So apparently Royal James Publishing has closed its doors.

This was…surprising news to find in my inbox this morning.  Their website is gone, their twitter is gone, their entire online presence has been wiped overnight.

My book is still available from Amazon at the moment.  I’m not sure how long that will last.

Now, before anyone panics and thinks that my book is gonna disappear from the shelves forever, know that I have the rights and all the appropriate files and I’ll keep the book up on Amazon and Smashwords and all that.  I’ll also be self-publishing the next book, The Hidden Throne, sometime later this year, and all subsequent books and stories in the series.

Here’s where it gets kind of interesting for me.  While I enjoyed my relationship with Royal James and appreciated their support, self-publishing is actually going to be much better for me.  I won’t pretend Royal James didn’t frustrate me sometimes; the publisher was sometimes hard to get in contact with and not particularly transparent with important information about sales and the editing/pre-publishing process.  I am gonna have to pay for editing and book covers and formatting and stuff like that myself now, which is a bummer.  But I’ve got a helluva lot more freedom.  I can sell the book for whatever price I want.  I can do giveaways and sales and things of that nature.  I don’t have to get someone else’s approval for anything.  and I can schedule book releases whenever I want to (instead of having to wait for what’s convenient for the publisher’s publishing schedule).

So, looking at the ol’ pros and cons list, it’s coming up way more pro than con, I think.  My year with Royal James was enlightening, and I’ve come out of it much more knowledgeable about the publishing process than I was before.

Stay tuned for more information about upcoming releases and side projects!  Oh, I have so many side projects I wanna do, you don’t even know.

Steen Jones’ The Door Keeper

When I’m not busy writing, or drawing, or playing music, I’m busy reading.  Or sleeping.  There’s only so many hours in a day, after all, and I love to take naps.

But the book I’m here to tell you about!  I read fellow Royal James Publishing author Steen Jones’s contemporary fantasy book The Door Keeper last week, and I’m gonna tell you all about it.

First and foremost, you should read it.  The Door Keeper is a pleasant, heartwarming novel, filled with believable characters, an intriguing mystery, and clever fantasy elements.  It never feels trite or cliche, even when dealing with well-worn tropes of the genre (the main character has a mysterious past she knows nothing about and a great destiny!  Here’s a brooding man who starts off somewhat combative but comes around and becomes a boon companion and love interest!).  It’s a testament to Ms. Jones’ abilities that the character don’t feel flat or their arcs unearned.  She excels at the little character moments that make their feel real: the way the protagonist’s daughter, Gabby, goes on and on about filming Youtube videos with her best friend, or the way Eden, the protagonist herself, decides to hide information from her daughter to protect her.  It feels natural, as do almost all the character interactions and moments.

I’m not going to go too deep into the plot, as revealing too much does give away some of the twisty surprises Steen Jones has cooked up for her reader.  Folks in this book have ulterior motives sometimes, and not everyone is on the up and up like they pretend to be.

What I enjoyed most about The Door Keeper was the way Ms. Jones played with developing exciting and unique worlds for her characters to visit.  See, there are all these doors scattered across the earth that act as portals to other worlds, if you happen to have a key to the doors.  We see three other worlds in this novel, though the next two books (it’s a planned trilogy) promise visits to other worlds, I hope, because Steen is pretty creative when it comes to these exotic locales.

All of this isn’t to say I didn’t have a couple of issues with the novel.  Ms. Jones has a habit of creating a potential obstacle for Eden, then immediately removing that obstacle without any effort on Eden’s part.  The not-too-conflicting-conflict makes for some resolutions that are a bit too pat, a little unearned.  Eden has all of this internal struggle that we get to see because she’s our narrator, but we don’t really have any external conflict because as soon as she thinks about something being a problem, someone ambles into her path and provides the exact solution she was looking for.  There’s also a few bits where the prose isn’t as polished as it could be, though I’m certainly willing to forgive a typo here and there (lord knows I’ve made plenty of my own).

All in all, The Door Keeper is a solid start to a series.  Steen Jones creates a wonderful world full of sparkling details and then goes on to create several more worlds with even more details.  Her world building is excellent, her character moments are spot on, and the book resolves its central plot in a fairly satisfying way while also setting up the next book in the series.  I’m looking forward to whatever is in store for Eden and company next!

Book Giveaway!

I have a few digital download codes for The Invisible Crown courtesy of Royal James Publishing and Smashwords!  How do you get your hands on one of these downloads, you ask?  Well, it’s quite simple: like and comment on this post, and you’ll be entered in the drawing!  All I ask in return is a fair and honest review on Amazon or Goodreads.  I’ll be giving away five download codes at random to entrants this coming Friday, January 27th!

Letting Go

It’s less than two weeks away.  On December 19, you can hold my book in your hot little hands…well, the kindle version.  You can order a print copy that day, but you won’t get it until a few days later.  Maybe in time for Christmas?  I honestly do not know.

Working with a publisher is definitely different than working by myself, though.  One of the biggest differences is the lack of control I have over things.  I want to do things my way, put the book out when I’m ready to do so, things like that.  I’ve never been good at relinquishing control of things.  Trusting someone else with the story I’ve been working on for over a decade?  It’s tough.

But those are just my hang ups.  Working with Royal James Publishing should ultimately be pretty rewarding.  They’ve been a big help so far with helping set up the marketing and all that.  The cover turned out great, even if they didn’t go with my original idea (I figure they’ve got actual experience designing covers and things, whereas I do not, so I’m gonna trust they know what they’re doing.  Besides, I really do like the cover a lot).  I have to trust my partners in this.  They want this book to be successful as much as I do.  I mean, for me, it’s a passion project, but not my only source of income.  Not even my primary source of income.  Hell, maybe not even my secondary source of income (we’re talking tertiary, behind my day job and driving for Uber, largely because I’ve made a grand total of $0 off the book so far).  I mostly just want folks to read and enjoy my book.  The publisher wants it to be financially successful.

So, yeah, hard as it is for me to give up control of things, as hard as it is for me to let someone else take responsibility for aspects of my work, I don’t really have a choice at the moment.  And that’s okay.  Learning to let go can be a liberating experience.

The Invisible Crown Cover Reveal!


Pre-sale: November 21, 2016

Blog Tour: December 11-18, 2016

Release date: December 19, 2016

About The Invisible Crown:

”The city of Arcadia is a craphole, but it’s my craphole. I’ve walked its streets my entire life, always searching for something: a purpose, a suspect, or a stiff drink. My name’s Eddie Hazzard, and I’m a hard-boiled detective. Yeah, laugh it up. It’s a ridiculous job description, but this is a ridiculous town. It’s full of every cliché you can imagine: corrupt city officials, police officers on the take, greedy businessmen, and crime so organized it has an accounting department, a health plan, and retirement benefits. Which is more than I can say for myself.”

Meet Eddie Hazzard: he’s tenacious, a certain kind of clever, and usually drunk. When a beautiful woman comes into his office and asks him to find her husband, Eddie takes the case because the alternative is having his creditors show up at his door and do terrible things to his limbs. But the case takes a series of bizarre turns, getting Eddie caught up in a tangled web of reluctant cops, sketchy businessmen, and shadowy crime bosses. The deeper he gets, the worse things look. Will Eddie solve the case? Will he save the day? Most importantly, will he get paid?

The Invisible Crown is the first full-length novel of a series featuring Detective Hazzard and the bizarre, bewildering array of tough mobsters, genetically-modified creeps, and ruthless scumbags who inhabit the city of Arcadia.

About Charlie Cottrell:

2016-04-20 11.57.41


Charlie Cottrell is a history and special education teacher in Northern Virginia by day and a writer of “speculative noir” (near-future, science-fictiony, hard-boiled detective stories) by night. He likes to blend action, mystery, and a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm in his work.  He also writes music and draws comics and thinks he vaguely remembers what free time was, but he’s not one hundred percent sure on that.  Charlie hates tucking in his shirt, because he is a rebel. To read more about Charlie, you can visit him on his website.

If you would like to review The Invisible Crown by Charlie Cottrell or join the blog tour, click here or send an email to

You Wanna Ramble

So, in anticipation of the official announcement of my publishing deal with Royal James Publishing, I decided it’d be a good idea to have a blog dedicated just to my authorial ramblings.  I’m still doing the webcomic every weekday, and that won’t change, but I want to keep it somewhat separate from the novelist stuff.

I mean, this is turning into a professional deal, so I might as well treat it as such.

Anyway, I’ll talk about writing, the publishing process, maybe throw up a few sneak peeks if the publisher is willing.  That sort of stuff.  I’ll probably have some guest bloggers pop in, too, because that’s the sort of thing we do on these blogs, right?

In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Facebook, or Twitter, or Goodreads, or even Instagram (assuming you like random doodles and pictures of my cats, and if you’re on Instagram, there’s a good chance you do like pictures of cats).