November 18, 2023

After Z-Day #1 and #2 ebooks are 99 cents on Black Friday

On Friday, November 24, starting at 8:00 am PST, the Kindle versions of Book 1 and Book 2 of the After Z-Day series will be only 99 cents. While you can always get Book 1, Hopeless, for 99 cents, this is a 75% savings on Book 2, Relentless

If you miss the Black Friday price, Relentless will be $1.99 on Saturday, November 25, a 50% savings. The price increases to $2.99 on Sunday, November 26, and reverts to its normal price of $3.99 on Monday, November 27, which is still a bargain!

For all fans of zombie apocalypses, check out the After Z-Day series!


Get Hopeless here.

Get Relentless here.

Get Soulless, the newly released Book 3 in the After Z-Day series, here.

November 4, 2023

Soulless is available for pre-order

Book 3 of the After Z-Day series, Soulless, is now available for pre-order on Amazon in ebook and paperback formats! The official release date is Friday, November 17, just in time for the holiday shopping season. :-)



With San Benito Army Base overrun by zombies, Sara and her group of survivors attempt to take back the base. However, they have a more urgent problem. Sara’s infected friend will turn into a soulless zombie if they don’t make more doses of the serum to treat her.

Unfortunately, the means of manufacturing the serum has been lost along with the base. The only alternative is to seek a solution elsewhere. Sara and a small group of volunteers leave the safety of their encampment in search of the required ingredients and tools for making more of the life-saving treatment. In a zombie-infested world, they don’t know if they’ll find what they need or what they’ll encounter along the way. But what choice do they have?

October 22, 2023

Owning multiple copies of the same book

I recently bought a second copy of a book I already own because it was available in a different format than the first one I had. This is not the first time I've done this. When I was younger, the books I bought were mostly paperbacks because they were smaller (and therefore easier to carry around and store) and cheaper. As I've gotten older, I've appreciated hardcovers more due to their durability and, frankly, the way they look on my bookshelves. Sometimes, I'll come across a special edition that I like even more than the hardcover, and I'll buy that too.

No book exhibits this shift in my taste than The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. When I first wanted to read the Stormlight Archive series, I bought a box set of the first three books in mass market paperback. I loved the books so much that I wanted to own the hardcover versions of them, so I bought all four books in the series in hardcover. Then Brandon Sanderson published a leatherbound edition of The Way of Kings, and I had to get that too. Finally, I came across a larger paperback edition of the book at a sale. It only cost a dollar, so I figured why not? It'd be good to have an extra copy to loan to people. So now I have four copies of The Way of Kings in four different formats!

The other reason I end up with multiple copies of a book is because I forgot I already own it. I'm embarrassed to admit how many times this has happened, so I take care to review the books on my shelves before I make purchases online. However, that isn't feasible if I happen to visit a bookstore while I'm out. Maybe I should take pictures of my bookshelves as reference for future shopping trips?

How about you? Do you own multiple copies of any books? If so, how did you come to have more than one copy?

September 17, 2023

Reading Time vs Writing Time

I’m an avid reader who averages about 100 books read per year. That’s roughly two books a week, which means I spend just about every minute of my free time reading. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love to read.

With the little free time I have available to me, I have to make a conscious choice whether to spend it reading or writing. (I certainly don’t go out partying, especially since the pandemic.) While I’d love to make more progress with my writing, I choose to prioritize reading over writing for three reasons:

1. I love reading more. Yes, it’s true. Even though I enjoy writing, I enjoy reading even more, and if I had to give up one activity for the rest of my life (which I hope I won’t ever have to do), I’d give up writing before reading.
2. I’m not under any writing deadlines. One advantage of being an independent author is that I don’t have publishers giving me deadlines to meet. However, this could also lead to procrastination. Fortunately, I have enough self-motivation to keep making progress on my manuscripts, just not as quickly as I’d ideally like.
3. Reading is good for writing. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen for writers is to read, and I agree. How can you be a good producer of anything without having consumed it first? How can you tell good writing from bad if you don’t read both? In other words, I’m reading for the sake of my writing. :-)

Nowadays, my writing time takes place primarily on the weekends. With the demands of my day job, it’s very difficult for me to find time to write or edit during the work week, and the few spare minutes I have during the work week are spent reading rather than writing. I’m OK with this balance since I’m continuing to make progress on my books, and my next book is still on track to be released this fall. If things slip significantly with my writing goals, I'll reevaluate, but so far, I'm able to both read and write in proportions that suit me.

August 27, 2023

Lies, Damn Lies, and Plot Contrivances

For the past year, I've been reading more thrillers and fantasy/sci-fi rather than YA books. When it comes to thrillers, I gravitate more toward psychological thrillers, where the suspense occurs in characters' minds more so than in physical acts of violence. While you don't need an unreliable narrator for a good psychological thriller, the plot often hinges on lies or omissions of truth. One of the most popular books in the genre, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, does a superb job of this. (I won't say more about the lies for fear of spoiling the story.)

The problem with some of the recent thrillers I've read is that I find characters lying or keeping a secret for no good rational reason other than that there would be no plot if they told the truth. In one book, the logical course of action for the protagonist was to tell the truth because that would benefit herself and everyone around her, but she inexplicably chose to lie, and the only reason I can think of is that there would be no story if she didn't. One of my pet peeves is when characters act in ways that don't make sense in order to advance the story. This is something I'm cognizant of when I write my stories. Are my characters making rational decisions? Do they do things that a person would realistically do in their situation?

I understand that lies are part of the thriller genre, but as Gone Girl and other great thrillers have shown, there are ways for characters to lie and still be believable. This won't make me read fewer thrillers, but I am more likely to look unfavorably upon those where the characters lie only for the sake of advancing the plot.

July 22, 2023

Soulless cover reveal

I'm on my second round of revisions for Book 3 in the After Z-Day series, which will be called Soulless. While I can't provide a release date yet, it will most likely be sometime this fall. In the meantime, I want to share the cover of Book 3 with you all. 

I'm looking forward to the release of this new book, and I hope you are too!

June 24, 2023

Counting Sheep

Last weekend, I had trouble sleeping. I tried counting sheep, thinking that was supposed to help people fall asleep. After a few sheep wandered across the imaginary field in my mind, my thoughts drifted to a story about counting sheep. I wound up spending way too much time working on the story in my head, and hardly slept as a result. Such is the life of a writer. On the other hand, I have a story that I can share with all of you. It's only about 1,000 words long, so it won't take long to read. I hope you enjoy the fruits of my insomnia!

Note: You can also find this story and others on my Wattpad page.

Counting Sheep

The shift leader brings me into a room with a desk pressed against one wall. A monitor and a keyboard are the only objects occupying the desk. Their cables disappear through holes in the wall so that I can't see what they're connected to. An old leather chair sits next to the desk. There is nothing else in the room.

"This is where you'll be working," he says.

He taps on the keyboard, and the screen lights up. It shows an image of an empty field. Green grass fills every pixel except for a layer of sky at the top.

The shift leader points to a button on the keyboard labeled START.

"When you're ready to begin, just hit this. Then keep your eye on the monitor. Occasionally, you'll see a sheep cross the screen. If it travels from right to left, add one to the total. If it travels from left to right, subtract one."

"So I'm... counting sheep?"


"Aren't you afraid I'll fall asleep?" I chuckle, but he doesn't laugh.

"Your profile indicates that you will not fall asleep during the task."

I've never read the information that the State has collected about me. I have no idea how they know that I won't fall asleep while counting sheep when that's exactly what you're supposed to do in order to fall asleep.

"Are you sure this is the job for me? I understand that all Citizens are supposed to work when they turn eighteen, but I think there'd be a better fit. I did well in my math classes."

"Counting is math," the shift leader says.

"It's math that a four-year-old can do."

"There are quite a lot of sheep."

"OK, maybe a five-year-old."

"We're certain this is the right job for you to start with."

Start with? Does that mean this won't be a permanent assignment? "What happened to the last person who had this job?"

"She was promoted."

"Oh, this job leads to promotions? What does she do now?"

"She works in Accounting."

"That's nice. I think I'd like Accounting. I can use my math skills."

"We'll see." He points to the START button again. "Are you ready to begin?"

"I guess so." My finger hovers over the button. "Just press it?"

"Yes, whenever you're ready."

I hit the button.

Nothing appears on the screen. I see only the empty field.

"Nothing's happening. Are you sure it's working?" I ask.

"Give it some time. The sheep aren't going to start moving just because you hit the button."

Which is exactly what I thought would happen. "How long does it take?"

"A few seconds. Maybe minutes. Assuming they move at all."

"Why exactly would they be moving? What did the START button do?"

"It releases a pheromone at the other end of the field."

"A sheep pheromone?"

"Yes, that's what we're testing. We want to see how many sheep are attracted to various sheep pheromones and how quickly they respond."

"Why are we testing sheep pheromones?"

"To determine which ones are most effective."

"And why do we need effective sheep pheromones?"

He stares at me like the answer should be obvious. "It's obvious. The State thinks it's important."

I want to ask why the State thinks effective sheep pheromones are important, but I keep my mouth shut.

A sheep suddenly appears on the right side of the screen. "There's a sheep!" I say. It moves at a leisurely pace across the field to the left border of the screen before disappearing from view. "It went from right to left. Add one?"


I enter 1 on the keyboard.

The screen resumes its empty-field state again for a few more seconds. Then a second sheep crosses from right to left. I add another 1 to the total.

Every few seconds, one more animal traverses the length of the screen. They all move from right to left. None travel in the opposite direction. The section of the field that the monitor shows doesn't let me see where the sheep are coming from or where they're going.

I ask the shift leader, "How do I know it's not the same sheep over and over?"

"What do you mean?"

"What if, after a sheep leaves the left edge of the screen, someone picks it up and carries it back to the right side?"

"We'd see them if that was the case."

"Not if they walked behind the camera."

"Why would they do that?"

"How should I know? I'm just a lowly sheep counter."

"No one's carrying the sheep back. Besides, the sheep all look different."

"They look the same to me."

"They're different. Trust me." A sheep appears on the right edge of the screen. "See, that one is larger than the one we saw before."

"That's because it's closer to the camera."

"No, it's larger."

I don't argue. We watch in silence as the sheep crosses the screen. I add one to the total. Shortly thereafter, another sheep comes into view.

"This one looks just like the last one, and the one before that," I say.

"No, it's smaller."

"Because it's farther away from the camera."

"No, really, it's smaller."

I close my eyes. There's no point in arguing with him.

My eyes open when he says, "You forgot to increment the count."

I tap the key to add to the tally. "What happens if I miss one? What if I enter the wrong number or if I doze off?"

"That's OK, they'll do a count of the number of sheep on the left side at the end of the trial."

"What? Why am I here then? Wouldn't it be easier if they just counted the total number of sheep themselves?"

The shift leader scratches his chin. "Well, maybe. But then you wouldn't have a job, and it's important for all Citizens to have a job after they turn eighteen."

"Is this just busy work? Do I serve a meaningful purpose to the State by being here?"

He glances at his watch. "Oh, look at the time. Your shift is up. See you tomorrow."

I can't have been in the room for more than ten minutes. "Are you sure?"

"Of course, I'm the shift leader. It's my job to keep track of such things."

"If you say so. See you tomorrow."

He waits for me to leave, but he stays inside the room. I wave goodbye. He waves back. I have a feeling I'll have a new shift leader tomorrow.