It’s been a long road… the stories within the continuity of Tempest Blades.

It’s been a long road, getting from there to here.
It’s been a long time, but my time is finally near.
And I will see my dream come alive at last. I will touch the sky…

I think “Where My Heart Will Take Me” lyrics encapsulate the way having my novel published and released in a few months. But the world where it happens, the inhabitants living there, the main characters, have a history. And I’ve been working (and publishing) on bits of that history, connected one way or another to the main series.

This is a short list of stories already out and how they connect with the novel. They are ordered in chronological order, within the universe, rather than in publishing order in our universe.

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It’s been a long time, but my time is finally near…

Asherah’s Pilgrimage (8,000 to 10,000 years before present day):

It’s the ‘true’ story behind the legend of the foundation of the Freefolk first kingdom and the source of most of their major cultural beliefs and customs. It is also the story of how modern Freefolk came to be as they are now in the times of the Withered King. It will be published in Tales of Magic & Destiny in a few months, this year.

Silver Horn (around 152 years before present day):

My very first published story actually. It’s the folk tale -not the actual events- of how a young man undertook a quest to return a dangerous item deep inside a mystical place related to the Freefolk. Being a folk tale, it is more comedic and takes liberties about the actual events, but it’s the kind of tale a father would tell his son about his own exploits, to inspire the kid to become an adventurer and a hero. The young man in the story? It was the father of Fionn, the main character of my novel. It was featured in Tales from the Tower.

Buried Sins (around 110 years before the present day):

Around the world, there are multiple events taking place. Some are of no consequence, others have repercussions across space and time. And major wars always have different fronts, different battles. Some are big scale, like the Longhorn Valley battle at the start of Withered King and some are more personal. Buried Sins take place around the same time as the first chapter of the novel, across an ocean in a different land and is a tale about a man haunted by its inner monster, trying to stop mercenaries that are trying to dig up a weapon that could change the War portrayed in chapter 1 of the novel. And the events of this story will also affect the potential sequel of the novel. It was featured in Tales from the Underground.

Cosmic Egg (around 50-80 years after the present day):

Part sequel, part spin-off, it’s the tale of the first space expedition from Theia to explore the rest of the galaxy. None of the characters of Tempest Blades. The Withered King appears here, but most of the story’s characters are related to them in one way or another. Also, in the novel, you can see the technological precursors of the Fireraven, the ship featured in Cosmic Egg and the mention of a legend connected to a character from Asherah’s Pilgrimage. It was featured in Tales from the Universe.

So there you have a current list of stories tied to my novel.

Writing stories to flesh out the world of my novel has been helpful, not only for putting down historical events that can’t be included in the main series without bogging it down; but have also helped me to practice my writing skills and improve them. Bear in mind, and I’m being honest here, that the style has changed over the years. And I hope it has changed for good as I aim to be a good writer. Thus, the stories vary somewhat between them. Nonetheless, I hope you like them all as well as I hope you like my novel. That’s more than I can ask.

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Weird Western and Me. New anthology project.

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Last year, I wrote and submitted my first Weird West Fantasy story “No-Sell” to an anthology project. I was fortunate enough to get it accepted.

The mastermind and editor behind the project is writer and SFWA Youtube master extraordinaire Diane Morrison, who has been a delight to work with on the edits and the overall publication of the anthology. The book is already for preorder at Amazon in Kindle format (it will be released in paperback at a later date). It will be at an excellent, low price just until the end of January, so be sure to pick up a copy.

About my story, without telling too much, it’s about a disillusioned retired military spellslinger traveling on the frontier of the land, visiting remote towns and carrying a new type of weapon called ‘rifle’. Think Algren from ‘The Last Samurai’ (the one with Tom Cruise) when he is sent to sell weapons to the Japanese. Except that no one wants his fare. Not like it matters to him. And of course, I managed to slip a small reference to Mexican Culture. Depending on how things go, I might write more stories in that new universe. I just got this book for further research: Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History.

The anthology has many good stories, including one by my archenemy Brent A. Harris.  And it will include a public domain story by Robert E. Howard (who kinda pioneered the genre). You shouldn’t miss this book.

Chilling reads for Halloween

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Given that tomorrow is Halloween and the weekend is for the Day of the Dead, I thought it was a good idea to offer some suggestions of chilling reads for the celebration. Now, I set myself some ground rules:

-Short stories…
-…that I’ve read…
-that may not be well known or haven’t been done into a media production.

That means, despite some of the suggestions made on my twitter feed, that no Stephen King nor H.P. Lovecraft. I’m recommending this stories because I have read them and found them a great addition to the holiday and also I had help from Leo McBride at Altered Instinct. All but one are available in one format or another for free.

So without further ado and in no particular order:

So Glad We Had This Time Together by Cat Rambo: A different twist on traditional vampire lore and proof that reality shows are evil. If you have seen ‘Unreal’ or ‘Being Human’ you will get the gist of it. And I admit, the end made me laugh for how clever it was. I’m still wondering why this hasn’t been turned into a tv miniseries. Netflix should get at it… oh wait…

The Box by Leo McBride: an experiment that leaves you wondering if it was just a trick of the mind. Of my bunch of friends that are also writers, Leo is by far the best of us (now if life allowed him to finish one of his two novels, we would have an NYT bestseller in hand). This story is unsettling. The horror is subtle, like the kind of stories you would see in a Ray Bradbury anthology series. The ones that leave you wondering what the hell you just read.

The Beast by Alei Kodaitshura: sometimes, the line between dreams and reality goes away and something dark awakens from inside. Look, I’m not recommending this story just because Alei and I have been friends for years, but because when she gets to it, Alei can write really creative and seriously unsettling stories. This story left me stunned for days after I read it. Very Lovecraftian and could actually fit on the New World of Darkness RPG setting.

Web by Karl Drinkwater (as part of his short story anthology): this story is interesting for a couple of reasons: features a POC character from a culture I admit know little -she is a Somali woman, living in England-, there is certain ambiguity on it that will leave you to wonder what really happened and as Leo said in a review, better than I could ever do:

It’s a tough tale emotionally to read, but brilliantly done. The harsh honesty of the tale almost feels out of place alongside the fantasy horrors of the other stories – but it’s perhaps the most horrific of all for that.

Sometimes horror doesn’t come from outside, but from inside us. It’s a tough read, so be warned.

Pull Cord for Nurse by Noreen Braman: Noreen has quite a few Halloween stories to choose from at her site. I went with this one. It’s really short but nonetheless enjoyable. Think your classic gothic horror story, but place it in a setting that will remind you of certain stages in Silent Hill. And not the nice ones.

Idle Hands by Kelli Perkins (audio version by the Wicked Library): something I like of Kelli’s stories is he knack to combine the macabre with a wicked sense of humor. And through that, even the most devilish creature can be relatable. If you enjoy Lucifer (the tv show) but you want a darker twist to it, one that will leave you reflecting upon the nature of evil, you will enjoy this.

Finally, and if I’m allowed to self-plug my own story:

Bone Peyote by Ricardo Victoria (audio version by the Wicked Library): Don’t mix ancient prehispanic rituals, strange drugs and the Day of the Death.  Also very Lovecraftian in my opinion. This was my first (and so far most successful) take on horror. You can get more on its development here.

I hope you enjoy this chilling reads these weekend.

Entrance (free flash story)

(From time to time I participate in an activity at the  Sci-Fi Roundtable Facebook group, where we write flash fiction. This a sample of what I’ve been doing there. As an exercise, it is helpful to keep the imagination strong. This one, in particular, is part of the Tempest Blades Universe. Also, I want to thank Brhi Peres for allowing me to use her art for this story ).

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The Trickster Goddess decided to descend upon the world once more. This was a message that had to be relayed in person. On this occasion though, it would be though as she needed to be really careful. Last time she did it using her true form and full power, she broke the world, leaving it with a scar that held reality warping anomalies. Thus, she opted for creating an avatar as she came down. She first projected her personality and part of her wisdom and power into the world. Around that, using her divine powers, she invoked the Creator’s light. Globules of light coalesced around the spiritual form.

The goddess manipulated matter at the quantum level first, then atomic, then genetic. She built from scratch a -correct anatomically speaking- mortal body, one of a humanoid young woman with long reddish hair and big black eyes. She walked across the Boreal Forest –each step longer than those of the giants- completely naked, while moved her hands, matter shaping around her, making clothes and shoes. It took her a while to readjust to the lessened mortal senses. Only a modicum of cosmic awareness remained, an ironclad thread to her real form tucked in the higher dimensions. That didn’t mean that the goddess could be destroyed in this form. She was still capable of reality warping feats, she still knew how to fight and her body –impervious to anything from the universe- could easily walk into a black hole and torn it asunder with one hand. She had made sure of it. But this form, this mortal coil, wasn’t designed to deal with the sensory input that omnipresence and omniscience caused, even the limited version she inherited from the Creator. It would take time to fine tune that aspect. But she had nothing if time.

She paused for a while, at the side of a blue pool of water, surrounded by mist. She stared at her reflection and liked what she saw.

“Well, the clothes could use more work. I might need to recreate my old armor, from the Fall Time,” she said to himself.

Aside from that, this form should be perfect for interaction with the mortals, interaction of any kind she thought. Her mind had already a few ideas of what sensory experiences she wanted to go through. After all, if she wanted to protect these mortals, she needed to understand them, see the world the way they did. But first, she had to take care of visiting a freefolk girl and giving her a particular mission.

“It’s so weird to have a physical body in this realm. But it feels good to visit the old home. Let’s find that girl Asherah. I have a mission for her. But first, I need a name for this avatar.”

She walked away from the pool, the globules of light still surrounding her, creating a metal armor- while musing on what name she would take. That was the most difficult part of creating an avatar. Not the accessories, the name.

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Writing about bioethics in SPACE!

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I recall a time when I was a kid, during the height of the ‘Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles’ craze (of which I’m still part of), that I wanted to study genetics so when I grew up, I could create my own group of mutant turtles. I was a lonely kid back then so I wanted friends. Never came through because I suck at organic chemistry (much to the chagrin of my parents, both chemists). So I became the second best option, a writer (well, technically the third option, as you might know, I’m an industrial designer transformed into lecturer/researcher by trade and writer by passion, but I digress).

Beware, this might end being a rant.

Now that my science fiction story about bioethics in space “What Measure is a Homunculus?” is being published and available on Amazon on the 19th of October, in the Quantum Soul anthology, I can discuss about the topic of the story. No, I won’t tell what’s about beyond the rights of artificial humanoids used as weapons/foot soldiers, you need to buy the anthology.

But I can talk about what inspired me to do so. First, there was this article that talked about how scientists were trying to create a living being from stem cells without a father and mother (in terms of DNA donors whose reproductive cells create an embryo, not actual parents). From there to the creation of synthetic living beings we could a few generations removed, but it is still a possibility. And that made me think about the lack of legislation to protect the rights of such beings (even if it is just an amoeba).

There are few times when I can mix my day job, my Ph.D. and my real job as a writer in the same thing, which is the case of this particular short story.

Most of my sustainable design students know that I loathe Monsanto, as the epitomize most of what’s wrong with our current economic system. And that loathing is supported by the fact that companies like that think is right to patent the DNA of a living being. But it is not. It might be legal, but that doesn’t make it right, even if is the DNA of a mouse or a fly. DNA is what makes a living being it. It shouldn’t be beholden a property of a faceless company. For me, personally is tantamount to creating the precedent for a new form of slavery. Look, I’m not against researchers patenting stuff (I work as one after all), but while I see the case for patenting the technology to create such advances, I still think that is wrong to patent the DNA of a living being just for coins.

This makes me think that there is a need right now in literature and other media, one asking for more stories that put in the collective consciousness, on the debate table the discussion about bioethics. We need to sit down and discuss what we are doing, if we should be doing it, who should be doing it and for what reasons, instead of just using economic excuses. I think it is the time we redefine what we consider life and its intrinsical rights.

This whole rant, if you want to call it that, makes me recall what Michael Crichton wrote in the first pages of Jurassic Park, how the technological development moved from governmental labs into private sector labs and moving at such pace that there is virtually no oversight about what we are doing with this technological might. We don’t stop to consider that the question is not ‘can we do it?’ but ‘should we be doing it?’.

It’s not a discussion on technological progress. I think that progress is needed if we aim for a better world. But progress for the sake of it or the sake of the purses of people that don’t give a damn about the state of the world is madness. Science Fiction has always been a window to our potential futures, good or bad. Just like there is a recent wave of climate fiction, there is a need for a resurgence in bioethics fiction. Let’s as writers raise awareness of the topic because it relies upon society to do the changes needed. Let’s bring bioethics to the debate table before it is too late.

Upsss. I think I went into lecture mode. Sorry for that. My point was to explain from where it came to the inspiration for this story, so when you read it you know where I’m coming from. In any case, I invite you to acquire this new anthology by the fine folks of the SciFi Roundtable: Eric Michael Craig and Ducky Smith. I had the opportunity of reading several of these stories and I can assure you they are a good option for the science fiction fans looking for new voices in the genre. So go, give it a chance and read it.

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Buried Sins: of regrets and lost memories

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This week is the official launch of the sixth anthology from Inklings Press (disclaimer: I’m a founding member and I usually do the cover design for their anthologies). This one is entitled ‘Tales from the Underground’, already available on Amazon. Unlike the previous anthologies were the theme was dictated by the genre (fantasy, science fiction, horror and so on), the theme dictated the stories and their genres. This time it was ‘Underground’ as if it wasn’t already obvious by the title. That kind of stories that take place in the worlds beneath ours, be it stories of adventure and exploration, or stories of space sirens, ghosts, and fairies. Or as in the case of my featured story, ‘Buried Sins’, of the titular sins buried both in ruined cities and inside the soul of the main character.

I don’t know if this is my darkest story yet (Bone Peyote might want to debate that), but I think it fits within the ‘dark fantasy’ subgenre. That said, this story has a special meaning for me, so let me tell you why.

For starters, it takes place in the same world of my WIP novel ‘Tempest Blades’, roughly during the time of the first chapter of the said novel, but in a different continent, with different characters. I know I have previous stories set in the same world (‘Silver Fang’, ‘Cosmic Egg’) but they take place in the past or the future. ‘Buried Sins’ is the first one that takes place at the same time of my novel. Second, it gave me the chance to recover and I would say, rediscover a character (or two) that I had liked from my very earlier drafts from ten years ago and who got cut from the latest iteration of the Tempest Blades story. I thought that character had got lost from that universe, but in writing this story, he got a new lease on life and also helped me to bring back another character that had suffered the same fate (such character doesn’t appear in the story per se, rather it is an ancestor). Why? Because of he will appear in the sequel of the novel as one of the main characters (so yeah, that’s a bit of a spoiler I guess).

Third, this story helped me to give him his own personality, backstory (which this story is) and unique abilities, rather than the generic expy of a vampire he was when I started writing in college. Now he has a really interesting take, I believe, on the ‘demon’ inside as weapon and means of protection. And he has as well a personality, several lost memories and a proper backstory, key ingredients for a good character I think. Even if he falls into the ‘broody’ side.

Joshua, the main character of ‘Buried Sins’, is a man with blurred memories. He doesn’t know when he was born or who he was before he was used in experiments that make him the ‘monster’ he thinks he is. But he does know where he was born and the dangers lurking in a buried city full of nasty things. And he has to return there if he wants to save a friend of his, coaxed by unsavory people, even if that means unearthing the sins that are hidden within the thing that makes him a monster.

And finally and fourth: this is the first story where I truly explore, in a subtle way my battles with depression. I’m by no means an expert on depression. I can only talk about my own struggles with it since I was a teenager.

I started writing as a mean to deal with my depression. It was my way to explore and deal with many of those feelings in a healthier way.  Depression, contrary to what many people believe, never truly goes away. It lurks, buried deep down in your psyche, waiting for the proper moment to spring a flood of memories, regrets, and anxieties to hit you back. It is the ‘beast’ that you learn to live with. Pretty much like Joshua.

Nowadays, thanks to my wife, a support network of friends and family, writing and some therapy back in the day I’m feeling a bit better these days. That doesn’t mean I don’t get depressed (and with the current status of the world no one could blame anyone for getting depressed and anxious), but now at least I have options to deal with it. Joshua is on his way to start that path and that experience in this story will color his interactions with one of the main characters of Tempest Blades that is going under his own struggles with depression.

So as you can see, this is a very personal story for me and I’m glad I have the chance to get it out into the wider world. I truly hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed it writing it. And if you think about it, it is a sample of what you can expect from my novel once I get the chance to publish it.

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P.S: If you want the full experience when you read it, I recommend listening ‘Hurt’ by Johny Cash for three-quarters of the story and the Theme of One Punch Man during the finale. Yes, it’s quite the mood whiplash, but I like the combo because it ends on a more hopeful note than intended. Joshua, like any of us that suffer from regrets, is a person in search of redemption. The story is just the first part of that journey.

Big news! A new paperback in town. 


Inklings Press, the writers’ collective were my shorts stories are appearing in anthologies is finally releasing the first two,  Tales of the Tavern & Tales from the Mist,  fantasy & horror respectively, as a single paperback & ebook under the KDP system at Amazon. It will cost  $8.99 and will feature 10 stories, five for each genre. It was decided to create one book out of two smaller anthologies due the size.
My stories featured there are:

“Silver Horn”: a young man has a simple mission that takes a somewhat humorous bent. I wrote that story when I was in college and *shameless plug* won 1st place at a contest.

“Bone Peyote”: cosmic horror in the venue of Cthulhu Mythos, but taking place in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead. There is a reason you don’t mix hallucinating drugs, forbidden rituals and a  celebration when the dead come to visit in a country that had strange gods.

You can buy the paperback already here.

I already ordered my copies. Yes, plural. Have you? If not, stop reading and go to buy it now.