Thursday, July 30, 2015

Writer's Toolbox Audio Book


Writer's Toolbox, World Integration, was recently released as an audio book. I partnered with the incredibly talented voice actor Al Kessel on this project. Copies are available now at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

About the audiobook: World Integration tackles the tricky task of incorporating world-building details into a science fiction or fantasy novel. This can present an interesting dilemma for genre writers. How can information on a fictional world be delivered to readers in a way that is natural to the storyline? How can important details be shared without bogging down readers in pages and pages of boring exposition? 
This is where World Integration will help. Writers will learn valuable techniques for weaving world building into a genre story, as well as the pros and cons of each technique. All methods are accompanied with examples from published works. This book is for all science-fiction and fantasy writers looking to improve and enhance world building in their novels. 
Writer's Toolbox is a how-to series dedicated to helping speculative fiction writers improve their craft. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cover Reveal: Undead Ultra

Coming in 2016! Undead Ultra -- a zombie ultrarunning novel.

In the midst of a zombie outbreak, Kate and her running buddy, Frederico, have one goal: to find Kate's son, Carter. The only problem? Carter is over two hundred miles away and the freeways are clogged with car wrecks and zombies. When their hatchback is totaled several miles into their journey, Kate and Frederico set out on foot for the race of their lives.


Cover design by the amazing Joey Manfre. Thanks a heap to my writing buddies Lan Chan, Mario Alves Jr., and Dinesh Pulandram for all their valuable feedback during the cover design phase.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Writer's Report - Zombie Recon Run #2

As a sci-fi/fantasy writer, I conduct most of my research on my lap top. Undead Ultra, my latest project, is giving me a chance to get out of my chair and into my running shoes. I must say that research conducted outdoors in my running shoes is buckets more fun than research conducted on my rear-end in front of the computer.

I wrote about my Zombie Recon mission here, but click on the You Tube link below to see the video documenting of this writing-running adventure.



About Undead Ultra: In the midst of a zombie outbreak, Kate and her running buddy, Frederico, have one goal: to find Kate's son, Carter. The only problem? Carter is over two hundred miles away and the freeways are clogged with car wrecks and zombies. When their hatchback is totaled several miles into their journey, Kate and Frederico set out on foot for the race of their lives.

Thanks to my amazing running sisters, Lura Albee and Lori Barekman, for taking part in this fun run! And thanks to Chris Urasaki for putting together the video.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Writer's Report -- Thistles, Poison Oak, River Crossings, Rotting Rail Road Tracks -- and Zombies?

On Memorial Day at 8am, I met up with two running trail buddies (Lura, a marathoner, and Lori, an ultramarathoner) for the adventure of a lifetime.

The goal: to run from Cloverdale to Hopland on 15 miles of abandoned rail road track once used for logging. Why? To conduct research for Undead Ultra, my forthcoming novel

In the midst of a zombie outbreak, Kate and her running buddy, Frederico, have one goal: to find Kate's son, Carter. The only problem? Carter is over two hundred miles away and the freeways are clogged with car wrecks and zombies. When their hatchback is totaled several miles into their journey, Kate and Frederico set out on foot for the race of their lives.

The course selected for this adventure is part of the course traveled by the characters in my novel. What better way to imbue my novel with realistic details than to experience them myself? I dubbed my adventure gals the Zombie Recon Team (ZRT for short).


The day started off cool and overcast -- perfect running weather. Thirty seconds into the adventure, we knew we were in for a challenge. The rail road tracks were completely overgrown with weeds, many of them taller than me. (At five-foot-three inches, that makes for some pretty short weeds!) In some parts, the tracks were so overgrown that we were forced to find a way around them -- often skirting even larger outcroppings of poison oak.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Writer's Report - Research Can Be An Adventure! Lace Up Your Running Shoes!

I have officially started research for my newest project, a zombie novel entitled Undead Ultra, and I have to say I am having a blast!

The gist: The characters in my novel are running (You got that -- running! Not walking, not hiking. Running!) 200 miles from Geyserville, CA, to Arcata, CA. Since I am not studly enough to run 200 miles non-stop, I am running the route taken by my characters in chunks. All running buddies joining me are officially part of the Zombie Recon Team!

Here's a video showcasing the first 9 miles of the adventure. The film editing was done by the ever talented Chris Urasaki.



Anyone want to join me the Zombie Recon Team? I'm scheming a 200 mile relay for the book release sometime in the not-so-distant future!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Writer's Report - Writing What I Know & Love - Running & Zombies!

Write What You Know

This is advice I've received throughout my writing career. Honestly, as a sci-fi and fantasy author, I've often found it hard to "write what I know." How do I write about daring swordplay or a dystopian society when I live an average American life? In the past, I've relied largely on my imagination.

This has changed with my newest project, a zombie novel tentatively entitled Undead Ultra. The premise: In the midst of a zombie outbreak, Kate and her running buddy, Frederico, have one goal: to find Kate's son, Carter. The only problem? Carter is over two hundred miles away in Arcata, California. When their hatchback is totaled at the beginning of their journey, and they find the freeway clogged with car wrecks and zombies, Kate and Frederico set out on foot for the race of their lives. 

I'm finally writing about something I know and love: running! Just last year I ran 6 half marathons (one of them in Germany!) and 1 full marathon (in Death Valley!). I have a few more marathons on the books this year, with hopes of working up to a 50K ultra in 2016. I devour running books, running documentaries, and my monthly subscription to Ultrarunning Magazine. So yeah, I love this stuff.

The most exciting part? Formation of the Zombie Recon Team!


I've sweet talked a group of my running buddies into running portions of the route traveled by my characters. This will help me bring real detail to the setting in my novel. (And did I mention I will get to RUN? Yay! If I thought I could run the entire 200 mile route without breaking something, I would! Maybe someday . . . )

Just last weekend, my girlfriend Lura and did a 9 mile recon run. We started in Geyserville (where my characters first decide to set out on foot) and ran all the way to Cloverdale. My daughter joined us for a short stint. Here we are, rocking our spandex running gear and chugging down a frontage road in wine country. Those are vineyards you can see to the right! During the run, we managed to aggravate 3 hostile pit bulls, discover an abandoned hobo cottage with a pee-filled beer bottle, and get footage of a partially decomposed snake. Adventures abound!


I've partnered with Chris Urasaki, a family friend who's passionate about film making. He'll be putting together footage from the ZRT runs to highlight the adventures of our trips. Stay turned for some You Tube videos!

Up next is a 15 mile trail run on abandoned rail road tracks. There will be poison oak, berry brambles, a perhaps some hobos. Can't wait! I'll probably be packing some pepper spray, but I'm pretty sure me and the ladies can outrun the hobos.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Writer's Report - Audio Book release of Sulan Episode 1.5


At the end of last year I had the pleasure of working with the amazing Michele Carpenter on the audio book version of Sulan, Episode 1.5: Risk Alleviator. Michele is a very talented voice actor and brought life to all the characters in my book. She also wrote a song for the intro and exit of the audio book, which just tickled me! You can pick up the new Sulan audio book at Amazon and Audible.

Also new on the writing front: I'm actually writing again! After a year-long funk, I'm finally in a place where stories and characters are speaking to me again. I'm 60,000 words into the third draft of Sulan Episode 2. I've got a wonderful writing partner who's helping me through the rough parts. With any luck Sulan 2 will be released in 2015 . . . fingers and toes crossed!

On a side note, I've recently developed a love of long distance running. I ran my first marathon in December and plan to tackle a few more this year. In a way, I think writing, publishing, and long distance running are all very similar . . . they are each a process, a journey. None are successfully accomplished in a day. Training for a marathon takes hours and hours and miles and miles of preparation, just like writing a novel takes draft after draft after draft. I'm enjoying both of my journeys. Miles and miles and draft after draft . . . I hope you're enjoying your journey too, whatever path you happen to be on.