Monday, December 31, 2012

A Busy Year

As I type this, we're in the last hour of 2012 and I'm looking back at the work I've had published in the past year. It's been a productive year and I'm pretty happy with what I've managed to get done. Here's a recap of the books containing my work that became available over the past 12 months.

The second Hound-Dog Harker story, "Hyde and Seek" appeared in DR. WATSON'S AMERICAN ADVENTURE (Airship 27 Productions)

My first young adult story, "A Kiss on the Threshold," was in PROM DATES TO DIE FOR (Buzz Books)

My vampire novel, "100,000 MIDNIGHTS" was released by Musa Publishing

The first volume of JUNGLE TALES (Airship 27 Productions) finally came out and included my story, "The Path of Life and Death."

My first published science fiction story, "One Last Shot at Glory" appeared in the anthology of military-themed science fiction BATTLESPACE.

I returned to writing the Black Bat in "Unholy Terror," in BLACK BAT MYSTERY Volume 2 (Airship 27 Productions)

I did my second young adult story of the year, "Spectral Media" in SOMETHING WICKED (Buzz Books)

And my hockey player turned detective, Lt. Marcel Picard, returned in "Lieutenant Picard and the Holy Grail" in PRO SE PRESENTS # 15 and received some truly awesome reviews!

It's been a great year for me and I'd like to thank all my editors and publishers, the writers who contributed work to the anthologies and magazines my work appeared in, everyone who wrote reviews of my work, and especially everyone who bought and read any of my stories!

Happy New Year to you all!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Break Time!

My first published story came out back in early 2009 in the Airship 27 Productions anthology SHERLOCK HOLMES CONSULTING DETECTIVE Volume 1. Since then, I've been on fire with the desire...or the keep writing. I think I've done pretty well so far, with 26 published stories out there. I've made it a point to write every single day during that time, usually doing 1,000 words a day and only not working if I was too sick to do anything at all (which rarely happens) or taking one, and only one, day off after finishing a big project like a novel. Of course, I've been working a day job too.

Lately, I'm tired. Between pumping out as much work as possible, working a lot of hours at the day job (which gets much busier around the holidays), I'm feeling burned out. My wife reminded me, the other day, that I'm not a robot!

The idea of not writing, even if it's only for a short time, has often made me feel guilty or lazy. After all, being a writer is not just what I do, it's a big part of who I am and  it makes me feel valid and useful and keeps me interacting with people since I have a tendency to become a bit of a hermit otherwise.

But, as I said, I'm tired. Looking at what I've done in just the past year makes me a little less guilty. In 2013, I'll have at least 2 novels coming out, maybe as many as 4 if certain things fall into place. I also have a handful of short stories coming out in various places over the next few months and 3 more that have been sent off and will hopefully be accepted. I don't think I have much to be guilty about!

So, I'm taking a little vacation from writing. Maybe a few weeks, maybe a month. I don't know how long yet. I just need to recharge, rest, let my enthusiasm and energy come back. I intend to reread some old favorite books, the ones that shaped my imagination to begin with. I plan to attack the pile of new books I've been meaning to get to. I'll still be jotting down notes and ideas. I never get writer's block. Stories are always forming in my mind. I can't stop that from happening and I wouldn't want to.

Those of you who run blogs to which I contribute, don't worry about that; you'll still be getting the work I'm scheduled to deliver. But I need to take a short rest from writing stories. A break will, hopefully, make the work I do when I get back even better than what I've done before.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Winter's Tale

I can't believe it's December already. This year has flown by. As winter approaches, I've been asked to participate in another blogging event presented by Buzz Books, publisher of the two Young Adult anthologies that included my work in 2012, Prom Dates to Die For and Something Wicked.

First, the details of the Buzz Books blog tour and what they're offering readers for the holidays. Then, at the end of today's blog, a free short story with a Science Fiction Christmas theme, written by me.

To celebrate the holiday reading season, Buzz Books invites you to come along for a Sleigh Read. Get any Buzz Book (paperback or ebook) and we’ll gift you or someone you choose an ebook from our list (of equal or lesser value). Send your receipt of purchase to buzzbooksusa (at) me (dot) com and let us know which title you’d like gifted, the e-mail address to send it to, and nook or Kindle version.
Bloggers and authors will be featuring holiday posts and reviews from today through Dec. 31st. See the tour below and stop by those sites for a chance to win an ebook.
Thanks for celebrating stories with Buzz Books this year! We love our authors and readers.

Sleigh Read Tour Stops:
F Nov. 23rd: Author Malena Lott |
M Nov. 26th: Mom in a Minivan
W Nov. 28th: Author Dani Stone |
Th Nov. 29th: Earthbound Books
Sa Dec. 1st: Author Peggy Chambers |
Tu Dec. 4th: Fiction State of Mind
W Dec. 5th: Blogger Julie Barrett
T Dec. 6th: Author Heather Davis, TMI Mom
F Dec. 7th: Bookgasm guest post by Lucie Smoker
Su Dec. 9th: Author Aaron Smith – free holiday story
Th Dec. 13th: Author Jennifer McMurrain reviews Next Left
Fr Dec. 14th: Fantasy’s Ink guest post by Heather Dearly
W Dec. 19th: Chick Lit is Not Dead featuring Something New
Th Dec. 20th: Chick Lit is Not Dead featuring Next Left
F Dec. 21st: Chick Lit is Not Dead featuring Sleigh Ride

And the free, very short story:

                                                            By Aaron Smith                     

The scientists enter the Terran realm. There are many of them and they all coordinate at the same time in each cycle. For three-hundred and sixty-four trips around the local sun they have watched. On the three-hundred and sixty-fifth night, they enter the targeted space and begin their work. It is the small ones that interest them the most, for they prefer to study the Terrans in their purest forms, before the prejudices of age and experience wipe away the ability to think freely and imagine and perceive without assumption. 
            The point where it is easiest to open the wormhole is at the northernmost part of the planet. From there they emerge and divide the world into pre-assigned regions and the gathering of data begins, just as it has once every Earth-year for centuries. The portal opens and the mighty Quantum Steeds, animals specially bred for survival in the turbulent time-space jumps, carry their masters into the atmosphere.  
            The timing of the work to coincide with the Terrans’ observation of the celebration of their mythology has worked well, for it has been known to happen, on rare occasions, that one of the small test subjects wakes during the visitation and catches a glimpse of the scientist. One of the convenient aspects of the specific way in which the Terran mind works is that it interprets information in the way it most expects to be correct, often cancelling out the true nature of its perceptions.  The specimen’s momentary fright will soon turn to an expression of delight as it mistakes the intruder for a figure it longs to behold. The small ones sometimes tell their older counterparts of the sightings, but the adult Terrans dismiss the reports as imaginings.    
            The scientists travel quickly through the dark hours of the Terran cycle. Because time works differently on their kind and its technology, they cover more area than the native species of the world would be capable of. Their equipment is specifically designed for the mission. They clothe themselves in scarlet protective suits to withstand the things in the atmosphere that would otherwise poison them. Sensory tentacles protrude from the upper front region of the suits, pulling information into the portable data banks, recording both positive and negative readings about the behavior and personalities of those whose lives they analyze. The results are always double-checked.
            The scientists are not without the ability to appreciate irony and humor. Some among them are amused that what the Terrans usually imagine extraterrestrial intelligences to be like is so inaccurate, for the scientists are not green or gray and do not bear antennae.  Yet, at the same time, obese elderly males wear attire designed to imitate the protective suits and sensory tentacles and stand on the intersections of travel routes requesting currency to be dropped into metal receptacles to purchase nutrients for those without such resources.
            There are some among the scientists who wonder if their influence, unintentional of course, on the symbolism of the Terran society, has polluted the civilization they have worked so hard to study.                    

Sticks and Skates, Bullets and Brains

As most of you already know, I entered the world of writing via the genre known as New Pulp. I got my start writing previously established characters like the Black Bat, Sherlock Holmes, and Ki-Gor the Jungle Lord. I've also been lucky enough to work for several editors who have encouraged me to create my own pulp characters. There are three of my characters that have found prominent places in New Pulp publications. There's Quincy "Hound-Dog Harker," who began as a baby mentioned on the last page of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, and who I now occasionally write in his adult version as an agent of the British Secret Service in the 1930s. There's the Red Veil, my pulp-era female vigilante.

But the character of mine who seems to have caught the most positive attention from New Pulp readers is my modern day detective, Lieutenant Marcel Picard, a professional hockey player turned police investigator. Last week marked the publication of the third Picard story, "Lieutenant Picard and the Holy Grail," which appears in the magazine Pro Se Presents #15. This book is now available on Amazon in a Kindle edition or a print edition. Here are the links, for those interested in buying a copy:

   For Kindle:

In print:

On today's blog, I thought I'd explain how Lt. Picard came into existence.
A few years ago, I was eating dinner in a local Italian restaurant. The tables were pretty close together and I couldn't help overhearing the conversation across from us. A man in his late twenties was with his girlfriend. He was wearing a New York Rangers jersey and discussing his decision to stop playing in an amateur hockey league. It seems there had been an incident in which another player's skate had come dangerously close to slicing his face. He sat there telling his companion that he no loonger felt the risk of injury was worth the fun of the game.
This got me thinking about a similar situation in which such a decision would have more drastic consequences than a man simply giving up a hobby. At that moment, the beginning of Picard occurred.

Marcel Picard was a highly succesful hockey star, a high-scoring forward for the New Jersey Devils. In his case, about a decade into his playing career, an opposing player's skate did strike him, leaving a scar down the right side of his face. Picard retired early and joined the Sheriff's Department in Passaic County New Jersey, deciding to do something with more meaning than playing a game for a living. His decision is based in part on an incident in his childhood in Canada in which he figured out the identity of a local murderer before the police could.

I chose Passaic County as Picard's area of operations for two reasons. First, I grew up in Passaic County and still live there. The cities and towns that appear in the Picard stories: Paterson, Wayne, Butler, Woodland Park, West Milford, etc. are places I've lived in, worked in, or visited over the course of my life. Second, it's a county with a lot of variety. Paterson is a big city, once thriving but now decaying. West Milford is about as rural as it gets in New Jersey. And there are towns of every sort in between.

A few people have asked me why I chose to have Picard be a former New Jersey Devils player since I've actually been  a New York Rangers fan my whole life. The simple answer is that I know too much about the Rangers and I think I'd be too tempted to add too much Ranger-centric trivia to my stories! The Devils are the other local team and I know enough about them to use them if I must but not enough to let my passion for them interfere with the flow of the stories.

So that's how Picard came into being. As for the actual stories, each one started in a different way. The first one, "The Day He Found the Clown," had the weirdest beginning, sparked by a chance moment of coincidence. I was trying to come up with a story for Picard's first case when I picked up the telephone directory, the first edition we got after moving into our then-new house. I opened it to a random page and was amazed to see listed, as if it was a real last and first name, "Giggles, Mister"
When I was a kid in elementary school, every Halloween all the students from the first through third grades would be herded into the auditorium and forced to sit through a performance by an annoying clown called Mister Giggles. I couldn't stand him, although the other kids seemed to like him.
And that set the story into motion. I took my own childhood memories, changed Mister Giggles to Mister Chuckles, and increased my annoyance at the clown to the story's villain's extreme hatred for the clown.
That first Picard story was published in the magazine Masked Gun Mystery #1.

In Masked Gun Mystery #2, the second Picard story appeared, "Clean-up in Aisle Six." This is a murder mystery set in a supermarket, something that was quite easy for me to write because I've spent many years working in that industry. That issue of Masked Gun was also very special to me because the cover (which represented a story by my friend Barry Reese) was drawn by artist Norm Breyfogle, who was illustrating Batman comics when I was growing up! That issue is available on Amazon at

So, as I said in the beginning of today's blog, the newst Picard story is now out and the response to it has been great! Three reviews have appared so far and all three have said some very, very good things about "Lieutenant Picard and the Holy Grail." Here's an excerpt from one of those reveiws:

 "Next up is another modern day mystery featuring ex-NHLer and full-time cop, Marcel Picard in LIEUTENANT PICARD AND THE HOLY GRAIL by Aaron Smith. This is not my first Picard mystery but it is by far the best and my favorite tale in the collection. The Stanley Cup has been stolen and it's up to Picard to get it back. No spoilers here, you'll have to read the tale yourself. The pace is great, the tone cerebral before the action really begins to heat up. The tale reads as if it's much longer and that's a good thing here as it covers a lot of ground in a relatively short space. Picard can play on my team any time. This one is a winner."

The other two reviews were just as good and I'm thrilled by the reaction to this story. There will be more Picard stories in the future. I have a good idea for the next one now and I'm hoping to collect them all in one volume at some point.

One of the great things about writing is how stories can be triggered at the most unexpected moments. If I hadn't gone to that restaurant on that night and sat at that table next to those people, Picard would not have been born and I'd have missed out on a great opportunity. 

To end today's blog, I'd like to thank Tommy Hancock, head editor of Pro Se Productions, for publishing the Picard stories and always encouraging me to work on the next one.