Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Free Digital Copy of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath

As an early Christmas present, I'm gifting free eCopies of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath via  Use code: ND63W

 If you're gifting a Kindle/Nook to someone, please give them this code for their free copy.

Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Haunted by Santa

The first Christmas I remember clearly was when I was two years old.  We lived in Alabama where Decembers were usually too warm for snow.  A knock came upon our front door.  My mother told me to look outside as she opened the door.  On the front porch was a small racecar track set on a piece of plywood.  She told me that Santa Claus had left it for me. 
While I stared at it, not understanding whom Santa Claus was, my father snuck back through the house and showed up behind us.  He carefully picked up the board and car set and brought it into the house for us to play.  I didn’t know Santa, but it was neat that he dropped off the gift.  But, why didn’t he stick around?  What was the rush?
My mother explained that Santa had to deliver toys to all the kids in the world and just didn’t have time to meet everyone.
The mystery of Santa Claus worried me the following Christmas.  Songs of Christmas and Santa played on our record player.  Who was this Santa Claus and how did he always know what I was doing and whether I was naughty or nice?  This troubled me.  I thought only God had such power.
At a department store, my mother took me to see Santa.  He gave me a piece of candy that I didn’t like, so I tucked it inside my coat pocket.  When I got home, I took the plastic wrapper off the candy and tossed it in the toilet.  The second I did this; I suddenly remember that Santa had probably watched me do this.  I quickly tried to flush the candy, but it didn’t go down.  I lowered the lid and hurried to the living room.  Now I feared Santa wouldn’t give me any presents.  Why should he?  After all, I had thrown his candy away.
Christmas came and I got nice presents.  Had Santa missed me throwing away the candy?  Or, was it candy that he didn’t like, either?  It no longer mattered.  I had toys to occupy my time.
I don’t recall how young I was when I discovered that Santa didn’t really exist and that presents were placed under the tree by my parents.  Maybe when I entered preschool someone had told me.  But the leverage that you had to be good or you didn’t get presents from Santa no longer held validity.  So, my parents played another song a LOT before Christmas.  “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas.”  Not that I was a bad kid, but they still let me know that goodness earned presents and being bad had severe consequences.
Nowadays, it’s difficult to find kids that believe in Santa.  The hustle and bustle of Christmas and its commercialization has soured many people and children.  At family gatherings I have seen kids open presents and snub their noses at their gifts.  Parents run up huge Christmas tabs on their credit cards and have lost sight of what Christmas is truly about.  What happened to the days when gifts had more meaning than the cost?
Santa once haunted my youth, but seeing a traditional holiday mired by Black Friday and fist fights over gifts haunts me even more.  Give the greatest gifts ever—love, respect, and time.  Life is too short not to share these.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Curse of Devils' Den

Never in my life has something plagued me like writing Devils' Den.  This book nearly did me in physically.  Over eleven years ago, when I first started the draft of this novel, my left calf was suddenly covered with sores that didn't go away until a medical doctor did a series of spot injections around the area.

Not satisfied with the first draft and with Predators of Darkness begging me to finish it, I placed Devils' Den in a box where it stayed eleven years.  During this time, I finished the first three books in the Darkness series and never thought about Devils' Den.  Then, earlier this summer, I dusted off the manuscript and began the rewriting process.  The following week, the sores returned on my left calf.  I've taken antibiotics, used all kinds of antibacterial/antifungal creams, and other meds.  The sores faded for a few days, and once I returned to writing, they itched and returned.

After a relentless spring of promoting the re-releases of my Darkness series in Kindle/Nook/Paperback to online book bloggers, I bought a nice laptop so I could sit in my recliner and write.  This was great until a few weeks ago.  While writing the finishing touches on Devils' Den, I suddenly found myself in complete vertigo.  The room spun endlessly even though I was seated.  Sudden nausea hit me and I staggered to the bathroom, tried to vomit, but nothing came up.  I was so dizzy that I had to crawl out of the bathroom and back to my chair.  I broke out in a drenching sweat.

Needless to say, I was terrified, as were my cats and dog.  They knew something wasn't right.  An hour later the dizziness faded, so I researched the symptoms online.  It turns out that the dizziness is common with people who spend excessive hours typing at a laptop or even a regular computer monitor.  So now I have to divide time from the recliner to the desk to put more distance between my eyes and the screen, which has worked because I've not experienced that again.  Thankfully.

After the dizziness, I honestly believed I would have to stop writing, if this vertigo became a common occurrence.  So far, so good.  I'm still writing, not dizzy, the sores have vanished, and I am obeying the muse's commands for book four in the Darkness series.

Curse or not?  You read and decide.

For blurb of Devils' Den, simply read the preceding blog.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Devils' Den

I'm happy to announce that Devils' Den (Justin McKnight Adventures) is now available for $2.99 in all digital formats.  Here's the blurb:

"Evil has resurrected in the quaint, rural community of Cider Knoll, Kentucky.  The day after a country pastor is ritualistically murdered, a teenage boy vanishes inside an enchanted cave—Devil’s Den—that has long been rumored to be haunted.  The local sheriff is baffled on how to continue the search and rescue when the only clues end at a mysterious wall inside the cave.  Then an unexpected man shows up with an age-worn book that has disturbing revelations about identical phenomena that have occurred every twenty years for the past one hundred forty years.  And according to the predictions set inside the book, they have little time to find the boy before he becomes the next victim."

Need a spooky read for Halloween?
 Check this out.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tying Up Loose Ends

I have two or three chapters left to write in Devils' Den.  This past week I started reading and revising from the beginning of the novel to where I had stopped.  While I do this, I keep a notepad beside me and jot down tidbits throughout the novel to make certain all the loose ends get tied up at the end.  Once these final chapters are set into place, I will reread the entire novel two more times.  My wife will read this once, and my editing friend will also do a read through.

Devils' Den is a novel that has set in a box for over 10 years.  So it's not a surprise to me that the novel is now completely different than what it originally would have been.  I believe my writing and insight has matured during this length of time.  In fact, after rewriting the first 50 pages of the original, I stopped reading the old manuscript and let these characters produce their amazing adventure without the pressure of the former outline dictating what they wanted and needed to do.

I'm excited to see Devils' Den almost completed.  This is the first book of a dark fantasy series, so this is completely different than my Darkness series.  I hope you enjoy the characters and their journey as well as I have.

Friday, August 19, 2011

When Destiny Spoke

At a very early age, I knew I would write novels because I loved reading books.  I had a huge pile of Dr. Seuss and "I Can Read" books.  Each day I took the pile and read through them, sometimes seeing how fast I could read the stack, and eventually I knew them by heart.

The first time my mother took me to the library, I was mesmerized at the shelves stocked full of wonderful books.  I loved books so much that once I had read one, I attempted to write it down on paper so I could read it again later.  However, that daunting task bored me, so I began writing my own stories.

In first grade, my teacher, Mrs. Brown, had a closet filled with thick storybooks.  She allowed me to take one home each day.  Rather than watch cartoons, I sat down and read the books straight through.  I did this each day until I had read every book in that closet. 

So I used a small corner of my dresser to write my stories and draw my comics.  I loved having that creative flow when ideas came, and I obliged my muse by writing them out on pages.  Writing is sometimes a lonely endeavor, especially if the flow is broken or not moving, but I find this time of isolation to be enriching.  I love when I don't know what is about to happen in my novel, and suddenly, out of thin air, the crisis is solved.

Somehow, long ago, my destiny was established by introducing me to my muse.  I'm grateful this is my path and journey.  I'd love for you to follow the works that drop along the way.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ant Farms

When I was about seven years old,  Dad took us down the red-dirt road behind the house to get our first ant farms.  He carried a shovel while we took mason jars and the hunt for an ant colony began.

We found a colony of large red ants under a pine tree at the edge of the road.  Dad plunged the shovel into the earth and flipped over the soil.  To our surprise, a ring-neck snake slithered out with the ants.  Apparently the snake was eating the fat pupae stored deep in the tunnels.

After the snake disappeared, we scooped handfuls of angry ants with loose soil and clamped the lids on tight.  I really didn't know what we were supposed to do with the ants or why we wanted them sealed in glass jars, but about an hour after they settled down, they started digging tunnels to rescue trapped ants and eventually make a new home.

Watching the ants build their tunnels was fascinating.  Not only did my interest in ants increase, but my love for science grew as well.  A few years later, my father was finishing his degree at the local junior college.  For part of an assignment, he was supposed to start an insect collection.  His instructor had a collection at a nursery and asked us to go view it.  Since I was already interested in ants, I was excited to see what this man's collection looked like.

While I thought ants were incredible, I was amazed when I looked at the dozens of giant moths and butterflies, beetles, and lots of dragonflies.  I was suddenly hooked on Entomology.  I went to the college library with my father and pulled a dozen insect books off the shelf.  One book stood out to me more than the rest and drastically changed my interests even more.

Paul Villard's "How to Rear and Raise Moths" taught me how to raise moths from eye to adult stage.  No longer was I bent on just catching and pinning insects, but I now wanted to witness the life cycles of some of the most unusual moths and butterflies, which expanded my knowledge about the world of insects and prompted me to get my B.S. in biology.

This is why I embed science into most of my novels.  There is so much more to biology than what one views on the surface.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Banana Trees in Alabama

When my siblings and I were young, my dad and uncle used to tell us they were flying down into the woods and would bring back bananas.  Of course, we weren't allow to follow them. 

A red clay dirt road split the woods and a neighboring pasture.  They'd take off running down the dirt road, flapping their arms as if they'd take to flight.  They returned about fifteen minutes later with a bunch of bananas.  Being under seven years old, we believed they were really doing this until finally, my oldest brother told us what they had done.

About thirty minutes beforehand, after they left the grocery store, they drove up the dirt road, put the bananas in the woods, and then they drove back around the loop and entered our driveway, as if they had come straight home.  Since they were practical jokers, they got a kick out of tricking us.  Even though it was a joke, this stirred our imaginations.  Other similar events sparked our imaginations as well.  I miss those days.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Stomping Grounds

Growing up in DeKalb County, AL, was perhaps the best place I could have been raised.  I had the good fortune of living near a large woods, which wasn't too far from steep bluffs and a couple of small caves.  From the time I was seven years old, perhaps a bit younger, I spent a lot of time exploring those woods, the open fields and pastures, and ever expanding my imagination.

Living in a suburban area now is difficult.  I miss the nature walks, the quiet mornings where all you can hear are the birds and insects, and the absence of heavy traffic.  I miss being able to go outside and not be quartered into a small yard with houses on every side of me.  I also miss seeing the stars.  I would have never thought that all the street lights would have such a negative impact on stargazing, but they do obscure the view.

Now, if I wish to do either, I have to drive about forty minutes or more to find the luxury of nature and all she offers.  I hope to soon be able to find a house nearer to the countryside again.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Efforts Ignored

I whole-heartedly set out to make a difference for something dear to me by offering 50% of all my royalties to aid my high school's library after the EF-5 destruction.  I thought the media would help awareness for the tornado damage to my high school, but only the two newspapers in DeKalb County, Alabama, let others know.  I contacted the Huntsville Times (twice), Chattanooga Times, Gadsden Times, Birmingham News, and The Weather Channel as well.  None of these ever contacted me back.

There's only a couple weeks left, and I truly hoped a bigger interest than what it's at currently.  I guess if I were Steven King, this would be news worthy.  Of course, if I had the bankroll King has, all I'd have to do is write a check.

I guess the other question is "Why not 100%?"  Simply put, I've been looking for an outside job for the past two years.  My resume is posted through three different agencies.  There just aren't many jobs where I live.  And I apply for those that do become available.  So that's why I can't go 100%, though I'd love to.

Here's from my July post: Giving Back to my Alma Mater:

As previously mentioned in a blog, Plainview High School (my Alma Mater) was hit and partially destroyed by an EF-5 Tornado on April 27th, 2011.  In an effort to help raise money for the school library I'm donating 50% of my royalties for the next six weeks.

Currently all Kindle versions of my novels are priced @ $2.99 each and will remain as such for the next six weeks.  Nook versions are also $2.99 each.  All new paperback novels under my publishing imprint, Deimosweb Publishing, are available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local book store.

For those of you who'd be so kind as to share this with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or your blog, I'd be forever grateful.

Blessings to you all!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

Novels don't have a visual effect like a movie, so an author has to invite readers into a world developed on the page without lights and without dramatic sounds pacing the story along.

One reason I love to write and read thrillers is the building of action that makes you turn the pages.  When effective done, a reader will keep reading with such intensity that they don't even think about turning the pages, and they lose track of time.  I've had readers who have told me that they stayed up most the night to finish one of my novels because they simply couldn't put it down.  Those are comments any author loves to hear.

But for action to be effective, the characters have to be three-dimensional and people that the readers care about.  If readers cannot connect or identify with the characters, most won't finish the book.

One way action can be packed into a novel is for the end of a chapter to compel the reader to begin the next.  Leave a tidbit of mystery or suspense as the chapter concludes.  This entices a person to see what's going to happen next or say, "I'll read just one more page."  Doing this keeps readers reading.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Banshees and Ghost Tales

My grandfather passed away in 1984, and along with his passing were the tales he used to tell us.

Where I grew up in Alabama there was a woods behind our house.  Thick with trees and a small dark swamp I often thought it was a spooky place when I was young.  My grandfather often spoke of a woman with long, stringy white hair and long fingernails.  She was stooped over and if ever we encountered her, certain doom would befall us.  If she screamed and we heard no sound, death was our destiny.

While this was certainly a frightening story for us as kids, he had other stories of the supernatural that he swore to be true.  One such tale was about the time when he was a young boy.  He was walking home before dusk when he saw a friend of his running down the dirt road.  He called out to his friend, but his friend ignored him, crossed between the barbwire fence and ran across the field to get home.  He found out the next day that his friend had died (drowning, I think) not long before he saw his friend on the dirt road.  A ghost?  He believed so.

As a child you never realize the importance of the tales your grandparents tell, until you're older and often too late to ask them.  I wish I could sit and listen to him tell those tales now.  It's no wonder why I have a vivid imagination.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Photographs and Memories

Etched in my mind are images of my past that present themselves to me periodically.  I have memories of my youth so clear that even my late mother was astounded when I asked, "Do you remember when . . ."

It's odd that these memory bursts come when I hear certain songs, encounter different smells (like rain on a plowed field or wet leaves in the fall), the shape of a tree as I'm driving down the highway, or simply when I allow my mind to drift back through time.

Did you ever watch Kung Fu with David Carradine?  He allowed his mind to carry him back to when he was a child.  Now, I don't have a Shaolin Master to visit while in meditation, but I do vividly recall events of my past with clarity.

My brother and I found an injured water crane hiding in our thick grapevines when we were kids.  This bird had a huge, long beak and legs so tall that it was almost my height.  My brother, David, noticed its wing was broken.  "It needs our help," he said.  "Let's catch it."

Catch it?  This thing was huge!  To me, at least.  He grabbed the crane and held its legs together while I held its beak because we were afraid it would peck us.  We took the bird to the house and showed my mother.  Being kids, I guess we convinced her it needed our help.

We kept the crane in our house for several days.  My dad fed it bologna, which it enjoyed eating.  But, the bird was in worse shape than we thought and died a few days later.

Fast forward:  A few years before my mother passed away, she was telling some family members about the crane SHE caught.  I quickly corrected her, but she argued that it was her that brought the bird home.  But, I remember my fear while holding its beak all the way across the yard to the house.  That's not something you forget.

Then, not long after while visiting dad, he said, "You remember that crane I caught when you and David were little?"

I said, "No, I remember the one we caught.  You were at work when we caught it."  Which was the case.

My guess is that both of them had told the tale to others about how they caught the crane for so long that they actually believed they had.  My brother and I know differently.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Writing in Layers

As artists paint on canvas, writers have to paint pictures with words.  But I often write in layers as painters will do touch ups on their pictures to make the colors blend better.  The same goes in adding detail to a scene or a character by returning to read and revise previous text.

The other day, I went back several chapters to revise.  Here and there, I added this, condensed that, but slowly the scenes became clearer.  By the time I finished, I had added two more pages to the novel while fleshing it out.

While I never write out an outline beforehand, I often find that the first run through is like the skeleton of the story.  As I go back, time after time, more clarity and direction unfold until the skeleton becomes its own person with a unique identity.  Exactly how this occurs is still a mystery for me, but that's my process and it works.  Believe me, there are days when I don't think it will work, but I keep plugging away.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Horror Comics

My father used to buy stacks of comics once a week when we were kids.  I remember, Haunted Tales, House of Horror, The Witching Hour, House of Secrets, Unexpected, Ghosts, Weird Tales, just to name a few.   The comics cost $0.15 to $0.25 each.  Find the same ones on eBay now, and you'll pay much, much more.  (Had we only known!)

My brother and I awakened well before sunrise during the summer to read these.  I was six-years-old but I never found the tales actually scary.  The artwork for the ghosts and skeletons was captivating, often making me develop my own stories in my mind, molding my early creativity.  As people say, "A picture is worth a thousand words."  While this is true, a picture also has other tales that can be siphoned from it.

We all see things differently and it's good to breakaway from the cookie-cutter mentality and be different.  And that's what I hope readers come away with after reading my novels.  Originality.  Something different from the norm.  If they have, I hope they tell all their reading friends.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cloudy Rainy Days

My creativeness tends to thrive on days when the sun is hidden behind clouds.  Rain is a bonus.  I believe this correlation comes because without the sunshine, I have little outside attractions and I also have this sense of shelter, as the clouds are a cushion that surround and enclose me.

I am also a huge fan of thick fog, as long as I don't have to drive through it.  I love how sheets of fog roll in and make familiar areas mystical.  Once, when I was about six years old, I awakened to see our yard swamped in by thick fog.  I've yet to encounter another day quite like this one.  You couldn't see more than a foot ahead of you, and as a child I found this frightening and fun at the same time.  It's strange when swirling mists flow around you and moisture drips from leaves and buildings.  I believe this sensation is why such fog hung over Pittsburgh in Predators of Darkness: Aftermath.  Add blood-thirsty monsters to the mix, and you have a page-turning scare ride.

Today it's raining, so time to get busy working on my novel.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fischer-Price Memories

I don't understand why my mind seems to recall so many instances from my youth, but a lot of my imagination developed during that time.  In part to escape how we were raised by an overbearing father and in part because my sister and I grew up in the time when "kids were to be seen, not heard."  Understand, this was also before cable networks took over television broadcasting.  We had three stations, one of which might come in clear enough to watch if the wind blew properly.

So television had little hold or control over us.  My sister and I spent countless hours playing with Fischer-Price Little People.  We created, for us, what we believed the perfect family life should be.  It was our little place to dream our dreams without outside interference telling us we couldn't.  We had a lot of great adventures together that time has not erased.

Lately, I keep having dreams of my old homestead where my sister and I were raised.  The dreams are pleasant, as are a lot of my memories.  Unless a time machine is ever invented, we cannot travel back to our past physically, but mentally, we can.  Not all memories are great, but I've learned to take the bad and apply those lessons to my life.  I believe I'm a better person for the experiences I've had.

I believe I've always been destined to be a writer because I've always tried to figure out why people do bad things to others.  Whenever someone deliberately did me wrong, I'd review the situation over and over in my mind, trying to figure out why they did what they did.  It never gave me a direct answer, but it developed my craft of seeing how others might think.  And perhaps this is why I am able to get into the minds of the characters in my books.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Writer's Notebook

As part of class requirement as I pursue my MFA in creative writing, I am supposed to keep a writing notebook journal.  This nifty idea is something I used to do.  It's really a great idea.  There are many times when an idea hits and you don't have anything to write it down on.  The old mentality is that "I'll remember it."  But, sadly, this doesn't seem to happen.

I would have never written Predators of Darkness: Aftermath had I not immediately put down words to paper the night the opening line came to me.  This gift from the Netherworld was a mere piece I could have easily lost if I had not realized its true importance.  However, I never imagined the series would be up to four books, either.  That is something the characters decided, and I've listened.  I've not been disappointed with the outcome, and honestly, I cannot wait to get back to working on the fourth book.  But, Devils' Den has to be finished.  Just has to be.

The current struggle within my mind is when I keep hearing my characters in Death's Valley wanting their due attention.  And I tell them, "I'm coming.  You'll be heard."

Devils' Den set in a musty box for nearly eleven years.  The book needs its chance to be read.  To find readers.  I have to admit though, due to so many years unread, and how I've matured both as a writer and a person, this book will be a LOT different than what it initially was.  The characters have had time to grow, new outlooks, and new decisions.  These unique characters have already promised to play out their own series as well.  This is great and refreshing but demands a lot of time, too.  Time that I love to give to these works, characters, and of course, to you, my reading audience.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kindle Boards--A Place for Kindle Authors/Readers to Meet

For those of you who own a Kindle and have yet to discover the Kindle Board community, I invite you to check it out at: Kindle Boards.  There are lots of interesting topics and discussions about books, authors, writing techniques, quirks, etc.  A great place to connect with other authors and readers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lap Cat vs. Laptop

Yesterday marked the first day of my Masters course in Creative Writing.  Since my classes are online, I have to use an Apple laptop instead of any of our Windows computers (not compatible with my classes).  However, I soon discovered a little problem.  My black cat, Slinx, is very jealous of the laptop as it has taken priority over him.  Well, at least over his seating arrangement.

Slinx is different than most cats.  His mother has 25 toes, and he was born with 22 toes.  He's a lonely kitten.  The only sibling he would have had was stillborn.  Once his mother went into heat again, she has had absolutely nothing to do with him.  So, he adopted me.

He's the most unique cat I've ever had.  You can see the jealousy in his attitude, which cats are known for, and now he follows me from room to room more than ever.  He is the first cat I've seen that begs for you to play with him (feathered toy on a stick is his favorite).  He knows where the toy is kept and stares at it, crying until you play with him and tire him down.

Of course, if you've read my series you know I have a soft spot for cats.

Just a note, but Morton says you'll see him again.  He's already plotting to get into the fourth book in my series.  Hmm.  I wonder what he'll do this time.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Devils' Den Progress

I have passed the 50,000 word mark for Devils' Den.  This is the first book of my dark fantasy series, and quite a different genre for me, too.

One of the best compliments I get for the Darkness Series is the originality of plot and characters, which is good because it apparently works.  I have no doubt that Devils' Den is filled with originality of its own.  In fact, it's so different that I hope I don't alienate my audience.  Perhaps it's my self-doubt that makes me question the uniqueness of the story.  I don't know.  But in The Game of Pawns, I introduced a quartet of new characters that I almost cut from the story because I didn't believe my audience would like them.  Feedback has been overwhelming at how much they are LOVED.  So cutting them would have been like cutting my own throat.

Being a novelist is a lonely occupation because I sit and write what I hope will become a great story, but yet, I will question myself unmercifully until the end.  I actually held off sending Beyond the Darkness to print an additional six months because of this inner doubt.  I believe other authors experience this as well.

At the rate Devils' Den is progressing I believe I should be finished with the novel this month.  However, that's in what I consider the first draft.  I will have my editing friend, Ann, take a read through and possibly one other.  When I am writing a novel, I start back with the previous three pages from the day before and revise them.  I do this to refresh my mind on what I've written, plus tighten up the prose and dialogue.  At each 15,000 word point, I will go to the beginning of the manuscript, read and revise until I reach the end point.  This way I keep polishing the novel until I've finished the first draft.

Once I've reach the end of the novel, I will reread the entire manuscript two more times, and sometimes more than that.  Even after it goes to print, I still wonder if I've done enough.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Little Sister Lost

Isn't it strange how much emotion can flow inside your mind when you look through family photos?  Good, bad, or sad.  But the memories are there.

My sister and I used to go through our family albums dozens of times as kids.  We'd tell each other stories about how we remembered certain instances at the time the photos were taken.  But those days are gone, at least for her.

About ten years ago, she got mixed in with the wrong crowd because of a guy she fell head over heels for.  If love is blind, often doing things while in this "love" stage inhibited her from making clear decisions.  Before we knew it, he had her smoking pot.  A few months later, her behavior became so erratic she was no longer the sister we knew.  She began seeing things.   Little demons running through her house.  People who weren't there.  She destroyed her house, shattering pictures, windows, and once threw a broom so hard that it went through a closet door without splintering the broom handle.

She was finally put into a mental health hospital, and we found out that she had been using meth.  The drug use had done so much damage, they kept her there for months.  Doctor evaluations later diagnosed her with dementia.  The drugs had eaten holes in her brain.  And sadly, she'd never be the same.

Now, I look at family pictures differently.  When I see us as kids, I try to remember the things we did, but I cannot escape the remorse that the sister I knew and loved is no longer here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Winner of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath Proof

Congratulations to Holly Bourque!  You are the winner of the Predators of Darkness: Aftermath proof. 

Next contest at 100 Followers!  Have to make it something good, eh?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Giving Back to My Alma Mater

As previously mentioned in a blog, Plainview High School (my Alma Mater) was hit and partially destroyed by an EF-5 Tornado on April 27th, 2011.  In an effort to help raise money for the school library I'm donating 50% of my royalties for the next six weeks.

Currently all Kindle versions of my novels are priced @ $2.99 each and will remain as such for the next six weeks.  Nook versions are also $2.99 each.  All new paperback novels under my publishing imprint, Deimosweb Publishing, are available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local book store.

Please spread the word!

Blessings to you all,


Thursday, July 14, 2011

For A Limited Time: Kindle & Nook Versions $2.99

For a limited time all Kindle and Nook versions of my series are priced @ $2.99 each.  Times are tough, and this is a price cruncher!  Get my entire series for less than $9.00.  That's a lot of reading, too.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Paperback Editions of My Darkness Series Are Now LIVE on Amazon.

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath is now LIVE on  This is the second edition of the novel and has some revisions and additions made that the previous Predators of Darkness did not.  Beyond the Darkness, Book 2, has had some revisions and additions as well.

My series is now published under my publishing logo: Deimosweb Publishing.  And, I've made certain that books 2 and 3 are cheaper than what my former publisher (Outskirts Press) had them priced.

New editions, new covers, and better prices.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Contest Giveaway: Advance Proof of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath

This giveaway is for an advance proof copy of my novel, Predators of Darkness: Aftermath.  This is a one of a kind edition and not another one will exist like this.  This does not have our cool Deimosweb Publishing logo on the back as we had not created one at the time of submission.  The actual release edition will have the logo.

Improve your chances to win this one of a kind edition by:

Like my FB author page:

Follow my blog here.

Be a fan on Goodreads:

Your name can be entered up to 3 times (1 for each above).  If you're already following any of these, you will be included in the drawing for your chance(s) to win.

Good luck!!!

Please note:  This contest is NOT limited to only the U.S.  Overseas readers/bloggers/authors are also eligible.  Anyone following is also eligible in each future drawing for other contests as well.

Kindle version: $2.99

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tornado Devastation in My Hometown

On April 27th, 2011, part of Plainview High School (my Alma Mater) and DeKalb County Coliseum were destroyed by an EF-5 tornado that left a 25 mile path of destruction.  More than 300 homes were destroyed and 33 people killed in DeKalb County.  38 people were also killed in Tuscaloosa that day, too.  For some reason major media focused on Tuscaloosa and overlooked DeKalb County victims.

Here's actual film footage of the tornado as it formed and dropped from the sky just a couple minutes before it tore through the area:  Rainsville Tornado 4/27/2011.  It is quite frightening.

June 25th was the first chance we had to travel to Alabama to see what had happened.  There are no words to describe the destruction.  The loss.  Seeing the dozens and dozens of houses ripped apart in the areas we traveled, I cannot imagine the fear that struck the hearts of the people who survived through this.  My heart goes out to them and to the families who lost loved ones.

I attended Plainview from K-12th grade.  I am a product of that school.  My craft of writing stems from what I learned there.  My novels are an extension of those who taught and encouraged me to pursue my goals.  I want to be able to give back to the school for those reasons.  I'm setting plans into action right now and will update soon on what I can do.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath paperback edition

Hello all.

This is great news.  Predators of Darkness: Aftermath will be available in paperback in about two weeks.  The proof is on its way to me now!  I'm excited.  Will update more on this as soon as I know the exact date of release with a new giveaway contest.

In the meantime, Predators of Darkness: Aftermath is available on Kindle/Nook/eReader for $2.99.  The digital format price will remain the same.


Leonard D. Hilley II

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Bloggers, How I Love Thee!

Ann Linden, co-writer of the screenplay for Predators of Darkness: Aftermath, had linked me an article on Facebook in February about Amanda Hocking's success with eBooks.  I read the article and discovered wonderful book lovers who blog about books they read.  Until then, I never knew anything about this.

Hats off to all the wonderful book bloggers.  I greatly appreciate each one of you, not just for me, but for all the other authors out there.  Thanks for the book exposure and the interviews.  Without book lovers, authors don't exist.

I must also say that each blogger I've had the pleasure communicating with have been some of the greatest people I've had the privilege of "meeting" via email and blogs.  You folks are magnificent!

Thanks again, for all you are doing!

Best, always,

Leonard D. Hilley II  and Morton

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Facebook vs. Myspace

Facebook seems to be the current social network where everyone flocks.  However, I have always preferred Myspace, but sadly, few of my friends even log in there anymore.  One reason I loved Myspace was because you could design your page and send comment graphics to friends.  It was also a LOT easier to add people than Facebook.

I don't know how many times I've been threatened on Facebook to have my "add as a friend" temporarily suspended simply for trying to send a request to another author.  Myspace never had that problem.  I guess the big reason I did finally go to Facebook was due to all the spyware and trojan attempts on my computer via ads on Myspace.  Luckily, I have great anti-spyware and those were blocked.  To update my peeps on Myspace I've connected it to Twitter, so they can receive my Tweets.

On Myspace, I have over 8200 "friends."  On Facebook, you have to "beg" people to "Like" your page.  Since I don't beg, I have only 29 "Likes."  I just can't seem to break that 29 barrier.  However, staying 29 is GREAT if you keep telling people that's your age.  As an author's fan page, it's quite embarrassing to say the least.

So, while I won't beg for "Likes," I will erm, *cough cough* hint that Predators of Darkness Fan Page needs a few clicks.  And should you happen to be on Goodreads, Hilley's Profile is my page.

I know you can't hear it, but Morton is chuckling (actually ROFL is what he carved in my desk).  He says that if he sets up a Facebook page, he'll rule.

Siiigh.  What a cat.  =)

Monday, June 13, 2011

We have a WINNER!

Random prize (Beyond the Darkness signed) drawing awarded to AKprincess.  Congrats! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Almost to 50 followers

Thanks to all the wonderful people following my author blog.  Almost to 50!  Once we reach that I will offer another signed paperback giveaway.

With all the extreme heat outdoors, I have been writing and revising Devils' Den.  Things are going well thus far.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Devils' Den Sneak Peek

Here's a short excerpt from my dark fantasy, Devils' Den, that should be out this summer.  If this captures your interest, please let me know.  Happy reading!

Chapter one

Justin McKnight sat in the backseat of his father’s Lexus while his parents, Jack and Rita, stared straight ahead at the interstate.  They rehearsed their sales pitch for a scheduled insurance meeting when they returned to Lexington that evening.  Their conversation drew no interest from Justin.  He stared out the window at the passing hills and houses, and released a long, quiet sigh. School was out for the summer, and he would spend the next two months with his grandparents in Mills Springs—a small rural community outside of Somerset, Kentucky.
His family had made this trip many times, but today a boding evil loomed and threatened to sever the security he had known for so long.  Contrary to the bright morning sun, a dark, ominous sensation shrouded the car that he didn’t understand and couldn’t comprehend.  Inner turmoil and dread encapsulated him.  He had no reason for his uneasiness, but the strange darkness lingered.  He couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen. 
Because his parents were too preoccupied with their careers they had failed to form the strong emotional bond he desired.  A chasm needed to be bridged for him to reach the nurturing lifeline he needed from loving parents.  He felt closer to his grandparents because they held uncompromising patience and love.  The summers at his grandparents’ farm were his fondest memories.
Justin was a veracious kid with a waggish smile, mischievous at times, like any thirteen year old could be, but he never caused trouble.  He devoted himself to his school work, did his chores in a timely manner, and never argued with his parents when it was time to go to bed.  He was, for the most part, the ideal child.
To occupy his loneliness and the deep void provided by workaholic parents, Justin spent his time enraptured in fantasy novels, superhero comics, and drawing.
His biology classes introduced him to the world of insects.  Over the past few summers, he had collected a vast number of butterflies, moths, and beetles.  His interest in entomology was another reason he enjoyed his summers at his grandparents.  The forests, fields, and meadows offered a larger number of species to collect than he could ever hope to find in the city.
Bored, Justin tuned out his parents’ sales pitch and searched through his backpack until he found his spiral-bound sketchpad and a charcoal pencil.  He flipped through the pages and stopped at the first blank sheet.  He lightly stroked the pencil back and forth, up and down, hoping inspiration came.
Suddenly, through the vague charcoal lines, an image surfaced.  Justin moved his pencil more conservatively and concisely.  Stronger characterizations broadened in the center of the paper.  Within minutes, he had drawn a gnarled, leafless tree with jagged, forked branches that cut into a dark, sunless sky.  Twisted roots vanished into the black waters surrounding it.
The scarred tree stood on mossy ground in the center of a marshland.  Black, bubbling water pooled around the tree roots.  Small islands of sphagnum moss splotched the bog’s surface.
The sudden inspiration pushed him to draw more.  Hanging from the tree’s largest bough was a frayed, leather noose.  Justin understood the noose represented death.  The dark tree seemed an evil entity poisoning the water around it.
In spite of the warm summer day outside, chills crept up his arms.  The eeriness and familiarity of the dark images iced through his veins and unnerved him.  He tried to recall where he had seen such a place, but he couldn’t remember.
He rested the flat end of the pencil to his lips, contemplating his next strokes to further enliven the picture.  His attention turned to something in the swampy water he hadn’t noticed before.  An apparition.  The skeletal shape of a man’s face peered through the water at him.  He shuddered, closed the pad, and looked out the window.
Hidden within every shadowed crevice of the trees along the interstate’s edge were entities he felt but feared seeing.  The hairs on the back of his neck stiffened as chills ran through his body.  He’d never experienced such seizing terror.
Justin had not drawn the face.  It had appeared.  In the few seconds he had studied it, he had no doubt the image somehow existed and watched him.  Somewhere, this ghostly figure waited for him.
The dark sensation overshadowing him was connected to what lay in the brackish water on the page.  This wasn’t one of his ordinary drawings.  It was a warning of an impending threat.  He feared this drawing was somehow a portal.  The image within wanted to pass through to him and take him.  He took a sharp breath and tried to swallow the growing lump in his throat.
His parents continued rehearsing their sales pitch, oblivious of him.
“So, Mr. McKnight,” Rita said, deepening her voice.  “What can your insurance company offer that our present company doesn’t already cover?”
Staring intently at the road, Jack replied, “Our company can provide you the same benefits you already have but at ten percent less than your employees currently pay.”
Rita laughed, brushing her auburn hair from her eyes.  “You’ve got me sold,” she said.  “But, of course, I’m married to you.”
Jack nodded and looked into her hazel eyes that sparkled when she laughed.  “I certainly hope we can convince them as easily as you make it sound.”
She closed the leather journal on her lap.  “Honey, it won’t be a problem.  You’ve studied the competing market and know where we stand.  You’ve won over other major executive firms before, so this won’t be any different.”
He sighed.  “I know.  It’s just something doesn’t feel right.  I generally go into these meetings with a cloud of confidence.  When I feel like I’m going to gain new business clients, I have a tugging sensation, almost like a sixth sense, that lets me know I have the account.”
“You don’t feel that now?”
“Not as strongly as I usually do.  Something’s off.”
“Like what?”
“I’m not sure.  I can’t explain it.  I have a bad feeling but I’m not certain why or what it’s about.”
Rita frowned.  “You ever feel that way before?”
Jack was quiet for a moment as he thought.  He ran one hand through his graying brown hair and then adjusted his glasses.  “Yes, when I was a boy.”
Justin wished they’d break away from the sales talk, but once they began, they seldom stepped outside their circle of business.  Had his mother glanced back at him that very moment, she’d have sensed the terror that paralyzed him.
As he held his sketchpad he thought about the facial image in the swampy water.  Surely what he had seen was magnified by his wild imagination.  He opened the sketchpad.
Instead of the faint detail greeting him, the image was more pronounced, darker, and strangely, closer.  The face no longer held a ghostly form but had fleshed out.  The eyes were deeper, angrier.  The human face was more appalling than earlier.  The picture seemed to be coming to life.
Hollow eyes resided deep inside sunken sockets—dead, but also, undead.  Justin didn’t know what to make of the growing image.  This wasn’t his imagination, but he truly wished it was.
He put away his charcoal pencil and studied the picture with extreme curiosity.  Far behind the evil tree was an old, crumbling tombstone.  One at first, then another and another, until six gravestones shadowed an inset in the picture where his pencil had never touched.
The face tilted.  Rows of teeth tightened into a grim smile.
An ominous voice whispered, “I’m coming.”
Justin closed the pad and held it shut, fearing that whatever was in the picture would slink from the drawing, grab him, and pull him into the mire.
“I’m coming for you,” it said.
Justin’s heart raced.  He had never known such fear.  Catching a glimpse of his pasty reflection in the window, he almost didn’t recognize his own face.  His lips quivered, and his eyes were consumed with horror.
He scanned the fields and gentle sloping ridges along the highway and hoped to forget about the strange drawing.  But the threatening voice whispered again.
“I’m coming for you.”
The roadside sign indicated that Burnside was three miles ahead.  There, his father would turn from the main road onto a side road that crossed a small swollen pocket of Cumberland Lake.  Soon after, they’d reach the quiescent Mills Springs.  He hoped his grandfather could make sense of the drawing, although he wasn’t certain he should show his grandfather the picture at all.  He certainly knew not to tell him about hearing the voice.  His grandfather called such foolishness, “Hogwash!”
Justin no longer looked forward to spending the summer away from his parents.  The voice wasn’t a figment of his imagination.  The threat came from a darker region, an unknown origin, perhaps even a hellish recess from deep inside the bowels of the earth. 
Evil was coming.
For him.
Fear paralyzed him.  His stomach turned with nausea and an unsettling anxiety intensified at the thought of never seeing his parents again.
Ten minutes of eerie quietness passed.  If his parents had continued discussing their proposal, he hadn’t heard them.  He seemed to have passed into a void where outer sounds didn’t resonate.
Opening the sketchpad, Justin noticed that the dark water now eclipsed the man’s eyes but the rest of the face remained visible.  His uneasiness didn’t fade.  The situation would be a lot different if he had drawn the face.
He gently rubbed his finger across the face, feeling for an abnormality in the paper’s texture that might explain how the image had appeared.  He wanted a reason to prove his imagination played against him.  Perhaps the paper was thicker or convex in this area and the brushing of the charcoal pencil had stenciled out the bold facial expression.  But the paper was as smooth beneath the face as were the surrounding edges.  There wasn’t any defect that he could find.  He flipped the page over and examined the underside.
Smooth, too.
Out of the hundreds of pictures Justin had drawn, he didn’t recall one drawing where an image self-evolved.  In fact, this piece of art was darker than any he’d ever created.
“I’m coming.”
He closed the pad.
Justin wondered what had drawn the face and the gravestones.  Somehow the face detected his presence.  Maybe it could actually see him.  Whatever it was, it was coming for him.  He didn’t doubt the threat for a second.
His father turned the car onto a dirt road.  Grandpa’s farm was only a few miles away.  Some comfort washed over Justin, but not enough to grant the security he craved.  Grandpa was getting old, not feeble, but not young enough to provide a hundred percent protection.
In the horror movies Justin had watched, guns rarely destroyed undead creatures.  Magic, specialized tools or just plain luck wrought victory against demons and undead ghouls.  Of the three, luck was the only thing he could hope graced him, but that was seldom the case.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Morton the Cat

The most feedback I receive from reading fans is usually about Morton, the genetically-altered, talking cat.  He is quite a character and perhaps the hardest for me to write.  Like most cats, he tends to be stubborn and ONLY does what HE wants to do.  I cannot force him to say anything, and "Cat got your tongue?" only makes him glare.  Needless to say, when he does appear, I have no other choice than to write what speaks.

Without adding a spoiler, here's one scene with Morton:

Daniel opened the door that led to the garage.  “The drive to the airport is an hour long.”
Morton grimaced.  “I’m not flying in a pet carrier.  No way, no how.  It’s just not my style.”
“You won’t have to.  I have a friend who has his own private plane.  He’s agreed to fly us to Jersey.”
“That’s more like it.  Just because Helmsby didn’t bother giving me wings doesn’t mean I can’t have some luxury.”
Daniel opened the front car door.  Morton hopped in and took his place in the passenger seat.  After Daniel backed out of the garage, Morton turned the heat on and aimed a vent full blast at his face.
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing like a fluffy cat face to break women’s hearts.”
“I doubt we’ll see any women on this trip.”
“All the same, I have to look my best.”
Daniel shook his head.  “And what’s that about Felicia wanting you to tell other cats, ‘Hello?’”
“I had to tell her something, so I told her I had a cat party to go to.”
“Ahh, I see.”
“I have dreams too, you know?  A world of talking cats makes my existence less awkward.”
“How’s that?”
“How would you feel if you were the only human that could talk?  It gets a bit lonely from a cat’s perspective.”
“That makes sense.”
“I usually do.”
“I wasn’t trying to undermine you.”
“I know, but I’m logical.  I’m the Spock of cats.”
Daniel gave Morton a side glance.  “Watching Star Trek again?”
Morton shrugged.  “Marathon on cable.  What can I say?”
“You watch too much television.”
The cat made a Vulcan hand sign.  “Live long and prosper.”
Daniel sighed.  “This is going to be a long trip.”

This cat already has two bloggers ready to interview him.  The feline is ready to bask in the limelight, too.  Already, he's creeping more into other stories and cannot wait for his debut on the BIG screen.  For those of you who adore him, give him a shout out here.  And for those not yet exposed to finicky ways, find him in my series.