Stories, Lists, and Other End of Year Nonsense

Well, the end of the year is upon us, but there's no need to panic: since 2015 was neither a prime number nor a year ending in zero, I don't think anyone's prophesying the end of the world. And yet... and yet... wouldn't that be the ideal time to strike? When we're all complacent in our assumption that this December 31st WON'T portend the end of civilization as we know it?

Ah, well. If it happens, it happens. It's not like we haven't all lived through worse.

Lindsay and I wrapped up another year of holiday gluttony over at Mainlining Christmas. I already mentioned one story I posted, The Collector of Old Toys, so I won't do that again. I had two more, as well: The Society of the Worldly Mind is sort of a spin on a murder mystery, while Old Gods of the North is best described as post-apocalyptic Christmas sword & sorcery. So go click on that if you want to find out what the hell I'm talking about.

Also, I'd be remiss in omitting Lindsay's first piece of holiday fiction, Juliette and the Christmas Invitation. It's a short fantasy piece you should definitely check out.

Of course, that's just the tip of the Christmas iceberg. We reviewed dozens of movies, TV specials, and holiday episodes this year, including (surprisingly) quite a few that didn't suck. Also, I posted a list of ten deadly Christmas elves. Go read that, if nothing else.

But, as much as I might wish otherwise, not everything can be Christmas. I wrote up a retrospective of all the 2015 movies I've seen, organized by preference. It was a good year for movies, overall, even with Age of Ultron being kind of a letdown. I'm particularly happy to see Hollywood investing in (and being rewarded for) genre movies with female leads. I've been doing these lists for quite a while, and this is first time I was able to give the #1 spot to a film where the main character was a woman. More than that, the top three fell in that category. There's a lot more that needs to be done in terms of representation, but it's a fantastic sign.

Setting aside pop-culture for a moment, 2015 was an extremely productive year for me. Without getting into detailed page counts, I more or less wrote and revised two novels this year, which is more than I've ever managed in the past.

I'm hoping to keep that momentum going into 2016. I've already written a draft of the third novel in the Citadel of the Last Gathering, and I've started the fourth book. For those of you who haven't reached the last page of A Tide of Ice, the title of book three is "A Unique Sickness of Spirit."

It's due out next fall, hopefully in time for Halloween. If you enjoyed the first two, I think you'll like this one, as well. It's still early in the revision process, but I really like how it's coming along.

One more thing: my New Year's Resolution. Actually, it's the same I've had every year since I was seventeen - to give up New Year's Resolutions once and for all. For some reason, I've never managed to pull it off.

Thanks to everyone who's been following along. I hope 2016 treats all of you well!

What's this Under the Tree?

This is unexpected. There's an extra gift here, and it's addressed to you.

I know we usually wait until Christmas, but it says to open now. We probably shouldn't argue. But what in the world could it be?

It looks like a book. Only... I think there's more here.

I was right! It's a whole bunch of books. In fact, it's ALL MY BOOKS! And you're getting them absolutely free.

Well, the Kindle copies, anyway. Hey, what do you expect - paperbacks don't grow on trees. But, from now through December 26th, you can download free copies of For Love of Children, Facsimile, A Count of Five, Tide of Ice, and Tending the Fire. Get them now; read them later.

And the best part of digital copies is you can keep them and still re-gift them. Just send your friends the links in lieu of a real gift and remind them it's the thought that counts.

Short Holiday Story: The Collector of Old Toys

I'll be posting three (at least I think it'll be three) short holiday stories over at Mainlining Christmas this year. The first is a piece of magical realism called The Collector of Old Toys. Head over and check it out if you're interested.

Christmas is Coming

The way I see it, there are two responses to Christmas. The first is to run from it, try to escape its reach. You won't succeed, of course - it's too large, too encompassing. Entire religions have vanished into its maw: what hope do you have getting away?

There's an alternative, but few are willing to seriously consider it. You can turn around and face it. Stare it in the eye and gaze upon its awful majesty. Some say this path leads to madness.

But I am not one to flee, and I understand well enough that, while you can run from Christmas, you can't hide.

This cheerful yuletide revelation lies at the core of an annual project my wife and I work on during the holiday season, a little something we call Mainlining Christmas. It's a blog we started in 2010. Every year, we gorge ourselves on as many Christmas specials, movies, and books as we can stomach. I listen to nothing by Christmas songs from Thanksgiving until Christmas Day, and - for fun - we chart our descent.

I've published thirty pieces of holiday fiction on the blog over the years, and I'm planning to add at least a few more stories this year.

I'd like to invite any of you to join us. At a distance, of course.

Either that, or you can run with the others, try to convince yourselves there's a place where the holidays can't reach you.

Now who's crazy?

A Tide of Ice is Available!

My new novel, A Tide of Ice, is now available in print and for Kindle.

A Tide of Ice is the second novel in The Citadel of The Last Gathering, continuing Alaji's story from A Count of Five as she travels into an era of sword and sorcery. Here's the sales pitch:

A New Land. A New Gate. An Age of Steel and Blood.

Alaji has seen impossible wonders and faced incredible dangers in places beyond imagination. She has already traveled in time over a thousand years, but she is about to learn that is less than a heartbeat in the life of the world. To reach the Citadel of the Last Gathering, her journey will need to take on a far grander scale, one where geology changes like the seasons, where nothing is constant.

Now she finds herself in an era where imperious wizards create powerful monsters and unleash them upon the lands of their enemies. But these threats may be nothing compared to the men and women who are able to thrive in such harsh times.

If you haven't gotten a hold of the first book, you'll want to give that a read before picking up the sequel. To make it easy, I'm making Kindle copies of A Count of Five free this coming Saturday and Sunday. Grab a copy, give a read, then buy the sequel if you like it.

I think you will.

Updates and News - October 2015

It's been too long since I've posted here, so I wanted to provide at least a little news. Lindsay and I are in the process of revising A Tide of Ice, the sequel to A Count of Five, and still plan to get that out in November. Expect an exact date and cover reveal soon.

I've also been working on a few short stories, some of which I'll be posting over at Mainlining Christmas later this year.

What? You think it's too early to think about Christmas? You're more interested in Halloween? Humbug!

Tell you what: I'll meet you halfway. Here are five Christmas horror pieces I've written to help ease the pain of Christmas gradually overtaking the world one department store aisle at a time:

The Christmas Thief: A horror story about a robber who discovers he isn't the only thief out on Christmas.

The Perfect Gift: Is it easier or harder to go shopping after a zombie apocalypse? Find out here!

A Man of Snow: Is consciousness a gift or a curse? This dark fantasy story offers a different account of life as a magical snow elemental than you're probably used to.

Heirlooms: A simple, classic ghost story.

Double Feature: A killer Santa Claus is on the loose. Again.

Get A Count of Five FREE Until 8/31

I've got some good news for those of you who have been wanting to check out my new fantasy novel, A Count of Five, but also wanted to save $3 for a rainy day. From now until Monday, August 31, you can pick up the Kindle version absolutely free.

That's right! COMPLETELY FREE!

But only until Monday. After that, the price returns to $2.99. So don't wait, or you won't have enough money left over to buy... I don't know. Can you still buy a Starbucks coffee for three bucks?

Whatever. The point is you should go grab a digital copy. And probably tell your friends and loved ones to do the same.