Blackcoats

Blackcoats: A Brief Overview

Cryptids, alternate dimensions, zombies, lizard-people—all that stuff is real. That’s where the Cryptid Handling and Extranormal Secret Service comes in. Adam and Holly are two teenagers drafted into C.H.E.S.S. against their will after being genetically experimented on by rogue government scientists. Now they’ll have to learn to work together if they hope to make it out alive.

Blackcoats is a new series, though I’ve been working on it for years. It began as an attempt to create my own Animorphs-inspired series, throwing in a healthy dose of Chuck, Fringe, Men in Black, and Spider-man. The end result is basically Alex Rider meets Maximum Ride.

The first book, Dead Man Walking, will be out on Tuesday this week, and the following book, The Next Mutation, will be out two weeks later. The third book, One World Over, will come out two weeks after that. All are available for pre-order on the Books Page. The plan at the moment is for the series to be comprised of five books, which will closed out the story and tie up all the loose ends. I have plans for further books, but whether or not I write them depend on if the demand is there and how well the initial five books sell. Like Animorphs, the books are written in first person POV, with each book being told from a different character’s POV. The first five books only rotate between Adam and Holly, but that will change if a sixth book is made. As of this writing, the fourth book is fully outlined and the fifth books is heavily outlined as well, though it won’t be finalized until the fourth book is finished. The goal is to have the fourth book out by the end of the year, and the fifth book out by June 2022 at the latest (though hopefully before then).

The books take place in the same world as A Spark Ignites, but other than the Inventor appearing in both, and a few blink-and-you-miss-it references and cameos, Blackcoats is it’s own separate thing. If you haven’t read A Spark Ignites, you’re not really missing anything, but if you liked Blackcoats, then maybe you should check Spark out.

Blackcoats: Dead Man Walking

The cover for my next book, Blackcoats: Dead Man Walking, is finished! This is the first book in a planned five book series, and will be released on March 9, 2021. (The next book will probably be a few weeks after that, and the third book will be in late April or early May.) I’ll update this post with the preorder link when it is available.

The goal was to make an Animorphs-style book, but I ended up with what one beta reader called Alex Rider meets Maximum Ride (I hope he meant the early books). I’ll post the blurb the cover. I’m really excited about this release. It’s been too long since I released anything (under my own name, anyway), and I can’t wait to share Blackcoats with the world.

When Adam arrives home to find his house swarming with government agents, he quickly discovers that his father was a secret government scientist specializing in fringe science and the paranormal. An agent reveals that Adam’s father was caught performing illegal experiments, including genetically modifying Adam’s DNA.

Now, with his father missing and the genetic tampering beginning to take effect, Adam’s only chance to find a cure is to help the agency track down his father. The mystery deepens as agents go missing, and all the evidence points to a man long dead. With the clock ticking and hints of a mole within the agency, Adam must uncover the traitor, find his father, and secure a cure—before it’s too late.

Am I Allowed to Write This?

(Yeah, I know this is controversial. Please hear me out and read the post in its entirety before passing judgment. Thanks.)

There’s been a recent trend in publishing lately, which can be summed up in the phrase “Stay in your lane.” Essentially, ‘if you did not have these experiences, if you do not share the same skin color as your character, then you are not allowed to write that character.’ That seems severely limiting if you ask me, but it is what it is. Who are the gatekeepers who enforce this rule? Agents? Editors? Publishers? Twitter? All of the above? I don’t know. I get the intention behind it, and as far as intentions go, it’s a good one. Noble, even. I just don’t know if the policy as a blanket rule is a good one.

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I recently wrote a draft of a novel that I now realize I’ll probably never be able to traditionally publish if publish at all. The main character of this novel is black, which for the most part doesn’t factor into the plot (its a fun, sci-fi werewolf story), but there is one scene where the main character gets into a fight with her (white) boyfriend for physically beating up another kid in their school who had called her a racial slur. She’s of the opinion that physical violence isn’t justified except to respond to physical violence or to protect oneself, and he disagrees.

Before I continue, here’s a little background on myself. I am Jewish. My grandparents were literal slaves in Auschwitz, my aunt was murdered by Nazis as an infant, just for being born Jewish. As an obviously recognizable Orthodox Jew (yarmulke and everything) I’ve faced my fair share of anti-semitism. Folks have thrown pennies at me or yelled, “Kike,” as they drove by, among many other incidents. This one time, a guy on the train yelled, “Jew-maggot,” at me, then proceeded to go on a tirade about how I’m personally murdering blacks and Palestinians. And in all this, I never responded, never raised a fist. Oh, I was angry, but I didn’t think violence would do anything but make the situation worse. Then, there was this other time, when I was a teenager, I ran into a distant relative, and as we were catching up, a girl walked by. My distant relative immediately started sexually harassing her (verbally, but it was some pretty vile stuff). Before I’d even realized what has happened, I’d decked him, knocking him to the ground with a punch to the face. I don’t think that was the right thing to do, and I probably could’ve defused the situation with words, but I did what I did–and wouldn’t be surprised if I did it again in the same situation. I think I find it easier to take the non-violent approach when it concerns me being attacked, but when it concerns another group, I have a harder time doing so.

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I used these incidents came out in my manuscript. You can’t say it isn’t about my own experiences, because it is, albeit not exactly. I am not black (nor am I a woman), so I suppose my entire manuscript will forever remain a file on my computer. Because I don’t match up EXACTLY  with the character I’m writing about. Because my experience doesn’t match up EXACTLY with the character I’m writing about. (I’m also not a werewolf, though apparently, that doesn’t seem to be much of an issue.) Because Twitter or whoever decided I’m not allowed to write about it.

I have a story to tell.

But you’ll never read it.

EDIT: Well soon you can. I decided to self-publish and release the book as in its original format–as my original vision. I had a story to tell, based on my own personal experiences and feelings, and I think I did a good job telling it. I hope whoever reads it does not get offended by it, but I feel I didn’t cross any line, and I’m going to stand by what I wrote. Here’s hoping it doesn’t destroy me.