Update 8/11/2016

Okay folks, here we are. The Rock - Exodus will be released on August 20, 2016, which is exactly 9 days from now. I'll add some images for the cover art. Let me know what you think.

Stay tuned as well for updates on The Island. I've been working on getting the book on Audible. Right now, the first three parts are out. Part four should be in soon.

Update 12/8/2014

The book went out to the agent today. That feat capped a rather frenzied weekend of fixes pouring in from proofreaders, fixes completed,sent back, and on, and on. So what's next? Well, the work continues. The cover design comes next. I have to repackage the Island as one book for the audio people, actually for the audio contract - once again the decision to put it out in parts is coming back to bite me. Then again, I put it out that way so people would read it. So, lessons learned in both directions.

Today was one giant step in a process that's lasted over a year now. I didn't start working on the Rock in earnest for a while. The ideas needed to percolate. I needed to create an outline of basic things that needed to occur. I also took a trip along the proposed routes to get a renewed feel of the place. I knew from the start the book would be long. I had about 27,000 words as a beginning that I didn't like. I liked the writing and the concepts. I just didn't like the delivery. That probably kept me beating around longer than anything. I needed the content, but needed to present it in a different way. In the end, I wrote the prologue and kept pushing the 27k down as I went. By the time I wrote the epilogue, most those words still sat at the end of the book.

The first act of editing encompassed chopping them out completely. That occurred the first week in October. In the interim, I've not only gone through the book multiple times, fixed items the proofreaders wanted, cleared up confusing spots, but also written an additional 48,000 words.

98 percent of that took place while most people slept. I spent those days, actually the entire year acting like William Hill, stumbling out of bed at 5 a.m., fixing coffee, and settling down to work. For the most part, I get two hours a day to write. My job, family, just life in general takes up the rest.

But, it's with the agent. Whether he chooses to represent it or not, I'm certain I'll go through more edits. I'm going to let it set now for a week or two before I start back through it. A third proofreader is currently working through it. So, maybe there will be clarifications there as well.

In the meantime, I'm going to start on book 3 - which will not take us to the end of the series. I'm looking at 4 books instead of 3, so hang on for the ride. I created a mock-up for the cover. I'll post that in another page. I wanted something striking where all elements tied into the story. You folks can let me know what you think. Keep in mind, this is just a mock-up. If the pros take over, I'm sure they'll create something better and flashier. :)


Update 12/4/2014

The edits and proof reads are drawing to a close. I've been through the manuscript several times, correcting issues the readers have found and making sure my timelines are right. I expect to complete the remaining work over the course of the next 3 days. Monday, the manuscript heads off to an agent.

What happens at that point? For me, I'll keep working on getting the book ready for release. That means designing the cover, writing the blurbs you read when you click on a book, and getting The Island set up for audio format. If the agent decides to take on the series, that will probably delay the release a while. If not, I'll run the manuscript through a professional editor/proof reader. That process generally takes a couple of weeks (and costs a bundle.) Thereafter, I'll put it out.

This book is fairly large. The final word count is resting close to 315k. The thing reads good though, at least to me. :)

So, hang in there. We're on the final stretch.


Where we stand - 10/28/2014

Alright folks, I've completed my second pass through the book, fleshing out characters here and there, firming up scenes, and adjusting timelines. Okay, I fixed a lot more of the writing too. Grin

I split this book into 7 parts for the editing phase. It will not go out to the public in parts though. I learned my lesson the first time after dealing with recalcitrant distributors, too many nights adjusting covers, and swapping too many emails with the sellers who questioned the method of delivery. I wouldn't call this a labor of love, but I would call it labor. Once you get done, the last thing you want to do is argue with the people in between. So, I guess I'm tamed. This book will come out in one piece

I also learned my lesson the first time in making projections for the next book. I plan on starting on it as soon as this one is nailed down and done. This whole story began a few years ago. I wrote the first page or so of what would become the prologue for The Island and put it aside. I liked the idea, but it felt so, so heavy, like long nights and lots of words would be needed to complete it. The final death knell came when I started thinking about the ending. I really didn't have one. So, I saved the bits I'd written and left them.

In one of the author's notes, I wrote about how it evolved from a story I told my children. That's not quite true. The Island, The Rock, and much of the volume to come never graced their ears. I know what happens when you tell spooky stories. You end up with kids piled in the bed with you and elbows in your face all night. The ending though...

that I told them. That's one ending to this series. There are two. Both work, both fit, and you'll understand when we get there.


Where we stand - 10/11/2014

The editing is going well. I finished a first pass a few days ago, then turned around and started over. Part of the book is with the first editor. I'm sending additional parts as I complete them in this second go-round. That doesn't mean the Rock will be posted in parts. It won't. This one comes out complete. I'm just trying to speed this phase along.

After the first editor, comes a proof reader or two, and then a final editing. That sounds like a lot. In some ways, it is. The original draft of The Island came back with a note that basically read - Chapter 22 = The chapter from hell. It ended up with a total rewrite. So, I'll have to see what comes back this time.

Overall though, these phases usually go by fairly fast. The story is in place, along with the characters, and the general feel. So, we're getting close.

Finally, as a reader noted, it's difficult to piece together a timeline in posts without dates. So, I'll add dates from here on out.


I finished The Rock today. The total word count came in just shy of 300,000. If there are any number crunchers out there, that's almost twice the size of The Island. Editing is nearly complete on the first third of the book. So the remainder of that process begins now. I expect the story will shrink and expand during the editing, but wouldn't be surprised if it's still close to 300k once everything is complete.

Big yay!


Alright folks, I'm exactly 2 chapters and an epilogue from sticking The End! on the bottom of a page. The Rock looks like it will come in about 50 percent larger than The Island. I imagine a couple of months of editing and this thing will be heading for prime time. At least, I hope it will, grin. I packed maybe 8 people off the survivor's list into a scene in the story. I liked the selection, a good variety of folks from different places with different skills and pretty much, a good representation of what might be left after such fever-induced destruction. It's taking about a week per chapter so maybe in the next 2-3 weeks I'll have the bulk of the writing done.


I wanted to give a couple more updates to let you all know where things stand and what should be coming down the pike soon.

The Rock has officially eclipsed The Island in terms of sheer size. The writing is moving along at a good clip. This part of the story is big though. I have a destination I need to reach and a good many things that need to happen along the way. A lot of those are already on paper. I just finished a lengthy battle scene that contains a nod to a reader who thought a confrontation with a dragon should have more invested in it than a single shot from a deer rifle.

Well, maybe this bit from The Rock will clear up William's impressions.

The little woman tugged at my arm, insistently like a child trying to get a parent’s attention. “William, you killed a dragon once before, didn’t you?”
I finally shook my head. “Elsie needs to reconsider her story. I’m not sure what I killed. But, this thing? Now this is a dragon.”

Now, in terms of what's to come, The Island will undergo another release to pull all the separate parts into one volume. I need to do that for the audio version. (Let's me sign one contract instead of five.) The final writing on the Rock should occur sometime this summer. Don't expect anything until fall though. I expect it will take at least two months of editing to get the book ready for an editor. From there, easily another 4 to 6 weeks before it undergoes a final read.

Keep in mind, writing is the sideline for me, not the day job. I still rise at 5am and write until 7 or so. Beyond that, I may get in a few words late at night. So, this book, like the previous, is emerging in predawn hours.

And finally, The Rock will be unique in a way - at least I think so. Several of the characters involved are real people. I wanted to include impressions from different parts of the world - particularly the UK since I've had so many readers on that side of the Atlantic. A couple of people have graciously offered to translate my decidedly southern Appalachian voice into something that sounds like it actually originated across the pond instead of a tiny office in East Tennessee. Those folks will get a nod in the acknowledgments where I can express my gratitude.

A few other real people will get an email soon to confirm a few facts. About 20 people guessed the location of the Rock. Steven Robinson landed the top spot. He'll be joined by a handful of "survivors." I need permission from those folks to include their names.

So, hang in there, it's coming.


Alright folks, a couple of things. First, I'm going to be adding my middle initial to my books. Seems another Michael Stark appeared and we write decidedly different things. So, shortly, you'll find Michael R. Stark on the covers.

In the meantime, if you're confused about which books belong to whom, check the sidebar below. Those are mine.

Second, a lot of people are asking about The Rock. The story is moving, but it may be a while before I put any online. I think... I have an agent. Grin. What that means is about everything is on hold until I find out for sure. I'm not what you'd call a real writer. The stories hit paper usually between 5am and 7am in the morning. Beyond that, the day holds little free time. In trying to find a publisher for The Fallen Earth series (The Island, The Rock, and a final volume not yet named) the idea is to take some of the hectic out of life and make more time to write.

So hang in there.


Part 5 is out! The Final Chapters are available on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble Online

With that said, welcome to The Island.

The old radio at the station had poured out haunting images of a dying world from the first day. Through it, the tiny group hunkered down at the Village of Portsmouth, bore witness to the death of millions. Where the sickness left off, storms and brutal emotions took over. Some fought. Some starved. Others simply disappeared.

Storms ravaged the power grids. Relief efforts died before they ever started. Entire countries collapsed.

Like the rest of the world, the people stranded on Portsmouth Island could only wait and hope. When it came, the disease struck hard, killing one and sending another into a violent rage.

Hounded by an evil he didn't understand, William Hill struggled to survive.

The evil had other plans. It wanted his blood.

This time, it had a face. This time, it offered a deal

Parts 1, 2, and 3 are now available on multiple sites, including Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble Online, and Ibooks. The first three parts are free and hopefully, will always remain so. If you happen to read them and want to make a comment, you can email me at Michael Stark

Also, if you're reading and enjoying The Island, please remember to rate it. I'm trying to build my name and those stars are a tremendous help.

Finally, check out the two new pages - Where The Rock isn't, and Survivors.

Want to become a Survivor? Send me your guess as to the name and location of The Rock. If you're right, I'll add you to the list of survivors. If you're wrong, I'll add your guess to the list of where the rock isn't. Congratulations to Steve Robinson, the first person to correctly identify the name and location of The Rock. He earns a bit part in the upcoming book and I already have the scene in mind for him.

In order to join the list of Survivors and have your guesses recorded, send me email at Michael Stark. You can talk about it on the Facebook page, but I won't be recording entries from there. You have to email me to get on the list.

Hope you enjoy the stories.