The Burning City Release Date is Tomorrow

Book two of my series, The Thieves Guild, is out tomorrow. All of the personal chaos that Ralan experienced in book one gets blown up into tons of political machinations. I hope you enjoy it. It’s titled The Burning City because, well, the city is burning. 🙂

The Burning City Cover Reveal!

It’s been a busy year, and part of the year has been revising and updating my Thieves Guild series. It was previously known as The Guildmaster Thief, but I have expanded some of it and totally re-edited both editions. Additionally, I’ll be releasing book 3 in 2024! In addition to the Thieves Guild, I’ve released by sci-fi thriller Thursday. Behind the scenes, my production company, In Shambles Productions, is producing a popular pulp fiction podcast, Conan And Friends. Lots more to come, but back to The Thieves Guild

The Burning City, Book Two, comes out on December 1, and here is the cover. I love it, and I hope you do, as well.

Thursday is Now Available!

My sci-fi thriller Thursday is now available to buy. You can find it at all major bookstores in either ebook or paperback. I hope you enjoy it. I intentionally wrote it to be a fast-paced edge-of-your-seat read, but I also wanted to examine the question as to who is the “bad guy” when you are undercover.

Stories of My Life

To celebrate the upcoming release of my first science fiction novel, Thursday, I’ve decided to share some stories of my life: Tales from the music industry, tales from my career in writing, tales from my work as a Silicon Valley business development executive, and possibly some random life moments in there, too. You can find them on Youtube on via the below playlist. I hope you enjoy them as much as I’m enjoying sharing them.

My First Science Fiction Novel Cover Reveal!

When SF author John Scalzi was in town a couple weeks ago I was joking with him that I messed up my writing career with some poor choices. One of them was that, while I was nominated for the Nebula and Sturgeon Award for my science fiction short fiction, the first novels I wrote were all fantasy. I was (mostly) joking, as the Tommy Black series has sold quite well, but it was definitely true in some areas, as I have quite a few readers that are mostly fans of my science fiction. Well, the wait is over! My virtual reality science fiction thriller Thursday will be released on November 1, and I’m thrilled to death to share with you the cover!

Thursday cover - ebook
On sale November 1!

Here’s the blurb from the back jacket of the paperback:


In a near future of decaying cities and gray skies everyone has escaped to the wondrous life of virtual reality.

Including the criminals.

And the most dangerous criminal in the world is Sunday, the leader of the terrorist group the Order of Days, whose sole mission is to destroy the false paradise of VR and return people to the land of reality.

While on a simple reconnaissance job, young FBI agent Gabby Kane stumbles upon Saturday, a key member of the Order of Days. Kane brashly tries to single-handedly capture the terrorist, only to mess everything up in the process. She not only allows Saturday to escape, but she also seriously injures her own neural connection to virtual reality, a critical requirement for an undercover agent. With her career in jeopardy, Gabby agrees to an impossible mission: Infiltrate the Order of Days as Thursday and kill the mysterious Sunday.

Deep undercover and chased by the police and FBI while getting closer to uncovering the Order of Days, Gabby finds herself in increasing danger and without allies. But do enemies and allies even exist when no one can be trusted and nothing is real?

Learning Writing From Reading “Bad” Books

Recently a young writer posted on Reddit about the advice from Stephen King to augment your writing journey by learning what not to do via reading bad books. Alan Moore also mentions this in his Masterclass videos. While I don’t disagree with this advice, I think it is, perhaps paradoxically, one of the more challenging bits of writing homework one can give.

The Reddit thread gives a great example. A user posted about how their entire literature class hated the Gertrude Stein writing assignment and the resulting class was cancelled due to this. The poster’s implication within the context of the post was that Gertrude Stein was clearly a bad writer you could learn from.

I don’t disagree with this but probably not for the reasons the commenter intended. Stein is a great example of why the guidance to read bad books is really challenging to do right. People’s tastes are so broad and the world of literature is so complex that what you might consider “bad” might actually be just something presented in a different way or with a different cultural context or for a different audience.

When the 1Pulitzer jury selected “No Award” about ten years ago, one of the judges outlined a section of David Foster Wallace prose as clearly indicative of the novel being worthy of the award. I read it and thought it was a purple prose self-indulgent slog. Of course, that was just my opinion and wasn’t really relevant. There are countless people who felt it was poetic, and the flowing river of description being a languid and wonderful immersion in the scene.

So neither of us were actually right. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good. It was bad for some people and good for some people. And that is why writing is so challenging.

Henry James wrote a wonderful story called 2“The Figure in the Carpet,” which among other things is a metaphor for the writer’s pursuit of the perfect reader. In the story, there is a secret to the writer’s novel that it turns out only one person has discovered. It was, in short, a work of such genius that only one person could appreciate it. But is a work that the entire world can’t understand and only one person can unlock the highest form of art? Or is it the worst of novels?

So while I don’t dismiss the concept of “bad novels,” and I don’t dismiss the idea of “learning from bad novels,” I do think that the exercise should be approached with caution and serious attention.



Jaye Albright, My Personal Trans Hero

Back in the nineties, I was the Alternative Music editor for Radio & Records, an industry publication that was inluential with radio music directors and program directors. These were the people who could make or break careers and decided which songs would be hits. My office was in Century City in Los Angeles, a half block from the building made famous in Die Hard as Nakatomi Tower. One of my favorite fellow editors, however, lived in Nashville—Country Radio Hall of Fame member Lon Helton.

Jaye Albright

I talked with a lot of radio consultants, and one that often was mentioned for her influence and insight was Country radio consultant Jaye Albright. I didn’t know Jaye, and, indeed, I’ve never talked to her. However, I had been close enough to the industry to know that just a few years before I joined Radio & Records Jaye Albright wasn’t a consultant. She wasn’t even a she. She was influential country radio program director Jay Albright, who was at the time presenting as a man.

One day I saw her name in a column, and being curious I called Lon Helton to get her story. He was nice enough about it. Just basically said that Jaye wasn’t really ever a man. She was just physically that way, and it was a tragedy and that it had to have been tough for her. I believe at one point he said something like, “Can you imagine how difficult that must be?” I kind of just shrugged and thought that it must have been really difficult for Jaye to be trans in such a conservative format and community as country music.

As time went by, I would be reminded of Jaye every so often, and it struck me that every time I heard of her it was due to some incredibly intelligent or insightful thing she was writing about or some accolade she was receiving or some young music director that she had helped. In short, she wasn’t a stranger at all in country music. She was one of the family, and not just one of the family—a matriarch. She eventually ran country music stations for a large broadcast company and was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame.

That was over 25 years ago, and today I often think of Jaye and how different things were back then. Being publicly trans was practically unheard of in the nineties. So the enormous courage of Jaye staggers me. With basically no public support or common cultural context, she made the decision to be the person she was always meant to be, and as you can see in a front page column in Radio & Records (written by Lon) about her final transition surgery, she was kind and generous in explaining why what she was doing was important to her as a person.

I am sure that Jaye’s battles then were different than the battles we see today, but they had to be just as difficult. I mean, just imagine going to a country concert as a guest in the deep South as a trans woman in 1997. The looks you receive. The whispers. The comments from strangers. I’m sure it’s not that much different today unfortunately, but back then, she was alone.

But she wasn’t really alone.

I think back to Lon’s comment about Jaye—”Can you imagine how difficult that must be?” Lon wasn’t talking about being trans in the country radio community. It didn’t even cross his mind. He was talking about a friend being a woman trapped in a man’s body.

Twenty-five years ago being trans wasn’t considered dangerous, even in the deep south or the conservative country radio community. It was just someone being different. And while that has its own challenges and own dangerous biases and many other hurtful aspects, what it doesn’t have is a lack of sympathy or understanding that, at the end of the day, the pain is one of a person just wanting to be who they truly are.

If country radio back in the days of Garth Brooks and Kix & Dunn can see the person behind the label and the pain they are facing, what the fuck is happening today?