I hope everyone had a marvelous new year’s and that everyone has a smooth transition back to the “real world.” I am still visiting with family for a belated Christmas as this posts, but just before Christmas I had the distinct honor of being nominated for the Next Big Thing Award by two fellow writers, Jamie Oehring and Donna McNicol.

The “Next Big Thing” Award is a way to spotlight writers who have been slaving away at some manuscript, and whose writing compatriots believe they should be recognized for that work and creativity. So —- Jamie and Donna, I thank you. It really is a high honor to be recognized like this by the writing community.

As part of the award, I get to not only spotlight some great writers myself, but also give you a sneak peek at my current manuscript, Memento Mori. (More on that in a minute.)

As for my five nominees: since this award seems to have made the circuit through the unpublished ranks a few times, I went out on a limb and nominated five people whom I’m fairly sure won’t repost this to their blog. Why? Because they’re too busy writing — and formatting — and marketing their work — because they are published indie authors.

Indie authors that I really and truly admire, and whose books I think everyone should read. EVERYONE.

You can scroll to the bottom to see who I’ve nominated, with links to their indie-pubbed works; but while you’re scrolling you can read my own “thumbnail sketch” for what I’m working on, courtesy of the…

Next Big Thing Award
Classic “Memento Mori” jewelry, courtesy of Fur, Feather, Tooth, and Nail.

What is the title of your Work in Progress?
Memento Mori (Latin for: Remember You Will Die)
Where did the idea come from for the book?
A five sentence fiction in answer to the prompt “Harvest,” posted on this blog back in June 2012. Not wanting to go the usual route of “bringing in the sheaves,” I searched for another definition of “harvest” that I thought would make a good story. The Grim Reaper was another obvious choice; but I did not want to go the “black hood and scythe” routine either. The result: Welsan, a businessman for death, whose livelihood depends on the souls he harvests for the Nebria, or soul-drinkers, who will pay any price for their addiction.
What genre does your book fall under?
Fantasy Suspense? Is that a category? Memento Mori is most certainly not rooted in this world, and  has elements of magic; but after talking to early beta-readers, I may query this one under the “suspense” category, as it does have very dark overtones (but not gory).
The original photo from which I got my idea for Welsan. 
He’s not *exactly* like this, but it’s close.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Honestly? I hope they go entirely with unknowns if/when this makes it to the silver screen. Since this story deals with unknowns on the fringes of society fighting against a deeply entrenched establishment, I think it’s only fitting that unknowns should play the parts.
What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
When a ritual suicide goes amiss, professional soul-reaper Welsan must protect the woman he has agreed to harvest, though their alliance strains the laws of death and magic to the breaking point.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My intention is to do this old school, and query for representation through an agency.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I started writing “floating scenes” (clear scenes that I knew ought to happen) back in June, as a response to another series of Flash Fiction challenges. I used NaNoWriMo to pull all the “floaties” together into one cohesive narrative; got to December 1st, and promptly deleted 30,000 words (on purpose). Hence, the first draft is still under way, but I am feeling much, MUCH better about this since my December 1st “reality check.” Hoping for a finish date around the end of February.
Jada, during one of her “accidental conjuring” episodes. 
Poor dear. (Photo source.)

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
I would think readers who enjoyed Garth Nix’s book Sabriel will probably like this one as well. However, I’ve had readers with a very non-fantasy bent also say they love Welsan and his world – which gives me hope the book will have at least some cross-genre appeal for a wider audience.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As mentioned above, Welsan’s tale was first set off by an off-the-cuff piece of flash fiction. In a broader sense, however, he was inspired by my love for fairy tales, nature, and long hours spent with loved ones at nursing homes and hospitals. Combining those elements into one seamless who-dunnit has proved a challenge, but I am hopeful that a successful result is currently under way.


     Welsan knelt before the man, hood still lowered around his shoulders, hands carefully unhitching the buttons of his coat. Once more he made a swift inventory of its contents: his wallet (now considerably lighter); the four inner pockets with their empty soul-glasses; and, at his belt, two daggers in thick leather sheaths. The man coughed again – a deep, retching cough, and lifted his head. The onlookers, from their various positions, saw only the ragged remains of a sickly man at the end of his time: bloodshot eyes, yellowed skin, almost no teeth.
Welsan saw something more. Thin fog, like wisps of silver-bright smoke, hovered around the man’s face. When he coughed or breathed out, the fog expanded; when he inhaled, the fog retreated, till it was only a small cloud trapped in his toothless mouth. Then he retched again, and the fog spilled out, though never far enough to escape.
            Already half-dead. Welsan’s left hand, which had moved automatically to the hilt of one dagger, moved instead to one of his flasks: a blood-black glass, with silver bracings and cap etched with a rare crow design. His left thumb pressed against the cap, lightly turning it outward to loosen it.
            “Hello, Old Father,” he said gently. “Are you ready to leave?”

Here are my five author nominations. NOTE – All of the following are self-published indie writers who I personally think are AWESOME. I honestly think they are “THE next big thing” on the radar; and to prove it, I’ve directed you to their Amazon links so you can feast on their amazing work. 

Daniel Swensen: Read his intense short story thriller BURN
J Birch: Read his western-gone-haywire GASHER CREEK
Sophie Moss: Read her rich fantasy romance THE SELKIE SPELL
Amanda McCrina: Read her imaginative historical fiction HIS OWN GOOD SWORD
Michel R Vaillancourt : Read his swashbuckling steampunk caper THE SAUDER DIARIES

Another really cool photo of a tree surrounded by headstones. 
It’s a real place, and has a great story behind it. Check it out.

Once again – thanks for reading!!

Questions or comments? Let me know!!