Friday, February 25, 2011

An acceptance and a rejection

I got one acceptance and a rewrite request for short stories today. Cold Shadows, a short story written as a prequel to one of my unpublished novels, The Laws of Summer, will be published in the May edition of Sorceress Signals.

Of course all the joy of acceptance was ruined by get a rejection for The Laws of Summer in my inbox at the same time. It seems like whenever I get an acceptance I always get a rejection the same day, maybe it’s a law of physics or something.

Anyway Guess its time to send it somewhere else. Angry Robot Books is opening to unsolicited subs for the month of March. So I am planning on editing the novel for a few weeks and then sending it off to them.

Work has been a little crazy, so I’ve been pretty tired at night, not getting a whole lot of writing done. The server went down at work so we have had to go old school. When anybody checks out a book we have to write it down. We can’t make new library cards and we have a huge stack of books to check-in when we get our server going again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Back to our scheduled program

I am back at work and back to writing. I got a little over a thousand words done on Blood Plague last night. Which still puts me way behind where I wanted to be. My wife goes to bed about two hours before I do, this is my writing time. When I had the flu, I would just turn on my computer, stare at the screen for about ten minutes and then go to bed. It was a little slow going last night, I had to remember where I was and what I wanted to happen. Taking a week off of writing (completely off, I didn’t even think about my stories, which I don’t think has ever happened to me) made it a little rough.

Hopefully I can find a little extra time this week to catch up. I had a couple of blog posts I wanted to do last week, about writing and stuff, but I am going to postpone those until I get a couple of chapters written. So I won't be blogging again until next week.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I am home sick. Usually I get a little writing done when I am home sick, but this flu virus has knocked me out. I started catching it Monday night, and I can barely stay awake. I guess I won't get much done this week. This blog post took me ten minutes to write, it is about 70 words long. 7 words a minute not good. Back to bed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weekend Plans and Stuff

I haven’t got a lot of writing done this week. I have been working on various promotional things for Pill Hill and neglecting my writing, but I have offered all of the books on our overstock shelf to reviewers or as giveaways on blogs. Still waiting to hear back from a bunch of them but it is done. To give you an idea I had 60 books when I started and now there are 25.

Work on a History of Blood ran into a little snag and I need a few hours so that I can really dig my teeth in. I need to rewrite the last chapter, because well, it doesn’t make any sense. I started the chapter wanted the main vampire character to run into werewolves and then a werewolf/vampire blood feud would ensue. But then I got bored, and if I am bored writing it then people will be bored reading it. The werewolf/vampire thing is just too overdone. I ended up having the vampire have a blood feud with a tribe that has really big wolves as pets, and it is just kind of weird.

I hate to go back and rewrite before a manuscript is done, but I have to do it this time. Blood Plague is coming along nicely, but I need to come up with a better title. The plague is what sets the story in motion but it isn’t what the story is about. The story is about a group of survivors who get pulled into the war of succession that the death of the king has caused. Maybe it should be The Blood Plague War, or something like that.

So I have my weekend planned, well at least the writing part. The not writing part will consist of helping to paint my father in laws house and a trip to the casino(we got some coupons for free play in the mail!)

I also wanted to mention that the first giveaway I have scheduled with a blogger is up and going over at The Happy Booker. She is giving away to prize packs, one has a hard cover of Love Kills: My Bloody Valentine and the other has a soft cover. If you are interested all you have to do is head over to her blog and follow it to be entered.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shadows & Light Volume II Reviewed

The first review of Shadows & Light Volume II is in:

This was originally posted at the Wandering Quill:

Taking a break from the "Sargas Chronicles" to applaud some hard work by Pill Hill Press.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with anthologies. Typically, in my experience, an anthology combines a plethora of bad to terrible stories, intermixed with a scant few good stories. I'm happy to say this anthology was the reverse.

When a writer friend of mine, Lydia Sharp, suggested I try it and mentioned her story was included in the collection, (Spread Your Wings And Die) I gulped and took the plunge with my Kindle. And was happily surprised. (Since I already have a pile of Noble-prize nomination anthologies in my "to-be-hurled-against-wall" stack)

Out of thirteen stories, I only found one that I disliked, and even that one was put together flawlessly, I just didn't like how it ended, as a reader. The anthology had a nice, slick look to it in the digital edition. Even though I missed out on the fancier font I've been told is in the print edition, the collection is so good that I'll likely purchase that one as well.

I am proud to say this anthology is the first book I've read this year to receive a 5-star rating from me. I actually had to make myself put it away before I didn't get any writing done for the day.

Definitely going to be looking for digital versions of the other anthologies by Pill Hill Press.

Thank you to Lydia Sharp for recommending it to her friend.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Taming of Chapter 23

Finally done with Chapter 23 in Blood Plague. It was a relatively short chapter, just a tiny bit over two thousand words but wow they were rough. I have been worried about this chapter since I realized it was coming.

A major subplot ended in the last chapter, so I had a few loose ends to tie up from that. But this is the chapter were my characters come to the realization that surviving the plague wasn’t enough, that the war of succession caused by the plague is going to tear what’s left of the world apart and they can do something to stop it. It is a major turning point in the book and I was dreading it.

I also tried to untangle the web of subplots a little. I have three viewpoint characters and three other characters in the main storyline, and I gave them all their own side goals/agendas. It was getting to be a bit of a mess, so I had to tweak everything a bit. I am willing to bet about half the subplots are going to end up being cut as I flesh out some of the others but I like to give myself a lot of options when I trudge through the second draft.

So a major turning point is done. It is incredibly rough, the dialogue is unrealistic, some of the character motivations need some work, but that can all come later, the plot is on paper!

I know some writers are different but I don’t even think about editing anything until the first draft is completely done. So for now I can say whoo-hooo and move on!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A free story reprinted for your reading pleasure

I thought I would post some free flash fiction. This one is a fantasy parody. This story first appeared in the April 2010 issue of Bards & Sages Quarterly. It is one of the few stories that I can actually remember the day I wrote it. It was written on July 4th 2009. I like to think that I have improved as a writer since writing this piece. There is a large chunk of telling instead of showing  but since it is (I hope) a humorous narrative, I think it still kind of works, though I wouldn’t do it now. So without further ado, here it is:

Click On Image Above to Purchase the Magazine from Amazon

Thornpicker & Nab
By Alva Roberts

Daemon Thornpicker walked along the worn path, his fingers pinching his nose shut. It smelled bad, really bad, like a thousand gym lockers concentrated into one horrendous locker of death. It came with the territory when you were a Necromancer.

It was not as if Daemon woke up one morning and decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life around rotting corpses. He was a proud graduate of the University of Magical Studies. After a few semesters of drinking and general carousal, it came to his attention the ale was not a major. It was a surprising discovery, as most of the students of UMS spent their free time and most of their class time consuming large quantities of Wizbang, a famous ale made from left over cafeteria food, brewed in Hogshine Dormitory.

Therefore, under the gun and in need of a major, Daemon decided to study Necromancy. He had not chosen his course of study from any desire to learn the dark mystic arts. He chose his major because most practioners of black magic rarely got out of bed before noon, and having his earliest class at three in the afternoon was often a great blessing, especially when a new batch of Wizbang was ready to be sampled.

A few years later Daemon graduated with a Magchelors in of Arts in Necromancy, with very little memory of having actually earned it. He did have some fuzzy memories of a monkey in a dress, which he never investigated.

It was a struggle after graduating, there were very few career paths open to Necromancers. That was until Daemon discovered Balon Grimpin’s book: The Scourge in You: Starting Your Home Based Apocalypse for Fun and Profit. The book changed Daemon’s life.

He quit his job working as a bartender, and went to the local graveyard with a shovel. The graveyard was, of course, the best place to start a new life.

Now he marched on the City of Burnsolott with his horde of undead minions. There had been a few surprises and pitfalls, which was common when starting any home based small businesses.

First of all, there was the smell. No matter how many times he washed his robes, the smell simply would not come out. Daemon had not had a date since raising his army. Then of course there were the start up costs, the ingredients necessary to raise the undead were rare and costly.

The hardest part had been finding suitable corpses. His minions were not the most frightening of hordes, as they mostly consisted of elderly women in floral print sundresses. Nevertheless, they were undead and for the most part, they seemed to obey his commands.

“There’s the City!” Daemon shouted to his minions, breaking into a coughing fit as he attempted a maniacal laugh.

“Hey there what do you think you’re doing?” A voice called out.

Daemon looked over to see a small green figure marching toward him. A goblin. Daemon watched the creature in wonder, he never seen one before.

“I’m on my way to conqueror Burnsolott and then the world.” Daemon said his voice cold and ominous.

“You got your permit?”

“Permit? Who are you?” Daemon asked.

“My names Nar. I’m the Union enforcer. You need a permit from the Union of Villains and Evildoers. Can’t invade the city without it. And then of course there is the equal rights violation.”

“Equal rights?”

“Yeah. I only see zombies in your horde. There isn’t one troll, goblin, dragon, giant, elf, or ogre in the whole lot, there’s going to be some penalties for that.”

“Just out of curiosity, why do I need a permit to invade the city? I mean I have a horde I could just you know…go around you and stuff.”

“Because that would make the Union mad. Do you really want every warlord, evil stepmother, witch, vampire, and Shadow Lord in the kingdom upset with you?”

“I’m sure we can work something out.” Daemon said fidgeting.

“Bribery is against the law! And in this case rather expensive.” The goblin said with a greedy smile.


After hours of negotiations, Daemon had all the necessary permits, a new member added to his horde, and a lot of weight subtracted from his coin purse. His new minion was a goblin and a cousin to the little one named Nar. This one was named Nab.

“Okay, where was I? Oh yeah. There’s the City!” Daemon’s voice cracked as he attempted mad laughter. “They will soon learn to fear the name Thornpicker! Come my fiendish allies, we will crush-. Oh, damn it. You in the pink and yellow turn around. No picking at your wounds. Wait minute.” Daemon stopped, rearranging his horde by hand, as they were currently ignoring his commands.

“Let’s try this again. There’s the City!” Daemon giggled, a feat much easier than insane laughter. “What is now?” Daemon asked, looking down his new goblin employee who was tugging on the hem of his robe. “I’m in the middle of my villainous dialog, I have to finish before we can pillage and plunder the city.”

“That’s just it boss, I think we’re a little late.” Nab gestured to the city.

It was completely engulfed in flames. Huge scaly shapes flew over it on massive bat like wings.

“Dragons? But I had all the permits!” Daemon whined.

“You didn’t read the small print, the documents do not grant exclusive rights to said property, merely the right to invasion of the property. It’s first come first serve. Looks like you‘re going to have to raid a different city.”

“Damn. Damn. Damn it. I don’t have enough money to buy the permits. And I’m sure as hell not walking to the next closest city. Have you smelled the zombies? Looks like its back to bartending and making Wizbang for me.”

“Hey wait a minute. You know how to make Wizbang?”


In just a few short months, Thornpicker & Nab was one of the largest breweries in all the kingdom, with the legendary Wizbang ale as their top seller. When asked how he became so successful Daemon always replied, “Never underestimate the value of a good education.”

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A (mostly) thawed out brain...and televison and writing

I am happy to announce that my brain cells were not killed off by the chilly weather, they were merely in suspended animation. I remembered what I was going to blog about.

Television and writing.

First let me start off by saying that my wife and I have a Roku. This is not a small furry animal from Japan though I can see why some would be confused by this. We have had Netflix for years, and they have movies and TV shows, thousands of them, that you can watch for free online. We never did this, watching a movie on a computer just seemed wrong, like beef gravy on chocolate(saw that on one of the wife’s cooking shows, ick).

But this summer we got a Roku, it is a tiny black box you connect to the TV and then you can watch all of the free Netflix content on your TV. It connects to the internet and downloads them right into the magical little box. It can also connect to and you can rent nearly every movie they have on amazon. They even get some before the theatres do…It slices, it dices, it…wait..that’s something else.

I’ll stop there. Despite all evidence to the contrary, this post was not meant to be an infomercial for Roku (some of the brain cells must still be thawing out).

The point of my multi-paragh description is that my wife and I have been watching the TV show 24. We missed it when it was on TV, and we have been watching one or two episodes every night while we fall asleep in bed.

As I passed the 50,000(woot) word mark in my novel Blood Plague, I suddenly came to the realization that one of my characters had become Jack Bauer. He didn’t start off that way, he was a former member of the Royal Guard promoted to the rank of Lord General by a grateful king. In the beginning he was capable but a little unsure of his role as Lord General.

Now he can kill six men without trying, and has no problems torturing others to get what he wants. He is loyal to his king and his friends to his own determent. He hides his emotions behind a stoic face, letting few others in. He is a barely contained reservoir of violence, ready to let loose at any moment...which is really fun to write, but I may have to tone it down a bit when I do my first edit of the manuscript.

The whole thing has me wondering if I go back read some of my other stuff if I’ll be able to tell what I was watching on TV. I knew I got a few ideas from TV, Kingdom of the Dead, my zombie/fantasy hybrid novel came from watching Dawn of the Dead back to back with Lord of the Rings, but Jack Bauer crept into my writing without me having any conscious knowledge of it. I’ll have to keep an eye on this in the future.

It's cold outside...

It is cold today…I had a more interesting blog I was going to write but when I stepped out into the -14 degree weather my brain froze. These brain cells were not vital to my survival but I did enjoy having them—I lost the blog, an idea for a short story, some of my 8th grade algebra, a few dates I learned in 9th grade history and some of my fine motor skills. And now that song “Baby its cold outside” keeps playing in my head, over and over again, so I may have lost some the brain cells that control logical thinking, I’ll get back to you on that one.

Weird to think it was 60 degrees out only two days ago but that’s Nebraska for you. In a side note the record high for today is 65 degrees the record low -27, that’s a 92 degree difference. I just wish we were on the other end of the scale. Keep warm.