most authors, his level of creation is counterproductive. It takes a lot of time and thought which might otherwise be dedicated to actual writing. Certainly his stories are richer for the effort, though.

Currently, one key aspect of world building any fantasy story is the design of the magic system. In some cases, it’s become so formulaic that it feels unoriginal. Many authors base their system on something common or mundane like colors, blood, or archaic elements. There are rules, not unlike a game, which govern the use of magic in those stories. Although sometimes the methods of usage can overtake the story, clouding other more important parts such as character and plot.

How much is too much? How much is too little?

In questions of balance, the correct answer always lies somewhere in the middle. I once spent ten years building a world. To be clear, we only wanted to design the setting, not actually write books or anything. Halfway through we decided to start writing books set in that world. We discovered something surprising– it’s harder to write in an over-developed world. We had so many ideas, that the first books turned out to just be an unending flow of concepts to the point where characters and plot were quite far down on the priority list.

Where nightmares ridePart of the problem was probably our own lack of experience and still learning to write books. Eventually, we learned to write about characters and leave out any insignificant world details. My partner in this crazy endeavor, R. A. Baxter, just released his first book set in that world: Where Nightmares Ride. I highly recommend it. You can see the world we spent so much effort on.

Too little development can be just as bad. I recently read a mystery set in the future, but the science fiction elements were so sparse as to not even be relevant. There wasn’t any great technology or advancement. It felt like a modern day detective story with a few gadgets thrown in. Such a situation leaves a story unfulfilling and rife with plot holes. I couldn’t help but wonder why there weren’t any advances in forensics technology in the supposed forty years between now and when it was said to take place. If nothing else, too little world building will just disappoint fans of the genre being ignored.

The exact balance is art, not science. I recommend enough for flavor, but not so much it overwhelms the story.

Actuator Spin-off: Adventures of Ubergirl


I’m thrilled to announce the first book in The Adventures of Ubergirl series, My Dad is a Mad Scientist, by the amazing Matthew S. Cox! This post-apocalyptic superhero story is made for young readers, but fun and funny enough to keep any adult reader intrigued. I am especially excited about it because the main character in this series originated in Chaos Chronicles, the second Actuator anthology!



Saving the world isn’t easy. It’s even harder when you’re only nine.

Kelly Donovan used to be a nobody. Well, a smart nobody. Skipping ahead a year in school made her the smallest kid in fifth grade and a target for bullies in search of an easy mark. She tried to follow her father’s advice and ignore them, but it didn’t do any good. Escaping into her favorite comic books at least helped her through the day. Who needs friends anyway?

Sometimes, dreams find a way to come true, even if nobody asked them to.

Aliens bombard the Earth with gigantic glowing red crystals to restore its failing magnetic field. Soon after the seemingly benevolent invasion, Kelly discovers her wildest, happiest fantasy come to life: she has superpowers, along with roughly two percent of the population. Her strong good nature leads her to adopt the heroic persona of Übergirl. However, she has one major problem…

Her dad’s turning into a mad scientist.

It’s difficult to be a hero, especially when your father’s a bad guy.

Ruin of Man
Here is the story art from The Ruin of Man, Kelly Donovan’s first appearance as Ubergirl. Although Matthew said he had to change the setting somewhat to make this work outside the Actuator setting, the main Character (one of an ensemble cast he used the first time) is very true to the original and just as endearing.

Find out more about the Actuator series.

My Review: 5 stars

Ubergirl’s origin story is nothing short of amazing. In the midst of a world being morphed to the will of aliens, this adorable kid manages to keep her naivete and even use it (along with incredible super powers) as a weapon against the many villainous forces  suddenly ruining her life. Cox’s high speed writing career pushes one of his most powerful recurring themes to the next level in this children’s book which is fun and funny enough to keep even adults turning pages to the end. I can’t wait for the sequel!

Read Ubergirl’s adventures now!

Check out all of Matthew Cox’s books.

Actuator Spin-off: Arcane Casebook Series

I’m pleased to introduce the Arcane Casebook Series by the exceptionally talented Dan Willis – an awesome historical Urban Fantasy. The reason it’s so thrilling to me is that this series originated with two short stories Dan wrote for the Actuator anthologies.


Here’s what he had to say about it. “Alex Lockerby is definitely inspired by David Archer. I’d never tried to write a detective story until the Borderlands story. Turns out I learned something important about myself.”

Untitled0You can get the prequel to the series, DEAD LETTER, free on Dan’s website. Here’s the blurb:

In 1930 New York, the sorcerers are the powerhouses of magic and the runwrights are the poor cousins.  Private detective Alex Lockerby is definitely in the latter category, plying his meager magic skills to help people the regular cops ignore while barely making ends meet.

What Alex needs is a break.  Just one good case to get his name out there and start bringing in business.  When ambitious beat cop Danny Pak gets stuck trying to solve a John Doe murder, it might just be the break Alex has been looking for.

As Alex and Danny team up they begin to unravel a tale murder, jealousy, and revenge stretching back over 30 years.  A tale powerful forces don’t want to come to light.  Now the cop and the private detective must work fast and watch each other’s backs if they hope to catch a killer and live to tell about it.

Get the FREE download now!

Once you have it, you will certainly want to get IN PLAIN SIGHT, a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Here’s the description:Untitled

When a magical plague is released in a Depression-era New York soup kitchen, private detective Alex Lockerby finds himself in a desperate hunt to catch a madman before he can strike again.

His investigations lead Alex to a famous thief, a daring heist, and the search for a mythic book of ancient magic, but none of that brings him any closer to finding the man responsible for the massacre. With the police and New York’s Council of Sorcerers desperate to find the culprit, Alex becomes a suspect himself, thanks to his ties to the priest who ran the soup kitchen.

Now Alex has his book of spells, a pack of matches and four days to find out where the plague came from, or that authorities will hang the crime squarely on him.

Book 2, GHOST OF A CHANCE, just came out! It’s already topping the charts. Here’s the pitch:

Untitled2When a bizarre string of locked-room murders terrorize New York, the police have no leads, no suspects, and only one place to turn. Now private detective Alex Lockerby will need every magical trick in his book to catch a killer who can walk through walls and leaves no trace.

Unfortunately Alex’s magic hasn’t been working very well.  He can’t even manage to track down several truckloads of stolen goods, including one belonging belonging to New York’s preeminent sorcerer, Andrew Barton. To make matters worse, Alex and his clients are being stalked by a shadowy cabal with strange powers that Alex has never seen before.  

With the Ghost killer seemingly able to murder at will and the tabloids, the public, and Alex’s clients demanding results, Alex will need a miracle to keep himself, his clients, and his reputation alive.

I’m sure this series will just keep getting better and better! You can find more of Dan Willis’s books on his website.

Podcast Double Interview

DCR Interview Graphic

Having my superhero book release the same day as Holli has been a real blast! At LTUE last weekend, Daniel Swenson of Dungeon Crawlers Radio, interviewed us both for his Hugo nominated Podcast.

Go listen to it now!

And if you see this in time and live in the area, come see us at the double author signing at Grantsville City Library tonight from 6-8 PM! (42 N Bowery St, Grantsville, Utah 84029)

IW Double Release Poster

Thug #1 Double Release Party

IW Double Release Poster.png

My good friend, Holli Anderson, and I both have new Superhero themed books coming out the same day! So, naturally, that calls for a party! You are invited!

It’s Wednesday, February 20, at the Grantsville City Library – 42 N Bowery St, Grantsville, Utah 84029. 6 PM Mountain Standard Time. If you’re in the area, join us!

Oh, and in case you haven’t seen it yet… COVER REVEAL!