My daughter is a wrecking ball!

So yesterday my family went out for dinner. We have a mini-van, or to be more accurate, a mobile living room. The thing is super comfy. The sliding door was open. My daughter Olivia stood just inside the open door. As I approached, she jumped into my arms and I twirled her to the ground. She laughed and said the movement felt like a tornado. I told her she was a tornado.

“Meh,” she told me. “I’m more of a wrecking ball.”

Too funny.

My next novel is based on Olivia and her two younger brothers. The main character’s name is Maddie, but her personality is mirrored after my daughter. Maddie is spunky, rebellious and intriguing–an overall great main character who isn’t your stereotypical girl. And those words aren’t mine own, but of someone who has read the novel’s first chapter and provided constructive feedback.

Olivia’s comment yesterday reminded me of Maddie, because like my daughter, she is certainly a wrecking ball. In light of this revelation, I thought it would be fun to share the first chapter with you in the Maddie Jones saga. I’ve posted it below, so read and enjoy…and let me know what you think.

Maddie Jones & the Curse of the Terracotta Warriors

Chapter 1

The worst day of my life started like this.

I was climbing the rock wall in gym class, hoisting myself up one colorful handhold at a time, when I heard an angry voice yelling at me to speed up.

“You can do better than that, Jones,” Coach Sinclair, my pudgy P.E. instructor whose whistle rested on his round pot-belly, shouted from below.

I grunted, grabbed a yellow handhold, and climbed a bit higher. Ever since the first week of school, I’d grown to hate the rock wall. It was my worst activity in the whole gym class. Maybe it was because I lacked the upper body strength of boys. Or the sturdy legs of a sprinter. I refused to believe it was because I was a thirteen year old girl.

“Let’s go, Miss Jones,” Coach Sinclair blew his whistle. “Two minutes to reach the top!”

“You know, Coach,” I said as sweat dripped into my eyes. “I heard a rumor that you didn’t make your high school football team. Is it true?”

“What?” he barked. “That’s it, you’re running suicides next.”

I groaned. Me and my big fat mouth. It got me in trouble more than I cared to admit.

I finally reached the top. I struck the bell Coach Sinclair required us to hit. It chimed, signaling success. Then I repelled down thirty feet to the basketball court.

Coach Sinclair was there to greet me with arms folded across his chest and a toothy grin. “Suicides, Miss Jones. You’ve earned them.”

“I’m beginning to think you enjoy torturing kids,” I told him.

His grin widened. “What? Me? Never.” Then he stepped aside, motioning to the lines on the court I’d need to touch as I ran back and forth.

“This class sucks,” I said.

“That’ll be ten additional suicides,” he said. “Another word, and it will be ten more.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but thought better of it. My mouth got me into this mess. I doubted it would get me out of it.

So I crouched into a running stance and took a deep breath. But before I could begin, the gym doors opened and in walked Principal Watson in her business skirt and blouse. Two armed police officers joined her. Principal Watson looked around, her eyes settled on me, and she pointed.

“There she is,” her voice echoed across the spacious gym floor. “That’s Maddie Jones.”

The officers nodded to Principal Watson, then began walking my way.

Holy cow! What was this about? Did they find out it was me who stole the cow and put him in the school’s library? Or was it the issue with the front office’s aquarium, when the fish went missing and somehow appeared in bathroom toilets all over campus? I promised Principal Watson I had nothing to do with the incident when confronted a month ago, but apparently she wasn’t convinced. What more did she need?

Perhaps she wanted the missing fish. I’d kept one. He was too cute to give back.

The officer’s shoes thudded against the court, their handcuffs clinking as they approached.

I had to act fast. I wasn’t going to Juvie. Not again.

I don’t remember running, but the next thing I knew, I was sprinting to the girls locker room, where a back exit led to the outside tennis courts and football field.

I heard one of the officer’s shout, “Hey, Maddie, wait!” and he lunged to catch me.

But I was too fast, and seconds later, my Nike tennis shoes were kicking up grass and dirt as I sprinted through boys running scrimmages for next Tuesday’s football game.

Look, I know I said I’m not much of a sprinter. But when running from trouble, you’d be amazed how quickly your legs can move.

And you know what’s crazy? Running from the police wasn’t even why this was the worst day of my life.

Just wait, things are about to get interesting.

Bummer! Last days of summer vacation, but keep calm and write on.

Back to school

Welp, summer break will officially be over for me Monday. It’s back to school, to teach those kids a thing or two about Civics and History. I enjoy my time in the classroom with my students. I’m looking forward to getting started, but I’m also sad to see the break end. I have enjoyed spending time with my wife and children tremendously. Usually, I’m in a funk for a few days once I start back to work. I will miss my family. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still see them every day, but my time with them will be lessened quite a bit–especially once my doctorate school starts back up at the end of August. Phew, boy. It’s going to get busy, and it will happen quick. Still need to find time to write.

I enjoy a challenge.

The year isn’t over yet. So far, 2017 has seen two book releases from me: The Hero’s Ballad, an anthology of award-winning short stories, and Adventures in the Arcane, Volume IIan anthology comprised of a myriad of authors written in a fun pulp style with arcane elements. Both are great reads, with strong tales filled with adventure, thrills and heart. But guess what. I still have one more book to release before the year is through.

That’s right. Medical MECH will be my second novel, a book written for middle school kids. The story follows thirteen-year-old Riley Davis as he attempts to stop a robot invasion from destroying his town. He discovers that the only way to defeat the machines is with music, and his bass guitar works best. But Riley will need the help of a punk rocker and her gang of misfit musicians if he is to succeed. Can Riley stop the robots before it’s too late?

Find out in September when Medical MECH hits store shelves. So summer is pretty much over, but life keeps moving forward. Although I will be super busy by the end of this month, I plan to keep devoting time to my writing projects. Not only in the form of Medical MECH, but also with the first novel in the Adventures of Maddie Jones series: Maddie Jones & the Curse of the Terracotta Warriors. Plus, I have set a goal for myself to send out my novels to literary agents this fall in order to secure representation.

Busy. Busy. But I believe hard work pays off.

Keep calm and write on

Hey you! Yeah, you! Will you like my Facebook author page?

Join me on Facebook

I know. Corny title. But hey, I finally got off my lazy butt and created an author Facebook page. I’ve been meaning to do it for quite some time. I just never got around to it. I blame the everyday hustle and bustle of our lives, I suppose.  But I told myself this week, “No more excuses,” and I got to work and created the page. Now you can follow me on Facebook if you’d like. Please do. I’d love to garner a group of followers who can help spread the word about my novels. Anyway, that was all. Nothing else to see here. Except…

… if you look closely enough at my Facebook page, you’ll notice a rough sketch for my next novel’s book cover, courtesy of the talented artist Rob Woodrum. Medical MECH is still in the pre-publication stages, but it’s getting close to complete. Stay tuned for more.

What do you get when authors, readers, food, and storytelling combine?

A good time, that’s what. Holy cow! Countless people converged on the City Arts Cooperative Saturday to buy their copies of Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II. Readers were treated to food and beverages, as well as excerpt readings from all the authors present. Readers were also able to purchase the authors’ additional novels, comics and artwork. I sold quite a few additional books, especially after I read the introduction to Curse of the Conquistador–which you can check out on my short stories page here on this very website. Warning! You’ll be left with a cliffhanger and will end up buying Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II in order to find out what happens to Maddie and her adventure inside her dad’s museum.

Anyway, I had an awesome time with my fellow authors. After the book event, we ended up going out for pizza and beer, fellowship and laughs. I feel blessed to be included in such an amazing anthology along such talented people. At the pizza joint, there was even an art show going on. A lot of people out there call me an artist, being a writer an all, but I never think of myself in that way. I’m simply trying to entertain people through story, and hope to one day make enough money to write more than I currently do. The artwork on display was quite impressive. I tend to not really get art–I’m a fairly simple guy, ask my wife–but I appreciate it nonetheless.

If you couldn’t make it, or live far away as I know some of you do, then check out the pictures from the event. My next novel, Medical MECH, debuts in September…so expect more news on upcoming book events this fall. Plus, there’s Creative Con to consider. Great stuff on the horizon.

Book trailers are cool!

Hey everyone! Click on the image to see the book trailer for Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II. The book is available now! And don’t forget, join the authors tomorrow at the Fringe Gallery at City Arts Cooperative (318 Luverne Ave., Panama City, Florida 32401) from 4-7 pm to get your copy. I hope to see you there!

Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II

Wait, whaaat? You’re saying I can read your next story now…and for free? Crazy!

I know, crazy right? Like the title of this blog post reads, you can check out my next story for free, without buying it. But there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. Sorry about that. The thing is, the story is only partially available. What do I mean? Well, I’ve added a new Short Stories tab to my website. There, you can read the first few pages of Curse of the Conquistador, available now in Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II.

Warning! You’ll be left with a cliffhanger. You’ll find yourself buying the book to finish the tale, which is only $0.99. An additional warning. The book includes 7 additional stories just as great as mine. You won’t be able to put the book down. You may lose sleep. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

On top of adding a sneak peek of Curse of the Conquistador, I’ve archived my older stories on the Short Stories tab, too. Now you can read Toes in the Sand any time you’d like. Plus, a former student of mine wrote a quirky story about a Wizard who plummets from the sky and desperately needs a broom. So check out the tales and pick up Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II. But remember the warning.

Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II

When Nostalgia Meets Gaming

Nostalgia can have a powerful tug at your heartstrings. We often romanticize our past. It doesn’t matter if we were struggling through difficult times, embracing a new adventure, or growing into adulthood, memories will flood our thoughts and remind us of an easier time. Nevermind that living through the event may have challenged us on every level: physical, spiritual, environmental, mental. Nostalgia tells us we lived and we experienced. 

Anyway, all those philosophical thoughts are likely going to be wasted on this post, because from here on out I’ll be talking about the nostalgia of a video game. But it isn’t really the game which brings about the memories, it’s the events I lived during the time I played the game.

The game is Final Fantasy XII. It originally came out October, 2006. My wife and I were newly married. I worked at Shark’s Tooth Golf Club, was still studying to become a teacher (being an author wasn’t even a thought), and I was extremely happy. I can still remember the night I beat the game, because my wife worked all evening long on a college paper while I stayed up and played FFXII. Procrastinator. She should have completed her paper early like I did.

I am pleased to say I’m still extremely happy, married to the same wonderful woman, have three beautiful children and all that jazz…but like I said earlier, times seemed easier then. Chalk it up to nostalgia.

Final Fantasy XII was recently re-released on the PlayStation 4. The game follows orphan, Vaan, as war looms on the horizon. The Archadian Empire is invading neighboring kingdoms, and Vaan’s home of Dalmasca is next. When Dalmasca’s king is assassinated, Vaan, a sky pirate, an exiled knight, and a princess thought dead must uncover the mystery behind the Archadian Empire’s invasion in order to restore their home. It’s a political tale filled with intrigue, airships, and war.

I haven’t played the game in years, and I’m excited to dive into the world of Ivalice once again. The new version of the game even features a new leveling up system, so even though I have beaten the game before, parts of it will feel new and fresh. Add improved graphics and a re-orchestrated soundtrack, and my game sessions will be filled with both fun and nostalgia.

So what are you playing? Shoot me an email and let me know.

Final Fantasy XII

Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II

Hey everyone! Check out this book: Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II. Included inside are eight thrilling stories. And wouldn’t you know it, I’m one of the guest authors. That’s right! I wrote a story called Curse of the Conquistador, an adventure about three kids trapped in their dad’s museum while they’re being haunted by the ghost of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. And you can read it if you purchase this book!

My story isn’t the only awesomeness you’ll get your grubby hands on. You’ll also be treated to seven additional tales guaranteed to set your heart racing. Inside you’ll find femme fatales, mysterious islands, deadly dream worlds, and classic pulp style adventures featuring Captain Gideon Argo, Captain Bullshark Dempsey, Black 23 Agent Dorian Drood, and demon fighter Dominic Ashwood and the wolf shamans Waylon and Jester.

But wait, there’s more! Pulp legend Ron Goulart has one of his stories printed within. Ron has been writing award-winning sci-fi/fantasy stories and novels since the 1970s. It’s way cool to have one of my stories included with such an iconic author.

Lock your door, brew some coffee, and light a candle. Then open this book and prepare to be thrilled! Simply click HERE or on the picture below to get your copy now! I’ve also added the book to my BOOKS page, so you can browse this site to get access, too.

Adventures in the Arcane, Volume II