Gnolls… never underestimate Gnolls. Especially after the apocalypse.
Gnolls… never underestimate Gnolls. Especially after the apocalypse.
If you’re new to audio books, click on the titles below for more information and to sign up for a free trial at Audible. Or simply log in to your Amazon or iTunes account and give them a look. Four quick listens. Well written, -if I do say so myself – excellently narrated, and all at a good price.
The near-future short ‘Sozo’, included in The Crossover Alliance 2015 annual anthology. Narrator Steven Floyd’s weary cynicism is pitch perfect.
The Celtic-flavored ghost story ‘The Barrow Lover’ about two small time treasure hunters who dig up more than they bargained for. Narrator Daniel Purcell went above and beyond telling Declan and Paddy’s story.
‘Hard Kill’, the ’15-minutes in the future’ action piece about a spec-ops team racing to stop an attack in the American Heartland. Solid narration by Madison Neiderhauser.
And ‘A Prayer to Saint Strelok’ – inspired by the Russian Sci Fi film ‘STALKER’ by Tarkovsky and the Ukrainian horror-survival video games of the same name. Charles Cromer captures the mystery and terror of the Exclusion Zone.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the stories and the narration. Or if you’re busy, leave a star rating. Every one helps.
Thank you again for your support and encouragement.
Take care and have an excellent day.
I’m told all the Cool Kids are into Audiobooks these days, so I’m taking my first steps in that direction. I’m happy to announce the short stories ‘Sozo’ and “A Prayer to Saint Strelok’ are now available at Amazon’s Audible and iTunes/Books.
The first is a straight-razor of a story about a combat vet returning to a broken, near-future America. Remarkably, it was included in The Crossover Alliance’s 2nd annual anthology in 2015. (I note that of the three TCA anthologies, that year is the only one without a single review. “Coincidence? I think NOT!”) Sorry guys.
OTOH, ‘Saint Strelok’ is a recent short piece inspired by the Ukrainian post-apocalyptic S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video game series. Set in and around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, those games rank in my top 10 all-time favorites. They’re dark, brooding, terrifying, and wonderful. “Call of Pripyat” is the one you want. It’s the most accessible to the first-time stalker.
Back to audiobooks though… I have to say auditioning narrators and hearing my own stories read back to me was immensely sobering. ( I gotta keep at this. God help me.) But on a happier note, I was reminded of how I used to read to my children – and now my grandchildren – and how there’s something truly wonderful about those hours that’s hard to express because the transaction of those moments goes beyond words.
Dr. Seuss to Tolkien, Kipling to Dahl, R.L. Stevenson, Lloyd Alexander, and a hundred more, reading out loud gets me thinking about the wonder of stories, the music of language, and what I think is a strange but essential osmosis of meaning.
Call me crazy, but I’ll go so far as to say that simple thing, more than any other everyday, ordinary practice in modern society, imparts not just parental/adult care and concern; it cultivates a sense of wonder and adventure. It feeds the imagination, exercises it. I think – depending on the stories- it’s how the core values of being a decent human being in the face of Life’s monsters and perilous journeys are transmitted to our kids.
Now some might label it frivolous but I say it’s a critical investment. Yes, STEM them chillun ’til they wins the Nobel Prize, but this is more than coding classes or the latest tablet/phone. This is heart, not mind, and I suspect this is probably one of the simplest but most profound investments a parent or guardian can make in a child. And all you need is a book. A library card. And an hour or two per week.
Now I’m not equating ‘St Strelok’ with Willy Wonka or Treasure Island. God no. I’m just letting folks know they can listen to two of my stories on their Kindle or phone or whatever device now. I think the narrators did an excellent job and I hope you will too. Please give them a listen or recommend them to a friend who likes my kind of stuff. Fire off a review if you can. It’s nice to get feedback.
Thanks for reading. Have a great day.
Note to self: find that hard cover copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales illustrated by Arthur Rackham.
*** Other Links
Click to see those two stories at AMAZON.
Second editing pass though my next novel, I’ve got a new Post-It on the bottom of my monitor: three points to steer by as I hack, slash, and burn my way through the undergrowth.
1. Err on the side of the reader’s intelligence.
Aside from the fact my latest isn’t a YA novel, I’m writing to a capable, nuanced audience who, while new to my particular story, is familiar with the genre as well as Life’s genuine struggles and victories. I will not talk to them like they’re pets or three-year olds.
2. Don’t BS the reader.
See above. The reader has been gracious and given me of their time and money. I don’t want either to be a waste. Of course the story has themes and the author has opinions and values, but the reader can smell an agenda a mile off. There may be types or tropes that function as fiction shorthand, but they cannot devolve into cliches that cheapen or interrupt the story.
3. Less is more.
There’s a fine line (and a yawing chasm) between poetic and verbose. This is the ‘right word versus almost the right word’ dilemma. I will not fall in love with my prose and will cut what doesn’t best serve the scene, regardless of how clever the turn of phrase. I’m not padding my word count. Make it lean and precise, not bloated or boggy. Remember the Failure Mode of ‘Clever’ is ‘Asshole’.
Time to hone the machete, top off the flamethrower, and get back to work.
Have an excellent day.
In discussing cover art for the upcoming Z6 ‘Enemy of my Enemy’ novella, I mentioned to the graphic artist I had a couple more ideas for the team/setting. Not only did he do an excellent job for ‘EomE’, he worked up a quick Z6 team logo – For when Z6 comes around in the fiction queue again.
Pretty cool, eh?
Have a great weekend.
Writing-wise, 2017 was lackluster – to use a generous term.
Twelve months on, I have one short story released at the last minute, birthed in a spasm of inspiration, and two larger projects stalled 20% from the finish line. So yeah. Not so hot.
Why? (that perennial question) Between real life, studio work, a persistent, low-grade funk, a national pandemic of strangeness and acrimony, I confess it was a battle to sit down and slog through. Like pulling teeth. Now none of those are valid excuses – I’m responsible to do the work – but they are/were real. And if that was a battle, some kind of test of my creative mettle, I’m afraid I failed.
Maybe there’s something in the air. Maybe this malaise, this inertia is the accretion of my own naiveté and inconsistency. A consequence of laziness and immaturity. It could be put down to what Steven Pressfield termed “Resistance”, or perhaps I’ve hit what Seth Godin calls “The Dip” – that place in the process, the venture, where the initial inspiration and enthusiasm has worn off and the going gets tough. The Dip is re-evaluation time – a prolonged moment to assess whether to push on or be brutally honest and prune a branch that’s taking valuable time and energy that could otherwise be invested in some other, more fruitful way.
I hope it’s just a Dip I can get past, but right now, I honestly don’t know which it is.
That said, I do know that the passing of a year is an occasion to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. I also know I want to be a man of my word; I started those projects and I’m determined to finish them.
Now I won’t call this commitment a New Year’s Resolution. Gym memberships soar in Jan/Feb and fall back to regular levels by March. I’m too old and been at this too long to trick myself with slogans and effervescent, self-help sleight-of-hand. Resolutions only work if I’m willing and determined to chop away at them every day after Jan 2nd. However, by God’s grace I’m going to type ‘The End’ on both of those pieces in 2018. Then I’ll take it from there.
Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy new year.
There is more fiction in the pipeline but my latest short story is now available at Amazon. For those familiar with the STALKER or METRO 2033 video games, this should feel familiar – like the worn stock on your trusty AK-47, or the snug, sweat-soaked bands on your respirator.
Release date is 16 December. You can pre-order now if you like.
Enjoy and Spasibo.