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It’s Finally June!

It’s finally June! I truly hope that means it’ll stay warm outside. Weather is a little unpredictable here in Ohio…one day it’s sunny and 75, the next it’s -20 and eight feet of snow (a bit of an exaggeration, but still). In the springtime, I always get excited when I see that the bees are out. They seem to know when the weather is going to get consistently warm, and I’ve been seeing a bunch of them buzzing around. For those of you who don’t know me: I love the heat! I can wear jeans in 95 degree weather and be fine with it. However, I whine and complain when it gets under like 65. I’ve always sympathized with the Heat Miser on that Christmas movie the Year Without a Santa Clause, because I never want to know a day that’s under 60 degrees.

Anyway, I think I’ll give you all a status update. I’m making some decent progress on the second book of my series. I’m planning on a mid-late August release, but it may be out sooner. I will definitely let you know!

Speaking of the next book, I’ll be giving some more info on it next week, so keep your eyes peeled! It’s definitely going to be action packed and full of friendship speeches! All I can tell you now is that it’s called Escape from Hotel Barbaas, and it continues the adventures of Nick, Abby, James and Kelly as they search for the second Ark.

My first book of the Edania Chronicles series, Bugged Out!, has been out since late April. If you haven’t already gotten a copy, you can check it out here! It’s available in paperback and as an ebook. For those of you who have read it, show your love for it by leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads! I’d love to know what you think!

I’ll be starting up my character profiles in the next few weeks. My series has a wide variety of cast members…some much more interesting than others (and by interesting, I mean crazy). I’m also going to start an Ask Matthew post every month, where you guys can send me questions, and I’ll answer a few of them.

Until then, Happy reading!

Indie Wordsmiths Video, Memorial Day and My Niece’s Graduation

Hey all! Before I talk about the Indie Wordsmiths video, I’d like to give honor to all of our brave heroes in the military who have sacrificed their lives for the good of the people. I write about fictional heroes that fight the forces of evil, but these men and woman fought true evil and fought for the freedom of all.

And this year, I think it’s particularly important to also give honor to those who serve as doctors, veterinarians and scientists in the military. It’s not just those trained in combat and warfare that should get respect, it’s those who do research. So, here’s a shoutout to all of the braniacs of the military, may you combat this viral threat like true soldiers!

Another thing I’d love to acknowledge is my oldest niece’s graduation. I love you, Taylor, you truly are an inspiration to everyone you meet! You can read more about her graduation here.

I’m so proud of you, Taylor!

Now, on to the video…my fellow Wordsmiths and I have made a video. In it, we introduce ourselves and discuss a few things, such as our respective books, why we got into writing, and, of course, the newsletter. We also give a few shoutouts, so I’d definitely give it a watch! Watch the video here.

By signing up for our monthly newsletter, you’ll get the latest info on each of our projects. You’ll also get exclusive content and occasional freebies, and who doesn’t like free stuff?

Let us know how you like our video, and don’t forget to subscribe.

More news on the my next book next Monday. Until then, happy reading!

Fun News!

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…time to announce the winner of my little contest. Drum roll, please—

And the winner is….Todd Smith. Congratulations! You win a free signed copy of my book!

Now, on to other news. I’ve been hard at work editing the second book in the series, and I think I’m making some good progress. It should be ready to publish mid-July, so keep your eyes peeled. I’ll give you status updates every couple of weeks until then, and I’ll let you all know if anything changes. There will also be a sneak peek or two between now and then, so keep tuning in to my blog for more info.

Here’s a fun announcement involving the newsletter group I belong to. Along with the monthly newsletter, we’ll be doing a video to discuss various topics ranging from our respective books to what made us want to start writing. It should be a fun time, so tune in next Monday for it!

Well, that’s about it for this blog post. I kept this one short and sweet. Until next time, happy reading!

Win a free signed copy of my first book!

I hold in my hands my first published work. A huge accomplishment! Go me haha

Okay, so I FINALLY got my author copies of my book! I can’t tell you how proud I am to be holding my own debut novel in my hands. I have actually published a book, and the proof is right here!

So, to celebrate, I’m going to do something special. If you like the post, I’ll put your name in a hat. The winner will get a free signed copy with a personalized message.

I also want to give another shoutout to the people who have helped make this happen. To Natasja, my good friend and critique partner: You have helped me so much, I can’t even begin to thank you enough. You’ve helped me shape my universe in a way that I couldn’t have done on my own. To one of my best friends, Amanda, who was the very first person to beta-read my manuscript (back when it was a really, REALLY rough draft). To Jenny, another very good friend, who did an absolutely awesome job with the cover. Seriously, thank you Jenny!

Now, on to other news. I am currently working on editing my second novel, and I’m making some great progress. I’ll be sending it to my professional editor within the next couple of weeks, and I’m hoping to get the second book published by mid-late July. I’ll be making progress reports until that time comes, and maybe even throw a little sneak peek before its release.

Next week, I’ll be making an announcement regarding the Indie Wordsmiths. I am one member of a quartet of indie authors who pride themselves in providing good, clean, quality fiction for your reading needs. If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter, I suggest you do. You’ll get the latest scoop on what we’re up to, and our latest releases. You’ll even get exclusive promotions and free content from time to time. You can sign up for our newsletter here.

You can also purchase my book, the Edania Chronicles: Bugged Out! by clicking here. It’s available on Amazon as an ebook for $2.99, or a paperback for $11.99.

I will announce the winner next Monday.

Thank you guys, and happy reading!

In Loving Memory of Shadow Porter

It’s been a bittersweet couple of weeks. The sweet part is that my book is finally published and available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback. I’ve been working on it for seven long years, and it’s out there for everyone to read. All of my hard work has paid off, which fills me with great joy and satisfaction.

However, it’s with a heavy heart that I had to say goodbye to my dog and good buddy, Shadow. He was the best dog I could have ever asked for, and he will be missed terribly. I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s blog to Shadow’s memory.

I got him as a graduation present. A couple of friends and I went and got him one Summer day soon after we walked the stage to get our diplomas. I chose Shadow out of the litter because of his beautiful eyes and his funny demeanor.

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Shadow the day we picked him up. He was so little!

He was only about 5 or 6 pounds when I got him, such a tiny little thing. But, he quickly grew into the skinny, awkwardly-shaped dog I grew to love and adore. He never got out of his “leggy” stage, and he always looked like a deer whenever he would prance outside to play in the snow (which he had some weird obsession with……I hate the cold and the snow and everything else winter weather related, but he’d spend all day outside in -30 degree weather if you let him).

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Here he is when he was a little older
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Shadow when he was a growing boy.
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He was so handsome, wasn’t he?

He was a friendly dog, but wasn’t necessarily affectionate. He’d have to be in the same room as me, and he’d always sit on the couch right next to me or in my bed. But, he HATED to cuddle. Most German shepherds and huskies loved to cuddle with their parents, but of course I got the only one on God’s green earth that was like “um no…you can love me from right over there, thank you.” He still loved to give kisses and get his butt scratches, but he definitely was not a lap dog.

He also wasn’t a huge fan of other dogs. He wasn’t aggressive or nervous around them, but he was extraordinarily indifferent. Whenever my friends and I would take our dogs to the dog park, Shadow would just sit on the bench right next to me and refuse to go play with the others. Whenever a dog walked up to him to play, he would give them a look that said “I don’t have time for you and your joy, you’re making me nauseous. Go take your foolishness somewhere else.”

Apparently, he also hated when other people were affectionate with their dogs. We were at the vet one time, and there was a sweet lady in the lobby who was talking to her daughter’s dog. She was saying “who loves their grandma? You love your grandma!” and the cute little dog was giving her grandma kisses. Shadow, being the delightful, sweet dog he was, crossed his legs where he was laying and honest-to-goodness gagged. Like…apparently he was sickened by such displays of affection.  

My good friend’s Pitty/boxer mix LOVED Shadow. He thought Shadow was the best thing since Beggin’ strips. He’d always want to cuddle up to him and play and such, but Shadow would have none of it. Every time Rosco would sit next to him, Shadow would grunt and walk away. One time, Shadow was sleeping, and Rosco curled up next to him. It was so cute, and I had to take a picture of such a rare event. But, of course, he woke up before I could snap the pic. He looked over and saw how close Rosco was…so he pushed the poor dog away from him with his awkwardly long legs.

My other good friend has a Chaweeny named Bruce (affectionately called “Brucifer” when he’s being rotten). He would bully Rosco sometimes and steal his toys right from under him. But, Shadow wouldn’t have that. Bruce tried to take his toy. Shadow didn’t growl or bite or run away. Nope, he slapped Bruce into the closet. Seriously, what was wrong with my dog? XD

He actually got along with cats more than he did other dogs. Rosco’s mom also had a cat named Signor Cisco (roll the “r” like a cat purring). Anyway, Signor was the apotheosis of cats. Independent. Sassy. Peed on the most expensive article of clothing that he could find when he was upset. And, oh my word was that cat judgmental! That’s probably the biggest reason Shadow got along with Signor so well. The both of them were just about the judgiest things on the face of this planet! The two of them would sit on the bottom step while Rosco zoomed around the house like a psycho, trying to get attention. They’d look at him, then at each other. You pretty much knew they were having a conversation about how dumb this dog was because all he wanted was attention.

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When Shadow was developing the art of judgement

  I also had an outdoor kitten that I found in the neighborhood for a little while, and kitten and Shadow were best buds. When Shadow was out on his run, they’d chase each other and play around, and Shadow actually let the kitten sleep next to him. The kitten was a weird one, too. He would sit there and purr while Shadow continued to chew on his face. Very…different relationship, but that was Shadow. He wasn’t your typical dog. He was socially awkward, just like his daddy.

Going back to just how judgmental my dog was. If there was an award for the world’s judgiest doggo, Shadow would be the undisputed champion of the universe. He’d mastered the side-eye before he was even potty trained. People didn’t believe me when I told them my dog’s judgmental. “No, dogs can’t be judgmental!” They quickly changed their minds when they met Shadow…who always greeted them with a “you’re gross, why are you touching me?” look.

When he was feeling extra, he would lay back and cross his front legs and seriously glared at you. If he had a human’s voice, it would have sounded just like Simon Cowell. He also hated it when people baby talked him. So, naturally, I did it all the time. He’d just lay there and stare at me like “do I look like a child to you?” Great times…great memories.

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Shadow’s face whenever I’d baby talk him…he looks so happy haha

Despite the fact that he was judgey and apparently allergic to affection, he was still the best dog I could ever ask for. He has been there for me for a vast majority of my adult life. He would lay at the foot of my bed and want belly rubs when I had a stressful day. He loved to play with his Kong. He was truly a blessing, and I will never forget him.

There is a saying that says “some angels come on four legs”, and it’s a saying that I am partial to. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my buddy all these years. He will always be in my heart.

Never take your pets for granted. They truly are a gift from God, and every moment you have with them is precious. This blog post is dedicated to all the four-legged family members out there. Thank you for being there!

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This was his least judgemental face when I tried to take a selfie with him…
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Look at him…….he really was the perfect dog for me
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The last picture I took of Shadow. He was feeling cuddly for once in his life.
Goodbye, Shadow. I love you, buddy ❤

Bugged Out! ebook available now

Guys…the time has come. My first book is available now on Kindle! I hope you’re as excited as I am. I’ve been working on my series for seven years now, and the time has finally come to introduce it to the world.

The paperback version of Bugged Out! should be out on Friday, but you can get the ebook now by clicking here.

Join James, Nick, Kelly and Abby as they defend their school against a deadly horde of mutant insects, while also trying to find a mysterious object known as an Ark. All this, and they still have to study for Mrs. Snider’s big biology test! Can they made the grade? Read and find out.

Here’s a little sneak peak at the cover:

Cover by Jenny Ahern (Instagram: #aeonpigments)

Speaking of the cover, I’d like to give a huge shoutout to Jenny for her hard work. She’s a talented artist, and one of my closest friends. I’ve always admired her artwork since freshman year of high school. You can check out more of her work on Instagram: #aeonpigments

Another big shoutout to a few other friends of mine. Amanda , my longest running beta-reader. You’ve really helped me keep going by being such an active reader. To fellow author Natasja, for being my critique partner (and part-time writing coach). You’ve given me so many ideas to work with, and you’ve helped me become a better writer. To Gina, who really helped me with my editing, thank you for taking the time to read through my draft.

I know these are hard times for us all, and I hope that my story will offer some entertainment for everyone while they’re home bound. Stay safe, everyone. See you next Monday!  

Big news!

Hey, all! I have some big news! The release of my first book got postponed. However, you won’t have to wait much longer. I’m planning on having it released on Friday, April 24th.

Follow sixteen-year-old super genius James Stump and his new friends as they come to grips with their new destiny, while also contending with a horde of mutant, energy sucking insects that have taken over their school. The bugs they can probably handle, but trying to keep their superpowers under control while sitting through history? That might be a problem.

This will be the very first book I’ve written to be published, and is also the first in the Edania Chronicles series. There will be many more to come, and I hope you enjoy the journey along with me. Let’s take that first step together into a world of adventure and peril, true friendship and evil villains, love and hatred. Oh yeah, and superpowers, can’t forget the superpowers.

The Edania Chronicles: Bugged Out! will be available on Amazon come April 24th. I look forward to my debut as a published author, and look forward to helping my readers delve into a world of endless adventures!

Stay tuned for more information about future releases of the series on my site. Also, if you haven’t done so already, sign up for the newsletter that I contribute to: the Indie Wordsmiths. It’s a collaborative newsletter between me and three associate indie authors released monthly. If you sign up, you’ll get the latest information on our books, promotions, occasional freebies, and all sorts of fun information. There’s a little something for everyone. Whether you want romance or fantasy, coming of age or superheroes, sci-fi or slice of life, we’ve got you covered.

Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

I’ll have some more exciting news regarding my first book next week. Until then, be safe and stay healthy!

We will get through this

Hey, all! This week, I’m going to be doing something a little different.

People who know me are aware I have an obsession with infectious diseases, pandemics, immunology, anything that has to do with germs and how to track them, as well as how the body fights them. These are scary times we’re living in right now, and I’m tracking everything as carefully as I can.

To those of you who say that this is not a big deal: it definitely is. There is an ancient Hebrew proverb that says to “use wisdom and knowledge in all things.” Well, it’s time to take that proverb to heart. Knowledge says that this virus poses a threat, and doesn’t always discriminate against age and immunosuppression. Therefore, wisdom says that we must do everything we can to hinder its spread. Distance yourself, do not congregate together. There are ways that you can still see each other, have meetings and go to church while staying home. Video chat with your friends and family. Have virtual meetings. Watch the live church services on Facebook. Above all things: be wise. This will only last for a season, but the more people who use wisdom that complements the knowledge we have of this virus, the quicker this despairing season will end.

The worst of it may be to come as far as the current pandemic is concerned, but I will say: we will get through this. As a species, we’ve survived all of the pandemics and plagues in the past and this one won’t be different. From the Plague that ravaged through Europe in the twelfth-century to the influenza pandemic of 1918 to the current HIV global pandemic, we’ve gone through a lot. But, we’re still here.

Through our knowledge, compassion, innovation and faith, we will get through this crisis. We cannot let this novel virus break our spirit. Through knowledge, we are quickly developing protocols and treatments. “Necessity is the mother of innovation” is a very true statement, and countries are working around the clock to improve testing, develop treatments and even working on vaccines. Imagine the potential breakthroughs in science, medicine and healthcare this crisis can provide once it’s all over.

Book credits:
Left: Veterinary Hematology: Atlas of common domestic species 3rd edition Regan, Rovira, and DeNicola. Wiley Blackwell publishing
Right: Infectious Disease Epidemiology 3rd edition Nelson and Williams. Jones and Bartlett Learning

Through compassion we can make our communities a better place, even in the midst of this global pandemic. It warms my heart to hear that young people are getting necessities for their elderly neighbors, or that priest that gave up his ventilator to save another life. Those are the accounts that restore my hope for humanity. m

Mesh Fitness bottle–every purchase goes to support local children’s programs in Dublin, Ohio

With compassion and knowledge together should come innovation. You see automobile manufacturers converting their operations to make ventilators. You see clothing manufacturers making masks. You see doctors and scientists collaborating in a way that we’ve never seen before between organizations, even between countries. Just think about how awesome this will be when this crisis is over!

Last, but certainly not least, is faith. Faith is a powerful force that we must keep holding on to. Mankind is God’s greatest masterpiece, no other thing in heaven and earth can make such a claim. It is through faith that we can break through the clouds and soar in the bright, blue sky. The sun will shine through soon, just keep the faith and grab onto hope.

Top: Holy Bible (KJV)
Left: Hebrew TANAKH Right: Torah scroll

My favorite song we sang in choir class in middle school was Inscription of Hope. The words of the song were taken from an inscription written on the wall of a cellar in Nazi Germany. The truth of those words resound today: I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining. I believe in love, even when there is no one there. And I believe in God, even when He is silent. I believe through any trial, there is always a way.

The sun will come out. Love will abound. And God will speak. This storm will have an end.

So keep fighting the best way you can. Through the physical act of social distancing we can spiritually and emotionally come together in solidarity. We can fight this thing together! ***Also be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face.***

Matthew says: Be sure to continue to practice social distancing. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face.

As for my book series: stay tuned for a big announcement next week! Until then, stay healthy everyone!

Character profile: Kelly Azusa

Kelly Azusa is a beautiful, smart, and kindhearted girl that always tries to look at the positive aspects of life. She loves to go shopping, and has an affinity for cute skirts and dresses. She’s among the popular crowd, though she does get heckled by a few of the supreme-popular girls in school because of the company she keeps.

Kelly has always looked out for James, ever since they were little. Their families have always been close, and they were practically raised together. As such, Kelly has always been tasked with the job of protective sister. She’s always tried to help him make other friends and come out of his shell, but she never seems to be able to get through to him. That all changes when they meet the two new kids at Force-Pointe High. As if by fate, the four of them quickly become friends just as trouble finds its way into their lives.

A strange woman who looks like some kind of 1940s spy. Bugs the size of rats that sucks the energy right out of you with their straw-like mouths. Superpowers and giant robots. Yeah, talk about weird.

Weird. That’s what a few of her peers call Kelly. Not only because she’s friends with James Stump, but because of how she looks. The Azusas have always had their traditions pertaining to family, conduct and appearance, and Kelly proudly chooses to follow those traditions. One such tradition is that the women in the family never cut their hair, to let the hair grow as long and free as the amber waves of grain. The fact that she’s never cut her hair has earned her the nickname “Rapunzel” by some of her classmates, but she never pays them any heed. She’s proud to be an Azusa, and considers continuing the family tradition an honor.  

But, the Azusas also have a much deeper tradition that Kelly never knew about until the day she and her friends accept their destiny. Her family has ties to the Edania Organization, but nobody in the organization will tell her what those ties are, and it’s not like she can ask her parents. This is one family secret Kelly is determined to figure out.

Kelly Azusa Illustration by Jenny Ahern. Instagram: Aeonpigments

Character Profile: Abigail Scott

Abby has always loved gymnastics, and found that she truly has a talent for it. In every competition she’s ever participated in, she’s always on top. She’s been told many times she’s got the grace of a swan the way she moves. She also loves shopping, and has the uncanny ability to memorize the location of every store in every mall she visits the first time. She has thirty pairs of shoes in her closet, and those are just the ones she was able to bring with her.

She’s always been seen as a pessimist, but she likes to think of it as common sense. Just as outspoken as her brother, she voices her opinion, whether anyone asks for it or not. She’s petite, but don’t mistake her for being dainty.  

It was hard for her and Nick to move away from their home in California, away from their family. But it had to happen, which is one thing that Abby will keep silent about. She knows it’s a touchy subject for her brother, not that she blames him for any of it. Now it’s just the two of them living together at the Force-Pointe High School’s dorm hall, which will definitely take some getting used to. New place. New school. New destiny…that last part is the real problem.

Of all the groups of teenagers in the world, it had to be her and her brother and two new friends. Everyone else in the world would beg for a chance at living the comic book life, fighting evil and all that. But not Abby, she just wants to have a normal junior year. Go to school, do homework, go to the mall and spend her life savings on shoes. You know, the usual. But no, of course there’re secret organizations and hideous, killer bugs. Why wouldn’t there be?

And while everyone else just eats this “it’s your destiny” stuff up, Abby seems to be the only one who doesn’t think it’s a good idea. All she wants to do is stop the clock for a minute and think things over. Kind of hard to do with psycho ladies with last century’s fashion stalking you and rat-sized bugs trying to stab you with their tongues. But, she wants to make sure they’re not making a mistake. This isn’t a comic book or tv show, after all, where people can miraculously recover in the next episode or issue. This is real life. And in real life, evil, mutant bugs can kill you.  

Illustration by: Jenny Ahern Instagram: Aeonpigments