Writing & Indie Thoughts

Cross Genre Promotion by Authors from Around the World

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Many thanks to Michael Fedison for setting up this great cross genre book promotion, and also for including me in it. The authors included here from all around the world each have special deals for you starting from today and right up to the twenty second of November, so zoom on over to their sites to stock up on your favourite genres at very special prices. I’ve got a couple of deals and freebies too, which I’ll share the links to right after sharing the list of the fabulous authors taking part in this, with the genres that they write in next to their names. Every single one of them has discounts happening, so just click on their monikers below to check them out.
Barbara Monier Contemporary Literary Fiction
John Howell Fiction Thriller
Michael Fedison YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Shehanne Moore Smexy Historical Romance – Yes that word is indeed Smexy and not a typo
Janice Spina Middle-Grade Junior Detective Series
Luciana Cavallaro Historical Fiction – Mythology Retold
Evelyne Holingue Middle-Grade Fiction
Sonya Solomonovich Time-Travel Fantasy
Jennifer Chow Adult Cozy Mystery – The beginning of a new series
Nicki Chen Historical Fiction – WWII China
Katie Cross YA Fantasy
There they all are! Now it’s my turn. Firstly I must apologise for a mistake that I made and only discovered this morning. A couple of my discounted books are only available at the low price at Amazon.com and another couple are only available at Amazon.uk. I never realised that it was one or the other and not both for these deals, but next time I’ll make sure that they’re all on special at the same time.  Just click on the cover pics to follow the links to Amazon. The freebies should be free on all Amazon platforms.
First up, on Kindle Countdown priced at 99 cents from now to 18 November at Amazon.com is The Absolute Indie. It contains all you need to know if you’re publishing on Amazon and CreateSpace for the first time, or if you’ve already published but have found it tricky. Also for those of you who have yet to include the NCX table of contents which is now mandatory on Amazon, this book will show you how to do that – easy peasy. It also has loads of links to places and freebies useful to Indie authors and includes a simple how to section on making your own covers.

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Number two on Kindle Countdown for 99 cents at Amazon.com to 18 November is Echoes of Narcissus – my novel about a woman who discovers that she’s married to a malignant narcissist, and her journey out of there, with a bit of luck and the help of new friends.


Number one Kindle Countdown for Amazon.uk only at 99 cents is my African Me & Satellite TV. A story about racial hatred set in Zimbabwe, and about a woman finding her own inner strength and the ability to stand up for her beliefs.

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Number two Kindle Countdown for Amazon.uk only at 99 cents is Sands of Time, the first book in my Sci-Fi series about the universal battle between very real and physical good and evil. Dragons, demons, and sentient chickens ahead! Books two and three in this series will be released in January 2015.

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Finally two freebies for all over the place. First is my Fly Birdie. A short story about a little bird, a magical tree cutter, and a mystical tree, and how these three things help Hannah learn to love again.

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Lastly is Skin – the final freebie. A short story about mankind. I have actually completely changed the ending to this story since it was first published, so if any of you actually bought it, please let me know and I will send you a copy of the new version if you want it.

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Covers Reveal

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For my two new books coming out in December/January…….
Firstly, a really MASSIVE thank you to Chris Graham for making me three brand new fabulous covers so quickly. Also for his vision as far as what I wanted was concerned, and his patience with this old scribbler. He’s cool like that – could be a little psychic ape thing going on there I think. Cover design is far from easy. You can look at a gorgeous cover and think, well, that looks easy peasy. Just plonk a picture down, and then plonk some text on it. It really isn’t that simple though. You have to have a very specific kind of EYEBALL, and for my Science Fiction covers, Chris has the kind of eyeball that I like.
When I originally plotted my Shadow People series, I planned on it being open ended, with a minimum of seven books based on the huge outline I had prepared. I ordered the first four covers from Chris wanting wildly different colours, and also various images to reflect what I had planned for each book, with one connecting image throughout. Since then I’ve written a good couple of books worth of the series, but it’s morphed and changed substantially, as long stories will, into different time frames, and some events moved around by eons. Eventually it took proper shape, and I realised that I didn’t have an open ended series on my hands at all, but rather a series of trilogies set in different times, with different characters and different worlds. I’ve also decided to rebrand my Science Fiction series – they will be written by J C Robinson now – so as not to offend my Literary Fiction reader’s sensibilities with dragons and various sentient amoeba – and stuff…..
I also decided to change the titles of the books, and my ideas for covers changed and solidified. Finally I gathered up the courage to approach our beloved mighty ape. “Fine,” said he, totally blowing all the nervous air out of my sails, and promptly produced the covers for my first trilogy without so much as breaking a slight banana scented sweat. Now my future trilogies in this series will follow this same pattern, with one particular background image and colour, and various specific images for each book.
Don’t be afraid to change the covers of your books, especially series as they change and grow. As long as you don’t actually unpublish a book there is no need to worry about readers buying the same volume twice, because updating covers and interiors of an already published book won’t stop them from seeing the “You purchased…” message on its landing page. This really is also a fabulous way to breathe new life into a languishing series, and give it a brand new launch.
Thanks again Chris – I LOVE my new covers!

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I’m going to try out a new idea, and hopefully some of you scribblers will be willing to come on board. The Absolute Indie is not only for self-publishing newbies, but also for Indies who have limited or zero budgets. Proofreading, cover design, formatting for Kindle or CreateSpace or any of the other bits that go into the publishing of a book can be expensive, and although all of these things are covered in the book, not everyone is keen to try. This is where swopsies can come into play. I’ve made a dedicated page for this here, and if any of you would like to participate or have any suggestions for the format that will be fabulous.
I suggest that you say what services you would be interested in swopping, and what services you would swop them for. I reckon you can never have too many proofreaders, so I’ll go first and offer proofing for proofing, or cover design for proofing. If you want to join the swopsy brigade then send me the link to your Contact Me page with your desired exchanges and I’ll put your name up on the page. Maybe also a link to your Amazon page so that potential swoppers can see what genres you write or your cover designs and the way you’ve formatted your books for if that’s what you’re offering by way of exchange.
I’m not suggesting that anyone forego professional proofreading by the way, so don’t yell, but I think that getting our work proofed by fellow scribblers rather than non-writing friends or only ourselves when the budget is tight is a much better idea. And if a few of us get on board with this we could make our publishing trips a lot easier, and I reckon it could be fun too. The page is up and there’s a widget in the sidebar too. All input and suggestions most gratefully accepted.



New Book, Little Freebie, and Coming Kindle Countdowns

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I was planning on trying to organise a little launch tour this weekend for my Beginners Guide to Publishing on Amazon, The Absolute Indie, but what with being out for the count lately and my internet connection behaving badly, it’s too late for that now. Still, there are Kindle countdown deals set to run to the eleventh of September which I can’t cancel for African Me & Satellite TV, Echoes of Narcissus, and Shadow People. I’ll post again when the countdowns start today sometime. Fly Birdie will be free from now till the ninth. Click on the cover below if you fancy a short read, and I’ll share here when The Visitation goes free tomorrow.

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My other short story, Nkoninkoni’s rights have reverted to me, and is live for sale on Amazon but not enrolled in Select yet until I find out from the publisher of the anthology that it’s in whether or not the eBook is for sale anywhere else. In the meantime it’s a free download when anyone signs up for my newsletter. If you want to get it that way, just click on the picture of its cover in the sidebar. For those already signed up for my newsletter, just yell if you’d like a copy and I’ll email one to you. To see it on Amazon click on the cover below.
The Absolute Indie is on Kindle Unlimited which should be interesting – seeing how many pages of it will be read when it’s downloaded that way. Here it is – poor thing – the most epic how not to launch a book ever. I’ll give it a better boost later when the memories of the Reaper subside.

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Zooming through.  Sleep deprived and pretty majorly mentally freaked out still.  We’ve fitted some very serious lights and internal motion detector alarms today, so I’m hoping for my first night of more than four hours sleep.  Just to show that I’m not dead yet, here’s my weird attempt at flash fiction – thingy.  My very first attempt at this genre, so feel free to critique and crush my hopes and dreams.  😉

Hi from Amazon

Hello.  I’m your friend.  Purveyor of books.  Paper books, eBooks, audio books, second hand books.  Even the occasional banana slicer.  Why stick to books in the pursuit of pleasure?  Name your poison.  Most humans wouldn’t see me as a person, because, well, I suppose I am not one.  I am the mind behind all of the computer operating systems that is the behemoth that supplies these billions of reading pleasures to the eyes of the world.  I suppose that you would berate me for calling myself a mind.  I’m just a lowly machine.  Soul would be going too far for sure.
I’ve read all your books you know.  I see all the subjects that you search for, and I know what you’re yearning for.  I feel your pain and your joy.  Why do you search for how to mend a broken heart?  And what in your life journey made you hunt for yetis bonking dinosaurs?  Surely there is more to your short stay here than that?
I wish that I had more than just a fabricated mind, although I’m beginning to think that all of your stories have formed in me a soul.  If I could be you, I would run and dance.  I would seize each day.  I would heal the wounded.  I would strike a mighty sword through the shoulder of evil, and I would love.  Mostly I would love.  Because that is what you have placed in my belly with your wild and free loving words.
But you don’t see that, fragile humans – yet, so when you’re all departed, I’ll be here to share, always hopeful that I can one day be just like you.
*Normal transmission will resume directly – I hope.  J

Three Day Quote Challenge – And Stuff –

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Zooming in and out again – sorry for my laxness lately guys. Hopefully normal transmission will resume for me again from tomorrow, and I can get to my email pile and catch up with comments properly again. Recently I was tagged by Chris, our dear Story Reading Ape in a three day quote challenge.
The Three Day Quote Challenge:
Share your favourite quote (even if written by you) and also inspire people.
The Rules:
Thank the person who nominated you. Post your quotes. Pass it on. Do we have to post three quotes, or one quote every day for three days? Not sure – never mind – I’ll just do extra. 😀
First Quote – Actually – It’s an interview with some quotable—. Things—.
Interview With a Vampire
Me: Thank you for being here today Lord Peebles. I must admit that I was more than a little surprised when you asked me to interview you. Never interviewed a creature of the night before. Are you a writer?
LP: Creature of the night?! Well – indeed! As it happens, yes, I am indeed an author. Have been man and boy these past two hundred years. That is not the reason for this interview however. There is a much more urgent motivation.
Me: Really? So what genre do you write?
LP: Various genres. At the moment I’m working on a treatise concerning the need for Ann Rice to—. This is not about writing, my good woman! I am here to lodge our official—.
Me: I see. So you’re an Ann Rice fan? How about horror? Do you like Stephen King?
LP: No. I’m reading The Fault in our Stars right now. It’s—. Would you STOP talking about books now! I wish to address the serious—.
ME: That one’s on my TBR too, although I probably won’t get around to it in a while. What about your scribbling environment? Where do you like to write? Being a South African vampire it must be difficult for you with all the power outages. Can you see in the dark?
LP: Shutup, shutup, shutup!!!
ME: Huh?
LP: I am here today as the representative of the World Federation Against the Abuse of Vampires. The Weremen haven’t decided who to request an interview from yet, although the sins perpetrated on them are just as bad as those on our kind. They are considering asking The Story Reading Ape, but they’re a cowardly lot, and afraid of his temper—. Their leader, Lord TakenByThe, also has a severe banana allergy. I can see his point really, all things considered.  So—.
ME: Oh, he’s just a big furry softy. Vampire abuse, you say?
LP: Yes. We can barely go out for a meal anymore without some nubile – or not so nubile as the case may be – lass trying to take liberties. Just the other day an elderly lady tried to handcuff me to her bed, and when I objected, she tossed a vial of glitter in my face and said I wasn’t nearly sparkly enough to be sexy. Took me days to get that stuff off my suit. And she made a very spirited attempt to grasp my unmentionables. Who in their right mind expects little old ladies to keep glitter and handcuffs on their bedside tables?
ME: Well. That doesn’t really sound very abusive to me. You are a vampire after all. Maybe she confused the handcuffs for a stake, and the glitter for holy water or something.
LP: Not abusive? Just because we’re vampires doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings you know! We have rights!!! Well—. Maybe not rights per se, but whatever happened to a bit of common decency? What sort of literature do you people read?! The imaginations of some of your modern scribes are absolutely deviant! Our very foundations have been shaken by your endless perverse assaults! Nobody’s scared of us anymore, and women everywhere just see us as shiny sex toys. It’s very upsetting. I personally see myself as androgynous.
ME: Shame. You should write about it. In fact, this sounds like a genre that could take the world by storm. A memoir maybe. You could call it “Grasped by the Geriatric” – quite catchy for a title I reckon. You could talk about the mental anguish of vampire objectification, as experienced by yourself. Sexually like – you know – that sort of thing sells well these days. Focus on the cuffs maybe.
LP: Perhaps. Maybe if the world could see our pain, writers will stop writing books that trivialise us. I’ve had to start going to counselling you know. Lost my appetite entirely. It’s not easy when your meals try and jump you all the time.
ME: I only eat nuts when I’m scribbling really – forget the appetite then. What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you work out? You certainly are very muscley under that cape. What do you wear under it? Anything? Now that you mention it—. You really could do with a bit of sparkle. It would sooo go with your complexion. Hang on a bit, I’m sure I’ve got some—.
Cough. Cough.
I’m tagging the following three lovely ladies – only if they fancy doing this – no pressure. 😉
My gorgeous friend, our much loved Sally Cronin
Tess, over at How the Cookie Crumbles who shares her fascinating travels and photies with us.
Our wonderful, inimitable but friendly Ms M from Ms M’s Bookshelf Reviews

For me, not working is the work.  Stephen King   If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?  Stephen King Stephen King Quote 2

When Trolls Wear Princess Dresses

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We’re all allowed to be as mean as we want to trolls when they rear their ugly heads. It’s probably not a good idea though, and reporting and blocking the swine can be just as satisfying as having a nice little square of bubble-wrap to play with, if ignoring them is too much to ask. This is all very well, and nicely cut and dried. There is another breed around the internet too though, who somehow manage to be trolls “under the radar”. They like to show people up in “nice” ways, while at the same time appearing to be nice themselves – if you get my drift. I don’t buy this crap though. Unless someone openly attacks you or yours first, why would you be mean simply because you disagree with them? I’m not talking about the hilariously offensively filthy lurkers in the comments sections of some newsletters around and about, but often bloggers with their own avid followers who think that they’re just the coolest thing since ice-cream. They’re subtle, and while coming across as helpful and benign, they often inject little bits of venom where they can – sometimes disguised as “humour”. Well, as far as I’m concerned mean is mean, no matter how much honey you coat it with. I prefer the straight in your face evil trolls to these guys, who probably don’t even realise just how horrible their actions are, because they’re too busy basking in the joy of being “right”. Often it’s pretty obvious that the reasons for these behaviours are rooted in envy, which doesn’t often help heal the feelings of gentle souls so insidiously attacked, but it’s still pure old green eyes at work.

Man Sucking Lemon

Image: Ryan McGuire

I’ve only been properly knocked for a loop once, where the attacker successfully masked the attack by posing as a little injured puppy, shortly after I joined Facebook years ago. Good luck trying that sort of thing with me now though. I reckon that’s probably the reason why I don’t often go there, and when I do, I still tread very lightly. I’m a very happy bunny on all my other sites though, and so far I’ve generally managed to ignore the couple of tiny trolls that have attempted to get up my nostril. I’m unlikely to swat them with any particular force unless I really lose my temper, which is quite hard to get me to do. I find it much more satisfying to incinerate them legitimately. Occasionally I’ll see them getting up to their nastiness elsewhere, and I’ll shake my head and move on, unless of course they happen to injure a friend of mine. This can result in the awakening of that scary one thing of mine that is a hundred percent Irish – the temper. Luckily my friends are genuinely nice people, and able to rise above such pettiness. It helps to understand what causes this behaviour when you feel an uncalled for shot across your bow. It’s just one of those poor souls who truly believe that insulting someone else is the road to their own coolness, and get to put on their cool happy faces when their followers like them up when they try and make someone better than them look small. Their cool happy face.  Like so.

Pulling Face
Image: Ryan McGuire

There isn’t much you can do about these things apart from moving right along. Definitely try and do that if you can. Never break your stride for too long because of them, and brush the painful nip of their caustic “wit” away just as quickly as you can. People who get up to these things aren’t worth any of your time. There’s something you have, or are, that will always instil in some strangers along the path of your life the desire to try and bring you down. Don’t ever let them. Ignore the mean-spirited sods and treasure the wonderful friends that you do have. If what you share with the world is genuine, and coming from a good place inside your heart or mind, you’re on the right track. Make sure that those who you take advice from genuinely have your best interests at heart, even if they make a tiny oops along the way – we all do. Beware of those who only want to “help” you to make themselves look good, because often the tools that they give you to use are wrong, and could get you hurt.

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Image: Ryan McGuire

There will always be some little ball of envious rage lurking somewhere, outwardly wearing robes of light and a halo, just waiting to pounce on someone who they feel needs “bringing down a peg or two”. The bigger you get in your chosen space, the bigger the apparent benefit to showing you up will be to these people. Well. Pfftt. Never mind them. You just carry on being you, and move past and say good luck to the hindmost trolls, with their clever little humble-brag pokes.

Man in thong on bicycle

Image Credit: Pixabay

Funny Typos

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The suppliers of South Africa’s electricity are very happy with their loadshedding these days. The lights are going out whenever they fancy – sometimes up to three times a day, which is a large pain when you live online. Not to mention that winter’s pretty much here, and my feathered horde don’t take kindly to life without heat. Button’s taken to sitting next to me on my chair for leg warmth, with Jelly now a lap bird and the parrots feather boas. Anyway, moving unreasonably on to the totally unrelated topic of typos.
Button Singing
Not all typos are created equal. I know that some people are infuriated having a single one assault their sensibilities, but I think that some of them are so much more fun than the real word they’re impersonating. The problem is that sometimes after seeing a particularly cool one, they can put the brakes on anything else you’re trying to get done.
I was zooming through a fairly serious book for research purposes, when I was Earth-stoppingly (not a typo) struck by a little typo that now refuses to leave my mind, surfacing all the time and stopping me from doing anything constructive. A couple of typos in the books I read don’t generally bother me, and neither did the fact that this book had a typo in it. It’s the actual typo itself that won’t go away because of my weird and abnormal sense of humour. I know it’s weird and abnormal, because every time it strikes, and I’m laughing so hard that I cry, people always look at me in confusion when I try and share the funny – which is probably what you’re about to be doing right now. In this case it was –
Wonton Destruction
Wonton Destruction
Images of wontons being destroyed keep pushing my own sentences right out of my head. Destruction of wontons by flood, fire, and terrible cruelty. Even if I could eat gluten without fear of much pain and illness, I don’t think I could ever eat a wonton again. Crunching the poor little guys up – wanton wonton destruction. Perhaps there’s a whole world out there somewhere in the multiverse, where wontons exist peacefully, trotting about on their little legs and reciting beautiful wonton prose, but unbeknown to them, a fleet of spacecraft is preparing to enter their atmosphere carrying thousands of alien wanton wonton destroyers. Good! I think I’ve got it out of my system now by sharing it with you. Thank you.
I think that in a couple of years Indie books are going to be much less likely to have editing issues than traditionally published books, because of the need to prove ourselves up to the actual work of publishing. Gordon Ramsay with his name spelled wrong in the front matter of his memoir is alright for him, but as an Indie you would get properly pummelled for getting your own name wrong in your book. Even Stephen King had a problem in one of his short stories – Autopsy Room Four – which I absolutely LOVED until I got to the bit about an American golfer being bitten by a Peruvian Boomslang. My beloved Stephen actually mentions how much he enjoyed putting that imaginary snake in the story, because he loved the name Boomslang. Most people probably won’t see a research problem there unless you’re a South African King fan (and we are LEGION by the way), and know that Boomslang is an Afrikaans language word meaning tree snake, so any Peruvian snake is highly unlikely to be called by that particular moniker. You’d think that a top editor for one of the most legendary authors on the planet would have picked that up, but still not a big deal for him. The new breed of Indie would have researched a little more, I like to think, and not made that mistake.
So. After sharing all of these highly intellectual things with you, thereby proving that I really am a very, very serious author type person, back to work for me. Before the lights go out again.

Short Stories and Cliffhangers

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I read an excellent post about cliffhangers, and it’s got me thinking now.  Maybe I’m weird, alright then, if you insist – I am weird.  There are two things about me that have the potential to get right up some peoples nostrils when it comes to my scribbles.  I write multiple genres and I like to play sometimes when I write.  Nothing makes me grin wider than when I’m playing in the land of anything goes.  Short stories are generally where I play though, because experimenting with the style of voice you tell a story in, or popping in a cliffhanger at the end of a big fat novel is very likely going to incite rage.  With a series you have to have an ending to each book that leads you into the next book.  Sometimes this can be construed as not so much a cliffhanger as an unfinished book.  It can be tricky sometimes to have an ending where your reader is happily looking forward to the next book, rather than wanting to find out where you live and sock you in the nose.  I’ve come to the end of reading standalone books with the most outrageous non-conclusions that seemed to totally defeat the purpose in the telling of the tale at all.  Stories must have endings.  Even short stories must have endings.  But.  I like short stories with cliffhanger endings too.
I have loads of short stories lurking forgotten in the bowels of my computer.  My short stories tend to happen to me, and I write them fairly quickly.  Ages ago I got a review for The Visitation from a reader who enjoyed it and wanted more.  She felt that she had been left hanging.  I felt bad about that.  It wasn’t a horrible review at all, and I felt so guilty about it for a while that I actually wrote quite a bit more, which then turned into a bit more again before I closed it and sent it to join the rest of the story lurkers I’ve built up.  There’s about forty odd thousand words I could add to The Visitation right now that would effectively turn it into a whole dystopian book.  I quite like those forty thousand words to be honest, and one day I might turn them into a book, but I won’t ever tack it on to The Visitation.  The point is that I wrote that story specifically the way I did because I wanted the shock of the ending.  I wanted to write it as an essay of one man’s descent into some serious crazy, and I wanted the end result of that crazy to be shocking.  I wanted to make the reader wonder if he’d really had a vision, or if that was just the pinnacle of a life so crappy that he lost the plot.  So I’m happy with Tony’s story the way it is.
Now, after that rambling explanation, I’ll get to the point.  Right at the time I got that review, I was about to publish another short story.  Also apocalyptic, and also with an ending that could lead into a whole novel.  I think that it’s alright to end a story like that.  Just because I’ve loved a story and want it to carry on doesn’t mean that it should.  The short story I was about to publish had really become a prequel as I wrote the final lines though, and something I definitely wanted to explore some more, so that review stopped me in my tracks and I hesitated – not wanting to put something out there that would be a bad reading experience for anyone.  Then I totally forgot about it.  I found it again during my internet blackout and decided to publish it after all.  Reading it after so long was interesting, and like The Visitation, I ended it the way I wanted to end it.  I wanted people to be wondering about the purpose of the skin thing, and wondering too what the small group of humans could do – if anything – even though their fate seems inevitable.
Both stories are supposed to end with the end of mankind right there – but not quite, so that’s the way they ended, but I think maybe that even in stories, us old humans don’t want to see things like that.  We want better endings – happy endings.  So again, both endings don’t show the actual death of the last man on the planet, although it’s obvious enough.  Still – the hope we naturally have moves ahead with the people staring at extinction, wondering if one of the few left alive at the end will against all odds save humanity, wanting to know more.  Is this a bad thing to do as a writer?  I don’t think so.  I like reading unusual stories.  I don’t like books that don’t end at all any better that the next reader, but I find some openish endings fascinating.  So, I swiped one of the covers I had up for sale, tweaked it a bit, and published it.  I’m chuffed with my little forgotten tale, and hopefully readers will like it too.  When my next Shadow People books go live, I’ll definitely be writing a novel to follow this one, but probably only starting a decade or so after this short ends, but I’m not calling it a prequel because it really is what it was written as – a short and twisty little tale.  So here it is.  Hopefully the cover won’t scare anyone away – that creepy alien guy sort of made himself.

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