Short Side Note: One of my favorite short creations is definitely “A Forest Only Whispers.” I wanted to step out of my comfort zone by writing about characters who weren’t over-the-top heroes. So, I decided to focus on an all female characters story with a sprinkle of grounded supernatural events. The results are fantastic and I hope you enjoy. Check out the dark fiction tale on Amazon and Amazon Prime.
“A shy, brainy witch celebrates Mabon with her coven, hoping to forget a lost lover, but a forest visitor comes forth, offering a chance at redemption for a price.
The romantic witchcraft story, A Forest Only Whispers, is about Melissa, a contemporary witch who lives with her mother and Nanny in a charming New England village.
Years ago, her high school boyfriend, Rían, disappeared in the nearby woods, and since then, Melissa has never been the same. Now a college student, she spends time with her family, the O’Phelans, her coven sisters, and best friend, Hellwise.
The story starts with a simplistic family tradition–baking Nine Maidens Pie–during the Autumn Equinox. The reader learns Melissa is sneaking off to join her sisters in praise. As the plot continues, she joins her modern-day coven and goes into the legendary Limingdover Woods, where Rían disappeared.”
I love college. Each day, your future unfolds before you, possibilities limitless. Luckily, I have the privilege of going back, in a way, by being part of another amazing future writer’s thesis. Check out the latest interview I did for an amazing grad student, whose works are bound to be in the New York Times soon.
How did you get your start in writing?
Every author gets struck by lightning. Sometimes, experiences inspire them to write a novel, or a book awakens ideas for a fictional world like none have seen before. It’s a point of no return when you capture that ethereal voice living in your mind’s wilds and force it on an intramundane stage. You need courage in order to take that first step, and for me, torpidity inspired my fervor.
My parents were blue collar artists who raised my sister and me in a one-hundred-year-old house in an industrial part of Chicago. I read Halloween books and comics throughout my middle childhood, which roused my own editions of horror pamphlets and graphic novels. In my early adolescence, that muse came alive in written roleplaying adventures I shared with friends. Then, at eighteen, it all flipped upside-down when my father died.
My hero, and artistic cheerleader, left before I knew what to do with my shaken soda bottle of imagination. For five years I wandered in a gray world, choosing a practical major and stable corporate career while writing on the side as a hobby. Until I met a young actress who was all the things I remembered about myself. She was a fantastic performer with a thirst for art, story, and most importantly, the future. I was a love-sick swain for her, and with her encouragement, I dusted off my stories and took that first bold step forward. I changed my college major, learned about how the literary world operates, and unleashed a wildfire of manuscripts and short stories. Fifteen years later, and I’ve worked with over thirty publishers to create five award-winning novels, twenty novellas, short stories, and columns. Oh, and that young actress? She married me, then took the next courageous steps to follower her own new dream. She’s a board certified pediatrician now.
What was your motivation behind wanting to write?
There is an elephantine steel door hidden in the recesses of my brain. Only I know how to reach it. As I stumble through the day-to-day, experiencing fascinating people, places, and stories, I kidnap them at pencil point, forcing them into my mental depository. Then, when my mind wanders as it often does, I enter the safe place and gather them up for stories I’d like to hear. I put them on paper, hoping that the hidden treasures who influenced me will be as entertaining for readers as they were for me. And when it is; when readers claim my work was a great story, it inspires me to take the key to the steel door where I use life’s magnificence to tell more yarns.
Which authors inspire you the most when it comes to your style of writing?
The funny things about a writing style is that artists of other mediums have just as much say as authors. The pantheon of afflatus comprises classics like Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, besides contemporary writers like Andrew Smith, Erin Morgenstern, Neil Gaiman, Maggie Stiefvater, Christopher Moore, and Jim Butcher. However, there’s other artists, musicians and filmmakers, who have just as much influence over my work as my book gods. Tom Waits, Florence Welch, Andrew Bird, Tim Burton, Ava Marie DuVernay, and Jim Henson saturate my style with the fantastic art they’ve created through the decades.
What is your main goal when it comes to your stories? Do you want to solely entertain, educate, or something else?
The goal is all the above, and yet none of the above. You build plots hoping they’ll be just as entertaining for the reader as they are you, with educative facts and life lessons filled between. When I’ve typed The End, and I sent the story out to through the publishing world, I don’t tell people what I want them to get out of the pages. It’s no longer my tale. It’s the reader’s story. What a reader gets out of the work, whether it’s heartbreak or basic andragogy, is their choice, and to me, that’s one of the most beautiful things about books. What I’ve read in my past, and what stays with me, may not have been the author’s intent, but it’s very real, and very important to my life.
Who is your general target audience with your stories? Why did you choose your target audience as opposed to another one?
I’ve said it years ago, and the sentiment still endures. Book elitists and academic reviewers are a fantastic type of reader, but I inspire to write about the wonderful critical thinkers living common lives. They’re who I yearn to connect with. I daydream about an ironworker perched on their lunchbox flipping through one of my novels, a teacher reading one of my short stories during coffee break, or a mortician with a copy of A Dead End Job in their lower desk drawer. Why? Because that’s who I think am. I’m an ordinary guy, who’s also a mental escape artist, leaping from reality in order to weave curious tales from the world before me. We’re out there, everywhere, from line cook to librarian, spicing up the everyday with our thoughts.
📚READERSHIP SALE: 💀 Limited Time Discount on Amazon and B&N. Publisher’s Weekly Review: “Alcala (Consumed) takes readers on a humorous romp through modern-day Chicago’s realm of the undead when workaholic Death hires a hitman to sub for him while he takes a vacation. Wounded army vet Buchanan Palasinski, abused as a child and mourning the death of his girlfriend, is desperate enough to kill people for money. But when his latest mark takes him out instead, Buck comes face-to-face with Death and Death’s IT guy, Jumbo. Jumbo’s elaborate computer program handles routine deaths, but Death needs someone to hunt down those who try to cheat their fate while he’s away. After Buck successfully dispatches singer Zombie Pete, who steals souls through his guitar, with Death’s powerful scythe—which transforms into a sniper rifle in Buck’s hands—Buck’s next target is famed gangster John Dillinger, who supposedly died in 1934 but lingers as a vampire. Buck recognizes Dillinger as the mark who killed him, but when he confronts Dillinger, he’s in for a shocking discovery. Alcala cultivates Chicago’s dark underbelly, revealing an abundance of obstacles and adversaries, among them a warlock, a doppelgänger, and Frankenstein’s Monster. Readers will merrily breeze through this twisty tale, cheering for droll Buck to rise above the danger. This proves a rewarding adventure for fans of urban paranormal.”
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a big fan of written word. Blessed are the readers. It also means you likely know what’s going in Ukraine. It’s ugly. It’s wrong. It likely stirs difficult emotions. We all work through the jarring daily reports in our own ways, but early studies show that most people feel a form of helplessness. But what if I told you that the reader is one of the most important champions in this war? That’s right, you the reader can make a compelling difference in this attack on Ukraine.
The first casualty of war is truth is a quote credited to Senator Hiram Waren Johnson in 1917 (nerd fact: There are different forms of this quote since the ancient Greeks). The quote’s essence is simple, without a community’s support, wars cannot be fought and won. Facts are sacrificed in order to garner advocacy for conflict. No where is this more true than Russia’s complete media shut down to outsiders in order to feed propaganda without an opposing view. Russian citizens are fed disinformation so its leadership can continue their antiquated crusade to conquer land and people.
But wait, aren’t we all being fed subjective information? Yes.
Here’s the difference, experienced readers who aren’t trapped in Russia’s information blockade are blessed with a divine talent to separate authenticity from agitprop. They’ve spent decades reading novels, columns, blogs and other forms of written word, and have mastered a writer’s motivation. A veteran reader can point out when a writer is penning earnest details and when they are manipulating specifics. A trained reader goes over multiple reports on the same subject matter from opposing viewpoints and then piece together the bottom line— be it political opposition or adverse countries. But, there’s one step that these marvelous readers like you forget to do in order to consummate their efforts for truth, and that’s to share it.
Participating in refined data sharing, that which only states the facts, creates a global chronicle to assist other readers sift through conflicting views. Be it on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., this powerful step by experienced readers who’ve sifted through columns and posts aids others troubled by contradictory viewpoints decipher truth from fiction. The communication should have a simple mission, to fend off personal opinions and communicate accurate notes, materials, and testimony. If we as readers can help cleanse disinformation from truth, it will clump together factual narrative for the grander audience. So please, if you can’t donate, set the facts straight. You the reader are one of the most powerful sources of helping truth surface.
The illusion of success is that it came overnight. It’s easy to understand why. Who doesn’t like to think that one great idea, or one focused effort, can make our dreams come true? As a culture, we glorify the rags to riches story. We celebrate athletes, businesses, and stars that seem to come out of nowhere and take the world by storm. But while these cases arise, the prevalent success story comes from grit, endurance, and a desire to develop.
One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, once told a story on his Masterclass session about a timeworn work that still lives in his attic to this day. He described how he dusted off the manuscript one day, read it, and then shoved it back into the attic where it belonged. Gaiman implicated that the book left a lot to be desired, but reading it again gave him peace of mind. It helped him realize that his voice was there, but his craft still needed work. He gathered the tenacity and withstood, growing with each published project, which would accumulate into his vast extension of accomplishments that today makes him a world esteemed storyteller.
Writers live off of the hunger that our next work is going to be the big one. If you want to survive in the publishing market, that’s the attitude you need to have. However, like a set of ascending stairs, each project, if it gains an ameliorated quality, brings you closer to your aspirations. Set goals, expectations, and add a bit of a dream to the equation, and your next title will be a success whether it upgrades you to a larger publisher, gets you that agent you’ve been drooling over, or it turns into a New York Times Best Seller. Still don’t believe me? Just look at these stats.
According to a study by writer, Joseph Epstein, 81% of Americans feel they have a book in them and should write it. That’s 200 million aspiring authors. 97% of people who write never finish their book. So, for every thousand people, thirty complete the task. Then there’s the demanding job of being published. A report taken from Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Surveys states that of those survivors who wrote a book, only 13.4% earn a traditional publishing contract. Even after that, according to Quora Digest, the odds of being able to make a living as a writer are 1 in 10,000, but that likely means you’re also writing as a journalist, freelancer, etc., besides books. If you want to become a household name, at least in your genre, odds of that happening are 1 in 100,000.
Given these proximate numbers, it’s clear that defying the odds and transforming into a success overnight, no matter how good your work might be, is unlikely. An author might set themselves up for failure by placing all their hopes on one work. Rather, they should feel assured knowing they’re determined to push forward with a new marvelous project, inching towards the top with every improved manuscript. The more monumental projects you put out into the world, the stronger the odds grow. After all, the illusion of success is that it comes overnight, but it’s the plural form of the word “overnight” that gets a writer where they want to go in their career.
Looking for an amazing, original URB Fantasy?
Fans of Terry Pratchett and Shane Kuhn’s THE INTERN’S HANDBOOK will love this noir supernatural thriller.
Death needs a vacation. Badly. But there’s a catch: There are people who cheat the system, always falling through the cracks and not dying like they’re supposed to. Who’s going to take care of them while Death’s sipping on sangria?
The answer is simple: Death needs an intern, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that one prospect, Buck Palasinksia-a bankrupt hitman with a roleplaying addiction-might have what it takes. While scoping out his next target, Buck gets drilled in the forehead by a bullet and falls right into Death’s lap.
If they shove him back into his body, he’ll have a few weeks to prove that he has what it takes to be Death’s right-hand.
All he has to do is take out Public Enemy No. 1, John Dillinger, and quit smoking.