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I am proud to announce the release of the novel-length version of my serial, The Grey Phantom.

When the police and the politicians have thrown in with the criminals, there is always one who will fight back. In Capitol City, that one is the Grey Phantom, an enigmatic figure with twin silenced automatics who leaves his calling card on the bodies of his enemies. But the rot in Capitol City runs deep, and he is only one man…

And there is a new crimewave in Capitol City, but don’t ask anyone what happened–because they can’t remember…

For fans of adventure, this is a fast-paced thriller introducing the Grey Phantom, a lone crusader in a city fighting for its life when all hope of survival has already perished. Relying only on his wits, his twin silenced .45-caliber automatics, and an uncertain alliance with a beautiful newspaper reporter, the Grey Phantom blazes a violent trail through the bodies of murderers, gangsters, and hijackers–and no one, not even you the reader–knows his true identity.

The Grey Phantom, available today on Amazon.

I am very happy to be able to announce that I have signed a three-book deal with Water Dragon Publishing to bring out new editions of my Stolen Future trilogy, The Invisible City, and The Secret City, and The Cosmic City.

The Stolen Future is the story of Charles Clee, an American volunteer in the British Army in World War I, prior to the United States entering the war. Scouting an enemy position, he escapes an ambush and finds himself in the middle of a time-travel experiment from the future. Accidentally entering the time machine, he is hurled 800,000 years in the future, when the world has radically changed: The population is reduced, ruined cities hide horrifying monsters, and humans have been relegated to second-class status by invaders from the stars.

Forced to run for his life, Clee becomes a symbol of resistance, the first hope humans have had in 300 years. But when he finds that a working time machine may still exist that could return him to the 20th century, he must make a choice: Return to his own time to save the men of his command from a German surprise attack, or remain in the future to try to lift mankind from its slavery?

Whatever his choice, a world is doomed.

Christmas Sale

For the next week, The Choking Rain is free on Amazon, and the other two books in the series, The Scent of Death and The Killing Scar, are reduced to $2.99. This is your chance to follow the adventures of Nemesis and his intrepid crew as they pursue mysterious happenings and exotic murders from Los Angeles to the Himalayas, from the Amazon jungles to the nightclubs of 1930s Berlin.

At the same time, my science fiction comedy Alien House is also reduced for the holidays to $2.99. When his spaceship crash-lands outside of Newton College, would-be invader Phil finds himself hiding in a fraternity house–but this is no ordinary house, it’s the “animal house” of Newton College, where no self-respecting alien should be caught dead–or alive. But this is no ordinary campus, either, and it has secrets of its own, none of which will matter until Phil makes his choice: conquer the planet or go to a toga party?

And finally, my non-fiction book How to Know if Your Stockbroker is Ripping You Off is also on sale for $2.99. (I must be full of the holiday spirit.) Every year, thousands of people find themselves at a loss (literally) because their investments have taken a dive (this year in particular!). Some have only themselves to blame…but many have been taken advantage of and don’t even know it. This book is designed for those who know just enough about the stock market to get into trouble. If you’re an investor who’s taken losses, or if you’re thinking about getting into the market but you’re scared to give your money to a stranger, this is the book for you.

Tonight is Halloween. Or perhaps I should say tonight was Halloween, since as my better half put it when we turned out the lights and brought in the decorations because we had actually run out of candy for a change, “There’s another Halloween in the books”– even though it was only eight o’clock–because we had, as I say, run out of candy and brought in all the decorations we had used to advertise our contribution to the sugar-bombing of other people’s children. (To which I can only say, “You’re welcome.”)

But tonight was an unusually successful Halloween, not only because we gave away all of our candy (only a couple of pieces for ourselves! That’s the horror.), but because early on we were not getting a lot of traffic. The way our house is set up, on Halloween you can only see that we’re open for business if you walk down the nearest cross street in our direction. Then you cross the road and meet us in the driveway where we like to set up (figuring it’s easier for us and easier for parents than letting their kids walk all the way to our front door). But tonight, someone was having a party in the neighborhood, and one of their guests parked his car in a red zone directly across from our house, blocking the view of children coming from that direction.

Since we couldn’t move the car, we changed the visibility of our operation. I took a lantern down to the end of the driveway and waved it slowly whenever kids came into view. Now what you have to know is that I was wearing a hooded cloak (we like to dress up, too), and whenever someone would come along, I would use the lantern to indicate where the candy was located–but I wouldn’t speak. It freaked out more than one kid and even some parents. One guy (an adult) actually said he wasn’t sure I wasn’t a robot until he saw me up close. Yay me! I got your Halloween scary right here, folks! (Same time next year.)

But the point is that I created a convincing illusion by means of a simple cloak, a lantern, and an attitude. No mask, no other costume. Just move the lantern slowly and don’t speak. It goes to show that you can create a fantasy by hardly changing anything. Many people still think science fiction is all spaceships and ray guns and aliens (okay, starships and light sabers and droids, but you get my meaning), but that’s a gross oversimplification.

You can create a fantasy with a guy in a cloak carrying a lantern. You can create science fiction merely by changing a dog’s lifetime from 15 years to 50. (I’ve done it.) Nothing more than that. You don’t need starships; you don’t need a magical ring that plunges the world into war.

Fans will ask writers, “Where do you get your ideas?” Sometimes, it’s as simple a matter as needing to see what’s behind that car parked in front of you.

Amazon has announced that stories published through the Kindle Vella app will be available to be read for FREE for eligible readers from October 5 – 11 (up to 100 episodes).

If you were waiting for a chance to see what happens when a teenager from outer space comes to Earth to scout an invasion, only to end up attending college and pledging that fraternity, the one no one with any sense would go near, Alien House–a mash-up of Resident Alien and Animal House–is for you. When Phil was sent to Earth, he thought he’d be masquerading as a student at Newton College, safely housed with the other members of his team who had gone on ahead. But when his ship is sabotaged and he crash-lands, losing his weapons, mission orders, and most significantly, his clothes, he finds himself thrown to the tender mercies of Alpha Tau Ceti, the lowest form of Greek life on campus–and the perfect hideout, because ATC has a secret of its own…

On the other hand, in a 50s-era Los Angeles where zombies, vampires, and assorted monsters mix freely with the living population, one PI/necromancer takes all their cases. (Just don’t come to him with a divorce. He has standards.) When he’s hired by the wife of a missing monster, he finds himself caught between the unsavory, the undead, the cops, all of whom are interested in learning How to Murder a Corpse.

How to Murder a Corpse

I am happy to report that my story, “Relative Fortune,” has been reprinted in the literary journal Nonbinary Review, for its “In Motion” issue. “Relative Fortune” is about broken dreams, and family expectations, and how life never quite goes the way we think it will, or should. It is one of the stories of which I am most proud.

I’m proud to announce that I have a story, “Junior Partner,” included in the upcoming anthology No Ordinary Mortals. For those of you who still like to read about superheroes (and the success of the MCU would indicate that’s a lot of us), this collection of super-powered derring-do is right up your alley.

Pre-orders are available now, and if you can find me at a convention, I’ll sign your copy at super-speed that will set the page on fire!

Okay, maybe not that fast. But I do have the power of super-illegibility, so there’s that going for me…

And while you’re waiting for your copy, you can check out my Nemesis series:

Most of my career I’ve been a “pantser,” writing by the seat of my pants, no outlines. (I tried outlining early on and it didn’t work and I blamed the process instead of myself.) Now I’m trying to work toward outlining at least the major points of my novels and serials, and it’s helping. Except when I don’t do it. I’m working on a couple of projects, one outlined, one not. Guess which is going faster?

The thing is, both can get you to the same place, and if you do it right, the reader never knows which method you used. In her seminal writing book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott espouses the idea of “sh***y first drafts,” which is to say that you can write anything you want in your first draft because no one will ever see it.* (Seriously. Show it to no one.) And that’s helping me right now.

I’m plotting this one story literally as I write it. I have no idea what’s happening next until the characters tell me. But one thing I can do–when I have an idea for a possible future development, I can drop a hint, foreshadowing things that may occur later. Maybe they won’t. If they do, I’ll look really clever. If they don’t, I’ll go back and take them out.

Think about Bill and Ted and their Excellent Adventure. Remember how every time they need some card to fall their way, they say, “Hey, if we remember later to go back in time to before now and drop the key behind this rock, it’ll be here now.” And then they pick up the key, because they know they have already left it there. Not only does this provide cover for plot points, it also shows they aren’t as dumb as they first looked. Same thing with writing “sh***ty first drafts.” You can always go back and insert things earlier in the book and the reader never needs to know you didn’t have that idea all along. Your plot works and you look smart.

When I read Jim Butcher’s first book, Storm Front, I was blown away by the neatness of his plotting. Everything that was necessary for the climax to work, he had laid down earlier in the book so seamlessly that you didn’t realize it was important until it was. And I’ve always wondered: Did he plan it that way, or did he write the ending and go back later and insert the passages he needed to make his conclusion work?

Who cares? Either way, it’s genius.

The thing is, plotting first makes the genius stuff easier. Of course, you have to be a genius to plot it all out in the first place.

Unless… Bill? Ted? Can we talk?

*If you are a writer, you need this book.

No, this is not the newest DIY sensation on YouTube, it’s my newest serial on Kindle Vella. Rather than try to describe it, I’ll let it speak for itself.

Sammy lay sprawled on the floor next to my client chair, a bullet hole in his forehead and two bite marks on his throat. Somebody had made damned sure he was dead past any hope of resurrection, even by one of those Ph.D.s in necromancy from some fancy Ivy League college, let alone a correspondence school hack like me. Which seemed a lot of work when you figured that I’d already raised Sammy from the dead last week.

It’s post-war L.A. Somebody’s got a beef with the supernatural residents of Los Angeles, and the cops couldn’t care less so long as the breathers stay breathing. The paranormals need somebody to start poking around. They pay well, but they want results. And since there’s only one private detective/necromancer in town, guess who they want to hire. But he’d have done this one for free. Sammy was a friend, and you don’t let a friend’s death go unremarked, no matter how many times it happens to him.

Murdering a zombie marked by a vampire. Even for Tinseltown, this is a bit over the top.

Some days are like that, you know? You go for weeks with nothing significant to report, then pow!, everything happens at once. Yesterday I reported the publication of my newest novel, Alien House, previously published on Kindle Vella, and no sooner was that settling down than I wrote the last two episodes of my other current serial, The Grey Phantom, about a masked vigilante taking on the mobs and their strange new weapon during the Great Depression. Remember all those Saturday afternoon serials? That’s what we’re talking about. Fifty-six thousand words. Not a doorstopper, but a quick read, and appropriate for its 1930s setting. Novels used to be a lot shorter, you know.

I don’t know if it’s a good thing when an author can’t remember any more how many books he’s written, but that’s where I am. I mean, I’ve published nearly a dozen, and I’ve got several more which have never for various reasons seen the light of day. (A couple appear to have been lost, and that’s sad.)

As to the Grey Phantom’s fate, that has yet to be decided. Self-publishing is a lot of work, more so after you’ve published, and leaving him in serial form seems to be the best course right now. (It also means you can get the first three episodes for free, hint, hint.) Still, it seemed unfair to let the book’s completion to go by without comment, so…

Now it’s full steam ahead on the sequel to Alien House, tentatively entitled Wasted Space. Then I have a space opera in mind, unless it gets pre-empted by that super-secret-nobody-even-suspects-I-hardly-know-myself project that’s been insinuating itself into my consciousness for the past 24 hours. (I told you I’d been busy!)

In the meantime, this engine of creativity needs fuel to run, and that means readers. Please take a look at my oeuvre: Science fiction, fantasy, humor, mystery, they’re all there. Thanks in advance.