Ever see that car on the side of the Interstate? You think those poor bastards. What are they going to do now?
That was me.
80 miles from home and the alternator goes. I couldn't make it to the next exit. And with vacation traffic peaking on the Charleston inbound, it was an endless string of headlights. We were the poor bastards. But God bless cellphones.
And roadside assistance.
We sat there two hours, but a tow truck arrived. A good dude was driving and dropped us off. An 80 mile tow is not a cheap one. But it beats the hoof.
This July holiday, we'll visit family on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That's a long haul. And, God willing, I will not talk to a tow truck driver. If you got the summer drive coming, I got something to kill the time.
The Hunt for Freddy Bills audiobook is out. And I've got 10 free downloads to make your ride go by. It's a straight up random draw. No tricks, just click to reach the homepage and enter the contest.
Those who entered the Maze contest, thank you. Many knew the big twist at the end of The Hunt for Freddy Bills. Some of you just needed the money. You were honest. In the end, there can be only one.
Kayleigh is that one.
She's already been contacted, already accepted the reward. A $50 Amazon gift card is now in her account. If you didn't get in on that, no worries. There's more coming in the Maze. The third and final book has begun. It will circle around and bring book 1 and 2 into one big final twist you didn't see coming.
Book 7 in the Claus Universe is getting some preliminary feedback. Once we're closer to the season, ARC readers will be needed. In the meantime, the title has changed to Toyland: The Legacy of Wallace Noel. This one might stick.
Book 3, The Essence of Sunny Grimm, has begun. 7000 words into the rough draft, an arc has been sketched out.
I'm a fan of Game of Thrones. I'll be honest, I'm a little disappointed with the last season. Episode 3, The Battle of Winterfell, I liked and the dark shots didn't bother me (I'm easy). But the rest have been disappointing. It feels like they rushed it.
Only 6 episodes? An entire episode should've been the Hound v Mountain. But such is the curse of the writer. It's hard to get the viewer's POV. When you're writing, the story looks different. It's like standing in the middle of rush hour rather than flying over it in a helicopter. Could the GOT writers use test audiences? Probably not because of leaks. I mean, I still love the whole story, just could've been a better ending.
And I digress. I like a challenge.
I don't mind being thrown into a story and left to find my out. Nowadays, even the smallest hints are ferreted out by massive crowdsourcing. Starbucks, anyone?
Being lost makes the thrill of the twist.
I wrote the Maze in this genre of thrilling challenges. In book 2, The Hunt for Freddy Bills, there are plenty of twists that get resolved. But did you see the one at the end? It's a big one. If you caught it, it could be worth $50.
Tell me the big twist. I'll draw from all the correct answers.
$50 Amazon gift certificate to the winner.
I'll give you a month to answer. Plenty of time to read both books in the Maze. Or just answer it if know it, no need to wait.
I provided a hint below. It's a summary of characters from book 1, The Waking of Grey Grimm. CLICK HERE to correctly answer the question to enter. The question is also a hint.
Characters from The Waking of Grey Grimm
A relevant summary of characters that appear in book 2, The Hunt for Freddy Bills.
FREDDY BILLINGSLEY (a.k.a. Freddy Bills): The detective who investigated the death of Sunny Grimm. Grey Grimm confessed his responsibility involving his mother’s death. Grey claimed that he met Freddy in the Maze because it was an alternate reality that mirrored base reality. Freddy denied ever being in the Maze. GREY GRIMM: The sixteen year old boy who went into the Maze and escaped. He returned to his body (skin) in base reality. HUNTER MONTEBANK: The identity that Grey Grimm had unknowingly assumed when he was lost in the Maze. Hunter Montebank was a federal investigator and only existed in the alternate reality of the Maze. SUNNY GRIMM: Grey’s mother who went into the Maze and helped him escape. She did not escape or return to base reality. Her skin is dead.
HENK GRIMM: Grey’s father who tricked his son into entering the Maze. After escaping the Maze, Grey sent Henk into the Maze as retribution. He later confessed to his crimes.
Book 7 in the Claus Universe is complete. The rough draft, that is. It'll take a few passes to polish but I'm way ahead of schedule. That said, I'm pleased with the story arc. I don't always feel that way about stories, but this one took directions I didn't see coming. Always a pleasant surprise.
Toys: The Urban Legend of Wallace Noelis still the working title. I'll sit on that for a while before I lock in a cover.
I don't even have a solid working title yet. Feet to the fire, it would be something like Toys: The Urban Legend of Wallace Noel.The best part is that I've got the story arc locked and loaded.
40,000 words of the rough draft are in the bank. Last week I outlined the remainder of the plot. That's huge.
The most difficult part of a story, for me, is knowing where it's going. Sometimes I just start then back up then delete then start again. Once I got a feel for the characters and setting, then the story unfolds. This one is done.
I just have to write it.
For new readers, what is this Claus Universe I speak of? This is a scifi-fantasy series of beloved holiday characters. It's the stories you never heard as a kid.
Is this true? How do I know this? I just wake up and it's there, all the details of my life. I get out of bed, a male Caucasian, 51 years of age, a teacher and a writer. A husband and a father. A son. This is who I am. These are my memories.
I don't doubt them.
I don't actually do anything to remember. The details of this moment are just there. They present themselves and I accept them. What if I'm nothing like this? What if none of this is real? I'm not a male or 51 years old or Caucasian. Or even human. My memories could be manipulated and I just believed them. Because that's what I've always done.
I took a few art classes because that's what the college people told me to take. I had some artistic ability, so why not. (Side note: it paid off when, twenty years later, I wrote two textbooks on landscape design and did the illustrations. So you know.) Anywho, I was doing the exercises, the gesture drawings and charcoal sketches and still forms. One class the professor pointed out how I had illustrated something properly when, in reality, I was super bored and just rushed to be done. I'm a genius.
So I didn't get most art. But there was something about abstract art that appealed to me. Not all of it. I don't get much of it, actually. I mean, some of it, the joke is on us. It's a green trapezoid, people. A green fucking trapezoid.
Recently, I stopped by an exhibit in Columbia, SC to see a Jackson Pollock. Pollock, man. He was the one I got.
This was the first work I was aware of that featured free slinging paint splatters on a large canvas. Now I'll admit, I see some abstract art and, yeah, a three year old can definitely do that. A lot of Rothko's work... it sells for millions. Millions.
But Pollack, man.
It's paint splatters. It's symmetry in chaos. An interplay of texture and color, a balance in the untamed. I can stand there and look at it and get something new from it every time. I see something different. It's not everyone sees it.
But it's for me.
I've got my own studio now. It's set up on a makeshift bench in the backyard. Canvases are set side by side where I knife and splatter paint and let nature do the rest of the work--rain and wind, dogs and squirrels and whatever else wants to contribute. I haven't sold a single piece nor tried. I'd be embarrassed to try. But I lurve it. It's the kind of art I want to hang on my wall and costs nothing more than canvas and paint (which isn't super cheap; I mean, the math on that Pollack is awlot.).
It's what I dig.
In fiction and movies, I like the challenge. I like to be thrown into the abyss and figure my way out. It doesn't always have to even make sense. The Fountain, anyone?
So Book 2 in the Maze, this is where I'm going with this. The Hunt for Freddy Bills is a mind fucker. I'll go ahead and throw the curse words out because it's got that. The Maze, if you've read the short stories and Book 1: The Waking of Grey Grimm, is an exploration of reality and consciousness. In Book 2, you, the reader, will get be getting the mind fuckery.
The Maze has a purpose. It's more than money. It's more than a challenge. It's much bigger than any of that. Because there is no escape.
A few years ago, I wrote a short story that would be part of the Gamer Chronicles, a compendium of short stories by a group of authors. That story was the Maze. That was the genesis for The Waking of Grey Grimm, a full length novel. Then the production of the Gamer Chronicles went on hiatus. So I published the short story Maze and wrote another one.
The second shorty is Dupe.
The Gamer Chronicles is back on. It features stories by Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy award-winning authors Ken Liu (Star Wars: The Legend of Luke Skywalker), Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning author Seanan McGuire (Every Heart a Doorway), plus nine more of today's top authors in speculative and science fiction.
This also includes, Dupe, another prequel short story in the Maze. And you can get it now.