‘Ending Forever’ — A Serialized Digital Novella, Coming to Kindle Vella This Year!

Some exciting news coming your way: I have contracted with Red Adept Publishing to publish my next work, a novella-length story titled Ending Forever, later this year.

Ending Forever will premiere in a serialized format, through Amazon’s upcoming Kindle Vella program: new episodes will drop on a weekly basis, until the story completes. More information will be coming soon, but of course, I can’t leave you without a teaser — so here’s a glimpse at the story of Ending Forever. Stay tuned!

Ending Forever

Axel Rivers is struggling. Throughout his life, he’s worn many hats – orphan, veteran, husband, father—but a year ago, one horrific day tore down everything he’d ever built. Grief-stricken, spiraling in debt, and unemployed, Axel needs cash—however he can get it.

Enter Kindred Eternal Solutions. Founded by the world’s six wealthiest trillionaires and billionaires, Kindred promises to create eternal life through mastering the science of resurrection… for anyone who can foot the $100 billion fee.

With the technology still being developed, Kindred seeks paid volunteers to undergo tests that will literally kill and resurrect their body—again, and again, and again—in exchange for a check. Axel signs up willingly, but when he undergoes the procedure—and comes back, over and over—what will he find on the other side of death?

REBLOG: Cluttered Bookcase? The Benefits of Horizontal Stacking

Been a few years, but still relevant!

Ah, the conundrum of book storage. While many have jumped onto the “all e-reader, all the time” bandwagon, casting aside the dead tree paperbacks of the past for those newfangled digital tablets, there is still a sizable number of people who prefer the look, feel, and experience of actual books (disclaimer: I’m one of them). If you like reading books, the chances are that you also like displaying those books in a place where, presumably, others can look through and admire your truly exceptional reading taste.

But what if the shelf is too small for the number of books you have on it? Or what if you just keep reading more and more books, resulting in your entire living room turning into the world’s most disorganized library?

Well, here’s my proposed solution: stack your books horizontally, instead of vertically.

READ MORE: Cluttered Bookcase? The Benefits of Horizontal Stacking

bookshelf books horizontal stack organization king gaiman house of leaves johnny gun

2021 Update

Hey all, hope you’re doing well. Sorry for my longer than usual absence from the blogging world: the start of 2021 has been crazy, but I guess that’s true for everyone. Back in January, I did want to write about recent events — namely, the horrifying attempted overthrow of a democratic process by white nationalists, spearheaded by a Nazi-sympathizing ex-president — but personal events prevented me from making the time to write (more on that in a sec). In any case, by the time of this writing, we’re now a few months into the Biden administration, and while there’s still a lot of work to do, it is at least a relief to finally have a competent administration handling the COVID-19 pandemic. My wife, as a healthcare worker, has already received her second dose of the vaccine — which is great! — though I probably won’t be eligible to receive it until May or so, based on the current NH timeline.

Anyway. Those are all things I wanted to write about. However, the first few weeks of 2021 threw another curveball my way, with the sudden death of my mother.

It wasn’t COVID-19, but instead, cancer-related. And it also wasn’t necessarily “unexpected” — she was given a terminal diagnosis years ago, and amazed us all with her perseverance throughout this time — but her death itself happened far more rapidly than we’d anticipated, and even now, I’m still processing a great deal of it. Losing a parent is something that I don’t think you ever stop feeling — I know this, having lost my father back when I was 17 — and there’s something especially gutting about losing both parents, and the stark separation that creates from one’s childhood: suddenly, those memories seem so much further back in the past than they did before. The reality of it all weighs heavily. The knowledge that my own daughter won’t grow up having any in-person experiences with the loving people who raised me — other than through stories, photos, and their individual legacies — is hard not to dwell on.

Of course, I’ve spent many years learning to deal with the lifelong grief of losing my father. And now, thinking back on my mother at this point, now that she’s gone, I still feel a sense of closeness to her, and thankfulness for the safety, comfort, and love that she provided me when I was young. I am who I am because of her, in so many ways, and the memories of her feel as alive as ever. Meanwhile, I feel lucky to have this little one here, my baby-turned-toddler (!) daughter, to brighten every moment with her endless joy and enthusiasm for a world she’s just beginning to discover, day by day. While she won’t get to physically meet any grandparents from my side, the legacies they left in death will live on in me, and through her. May their memories be a blessing.

Special Deal: ‘Pale Highway’ is FREE, for a limited time only!

Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season!

Here’s a gift for the month, courtesy of Red Adept Publishing: from December 20th to December 24th, the Kindle edition of Pale Highway — my surrealistic 2015 sci-fi novel about Alzheimer’s disease, a deadly epidemic, and the real-life struggles of nursing homes — will be FREE on Amazon.

If you haven’t yet read Pale Highway before, now is the perfect chance. Pick up your free ebook on Amazon today!

Pale Highway book cover

Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel – Predators & Editors Readers Poll 2015

“Steeped in suspense, Conley’s novel delves into the darker recesses of the medical establishment. Gabriel is a sympathetic character, and the reader is pulled into his private struggles.” – Publishers Weekly

“Pale Highway brings his struggles for survival along with his fierce desire to hold off his symptoms long enough to save everyone around him to brilliant, beautiful life.” – Examiner.com

Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.

When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus. Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work.

As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?

Interview with Book to the Future: Parts 1 and 2

Greetings, and I hope everyone had a safe, happy Thanksgiving!

I recently was lucky enough to be interviewed by book reviewer Steve Johnson, who published the interview in two parts on his website, Book to the Future. His in-depth questions covered the inspiration behind Knight in Paper Armor, my writing process, the book’s connection to the Holocaust, how the part titles are related to the ten sefirot, and more. If you’re interested, follow the links below — and make sure to follow Book to the Future, as well, because it’s a terrific site for literary fans of all genres.

Part One

Part Two

Interrogation of Nicholas Conley (Part One)

Knight in Paper Armor has been with you for a long time, how long has this story been formulating in your writerly mind and what were the specific inspirations?

The first inklings of the concept – and the title – came to me all the way back in 2010, actually, before my first book even saw print. It took me a long time to figure out how to write it, however. Every time I tried to draft it, it felt like I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t crack the code. Most of these drafts had very little in
common with the finished novel, but there was always one core element that remained—the idea that, basically, there’s something wrong with the world, and there’s this boy—Billy—who, through his strange powers, feels the pain of everyone out there, and wants to help.

Here’s the thing. What is this “pain of others,” exactly? As a writer, with a concept like that, you have to decide whether you’re going to be vague, for the sake of not polarizing readers, or if you’re going to be upfront, honest, and forthright about the brutality, inequalities, and unfairness of the real world. Explicit parallels felt necessary […] READ MORE.

Interrogation of Nicholas Conley by Book to the Future: Part I

Interrogation of Nicholas Conley (Part Two)

How has your Jewish heritage influenced this book in particular, and can you give a bit of an explanation of why you chose the titles of each part to correspond with Ancient Jewish mysticism?

Ah, thanks so much for asking this. So much about this book is rooted in my own Jewish background, on so many levels, but the most immediately apparent is in the character of Billy, and how his story is meant to reflect the nature of the Jewish diaspora, I.E., the exile and spread of Jewish communities, scattered across the globe, into distinct regional groups. For instance, you have the Jewish population who came to America as refugees in the 20th century, fleeing from antisemitic oppression, and for them there was often a concentrated effort to “blend in” and be “less Jewish,” or to emphasize one’s identity as an American, first and foremost, to the point of changing Jewish-sounding names to more American ones. This was my own family’s background. Growing up, I always knew I was Jewish, but because my connection to these roots was largely secular and deemphasized, I felt separated from my own “Jewishness,” by time and space, and had a deep longing to connect more deeply to my cultural heritage. Later, as an adult, this is what drove me to embrace the deeper, spiritual connection I now feel with Judaism, and as a parent, the power, love, and cultural elements of these traditions is something I deeply value and carry with me on a daily basis.

Anyway, with Billy: though he faces antisemitism from a young age, he’s a kid who is lucky enough to be surrounded by Jewish culture and traditions—at first. That changes quickly, when he’s violently ripped away from his family, and dropped into a gentile bubble. He never even gets a Bar Mitzvah. He still deeply connects to his inner Jewishness, and it’s something he values tremendously, but situations have caused him to feel unable to reach out and be fully connected to it. This represents the diaspora […] READ MORE.

Interrogation of Nicholas Conley by Book to the Future: Part II

Knight in Paper Armor: The Reviews Are In!

Knight in Paper Armor has now been out for over two months (!) and the response has truly blown me away. While I’ve written multiple books, this one has — by far — earned a response like no other.

Here are some of the reviews that have popped up online:

This book hits hard.

Jeanette Andromeda, Horror Made

As bleak as it seemed at times, there was an unyielding undercurrent of hope and light, selflessness and voices that would not be silenced. It brought not only a great balance to the story, but also a great reminder to me as a reader. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the seemingly endless onslaught of negativity, the pain and the suffering, sometimes you forget how much beauty and hope there is amidst it and how powerful those things can truly be.

Tricia, Bookworm Coalition

“Scary, inspiring, and ultimately life-affirming.”

– Dr. Olga Núñez Miret

Knight in Paper Armor is [Conley’s] latest novel and, in my opinion, is not only the most ambitious but also the maturest of his work to date.”

Steve Johnson, Book to the Future

“The story is part sci-fi, part dystopian, part fantasy, and it crackles with the ominous and intense undertone often found in dystopian literature like 1984 or Animal Farm or Brave New World.”

J.R. Alcyone, author of Five Fathoms Beneath

“Conley’s writing style is engaging, smart, and easy. His characters are multi-dimensional and you get a good sense of them having backstories even if you don’t get to delve into many. His compassionate cheering for the underdog is absolute and palpable throughout the story, and he portrays the banality of evil wonderfully. This book is a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and it’s a ride I’d read again.”

Jessica Settergren, No Pithy Phrase

“Like the great sci-fi writers of decades past, Conley uses a future setting to make insightful social and political commentary on contemporary society. At the same time, the story emerges, page by page, paragraph by paragraph, in such an engaging fashion, the underlying social message never supersedes or overpowers the characters or the plot. It is the perfect blend of social relevance with edge-of-your-seat, engaging storytelling.”

Michael S. Fedison, The Eye-Dancers

Knight in Paper Armor is a bright spot in a landscape of despair. I think we can agree that 2020 is not what we were hoping for. This book really gives me hope for the future if our youth grow up to fight even against seemingly impossible odds like Billy and Natalia.”

Liliyana Shadowlynn, The Faerie Review

“Moving, engaging and written with no-holds-barred, this tale is one that mimics reality, both past and present. Thought-provoking, dark, filled with emotional action, this dystopian tale should be a must read for those who appreciate a little mental meat to chew on.”

Dianne Bylo, Tome Tender

Knight in Paper Armor addresses some hard-hitting social issues that make you look at discrimination, differences, and the connection we all have.”

Betanda Shanam, Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored

Thanks so much, everyone, for all your support. Stay safe, stay healthy, and have a happy Thanksgiving.

Knight in Paper Armor

Amazon

Google Play

Barnes & Noble

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

Coffee Thoughts: November 2020

Wow, it’s been a crazy past month!

Sorry about my absence from blogging. I’ve been active on Twitter and other sites, but between parent life, promoting a new book, the ongoing pandemic — and, to top it off, the most stressful election week of all time, oy vey — I haven’t found the time to blog, until now.

But hey, as far as the election? Exhausting (and existentially horrifying) as it was to sit through the whole ordeal, the overpowering sense of relief that finally arrived, once Trump had lost, might’ve been the best moment of 2020. Seriously. Even now, just looking at headlines, like this one from November 7th, brings all that happy relief rolling back:

Yes, of course, there’s still a long road ahead. Undoing the damage done by Trump will take time, and there’s still a lot more damage that #45 can do (and is trying to do) on his way out, including his childish whining, lawsuits, and inane conspiracy theories. Yes, those gutless, authoritarian obstructionists like Mitch McConnell are still in power. Yes, Trumpism is the product of a greater systemic evil, not the cause of it, and the racism, hatred, and white supremacy that he riled up is still out there. Capitalist greed continues choking the most vulnerable people in society. And even with Trump gone, the road to increasingly important progressive reforms such as single-payer healthcare, ending systemic racism, and so on, will be long, tangled, and take sustained, concentrated effort — from both protests to the ballot box, and more.

But.

But.

Future challenges aside, it’s worth savoring that moment where this particular race was finally called. Remembering when finally, finally, the United States took down its abusive bully. The moment that felt, in so many ways, like finally taking a massive weight off the nation’s collective chest. Yes, there’s still a lot of work to do, but at least this part is done.

Anyway! With all this said, I’ll be back here tomorrow, to share some reviews of Knight in Paper Armor. Stay tuned!

Knight in Paper Armor: The Paperback Has Arrived

Not a fan of ebooks? No worries. The paperback edition of Knight in Paper is now available, alongside its digital sibling.

Snag your copy on Amazon today!

Knight in Paper Armor

Knight in Paper Armor

By Nicholas Conley

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

NEW RELEASE: Knight in Paper Armor

It’s here.

It feels unreal to say that. As an author, stories aren’t something you necessarily craft: if anything, as millions of writers have said millions of times, stories feel like they write themselves. It’s hard to take credit for them, as the author, when it feels like you were just the lucky person who could see through the portal into another world, and describe it all.

Honestly, though, books are places that you live in, breathe in, populated by characters and scenarios, both beautiful and tragic, that often feel as lifelike as anything else in the world. And while I feel a deep connection to each of my books, I’ll admit that Knight in Paper Armor is the one that feels the most real. Out of anything I’ve ever written, this is the one that’s struck me harder than any other. Knight in Paper Armor isn’t just a book, to me, but also a story, a setting, and a group of characters that have been with me for a long, long time. And now, I’m excited to share this world with the rest of you.

That’s right: Knight in Paper Armor is now available, and as a release day promotion, the ebook edition can be bought on Amazon — on today only! — for just $2.99.

The price of a coffee — what could be more appropriate? 

View this post on Instagram

Release day! The ebook edition of my newest book, Knight in Paper Armor, is now available. Thanks so much for your support, everyone! https://www.amazon.com/Knight-Paper-Armor-Nicholas-Conley-ebook/dp/B08CLSSX8Z KNIGHT IN PAPER ARMOR: Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others. Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind. When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know. #book #bookstagram #dystopian #scifi #newrelease

A post shared by Nicholas Conley (@nicholas.conley.writes) on

Paperback fans, don’t worry — the physical edition should be out shortly, as well, so just stay tuned to the Amazon page. If you want an update as soon as it does arrive, just tag me in the comments. And in the meantime, ebook readers can find Knight in Paper Armor at the following online stores:

Amazon

Google

Itunes

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Thanks for your support, everyone reading this. I genuinely appreciate everyone who stops by, every comment, and every like. You guys are awesome, and thanks for everything you all do.

Onward, as the new adventure begins!

Knight in Paper Armor

By Nicholas Conley

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

Knight in Paper Armor Nicholas Conley

Supporting the U.S. Post Office Still Matters

If you grow up in the United States, there are certain public services that you might take for granted, but — when you stop to think of them — are actually a rather amazing privilege. Public libraries are one example. Fire departments? Definitely. Public schools. State parks. I would argue that in a better world, universal healthcare would be included here (er, correction, as I have have argued, over and over, such as in this Truthout piece), but for now, that’s not the case. Moving on.

One of the greatest public agencies in United States history, though, is the U.S. postal system, founded in 1775, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster. Since then, for centuries, the U.S. Post Office has maintained its role as a public service, connecting people from all classes, areas, and demographics. What makes the USPS so important, compared to private companies like UPS and FedEx, is that the USPS sends and delivers mail to and from every community, for the same flat and affordable prices, from packed condominium complexes to the most rural areas in the country. In fact, private delivery companies often pay USPS to deliver the packages they can’t cut a profit on. That’s how essential this service is, and why a private company could never take its place. And even in the 21st century, as Vox points out, there are shockingly huge parts of the country, textbook rural America, which still have no reliable internet connection, meaning that the post office plays a vital role in keeping these communities connected to the greater whole.

That’s why it’s so terrifying that now, in 2020, the USPS is under attack.

Attacks on the USPS are nothing new, as Jacobin elaborates. The post office has been under fire for decades, with greedy corporations and individuals anxious to take it over, privatize it, and turn a profit from it. The stereotype that the post office is “going broke” is itself a misnomer, since the agency’s money problems are the result of intentional sabotage, by unfair policies designed to break it down. If the USPS did become privatized, it would destroy everything that makes the USPS important — and in 2020, the year of the pandemic, a year where people of all parties and demographics should be rallying around mail-in voting as a way to keep vulnerable and immunocompromised populations safe, we are instead seeing this vital agency becoming politicized, slandered, and attacked.

So, today, standing up for the post office, and supporting it in any way possible — through speaking out, buying stamps, or whatever method is available to you — is also standing up for freedom, truth, democracy, equality, and the right to vote. The post office has always been essential, and this year, it’s time to recognize just how essential it truly is.