Tuesday, July 7, 2015

An excerpt from the current work in progress

Here's a bit of something from the current work in progress. Digi City is its tentative title. That will probably change. This is the next story in the New Eden series. Next meaning it's the third book and will come after the second that was released earlier this year. It is not, however, the third book in the timeline. If you've read the first two then you know there is a gap between where the first ended and the second begins. This story falls in the gap. I think there will be three or four in there. I'm calling them the "Stories from the In Between." I like the way that sounds, and it will fill in the holes for the reader and set up the ending of this part of the New Eden series.

This story focuses on Miller, the antagonist from the second Rexall book. I've always liked him. He deserves his own story. He's an interesting guy.

Anyway, the bit I mentioned. Here it is. Hope you like it. It's just a few paragraphs, but maybe it will whet your appetite.


Miller stepped out onto the tenth floor, the area of Tallboy given to the older addicts. These were the guys who’d been on the wire for a long time. They weren’t plugging in for thrills. They were plugging in to forget, soldiers who’d seen things and done things that they couldn’t let go of.

These were the guys that Miller would be laying beside if he gave into the draw of digital.

Wires fell in bunches from the ceiling, bundles thick as tree trunks breaking up what was mostly open space. Guys were along the walls, most of them plugged in and passed out. Miller quickly studied faces as he passed. His port itched, and he pushed the desire to plug in farther down.

These guys all looked the same. They’d fallen under the spell of digital. Any chance of respectability was burned away in a fire of bits and bytes that they couldn’t do without. Miller had seen it before. Soldiers he’d respected would crack the governor on their port just as an experiment after they get their discharge. None of them planned to end up in a place like this, laid against some wall with drool wetting their shirts and pooling on the floor in front of them. Worse, none of them expected to die. But some did, and those who didn’t were here or someplace like it. Those were the two endings to this story. No one just experimented with digital once or twice. You didn’t get to try a sample then say “No, thank you.” Digital sunk its claws fast and deep. Miller didn’t want to get sucked in. That’s why he’d taught himself to push the desire farther and farther down. So far down now that it was coming out of his toes, seeping out from under the nails and gathering in his shoes.

The faces were starting to blend together. Miller stopped and closed his eyes. He pictured the face in the photo that Cruz had shown him. The high forehead. The short hair. The pronounced nose and deep-set eyes.

He started walking the walls again, and that’s when he saw him. He was the loner, plugged in to a wire far from everyone else. He was laid out on the floor, his head resting on an outstretched arm. Passed out. Mouth fallen open.

Miller went over and sat beside him, leaning against the wall. Miller watched him for a minute. The man was still. Miller put a finger under his nose. Just to check. Then he waited.

He watched the junkies — the data freaks who had given themselves to the pull — slowly wake. Watched them try to stand. Stumble to their unsteady feet like a calf just from the womb. They’d grab for the wall. They’d fall to a knee. They’d find their footing then slowly shuffle from the room, likely collapsing somewhere in the stairwell on the way down. They’d wet themselves at some point before mustering the energy and stability to make it to the bottom. It’d be hours before they’d be back to themselves.

Miller grabbed one of the loose wires that had spilled out of the bundle in front of him. He licked his thumb and ran it across the end and felt the jolt of digital dance up his arm. He flinched instinctively then licked the palm of his hand. He rubbed the arm of the man next to him and left a smear of spit across his bicep. He grabbed a handful of wires from the floor and jammed them into the man’s arm. His body tensed, and his eyes shot open.

Miller smiled. “Wakey wakey,” he said.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Welcome, Haddie

About two weeks ago, our family of three became a family of four when we welcomed Haddie into the fold. She's completely amazing and playing with her and her sister has completely consumed all of my free time since she's made her debut. That's why I haven't introduced her here until now. So, everyone, meet Haddie.

Mom is doing great. It takes a lot to knock my girl down, so I'm not at all surprised that she's fantastic. That seems to be how she spends most of her time.

Ellie absolutely adores Haddie. Every morning when we get her up the first thing she wants to do is check on Haddie to make sure she's OK. And she always marvels at how little everything is on her. Her little hands. Her "little, stinky toes."

The labor was long, but worth it. Of course, I say that and my real role was observer and moral support. But I feel fairly confident that Gina would agree. Haddie is a really chill baby. Not a lot of crying. Seems to be perpetually hungry. And she's a pretty good sleeper so far. Less than two weeks old and we can actually get four uninterrupted hours on a good night.

So, that's the big update from Texas. I've got other writerly things that I want to write about and share with you all, but those will have to wait for now. At the moment, I'm completely occupied by a new girl and squishy cheeks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Get Chasing Filthy Lucre free this week

Promise I don't come here just to tell you when stuff is free, although after this quick post that's what you're going to claim.

Chasing Filthy Lucre is free though Friday over at Amazon. If you haven't already grabbed your copy yet, go get one.

If you need to know more about the story, read this.

New Eden was big, beautiful, and bustling. That’s all a memory. A failed political power grab has left New Eden with no government but plenty of crumbling buildings, out-of-work drifters, and strung out data addicts.

A former cop and former soldier, Weber Rexall has spent his life taking orders. But after the government collapses, it’s every man for himself, and Rexall is on his own.

He realizes quickly that in New Eden cash is now king. That's why, whether it's throwing fights in a basement fight club or doing security work for a friend, he'll take whatever job he can. When one of those security jobs goes violently wrong, and a rising corporate power threatens his status quo, Rexall finds a cause to believe in. It won't pay him anything, but it might change his life. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reunion is free all this week

We get about one good week of winter here in Dallas. Things get cold, for sure. As for precipitation
though, we get it about once a winter. Last week we got it. That's part of why things were quiet around here last week. I was working from home. I was having to play with Ellie when I could since a 2-year-old doesn't get why daddy can't play if he's home. So there was no Mini Movie Monday. There won't be one this week either. I like to watch the videos before I post them, just to make sure there isn't anything that's offensive. I haven't had a chance to watch the next video. But we do have a fairly big announcement.

Reunion is free this week!

Starting today, you can get my first Jackson Cane story for free at Amazon. Just go here and hit download.
 Pretty simple. If you need to know more, here's the blurb.

Play cops and monsters with Jackson Cane and the rest of the Freak Police.
They’re cops, sort of. Cane and his coworkers chase certain undesirables back to where they belong. Back through the portal in a dark alleyway. Back to their own dimension. Back home. Cane's the best of the bunch, but his next cases are going to bring him face to face with someone he's not sure he wants to see again, with creatures he’s never seen before, and something he’d only heard stories about.

In this first adventure, Jackson Cane is called to a gruesome crime scene that looks like the handiwork of someone he knows all too well. He hopes he’s wrong, because, if he’s not, he’s headed for a reunion he never wanted to happen. 

And, yes, if you are familiar with Reunion at all, you know that's a new cover. I needed to do something a little bit different with it. I had never been overly happy with old covers, and they hadn't performed well for me in a couple of years. I just dragged my feet in making the switch. But with the free days coming, it seemed as good a time as any to pull the trigger. I've redone Scouts too to keep with the branded look. I've also designed the third cover in the series. I like them a lot, but that's not really saying anything. I made them. Of course I'll like them. What I need is for others to like them well enough that they buy the books.

OK. That's it. No more news. Now, go out and spread the good word about Reunion.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Gospel as High Concept

A few years ago I went to a writers conference here in Dallas. One of the sessions, an incredibly popular one, was about the idea of something being high concept. You know, a story where the essence can be boiled down into a few words. Often it's done as a "What if ..." concept. Or it can be something like "X meets Y." For example, one reviewer has described Chasing Filthy Lucre as a "cyberpunk Fight Club." That, at least to me, is a high-concept way to describe that book.

High concept is something that's a little bit criticized. Mainly, at least from what I can tell, because what's high concept to one person isn't high concept to the another. That's one thing that I do remember from the class at the writers conference. People would throw out high concept pitches and the rest of the participants were asked to vote as a group if what was just pitched was high concept. It was the rare pitch that got approval. Most were getting mixed reviews.

That actually is good for me and this post. I ran across this tweet today and thought, "Wow. The gospel as high concept." Now, you may or may not agree on whether or not it's high concept. I still like it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mini Movie Monday: Cloud Rise

It's a cold Monday here in Dallas. I know this will get me no sympathy from my East Coast friends, but we are getting our first winter weather event of the season. It's mostly been a mild winter. Temperatures have regularly been in the 60 and 70s. We have, a couple of times, gotten close to 80. We are still going to the park across the street in little more than jackets.

Today, though, we have sleet and freezing rain coming down. It's coating the streets, making my commute basically impossible. I decided last night that I'd probably work from home. My decision was confirmed this morning when I looked at the backyard and it was covered in sleet. Gina's school is closed. Ellie's daycare is too. So I'm going to be working from here with a house full of family. There are worse ways to spend a chilly Monday.

If you are caught in any of this kind of weather, we have another selection for Mini Movie Monday. This one is an animated piece called Cloud Rise. Hope this can help you stave off even just a few minutes of boredom.

Cloudrise from Denver Jackson on Vimeo.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mini Movie Monday: Yellow

This week my worlds collide. Our Mini Movie Monday feature is something called Yellow. It was made by Neill Blomkamp, the guy behind District 9, Elysium, and the coming Chappie.

Yellow was created as part of Addidas' Adicolor campaign. So, essentially, it's a marketing piece. And that's how my worlds are colliding. I market by day, and I fiction by night.This is a much, much cooler version of what I do everyday.

And, after seeing the trailers for Chappie, this reminds me a bit of what movie seems to be.



Carl (Feb. 9, 2015)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mini Movie Monday: Carl

Something I never thought I'd learn with a 2-year-old: YouTube is a vast and deep wasteland.

We have an iPad that Ellie likes to use sometimes, and what she likes to do on the iPad is watch YoutTube videos. Some of them are educational, things about colors, numbers, etc. But a lot of it is just dumb. Now, she's 2. I don't expect her to have an incredibly refined taste. Still. There's so much junk on YouTube.

Ellie seems to really enjoy three types of videos. The first are of adults opening surprise eggs. Some of the eggs are home made. These adults will take the plastic eggs many of us use at Easter and will fill them with cheap little toys and figurines. Then they film themselves opening the eggs. Thrilling. Other eggs are chocolate. They are wrapped in foil and come with toys inside.

The second type of video she likes are adults opening toys out of the box. That is exactly what it sounds like.

The third video type is the weirdest. Adults will play with toys, creating elaborate stories with all the different characters. And they don't care if they mix characters from different shows. Peppa Pig will play at Daniel Tiger's treehouse. And what really gets me is that these videos ore popular. Some have tens of millions of views. It's baffling.

So, to prove to myself that there are things worth watching on YouTube, I went looking for stuff I'd like. On Mondays for the foreseeable future I'm going to share what I find here. We'll call it Mini Movie Monday, because alliteration. First up is a short animated film called Carl. Hope you like it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Finding Faded Light now available

Finding Faded Light is now available at Amazon.
Click here to get your copy.

The government has collapsed, RomaCorp is rising in its place, and Weber Rexall threw the first punch in a fight with Roma that he and his friends weren't ready to finish. With Roma looking for him, he's fled New Eden for the Outer West, hoping to give his friends time to prepare for an inevitable second round. He just never expected that to take two years.

Scratching out a new life far from home, Rexall thought he had longer to stay out of Roma's reach. But with a hefty reward on his head, desperate thugs are eager to turn him in, and a relentless Roma security agent he knows all too well has come to bring him back.

Rexall could run again, but RomaCorp won't stop unless he can finish the fight he started. Yet to do that, he needs more help and resources than the Outer West can offer--and if he fails a second time, there won't be a third.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Finding Faded Light: Tomorrow and how you can help

So this is it. Tomorrow Finding Faded Light comes out, and you can finally stop hearing me talk about it. Well, talking about it so frequently.

I am putting final touches on the file I will upload to Amazon this evening, and, if all goes well, you'll be able to purchase it tomorrow morning.

I'm excited about this book. I think it's a good story. I think it moves Rexall in a good direction, the direction I need him to go for what I have planned for Book 3. It also introduces two new characters that you'll see more of in future books, including one that could support a whole series of stories on his own. (Full disclosure, I'm already planning a stand alone for this guy.)

But after I hit the publish button on this, the heavy lifting on my end is done. The writing and production is the only part of the publishing process that I have any real control over. Once a book is out in the world, the best I can hope to do is influence someone's buying decision, I can't make that person actually click the buy button. And this is where I need help from all of you. I want to ask you to do three things for me tomorrow, if I can.

Buy the book

This is fairly obvious. I write books because I love doing it, but I also do it to sell books. But there's more than pure greed as a motivation here. I also want to try and beat Amazon's algorithm, and the only way to do that is with strong and sustained sales.

A bit of an explanation: There is something at Amazon that authors call the 30 Day Cliff. It's something built into Amazon's algorithm that gives more weight to a book in the first 30 days of its release. On Day 31, a book that had been selling steadily will suddenly start to drop. For some books it's dramatic, like falling off a cliff. For others it's more gradual. But for all books it's real.

So how do you beat this bit of math? Honestly, I don't know. But I'd imagine that a book getting out of the gate strong and then maintaing something close to that level of sales for a sustained period would go a long way. That's why I need everyone to log in to Amazon tomorrow and buy a copy of Finding Faded Light. Let's get Amazon's attention.  Books that get their attention get promotion. Books that get promotion get sales. Sales help you avoid the cliff. At least that's the theory. Help me prove it.

Review the book

While I'll be thrilled if you buy Finding Faded Light, I'll be doubly thrilled if you actually read and review it. This is also part of beating the Amazon algorithm. Amazon likes reviews (A secret, authors do too). The more reviews a book has, good or bad, the more notice it gets from Amazon. That book is more likely to find its way into Amazon's engine and get a lift from promotion.

But other readers like reviews too. I know that I've bought a book that I was skeptical about simply on the strength of reviews. Or lack of strength. I've bought some cheap books simply because I thought "There's no way it can be that bad." It usually was. But, the point is that readers like reviews. They have real power to influence a purchase decision.

So, if you've taken the time to read the story then I'm hoping I can get a couple more minutes of your time and get a review.

Tell others about the book

If you follow me on any sort of social media then you know I haven't been shy about promoting this book. The cover has been everywhere. So have countdown graphics. I've been posting blogs pretty regularly. I feel like I've built up some good traction, but tomorrow is the key day. I will take all the visibility I can get. That's why I'm asking for your help. If you see a Facebook post coming from my author page, would you mind sharing it with your friends? If you see a tweet from me, would you mind retweeting it?

They say that someone needs to see a product multiple times before they buy it. The more I can get Finding Faded Light in front of people the better the chances of converting them to readers and then to fans.

OK, that's it. I never intended this post to be this long. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. And thanks, in advance, for any help you can provide tomorrow.