• Book Review – Where the Woods Grow Wild

    Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Woods-Grow-Wild-Philbrick-ebook/dp/B01N2K4SMR/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1485489362&sr=8-1

    A forest looms over Bardun Village. Nobody goes in. Nothing comes out. The secrets in the oaks remain hidden until a mischievous escapade thrusts Martin and Elodie behind the silent trees. Separated and lost in a tangle of fantasy, they discover more than animals roam where the woods grow wild.

    “Is he dangerous when he’s mad?” Martin asked.
    “That all depends on how you feel about getting turned into a tree.”

    This is just one of the many lines that had me laughing out loud as I read Nate Philbrick’s latest fantasy novel. It was quotes like these, posted on his Twitter feed in the days before the book’s release, that made me eager to read it in the first place. When the launch date finally arrived, I was not disappointed.

    Where the Woods Grow Wild is a story about two kids getting lost in the woods, and the various unusual creatures and people they encounter there. The formula is a time-honored one, but the plot, characterization, and storyworld are wholly unique. Nothing happens quite the way you expect it to. I won’t spoil any plot twists, but suffice it to say there are a lot of them. The whole book is infused with a delightful, whimsical tone in the vein of “Over the Garden Wall” – though that’s not to say there aren’t dark moments as well. Mr. Philbrick handles both the light-hearted and serious elements with equal skill. The protagonists are all likable and realistic, with believable reactions to the predicaments they find themselves in. The most refreshing aspect of the story was Martin and Elodie’s relationship. It’s taken as read from the beginning that they’re in love, and while their relationship is tested by the story’s events, their interactions never become maudlin. They’re best friends just as much as they are boyfriend and girlfriend. I found myself cheering for Elodie in particular as she braved all manner of setbacks in order to rescue Martin from an unthinkable fate. (Elodie is awesome. And by the end of the story, she’s even more awesome.)

    I’m very pleased this charming book is the first in a series, as I began missing its characters the moment I finished it. Buy it today. You won’t regret it.

  • Beaumont and Beasley Announcements!

    I want to thank everyone who has responded so positively to the launch of Book 1 in the Beaumont and Beasley series, The Beast of Talesend. I'm thrilled that people have enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to sharing more stories in this universe.

    So, without further ado, it's time for some announcements!

    The world of the Beaumont and Beasley series is big. Really big. Pretty much every classic public domain work of fiction is real there, and the consequences of all those stories have played out and mixed together to form a rich, intricate universe. As a result, there are a lot of new stories to tell – some about the characters and settings introduced in The Beast of Talesend, and some about completely different people and places.

    Today, I'm happy to announce two spin-off series of short stories which will interweave with the core Beaumont and Beasley series, expanding on the world-building details the main books introduce. The first of these series, Tales of the Afterlands, will delve into the history of Nick and Cordelia's world by retelling old stories in new, sometimes surprising ways. These works will serve as prequels to the Beaumont and Beasley books. For example, the first installment is set hundreds of years before The Beast of Talesend, and describes crucial events that lead up to that story:

    Tales of the Afterlands, Episode 1:

    The War of the Three Bears

    Pippa Devereux has three main goals in life. First, to get people to stop calling her "Goldilocks." Second, to avoid getting turned into anything by the evil fairy Ariane. Third, to keep from starving to death. Even if it means eating some very cold porridge she finds in a seemingly abandoned cottage in the woods.

    However, someone stops her before she can take a bite – a bear. A talking bear named Benno. Who says he used to be human, and begs for her help to save his family from a terrible curse.

    Pippa usually doesn't help people, and she definitely doesn't help bears. But thanks to the intervention of a conscience she never knew she had, she ends up reluctantly using her skills in thievery to steal from Ariane herself.

    But the fairy is not ready to relinquish her hold on Pippa's land, and her dark schemes are more far-reaching than anyone realizes.

    Goldilocks is about to start a war…

    The second spin-off is called The Adventures of Crispin Beasley, and will revolve around the escapades of Nick's younger brother. The events of The Beast of Talesend have left Beasley Investigations without a detective. This series seeks to answer the question, "Can Crispin manage to fill Nick's shoes now that Nick isn't capable of wearing shoes?" The first story ties up some loose ends from The Beast of Talesend and gives Crispin a new and rather unusual sidekick.

    The Adventures of Crispin Beasley, Episode 1:

    Crispin Beasley and the Waters of Yesterday

    Crispin Beasley has only ever had one lesson in magic. Despite this, he's pretty sure he's ready to use his powers as the new face of Beasley Investigations, defending the city of Talesend from the forces of magic and mayhem.

    His brother Nick, however, disagrees. And given that Nick is eight feet tall with very large fangs and claws at the moment, challenging his opinion is not the wisest choice.

    However, when a plan by Nick's new partner Cordelia to restore his humanity goes horribly wrong, Crispin finds himself Talesend's sole defender against a surprising and formidable enemy.

    Fortunately, he does have one ally.

    She calls herself Death…

    And finally, here's the synopsis for Book 2 in the Beaumont and Beasley series:

    The Stroke of Eleven

    The Palace of Basile is not haunted by ghosts. It is a ghost – drifting through space and time, appearing at random, and leaving unexplained disappearances in its wake.

    Nick Beasley and Lady Cordelia Beaumont have some experience with mysterious, dangerous castles. However, they have no interest in investigating Basile. After all, it's got nothing to do with their ongoing quest to turn Nick from a monster back into a man.

    But when an ancient and powerful society called the Nevercircle takes Nick and Cordelia prisoner, they are plunged into the mystery of Basile against their will. They find themselves honored guests at a most unusual dance, along with various other investigators of magical phenomena – most of whom really ought to be dead by now.

    Before long, Nick and Cordelia discover a terrible truth behind the tale of Cinderella. A truth which threatens to tear time itself apart and destroy the Afterlands completely.

    Because in the Palace of Basile, midnight never comes…

    These synopses are subject to change as I finalize some plot details. Watch this space for more announcements in the coming weeks, including release dates, cover reveals, and additional story teases. Thanks for reading!

  • How To Make An Ugly Bullet Journal

    The bullet journal: a simple, adaptable system that helps you to manage your time and your to-do list.

    Sounds nice and friendly, right? And yet, when you google how to actually engage in bullet journaling, you are immediately presented with approximately 16 kaskillion pictures of elaborate, color-coded notebooks that look as if they were designed by Rembrandt. You’re also bombarded with a lot of unnerving terminology – “future log,” “collections,” “signifiers,” etc. A few minutes of skimming pages like these can easily throw you off the whole idea of creating a bullet journal.

    Author’s Note: I’m not knocking people who take the time and effort to make artistic-looking bullet journals; so there’s no need to send me angry letters written in breathtaking calligraphy and framed in washi tape. However, I think it’s important that people feel free to make ugly bullet journals. The bullet journal system really is a fantastic productivity tool, but some people can use it more effectively when they don’t set out to make it look nice.

    So, without further ado, here’s The Ugly Bullet Journal Method (patent pending). Oh, and just so you know, the abbreviation of “bullet journal” is “BuJo.” Sounds ridiculous, but it saves wear and tear on the vocal apparatus.

    Step 1: The notebook.

    img_0054You can turn any notebook into a bullet journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. That being said, some notebooks have design features that make bullet journaling easier. The best one is the Leuchtturm1917. You don’t have to bother learning how to proununce that, but if you’re interested, it’s LOY-schss-ttt-oyyym-NYNE-tien-seh-vahn-TIENN. The useful thing about this one, from a BuJo perspective, is that it’s got a ready-made index and numbered pages. These things are important elements of the BuJo system, so it’s more convenient to not have to make them from scratch. The Leuchtturm comes in lined and dotted editions. Dotted is better if you want to sketch or do other creative stuff in your journal, but lined works just as well.

    You’ve got two choices of vendors for the Leuchtturm – Amazon and BulletJournal.com. If you buy from the official BuJo website, you get a black or green notebook with “Bullet Journal” embossed across the front and with a guide to the BuJo method printed inside. This model also has three bookmark ribbons, unlike the regular Leuchtturm, which only has two. This version costs $25.

    The extra bookmark, however, is the only really thing the “official” notebook has going for it. I’ve deviated from the original method extensively, so I don’t need the guide, and neither will you if you use my method. Also, the store on bulletjournal.com seems to run out of notebooks pretty often – as of today, they’re out of stock again. Amazon, meanwhile, offers a more standard Leuchtturm for $20, in a variety of colors. Like I said, if you don’t want to shell out that kind of money for a notebook, it’s not essential. But the features of the Leuchtturm do make things easier.

    For this post, I’m using photos from my Bullet Journal (one of the officially-branded Leuchtturms) and from a Moleskine cahier notebook. Moleskine cahiers are really too small for bullet journaling, but I’m using one as a prop because if I show pictures of everything in my Leuchtturm, you’ll see spoilers for the Beaumont and Beasley series. Trust me, you don’t want that. 🙂

    Step 2: The key.

    The key is a list of “signifiers” – which are the little symbols you’ll use in your bullet journal to mark tasks.

    img_0049In the photo, you’ll see the signifiers from the official method plus two more I added myself. These symbols are really just a dot with lines drawn through it in different ways. When you create a task for your to-do list in the BuJo, you draw a dot and write the task name next to it. Then, later on, you draw lines through that dot to turn it into another symbol depending on whether the task is completed, postponed, canceled, etc.

    If you draw an “X” through the dot, that means the task is completed.

    If you turn it into a forward-pointing arrow (>) the task is “migrated” (postponed until tomorrow).

    If you cross out the task, it’s canceled.

    And those are really all the symbols you need for bullet journaling. Of course, there are others in the photo, but the only one of those I really use is the “note” symbol. If you draw a line instead of a dot, that signifies a note-to-self rather than a task that needs to be done. Some people draw a circle for events, but I usually just do dots and think of them as tasks (what else can you call a dentist appointment, after all?). You can draw an asterisk next to the bullets tasks that are high-priority if you find it helpful. “Explore” (an eye next to the bullet) is for things you want to research further later on, and “inspiration” can be used to designate new ideas. None of these are really essential, however.

    You can invent additional signifiers of your own if you want, but I’d advise against having a lot of them. It can make the whole BuJo system get very tiresome very quickly if you’re trying to keep track of an entire alphabet of symbols. It’s better to stick with the most basic ones.

    TL;DR: Use a dot in front of tasks, then turn it into an X if you finished the task or into a > if you postponed it.

    Step 2: The index.

    img_0050If you have a Leuchtturm notebook, this is done for you already. If you’re using a notebook without a built-in index, just leave yourself four or five blank pages at the beginning of the book so you have enough space to make an index from scratch.

    The index works the same way indexes have been working ever since they were invented several million years ago, with one small modification. You’re not always going to know how many pages you’ll need for a given item in your journal, obviously. So when you run out of room, you just continue it further on in the notebook and add an appropriate page reference in the index. Note my entry for “January 2017 Daily”, for example. I reserved pages 6 and 7 for this team, but ran out of space. So I just continued it on page 37 and added that page to the index entry.

    The index may seem excessive when you first start a bullet journal. After all, how hard is it to just flip through the notebook until you find what you need? But I can testify that the journal gets filled with a wide variety of things very quickly, and it’s handy to be able to find a given page without having to hunt for it.

    Also, note that my handwriting is atrocious. This is the Ugly Bullet Journal Method, remember.

    Step 3: The future log.

    img_0051I’ve seen people use the future log in a variety of different ways. I tend to think of it as a “big picture” view of projects I plan to complete over the coming year. I put long-term goals in it for each month, which I’ll break down into smaller pieces as I move on to the monthly and daily lists in my journal.

    Some people add a lot of stuff to their future logs all at once. I don’t, because my life is somewhat unpredictable and I don’t like having to cross out a bunch of stuff because something unexpected threw off my schedule. It’s up to you how much you want to put into this ahead of time. Just think of it as the “top level” of your bullet journal. This is where you make your big plans for the future.

    I recommend reserving about six pages for your future log. You cold break it up into multiple pieces using the indexing method I discussed earlier. However, with this particular item it’s more convenient to have everything in one place, if possible, as it’s a kind of road map for the rest of your bullet journal.

    Step 4: The monthly log.


    This is the area in which I deviate the most from the original BuJo method. Most bullet journalers draw a complete calendar page for their monthly log, with a grid of days. I’ve never found this to be particularly helpful. I tend to plan out my month week by week instead of day by day. Plus, drawing the grid over and over again takes a lot of time and effort. So, what I do is just put down the four weeks in each month and list my weekly goals under each one. My “weeks,” however, are not perfect 7-day periods – you can see that I’ve included the last few days of January as part of Week 4.

    This is the next level down from your future log, where things are more specific. For example, in the future log I put down “Publish Beaumont and Beasley Book 1,” while in the monthly log I’ve got the smaller components of that task, like editing the draft 50,000 times.

    Step 5: The daily log.

    img_0053The daily log is the lowest level of your bullet journal, where all your day-to-day tasks go. It’s also where you’ll be making the most use of all those x’s and >’s. Each morning, you should make a list of your tasks (drawing from the long-term goals in your future and monthly logs), and then review them at the end of the day to see which ones you completed and which ones you had to migrate (put off until tomorrow.

    When it comes to bullet journaling, the daily log is where the magic happens. (Not literal magic, unfortunately, but one can’t have everything.) These pages are what help you keep track of everything you need to do on a given day.

    You may ask, “Why can’t I just use a to-do list app on my phone or tablet to keep track of my stuff? Why go to all this bother?” It’s a sensible question. Here’s my take on it – when I use one of those apps, it’s a lot easier for me to let things slide. It’s a psychological thing. When I can delete an unfulfilled to-do list, making it seem like it never happened, I don’t have as much motivation to get my work done. When my daily planner is an icon on my iPad screen, one that I can easily ignore, I tend to forget it’s there. Programmed reminders and notifications end up becoming annoyances that I turn off. But when I have a physical notebook sitting on my desk, something that can’t be erased, deleted, or switched off, I’m more inspired to use it. It gives me a sense of completion to check off items in pen on a piece of paper, and it encourages me to get on top of things when I have to keep rewriting migrated items day after day.

    Granted, not everyone may agree with me on this. If electronic mediums of task-planning work better for you, that’s great. But I think the psychological factors involved in bullet journaling are helpful for a lot of people who otherwise have trouble keeping up with their work.

    Step 6: Collections.

    Simply put, collections are anything you put in your journal besides logs. They can be brainstorming notes, plot outlines, sketches, exercise plans, and so on. Just stick ’em in and mark down their page numbers in the index.

    And that’s it! Sorry this got lengthy, but I’m hoping it made the bullet journaling process a little less scary for those of you who want to give it a try. If you have any questions, or if you’ve got your own ways of streamlining the BuJo method, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to share in the comments.

  • I’m on Goodreads! Also, have a free book! And cookies!*

    *digital downloadable cookies only, sorry.

    Just a reminder that the 5-day free promotion for The Beast of Talesend starts today! You can download and permanently own the e-book at no cost to your personage if you buy it at any time before January 23. After that, it will go back to the regular price of $2.99, but it will still be available free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
    I’m still working through some technical difficulties with regard to my author page on Amazon, as well as linking the Kindle and paperback versions on the same page. However, I do now have an author page on Goodreads! It’s a little bare at the moment; but you can still connect to me on that site now if you want. I’ll be updating it very soon with more stuff.

  • The Beast of Talesend – Now Available!


    Sorry, that’s the best thing I came up with after hours of thinking about how to phrase this blog post. “Behold, my fiendish creation” was a very close runner-up.

    The Beast of Talesend, Book 1 of the Beaumont and Beasley series, is now available on Amazon! Due to some technical difficulties, the 5-day free promotion will not actually start until tomorrow (January 18). Sorry about that. For the time being, however, if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can still download it for free right now. The Kindle and print editions of the book still need some time to get linked together, so for now they’re on separate pages. You can access the Kindle version here and the paperback version here

    If you like the story and decide to write a favorable review on Amazon, I will be extremely grateful. If you do not like the story and decide to write an unfavorable review, I will hunt you down and banish you to an alternate dimension ruled by vampire aardvarks.
    Okay, I don’t actually know how to do that, so if you write a negative review, I guess I’m just going to have to live with it. Actually, I welcome constructive criticism! (He said, through clenched teeth, with an insincere smile on his face.) Just so long as you write something more substantial than “It sucked,” I will not complain. I know there’s room for improvement in my writing, so if you see an element that needs polishing, feel free to let me know.
    That being said, I am hopeful that you’ll enjoy The Beast of Talesend. I like it, personally, and I’m looking forward to continuing the series. As always, you can follow me on this blog or on Twitter to stay in the loop about my future projects.
    Thanks everyone, and have a great day!

  • Book Launch Announcement!

    All right everyone, here we go…


    I’ve been working on this particular book for roughly a year. However, I recently discovered that I’ve been working on the basic premise for this book for eight years…which made me realize it’s about time I actually got something published.

    And next Tuesday, the 17th of January, it’s finally going to happen.

    For those who haven’t yet visited the Books page on this site, here’s the synopsis for The Beast of Talesend:

    Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago – where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.

    At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.

    The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime boss – who is also Cordelia’s father.

    The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?

    The Beast of Talesend – or “T-BOT,” as I affectionately refer to it around the house – has been through a lot over the past year, as all my incredibly patient beta-readers will attest. But thanks to extensive workshopping with the help of the awesome community on Scribophile, it’s finally ready for publication. (Almost. Hence the one-week wait.)

    The Beast of Talesend is a novella of roughly 40,000 words, and will be sold on Amazon. For the first 5 days after the launch date, it will be available for free as a special promotion. After January 21, the e-book version will be $2.99. A paperback version will be available as well, for $7.99. The book will also be offered for free to subscribers in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.

    Oh, and as this is my first book, all retweets, shares, follows, etc. will be greatly appreciated! I’d like to promote this launch as widely as possible.

    Thanks, and see you next Tuesday!

  • Book Review – The Art of Twitter by Daniel Parsons

    Hello everyone! First off, I want to thank the people who have followed this blog over the past couple of days; I really appreciate it! I’m starting a more regular schedule of blogging in 2017 – one post per week, at least – as part of my efforts to get serious about social media. 

    With that in mind, I’m devoting today’s post to reviewing a book that’s been a big help to me lately – The Art of Twitter, by British novelist Daniel Parsons. Daniel’s been an inspiration to me in his use of Twitter as a marketing and networking tool, so I was very excited when he announced the release of his own guide to the site.

    Simply put, if you’re a creator of any kind, The Art of Twitter is a must-read. It’s designed with a wide range of readers in mind – writers, artists, musicians, etc., so you don’t have to be a writer to get something out of it. Most of what I learned about Twitter was through trial and error, but TAOT de-mystifies the platform by explaining all the relevant Twitter terms and concepts. This is helpful even if you’re not a Twitter noob – I thought I knew a lot about the site, but Parsons alerted me to important things I hadn’t previously been aware of. He explains how Twitter can be a powerful business tool in the right hands, as well as the various mistakes you shouldn’t make with it. I’ve already begun to see significant returns in my own use of Twitter by putting the advice in this book into practice. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    The Art of Twitter is available for $3.99 on Amazon Kindle ($9.99 for the paperback version). Be sure to check out Daniel’s Amazon author page, where you can find his excellent fiction works, as well as his main website at www.danielparsonsbooks.com. Daniel’s own Twitter account can be found at the handle @dkparsonswriter. Following him will add a welcome dash of British humor to your Twitter feed. 🙂

    Oh, and if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, my handle is @KyleRbrtShultz. Thanks!

  • Happy New Year!

    Hope everyone reading this is having a great 2017 so far! As you can see, I’ve redesigned the site in preparation for a new year of blogging and book-selling. I’ll be embarking on a more regular schedule of posting over the coming weeks, and I plan to make some publication-related announcements very soon. Thanks for visiting!