Thg Progression of an Idea from start to finish

Embracing the concept of an indie author as much as possible I do most of my own work from the writing of the project to formatting and designing the cover.

The only aspect of the project I do not trust myself with is the editing of the manuscript. For that I use the services of an old friend of mine who has been writing a bit longer than I have. A well regarded speculative fiction writer in her own right, Patricia's work has appeared in a wide range of both pro and semi pro markets over the past twenty years, and she has managed to make it onto Ellen Datlow's best of lists a number of times throughout the previous years.

Editing aside I wanted to take a moment to talk about designing my covers. In a perfect world I could easily afford to have award winning designer Jerone Ten Berge design my covers for me. Alas, tis not a perfect world, and as such I am forced by circumstances beyond my control to create my own covers.

My upcoming release is Parasite, part II of the Shadows of the Past series. My initial thought for the cover was something along the molecular level to show how this invader was taking over the planet one person at a time.

Starting out simple I sketched the idea out in Photoshop. A group of cells in the center with one bad cell slowly taking over the others. the Chemical diagram in the background was to represent that molecular level.

Got to looking at it and thinking about it and realized I didn't really like  the way the cells looked in the first one. kind of amateurish. Yeah, don't remind me, I know  I'm an amateur. I wanted something more realistic so I came up with this. 

But then I got to thinking, I sometimes believe I think too much, but anyway, while the cover above did portray the cells in a more realistic manner, would anyone catch its intent? What if I showed a neural network? Thus the cover below was born.  

 But what about the cells taking over the system? Oh no! Attack of the flower mites.

What if I showed the change in the network? Now we're getting somewhere. Fully subscribed to the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) theory. But how did they get there?

Much better. Clean and simple with just a few cells that blend more with their surroundings. 

What do you think?

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Tracking Down Why

Last night my wife and I watched the movie Delores Claiborne, based on the book of the same name by Stephen King, who I will admit is one of my favorite writers. We had seen it when it first came out, and I had read the book years ago, again when it first came out. Of course that was before I became serious about my own writing.

Last night I watched the movie as a writer and when Delores quoted Vera with the line "Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hang onto." I was floored with the realization that the entire book had been built around that simple statement.

I became excited as I explored all of the connections that led back to that quote, following the line of reason, the questions of Who? What? When? Where? And most importantly, Why? It was then that I understood what he had meant in his book On Writing, when he likened the act of writing a story as a process of uncovering a fossil.

We expand on the initial spark of an idea with a series of questions. What's happening, who it is happening to, where is the story taking place and when. Then we come to the why.

Why were the authorities so anxious to charge Delores with the death of Vera? Because they rightly suspected that she was implicit in the death of her husband years ago and wanted to make her pay in whatever way possible.

Why did Delores kill her husband? To protect her daughter.

These were the two most important questions of the tale and served as the foundation upon which the framework of the story rested. They were not the only two.

Why did Delores' daughter hate her so much? Because as a child of abuse she had effectively blocked all instances of the abuse from her mind, misinterpreting her mothers acts to protect her from her father as a wedge that drove them further apart. 

Why were Delores and Vera such close friends?  Beneath the surface where it really mattered they were both the same and they shared the knowledge of their husband's untimely demise.

There were many other questions answered in the course of the story but the four above served to move the story towards its eventual conclusion.

Parasite: Chapter One

Chapter 1

As he walked along the gravel roadbed of the abandoned railroad tracks he was silently congratulating himself on successfully avoiding any confrontation with Randy when from the shaded forest on his left came a voice that sent ice water through his veins.

“Anthony,” Randy called to him and Anthony’s heart climbed into his throat. They had never followed him before.

He stopped, and turned to face his tormentors. Randy, with Dave at his side, stood atop a small rise just inside the tree line.

“I don’t want to fight you,” Anthony said.

“You don’t seem to have a choice,” Randy said as he slammed his fist into his open palm and walked towards him. Anthony glanced to his right. The railroad tracks vanished into the heat waves in the distance. He so wished he could vanish like they did. Maybe then everyone would feel bad for the misery they had brought to his short life. But he doubted that. Most likely they would just forget him.

The thought stirred something deep within his psyche and he discovered a rage that flashed white-hot as it swelled within him. He let his backpack fall to the ground and quickly closed the distance between them.

Randy was taken back by this sudden turn of events and put up his hands as Anthony closed on him. “So the pussy wants to fight,” he said.

Neither of them were trained fighters, and though Randy outweighed him by a full fifty pounds, Anthony’s rage gave him exactly the edge he needed. He wasn’t out to torment as Randy was. He was defending himself, and as he closed with Randy he unleashed a barrage of hits that would have made any prizefighter proud.

Randy crumpled under the attack, his nose bloodied, his lip split, and he cried out as he backed away from Anthony’s assault.

Without hesitation Randy turned and ran across the railroad tracks, plunging into the dense brush that bordered the forest. Anthony looked at Dave, who held up his hands as he backed away.

“I don’t want any part of this,” Dave said.

He could have let it go right there and been done with it, but the years of torment fed his rage and Anthony turned to pursue Randy.


Randy jumped over the narrow ditch running parallel to the tracks, and plunged headlong into the thick underbrush, crashing through the forest as Anthony chased him down the hillside.

He ran through the trees, his feet kicking up the carpet of dead leaves that blanketed the floor as the ground became steeper beneath his feet. With a shout of surprise, his feet slipped out from under him and he slid through the trees on the carpet of leaves.

Tree trunks whizzed by him, narrowly missing his head, as he tried everything he could to grab one of the passing trunks. He snagged a sapling and was brought to a halt. Below him lay an opening in the trees that revealed the tops of trees much lower. Above him Anthony moved down through the forest towards him.

“I’m sorry,” Randy said as Anthony silently maneuvered through the trees towards him, his face a grim mask of determination

Randy let go of the tree and slid another twenty yards down the hill. The tree line below him was closer and he saw an outcropping of stone. He had no idea where he was, as he’d never come this way before, so he was unaware of the seventy-foot drop that waited just beyond the edge of the outcropping. He glanced behind him and saw that Anthony was less than twenty yards away, picking his way down the hill.

Randy released his grip and slid towards the edge of the outcropping. At the last moment, as his feet shot out over the edge, he grabbed a small tree and brought himself to a stop. His feet stuck out over the edge as he struggled to pull himself away from the cliff.

“Help me,” Randy pleaded, glancing over his shoulder at the sheer drop that awaited him.

Anthony’s face revealed little emotion as he slid the last few feet, and used the tree Randy was holding onto as a footrest. He ground his foot into Randy’s hand.

Randy cried out in pain. His hand slipped and he dropped another foot towards the waiting emptiness below. He kicked out with his feet, searching for any kind of footing, his legs pedaling in thin air.

“Don’t,” he begged, “I’ll do anything you want, anything, but please don’t hurt me.”

Anthony stomped on Randy’s hand.

“No,” Randy screamed, terrified. He found another handhold and Anthony shifted his attack to his other hand. He clung for life as Anthony savagely stomped on his fingers, the tread of his sneakers tearing at Randy’s knuckles.

Then Randy was falling. His foot hit the sheer wall and he spun crazily, the approaching ground and the sky trading places in a swirl of images.

He slammed into the ground, the wind rushing out of him as the sickening sound of bones crunching in his back came from under him. He struggled to catch his breath as the shock of his fall enveloped him in a numbing embrace. His consciousness dimmed and as the emptiness reached up to envelope him he heard whispering voices coming to him as if from a great distance away.

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Coming soon: Parasite

Coming October 30, 2014. Parasite. Part two of the Shadows of the Past series.

Now available for pre-order, reserve your copy today.

Sam Hardin had suspected that this day would come. 

What he thought he had killed in the fire in his cabin didn't really die. It was coming back with a vengeance, determined to remove all obstacles in its way, including Sam's son who still possessed the ability to disrupt its thoughts. 

In the end Sam will be forced to shoulder the responsibility of hunting down this creature that is determined to remain anonymous as it slowly consumes the world.