Come See Me at My Author Talk!

In conjunction with the Friends of Southborough Library, the wonderful folks at my town library have extended a special invitation for me to share my insights at their highly anticipated annual event.

On June 12th, at 7 p.m., please join me at the Southborough Library for a half-hour talk on the art of writing, publishing, marketing, and (hopefully) selling a book.

I’ll discuss the entire process, from ideation to writing a million drafts, to publishing through Amazon and other services, and then shouting from the rooftops about your book.

I’ve created a Facebook Event for the night and would love it if you could RSVP there.

After my talk, I’ll be answering questions and selling and signing copies of all four of my books. I hope to see you there!

Happy Tenth Anniversary, “A Sour Chord” – Big Sale Celebration!

Let’s flash back together. It’s May of 2014. I’m about to click publish on Amazon for my very first book, A Sour Chord. Up until that moment, the only person I’d told I’d written a book was my now wife, Megan. And even then I’d only told her a couple of months beforehand. I don’t know why I kept it a secret, but I did. Other than Megan, my editor, Austin, was the only person to know this book existed.

That day was filled with anxiety, fear, imposter syndrome, and, most importantly, hope. I don’t know what I planned to get out of writing that book, but I knew I wanted to. And now, ten years later, I’m here celebrating its anniversary. I published that book ten years ago next month, though I’d written the short story that was its foundation—a play, of sorts, really—way back in 1999. It’s been a journey, and I’m grateful to have you all with me.

Here we are, today, together, celebrating this work. And what better way to celebrate than to get my books into your eager little hands, no? From April 22nd through May 22nd, all paperbacks in my online store are $10, and hardcovers are just $15. But you need to order them from this special link. If you go right to the books themselves, the special pricing isn’t going to be there. So be sure to click that link.

And, as always, I wanted to say thank you. For those of you who’ve just stumbled onto my work, welcome. For those of you who’ve been here since the beginning, thank you for your support, kind words, encouragement, and nagging me to keep writing when I feel defeated or unsuccessful. I won’t delve into how hard it is to be an independent, self-published author, but I will say that it’s more work than I could have ever anticipated. If you’d told me ten years ago that writing the book(s) is the easiest part of the process, I may have reconsidered doing it.

The Original Ending to My Last Days

Let me go ahead and preface this by saying do not read the text below if you haven’t read My Last Days. The text below will spoil the ending, even though it’s drastically different in the final book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The text is unedited, so forgive grammar and spelling. This is exaclty how both chapters were written in the first draft, on November 25th, 2014.

You warned me. I won't hold you accountable for spoiling the ending. I'm going to click on this now to read it!
As you know, Andy dies at the end of the book. He does everything he can do to do good with his remaining time, but time runs out.

The second to last chapter is titled “Death”. I don’t expose my chapter titles in the final work, so you didn’t know that until just now. I use them more to help me outline what I’m going to write. I add a bunch of blank chapters and name them all of the points I want to make during the story. Then, I go back and write each chapter, one at a time, hoping it all makes sense. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s the extent of my plotting. A skill I recognize is important to some writers, but not one that I am able to follow myself.

“Death” changes perspectives from Andy’s first person perspective to Kate’s third-person. The last chapters are told from her point of view. On account of, you know, Andy being dead and not able to finish the story himself.

Originally, as you’ll read below, Andy finishes the story himself. We see him die through his eyes and then he goes to his own funeral. It didn’t test well with early readers or my editor. But I wanted to share it with you, as a little view into what can happen sometimes. You write something you believe in and love, and it turns out that you’re wrong.

Without further adieu, here’s the final two chapters of “My Last Days”, from Andy’s point of view.


“I’m glad we’ve ended up back here,” Kate said jarring me from my near sleep. She had rearranged herself and snuggled in close to me.

Joey still laid across the end of the bed at our feet, long since asleep and having ignored Kate and I crying our eyes out.

We’d fallen asleep like that almost every night for the last few weeks. Our little family, together, dreaming of better times, of less turbulent times.

Kate had finally dozed off, nestled into what she sometimes referred to as “the nook” – that perfect spot between my upper arm and my chest, that she insisted was designed and tailor suited specifically for her head. She’d fallen asleep there more times than I could remember or count.

The truth is, knowing she was right there always helped me fall asleep a little bit faster and stay asleep longer. Even once she’d realized I’d fallen asleep and she’d roll over, or pull away from me.

I slept a strong sleep that night. I dreamed of a life where I wasn’t sick. Of a life where I had more time and could do the things I needed and wanted to do, without fear of running out of time. I dreamed of happiness and love.

I dreamed of Kate and Joey.

When I woke up the next morning, I was somehow on the floor, sitting upright in the corner of the room. I could feel the walls on both sides of me, propping me up, holding me in a sitting position. My head lay to the left against the far wall, throbbing. It felt like the beginning of an episode.

I could see Kate on the bed, sitting up, her back to me.

Wait. I could see? My vision was back! I could see again!

“Kate,” I yelled. “Kate, I can see you.”

Joey stirred from the foot of the bed and sat up, looking towards Kate.

“You guys,” I yelled. “I see you both.”

But Joey didn’t hear me. Kate didn’t turn to look at me behind her, calling out to her.

I pushed myself up from the sitting position I was in and stood. My legs felt wobbly, but I used the wall on both sides of me to steady myself. I locked my legs and took a step forward.

I inched closer to the bed.

“Guys?” I called out.

Another step.

“Kate? Joey?”

On the third step I saw it.

I saw myself.

I gasped and jumped back.

“What the fuck is happening?” I yelled louder than I’d ever yelled before. “Kate, answer me!” I demanded.

But no one turned to look at me. No one heard me.

I got closer and could hear Kate crying. She was holding me in her arms, but I was standing five feet away. She rocked me back and forth in her arms and pulled Joey in close to her.

She hugged us both like the family that we were.

I could see her tears rolling down her face, dripping onto mine. I felt them. I felt the warmth of her tears as they rolled down my face, as I saw them roll from my forehead to my lips.

Then I could taste them. The salty bitterness. The taste that I’d tasted a hundred times before when she cried over something I’d done or said to upset her.

“I love you so much,” she whispered in my ear. I heard the words, five feet away, as clear as if she was standing next to me.

I was still connected to myself, yet I was no longer there. I was, as cliche as it sounds, watching the whole thing from across the room.

I watched and listened as Kate begged for more time. I listened as she told me she loved me over and over again, as Joey said he needed me and wanted me to stay.

I felt her body as she pressed herself in closer to me and kissed me one last time. Her lips trying to bring life back into mine, trying to restore the beating of my heart, as if she had some sort of magic spell stored up in her lips.

“I love you Iron Man,” Joey said. “I love you.”

I knew better than to yell anymore. I knew better than to try to signal them, to say a final goodbye, to try to take the reins and change the direction the ship I was on was heading. I knew it was over. I knew it was final.

They stayed there with me for a little bit before they called the police. Joey hugged Kate and she hugged him back, all while holding my hand. Grasping onto one last glimmer of hope that I’d wake up and be okay, just for one more day.

That she would, somehow, get one more opportunity to see me smile and tell me how much I meant to her, to them.

Joey was the one that called 911. Kate couldn’t bring herself to let go of my hand until well after the police and EMTs showed up. She couldn’t let go of it even when they told her she had to. It almost took them prying her hand from mine to get her to let go.

The EMTs asked Joey and Kate to leave the room while they packed my body up to bring me wherever they were going to bring me. they stood in the hallway right outside the bedroom door and watched as they lifted me into a bag, having already pronounced me dead shortly before.

I could see Kate out of the corner of my eye, holding onto Joey. His head buried in her stomach, tears coming out from both sides of his face. Her gentle, caring hand caressing the back of his head, while she herself cried uncontrollably.

Kate barely spoke that morning. She’d said her goodbye to me without saying a word. I could still feel her hand holding mine, well after they’d taken me out of the room.

I stood there in the same spot I’d been, not knowing what else to do. Not knowing where to go or what happened next, waiting for a sign, waiting for something to happen.

“He’s no longer in pain,” I heard Joey say, faintly from the hallway.

For the first time, I heard myself in what Joey said. I saw myself in him and knew, in that moment, that everything else would fall into place.

“I love you Kate,” I said as strongly as I could. “I’ll always love you. Never forget that.”

“Thanks and Closure”:

The afterlife – I guess that’s what you’d call it – was as normal as every day life. Except that no one could see me or talk to me and there were no other people around that could, contrary to popular belief. I was just on my own, floating through time, going about things, watching over Kate and Joey.

I don’t know what made me do it, but I followed them from the apartment to the church, where they’d say their farewells to me. Where those that loved me or knew me or heard about me would show up and say goodbye.

I could tell everyone tried their best to smile and Joey thanked everyone for coming. Joey and Kate put on brave faces and tried not to cry. My Mom and Dad cried quite a bit the entire afternoon.

It rained most of the day. Rainclouds filled the entire sky, thunder booming down almost every minute, as if some sort of sign, some sort of omen. As soon as Kate arrived, it was as if something triggered the weather to change, and a hole opened in the cloud right above the church, causing rays of sunlight to shine down and filter through the stained glass. Multi colored beams of light illuminated the alter as she sat down right in front of where they had wheeled me in.

If it weren’t a funeral, it would have been quite beautiful.

It had been three days since I had passed. Three of the longest days of my life, full of some of the saddest times, but happiest memories. Three days of seeing Kate and Joey upset and not being able to fix it or console them. Three long days of wondering what would happen or where I’d end up, or what I should do.

Kate had already said goodbye to me the night before. After everyone left the wake, she stayed with me. Just the two of us surrounded by the beautiful flowers people had sent and the few remaining candles that were still lit.  She said her goodbye to me then, a goodbye I’ll keep to myself and never forget. She had evidently prepared some words to say in front of the crowd of people that had come to the funeral.

“Andy would have appreciated you all coming out here today,” she said. “I don’t know all of you, but I know that Andy would have appreciated you being here.

“Andy and I have known each other since middle school, and spent most of our adult lives in a relationship. I loved him like I loved no one else, and will never forget him or anything that he’d done for me.

“He was a kind and caring man, one that showed love for those that didn’t always understand why he loved them or appreciate why he loved them. He showed no hate or malice towards anyone for as long as I’ve known him.

“Andy began a bucket list as soon as he found out he was sick, and has been accomplishing items off that list for the past eight or so months. He didn’t get to complete the list, but asked Joey, Anna and I to finish the remaining items for him. We plan on doing that starting today, as soon as we leave here.

“I can spend hours telling you great stories about him, about how much I loved him, about how much he meant to me. But you already know that. You loved him in your own way, and he you, and that’s why you’re here. That’s why you’ve come to say your goodbyes.

“He wasn’t in pain. His headaches were gone and that’s not what took him. I like to think that his body just gave up when his mind simply wasn’t ready to yet.

“I love you, Andy. I hope you find peace where you are now.”

Once she’d finished speaking and sat back down, Joey whispered in her ear and she nodded, sliding out of the way, so he could get out of the pew.

She followed him up to the pulpit and helped him up to the microphone, adjusting it to his height.

“Hi, I’m Joey,” he said, “Andy was my Big Brother. He showed up months ago to do something nice for someone because of his bucket list. He wanted to do good things once he knew he was sick. What he ended up doing was saving my life.

“My dad was a bad man. Not like Andy or Marcus. He was mean to me and would hurt me all the time when he was drinking his beer in the backyard. He would punch me and kick me and spit on me. He was a really bad man.

“When Andy came into my life, I saw how people were supposed to treat each other. How an adult was supposed to treat a little boy. He showed me how important it was to tell the truth and to be yourself.

“I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Andy over the past few months and his last days. I really got to know him. I found myself looking up to him and the things he did and won’t ever forget how he saved me.

“He told me more than one time that I’d saved him as much as he saved me, but that’s not true. He came into my life and took me away from a lifetime of terrible times, of being beaten up by someone who was supposed to take care of me, and brought me to a new life. He brought me into his home, let me meet Kate and Annabel, and know what love is.

“He taught me that sometimes love can be painful, but it should never hurt. Love should leave a smile afterwards, not a bruise.

“I’ll miss you, Iron Man. I hope you’re better now where you are.”

He came down the stairs and sat down next to Kate, taking her hand.

It was the start of their new journey, together. Just Joey and Kate, without me.

I stopped for a moment, looking at the faces in the crowd, all of them staring back at where I lay. All of them sobbing an appropriate amount to cope with their sadness.

I saw Veronica and a man I assumed was her husband, Brian and Jen were there, too. Meghan and Carri were unknowingly sitting in the same row.

Anna sat on one side of my Dad, my Mom on the other, all three holding hands.

The faces of those people were burned into my memory. They stared back at me, not knowing that I was there, that I saw them, or that I loved them.

The church darkened as the clouds overhead closed in on the one pocket of sunshine in the whole sky. The beautiful lights that had shone around the church through the stained glass were suddenly gone, replaced by nothingness.

The door at the far end of the church opened and a slight light peeked in through it before it quickly closed. I looked, trying to make out who it was that had come in, wondering who’d shown up so late.

A loud clasp of thunder struck at that moment, my eyes flashed and everything was suddenly gone.

“Hello Andrew,” a voice said. It was loud enough that it sounded like it was right next to me. It sounded like James Spader.

All Sold Out!

On Wednesday of last week, I posted this silly photo to a Facebook group for book lovers.

The caption was something to the effect of “oh, poor me, what a horrible problem I have in having to sign these books and write witty and unique inscriptions. Woe is me. Send help,”

Completely in jest, I obviously wouldn’t offer it as an option on my site if I didn’t mind signing and inscribing books.

I had no intention of trying to sell any books.

But I did. As soon as the first person asked where they could get a signed copy and I posted the link to my website, the orders started pouring in. My email was dinging all night, overnight, and into the morning.

I’m very thankful that my experience as a web developer lead me down the path of building some “buy other books and save” functionality into my site, because it worked. People were buying two and even all three of my books, saving 15% on all of them. I also offered free shipping over $25, but realized, once I did the math, that I was losing money on that deal, so I upped the free shipping to $35.

I sold out of every copy I’d pre-ordered of Dudley road, in both hardcover and paperback.
I sold out of every copy I had on hand of My Last Days, in both hardcover and paperback.
I haven’t even gotten the first-time-in-print copies of A Sour Chord yet, but I sold out of that whole batch, as well.

So I ordered more. Unfortunately, Amazon takes about 12-14 days to print and deliver them.

And I sold out of all of those, as well. In all three books.

So I ordered more.

This cycled repeated 5 more times during last week. I’d order more, they’d sell out. I put up a notice on the site saying that all books were out of stock until the end of the month, and while that slowed sales down some, it didn’t seem to deter everyone, as the orders have still come piling in.

I’m so humbled, for a number of reasons.

First, complete strangers not only bought my work, but they wanted me to personalize a signature to them. Strangers who’ve never heard of me before took a chance just based on my book covers, as well as my descriptions.

I also did something I’ve never done in the almost 10 years since I published my first book; I made a profit on the whole endeavor. There’s so much cost that goes into publishing a book yourself that folks don’t think of, but it adds up. The artwork for the cover, editing (is the biggest cost, by far), the book trailer I had made, the books themselves, the boxes to ship in, shipping costs. The list goes on and on. But, as of today, I’ve earned more than I’ve spent. It’s not much more than I’ve spent, but it’s in the black for the first time. And while I don’t do this for the money, it certainly doesn’t hurt to motivate me for the next book (which, for the record, I’ve already begun planning out!)

Others have bought directly from Amazon, including the Kindle version, which has been wonderful, as well.

I’ve gotten more reviews through an Advanced Reader service I signed up for that my first two books combined, and while they’re not all five stars (you can’t be perfect all the time, right?), this one in particular really made me so happy:

The book ‘Dudley Road’ was intelligently written. Each chapter commanding your attention and ensuring that you kept turning page after page. It had the right amount of creepy without being over the top scary, the right amount of suspense and mystery.
Overall, Dudley Road is a masterpiece and if you are a fan of mystery with a little horror, this is the book for you.

“Intelligently written” and “masterpiece” for a silly ghost story. How? Why? What? Is this real life? I’m printing and framing it.

I’m sure this level of sales won’t continue forever, and that’s fine. I spent about 2 hours every day last week signing and packing books. It’s exhausting, but so rewarding. A big time author I know and am friendly with signs and ships books himself with the help of his manager. He posts photos of him with literal palettes full of books and I don’t understand the how of it all. It’s crazy pants.

So, if you’re reading this and you’re one of the folks from The Book Lounge Facebook Group who ended up here from my silly little post, thank you so much for your support. I really hope you enjoy my book(s) that you bought and come back for more the next time.

I’m so grateful and humbled and appreciative of everything that’s happened this week.*

* except for losing my wallet yesterday. I am not appreciative of my doofusness.

Podcast Guest: What I Miss?

On a whim, I responded to a Reddit post (I don’t even remember what subreddit it was in, honestly) looking for guests on a new podcast called “What I Miss?”. Its creator bills it as “A chill conversation about things that matter, and things that don’t”.

While I’m not the biggest fan of podcasts (I’ve tried a bunch of times and I just can’t get into them), I love story telling. So I jumped at the opportunity to be one of the initial guests, especially since I got to talk about my work, how I got where I am and lots of other things.

We also played a super fun game called “Did I Write That?” where Jordan (the host) went through a bunch of old (and super cringe) song lyrics from my other website and then made up some of his own. I had to guess if it was something I’d written or not. And it was so much fun. I hope he has me on again and I can play again!

If you want to listen to me ramble — mostly incoherently – about life, writing, inspiration and a bunch of other silly things, my episode goes live on June 10th. You can listen to it here.

My Last Days’ First Review – Five Stars!

Getting feedback on something you’ve created is wonderful. Even if it’s negative. Just knowing that your work was good enough (or bad enough) to inspire someone to write a review online means a lot.

I was so glad to see that My Last Days got its first review on Amazon yesterday, just about a month after being published. I’m even more elated that it’s a five star review!

If you’ve finished reading your copy, I’d love it if you could take a few minutes to pop a review up on Amazon. It’s incredibly important for self-published authors to not only get positive reviews, but to get a lot of them.

Thanks for being the first, Melissa!

Launch day!

It’s been an endless day of fighting with an almost-three-year-old to get eye drops in her eye after emergency cataract removal surgery yesterday. I know, I didn’t know a toddler could get cataracts, either!

But I wanted to take a quick moment and acknowledge two things.

First, it’s been almost six years of my life. Of ups and downs, loves and hates, happiness and sadness, but the day is finally here. My Last Days is officially available as of today.

Second, I wanted to take a moment to sincerely thank each and every one of you who pre-ordered a copy. Further, those of you who’ve already started reading, maybe have finished, and maybe have texted me your thoughts along the way. Thank you beyond words. It means so much to me, especially in this weird state of the world we live in, that you’d spend your hard earned money on my book.

I’d love to say I spent the whole day online, talking the book up, promoting it however I could, and begging you all to tell your friends. But I didn’t. My little girl comes first, and she always will.

One week left to pre-order… and some other updates

The last three weeks have flown by. Almost in the blink of an eye, as they say.

Since launching the new site here and getting My Last Days available for pre-order, things have been a little hectic. I’ve been packing and shipping pre-order copies out myself, which isn’t a big deal. Except I offered a signed copy with a “witty or funny inscription”, which turned out to be much more challenging to come up with en masse than I thought. And, surprisingly, most folks who wanted a signed copy opted for that option. I think my mailman hates me.

That said, time is running out to get a pre-order in. But only if you want a copy before the public gets theirs next week. Digital versions will go on sale on the 6th and I’ll do my best to get your copy to you before then if you order in the next few days.

I’m really pleased with how sales are going so far. I’ve outsold A Sour Chord already, which is not that much as that didn’t sell very well.

I got my first actual piece of press this week, too. Our local town blog posted a nice writeup about me and included details about the book. You can find it here.

That’s about it for now. My anxiety has had me up since 1:30am (it’s now 5am), so I figured I’d knock out an update while I couldn’t sleep.

I hope you’re well and staying safe. Wash your hands and wear a mask for pete’s sake.

So many updates, all at once!

Oh, hi there. It’s been a while, I know. Actually, it’s been over a year. That’s inexcusable, at least in my own eyes.

Anyway, I’ve been up to a lot of things. Besides just living life, being a dad, working my job, working my other job, keeping my humans alive and trying to be a good friend to my close friends, I’ve done two momentous things as of just now:

  1. I published My Last Days! Finally, it’s available for pre-order starting today and will be available on May 6th.
  2. I launched my new author site. This took longer than I’d like to admit, but I’m happy with the result.

As a special offer to those who read my blog, you can use the promo code BLOGREADER on my online book shop will receive 10% off their order, with no limit. Pre-order your paperback or hardcover of My Last Days and you’ll get it on May 1st, before the public. You may even get it sooner than that, if I can get out to the post office to ship them out.

It’s also available for Kindle, Apple and Nook, and is available on Google Play and Smashwords. eBooks are just $2.99 as a promotional launch price. The paperback and limited edition hardcover are on sale until the end of May. Buy them right through my site, pay by credit card, or through your Amazon account.

And, please, tell your friends, loved ones, strangers, the guy at the grocery store. Tell everyone, but do it from a safe social distance.

Thanks for all the love and support over the years while I got this thing finished up and available to you all!