Another Year Bites the Dust

Well kids, we made it through another year ripped from a horrific sci-fi novel. How you doing?

To be honest, I’m not sure how I’m doing. Okay, I think. My writing has declined, but I’m not at a stand-still, so that’s good, right? I’m taking more “me” time to preserve a bit of balance in my brain. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, a few trips to the left and right, and some near collisions, but we’re here. 2022. I’m mostly in one piece, so I’m going to be positive about what this year has in store for me.

Also, fuck you, Universe, for not letting Betty see 100. Fucking jerk.

But on to the good stuff. Yes, there is good stuff. This, for example, from Unnerving:

There are a few simple rules in Retail:

  1. The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.
  2. Insults, threats, harassment and physical violence are accepted. Hell, those things are expected.
  3. Smile. No matter what happens, you need to get paid.

This is how it’s always been, and how it always will be…

Until today. Enough is enough. It’s time to get even, one nasty customer at a time. Once you get past the sticky issue of morality, revenge is easy. No one really sees the cashier or the stock person at the grocery store. We’re irrelevant and forgettable.

It’s amazing what you can get away with when you’re invisible.

RETAIL is coming January 11! Pre-order yours now.

I wasn’t sure how this novella would be received. I mean, it’s TOTALLY self-indulgent. It’s my rant against the vile industry we call Retail. My therapeutic way of getting back at all the assholes who made me eat shit for decades.

But you all love it, so far…

This book may very well be my savior. Whenever I encounter some dickwad that tries to ruin my day I will pick this book up and I will live vicariously through our narrator. It happens so often that I should probably just keep it on my nightstand. Better yet, maybe I’ll take it with me everywhere I go just in case. Just in case I should ever get the urge to murder someone. This should scratch that itch. I hope. 😬

I guess the only thing left to say is….Renee Miller you are my new BFF and I would love it if you made this into a series as was hinted at the end of the book. EVERY. SINGLE. RAGING. STAR!!! – Michelle (Gooodreads)

I worked in retail for years, so the first couple pages of this unique and refreshing thriller resonated with me quite deeply. And I couldn’t wait to find out more. I mean, a retail worker killing off horrendous customer? Delectable!

And it was . . . – Kay (Goodreads)

Retail is a treat of a read for anyone who has worked retail in the past, especially over the last two years. A dollop of wish-fulfillment, a constantly believable premise and narrator, and customers who., while not right, receive exactly the service they deserve. – Jay (Goodreads)

What a fantastic protagonist – you can’t help buying into her way of justifying what she does, even as you weigh up what is right and what is wrong.  It’s a disturbing book because it feels like it could so easily be a genuine autobiographical account of a retail worker’s life.  I really enjoyed this.  The pace is rapid, the dialogue sharp and credible and the action non-stop. – Louise (NetGalley)

When I started writing the first draft of RETAIL, it was meant to be a series of short stories to “vent” the anger and frustration building up inside me every day at work. That means, except for the murder and maiming, a lot of the situations in the story happened to me or someone I’ve worked with.  So, yes, the shit in this story could happen in the real world. A lot of it did happen. Well, not in exactly the way I describe, but the inspiration for every awful detail came from real life.

And as the writing progressed, this “just for fun” project became something else. My protagonist took shape, her life outside of the stories bled out into the other stories and I realized, hey, I might have something my co-workers would enjoy reading here. I let a couple of them read the first draft (which was awful, by the way, so they should get a big pat on the back for attempting to read that mess) and they enjoyed it.

I eventually sent it to Eddie at Unnerving expecting him to say “Nah, not right for Unnerving.” or something like that, but obviously he did not say that at all.

And here we are. By the way, the cover image isn’t me, but it’s damn close to what I’d look like at work that it’s scary. Just saying.

So, if you’re looking for a funny (if I do say so) read full of blood, bitterness and revenge, check out RETAIL. I think there’s a little something for everyone in there.

And Book 2 has begun. Well, it’s in planning, because the shits and giggles at my day job have not stopped. This time, though, it’s not just the customers getting what they deserve. Think about your annoyingly awful co-workers.

No one is safe.

Also in 2022, look for my sci-fi/horror novel, CLUSTER, from Bloodshot Books.

A developer breaks ground where a plantation ravaged by fire once stood. Within weeks of discovering human remains at the site, Dr. Morris Jenkins discovers a localized epidemic of “suicide headaches,” but patients aren’t just harmful to themselves, they’re violent toward others.

An alien parasite is identified as the cause of the deadly migraines, with only one known survivor; a man named Charles. Morris discovers Charles has abilities that could lead to the end of humanity as we know it. He could also be the source of a cure.

The fate of the world depends on Charles doing the right thing, but Morris suspects the parasite has devoured the last piece of humanity in his soul.

I’ll update this with a link when I have one. Keep your eyes peeled. It’s coming VERY soon.

CLUSTER also started as an exercise. I was working on another project when I got a migraine. I’ve had these since childhood. Sometimes they’re minor annoyances, and sometimes, not often thank God, they’re horrible. This one was the latter. The left side of my body went numb (we’re talking head to toe). I couldn’t speak or move properly. Sort of like a stroke, but without the dying. The aura started in my vision and then, eventually, the pain that I still find hard to describe, burned its way through my skull. I knew eventually it’d lead to me kneeling to the porcelain gods praying for it to stop.

So, I did what anyone would do, I took some Gravol and a few ibuprofen and I stopped working on the story I’d been writing, and described what I was experiencing while I waited for the drugs to work.

And then I left it alone for a while.

A few days later my computer restarted itself, as it does when Windows wants to update, although I constantly click the “turn off automatic updates” thing in my settings, and the page I’d written came up on the retrieved documents notification.

I read it again and thought, you know, it almost sounds like I’ve got a parasite in there wreaking havoc. Then I thought, what if I DO HAVE A PARASITE? What if every migraine is a symptom of something more sinister? What if those suicide headaches I read about aren’t just the body turning on itself, but something ALIEN? What if all this time, I’ve just been a host for some organism planning to take over the world?

From there, CLUSTER took shape and Pete over at Bloodshot Books took a chance on it and offered to publish.

And yes, I think I gave myself a couple of migraines while writing about migraines. I know, it’s probably not possible, but I did have a cluster of migraines during that first week. So, you never know.

So, 2022 is starting strong. I’m hopeful. The pandemic seems to be winding down, although here in Ontario, it’s still ridiculous. I won’t get any further into that, because I just can’t.

I’ve still got a few projects waiting for me to bite the bullet and click the submit button. Just not sure where they belong yet. One I may have mentioned before is called CHUPACABRA. It’s a creature novel that blends horror with a dash of sci-fi. It’s the first time I’ve taken on a novel-length story involving a “monster” and I enjoyed writing it, but I’m not sure how I feel about my execution of it. When I read it, I get that feeling in my gut that I seem to have with books that have been received pretty well, so I’ve sent it a couple of places. While I did get positive feedback from a couple of editors on the writing and the story, it hasn’t been quite right for anyone yet. Maybe you’ll see it before 2023. Maybe not. Stay tuned.

My goals for 2022 are conservative. Keep writing. Try to be positive (but not Covid positive). Don’t kill anyone. I think that’s doable.

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