Not to start off this blog with a bummer… but this will be my last blog post until Friday July 12th.
Next week I’ll be heading out, back to where I grew up, to attend my Grandpa’s memorial. Then I have a week off of work. So no blog post on June 28th or on July 5th. I’ll still be active-ish on social media, depending on connectivity, but for blog posts – it will return on the 12th.
If you haven’t seen – I’ve teamed up with Gavin over at Kendall Reviews to give away a paperback of ‘Let’s Go Play At the Adams” this weekend.
Friday has arrived. And what a week it’s been, friends!
I couldn’t think of anything witty to title this post so you can call it whatever you damn well want! 🙂
This week will be a quick one.
1st – Good news!
As you may have saw, I received my very first acceptance email this week. I’d stopped submitting anything a bit ago. Occasionally I’d throw something out there, a poem, something to Unnerving, Flame Tree Press, but for the most part, I really just stopped submitting. Not because I didn’t think my work was good enough, I stopped because I wanted to focus on writing and getting my stuff prepped for release.
Well, I’m proud to say that two of my short stories will be featured in 100 Word Horrors Volume 3 from Kevin J. Kennedy. Really proud of this moment.
2nd – What I’m working on.
Ritual – almost completely done. Review copies will be ready soon!
Piece of Me – coming along
3rd – Music.
This week I’ll do another round of songs that have inspired my writing. Last weeks seemed to really click with folks.
Gallows – The Riverbank
This song was a big inspiration behind the story Tossers from Left Hand Path. I love this Gallows album, but find the rest of their output hit or miss.
Stone Temple Pilots – Crackerman
This song is one of my fav STP jams and helped inspire some of the main character for 17 Hours, also from Left Hand Path.
Six Feet Under – Beneath a Black Sky
I know SFU has a ton of haters, but they are one of my fav bands and their first album Haunted is directly responsible for my love of death metal/black metal. The simplistic approach they took on this album, more rock than blast helped my young mind grasp it all. Beneath a Black Sky features a bit in my novel Invisible but also big time in the two story pack of The Fence (from Frostbitten) and James (from Left Hand Path).
Amon Amarth – Thousand Years of Oppression
Another epic song and one of my fav AA tunes, this story really inspired the story Old Man from Frostbitten. The lyrics in this song are emotional, but really the title, the alluding to someone just being stuck for centuries made me think of this creepy old man who just sat like a statue.
Kalmankantaja – Waldeinsamkeit
For Balder Walks was my first officially released story. I love the story and it came from the German word ‘Waldeinsamkeit’ which loosely translates to ‘alone in the woods.’
If there was one word that described my writing and my themes, Waldeinsamkeit would be pretty accurate. I came across this album as I began to write the story and contacted the band who allowed me to pair the story with the album. Ideally, for the most heightened experience reading For Balder Walks, you’d have this album playing in the background.
The artwork for the album was a big inspiration as well. The artist really conveys my feelings towards the ‘being alone in the woods’ theme.
I’m a big fan of alternative history or exploring ‘other’ options of how things might have played out. This will sound like I’m a big proponent of conspiracy theories, but I know we, as the public, are not always privileged to know all of the details of what happens. We are told only what we need to know or what a government agency deems necessary for the public to know. Hence – all of the redacted parts when a Freedom of Information Act request is granted.
This love of alternative stuff led me to find the show ‘Hunting Hitler.’ This show had three seasons on the History Channel and really what I was enthralled by was seeing just how immense the war effort had been. The cast and crew travelled across Europe and South America, showing different places and massive war time construction efforts. As someone who has never been a member of the military or involved in anything like this, it is fascinating to see.
During the shows run, Nada Bakos was brought on board and I was immediately drawn into her level-headedness and how she always worked to state facts/ideas and never worked towards sensationalizing the story. Sadly, I found she wasn’t featured enough, as she became one of my favourite people featured.
Which led me to her book ‘The Targeter.’ Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for approving me for this book. I only read a handful of non-fiction books each year, but when I saw Bakos’ name pop up, I knew I needed to throw my hate in the ring and read about her previous career.
This book is an exhilarating romp following the behind the scenes story of how Bakos’ was involved in tracking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a mastermind with ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
Nada does a fantastic job of sharing her story with us in spurts and as the hunt pics up, it reads like a well-made war movie.
I had a great time reading this and as a Canadian, it’s always interesting to read about how the USA functions at some of the top tier levels.
For those who are reading this for any ‘Hunting Hitler’ dirt, this book doesn’t deal with it at all. But that shouldn’t stop you from checking this fast-paced thriller out.
I really enjoyed that citations were added at the end to help with the logistical nightmare keeping this stuff in order must have been.
Hey, hey! Friday has arrived and here I am back with a normal blog post. If you remember correctly, I didn’t do a full real blog post last week as The Stranger was arriving and I did a giveaway with Kendall Reviews!
Response to the give away was huge. I was blown away with how many people were interested in snagging the super limited All-Black edition of The Stranger. 531 entries to be exact. Couldn’t believe it.
Big congrats to Sara over on Instagram for winning it!
The Stranger so far has been seeing some really nice reviews and the various photo’s I’ve seen of the book in the real world look amazing! Next week I’ll get a collage together of some of the ones I’ve seen so far.
If you haven’t snagged a copy and want to;
One of the stranger things I’ve noticed – in the week before and the week following the release of The Stranger, there has been a surge of folks snagging my previous release The Girl Who Hid in the Trees. I’m chalking this up to a ‘holy hell, amazing steve has another amazing release out but I haven’t read his last phenomenal release so I need to snag it now!’ 🙂 I mean, that’s how you all think, yeah?
Really what I’m trying to say is thank you to each and everyone of you who has snagged any of my releases. Really means the world. My hope is to one day get to a point where I break even on the books when released or even start to make a few bucks! Slowly getting there!
If you haven’t snagged The Girl, here’s the link!
What I’m working on;
As you know (at least those who follow along!) I’m pretty organized with my writing and releases. So organized in fact that my October release Ritual is 99.9% done. I rewrote one important scene and sent it to David Sodergren for thoughts/edits and just waiting on that to be returned. If you’re keen and want a copy for review – those will probably be ready by month end. This one’s a really quick read, 60ish pages, but it’s jammed packed and really, really dark. Some may say disturbing. And that’s coming from my mind, so prepare yourself. I’ll be looking at dropping a cover reveal and synopsis probably in August.
Wagon Buddy 2 – I’ve posted about this a couple times, but I am in fact working on a sequel to Wagon Buddy. I have a working title and a probably cover already. I’m now 12,000 words into this first draft. I’d say I’m 50% done the story. One thing I’ll note – when Wagon Buddy was released there was a few comments and a couple of reviews saying they didn’t find that novella ‘horror.’ While I’m not going to argue for or against, or what ‘horror’ is, Wagon Buddy 2 follows Scott and the creature immediately following the ending of the first story. The initial story is about a very lonely kid, who becomes a man, who is mercilessly bullied, but his imaginary friend helps him time and time again. Expect more of the same, but written with a bit more introspection from Scott and his searching for the ‘why’ of things happening Scott trying to come to terms with feeling absolutely alone.
Piece of Me – as you may have read before, Piece of Me will be coming out in December. I have a finished cover (absolutely stunning from Mason McDonald) once again and draft two is finished. I will be finishing draft three probably next month then it will be off to Sodergren for edits etc. This one happens completely in the same world as my short stories For Balder Walks and Poppa?
What I’m Jamming;
For this weeks blog I’m going to share four tracks that inspired some of my writing specifically.
Devildriver – Before the Hangman’s Noose
If you’ve read my first short story collection Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery, you’ll no doubt have read the disturbing Time Out Noose. That short story was a western jaunt through a son’s revenge. Before the Hangman’s Noose was a song I’ve loved since I first heard it.
Big Wreck – Albatross
Another story in Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery is Mr. Tross. A story of metamorphosis, I was listening to a lot of Big Wreck at the time of writing it and this song helped me name the main character. Sadly just this past Wednesday, June 5th, founding member and rhythm guitarist Brian Doherty passed away following a battle with cancer.
Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
My first novel Invisible was a long, long writing process. Close to a decade of writing and rewriting before I finally let it fly free into the world. The story follows me as I make my way across a desolate mountain landscape, chased by a beast. All the while I keep finding myself locked in a claustrophobic lighthouse. The book features a lot of autobiographical sections and discussions my struggle with wanting to live while in high school and some of my mental health battles. I wish it brought me pleasure saying this – but I don’t believe anyone has made it all the way through without crying.
Throughout that book there is close to 150 music references.
One such frequent reference is Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. For this video I decided to share the live version from the very last time these four humans performed together, July 2, 2005 at Hyde Park in London.
Book of Black Earth – Horoskripture
Lastly, I’ll share a track that has been playing in constant rotation for me while writing Ritual. Book of Black Earth is a Seattle, Washington band. I first discovered them when they opened for Himsa at Himsa’s going away show. Himsa has since played at handful of dates, but at the time, this was the last bash. Book of Black Earth was crushing and I quickly added them into my musical library. I ended up chatting a bunch with the drummer for the band when we were standing beside each other at the At the Gates reunion show a few months later at El Corazon. Really nice guy. BoBE has announced that new music and a new tour is coming as it’s been some time for either, but as of yet nothing’s been announced. The album Horoskopus is outstanding and this is one of my favourite tracks from them. (side note here – I have a number of releases that are interconnected/linked. BoBE is referenced/mentioned within my book Invisible. Ritual and Invisible are not linked in any way.)
So to wrap up this weeks blog, I WILL be getting a few paperbacks of The Stranger and will be doing a paperback giveaway at some point here. I’ll also be doing three flash giveaways coming up for my poetry collection Dim the Sun. I have three copies sitting at the house and I might as well give them away! So watch for those.
This weekend my sister, brother-in-law and her two boys are visiting from BC so we’ll be heading to Jurassic Quest on Saturday. This will be a pretty fun show to check out, so watch for photos over the weekend!
When I started really looking at reviewing books – not just a paragraph or two about them (which if you look at my first reviews on Goodreads you’ll see that’s what I did) one thing I really wanted to focus on was helping folks GET reviews. Getting reviews is super tough. I’m a small fish in the indie author scene, but on June 1st released my 9th book.
By this point you’d think I was confident and can just message people to ask if they’d like an ARC to read. To be truthful – I will write down a list of who I am wanting to message (and most of these folks are people who have said I can ask them about reading an ARC from me any time) and then it will take me 2-4 days to build up the steam necessary to message them! It’s so stressful. Yes, the worst they can say is no, or sorry not right now – but I never want to feel like an imposition! And the funny part is – I’m never really stressed if they’ll like the book or not – as it’s their reading experience!
So – Cydonia is a special one for me. Michael kindly messaged me through my site/blog and asked if I’d be up to reading his debut (which came out on May 10th of this year, 2019). We exchanged a couple emails and I said sure – pop it over and I’ll prioritize it. He kindly read and reviewed my novella YURI as well, which is always nice to do a book swap, and here we are!
I would’ve had this done sooner if not for a few things cramping my reading progress – 1) I wanted to finish reading ‘Let’s Go Play At the Adams’’ and 2) I was trying to finish up some stuff for my May celebration of Pypermaynia!
Cydonia is sci-fi true and true and I’m always in awe of authors who can write in that genre. I have tried my hand kind of with my horror/sci-fi novella Jane, but full on sci-fi is daunting. As a reader it can also feel daunting when diving into a sci-fi release simply because you’re never too sure how in-depth and Science based the plot with be.
Thankfully Michael focused more on the story while having the Science based stuff really accessible and as a really nice feature to prop up the human story featured throughout.
The story itself follows three main characters (at least for me it did, there’s a few others who Michael treats has involved, but for my reading experience it was these three.)
Morar introduces us to Sarah Pauley almost immediately, in a really fun, exciting opening. The story revolves around a conflict on Mars and Sarah is the ‘outcast’ of the Pauley family. The one who doesn’t believe there should be a war. Her husband meanwhile, Robert Pauley is the second main character here. Robert is high up in the political landscape. His character was an interesting one that went back and forth between wanting to ensure Sarah was alive and safe, but also interested in how much violence he could inflict, while trying to keep climbing the political ladder.
Lastly Morar introduced us to Markus Arundel. When we first are introduced to this character Morar almost gave Arundel a storyline of being disinterested in the war and the political conflict, but we soon fine that is furthest from the truth. Markus was a fun character and a character I would have loved to see even have his own series based on his past and his exploits.
Overall this book goes through some peaks and valleys. At 600 pages you are bound to have some lulls and spots where the dialogue could have been tightened and a few scenes cut out for posterity. If we were to ask Michael about that, as the author he’d have a strong rebuttal, so the other thought I had that would make this flow and become a stronger read would be to split into two or three books. Almost go ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ style and have each release focus on one of the characters and then wrap it all up together. That’s not to say the book is bad, its actually far from it, but I worry the listed page count will be a deterrent for some folks, when really it shouldn’t be.
At the end of the day this was a great read and when I think of the achievement of writing a 600 page Sci-fi release for your first novel I’m left stunned.
Kudos to Michael for such an accomplishment and I thank him kindly for letting me visit Cydonia.
4/5 stars for a frolicking Mars based story with a ton of great interpersonal storylines.
You can get Cydonia here;
CYDONIA is set in the near future. Humans have colonised Mars after discovering molecules that will transform Earth’s energy economy. Two global organisations competing for lucrative Martian territory have, following inconclusive legal efforts, declared war. The worlds watch as elite mercenary armies prepare for a modern, corporate warfare, fighting in freezing, brutal conditions never before endured by armed forces.
Robert Pauly, Cydonia’s ruthless Deputy Director General, is driven by his love for his wife Sarah and his limitless ambition. Fearing both loss of Sarah and that of his job, the former homeless orphan turns against his employers and pushes instead for peace, but soon discovers his own propensity for violence.
Sarah Pauly doesn’t care about the Cydonia Corporation, or Mars, or the war. Bitter and driven, she will do anything, even endanger her own life, to escape the shadow of her aunt, the Director General.
Markus Arundel, a disgraced mercenary captain, has travelled to Mars to lead the initiative on the battlefield. But jaded by years of violence and plagued by paralysing nightmares, he suddenly resolves to retire, that is until his own superiors insult his already wounded pride.