Listen to my Short Story "The Forest Trail"

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells | Book Review

I enjoyed every bit of this book. It was an awesome conclusion to the trilogy. Each book seemed to get a little better but they are all great books for different reasons. I still think the first one is amazing. This book was really interesting. Seeing how John Cleaver the protagonist interacts with people is so much fun to read. He's a sociopath but he's also a hero, but he's also more of a monster than the ones he's hunting in some ways, and yet he's on the right side. It is all just way too good to read once. Someday down the road I'll have to read all three of these books again.

Interestingly it took me a while to finish this book, but only because of the format I purchased it in. I do about 99% of my reading via audio books because I have a full schedule and two hours of commuting a day to work. This book however I read with the Kindle app on my iPad. I am a super fan of audio books but it was really nice to READ a book for once again. I picked it up here and there and then got too busy to read and just kept reading via audio books for a while. 

Usually I would find time to read this book if I was the only one still awake, or the only one up in the morning. It was a fun juxtaposition of sitting in a quiet peaceful house, that's usually really loud with 3 kids 5 & under, reading some pretty crazy and thrilling stuff. As I flicked through the digital pages I would read faster and faster and once I got to the end of a certain chapter near the end of the book - it was all over. Then I really had to find time to read because the story was a super page turner. This book is so cool because it's just so different from most of the books I read and I'm guessing you read - even if you read a lot of supernatural thrillers. I mostly read Science Fiction and Fantasy. This book was definitely thrilling, but it's also a deep book. You get a lot of the protag's internal monologue almost like a classic lit book, and then there's all the thrilling action and cringe worthy stuff. So I'll end with saying that this book is awesomely unique and it was a thrilling and thought provoking read. How Dan Wells pulled that off is pretty incredible. If you liked the first two books in the series you'll love this one, and it's not more of the same. All three books in this trilogy are very much their own story and writing this makes me want to go back and read them all again.

Have you read any of Dan's books? He's an awesome guy. He's a host on the amazing Writing Excuses podcast. I also had the privilege of having him as the guest writer when I went on The Roudtable Podcast to pitch a story idea - and he helped turn my story into something so much cooler. I'm currently writing the 8th chapter and am calling it Zombie Super Powers. You can follow along as I write the first draft and give me feedback if you want. Thanks for stopping by!

Links for Dan Wells:

Final book in the John Cleaver trilogy

2nd book in the John Cleaver trilogy

1st book in the John Cleaver trilogy

Amazing podcast about writing great for writers!

An awesome podcast Dan records with his brother who is also a writer.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Brian Rathbone's "Call of the Herald" free, then the Audio Book is $1.99! Get your copies now!

Word to the wise: If you consume audiobooks like crazy and also like reading eBooks, this is a steal! How cool was it for the author to tell me about the deal too?! Really cool. I hadn't even remembered that I already bought the eBook for Call of the Herald, which holy crap is FREE right now, so I can get this audio book for a steal! 

So go get the eBook and read it, or better yet - then go get the audio book for $1.99 and you can switch between reading the eBook at home and the audio book while in the car!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I've Been Away, in Disneyland!

I haven't posted in quite a while. I didn't really get on any social media last week either. Why the silence? My family and I went with my in-laws to Disneyland! It was really fun. We had five days at the Disney parks. We got hopper passes so we were able to go to both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventures. One of the coolest rides was the new Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land in California Adventures. You get to ride through Radiator Springs, see the characters talk to you, and race a car full of other visitors to the park. We were a little bummed out our 2 and 3 year olds weren't tall enough to go on the ride but now we know why. Those six passenger cars go really fast and bank some hard turns. It's more of a thrill ride than we were expecting which was awesome and made for a really fun ride. Cars Land itself was awesome too. It's like walking into the movie. You get to walk down the road that Lightning McQueen fixes in the first Cars movie. Everything is there including all the shops of the different characters.

Another awesome thing in California Adventures was the Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular. We went because the kids like the movie, but it was actually really entertaining and surprisingly funny. The actor playing the Genie was cracking funny jokes time and time again and you even got to see the villain Jafar turn into a hugh snake and the famous flying carpet scene. Two actors sing as they are flown overhead on a carpet swinging from wires. It was impressive. Also, there's a water and light show called World of Color. This was a pretty amazing show at half an hour with smoke, fire, and fountains of water with color and scenes from favorite Disney and Pixar movies playing out on them at huge sizes. It was a sight to see. So was the fireworks show in Disneyland as you can see in the first image in this post. But the best part of all of this was being there with my family. It proved difficult at times standing in line with a 5, 3, & 2 year old but many special memories were made. Leading up to our trip we watched a ton of Disney movies and so going through Fantasyland in Disneyland was fun too, were you can go on rides like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio and ride through classic Disney films. 

I'm sure many of you have been to Disneyland so I wont keep listing all the fun rides and shows we got to experience as a family, but it was really fun. We're all exhausted now but glad to be back home. Now I need to get back to writing, blogging, and podcasting. My Workflowy is full of tasks for these things. I have another flash fiction story to podcast, a novel to finish, and a novella to revise once I get some notes back from a few alpha readers. I'm way off track now for my word count on finishing my novel before NaNoWriMo starts, but I'm hoping for some epic sprints where I splash thousands of words on the screen and get back on track. It would be so awesome to start a new novel right on the heels of finishing one. Well, that's what I've been up to. Time to get back in the saddle. What projects are you working on? Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue by Hugh Howey
Book Review

After reading the Wool series, some of the most brilliant books I've ever read, it's hard to go back to this one and read it without comparing them but that would not be fair. I don't know if this is the first book Hugh Howey ever wrote, but it is the first one he published. I wasn't crazy about this book, but for a first novel it was pretty darn good.

It was a romp through space with lots of exciting stuff and cool characters with some big problems. I loved the first third of the book or so. All the right pieces were there and this book does a lot, but somewhere in the middle it lost me for a while. It didn't grab me again until near the end. I guess I would say that I felt like I was reading a story instead of experiencing it with the characters. There were moments I thought were cool and exciting. There were interesting characters, but it took me until the last part of the book to really dig it. That said I did come to love the characters and at the end you can't help but want to read the next book the way he wraps it all up.

I'm sure that the second book in the series, Molly Fyde and the Land of Light, will be even better because I already know how great of a writer Hugh has come to be. He's easily one of my favorite authors and I can't wait to read all the things he writes. In the mean time he already has a sizable back catalog. Maybe that's why Wool was so good, because in the span of just a few years the dude wrote like 7 books before he penned Wool! That is pretty incredible. I'm glad I picked this one up while waiting for Dust. I look forward to the next one.

Buy it at Amazon

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Passage by Justin Cronin | Book Review

I'm torn when it comes to this book. A couple friends recommended it and the audio book is narrated by my favorite narrator Scott Brick who also said it was an amazing book in an interview I heard on a podcast. In many ways it is an amazing book. It contains some of the best stuff I've ever read - but it suffers from a bloated middle. I was bored through most of that part. At a whopping 300,000 words it seems like there was plenty that could have been cut out without damaging the story. That said, let me mentions some stuff I loved about this book.

The first part of the book was awesome. Really interesting, I loved the premise, the way it was explained, and the characters. I read what easily could have been its own book and I was enthralled. I couldn't get enough. The little girl and the two detectives, it was all awesome. I kept wondering what the heck could fill up the rest of the story with such a great arc going. I won't spoil anything but I'll just say once the first big story arc ended I was jolted into another story, but it felt like another book. I was still reading The Passage, but it was like someone had stuffed a second book in. It all gets tied together by the end, but I just didn't care for any of the new characters or even the setting until almost the end of the book.

When Mr. Cronin writes action scenes they are riveting. This is what I was talking about when I said this book has some of the best stuff I've ever read. I found myself rooting for the characters and really feeling the brutal action that was happening. Whenever something crazy went down in this book, Justin knocked it out of the park. There's no doubt in my mind that Mr. Cronin is an amazing writer, I think like me, he just needs to learn how to tell a story better which means cutting stuff out that isn't interesting or doesn't move the story forward. Some of it was pretty interesting, but I just didn't care. I still wanted more of the first story arc he told. The dialog was pretty good in this book too, when it was about something interesting. Once I finally cared about all the new characters near the end of the book I was really into their conversations and felt like I was right there with them listening in. I think if Justin would have cut the characters that get a lot of time in the spotlight way down than this book would have been much better. There's too much in this book. It should not be 300,000 words long.

So am I going to read the sequel to The Passage? Maybe someday but I doubt it. My list of books to read is so long I won't get to the bottom of it until I'm in my 90s and I turned 30 this year. Will I keep my eye on Justin Cronin and read reviews of new books he writes to see if he's cured himself of novel bloat because I think he's a great writer when he's doing it right? Yes, yes I will. My two friends that recommended this book to me really liked it, and hey you might too. If you want to give it a try go grab the sample at amazon or listen to the audio sample read by the great Scott Brick. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Short Stories of DanDanTheArtMan 12 - Death of a Salesman's Boss

Download the .mp3

A podcast flash fiction story written and read by Dan Absalonson inspired by the flash fiction challenge on Chuck Wendig's website. Here were the rules for writing this story: 

I’m going to give you ten words. Your job is to work all ten of these words into a flash fiction story, ~1000 words in length. That’s it. End of mandate. The story’s due in a week: Friday, August 30th, noon EST. Post at your online space. Link back here.

The ten random words are as follows:

Music Attributions:

Pilot Error by Kevin MacLeod

SFX Attributions:

cf_FX_batch_jingle_glock_N--kloing.aif by cfork

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Boyscouts of the Apocalypse by Michell Plested
Book Cover

I had the privilege to produce the cover for Michell Plested's awesome novel "Boyscouts of the Apocalypse." This cover was really fun to work on. I did the sketch in pencil, inked it with a Sharpie Pen - Fine Point, and all the coloring and typography was done digitally in Gimp (like Photoshop but freeware).

You'll be able to read it for free on Wattpad soon and I'll make sure to come back and add the link. For now you can listen to an audio version of it at

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Progress Meter, New Goals

You may have noticed there's a new link above my top progress meter on the right side of my site. This is probably only exciting to me but I found a cool site called Storytoolz where you can track your daily word count like the NaNoWriMo bar graph. This is perfect because it came to my attention yesterday that NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is just around the corner and I would love to start a brand new project on November 1st for NaNo. The problem is, I'm about 30% through a novel right now. So I decided I'd better figure out how many words a day I need to write to be able to finish the first draft of my current novel, Zombie Super Powers, to be able to start a new one for NaNoWriMo. Turns out it's just under 900 words a day, so a bit less than the 1,666 words required for NaNoWriMo's daily word count to get 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November. I need to get about 42,000 words in 52 days. So I should be able to do it. That would be really exciting. I guess I'll stop doing short stories again for the time being and really focus on finishing this novel - which you can read for free on Wattpad as I write it .

Also, you can click on the NaNoWriMo icon to the right above my progress meters and add me as a NaNoWriMo writing buddy if you're doing it to. I love seeing my friends project meters go up and seeing our word counts skyrocket together, and maybe giving each other a hard time on Twitter about how many words I've written that day compared to them. It's a fun community of writers in November you should really think about doing it if you haven't before. Join us in the fun on November. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Staring Stranger
A Story for Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge

Chuck Wendig runs a weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. This is my second time trying it out and came out to 961 words. Go check out his post! Write your own! Here are the rules for this week:

You know the drill: Random number generator or d20. Roll it. Grab a setting from the list below and go forth and write yourself around 1000 words of fiction set in that location.
The list, then, is:

  1. A Starbucks during the Apocalypse
  2. The gates of Heaven
  3. A slaughterhouse
  4. A library on an alien world
  5. Satan’s palace, Pandaemonium
  6. Inside a giant creature
  7. On a pirate beach
  8. In a penal colony built by elvish astronauts
  9. Route 66 during a tornado
  10. On a crashing plane
  11. Inside the virtual reality landscape of a robot’s mind
  12. The NYC subways
  13. Ancient Sumer
  14. A monster brothel
  15. A shopping mall in Arizona
  16. In a police department during an epic blizzard
  17. In the base of the Moon Nazis
  18. In a serial killer’s nightmare
  19. A distant island far from home
  20. Lost in New Jersey
Here's my story:

The Staring Stranger, A Short Story |  © Dan Absalonson 2013

There he was again, the bum who always stared at me on the subway. I hated everything about him: his white hair tucked behind a purple bandana, his ratty black tank top hiding none of his Rambo physique, his stonewashed denim cut offs that were much too short for anyone's comfort and his bare feet with their too long toenails tap dancing around on the dirty black floor. Every time I looked at him he was staring right back, like he had been waiting all day just to lock peepers with me. I turned my back to him, but I could feel his eyes, like cyclops or superman shooting a hot red laser into the back of my skull. It made me itch. I waited for a long time, hoping he would get off before my stop but he never did. No matter what time I was riding or what stop I got off at, he was there right behind me following me out.

I looked over my shoulder for a brief second to see his unmoving eyes looking right into mine. Had I ever even seen him blink? It sent a chill straight through me. I faced forward and shivered despite the warm subway car. I felt the subway slowing. My stop was much farther down the line but I had to lose this guy. I waited until the last second, knowing the timing of the doors well, and shot out of my chair sprinting out to the terminal just before the doors closed. I looked at the spot the bum had been sitting. He wasn't there. 

I looked behind me, but did not see him. I looked to my left, and there he was just settling down on a bench. It was the first time I had seen him without his eyes staring right back into mine. I darted to a column and edged behind it out of view. As far as I knew he had not seen me and now would not know where I was. I waited for the next subway trying to be patient, but I couldn't help it. I leaned over the least amount possible to catch a glimpse and see if he was still on the bench. He was, staring right back at me. How could he possibly know where to look to pierce me like that with his gaze? I tried looking at him from the other side of the column. Again his face was locked in place, directing his vision right to me. I slid back out of site.

The subway came to the stop and again I waited until the last moment and sprinted inside. The doors shut just as I got both feet in. I looked out the window and saw that he had left the bench, but I didn't see him anywhere in the car. I found a seat. Before long the itch was there again. I didn't want to look, but I had to. Sure enough he was there staring me down this time his eyes so wide that I wondered if he was in some sort of pain or something. His ugly feet tapping away as if he was in the best of moods just riding along in the subway while his bulbous eyes were aimed at me like a rifle.

I didn't look at him again. I just waited. Once the next stop came I jumped up and flew out the door. Then just before it closed I jumped back inside. I looked and saw the bum outside of the subway car. Finally I had won. Finally I could sit in peace until my stop came. I found a seat at sank into it letting out a deep breath.

I had almost fallen asleep when I felt his eyes on me again. I looked up, my eyes jumping around the subway car. There he was sitting in the seats across from me at the other end. I'd had it. If he wanted to play games, I could play games. I stood up and found an empty seat directly across from his. His gaze followed me with every step. I sat down and stared right back at him. I already knew everyone else in the car was staring at us too so I gave up all worries of being embarrassed. In a booming voice I did my best impression of Will Ferrell as Robert Goulet in a Saturday Night Live skit and yelled at him.

"Look at you. You're hungry. You don't even blink do you? Quick staring contest, me and you now!"

We stared at each other. The car was silent. I was through with this guy, if he wanted to try and weird me out, I was going to do it right back to him. I opened my eyes as wide as I could and leaned in towards him with the maddest grin I could spread across my face. Then I blinked.

"You win, you always do. That's why I come up here. Nature! Goulet."

Everyone went from looking at the two of us to looking at him. I had won. Now all eyes were on him. Every passenger was giving it right back, staring him down as he had done to me so many times. To my great surprise the man's face flushed red and he blinked. The subway slowed. For the first time he looked away from me at all the others. He shrunk back in his chair. The doors opened, he glanced at me one more time with an angry frown, and then ran out of the subway car. The familiar ding dong sounded and the doors closed, and for the first time I rode the rest of the way home in peace.