Pre-Order THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD today!

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The second book in my bestselling TIM REAPER series is now available for pre-order!

What’s it about?

After saving the humanity from a psychopathic angel bent on hastening the end of days, Tim Reaper can be forgiven for hitting the bottle hard. It’s not every day that a former grim reaper gets to fall in love for the very first time only to have to kill the girl he’s fallen for or let the world burn. It’s five months since Reaper had to make that impossible choice.

Meanwhile, in North End Dartmouth, a mother has been stabbed to death in her bed and the only witness is an eight-year-old girl with a peculiar gift. She knows the truth of all things and has taken to writing the base code of the universe on her bedroom wall. She possesses knowledge no human being was ever meant to have and that means she’s got a target on her back. Angels, demons, and everything in-between want the girl dead and her only hope of survival rests with Tim Reaper who must keep her alive long enough to meet with someone Reaper calls, The Man with the Big White Beard.

Annnnd … here’s a sample!

From THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD

I thought for a moment that the earth might open my up and swallow me hole because the look on Charlotte’s face could melt the hull of an aircraft carrier. I motioned for her to calm down and said, “We’ll just leave questions about who and what you are alone for now, okay?”

Charlotte nodded and followed me to the small ante-room where I’d set up the sleeping arrangements during Amy’s brief stay in Das Bunker. It took me a couple of minutes to create a comfy little nook in the corner complete with a cot, an air mattress, and a spare sleeping bag. I placed a small battery powered lamp on a milk crate beside the makeshift bed and then tossed a copy of Muscle Car Fury on the bed.

“What’s this?” asked Charlotte, holding up the magazine.

“It’s a magazine filled with pictures of classic American muscle cars. I don’t have any kid’s books in here, and we’re not heading to town to get any until we figure out a plan for how to keep you safe.”

She tossed it onto her bed and then crawled inside the sleeping bag. “Well?”

I arched my eyebrows. “Well, what?”

“Are you going to zip me up? It’s not a real bed so you can’t tuck me in, but you can zip me up, Mister.”

“What is that—some parental ritual or something?” I asked, immediately regretting it.

Charlotte sniffled for a moment and then wiped her nose.  “I miss my mom,” she said in the tiniest of whispers.

And a strange thing happened. I felt a flutter in the center of my chest. A tiny ache that I’d never experienced before in all my years walking the Earth and living inside human skin. I wasn’t entirely sure what it was—possibly a tiny case of heartache? A human feeling of empathy? The tiny girl had lost everything over the last few hours. She was attacked by her mom’s boyfriend, an Abraxas-possessed social worker and then a truckload of demons—all in a matter of hours. If this was the way her life had always been, then I had to question whether it was a life at all. The girl was powerful—too powerful based on what I’d already witnessed. All that power trapped inside a child’s body; something was bound to give.

I didn’t possess any form of parental instinct, but that tiny fluttering in the center of my chest wasn’t going away as I watched the girl sob into her pillow. I had to do something that instinct would allow me to do without thinking but I didn’t know what it was.

And so I just leaned against the wall opposite the cot and slid down until I was sitting on the floor. It would be my first shift on sentry, and I reckoned the first of many until I could figure out why Charlotte was on Hell’s hit list. She sobbed for about five minutes before crying herself to sleep.

“The girl can’t live like this,” I whispered.

 

 

 

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Tim Reaper News

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We’re about a month and a half away from the release of the second in my Tim Reaper series, THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD. I hope everyone will be as happy with this installment as they are with the first in the series.

This is a bit of a different pace from the first one as Reaper takes time to get to know the eight-year-old girl with epic powers that heaven and hell want dead. There’s Detective Carol Sparks as well, providing her insights not to mention her bad-ass skills as shooting demons in the head.

Pre-order will be available soon and look for this to be our round about the first day of fall.

In other news, I’ve decided that I will publish Tim Reaper short stories because if you’ve read IMMORTAL REMAINS, you’ll know that Reaper has been living with human beings for a century. And every time a body gets damaged, he hops into a new body at the moment of its death. He’s been everything from a rum-runner to a hockey goon.

So I think that I;d like to explore his previous incarnations and the best way to do that is to throw some short stories out to the universe and see if the universe approves.

These will be round about 5000 words and will sell for a fixed price of 99¢ on Amazon and Smashwords as they get things out to Chapters/Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc.  When can you expect the first Tim Reaper short story to drop?

Christmas Day, 2017. A holiday gift for fans who’ve made IMMORTAL REMAINS my best selling book ever. (I still can’t get over the fact that I get emails from prefect strangers telling me how they loved the book and wanting to know about the next one. That’s an amazing feeling and I think it’s one of the factors in helping me overcome my writer’s block I had been suffering from for the past fifteen months.) So here’s what’s coming this Christmas!

Pretty cool! What’s it about? All of the Tim Reaper short stories will be about Reaper’s little hobby that is mentioned in the very first chapter of IMMORTAL REMAINS; he’s hunting serial killers because, as Reaper points out, they have no soul and if you don’t have a soul you don’t get to live.

There’s my news. Really feeling pumped about writing again. Hopefully I will have some exciting news from my literary agent as we have some irons in a few fires out there.

Have a great day!

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Spiffy New Cover Art for IMMORTAL REMAINS & an Update about the Second Book

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A year has passed since Immortal Remains was released and it has been a fantastic seller for me. Like, seriously. For the bulk of the past twelve months I’d been receiving monthly payments from Amazon that told me this whole hybrid author thing might not be a flash in the pan.

There are 61 mostly four and five star reviews for the book. It’s got a nice little award from book blog One Book Two. I get new subscribers to my newsletter each week and the sales of Immortal Remains have boosted the sales of my other books so thanks everybody who bought it and who loved it. (And thanks to those who bought and didn’t like it. Sorry it didn’t work for you. Maybe you’ll like the second book better.)

To celebrate, I’ve had the cover redone and put it out to the universe. Behold!

I think it’s pretty cool, don’t you?

Now for some other news. The GIrl on Victoria Road, the second in my Tim Reaper series will start accepting pre-orders on August 17th, so mark your calendars. It’ll be released mid-September and before the first day of fall because I said it would be a summer book and I meant it! 🙂

Oh and here’s a snippet from the forthcoming book:

After saving the humanity from a psychopathic angel bent on hastening the end of days, Tim Reaper can be forgiven for hitting the bottle hard. It’s not every day that a former grim reaper gets to fall in love for the very first time only to have to kill the girl he’s fallen for or let the world burn. It’s five months since Reaper had to make an impossible choice.

Meanwhile in North End Dartmouth a mother has been stabbed to death in her bed and the only witness is an eight-year-old girl with a peculiar gift. She knows the truth of all things and has taken to writing the base code of the universe on her bedroom wall. She possesses knowledge no human being was ever meant to have and that means she’s got a target on her back. Angels, demons and everything in-between have the girl in their sights and her only hope of survival rests with Tim Reaper who must keep her alive long enough to meet with someone Reaper calls, The Man with the Big White Beard.

 

I strolled into the 7-11 and my nostrils filled with the smell of grease mixed in with various volatile organic compounds of everything from nachos to hot dogs to fried chicken, all in their individual wrap or containers and each sitting beneath a heat lamp that could probably cause skin cancer if you got too close. I scanned the store and saw there was a sketchy looking male of the douche bag persuasion wearing white sunglasses and a jean jacket with the arms cut off. He quickly looked around the store to see if staff were watching and then grabbed two energy drinks and stuffed them in the pockets of his dirty jeans of the kind where boxers are clearly visible because the jeans hang off your ass. Apparently this looks cool on some distant planet of douche bags.

The poor bugger didn’t stand a chance. He was a dead man walking and didn’t even realize it because the manager of this particular 7-11 is a fifty-year-old man who has been working at the convenience chain since he was fresh out of high school, and almost always on the night shift.

Dave Exner is an anomaly, I think. The reason for this is because I do believe he has actually found the elusive secret of happiness that human beings spend their entire lives searching for. He has somehow managed to build a three-decade career out of working in a convenience store chain and he actually experiences joy the moment he doffs his 7-11 dickey and heads out the door each night. He’s human, by the way. And he’s seen everything.

No, seriously.

He’s literally seen everything there is to see when it comes to nocturnal activities of criminals, junkies, supernatural beasties and late-night shift workers with hard core coffee addictions. I’ve known him for more than a decade after having stumbled into his shop covered from head to toe in green goo . I had just disemboweled a ghoul who thought it might be a nice idea to make a meal out of my former host as I drunkenly staggered up the dark alley next to the store after consuming far too much tequila for anyone’s good.  Dave didn’t even cock a wary eyebrow when he first laid eyes on me because, as mentioned, he’s seen it all.

Oh yeah, I should state that he’s also in possession of a nasty-ass theft deterrent agent and that’s why the dude with the sunglasses didn’t stand a chance the moment he decided that swiping a couple of cans of Red Bull would somehow enrich his life. In fact, the douche bag’s life was about to end and he didn’t even know it.  But I knew it because I’d seen what was about to happen before.

Dave nodded my way and then snapped his fingers. He pointed to the back corner of the store.  There was a sharp gust of wind that blew straight down the center aisle.

Except it wasn’t wind. It was his time.

His mouth dropped open as if on a hinge when the imp revealed itself at the last second. Yeah, you read that right, too. I said imp … as in demonic minion. He goes by the name “Phil” (short for Filisiaspazuzu) and he ain’t no accountant. The creature was visible for less than three seconds when it simply opened it’s maw and swallowed the douche bag whole; spitting out the two cans of Red Bull which landed on the floor covered with slime.

As Sparks alluded earlier, this particular 7-11 is the only one in the entire chain that hasn’t experienced a robbery for the past fifteen years? Phil is the reason for that and Dave is Phil’s best friend. Sort of.

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Finding a Light at the End of the Tunnel

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I suffer from mental health issues. I’m not alone. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, more than 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.  (I think that number might actually be low.)

My mental health issues are always there lingering in the background – an unwanted permanent guest that never moves out of my head space.  I know that my mental health has not been that great over the past year or so. Life changing health issues have overshadowed a number of positive things that I should be thankful for. My mother, who is 83,  has just survived (miraculously, I often believe) her own brush with death that we all were certain was cancer. It wasn’t. She’s getting better, but we went through four and a half months of not knowing what was happening. I was grieving this year for four months because I was certain that my mother was going to be gone.

Grief is crippling

And in the background were my own health issues which suffered a sharp decline throughout. That and of course the very real sense, I feel, that our world has entered a dark and dangerous period.  I don’t need to rattle off everything that isn’t working – we all know what’s going on. We are all of us, powerless to stop it. (Then part of me who loves history realizes that our world has always been dark and dangerous. It’s just that now it feels like we’re all spinning wildly out of control.)

For me, writing was always my main method of coping. I would pour all of my anger, pain and mental poison into a project. I decided that if only I could land a literary agent and get a book deal, well, that would mean I wasn’t a complete failure in life. I’m on my second literary agent now (and he, like my first agent, is fantastic.) I’ve got five traditionally published books and three self published. I’ve been to London England to launch two of my novels. I made new friends. I ate crazy ass amazing fabulous pastry and marveled at the living history of the place. That should have been enough, right?

Yet I felt that I was a failure in everything. I still do and I’m trying to change that.

Because having a mental illness does that to you; it makes you feel like you are a failure because you have a mental illness. You look out at everyone and they all seem to be functioning. Their lives have purpose and meaning. What the hell is wrong with me? Why can’t I be like that?

There have been many times in the past year or so where I have felt very much like was actually outside my body, powerless to stop a decline in my mental health.  I think it’s like that for a lot of folks who suffer from any number of disorders. I know the name of mine, you likely know the name of yours.  But there is stigma out there for people suffering from mental health issues. There shouldn’t be – everybody knows someone who is experiencing a crisis in their lives that impacts their mental health.

This is why I had writer’s block as well. I was just completely unable to connect with writing which is my own self-generated light at the end of the tunnel. I’m fortunate though; I’m determined to slay my demons and I have started writing again. About a thousand or so words a day. It sometimes helps me cope. Sometimes it doesn’t. I’m still not 100%.

I’m angry that this is all happening right now. That I believed I had things licked and then life came in and gave me a sharp kick in the nads.

I’m working through things now. I’ve got a counselor who is going to help. I’ve got the most amazing, wonderful, fantastic wife a man could ever hope for. She is my rock. She has seen me at my worst many times in our thirteen years of marriage. She helps me find that light at the end of the tunnel, but she can’t be my rock forever. I have to be my rock, somehow. I’m hoping counseling will help me develop some skills that I clearly lack. Managing my anger. Managing my sometimes crippling despair. Just … managing.

I’m fifty years old in less than three months. I’m angry that at this stage of my life, I am still dealing with this crap. It’s funny, you can go years and years with relatively stable mental health and then BOOM! You just suddenly have trouble coping.

For now, I am searching for the satisfaction that comes with being a storyteller. I am searching for that one book I write that will make me commercially successful. (I know, I could be dreaming.) I am focusing on creating something from nothing and seeing where it goes. This journey isn’t an easy one.

Anyway, I guess where I am going with this is here: if you are hurting, get help. I was hurting for a hell of a long time over the past year or so and it took me forever to get to the point where I had the courage to say those words: I need help.  I said those words to my wife very recently. She’s a nurse. She’s all about helping others. I lucked out, marrying her.

And so that’s where I’m at right now. I am writing again. That’s a victory of sorts, right? It has to be. I want to feel better, I want that more than anything. So I think for the next little while, I am going to blog about my journey toward better mental health. Maybe if there are others who are experiencing their own trials and tribulations with mental health, my journey will help de-stigmatize the process of getting the help.

Since I’m fifty this year, I figure that statistically speaking, I’ve got about 25-30 years left on the old life clock.  I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend that time feeling like I’ve been feeling for the past year. I’m going to get better. Just watch me.

 

 

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Finding my way out of writer’s block.

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The past year and a bit has been a hard slog. I was diagnosed with diabetes and there have been life-changing health issues impacting me and those I love who are closest to me. And there has been transition from my old day job to a new day job. There has simply been a lot of stuff happening in my life and for the past sixteen months or so, I have felt the weight of it all. I’ve been, at times, somewhat automaton-like; going through the motions of day-to-day life without finding the joy in anything,

I’m serious. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a motivated individual.  I take great pleasure in helping motivate others like those good people who are members of Saskatoon Writer’s Meetup.  I’ve acted as a mentor to other writers. I’ve been cheering people on as they complete their projects and try to seek representation or a book deal.

But for the last year, it just hasn’t been there. My writing as suffered because I have neglected it. I simply didn’t have the juice or creative energy or whatever magic elixir kept me at it through eight published works.

My literary agent Lane Heymont has been great. He’s done a fantastic job for me and has been a huge support through whatever the hell this was. Thanks, man. You are the best. 🙂

I used to think that if one can create a light at the end of the tunnel for oneself, then you could overcome anything. What I’ve learned is that only works when life isn’t dumping new and painful ways of creating stress. There have been many days over the past year when I’ve wondered what I’ve done? Did I cause this? (Probably with the diabetes as I like pizza and beer too much.) I’ve also wondered if the crap that was bearing down on me was spilling over into other people’s lives.

I’ve had what I call a “stress ball” in the pit of my stomach now for many long months. It’s always there, patiently waiting for the next ordeal. And I’ve had panic attacks. Crippling, crawl under the sheets and want to hide out from the universe kind of panic attacks.  I can’t think of any worse feeling than to be in the throes of one. I’ve seen a counselor, I’m going back. There is much to do. I need to figure out how to manage them because I am literally a shaking, incapacitated gelatinous mass of nerves when the panic attacks come.

This month has been particularly difficult. Both my wife and I are praying that July is going to be better than June. I am so thankful for my wife’s support. She is my anchor. She helps me see things clearer. She is the source of strength that I lack and I love her very much.

All of this has come at a cost in my relationships, my health, my happiness and my ability to make others happy. It has also created the perfect storm of writer’s block and I will confess that I have contemplated walking away from writing entirely.

It’s important to understand, as well, that my writing is a way for me to manage how I feel about myself. It has helped me deal with post traumatic stress disorder because I was in a very bad way about fifteen years ago and my life collapsed entirely. I don’t want to go back there. I can’t. I barely survived it.

Writing helped me through it all. It was a barometer for my mental health. If I wasn’t writing, something wasn’t good inside my head. When I was writing, I felt I could do anything.

I have been blessed over the past ten years as an author. I’ve had a book deal or two. I went to London with my wife … twice. I’ve met fans of my books and I’ve formed friendships with people outside of Canada.

But the last sixteen months have been hell. I’m fighting through it. I’m doing the best I can and I am writing again. Not a lot, not anywhere near my previous output. Right now I am doing about 1000 words a day. I am interested in the projects I am working on. I feel invested in the plot and the characters again.

My agent has managed to get some major interest in one of my projects. We both have our fingers crossed on that one.

I am hoping, still, to get THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD out to readers this summer. End-September at the latest. Thank you to everyone who has fallen for Tim Reaper and who have emailed me to say they loved the book and can’t wait for the next one.

In the meantime, I think I am coming out of writer’s block. Those health issues are still there, but I can’t be held hostage to fear of what may come because in my nearly 50 years on the planet, I’ve learned that personal shit storms seem to be cyclic. I am hoping this one is near its end.

Bear with me folks. I’m still here fighting the good fight and trying to write the good write.  Nobody said life would be easy the older you get. I’m not sure why I thought that it would be.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last year. Chief among the things I’ve learned is that I have to manage my stress better. I can’t let fear of the unknown consume me. I need to be better so I can take care of those closest to me.

Peace. I’m still here. I’m writing again.

Things have to get better.

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