Friday, December 28, 2012

Which Road Will You Take?

We should never blame others for our failed goals.  Not even if they are the ones who planted the seeds of negativity.  They may have put the seeds there, but we are the ones who allowed them to grow.  Excuses are a cop out.  If something failed the first time, pick yourself up, dust off the dirt and mud, and start again.  Keep trying.  Persevere.

Nothing irks me more than seeing others point fingers of blame and allow themselves to be satisfied with their present position in life.  The blame game is easy, if you want to accept failure and be lazy.  Perseverance demands that you keep fighting your way to victory.  You never stop trying.

Cards of life are dealt, but that doesn’t always mean you have to accept the hand before you.  You can trade some of them in for new cards.  We make the choices in our lives.  Sometimes the choice doesn’t end the best way possible.  Sometimes we take a wrong turn and it takes a while to get back on the right path.

I have taken wrong turns in life.  Lots of them.  I dropped out of college in 1986 and seven years passed before I made the decision to go back.  I learned a lot from that experience, but I also learned that my future depended upon what I decided to do next.

I now have a MFA in Creative Writing and teach at a junior college.  But this occurred only because I chose this path.  I could have copped out years ago, and wallowed in self-pity that others were responsible for my failure, but I didn’t.  I discovered whom I wanted to be, aimed for that goal, and only after jumping the hurdles in the race did I finally achieve it.  Was it easy?  No.  Not everything worth pursuing comes easily.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Nightmare of Reality

Nightmares are not something that I experience too often.  One of the most vivid nightmares I ever had occurred when I was about three years old.  I had the same horrid dream three or four times.  Each time I awakened, I was terrified and afraid to go back to sleep.

Even though I was that young, the dream had a lot of symbolism and had I been keen on this later in life, I might have spared myself a lot of heartache and grief.  Call it a vision or a dreamlike premonition, but this is what I dreamt:

The room was dark and dim.  The walls were covered with light blue wallpaper.  A small cushioned chair rested against the wall.  Beside this chair was a table with a lamp turned on.  The heavy lampshade prevented the light bulb from brightening the room.  Standing in the room was a girl with blonde hair.  She was probably around eleven years old.

The girl held a large flower in her hand and plucked away pedals with the other.  Although she said no words, her action was like, “He loves me, he loves me not . . .”

I don’t know why but the girl frightened me.  Something about her told me to get away.  To run.  I remember being afraid and running as hard as I could to escape from the room, but there wasn’t a door.  I hit the wall and tore at the wallpaper, but I couldn’t get away.  The girl never moved.  She just plucked flower pedals.

I had this nightmare three or four nights in a row.  Always the same feeling.  Get away from her.

The last time I dreamt this, I hit the wall, ripped through the wallpaper, busted out bricks, and escaped.  I never had the dream again.  Off and on over my childhood, I thought about the dream but never made any sense of why it lingered in my mind.  Eventually, I forgot about it.

When I started dating my first wife, I knew that she had been married twice before.  I brought her over to my cousin’s house to meet him and his wife.  My cousin was the pastor of a church.  After he and his wife met her, he called me a few days later.

He said, “Leonard, I don’t think you should marry her.  God has kept me awake all week about this.  I’ve prayed and prayed over the situation.  The same answer keeps coming.  I really don’t think she’s the one.”

I was stunned but “being in love,” I came to her defense.  So, he countered with, “Ask her this.  Ask her about the men in her past, etc.”  So I did.  And she lied about it all without flinching and with a straight face.  But the truth slowly began to unbury itself not long after we married.  Over time, I discovered lots of things that my cousin had warned me about.  The warning given to him should have jarred my memory of the nightmare, but I was too blinded by my emotions for it to register.

Her past wasn’t the real problem.  Her pathological nature to lie about everything under the sun was.  She suffered extreme bipolar disorder and refused to take her medication.  She’d rather lie than tell the truth.  She stole from people.  She cheated on all the men in her life, including me.  She was verbally and physically violent.  Twice she tried to stab me.  Once with a knife and another time with a jagged piece of glass from a picture frame she smashed.

After two years, I finally left the marriage, but I was a shell of the person I had been previously.  My self-esteem was in shambles.  I had allowed my mind to shut down in order to protect myself.  I worked, ate, and slept. It was all I did during the last months of the relationship and it was how I survived, functioning at a bare minimum.

Only one time during that marriage did I come close to remembering the nightmare.  Once at her grandmother’s house I saw a picture of her when she was about eleven or twelve and thought, “That girl looks familiar.  Had I seen her when I was little?”

In my nightmare, yes.  She was the girl in that dream.  Only it was still a few years after the divorce before I put those pieces together.  Eerie but it’s the truth.

Ever wondered why I write dark themed novels?  This is part of the reason.  I say it a lot, but writing has been my therapy.  But since I’ve been writing dark novels, I seldom have a nightmare.  Of course, I’d rather dream an imaginary nightmare than to be living in one.  At least you can leave the one by waking up.  The other takes longer to escape.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Living in the Now

Finding inspiration for success isn’t as hard as one might believe.  Reading autobiographies or biographies about successful people often is a good start.  Whether we like it or not, our lives are role models for others, either good or bad, so our decisions and how we conduct ourselves are judged by those watching us.  And trust me, someone is watching you and your behavior.

When I lost over thirty pounds last year, which only happened because I took self-inventory and realized that I had a problem to address in my life.  Losing the weight became easier once I understood the bad habits I had allowed to sneak into my life.  Self-evaluation was key to seeing a new me.  Once I visualized shedding the pounds and eliminated the bad foods, and dedicated myself to cardio twice a day, the rest came easy.  But I had to make those changes.  Otherwise, I never would have gotten healthier.

That is both mental and physical.  Creating a better self-image is the first step.

Visit the past and learn from it.  Don’t live in the past.  Plan your future and where you plan to be starting today.  You have to live in the now.  Today.  Tomorrow never comes.  Today is the tomorrow you promised yourself yesterday that you’d change.  Right?  Well, it’s here.  Do everything you can to bring a smile to those living around you.  That’s the first step in making the world and our environment a brighter place.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Overcoming Odds

Actually several factors in my early life almost stopped me from being an author.  I wrote my first novel when I was around eleven years old.  My mother and father were students at Northeast State Junior College at the time.  One of their English instructors read part of my novel when they showed it to her.  She really liked it and said that I had the potential to be an author.  I was happy at those remarks and continued working on my book.

Then, during the summer when my brothers and sister came to visit, my father told me to go get the book I was writing.  I brought it into the living room, and he started reading it out loud.  At first I was proud that others were hearing what I had written.  That is, until my father capitalized on any misspelled words and made jokes about them.

One word in particular was ogre, and I had spelled it orge, which my father promptly pronounced, “Orgy.”  He hammered the mistake over and over, making everyone laugh.  Well, after the sixth or seventh time it stopped being funny to everyone listening.  But when you’re eleven, you feel like everyone is laughing at you.  It was humiliating, and for a long time, I stopped writing.  (Remember: Manual typewriters didn’t have spellcheck).

After my mother and father divorced, I started writing again.  Only now, I faced a new obstacle.  The church my sister and I attended taught against fantasy and using our imaginations.  Anything that wasn’t in the Bible was frowned upon.  So I struggled with this and stopped writing.

It wouldn’t be until many years later that a thought hit me.  To believe in God, don’t you have to use your imagination?  To visualize Heaven and Hell, places you’ve never seen . . . doesn’t that require imagination?  But still I lingered and wondered what to do.

In 1993, I met my wife-to-be, Christal.  While at a bookstore, she showed me a collection of Dean Koontz novels and that he was her favorite author.  The huge book was a three-in-one novel collection.  Since she didn’t have the set, I went back to the bookstore later and bought it for her as a surprise.  Little did I know the surprise would be my own.  I took the book back to my dorm room and thought, “I wonder why she likes his books so much.”

I started reading and four chapters later, I was hooked!  Suddenly, the desire to write that I had buried rekindled.  I knew what I truly wanted to do with my life.  This is why the dedication in my first novel reads:  “For my wife, Christal, who reignited my desire to write again.  Without her this book would not have been written.  And you?  You would not be reading this.”

So, if you’re a fan, she’s a big part of why I started writing again.  Without her I doubt I would have rediscovered my creative direction.

As I’ve mentioned several times this week, you have to ignore the negativity and accentuate the positive.  Otherwise, you’ve already failed.  Progress only comes if you push past the obstacles and follow your heart and dreams.  If you never try, you never know what you can achieve.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Five Years From Now

A couple years ago I applied for a job at a brickyard.  The pay and benefits were better than anything I had before.  To diminish a flood of applicants, each person applying for the position had to take the GED at the employment-testing center.  At the time I had a B.S. in biology, and that alone, should have been enough to exempt me from taking this test.  Nope.  Still had to take it.  Four hours of my life lost.

After finishing the test, the staff graded it and said, “Looks like you passed it.  You did great.”

To which, I thought, “God, I sure would hope so.”

Passing the test put my name into the pot of interviewees.  I received a call for the date and time of my interview.  I promptly arrived on the day and waited in the reception area until a manager came and introduced himself to me.  He stood around six foot four.

“Not to alarm you,” he said.  “But we’re interviewing you in a roundhouse meeting.  All the other managers are there, too.”

I entered the conference room and sat at the table with five managers.  The interview questions weren’t out of the ordinary, and I answered them honestly.  Then one manager looked at me and asked, “Where do you hope to be five years from now?”

This is a normal interview question, but my reply certainly wasn’t one they expected.  I simply stated, “I would hope my novels would be on the bestsellers list.”

They were stunned.  Their mouths actually dropped open at my response.  This opened up a whole new set of questions from them.  A couple of the men seemed amazed and entertained.  The interview ended, and I really believed I had done well.  But two weeks later, I received a letter in the mail (not a phone call) that I had been passed over and “Thanks for doing the interview.”  Really?  Wow.  Four hours taking a test I shouldn’t have had to take, and all I get is a letter telling me I didn’t have the job?

While I should have been angered, I still think a lot about that final question:  “Where do you hope to be five years from now?”

In five years, I will pass the BIG 5-0.  Yes.  Fifty.  Thinking about this makes me want to work even harder on my novels, the screenplays, and starting my editing/proofreading business as well.  Time passes faster than you expect, and if I don’t take the time, right now, today, to set goals, when will I?

Procrastination sets in easily if our minds get sidetracked.  I know.  I’ve allowed games like World of Warcraft to etch away valuable time when I could be doing something far more constructive with my mind.  In five years I want to look back with satisfaction and not regret.  So, it’s time to work harder than ever.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Free Yourself From Negativity

Negativity is like an anchor weighing us down and trying to drown us in this sea of life.  Or, at the very least, it holds us in one spot while we vigorously swim in place and never reach the success we deserve.  Don’t be content living in a pool of despair.  Don’t wallow in self-pity.

“How do I free myself?” You ask.

Remove the negativity that has influenced you to believe you cannot achieve your goals, your dreams, and your compassion.  Somewhere or sometime in your life, someone has seeded your mind into believing you’re not good enough.  Maybe a parent, or a sibling, or bullies that picked on you in school.  Someone has planted the thought and you believed it.  You accepted that as fact.  But you must see the negativity for what it is and what you are allowing it to do in your life.  To break free requires that you understand the problem that is holding you back.  Replace these negative thoughts with positive.  You must believe in yourself.  Strive to be what you visualize.  Picture it in your mind and set yourself to achieve it.  No one else can do this except you.

Once your wrestle free from the weighted negativity anchor, you have a choice to make.  Swim to shore, where you feel comfortable, safe, and not challenged.  Or, swim out to the island of discovery where you originally planned to go before negative influences told you that you couldn’t.

As an author, I have a vast number of ideas for novels.  Great characters and plots come to mind.  But if I don’t set myself down with my laptop and write the book, will I accomplish my goal?  No.  Books do not write themselves.

Negative thoughts bombard us daily.  Just turn on the television news or the radio.  Read the front page of a newspaper.  Negativity abounds.  Blocking out the negative can be difficult, but not impossible.  It’s simply how you choose to view life and your success.

Which would you rather have?  A negative bank balance or a positive one?  If your favorite football team is penalized, they are set back negative yardage.  That’s not how you win.  You want the positive.  To move forward.  Right?  Why shouldn’t you seek the same thing from life?  The positive goals.  Be the best YOU that YOU can be.  Ignore those who seek to hold you back from your goals.  Don’t allow others to put you in a penalty box.  It’s your life.  You deserve better.  We all do.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Get Rid of the Weeds in Your Life

Negative thoughts are like weeds in a garden.  They start out small and hardly noticed, but if you don’t yank them out quickly, they grow and spread.  Soon, before you realize it, they will choke out your self-confidence and destroy your self-esteem.   

Words can be bitter and sting.   They rip to the core if you allow them to.  Cut them out.  Replace them with positive words.  Nothing kills motivation faster than saying, “I’m not good enough.  I can’t do this.”  If you say those things, you’re defeated before you even start.  So why try?   

Instead, let’s say, “I am going to do this.  I am going to succeed.”   

Be positive.  Don’t allow others to dictate your success.  Don’t get caged in by others who want nothing else except your failure.  Sadly, there are people like that.  People you think are friends.  But real friends offer encouragement.  They want you to succeed.  Step out of your comfort zone and take the initiative to achieve your goals.  You’ll be surprised at your success if you believe in yourself.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Death's Valley Paperback Proof

The paperback proof for Death's Valley arrives today, and after it is examined and checked, the paperback version should be available either later this week or early next week (provided no glaring errors are discovered!).

Best to you all, and thanks for contacting and asking about the next book.

Leonard D. Hilley II

Death's Valley is LIVE on Kindle

Death's Valley is LIVE on Kindle for those who have been following the series and anticipating the release of the next book.  Here's the back book jacket:

"Everyone dies . . . eventually," she said.

Mitch Niles' first investigative assignment for the Kat Gaddis Agency lands him in the dark city of Salem, Oregon. The two gruesome murders in Salem point to the grim speculation that more shifters or genetic monsters have emerged. But Niles' discoveries place his life in direct danger as he uncovers more grave secrets in the dead of the night.

The shutdown of GenTech and Mech Cybernetics had left one miscreant scientist still on the loose--Alpha. The hunt to find him continues so they can shut down his operations before his genetic soldiers mature.

After Matthews escapes from prison, Lydia goes rogue, accepting her life as the assassin General Idris created her to be.

Lucian nears death, as the genetic enhancers that keep him alive are no longer working.

Hired assassins pursue Joe-Shadow-talker for the alien skull and are more than willing to kill him or anyone else that gets in their way.

"Leonard D. Hilley II writes with a dark veracity, giving real life to a world slightly askew. There's always a sense that something is lurking in the shadows, just beyond the 'normal' world."--Paul Counelis, writer for Rue Morgue

Intrigued?  Want to nab a Kindle copy?  Go here:

From the Other Side of the Desk

Recently I was hired to teach at a junior college, and for the first time, I find myself on the other side of the desk as an instructor.

I thought I would be nervous, but I didn't suffer the apprehension I believed I might.  So far the experience has been quite enjoyable.  Normally, I have a hard time remembering names, but I determined early on to change this.  And to my surprise I learned each student's name on the first day of class and remembered them all.

As I prepare lessons, my mind races back to the days when I sat listening to the best lecturer I ever had--Mr. Ranson at Northeast State Junior College in Rainsville, Alabama.  Don't get me wrong.  I had a LOT of great instructors over the years, but he ranked the highest due to his speech delivery process.  I still remember a lot of what he lectured about in Western Civilization, even though almost 20 years has passed by.  He was an outstanding lecturer and had he taught other courses that I needed, I would have gladly taken them, just to hear him lecture.

Here's hoping I can follow suit as I begin this new journey.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Death's Valley launches soon! Please vote on Cover.

Hi all,

Death's Valley will be launching soon.  I would love your feedback on the potential covers I have posted on my Facebook author page.  Also, if you don't mind, please "Like" my page.  Much appreciated on both counts.

I will have a drawing from those who vote on the best cover and give away a signed paperback copy to the winner.  Thanks!

Death's Valley covers on FB

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Poor Advertising and Wasted Money

Funny television commercials I like. Stupid commercials, no. And then there are those commercials that are so aggravating that you have to mute the television or just turn the station. Same thing with the radio. Why repeat a toll free number six or seven times within a 30 second segment? On the radio, really? Like I'm going to write it down as I drive. Well, maybe they're targeting "text while driving" crowd. But repeating the number over and over is so irritating. Station changed after the first time. A simple button push or insert music CD. To me, the marketers are wasting millions of dollars a year on dumb commercials that people won't listen to. Want to throw away that kind of money, they should simply mail me the check. I'll remember the product for certain then. =)

I almost started this with, "Do you ever wonder why . . . ?" But I thought people might think I was channeling Andy Rooney.  =P

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bring Your Story to Life

How can you make your story come to life in your readers' minds?

When you're writing a novel or short story, always keep in mind your five senses: smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch.  Your character, unless blind or deaf, has these senses and how you use them makes a huge difference in whether you have a bland story or one that makes your readers feel like they are with the characters in another city or world.  Visualization is key.  You want color and texture.

For me, the story plays out in my head as if I am watching a movie.  I see everything.  I feel like I am in the background listening to their conversations.  I eavesdrop and quickly write down what is going on.  Later, when I am revising, the places come alive in my mind again.  Only now that I have down the initial story can I take my time to flesh it out more.

Devils' Den is my novel about a teenage boy (Justin McKnight) who gets lost in a haunted cave (Devils' Den) and finds himself in another realm.  It's a world of elves, dwarves, fairies, and an evil wizard that wants to take over the Underworld.  Here's an excerpt:

   ---The air inside Devils’ Den was damp and cool.  The wet cave walls glistened.  Water dripped into small blackish pools along the edge of the pathway.
     Justin’s light dimmed, brightened, dimmed, as he walked deeper into the cave.  He tapped the back of the light several times.  He assumed the light suffered more from a bad connection than dying batteries because the batteries were new.  The flashlight flickered but his burning curiosity lured him deeper into the cave.
      He no longer looked for the bullfrog.  The amphibian should have become too sluggish to travel this deep into the cave.  It had probably squeezed into a hole that he had stepped over without noticing.  On his way out, he’d look among the wet rocks and crevices for it.
     The flashlight dimmed.  Justin slapped the end harder than before.  The light’s intensity increased several seconds before fading again.  He decided to turn back and get the larger flashlight.  He didn’t understand why his grandfather had dramatically exaggerated about the cave.  Nothing he’d seen so far had proven to be dangerous.  The snake at the pond had scared him worse than the cave.
     The path’s gradient grew steeper with each step he took, but he had not come down a descending slope.  The path had been level without any deviation and now it was strangely different.  The wall formations didn’t look familiar, either.  He wished he had marked the walls with a piece of limestone to guide him back to the entranceway.  The glow of the flashlight didn’t reveal any scuffed footprints left by his tennis shoes.
     A cold, howling breeze flowed from the cave depths.  It brushed past, chilling him.  His short sleeve shirt wasn’t enough to keep him warm.
     Justin wondered how deep into the cave he had walked.  No outside light filtered in.  He was certain he hadn’t traveled more than twenty yards.  Turning off the flashlight, he stood in pitch-blackness.  Now the darkness frightened him.  Without the assurance of a quick exit from the cave, he feared he was lost.  He turned the light back on and hurried up the path.
     Tears of desperation heated his eyes when he came to a crossroad of intersecting paths he hadn’t passed earlier.  He was lost.  He didn’t know which path to take.  If he chose the wrong direction, he’d wander in complete darkness after the flashlight eventually stopped working.
     The wind swirled and moaned.  Drifting in the air was the soft whispering, anguished cries of tortured souls.  Their pain-filled chorus was faint and in languages unfamiliar to him.
Justin shone the flashlight down each tunnel.  Shadows slinked deeper out of the light’s reach.  He wanted to believe the flickering light played tricks with the darkness, but he remembered the drawing, the solemn threat, and that the tree he had drawn towered outside the cave.  He no longer felt alone.  Something else lurked inside the dark tunnels.
     The frigid air hung still, silent.  Fog escaped his mouth as he contemplated which direction to take.  He chose the path straight ahead and hoped he found the entrance before darkness swallowed him.
     The path descended, narrowed, and turned sharp to the right.  The tight crevice required him to squeeze and contort his body.  Midway through the turn, he was wedged and unable to move.  He sucked in a deep breath and bent slightly back, freeing himself.---

There's a lot of description based on Justin's five senses, which adds texture and enlivens the cave's environment and Justin's emotions.

Using the five senses is a great way to pull a reader into your story.  Like I mentioned before, this usually doesn't occur during the first draft, but later, sometimes during my tenth or hundredth time through a manuscript.

I hope this is a tip that will help you while writing your novel.


Leonard D. Hilley II

Devils' Den                 Currently $0.99 on Amazon Kindle

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Haunted Barn

Things in life don't always have explanations.  Curiosity makes life interesting, and a vivid imagination takes you to worlds not seen.

As kids, my brothers, sisters, and I loved to explore the pasture and woods behind our house in rural Alabama.  Our imaginations often got the best of us.  Perhaps part of that was due to the stacks of scary comics our father bought from Harco's Drug Store.

From our backyard we could see the old rundown house that the pasture owner had turned into a barn to store hay.  It was creepy.  The tin roof buckled and sagged in the middle. The windows were gone and on the top right side of the house, half the wall was missing.  Just looking at it made us fear what might lurk inside.

Whenever one of our dogs had pups, the prime birthing place was always under the old barn.  Always.  I was only five or six years old when my father made me crawl under that old house porch and retrieve a litter of fat pups.  I did so and as I brought out the last pup, I found a black and white Polaroid picture of the house with a man and woman in front of it.  Of course, this made the theory of ghosts seem even more likely--to us kids.  And strange things did occur from time to time.

Once my brother, sister, and I stood on the old dirt road.  My brother said for us to study the barn really hard.  We did.  Then we turned our backs to it.  A few seconds later, we turned around and all of us noticed the same thing; one of the boards that protruded out the front was missing.  It was gone.  When we looked around the outer edge of the barn, we didn't find the board.  We also never figured out how we had seen the same thing vanish that apparently wasn't there to start with.  Our only explanation as kids was to assume the place was haunted.

Early one morning, my older brother and I got the courage up to go inside the old barn and look around.  Inside the front door we saw a set of stairs to the second floor.  An old chimney stood in the center of what must have once been the living room.  My brother told me to go to the chimney while he went upstairs.  He said that he'd knock on the chimney and to tell him if I heard it.  I agreed but never heard any echo from the bricks (of course, one shouldn't).  A few minutes later, he asked me to head upstairs.

Timidly, I walked up the creaky stairs.  When I reached the top I was standing in the room with the missing wall.  The morning breeze rushed through and down the stairs.  An old rusted bed frame was in one corner.  Old clothes hung on a metal wire that crossed the room.  It was interesting to see all the old pieces of furniture left behind by the previous owners.  All this, and no ghosts?  I was somewhat disappointed and partly relieved.

All of us have grown up and gone our separate paths in life, but a part of me, that curious little kid, still keeps me here writing, questioning.  Now in my mid-forties, I love that I've never forgotten those "mysteries" of childhood that always had me asking, "What if?"  I still ask the questions and my muse delivers the answers in suspenseful tales.  So far that has worked out pretty well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Leonard D. Hilley II

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath   $.99 on Kindle.

Devils' Den                                          $.99 on Kindle.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Venturing into Twitterville

I have had a Twitter account for a long time and never really knew what to do with it.  After some good advice from another author, I am trying to venture into this strange new land. 

For those of you who are avid reading bookworms and are following me:  Thank you so much!

I am still learning about Twitter, but I know enough NOT to spam all you dear people to death about my books.  I had one author Tweet six different books of his in less than one minute.  Before he could rack up more the next minute, I "unfollowed" him.  Spam is NOT cool, so I promise you won't be bombarded by constant "Buy My Book" messages.  I will point you to my blog, FB author page, or some other humorous tidbit when something new or interesting comes up.  But I promise not spam like the author was doing with his books.  After all, I want you to like me and get to know me.  Not unfollow me.

For updates on my novels, you can follow this blog.  Or, stop by my author page on FB: Leonard D. Hilley II/author page and "Like" my page.  Unlike the old Myspace, you practically have to beg people to hit that Like button.

This month I will be requesting votes for the new cover of Death's Valley.  And someone will win a paperback copy of the novel after it's published.

If you're a new fan of my books, or Morton the cat has captured your heart, please tell others about my novels.  Word of mouth is often the best promotion an author can get.

As always, my best to you!

Leonard D. Hilley II

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Books on Sale!!!

Welcome to September, my friends and readers!

The Kindle editions of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath and Devils' Den are both priced at $0.99 at or you can borrow them through Prime services.  The others in my Darkness series are $2.99.  Great prices for books you can read over Labor Day weekend.

The prices for my paperbacks are now $12.95.  Paperbacks of these are also available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Books-A-Million, and through your local book store.

Happy reading!


Leonard D. Hilley II

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I suppose there are things in this world that we will never fully understand or correctly diagnose.  Cable television boasts several successful ghost hunter shows.  Occasionally I watch these, but never do you actually see anything definitively.  I am a skeptic at best, which is perhaps why I incorporate a lot of conspiracy theories within my Darkness series.  So I have to wonder if a lot of what is shown on television is staged in order to up the ratings.  Maybe?  Maybe not.  But since I am not on their set to see firsthand, I cannot easily accept their findings.

However, there are instances in my own life of things I have seen and cannot fully explain, but at the same time, I cannot simply dismiss them.

My two brothers and sister were staying with us the summer I was seven years old.  Around eight o'clock in the evening I hurried inside to get something from my bedroom.  As I entered my bedroom, this ghostly figure drifted from my closet and crossed the room to sit on the edge of my bed.  It remained there several seconds before disappearing.  I told my brothers and sisters about it.  Of course, they joked about this since I was next to the youngest.  I was concerned and a bit nervous, but I never saw it again.

A more vivid and frightening time for me was when I was about three years old.  We were visiting my grandparents in Middletown, Ohio.  Since I was little, I was sleeping at the foot of the parents' bed.  I awoke and saw people sitting all around the perimeter of the room watching us.  They were seated in wooden chairs.  I remember they looked like elderly people.  They were quiet and peaceful but their eyes watched us.

Startled, I was afraid to breathe.  I wanted to wake my parents up, but I didn't know what might happen if I moved.  The bed moved as my mother shook my father's shoulder and she said, "Do you see them?"

"What?" he asked.

"The people seated around the room."

I remember chill bumps covering my body then as I do now in telling you this account.  My mother could see them, too, and then they simply disappeared.  A few years before my mother passed away, I talked to her about this.  She still remembered it.  When I asked her who she thought they might be, she said that they may have been ancestors or something.  But had they meant to do us harm, they probably could have.

One other account I will share is what happened in 1994.  My wife and I lived in an apartment in Rainsville, Alabama.  At around one a.m. I awoke to the feeling of being watched.  Our room and the apartment was pitch black.  The only light in the room was our alarm clock.  Something walked past the clock, blocking the numbers in passing.  I didn't move, but my wife gasped.

"Did you see that?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied.

I came up out of the bed and turned on every light in the house.  We searched each room.  No one was there.  At least, no physical person was there.  My wife was nervous and shaking.  An hour passed before we attempted to go back to sleep.

These are things I cannot explain, but the events are true.

Have any of you had similar experiences?  Anyone know why events like this occur?  Please share in the comments if you have.


Leonard D. Hilley II

Monday, August 27, 2012

1000 words per day

Starting this week, I have set this as my new goal:  1000 words per day on my WIP.  Not just typing out strings of words, but one thousand quality words that move the story and characters forward.  I generally do a lot of revising and editing each day, too, so this will definitely plant my tail in the chair longer.

Well, best get started.  Those words won't type themselves.


Leonard D. Hilley II

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tribute to a Hero

Yesterday as I drove into Morehead, Kentucky, I noticed a line of parked firetrucks and ambulances along the road beside Northcutt & Sons Funeral Home.  Parked on the other side of the street were state, county, and city police cars lining the ditch.  Of course, seeing so many emergency vehicles immediately catches one's attention.  About one mile down the highway I came around a curve and was stunned to see a firefighter truck parked at the side of the road with its ladder fully extended.  Hanging from the cherry picker was one of the largest American Flags I've ever seen.  They had the flag stretched out over the highway between several vehicles.

I continued driving but an hour later I headed back.  Dozens of cars now lined both sides of the highway.  People stood outside their vehicles watching and waiting.  When I reached the red light near the funeral home I noticed a firefighter standing at the corner of the intersection.  He stood at attention while saluting, and like a robot, he slowly and stiffly lowered the salute.  A few seconds later, he mechanically raised his hand to salute again.  I looked over my shoulder.  On top of the hill at the funeral home were four firefighters placing a flag-draped casket onto the back of a firetruck.  They lowered the casket and stood at attention.  One of their own had fallen.

Such an outpouring of respect and tribute is touching.  There are no words when you see so many people bestowing honor to a hero.  Not knowing who the procession was for, I researched for information and discovered who the hero was.

He was a thirty-year old firefighter captain.  His name: Joshua Eugene Ferguson.  Read more about him here: Joshua-Eugene-Ferguson.  RIP and thanks for living an honorable life the way you did.  You touched many lives, and we salute you.  God bless you and yours.  Forever and always.


Leonard D. Hilley II

Friday, August 24, 2012

That Aha! moment

I love when the "Aha" moment hits me.  I love surprises but when the muse springs something new on me about my characters or storyline, I become really stoked.

While driving this morning, I was thinking through the dialogue of my characters in my upcoming novel, Death's Valley.  Yes, I edit in my head even without my manuscript in front of me.  And something new occurred that I had not thought of, nor did I anticipate.  This slant will sharpen the edge of the story and unravel some previous mysteries that my reading fans should enjoy.  But the true wonder of the revelation is that this weaves the story together even better than I originally planned.

The Aha moments are reasons why I cannot rush through a book and shove it into the world for others to read.  Writing is sometimes like an artist painting on the canvas.  Only we use words, not paint.  But for a work to really be complete, one must catch every detail, no matter how small it is.  If you boil grapes, press them, and bottle the juice, you don't have wine.  You have grape juice.  The juice must ferment with sugar and yeast and age over time before the alcohol produces wine.  The same holds true with my methods for writing.  I won't type straight through the novel, and voilà!, it's done.  No, I go through every page at least fifty times and some up to one hundred times before I'm satisfied with my novel.  The process is tedious, and maybe I strive to be a perfectionist, but I don't want a poor product on the market.

Happy Friday, folks!  Have a great weekend!

Leonard D. Hilley II

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On Writing and Traditional Publishing: My Experience

Here's my guest post on Red Tash's blog for any who'd like to read it.  This was posted last week but with moving our son to MSU, I've been catching up on my work.

Best to you all,

Leonard D. Hilley II

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Shifting Gears

As many of you know, my son left for his first year of college last Friday, and for my wife and I, this has been an adjustment of separation anxiety on our part.  He's having the time of his life and enjoys his classes, instructors, and probably the independence a young man needs.  So, to keep my mind occupied, I decided to change things up a bit.

For the past three days I've been moving my office so I can become more productive.  The biggest labor involved was disassembling my L-shaped desk in order to move it, which at first was something I dreaded.  However, the process of sorting through all my papers inside the desk was like finding a treasure chest buried in the sand.  So many ideas that I had jotted down over the years and simply had forgotten about are now filed for quick access.  If only I could clone myself so I could work on the vast number of projects I eagerly want to write.  At least they are no longer "lost" to me.

I am about 75% finished with Death's Valley at the moment.  With all the discoveries I found while cleaning and moving, a new dilemma emerges: What to work on next?  Whatever is chosen, I do hope it is something you will enjoy reading.


Leonard D. Hilley II

Thursday, August 16, 2012


A lot of authors keep notebooks with them wherever they go.  I do.  You never know when a new idea will come.  And this past week, the opening to a new thriller novel gripped me, and I had to write it down.  If I didn't keep a notebook and pen in our car, I would have lost the words and missed out on a new adventure.  New characters.

As school supplies fill several aisles in Walmart, I found some one subject, college ruled notebooks priced at $.17 each.  I bought dozens of these to ensure I have one handy at all times.  Some authors fear a blank page, but I greet each one wondering what will eventually come to life here?  Sometimes, it's an interesting beginning that leads to a dead end, but often, the plot situations take root and propagate into a splendid world with vivid characters.

If you love to write, stock up on some cheap notebooks while the back-to-school sales are going.  It's the best time to find the bargains.  May your muse gift you will new realms unknown.


Leonard D. Hilley II

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Letting Go is Hard

In two days, my wife and I take our son to MSU for his first year of college.  He will be living in a dorm and away from home for the first time.  Already, the memories flood my mind.  Where did the time go?

I've always known this day was coming but never did I imagine that eighteen years would pass by so quickly.  Seems just yesterday that we brought him home from the hospital.  So little and helpless.  Then, before we knew it, he was toddling around the living room with his little football wanting me to wrestle and tackle him.

He was an adventurous young boy at the park, often climbing on the monkey bars and jungle gym equipment and making me hold my breath when he'd get higher than what I wanted him to.  But he'd safely climb his way back down.  Oh, the days for Happy Meals at McDonald's and the Playland tunnels where he never wanted to leave.  Once I had to climb through those tight tunnels and get him because he thought if he hid at the top, we wouldn't have to go.

His aptitude to identify and learn words came easily.  He read words off flash cards at age three.  Then came preschool where he was quick to make friends.  Good friends.  And when he entered first grade at my Alma Mater, he made new friends.  He had good teachers that made learning fun, and he discovered new subjects that have kept his interest all these years.

He learned to swim quickly and like a fish, he loves the water.  There were the glory days of Little League Baseball and basketball.  Hiking, fishing, and rock climbing.  The Giant Corn Maze in Huntsville.  Six Flags.  Camden Park.  King's Island.

We've had many pets--mice, rats, snakes, spiders, chickens, ducks, frogs, turtles, dogs, and cats--over the years.  Our mini-zoo.  Like his parents he loves science.

I have so many memories and mental photos that I treasure.  And now, my little boy is a man.  He's grown and matured into a wonderful person that I am so proud of.  I am honored that he is my son.  And yet, I have to wonder how eighteen years crept past me at such a rapid pace.  In some ways, it seems like I blinked and here we are.

Son, study hard and do well.  We love you, and we're always here for you. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Seeking the Facts

"You can't handle the truth!" Jack Nicholson's line in A Few Good Men.
Great line, but the sad fact is most people cannot identify what's true in this world. Most accept lies and deceit as fact. Or maybe it's laziness and the unwillingness to dig and research to discover the truth for ourselves. Weigh reality. Look closer. Maybe we'll all see something we've overlooked. The truth is out there. You just have to search for it. Don't let others dictate what the truth is. Find it for yourself.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Chapters and Steps Forward

After a few years in the making, Ann Linden and I have finished the screenplay for Predators of Darkness: Aftermath.  So many readers have commented on Amazon in their reviews that the novel would make a vividly dark movie.  And now, we have the screenplay ready, and the next chapter in this work begins.

The hunt is on to find an agent, manager, producer, and/or director who will read the script.  Things don't get easier, but having a good story and script is the first step.  Of course, Morton has already starting packing and sporting Hollywood shades.  He's always ready for new adventures, and he knows how to steal the show.

More details later . . .

Monday, July 9, 2012

21 Years Ago--RIP Bubba

Yesterday marked twenty-one years since my eight-year-old brother was shot and killed.  This happened the day after our mother's birthday while she was working one mile away from the house.  He and our twin sisters (age 9) were home alone and walked to my stepfather's house less than a quarter mile away.  No one was at home there.

The day before, their father had been teaching them how to shoot a .22 rifle.  Alone, they heard a sound outside and grabbed the loaded rifle from behind the pantry door.  My stepfather's philosophy was "an unloaded gun is more dangerous than a loaded gun."  So he also kept his guns loaded but not locked away.

They took the rifle, went outside, and fired a few rounds.  Back inside the house the gun went off and shot Bubba in the center of his stomach.  He bled to death within a matter of minutes.  He died before my mother arrived and well before paramedics came to the scene. 

The medical doctors at the hospital tried to revive him, but the surgeon told us that the bullet had hit his stomach aorta.  She said that had the bullet gone one inch to the left or right, he would probably have survived.

Bubba would be 29 years old today if he had survived.  I miss him greatly and wonder what he could have accomplished with his life.

If you own guns, please lock them up where children cannot get to them.  Never leave a loaded gun where a child has access to them.  Guns aren't toys, and if you own them, be a responsible person.  If you cannot, you don't deserve to possess them.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Virginia Beach Vacation

Last week I ventured to VA Beach with my wife and kids.  The people along the strip and inside shops and restaurants were some of the friendliest people I have had the good fortune of meeting while on a vacation.

This was the first time that we were able to take our children to the ocean, and they really loved it.  Even after the long ten hour trip, we headed straight to the ocean and jumped waves.  My son kept a smile from ear-to-ear as the tide came in with harsh, pounding waves that could knock your feet out from beneath you.  It simply amazed me at how quickly we no longer felt tired and found ourselves at ease and relaxed on the sandy beach.

We had rented a room in Norfolk a couple months prior, and since it was on the beach, too, we thought we'd spend more time in Norfolk than Virginia Beach.  However, Norfolk's beach was nasty with dead crabs and fish everywhere.  The water had lots of seaweed and clutter, too, so we returned to Virginia Beach each day.  The beauty of Norfolk's beach, though, came early morning as the sun rose on the horizon.  To our surprise, we watched adult dolphins feeding with their babies.

Back at Virginia Beach, late one evening while we were walking the Boardwalk, we were approached by a young lady with Gold Key Resorts.  She asked how our vacation was going, and the next thing we knew, she was hitting us up with a well-planned "Time-Share" sales pitch.  Normally, I run from such things, but we were promised four tickets to a dolphin site-seeing boat ride the next day and a 3 day-2 night hotel stay to use over the next year.  So, during the hottest part of the next day, we sat in a nicely air-conditioned hotel and listened to the Time-Share pitch.  We turned down the investment, but we did receive the gifts promised to us.

The next day we went to Rudee Flipper boat and spent over an hour on the ocean.  For about thirty minutes, we never saw a dolphin, and I began to wonder if we would.  However, after we got past all the busy parts of the beach and where fewer boats were, dolphins seemed to be everywhere.  My wife took dozens of pictures.  We saw a lot of baby dolphins, too.  Some places in the water were schools of dolphins, and by the time we returned to shore, we probably saw over 100 dolphins in total.  It was a fantastic time and something I hope to do again soon.  These are memories to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP, Ray Bradbury

It is sad to hear that one of the greatest science fiction writers has passed away.  Ray Bradbury was a great influence on me and my early writings.  I read The Martian Chronicles when I was a teenager and immediately knew that I wanted to create worlds and stories of my own.  I have, but with a much different flavor than he so secretly mixed.

Bradbury had a wonderfully unique way of phrasing his sentences with depth and wonder.  The stories he told were visual as you read.  That's how he became a stellar author.

RIP, Ray Bradbury.  We lost a great man today, but your work lives on.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Devils' Den FREE this weekend!

Devils' Den, my YA Dark Fantasy/Horror, is currently FREE this weekend in Kindle and digital formats.  Devils' Den

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Due to my classes for my MFA in creative writing, I have been forced to do a lot of brainstorming for ideas.  Part of the restrictions for the classes is not to use material that I have previously written and none of the work turned in for previous assignments can be used in later classes, either.  So I find that I must generate new ideas and characters when I've never taken this approach before.

Normally, I will write from an idea that comes to me from the netherworld, which can sometimes be compared to my brain being zapped by creative lightning.  The energy taps into me, and when I begin writing, the words flow.  But now, I have found myself brooding and mentally running around with a muse lightning rod, seeking the generous favor of story ideas from any muse that will grant them to me.

It's not been a bad experience though.  I have new ideas that will later be turned into novels.  I also have a set of young characters that will have a series for young adults, so that is a bonus I didn't expect.  Even though it's much easier to write when the inspiration taps me, I am glad that I've had to take this new approach.  Hopefully, in the near future, I can share these new characters and stories with you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath NOW $.99

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath is priced at $.99.  The five FREE limited days that Amazon now allows for this book (each 90 days) has ended, so I've decided to keep it priced at $.99 to introduce readers to my Darkness Series.

Thanks to all who participated in promoting the FREE giveaway!  I greatly appreciate you help!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Being Optimistic in a Pessimistic World

Keeping a positive attitude in life is sometimes difficult, but through it all, I try to look for the good in life.  Ignoring the naysayers isn't easy, but when you find what you want to do in life, enjoy doing it.  Keep going.  Don't quit.  Giving up is often easier than trudging forward into the battle, but the reward is more satisfactory if you fight on.  You might be scarred and bruised, but at least you can hold your head up with pride and know that you gave it your all, in spite of those who hoped you'd stop and fail.

With the Internet, people can assume an alias and go onto Youtube, Amazon, and other sites to write ruthless things about artists that they would never otherwise have the courage to say face-to-face.  Of course, hiding behind an alias isn't courageous.  To "like" or "dislike" a video, song, or book isn't the problem.  Everyone is entitled to their honest opinion.  But only if it stopped there.  Sadly, I've come across ruthless remarks toward musicians and authors that have no merit.  They simply want to verbally assault others, and somehow this gives them satisfaction to debase others.  In some instances, I truly see jealousy as the motive.

Has our world become so bitter that this is how people cope by bashing others?  I often read the comments under Yahoo news articles, and I discovered something.  Even with the most positive comment, you'll see about 10% of the people give the comment a thumbs down.  Why?  Do they view the world so negatively?  Have they lost their hope?  Perhaps they have.

Understandably, not everyone will have the same likes in music or books.  That's a given.  We're all different, and that's a good thing.  Each good musician or author will gather an audience.  And not one will receive all "Likes" or "5 Stars."  King, Koontz, and Asimov have all received 1 star reviews, lots of them, so no one is immune.

So what's an artist to do?  Keep doing what you're doing.  Make music or write novels.  Whatever your gift is, you express it to the best of your ability.  Always strive to produce the best work possible.  Don't settle for second best.  And don't release a product that's simply not ready for the public's consumption.  That's not fair to you or your audience.

Don't let others rule your art.  If you're fearful of the negative reviews, stop reading them.  If the reviews are honest and point out something that you can correct, do so.  But if they are geared as an attack toward you, the artist, ignore them and go on.  Keep writing.  Keep moving forward.  You are the ruler of your art.  Shape it how you see it.  And above all, keep your chin up and smile even if it hurts.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Devils' Den FREE Digital Copies

This weekend and Monday (January 23rd), Devils' Den is FREE in digital formats at  Happy reading!