My final semester of college is winding down to completion, so I’m starting to get some of my creative energy back. This is one of the most writing-intensive semesters I’ve had during my college career, and it’s been draining. But it’s also a semester during which I’ve learned the most about how people operate in regards to the media. I’ve learned a lot of communication theories and been a part of several discussions about why people react to and interact with the media in the ways they do, which I think will not only be beneficial to my professional life, in that I believe I have a better understanding of how to potentially operate a company’s brand based on what I understand of consumer reactions to marketing and media, but also in the sense that it will make my characters more real. It will help to add to that third dimension that is so crucial to characters.

I think I’ll be able to craft a better novel with some of the information I’ve learned this semester also because I think I’ve learned how to better analyze society. I can look at an event and see different reactions and potentially come up with an idea as to why certain people reacted that way, be it gender or sexual bias, a matter of religion, or some form of communication theory as a result of whatever is currently being portrayed in the media. This is a good thing, and it’s also why I’m excited to officially reveal my next project:


A preliminary cover for DEADGOD


I know my last post indicated that I will be attempting to traditionally publish my next novel. That I will be attempting to land an agent. However, that’s really up in the air right now. Having some time to reflect since the release of The Rotten Apple, I like having so much control over my work, and DEADGOD has a lot of my personal viewpoints on society and religion–exaggerated to some degree–placed in a post-apocalyptic world that I think I really need a lot of control over. That being said, I may attempt to submit it to some smaller indie presses. But for now, allow me, if you will, to give you a sort of synopsis/description of what is turning out to be DEADGOD.

God is dead. Nuclear fallout has destroyed the planet, save for a chunk of  northeastern United States: An expanse of barren land surrounding a utopia owned by Koval Unlimited Security Force’s president, Tai Koval.

In the wasteland, the Insurgents live in the ruins of the cities, fending off Roamers–those men and women unlucky enough to have been poisoned by radiation, turning them into raving lunatics, feeding on living flesh.

There is no hope for salvation. There is no hope of a savior. Only one man still believes, still has faith in God. But that one man is shunned. A fool named Milton living among the Insurgents, never to have the respect of anyone.

The Insurgent pseudo-leader, a broken man by the name of Anton, leads the charge against Koval Unlimited, hoping to bring down the tyrannical government which has been plaguing them since before the fallout.

A world already corrupt beyond destruction falls deeper into chaos as a new war rages. As Milton begs for faith in God and Anton struggles to fight tyranny from government and religion, it seems as if what life remains is destined to crumble in his grasp…

…And perhaps it will.


As always, let me know what you think!


It’s here! It’s here! The prequel to The Rotten Apple (out March 22) is now available for the Kindle!

Get a little pre-Rotten-Apple action before the release The Crimson Apple Coverhere!

Why should you? Well, maybe I can entice you with a little description.

The city is seething with scumbags and slime balls. Darkness is not only a characteristic of night, but something the druggies and prostitutes and gangsters embody as they scour the city, selling drugs and sex and guns, keeping The Big Apple’s police force awake and churning at all hours. The filth of the city linger in dark alleys and hide in the shadows, lurking and plotting and scheming, trying to make their way in the dark city the best way they know how.

Naomi Blake, police officer for the NYPD, patrols the city with her partner, Rex, searching for the scum lingering in the shadows. Doing their duty to keep their city safe.

But, when a gruesome murder in a movie theater occurs, the city gets even darker. The Big Apple turns crimson.

Officer Blake must bring an end to the monster terrorizing the city, leaving only blood, pain, and death in his wake.

But at what cost?

I know, I know, exciting, right? Pick up a copy for just $0.99 and let me know what you think!

Assassin’s Creed IV – I Can Stop Whenever I Want

Ima via

No, I really can’t.

I barely was able to pull myself away to write this post, because apparently it’s Tuesday.

Two out of four of my classes were cancelled yesterday, which means I went to none. It’s Assassin’s Creed’s fault.

This game is good. Really, really good. Every time you finish something, there’s something new to do right away. The sea combat is exceptional, the ships, the cannons, boarding enemy ships, saving sailors stuck at sea, all of it.

I haven’t written a word since I got the game on Valentine’s Day (a present from my lovely wife). And I’m wondering if I’ll go through semi-withdrawal when I’m at class tomorrow. I don’t think it’ll get to be that extreme, but it’s safe to say the game will be lingering in the back of my mind for most of the day.

However, now that I have pulled myself away and tapped out a few words on this here blog post, I imagine I should be able to get some fiction on the page, seeing as how I’m releasing a short story in a couple of weeks–Something you all should be looking forward to, because I’m really looking forward to you reading it–It’s going to be great.

In other news, I finished edits on The Rotten Apple. All that’s left is to format it, order the proof copy, and give it another read through.

Yes. Be excited. I sure am.

Receiving The Cover Before Writing The Story

I had been considering writing a short story taking place in the world of The Rotten Apple for some time now, but I had always figured I would write it after The Rotten Apple was published. Just to keep things fresh and new while I work on the book’s sequel, which is still currently untitled.

However, about two days ago I got hit with some inspiration, and I decided I was going to write a prequel short story called The Crimson Apple, taking place before the events in The Rotten Apple. And, alas, it was born. I had no idea what I was going to do about artwork for the cover. I set a release date for March 8 to prep and polish a 10,000 word short story, so I had better get something figured out quick.

And that’s exactly what I did. I had no trouble finding an image to use, and a short while later I had developed a cover:

The Crimson Apple Cover

And I have to say, I’m pretty proud of how this turned out. It’s close enough in resemblance to The Rotten Apple‘s cover to see they’re related, but I think their pretty easy to distinguish from each other.

This is also the first time I’ve ever had the cover of a story before actually writing it. Neil Gaiman mentions how the same thing happened to him with American Gods. He had a title and a cover, but no story.

So, now I just have to finish the story. I’m just shy of 2,000 words into it, and I like where it’s going. Here’s the description of it:

The city is seething with scumbags and slime balls. Darkness is not only a characteristic of night, but something the druggies and prostitutes and gangsters embodied as they searched the city, selling drugs and sex and guns, keeping The Big Apple’s police force awake and churning at all hours. The filth of the city lingered in dark alleys and hid in the shadows, lurking and plotting and scheming, trying to make their way in that dark city the best way they knew how.

Naomi Blake, police officer for the NYPD, patrols the city with her partner, Rex, searching for the scum lingering in the shadows. Doing their duty to keep their city safe.

But, when a killer starts leaving mutilated bodies as a calling card, the city gets even darker. The Big Apple turns crimson.

Officer Blake must bring an end to the monster terrorizing the city, leaving only blood, pain, and death in his wake.

But at what cost?

What do you think? I’m really excited to get it finished and out to the world! And I’m hoping it’ll get people even more excited for The Rotten Apple!

Novella? Short Novel? Does It Matter?

There are books of all sizes. Does its length and what you call it affect how marketable it is? (Image credit: Lynn Kelley Author via WANACommons.)

When I was writing my first novel, the now-retired ESTRA Corp., I had no idea about, well, anything writing related, really. I was just putting words on the page. I didn’t know about character or story arcs, the three-act structure (Which I sometimes believe to be a frivolous rule, depending on the story,) or word counts. I was just writing. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to that time. Everything seemed simpler. However, I know I’m a much better writer now than I was then, so I’ll take increased proficiency over ignorance any day.

Now, when I write, before I begin planning I consider what length of book I want to write. I use it as more of a guideline than anything else. I’ll set a goal to write a 50,000 word novel, and I may or may not reach that goal. I don’t put in extra fluff to reach my goals. I just tell the story. Or, well, tell and show the story, I suppose. Which brings me to my main point: You’ve written this manuscript, and it’s “x” number of words. Okay, so, what is it? Sure, it’s a book. It may be garbage or a masterpiece, but is it a novel? A novella? A novelette? I know the rules are pretty loose, and there is a basic guideline, and some of it depends on the genre in which you’re writing. But, I’m also curious from a marketing standpoint.

A few weeks ago I was perusing Facebook instead of writing, and someone mentioned they had written a novella and were wondering how to go about marketing it, or if it was even worth publishing a novella. Someone then responded by saying that they would sell more books by calling it a short novel instead of a novella.

I don’t know if I fully grasp that. So, because people see “short novel” instead of “novella”–two things that are essentially synonymous–people are more likely to click the “buy” button? I don’t know if I “buy” that (HA!). Does it really matter what we call our story, as long as it’s good? As long as we’ve done our job as writers and told a good story, does it matter if it’s a short story or novella or novel or epic novel? It’s a book with characters and plot and setting and conflict, what does it matter what we call it based on length? As long as it’s a good story, I don’t see how giving it a length-based identifier has any impact on how marketable the book is.

What about you? Do you buy books based on length? Does the “title” of its length impact what you perceive of it? Is a longer book better than a shorter book?

The Mental Sweatshop 2.0


I’d like to welcome you to the new Mental Sweatshop. Sort of a new beginning, but more like an update of the old version. Newer, faster, sharper.

Why, you ask? Because it’s time I started treating this writing thing more seriously. Don’t get me wrong,  I’ve been serious about it the whole time. It’s always been more than a hobby for me, but now I need to step it up.


How am I going to do that? Exactly like this:

  • Set up a blogging schedule: You’ll be seeing posts from the Mental Sweatshop every Tuesday and Thursday. Said posts will range from various topics, including but not limited to: writing, books, sales, publishing news, guest posts, interviews, general updates, and things of that nature. Nothing different from what I normally post, just more consistent.
  • Step up my marketing game: Ever since I started as a public relations intern, I’ve noticed a growing interest in public relations and marketing. Mainly because such things can help me out as a writer. Knowing how to mingle with the public and learning the tips and tricks of marketing and public relations are one of the keys to being a successful writer. That and writing great books, of course. Now, how am I going to go about marketing?
    • By asking for more help from you, the reader. I’m going to be asking you to help me share posts and updates. I’m going to be making calls for guest posts, interviews swaps, and I’ll be giving out review copies of my books. I don’t want to blame this on introversion, but, as an introvert, it’s difficult for me to reach out to other people–one of the negative aspects of introversion–and I’m going to work toward combating that. I’m an indie writer, and I can’t do this alone. Besides, this writing thing is much more fun when you have people with whom you can share it!
  • Get more organized: I have to-doist, an organization website/program, which has been really helpful in setting some goals and all of that cool stuff. It’s been great for reminding me to do stuff, and those little numbers always stare at me from the top right corner of my browser whenever I’m surfing the internet instead of writing taking an extended writing break to collect my thoughts and recharge. However, I don’t think that’s enough. So, I’m going to try listing. I’ve heard excellent things about making lists, and I think it’s going to help a lot. Having everything I need to get done right in front of me, constantly reminding me, staring me in the face, telling me that if I want to do this full time someday then I’d better quit reading the negative comments on CNN’s Facebook posts and get some words on the damn page.


And there you have it. The Mental Sweatshop 2.0. Fully installed. Fully operational. Ready to go. Ready to impress.

Now, to break in this new version of my blog, I’d like to share The Rotten Apple‘s very first Goodreads review (from a beta reader).

The_Rotten_Apple_Cover“The Rotten Apple is a great noir novel that follows Naomi, a truly strong and badass female detective. Stocking immediately does a great job of putting you in the shoes of the main character, with constant subtle reminders that she’s a New York City cop in the 1950s. He also shows us a female character that’s tough but also has a past that makes her vulnerable. Very few supposed “strong” female characters are quite as well written as Stocking’s MC.

The action is quick and full of weight; you truly understand the gravity of the situation and that Naomi’s whole world is on the line. The bad guys are smart and terrifying, the romance is organic and realistic, and there are plenty of twists to keep you enthralled.”

I know, right? I’m excited too.

Make sure you add The Rotten Apple as “to read” on Goodreads, and get ready to pick up your very own copy March 22nd!

I’m A Teacher. Sort Of.

Just this year, a community center opened up in my town as a way to give kids a place to hang out and have fun in a more controlled environment. Essentially, to keep them off the streets where they are more likely to get in trouble. Not that there is a terrible problem with vandalism or anything in my town, but just as another way to keep kids in a good environment.

This community center is nice. Really nice. They have games and flat screens and a pool table and ping pong and all sorts of things. They also have classrooms, with is really interesting to me. I think they mainly use it for Sunday school type stuff, seeing as how it is run by the church, but the center is open to anyone and everyone, essentially. So, after doing some serious thought, I figured, “I know a fair amount about creative writing, and it would be cool to talk to some other people about it, get some ideas, maybe even teach a few people a thing or two. Why not setup some creative writing classes?”

And that’s exactly what I did. I happen to be friends with the director of the center, so setting is up was easy. And, in no time at all, I had six classes setup, open to the public, for just $10 a person.

However, all the excitement aside, I still have a nagging thought. Am I qualified to teach? I don’t have a master’s degree. What little teaching experience I have comes from being a teaching assistant and watching how my creative writing professors taught. I’m not a bestselling author, nor do I live off my writing. All of this sort of makes me feel like a hack.

Yet, I am a writer. I’m apparently proficient enough to freelance for a newspaper and to sell some books, making me a professional. My books have gotten some pretty good reviews, too, but I still don’t know if that qualifies me to actually teach anything. So, instead, I’m calling these creative writing seminars. I’m not necessarily teaching anything, because I don’t know if there really is a way to teach creative writing. There are tips and rules, but these are often broken and work out quite well, other times they don’t work out so well. It’s all about trial and error and knowing some basic ideas about how to write. You can’t exactly teach something like that.

So, my plan is to talk about what I do. What works for me, what processes I go through, and what I’ve done to get to where I am now. Not that I’m a wildly successful author, but I’ve had some amount of success. I’ve been through enough trial and error to where I think I can inform people of some of the pitfalls. And a lot of this will be based around writing for self-publishing, seeing as how that’s what I know how to do.

So, that’s my plan. These sessions are going to be very conversational. Well, hopefully, anyway. I have a specific theme set for each class (one on characters, one on dialogue, etc.) But I think in order to be successful I will have to know what types of readers and writers will be attending. So, I need to learn some things about these people. Who are their favorite authors? What are their favorite books? Do they have any experience writing? I’ll also be giving them a sort of “assignment” where they write a few page short story, after which I’ll be asking them how they felt writing it. If they liked writing it. What about it they liked, and things like that.

All in all, I think it will be a lot of fun. I’m pretty nervous, but I think once I get through the first seminar I’ll loosen up a bit. I’ve got all the lessons planned out, and I figure the sixth (last) seminar will focus on the steps of self-publishing. In a town like mine, where the main focus isn’t so much on creativity and reading and writing, I think it will be good to see if I can help positively influence that.

My Fear Of Agent Scams — Road To Traditional Publication

Let’s jump back in time about three and a half years. I decided I wanted to write a full novel. I had spent a lot of years writing partial ones but had never actually written one from beginning to end. So, I sat down and that’s exactly what I did. I hammered out a 50,000 word novel, and then thought, Now what? I had all these words compiled. All these characters.

After doing some digging, I learned about self-publishing. I hadn’t considered everything that self-publishing would entail. I just wanted to see my name in print. I did the work to write the book, so why shouldn’t I be able to publish it? That’s fine and dandy and all, but at that time I was quite naive. I didn’t know anything about writing, really. I didn’t know about the three act story arc, I hadn’t read anything online about the craft of writing, let alone Stephen King’s On Writing, one of the most helpful craft-related texts I’ve read; I didn’t know about beta readers, or drafts, or how important cover art really was. I didn’t know that all my friends and family wouldn’t be flocking to buy my book. I didn’t know about distribution or marketing or anything. I thought all I had to do was write the book, send it to my friend who agreed to edit it for me, read through her edits, and that was it. I had a book.

Well, I published that book. And, as I learned more about writing over the next couple of months, I retired that book.

I took it out yesterday, actually–one of the few copies of it in existence–after finishing the first draft of The Rotten Apple (Yay!). As I read through the first two pages, so many things jumped out at me. So many bad, bad things. It’s embarrassing. People paid for that book, and it wasn’t ready. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great story and has potential, but it wasn’t polished. It was barely a second draft!

Now, let’s jump ahead to the present. I now have five self-published books out. I’m not a bestselling author. I don’t live off my writing. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just saying that I’m not where I want to be in terms of my success. I suppose I might be getting there, I guess. And, once I finish college (which will be in May if everything works out), I think I’ll have a little more time to dedicate to marketing.

However, over the past few months I’ve been considering seeking out an agent and going for traditional publication. I’m not giving up on self-publishing. I’m just exploring other options. I love the freedom that self-publishing offers, but I’d still like to be traditionally published. Yet, it worries me somewhat. I’ve heard the stories of agent scams, and that’s what worries me the most. It’s not being rejected from an agent/editor/publisher, it’s knowing that I’m putting in all this work to try and be successful and do what I love, and someone out there is just trying to steal my money. I’ve heard that it’s not difficult to just slap your name on the Writer’s Digest website and call yourself an agent.

I have also considered submitting to some smaller presses that don’t require an agents, but I’ve set a “someday” goal for myself that I need to turn into a “right now” goal to get an agent and try to be published by Orbit Books. It’s something that I won’t handle the way I handled my first book. I won’t blindly stumble into this abyss of agents and queries without making sure I’ve done my research.

Re-Publishing Your Self-Published Work

With the ease of self-publishing (and I mean it’s physically easy to publish, not be successful at it), self-publishing companies have made it simple for authors to maintain complete control over their work–including making changes to it after publishing.

As far as I know–and please feel free to correct me–with traditional publishing, once a book is published, that’s it. There’s no going back and making changes or fixing something an editor may have missed. It’s out there for everyone until a new edition is printed. And even then that’s up to the publisher, not the author.

However, when it comes to self-publishing, the author can go back in and fix a typo or add a chapter or re-release a book with new or different content. Perhaps even a different ending, which is interesting. It’s a rather large change in the world of books, in that readers can read the same book but experience it differently. Perhaps you might give a book you didn’t like another chance because the ending is different, or they made significant changes to make it read faster, or they introduced a new character.

Personally, I think this is an interesting change to the book world. But, as someone who rarely ever reads a book twice, I don’t know if I’d go for reading something again if it had a different ending. I don’t think this happens all that often anyway. It will be interesting to see if things like this grow in the self-publishing world, and if traditional publishing will change up there tactics.

What do you think? Would you re-read a book if it had different content? Would you give a book you didn’t like another shot? Would you re-publish the same book with a different ending, or another significant change?