July '21

Hello there!

Welcome to the new folks who have joined in the past month.

A few quick notes upfront:

  • All previous newsletters are archived. Lots of stuff to check out including a link to the original 2011 screenplay of THE BLACK SKY, hints and helps to get started on the real work easter egg hunt teased at the back of the book, and more!

  • If you read and enjoyed THE BLACK SKY, I would be grateful if you left a positive review or a rating at Amazon or GoodReads.

  • There’s a “music inspired by” soundtrack you can listen to at your favorite streaming sites like SpotifyApple MusicTIDAL, etc.

  • For those that have read THE BLACK SKY, you may remember a mention or two of a bar called “The Dank,” the place Tessa worked at in college where she and Bishop met. I created a virtual playlist for this “punk rock bar,” which you can check out on Spotify. (Hint: this isn’t the last time you’ll be hearing about The Dank in a book)


In June I had the pleasure and honor of participating in Sarah Gailey's Worldbuilding writing exercise "Building Beyond" for their Stone Soup newsletter. If you are unfamiliar with Gailey's writing, get yourself acquainted - The Echo Wife, River of Teeth, Magic for Liars - any would be a good start.

The series is based on a simple concept - give someone a premise and then they write about it. Every Wednesday the newsletter goes out, and it's been fascinating to see what happens with each new prompt from the pair of contributors chosen to contribute. Space Mouth? Orca P.R.? Hell is real and on earth?

The premise I was tasked with was this: Lizards are currency.

My mind went to a number of places immediately. Is it an underground currency? Unregulated? Odd connections started happening and my first thought was this: the Sopranos is rebooted, and Christopher is trying to explain the hot new post-bitcoin/NFT rage in criminal currency transactions to Tony and Paulie Walnuts. It was a lot of Tony being nonplussed, Paulie cracking jokes, and an exasperated Christopher.

I slept on that idea, but when woke up with a different take - lean in on my decades of working in corporate America, watching mind-numbing training videos, and combine that with a peppy sales spiel. I think I wrote it in a furious coffee-fueled haze on Sunday morning over about two hours.

You'll have to read the whole thing for yourself but at one point I typed the word "off-world," which has meaning if you grew up watching early 80s science fiction movies. When I got to the end, I knew I had to pay off that nugget, even if just for my own edification.

I've never written based on a prompt before, and my only fiction writing has been The Black Sky. I have some ideas for short stories but haven't gotten to them, so this was my first attempt at really anything besides a novel.

Anyway, here's where you can READ IT. Hope you enjoy!


THE RED SKY is (about) halfway done! I’ve hit the 40,000 mark, and since I’m estimating the story will come in approximately 300 pages/80-85k words, that means I’m at about the midpoint. Woo!

I’m very happy with the way this draft is going. I write with a skeletal outline in mind and written out, but leave large chunks open for exploring. It’s often where I “write myself into a problem” and hopefully give the reader a reason to turn the page.

For THE RED SKY playlist on Spotify, I added some music by Revolt Production Media, Joseph William Morgan, and Colossal Trailer Music. These are all producers/companies that make music for movie trailers, games, advertising, and various other placements. Also added the Motherland: Fort Salem soundtrack by Brandon Roberts.


GOD’S WAR by Kameron Hurley - A relentlessly brutal sci-fi fantasy that starts running and never lets up. The main character, Nyx, is not likable, but that’s sort of the point. Movies, television, and books are full of male anti-heroes that people love, and Hurley inverts the idea in a female-dominated society that features bug magicians, shapeshifters, and endless religious war. Like much of Hurley’s work, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Bloody boxing matches, gorry shoot-outs, and vicious torture. But there are jokes, and witty asides, and a story that keeps you engaged even when you want to avert your eyes.

THE STONE ROSES (33 1/3 SERIES) by Alex Green - A well-research deep dive on the band that connects late 80s Madchester and the 90s Britpop scene. More personal asides and indulgences that I would have preferred, but the number of interviews and amount of research more than makes up for it. Would have liked a little more info on the actual recording process from John Leckie's perspective.


  • LUCIFER, S.5 (Netflix) - Kept upping the stakes until it reached the top. Interested to see where season six finishes up.

  • HACKS, S.1 (HBOMax) - Excellent first season, looking forward to more.

  • ATOMIC BLONDE (Hulu) - The “female John Wick” stands on its own.

  • HOTEL ARTEMIS (iMdb) - Cool concept, need more story, would make an interesting series.

  • OUTSIDE THE WIRE (Netflix) - Undercooked A.I. sci-fi that just missed the mark.

  • POLAR (Netflix) - Too loud and too bad, wasted performances.

  • MARE OF EASTTOWN (HBOMax) - An excellent murder show but bleak as hell.

  • MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM (Hulu) - Just finished the first season as the second season started. Fun alt-history about witches becoming the military power in the United States.


In case you didn’t know, Mammoth WVH is Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang (hence the initials WVH). Mammoth was the first name of Van Halen before they changed it in the early 70s. Wolfgang has been a touring musician since his teens, and his skill level at every instrument is remarkable. Check out the video for “Don’t Back Down.”

What are you watching, reading, listening to at the moment?

Leave a comment

Stay Safe!