Free chapter of my full length novel, Rural!!!

Punching

There is an art to a good sucker punch, and if I do say so myself, I am a third-grade macaroni sculpture in comparison to that art.
Tony Smith, however, isn’t. He’s a venerable Rembrandt of the sleazy move. One honed through his many years of repeated seventh grade and being the class asshat.
I walked out into the dark parking lot looking for Sarah and was too busy calling her name to hear the doors open and Tony step out to follow me.
The punch was preceded with a tap on my shoulder. I wasn’t expecting anyone behind me, so I spun around in the opposite direction, honestly thinking it might be Sarah. I was wrong. This only added speed to Tony’s fist hitting my gut and I doubled over from the sudden impact. My lungs emptying their breath and my knees buckling in concert, sending me to the ground.
Pure artistry to his credit.
“You know what I hate, new guy?” Tony said squaring up a few steps away from me. I couldn’t breathe or talk at this point so I’m not sure if he was waiting for an answer or being uncharacteristically rhetorical. “People sticking their nose in other people’s business.”
He wound up and kicked me in the side of the ribs. From the crawling position I was in I, didn’t see the kick coming and I swear I heard something crack in my side when his foot connected. Thank God he was wearing sneakers instead of real dress shoes to this semi-formal because it might have been the only thing that saved my ribs that night.
Tony wasn’t alone either. Two sets of hands grabbed my arms and pulled me up to face him. I wheezed out. “What are you talking about?”
“Fuck, you’re stupid for a kid who’s always studying with that nerd Sean.” He said. He began walking forward cocking his right hand back for a punch that was going to hit my face.
As he closed in, I lifted my leg up wincing with a tender set of ribs for the action but catching Tony in the face with the tip of my sneaker. He whipped his head back and grabbed his face as blood started flowing from his nose. Pro tip it doesn’t take much to make someone’s nosebleed in a fight. But then again it doesn’t really do much to them either. Just makes them mad and doesn’t help you win said fight.
His partners threw me back to the ground. I barely got my arms out to the sides of me to slow the fall and save the back of my head from the pavement. They didn’t wait though and began stomping on my chest and arms as I flailed trying to get away from their attacks. I twisted over during the barrage of shoe soles and tried to get into a fetal position to protect my head and face.
The kicks kept coming. I wondered how worrying about someone I barely knew, whom I had barely danced with, would set three guys off like this. And they weren’t stopping. Jeeze, they weren’t stopping! This was it. I was going to die, curb stomped at a crappy high school country music semi-formal dance? Of all the ways I had ever thought of going, this was not on the list and aiming for the bottom.
Then, the most satisfying sound in the universe rang out into the night and over the stomps and kicks to my rib cage and shoulders. Not a police siren or a principal’s voice from the school’s doors. It was a definitive crack of knuckles hitting a jaw and whoever was kicking me from the right-hand side collapsed like a sack of bricks clutching their face and groaning.
Jay had seen Tony and his buddies follow me out and extricated himself from the dance. He had caught the first curb stomper by surprise, the same way Tony had to me. He was laying on the ground a few feet from me clutching his face and understandably out of the fight. But Jay really didn’t need it with the second guy.
The bully swung wide as Jay dodged the punch and step too close trying to hit the farm kid, Jay then connected with an uppercut and sent the second bully to the ground as well. Tony was up now, his face a mixture of red and white from the light snow that was falling and my only contribution to the violence, his broken nose. He ran towards me hoping to get on top of me to finish his pummeling.
Jay caught him in a tackle, and they crashed into the snow beside me. I struggled to get up as they rolled around on the ground, both more acquainted to fighting than I was, frankly.
Jay being bigger managed to get on top of him, and crossed Tony’s face with a left hook further damaging his nose. Tony rolled over covering his now thoroughly bloodied face and Jay stood up and checked on the other two attackers, still writhing on the ground from his handiwork.
“I see you motherfuckers touch my Cousin one more time and you’ll be back on the ground with a set of broken noses before your lame ass posse can yell Worldstar!” Jay hollered to the writhing bodies on in the snow.
The door of the school opened, and a deep adult voice called out. “Hey!” and Jay grabbed my arm and ran me towards the parking lot.
We crossed the snowy pavement and hopped in his truck. Tearing out of the parking lot as we avoided getting properly seen or identified by Mr. Locksey and the school staff who were chaperoning.
My head was spinning from the action and Jay whooped into the cab of the truck. On an adrenaline high no doubt from successfully trashing three guys in one fight.
“What about Kylie?” I said.
“I’ll call her tonight and explain.” Jay smiled looking over his shoulder at me. “Let’s get you home and you can tell me what happened.”
We drove back to my house where the lonely light of the kitchen left on let me know that Mom was already asleep. On the way home, I told Jay the scattered facts that I knew, and we came to the stunning and rock-solid conclusion that Tony is just a jerk. With nothing better to do than pick fights at dances, I might add. I didn’t like it as a final solution to the problem but hey at least it was over.
“Good.” I thought as Jay dropped me off. The last thing I wanted to do was try to explain the fight that I honestly didn’t understand how I got into anyway to Mom.
I strained to get out of my clothes and inspected the large bruise beginning to form on my side from Tony’s kick and then crawled into bed.
As I drifted into a very painful and uncomfortable sleep, I couldn’t help but run through the scenarios of why Sarah would get scared, and why she would leave with who I assumed was Tony’s girlfriend. Also, why he would get mad at me for just asking Sarah where she was going. I didn’t hear anything or know anything. But that made me worth sucker punching with a posse of thugs for some reason. I began assembling a list I would later forget of things to ask Sarah about at school after the weekend. And drifted to sleep.





My first book as a pen name, Yay!

 This has been an incredible journey but seeing my first real novel online has been worth every late night and early morning. 

I can't wait to get working on the next book and to get my hands on the paperbacks which have been ordered this week.

The Moving Lives Series will be one of the best reads for teens just about to jump off into adulthood. I can't wait to see more of them get published and more people fall in love with the characters and stories.

Be sure to stay tuned for updates.

Cheers.





Coming Soon!


Comming Soon!


Peyton County High School

  



I wanted to write a young adult, high school, coming of age story and needed a place to do it. My inspiration for the book which turned into a series was John Green's Looking for Alaska. I have always loved the book and read it about once a year around NaNoWriMo to get me in the mood for writing. It was the soundtrack to both Rural and its sequel Urban as I wrote. In part, because it's a similar style of writing and genre but also because the world-building that John did in the book was something I wanted to try to do in mine as well. John created a fictional boarding school to work in and painted an imaginable world for Miles and Alaska to live and die in (spoiler.) That's what I attempted to do in Peyton county. 

Peyton County was the fictionalized version of my high school years all wrapped into one setting based in rural New Brunswick. It's paired with a fictional university and apartment complex in Edmonton Alberta, though many of the places mentioned in between those to points on the Canadian map.

I created Peyton as a way to fully flesh out the characters and composites of people I knew and could remember from Highschool while writing, being extra careful not to mention too much of the geography and local landmarks to actually give it away. Close friends and former alumni of my alma mater would be able to piece it together with a scant few actually knowing who they are or are part of in the books. 

Only one character is named exactly like the person in mind for that character and the chances of him reading the book are slim to none for the worst reasons, to be frank.

Here is a rough sketch of the county where Rural was set.

For the sequel, Urban, I used a similar approach and changed names and locations of popular Edmonton coffee shops and even of Grant McEwan university to give the setting for the book. While using real-life locations as well as the West Edmonton Mall and the nearby Misericordia Hospital. 

A map of that book would essentially be a map of Edmonton with highlights. I may do a walkabout one summer and get pictures of the inspiration for the locations mentioned in the book. 

Overall I wanted to let the characters tell the story in these books. I could have written the books to be set in rural Saskatchewan or back in the GTA but chose places I had either been or was living in currently to connect better emotions and expressions when having the characters react to the locations. 

Overall this was really fun. I highly recommend doing this write from your home towns perspective thing at least once.

Creating Some Worlds To Play In

 One of the best things about being a fiction author is getting the chance to build a world in which you will write in. These can be anything and are only hemmed in by our imaginations. Which can be pretty rough and frayed at times. Still, world-building is fun.

What I wanted to do with my first novella was to create a steampunk world. I had always loved the pseudo victorian aesthetic of steampunk and to a lesser extent, the not-quite world war one feeling of dieselpunk too. But how to write good fantasy stories without their being a history to back it up. It's one thing for Tolkien to write about Elves in middle earth. Our minds kind of let go of the fact that the races and places he writes about don't actually exist so we can relax and enjoy the show that his words paint for us. But the victorian age was a real-time and place. Tesla was a real guy and much of what is written in steampunk is alternate history. While it's fun to imagine historical figures like Tesla and Lincoln in fantasy settings. we know at the end of the day that Lincoln didn't in fact kill vampires and Tesla was reclusive and died in obscurity.

But what we can get behind is fictional characters in real-ish world settings. the reason we believe that Bella Swan and Edward Cullen had a sparkly vampire romance, is that while the general world setting was a real one. (Earth + Vampires) We didn't know Bella like a historical figure or a celebrity is known, so we could pretend.

That's what fiction is all about, pretending. 

So I set about building some worlds to play in. 

Let's take a look at some of them. 


Guys, this is what I want to write about.


Since starting this pen name I wanted to focus on something that I thought was missing from the literary landscape of 2020 and beyond. 

When I look at the vast majority of young adult literature there is a tilt to one side that poses some questions and leaves room for what I'm hoping is an underappreciated market to write to and something that's sorely needed in today's world of books. It's a big deal to write a book that changes someone's lives and without exception, there have been many that have changed mine that fit this bill but when I look at the wider picture I can't help but notice this theme and its potential importance to the culture at large.

That theme is the unambiguously and morally good, straight, male, character.

I know this is a hot take and a lot of readers and writers would take offence with this thought, but what I'm hoping to do is fix that knee jerk reaction in the long run. 

How many male characters in YA literature are there that aren't special because of something they received that changes their fundamental abilities as a young man for the reader to consider? Let's take this all the way back to some early 2000's YA lit and talk about vampires. Excusing the fact that Edward Cullen is over 100 years old in the books, his portrayal as an angsty teenage boy comes at a cost of him being a superpowered vampire with a super-powered family. One with superhuman strength and speed and everlasting life. His counterpart for the rest of the love triangle Jacob Black is a shape-shifting werewolf with his own set of powers that made him special. Eragon from Chris Paolini's Inheritance Cycle is awash with magical powers and gifts that propel him through his journey a much as he does himself. Percy Jackson is a demigod. Harry potter is rich and magical. While I realize people don't want to read about boring dudes, something else is being overlooked here. 

Throughout the genre, there is a need to make boys something more to make them valuable to the reader. It happens to the girls too and even when we step out of the more fantastical settings of Hogwarts and the Hunger Games. But the idea of a morally good, heterosexual young man seems to grate against the rising popularity of nearly everything else. 

But I don't want to make this a post and more importantly the direction I want to take my books about what I'm against. Instead, I want to be unapologetically for this theme. To write stories that show how young men struggle, how they triumph and how they do so with the realities that confront us all. Not with Chosen one magical powers or circumstance. But a raw and real take on what it's like growing up to be a young man these days. On how to be masculine in ways that aren't toxic, including some ways which get slanderously heralded as such. To capture the emotions and motivations of a demographic that all too often gets relegated to tokenism or worse, moral ambiguity for the sake of being the base of a love triangle plot device.

Somewhere out there, there are stories that don't shrowd themselves in impossibility to tell of how young men can solve problems, fall in love, make and keep friendships, take chances, and suffer mistakes. One that doesn't give them a fantastic power to cope with the world's need for their potential greatness or if it does it shows the toll for such power and the need all the same.

Somewhere out there there are characters, begging to be put into the written word that shows healthy and probably more importantly the transition from unhealthy relationships, sexual ethic, attraction and affection.

I think that world existed at one point. One where Aragorn knew what it was to run from his crown and how to return to it. where Edmond fell for the tricks of the Witch's candy once only to stop Caspian and Peter from doing the same later. Where Sam Gribley finds his mountain, Alfred Brooks throws his first punch and Miles Halter learns that you don't mess with swans.

These things while present in today's literature seem to be partial or missing or even muted. And I don't think this is because of a preference for the views on gender or sexual orientation as if these were a bad thing. What I would never want is fewer stories out there, about any topic, simply because I don't want to or feel capable of writing from a certain perspective. What I want to do is write as clearly I can about the things that are important to me. 

Stories about young men, for young men. But perhaps not exclusively from young men on the page. 

More on that later. But at least you understand the use of commas in the title now, right?

Well Hi!


Hooray, first post.

But seriously, it's been a bit of a slog during this COVID-19 nonsense. If anyone would have told me that starting an author website while working a regular job and writing in my spare time would be this hard, I'd quit my job and just write more. 

I'm glad to finally get things rolling. Expect updates at least monthly if not weekly. For the fans from my other blog, you know who you are. Thanks for coming. 

Be sure to sign up for the email list for regular updates and release dates for any upcoming books and projects.