December 27, 2015

What I read in 2015

At the beginning of the year, I joined the Goodreads reading challenge and set a goal of 100 books. If I had known how busy I was going to be this year, I wouldn't have. :-) However, as of yesterday, I somehow managed to finish my 100th book of 2015!

The ratings for the books I read this year broke down as follows:
  • 5 stars - 25 books
  • 4 stars - 44 books
  • 3 stars - 29 books
  • 2 stars - 2 book
This comes out to an average rating of 3.92 stars per book.

Of the 100 books that I read, 47 were indie published, which is almost half of all books read in 2015 and more than I read last year.

The ratings for the indie books came out to be:
  • 5 stars - 11 books
  • 4 stars - 25 books
  • 3 stars - 11 books
As you can see, the average rating for the indie books (4.0) slightly beat out the rating for all books. That's right, the indie books I read this year were collectively better than the traditionally published ones! Furthermore, four of them made my list of the top ten books of the year, which is the highest representation among indie books since I started keeping track.

Next week, I'll list my top ten favorite books read in 2015. Stay tuned!

December 19, 2015

2015 Holiday Sale!

It's that time of the year again! I love the Christmas holiday season, and to celebrate it, I'm discounting ALL of my books on Amazon. Between now and the New Year, every one of my books will be on sale for 99 cents or FREE! Get them before prices go back up!

George and the
Galactic Games
In the Hands of
New Eden
Keep Your
Enemies Close

Gifted Transmissions A House in
the Woods
Protect Search

Drive Through a
Tangled Wood
Celestial Spectral Tales

Happy holidays!

December 5, 2015

Writing is like exercising

I recently completed my second NaNoWriMo, and I'm happy to say that I reached the 50,000 word goal for the second year in a row!

Compared to last year, this NaNoWriMo served as a kickstart for my writing. I hadn't been writing as much or as regularly in 2015 compared to previous years because of a greater workload at my day job. It got to the point where I was only writing on weekends, and then I'd have a hard time getting myself back into my story once I sat down to write. However, with NaNoWriMo last month, I found that, as the month progressed, it became easier to write, even during the week.

The experience reminds me of how I feel about exercising. I try to do some form of exercise every day, even if it's just twenty minutes on a treadmill. The reason is that, if I take a few days off from my workout routine, it becomes significantly harder to get back into it. By my rough estimate, for every two days that I don't exercise, it takes me a day to get back into shape. However, if I don't stop exercising, I don't get out of shape, and my daily routine doesn't feel like a chore anymore.

My writing followed the same pattern during NaNoWriMo. Last month, since I wrote every day, it was easy to keep on writing, even if it was just for half an hour. No wonder I felt so sluggish before November. I hadn't been exercising my "writing muscle." Since I didn't write for five days and tried to get back into it on Saturday, I wasn't able to get into a rhythm until the weekend was over. This year's NaNoWriMo has taught me that I have to try to keep up a writing routine every day if I can. It will actually make my writing easier.

November 27, 2015

Kick off the holiday shopping season with free books!

Today is Black Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season (at least in the U.S.). What better way to celebrate than with FREE books?!

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, a newly published anthology of ghost-themed YA stories that I participated in, Spectral Tales, is free from these retailers:

Maybe ghosts aren't your thing? How about fairy tale re-tellings? Then check out Through a Tangled Wood.


Perhaps you'd like to read a YA short story collection centered around comets? Then Celestial is for you!


I should also mention that two of my own books are free today as well!

November 10, 2015

Spectral Tales

Once again, I had the fortune of working with the talented authors who brought you Through a Tangled Wood and Celestial. Our latest anthology is Spectral Tales, a collection of short stories based on ghosts.

You can download Spectral Tales for FREE from these retailers:
And while you're at it, remember that Through a Tangled Wood and Celestial are also still free!

Whether they are spirits of the departed or figments of an overactive imagination, ghosts are a staple in fiction. Storytellers have portrayed ghosts as scary, friendly, or annoying across many genres. Now, eight authors offer their own interpretations of ghosts through a collection of short stories that will appeal to fans of horror, fantasy, or young adult fiction.

“Deathwatch” by Katie French - Teenage sisters Charlotte and Georgie stumble into a robbery, and their normal life gets flipped upside down. Worse, when the clerk kills one of the robbers, his face is covered in a supernatural swarm of bugs. Charlotte must be hallucinating. It's the only explanation for the terrible things she's seen. Everyone calls the clerk a hometown hero, but Charlotte's not so sure. Then a dead girl appears in her mirror with clues to the truth, and Charlotte learns there's more horror to this world than she ever expected.

“Tides” by Sarah Dalton - Andrea wakes with sand on her feet. She is sleepwalking down to the sea every night, but remembers little more than a vague recollection of a boy who lives on the beach. With an absent father and a mother who would rather walk along the coast than look after her daughter, Andrea struggles to get by. She’s haunted, but from a memory, or a spirit?

“Shadowspirit” by M.A. George - On a good day, Henta Mourngard is stalked by dreadspirits and netherphantoms, a living magnet for creatures of the afterlife. On a bad day, she finds herself communing with a demon of the underworld—worse yet, interrogating one—in a desperate attempt to track down the shadowspirit who has been her guide since infancy. Demons don’t take kindly to interrogation. And the search for a missing shadowspirit leads to places the living daren’t tread (lest they no longer qualify as living). ‘Tis unfortunate for Henta that today is not a “good day”.

“The Little Girl” by Jamie Campbell - Sixteen-year-old Penny is moving house… again. Starting out in a small town, she is hopeful this time will be the last. As long as the little girl doesn’t follow her, she will be rid of her past hauntings. The only problem is, the little girl won’t let her go and now she is about to grow stronger than ever before.

“The Ghost Below” by Ariele Sieling - White Rabbit gets sent to run cables in the bowels of the spaceship as a punishment. While working, she discovers that the ship's ghost might be more than he seems.

“Slave Runner” by H.S. Stone - Malika and her sister are captured by slave traders but receive an unexpected gift of freedom when their captors encounter a deadly gathering of ghosts. The sisters escape to a nearby village, where they learn that the new sanctuary isn’t as safe as they thought it would be, and ghosts aren’t what they most need to fear.

“Farewell Ohana (A Ghostly Mini-Wave)” by Sutton Shields - Maile Lahela is under attack by someone in the Kauai Camp for the Curiously Creepy. When she awakens one morning unable to see, her peculiar, yet loyal friends decide it’s time to escape the institution—something that’s never been done. But before they can leave, Maile has a mission of her own…one that could cost them their lives. Farewell Ohana is a short, fun-filled, emotional prequel to the events occurring in Overfalls, Wave Two of The Merworld Water Wars series by Sutton Shields.

“Ghost Girl” by Susan Fodor - Zoey Saunders has her future mapped out, but an accident brings her life to an untimely end. In her new state of being, Zoey feels compelled to seek justice for her death and bring healing to her family who have become a shadow of their former selves. But what constitutes justice and will getting even ever be enough to replace the life she lost? 

November 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015

It's that time again! November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Last year, I participated for the first time, and the effort led to my novella, Transmissions. I was also very pleasantly surprised to surpass the 50,000-word mark in one month. Here's a chart of my progress from last year's NaNoWriMo. Doesn't it look wonderful?

This year, I'm going to try something new. I'm going outside of my usual YA/MG genre to write a thriller. I like reading thrillers and have been wanting to try writing one for a long time, and NaNoWriMo seemed like a good opportunity for me to stretch my wings. We'll see how it goes. As with last year, if you want to follow my progress, you can stalk me on Twitter. :-)

October 24, 2015

Book review: Jet by Russell Blake

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Code name: Jet

Twenty-eight-year-old Jet was once the Mossad's most lethal operative before faking her own death and burying that identity forever.

But the past doesn't give up on its secrets easily.

When her new life on a tranquil island is shattered by a brutal attack, Jet must return to a clandestine existence of savagery and deception to save herself and those she loves. A gritty, unflinching roller-coaster of high-stakes twists and shocking turns, JET features a new breed of protagonist that breaks the mold.

Fans of Lizbeth Salander, SALT, and the Bourne trilogy will find themselves carried along at Lamborghini speed to a conclusion as jarring and surprising as the story's heroine is unconventional.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

October 17, 2015

And now for something completely different (college job-seeker edition)

Today, I'm going to talk about something totally unrelated to writing. It is, however, related to my day job as a software engineer.

This post came about because I recently participated at a couple of college recruiting events on behalf of the company where I work. At these events, I helped interview college students for internship and full-time positions. Based on what I saw of the candidates who were rated most favorably by me and my colleagues, I came up with a list of observations that I hope will be helpful for readers of this blog if you are currently in college or thinking of going to college soon, or if you're the parent of a child who is college age.

  1. You don't have to go to a top university. We talked with students from all over the country. There were students from prestigious universities like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, or Carnegie Mellon, but a majority went to other schools. Most of these were still good schools but not among the top tier. When I looked at the colleges attended by the students we rated most highly, they came from a wide cross section of schools. We didn't favor graduates of Ivy Leagues over other schools, for example. While there are some companies that still place an emphasis on where you go, the company that I work for and a growing number of others don't care.
  2. It does matter what you learn while you're in college. Instead of basing our decisions on the college a student attended, we tried to base our ratings on what you know. In a college computer science curriculum, students should have learned about data structures, for instance, but whether you went to Stanford or to Indiana State, you should know the difference between a queue and a stack. We care about whether you learned the basics of computer science well, not where you learned it. If you went to an Ivy League but can't write code to traverse a linked list, your school's prestige isn't going to help you get a job.
  3. Start looking for internships your sophomore year. Most of the highly rated students already had two summer internships under their belts by the time they were seniors. That means you should look for a summer internship after your sophomore year. Internships are a great way to get real world experience and gives you something to talk to prospective employers about. We want to know what you learned in those internships, what you found interesting or not interesting, and what challenges you faced and overcame.
  4. Work on personal projects to show your independence and initiative. The best candidates have also built two or three apps or websites by the time they're seniors. They usually took on these projects to learn a new technology, like Android app development. It doesn't matter how successful the project was or even if it's still an incomplete work in progress. The goal is to show us that you have a desire to learn and that you have the initiative and independence to work on something on your own.
  5. Culture fit matters. There were a few resumes with notes along the lines of "Smart but not a culture fit." These students didn't make the cut for my company. It's not only important to do well in school and to be smart and have a lot of experience. You can't be a jerk. I met students who talked ill of the instructors and/or classmates in an attempt to show how smart they were. Um, no. While it's hard to know how much to brag about your accomplishments without coming off as too cocky, keep in mind that companies are looking for people who will work well in teams because that's how real world projects get done. If employers don't think you'll be a good team player, then it doesn't matter how technically skilled you are.

Although my advice pertains mainly to the software industry, I hope that students in other majors can benefit too. And if you're deciding on a major, computer science isn't so bad, considering that the world is continually becoming more electronic and computer science is now the most popular major for women at Stanford.

October 10, 2015

Why I don't write four books a year

Last month, there was an article on Huffington Post asking authors not to write four books a year. I am happy to say that I don't write four books a year. It's an accomplishment if I can finish one novel a year.

Do I write just one novel a year because I agree with the article and think that a good book can't be written in three months? Do I believe that any book that doesn't require a year's worth of work must not be very good? While I do work hard on my books and try to write the best story I can each time, that's not why I only publish one book a year. The reason is simple: I have a full time job and a family that keeps me busy, and since I only write in my spare moments, it takes a year to finish a novel that's good enough for the public to read.

If I weren't working a day job, I'd probably write four books a year, and you know what, they'd be better than the single book that takes me a year to write. The idea that a good novel can't be written in three months or less is absurd. Novels aren't like wine that needs to age before it's ready. Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange in three weeks, Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in nine days, and Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde in six days! While those astounding numbers may be the exception rather than the rule, there are many great books that have been written in less than three months. Speed doesn't dictate how well a book is written. An author's skills, inspiration, dedication, and many other factors count more toward the quality of a novel than the amount of time it took to write it.

Now, it's time for me to go back to my precious minutes of writing today.

September 26, 2015

Book review: The Brothers by Katie French

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“They tell me it’s for the good of humanity. That I’m saving our way of life with my body. They lie.”

Book Four in the award-winning, best-selling Breeders series.

Riley has survived madmen, deranged doctors, and false prophets. Her next task is uniting her family, which has been ripped apart by Nessa Vandewater, the Breeders’ enforcer. Her boyfriend Clay and brother Ethan are still missing. Only she can find them.

But on her way, Riley is stung by a scorpion. To ease her suffering, Auntie Bell shares the story of Riley’s mother, Janine, and how she escaped the Breeders.

Nearly twenty years in the past, Janine, an obedient Breeders girl, is nearing her seventeenth birthday, and the clock is ticking. She has two months to become pregnant, or she’ll be put out, sold into slavery . . . or worse. When her doctor informs her she’s infertile, she’s devastated. But some doctors lie, and one in particular seems to want Janine for his own . . .

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

September 12, 2015

More stories on Wattpad

I posted two more short stories on Wattpad, making it a grand total of three stories published on that platform! The three stories that are available are:

"Fortune Cookies" - After a two-year break, Ryan takes the first steps in getting back together with his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie. Along the way, he receives aid from an unlikely source, a Chinese restaurant whose fortune cookies accurately predict good news in Ryan's life. However, all good things must come to an end.

"Urban Spelunkers" - For Fred, Rick, Brian, and Brian's younger brother Jake, exploring abandoned buildings is an adventure, and a very profitable one. However, sometimes, there's a reason why no one should cross the Do Not Enter sign.

"Conversation with a Time Traveler" - How do you convince someone that you're a time traveler? That's the problem facing Henry Tisdale as he tries to persuade Malcolm Pierce, one of the richest men in the country, that he is from the future. With every question that Malcolm asks, Henry finds his claims slipping away. Can he turn things around to prove that he is indeed a time traveler? Does he want to?

I'll continue to post more stories to my Wattpad account as time permits.

September 5, 2015

My reading/writing spaces

Have you ever seen those articles where authors show their special writing space (like this one)? It could be an office in their house with a big desk full of writing tools and bookshelves in the background, or it could be as simple as a favorite chair tucked in the corner of a den. Either way, I envy those authors because they have a dedicated place to pursue their craft.

As for me, I read and write whenever and wherever I can. I don't have a writing desk. I don't own a desk, period. And my house is too small to have a room dedicated to writing. Instead, I do my reading and writing all over the place: on the living room sofa, at the dining table, in bed, etc. I spend as much time with books outside the house as I do inside.

Here are two pictures of places where I do a lot of my reading and writing:

The first one shows two seats on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which is how I commute to my day job. It gets too cramped to write on BART, but I read a lot on the train.

The second photo depicts one of the areas where the parents sit at the taekwondo school that my kids go to. I used to watch them practice, but after years of seeing the same routines over and over, now I spend my time writing while they're in class. :-)

One of these days, if I become rich and famous (or just rich), I may own a house with a special place for reading and writing, but for now, I'll do it whenever and wherever I can.

August 29, 2015

Book review: The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky by David Litwack

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After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light—two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.

Children of the Republic, Helena and Jason were inseparable in their youth, until fate sent them down different paths. Grief and duty sidetracked Helena’s plans, and Jason came to detest the hollowness of his ambitions.

These two damaged souls are reunited when a tiny boat from the Blessed Lands crashes onto the rocks near Helena’s home after an impossible journey across the forbidden ocean. On board is a single passenger, a nine-year-old girl named Kailani, who calls herself “the Daughter of the Sea and the Sky.” A new and perilous purpose binds Jason and Helena together again, as they vow to protect the lost innocent from the wrath of the authorities, no matter the risk to their future and freedom.

But is the mysterious child simply a troubled little girl longing to return home? Or is she a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of a godless Republic, as the outlaw leader of an illegal religious sect would have them believe? Whatever the answer, it will change them all forever… and perhaps their world as well.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

August 22, 2015

End of Summer 99 Cent Sale!

Summer is almost over, so let's celebrate it with a big sale! During the next week, you can download my e-books for 99 cents or less on Amazon. Don't delay. Get your e-books before the sale ends on August 30!

99 CENTS (novels):

George and the
Galactic Games
In the Hands of
New Eden
Keep Your
Enemies Close

FREE (short story):

99 CENTS (novellas and short stories):
Protect Search Transmissions A House in
the Woods

August 8, 2015

The Brothers (The Breeders 4)

I'm happy to announce the release of the fourth book of the Breeders series, The Brothers. I love the series so far, and I gave every book a 5-star (out of 5) rating. The Breeders was one of my favorite reads of 2013. You can also read my reviews of The Believers and The Benders.

“They tell me it’s for the good of humanity. That I’m saving our way of life with my body. They lie.”

Book Four in the award-winning, best-selling Breeders series.

Riley has survived madmen, deranged doctors, and false prophets. Her next task is uniting her family, which has been ripped apart by Nessa Vandewater, the Breeders’ enforcer. Her boyfriend Clay and brother Ethan are still missing. Only she can find them.

But on her way, Riley is stung by a scorpion. To ease her suffering, Auntie Bell shares the story of Riley’s mother, Janine, and how she escaped the Breeders.

Nearly twenty years in the past, Janine, an obedient Breeders girl, is nearing her seventeenth birthday, and the clock is ticking. She has two months to become pregnant, or she’ll be put out, sold into slavery ... or worse. When her doctor informs her she’s infertile, she’s devastated. But some doctors lie, and one in particular seems to want Janine for his own ...

You can purchase The Brothers from Amazon here.

August 1, 2015

Titles are hard

Believe it or not, coming up with the title of a story is one of the more difficult parts of the writing process for me. The point was driven home again recently when I finished writing a short story for an anthology that will be published later this year (more news on this exciting development as we near the launch date).

Like other authors, I have a working title in my head as I'm writing a story. In the case of the aforementioned short story, the working title was the wildly clever "Short Story for Anthology." Yes, my creativity astounds me too. The working title is just a name that I use to refer to the story because I have to call it something.

There are times when I think the working title will become the real title, as was the case with Beyond New Eden, whose working title was Adams and Eves. Eventually, I decided to change the name because Michael Grant released Eve and Adam a few months before my book became available, and some people had compared my prior novel to a Michael Grant book in the same genre. I didn't want to appear to be a Michael Grant copycat. (I'm not. And I read Eve and Adam. And it's nothing like Beyond New Eden.)

One-word titles tend to come easier to me. Gifted was the working title for the novel that now bears the same name. The same applies to Transmissions, although, truth be told, I really wanted to name that story something else but couldn't come up with a better title. The one-word name for my short story, "Drive," was more difficult to come up with, but once I did, the names for the next two installments in the series, "Protect" and "Search", came easily. I even know what the name of the fourth story in the series will be called, even though I haven't started writing it yet.

In addition to the recently finished short story, I'm working on a novel with an AI element to it. For most of the first draft, I called it The AI Novel. I have a better name for it now, and we'll see whether that sticks when I eventually publish the book.

July 25, 2015

Book review: [sic] by Scott Kelly

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Six teens are devoted to a game with one rule: If a player gets tagged, they must change their life within the next fifteen minutes. The better the player, the bigger the change. One might give their car away, or punch the school bully. Another might change identities or sacrifice their virginity. Anything to keep evolving, to avoid fitting into a label or caring about the junk they own. But their quest for enlightenment has taken a rotten final turn - one of the players has murdered the game's creator, the teen prophet (cult leader?) David Bloom.

Our narrator is being framed for the crime; can he clear his name and discover which of his lifelong friends is the murderer before he takes the fall?

[sic] is a gritty teen murder mystery that delves into the psychology of enlightenment among the criminally dysfunctional. It is a winner of WEBook's Page2Fame award and a cult classic among its thousands of teen fans on Wattpad, some of whom have actually applied Kelly's fictional game to their own lives.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

July 11, 2015

Farewell, Fortune Cookies

Yesterday, I unpublished With Five You Get Fortune Cookies*, a collection of short stories that I released early on in my career. Never read it or even heard of it? Don't worry, you're not the only one. It was my worst seller. In the three years since its release, the number of people who bought the book can be counted on two hands.

If you're reading this post, and you're now wondering what With Five You Get Fortune Cookies contained, don't worry. I've posted the first story from the collection, "Fortune Cookies", to Wattpad. In the coming weeks, I'll add the other stories in the collection.

* Yes, the title is a play on the 1968 film, With Six You Get Eggroll. There were five stories in my collection, and the first one was titled "Fortune Cookies." Get it?

July 4, 2015

The freedom of not having fans

Happy Independence Day to those of you in the U.S. or those who celebrate the holiday abroad! For everyone else, happy July 4, 2015, which should be celebrated because it's a weekend!

The holiday kind of snuck up on me because if I had planned things out beforehand, I would've come up with a blog post that ties into Independence Day. So now I'm left scrambling for a topic that's somewhat related. Fortunately (for me, not necessarily for you), I was already planning to blog about freedom in writing. The kind of freedom that many other authors don't have but I do. I'm talking about the freedom to write what you want to because you have very few or no fans.

Specifically, the freedoms that I currently enjoy include:
  1. The freedom to publish on my schedule. I try to write as often as I can. I'm pretty good about it on the weekends, but during the week, there are often days when I'm so exhausted from the day job and family commitments that my brain can't come up with any good words. Instead of stressing myself out, I choose not to write on those days. It does mean that it takes me months to finish a novel, but no one is clamoring for the next book. Having no fans means having no one to disappoint when your next novel won't come out until 2016.
  2. The freedom to write in the genre of my choice. So far, my stories have primarily fallen in the category of young adult speculative fiction. It happens to be my favorite genre to read, but I also enjoy thrillers, and I've been considering writing one soon. Some authors may feel restricted because their name is tied to one genre, and they don't want to confuse their fans by releasing books in another genre. (I've heard this more in the context of traditional publishers than indie authors.) When you have no fans, no one cares which genre you write in. Publishing books across genres may, in fact, be beneficial because you never know where you'll eventually find success. Maybe it'll be my thriller that takes off.
  3. The freedom not to write the next book in a series. My novels so far have all been standalone. I like writing them because I haven't had any brilliant ideas for a series. Fortunately, with no fans, there's no one asking me when book 2 is coming out. I can continue to write standalone novels or switch to writing a series if the inspiration strikes me. Or, if I'm in the middle of a series, I can choose to put it aside to work on something else because no one is waiting for the next book.
By no means am I suggesting that it's bad to have fans. However, if you're an unknown author like me, take heart in knowing that it's not all doom and gloom. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, use it on your BBQ chicken this 4th of July.

June 20, 2015

Book review: Love Songs by Jamie Campbell

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Sixteen year old Kaley Thorne is invisible. Or she may as well be anyway. All her emotions, thoughts, and dramas go into her secret songbook. Music is her passion, her escape, and her hidden talent. Her songbook is her diary, singing everything she is too shy to speak.

When the most popular guy in school actually sees her and invites her on a date, the experiences she has to write about skyrocket. First love, first kiss, and first heartbreak, everything is funnelled into her songs.

For this songwriter, life is nothing but fodder for her music. As she rides the rollercoaster of her teens, the shy and invisible girl must find her inner diva. Only when she can find her voice, can she finally speak.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

June 13, 2015

Execution over idea (or, I thought it would get easier by now)

There's a notion in the tech startup world that execution is more important than ideas. I happen to agree with that because anyone can have an idea, but what separates the successful companies from the unsuccessful ones often lie in their ability to execute on the idea. Can the engineers build the product in a timely manner? Can the salespeople sell the product? Can the operations group fulfill delivery of the product once customers buy it?

The same notion holds true with writing. Story ideas are a dime a dozen. I have a notebook of story ideas to prove it. I'm sure you have lots of great ideas too, as do many people who've never written a book. But obviously, not every idea turns into a book, or most of the people in the world would be authors.

Image source:

This point was driven home to me lately because, for the past few months, I've been working on the first draft of my sixth novel. You'd think that by now, writing a novel would have gotten easier for me. Not so! This might have been the most difficult first draft that I've ever written. The story idea seemed awesome when I first set out to write it (and I still like the premise very much), but the idea introduced a restriction that I wasn't aware of in the beginning. I won't reveal what that restriction is because it would spoil the story, but it's caused me a ton of headaches during the course of writing the manuscript.

I'm confident that I'll eventually whip this story into shape, but the experience just reminds me that a great idea does not equal a great book without the execution and hard work to back it up. Stories don't write themselves, no matter how many novels you've already written!

June 6, 2015

When the show is better than the book - Game of Thrones

In January, I wrote a post with some examples of when a book isn't better than the movie. At the time, I couldn't think of any cases where I disliked the book but really liked the screen adaptation. There is one now.

I know I'm late to watching Games of Thrones. Part of the reason I haven't seen the show before now is that I don't watch much TV and I don't get HBO, so the chances of my catching anything on that channel is virtually nonexistent. Even when episodes became available on Netflix, I resisted the urge to watch it despite all of the good reviews I heard because I didn't like the books. I thought the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, was average at best. Then I read the second book, A Clash of Kings, and it took me a long time to painfully wade through it. I couldn't understand why so many readers loved the series, so it made me wary of the TV show as well.

It turns out that I needn't have worried. The screen adaptation of George R.R. Martin's series is vastly more enjoyable than his books. Something about the books made me view the story as a one-dimensional never-ending soap opera, but once I saw the world of Westeros on the screen, it came alive for me. Characters who I didn't care for in the book were suddenly more interesting. Plot lines that were confusing or boring became intriguing.

I'm still only on season 1 of the TV series, but I'm enjoying it so much that I plan to continue. As for the books, there's a chance that I'll go back and re-read the series from the beginning now that I have a more favorable picture in my mind. Maybe this time, I'll make it past book two.

May 30, 2015

Book review: Lake Ephemeral by Anya Allyn

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Six children without memories of their early years can never leave the valley that gave them life.

Seven manors surround Lake Ephemeral, and their residents are hiding terrifying secrets. Seraphin Ferón was first brought to the valley of Lake Ephemeral as an eleven-year-old orphan, to meet a mother she'd never known she had. But before Seraphin arrives, her mother falls ill with a mysterious illness and is kept locked away in the attic.

After Seraphin arrives, she discovers that the vast estate is plagued by an exotic, massive species of carnivorous plant—named the Coffin Flower, capable of consuming humans.

No one can answer Seraphin the riddle of why the residents stay at Lake Ephemeral year after year or why no one ever leaves. She decides, at all costs, to find her way into the attic and finally meet her mother. In the events that follow, Seraphin will be propelled into a horrifying new existence.

Teen science fiction for all ages. A group of scientists, a hidden valley, mystery, carnivorous plants, genetic experiments and thrilling adventure. Contains love and romance scenes that might not be suitable for ages under 14.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

May 16, 2015

Transmissions release announcement

I'm pleased to announce the release of my latest book, Transmissions! This is a novella that is a little different from the usual science fiction/fantasy stories that I write. Since I first heard of numbers stations from watching Lost, I've been fascinated by these strange transmissions, and what better way was there to feed my curiosity than to research the heck out of the topic for a story? I hope you enjoy reading Transmission as much as I enjoyed writing it!

You can purchase Transmissions for just 99 cents from:

Using an old radio that he inherited from his grandfather, Charlie picks up unusual transmissions on a shortwave frequency. Every morning and every evening, a woman’s deep, monotonous voice recites a series of seemingly random numbers. The numbers change every day, and Charlie can’t figure out what they mean.

Enlisting the help of his best friend, Jenny, Charlie tries to unravel the mystery behind the messages. However, the more that he and Jenny dig into the significance of the transmissions, the more that Charlie realizes he has a bigger problem on his hands. 

May 9, 2015

99 cent sale!

Call me crazy (you wouldn't be the first), but this week, ALL of my books will be on sale for 99 cents or free on Amazon! That's right, every single book that I've ever published, even my most recent novels, will be discounted down to less than a dollar. Now is as good a time as any to try one of my books. The sale ends on May 16, so don't delay!

99 CENTS (novels):

FREE (short story):

99 CENTS (short stories):

FREE (short story anthologies):