Kicking the lid off the casket.

Way back in 2017 I finished my first novel, Bitter Awakenings. I was pleased and overwhelmed, at the same time. I quickly edited it and found a cover designer assuming I could easily figure out most of the other parts of self-pubbing on my own. It was a horrible learning experience. I assumed I knew enough, I knew nothing. Information was sporadic, conflicting, and ended up leading me down many dead-end streets and roundabouts of confusion. I took a leap; I fell flat on my face. Trial and error abound and eventually, after spending way too much money to even get it somewhat out there into the world, I decided to leave it alone and walk away.

Originally planning on it being the only novel I would ever write, I soon realized that I had left Bitter Awakenings wide open for a second installment which evolved into three books that ended up having babies until it became a five-book series titled, The Keeper Chronicles. Every book had me acquiring new knowledge, new tactics, and introduced me to some very helpful people along the way. Sites like Grammarly, Draft2Digital, and a new cover designer that worked miracles at thebookkhaleesi.com and much more suddenly allowed those with bad “know-how” skills to get work out there and to be happy about it too.  

After five books and three novellas, I kept seeing my first book staring at me disapprovingly. See, I thought I could outrun the whole “leave it alone and move on” mentality I had built up. I thought I had left that whole bad experience in the past of hard lessons and ever steeper learning curves. I had always wanted to go back and edit/thin out my first book more but never found the time. Focusing on new work kept the old thoughts at bay. I was thundering through my new novella series, The AOA, and getting ready to wrap up the final pages of Season 1, Episode 3 when Covid-19 came a-callin’.

The pandemic hit, everyone’s world took a spin into chaos and craziness. I found myself home more, I found my hubs in the same boat sitting behind me. Both of us worked or tried. See, I can’t write effectively with someone behind me narrating their daily tasks or answering calls or even muddling through yet another zoom meeting. It weighed on me, I shelved Episode 3 of The AOA after trying to get back into daily writing and stewed. I wanted to write, I wanted to be creative and constructive yet this whole new “norm” was seriously kicking my butt. What would I do, what could I do?

I found myself drawn back to Bitter Awakenings. I found I could easily edit without too much fuss and interruptions; I could still feel like I was accomplishing things! I suddenly craved it, suddenly found myself deep in focus editing dialogue, snipping away fluffy bits to make the book flow better, to feel better. I kicked the lid off the casket exposing the rotting remains inside and decided to spray some cologne on the corpse and dress it up for Sunday dinner. What was originally a massive book of way too much ended up getting cut by a staggering 55 pages! It’s still a large book but now it resonates better with me, it smiles lovingly from a distance having finally been put right, or close enough.

I learned a lot through the years, I had to roll with quite a few punches. I’ve learned I can not write with noise behind me, but I can edit. I’ve also learned that with patience and time, one can better their world and beautify something that was once a tad on the ugly side. I enjoyed the experience so much, I’ve moved onto Twisted Reunions, Book 2, and will probably roll through all five in the series trimming and fixing minor mistakes or larger issues.

I’ll save all the unused and cut away body parts in a large document as one never knows when the urge to build something from bits and pieces will draw me to creation. The books will never be perfect in my mind, I’m an author and that’s how I roll, however, it will be better than it was and then some. When I finish, I’ll knowingly nod, softly close the lid, and sink the casket of my creations back into the earth to allow new works to spring forth like flowers in a cemetery.     

Happy Writing,

KJF

Random Book Review-A Sky Littered with Stories by R.D. Pires

I recently finished this book and have left a review on Amazon and Goodreads as well as here in case any of my followers would like to give it a read. A brilliant anthology of short stories, it’s one that will appeal to many. Below is my posted review as well as links. Enjoy, read, write, and embrace!

Five of Five stars!

A panoramic view of humanity.

In “A Sky Littered with Stories” by RD Pires, readers are taken on a winding tour of life with its varied ups and downs across an expanse of existence from birth to death. Within this collection of short stories, the emotions are ever-present and, much like the starry night above, are wide open for interpretation and meaning in our own lives while we gaze upon the light offered.

At its start, Pires’s work could be seen as a simple collection of short stories showcasing his work. Several pages in, readers are treated to the subtle brilliance hidden within. Weaving heart throughout, Pires takes his readers on a journey that seems to dance effortlessly between genres without overly saturating his work on one particular area of interest. Hints of the supernatural combine with drama and suspense while action blends flawlessly with budding romance coupled with fear. Each short story, something new. Each offering, a shifting perspective, an emotion checked off a hidden list. Expertly crafted, each display denotes a sense of our fragile existence, the mortal coil that ties us together. Although readers will be wanting to place Pires’s writing into a specific genre, doing so would only muddle the overall experience and diminish the appeal of how anthologies function. His work can be seen as all things, all of it in bits and pieces, beautiful, broken, dark, and light.

Within the stories, beyond the shifting parameters of Pires’s scenes, characters are well delivered and conceptually sound on all levels. We are pulled into their worlds and given access to moments, seconds of lives beyond our own. While the endings of most of the offerings follow a “good enough for now” or “happy for now” setting with some dropping off not so heart-felt, it does take some time getting used to this technique until we are made aware that maybe Pires’s goal was to force us to reminiscence, feel, or evaluate which worked flawlessly on so many levels in that regard. Readers will no doubt find enough detail in each story to be drawn in and allowed to form their own opinions on how each should effectively end or if what was given is enough to satiate.

Throughout, readers may find that Pires’s work operates much in the same way a television remote works. Each story seems to represent a channel change, to a show already in progress masterfully crafted for our appeal that works double duty to invoke a feeling, bring forth a long-forgotten experience of our lifetimes be it love, loss, illness, or the oddity of a life lived on a spinning ever-changing planet. Given enough detailed information and characterization to interest us before the scene/channel is changed, each story leaves us with a different emotion, a new experience, a shifting perspective. Lingering on the mind longer than the page count of each, the stories encourage additional thinking on the readers’ part, exploration of scenarios and possibilities. One could easily see an additional anthology on Pires’s part containing a collection of “what happened next” or “later that same day” of some of his stories but the chance of souring the emotional longevity of his initial work would make that a dicey proposition.

“A Sky Littered with Stories” is a journey through a shifting landscape of people and places throughout timelines that mirror our own experiences and the emotions accompanying each. Thoughtful and paced affectionately, Pires’s work stands as a definitive example of the possible fullness and ultimate briefness of life in its many colored and beautifully fractured parts. Shining bright or dimly lit through space and time, each character is all of us, each makes an appearance, and all have presence and meaning among the backdrop of humanity. Wonderfully crafted.    

Amazon Link:

Leave a comment, a hug, or tell me what you enjoy reading!

-KJF

Random Book Review-Rotten Man’s Throne by Tyler R. Martin

While I don’t usually delve too much into poetry, I have found myself increasingly drawn to several genres and areas of writing outside my norm of supernatural/fantasy/horror since we’ve all been experiencing stay at home quarantine type living the past few months.

Listed below is one of my first reviews for a collection of poetic offerings along with the Amazon link. Supporting indie and self-published authors has become a passion of mine and if you find this particular review entices you or any of the others I’ve listed through the years, take a chance, read, love, embrace!

Four out of five stars!

From the start, the poetic offerings of Rotten Man’s Throne by Tyler R. Martin could be viewed as the musings of a drunkard and, in some ways, it brilliantly reflects that assumption. As the pages turn and the words flow, however, we are led further into his world and the creative haunting remains of an emotional battlefield that sheds light on not only the creator but also ourselves.

Some of the pieces displayed within Martin’s work carry with them a dark undertone, a few more so than others, but each has a way of lingering in the mind long after one’s initial read through. Although rather short and coming in at about 34 pages, Martin delivers a well-rounded collection that not only defines his talent but also clearly illustrates the inner workings of life, love, loss, and the aftereffect of living a little too dangerously.

The emotion within is raw, the imagination oftentimes allowed to run parallel with real-life scenarios. While many readers will no doubt feel that Martin describes bits and pieces of their own lives, he goes one step further and includes the entire expanse of our emotionally shared human existence. Readers are led through a gamut of good, bad, black, white, and the gray areas we inevitably stumble upon throughout our lifetimes while making us realize that we each share many of the same tribulations, many of the same trials. With this approach, we find that, although the end of the road differs for each, many of the paths crisscross through space and time for us all. 

Coming off as one part dark and reflective, one part sarcastically boastful, and one part emotionally driven to breaking, Martin showcases his talent for prose by including hidden meanings, deeper feelings, bits of fantasy, and exposed traumas in every piece. While in need of some slight tweaking regarding spacing issues with poem title headers, Martin evidences his potential to soon become a masterfully crafted author of poetry. The book cover is hand-drawn and while some may take offense at the crudeness of its design, it fits the work perfectly as it evokes feelings and symbolism as well as visual representation into understanding Martin’s creations. Given four stars, it weighs heavier on the mind and heart upon a second read through than originally noticed and is deserving of a read by others for the depth of emotions and creative flair alone.   

Through his chosen words, readers will find perfected visuals and feelings both horrid and lovely, heartbreaking and rejuvenating. Mingling fantasy and reality, darkness and light, Martin takes his readers on a journey through previous pains and joys, creative futures, envisioned outcomes, thought-provoking revelations, and everything in between.  A man open and unashamed but guarded and distant, a man somewhat broken and hell-bent for destruction sharing space alongside one fighting for love and laughter. He can be seen as a lonely man lost in thought at the end of a smoke-filled bar lamenting about life, about times long gone as a warning to others coupled with a prideful mantra, and one that eagerly shares the views of a well-traveled lifestyle while favorably reflecting on the feeling of one moment in time. Brief, unapologetic, real.    

Amazon Link:

Stay safe, stay strong! Read often, write just as much. 😉

-KJF

Random Image Day!-#43 (Counting Stars)

I, much like many at the present moment are, am dealing with a nearly endless cycle of stay at home worries. Some of us have navigated this new way of living in various ways, others have further cemented themselves into the realm of hermits.

It’s been a trying time for us all and, as time progresses, can clearly be defined as a turning point in our ideals, belief systems, and way of living. Society is shifting, thoughts are changing. I do not think we’ll ever go back to the “way it was” but it is my deepest hope that we’ll rise up, regardless of how long it takes, with greater connections to those around us, for the betterment of the world spinning right outside our securely locked doors.

For me, writing is an escape. I use it to drown out the world around me as much as possible. In those newly created worlds and developing characters, I control, I rule, and I choose the direction even when those within its pages clearly have other plans. It’s a way to control something tangible, to still the nerves, to calm the mind when its needed most and I think, or at least I hope, many of my fellow writers will agree it’s the same for them as well.

A few months ago when this all was just a brief mention on the nightly news thousands of miles away I was busy diving headfirst into a new series, this time a novella series based around superheroes. You can see the included picture below. 😉 Yes, totally tooting my own horn.

It took off in my mind and I allowed it, it grew and began manifesting into several different things all blossoming from my overall need to drown out the world around me by firmly situating myself in one of my own creation. I didn’t think I could do it, I didn’t know it was even possible but within the span of a few months I had managed three 26-32K word novellas which ended up being roughly one a month. I decided to keep going, I have to, I owe it to my characters as much as I need to escape.

The main problem I’m facing is the jumping off of one genre to another. I usually write supernatural/paranormal and general fantasy, but to suddenly bounce into a genre considered sci-fi and mostly superhero fantasy it took a few moments to navigate a new world. I have to say there was definitely a learning curve to narrow down my writing for the sake of smaller work when I have a tendency to be very wordy, which by now is probably obvious to most.

During the past few months, it also got me to thinking…Is is common for authors to skip genres? Is it normal for writers to try their hand in several genres to see which they prefer or is just seen as chasing the buck or running after the green dragon? If you did it, were you successful? Would you do it again? Thoughts are always welcomed. 🙂

Now, as I sit and work on finishing up the first draft of Episode 3, of The AOA– Season 1 I’m more determined to continue, satisfied in what I’ve created but wanting so much more.

I have a whole list of books waiting patiently from other self-pubbed authors for a read through and I could not be more excited about the diversion. Anything to take me away from the news, away from the fear, the confusion, the endless shifting information is regarded with the highest of praise, as a savior, as a helping hand and shoulder.

In the world of writing we tend to isolate on a regular basis. Sometimes, now more than ever, we could use a little interaction, a little escape, a little peace of mind knowing someone like us is out there, writing, planning, counting the stars.

Stay safe, stay strong. Write, read, and embrace the world around you even if only while glancing out the windows. Much love.

-KJF

Random Book Review- 12:23 by Patrick F. Johnson

I just finished reading and decided to leave a quick review. Sci-Fi fans who are aching for a quick two-hour read will no doubt thoroughly enjoy this fast-paced action/adventure offering by Patrick F. Johnson. I have left a review at Amazon and Goodreads. If it’s something you may be interested in give it a look and take it out for a spin. Support authors, read for the love of reading!!  Review and link listed below!

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Johnson’s short story offering, “12:23” creeps ever so quietly from the shadows offering little clues to the overall grand scheme before it rapidly crests and freefalls into science fiction thrills and chills that lasts until the final page. Cram packed with enough moments to fill a full-length novel, Johnson provides just enough backstory with the when and how to effectively draw readers in before he turns his creation on its ear destroying everything around him.

What starts as a genuine look at the world of writers soon switches gears into a science fiction mind-bending adventure that packs a punch. At the start, readers are introduced to aspiring authors Kim and Dylan who end up in the same place, at the same time strangely aware of each other but have never met. Supporting characters are introduced to the mix and, spoilers aside, the oddities and similarities quickly escalate cranking the story’s pace into overdrive and sending it rocketing into a whole different feel in the process.

Johnson’s ability to pepper his work with juicy tidbits of information throughout the breakneck speed of 12:23 only further affirms his expertise to great storytelling and the less is more tactic that keeps readers fully entranced by the magic within. While Johnson does answer some of the questions that come about within 12:23, like many a great sci-fi offering before it, others remain to allow readers to formulate opinions and to stew over the possibilities that a sequel may come along shedding new light on the main story and sending us off on another adventure.

Walking the line between mystery and science fiction, Johnson masterfully explores each grandly during the two-hour adventure he has created that will no doubt entice and titillate fans of both. Reading through, 12:23 feels as if it derives a little bit of inspiration from the television series “The Twilight Zone” before morphing effortlessly into the film “Independence Day,” and I for one could not have been more thrilled to sense it as I greedily devoured the entire story in one sitting.

Although a quick read for most and one that many will wish had carried on at least another twenty pages to slow down the white knuckle ride we all bought tickets for, 12:23 gives us everything we want in a science fiction short story. If a suspenseful mystery featuring trippy head games, driven characters mingling with aliens, odd places, spaceships, and the pew-pew of laser beams wrapped around a story with heart gets your blood pumping, Johnson’s 12:23 will not disappoint.

 

Amazon link:

 

Happy Reading-

KJF