Thursday, 30 May 2013

Literary Agent Rejections I'd Like To See

We've all seen them at one time or another in our careers as writers: the dreaded (and expected) rejection letter from literary agents. They can range from dry and impersonal to uplifting and encouraging, but at the end of the day, they still pack the same devastating punch to an aspiring author's ego. If literary agents are forced to resort to form letters by the irrational need to only pack 24 hours into a day, here's some that I encourage they use instead...


















Monday, 27 May 2013

4 mustache review

Babu's Bookshelf gave Reading The Dead - The Sarah Milton Chronicles four out of five mustaches.



Because stars are so yesterday. Now I need to find a site that bases their reviews around chicken wings, or maybe squid...


When Good Is Good Enough

Writing the final pages of your new book is like mixing up a tasty batch of cookie dough. It looks good, tastes good, and has all the ingredients in just the right proportions - but it's not finished. Without the polishing provided during editing and revisions, readers aren't left feeling satisfied. Cookie dough may be tasty, but it's not as filling as a cookie baked to perfection.

It's common sense to not expect people to pay for an incomplete cookie, so why would an author publish an incomplete book without the benefit of a proper edit, and think readers would be satisfied with that? If it's not something that you would want to read from someone else, don't expect others to grant you any favors.

The vast number of free options provided today to aspiring self-publishers makes it very tempting to release "cookie dough" novels. Having a book sitting on a digital shelf, ready for hungry readers, is often too much of a draw for some authors to resist. The thing to remember, however, is that if you don't take the time to bake your cookies, it'll be your goose that's cooked. Readers are justifiably picky when it comes to their time, and all it takes are a few bad reviews to kill interest in a book.

However, that brings up another dilemma. At what point do you consider your book ready? It's easy to tell when you've overbaked your cookies. Unfortunately, there's no tell-tale signs of smoke to let a writer know when they've over-edited their story. Writing, like baking, is both a skill and an art. It takes time to learn how to do it properly.

When writing my first novel, Reading The Dead - The Sarah Milton Chronicles, I undertook no less than five major revisions. This included completely rewriting the entire opening sequence and the climax three times. I polished dialog, tweaked the humor, tightened the plot, fixed the formatting and grammar, cleaned up my dreadful habit of overusing certain words such as "had" and "was," killed adverbs and passive voice, and fixed numerous other problems that I hadn't even realized were dragging the story down, until literally years later. 

I finished the book in 2011. It didn't publish until 2013. In between, I kept writing, growing more confident in my craft. I discovered better ways to string my sentences, found what worked and what didn't, and saw real improvement in my skills as time went on. During this time, I kept returning to my book, finding new things to fix and clean with my increasingly critical eye. I shopped it out to editors and gained even more experience from their suggestions. The learning experience for me has proven more invaluable than I could have ever imagined.

I'm not saying this is the way every writer should treat revisions. If you want some good advice on the subject, I strongly recommend Stephen King's On Writing. He suggests shelving your book for six weeks, so you can go back and review it later with a fresh set of eyes. It just took a little longer in my case. I think the results were worth the wait. The book I eventually released was the one that satisfied me. 

In the end, that's all any writer - or baker - can honestly say.


Friday, 24 May 2013

RHetoric, Occult Detective excerpt - Black Voodoo Bayou

RHetoric, Occult Detective is an upcoming YA comedy series that I'm developing. I have a partially written novel and several short stories that will form the basis of a prequel anthology. The series will revolve around both.

In writing the short stories, I'm tapping into a number of different genres, infusing each with the trademark wit of the characters. The stories vary from slapstick to detective to action thrillers. Black Voodoo Bayou definitely falls into this last category.  It's the only RHetoric story to date that is published. If you're interested in reading the entire tale, you'll find it on the UK Spinetingler's website at the following URL:

http://spinetinglers.co.uk/ReadStory3201.aspx

Without further ado, here's an excerpt from Black Voodoo Bayou:

"I'm curious about something," Chester huffed, wiping the sweat from his brow. "What part of your master plan to negotiate the return of our client's locket necessitated you telling the insane voodoo priestess to stick her pins in her asp? Of course she was bound to misinterpret that!"

Rex gaped at his partner. In the distance, closing fast, the irate voices of Mambo Wojambi's loyal followers echoed in the murky swamp. Presumably, she unleashed the entire hornet's nest to comb the marshes for them.

"What? All I meant was that snake blood is part of an effective treatment for arthritis. Granny Hetoric used to make it all the time." Rex twisted his fingers together in an impersonation of the old woman's gnarled digits.

Chester goggled at him in disbelief. "There was something preventing you from saying it that way?"

Splashes came from nearby. The mob was closing in around them again. They both glanced at the torches bobbing in the darkness, and then towards the river, where hopefully their dinghy was still tethered to shore. Given the way this night was going, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to discover an alligator chewed it in half by now.

"At least I was able to grab this on the way out," Rex enthused, holding up their client's silver locket by its chain.

"Great. If by luck we survive this, remind me to stick it up your asp."


Monday, 20 May 2013

The Cost of "Free"

Many authors are lining up to question the wisdom of staying with Amazon KDP Select these days. Their defining characteristic, that of allowing authors to offer five free book giveaway days for every ninety they remain in the program, is becoming something of a sore spot with many. 

There's no doubt that established authors, those who've made a name for themselves amongst readers, are finding a lucrative home on Amazon. If you look at the Amazon Top 100 Kindle sales, a good portion of the titles are often priced higher than their corresponding print version. But what does this mean for the indie author, someone who often had little choice but to go the self-publishing route, due to traditional publishers no longer willing to take a risk on an unproven book? It just makes clawing their way up from the mud even more challenging.

Remember that final giant warehouse scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark? Having an unrecognized book on Amazon can feel like that. To help, Amazon KDP Select was created, in part to allow unknown writers to offer their books for free to the public in an attempt to build up name recognition. How successful a writer is in this endeavor varies greatly on the aggressiveness of their marketing to coincide with the giveaway. For every author claiming the initiative helped their book sales after the promotion ended, there seems to be three more who noticed no change. Once the promotion has ended, the author switches back from their elevated ranking on the "free" list to the "paid" list once again. Unless sales remain constant once the price returns to normal and all of the free publicity received during the promotion disappears, the book's ranking immediately begins to decline, falling further into obscurity.

The ineffectiveness of free giveaways as a means of bolstering a permanent ranking in Amazon, coupled with the exclusivity requirements preventing members of the Amazon KDP Select program from sharing their work with other vendors, has already rendered the service counterproductive for many relatively unknown authors. Without a serious change of their business model, I think many new initiates into the self-publishing industry will begin to see that Select isn't in their best interests.

Many authors are choosing to opt out of the Select program, while keeping their prices above the $2.99 limit required to achieve 70% royalties. Instead of offering free giveaways, they are taking advantage of social media to advertise book sales at a reduced price of 99 cents - not only to earn something on each sale, but also as a means of improving their permanent standing within Amazon's flawed ranking system. The lack of exclusivity also means they're free to distribute their book with other vendors, thereby hitting a market of readers in countries like Canada, where Kindle sales dwindle behind Kobo and Sony eReader.

With the appearance of sites like Novelnook.com, offering not only .epub and .pdf, but also Kindle .mobi versions as well - all without the limitations that Amazon forces upon authors - the need for Amazon KDP Select only falls further into question. With indie authors forced to publish themselves on external social media sites, there's no practical need to direct readers to a page on Amazon's website anymore. As more readers embrace ebooks as their preferred method of reading, Amazon, once the big kid on the block, may one day find itself just another small fish in a very big pond.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

5 star review


S.Cu'Anam Policar gives Reading The Dead - The Sarah Milton Chronicles 5 out 5 paws!


You'll find the sparkling review on Cu's blog at:


along with an author interview, book trailer, blurbs of both the book and HOLE and a special giveaway offer! Check it out - she did a fantastic job of putting it all together!
 
*happy dance*

Friday, 17 May 2013

Review and Interview at Caravan Girl

Check out Caravan Girl's blog for a wonderful four star review for Reading The Dead - The Sarah Milton Chronicles and an author interview. Thanks, Rachael!


BOOK REVIEW
http://rachaelrippon.blogspot.ca/2013/05/reading-dead-sarah-milton-chronicles.html


INTERVIEW
http://rachaelrippon.blogspot.ca/2013/05/interview-with-jb-cameron-author-of.html


RHetoric, Occult Detective excerpt - The Red Dress Redress

RHetoric, Occult Detective is a YA comedy series I'm writing alongside my other work. The novel is currently under development, along with a collection of short stories which will ultimately be compiled into a prequel anthology. I'll be showing snippets from the shorts from time to time, so keep checking back.

This one is from an early draft of a story entitled "The Red Dress Redress." It stands apart in that it's a detective investigation tale with a paranormal edge, rather than the all-out adventure romp of the other stories. Enjoy!

Not long after opening his occult detective agency, Rex Hetoric discovered that his dream of paying customers flocking to his workplace rarely matched the reality of the enterprise. If it weren't for the occasional straggler wandering in for a phony fortune telling, he might already be out of business. Nightmares began to plague his sleep, particularly one in which he found himself drowning under a stack of unpaid bills in a tomblike, candle-lit office.

This horrifying vision gripped him again on the evening that the woman in red appeared at his door. She found the gangly figure seated behind his desk, pinching his arm blue in a desperate attempt to wake up. The realization that he was already conscious only exacerbated his dismay.

"Are you all right?" she inquired.

Rex sat bolt upright in surprise. He could have sworn that he locked the door for the night.

"Yes!" he cried. "Quite! Quite alright! Just checking!"

The attractive woman brushed her dark hair from her pale skin and offered him a puzzled smile. "Checking for what?"

"For what? It's... uh, it's complicated. It's a whole... metaphysical presence thing. A little test I do to make sure the planes of existence aren't overlapping. That sort of thing." He grabbed a handful of skin and twisted it vigorously, while grimacing from the discomfort.

"Looks painful."

"Can be," he muttered through gritted teeth. "Can be painful." He released his grip and took a deep breath in relief. "What can I do for you? Are you here for a spiritual reading? Do you need your aura realigned?"

"Actually, I'm looking for a detective," she revealed. "I need you to solve a murder."

Rex excitedly leapt from his chair. "Really?"

The woman in red stifled a smirk.

Mortified, Rex fell back into his seat. In a subdued manner, he asked, "I mean: really? Whose murder?"

"Mine, Mr. Hetoric," she replied. "I'd like to hire you to find the person who killed me."

Rex stared at her speechlessly. For an unnaturally long time, the only sound in the room was the ticking of a clock that hadn't kept the right time in months.

The woman flashed him a contrite expression. "Oh, this is a little embarrassing," she said. "I'm sorry. I thought with you being a Hetoric and all, you might have seen a ghost before. I was under the impression that your whole family was attuned to these sorts of things. Am I wrong?"

"No," Rex piped. "You're not wrong. My dad's a demon slayer. My brother's a vampire hunter, and my sister's a witch. I'm... well, me." He flashed a smile, happy to see her reciprocate. "I'm just surprised, is all. You don't look like other ghosts I've seen before."

"Does that mean you'll take my case?"

"Well, you see... at the risk of sounding mercenary, there is the whole matter of my fee," he hummed. "Not to be indelicate, but... you're dead. It's not like you can write me a cheque."

"I have that covered," she replied. "I keep a strongbox under the floorboards of my house for emergencies. There's at least ten thousand dollars in there. Would that be sufficient?"

Rex's mouth bobbed weakly, making him look like a fish out of water. Finally, his tongue kicked into gear and he croaked, "Why don't we begin?"



Thursday, 16 May 2013

So this is what freedom tastes like...

Just a quick announcement: I'm pleased as punch to say that my Amazon KDP Select exclusivity contract is now over with as of today! Canadian readers who haven't jumped on the Kindle bandwagon now have a means of obtaining Reading The Dead - The Sarah Milton Chronicles for their Kobos, iPads, or whatever.

Presently, the book is available for preorder on Kobobooks.com, with a release date set for tomorrow. I'll be updating my LINKS page with additional vendors as I begin shopping around...

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Reading-The-Dead-The-Sarah/book-q18ca2HxKEe0Ef3msI1zsQ/page1.html

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

T4 - Part 2

I'm not too proud to admit when I'm wrong. After a furious effort of blasting tweets every two hours and retweeting everyone I could find on an hourly basis, my efforts have culminated in a book sale after a day. It may not sound like much to some, but I'll happily take it, as well as happily admit that I was wrong. There apparently is a potential there for marketing products on Twitter.

Now I just need to convince a famous celebrity with lots of followers to loan me their Twitter account... Any takers?

(In light of today, I'm thinking of making this little guy in the picture my unofficial mascot.)

Tweeting To The Threshold

Twitter makes me feel like Old Man Moses. 

Perhaps it's because I'm an entire generation too late to the social media game. If my little band of 600 followers and I went up against the thousands or ten of thousands following other people, I'm sure we'd find ourselves sufficiently spanked in record time. Thankfully, Twitter isn't a full-contact sport. I'd be too bruised to write a word.

I work in IT, so generally I have a pretty good handle on all things techie. As a writer, the word limit for tweets isn't such a challenge. I understand and use hash tags and retweet up the wazoo.

Yet at the end of the day, I still don't get it. Maybe it's my age. I simply cannot understand how Twitter can serve as any kind of viable marketing tool. It's the equivalent of converting the New York Times into multiple pages of classified ads. It's not an easy read for someone who grew up before texting.

As a graphic designer, I've created my share of marketing ads. Elements like imagery, fonts, layouts, color - they all play a key factor in drawing the eye and helping to sell the product. Perhaps what I find so baffling is that Twitter typically has none of these things. It's all rather bland. More classified ads than my eyes can follow, popping up on the screen every minute, all looking and saying pretty much the same thing - buy this, go here, read me, see me...

Tweets. It's an accurate name. Millions of little birds chirping at once. The racket is enough to drown out everything around them, even the sounds of their own voices.

Still, millions of people can't be wrong (right?)

Sounds like a little experiment is in order. I recently heard about Hootsuite. Not from Twitter. I'm still unable to follow anything on there - I'm just too old and slow. Hootsuite lets you schedule tweets so they'll kick in at pre-programmed times throughout the day or night. Sounds like a better alternative to my three tweets a day habit.

I have my tweets scheduled in, programmed to chirp out every two hours (which sounds spammy to me, but maybe that's just old school thinking). I'll be hopping on and retweeting everyone I can find over the next day or two. We'll see just how effective Twitter's hundred-ad-a-minute system really is as a marketing platform. If I can manage to sell one book - just one - in all that time, I'll completely change my opinion of Twitter's shotgun advertisement system.

If not, I'll be headed back to Goodreads, where honest to goodness human interaction with real people has already helped my bottom line and my social life. At least there, I don't have to worry about being overwhelmed by a constant barrage of text every second.

I swear, I wasn't always this slow. Thanks Twitter. Like the grey in my beard wasn't grating enough.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Escaping The Dragon (original microstory)


The tiny island I'm marooned upon keeps its true name to itself. I call it The Dragon. Rattan palms dot this speck of sand floating on the Atlantic. Their trunks are loose bandages wrapping a red resin called Dragon's Blood. It's a dye, pigment, and medicine. It's also my means of escape.

"Time to check the laundry," I inform Wilson.

I dust the sand from my tattered clothes as I rise. The wooden tribal mask snarls at me from his perch. I considered decorating his face with resin, but Wilson's ugly enough without war paint. It's baffling why anyone would send me halfway around the world to collect such a butt-ugly prize.

Papers flap in the warm breeze, fastened between bamboo poles. I touch one. The page from Huxley's dictionary is now completely dry. Twelve yellowed leaves. From a book of thousands, only they contained just the right arrangement of letters buried within Webster's orderly three columns.

Huxley probably memorized the pages by heart. In lieu of a formal education, he read the dictionary religiously. It was his co-pilot. Since discovering it on the beach, it remained a constant reminder of its erudite owner, forever entombed in a watery grave with his Cessna.

After the meet with my client's contact in Dakar to obtain the mask, we skirted the African shoreline, heading due north for the Canary Islands, destined for Morocco. Flying between the Sahara and the North Atlantic, Huxley chose to stay over open water after the plane suddenly went dead. His expert landing kept us afloat long enough for me to escape with our prize, but without time to save his life. Once the Cessna took on water, it sunk fast. I could do nothing, except swim from the undertow.

I washed up here, somewhere south of the Canaries, west or northwest of Dakhla. The tide deposited me along its way to remote shores, discarding me with hopes hinged upon its constant flow to points elsewhere.

I leave Wilson to mind the camp and travel down shore to a boulder crowned with an eroded basin. Weighted palm fronds protect its contents from the elements. The coconut oil, extracted from the meat through a process of heating and fermentation over several days, has reverted to a white mash. It's ready.

Wilson maintains his silent vigil, eyeing me bitterly as I return to his side with the dry pages and a small branch. "What are you looking at?" I grumble. "This means your freedom, too."

Ignoring his stern disapproval, I hunker down and carefully punch out my message in the papers, easing the branch through them one tiny letter at a time. A message for each column, arranged vertically along a chain of removed letters. Nothing too extravagant. Don't want to damage the paper too badly. Just a few choice words, per column:

H-E-L-P   M-A-R-O-O-N-E-D

S-O-U-T-H   O-F   C-A-N-A-R-I-E-S

D-A-V-I-D   B-I-L-L-I-N-G-S   U-S

The process takes most of my day. I examine my finished handiwork, hoping my punch card message isn't too cryptic. I can't trust anything else to weather the journey.

By late afternoon, I'm ready for the next step. Hunger growls in my belly, yet I can't stop. I stoke the flames of my campfire. Wilson glares at me. He's going to hate this part, but I need him.

I gently scoop the coconut oil into the open curvature of his back. To this, I add a small amount of Dragon's Blood resin. Like a shaman concocting a magic potion, I cook the mixture over the flames – carefully, mindful that the rocks supporting Wilson keep him from the worst of the heat. Inside his hollowed shell, my potion slowly melts, infuses together, and transforms into a gel wax the color of dried blood.

Wilson smolders. I remove his burning face from the fire, almost losing a week's effort in the process. I dip each page into his paraffin-filled gut, coating each sheet with a waterproof barrier. It's hard work. I have to be quick, yet careful.

In the end, I have only enough wax for four pages. This time.

I clean up Wilson as best I can. His nose and frown are ash. My client is out a small fortune, and I'm returning broke. But at least there's a slim chance I'm returning.

I finish as the sun fades upon another secluded day. I'm starving and exhausted, yet strangely satisfied. Tomorrow, I'll test my handiwork. If all goes well, I'll release my paraffin-coated prayers to the fickle tides. 


copyright © 2013 - J.B. Cameron

Saturday, 11 May 2013

It's a Novel!


Book Ending Blues

I'm feeling blue.

As I sit here writing this, I realize that I'm procrastinating. Again. For the past couple of days, I've been doing everything in my power to stave off this moment - even yardwork, which ranks on my personal enjoyment scale somewhere between root canals and being attacked by a pit bull.

With a deep sigh, I realize that I can't keep holding it off. I have to face facts. Swallow my bitter pill.

The second book in my Reading The Dead series is down to its final chapter. I almost wish it wasn't.

Putting those last words down means the end of a journey that began almost a year ago. The fun and thrills that at times kept my fingers racing over my keyboard will soon be at an end. I must prepare myself to bid adieu to the familiar faces in my mind, their trials and tribulations now resolved, for better or worse. It's a bittersweet moment.

I'm happy to see this passage of their fictitious lives come to a close. My characters don't have it easy. As their creator, I'm not one to coddle them. Were they conscious, I'm sure there wouldn't be one among them who isn't grateful for the release following my latest terrible onslaught in their normally uneventful lives. However, at the same time, I find myself filled with regret at having to depart from their world, both familiar and comfortable to me, despite the chaos my presence brings.

Tinged with my melancholy is the anxiety I feel towards closing the book and looking beyond it to other fictitious places, other projects where I can wreak havoc upon the lives of my unsuspecting protagonists. My mind spins with thoughts of elsewhere, where other adventures are just waiting to be unveiled upon the blank canvas of my Word document. I'm excited to begin my journey anew.

Yet the sadness of leaving remains. Always remains.

I'll return to this place. I know that. I'll revisit my familiar fictitious friends and maybe find other things to fix before wiping my hands clean and sending them out into the world for others to discover. But it's not the same. I won't be exploring it, shaping it into something unique, as I had before. It already exists. There's nothing left to find or build. What I've fashioned out of nothing is now standing on its own. The best I could hope to do now is to smooth down the rough edges.

I smile sadly and open the document to begin typing, my words flowing to that hated stone wall that I know lies somewhere at the end of my road. It's the one where some cruel trickster or spiteful deity has already fashioned the most despised phrase in the English language: "The End."

But I know it's not the end. Not really. That's why I'm smiling. I'll be back. They haven't seen the last of me. The third book in the series is already taking shape in my mind, the blank screen just waiting for me begin pulling it into our reality.

As my journey ends here, there's always the next road to look forward to...

Friday, 10 May 2013

Excerpt from Reading The Dead - The Sarah Milton Chronicles

From Bookpulse:

Doctor Chase enjoyed my visits to the morgue. Not just because of the pleasant distraction that a live body added to the place, particularly when it came in the form of an attractive younger woman, but also because he knew that I never came empty handed.

Two years ago, his doctor diagnosed Wilbur Chase with type 2 diabetes. As a result, his wife put him on a strict daily diet of whole grain bars, fruits, and vegetables. The lack of sugar finally caused him to snap.

His wife might have the say over his food intake while he was home, but during his office hours, Doctor Chase became something of a sugar packrat. He hoarded enough junk food in his desk drawer to rot the teeth of an entire third grade classroom.

However, before you start condemning me for empowering his slide into failing health, let me just say that the tray of muffins that I delivered to his doorstep for months have always been sugar-free. I bought them from a natural foods place near my apartment. Of course, that remained my little secret. If his need to rebel against his wife, the sugar Nazi, furthered his enjoyment of the treats, I saw no reason to strip him of his illusions.

“Hey doc,” I smiled as I held up the tray of muffins. As usual, I removed all trace of the original packaging. As far as he knew, I baked them myself. “You have time for a special delivery?”

Chase’s eyes bulged. He was in the middle of an autopsy, but when he spotted the tasty delights I brought him, his gore-covered hands instinctively went up to reach for them. I pulled the food away in disgust. He peered at me questioningly for a second, before realizing that his cadaver’s insides were all over his fingers.

“Oh!” he chuckled, snapping off his rubber gloves and washing up thoroughly. “Sorry about that.”

An expression of almost religious ecstasy covered his face as I passed over the tray of pastries into his sterilized hands. “Mmm. These look delicious. You’re a Godsend, my dear.”

“Just don’t let your wife know I’m doing this,” I teased. Like that was ever going to happen.

“It’ll be our little secret,” he replied, half of his words muffled by the pastry he already stuffed into his mouth. His face was pure bliss. I’ve seen junkies who reacted less passionately to a fix. He smacked his snack down loudly, and then smiled at me with pink frosting on the corner of his mouth. “So good! Now, what can I do for you today, detective?”

I nodded towards one of the stiffs covered up on his examination tables. “Is that Ashley Hastings?”

“That’s her,” Chase said, setting his tray of muffins down on a nearby desk. “I just finished up her autopsy an hour ago. I think that you’re going to be pleased with the results.”

He wagged a finger at me, leading me to her examination table. Ashley’s corpse was covered head to ankle in a white sheet. Only her feet protruded from the sheath. Tied to her big toe was the last piece of jewelry she would ever wear.

“You found something?” I pressed him.

“I found something,” he smiled back.

Chase removed the sheet covering Ashley’s lifeless right hand. Most of her nails still retained their original manicure, except for the ones on her index and middle fingers, which were broken and ragged looking. Her arm – like most of her body, I would imagine – was a spider web of nicks and slices from shards of broken glass.

“The killer didn’t get away scot-free this time around. He may have come after his victim with a knife, but Miss Hastings got in a few licks of her own.”

“Brains…” a voice droned. It came from the next table over, the one behind Doctor Chase.

I threw a startled look over his shoulder as the blanket-covered corpse behind him slowly sat up on its examination table. The sight was deeply unnerving. The shrouded figure rose into a seated position upon the metal slab, as if preparing itself to turn and set its cold, bare feet upon the floor.

I looked back at Doctor Chase. If he were to notice the dead rising behind his back, I might find myself dealing with one more corpse in this antiseptic graveyard. I don’t know about the M.E., but the sight of the body’s lifeless head lolling to one side under its pristine white cover was almost enough to give me a heart attack.

It wasn’t the start of the zombie apocalypse just yet. This had all the earmarks of another one of Anna’s goofball stunts.

“I discovered traces of skin and blood under her fingernails that didn’t belong to her,” the Doctor continued, oblivious to the corpse rising behind him. “She definitely managed to scratch her attacker before she died.”

“Brrr-rains!” Anna’s zombie meat puppet moaned through its shroud.

“That’s… great news,” I responded to Chase, trying my utmost not to let on what was transpiring right behind his back. “With the DNA evidence and the eye-witness at the apartment, we shouldn’t have any trouble convicting this guy when we finally catch up to him.”

“Oh, but that’s not all!” Chase exclaimed. He was turning around, about to come face to face with the walking… well, sitting dead.

“What’s that on her hand?” I asked excitedly, pointing at the exposed appendage on the table.

He followed my finger, peering at the scratched, but otherwise normal looking hand of the victim. “What?” he inquired. “Where?”

“Tasty brainsss!” the zombie groaned.

“There!” I fished in my pocket for something to throw at Anna. My hand fell upon a pen. It would have to do. “Right there. You see? Look closer.”

Chase bent over to inspect the hand even closer. That was my cue. Over his head, I whipped the pen as hard as I could at the zombie’s sheet-covered body.

“Brai-”

The pen struck its head with a loud smack, bouncing off and skittering across the floor. Taken by surprise, Anna released her grip on the cadaver’s backside, causing it to drop back to the metal surface with a sick, meaty thunk.

With the body no longer concealing her presence, the girl grinned sheepishly at me from the other side of the examination table. She wiggled her fingers at me in a nervous wave as I threw her a hostile glare.

“What in the hell was that?” Chase cried excitedly, quickly turning to locate the source of the din.

“What was what?” I asked innocently.

As he turned back to me to respond, I plucked an imaginary object from the girl’s hand.

“Oh, look! Never mind,” I said, wiggling my fingers as if disposing of lint between them. “It was just a bit of dirt.”

“Did you not hear that?” Chase threw another look towards Anna. “It sounded like something heavy fell down.”

“I didn’t hear anything.”

The poor man opened his mouth to reassert his position, only this time he quickly turned around to look again for himself. Anna whistled innocently from the other side of the table in front of him. Finally, shaking his head, Chase turned back to give me a questioning expression.

“Did you really not hear that noise?”

“Nope.”

“Huh.” He shook his head again. “I must be losing it.”

“Maybe it’s ghosts,” I teased, throwing a glance at Anna. “So, you were about to tell me you found something else?”

“Uh? Oh, right! Right.” He looked around. “Now where did I leave that?” He spotted a manila file folder on a nearby table. In it were some forms that he filled in as part of the examination. He fetched them to refresh his memory.

“I found some irritation on the victim’s skin, isolated around the stab wounds. I checked with the lab running the tests on the knife found at the crime scene and it confirmed my suspicions. There were trace elements of benzalkonium chloride found on the blade. The killer must have disinfected it shortly before committing the murder.”

“Benza-whatnow?”

“Benzalkonium chloride,” he repeated. “It’s a common enough ingredient in most cleansers and disinfectants. Safe in smaller concentrations, but anything above ten percent will result in the kind of skin irritation I found on the body.”

“So you’re saying that he washed the knife in some kind of industrial strength cleanser?”

“I believe so, yes.”

As I dropped this nugget of information into the stew of clues brewing in my brain, my eyes wandered back to Anna. She remained glued to her spot next to the other examination table. I caught her sneaking a peek at the dead body under the sheet. She quickly replaced the cover with a grimace.

“Benzalkonium chloride,” I repeated. “That’s good to know. We’ll get on that right away.”

“Maybe once the lab finishes going over the blood spatter, we might find something more.”

I nodded. “Sure. We’ll be waiting. I should be getting back to it, but there is actually one more thing we need. Did Ashley Hastings happen to have her car keys with her when they brought her in? We wanted to check her vehicle for evidence.”

“Maybe. Let me check.”

Doctor Chase walked over to a filing cabinet at the back of the room. I gave a nod to Anna and followed him. Anna nodded back and slowly walked around the table to stand near the examination table of his current autopsy patient.

Unlike the others, this table contained plenty of extra equipment on hand, including a metal cart holding trays full of surgical implements, a bright light shining overhead, and assorted audio and video gear. It was a regular smorgasbord of distracting opportunities.

Chase fished into the cabinet for a moment, before producing a large plastic evidence bag with Ashley’s name on the front. He unfastened the clasp and deposited its sparse contents on the surface of the desk.

I spotted a watch, a ring, and a pair of earrings. That was it. No keys.

“Damn,” I muttered. “She must have left them in her purse. Okay, thanks anyway.”

Right on cue, Anna provided the diversion we planned before arriving here together. The large bulb of the light hanging over the autopsy table suddenly and dramatically exploded, showering the opened body beneath it with sparks and broken glass.

“What the hell?” Chase cried. “Oh, no! Excuse me a moment, would you?”

“Sure. You go ahead. I’ll just put this back for you.”

I slid Ashley’s personal belongings back into the bag, with the exception of a single earring that landed in my pocket. I was always losing earrings. I figured nobody would miss this one.

“How in the world did that happen?” Chase moaned, peering up at the shattered remains of his bulb.

Anna joined me at the desk with a knowing smile and a thumbs-up.

“Like I said, doc.” I returned the resealed evidence to its original place in the filing cabinet. “I think you have ghosts.”

So who is this J.B. Cameron guy anyway?

Who is J.B. Cameron and why does he seem to feel a need to waste your time with another silly blog? That's a fair question, and one that I've been struggling with myself. At the end of the day, I'm just another face in the crowd (not the crowd in the picture, mind you, because that's a lot of people and I'm agoraphobic). 

The only thing to set me apart from most is a compulsive, almost irrational need to create new things. Whether that means web pages, computer games or graphics, cartoons, or - most recently - novels, I love to create. Live for it, really. 

I was born in New Brunswick, Canada and with the rare trip to Toronto or Boston, haven't strayed far from these shores for my entire life. For those of you unfamiliar with this region, here's a map:


(It might not be geographically accurate...)

Growing up in the Atlantic provinces meant finding a steady supply of entertainment (or alcohol) to keep oneself occupied. For me, this meant TV, books, games, and movies. More than anything else, American TV shaped me into the nutjob that I am today. It's no wonder that the first book that I chose to publish was a paranormal detective story featuring an officer of the LAPD. I was practically raised in Hollywood.

Don't get me wrong - I like the peace and quiet. If someone dropped me in the middle of a 1300 square kilometer area holding 3.82 million people, I'd probably squawk, drop, and curl up in a ball in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard. New Brunswick is a great place to come to find the solace necessary to feed your muse. 

Which is fortunate, because in my case, she's a 400-pound banshee in a moo-moo, screaming in my brain all hours of the day and night.

This blog is not so much about me as it is the results of my efforts to satisfy that braying harpy who keeps insisting that I create... create... create. I'll be including all kinds of things here as time goes by - stories, artwork, book snippets. I hope you decide to stick around to enjoy the fun. Check out my books while you're here, and visit the works of other talented authors that I'll be including here as time passes.

You see... I'm not the only one with a 400-pound monkey on my back.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

HOLE (J.B. Cameron short story collection)

Holes riddle the universe, invisible rifts between our world and the realm of the afterlife. Ellen Price Marley, physicist and renowned ghost hunter, has spent the past two years hunting for one of these portals to the paranormal, in the hope of reuniting with the husband and child she lost to this mysterious phenomena.

In an haunted, abandoned manor deep in the Canadian wilderness, she finally tracks down her elusive goal. Yet after she and her fellow explorers step foot into the strange, ghostly world beyond the gateway, they find themselves in a desperate race to escape the clutches of an entire dimension belonging to the dead. Will any of them escape alive, or are they destined to join Ellen's missing family among the legions of the damned?

A tense science fiction horror story that will have you on the edge of your seat, from the author of Reading The Dead - The Sarah Milton Chronicles.


Amazon Kindle:

READING THE DEAD - THE SARAH MILTON CHRONICLES

The first book of an exciting paranormal detective comedy/thriller series!

While investigating the brutal murders committed by a mysterious serial killer known only as "Raithe," bookish LAPD Detective Sarah Milton is unprepared to have her entire world turned upside down. Innate powers to see the dead, lying dormant since her mother's murder, have reawakened in her after a near-fatal shooting. Along for the ride is Sarah's irrepressible thirteen-year-old childhood "imaginary friend," Anna Nigma, a most atypical poltergeist. Amid fears for her sanity, Sarah must come to grips with the realization that her reality is now a mix of the natural and supernatural, where powerful, ancient mystic symbols can grant amazing powers over life and death, and paranormal influence extends even into her current murder investigation. Forced to hide her abilities from everyone, Sarah, aided by her spectral friend, has no choice but to bring Raithe to justice on her own, before the sinister forces behind his murder spree claim yet another victim.


Free preview on Instafreebie:
https://instafreebie.com/free/Uwzfd


Amazon Kindle: