Monday, December 2, 2013

Sleigh Me! Free promotion

I illustrated the book Sleigh Me! Living in Fear of Santa Claus last year. It is available for a free Kindle download today, December 2nd and tomorrow, the 3rd.

Check it out, leave a review, and I'll be your best friend!




Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Blink and they will all be gone."

I originally posted the following short story on r/nosleep:

It had me where it wanted, delivering its final test, or perhaps threat. “Blink and they will all be gone. Everyone you love. Everyone you care for. Stripped from your mind like they were never there.” 

The following minutes were agonizing, feeling like an eternity. My eyes twitched repeatedly as I unnaturally pried them open. They streamed tears of both pain and misery, but soon those tears ran dry and dust began collecting. That’s when the burning started, like hot irons singeing my corneas. Despite the suffering, I cried out, “I must keep them open.” But I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this forever. 

Soon, I regrettably freed my eyelids from their pry and let my lashes engage. Moisture returned. The pain ceased – not just the searing of my eyes, but the sadness within. I suddenly realized its plan was flawed. I raised my head with a cocky grin to let it know that it should have chosen someone, unlike me, who actually had others to love. 

For whatever reason, it simply returned the very same grin.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Encounter With The Paranormal or Photos From A Crappy Film Roll (Union Cemetery, 1997)

I am not a practicing ghost geek or anything, but my interests in the subject are piqued from time to time. I am in the midst of researching and outlining an idea for a novel and that has had me delving into the world of the paranormal. I met the acquaintance of a paranormal investigator. I watched the Conjuring. I've read up on just about every haunted place in New England. It also caused me to dig through some old boxes looking for an old packet of photos.

You see, back in 1997, some friends and I went to Union Cemetery (driven by curiosity given to us by the famous Warrens). Allegedly, the cemetery is haunted by a spirit dubbed, "The White Lady." During the Warrens' presentation, they showed some video and there was "evidence" of a spirit strolling through the tombstones. It then turned and headed right for the camera.

In hindsight, the video was pretty fishy. My memory doesn't serve me well as to the production value of it. It was the 90s, so it probably wouldn't hold up well if it were a dupe. I have never seen it posted on their website, YouTube or any place else. In fact, my brother saw the same show just a few years later, and they removed the video from the act. For them to have such "concrete evidence" (as they put it) and not share it with the world made me skeptical.

Well immediately following the show, I wasn't as skeptical. I think it was a Friday night show. So by the next night, I wanted to see the damn thing for myself. So those friends and I went there and took a bunch of pictures and rolled a video camera while there. The video didn't show anything special, but the pictures were, to my surprise, interesting.  

Per the instructions, we loaded the film camera on site and used up all of the 24 frames. I had it developed at Walmart, unfortunately, so you will see some developing errors and cropping inadequacies that I will point out in the captions: 


1. My friend with some white "ghost globules" above his head.

2. The sign at the cemetery's entrance. The mark appears to be a mark left by the film development.

3. Some tombs. Something appears above them.

4. Two friends with those ghost globules above them. (Bad cropping courtesy of Wal-mart)

5. Me with no ghost globules. [sigh] (at least I am accompanied by another film developing error)


6. Okay. When I picked up the photos and started thumbing through, I came to this picture. I had chills. It could be fog. It could be a spirit. None of us remember fog that night. Look at pic #3. Looked clear there. 

7. Then I got to this photo and nearly shit a brick. It looks like it came right up to us! Eek! (Bad cropping courtesy of Wal-mart)

With my naked eyes, I saw nothing. The video camera picked up nothing. But these pictures definitely had me wondering. 

Two things to note:

1) The local police did drive by at one point, but left us alone. We never went into the cemetery, we only stood outside of it. Maybe the rules have changed, but they were cool with us as long as we didn't go in.

2) One of those friends of mine got bored at one point. He decided it would be fun to taunt the White Lady. He yelled out "show yourself, you white bitch!" That friend went on to have recurring nightmares of the white lady for as long as I knew him. I don't know if some repressed fear of a curse got the better of him, or the White Lady made him pay for calling her a name. Or it was possible he made it all up to be a dick. I guess I won't ever know for sure, but it was a good little epilogue to our trip.

So what do you think? Dust or ghost globules? Fog or the White Lady?


Monday, September 9, 2013

When someone insinuates (or outright tells you) that writing isn't a legitimate career or way of life...



...ask them if they like to read the newspaper. Ask them what their favorite song is, their favorite TV show, the last movie they watched, the last book or magazine they read. The last website they browsed. The last instructional manual they used to put something together.

 Then calmly remind them that someone wrote every friggin' bit of that.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Milk for Dead Hamsters [Preview]

For a limited run in October, Killbasa will take over Milk for Dead Hamsters. All comics will star Poland's First (and most delicious) Avenger.

Here is a sausagey taste of what's to come...


For those of you who aren't familiar with Killbasa, he is a six-foot talking kielbasa with strands of sauerkraut for hair. That's about it.

Working on books has taken up most of my free time. I haven't posted a comic in 6 months. I felt that I've been long overdue so I'm going to overcompensate with a flurry of strips. Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Seefer Elliot title available now!

I'm happy to announce that the release of The Seefer Elliot Continuum: Divergence, is now available for your Kindle or Kindle reader.

"Divergence" follows Seefer soon after the infected agents attacked him at his school. The toll of his now extraordinary life begins to weigh heavy on him as Seefer struggles between truth, duty and vengeance.

"Divergence" is the third of four novelettes in the series. The fourth and final installment will arrive this fall.

I hope you enjoy it!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Yearbook woes

I was thumbing through some old yearbooks to find an appropriate picture for my "about the author" page in the "Egg-Boy" books. This was the best one I could find...


Adolescence sucks.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Giveaways are coming

In the next few weeks, I will be arranging some giveaways for the new paperback edition of Egg-Boy. The first is going on now at Goodreads. Enter below for a chance to win...


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Reluctant Told Tales of Egg-Boy by Pat Mallon

The Reluctant Told Tales of Egg-Boy

by Pat Mallon

Giveaway ends July 31, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, June 17, 2013

New Book Series Announcement: Egg-boy has arrived!


Marrying some of my (in)abilities to illustrate and write, Egg-boy culminated from the humor I injected many of my Milk for Dead Hamsters comics with, but toned down for a 3rd grade audience.

With over 100 illustrations and the relatable theme of one's self-justification, The Reluctantly Told Tales of Egg-Boy should be a fun book for your summer reading.

You can pick up a copy on Amazon now...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Lightbulb

In the midst of writing the latest installment of the Seefer Elliot Continuum, I got very frustrated with the direction of the story. I knew how the next episode would end, but not the story after it. Even more so, how that story would lead into the next novel. The whole thing was put on hold until I figured it out. I want the pieces to fit together (a problem I'm starting to realize in my plan to slowly unveil parts of Continuum).

I started finishing the illustrations for another book I shelved for a long time. This turned out to be a good thing. I will be able to send this book to an editor soon. This still did not remedy the problem I was having with Seefer, though.

Then one magical thing happened this week. I mowed the lawn. No writing. No drawing. No anything related to books. I just started up the tractor and cut some grass. About 15 minutes in, I had a Eureka! moment. The missing hook, the essential element, that I had been beating myself up to find came right into my head. Maybe it was the excessive vibrations. Maybe it was the smell of the freshly cut blades tickling my nostrils. Maybe it was my mind being focused on something else entirely. I don't understand the science about it. Whatever it was, I'm glad I mowed the grass that day.

From this, I draw one important conclusion. Mowing your lawn may be the cure for writer's block.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Perpetuation - Free Weekend Event

Hi blogmates,

Seefer Elliot Continuum: Perpetuation is free this weekend (5/18 thru 5/19) on Amazon. Could you please take a minute of your time to download this ebook for free (you do not need a Kindle to do so, just an Amazon account)? And if you have two minutes, could you please leave a kind review? 



This is the second "Seefer Elliot" title, and the first in the second volume of novelettes. If you are looking for a fast, funny and exciting read this weekend, take a look. 

Thanks!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Phuck Fonics


I have an all-new appreciation for the human mind as I’m experiencing the joys of reading through my son’s eyes. As adults we may forget the difficulty that the English language poses when we try to feel out a new word. Some words can go in a dozen different ways when trying to pronounce them. When you come across a “c”,  you are never sure that it is a soft “c” or a hard “c” until you try it both ways. You have to guess whether an “h” or “e” is silent. And what the hell is the point of the “gh” in “tight”, “light”, and so on?
This process of connecting the sounds that we hear in spoken English with letters or groups of letters in written English is called phonics. In my opinion, “phonics” is a term that was invented because they didn’t want to called the process “fucked up bullshit.”
Before you write and say, “English is an amalgamation of many other languages and different rules apply depending on their origin.” Ok. Fine. That’s why it is the way it is now. But why should it continue this way? “That’s the way it’s always been,” has never been a good excuse to not explore changing something for the better (I’m looking at you, electoral college).
I am no scientist nor did I do any research on this, but I am going to make the bold assumption that your brain wastes tiny amounts of energy running down its lists of exceptions when trying to figure out a word like, “physician.” Is that pahisikian? No. You have to remember that “ph” makes an “f” sound. You have to remember that “y” in this instance makes a short “i” sound. And then you have to just know that “cian” is pronounced shun. Crazy. Why can’t it just be spelled “fizzishun”?
If all words were spelled phonetically, we could spend less time learning English in school and more time learning other subjects that can enhance our children’s knowledge before they are cast off into the world. More math, science and history. Hurrah! Or perhaps implement a second language earlier in life? Most Americans don’t begin learning a second language in school until 7th or 8th grade (and that’s in a good school system). One thing that can be learned from other languages is how phonetic they are. In Russian, they have a 33 character alphabet. Each letter has its own unique sound and there are specific rules to each. There are very few exceptions. In English, there are 143,987 exceptions (estimate).
What if we assigned letters to sounds and just stuck with it no matter what the word?
  • a, b, d, e, f, h, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, v, w, z would basically stay the same
  • c would not be either soft nor hard. We have s and k for those roles. “C” would represent the chsound.
  • g would handle its current sound as in the word “grape.” The g-sound as in the word “barrage” would be picked up by “j”
  • j would handle its current sound in the word “jeep” or as previously stated, the other g-sound
  • q would stay the same, but can we stop requiring a “u” to be used with it? Let the “q” do all of the work. Q’s that sound like k’s will be eliminated though: “plak“, “baroke” and “tork“.
  • x is useless. We have z’s for words like “xemur” and we have “ks” for words like “tax”. New role: thesh sound. That xood work nicely.
  • y, how did you get vowel status in the first place? We need you for “yellow” and “yarn” but you need to stop being such a poser. No vowels for you!
  • We need a new letter for the th sound. How about θ (known as theta)? θis is working nicely.
  • And as you will see below, we’ll need something for the oo sound in “book”. I’m using ω (omega) because it looks like boobs.
Bonus: How exciting would it be to see an alphabet poster that has a nice 7×4 grid and all the squares are populated? I hate seeing two extra spaces that are filled in with silly things like apples, schools, or happy children.
With change, some new rules need to be established…
  • letters are assumed to be short sounding unless they are triggered for the long sound. We can use a silent ”e”, but the point of this exercise is to become phonetic. So we need some other way to indicate a long sound. My idea is to double the letter up.
    • bak = “back”
    • baak = “bake”
    • red = “red” or “read”
    • reed = “reed” or “Reid” or “read”
  • The current double vowel “oo” be replaced by ω as previously stated. So it would be bωk, not “book”.Book would not be pronounced “boke“.
  • Compound vowels like “aw” v “au” or “ow” vs “aw” will always default to the combination with the “w”.
  • The age of silent letters is over. If there is an “e” at the end of a word, it should be pronounce eh.
  • Words that currently end in “y” will now end in “ee“. (No more y as a vowel)
Obviously, I’m no linguist and I’m sure any English major would laugh at the mere suggestion of upheaving our “beautiful” language for such nonsense. Purists will be sad to see the introduction of new letters and the disappearance of homonyms. Not-yet-realized problems also might occur when you don’t have three different spellings of “to”, “two” and “too”. But with practice and ingenuity (“to”, “2″ and “also”), I think it would pay off for our future generations.
Now let’s give it a whirl:
Ow. My brain. Must remember. It’s for the children.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just make a mark...

One of my daughter's favorite books is "The Dot" by Peter H. Reynolds. My wife and I read this to her at least once a week and it’s usually upon her request. That is a pleasure to us both, because this book is so much more than a children’s story.

The book urges the reader to “make a mark and see where it takes you.” Maybe that message isn’t clear to a 2 year old, but it certainly resonated with me. As a child, I was a big-time day-dreamer. I wanted to be a guitar-playing baseball all-star who fought fires in outer space during the off-season (I didn’t grasp the implausibility of that until much later). When I was a little older, in high school, I wanted to be the President. Then in college, I was going to be screenwriter and maybe even an actor. With all of those dreams, I did little to turn them into a reality.

Most kids have lofty aspirations for their future, so it isn’t surprising that 10-year-old me didn’t begin NASA training. I also did nothing to improve my baseball skills other than attending the requisite little league practices and games. I had a pitch-back and family members that I could have asked for help with batting and fielding, but I didn’t employ them. I didn’t buy a guitar until I was 24.

High school me wanted to be President because I was on the Student Council and liked organizing community events and being part of the leadership team. Beyond that, I did little to expand my ability to debate, speak publicly or network with others. Those are all essential for a successful career in politics. I went to college with that dream, but other than taking a few poli-sci courses, I did nothing additional.

College and post-college me really wanted to work in TV. I even moved to California and had an internship at a talent management company. I read a ton of screenplays and even wrote one. But I never did the hard part and that was get the script out to people. I was in the nexus of Hollywood entertainment, yet I was too afraid to share my work.

In the years since, I have held onto that dream of being a writer – to craft a story and transport it from my mind onto paper. It’s not a coincidence that I started re-applying myself in early 2012, when we started regularly reading “The Dot” to my daughter. I decided to make another mark. I began outlining a story about a boy and his surreal existence. Every day I would make sure I did something to progress that mark a little further. Where did it take me? I handed over a finished draft of my first novel to an editor in December of 2012, which I later published in January. I illustrated two children’s books. Then I wrote two more shorter stories which are building up to a second novel. 

Every grand work of art, music or piece of writing has to begin somewhere. Don’t be afraid to make a mark and let it bring you places. If you do something every day to make your vision develop, imagine what it will look like in 365 days. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Seefer Elliot and the World Aside Ours: Free Promotion

From March 21st through 25th, you can download Seefer Elliot and the World Aside Ours for free to you Kindle or Kindle Reader.



If you do happen to download and read it, please tell the world your thoughts in the comments. Reader reviews are the best way you can help promote your favorite books or authors and all it takes is 20 words or so. :)

The Seefer Elliot Continuum: The Visitants - Chapter 1



1


For the first time in two months, a school bus pulled up to the corner of Wrigley Lane. Seefer Elliot waited from his mother’s car near the end of their cul-de-sac. He watched as all of the curious faces stared back at him from the bus windows.
Unlike his classmates, Seefer hadn’t been at class since Harrison Middle School, was destroyed in the wake of an extraterrestrial invasion. Amorphous skin blobs called glokes and a giant alien gigaverm wrecked the place in their attempt to capture Seefer. The building crumbled during the final showdown between Seefer and the gigaverm. The battle left Seefer in a full leg cast, home-schooled, and missing all of the fun that two-legged kids get to have around Christmastime.
With the cast finally off, and an air-boot in its place, Seefer prepared to become mobile again. It would be a new year and a new school as he joined the rest of the student body for classes. Must approach it with a new attitude. I don’t need to be the loser anymore. Seefer sought to use the opportunity as a stepping-stone to less loserish ways. Sure, all the kids from Harrison might remember the dorky outsider, but there was a completely new audience from the new school he wanted to win over.
“Good luck, honey,” his mother said. She leaned in for a kiss.
“Mom, in keeping with my plan to not be a total social outcast at this school, I am going to request a rain check on that kiss.”
His mother smiled disappointedly, but honored the request. “Okay, don’t stress yourself out today. Got it?”
“Got it. Love you, mom.” Seefer exited the car and limped over to the bus’s open doors. With a quick bound off his good foot, he leaped up to the driver excited to start his day. For a moment, he looked back at the kids in their seats. He smiled at the possibilities. So many new faces! Who do I start with?
“I can’t move until you sit down, kid,” barked the bus driver.
Seefer quickly looked for an available seat. Near the back, a familiar face waved to him. Cassy! He was about halfway back to her seat when something tripped him up. Seefer fell forward. His extended arms couldn’t prop him up. He fell flat on his belly. His backpack slid up his back and clunked him on the head. Naturally, the bus erupted in laughter.
Seefer’s face turned beet red. He didn’t want to turn around. Maybe they didn’t see it. Please let there be some people who didn’t see it. The bus driver yelled back, “Everyone! Get to your seats!”
Cassy jumped out of her seat and helped Seefer up from the floor. The chuckles subsided a little, but they were far from over. When he looked down to see what tripped him up, he saw a leg sticking out into the aisle. When he followed that leg up to its owner, the face he saw didn’t surprise him. “Hector! We’re on the same bus again?”
Hector turned with dramatic flair and said, “Welcome back, Seefy!” Then he pursed his lips and delivered kissing noises. Other kids found this hysterical. Seefer looked confused.
“What are you doing? You want to kiss me?”
Now Hector’s face turned red as he clammed up. Some of the laughter turned in Seefer’s favor. Hector tried to save face, “try not to be such a dork at this school, Elliot. It’s been nice not having you around for two months.”
The feeling’s mutual.
Seefer and Cassy sat down and the bus pulled away to continue its route. “So, how is it going?” she asked.
“It was going fine until a minute ago. Not exactly the way I wanted to start my first day back.”
Cassy consoled him. “Ignore him. Hector is just mad because he is not the rooster of the new school. He is only trying to put himself up a peg.”
“Still. I’d rather not have to deal with him,” Seefer lamented.
“Do not let it get you down. I am glad to see you! How is the leg?”
“It’s okay. Been better. Obviously. How about you? How’ve you been?”
Cassy took the opportunity to catch Seefer up. “The new school is crowded. They squeezed as many of us into it as they could. Some of the old teachers moved into the school too. So far, there have been no occurrences.”
“Occurrences?”
“Yes. You know…” Cassy slanted her eyebrow. “Occurrences.
“Oh, right. I forgot that we aren’t supposed to remember that stuff. Does anybody else talk about Harrison?” Seefer asked.
“No. It is crazy. The halo Korvus used should only have wiped their memories from that day,” She pauses to make sure she isn’t talking to loud. “But they act like their whole time at the school did not exist. No one likes talking about it.”
“Weird.”
“What about Pavo? Have you heard from him?”
Seefer lit up. “No. I just assumed he was in contact with you. You haven’t?”
“No,” she responded. “It does not surprise me though. I never trusted him.”
Cassy and Seefer’s debriefing was cut short by a shout from up front. “Zombie!” A commotion ensued as the kids leapt out of their seats to get a better view of the right side of the bus.
“What’s going on?” Seefer asked.
Cassy rolled her eyes. “Nothing. Just these kids being stupid about some homeless man.”
Despite Cassy’s objection to the behavior, her description was enough to pique Seefer’s interest. He stood up from his seat and crossed over to the other side. He wedged his head in between some others to get a better view.
A downtrodden man walked along the street’s paved walkway with a slide in his step. His two-piece suit was torn apart and dirty. His beard was nappy and layered in filth.  His skin looked chapped or even frost bitten from roaming the streets in winter without proper cover-up. Seefer looked upon the man with pity. What could have happened to this guy? Reduced almost to nothing. Not that kids should be yelling out “zombie” when they see him, the man certainly appeared to be a member of the walking dead.
“I heard he was a vice president at Blockbuster,” one smart alec quipped.
“Nah, I heard he was a game show host that was bitten by one of his contestants,” another said.
“Brains! I want brains!” someone shouted above growing giggles.
Another kid repeatedly banged on the window attracting the attention of the drifter. Then in a forced southern drawl he yelled, “We don’t take kindly to your type ‘round here, zombie.” The others burst out in laughter.
Seefer’s bleeding heart ceased when he noticed something about the man he didn’t catch before – purple tinted glasses. The man’s emotionless face looked up at the bus windows, scanning back and forth, noting each child. When his eyes landed on Seefer, the man stopped looking elsewhere. He reached his hands out and approached the bus.
“He’s coming for us!” someone shouted.
The man could not keep up with the speed of the traveling bus. A large distance quickly grew in between them. As other kids returned to their seats, Seefer remained standing. He kept an eye on the zombie the whole time until he was well out of sight. Finally, when there was nothing left to see, he sat back down next to Cassy with an air of unease.
“What is it?” Cassy asked. “He is just a homeless man.”
“No, he’s not,” Seefer said.
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve seen that man before. He works for the government – or so we thought. Remember Officer Booth? He approached me about a month ago and told me that these guys were starting to put things together about what happened at the school and our part in it. He warned me that if there was any evidence that linked me to Korvus or any of his shenanigans, that I would be in danger. I told him about Pavo’s case and how he took a blood sample from me. I didn’t know whether that case was still in the school or not, but he went to find it. I went there too, but along the way, these guys started chasing me. They were dressed in suits and wore those tinted glasses.”  
Cassy quickly punched him in the arm. “Shut up!”
Seefer looked around. “Oh right. Got to be quiet.”
“No, shut up that you did not tell me! You could have been killed. I am supposed to protect you,” she said sternly.
“Sorry.”
“And the cop knows everything on top of it?”
“He kind of, sort of already knew,” Seefer rationalized.
“But you confirmed all of his suspicions?”
“Yup. I did do that,” he said while stretching his neck. “Anyway, that’s the guy we just passed back there.”
“Did he look like a zombie the first time you saw him?”
“No! He was cleanly shaved, dressed nicely, but still had those glasses on. I don’t know what happened to him. Booth handcuffed him to a pipe in the school’s basement and said he would go back to get him.”
“Do you think he ever went back?” Cassy asked.
Seefer looked at her with guilt all over his face. “I don’t know. I actually haven’t heard from him. He was shot. He said he was going to get himself fixed before going over there.”
“They were shooting at you?” Cassy gave him a violent shove.
Seefer stared forward with his eyes moving back and forth, computing something in his brain. He was lost for words.
Cassy consoled his guilt. “I would not worry too much. It would have been big news if something tragic happened to a local police officer. I have heard nothing of the sort.”
Seefer nodded. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

As the bus pulled into the front driveway of Buchanan Middle School, Seefer beheld his new stomping ground. Buchanan was the original high school in Camden. Over the years, as population grew, new buildings (like Harrison) were built to cater to the expanding student body. Buchanan became one of the town’s two middle schools. Now with Harrison in disrepair, the building would be seeing its most crowded days in decades.
Seefer filed out with the others onto the sidewalk leading to the school. He took a refreshing breath as he looked around.
Cassy sidled up next to him. “Good to be back?”
“Strangely, yes.”
“Come. I will show you where to go.”
As the pair neared the building, Seefer noticed its age. Weathered bricks comprised its walls. Each window was made of thin glass and each pane was in desperate need of a paint job. Ivy grew up the front face of the building and nearly reached the top. The school dated itself with telltale signs of World War II architecture. Despite its old appearance, Seefer regarded it as fresh and new in his mind. Anything beats one more day of home schooling.
Upon entering the main foyer, Cassy navigated down a narrow hallway. Buchanan was much more claustrophobic than the wide-open design of Harrison. Hundreds of displaced students magnified that feeling. After Cassy led the way through the crowded corridor, she presented Seefer with the entrance to the main office.
“Here you go. You better check in,” she said with a giggle.
“Why are you laughing? You’re leaving?” Seefer asked.
“I have homeroom, Seef!” she said while walking away.
“Mr. Elliot! So good to see you again," a familiar voice called out. Seefer cringed as he turned around. Standing in the doorway was the old chatterbox himself, Principal Witik.”
“Principal Witik?”
“No, not anymore. It’s just Mr. Witik now. This school already had a principal, but there are perks to being the Dean of Students. I get have a lot more one-on-ones with the kids.”
“You must enjoy that.” You know, chewing everyone’s ear off.
“I do, it’s great. I’m very fortunate to have any job really. I did invite a madman into our last school.”
“It could have happened anywhere.” As long as I ‘m attending there.
Witik had a folder in his hands and gave it a pat. “Well, that’s all in the past. You are officially enrolled here, Seefer Elliot. Would you like to see your homeroom?”
“Sure.”
The school bell sounded, indicating the start of the school day. As students filed into classrooms to begin their homeroom period, Witik escorted Seefer to his new class.
“You will like it here. Some students had to enter entirely new school systems, but you will at least be staying with us in Camden.” Seefer nodded along, but didn’t have any thoughts to add. Witik continued with the small talk. “Unfortunately, it isn’t all good news. There are now ten more students in each class, rooms that were dedicated to art and music are used for regular courses, and everything is in disarray because we don’t have the supplies to handle this many students.”
“The Buchanan students who were here prior to our arrival have been very welcoming to the new kids. Some of us from Harrison had been pretty shaken by those events, but we were all treated with the proper respect. How have you been handling the circumstances?”
Seefer shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, I guess.”
“It’s okay if you feel out of place. We all do. Many students have approached me with fears of another incident happening again. They felt helpless from the last one. Why wouldn’t you? All of our memories were taken!”
Seefer nervously laughed. “That’s so right.”
 “We are asking students to help us out as much as possible, so we can help in return. Do not make extra work for your teachers. Cooperate. Help your fellow students. The incident at Harrison didn’t just affect the students there. It affected the entire community. Now we have to act like a community.
 “I may have let everyone down as principal, but I’ll be danged if I’m not the best possible dean of students this town has ever had.”
This little speech was not like Witik’s other long-winded rants about his teaching glory days. His words resonated with Seefer. Witik seemed burdened with a sense of failure from what happened to the old school. He sounded like a man trying to reconcile for those failures.
“I will do my best, Princ-, er, Mr. Witik.” Seefer said.
“Very good, young man. With that, here is your locker assignment.” He handed him a note card with the locker number and combination. “And I present to you, your homeroom.” Witik raised his arm with an open hand toward room 117. Seefer peaked in through the window. “You’ll be happy to see some familiar faces from your Harrison homeroom.”
Seefer looked. The sight of Cassy sitting by the window brought him immediate delight. As he scanned the room, he found Jona, Victoria and Sally. Then any happiness he had flushed away as he laid eyes upon Hector’s mug sitting in the middle of the classroom, right next to the only empty seat. You have to be kidding me!
“Oh, how nice.” Seefer said with a worrisome frown.
Just before he turned to walk away, Mr. Witik smiled and said, “Happy first day at Buchanan, Mr. Elliot.”

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Seefer Elliot ATWAO giveaway

The book review blog, Books for Kids, is featuring Seefer Elliot and the World Aside Ours in their "Leap into Books" giveaway.

If you would like a chance to win a free paperback copy, hop on over (sorry for the horrendous pun (I couldn't resist)) to this great blog...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Converting Word DOC or DOCX to Mobi

For as many writers that you have talked to, you have probably found the same number of unique opinions on what software to use for completing your work. I have been offered Scrivener, Writeroom, Darkroom, Open Office, Q10, classic pen an paper, Google docs etc. All of them have their advantages, but for me, they all have one huge disadvantage - unfamiliarity. I don't want to waste time trying something new. I have a perfectly good word processor on my computer that has been with me since I've been writing term papers in the 90s. Microsoft Word is not the best thing out there, but I know the ins and outs of the program better than anything else. So when it comes time to write, I don't want to have to think about where the paste special command is hiding.

If you are like me and make do with Microsoft Word, then you may have encountered issues with turning your .doc or .docx files into an HTML that works for Kindle. Hopefully, this checklist will guide you through the process.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Seefer Elliot Continuum: Perpetuation - Chapter 1



1
This cannot be happening to me again!
Seefer Elliot hugged the wall of the cold, dark basement below Harrison Middle School. A few weeks ago, he grew quite familiar with this subterranean corridor and the workshop at the end. At one point, trapped inside while would-be alien captors ran amok in the school above him. This time, however, he was on the outside of the uninviting room while a gun-toting secret agent beckoned for him.
“Those stairs are blocked off, son. This room is your only way out. You might as well come back in here,” called out the man. “Now, or the cop gets it!”
“Don’t listen to him, Elliot! Find a way out!” Officer Booth yelled into the dark hallway. With a bullet already in him and a barrel looking to finish him off, Booth used his fleeting breaths to encourage Seefer away.
Seefer heeded Booth’s advice. He wasn’t about to face an armed man, but was not exactly free to escape either. His entire left leg was formed in a cast, a result of injuries he received from battling a giant gigaverm. Instead, he waited in the shadows of the corridor. How did I get myself into this mess?
***

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Using A Seed File

I went crazy trying to fine-tune the formatting on Seefer Elliot's ebook. Writing it in Microsoft Word was convenient, but when it came time to publish it as an HTML file, the code was virtually unusable.  I had to copy and paste chunks of data from one file to a brand new template. If you would like to publish a clean mobi file on Amazon (that can easily be converted to epub afterwards), copy and paste your work into this template:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Seefer Elliot and the World Aside Ours - Chapter 1



1
“No!” Seefer Elliot shot up from his pillow holding his hands over his eyes. “I’ll get up. I’ll get up.”
His mom walked away from the window having just thrown open the curtains. Seefer curled up in a ball trying to shield his blinded eyes. The sun’s rays shined into his room with a brilliant luminosity.
“Please…my blanket…I need it.”
Mom had pulled the blanket away five minutes earlier – her first attempt of getting him out of bed. Her maneuver proved to be unsuccessful and required a more convincing means of execution.
“Honey, if you were responsible enough to wake up the first time, I wouldn’t be forced to use such cruel measures,” she said. “You should learn to set your alarm.”
“I did!”
Mom shot him a look of disbelief as she headed out the door.
“I really did! You never believe me.” Seefer didn’t understand how this could happen. He did actually set the alarm. Was the volume on too low? Was it set for 7 p.m. instead of 7 a.m.? He looked over at the clock on his nightstand. The power was on, but something was peculiar.
The hour slot flickered between 7 and 8, while the minutes didn’t look like numbers at all. Upon closer inspection, Seefer got a whiff of something burning. It smelled like a crayon melting on a radiator, not the most pleasant odor.
He mumbled, “Broken. See?” But his mom was nowhere near to behold the proof. There was no surprise in seeing yet another electronic device break in his house. It seemed to happen quite a bit lately.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How Awesome Are You, Createspace?



Last June, I started writing the manuscript for Seefer Elliot after months of outlining. Finishing up in October, I spent the next two months editing and polishing the text to make it ready for publishing. Welp, that day has arrived. I am moments away from approving the proof I received from Createspace.

The book was completely formatted for print and approved by the reviewers at CS, but I didn't want to approve it without first seeing a physical copy first. I highly recommend this. It is both sensible and thrilling for an author to be the first to see his/her book. To hold nearly 8 months worth of work in your hand is empowering and rewarding.

I have yet to be disappointed by CS's services. I ordered copies of I'm One and Sleigh Me! upon their release and I was more than pleased by the quality of the illustrations printed on the cover and pages. The colors were vibrant. The lines were clean. And the font was crisp.

I had no doubt that Seefer's print would look anything but brilliant, but there is still something to be said about getting the dead tree in your hand. That shiny gloss cover. The 98% brightness white pages. The Futura Media chapter headings looking so snappy in black ink. The culmination was exhilarating.

For a service that prints on demand, the quality is quite amazing. No fees up front. Only about $4 a copy. It was economical, but not at the expense of quality. Consider it for the next project you work on.

In a short while, the digital and hard copies will be available for all. I'm glad I got the chance to enjoy before the masses. :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Cover: Decided

The good people at Reddit helped me through the decision process of picking a cover for Seefer Elliot and the World Aside Ours. I gave five very different options in my last post and it was not surprising to hear very different opinions from the commenters. Over 125 people gave me their choice, but it was the constructive criticism that proved to be so valuable.

For example, while some people liked option 1, their reasons made me steer in another direction. They compared the cover to Animorphs or other book covers that came out in the 90's. While I don't disregard those types of books as bad in any way, I rather distance myself from a look that is over done.

Option 5 had some votes, but ultimately I decided that it is just too cartoony. One commenter said that 12 year olds want to think they are reading ahead of their age level. If there was a cartoon on the cover of this book, I'd be attracting the wrong audience. Seefer Elliot is not meant for 9 year olds.

Option 2 was never a serious option, but a foil for the other four. Option 4 had some merit, but ultimately, I felt it was too vague and "hey, look at here at this cool glowing kid."

Ultimately,  I went with my original favorite, #3. It is adult enough to attract young readers at the older end of the spectrum, but it keeps the whimsy that YA books need.

The original draft, as I posted it on Friday. Here is the final(ish) product:


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Choosing a Book Cover

I need your help in deciding a book cover for Seefer Elliot. I have spent a few weeks putting together some very different looks. I am too close to the project to make a decision on what is the best cover for appealing to young readers. Just a quick summary so you know the context: Seefer battles other-worldly beings aided by the power of some really cool devises and a yet-to-be discovered ability of his own. My target audience is middle-schoolers interested in sci-fi and adventure novels.

#1



I took a picture of my son (who was thrilled to participate) and superimposed it in the reflection of an astronaut-looking bad guy. The quality isn't there, yes, but it can be improved. The question is, should it be improved? Is this style the best?

#2



Hey, I recognize that silhouette. I just took the same picture, drowned away the details with some color and stylized the cover in general.

#3



This is my favorite. There is a scene in the book that shakes down like the image on this cover. I love pictograms, but do they convey the right message for selling a sci-fi adventure to young adults?

#4



My son makes another appearance. This time he gets a pretty fierce glow and looks like he is ready to kick some butt. The only caveat to this (and to #2) is that Seefer is kind of a loser. I don't want to make him out to be too badass on the cover.

#5



This was my hand at illustrating. If this is the way to go, I need to know it now so I can finish the drawing. I quit this effort mid-way because I felt it was too cartoony. The drawing is of the same pivotal scene shown in pictogram form on cover #3. I have yet to illustrate the battle on the ground. But should I even bother? Aren't cartoon covers meant for 4th grade and below?



I appreciate your input and any comments you can make would be truly helpful in wrapping up this first book! Basically it comes down to: which of these 5 books would you buy if you saw them sitting on a shelf?