Year of The Bruja

As we continue to pour energy into "Mayhem," and getting it ready for publication I'd like to take a moment to look back at 2018, "Year of The Bruja."

"The Bruja" began final publishing phases in late 2017. Copy & content editing were completed, and publisher negotiations had been wrapped up. I was on pins & needles, dreading what would come next. Only two or three people had read the final edits by then and I was terrified. Would my first book hold up to critical scrutiny? Had I written a story worth reading? Did I even know how to write?

I wouldn't know right away either. "The Bruja" was greeted with strong sales out of the gate in January, but very few people read the book immediately. It would be months before the reviews actually came in. If you know me, you know that I am not a patient man.

As of 12/28/18, "The Bruja" has sold roughly 3,000 copies. If you compare that to other modern writers, you might quantify this as a failure. I don't. That's 3,000 readers who are likely to purchase "Mayhem," based on the merit of my writing. Market & sell to another
3,000 people and that doubles my reader base. No, you won't see my name on the NYT bestseller list, and that's fine. I'd rather write good books than popular books.

Another interesting fact -- of the 3,000 "The Bruja" units sold, only 22 are softcover, physical copies. I can confidently say my publisher's emphasis on these traditional copies is both antediluvian and irrelevant. The future of book sales is one-hundred percent digital. I'm happy to abandon the world of traditional publishing in favor of KDP and give you the most, with as little between your experience & my creation, as possible.

In closing, 2018 has been a great year. I learned a lot, and I made just as many mistakes as I earned great successes. "The Bruja" won "Break the Bechdel with Strong Female Characters Award" on Inkshares, topped my publisher's Horror genre charts for 4 months straight, and won the attention of readers worldwide. Thank you all for that -- genuinely and truly. Without readers, an author is just a madman sitting in front of a computer.

I'm looking forward to 2019, and the release of "Mayhem." I hope you'll join me for this new adventure. For now, have a happy New Year!

Day in the Life of a Dead Whore

I decided in early 2018 that all future novels I completed would have their own little novella buddy. This is a luxury afforded by KDP, one that I could never give readers under the ponderous weight of antique publishing. Several other authors I respect do something similar, and I thought that it would be a great option.

Novellas are a great way to bring new readers into the folds of our Collapse world with a minimal investment of time & money. If you picked up “Dread Harvester” for free over Thanksgiving weekend, maybe you decided this was a world you wanted more of and purchased “The Bruja” later. Or, perhaps you’d like more meat on the bones of your worlds. Either way – it’s such a great tool for me as an author, and it’s a win-win for my readers.

Following up the release of “Mayhem” in early 2019, I’ll be publishing another novella-length story on Amazon. This feature will be named “Day in the Life of a Dead Whore.” That may sound a little grim – I hope by now you’ve realized I horror.

“Day in the Life of a Dead Whore” will specifically follow a character that “The Bruja” readers are familiar with – a dead 19th-century prostitute, Marie Holmes. If you’re a native of Santa Cruz, you may have heard of the real Marie Holmes, who committed suicide at the age of 21 by drinking carbolic acid. If you’re unfamiliar with her, look up her story and maybe some flowers and an oily rag (a cigarette,) on her real grave.

We’ll be covering several key canon points discussed in “Mayhem.” One of these will be the nature of ghosts in the world of the Collapse, how they interact with the living, what they can and can’t do. We’ll also be exploring the post-“Mayhem” world and how the ending chapters impact the life for denizens of the greater Bay Area Reach. I want to spend time walking you through this world with Marie Holmes. As an author, it’s a thrilling challenge to mingle the antique English language with an evolving sound and tambour of the Collapse.

To the left is a WIP (Work in Progress,) by rock-star artist Nan Fe. She completed a stunning painting for the cover of “Day in the Life of a Dead Whore.” I gave her total artistic freedom since no photography of Marie Holmes exists today. I’ll be sharing the final cover in months to come, and I’m thrilled at what Nan Fe created.

“Day in the Life of a Dead Whore” will be due out mid-to-late 2019. Look forward to “Mayhem” after the new year. Work continues, full-speed-ahead!

Mayhem Goes to Content Editing!

Final re-writes have completed for "Mayhem" as of November 10th!

I want to apologize one last time for the hubris I displayed in promising "Mayhem" by Christmas of 2018. I had no idea the scope that this book would take on, nor the length. While "The Bruja" wrapped up at about 288 pages, the final page count for "Mayhem" will be somewhere around 500 pages. More pages equal more content & copy editing, just like any labor. I believe that "Mayhem" will be a very special work -- and while I couldn't produce that work as fast as I wanted, I think the quality will speak for itself.

So, what does it mean that "Mayhem" has wrapped its final re-writes?

It means I'll be spending the next few months working closely with Content Editing (Athena Driscoll) to hammer out the shade and edge of the blade I just forged. Miz Driscoll has already completed preliminary notes for two-thirds of the book.

Once "Mayhem" goes to Copy Edit in early 2019, I'll update the release date, and give you all a glimpse at the final cover artwork! Along with the final cover, we'll be releasing some promo art that will introduce you to several supporting characters.

In the interim, I hope that you recommend "The Bruja" and "Dread Harvester" to your friends and family this Christmas -- both novel & novella are available on Amazon, TODAY! If you're curious what "Mayhem" is all about, you'll find that last chapter of "The Bruja" is a prologue for the sequel.

Thanks, everyone for your support, and if you don't hear from me by Thanksgiving, have a wonderful time with those you love!

Mayhem Update

At the end of "The Bruja," I promised that "Mayhem," would be forthcoming in late 2018. I may have gotten a little carried away with that, as early 2019 is a more likely release date.

This summer, following the release of "Dread Harvester" in May, I launched into the last major re-write for "Mayhem." All writers have their own system, their own scope of work production. I don't mess around with "edits" until I consider the core product complete, and I think multiple cover-to-cover re-writes are the key to that. I think a lot of green authors get caught up in the idea that their work is somehow finished after the first draft, they just need to "clean it up a bit." We each create with our own methodology, but there's no substitute for hard work.

"Mayhem" is roughly 50% re-written as of last night, September 11th. The original work of fiction was roughly the same length as "The Bruja," about 300 pages. The scope of the story does not allow for that short of a read, however, and the final version of "Mayhem" that you're likely to hold in your hands will be between 450 and 500 pages. I'm intimidated by that length because a lot of pages means a lot of content and copy editing, and a lot more things that can go wrong.

As you may have suspected (or read in the past, if you follow this blog,) "Mayhem" follows the story of Maggi's adopted daughter, Margaret, better known as Lady Mayhem. Two decades have passed since Maggi Lopez died, and the world of the Collapse has changed significantly. City-states have rebuilt, created a new way of life, and restored civilization as far as technology and magic will allow. Much of the story focuses on House Owens, unfolding in pre-Collapse Stockton. You're going to get a very vivid image of this rich and thrilling world, what it looks like like, what it smells like, and how it sounds. Cultures have evolved and changed, and there's zero loyalty for what the world once was, only what it can be. "Mayhem" is ultimately the story of someone who's tired of serving the dreams of others, and is willing to stop at nothing to create her own dreams. I think that's fundamentally a very familiar concept for all of us, a challenge that we all struggle with each day. No matter how alien our world becomes in the Collapse universe, or what otherworldly powers are wielded by gods or witches, the core human struggle does not change. We are our worst enemies, we create the worst demons for ourselves, and our desires and lusts hold us, hostage, as often as they empower us.

Margaret is a character I'm very fond of, and I think you'll enjoy meeting her. Stay tuned for "Mayhem" updates as 2018 wears on. I'll be working hard to get you a finished novel, along with Athena Driscoll & Kristen Walls Kearney.

Reader's Favorite Book Review

Lit Amri over at Reader's Favorite wrote an amazing review of "The Bruja" this week. Not only was thrilled to hear the positive feedback, I felt it did a better job of describing "The Bruja" than I ever could! One of my dark secrets -- I'm terrible at writing book descriptions and personal bios!

Head over to Reader's Favorite and read the review now. I've cut & pasted the content, word-for-word, in this blog entry as well. Enjoy!

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

In The Bruja by Michael Molisani, the dystopian world after the Collapse sees magic as part of survival and key to winning wars. Ghosts and ancient spirits are no longer superstitions. Witches become a vital part of the army. Crafton city-state, a quarter of land of the old Pittsburgh, is under threat from the Federals. Their djinn-controlled army is bigger in size and harder to kill. Maggi, a respected witch in Crafton, must find a way to defeat the enemies that have been haunting her for a long time. She’s ready to die for that goal, but she might not be ready to face her past.

While the concept of witches is not new, the way it is developed into a story premise gives The Bruja a fascinating dark quality. It evokes our perception of morality, guilt, sacrifice, and love. Molisani builds an unforgiving dystopian era in the near future, weaving in myths, the paranormal and the supernatural as reality. Readers are given the first taste of this harsh world at the start of the story, when the protagonist Maggi Lopez makes a bargain with an ancient entity for power. The characters’ complexities, opinions, and personalities are well fleshed out, making their conflict, growth, and relationships credible. Molisani drip feeds the characters’ information as the story progresses, making it intriguing in getting to know them, particularly Maggi’s son, Alexander, who remains elusive but important until the latter part of the book. That said, I gravitated more towards Jennifer Winslow and her sense of integrity.

Despite slight repetitions, the narrative switches deftly between the present and Maggi’s past in California. Every scene is vivid-from the smoked cigarettes, the smell of bloodshed, to the unnatural whisper or screech of the ancient inhuman beings. The Bruja is an evocative dark tale of a flawed and conflicted woman fueled by her desire to protect the ones she loves. It’s a solid read and I look forward to the sequel.

Athena Driscoll

If you've followed my author Blog in 2018, you're probably familiar with who Athena Driscoll. She's my best friend & the craftswoman behind Leanans' Boon. She also acted partially as the inspiration for Maggi's friend Aubriana.

She's also the Content Editor for "The Bruja" and "Dread Harvester." If you think that means she was heavily involved in all the terrible things that happened to her fictional doppelganger, Aubree Harvester, you'd be completely correct.

What exactly is a Content Editor? It's a type of language professional. Someone who works with an author to throw gasoline on the kindling of their work. Behind every bestseller you love is someone like Athena -- suggesting different words, pressing the author to re-write a specific paragraph or chapter over and over again until its just the right shade of perfect that the content demands.

Working with Athena Driscoll is both a pleasure and a pain (and having been friends with her for nearly 10 years I can promise you that this is true of just about any activity she's involved in.) She's incredibly talented at what she does, a life-long reader and artist she has a keen eye for the dramatic, the narrative, the characters. More importantly, Athena & I have a similar vision for horror. Neither one of us is interested in monsters or jump scares or pointless gore. We both want to dismantle your mind & imagination, take out all the moving pieces and show them to you. Do you have any idea how lucky I am to work with someone who thinks that way?

Inversely, of course, Athena is also a relentless stickler for perfection. She is, absolutely dedicated to details, and she will not let a single aspect "slide." The second chapter of "Dread Harvester" was re-written twenty-four times at her demand. Halfway in, I was feeling pretty sick of this. I was tired, my brain couldn't parse the needs of the chapter anymore, and my imagination was running dry. I just wanted to be done, I wanted to cast the Novella aside and move on to other challenges. Athena would have none of this however and pressed me forward until the fiction could stand up to the rest of the content. "Good enough" wasn't good enough -- it had to be the "best."

This is the power of a Content Editor. They press us (as authors,) to ignore our very human demons (or at least put them on paper,) they force us to be our "best," and they never listen to our excuses. That being said, working with Athena Driscoll is a pleasure and a pain, but absolutely a blessing.

Please purchase yourself a copy of "The Bruja" & "Dread Harvester" this weekend, and make sure to follow Athena on Instagram, Etsy, and Facebook!

Kristen Walls Kearney

Meet Kristen Walls Kearney!

If you've read either "The Bruja" or "Dread Harvester" you'll recognize Kristen's name in the acknowledgments. She served on both books as Copy Editor, slaving away to hide my typos from your judging gaze!

As an independent author pressing aggressively into the world of self-publishing, copy editing is the most difficult wall I have to climb. Professional editors can charge as much as $8,000 to work on a book like "The Bruja," and can be back-logged by as much as 1 year. Good amateur editors, like Kristen, are hard to find. I've worked with several others in the past who tried and failed to be as thorough as Kristen has been. Yes, there are several typos in "The Bruja," but out of 300+ pages they're almost irrelevant, and do not detract from the story. Kristen did her copy work in her spare time. Her spare time away from her day job and her two sons! As far as I'm concerned, she's basically a damned hero.

Authors don't always write perfectly. Professionals like Stephen King or Neil Gaiman have multiple Copy Editors employed by their publishers to make sure the final product you read is free of sin and error. We (authors,) can't do what we do without the Kristens of the world to help us. Just like a race car driver is nothing without a mechanic or pit crew, I am nothing without my Copy Editor.

Thanks, Kristen!

Don't forget to take a moment to purchase "The Bruja" for $2.40 on Amazon, or "Dread Harvester," for $0.99 this weekend!
"Dread Harvester" is now LIVE!

Head over to Amazon right now and download your copy today. If you get your copy between 5/4 & 5/6 you will spend a whopping $0.00. That's right, "Dread Harvester" is FREE its premiere week.

I can't speak enough how happy I am to leave conventional publishing in favor of KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing.) I have total artistic freedom, I can price my work the way I want (like, say, FREE,) I can use my own high-resolution cover images, do my own Kindle conversions and present you with a book or novella in the way that I always intended.

I'm really proud of "Dread Harvester," it is genuinely my best work to date. The tagline for the novella says it all; "It’s amazing what you can do when you refuse to die."

That's the story of Aubree Harvester. The woman Maggi Lopez betrayed in "The Bruja" and was forced to confront in the second act. With no hope, condemned to the worst the Collapse has to offer, Aubree embraced her role as an antagonist at the chance to live just a little longer.

Please download today and take a moment to leave an honest review on Amazon. These reviews help a lot with future promotions as well as keeping these books & novellas visible. I look forward to a great weekend and I'm thrilled to put this baby to bed. I'll be spending the remainder of 2018 hammering out "Mayhem," the full-length novel sequel to "The Bruja!"

Are You Ready?

This will be the final update before "Dread Harvester" releases to the public. We'll talk about a few things in this post including some tentative dates.

"Dread Harvester" will likely be available for download on Amazon this May 11th. This date may change a little, depending on a few things, and once it is formally ironed out, I'll make a public announcement. "Dread Harvester" will retail for exactly zero-dollars and zero-cents. That's right, I'm giving you free novella.

Content & Copy edit work has wrapped up -- Athena Driscoll & Kristen Walls Kearney returned for this project and I'm thrilled to have a chance to work with them again. A writer cannot exist in the void, and if you end up enjoying "Dread Harvester," it will be with their help.

Mike Knuist is finalizing the cover layout & title as we speak, another great talent I am thrilled to be working with. Juan Carlos Mamani's cover artwork as blown me away. I can't speak strongly enough how in love with it I am. A preview can be seen to the left. The final version portrays Aubree Harvester as the glorious anti-saint queen that I always imagined her to be; skulking in the ruins of San Francisco, only mad in the face of the unknowing.

I hope you love "Dread Harvester" as much I do. It is a novella meant to bridge the gap between "The Bruja" (December 2017) and "Mayhem" (December 2018.) I think its honestly some of the best work I've ever written, and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you.

Dread Harvester Cometh

The original cover for "The Dread Harvester."
March has been a fairly grueling month. My day job has shifted into high gear, and I'm pressing almost all of my free time into getting "Dread Harvester" into your moist little hands.

My day job is kind of boring when you compare it to battlewitches and ancient gods, so let's talk about that, yeah?

So, I mentioned back in early February that the novella "Dread Harvester" was going to be coming out soon on Amazon, free-for-download. This has been a deeply profound labor of love, I've re-written and ripped apart this beast a dozen times now, and I'm genuinely as excited for you to read it as I am to be done with it.

Some history. The "Dread Harvester" novella is based on an older short-story called "The Dread Harvester," which was given away as a 'thank you' gift in the days when "The Bruja" was crowd-sourcing on Inkshares under the older title, "Seeking the Elephant." It had been distributed to people who'd pre-purchased "Seeking the Elephant" Microsoft Word format (.DOC,) and was roughly 7 pages long. It existed to create a backstory around Aubree Harvester, the woman who would become arch-nemesis to Maggi Lopez. A lot of that story failed as a narrative because so much time was spent wrapped up in how Aubree's life impacted Maggi's. Wouldn't a better question be, how did Maggi's life impact Aubree's?

There was one other problem. Michael Molisani sucks at short story length fiction. Yeah, you heard me, I said it, and I believe it. The guy who waxes endlessly about whether or not a story is too long also can't a very short piece of fiction. The irony abounds, am I right?

I digress. "Dread Harvester" was born a few months ago. It's 65 pages long and is just now leaving the content editing phase. After that, it will go to copy editing, and before getting married to its own ISBN number, and released on Amazon. "Dread Harvester" will retail for $0.00. Here are some things you can look forward to in this new novella:

1) Brand new cover, artwork supplied by Juan Carlos Mamani. He's a Bolivian painter who does a lot of really interesting, really creepy horror-adjacent work. I'm thrilled to be partnering with on this project.

2) You'll get to know more about the Collapse. What was it like? How did it progress in certain areas? How did people survive it, and what did the end of the Veil mean?

3) You will absolutely learn more about Aubree Harvester, as well as her ownership of San Francisco at the end of "The Bruja." A lot of questions you may have had will be answered.

Last -- but not least -- I am thrilled with the dark twist that "Dread Harvester" will leave you with. I can't give it away here, but I am in love with the idea that all actions of have consequences. Sometimes the mistakes we make in life damn us beyond that grave. Sometimes those mistakes are very small, and we never realize their scope until its well past too late.

"The Bruja" Was Never Intended to be a Stand-Alone

If you read all the way to "The Bruja's" final page (well I hope you did!) you'll notice the promise of a sequel. That's a promise I will be keeping in 2018. The universe of The Collapse is rich and deeply flavored. There are no grand epics to be found here, no White Walkers or Eye of Sauron. There are, however, stories to be told about people. People surviving the end of the world. Adapting, and rebuilding civilization. Learning to live with ghosts, gods, and magic. Some people will want power, others will want to protect the weak. Many may still be driven mad, and those who just want to be loved. What happens in that world? Why does it happen? Well, come along for this adventures with me, and I promise to show you. There is no trilogy, no collection. There is only a world you can immerse yourself in. There is a timeline, and some folks will change that timeline. Or, maybe they don't. Perhaps they perish on their journey or even become gods themselves.

This is The Collapse. A world of untold beauty and fathomless nightmares. This is where wonder and horror meet. Here's what you can expect.

Early 2018: I will be partnering with author Melissa Johnson to bring you a handful of short stories from the shadows of The Collapse. These stories will be free, and available for download from -- "The Dread Harvester" will be the first and should drop sometime around April or May for your reading pleasure.

Late 2018: "Mayhem" will be published for e-book & softcover from retailers like Amazon. "Mayhem" follows Maggi's apprentice and adopted-daughter, Margaret as she attempts to thwart the manipulation of gods and man. Her best allies and worst enemies may be the twin granddaughters of Maggi Lopez, Amihan & Ramona. The future of the Antecedent Empire & House Owens rests in her very small hands.

Mid 2019: Melissa Johnson & I are going to be releasing a short-story anthology from the world of The Collapse, again from retailers like Amazon. This project is unnamed as of yet, but I am thrilled to be working with Melissa. I've known her for years and she is an incredibly talented author. This collaboration is a dream come true anyone who's a fan of great writing. The anthology will cover different eras of The Collapse and will include the fiction we're releasing this spring.

Late 2020: "Century Witch." Remember that title. This is the juggernaut I'm most proud of, and probably the best fiction I have ever written. I toyed with releasing this book first, rather than the "The Bruja," but I believed ardently that every tale should start at the beginning. This is not the end of our adventure, but rather the end of our prologue. "Century Witch" will destroy every notion you have about horror & fantasy, and it will go above and beyond the notion of a book. I can't wait to share this with you all.

These dates will be maintained as best as I can. I have a day job that pays the bills (writing does not!) and I need to maneuver around that. I also will be working with content & copy editors, publishers, artists, and illustrators. We'll do our best to keep on schedule and not go full George R. R. Martin on you.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy "The Bruja." If you haven't already purchased a copy, its currently on sale for $3.03 on Amazon!

Fresh Review

This week one of "The Bruja's" fan left an amazing review on our Goodreads.

I don't know who this person is, but I'm thrilled she enjoyed my book. I'm even more thrilled that she took the time to write such a complete & spoiler-free article on "The Bruja." This is the sort of thing that makes all of this madness worthwhile.

So, I thought I'd share the review, below, in its entirety. Make sure to add "The Bruja" on Goodreads, and leave your own review!

R.C. Mulhare rated it -- really liked it --
Post-apocalyptic fiction is thick on the ground these days, but this one caught my eye from the sheer awesomeness of the cover art.

Thankfully, the story behind that cover lived up to the expectations that the art presented. The world-building is fascinating and well-thought-out. I'd like to have seen more of what lead to or caused the Collapse, the tearing open of the Veil between the world of humans and the world of strange preternatural beings, but perhaps future volumes will reveal these details (or perhaps, they're less than important than the drama playing out against this backdrop. Or, better still, the details might be better left to the reader's imagination). The setting has a Mad Max vibe, while the primordials, entities of immense power, remind me a bit of the Elder Gods of H.P. Lovecraft's writings, only a bit less aloof from humanity (perhaps this skews it closer to the writings of A
ugust Derleth, one of HPL's students).

What I really loved about this, are the witches at the center of this nightmarish drama. These are not the archetypal gentle, earth-loving modern witches, but intense, powerful, and dangerous magic users, fiercely protective of the non-magically gifted people under their protection. It's great to see some dark and dangerous ladies slinging spells and taking names, taking on even darker and more deadly forces beyond our reckoning.

And it's awesome to see a strong female lead who might be foul-mouthed and fierce, but nevertheless has a good heart, albeit one that she certainly doesn't wear on her sleeve, but which she keeps under her ribs where it belongs.

The action scenes are intense, even gruesomely violent at times, but there's a great balance of physical action and magic-slinging, the scenes well-mapped out without feeling over-written. As dark and gritty as this universe might be, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next in it!

The Bruja is Author House's #1 Horror Title!

Happy Monday! I've got some exciting news to cover. Firstly, I'm getting ready to leave for Las Vegas. It'll be a short trip, and I'll be in town for my day job, so no hookers & blackjack for me.

"That's not very exciting," I hear you say. You know what? You're totally right. But, you know what is exciting? Nan Fe (Phan Hoai Minh,) will be returning to the Collapse universe this year to paint the cover for "The Bruja's" sequel title, "Mayhem." We made it official over the weekend with a formal transfer of funds. I'm personally abuzz over this. Nan Fe is an ironclad professional, working with her on the visuals of the Collapse universe is like working with another me.

At one point during the creation of "The Bruja's" cover, a conversation between Nan Fe and I went:

Nan Fe: "I'm planning to get some blood on her face and a bit on her feet, is it ok?"

Michael: "YES, to blood on the face. Yes to feet. If you think to yourself; 'Should I add blood here?' my answer will always be, 100% 'yes, do it.'"

Again, great lady. Make sure to check out her Facebook, link located to the right. You can also follow her on Instagram & Twitter, as well as her profile on Deviant Art.

Last, but not least, is the news from Friday, 2/9. "The Bruja" topped #1 on our publisher's Horror roster. Not in the top 50, not in the top 10, #1 with a bullet. Now, while I realize that conquering a small publisher's Horror genre isn't the greatest accomplishment in authoring, I am still proud! We have a long way to go on Amazon's bestseller ranks, but let's conquer one mountain a time.

I want to thank everyone who's made this possible. That's you, the people who have bought copies of "The Bruja," and follow us on Facebook and other social media. This is the start of something amazing. There will be more books, more short stories, and more art in 2018, and the years to come. This isn't a one-time flash in the pan folks! Maggi's world is here to stay, and I'm looking forward to taking you all along for the ride!

Have a great week, everyone!


When you think of the word "horror," and its connotations in fiction, you're probably thinking of slasher flicks or monster tropes. Maybe, you think of classic authors like Poe or Lovecraft. Maybe you even remember old Hammer films with actors like Ralph Bates or Christopher Lee.

I don't think you commonly imagine the horrors that you may face at any moment, on any given day.

To the left, pictured, is my best friend Athena Driscoll. She's the craftswoman behind Leanans' Boon, and in 2016 she did a books-on-tape recording of "The Bruja" in its original form, that you can enjoy on Youtube. She also acted as content editor for "The Bruja," and is partially the inspiration for Maggi's friend Aubriana. If you've read "The Bruja" by now, you know that Maggi betrays her friend and leaves Aubriana to die during the first days of the Collapse. If you haven't read "The Bruja," I just spoiled it for you and I feel no guilt whatsoever.

What you probably don't know: this was also inspired by real-life events. Several years ago Athena was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and advised to alter her diet. She did so. Unfortunately, her urgent care clinic only gave her half the story. That same diet she assumed would end up almost ending her life and condemn her to a diabetic coma that she would not wake from for weeks. Obviously, "alls well that ends well," she's alive & healthy today -- as healthy as any type-2 diabetic can be; constantly facing down death, each day.

When she shared those memories with me I was genuinely haunted. For days, even weeks after, I found myself genuinely transfixed and rattled. I was far too able to empathize, to visualize, what she had experienced. The idea of being trapped in a body that doesn't function, while the world goes on and speaks of you in the past-tense made me ill to my stomach. Worse, her accounting of various altered states of mind she would enter, beyond her control, gave me nightmares. This was, for me, real horror. Jason and his machete had nothing on this. I would rather face all the awful boogeymen the imagination can offer than experience a trauma similar to this coma.

So, naturally, I needed to write about this. A lot of what I write is trauma, let's be honest.

In "The Bruja" it was a perfect fit. The core of the narrative will always be driven by internalized horror. Just as Aubriana suffers a fate worse than death, so too does Maggi when she's forced to confront her failures, her cowardice. The Wave Organ scene is more than a "boss fight," its intended to be a literal depiction of hatred & loathing played out, bloody and rife with brutality. That's real horror for me. The ghosts and goblins, that's window dressing. That's just where my mind lives 24 hours a day. The horror of "The Bruja" exists, for me, in the mind's darkest corners, locked away, waiting for a chance to crawl out into the waking world.

I'll be releasing a re-written version of "The Dread Harvester" on this blog, later in February. It will focus more heavily on these aspects, and it'll probably be pretty awful. I mean, it'll be great writing, but you'll probably feel awful after you read it.

Wait, who part me in charge of PR?

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

When I was 12 years old, I saw "The Road Warrior." It was as old as me at that point, we were both born in 1981. By now it had been adapted for network television and was airing on some affiliate one Saturday afternoon.

Now, I wasn't allowed, per se, to watch this film. In fact, my mother had very strict rules on what I could and could not watch based on sexuality and violence. In order to keep my first viewing of "Road Warrior" a secret, I had to minimize the volume and keep an eye on the open door of my room. It was tricky, for sure, but I managed to see most of the movie. This engendered a few things in me a person, at such an impressionable age. First, I acquired my love for silent cinema, an affection I never lost. Second, I discovered a love for post-apocalyptic storytelling and visuals. That love only grew as I became older, and when I began to create the world of "The Bruja" I had my opportunity to throw my hat in the ring.

The biggest thing I wanted to focus on for "The Bruja's" world was the idea that this was not a static universe. There was no stagnation here, the world hadn't simply crumbled apart and stayed a ruin. People didn't want it to remain that way, they needed to survive, they wanted to make a more comfortable life to exist in. Part of that evolving climate was the idea that city-states would emerge in the United States from existing cities, towns, and states. When foreigners look at America they see us as one people, with one culture. This couldn't be further from the truth -- New York is not California, and that's absolutely not the population of rural Illinois. If civilization collapsed our world would only diversify further. That's what I tried to capture in "The Bruja," and what I wanted to continue developing in future Collapse universe books.

While "The Road Warrior" was my gateway drug, it was hardly my most intense influence. I was much further moved in later  David Brin's novel "The Postman," was absolutely an inspiration, and to a lesser degree, the film adaptation. Another book that moved me was Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." Although I didn't love the book, I was so thrilled by the idea of an unnamed cataclysm. This erased so much of the junk narrative and forced a reader to be pulled into the tension of the moment. It was, however, Stephen King's goddamn masterwork, "The Gunslinger," that most set my imagination ablaze. This, for my mind, was the coup de tat, a persuasive tale of impossible entropy. Cultures evolved and warped, just as complete as people, all packed into a world that you didn't entirely understand and fill your stomach with a dreadful fear. I may as well have been following the Pied Piper of Hamelin after reading that book, and the subsequent "Dark Tower" novels.

This is only naming a few books, of course. There are others, and if I had to name the writers I most idolize, I would choose both Stephen King & Tanith Lee. I'll be discussing these two authors in future blog postings, most especially Tanith Lee, because I feel like she's fallen into obscurity -- very ill-deserved obscurity.

January 2018 Raffle

Have you read "The Bruja" on ebook?

Would you like a chance to win a signed softcover copy for your bookshelf, or as a gift for a friend? Now is your chance!

"The Bruja" needs reviews. As a new release (soft release was 1/1/18, and the official release was just 2 weeks ago, 1/14/18,) we have very limited feedback to allow us to move forward on the larger e-book promotional sites that require 5, 10, or even 20 reviews on retailer sites. That's where you come in! Go to your preferred retailer (links to the right!) and leave a review for "The Bruja." Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GooglePlay, Kobo, etc. A *good* review is NOT required to enter! Just your HONEST opinion!

Step 1: Write your review!
Step 2: Comment and be entered to win!
Step 3: WIN! 3 lucky winners will be chosen by 2/9/18!

You can comment on our Facebook ad running right now, or email me directly ( to enter for a chance to win. A lot of you have various usernames through retailers and social media, so I need some way to figure out who is who.

Don't already have your copy of "The Bruja" on ebook? Buy it today for $3.99 on Amazon!

Origins of The Bruja

Here's a tale, I thought I might share with you.

Although I've been writing since I was a child, about 10 or 11 years old, I was never serious. It was something I casually did to relax, or to expand on ideas in my head. It was a hobby for which I sometimes dedicated weeks - or I completely ignored.

In 2008 (a decade ago now,) I decided to get serious. I made a decision that I wanted to start storytelling and creating real literature in a meaningful way. I began to tinker with an old desktop computer after I got home from work before my ex-wife returned. I started to create short stories, little vignettes. Some of those I finished, others I did not. I never dared try to publish, I was terrified of how the work would be perceived. Was it a good story? How were my spelling and grammar? Did I edit it enough? Is this something that anyone would care about?

After careful consideration, I began to study the craft of writing. I wanted to know more, so I dove directly into research. By November of that last year, I challenged myself to complete NaNoWriMo. For those unfamiliar, National Novel Writing Month is a web project started in 1999, intended to inspire would-be novelists to get up off their butts and do something. You have 30 days in November to complete 50,000 words. It was hard work, I wasn't used to that kind of marathon writing, 50,000 words was no joke and I ended up cheating. Wait, how do you cheat on NaNoWriMo?

I had created a post-apocalyptic tale about a woman named Maggi. Unable to keep up with my word count, I began to borrow chapters from another book I had started earlier that year, a classic fic-lit tale set in present-day Redwood City, California. I cheated by forcing my future narrative to flashback on a past narrative. The end product was 50,000 pages and was also mostly crap.

Problem was, I liked this lady, Maggi Lopez. I liked her voice, her tone, her character. I liked this woman who defied reason. She's essentially an East L.A. chola who can wield magic. She's our crucible, our wizard, our defining example of wisdom; yet she's rough on the edges, caustic and not the kind of person you might look up to.

Early that following year I began work in earnest on a new book called Seeking the Elephant. (If you'd like to know what that phrase means, go read The Bruja, today!) This story was more fleshed out, Maggi became more complex, the world of the Collapse now had rules and structure. And those old "flashbacks?" They became some of my memories of being a young rivethead in Bay Area. For those of you wondering, "rivetheads" are basically "goths" who read too much history and like to stomp.

With this second incarnation finished, I would end up re-writing the story, start to finish, several more times for the next few years. Somewhere around 2012, however, I took a break and walked away from this world I had created. It wasn't until 2015 that I returned. For the next four years, I ripped the story apart, again and again, and few more times. Seeking the Elephant became The Bruja. Many aspects changed. The Beast became a less important part of the narrative. Mayy's role in Maggi's life expanded. Maggi's bisexuality and her difficulty accepting it was now part of her mythology. I cut and cut, and thinned each and every page until what had once been 200,000 words was now the sleak, lithe 288 pages you hold in your hand.

I have no regrets. The years I spent working on The Bruja didn't make a better book, it made me a better writer. The version of the story available on Amazon is simply the best incarnation I produced. I hope you will enjoy it!

Soundtrack to The Bruja

When I write, I tend to listen to music.

The music that I listen to almost always is intended to set a mood, or tone, for a particular chapter or scene. Sometimes I might just want some background noise to occupy me, but often I attempt to create a cinematic experience. It's my belief that the right song at the right time will create a tacit change in the emotional impact of what I write. I keep a listing of these "soundtracks" when I write, mostly so I can back and utilize the same music when I re-write or edit a certain section or chapter. This creates continuity.

I thought I would share the final soundtrack I used when The Bruja entered its final re-writes in mid-2016. I do not own any of this music, nor do I imply ownership. This is simply a point of reference that I thought you would enjoy. I hope that you will listen to some of these bands, and perhaps become a fan. Scene descriptions kept vague to avoid spoilers.

Aesthetic Perfection - The Ones: Maggi meets Her Lady of the Dry Arms.
The Crooked Jades - Let it Show: Introducing Mayy.
Halsey - New Americana: Maggi and Mindy in pre-Collapse Redwood City.
Alabama 3 - The Power is in the Blood: Maggi goes with Jenn Winslow.
Sabaton - Resist and BiteMaggi and Mayy fight.
Mandolin Orange - Boots of Spanish Leather: Maggi & her teacher in Evergreen.
Jay Ungar & Molly Mason Family Band - Ashokan Farewell: Maggi’s goodbyes.
Postmodern Jukebox - Gangsta's Paradise: Maggi meets Aubree and the Black Dogs.
Ken Hensley - Lady in BlackMaggi, Jenn, and Rizwan leave for the hunt.

Johnny Hollow - Devil’s Night: Maggi meets the Ifrit in Utah.
Robert Johnson - Crossroads Blues: Maggi goes cigarette shopping.
Sirenia - My Mind’s EyeFinal memories of pre-Collapse Bay Area.
The Doors - Roadhouse Blues: Maggi in the Nebraska roadhouse.
Mexicano 777 ft. Ivy Queen - SangreMaggi’s theme, sung in Nebraska.
MSMR - BonesMaggie meets the old titan.
Kamelot - Liar Liar ft. Alissa White-GluzMaggi versus Vix.
Equations of Eternity - Baron SamediMaggi visits Baron Samedi and Marie Holmes.
Modest Mussorgsky - Night On Bald MountainThe Dread Harvester comes.

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson - One More Year: Maggi wakes up with one eye.
The Dreadnoughts - Avalon: Introduction to Stockton and House Owens.
Johnny Cash - Rusty CageMaggi gazes into the pit.
Manufactura - A Woman ScornedMaggi meets the Ifrit finally.
The Prodigy - OmenLava whips and powered armor don’t mix.
The Prodigy - Omen RepriseFinal showdown.
Crooked Jades - Marrow Of A Young Girl: Maggi is offered a sweet deal.
Nightwish - Ghost Love Score: The Beast is born.
Hladowski & Joynes - The Wild Wild Berry: Twenty years after Maggi’s deal.

1/14/18 - BRUJA IS LIVE

As of 1/14/18, both the softcover and e-reader editions of The Bruja are live for purchase from all confirmed retailers.

This is it folks: The Bruja's formal release date!

E-reader versions will run between $3.03 and $3.99 depending on the seller. Softcovers are between $14.99 and $39.99, again, depending on the retailer. To the right-hand side of this blog, you'll see all live links for The Bruja. Get your copy today!

What can you do to help The Bruja gain steam and build into a much larger market? Quite a bit, actually!

1) Order softcover copies from digital storefronts on Amazon (non-Prime,) as well as sellers on AbeBooks & aLibris. These are booksellers who have agreed to stock The Bruja, and have ordered a standing inventory. They have taken a gamble that this book will sell; the better it sells, the more stores will place orders. This supports small business and helps me gain national traction & saturation.

2) Tell your friends. A shared post on Facebook doesn't go very far, but if you have that one friend who's really into dark fantasy or post-apocalyptic fiction, they're the ones you should talk to.

3) As an author, my royalties aren't very strong. I'm not making much money; this isn't about lining my pockets. This about spreading the word. This is about getting The Bruja into the hands of as many curious readers possible. My publisher is fairly small, they don't command a spot on the New York Times "new author list." They can't bully booksellers. They can't get me ad-space in Time. If The Bruja and the world of The Collapse become a known quantity, it will be because of your help!

4) Last, but not least, this is a book. It's meant to be read. You should do exactly that. If you like it or hate it, you should leave reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, or other retailers. You should communicate your experience. Maybe you'll love The Bruja, and maybe you'll hate it, but above all -- don't be silent about it!

That being said -- let the internet whoring begin!

Eye on Mayhem

"Why are you talking about new works when The Bruja is just now hitting bookshelves ?"

I'm a writer. I write. It's what I do.

The artwork here was completed this morning by Polish superstar RinRinDaishi (this her name on DeviantArt if you'd like to look up her other work,) and is a constant reminder of why I love to work with other artists.

Mayhem, the sequel to The Bruja takes place roughly 20 years after the events that unfold around Maggi Lopez. Her adopted daughter, Margaret, takes a key role in the brave new world that Maggi helped create.

You'll learn more about this tale another day. For now, however, I'd love to talk to you about how digital and conventional painters have helped grow and evolve the world that takes place in my imagination.

I'm a very character-driven author. I like to create three-dimensional individuals for you enjoy. In doing this, quite often, I brush over physical details because they're less important to a narrative. Often my details are filled in by artists like RinRinDaishi, NanFe, or Bella or SapFire. These artists not only create their own details but alter mine in ways I had never imagined. A great example of that is Lady Mayhem herself.

In original drafts, Seeking the Elephant (the first title for The Bruja,) Margaret was a very superficial character who showed up briefly to illustrate Maggi's matronly role as a mother & teacher. By the final edits of The Bruja, Margaret had evolved so completely, developed so drastically, that she now warranted a physical description. She was initially a brunette, based on her real-world visual inspiration. However, when RinRinDaishi first brought Lady Mayhem to life, she visualized her as a pale red-head. I was so enamored with this creative license that I absolutely knew Margaret now had red hair. One of the final edits I made to The Bruja before it went to publication was changing this detail so continuity would match the sequel. I recommend every aspiring author work as a visual artist. Don't be so in love with your universe that you won't listen another's vision! Your work can only become richer, more robust, with stylistic influences.

Read It!

As an author, my greatest enemy is apathy.

Reading takes effort, whether it's a traditional book or an e-reader. You need to commit to the experience; mind, and body. You must focus your attention and imagine worlds outside of your own, let the narrative carry you but keep your eyes working and your brain spinning.

Its a lot easier to turn on the TV, unfortunately.

I don't mean to condemn media-driven entertainment. My wife and I are watching the final season of AMC's "Halt & Catch Fire" right now. Its a deeply engaging narrative with well-written tension, and characters who constantly evolve and grow. This isn't a show for stupid people, it's not vapid, or shallow. However, it is easier to watch to than to pick up a novel.

That, my friends, lies the crux of it. I want you to read my book. I have no illusions, I know I won't get rich doing this, and I won't be famous. That isn't my dream. In my wildest fantasies I hope that you order a copy of The Bruja and open it up. I vividly picture your fingers running down the center of the pages, bending the spine with brutal monomania. I hope that you're licking your fingers and dog-earing every page as you consume each word, syllable and sentence until -- breathless -- you land on the final page, swallow hard, and gasp for air at the completion of a well-told story.

In other words - if I had to choose between 10,000 people buying my book and none reading it, versus only 100 purchases, and 100 readers who wanted to slather those pages with their jittering and twitching eyeballs, I would choose the later without the slightest hesitation.

I wrote a book for you. I'd like you to read it. I promise - you'll like it.