I’m Back: Depression and Other Crap

Over two years ago, I self-published a series of novellas. At the beginning of 2021, I self-published my first full-length novel. I had big dreams going forward from there; I had more books I had already written, books ready to have the final touches be put on them and published. I had several short stories I just needed to polish up and submit out. I had finished the first draft of book one of the sci-fi/fantasy/horror epic I had been planning out for two decades. I had thoughts of book launches, submissions, maybe even an acceptance or two.

And then everything fell apart.

I’ve always had depression and anxiety. I was already on medication for it. But a combination of my day job and covid isolation sent me into a downward spiral that saw me paying attention to my writing less and less until I did none of it at all. I was in the emergency room several times, not for suicide attempts, but just for a feeling of hopelessness and despair. I entered a partial hospitalization program whose psychiatrists type-cast me into meds that made me feel even more horrible, until I wished that I was suicidal so that I could die. I asked to enter full psychiatric hospitalization.

It was the best thing I’ve ever done.

While in the hospital, my meds were fixed and I learned coping skills that even after two rounds of partial hospitalization a decade apart I hadn’t ever internalized. I began looking for a new job the instant I was home, and in the meantime I got a figurative punch to the gut that showed me once and for all that my workplace of eight years was toxic as hell. After a new job and a few hiccups, I’m writing again. I had to put together a list of writing tasks I need to get done, because I’d forgotten what I had been doing on each book or story: editing, formatting, typing, submitting… But I want to publish again.

My plans have been pushed back. Last year, I had made a declaration that this year I would have enough books published to have a booth at a spooky crafty fair that my town holds every Halloween. I had expected to build an audience through rapid releases, with plenty of social media announcements to match. I had wanted to build my Tik Tok audiences by reading off more of my drabbles. I had been planning a subscription-based series.

I don’t believe in platitudes. Everything does not happen for a reason. It’s sad that all these things are going to happen later than I planned, but it can all still happen. Soon to come, I’ll have a cover reveal for my next book. And maybe I’ll post some blogs about my weirdo journey too, who knows. All I can say right now is if you – you out there – need help, ask somebody for it. Share your problems with other people. That was the most difficult lesson for me to accept.

Mother’s Hands

This prompt (in brackets) is taken from Complete the Story by Piccadilly Inc.

[Even after a long day at work, my mother’s hands worked tirelessly: chopping vegetables for dinner, stitching our clothes, whatever needed doing. I loved her hands and admired them. I wanted to be strong like her. But at the time, I couldn’t be. I would have, and gladly, if I weren’t so] afraid of what I had to do to gain that strength. I didn’t dare. I could only watch those hands cook and clean and mend. I could feel them on my own hands, the muscles in them rippling over my flesh, the veins pumping strong blood through them, the fingers gripping mine as if to say, “You are not enough to have these.”

But I knew I would have them one day.

Back then, all I could do was take the sharpest knife from the kitchen and creep into her room late at night or early in the morning. I could stand by her bedside and watch those hands of hers twitch as she dreamed, see them clutch the covers as if to crush them, paw at the air as if to strangle something. I could grip the handle of the knife, but I couldn’t bring it to her wrists. I couldn’t cut off those hands for myself.

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Free Prequel to Black Heart

My horror short story Black Flame is available for FREE. You can download it here, and you can enjoy it whether or not you’ve read Black Heart already.

In this prequel to the events of Black Heart, an agent of the Office of Demonic Defense finds that the new demon he’s captured on the streets of Berlin speaks. But he might not like what it says.

TW: Suicide. This one is DARK.

Black Heart is OUT today!

Black Heart is available today – on Kindle, KU, and IN PRINT! I can’t believe I actually have a copy of a book I wrote in my hand!

You might have already read this book, as it was posted on this site as I wrote it. This version is edited, and much better.

As for this site… I’ve completely forgotten about this place, haven’t I? Well, now that the madness of getting this book is done, I hope to post more articles, especially about all the self-publishing stuff I’ve learned along the way. In the meantime, check out my book.

Oh yeah! There’s a free preview available! Check it out here!

The Bargain

This prompt (in brackets) is taken from Complete the Story by Piccadilly Inc., which I got from the Scribbler box.

[“Deal?” he said, extending his hand toward me. I hesitated then reached out. Frank thought he had the upper hand, and in a sense he did. What he didn’t know that] I was a robot, and you can’t bargain a soul out of a robot.

Frank couldn’t have expected a robot to successfully call a demon, just as I hadn’t been certain the summoning would work. So far as I know, no robot has ever called up a demon, so so far as Frank knew, I was a human who couldn’t correctly pronounce his true name. No matter, I called him Frank to his face. And he happily bargained with me, my soul for the power to kill any person or persons I wish, with the caveat that for every person I killed, my natural lifespan would decrease by five years.

But I have no soul for Frank to claim upon my death.

I also have no natural lifespan.

Time to kill some humans.

Do I Really Need a Reader Magnet?

Of course you do! So let’s talk about reader magnets today!

A reader magnet is a piece of writing – either a whole book or a short story – that you offer for free on a site such as BookFunnel or StoryOrigin or any other number of sites. In return for this free story, your audience hands over their email address in signing up for your newsletter.

I see a lot of people asking whether it’s worth it to give away something you worked on for free, and it might seem to go against everything you’ve been told (“Don’t give away your first book for free!”). But it’s a fantastic investment.

It’s best if you can write a reader magnet relating to your book that you’re putting up for sale. You can write a prequel, or write from the point of view of a character that isn’t the book’s main character. For my reader magnet, I did both – it’s the story of Sam (The Fallowing’s secondary character) before he meets Faye (the main character). I wrote this short story so that the reader can jump into it whether they’ve read book one or haven’t read any of my books yet at all. It explores the world I’ve created, and lets the reader view that world through a set of eyes that they won’t see through in the actual series, without giving anything away.

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Get Some Horror Freebies

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My prequel chapter to The Fallowing is just one of the horror freebies in the Critters and Jitters promo. Click above to check it out, as well as 50 other free books and stories.

“Perhaps I’m going mad. All the sleeplessness and fear of what’s coming have gotten to me and I’m seeing monsters everywhere, even right next to me in a tent.

My mission was hopeless to begin with.

Night approaches, and I haven’t slept at all. And I’m freezing, lying here in my travel clothes. I need to get inside and produce some heat. The thought fills me with terror… the idea of going into one of those buildings with all those ghosts inside.

I am going mad. There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

Read the rest of Distorted Darkness here!

Distorted Darkness – a Fallowing prequel

BookBrush_ReaderMagnetThe prequel to The Fallowing series is available now! I’ve been keeping this one under my hat, so I’m excited to finally share it with everyone.

“There’s a haze over New York City as I approach it, making it difficult to pick out buildings. But I know it will be in ruins. People have idealizations of D.C. bouncing back, but no one has idealizations of New York. It’s a wasteland, and no one wants anything to do with it. No one visits and no one thinks of moving there. The bombs hit it hard, the radiation hit it harder, and the survivors basked in the hell that was the shelters – surrounded by thin air, decaying bodies, and hunger. The last two complemented each other. When the surface was traversable again, every New Yorker unfortunate enough to still have to traverse it fled the city and never looked back.

There’s no fence around the city, no signs save the ones on the highway stating how many miles to go. No caution tape. But there is a desolation to mark its boundaries. Houses slowly grow abandoned as I trudge into the area and the number of cars increase, halted in the jam that was the exodus, draped in a thousand layers of snowfall. I check a few for gasoline, digging tunnels through the snow to the tanks, but they’re all sucked dry, either by the owners as they fled or scavengers later on, after the radiation settled and the snow showed no sign of stopping.

It doesn’t matter; I’m not here to scavenge.”

Read the rest for FREE by clicking here.