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Grandfather Guardian Launch

Grandfather Guardian is out! Today, the third book in the Old Code series hits the shelves, both in ebook and hardcover.

Seasoned, strange, and dangerously clever

Some invitations are impossible to refuse. When Ajay and Kylie are invited to a dinner party hosted by one of the wealthiest women around, Ajay sees it as an opportunity to hack her impenetrable security and dig into her questionable past. He needs to find what shady business she’s been up to and how dangerous she really is.

Never mind that she’s Kylie’s grandmother.

What starts out as a dinner party turns quickly to trouble when a guest is murdered. Was the killer the billionaire socialite, the odd chef, or one of the other guests? Ajay needs to cut through the complex connections between the reluctant guests, because one of them is a killer–but they aren’t the only one.

Too old to learn decent manners? Maybe. Too old to solve a murder?

Not this grandfather.

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Grandfather Guardian – Coming Soon!

The next book in the Old Code series is finally on its way! Grandfather Guardian is the third book in the series and it’s available for preorder now.

Seasoned, strange, and dangerously clever.

Some invitations are impossible to refuse. When Ajay and Kylie are invited to a dinner party hosted by one of the wealthiest women around, Ajay sees it as an opportunity to dig into her past. He needs to find what shady business she’s been up to and how dangerous she really is.

Never mind that she’s Kylie’s grandmother.

What starts out as a dinner party turns quickly to trouble when a guest is murdered. Was the killer the billionaire socialite, the odd chef, or one of the other guests? Ajay needs to cut through the complex connections between the reluctant guests, because one of them is a killer–but they aren’t the only one.

Too old to learn decent manners? Maybe. Too old to solve a murder?

Not this grandfather.

Grandfather Guardian comes out May 2nd.

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Grandfather Ghost Launch

Old Code, New Problems

Grandfather Ghost is finally here! Ajay Andersen and his granddaughter Kylie return in a technothriller that has them braving the cold winds of northern Minnesota.

You can now pick up the hardcover from your favorite bookstore, pick up the ebook anywhere online, or even buy direct right here.

Retired, reclusive, and too smart to die.

Hacker Ajay Andersen knows his retirement isn’t always going to be sunshine and roses. He’s committed to protecting those he loves, and sometimes that’s not going to be easy.

But things get complicated fast when he finds Silas Cardoso’s body in his living room.

An environmentalist entrepreneur threatens the very wilderness he once protected. Mercenaries hold information that could endanger Ajay’s granddaughter Kylie. If he’s going to make things right, Ajay will need to venture somewhere he never wants to go during the harsh Minnesota winter:


Too old to race a snowmobile through a dense forest? Maybe. Too old to be a pain in the butt?

Not this Grandfather.

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Of a Strange World Made Release

Girl looking at a horizon with two moons

Of a Strange World Made is NOW AVAILABLE for the Launch Week price of $0.99! Welcome to the world of Sky, where the colony of Edge lives at the forward boundary of humanity and science. Ash Morgan doesn’t have a problem breaking rules, but things are getting ridiculous and she might not know where to stop.

A Strange World

Girl looking at a horizon with two moons

This book has been a long time in the making. I’ve spoken before about why I decided to self publish and why I love love love the novella length. The story itself goes back even farther. Of a Strange World Made is actually something I wrote back when the local library had a contest to write the best story inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I wrote Of a Strange World Made in ten days, edited it in twenty, and submitted to the contest.

It didn’t win.

Of a Strange World Made isn’t LIKE Frankenstein, but it deals with some of the same themes. Of course, I touched “man’s responsibility for that which we create” and blew right past “the limits of ethical science”, but my favorite Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein story isn’t even the story itself. It’s the story of the story.

See, it goes like this. Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein because of a writing contest between herself, Lord Freaking Byron, and Percy Shelley, who was kind of a turd. At least that’s how I remember it. Anyway, I’m sure Byron and Percy wrote perfectly lovely stories. Mary wrote an incredible story that happens to be the start of modern science fiction. No big deal.

THAT was the inspiration for Of a Strange World Made.

After losing the Frankenstein contest, I reworked a bunch of Of a Strange World Made and turned it into something that I’m genuinely excited to see in the world. It’s an exciting piece to me because it’s doing things in science fiction that I haven’t done before, and so far I’m liking the reception it’s getting.

I hope you’ll take a look. Kindle books are out now. Paperbacks are backed up in the Big Amazon Machine, but should be ready, um, two days ago. Whatever that’s worth. For Launch Week, the price is $0.99. After that, it’ll be at the regular price of $2.99, so grab it quick. Enjoy.

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2020 Awards Eligibility

It’s that time of year again. Award nominations are opening up QUITE SOON and, well, I’m here to humbly ask for your consideration. Authors around the world are putting out these lists. If you’re interested in finding lots of great stuff from 2020, I’ll point you to Cat Rambo’s huge awards page round-up.

Also, if you get a chance, check out the Nebula Reading List for more ideas about what to read as you’re looking for works to nominate. I guarantee you will find plenty of great stuff.

It’s been a busy year, and I’m proud of every single one of these stories. They represent the best work I’ve ever done, and I’m thrilled that they’re out there in the world and eligible for consideration. I’m not listing here the stories I’ve been publishing over on my Patreon, since they’re not really in any kind of award running. You can still read them if you like. You could even tell other people about them.

But these are the ones you should look at and consider for nominations:

Short Stories

I’ve had a few short stories come out this year, and I hope you’ll take a look. They’re my most experimental, most artistic writing, and I’m really happy with the ones that managed to fight their way through a covid publishing slowdown to find the light of day.

The Cemetery Merchant

This story shows up in The Community of Magic Pens (affiliate link), and it’s a story of an old merchant who sells cursed pens in an old graveyard. I hope you’ll appreciate what I’ve done with this odd, creepy setup. It’s a short piece, but always kinda hits me in the feels when I read it. I think it’s some of my best writing this year, and you WON’T GO WRONG buying that book. It’s a good one, and it’s the kind of positive fiction your brain craves.

One Final Walk in the Dust and the Rain

One Final Walk in the Dust and the Rain is one of several environmental pieces I’ve written in recent years. Secret fun fact: The characters in this novel walk along a road up into the bluffs along the Mississippi that I used to always take to visit my grandmother when I was a kid. It’s not a scary walk, but it was a terrifying drive. Lots of sharp twists and dropoffs that disappeared into the forest below. Fun stuff.

When Last the Cicadas Sang

This is another of those environmental pieces, and I’ve had the pleasure of having it picked up by Little Blue Marble. As of the writing of this list, it’s not out yet, but it’ll be out by the end of the year and therefore will qualify for award season.

Pulls Weeds and Does Dishes

Pulls Weeds and Does Dishes is a story about an elderly widow learning to accept the assistive technology robot foisted upon her by caring relatives. It’s in volume 31 of Neo-opsis, and it’s all tangled up in real feels. I hope you enjoy it.


Yeah, that’s right. The novella is coming out in ONE WEEK. That’s well within the limit for award season, and I’m really hoping you’ll take a look.

Of a Strange World Made

Girl looking at a horizon with two moons

Of a Strange World Made(affiliate link) is the first in the Colony of Edge series, but it’s written to stand on its own. I believe this is my best so far at striking the balance between serious science fiction and absurd fun. I hope you’ll grab a copy and give it some consideration come nomination time.

P.S. if you want a copy of this for review, please let me know. Just head over to the Contact page and send me a message.


This year has been so wild it’s hard for me to even believe that my novel came out in February. What even is February? Is there time?

Grandfather Anonymous

Grandfather Anonymous(affiliate link) is my sci-fi thriller published in February by Dingbat Publishing. It features an older protagonist and some really fun hacking and tech. It’s a long shot for any kind of awards, but, I love this book. It’s the first novel I’ve written that takes place in and around my hometown. What will the tech look like in Red Wing, Minnesota in thirty years?

Well, I hope this novel isn’t exactly right about that. I bet there will be some old hackers running around town, though. Tech guys like myself have to go somewhere, right?

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Pros and Cons of Independent Publishing in 2020

One of the hardest decisions many modern writers need to make involves the choice of whether to pursue traditional or independent publishing. This choice, often made very early in the book’s lifecycle, can have profound and lasting impacts on every aspect of the book’s existence. It’s very easy for authors to stumble into the choice due to outside pressures, charismatic influence, or simple impatience.

So, I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at my decision-making process with regards to my upcoming novella Of a Strange World Made(affiliate link) in two weeks. My short stories go both an indie route and via more traditional paths, and I’ve spent some time with indie publishing of my Metal and Men novels, so at this point in my career I have a fairly broad understanding of several branches of this vast monstrosity that we call publishing.

As always, this is based on MY experiences. Your mileage may vary.

The Basics

Whoa, ok wait. Let’s back up and talk about some definitions first. I’m sure many of you here know perfectly well what the difference between indie publishing and traditional are. You can skip this, I SUPPOSE.

Traditional Publishing in 2020

Traditional Publishing is what everybody did twenty years ago (except for a VERY rare subset of those who filled their garages with books or fell for some kind of vanity publishing deal.) With traditional publishing, the author writes a book, shops it to an agent. In the rare instance that an agent is found, that agent shops the book around to publishers. In the (somewhat less rare) instance where a publisher is found, the publisher edits the book with input from the author and creates a cover for the book with little to no input from the author (usually). Then the publisher produces the book and sends it to distributors (or doesn’t, it’s up to them).

Basically, in traditional publishing the author FEEDS THE MACHINE of publishing. Becoming a part of this big machine is tough, and becoming an IMPORTANT part of the machine is even harder. There are plenty of small publishers (often called indie publishers) that will publish your book, letting you skip the agent. If the author gets a good book into good hands and it sells well, there’s lots of money to be made. Those are three separate things, though. Selling well does not mean the book is good, nor does a good book guarantee it will find its way into the right hands. Often, a great book gets into the right hands and it JUST DOESN’T SELL.

Independent Publishing in 2020

Independent Publishing is a publishing paradigm where the author owns and controls everything. The author writes the book, hires an editor to edit the book, formats the book, finds an artist to make the cover, and uploads the book to print-on-demand or digital distributors. The author is also in charge of absolutely all marketing and publicizing.

In independent publishing, the author IS THE MACHINE of publishing. The whole thing. They produce everything of value and take complete control of every other functioning part of the system. The author only outsources the tasks that they WANT to outsource. Personally, I love making covers. Some artists make better covers than me, but often I can do well enough. So, sometimes I hire an artist and sometimes I do my own work. I always hire out editing, because it always improves the final product, and that’s important to me.

Pros and Cons

Long ago in days of yore, the decision was easy. An author went with independent publishing, because big publishers didn’t exist. Then they did exist, and then the decision was pretty obvious for a while again. Now, both traditional and indie are valid paths with pros and cons on both sides. It’s really a matter of weighing what you want out of publishing and what you will give up to get it.

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing

Traditional Publishing’s biggest pro, in my mind, is perceived legitimacy. That doesn’t mean that all traditionally published books are GOOD. It just means that every book to be published through the big publishing machine had at least one person look at it and say, “I like this.” Maybe they liked it from an artistic perspective. Maybe they just thought it was salable. Maybe they thought it would strike the right notes for where the world would be in a year or two when it would come out. Whatever the case, someone looked at that book. They liked it. They thought it was worth leveraging some amount of wealth to see it brought to the shelves in the best way possible.

The biggest con of traditional publishing, in my opinion, is the time to market. It’s a SLOW process, and those few authors who manage to get their books into the system will be writing new books for years before seeing that first one on the Barnes and Noble shelves. Money comes in the form of an advance once the publisher signs on, but that advance is an advance on royalties that may or may not be earned once the book comes out. Look, all I’m saying is that it’s a slow and weird process.

Other pros/cons of traditional publishing are:

  • Pros
    • Someone else worries about marketing, editing, formatting–you know, all that hard stuff that isn’t writing.
    • Award visibility–indie books are eligible for all the big awards, but people nominating books for those awards often can’t FIND them. Traditional publishers know how to get their books into the right hands.
    • Allies. The agent system gives the author an ally (usually). They’re someone vested in the success of the author’s career. Bounce ideas off them. Let them be your advocate. A good agent is worth a fortune.
    • No cost of entry–The author should pay NOTHING to get started in traditional publishing. Except their time. It takes time.
    • Bookstores. Publishers can get books into bookstores.
  • Cons
    • Less control–someone else runs all that stuff you didn’t want to be involved with, but if they want to give your book a crappy cover, they can do that, and you might just have to pretend like it’s great.
    • Business pressures of the corporate world–publishers vanish, are absorbed, or merge. What happens to books caught in the wheels of this big corporate machine?
    • Series decisions–The success of the first book determines whether or not it gets a whole trilogy. New authors often have to write ‘standalone with series potential’ books, which is a good way to run things, but in traditional publishing, the author is not in charge of the decision to move forward.
    • Deadlines. If that trilogy happens, it happens on a schedule. The author can maybe negotiate this, but they’re not the only person with input to the decision.

The Pros and Cons of Independent Publishing

Independent Publishing’s biggest pro is right there in the name. Independence. The author owns and controls the whole product from the very first word on the page to the final maintenance of the PDFs or ebook files. If, after the book has been out a year, the author wants a new cover, then the author GETS a new cover.

The biggest con, I think, is that it’s easy.

Wait, what? Yeah, easy. Independent publishing is SO easy that ANYONE can do it. There aren’t gatekeepers, which is fantastic and cool, but also results in a HUGE range of quality. Also, quality is measured on completely different scales by absolutely everyone who touches the book. That means a book that’s doing REALLY WELL might be absolutely horrid to my tastes. Lots of people don’t share my tastes. This is a documented fact.

And that’s really fine, but it makes a lot of the publishing business difficult. Don’t let people tell you there’s no rejection in independent publishing. Rejection is thorough and constant. It’s a daily experience and happens whenever someone clicks on an ad for your book but fails to buy it. Rejection lives in every day that passes with low or no sales. This is a different, constant kind of rejection that’s completely different from the rejection letter an author might get from an agent or publisher, but it is still rejection.

Wait, did I say this was easy?

Other pros/cons of indie publishing are:

  • Pros
    • Control–the author keeps all of it. What the final product looks like. Schedules. Everything.
    • Fast–It still takes time to write a book, but once the book is finished, publishing can go VERY fast. Days. Weeks. Whatever the author wants, really.
    • Adaptability–markets for books are growing and changing. Independent authors are able to quickly pivot to what readers want.
  • Cons
    • Responsibility–the author owns all of it.
    • Cost. Editing, covers, and formatting all cost money out of the author’s pocket.
    • The Team–assembling a set of good editors and artists takes work. It’s time out of the author’s day as well as money out of the author’s pocket.
    • Marketing–a book that isn’t pushed in some way won’t sell (usually). Whether that’s a nudge or an ad blitz, it’s probably going to cost time and money.
    • Business–Writing is always a business, but for independent authors it’s REALLY running a business.
    • The stigma–self-published books still have a stigma, and it’s not entirely undeserved. There are some GREAT books out there in the sea of fiction, but finding them can be extremely difficult.
    • Little access to bookstores. See that problem of there being SO MANY books and not enough great resources sorting them out. The author’s local bookstore might carry their book. Getting into Barnes and Noble means defeating one of their gatekeepers in hand to hand combat, and they’re TOUGH.
    • Amazon runs a near monopoly, and they aren’t afraid to use their influence to bump you around a little. A lot sometimes.

Notably absent from my pros and cons lists are the “whatever publishing will MAKE YOU RICH.” Sorry, neither is a fast track to buckets of cash. Traditional publishing might give an advance, but big advances are exceedingly rare. Indie publishing may start paying back fast, but markets are fickle and often a series doesn’t start earning its keep until the third book arrives with a big mega-sale. Plus, you’re paying money up front, so you kinda start in the hole.

What I’m saying is, there are people who make a fortune on both sides. There are more who make little to none. The real question here is WHAT GAME DO WE WANT TO PLAY?

Of a Strange World Made

Girl looking at a horizon with two moons

That brings me to my reasoning for Of a Strange World Made(affiliate link). I decided to go indie with this series, but I had to think A LOT about it first. Of a Strange World Made, the first of the Colony of Edge series, had a couple small publishers interested. It was on a couple of short lists, but no offers. It had been in the holding pattern for A WHILE. I should note, neither of them were, the ONLY big market for novellas. As a novella, it’s not really big enough to sign an agent, but it would have found a publisher. Eventually. In the traditional publishing world, my work with the book was pretty much finished. I would respond to edits, work on blitz of attention around the launch, and just generally be professional, but that was about it.

So, why did I decide to go indie?

Well, as with a lot of things these days, COVID happened. It slowed down those already slow markets by slowing down already slow book sales. Before my COVID layoff, I would have been very happy to wait years and years for a publisher to pick up the story. If they wanted to make a series of it, great! If not, well, that would have been fine, too. Losing my job didn’t put me in huge financial stress, but it DID give me a lot of time to work on publishing projects and some good motivation to make some of those projects pay up sooner rather than later.

It also helped that I was comfortable with the tools of independent publishing. The Metal and Men series hasn’t really ever earned tons of cash, but it has allowed me to learn the business. I knew how to format books, find cover art, and acquire editing services. It taught me how to target ads, run promotions, and just generally move books. Of a Strange World Made will likely have better general appeal, which should make earning back my investment a lot easier, especially once the whole series is available. For many in independent publishing, marketing is the hardest part, and I have a decent start on that.

By my best estimation, a deal with a traditional small publisher would get me NOT MUCH up front with a prospect of A LITTLE BIT MORE in the long run. More importantly, it very likely wouldn’t result in a series deal. Publishing independently means I can have the whole series in my readers’ hands by the middle of next year.

What made this decision HARDEST was knowing that the book’s likelihood of award recognition drops by going indie. I really love this story and in the right conditions I think it has a chance of getting recognized. Yes, there are indie awards that it’s now qualified for, but I’m not as familiar with those. Nor are MOST fans. I don’t necessarily need awards to feed my ego, but awards represent a NEXT BIG STEP in the teaching branch of my income. “Award nominated author” gets better enrollment than “just some guy”, and that’s not tied to author income or the number of books sold AT ALL.

It’s also something I don’t have any real control over. It helps that I’m getting my short stories into various published venues with lots of visibility. If any awards ever come my way, it’ll likely be for one of those.

So where does that put me?

I want to get Of a Strange World Made in readers’ hands as soon as possible. I’m not afraid of the technical hurdles of independent publishing. I’m capable of being realistic about award chances (I mean come on). The answer, to me, was pretty obvious. Independent publishing was a good fit for this whole series, and I’m happy I picked it.

One last note: I have two novels in the pipeline that could also go either way. When I’m done with the Colony of Edge novella series, there will be more decisions to make. Every project gets to move toward whichever publishing path best fits.

And that’s the coolest thing about this decision between traditional and independent publishing: You get to keep making it.

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The Art of the Novella

The Novella: The Rise of a Shorter Form

Look. We’re all busy. We might only get a half hour on rainy weekends to read. Maybe we read for five minutes before konking out in our cozy beds during the long, cold winter. If you’re like me, you need to dedicate time to reading before other aspects of life consume that time like the cookie monster smashing snickerdoodles with his giant, throatless maw.

Novellas have been around for ages, but recent years have seen them THRIVE. This success ranges from‘s science fiction series to James Patterson’s Bookshots. Amazon even has a special place for short novellas and long novelettes. People LOVE these things, and they’ve been doing some really fantastic things over the past few years. So, why do people like them?

Well, they’re short.

That’s good, right? I mean, you can power through one of these books in a single sitting if you’re interested. A single weekend if you’re taking your time. You can get all that intensity, all that intrigue, and all that emotion in one little package, and you don’t have to sacrifice anything.


OK. Sometimes there are sacrifices, but NOT ALWAYS. A good novella has the depth and immersiveness of a novel written with the stark efficiency of a short story. Its transitions are tight, and its movement is swift, but it doesn’t LOSE anything. They hit the ground running, put on a burst of speed, and then crash through the finish line like a man on fire. The good ones–the really good ones–leave a reader wanting more.

Which is great, because novellas lend themselves well to series, more so, I would argue, than novels.

A novella can be written QUICKLY. Revision requirements (for me, anyway) grow exponentially with story length. Keeping it all in my head at once becomes harder and harder the longer the piece. Novellas are the sweet spot. With turnaround this fast, even traditional publishing can produce a few a year.

Self-publishers can produce polished, tight novellas way faster.

That means you don’t need to (side eye certain fantasy writers) wait years between books. The next one, if it isn’t out already, is probably out in a few months. The characters you love will hit another adventure at full speed, tumble through the brick wall of adversity, and land like a lightning bolt from a clear blue sky.

Recent Novellas I Know You Will Love

Hey I know by now you’re probably looking to read some novellas. Here are a few to get you started.

This is How You Lose the Time War (affiliate link)

I really can’t have a discussion about novellas and ignore last year’s incredible hit This is How You Lose the Time War. Not only is this an incredible story of love found on the battlefield throughout time, but it’s a perfect example of the novella form. It has the feel of a story that is the PERFECT length. Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar do some cool epistolary storytelling here, but I DARE say the back-and-forth letter writing would be too much for a novel length. Just exactly when the pattern becomes tiresome, it changes. Moves forward. The pace is perfect for a novella. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

And yet, the novella’s treatment of the complex time travel storyline rewards the reader with incredible depth. I rarely reread books, but I reread this one and was GREATLY REWARDED. This book is definitely worth a read, reread, and, if you have some time on a rainy afternoon, a re-reread.

All Systems Red (Murderbot)(affiliate link)

The other book I can’t help but mention is All Systems Red, the first of the Murderbot series by Martha Wells. The whole four book series (and accompanying novel) are fantastic and show off what kind of character depth an author can get in a novella without sacrificing action, worldbuilding, or really anything at all.

Plus, they’re all funny as hell.

The self-described Murderbot freed themself from their governor module ages ago, but instead of going on a murderous rampage, decided to watch fluff media and continue to do the job of guarding stupid humans. What follows is funny, touching, and more than a little intense. Every book adds depth to this world and layers of complexity to the fantastic character that is Murderbot.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo(affiliate link)

P. Djèlí Clark’s A Dead Djinn in Cairo and the later The Haunting of Tram Car 015 bring some truly excellent worldbuilding to a steampunk Egypt rife with magic and technology. They’re a great example of stories that are complete, satisfying and really clever packaged in the novella form. All of this wrapping up a cool murder mystery. Definitely worth a read.

The Sea Dreams it is the Sky(affiliate link)

John Hornor Jacobs’s The Sea Dreams it is the Sky is found in A Lush and Seething Hell is a descent into cosmic horror like none I’ve ever read. It’s powerful, intense, and the imagery in it is so intense it’ll leave your hands shaking as you try to put the book down. It’s a great example of how emotionally powerful a novella can be.

Of a Strange World Made

My own foray into the novella form, Of a Strange World Made, comes out December 7th, 2020 in kindle and paperback. It’s the very first of the Colony of Edge series, and if plans work out you’ll be able to get each of the five books in six week intervals.

As I write the final books in this series, I’m discovering how much I really love the novella length. It’s surprising and intense. I never feel like I’m constrained by how short it is, but I also never feel like I’m stretching to meet a word count. It’s a comfortable length of story for me to write, a thrill to revise, and so very exciting to me every time one of these goes out the door.

I hope you’re as excited to read it.

Wanna be the first to get notified when it comes out? Sign up for the NEWSLETTER.

Of a Strange World Made

Scientist Ash Morgan doesn’t mind breaking rules, but this is ridiculous.

The colony of Edge is a bastion on the frontier of space and science, governed only by laws designed to bring humanity to the stars. Successful laws. Outdated laws, if Ash has anything to say about it.

But when a child is born strange, Ash must decide which of the colony’s rules must be followed, which ones can be broken, and which ones will inevitably lead to Edge’s ultimate destruction.