Books Books BOOKS!!!

April 15, 2018

Yesterday, my wife and I took a little adventure to some of the cooler parts of southeast Michigan. I’m not talking chic nightclubs and fashion outlets, but bookstores. The place where all the cool kids hang out! Hey, we were there, so that counts, right?

But seriously, there were a lot of interesting folks out. It’s good to see that reading, and books in general, are still so popular. I’ve always loved reading (hey, that’s good for a writer, huh?), and when I have a chance to get my hands on something that is damn near impossible to find, I’ll relish the chance.

First, we went to John King Books in the great city of Detroit. I found out about King Books about a year ago, maybe even sooner. It’s odd, too, considering how much time I’ve spent up there, and I used to live there for a short while. I get that I’m not going to know about everything up there, but still, something like that you’d think I’d have heard of it.

So we braved the rain, sometimes a slight mist, others a torrential downpour. At one point, traffic stopped completely due to an accident hogging two lanes. I love having to merge all the way over! I realize it was one lane, but there was no reason for it to take that long to get past. Typical with accidents, though, people love to gawk, people love to think they are obligated to get out and help, even when cops and rescue squads are on the scene.

Anyway, we got there and once we were inside, the stench of old, musty books slammed into us at once. No surprise, because there were tons of books. Literally. This is a four-story building that is crammed to capacity with used books. Anything and everything you could imagine—except romance, apparently, because neither of us saw any of those. Not that we were looking, but you’d expect to see a huge selection.

So I was looking for many titles, but two in particular. Did they have them? Nope. In fact, most of the stuff on my list wasn’t there. Plenty of other titles by those authors, but not the ones I wanted. It was okay, though, because I found two books I’d had my eye on for some time.

Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyre. I’m pretty sure this recommendation came from a list I was looking at on Goodreads, but possibly from somewhere else. It sounds interesting, not like all the typical fantasy that you always see. I’ve read a few of her Star Trek titles before, a long time ago, sure, but she didn’t make me throw the book across the room, so there’s that.

Knight of the Black Rose, by James Lowder. This is from the Ravenloft series, D&D’s horror line from the 90’s. Someone still does Ravenloft, but I’m not sure who. That’s not important. What is, however, is the fact that I had tried to get into Ravenloft bigtime in the 90’s, but never managed to afford the books and boxed sets, let alone find friends willing to play it. I had read a few of the novels, but never followed up on it because I never knew which ones were worth reading and which were trash, in addition to not wanting to devote myself to a long series like that. This was one I’d always had my eye on, and Lord Soth was always a cool character, so hey, why not? Plus, the other night I went through my Goodreads list and filled in a lot of books that I had read over the years, which included three Ravenloft books, which led to me reading reviews of other ones, and that led me to having the idea fresh in my brain.

So that was that. We left, and went over to Lafayette Coney Island for lunch. It was okay, but not spicy enough. Not the issue. We jumped on I-96 and stopped at RIW Hobbies in Livonia, my old gaming store/hangout from way back when. I mean, it’s in a different building now, but I still love the place. I was hoping to find paints I needed, and they had them! Plus I found a brush that doesn’t look like it’ll wear out on my in two weeks. Back on track!

Finally, we went over to Ann Arbor. Isle of Dogs had been playing at the State Theater for a while, and yes I am aware it is in wide release finally, but we wanted to see it up there. The State in as independent theater, and an Ann Arbor institution, so why not?

After getting a coffee, we walked over to the Dawn Treader Bookstore. Not nearly as huge as King Books, this is a quaint, quiet place with a nice selection. Plus, Star Wars toys hanging from the ceiling! And the owner is super nice (which you’ll find out in a moment). Again, the main books I wanted they didn’t have, but I did find several others.

The Deep, by Nick Cutter. A horror book I’ve never managed to find. Even my library system doesn’t have this! So, I snatched this up at once, not even thinking about it. Excited, and probably next on my list.

The Riddle Master of Hed, by Patricia McKillip. I found this while searching for Riddler merchandise on ebay, of all things. Having never heard of it, but liking the cover art, I read the synopsis. It sounds interesting, and yet another fantasy novel that breaks the mold. A lot of longtime fans speak highly of this book and the series as a whole, so I figured I’d get it when I saw it.

Under Enemy Colors, by Sean Thomas Russell. I have always loved pirates and books about them, which has spilled over into an interest in nautical fiction. I saw this in a bookstore a while back, and couldn’t seem to find it ever again. It has rave reviews, and supposedly the naval battles are incredible, which is right up my alley.

So the owner who was ringing me out saw Under Enemy Colors, and asked if I was into O’Brian at all. I never really wanted to read any of the Aubrey books; I mean, they sound cool and all, but it’s a long series, and I just couldn’t find an interest in them. We got into a big discussion about the movie Master and Commander, which is nothing like the books supposedly, so he ultimately went to the shelf, grabbed the book, and told me to take it. If I read it and like it, pay him. If not, bring it back and he’ll recommend something different.

That was a cool move, but I still don’t know if I want to read it. I’m sure I will, because I keep seeing that it’s a quick read. Plus, hey, another “classic” I can put on my list.

So after that we saw Isle of Dogs (awesome, as usual for Wes Anderson) and ate dinner, then came home. All around, a great day, and one with some new books as well.

You’re probably wondering, Myke, why don’t you just get those books from the library? Or off Amazon for that matter?

Look, I love supporting small, local businesses. I realize online shopping is often easier, and sometimes cheaper (not so in this case), and oftentimes you don’t have to drive around and hope to find something. But being in those bookstores, around people, finding new things, sometimes getting into conversations with perfect strangers about all sorts of stuff is not an experience you get on Amazon.

I’m into gaming, and a lot of gaming stuff is readily available and cheaper online, but my friend’s store might collapse because I didn’t buy from him. That particular bottle of paint I need for my miniatures that none of the five shops in Toledo have in stock? I found it at RIW in Livonia, plus other cool stuff I didn’t know existed, which I subsequently didn’t know I needed.

Please, ladies and gentlemen, buy local. Support small businesses. Support authors and artists and musicians! You’re helping a good cause, and might just find your next favorite thing while you do.

Be cool, my sexies. Always nice to know you’re there, and I can’t thank you enough for that!

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Spring Into SciFi is out now! Go here to get your copy if you haven’t…but you DO have one, right?

Pretty much anyone reading this doesn’t need to hear what I’m about to say, but I’ll reiterate: supporting small-press publications and authors like this is GOOD. Not only does it bring in revenue and allow the publishers to continue putting cool things out like this, it also shows the authors that people are interested, which in turn allows them to keep doing what they love.

Over the past few years, as you know, I’ve self-published several short stories and given them away completely free, mostly on Smashwords. There are so few downloads it makes me sick. Not because it’s my writing and people need to bow down to me, but because I’m always hearing about how people love to read. I hear about how self-publishing is THE way to go.

So why isn’t it working? Why doesn’t anyone care? Surely I can’t suck—no one is reading it to know if it does or doesn’t!

Look, I’m guilty of it too. There are times I need to get the free downloads, even the cheap ones. I can afford it, and so can you. And how many times do I find myself sitting around the house, done with my writing and bored as hell? (Not that I have any reason to be, given all my myriad hobbies, but I digress…) Or when I’m sitting on an exercise bike, staring at yet another rerun of This Old House or whatever the hell it is the TV’s at the gym are playing.

It’s like donating to a charity. Sure, you only have $1 to give. But if one-million people donate $1, that’s $1,000,000. I’m not saying this as a way to help get other people rich, but just to show that donating and helping and supporting are—no duh—quite good. And who knows? Maybe it’ll come back and help you in the end.

In other news…

I’ve been editing a lot. Like, more than writing. But to be honest, I’m loving it. Sure, I’ve got a ton of old stories lying around that need to be cleaned up, and I’m finally making the time to do so. Maybe I can make the leap from writer to editor…or just continue to balance the two.

Viva life!

Preorders are live!

March 4, 2018

As you know (you do know, right?), my story “The Man Without a Planet” is going to be published in Spring Into Sci-Fi, a new annual anthology by Cloaked Press. There’s going to be 13 stories in total, all of which are fantastic (trust me, they are!).

Preorders are LIVE now!

It will fully be available on March 20th. I implore you to check it out; these are some talented authors and great stories. Not to mention, Cloaked Press is a very good, up and coming publisher. They truly care about their authors, but also the reader as well–this isn’t an anthology just for those published in it, it’s designed for you to enjoy and feel happy to have it on your bookshelf.

Thanks so much for all your support, and can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the collection!

Anniversary of Awesomeness

February 3, 2018

Things are looking up!

Behold, my typical negativity is gone. I mean, sure, I’ve still got my hang ups, but I’m pretty happy right now. In spite of financial difficulties and the fact that no matter how much I work out I’m not losing any weight, things are going well.

Cloaked Press is releasing an anthology called “Spring Into Sci-Fi” in a short while. My story, “The Man Without a Planet” will be in it. I’m super excited, and you should be too! It’s an actual paper book, with real ink and everything! Be sure to pick one up when it’s available.

I’ve been writing and editing like crazy. I have a stack of stories I’m very happy with, and working hard to get them out there. Some are going over very well with critique groups. Others are finding their place. I think if it’s longer than 2,000 words, people don’t want to take the time to read, review, critique and comment on it. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, just that it’s harder to find reader for something that’s 3,500 words than 1,500.

Stories are out in the wilds! Some are even on shortlists, and I’m holding my breath. I know I shouldn’t, but after all the time I’ve spent on these, why not hope for something positive? I don’t want to say I deserve it, but would it be too much to say it’s my time for something good?

Journaling the hell out of a new novel. Still waiting to edit The Third Tower, but I’m getting other ideas out there. I even jotted down a quick idea for a short, sweet, classic sword & sorcery novel. Maybe they’ll bring back the cheap spinner paperbacks with ridiculous cover art? What’s so bad about a short novel about a bunch of muscle-bound psychos killing each other?

And hey, look at that: today’s my 5 year anniversary with this blog! Thanks for following all these years, and thanks for your support!

Not in writing news, but I had a sinus infection for over a month. It’s gone! Finally. Seriously, feels great.

I started a new Clay and Styg story the other day. Should be done soon! Hopefully things will continue on this good path. As always, stay awesome!

The Latest

January 5, 2018

Aurora Wolf.

That’s the name you need to know. My story, “The Man Without a Planet,” was published on Aurora Wolf on January 1st of this year. What a great way to start the new year! (Full link below!)

That’s a story that has been out in the wilds for years. Making the rounds and barely getting any notice. Thanks to Mike Pennington for helping me out with that (and for the awesome artwork!). And thanks to you for reading it—it’s free!

So back a few weeks ago, I finished The Third Tower. I’m happy, and ready to get working on it. There’s a lot to fix, but I’m up for the challenge. My biggest vote of confidence was last night, when my wife read the first two chapters. She liked them, and said they reminded her of Robert Jordan.

I never read his work, to be honest. I know, I know, what a poser. What a fake fantasy fan I am for not having read, or even attempted to read, The Wheel of Time. It’s one of those things that I always said I’d get around to one of these days, and to be honest, I just haven’t had the time. I mean come on, it’s a long series!

Anyway, I’m happy to hear her comments. It makes me really want to get it finished, and get it out there. Agents, I’m always available to talk when you are…

Lots of short stories! I’ve written a lot, and been editing like crazy. I have two in mind that I want to start real soon, so hopefully the month of January will be a productive one.

Keeping it short this time. I hope all my sexies are doing well, and be sure to check out Aurora Wolf if you haven’t already!

The Man Without a Planet!

Happiness Is…

November 27, 2017

Being finished!

Earlier today, I finished the final chapter of The Third Tower. Draft number one of my latest novel is completed!

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am about this. I’ve had the idea for years. I mean, seriously, more than 15 years ago I started thinking about this. Three years ago (almost exactly, truth be told), I started writing it. After many breaks, starting it back up again, and repeating that procedure, I finally forced myself to quit dragging my feet and just finish it.

Naturally, I have a lot of editing to do. There are many, many, MANY contradictions and loose ends I’ve left in this, but it’s understandable. Writing something here and there over the course of three years, you’ll have that. I can’t imagine it will take long (famous last words…) to get it ship-shape, but I’ll get there when I do.

For now, I’m going to let myself relax. I have many other stories to write, edit, and attempt to get published. Who knows? Maybe my next big thing is right around the corner.

As for novel-length, well, er, novels, what’s next?

I’ve got a huge list of stuff that needs to be written. Things I’ve planned on for years. Things that hopefully won’t take three years of hemming and hawing to finish. Things that can get written and taken care of when they need to be.

I can’t wait for you to see this one, though. Stay tuned, big things are just around the corner.

It finally arrived! Volume Nine of Bardic Tales and Sage Advice is finally here, in my grasp…and it feels delicious!

As you should remember, last July my story “Behind You, in the Corner” was published in a fantastic online publication called Bards and Sages Quarterly. Of course you bought a copy. Then, at the end of the year, there was a poll for the best/favorite piece from each issue. Thanks for voting for me, by the way.

My story won for the July issue. There were a TON of votes on it, so obviously people liked it. It didn’t quite make story of the year, but that’s okay. There was a response to it, and I’m happy about that!

Not only did I get an extra couple of bucks, it was published in BT&SA vol. 9, which we’ve been waiting in deep anticipation for over a few months now. Friday, it showed up and man is it beautiful.

Big thanks to Julie Ann Dawson, the editor. She had the foresight to read my story through to the end, and accept it for publication. I love visionaries like her, they make the world a better place!

And of course, thanks so much to everyone who voted. Thanks for reading my stories, following me, supporting me, all that jazz. I truly appreciate it and mean every word I say. You’re all awesome!

If you would like to buy a copy, go here:

Bardic Tales and Sage Advice vol. 9!

So, in other news, I’m chugging along at the Third Tower. Since I sit in front of a computer all day at work, I haven’t had the drive to write much lately. Then I was like, what about pen on paper? So, several recent chapters have been handwritten. I spent some time last night transcribing them onto the computer, which naturally killed my eyes and back (maybe I should have used a desk chair instead of a wooden kitchen chair?), but they’re all set. The best news is, I’m only 13 chapters away from the end!

I never wanted to have another several years long novel on my hands. I started this three years ago, took a break, wrote some more, took another break, and on and on…

Hell, I didn’t even touch it in 2016! I tried, I thought about it, but nothing came out. Shame on me. But hooray for me for getting it done now! Only a few more weeks and then it’s complete, and I can do anything I want.

Other short stories have been getting done as well. I just had one up on the online workshop last week, and it got 11 critiques! Most of them were very positive and helpful, and a lot of the reviewers “liked” the story. That’s promising!

Next up, I’ve got a mind-fuck fantasy story that takes place in the summer, but autumn has already begun. Hmm, unlike here in Toledo, where it’s been autumn for two days and feels like high summer.

Wishful thinking maybe? Nah, I’ll fight the heat and enjoy my maple pecan lattes and wear scarves like the hipster doof I am.

Later, sexies! Stay awesome, and thanks as always!

The Latest

May 15, 2017

Man, where has the time been? Lots of stuff keeping me busy in real life, which is good! I even missed two big announcements, but it’s okay, great traveler! It’s never too late to enjoy the goodness.

My short story “Out of Sight” was published in the latest issue of Pulp Modern. I’m very proud of this story and excited that it found a home. The publication is amazing as well. Lots of great stories in it, and worth checking out. You can get a digital copy of it, but you can also get a print publication of it!

Pulp Modern. Get it while it’s hot!

I implore you to pick up a copy. I already got my payment for it ($10, whoo boy!), so I don’t benefit from others buying it. Still, it’s worth supporting small publications, independent authors and businesses, and let’s be honest, it isn’t that expensive. Maybe even write a review on Amazon while you’re at it.

Thank you in advance!

Anyway, remember last June when my story “Tyree’s Diadem” was published on the awesome webjournal Crimson Streets? Of course you do—that was one of my best stories, and one that launched a franchise featuring Clay and Styg. (In fact, I’m working on yet another story featuring them as we speak!)

Well, the first 26 stories published on the website will be collected in an actual print copy! This includes “Tyree’s Diadem” as well as many other great stories. I’ve done my best to keep up with the stories they publish (one per week) so it isn’t a majorly time consuming process. Plus, I’ve gotten to read some of the best unknown and lesser known authors out there.

I’ll of course put a link to it when it’s available, but please keep this in mind! If you love fun pulp adventures (of every genre), good writing, or simply like supporting the community, please buy a copy (again, I make no extra money on this).

Also, last year my story “Behind You, in the Corner” was published on Bards & Sages Quarterly. Thanks to many of you, it won the Reader’s Choice award for the July ’16 issue. Due to that, this summer, Bardic Tales & Sage Advice vol. 9, the “Best Of” issue featuring the best stories from the previous year’s issues, is coming out. Hoping for an August release, details are pretty much what I just wrote, but again, you’ll be notified once I am!

Other than that, I’m working hard on getting other things done. Been editing a lot, working on Clay and Styg, and still trying to get The Third Tower finished. I’ve got a free story coming real soon on Smashwords, and who knows? Maybe In the Pale Moonlight will have a price break sooner than you know it? (As if $1.99 is too expensive for some people!)

Thanks a lot my sexies! Keep reading, and keep kicking ass.

Christmas, 1988. I was nine years old. Like typical kids, my brother and I watched cartoons after school, and our sister, a few years older, had a steady stream of television and the like to keep her mind turning into mush. We were pretty much your typical suburban white privilege kids.

And we wanted damn near every stupid thing we saw on TV.

So there’s this new game. Well, new to us, because we hadn’t seen it yet. But this new game, with these awesome commercials. This game that looks better than any board game we’d ever seen, and has a really cool theme with, like I said, awesome commercials.

Fireball freaking Island.

Go watch the commercial. Go on, I’ll wait.

Fireball Island Commercial!

Pretty cool, huh? Damn straight. So cool that you can find all sorts of stuff online about it. I’m hardly the first to write about it. Two of the more well-known reviews of it are the no-longer-written but still awesome X-Entertainment (Matt now writes Dinosaur Dracula and has more recently spoken about the game on his Purple Stuff Podcast), and James Rolf’s Board James persona. Both are worth checking out (and are actually linked on the Wikipedia page for the game).

As you can see from the YouTube video, there are several websites dedicated to the game. More video reviews of it. So much on the web that gushes love for this game!

But I’m not here to say the same things they said, or any other site. I wanted to talk about the game because it reminds me of some fun memories with my siblings.

Recently, my only nephew turned 11. I love when there’s a birthday or some sort of holiday, because it gets my brother, sister and me together. We all have a lot of fun, usually ending up talking about our childhood and laughing the whole time. With our nephew and niece, we can often relate stories to them of “when we were your age” and watch them cringe. It’s a good time.

So I was thinking of Fireball Island, and how the older we got, one of the few times the three of us would sit down together and be civil with each other was with a game. That Christmas, ’88, we received several other big ticket items. Our dad must have gotten a pretty big bonus check, unless our parents just managed to put aside a good Christmas fund.

Like I said, we were your typical white privilege kids, so Christmas was always a pretty good blowout for gifts for us (not so much birthdays, though). But in ’88, we had some big things. So imagine us all having our own things to do. And yet we still sat down to play a game with each other.

The rules were pretty easy. A lot of online reviews will talk about the complex rules, but I think that’s because the kids today are soft. They need someone to hold their hand every step of the way. Not us, no way. We got tossed in and left to deal with it on our own.

You moved your little explorer guy, and drew cards. If you had the right card, you could launch a fireball. The marbles would go down their respective paths, and knock over other play pieces, and even bridges. There were transport caves, and a mystical jewel that you had to claim. If you didn’t watch that commercial, go do it so you can see what I’m talking about!

I tried to play the game with friends, but they never wanted to. I had boring friends.

Maybe it was because we didn’t feel the need to fight each other with fireballs. Maybe that was why me, Amy and Andy loved it. We could compete in a friendly game, while knocking each other down with fireballs. Who wouldn’t love that?

For some reason, with the resurgence of games, especially board games, no one has brought this back. Go to any Barnes & Noble, or a friendly local game store, and check out all the amazing games they have. It goes far beyond Monopoly or Life, much more than anything Milton Bradley ever put out. Some games cost $50 or more, with hundreds more pieces. So why not bring back Fireball Island?

I keep thinking about this game. I keep wanting to write a story about it. Perhaps I shall. But more than that, perhaps I’ll sell a kidney and find a complete version of Fireball Island on ebay.

Maybe someone will realize how great that game truly was, and understand that a new generation needs to experience it. Bring it back, Milton Bradley. Bring it back.

Destroy All Monsters!

January 12, 2017

I’ve been lax on posting these flash fiction pieces, but hey, life happens. Anyway, enjoy!


Karen was no stranger to monsters.  Real monsters, beings that defied the laws of reality and logic as humanity knew it.  Real monsters, like from horror movies, not just horribly evil people that did horrible things.  Her job, in fact, was that of a monster hunter, and she had just received the commendation from her boss of being the best one in the country.

Yet how did one manage to get into her apartment?

Sitting on her blue couch, reading a magazine and eating unsalted popcorn, Karen’s heart attempted to burst through her chest when the door flew out into the corridor.  The wooden doorframe and plaster walls burst in, smoke and debris clouding her vision for a moment.

When the rubble cleared, she saw a monster.

It was once a human being.  It had grown at least three feet, gained close to one-hundred pounds—all muscle—and the skin was greenish-bluish-yellowish.  Much like the green guy from the comics, his pants were shredded but remained intact in one specific area.

Eyes, massive and bloodshot, landed on her.  Its huge nostrils flared, while its gaping maw of a mouth opened wider than she ever could have foreseen, revealing fangs and goopy saliva trailing down to the floor.  Its bare feet stomped in, boasting a skull-crushing size and toenails that could rip a man to shreds.

Karen’s hunter-like instincts took over.  As the intruding monster reared its grotesque head back and emitted a window-shaking roar, Karen sprang from the couch.  On the end table next to the television which she never watched, she kept her main sidearm, Victor.  As she pulled the .44 from its holster, she aimed at the thing’s head.

And immediately put the gun down.

“David?”  She took a tentative step toward him.  “I’d recognize that scar anywhere.  You’re my brother.”

The monster raised a massive hand to its cheek, running a bratwurst-sized finger along the deep scar, the last lingering memento of a cherry bomb in a coffee can from his thirteenth birthday party.

Suddenly the eyes became glassy pools in which Karen saw nothing but sympathy.  David had been working as an errand boy for Thomas Wick, the local mad scientist.  He was really a chiropractor that wrote articles about genetic engineering, but everyone called him a mad scientist.  Chances were, David had been outsourced to a real geneticist, who turned him into this mutated version of himself.

“You kill us,” David said.  His voice was harsh and clumpy, like he wanted to say more but couldn’t remember how.  With his body growing big, his brain must have shrunk.

“I can’t kill you,” Karen said.  “You’re my brother.  I love you.”

“Kill me.  Please kill.”  David stepped closer to her.  He reached forth and lifted Karen’s hand with the gun to point it at his chest.  “Put me out of misery.”

Tears stung Karen’s eyes.  She had made a vow to destroy all monsters, but her own brother?  How could she?

Just then, a howl split the silence.  Through the hole in the wall that once was the door, a man-sized jaguar leapt in.  Fists balled and teeth bared, it looked ready to kill.

It snarled.  “Grr, you killed my brothers!  Now I kill you!”  With its tail flailing wildly, it sprang forward, ready to pounce on Karen.

Eyes clenched and finger itching on the trigger, Karen needed to wait until the time was right.  When nothing happened, she opened her eyes.

David had reached out just as the werejaguar leapt.  His entire hand wrapped around its neck, the life had been squeezed out of it.  David smiled.

“I help.  I kill monster too.”

“You did,” Karen said.  “I can’t kill you.  But you can help me hunt other monsters.”

“I want to help.”  David dropped the werejaguar.  It fell to the ground like a sack of pudding.

“Then let’s go,” Karen said.  “Let’s start by finding the monster who did this to you.”


Thoughts? Let me know in the comments!