Pathways of the Dead Winter 2014 Tour: Day 5 and Weekly Status

Welcome back to the Pathways of the Dead blog tour. Today, we have Day 5 and an interesting interview with Nicky Peacock.  Here’s an excerpt:

 I’m all about characters. Don’t get me wrong, situations can be interesting, and I enjoy scenarios that are like puzzles, difficult to solve but rewarding in the end. Still, I keep coming back to those crazy, weird characters. There’s nothing like connecting with a good character and telling his or her unique story. They are the reason I keep on writing.

If you’re interested, hop over to the post and show that blog some love. Go on, do it!

Oh, and did I mention that you can win a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book? Yeah, you can enter on each of the stops over the next two weeks. I plan to post and provide a link to the differing sites each day, so make sure you hop over and enter for your chance to win.

All right, and with the daily update posted, let’s talk business. It’s actually been a very busy couple of weeks. In addition to starting a new day job, I’ve been cranking out these guest posts on a near-daily basis. It’s required some real self-examination and examination of the Among the Dead series and is getting me pumped to finish the first draft of City of the Dead, which I am hoping to do this Summer.

In the meantime, I’ve made some real progress on Chapter 13 of the sex addict novel; this chapter shows us his darker side, which works well as it’s book-ended by some very sweet scenes. The goal is to present the guy as both good and evil, dark and light, encompassing the best and worst of human behavior. Like most of us. Also took Chapter 5 and a brand-new Chapter 6 to my critique group last Sunday and it did fairly well. As expected, 5 came out a little better, as 6 was still a rough draft. They gave me a lot of great ideas for updating things, including one that I think will bring some gravitas to the whole book.

Oh, and that suggestion also led to the new title (hopefully the final one) for the book: Came to Believe. It’s a sort of double-entendre, both a sexual reference and a reference to the recovery process through the 12 Steps. I’m quite pleased with it, actually.

That’s it for this week. Work continues, and I’m hitting those word counts again. Just need to keep on with what I’m doing for now.

Pathways of the Dead Winter 2014 Tour: Day 4: Talking Limerence with Ash Krafton

Welcome back to the Pathways of the Dead blog tour. Today, we have Day 4 and a guest post for the incomparable Ash Krafton. I crafted an entry today that talks about the difference between love and limerence (something that’s been very much on my mind with the subject matter of my next novel) and how that relates to the story of Among the Dead. Here’s an excerpt:

Limerence, then, is that crazy phase where you can’t get someone out of your mind and drive your friends out of their minds with constant chatter about the new love of your life. Every waking minute may be filled with a desire to be with that person, a burning need only quenched by proximity to the target. It’s a head-spinning, heart-pounding, pleasant-and-awful crazy rush of endorphins flooding your body. Opinions differ on what triggers this particular state, but most psychologists agree that it’s a recognition of something familiar in that other person, and that familiar trait may be good or bad. Add this to people writing songs about this state of mind, lauding it as “true love” and you have a recipe for something quite dangerous and addictive.

If you’re interested, hop over to the post and show that blog some love. Go on, do it!

Oh, and did I mention that you can win a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book? Yeah, you can enter on each of the stops over the next two weeks. I plan to post and provide a link to the differing sites each day, so make sure you hop over and enter for your chance to win.

Pathways of the Dead Winter 2014 Tour: Day 3: How to Be an Author in Your Own Life

Welcome back to the Pathways of the Dead blog tour. Today, we have Day 3 and a guest post for Christina Jean Michaels. This is one of my favorite posts of the tour, one centering around the concept of authorship of your life. I’m a firm believer that while many things are out of control in our lives, we can take some measure of control and grab the reins; today’s post talks about how to do it. Here’s an excerpt:

2. Know Thyself. Certainly cliche, and certainly true. This is not a ‘travel-to-India’ edict, rather an encouragement to observe yourself, one that comes from Julia Cameron and The Artists’ Way, where she suggests taking yourself on a weekly ‘artist date’. I took this advice during the early years of my career and discovered quite a bit about myself, chief of them my preferred locations for introspection. For whatever reason, I have always favored the dark places of the Earth: abandoned buildings, empty highways, graveyards. The ghosts of the past whisper in your ear in such places, making them holy to me. For you this might be the beach – whatever, each of us is different, the important part is finding a spot where your mind connects to something larger. Once you’re there, be still and follow the third point.

If you’re interested, hop over to the post and show that blog some love. Go on, do it!

Oh, and did I mention that you can win a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book? Yeah, you can enter on each of the stops over the next two weeks. I plan to post and provide a link to the differing sites each day, so make sure you hop over and enter for your chance to win.

Pathways of the Dead Winter 2014 Tour: Day 2 with Vaempires!

Hello, hello, welcome once again to the Pathways of the Dead blog tour, day 2! This time we have the excerpt from the novel and an interview with the book blog Vaempires. I have to say I really enjoyed this interview, as it offered a chance to answer questions that I don’t often see, including the books that have inspired me, the author with whom I’d most like to write, and whether I think the movie can ever be better than the book. I’m not spoiling a thing, though, so you’ll have to go over and read about it yourself at the site. When you’re done, feel free to give me any comments/questions.

Oh, and did I mention that you can win a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book? Yeah, you can enter on each of the stops over the next two weeks. I plan to post and provide a link to the differing sites each day, so make sure you hop over and enter for your chance to win.

Pathways of the Dead Winter 2014 Tour: Day 1 and a Lusty Penguin

So, yeah, welcome to Day One of the two-week tour for Pathways of the Dead! This one has been in the works for some time now, but first I experienced  production delays on the book and then came the holidays and everything ended up spilling over. I blame myself. Sad, really. Anyway, I’ve been exceedingly busy creating good content for the tour, so I’m hyped up to hype you up, or something like that.

Oh, and did I mention that you can win a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book? Yeah, you can enter on each of the stops over the next two weeks. I plan to post and provide a link to the differing sites each day, so make sure you hop over and enter for your chance to win.

Today’s stop is with Lusty Penguin Reviews (got to love the name), and it features a character interview with Kristy, an excerpt, and other goodies. Go check it out!

Survivor Guilt in the Dead of Winter

If I am one thing in the business world, it is this: a survivor.

Since entering the professional work world in the late 90’s, I have been witness to six rounds of layoffs at various companies and narrowly escaped three more, jumping ship just before the ax came down. In that time, I have been the target of “right-sizing” only twice, once in 2001, and once just this year. Earlier in my career, I attributed my good fortune to doing something right, that the company found value in my efforts and decided to keep me on when others had been deemed superfluous. Then I went through a period where I believed it all to be good luck and nothing but; these days I recognize it as a bit of both, some of it is having the foresight and initiative to be in the right place at the right time as changes come down the path and some is blind luck in being in the right position, just as it is sometimes blind luck that we get cut when someone else does not.

But the thing is, even knowing all that, I still suffer extreme survivor’s guilt every time I escape the ax, and this time I managed it, albeit much more narrowly than in the past. In a roundabout way I’m telling you that I still have full-time employment at the same company, though my title and team have changed. I find myself spared of the job hunt for now. Celebration, right? Well, sort of. The new team seems cool and the challenges interesting, I’ll give it that. It’s not the position itself that poses the problem – it’s the sudden silence in the hallways. The empty cubicles. The good friends who weren’t spared.

It’s weird,  because some of the people for whom I’m most concerned have expressed that this whole thing represents an opportunity, so there’s no need to carry around this guilt. Yet I do it anyway. Why? Because it’s who I am, I suppose.

I did not, however, write this post to be a downer. I wrote this to serve as my weekly check-in with you guys. Things have been slow, to be honest. The word counts have not been up to par and writing has been a secondary, maybe even tertiary, concern. This is not so unusual; February and January are historically the slow months, but they are also frustrating every single time they happen. Each time the old fears come creeping out from places unknown, whispering that I’ll never write again, that this time it’s over for good. All nonsense, of course, and I keep putting one foot in front of the other slowly, but those voices visit all the same.

Work continues on Broken Wing. I’m up to Chapter 13, and have been there for a few weeks. The fault does not lie with the chapter itself, as I think it’s a fairly interesting character study portion, but rather with the situation. I believe this will clear up as things move forward. I still have not put out the Pathways print version, again a victim of the bottleneck. I don’t have an ETA on that one yet. I hope soon, the poor book deserves more than it’s gotten so far. We have a book tour scheduled next week (expect to see more info here), so I hope it picks up.

Other than that, settling into a new, if temporary, position. We’ll see how that string plays out, along with the planned move to California in the Fall. Until next time…

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The States of Thingses

Apologies for the radio silence, wanted to give myself a full week to process the news. For those who missed the last post, last Friday my day job informed me that my department would be banished to oblivion and all of us had the option to compete for new internal jobs or take the severance package. I’ll keep my thoughts on the process itself to a minimum as I have no desire to burn bridges and understand that business does what it needs to do. I don’t believe this had anything to do with my abilities or the abilities of the folks in my department, nor do I think this was done out of any malicious intent. We just got caught in the middle of a bidding war for the company. It happens. I’ve been through it before.

That doesn’t mean that my emotions stayed calm. On the contrary. I had no idea what to make of things and what it meant. I went through the fatalistic stages of believing that this meant an end to my career. I imagined my wife and I ending up penniless and homeless (despite such a scenario requiring a disastrous series of events that are unlikely to occur). It all boiled down to fear, though. I actually stumbled upon this long-forgotten quotation from Dune the other day and it set off some thoughts, ones that I’ll talk about below:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

This is never quoted in recovery circles (I’ve checked as part of my research) and yet it feels so important, as so many of the roots of addiction and mental illness lie in fear, the fear that drives us to avoidance. I realized that while I seemed to be obsessing over loss, this was actually a technique to avoid the deeper fear: fear of death.

As much as we ascribe endless complexities to the subconscious – and it is quite complex – sometimes its machinations are simplistic to the point of seeming dull-witted. Loss, for instance, often equals death in the subconscious, which is why we cycle through grief. And so the subconscious pushes this away through all manner of different techniques in order to survive. Chief of these techniques is anxiety, which is the anticipation of loss, a form of living in an uncertain future that avoids the challenges of the moments.

That’s an awful lot of navel-gazing to say that I’ve been afraid of death for most of my life, not just the adult part, and now that I’m entering some of the years where the reaper begins to walk behind, you my subconscious mind saw omens in a layoff that had nothing to do with death. Perhaps the impersonal nature of it triggered me so badly; I often see death as an impersonal foe, able to sweep thousands away with no thought or pattern.

So in some ways, a more personal layoff might have been better for me. Still would have sucked, but might not have been accompanied by such existential dread.

Today, things are a little better. My wife gave me a breakdown of our finances and our ability to survive on unemployment and savings for a good period of time. It calmed me. I have also realized that the the next chapter in my life may begin on the West Coast. Obviously I can’t predict the future, but I can choose whether I feel positive about it or feel negative and dwell in fear. One makes me feel okay and able to take on the challenges of the day and the other keeps me shriveled up in a ball and miserable. I know which one I prefer.

Oh, and on more practical matters, this obviously affects release schedules. Print version of Pathways is on hold until things become clearer. I just can’t afford the proofing process right now. I understand this will be a disappointment for a few folks, but I’ll keep you posted. I had briefly contemplated a “sell-out” moment of writing erotica in hopes of making money, but a few hours with a story convinced me that I’m not very good at it and even if I were, the passion is just not there. I’ve returned to work on Broken Wing, though it’s slowed somewhat with the other things going on. I’ll return to publishing soon enough, and I still write every day. That will not change short of death or terminal illness.

Anyway, just a check-in with old friends and new acquaintances. Hope all is well in your world at the moment.

Pathways of the Dead is Hitting the (Virtual) Road

So yeah. I have a new book out, sort of. I’m still working on the print version so I haven’t gone crazy on the marketing yet, but I’m nearing completion there and it’s time to tell the world that this book is a thing and it exists. Oh, and I think it’s good, too. I’m not going to talk it down, of course, and it shows growth in my work, but as I finished the editing/preparation of this one I believe I hit a new level in the natural growth process of a writer.

Anyway, virtual book tour is coming, with prizes! If you’d like to sign up, you can go to Dark World Books’ sign-up page, which has more information on the book. Would love to have you along for the ride!

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Where Things Stand

So it’s been awhile. Well over three months, closing in on four, and I’m sure some people have questions about my silence. Maybe not many, but a few. To be perfectly honest I couldn’t have told you what the silence meant. It’s not that I didn’t feel inspired, it’s just…well, look. I sat down to write, really write, back at the end of August and I discovered something new: while I love writing, I’m not fully in love with being a writer. And I think the two things are very different.

What has this realization meant? An almost total pull-back from marketing efforts. A long, hard look at what I want to do with my career. A lot of writing, and I mean more than I’ve written in my entire life. Lots of considerations, and my mind tends to work best when I push those ideas to the subconscious and plow ahead with day-to-day life, so it’s taken some time to get here.

This isn’t a resignation letter, although I do recognize it sounds like one, especially with that ominous title. It’s more a statement of intent. I mean, first things first, did you guys know I released my third novel a few weeks back? I really did! The sequel to Corridors of the Dead, Pathways of the Dead, is out there, and I’m proud of it. Yet I’ve done zero marketing, and again it comes back to the question of why.

The truth is that my heart is no longer really in dark fiction. Oh, I plan to finish the Among the Dead series, don’t fret on that one, dearies. The first draft of City of the Dead is already halfway finished and on the backburner as I plow through the first revision of my next novel, and I know how most of Portal goes down, including the ending. It’s going to be a fun ride.

But it’s not where my heart is.

Today my heart is with a deeply flawed sex addict dentist named Dean and his struggles after his wife passes away in a tragic car accident. It’s with a woman who moves back to her small town home after 20 years in the wilderness to discover that not much has changed. It’s with a circle of friends and how one tragedy forms a fulcrum that changes their lives in a myriad of ways.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve rediscovered my love for literary fiction and want to take it “mainstream”. I’m plowing through the next book, tentatively titled Broken Wing and Rusted Drill, and plan to pitch it to literary agents once it’s done in hopes of getting a deal with a larger publisher. As I told a coworker last week, I’ve never really known how to sell books like Room 3 and Corridors of the Dead, but I know just how to sell Broken Wing and its sister titles. If a major won’t take it, I’ll scour the smaller publishers. I believe in the title and think it will place somewhere. Will it sell? Well, I hope so. No way to find out unless I try.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to self-publish the dark fiction with Qwendellonia, at least until the end of Portal. I guess it just means that my indie experiment currently has an expiration date. Maybe I’ll end up back here afterwards, who knows? But I think I’m ready to communicate with you guys again either way, in a more mature fashion. No more bullshit.

Good to see you again.

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It’s Here! Pathways of the Dead Cover Reveal and Day Four of the #laboringaway Marathon

What a day! Labor day, cover reveal, and the finale for the marathon. Lots to cover.

First up, today is the official reveal of the Pathways of the Dead cover by Allison Jones. This one is designed to fit in with the new look of the revised Corridors (due early next week). The wave motif actually reveals a fairly major plot point that doesn’t crop up until late in the book, but captures an important theme of the entire series: the line between life and death. Without further ado…

Pathways Full ResObviously very pleased with the cover. Here’s the blurb:

Matty doesn’t want to end the world. Unfortunately, she has no choice.

Through a series of harrowing events, Matty DiCamillo discovered that she is the heir to an ancient prophecy, destined to destroy her own reality to save countless others. Now she finds herself locked away and interrogated by beings known as the Aetelia, who are out to force the apocalypse to their liking. After a breathless escape and an attack by the band of rebel Aetelia known as the Watchers, Matty must not only cross worlds but time itself to elude capture and face her destiny on her own terms. Aided by her lover Kristy; Tommy, a man trapped in a boy’s body; and an ageless woman named Omarosa; she must face death itself to reach the City of the Dead.

Currently aiming for an early November release. Editing is coming along very well and I’m close to handing it off to beta readers. Once that’s done, I may even schedule another marathon weekend to knock out the early portion of City of the Dead. Who knows?

Thanks to Dark World Books and all the kind bloggers for hosting the blog tour. I’m honored to share space on your sites.

Now, down to more business. Left yesterday with 36, 947 words, let’s just call it 36,900, and had just passed the book’s climax. There’s still some space to go, but I feel good about finishing the first draft at 50,000 words or thereabouts.

Then I get to go back in and add some scenes that have suggested themselves along the way. This fast-forward process is interesting; may even have the chance to release this book early next year, who knows? We shall see. Time to get to work.

12:59 PM

First break, lunch and kitty time. I’m sitting at 3246 words today for just over 40,000 words since Friday morning. With 10,000 to go this actually feels very doable. Five chapters remaining, and they’re not all super-long ones, either. Definitely into the endgame of the novel.

5:04 PM

Not taking breaks in the same way I have so far; the most I’m taking is 15 minutes, but I thought I’d share an update. I’m now at 5,584 for the day, 42531 total. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that I won’t make it 50,000 words but that’s okay because I have no doubt that I will finish this novel tonight. Only two-and-a-half chapters left and at the toughest scene that remains. Oh, also just learned that you can create fake iPhone conversations on the web, which lead me to insert my first image in a novel. Trust me, this is an important one.

Text from Jess

7:11 PM

“Imogene” is complete. Four days, 24 chapters, over 45,000 words. 8172 of those words came today, but I think the slower pace is down to grinding through the heaviest emotional stuff today. Make no mistake, though, I feel very proud of this accomplishment and can’t wait to share the novel with the world. It’s been a personal journey, super-condensed. I loved the experience.

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