Tag Archives: urban fantasy

I’m Back! An Update and Announcement

I’ll be celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary next month. That’s really wild to say “out loud”. In some respects time has flown by. In others, so much has happened it feels like it’s been a lot longer than that. In that time while I’ve played around with various side projects and posted a post here and there I’ve largely just been focusing on family and personal stuff. Now, I feel like I’m finally in a place where I can go back to focusing on writing “full time”. I have a new book series, the foundation/notes for which I’ve been working on for several years now, that I’m about the start writing in earnest; but before I do that I wanted to do something that I’ve been wanting to do for almost a decade now. I wrote my first novel, The Chosen: Rebirthing, with my best friend Mark Ruelius. We worked on that book for close to ten years, but tragically Mark died just before we finished the final draft. I’d made him a promise that I’d get it published, and I wanted to preserve as much of what Mark wrote as I could without any interference, so I self published the novel in two parts (because it was just too expensive to publish otherwise). I’d gone through more edits than I can count, and I tried to make it as professional as I could, but it was our first novel and it showed. I went back and re-read it recently and I was honestly ashamed that I allowed myself to publish it in the state it was in. There were an embarrassing amount of problems I missed because at the time I was too inexperienced and too close to the project to see them, and quite a few places that needed to be outright cut or rewritten that at the time I just couldn’t emotionally bring myself to do without Mark. That said, I still love the story. I love what Mark and I made together. I want to do that story justice, and put the ten years or so of experience I now have into making a version that Mark would be proud of.

That said, I’ve spent the last month going back through and re-editing the entire book with the intention of re-publishing it sometime this year, whenever it’s ready. I currently have several people doing beta-reads for me now, and I’ll be doing another edit pass shortly. The story has been cleaned up quite a bit, expanded in some places, trimmed in others. A lot of grammatical issues that were missed last time are being addressed. The two parts will be put back together into a single novel, as was originally intended. Shawn Skvarna, a professional artist and good friend of Mark’s and mine who did the original cover, will be doing a new cover. My good friend, and professional voice actress, Joi Holloway will be narrating an unabridged audiobook version that’ll be available on Audible along side the Kindle edition. Both versions will also include a never before seen short story that will fill in some backstory on a very important character. As of now I don’t have plans to publish hard copy versions because it’s just too expensive to do given it’s length. I hope to have for you soon the novel that we always intended to deliver, and I hope that you all will give it a chance and enjoy it. I intend to post more regular updates here, along with other posts, maybe some short stories. You know, fun stuff, as I get back into the swing of writing again. I hope you’ll come along with me on the ride.

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Quick Update: What We’ve Been Up To

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything and I apologize for that. Shawn and I have both been busy in our respective wheelhouses. Shawn has been gearing up for the Baltimore Comic Con next weekend, where he’ll be selling the print featured above as well as the first character print for our upcoming comic Failsafe. Since that print is a con exclusive I won’t be able to share it with you just yet. I’ve been working hard on a new novel, and I think I’m far enough along in it that I can share a little about it. I’ve written 4 books at this point. (5 if you count both Chosen books). I’ve learned a lot over the process of writing each of those books, and I’ve very proud of what I’ve accomplished. I think they’re all decent stories, and they’ve allowed me to play in different genres and try out different storytelling approaches. I decided that it was time to try my luck with traditional publishing- which means not only writing a 70,000 word novel but also trying to snag an agent and go through the whole fun rejection process.

I have a mystery novel that I’ve got planned out and have about 1/3rd written. I love the idea and I enjoy the story, but it’s not the kind of book I want to write on a regular basis, so I decided to shelve it for now. My favorite genre is urban fantasy. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is my favorite series of all time. I really love Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter and Grimnoir novels, Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid novels as well. I’ve really wanted to do something in this genre, and You Only Die Twice was my attempt at testing the waters in a sci-fi setting. This new novel is my take on a more “traditional” urban fantasy series. The protagonist is female, which I felt was important because there aren’t a ton of kick-ass female protagonists in the genre. Most of the books that do feature a female protagonist as the main character tend to degenerate into borderline romance novels with an urban fantasy garnish. That’s not something I’m interested in writing. I wanted to write a legitimately kick ass female main character that people, regardless of gender, would love, but particularly that female readers could be inspired by. I have what I think is a pretty cool magical system in place based around the manipulation of the 5 elements: Earth, Air, Water, Fire, & Spirit, & inspired partially by Avatar: The Last Airbender (the quality cartoon series, not the crappy movie) because they did some really cool, creative things with how those elements (not counting spirit) could be used. I’m also a history buff, and I love it when sci-fi or fantasy stories try to tie history in with their world building and offer alternate explanations for things (Like Stargate, where the Egyptians gods were actually aliens for example), so I try to do that in this series as well. Basically I’m trying to write the kind of book I love to read, and hopefully people will agree with me. My goal is to have the rough draft finished in the next few months with a final draft ready to shop around to agents by the end of the year. I’ll be looking for test readers soon, so if you’re interested shoot me a message and let me know.

Anyway, that’s pretty much where we’re at right now. Once Shawn gets back from the Con and has some much-deserved down time we’ll be starting on getting Failsafe into gear. Our goal is to have the first storyline done in time for the con next year. We’ll have the con print, test sketches, previews, etc. here as we’ve got stuff to share for those who are interested in following the progress.

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All Kindle Editions $0.99!

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We’ve decided to keep our sale prices as the permanent prices for the Kindle Editions for all our books, so from now on all Kindle e-books will be $0.99. We’re hoping this helps encourage people to pick them up and spread the word. The paperback prices will remain the same simply because of the cost of production- they’re already about as cheap as I can make them. If you’d like to visit our book page where you can find descriptions and samples of all our novels click here or on the picture of the book covers just above.

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Moving On: Chapter Six

 

Moving On

“Dude! Dave, snap out of it!”             

Riley shakes my shoulder and I completely spaz. With a scream I flail and end up falling out of the chair. I’m still flailing and screaming when Robin bends down, lays a hand on my chest, and speaks in a soothing, calm tone of voice. “David, listen to me. You need to calm down. It’s okay. Relax. You’re safe, David. You’re with friends now. It’s over.”

Eventually the screams die out and my throat feels raw. I’m beginning to hyperventilate, my whole body is shaking, and I feel almost as bad as I had after being sling-shotted. What the hell was that?

Now that I’m not freaking out nearly as bad, Robin is trying to sooth the others. As I fight to steady my breathing my eyes drift over to where the kids had been sitting. They’re all huddled together in a corner, holding their hands over each other’s ears. They look terrified and I feel like an ass for scaring them, even though it wasn’t intentional. It’s not like they haven’t been through enough already. The rest of the group looks equally wigged out. Some stood up to get a better view of the show. The young couple is over by the kids, trying to calm them down and get them back into their chairs. The rest are still in their seats with various expressions of “what the hell?!” on their faces as they stare down at me. I guess what just happened to me isn’t exactly common.

Figures.

Robin holds up his hands in a placating gesture, as though he’s trying to calm a frightened animal. “It’s okay, everyone. David will be okay. He just had a flashback of his death, is all. That happens sometimes. It’s very intense, but he’ll be fine. Everyone, please, just take a seat and we’ll get started again in a few minutes.”

He turns his attention back to me. “David, are you all right?”

I was a damn sight short of “all right” but I manage to nod and mutter, “Yeah.”

He and Riley each offer me a hand and pull me up. I’m still shaky but they manage to get me back into my chair. My body feels like jello, and it takes effort to keep myself upright and resist sliding back down to the floor. I’m supposed to be a freaking ghost! Why is my body acting like I’m drunk?

Robin waits until I’m not squirming any more before asking sincerely, “Are you okay, David? I know the first time that happens can be pretty traumatic.”

The only thing I can manage is, “What the hell?”

He nods, understanding. “I know. It’s upsetting, just as much after the experience as it is during. We don’t have physical bodies anymore, but we still remember what it’s like to have them.” He points to his head and taps his temple a few times with his finger. “This makes it real. It still reacts as though you’re still alive and in your body. It’s why you’re still breathing heavy right now, even though you really don’t need air…or even technically even still have lungs. It’s what you think you should be doing, so you are.”

That’s ridiculous.

He must see the disbelief in my expression because he smiles and shrugs. “You’re skeptical, I can tell. Try me. Really think about why you’re reacting the way you are. Think about why you’re breathing heavy. Really concentrate on it.”

I want to tell him to shove it. I’m reacting this way because I’m scared out of my mind! How else am I supposed to act?

But I guess that’s his point, isn’t it? I’m only reacting how I think I should be.

I focus on my heavy breathing. It feels like all those times I’d tried to go for runs like all the other good yuppies. I’ve never been very athletic, and after about five minutes of jogging I’d end up breathing like an asthmatic. My chest would burn and I’d struggle to try and breathe normally… just like I’m doing now.

That’s really stupid. I’m a ghost. I don’t have lungs. I don’t need to breathe. Why am I doing this?

To my complete surprise, all at once, my chest stops burning and I’m not breathing at all. Then I start to panic because I’m not breathing at all! Then I realize just how stupid that is, and I’m fine again.

Jeebus, at this rate I’ll end up in a ghost nuthouse.

Robin smiles and pats me on the back. “Good! You picked up on that pretty quick. Usually it takes people a lot longer.”

My throat still feels hoarse, and now I wonder how much of that is in my head and how much is real. Does this body really “feel” anything? Can I be hurt?

I don’t know, but thinking about it is giving me a headache…which is another thing to think about.

Dammit!

“Yeah, I’m special that way. What the hell was that?”

Robin blinks for a second, confused. “Uh, like I just said, you had a flashback to your death. Death is traumatic, and for spirits, when we remember our deaths, it’s like we’re reliving it. Kind of like a ghost version of PTSD.”

I wave a hand and shake my head. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get that. I mean the things at the end. The shadow people.”

Robin’s expression darkens and suddenly Mr. Rodgers isn’t having such a great day in the neighborhood anymore. His voice drops to barely a whisper and he leans down closer to me. “You saw them?”

The intensity in his stare makes me flinch back a little, but I nod. “Yeah, what hell are they?”

He glances around nervously at the others before leaning back in and whispering in my ear, “See me after the meeting and we’ll talk about it. I don’t want to frighten the others.”

Frustration flares but I manage to keep myself in check. No sense in pissing off the one guy who might have answers. Besides, as freaked out as he looks right now, I know arguing won’t do anything but make things worse. “Fine.”

Robin straightens and closes his eyes for just a moment, calming himself, and then he takes his place back at the head of the group. He tries to put on a front that says everything is fine, but I can tell that my mentioning of the shadow people is really flipping his wig. Whatever they are, they’re obviously not good, which is freaking me out even more.

If I was really reliving my death, does that mean that those…things were there when I died? If so, why? They didn’t exactly look friendly…

Son of a bitch, ever since I died my life has just gone straight to hell.

Robin claps his hands to get everyone’s attention again and he forces himself to chuckle. “Well, that was a little bit of excitement, huh? David is going to be okay, everyone. That kind of thing does tend to happen every once in a while, so if it happens to you, please, just give yourself a little time to recover. It can be very upsetting, but I promise you’ll be fine.” He looks back at me. He’s smiling, but there’s a new intensity behind his expression. “David, how are you doing now?”

I’m freaking the hell out, that’s how I’m doing!

“I’m fine.”

“You feel up to giving it another go?” He holds up a hand before I can respond. “If not, it’s totally understandable.”

To be honest, I’m nervous as hell about trying making myself “appear” again. What if the flashback hits and those things are there? But I can’t keep running if I want to get the hell out of this…plane of existence or whatever the damn term is. I know that being able to make myself be seen is a necessary step in that direction. “No, I want to try again.”

Robin genuinely smiles this time, a little bit of sunlight breaking back through the clouds. “That’s great, David; very brave of you. Okay, I want you to close your eyes again and think about what you looked like, and then keep that image in your mind. Focus on it and believe that it’s still how you look. Concentrate on that thought alone- ‘this is who I am.’”

I nod and close my eyes again. I picture myself, how I’ve always seen myself when I look in the mirror. I don’t focus on any particular memory, because that’s how I got into trouble the last time. Instead, I imagine that I’m standing in front of a full length mirror and looking at myself. I’m 5’10. I weight about 180 pounds with a broad build, but thin. My brown hair is trimmed short and well groomed. I’m clean shaven, with brown eyes, a slightly angular face. Jenna always said that she thought I looked like a younger John Hamm. I thought she was nuts, but I wasn’t about to argue with her. Who would? John Hamm is like masculine sexuality personified and if my hot girlfriend wanted to see me that way who was I to disillusion her?

I start to imagine I’m in one of my suits, but that’s not really me. That was a role I had to play. I was always more comfortable in jeans or khakis and a t-shirt. I decide to go with my favorite pair of jeans and the navy blue sweater that Jenna had gotten me for Christmas. She liked the way it looked on me. Satisfied, I hold that image of myself in my mind, focus on it, and then I open my eyes.

Everyone around the circle is smiling at me. The kids all start to enthusiastically clap and cheer, which encourages the rest to do the same. I look down at my hands and see, well, my hands. I’m wearing the jeans and the blue sweater.

I’m me.

I start to laugh again, but this time with relief and pride, and for a few precious moments I’m not worried about anything. For the first time in a long time I’m ecstatic just being me.

Robin is practically beaming. “Great job, David! You just took a big step.”   

Yep, me and Neil Armstrong. I thank everyone and once the cheering dies down Robin stands up and addresses the group again. “Okay, guys, I think we’ve had a pretty eventful night already, so let’s just call it a bit early. We’ll meet back here at the same time tomorrow. Remember to practice what you’ve learned, and I want you to keep working on your lists of things that you think you may need to address in order to move on, okay? Great. Good night, everyone.”

Everyone comes by to shake my hand and officially introduce themselves, but Robin comes to my rescue. “Hey folks? David has had a rough night. Why don’t we give him a chance to recover a bit, huh? I’m sure he wants to meet you all, but let’s save it for tomorrow, okay?”

I smile and give everyone a little wave as they disperse. Some just sort of fade away, others fly through the ceiling or walls and after a few seconds it’s just Riley, Robin, and me. Robin looks really nervous as he gestures back towards the chairs. “We better sit down.”

As soon as my spirit butt hits the chair Robin is leaning in and looking deadly serious. “I want you to tell me exactly what you saw and felt, as best as you can. I know how painful that might be for you, but it’s important.”

I feel Riley pat me on my shoulder. “It’s okay, man.”

I nod and relay what I saw and felt as best as I can, though I’m sure to not concentrate on anything in particular for too long. That’s a really fun balancing act to try and manage, but I sure as hell don’t want to trigger another flashback. The entire time I’m speaking Robin’s expression is growing increasingly sour, and when I finally finish and describe the three shadow people he looks like he’s seen, well, a ghost.

“This isn’t good. No, not good at all.”

“Gee, Robin. You really know how to reassure a guy.”

His head snaps up and he looks like he might be sick. “This isn’t funny.”

Anger flares again, but I don’t bother holding back this time. I stand up so quickly that my chair flies backward. “No shit! I’m fucking terrified right now, so how about one of you give me a straight answer as to what the hell is going on! What were those things?”

“Vampires.”

I spin and look down at Riley. I expect to see him smiling but he looks almost as scared as I feel. “Vampires?! Give me a break, Riley.”

Robin stands up and shakes his head. “That’s just what we’ve come to call them. They aren’t vampires in the way that you’re thinking. They used to be spirits just like us, but now they’re…something else.”

Riley chimes in, “They’re really old spirits that have hung around long after they should have faded. Their tethers are gone, but they stick around by feeding on other spirits.” He suddenly gets a really distant look on his face that creeps me out. “Mike told me all about them after a couple tried to do it to me, right after I died.” His voice drops to barely a whisper. “Mike stopped them.”

“Mike stopped them? How?”

Riley shakes his head and jumps up from his chair. “I- I’m sorry, I just can’t talk about this right now. I’ve gotta get back to Becca.”

Before I can protest, Riley takes off faster than my old cat when the vacuum came on.

Damn.

“He has a reason to be afraid, and so do you, David.” Robin gestures for us to sit again and I reluctantly take the chair that Riley had vacated. “Those spirits are bad news.  They roam in packs, and when they feed, they completely drain their victims. It dissipates them.”

“Dissipates?”

Robin nods solemnly, holds up both fists, and then dramatically snaps them open, like a child describing an explosion.

“Poof. Gone. Spiritual death.”

Spiritual death? Well, things just keep getting better and better.

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Copyright © J.R. Broadwater 2013

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All of the characters are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Filed under Moving On, Ongoing Serials