An Unremarkable Writer’s Retirement

As some of you may know, I completed a new sci-fi novel early last year titled Bound by the Sky. It began as Mass Effect fan fiction, but I saw potential in it early on, and scrapped that idea to focus on creating an original IP instead. And I’m so glad I did. I can safely say that it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

Unfortunately, I’ve been unsuccessful in attracting an agent to champion the novel on my behalf. Nearly one hundred agents have passed on it, which is a common experience for every unknown author. There are many reasons why an agent may choose to pass on a book, but it all boils down to one essential truth: they only take on the books they feel confident they can sell.

So, why is my book unsellable in the eyes of a hundred agents? It’s got a good story. Good character development. Good world building. A satisfying conclusion with room to expand the novel into a series. What’s the problem?

At first, I thought it was because the book is too “old school.” In today’s culture, simply having a good story isn’t good enough. It needs to make a statement. Essentially, it needs to be woke. And I think it’s absolutely wonderful that the industry has shifted, because it’s opened the doors for so many talented writers who wouldn’t have had the same opportunities even a few years ago. The #ownvoices movement is long overdue. But where does that leave a sci-fi writer without a political angle? Is my writing style too outdated by today’s standards?

As I pondered these questions, I came to realize that perhaps that wasn’t the reason agents weren’t interested in my book. I recently heard a line of dialogue from a TV show in which the character, an aspiring writer, says, “I don’t worry about being a good writer. I worry about being an unremarkable one.”


That’s it. It clicked the second I heard it. The missing piece to explain why my book hasn’t even gotten a nibble. My writing is good… it’s just not remarkable. Thousands upon thousands of writers submit their latest works every month, and to stand apart takes something truly special. An “X” factor.

I don’t have “it,” and that’s okay. It’s better to know than to continue frustrating myself and agonizing over what I’m doing “wrong.” So, where do I go from here? The way I see it, I have three options:

  1. Accept that I’m unremarkable and keep writing my books anyway.
  2. Accept that I’m unremarkable and devote as much time as I can to studying better writers, absorbing their magical prose and using it to strengthen my own.
  3. Accept that I’m unremarkable and simply walk away, proud of what I’ve accomplished and content.

I’ve decided on option three. Sure, I could continue to write my books, but it requires a lot of time and money, and when I’m writing for an audience of one, it’s hard to justify any longer.

It’s okay. I’m okay. This is not a sad day. I wrote some fucking killer books, and nothing can change that. The reality is that I’m not good enough to make a living from it, and again, that’s okay.

So, what happens to Bound by the Sky? I’m glad you asked! I worked too hard for it to not be set out into the wild, so I’ll be self-publishing it sometime within the next few months. One final adventure before riding off into the sunset.

Before I hang up my writing pen, I want to say a genuine and heartfelt thank you to all the amazing people who have supported my journey over the last ten years. There are far too many people to name, and I’m afraid of leaving anyone out, but you know who you are. If you’ve ever taken the time to read my work, you’re included.

All my love,

~ David

Ghost Stories – Coming Soon

I’ve been quiet for some time now, but that’s not because I haven’t been working. A lot of the time, things are in progress, and I’m not allowed to discuss them until the official announcement goes live. Now is one of those times. I’m beyond thrilled to announce my involvement with an upcoming audio-only anthology, Ghost Stories.

A couple of months ago, Blunder Woman Productions put out a submission call for spine-chilling, spooky campfire stories (more The Woman in Black and less Saw). My good friend Tony Healey encouraged me to go for it, and said that he’d always loved my creepy story, The Starlight Mile. I considered it, but knowing that the story was seven years old, and how much my writing had improved since then, I didn’t have high hopes. That said, the opportunity was too good to pass up, so I ultimately decided to take the challenge.

I sat down with the original draft, and to my dismay (but not my surprise), the writing quality was far scarier than the story itself. A lot of work needed to be done in order to make it submission-worthy, but the deadline was coming up fast.

I took out my literary scalpel (and in some cases, my literary chainsaw) and went straight to work. I cleaned up some clunky sentences here and there, adjusted some unnatural dialogue, and clipped out entire sections that kept the story from moving forward. By the time I was done, I’d cut the story down to around 3,700 words from nearly 6,000!

After reading the newly-edited version, I felt good about it, but needed outside opinions. The feedback I received contained very few notes and high praise. I made a few more tweaks, then sent it off. Two weeks later, I received word that my story had been chosen.

This project is incredibly exciting because it’s audio-only, and I’ve never had my work narrated before. Not only that, but the narrator assigned to my story is Tim Campbell, an award-winning voice artist, and he is legit! Check out his work here.

The anthology is currently without a release date, but it’s coming later this year. Hopefully, in time for Halloween! I’ll keep you posted as more details emerge, but in the meantime, check out the full list of authors and narrators hoping to scare the bejesus out of you come fall:

  • The Clockmaker by Beth Green, narrated by Danielle Cohen
  • Dream In Black Static by Ambrose Ibsen, narrated by Joe Hempel
  • The Family Ghost by Susan C. Hunter, narrated by Holly Palance
  • Geiststurm by M K Gibson, narrated by Kyle Tait
  • Goat by Matt Godfrey, performed by Amy Landon
  • The House by Tanya Eby – Narrator & Writer, narrated by Rhett Samuel Price
  • The Rabbit Hole by Jack Soren, narrated by Hillary Huberr
  • She Is By The Window by Anthony Addis, narrated by Marni Penning Coleman
  • The Starlight Mile by David K. Hulegaard, narrated by Tim Campbelll
  • Wendigo by Molly Coyle, narrated by Lauren Ezzo
  • The Whimsy by Petrea Burchard, narrated by Rachel Jacobs

Nothing but love,

~ David

For Mom

I lost one of my best friends in the world on April 10, 2019, and now a once-bright corner of my heart grows dim. My mother, Kathy, had more capacity for love and empathy than any human being I’ve ever met. Without her in my life anymore, my chest aches in an excruciating and unfamiliar way, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with all this pain. I still can’t believe she’s gone.

Mom was sweet, and kind, and had the most amazing sense of humor. Not only was she funny, but she was the best audience to have around because she would legitimately laugh at even your worst jokes or puns. As intelligent as she was, and believe me, she was, she’d also laugh so hard at a stupid fart joke that she’d snort, which only made her laugh harder, and before you knew it, the whole room would be in tears, laughing with her.

Mom loved many things in life. Among her favorites was her faith, the Beatles, lighthouses, cows, Ghost Adventures, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hallmark movies (especially the Christmas ones, which she’d watch year-round), reading, thimbles, drives out to the coast, Harry Potter, crocheting, and Animal Crossing. Oh, you bet your ass, Animal Crossing. She’d paid off Tom Nook so long ago that she took her bells to her grand kids’ towns and started paying down their debts, too.

As silly as it is, it’s also a perfect example of quintessential Mom. Whatever she had in life, be it in the real world, or a virtual one with a cat and hippopotamus for neighbors, she wanted to share it with everyone. I’ll never forget the time we’d all just sat down to dinner as a family and were interrupted by a door-to-door salesperson. Everyone was so annoyed, except Mom, who instead invited the guy in to join us.

Now, you might be tempted to think this happened years ago when neighborhoods were all a bit safer, right? Nope. This was just last year, and for the record, the guy politely declined. We teased Mom relentlessly, of course, insisting that he was likely more afraid of her than we were of him.

As dear as she held all of her favorite things, there’s nothing she loved more than her family. If given a choice between wealth, world peace, a cure for cancer, or a Sunday afternoon at her house surrounded by family, she wouldn’t have even hesitated to pick. You could’ve presented her with that same scenario a million times, and her choice would’ve always remained the same: she wanted to spend as much time with her loved ones as possible. I’m so grateful that I was able to see her and talk to her nearly every day during our last year together.

In the days since Mom passed, the family has received countless messages, emails, and cards of condolence. Mom touched so many people in her life, and as we’ve read through all the notes, one common theme has emerged: everyone had their own special relationship with her. Somehow, regardless of how well she knew them, she was capable of being all things to all people, and she wasn’t even trying. She did it happily, with a smile on her face, because she genuinely cared. Mom was the Michael Jordan of caring.

No matter how hard you try not to think about it, somewhere in the back of your mind from an early age, you always know that this day is coming, but it sure doesn’t make preparing yourself for the inevitability any easier. The loss my family has suffered is immeasurable, and the impact of her absence will be felt for the rest of our days. However, if there is any comfort to be had at all, it’s in knowing that her and I are so much alike, and now I have the honor and privilege of carrying her with me. Perhaps I will use this opportunity to try and be even more like her.

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: time is shorter than you think, even when it feels like it will last forever. Don’t let it go to waste. Love harder. Dream bigger. Savor all your special moments. And never let an opportunity to tell someone how much they mean to you pass you by.

I love you with all my heart, Mom, and I will miss you forever.

2017: The Year in Review

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, I was feeling the stress of making a bold decision to leave my stable, high-paying job in pursuit of creative freedom: to focus solely on my passion for writing and storytelling. While my paychecks are certainly lighter now, in retrospect, I’m still overjoyed by the decision I made. More and more of my soul was getting sucked out by the day, and although there are new sources of stress to face now, I feel so much more rewarded by what I do.

I want to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest thanks to everyone who has supported me. Thank you to everyone who has invested in an unknown and given my books a chance. I hope you’ve been entertained, and I hope that you were able to step into Miller Brinkman’s world and love it as much as I do.

2017 saw the birth and end of the Noble trilogy, and now it’s time to move forward. I have two novels in the works which I hope will see the light of day in 2018. The first of which is the sci-fi story I’ve been wanting to tell for a few years now.

While working at BioWare, I often dreamed of writing for Mass Effect. I crafted a story line I thought might fit just in case I ever received an opportunity to pitch to the team. That opportunity never presented itself, which was disappointing, but then I realized that my story didn’t have to be Mass Effect at all.

What I had was the beginning to a new franchise–one in which I could create and take ownership of. I’m so pleased with how it’s coming along, and I look forward to sharing more information about it in the near future.

The second novel on the docket is a post-apocalyptic fantasy. I actually started working on this as part of a writer’s workshop group late last year, and I cranked out the first four chapters in short order. However, I put it on the shelf following the workshop’s completion, but I can still hear it calling to me. Perhaps it’s time for me to start listening.

Again, I can’t thank you all enough for your continued support, encouragement, and kind words. It means more to me than you know. I wish you all a warm and wonderful holiday season. I’ll see you in 2018!

~ David

Destination Mystery Interview

Wow. This year has really flown by, hasn’t it? It’s been a busy and productive year, though, and I couldn’t be happier about that. However, 2017 isn’t over yet, and I’m pleased to share that I’ve done one final interview before the new year.

The wonderful and lovely Laura Brennan hosted me on her fantastic podcast, Destination Mystery. I had so much fun chatting with her, and I hope you’ll give it a listen!

Talk Nerdy to Me Podcast

A huge thank you to the fine folks at the Talk Nerdy to Me podcast for having me on this week’s episode. We chatted about many cool things, including my writing process, the wacky world of professional wrestling, how Mass Effect fan-fiction became the basis for my next novel, and so much more!

Check it out below, or download wherever you get your podcast fix. If you’re in a rush, my interview segment comes on at 1:13:10.

powered by podcast garden

The End is Near…

The time has come, ladies and gentlemen. I’m pleased to announce that the grand finale in the Noble Trilogy will release on Friday, September 15, 2017. The Reckoning will be available in Kindle and paperback format, and is available to preorder right now!

Sixty years after the conclusion of an ancient war, hardly anyone on earth is aware of just how close humanity came to extinction. The same goes for Charleston Police Officer Desmond Kalish—for now.

When a string of horrific murders sends a shockwave through the West Virginia capital, Desmond is determined to put the culprit behind bars. A break in the case puts the police hot on the killer’s trail—at the same time thrusting Desmond into the heart of a secret world that will stretch his concept of reality beyond its limits. Desmond faces a choice: run back to the familiar, or accept the danger of the unknown?

Before Desmond has a chance to weigh his options, an enigmatic preacher emerges from the shadows to set a sinister plan several decades in the making into motion. To prevent the coming apocalypse, Desmond and a team of mysterious agents must head back to the place where it all began: a little town by the name of Ashley Falls.

Preorder your copy of The Reckoning today!

Icarus Reaches a Milestone

I’m so excited to announce that Icarus reached a milestone over this past weekend: 1,000 downloads! I can’t thank you enough for your time and support. It means more to me than you could possibly imagine.

Miller Brinkman’s story began back in 2010. I woke from a bizarre dream in the middle of the night, and I knew I had to get it down on paper before it faded away forever. I’d never written a book before, and had no idea how to even go about it, but I worked on it little by little every night for several months until the story was complete.

However, it took another six long years of edits and rewrites to shape the manuscript into something I could be proud of, and in January of 2017, Icarus was finally done. I hoped that Miller would find an audience, but I had realistic expectations.

As an independent author, I’m well-aware of the challenges that come with self-publishing, but I put my blood, sweat, and tears into it, and would’ve been happy even if only ten people ever read it. In passing the thousand-download milestone, Icarus has exceeded my wildest expectations, and I’m so grateful to everyone who has taken a chance on it. Sincerely, thank you.

So, what’s next? Hmm… you know, two thousand downloads has a real nice ring to it. 🙂

Icarus Blog Tour

Round up the roadies and notify catering, because Icarus is going on tour! Well, it’s a virtual tour you’ll be able to follow from the comfort of your own home, but don’t let that stop you from partying like a rock star with your bowl of green-only M&Ms.

Icarus will be making six stops on this tour, and I’ll be there for each one, lurking in the comments to chat with you. Want to learn more about the Noble universe? Want to ask me about my creative process? Want to yell at me for the death of a particular character? No question is off limits!

The tour begins Monday, May 29, 2017 and will continue through June. Here’s a complete schedule:

My sincerest thanks to all the lovely bloggers who’ll be hosting Icarus during this tour. I’d also like to thank Goddess Fish Promotions for setting it up. I hope you’ll all stop by to say hello during the tour, and I very much look forward to talking to you!

A Reading from The Invisible War

In honor of The Invisible War‘s release this weekend, I’ve prepared a short reading from the book. This excerpt is from an early chapter, and puts you right into the action!

Miller Brinkman and a pair of officers interrupt a murder in progress and chase the suspect into what they believe to be a dead end. They soon discover that this heinous killer has a few tricks up his sleeve.