My newest book release and following your gift

On Saturday, Feb. 2, my third book is being released by Burning Willow Press, LLC (BWP). They are a phenomenal company that cares about the quality of the books they publish. It can be purchased at a variety of places, but if you search “The Book of Ashley, James Master” on Amazon.com you’ll find it easily. Enough of the shameless promotion though.
I watched a video of Steve Harvey while hiding inside my home during the polar vortex on Wednesday. He talked about how you should follow your gift and not your passion.
“All of you have this gift, identify it. It’s the thing that you do the absolute best with the least amount of effort. That’s what you should be doing. You’re wasting your time pursuing your passion,” Harvey said.
If I’d watch this video a few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have understood this message. Up until a few years ago, my passion was playing video games. I’d spend hours playing them, didn’t matter what game it was. Admittedly, I was pretty terrible at esports or other competitive video games. That ruled out playing video games on a professional level. I was terrible at computer programming, ruling out creating video games.
I spent so much time and money trying to follow my passion instead of following my gift. Making the choice to follow my gift, my life has been changed. I have a better paying job, several published works, and an interesting side job with a really great publishing company.
Some of you may be thinking, “but Jim, don’t you work for BWP? Doesn’t that make you biased?” The answer is… sure, maybe a little. For full disclosure, I will state for the record that I am a contracted author for seven books with BWP as well as an editor for them. I also work in the submissions department which typically entails reading submissions and giving my opinion on whether they would be a good fit underneath the BWP umbrella.
Having said all of that, I don’t believe that it would change my view on the publishing company. If anything, this relationship has strengthened my view on BWP. If you ever get a chance to talk with Edd Sowder, VP of the company, you’ll come to the same conclusion I’ve reached. This man loves four things: his wife Kindra (author and BWP President), his company, his coffee, and his authors. You can typically find Edd on the Writer Imperfect Twitch stream that airs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you don’t watch Twitch or don’t know what that is, then go to YouTube and search Writer Imperfect with Joshua Robertson.
Enough about Burning Willow Press, LLC though. Let’s talk about my newest release. For those that might be interested, The Book of Ashley is the third book in my series, The Soul Eater Chronicles. The whole series is based around demons, monsters, and the holy crusader that stands against the darkness. When people ask me what kind of genre the series falls in, I typically call it “Religious Horror.” Basically, if you like monsters, demons, and books about good fighting against evil then these books might be for you.
This will be the third book I’ve had published. I’ve also had three short stories that I’ve had published in anthologies. All of them with BWP. Every time I publish something, there’s this triumphant feeling of accomplishment. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced while playing video games.
I know that last week’s rant might have seemed like I didn’t exactly like my profession. Which is totally the opposite. I do not regret one word that I’ve written in the last five years of being a news writer/author. I am so grateful to be doing what I’m doing for a living. There’s nothing else I could possibly see myself doing. Well, maybe I’d be doing something in the dining service/gas station arena. I sure wouldn’t like it, whatever it would be.
“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway,” said Junot Diaz, professor of writing and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008.
Even if I was still working in a gas station or as a supervisor of a café at a college, I’d still be a writer. Even if I received rejection after rejection, I’d still be a writer. Even if I had absolutely zero training in the craft, I’d still be a writer. Even if I lived in Michigan, I’d still be a writer (because if I lived there, I’d need something to take my mind off the fact that I lived in Michigan).
Identify your gift and follow it. It doesn’t mean that you must abandon your passion. I still play video games, but I’m not focusing my time on it.

After Midnight Cover Reveal

Every so often, I’m asked to help my fellow authors get the news out about their newest book release. Sometimes, that help looks like participating in Facebook release parties and other times it’s helping them promote their newest book cover.

Like today. After Midnight is the newest book in the Miss Hyde Novellas written by the very talented Kindra Sowder. For the last few years I’ve had the privilege to call Kindra both my friend and my boss at Burning Willow Press, LLC. So when she asked for help regarding the new cover reveal I leapt at the opportunity.

So without further ado, here it is…

Hyde5 frontBlythe’s world is changing. She has finally accepted who — or what — she is. Hyde’s keeping to their arrangement. Blythe can now move forward from all she endured including a new romance with Emmett. Not only does he make her feel normal but helps her see a possible future.

But what of the elusive Adam Burnside? The man who could be her equal in not only state of mind but also body. With Cyra handing over journals filled with clues to her origins, Blythe needs to make sense of the new information within.

 

FB_IMG_1515772882925Author Bio:

Kindra Sowder was born and raised in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA until the age of 12, when her family moved to Spartanburg, SC. She graduated from high school in 2006 with full honors and as a member of her high school Literary Club and the Spanish Honor Society. In January 2014, she graduated with her second degree in Criminal NeuroPsychology. She married her husband Edd Sowder in May 2014 and still lives in Spartanburg, SC where she is basing Burning Willow Press. Her works have earned multiple award nominations.

If you are interested in all of Kindra’s other amazing works, here are a list of her Author Links.

Author Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2HPrZwG

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12587201.Kindra_Sowder

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KindraSowder

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kmkinnaman

Web: www.ksowderauthor.com

LA_Website-Banner

99 cent BWP Thanksgiving Extravaganza

This holiday season, stay inside your warm homes with your family playing board games and drinking coffee. Instead of braving the cold and fighting all the other crazy “warrior-shoppers,” go check out Amazon to find these Burning Willow Press ebooks on sale for a very limited time.

The Starhawk Chronicles

The Beast Within

Immortal Slumber (The Crawford Witch Chronicles Book 1)

Follow the Ashes: Book 1 of the Executioner Trilogy

We Could Be Heroes

We Will Gain Our Fury (Seers and Demigods Book 1)

Asclepius

Hello, My Name is… (A Miss Hyde Novella Book 1)

The Road to Jericho (The Hell Walker Trilogy Book 1)

The Zombie Days (POW! Book 1)

Pain-Killer (A Miss Hyde Novella Book 2)

Follow the Screams (The Executioner Trilogy Book 2)

Mysterium Excelsum Unum (Mysterium Excelsum Book 1)

In Obscura Silvae (Mysterium Excelsum Book 2)

Beyond the Vale

Crossroads in the Dark: Anthology of Morality

Southern Fried Autopsies: Dissecting the Best from Southern Authors

So this is a very tiny percentage of the books on sale from Burning Willow Press. This sale lasts over the holiday weekend so don’t miss out!

My two books are also on this discounted list. You can find them here.Just make sure to click on the Amazon links to get the 99 cent deals.

CRITD IV Cover Reveal

So, I’ve always wanted to write a ghost story. I my opinion, ghost stories can be found in every part of the world. So when I heard that the new Crossroads In The Dark anthology subject was going to be about ghosts, I was overjoyed.

However, the problem was that I’ve never had an experience with a ghost. Well, that’s not somewhat true. When I was living in an apartment with my (at the time) wife I was walking down the hall to use the restroom. My wife was at work and it was just me in the two bedroom apartment. It was midday on a Saturday and it was somewhat busy outside. In the summer (when this happened) the neighbor kids would go outside and play soccer in front of my patio. Which is pretty annoying because sometimes they’d kick the ball into the patio door (glass mind you) and I knew that it would be a matter of when, not if, they would kick with enough force to shatter the glass.

Luckily, they never did. What did happen though was when I walked past our bedroom door, I hear a male voice say “Hey.” Stopping in my tracks, I thought the voice was inside my bedroom. It was that clear and nearby. It didn’t sound like the faded yells from the soccer players and it didn’t sound like when the neighbors on the other side of the bedroom (I’ve heard them enough times fighting to know the difference).

Needless to say I was freaked out. The rational side of me said that there was a burglar in the house. Forgetting that I had to use the bathroom, I backed up into the spare bedroom where my office was located and got my letter opener. I call it my letter opener, but it’s actually a very sharp dagger I keep around just in case someone breaks in (I’m a horror writer mind you, I think those thoughts).

After shouting out that I was armed, I waited three minutes. Then I proceeded to check the bedroom. Nothing. I checked the bathroom. Nothing. I rechecked the spare bedroom. Double nothing. I went through the apartment checking to make sure all the doors and windows were locked and that the closets were emptied. I even checked behind the shower curtain (that was delightful).

Absolutely nothing.

With my rational mind coming up short, my creative mind came up with the only other possibility. A ghost.

Of course, nothing ever happened. The rest of the time I lived there both my wife and I heard nothing else. But what else could it have been? My overactive imagination? Sure, maybe. But what if that wasn’t it? What if it was ghosts?

All that to say, that wouldn’t really make for a good ghost story. Then I was working a few years ago and I came upon a guy that was arrested at a local closed down seminary. That piqued my interest. So then I did some digging and came up with some strange drownings, car accidents, even a man that murdered his wife and lied to his daughters about it for twenty years before he was arrested for it.

And you know what? They all attended the same seminary.

After trying to figure out exactly why the seminary closed down, finding out that there had been two fires after it was closed, then it was used as a haunted house for a few years, I was convinced.

This was my ghost story. Hence, “The Haunted Seminary” was born. It comes out December 1, 2018 in Crossroads In The Dark IV: Ghosts published by Burning Willow Press, LLC.

If you’re interested in ghost stories, then go check it out when it comes out. If you’re really interested in ghost stories, you can preorder it here.

Without further ado, here is the cover reveal for CRITD4 and it’s beautiful people!

Crossroads in the Dark IV: Ghosts

Series: Crossroads in the Dark Anthology, Volume 4

Genres: Horror, Thriller, Suspense

Release Date: December 1, 2018

Cover Design: Bachman Designs

Publisher: Burning Willow Press

One night after a close friends’ funeral, you feel a strange tickle on your neck. At first, you shrug it off as a figment of your imagination or a flying pest, but then you feel it again… and again… and again. Turning you do not see anything there. Nothing, not even a shadow. In the far reaches of your sight, you start to make out a somehow familiar figure, arising from the darkness of the corner of your room. You reach for the switch of the nightstand lamp only to knock it over to the floor. Your fear starts to rise along with the hairs on your neck. A familiar voice comes across the room… “Why didn’t you hear me…?”

Welcome back to the Crossroads.

Crossroads in the Dark IV: GHOSTS is a collection of short stories developed in hopes of bringing awareness to suicide prevention around the world. While the stories do not tell of suicide, they do tell of GHOSTS. For whom are the ghosts that haunt us daily? What are the remains of an otherwise perfect life ended far too soon? Which are the people who we find hardest to move forward from when we lose them? The easy answer is the ones we failed to save.

Contributing Authors

Lily Luchesi (Forward): Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

CC Adams: Website | Facebook | Twitter

L Bachman: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Alice J Black: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Carol Browne: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Nikki Collins-Mewha: Facebook | Twitter

James Crawford: Facebook | Twitter

Rachel de la Fuente: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | BookBub

Kerry Alan Denney: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Mirren Hogan: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Cindy Johnson: Facebook

Frank Martin: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

James Master: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Brian G Murray: Website | Facebook

Michael Schutz: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Edd Sowder: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Kindra Sowder: Website | Facebook | Twitter

W T Watson: Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

Donna Marie West: Goodreads

Kevin Wimer: Amazon Author Page

Peter Oliver Wonder: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Erin Yoshikawa: Facebook | Twitter

The Rest of the Series

If CRITD IV sounds interesting to you, check out the other books in the series while you wait.

Crossroads in the Dark: Anthology of Morality

Amazon US | Barnes & Noble

Crossroads in the Dark II: Urban Legends

Amazon US | Barnes & Noble

Crossroads in the Dark III: Monsters Under Your Bed

Amazon US | Barnes & Noble

James Crawford

For my inaugural Interview with an Author, I get the opportunity to interview horror and supernatural author James Crawford. Crawford is the author of the Blood Soaked series, Manleigh Cheese, and other works.

“I’ve written zombie-style horror, supernatural horror, and am currently moving into supernatural action and fantasy,” Crawford said.

james crawford.png
James Crawford

Stephen King once stated that writers must be able to do two things above all else: read a lot and write a lot. James and I share more than a first name, we share the same appreciation for the same authors.

“I was a huge Jim Butcher fan for quite a while, and loved Laurell K. Hamilton before her work become polyamory and sex with just a splash of horror. I’m pretty keen on Mario Acevedo, Mark Reefe, and Ian Banks as well,” said Crawford. He goes on to say that during his lull in writing, he plans to read more small press authors. For those that are interested in Mark Reefe, James and I are authors with Reefe under the Burning Willow Press umbrella, take a look at my review of his work here.

The inspiration to begin writing is often an unique experience for authors. For Crawford, the inspiration came from designing the perfect weapon against the undead.

“I was having a conversation with other bladesmiths about the ideal weapon to use against zombies,” he said adding that his design for the perfect bladed weapon was beyond his capabilities. “So I looked into how much the individual components would cost. The answer wasn’t pleasant. My response to this news was, ‘Well I’ll just write about it instead!’ Here we are, many years later.”

Crawford doesn’t write with the expectations that he’ll end up living off the income, he writes for the fun of it. If it did become possible to work full-time as an author, Crawford stated that he would want to keep a 9-5 job anyway.

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Just one of the many talented images drawn by Crawford. Look for them on his Instagram account, pensloth.

In his spare time, he’s a collector of fountain pens and cartooning. You can find his interesting and amusing works on his Instagram account, pensloth. He also writes and does some light silversmithing on the side.

“I might get back into forging knives, but that’s still under consideration,” he adds.

He’s currently working on one novella as well as working on notes for his first sci-fi venture. Three books are planned as an unpublished trilogy. Crawford is also crafting some sterling silver adornments for his fountain pens.

When you ask a father which child he loves the most, a good father will not give a response. If he did it’d be in the form of one of those dad jokes. Authors are a lot like parents, the books they write are their children. How could an author pick a single work as their favorite? Well, James Crawford can, but it wasn’t an easy question for him to answer.

“Damn it… that’s a tough question. I’m particularly proud of the story “Where You’re Resting” from Crossroads in the Dark III: Monsters Under Your Bed anthology,” he admits.

Besides our fandom of Jim Butcher and our first name, James and I have another thing in common. We both have stories in CRITD III: Monsters Under Your Bed. “Where You’re Resting” is one of my favorites in that anthology. If you’ve never crossed roads with it or it’s predecessors, I’d advise picking them up. While you’re at it, pick up Crawford’s other works if you’re a fan of comedy and horror. Or as the author himself would put it “if they want ridiculous sarcasm, snarky characters, and laughter before and after horrible things happen.”

James Crawford is a life-long resident of the Washington, DC area, currently residing in Maryland. Prior to becoming an author, he graduated with a degree in Fine Art, and worked in the graphic design field for quite a few years. Since then, he’s changed careers, and has collected various hobbies and vocations along the way.

His first novel, Blood Soaked and Contagious, as well as it’s two sequels are published by Permuted Press. Currently, James is working with Burning Willow Press and has published Manleigh Cheese as well as having stories in the Crossroad in the Dark anthology series.

You can find him on Instagram as pensloth or on Facebook at @JamesCrawfordAuthor.

El Sendero by Mark Reefe

el senderoFor those that haven’t read the first in this trilogy written by Mark Reefe, I’d advice that you do so now before you die. Otherwise, Finn McCallan might come down to Hell and give you a beating worse than what you’re normally accustomed to. For those that have read The Road to Jericho, but have not  had a chance to sink their teeth into El Sendero then what are you reading this review for? You’re wasting valuable time. Go out and read this amazing book now and then come back and read my review. Don’t worry I’ll wait.

I’m assuming that either you’ve already read the books and would like to know what I thought or you’ve not read the books and want to know my opinion before you make that choice. So the short answer is yes, you should definitely purchase these books. Buy them on eBook or better yet, purchase them in paperback. They’ll make a great addition to your bookcase next to the Ted Dekker and Stephen King books. Because if you like Dekker and King, you’ll find a comfortable home in the books of Reefe.

El Sendero picks up some time after the events of The Road to Jericho with Finn having settled into a life with his love, Carmen, and her mother on a ranch south of the Mexican/United States border. That life comes to a crashing halt when Miguel, who was an ally in the first book, comes to the ranch looking to enlist Finn’s help in uncovering the mystery behind the disappearance of an entire town. Reluctantly, Finn goes along and together they travel to El Sendero where they uncover a sinister supernatural plot to destroy the world.

There are many things I’d like to discuss about this novel, but I can’t because I don’t want to spoil anything for those that haven’t read this great book. What I will say is that the writing, editing, and formatting of this book was fantastic. There was one editing mistake later in the book, but it was minuscule and didn’t effect the turn out of the story.

The best part of El Sendero had to be the characters. The way Reefe writes these characters, you’d think they could leap off the page and interact with the reader. Which could be a good or a bad thing depending on the character. I’d like to party with Miguel, drink bourbon with Finn, taste the chorizo breakfast tacos with Flora, and do some other things with Carmen that I can’t detail in this particular review. On the other side, I wouldn’t want to encounter La Prophetisa in a dark alley or a dark cathedral.

The ending to this story leaves the reader wanting more which is a good thing because book three, The Valley of Hinnom, is coming soon.

For those that enjoy religious thrillers this and The Road to Jericho is going to be one you’ll want to read. There isn’t much that I didn’t like about this book except that it was too short and I wanted more. If I had to pick something that I didn’t like it would have to be one character’s disappearance from the narrative later on in the book. That really didn’t deter the story and probably helped things progress towards how it ended. Overall, I’d give El Sendero a 5 out of 5. Can’t wait to see how Finn fairs in the last of the Hell Walker Trilogy.

El Sendero and The Road to Jericho are both published by Burning Willow Press.

My Year-End Review

 

As this year comes to a close, it’s pretty standard for people to take a look at themselves and evaluate whether or not they accomplished their goals for the year. I try not to make New Years Resolutions simply because I don’t like to be disappointed with myself when I look back and see that I haven’t completed any of them. I can’t even remember what goals I made for myself a year ago. Naturally, I went back to the column I wrote on Jan. 5, 2017 about making New Years Resolutions. I didn’t find much because I had said in the column that I wasn’t going to get into those “because I’ve also resolved this year not to over saturate my rants with lengthy and boring material.”

Boy, did I sure fail that goal.

Even though I said in that column that I wasn’t going to get into my resolutions I did say that I wanted to read 20 books and other things that included “eating healthier, exercising, and not reading books by James Patterson.”

As far as the books, I’ve read about half that number. As far as exercising, let’s just say that was a pipe dream anyway. I’ve also probably gained some weight since the beginning of the year. My health has been about the same. I even read half a James Patterson book. The intent was to read it and write a review but it’s gathering dust somewhere on a bookshelf or a window sill. It might also be in my bathroom.

Don’t judge, we all read in the bathroom. Patterson is best read while in the bathroom for a really obvious reason which I can’t say in front of you fine readers.

If you looked at my failures over the past year, it might look like I’ve failed. While I would not entirely disagree with you, I would also point out that my successes would far outweigh the failures.

Since the beginning of 2017, I have become a real life published author. Besides my first ever book, The Book of Roland which you can find here, I have had one short story published in an anthology with another story coming out in another anthology sometime next year.

In addition to being a writer for The Pilot News, this will have been my second full year, I started writing a weekly gaming article for The Buzz Kill Magazine, an online website located at http://www.tbkmagazine.com. I was even featured on one of their podcasts about Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi.

I didn’t read 20 books this year, but I did go and see 21 films. Most of those I wrote reviews for. I’ve grown my connection of authors and publishers to the point where I have been asked to read and provide book blurbs for three fellow authors. I’ve also become a part of the acquisitions team at Burning Willow Press LLC, the home of my book.

Man, I really failed when I said I wouldn’t over saturate my rants with lengthy and boring material. What does all this mean though? I’ve written 52 columns this year. Hopefully I’ll have written another 52 by this time next year. Over the course of one year, you (the reader) have hopefully seen me grow into an accomplished writer/author/editor. I am hopeful that is the case. Otherwise, what am I writing this for? If the object of this column is to show each week why I’m growing as an author then it becomes a stagnate storyline. Typically when that happens the character is killed off or worse, edited out of the story entirely.

Characters are supposed to grow and triumph over their obstacles. They are supposed to meet their goals and crush whatever expectations others have for them. That’s what makes characters interesting to read. That’s what makes them memorable and beloved in a readers mind. Readers don’t really want to read about how depressing the characters life is or how epic they fail at their tasks. It’s not good storytelling. Unless you’re George R.R. Martin or Robert Kirkman. The things those two write, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, have people focused on one simple question: What else can go wrong?

So hopefully, you aren’t just reading this hoping I get beheaded or castrated (Game of Thrones) or get bit by a fan foaming at the mouth (The Walking Dead). It is my hope that you are reading this and rooting for the main character to win.

Next week’s column will most likely be about what my expectations and New Years Resolutions are as a writer and as a person. I know, it’ll be boring and lengthy so if you want to skip it and read the cartoon section be my guest. The Family Circus gets me every time.