Novella Cover Reveal

New addition to the Final Formula Series!

Update!  The Element of Death is available everywhere ebooks are sold–or it will be shortly.  Some sites are a little slower than others, so keep checking.  If you’d like to read an excerpt, visit my books page.

The-Element-of-Death-800 Cover reveal and PromotionalThe Element of Death is a short novella told from James’s point of view that fills a gap of time within the first novel, The Final Formula. This story is more of a buddy flick between the guys, and offers some insight into how they became friends.

Addie and her sharp tongue will return in the (as yet untitled) second novel, due to release later this spring.  From time to time, I share snippets from that one on my Facebook page.

The stories in my Final Formula Series are intended to be read in order.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out The Final Formula, read the first three chapters here.  Or pick up a copy anywhere ebooks are sold.  It’s only $0.99!


The Rock Cycle – A Story

I mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago that my son had written a story for his sixth grade science class.  The assignment was to write a narrative and do character sketches to illustrate the rock cycle.  You know, when an igneous rock becomes a sedimentary rock, etc.  Some readers expressed an interest in seeing his story, so here it is.

This tale is my son’s, but I might have helped with sentence structure and punctuation. ;)  Also, if you enjoyed the story, please leave a comment.  He’ll be thrilled.

(The picture of “Maggie” was done by my daughter.  Both kids really got into this assignment.  We had a blast!)

The Rock Cycle

Rock012Iggy Obsidian was president of the Extrusive Igneous Rock Club. He’d been president for tens of thousands of years, and to be honest, he was tired of it. His fellow rock club members were so smooth and polished. Never a mineral out of place. They sat on their mountain and watched the world change around them.

“I’m bored,” Iggy complained to Grandpa Granite one day. Grandpa Grant was president of the Intrusive Igneous Rock Club. He’d been around so long that he now lived on the surface instead of where he was born inside the mountain.

“You need to go on a rock cycle,” Grandpa Grant said.

“What’s a rock cycle?” Iggy asked.

“It’s like a tour of the rock world. You see how the other rocks live.”

“Sound like fun!”

“Start at Cousin Bobby Sandstone’s. He runs the Country Brothers’ Sedimentary Rock Spa.”

Rock010So Iggy went to visit Cousin Bobby. “Hi, Cousin Bobby. I want to see how sedimentary rocks live.”

“It’s all about spa treatment, little bro. Erosion, deposition, compaction and cementation.”

“Sounds complicated.”

“Not at all, little bro.”

So Iggy hung out at the spa for tens of thousands of years. His hard edges wore away and he relaxed in the riverbed, his minerals settling into layers. It was relaxing, but nothing ever happened.

“I’m bored,” Iggy complained.

“Have you tried the glacier rub?” Cousin Bobby asked. “It’s a great way to chill, little bro.”

“I’m tired of just laying around. I want change.”

“Change?” a new voice asked.

Iggy turned around and saw a dark gray rock in a military uniform standing at attention.

Rock011“What’s up, bigger bro?” Cousin Bobby said.

“Commander Slate,” the dark gray rock said. He ignored Cousin Bobby and looked at Iggy. “If you want change, come to the Metamorphic Rock Camp. We’ll change you.”

“How?” Iggy asked.

“It’s intense. The pressure, the heat. But so worth it.” Commander Slate saluted him. His minerals were packed tight.

That’s what I want, Iggy thought. He enrolled in Metamorphic Rock Boot Camp and for the next tens of thousands of years, he transformed his image. He went through a metamorphosis. Commander Slate led the non-foliated platoon, and Iggy worked his way into the foliated platoon.

“You could be more,” Commander Slate said to Iggy one day. “Push yourself, apply more pressure, and—”

“No. I’m tired of all the pressure. I’ve had all the heat I can take. It’s too intense,” Iggy said.

Rock013Iggy wanted to be more like his friends Magma and Lava. They looked like they were having so much fun flowing along the edges and beneath the Metamorphic Rock Camp.

“What are you girls doing?” Iggy asked.

“Going with the flow,” Lav said.

“Want to join us?” Maggie called from below.

“It’ll melt all that tension,” Lav said.

“My minerals are pretty tight,” Iggy said.

So he jumped in the lava flow and for the next thousand years, he flowed everywhere. Over land with Lav and beneath the ground with Maggie. He travelled a lot, but it made him unhappy to have no place to call home.

Rock009One day, he was flowing past a familiar mountain and heard a voice.

“Iggy! Where have you been?” Grandpa Grant sat in his usual place on the side of the mountain, his course-grained surface glittering in the sun. “The Igneous Rock Club hasn’t been the same without you.”

“I do miss the mountain and my friends.”

“Then join us.”

So Iggy flowed back into his old place at Grandpa Grant’s side. He sat there until he cooled into the smooth-grained, black stone once more.

“I’ve missed this,” Iggy said. He settled in beside Grandpa Grant and watched the world change around them.


Zombie Girl

dreamstime_xs_26825193Contrary to common belief, I don’t like zombies.  Really.  I mean, what’s to like?  They’re mindless, rotting hunks of nastiness.  But if you throw a few in your novel, or sit up all night slaying them on the Xbox, suddenly everyone thinks you like them.

I blame my son.

From a young age, the boy has always gravitated toward the spooky and the creepy.  I can’t fault him there; I enjoy those things myself.  But he takes it a step further into the gross.  (Judging by the interests of his friends, I suspect it’s a boy thing.)

It’s his fault I ended up an Xbox addict.  When he bought a copy of Left For Dead, I had to do the parental guidance thing and play along.  (I guided him to the safe house and he kept the zombies off my back.)  After that, we moved on to Call of Duty Zombies, then Dead Island.  We’ve even played the zombie modes on games such as Red Dead Redemption and Borderlands.  If the undead ever shuffle our way, the boy and I are ready!

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that zombies ended up in my story.  They were just what I was looking for.  Not only are they nasty, but dead things creep me out.  Perfect, right?  Story wise, sure.  In real life?  Well, I do seem to get quite a lot of zombie-themed goodies from friends and family.  (Now I’m glad I didn’t go with spiders. *shiver*)

In the end, I’m left laughing at the irony.  But I have no regrets—it’s not everyday a 12-year-old boy brags to his buddies that his mom just had the most kills.  Speaking of…anyone up for game?  I haven’t played in awhile, so I’m a little rusty.  I might need you to watch my back.

Science and Magic

img004I’ve always loved fantasy.  I was the little girl in the unicorn t-shirt drawing fantastical pictures when she should have been paying attention in class.  I frequently got in trouble for daydreaming—until I learned to stare at the chalkboard and not out the window when my mind was elsewhere.  Yet through it all, I somehow became a scientist.  I feel like my interests rest on opposite ends of the spectrum.  At one end there’s hard science with its laws and absolutes, and at the other end there’s fantasy, which is anything but.  In The Final Formula, I think I found some middle ground.

The alchemy in my story isn’t the boiling cauldron of magic brew encountered in a lot of fantasy fiction, though it has the trappings of it.  My alchemy is closer to modern chemistry.  After all, Addie was a chemist before magic returned.  This setup left me trying to explain magic with science.  (Which isn’t the first time.  I have an unpublished series where I actually turned to math in an attempt to puzzle out the magic.  Yeah, I’m a geek.)  While writing this story, I researched the ingredients Addie might use and discovered that science could come into play.

Rosemary and PestleOne such example is in the opening scene where Addie is preparing some Remembrance Dust.  While searching for a plausible ingredient, I learned that rosemary was once believed to improve memory.  Digging deeper, I discovered that rosemary contains rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant that’s even been used in Alzheimer’s research.  Perfect!  Over the course of writing this book, I found that a lot of herb lore has some basis in fact.  Granted, I took a few liberties with what Addie can do, but there are underlying reasons why she uses the ingredients she does.

I had a lot of fun coming up with some crazy alchemy applications to solve Addie’s problems.  Homemade napalm to blow up zombies (and cars).  Magic bullets.  A compass to find the lost.  And as I dig into the next book, the fun continues.  Addie’s modern alchemy is a versatile medium that allows me to combine my interests.  I just wish I actually knew the Final Formula.  ;)

How about you?  Do you have interests that don’t seem to go together?

Picturing a Scene

“The places used in this book are a product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.”

There’s a lot of truth in that statement.  The majority of my scenes are conglomerations of real places and locations that exist only in my mind.  I thought it might be fun to share two real life locations that served as inspiration for settings in The Final Formula.

I’m not a Cincinnati native, but I visit often.  Each time I go, I’m on the lookout for interesting locations, and I can’t wait to use some of the more iconic ones in future stories.  This time around, most of the settings are a bit generic, and when I imagined them, I pictured places I knew.

ParlorOne example is my description of the Nelson Funeral Parlor.  The actual building I pictured was Daehler F.C. Mortuary Co. in Portsmouth, Ohio.  I only borrowed the exterior, though.  The interior described in the book is a figment of my imagination.  At least, I assume they don’t have an alchemy lab in the basement at Daehler’s.  ;)


IMG_0731Another location is the cemetery where our heroes have their misadventure in the mausoleum.  (Funeral parlor, cemetery—I’m seeing a theme.  Can you tell I like creepy things?)  In my mind’s eye, I pictured Greenlawn Cemetery, which is also in Portsmouth.  I love the weathered headstones, mature trees, and winding roads.  There are also a couple of mausoleums, but nothing like the one in the story.  (Thank goodness, huh?)

So, that’s what I saw.  Hopefully, your impression was something close to that, or maybe something from your own life experience.  I try not to over-describe things.  Large passages of description bore me to read, let alone write.  Beyond that, I prefer to leave some things to the reader’s imagination.  Let them make the setting theirs.

I’ve rambled enough.  Time to get back to that draft of the next story.  Feel free to share your thoughts.  And if you happen to be from the Cincinnati area or somewhere close by, do you know of any cool locations that might make a neat setting in a future story?

Thanks for stopping in!






Fan ArtMy kids have enjoyed following along on my publishing adventure.  My son was very supportive.  When I showed him my book on Amazon, he said, “That’s cool, but I was published before you.”  (His short story was selected for inclusion in a children’s anthology.)  So, I guess this all old hat to him.  :P

My daughter, on the other hand, was more supportive.  She drew me this awesome picture.  (I love the thought bubbles.  One says, “I love this book.”  And the other says, “I wonder what happens to Addie.”)  However, I’m not allowed to call it “fan art.”  Because, according to her, she’s not JUST a fan; she’s my daughter.  Hence, this post is labeled Art.

My Very First Post

The-Final-Formula 800 Cover reveal and PromotionalHello and welcome!  Well, today is the big day.  The Final Formula is formatted and ready to go.  Today I fumble around and try to get it up on the various retail sites.  I’ll be creating accounts, trying to figure out what goes where, and pestering writer friends when I get stuck.

I started the day by creating this website.  It’s just a simple thing I threw together.  A much cooler version will replace it in the near future, but until then, I hope this will suffice.

Thanks for stopping by!  Now I’d better get to work.