National Geographic primer for The Perseid Collapse

October 27th 9PM Eastern Time, set your DVR for American Blackout Just when I’m about to give Time Warner Cable the boot, I find something like American Blackout—and we’re stuck with 900 channels of cable again! Sounds drastic, but a one hour special like this can make an immeasurable impact. From what I can tell through show’s website, you don’t want to miss it. It details the possible outcome of a nationwide, 10 day blackout, and its impact on everyday Americans. The timing of American Blackout coincides with the impending launch of my research based, disaster epic, The Perseid Collapse. You’ll find some frightening similarities between the two stories, except in my novel, nobody gets to flip the lights back on in 10 days. The “mass event” in The Perseid Collaspe is more of a permanent blackout. Check out National Geographic’s interactive timeline at Survive the Blackout. They take you day by day through the scenario, as the situation deteriorates. I guarantee you’ll learn something that could save your life on the ten pages of this timeline. I’ve been writing research based fiction about realistic disaster scenarios for years, and I took away some simple, “no kidding,” easy to implement tips that READ MORE

Finding a little inspiration…

to start a new novel. You’d think that starting novel number six wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s always a big deal, and frankly, I find myself more than a little nervous as I type the title on the page, make sure it’s centered and STARE at the screen for an indeterminable amount of time. The first words are always the most difficult for me, compounded by the fact that those words commit me to a minimum of three straight months of writing. I wrote the first 420 words to The Perseid Collapse this morning, sitting at a desk in a hotel room. Not exactly where I would choose to start such an important undertaking, but my day job requires these things, and I write everyday no matter where I find myself…even a lonely hotel room. No, it wasn’t someplace fancy or scenic. As a matter of fact, it was within sight of both a mall and the Maine Turnpike. But it was in Bangor, less than eight minutes (as measured by my iPhone’s mapping software) from my favorite author’s house.   I’ve been to Bangor several times over the past few months for work, but I’ve purposely avoided West READ MORE

Review of Hugh Howey’s WOOL

When I started to write a review for Hugh Howey’s sensational bestseller WOOL, I found myself with writer’s block. I never get writer’s block. So much has been said about the WOOL series that I struggled to find something new to say…maybe it’s not possible at this point. Hugh Howey is an inspiration to Indie writers like myself, as he continues to slug it out in the trenches, despite the wild success of this series. If you enjoy dystopian science fiction or apocalyptic stories, you can’t pass this one up. Destined to be a classic? I think so.  What more can be said about Hugh Howey’s WOOL, right? I suspect readers have just barely scratched the surface. WOOL is a delightfully wicked post-apocalyptic story, packed with an even flowing, inexhaustible supply of cleverly crafted allegorical and symbolic devices. From the Silo itself to the division of classes, Howey develops an irresistible world with a jarring number of eye opening parallels to our own pre-apocalyptic existence. Beyond this lies an engaging dystopian science fiction story, filled with intrigue, deception and hope. The deeper you dig into the series, the better it gets, though I have to admit that the first book READ MORE

Review of Richard Stephenson’s COLLAPSE

I’m a sucker for Apocalyptic Fiction, if you couldn’t already tell, so when Richard Stephenson offered me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of COLLAPSE, I couldn’t resist. Richard Stephenson’s debut novel held me in its grip from start to finish. Based in the not so distant future, the background for Collapse is a frightening projection ripped from current headlines. In the context of today’s Western financial crisis and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Stephenson’s dystopian setting does not come across as a far-fetched fictional ploy, but rather one of several worst case scenarios developed by Beltway think-tanks. The year is 2027. The war with the new Empire of Iran is not going well. America’s heartland resembles a scene from Mad Max, with the newly formed Unified National Guard barely keeping control on the streets. The unemployment rate is no longer a relevant measure of the economy, because the employed are in the minority. America is still a super power, but that distinction is fading rapidly. This is the backdrop for a fast paced, character driven story that explores the best and worst of humanity. The reader will be introduced to a host of characters, all with a role to play READ MORE

Six months into self-publishing, and what have I learned?

Everything…from the ground up. Uhhh. I’d like to sit here and tell everyone that I’m always a “do it yourself” kind of guy. I framed our attic for its eventual transformation into a beautiful 800 square foot home for my son’s Xbox 360 (that’s about sums up its purpose now). I even did all of the trim work, built shelving and helped paint (I hate painting). But I didn’t mow my own lawn last year. Why? Because I’m not obstinate when it comes to the do-it-yourself mentality…and when a good price comes along, I’ll let someone else breath noxious fumes and spend two hours on a lawn that’s going to brown up in August anyways (no matter how much water or fertilizer I pour onto it! Even The Lawn Dawg couldn’t prevent that). It doesn’t look like I’m going to win the noxious fume argument this year. My wife wants to direct this money elsewhere, which is fine…I really don’t mind mowing the lawn. So, what am I talking about at this point? Self-publishing. I get a lot of inquiries about my experience, from other aspiring writers and curious friends. The question I get from everyone is: “Did I choose READ MORE

Some changes afoot…

Artist Jeroen ten Berge created an incredible cover design for The Jakarta Pandemic. Check out his write-up of my novel…along with more of his influential design work.  Jeroen ten Berge READ MORE

Eagerly awaiting my 40th…

book review. I turned 40 at the end of February, and the event was anti-climactic. I didn’t feel the decay of old bones, or slight degradation in my eyesight. One more candle, and a wonderful family birthday party. I was spared the surprise, “this is your life” event that I’ve seen unfold for other quadragenarians. My book turned 30 last week, which kicked off an exciting flurry of review activity. I had high hopes for the 30th review…looking for a reason to celebrate. The title of the review? “Wow…this book.” And not in a good way. A one-star 30th birthday review for The Jakarta Pandemic. The review was quite lengthy for Amazon, and had nothing good to say. The only positive? I could tell that the reviewer hadn’t read the entire book, probably not more than 30 pages. Needless to say, I was a little irritated. I wrote a nice response and let it go. Not everyone is going to like this book…or any book. Little did I realize that this would be the first of nine reviews written in four days. Thick skin? I would have felt better suited up in Kevlar. Every time I checked Amazon, I cringed. READ MORE

After Armageddon…everyone should watch this

My son loves to watch The History Channel, and despite our desperate (and often futile) efforts to cut down on our kids’ screen time, I never give him any hassle with the history channel. He found something incredibly interesting today…and we’re all sitting inside on the first sixty degree day of the year watching it. We’re watching a special called After Armageddon, and it describes what would happen in the event of a severe pandemic. It follows a daily time line, and alternates between a story (follows one family) and expert testimony. It’s extremely compelling, if not frightening. Amazingly, I can honestly say that I had never viewed this special before. Why amazing? Because my novel, The Jakarta Pandemic, describes nearly the exact same breakdown of society, item by item, in the face of a pandemic…and my novel also focuses on the story of one family’s struggle to survive. My fictional family is a little more prepared of course. You can view one section at a time on You Tube, if you dare. Here are the links: After Armageddon Part One After Armageddon Part Two After Armageddon Part Three After Armageddon Part Four After Armageddon Part Five After Armageddon Part READ MORE

You Tube review of The Jakarta Pandemic

As all of you hopefully know, I encourage readers to contact me with questions or suggestions regarding my book, and I actually hear from some of them. Most of them are surprised to hear back from me, which I can’t believe. Hearing from readers is one of the most rewarding aspects of writing a book. It’s proof that someone actually read it, and didn’t just need to spend the remaining three dollars on their Amazon gift card. I suppose some of you will remind me of this post, when I hit the big time author circuit, and get swamped with fan mail. Back to reality Steve. So the other day, I started a conversation with a reader from my home state of Indiana. After exchanging a few emails, he said he would do a review of my book on his You Tube channel. What? I thought people just posted videos that featured laughing babies on You Tube. I didn’t realize that some people actually used it for constructive purposes. I was wrong.  Below is the link to my first “live” review. The only thing that upsets me about this, is that I didn’t think of this first. Thanks, Hooser9mm for READ MORE

Realistic dialogue…

in 19th Century London…what a mess. My wife is reading a very thick, fiction novel set in 19th century London, and she occasionally draws my attention to passages from the book. Yes, she interrupts whatever I’m reading to do this, and since I love both historical fiction and my wife, I’m usually game to take a look. I’m always amazed by the richness of detail in these novels, which can at times almost appear obsessive. From the era appropriate napkin folds at table settings, to intimate descriptions of every article of clothing that adorns a character…and not just the main character, but everyone in the scene. This is one of the main draws to period or historical fiction. The details of another time. It’s an amazing feat, which must involve painstaking research, travel and imagination. As a part time writer, I’m thankful for Google and an active, roaming imagination. The other night, she pointed out another feature of this tome she’s lugged around for a few weeks. The dialogue. I couldn’t believe it, but the author had taken pains to mimic the speech of the 19th century London too. I can barely understand some of the thicker British accents even READ MORE