Friday, November 1, 2013

I Want Your Freebies for Reviews

            I receive the most traffic when I do my independent writer reviews.  More traffic means my “voice” reaches more people, and I’m able to speak directly to the people who might like my books.  Everyone wins in a deal like that, so I’m asking you to send your free books to me for a review.

            Because of the amount of time necessary to read and write reviews, I’m unable to predict a time-frame for reviews.  Also, I WILL NOT review books that are unreadable (too many mistakes/typos).  I might also turn down an author because his/her book doesn’t hold my interest (based on preference).  It doesn't hurt to send a copy of your book my way, however, just in case it’s something I’d like to share with my network.

            I want your freebies.  I want horror, science fiction, thrillers, short stories, novels, and anything in between.

            Also, I might not be sticking to my regular blog schedule in the future, which means I will be blogging as much, or as little, as I think is appropriate.  For the most part, I receive the most blog views after I advertise new posts on Facebook and Twitter, so an irregular blog schedule shouldn't be a problem for me.

            Email me at and let me know that you want to send a freebie my way for a potential review.  I’ll be happy to hear from you.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Flashlight Stories, Horror Anthology

I had a great time writing Flashlight Stories.  My earlier mental roadblocks while attempting to write full-length novels seemed nonexistent while I was working on this horror anthology.

Flashlight Stories is a collection of horror stories.  There’s a story about a witch, one about a vampire, one about a shadow demon, and more.  Like many other authors who write anthologies, I wanted to explore different ideas.  The freedom to write quick, snappy stories to completion was a breath of fresh air for me.

The only negative experience I had was after publishing the book.  I downloaded a copy to my Kindle, and began reading.  I was happy to see my work published on an electronic reading device.  I had the same happy feeling after publishing Disclosure and The Journal of the Missing Day.  I was so satisfied with my new book that I kept reading, even though I had been reading it nonstop before publishing.  That’s when I started finding some errors.

Maybe the topic of flaws is taboo to write about if it’s about your own book, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal; people make mistakes, and learn.  It’s all part of the process.  Besides, this blog is about my personal experiences with writing.  Just to be clear, the problems were fixed shortly after the first release.  At least, I have read the entire book (again) on my Kindle, found (and fixed) problems that were overlooked while I was editing the book on my computer, and uploaded the new file to Amazon.

My overall experience is extremely positive.  I love my book, and I’ve read it a couple of times for my own entertainment (something I didn’t think would be possible with my own stories).  I love the cover, I love the content, and I love the reactions.  Writing this anthology has me excited to work on the next one.

But first, here’s what’s inside of Flashlight Stories:

The Calm (Before the Storm): A flash fiction introduction

The House at the End of the Street: A young boy works up the courage to enter the witch's house, located at the end of the street

Twelve Feet Under: A boy's father will go to extreme lengths (and depths) for his son's love

Being the Reaper: A man must take on the task of being the Grim Reaper to pay for the sins he committed during life

Afraid of Clowns: A clown with a silly name terrifies a young boy

The Last Vampire: Old legends come alive when the last vampire is trapped by hunters

What's Buried in the Barn: A deal with the Devil, and an unholy secret

Your Friends are Coming: A man's past comes back for revenge

Buried Alive: It's worse than you might think

It Man: A story about a shadow demon who lives off fear

The Storm:  Flash fiction closer that continues from the opener

If you want a taste of Flashlight Stories, just go to Amazon or Smashwords and download the free sample.  You’ll get the first two stories for free.  The first story is extremely short, because it’s a flash fiction opener, but the second story is longer, and one of my favorite stories in the book.  I urge all of my friends to read the freebies, at least.  Thanks for being a fan, and I hope to hear from all of you very soon.

Flashlight Stories is still only 99 cents, but not for long.  After Halloween, the price will be set to $1.99.  Grab the story now, and let me what you think at

Friday, October 4, 2013

Indie Book Review: Between These Pages, by Catherine MacKenzie, Part 2 of 2

      This is the second half of my review for Between These Pages, a short story anthology by Catherine MacKenzie.
      The first half of Between These Pages was good, but the second half is definitely my favorite.  With respect to the other authors I’ve reviewed, Between These Pages is probably the best book by an independent author that I’ve read over the course of this year.  It was well-written, and contains a lot of interesting topics, especially the half I’m about to review.
           Quota:  This interesting story stood out almost as much as Island Lovers, but, being a fan of science fiction, I enjoyed this one more.  This sci-fi story could best be described as a population-control horror story (if such a genre ever existed).  A man must fill his quota of death, or else.
       Between the Good and the Bad:  This is an erotic story about a character (Vanessa) that is a cross between witch and vampire.  The main character uses her abilities to kill people who she believes deserve to die, because they are evil, or to end their misery.  One of my favorites.
      The Mannequin:  One of the most memorable stories in the entire book, a wife pretends to be the mannequin that was created in her likeness in order to catch her husband having an affair.
      Molly Mulligan:  This is a story about secrets.  Molly Mulligan has a family secret, and her children want to know the truth.
      Afterword:  In one of the more tragically compelling stories of this book, a woman kills her husband, assuming he was having an affair on her.  This story is extremely well written, and memorable.
      Trapped in the Swallow:  A man and wife go on vacation to New Zealand, and one of our main characters finds herself stuck in a sinkhole.
      Tart Thorns among Silken Threads:  This is a story about a woman who continues to marry men, and kill them, to inherit their possessions and live a life of luxury.
      Footprints in the Snow: Catherine MacKenzie pushes boundaries with this story about a controversial topic.  A woman once requested to be put out of her misery if her illness took away her quality of life.  Will her husband live up to his end of the bargain?  Will she still want him to when the time comes?
      Blood Dreams:  An old woman claims that her caretakers are draining her blood, but people think she’s delusional.  The marks on her body are real, but what about the bats flying overhead?

Who would like this book?  Previously, in the first half of this review, I said Between These Pages was geared toward women.  That remains true for the second half as well.  However, Catherine MacKenzie has written a book that can be enjoyed by a variety of different readers.

Here are some of my personal reactions to the second half of Between These Pages:

“Afterward”:  This was the story that had me on the edge of my seat.

“Quota”:  The first, and only, science fiction story in the book.  I was happy to see something from the sci-fi genre in this book, and even happier to see how well it fit in with the rest of the stories.

“Between the Good and the Bad”:  I’m not an expert in the commercial success of books, but if I could make a suggestion to Catherine MacKenzie it would be MAKE AN ENTIRE SERIES BASED ON THIS CHARACTER!  The main character of this story, Vanessa, is sexy, violent, and already has a great story.  She’s a witch and a vampire.  She’s a renegade who kills people based on her own judgment.  She’s sexually promiscuous without shame or apology.  Vanessa, in my opinion, could sell a lot of books.

“Footprints in the Snow”:  This is my favorite story in the entire book.  The story evokes strong emotions of what it means to be alive, and what it means to experience the process of dying.  Cathy MacKenzie tells her story as a work of fiction, but the real-world implications are hard to ignore.

Between These Pages was an excellent read.  Support Catherine MacKenzie by downloading her book, and let her know what you think of her stories.

Email Catherine MacKenzie at

Joshua Hicks recently released Flashlight Stories, an anthology of short stories that are meant to terrify.  The book is only 99 cents until after Halloween.  Get the first story free (plus a flash fiction introduction) with any sample download.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Indie Book Review: Between These Pages, by Catherine MacKenzie, Part 1 of 2

My apologies to Catherine MacKenzie for the late review.  I thought I would have it done before now, but I fell behind on my schedule.  The biggest event that slowed me down was the FBI Green Dot Moneypak Virus (mentioned in my last blog).

Between These Pages has been one of the best books that I’ve read by an independent artist, and I want to give it a proper review.  To do the book justice, I plan to give it a two-part review.  I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but I’m going to give my synopses of the individual stories within the book.

1.      Collecting Knocks:  The story is somewhat vague, but sometimes that’s a good thing.  Some of my favorite stories are the ones that leave a little to the imagination.

2.      Doorbells and December:  The story is told at a slow pace, meant to bring the reader into the world of a woman who must take care of her grandson, after the disappearance of her daughter.

3.      Away with the Fairies:  A boy is coping with the divorce of his parents, and has a new life that includes three new sisters.  The boy doesn’t quite fit in, but with some help he learns how to cope with his new situation.

4.      Night Candy:  This story is full of innocence lost.  A little girl sees many things that she doesn’t quite understand.  I read the story thinking, how far is Cathy willing to go?  I wasn’t disappointed.

5.      Island Lovers:  This one stood out the most to me.  The story involves the strange rituals of an island tribe, and how those rituals affect two people who are in love.  I won’t give away the ending.

6.      The Party:  A birth mark results in a woman’s negative self-image.  Despite her feelings about her appearance, a masquerade party allows her to enjoy herself, and gives her a new sense of confidence.

7.      Balloons, Chocolate and Flowers:  This is a story that takes readers on an emotional journey that many people have been on before.  A young woman thinks about giving her boyfriend another chance after he has cheated on her.

8.      Rear View Mirror:  Very cool flash fiction story about a woman who has just committed murder.  The body is stashed away in the car, but... you’ll have to read it for yourself.

9.      Hourglass:  A story about twin brothers that ends with a twist.  One brother is constantly cleaning up after the other, and he’s had enough.

I’m straying a bit from my normal format, but I would like to say… Who would like this book?  I think the majority of the stories in this book were written with women in mind.  The first half (this half), is especially geared toward women.  However, there were a lot of thrills and horror in this half of Between These Pages, making it enjoyable to a wide variety of tastes.

Personally, I think the book is well rounded, but the second half actually contains the majority of my favorite stories.  I think this book is worth buying, and hope that the readers of my blog will support this author.  Cathy MacKenzie is one of my favorite personalities when it comes to writers.  I’ve always thought she had a crazy side, but she’s managed to put her insanity into a bottle, and pour it into a book for us to read.

Which story is my favorite in this half of the book?  Rear View Mirror.  Although it’s probably the shortest story in the book, it’s full of cool imagery.  It comes in fast and hard, and delivers everything a good short story should.

Keep watching for the second half of my review for Between These Pages.  Until then, check it out for yourself…

Email Catherine MacKenzie at

Joshua Hicks recently released Flashlight Stories, an anthology of short stories that are meant to terrify.  The book is only 99 cents until after Halloween.  Get the first story free (plus a flash fiction introduction) with any sample download.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 20, 2013

My Experience with the FBI Green Dot Moneypak Virus

So, I haven’t posted a blog in a while… a long while.  I haven’t posted anything about my new book, and I haven’t reviewed Catherine MacKenzie’s book like I said I would, either (my apologies to her).  That leads me to my first post since early August…

The FBI Moneypak virus that infected my computer several weeks ago would be hilarious if it was not so annoying/scary.  It put my independent writing career on hold as it taunted my family from our laptop.  The image:  Large FBI letters, a message that we had been CAUGHT in illegal activities, and a webcam photo of my girlfriend, staring at the computer in confusion.

We were accused of viewing and/or downloading child pornography, bestiality, and/or instances of rape.  The virus used our own laptop’s webcam to capture my girlfriend’s image as “proof” that she was indeed the one identified as committing these crimes.  Of course, I knew this was a scam, because my girlfriend had been browsing artist trading cards while me and our little girl were watching Curious George on Netflix.  We were supposed to believe that the picture was taken while the crime was being committed, but my girlfriend’s sleep shirt (which she was still wearing) and ruffled hair (from just waking up) made it clear that the “FBI” had caught her lazily looking for quotes to paste onto artwork.

Not only was the “evidence” far from convincing, but the “FBI” seemed to be willing to clear the accused of all charges for a $300 fee, paid to a Green Dot Moneypak card that can be purchased at Wal-Mart or local convenient stores.  Wow!  No prison!  The FBI was either being considerably generous or we were targets of a huge SCAM.

What’s funny about living during a time when the internet is available on a plethora of devices, is that sometimes people forget about their options.  Usually, when I need to search for answers, I use the computer, but my computer had malware.  It wasn’t until the next day when it dawned on me that I could start my Nintendo Wii, go to Youtube, and search for a way to get the malware scam off the computer.  It was the complete opposite of trying to flip on a light after the electricity goes out.  Instead, I had power when I thought I had none.

I found the answers to my problem on Youtube, and I’m including a link to the video for anyone who might need instruction on how to remove the virus.  You will need a second computer that isn’t infected, an empty flash drive, and possibly a blank CD.  We used my girlfriend’s parents’ computer to go online and download the program to get rid of the virus (put on flash drive), and the program to override the virus before it gets a chance to disable the infected computer (put on CD).  It might have been a time-consuming process, but it was easy to accomplish once my girlfriend had access to her parent’s computer.  We’re not sure what gave our computer the virus, but the guy in the Youtube video claimed to have acquired the virus (after searching for a lot of questionable files in order to make the video) from something as simple as a searching for Danica Patrick.

Sadly, I have heard plenty of stories in which people were scammed into losing money because of this virus.  Sending money won’t get rid of the malware.  The FBI isn’t really locking your computer.  If you get a message that asks you to send money to pay for a crime, don’t bite.  Chances are, you’re being scammed.

Here’s the Youtube video that helped me get rid of the FBIMoneypak Virus

To download my horror story anthology, Flashlight Stories (get the first two stories completely free with sample).  Still only 99 cents for a limited time:
From Smashwords
From Amazon

Friday, August 2, 2013

No School, On Writing, Extra Cash, Next Indie Review, On Blogging

            So, I passed up an opportunity to go back to school.  I think it was for good reasons, and I hope I’m right.  By the time I got my packet of information there were only 18 days left until classes started.  I still didn't have my financial aid figured out, and the school’s website still wasn't working on my computer.  I felt I had to make many very big decisions in a very small amount of time.  This biggest decision was the $20,000+ loan I would have taken out in order to attend the school. No grants, no scholarships, just a huge loan that would accrue interest.  I passed on the loan, and worked things out with the administrators so that all my progress (background check, Praxis I test results, transcripts, application with essay, fees, etc) would be saved in my file for whenever I’m able to attend.  Hopefully, now that I have some more time, I’ll be able to get some grants so I don’t have to take on the entire financial burden when/if I decide to go back to school.

I would have loved to go back to school, and I would love to say that I’ll definitely be going next year, but I can’t.  I’m glad that I tried, and I’m happy about the progress I made.  I still hope that the progress wasn’t just a waste of time, and that I’ll actually pick up where I left off sometime within the next few years.  However, things change, jobs happen, family happens, STUFF happens.  I’m keeping school open as an option, because I’d love to become a teacher, but the situation has to be right.  The situation wasn’t right this time.

On Writing:  First of all, the biggest of the changes concerning writing is that I plan to start writing on a more serious level again.  I’m no longer concerned about passing tests, getting letters of recommendation, or any of the other activities that I was putting at the top of my priorities.  I could be upset about that, but I’m not; it was my choice, after all.  Instead, I’m excited about trying to get SOMETHING published.  I’m not going to say how soon, because I tried that with The Dream Machine, my unpublished science fiction novel that is sitting on the back-burners, waiting for me to finish it.  For the same reason that I haven’t tried to finish The Dream Machine (unreliable computer, that might possibly die at any time), I’m going to have to be careful when writing.

Some readers of this blog might wonder what the difference is… I write blogs, so why not continue writing my novel?  You might be right, but it’s a personal preference.  The novel is longer, more complex than a blog, and would be worse to lose than a blog.  I suppose I could use Google Drive, but I’m also a technophobe (“Great thing to be when you’re a writer,” he said, with a hint of sarcasm).

The point is, I would feel safer writing short stories now.  Personally, I can manage short stories easier.  I get more words out per day when I’m writing a short story, compared to when I’m working on a longer story.  I’m able to wrap my head around the stories easier, and I don’t run into the dreaded Writer’s Block as often.  Short stories might actually be more FUN for me to write.  It’s possible that I’m just not ready for the challenge of a full-length novel yet, although I was so close to being done.  All I needed was a good ending and some heavy editing.  I’ll go back to focusing on short stories for now, and see how that works for me.

Slice The Pie:  I want to share a link with you.  It’s an interesting site that I ran across a couple weeks ago, and thought some of you might enjoy it.  Apparently, I can earn a few cents for referrals, and well as reviewing.  I don’t want to spam, because nobody likes a spammer, but I genuinely thing that most of you would enjoy this site, too.  You won’t earn a lot of money (about 10 cents per song review, depending on quality), but it IS possible to earn some spare cash just for writing short reviews for songs.

You will have to create an account, but after that, just listen to (at least) 90 seconds of the song, and fill the text box with your thoughts.  You can find other helpful sites that discuss popular keywords that the Slice the Pie system looks for (vocalist, instrumental accompaniment, intro, solo, commercial potential, creative, original, etc), but it’s basically intuitive, especially for writers and fans of music.

I’ve earned close to $8, and I’ll get to cash out when I reach $10.  I've searched online to see how legitimate this site is, and apparently a lot of people are big fans.  They say they get their money whenever they ask for it after reaching the payout amount, and one of my friends recently received his first payment.  I’ll keep everyone posted about my own experiences with this website, but until then, use this link to help me earn some extra referral cash.  You won’t lose any money, but I’ll earn 10% of whatever you make, just for getting you to participate.  Here’s the link.  Let me know what you think.

THE NEXT INDIE BOOK REVIEW:  It’s going to be a book by Cathy MacKenzie, called Between the Pages.  It’s an anthology of very interesting stories, and it’s probably one of the best independent books I’ve read in a long time.  Independent doesn’t mean I put it on a lower scale than commercially popular books, but I’ve been reading a lot of Stephen King lately, and he’s one of my favorites.  Regardless, Between the Pages is going to get a two-part review, because I think it deserves it.  I see great quality, and I see a quantity as well.  Cathy MacKenzie put in a lot of work with this one.  I’m going to try to review the first half of the book two weeks from now (two weeks, not one).

On Blogging:  I’m going to stop posting new blogs every week.  Now, I’m only going to write a blog every OTHER week.  I enjoy writing them, but it’s not what I set out to do.  I set out to write fiction.  This blog is my way of discussing the events in my life, my journey as a writer, and a medium for me to discuss other writers and my own thoughts.  Writing a blog once every two weeks should still give me the opportunity to stay connected, as well as allow me time in between blogs to work on other projects, as well as accumulate content for the blog posts.

As I was saying a little earlier, I’m going to try to review the first half of Between the Pages two weeks from now.  That will give me enough time to finish the anthology (that contains over 60,000 words), and write the review.  I’ll make sure to tweet and post updates on Facebook when I publish new posts.  Until then, go check out Cathy’s book.  Enjoy.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Getting Reviews From Me: How I decide what to review

I love to read and review stories by independent writers.  I want to support writers, especially since I’m still trying to write stories of my own.  I know how appreciative independent writers can be when they earn a good review.  That said, this blog entry is to let writers (and readers) know a little bit more about how, and what, I choose to review.  Also, I will let you know the best ways to work with me to get a review.  My indie reviews seem to bring the most traffic to my blog, so I’d love to keep doing them.

I’ve reviewed independent books, independent games, and I’ve even reviewed a non-independent game as part of a nostalgic blog entry, because it was something that inspired me.  My focus, however, is on independent stories.

Since my art of choice is writing, I like to support other independent writers.  The biggest issue with writing reviews for independent writers is time.  It takes time to read a story, and it takes time to write the review.  If I want to keep my personal standard of writing at least one new blog entry every week, I’m not going to be able to make each entry a book review.  Sometimes, I might be able to write a review based on something I’ve already read, watched, or played, but I couldn’t possibly keep up with reading/writing reviews, and still continue with my own projects.

Therefore, I try to be picky when it comes to writing reviews.  You might be saying, “Gee, you sure don’t seem very picky.  You review some of the same writers over and over again.”  That’s true; one reason, is simply because I know these writers have good content.  I network with them, know their potential, and choose to support them.  Another reason is financial availability.  I will not choose to review a book that I think might be overpriced.  People go to independent writers because they want value, and good content.  If I spend more money reviewing books than I make selling them, I’m not making a smart financial decision.  More often, I only choose to review independent books that are given to me free.

This is where something should be made clear:  I do not give good reviews in exchange for free reads.  I have read books full of errors, and that’s a deal-breaker for me.  Did I write a bad review of that book?  No, I didn’t.  Although I don’t exchange reviews for free books, I don’t choose to write bad reviews, either.  It’s a choice I made early on.  I write reviews to help independent writers, so for me, writing negative reviews is a waste of time.  On the other hand, I believe there is a potential reader for every book.  If your book makes sense, doesn’t contain tons of grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, isn't confusing, and is interesting enough to hold my attention, I'll probably give it a review.

There is a reason why I always write, “Who will like this book.”  It’s because certain books aren’t for everyone.  Instead of bashing the story because it doesn’t fall into the category of my normal reading material, I let readers know who would enjoy the book.  It’s safe to say that, if a book has kept me entertained enough to finish reading it, and I write a review for it, it was worth the time I spent with it.
I’m also fond of saying, “Personally,” and then following that up with why I was entertained enough to finish the book and write a review.  With this section, I usually try to shed some insight on why I chose to review a particular book, and what personally kept me entertained.  It’s about my personal taste in stories, and what I think other people might also enjoy.

Have a story that you want reviewed?  Get in touch with me.  I’ll let you know if your book is something I might like, and I’ll make sure to let you know if I can review it.  If there are numerous errors in your book, I’ll let you know.  You have the option of fixing the mistakes, and I have the option of reviewing something else.  It’s that simple.

Also, I can’t promise to write a review by a certain day, but I’m willing to discuss postponing a review if it helps your marketing strategy.  I’d like to have some reviews stored away just in case I get too busy to write one.  It feels good to have a backlog, just in case.

To get in touch with me through email, please use

You can visit my Yahoo! Contributor Network profile by clicking, here.

If you’re interested in downloading free samples of my two short stories (more to come soon, hopefully), please check out Disclosure, and The Journal of the Missing Day.

To follow me on Twitter, click here.

Also, I invite you to join me on facebook, and my writer's profile.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear from you soon.