Author Reviews of The Shady Side: Shortcut to Uneasy Street (Vol II of The Uneasy Series)

I would like to thank Jordi Burton, author of The Anastasia Series, and Shania Kuo of literary blog Booked Out Lives for taking the time to read and write reviews of Volume II of The Uneasy Series, The Shady Side: Shortcut to Uneasy Street. Both reviews are thoughtful and detailed, and I appreciate the assistance in helping to get the word out ShadySide_resizedabout Volume II.

Jordi Burton’s Review

Shania Kuo’s Review

The Shady Side E-book

The Shady Side Paperback

Thank you for giving this a try!

A Return to My Dream

This is a photo of the camera kit I purchased in 2015 with my income tax refund. I had a huge interest in photography, having captured some stunning photos of local nature on my phone; but a cell phone camera can only do so much. I wanted to take photos of distant wildlife and be able to see every feather, every marking, and the expression on each bird, mammal, or reptile’s face. I wanted to freeze spectacular views, master nocturnal lightning strikes, bring the full moon so close you could see its topography.

So I purchased this camera kit, which came with everything in this photo and so much more. I did take some kickass wildlife photos – a great blue heron, a beaver wrestling with a lily leaf as it swam through a swamp, woodpeckers, deer, turtles. I chased hawks for months, trying to get a good photograph of one, but I didn’t get any. Nor have I learned how to properly use my Nikon.

Not yet.

See, somewhere along the line, I made a wrong turn. I took a path I hadn’t planned on, and I lost time: nearly three years. I may as well have blacked out.

However, with the turn of the year, I have gradually found my way back, and along with this blog, my Goodreads listing, and Draft2Digital (I had even forgotten to upload my second book there), I’ve rediscovered myself, my goals, and my dreams.

My focal point of 2019 is on learning. I am reading an in-depth manual on how to use my Nikon so that I can create those stunning images. I am learning different steps to take to market my books. I will be studying how to build my own books using free tools I have been introduced to from helpers like Bookworks, Authors Publish Magazine, and Jane Friedman’s Electric Speed, who offer free e-book downloads and different resources to help indie authors like myself forge their own way. The sheer number of free online resources can be daunting; so I when I come across an resource that offers me something of value, I save it and use it.

My focal point of 2019 is on learning. I am reading an in-depth manual on how to use my Nikon so that I can create those stunning images. I am learning different steps to take to market my books. I will be studying how to build my own books using free tools I have been introduced to from helpers like Bookworks, Authors Publish Magazine, and Jane Friedman’s Electric Speed, who offer free e-book downloads and different resources to help indie authors like myself forge their own way. The sheer number of free online resources can be daunting; so I when I come across an resource that offers me something of value, I save it and use it.

I am absorbing everything I can on how to do things myself, sell my books from my own website, maximize my writing, photography, and other marketable skills so that I can eventually live my dream: To be my own employer, to do what I love for a living.

It’s good to be back.




To Market, To Market: What Should I do?

Well, blow me down! (Thank you, Popeye.) I’m back again. Twice in one month, already breaking a record in 2019 after my long hiatus.

I write to you from the frozen hellscape of Upstate New York, where the snow banks on the sides of the streets are 5, 6 feet tall from the recent snow storm and furnaces struggle to keep up with the single-digit and negative temperatures. It is a whopping 28 degrees today. The cold sucks motivation from me like a vampire drains a body of blood.

However, motivation must be found at some point. I am still a fledgling self-publisher, getting ready to release my fourth title in a few weeks, and hopefully by the end of the year, break yet another record in terms of consistent output.

As fledgling a self-publisher I am, however, I have barely dipped my toes into the monster ocean of “marketing”. If I could afford to pay someone else to do it, you bet I would. Alas, it falls to me to brave those waters.

Therefore, I have been researching diligently for ideas, instructions, directions. The internet is so full of information that it can take a while to sift through all of the advice out there; but I think I have found a few things to try. I’ve decided to start simple, with a short list of items, so that I don’t overwhelm myself.

Join Reader/Author Communities:
I already had a presence on Goodreads, but I never visited there or bulked out my profile. Recently I visited my account, and what did I find? Readers! Ratings! Readers were reading and rating my book, unbeknownst to me. Here I was, agonizing over the lack of reviews on Amazon, and there was a whole ‘nother site where my books were being read. Fancy that. So I decided to further fill out my profile. I also joined Hometown Reads, a site that focuses on helping authors with ideas to market in their hometowns. The more communities I belong to, the more feedback and ideas I get from other members. And my web presence is increased.

Start an Author Vlog:
Everywhere I search author marketing on the internet, vlogging comes up. There seems to be a mass transition of authors moving from blogging to vlogging, or doing both. There are a plethora of articles available on why and how authors should vlog, how vlogging can help you, and author vlogs you should check out. I think this is something I could learn to do and find appropriate subject matter to vlog. It’s worth a try, I figure, to add value to my brand and to help solidify my online presence.

Get Out of the House and do Readings and Appearances:
Okay, when it comes to author readings and appearances, opinions seem to differ a great deal. Some authors think appearances are a waste of time, while others get a ton of return out of them. I am willing to give a local book tour (local meaning within New York State) a shot, to begin with. Why? Why not think positively, anyway? It might also be fun, and a good way to get a homebody like me out of the comfort of my sacred space and out into the public. I am waiting for spring, though. Maybe after April.

The word is that if an author intends to make an appearance or do a reading, he or she should do that appearance in conjunction with another event or do it in an unusual venue. Given the settings of my short stories, I could do a reading on a deserted island paradise (except that “deserted” might mean a lack of attendees), at an auto service center (thought that is hardly practical – it may be too noisy and oily), in a plant nursery or garden center, or even on a path in the middle of the woods. I could do a “walking” reading at a nature center to promote fitness and the benefits of the great outdoors; similar to the way that businesses began having “walking” meetings a few years ago. The possibilities are endless.

So, there it is. The seeds of a marketing plan. I guess, given the Upstate New York weather, I will have to start them indoors until the soil has thawed and the seedlings are hardy enough to put in the ground.


Happy New Year 2019

Greetings! In the course of the past few months, after I had decided I would be returning here regularly to update as I used to, that commitment somehow got lot in the shuffle. I must ashamedly (is that a word?) admit that among the host of other online outlets I participate in, I neglected this one, which used to be the first place that I would come to do blog updates, to do “This Week in Writing History”, to update my “Horror Review” page, and whatever other activities I used to engage in. Needless to say, I need to make a list of my outlets so that none of them fall through the cracks – particularly this one!

I have discovered, as I leaf through these pages, that not only have I forgotten to come back and blog regularly, that I didn’t even complete the last update on my “Home” page for The Shady Side, which I released on April 30, 2018. Distracted, much? I must appear to have the attention span of a gnat.

Last year saw the release of The Uneasy Series Volume II, The Shady Side: Shortcut to Uneasy Street, as an e-book in April, and then as a paperback edition in May; and mysa cover for web newest project, Story #7: Stuffed Animals, a Novella, went live on Amazon on December 30th. This third title is a huge milestone for me. It represents the clearing away of a difficult time period and the creation of a forward-facing path.

Now, as I sit and watch the snow fall steadily outside my front window, I am making my plans for 2019. Setting some goals. Why “plans” and “goals” and not “resolutions”? I don’t quite know. I think because something in the wordage of “plans” and “goals” indicates flexibility and the ability to adjust my plans and goals as I go along. I mean, really – how many of us can claim that all of our plans or goals have succeeded, step by step, from beginning to end, without some kind of deviation, or hitch, or unexpected event, that had to be taken into account and for which an adjustment or accommodation had to be made?

Life happens, and as the Tori Amos song goes, “We make it up as we go along. . .” And it’s true. Sure, we can make a life plan. Finish high school, choose a career path, go to college, get that dream job. Meet that partner, fall in love, get married, have the house and family, live happily ever after. That is just an example of a plane. Many of us may have different plans than this. However, we need to be flexible in order to hit the curve balls life throws at us. The word “resolution” sounds so stiff and unbending. Inflexible. And if you can’t bend, you just might break.

Part of this flexibility is the ability to adapt to changes. And adaptation requires learning new information; and adjusting practices to change with the technological trends.

There are some practices I am resistant to. I am an 80’s kid. I know what life was like before cell phones, computers and the internet, when all of our files were paper hard copies, and “marketing” meant television, radio, or print advertising. Getting published meant that you slaved over a typewriter, mailed copies of your work to publishing houses and waited months, even up to a year, to receive your rejection slip – if you received anything, at all. Self-publishing was an expensive proposition, often costing thousands of dollars.

Now, I am an Indie author publishing titles under my own publishing company. While  things like multiple rounds of editing, dealing with procrastination, lack of motivation, writers block, trying to figure out how the story is going to get from point A to point B, and finding time to write, are all challenges, these and other challenges inherent in releasing a self-published book are relatively easy to me. I am skilled at facing, and embracing, these challenges. The publishing process itself is also easy. Online self-publishing services make it simple and inexpensive for authors like me to publish their books.

But then there is “after” the release. The e-book is live, the paperback is available for purchase. And then, for me, the waters become murky, because I must enter the realm of a monster referred to as “marketing”.

I am not prolific at “marketing”. Marketing, putting myself out there, touting my work as exciting and interesting to read, for those readers who enjoy my genre, are difficult things for me. Self-promotion. The time that I should be out there, shouting to everyone, “My book is live! You must read it!” Is the time I want to crawl into the shadows and hide. Even writing a blog post, putting myself out there, feels too personal.

Yet it is necessary. I intend to write and publish many, many more titles. I want people to read them, so yes, I need to get myself out there and let readers know about them. So among my big “plans” and “goals” for 2019, is to learn how to market my work.

I quit smoking around 2012, I think. If I can do that, I can do anything, right?

Best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy, safe, and prosperous 2019!



Back to the Starting Line

Here I am, back at my original starting point, after having written and self-published two books in digital and paperback form. I have come a long way since I published my first pages, here. I have also gone on to build a sister site,

Pre-release Excerpt Booklet Cover Art

I have taken many divergent paths, only to discover that maybe – just maybe – the path that I originally started on was the best path for me; here, at my home site, where I am part of a community. As worn out and tired as the saying is, it remains true: the grass really is not always greener.

When I decided to create a new website, I began to dismantle this one, but I only got as far as removing “This Week in Writing/Publishing History”, a weekly Sunday commentary celebrating the ups and downs of historical significance in my first choice of careers: being a fiction author.

I am so glad that the rest of my site remains intact! It has been patiently awaiting my return. And while my sister site is built and complete, I have found that adding a blog seems to be so much easier and more convenient here. What will become of I probably will keep it as a more formal presentation of myself and my work. I still have work to do, there.

As for my writing plans? My journey has just begun. I have three projects that I am hoping to complete by the end of the year. As they come to fruition, I will keep updating my blog posts. I hope that those who came along as I began my journey will stop by now and again to view and celebrate my progress.




Update: New Website Launch

Finally, after months of anxiety, I have launched my new website! It is fairly simple right now, but will soon fill with interesting and fun content. I may try to move some of my content to my new site in order to preserve it. I’m not sure that I want to maintain two sites.

As promised, my new site is equipped with a “subscribe” link, so that my readers can sign up for my newsletter to get updates about my projects, new releases, and free stuff, like e-Printbook giveaways.

In addition, my first book, Volume I of the Uneasy Series, Blood and Bone: A Smattering of Unease, is being prepped for print release. It should be available in print by the end of the month.

The first 6 months of 2016 have been incredibly productive for me. I’ve faced down a lot of apprehension that things would go wrong when releasing my first e-book and building my new site, but tada! I did them both successfully. Now that I have found that preparation for releases both electronic and print editions is not such difficult work, I expect that my work should move along more swiftly!

I have also created my publishing company, Crow 99 Books, and Volume II of the Uneasy Series, The Shady Side: Shortcut to Uneasy Street, is well under way. I had been hoping for e-release on June 11th, but it’s going to take a little while longer. And after all, two out of three goals met by deadline ain’t bad!

Thanks for all who read my blog and visit my site here at WordPress. If you would like to continue to check in on my progress, please visit me at and subscribe to get updates about projects, new releases, and book giveaways!

Remain uneasy,









Have a Creepy St. Patrick’s Day!

What do you mean, a creepy St. Patrick’s Day?

Book 1 Series CoverWell, why not? Celebrate the good luck you have not to be one of the more unfortunate characters in Volume I of the Uneasy series, Blood and Bone: A Smattering of Unease! A gift from me to you today, you can download Blood and Bone anytime today, March 17th, until midnight.

Don’t be afraid, come get your creep on!

Oh, and before I forget, have a peek at the debut cover of Volume II of the Uneasy  series, The Shady Side: Shortcut to Uneasy Street. Yup, still working on the writing for this one. Do I dare promise a release date for this new e-book? Do I dare scrunch up my eyes and hold my breathe and say . . . by June? I don’t know, it’s an awful scary thing to promise a release date . . . because the pressure goes up, and I know you’ll be waiting with baited breath for my newest collection of creepy tales!

I’ll give it my all, though. ShadySide_resized

In the meantime, good luck today. Let’s hope you don’t run into any tiny bloodthirsty creatures, killer plants, stinky sea monsters . . . or friends or lovers that you’ve wronged and are now bent on revenge!

Wishing you the most uneasy St. Patrick’s Day!



The UNEASY Series

There is so much exciting stuff going on in my horror writing world!

Yesterday I re-launched my debut horror fiction collection, Blood And Bone; A Smattering of Unease, as Volume I of the Uneasy series! Three volumes will complete this collection. Volume II is called The Shady Side; A Shortcut to Uneasy Street and it is already half-finished. I will be working with my graphic designer on cover development, and hopefully will be able to reveal the cover in the near future. I’m already thinking about Volume III and its content and title. I’m not entirely sure yet what I want to do with it, but it will definitely be uneasy.

Volume I should be available for print in early March. In fact, all three books will eventually be offered in print and as a set. Product development for goody giveaways are also in the works. In addition, I am still working on updating my website, so my “subscriber” link will soon be appearing.

I am currently reading some new material, so you can look forward to some more reviews on my Horror Review page in the upcoming weeks.

If anyone would like to check out Volume I of the Uneasy series, it is available as a free Valentine’s Day gift until midnight today! I encourage any readers to leave reviews. Happy Valentine’s Day and uneasy reading to you!


Blood and Bone

Finally! My debut collection of fiction short stories, Blood and Bone; Blood and Bone final coverA Smattering of Unease is now available on e-book! It was released on January 1, 2016.

There are many individuals who assisted me with this project, and I can’t thank you all enough. You have helped me to realize one of my life’s dreams.

I have not yet started my promotions. I know, I’m supposed to start promoting as far ahead of publication as possible. I just wanted to make sure I would actually follow through and finish my book, this time. I will be starting my promotions within a few days, and you will be able to download my book for free!

I’m eager to complete my next book, and I’ve already started to write. I rarely stick to my deadlines, so I’m not sure if I dare to set a completion date. I’m afraid I might jinx myself. I almost think I fail to meet my deadlines on purpose. The most I will say at this time is that I plan on completing my next book in far, far less time than it took to complete this one.

Keep your eye out for my free promotion, and get my book for free!  I encourage any and all readers to leave a review. I hope you enjoy my first offering!

To see more details about my book or to download Blood and Bone; A Smattering of Unease, click the following link:





New Year’s Day, 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! 2015 was a hell of a year, and I feel a huge sense of relief that it is over and I can put it behind me.

Why couldn’t I have done that any day of the year? Is it a psychological thing, that with the changing of the fourth digit, life can somehow be reset more easily than at any other time? Is it like a re-birth, where the muck and grime of the previous year can be washed away, and I can start with a clean slate?

Or is it a time when I bring my lessons forward with me and expand upon the foundation that I have begun to build, brick by brick?

Maybe the latter would be the better choice. If the slate is wiped clean, I have to start from scratch. But if I bring my accomplishments forward -those building blocks – and continue to exercise my strengths and work on my weaknesses, then I have something of substance to stand on.

For any of you who visit my page, you will see some changes this year. I will be removing “This Week in Writing and Publishing History” from my Tidbits page and will replace the list with something of more substance. While I know there are plenty of events and people that have contributed to writing and publishing history, for some reason, not enough of them are documented.

I have decided to focus more on horror, because it is what I know. History is bursting with the horrors that humanity has created. The truth is often more horrific than fiction.

I haven’t decided exactly what form this is going to take; maybe a weekly essay or article. But that is something to be on the lookout for in the coming weeks.

More importantly, I am getting ready to publish my debut fiction collection and bring in the new year on a high note. I am procrastinating as we speak, because today is the day it will be uploaded, and most likely ready to read within a few hours.

Onward into 2016!