Announcing the publication of my second German novel translation, “Die Schwerter von Fortrus”, which is out today!!! If you speak German and enjoy Fantasy stories with clever (anti) heroes, lots of action and some dark magic sprinkled on top, check out this series. (If you don’t speak German but want to do me a favor, download anyway and share with all your German-speaking friends.
For a behind-the-scenes look at working with a translator, check out this video from Life, the Universe, and Everything, February 2021.
I’ll be at Life, the Universe and Everything this year – as a panelist and panel moderator. There’ll also be a book signing (more details soon).
For those of you who don’t know, LTUE is a three-day academic symposium on all aspects of science fiction and fantasy, with panels, presentations and papers on writing, art, literature, film, gaming and a chance for fans and writers to hang out.
“Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it.”
Idlewood Manor is about to be torn down.
In a rare show of generosity, its cantankerous caretaker Mr. Llewellyn opens the manor doors to ten groups from different walks of life. At face value, it’s just a weekend romp, a chance to experience the discomforts and delights of a bygone era. But each group has its own secret. One group is constantly looking under chairs and peeping through keyholes. A man wanders around the grounds with a stick that looks suspiciously like a metal detector. A young couple flees each time the other guests approach them.
Anna, Charlie, and Emily begin investigating the mystery of Idlewood Manor independently. Gradually, Anna’s fearless exploration, Charlie’s gift for codes, and Emily’s eye for detail coalesce into a clearer picture of what’s been happening at Idlewood, and the kids come together to solve the mystery of the manor.
I loved the quick-stroke character sketches that come out naturally through the narrative:
“Mr. Llewellyn struck Emily as the kind of man who liked children fine, but only after they’d celebrated their eighteenth birthday.”
“‘It will be fun,’ his mother said. ‘Anna’s probably already out there.’ Charlie doubted it. Hitting a ball around the lawn with a mallet didn’t seem wild enough for Anna.”
The kids sounded like kids I knew, and the suspicious characters like mix-breeds born of Encyclopedia Brown and Agatha Christie. The prose felt so confident that I googled “explorer Virginia Maines,” only to realize she’s a fictional rather than historic personage. And despite my best intentions, Allison had me ciphering out codes by the end of the novel, and not because the narrative requires it.
My favorite part was the underlying theme: Not all treasures are found deep inside a musty vault.
We interrupt this regularly scheduled lunch with a public service announcement: My short story SUNBURN has been accepted for publication! It’s in the House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature, Volume 3, available on Amazon. Digital copies (Kindle) are free for the next 24 hours (November 16, 2021).
SUNBURN also won the Marburg Award in Germany in 2019. This version is even better.
In a post-apocalyptic, environmentally compromised world, young Jacob and the remnants of humanity live underground, only leaving their caves and habitats at night to gather precious resources from nearby cities.
Since being above ground after daybreak is deadly, the underground habitats have developed strict morning curfews to ensure the safety of dwindling resources. But Jacob has secretly been spending some of his “salvage night” working in an old bio-crystal lab in the nearest city, trying to develop a plant-crystal hybrid that will reverse atmospheric effects that make surface dwelling untenable.
On the verge of a break-through, Jacob stays late one morning, and his improvised lab catches fire. With his own life on the line, and the fate of humanity in the balance, Jacob jumps in his car for one final drive.
Announcing the publication of my first German novel translation, “Die Ringe on Ector”, which is out today!!! If you speak German and enjoy Fantasy stories with clever (anti) heroes, lots of action and some dark magic sprinkled on top, check out this series. (If you don’t speak German but want to do me a favor, download anyway 😏 and share with all your German-speaking friends. (If you have a Kindle Unlimited account, you can even read it for free.)
For a behind-the-scenes look working with a translator, check out this video from Life, the Universe, and Everything, February 2021.
“I like this book so I think I’m going to write a review on it.” –Benjamin K. Hewett
Danny Day lives every day twice.
By sixth grade, he’s a pro at it. He spends the first playing video games, scoping out important details, and doing things most of us will only daydream about, knowing his day will reset at 2:22 am and he’ll have to start all over.
For Danny, this is a good thing. His second day—the sticky day—usually goes off like a speed run. He gets perfect grades, stops his toddling twin sisters from decorating their bedroom walls with sharpies, and tricks his classmates into thinking he can read minds.
But Danny’s life is far from perfect. When his family moves from Texas to Idaho, Danny has to be the new kid at school twice as much as any normal kid. If he gets hurt on a sticky day, he hurts twice as long. Even worse, Danny starting to think he’s been doing it all wrong. Then he meets Zak, the kind, athletic sixth-grader who lives each day without regrets, and who convinces Danny that he can too. Danny eventually shares his secret with his new friend and swears him to secrecy and the two boys enlist Freddie, the girl-next-door, in bringing the bullies of Snake River Middle School to justice.
In reading the story, it is clear that Danny isn’t the only one reliving junior high. Author Mike Thayer’s portrayal of middle school feels almost photographic, but it serves up the sweet taste of sixth-grade wish-fulfillment right along with the poignant memory of mistakes made. In addition to painting his adolescents well, Thayer gets the adults right, with unique perspectives and personalities for each, without bogging down the book in elaborate backstories.
I especially like Danny’s mom. Even though he’s living every day twice, she still manages to surprise him sometimes, and those moments are some of the funniest.
In short, The Double Life of Danny Day is for middle-grade readers, current junior high attendees, and all the rest of us who survived junior high intact, more-or-less. It’s about finding balance, even when we think we have it all. In the end it’s not Danny’s singular power that makes him great, but what he spends that precious extra time on.
Is it a true story?
“No. But it could be true, and that’s all that matters.”
When I was twelve, I signed up for Boy Scout Camp. As explained to me by my older brother, it was the great summer adventure: water sports, merit badges, and exciting new foods.
Our Scoutmaster was one of my life role models, a giant of a man with the ability to make any scouting trip memorable and fun, without letting things get out of hand. A few weeks before the camp, he handed me a blank form and asked me which merit badges classes I wanted to take. A few of the choices were easy. I’d always wanted to learn to ride a horse, so I filled one time slot with Horsemanship. Mom did all the Cooking at home, so I didn’t need that one (I’ve since repented), but Leatherwork looked kind of cool, and building your own shelter in the woods for Wilderness Survival sounded awesome.
I had one slot left, and Lifesaving sounded a lot cooler than Emergency Preparedness, so I marked that one down too. One of the other boys warned me it was an aquatic merit badge, but I figured I was in pretty good shape, and I’d already completed the Swimming merit badge.
Towards the end of the week, we were learning escapes. I went into the water with an instructor about three times my size and built of pure muscle. Beefy was supposed to act like a panicked, drowning person, and I was supposed to escape his grip and carefully lead him back to the dock while maintaining a safe distance. It all sounds great in theory, but I was in trouble from the get-go. The moment I hit the water, Beefy latched onto me like a three-hundred pound gorilla and began dragging me down. I took one gasp of air and then all I could see was muddy water. It got colder. I was wrapped up so tight I couldn’t move a muscle.
In that dark place, I wondered if I would just continue sinking forever, if I would ever breathe again, and if maybe Beefy was taking this escape exercise just a bit too seriously. I had a moment of complete and utter fear. It took me a lot longer than it should have to remember the training they’d given us. But eventually I did remember it. I broke Beefy’s grip and dove away from him, creating the safety space required.
In retrospect, I didn’t get out of that predicament on my own. I went in with a theoretical understanding learned from experts and some practical experience in breaking holds. And in retrospect, there was also a safety net. There were lifeguards, if my training, experience, and skill proved insufficient.
We have lifeguards too. We have safety nets.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, I interviewed a friend and licensed marriage & family therapist Matt Brown. We talked about my book The Deep End of Life, finding support, and getting out of the deep end. I’ve been going back through the interview footage, making clips of specific topics kids (and adults) might wonder about before seeing therapist for the first time. Some of the questions are more serious than others, but sometimes laughing a little is just as important as asking for help.