Cyber Monday Deals, Announcements, and Updates!

Final cover art for "The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot - Scratching a Lich." Art and Copyright Patricia Lupien.

Happy Cyber Monday, shoppers! Hope everyone had a good holiday and none of you had to work on Black Friday.

First up in my self-promotion-filled post for today is a reminder that the Kindle edition of The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot: Scratching a Lich is on sale today only for 99 cents! Get it for yourself or as a gift for someone who enjoys their fantasy tales with a healthy dose of humor.

If swashbuckling fiction is more your speed, fellow author J.M. Aucoin’s books Honor Among Thieves (Hope & Steel Book 1) and Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters (A Jake Hawking Adventure Collection Book 1) are also on sale today for 99 cents.

Now, back to me, with some updates on upcoming books.

First, Action Figures – Issue Five: Team-Ups has, unfortunately, been pushed back again. I apologize for the delays, but this is an unavoidable pitfall of life as an indie author. The book itself is done, but the cover art is in-process as time permits. My awesome artist, Tricia Lupien, has other professional and personal responsibilities that sometime take precedence over my needs, and in the art world, there’s a saying: “Do you want in now, or do you want it good?” I’d always prefer quality over speed, so I’m happy to give Tricia the time she needs to live up to her own high standards.

Team-Ups is now slated for an early January release, so you’ll have something nice to spend your Amazon gift cards on (hint). I’ll be posting preview chapters in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Next, I’m happy to report that over the holiday weekend, I wrapped up the first draft of Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play, and began work on what I’m calling, for now, Issue Six-Point-Five, which will be released as a short story on this website. Be advised, it’ll be a while before it sees the light of day. Specifically, it will be released after Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War, which is tentatively set for a spring 2017 release.

I know, I’m a miserable tease.

Shop Till You Drop!

This is something I’ve done through Facebook in the past, but this year I’m opening this up a little.

I have several artistic friends who sell their wares online, so to spread the love and maybe driver some holiday shoppers their way, I present to you a sort of Internet Artists’ Market. If you are looking for some unique gifts and want to support small businesses and independent artists in the process, check out some of these fine folks.

Final cover art for "The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot - Scratching a Lich." Art and Copyright Patricia Lupien.

I’m going to start off on a selfish note and announce that the Kindle edition of The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Scratching a Lich will be on sale for one day only — Cyber Monday (November 30) — at 99 cents! Click here to head on over to the product page. Also, all four books in the Action Figures series are available in both print and Kindle editions.


Here’s a neat little gift for anyone who loves art and classic literature: Robin Hood paper dolls by Courage PaperCrafts. The characters were designed and drawn by artists George Courage, who is also available as an artist for hire.

My friend Tricia Lupien, who does my cover art, has a Redbubble store featuring her stuff, which is available on an wide array of products. You can also e-mail her at patricia at patricia lupien dot com if you’d like to commission something.


HAT CoverIf you love my Action Figures series, you might like the Dex Territory series by Mark Aberdeen. Both books in this new series are available through Amazon.

Honor Among Thieves and Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters, by indie-author J.M. Aucoin, will both be on sale for the week of Cyber MondayHonor Among Thieves is a gripping tale of daring sword-play and political intrigue, with superb historical detail of 17th Century France that’ll have readers ready to draw their swords and fight for glory! Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters is a collection of three short stories following Captain Jake Hawking, Little Queen and the rest of the crew of the Broad-Wing. This omnibus edition also includes bonus sea adventure short stories and piratical poems.

Honor Among Thieves will be going through a Kindle Countdown deal from November 29 through December 6. The Kindle edition will start off at $0.99 and increment up to the full $4.99 price by the end of the run. Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters will be just $0.99 for the entire week.

A few years ago Rob Borkowski wrote a piece of holiday horror flash fiction entitled Wight Christmas, and you can grab that at Amazon.

For more in the vein of holiday horror, pick up a copy of Dean Calusian’s gleefully gruesome graphic novel The Stocking Dead on Amazon.

If you know a fan of live theater, offbeat comedy, or both, try WHACKED by CT-based playwright/director/actor Scott Kegler.

An old friend from my Cape Cod days, T.M. Murphy, has a holiday adventure for young readers entitled Saving Santa’s Seals (LeapKids), which you can find on Amazon.


Of course I’m going to mention my wife Veronica’s business Storied Threads, which deals in embroidered patches, ties, scarves, bags, and other accessories.

Chelsea Cayer runs Desperate Muse, which offers a variety of handmade items, including crocheted and embroidered goods.

Marion Hunt creates aprons with a cool alternative vibe via Vixens Ahoy. Check out her Facebook page and maybe contact her for her current stock or a custom order.


For those in and around or heading to Salem, MA: Black Cat Tours offers public and private walking tours of historic Salem, Massachusetts. Walk the same cobblestone paths as the founders of America, learn the truth behind the witchcraft hysteria of 1692, and shiver at the ghostly tales that follow some of the darkest moments in history. Gift packs of tickets always available. Open every month except January for private tours, public tours May through November. 100% Positive on TripAdvisor! Use the coupon code SALEM to save 10 percent.

For those in and around the North Haven, Connecticut area, you have two chances each year to check out the Connecticut Renaissance Faire: in the spring for its Robin Hood Springtime Festival and in the fall for its Queen Elizabeth-themed fair festival (with its cool Halloween Knights after-hours event). Hit the CTRF website to sign up for its newsletter, which can get you discounted tickets and special offers.


Guinness brownies. Did that get your attention? That’s just the yummy tip of a yummy iceberg called Cucina Dolce, Dawn DeMeo’s delicious business. Head to her website to see all the good stuff you could be stuffing into your face right now.

Also of interest to Connecticut residents: Healing Wings Massage by Lani Roth: private home massage therapy office, specializing in traditional Thai Massage, corporate chair massage, and deep tissue massage. Learn about her services at her website.

Team-Ups – A Quick Update

Hi, everyone. As I write this, Action Figures – Issue Five: Team-Ups is finished and formatted and is awaiting cover art. With luck it’ll be available for sale by Cyber Monday, but it will at least be ready to go in time for holiday purchasing.

Today’s to-do list consists of one item: try to finish the first draft of Issue Six: Power Play. I doubt it’ll happen, but I’d like to try so I don’t feel like such a loaf anymore. I’ve lost a lot of writing time due to my wife’s busy convention schedule, so I feel like I’m falling behind.

So You’re Participating In NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which is all about getting creative writers motivated to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. If you’re participating in this, awesome. Go you. Pound on your keyboard until it begs for mercy.


Seriously, good for you. Whether you’re doing this for the first time just for the fun of it or you’ve always wanted to take a serious crack at becoming a novelist — via traditional or self-publishing — and you’re using NaNoWriMo to light a fire under your ass and finally get it done, I hope you find it an exciting and rewarding experience.

Now comes the “however” part…

I’ve known a few people who did in fact attempt to parlay their NaNoWriMo product into a published novel and failed hard, and what I’ve gleaned from their efforts is they made a critical mistake of thinking that once the novel is completed, all they have to do is run spellcheck once and that’s it — their novel is finished.

No. No no no. Your work has only just begun.

First of all, 50,000 words is actually not necessarily a novel; depending on your genre, that might only be a novella — which isn’t a bad thing, but if you plan to seek an agent or traditional publisher for your work, you might want to think about going beyond 50,000 words (and, honestly, 50,000 is a great goal to aim for, but I’d advise you not to hamper yourself by insisting that you fit the story you’re trying to tell into a 50,000 word box if it’s meant to be longer).

This piece by Chuck Sambuchino is a great reference for typical novel lengths, and you’ll see that once you start writing for any adult market, 50,000 words isn’t going to cut it as a “novel.”

Conversely, you shouldn’t pad out what you have just to meet a word count benchmark. Chances are you’ll edit that out anyway as superfluous fluff (more on that in a minute). Tell the story and don’t worry so much about the word count. Just be aware it will affect how you market the book, whether to an agent or publisher or, if you go the indie author route, to readers.

If November is National Novel Writing Month, December should be National Novel Revising Month. This is when you take your finished first draft, read through it, and recoil in horror at how truly not finished it is. You’re going to find spelling errors, grammatical errors, punctuation errors, continuity gaps, plot holes, inconsistent characterization, clunky dialog — all manner of major and minor screw-ups. Suddenly, the literary masterpiece you think you wrote will turn into a steaming pile of crap that will make you doubt your talents as a writer.

Welcome to the world of writing.

First drafts aren’t about producing a finished work; it’s about getting the ideas out of your head and onto the screen. Second drafts are about replacing or scrapping entirely everything that’s wrong with the story and strengthening everything that does work. Since you’ve given yourself a month to do this, take your time. Go through the manuscript a few times and keep fine-tuning it.

No, you’re not done yet, because January is National Novel Test-Reading Month. This is when you send your manuscript to some trusted friends to look it over and tell you what you think. Four to six people is a good number of beta testers, but make sure you choose people who will be brutally honest with you. You don’t want their praise, you want their criticism. You want them to tell you what still isn’t working so you can fix it in February, which is National Novel Revising Month – The Sequel.

Don’t undersell the importance of this step. By now you’ve gotten a little too familiar with your novel and aren’t seeing a lot of flaws anymore. Outside eyes will catch the problems you’re no longer seeing. And don’t dismiss this as “art by committee.” Just because your readers make suggestions, you’re not obligated to heed them (though you’d be foolish to ignore them out of hand. Think about their critiques long and hard before you make a decision one way or the other).

While the book is out with test-readers, you can consider whether you want to try and pursue a traditional publishing avenue or go the indie author route. Each approach has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so consider what you need, want, and hope to get out of putting your book out there, and see which path fits better. Personally, even if you decide to go with self publishing, going through the process of preparing your book for submission to agents and publishers is a good experience. It’ll help get you in a professional mindset, you’ll learn how to concisely describe your book and pitch it to a prospective reader — something you’ll have to do a lot as an indie author — and who knows? Maybe you’ll get picked up.

You can find an extensive list of publishers and agents in the Writer’s Digest market guide, along with many helpful hints for putting a submission package together. I’d also advise checking out the SFWA Writer Beware page, especially if you go looking at small presses.

If and when you decide to pursue indie authorship, this is a good time to start hunting down editors and cover artists — two things you do not want to skimp on. You want someone with a professional eye to review your finished manuscript for any lingering errors and perhaps make final suggestions for tweaking this or that, and you want a real artist to put together an eye-catching cover that will attract readers’ attention.

Services such as CreateSpace can help you put together a prefab cover that looks decent, and for little to no money, but if this what you choose to do, tread carefully, and never assume your skills as a graphic artist are sufficient to the task. Go check out to see what happens when a cover misfires if you need further convincing that hiring a professional is the right call.

An aside: yes, these people will cost you money. It’s worth the investment. If you can’t pay for them out of pocket, crowdfunding may be your salvation — but again, do your research to find out what makes a successful crowdfunding campaign or you’ll hit a brick wall pretty fast.

Assuming you’ve managed to stay on-schedule so far, dedicate March to preparing everything while your editor does his/her thing. Get your submissions list ready — or, if you’re self publishing, make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with your chosen platforms, because preparing a novel for publishing is a major undertaking in and of itself. Prepare your cover/query letter, synopsis, and any other required submission materials. If you need to, go back into your manuscript and fix any lingering problems, even if it pushes your timeline back (unless you want to be embarrassed by putting out a novel that isn’t ready for public consumption).

Once all your ducks are in a row, once all the Is are dotted and Ts are crossed, it’s time to face the scariest part of the process: pulling the trigger and actually submitting the novel to agents/publishers or releasing it via your chosen self-publishing platform. Trust me, it’s terrifying, but take the leap. The worst you can do is fail, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

There’s a LOT more to do once the book is out there — marketing, promotions, publicity, etc. — but that’s a dissertation for another time. For now, it’s time for you to get back to work. Go write something!

Two-Sentence Horror Stories

jackolanternHappy Halloween, everyone!

It’s a day of writing and scary movies for me, but to get you in the mood for this, the most awesome day of the year, I present some two-sentence horror stories submitted by friends and fans. I’ll begin with my two offerings, one straight and one silly (or maybe not so silly).

Brad decided that out of all his children, little Emily was his favorite. He took another bite.

“It’s eight PM, which means the polls have closed nationwide. Early results seem to indicate that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.”

Now onto some of my favorite submissions…

Cliff A.: He truly hated his grandfather’s guts. But then he was reminded that there are children starving in other countries and ate what was on his plate.

James K.: Listening for the safety coffin bells is a minor part of a cemetery watchman’s job. Frank had never heard one before, let alone so many at once.

John G.: I never minded her binge watching CSI. What did bother me was the copious amounts of notes she would take during the show.

Rob I.: On the beach, his wife waved cheerfully back to him as she led their toddler into the surf for the first time. He tried to scream a warning then, but the breath was crushed from his lungs as the tentacles dragged him under.

Adolfo H.: She is so beautiful. I am so glad I took her out of her grave.

Ron B.: It was only just one bite. How the hell did I know it would turn me into this?

Chelsea C., from the “perhaps autobiographical wishful thinking” category: “Make me something!” her husband used to constantly ask, even though she had many sewing orders. She decided to finally make him something, as she pushed the iron over a piece of his flesh, squirting a bit of blood onto her wild grin.

Dave M.: As I stepped out of the shower to dry off, I heard a knock and my brother yell, “You almost done in there?” It was unnerving as I live alone now, and he had passed away 5 years ago.

Brian R.: When we posted our ‘Omg, Zombie Bites Cure Acne’ video, we never expected anyone to take it seriously. We never expected to be the YouTube video that drove humanity extinct.

Lara F.: The audience roared with approval as I finished my last magic trick. Once the curtain closed, I turned to my manager and told him to put out a call for a new assistant.

Alan W.: “Good night sweetie,” I said as I closed my son’s door. My wife covered my mouth and whispered “We don’t have a son!”

Mike P: Something was gnawing on my mind. Imagine my surprise when I took of my hat!

Heidi C.: I was done. I pulled on the roll and realized only the cardboard remained.

Lola H.: The elderly woman looked at the swollen belly of the pale young woman beside her and cooed, “How lovely, I can see the baby kicking from here!” The young woman stared straight ahead as she softly replied, “I’m not pregnant.”

And if this were a contest, this would be the winner, from Erin S.: After three minutes she looked again. It was positive.

Honorable mention goes to Paul S. for his one-sentence horror story:  If it’s just a pimple, why is it whispering to me?

How To Be Part Of A Fandom

Some simple rules for being a fan of anything:

  1. Like whatever you want, however you want.
  2. Let other people like whatever they want, however they want.
  3. If you meet someone who likes the same thing, enjoy it together.
  4. If you meet someone who likes something you don’t, let them like their thing and don’t give them a hard time about it.
  5. If you think someone is liking something the “wrong way,” please re-read item number two.

Reasons Why I’m Probably On A Government Watch List

It’s a bit of slow period here. My editor should be finishing up her work on Action Figures – Issue Five: Team-Ups any day, my cover artist is getting ready to do her thing, and I’m plugging away at Issue Six – Power Play, which is nearing completion of draft one.

I haven’t blogged in a while but I don’t have too much to say, so I’ll share a few things I’ve found online that I’ve tucked away for possible future use in a story — things that I’m sure that would work against me should I ever find myself the suspect in a murder. They’re a bit morbid, so I’m calling this a Halloween lead-in post to rationalize it all.

Process After Death Asylum Admission Reasons Human Body Limits Bullet Holes Knives


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