Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Twen'y 'Leven

The past year has been a year of changes--some good, some bad--for just about everyone I know.

After deciding on a career path, going back to school (while working full time), my wife was accepted into nursing school and successfully completed her first semester. Yay!  Then her job was outsourced so people with more money than they know what to do with could afford another ivory back-scratcher.  Boo!

My house became officially diaper and pacifier free.  Both children are now in their own rooms and their brains have become Johny Five style super computers, absorbing every bit of input available.  Needless to say, we can no longer watch Family Guy, Futurama, and certain Simpsons episodes while they are awake.

As far as my writing goes, it was the year I said goodbye to traditional publishing and jumped on the indie bandwagon.  I self published Guarding the Healer at the end of May and Contemplations of Dinner just a few days ago.  I upped my virtual presence in the digi-sphere in a valiant attempt to self promote my work.  I'm a blogger, a Facebooker, Goodreader, and even a Tweeter.  If you would have called me that ten years ago I probably would have taken it as an insult. 

I also wrote another novel titled Predatory Animals.  I know several people wrote novels (sometimes two or three) but this means a lot to me because after a long time of seeking an agent, I had lost my love of writing.  Those of you that have traveled the Traditional Path know what I mean.  You pour all you have into a novel, spending several months or even years just to perfect it, then your only hope of landing a publishing contract is to convince an agent to take you on.  But you can't query all of them at once.  At most ten.  Six months go by and half don't even bother to respond.  Three say they like it but don't feel "passionate" about it.  The other two ask for a partial read, hold the manuscript for another four months to six months only to send you a form rejection letter.  Then you have to start all over again with another group of agents.  If you are lucky, you sign with an agent and the same mess starts all over with publishers.

What insane person wants to go through that?

Self publishing changed all of that.  It set me free and the words started flowing again.

It's been one of the strangest years for me in memory.  Not a bad one by any means.  I'm thankful for another year with my family and friends and I'm looking forward to 2012.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011


I've mentioned in earlier posts about the Kickstarter program I was hoping to use to fund my next two books.  I've also mentions how it was a crash and burn event.  I saw the hand writing on the wall early on, so I started to come up with a backup plan.

I had wanted to use professionals for the covers, editing, formatting and all other bells and whistles.  I would still like to do all of those things for my novel Predatory Animals, but it's going to have to be done as I scrape the money together.  The collection of short stories, however, I decided to go ahead and publish.

I found a guy on Fiverr who was creating covers for $5.  It wasn't quite the cover I was looking for, but it was cheap and better than I could do on my own.  All things considered I think I got more than my money's worth.  Most of the stories have been published in various magazines or e-zines so they have been through at least a basic round of editing, so I decided to give it all one more read-through and then send it out into the world.  Originally I wanted to publish the collection on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.  I found a blog post that detailed an easy way to convert a Word document into a .prc file.  I may publish the collection on B&N and Smashwords later on, but I make most of my sales on Amazon so we'll see.

With that being said, Contemplations of Dinner is now available for sale on Amazon for $0.99.

"A secret hidden in a freezer. A lonely woman takes solace in an ancient cat. A boy is trapped in a barn with a gang of killers. An open grave awaits an occupant. A man is encouraged to kill by a long lost love. And more.

Here lies ten eerie tales from the mind of author Gabriel Beyers."

I hope you'll stop by and have a look.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Where Do You Fall?

I promised in the previous post that I would talk about the one word that will cause half of all writers on Kindleboards to instantly not like you.  And that one word is . . .


I'm sure most have heard of the program known as Kickstarter, but if you haven't you can read about it here.  When I first started my Kickstarter program I did everything within my power to get the news out and hoped that it would spread like wildfire.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  It was more like that spark of static electricity that nips your fingertips when you reach for a doorknob.  On my short adventure I encountered many that were supportive and willing to help get the word out, but there were others that seemed as offended by the notion as if I had been clubbing baby seals.

The former were wonderful, but it was the latter that got me thinking.  What were they so angry about?  What had I done wrong?  I always try my best to be cordial and polite, especially during my online encounters, but suddenly I found myself being grilled from all sides as though I was running some kind of scam.  That was fine.  I understood.  It's important to be transparent and honest, so I did my best to explain my situation.  But for some that wasn't good enough.

These people were usually writers that already had several books published and were making at least okay money and were able to front the needed cash to self publish their other books.  They seemed to look down their noses as if I (and all that would stoop to using Kickstarter) was some filthy beggar that needed to vanish into the sewers instead of muddying up their golden sidewalks.  I'm being a bit over-dramatic here, I know, but I'm trying to make a point.  There are some that aren't happy unless you travel the exact same path that they traveled.  Any other way is the wrong way.

The literary world is no stranger to clicks and elitism, but up to this point I hadn't experienced it in the indie author neighborhood.  It made me realize something.  Even though writers are infinitely complicated souls, you can generally break them down into two groups.  And no, it's not Genre vs. Literary.


Writers in column one are always willing to blog, Facebook, Tweet, go stand on the roof and scream or any other means necessary to help other writers get noticed.  They are not threatened by other writers or their books.  They know that there is plenty of readers to go around and that we all have to stick together in this new digital world.

Writers in column two usually say things like "Why should I help you?" and "What's in it for me?" or even something like "I'll help you if you can get X number of people to buy my book."  They get offended by other writers' successes.  They blog, Facebook, and tweet about how it's unfair that so many crappy books are making money but their masterpiece gets no attention at all.  Perhaps we are all just too stupid to understand it.

This is why I have lost my taste for message boards as a whole.  Now don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great writers roaming around Kindleboards that are firmly in column one.  The problem is most of the column ones are busy reading, writing, self promoting and helping promote other writers.  That leaves ample space for the column twos to move in and pour their petty attacks down on newbies just looking for some help.

So, what can we do about it?

No much, I'm afraid.  The only thing I know to do is to examine yourself and see which column you fall under.  If you find yourself in column two then it's not too late to change.  Scrooge made a complete turn around in just one night.  Sorry, I've got Christmas on the brain.

That being said, the wonderful Cate Gardner has a new book out. You can buy Theatre of Curious Acts here.  Go out and buy the book.  Write a review.  Like it on Facebook.  Tweet away.  Share it on your blog.  I would scream it from my rooftop, except I have a bad case of acrophobia.

I have a small bit of news of my own, but I'll save the self promotion for the next post.  I will probably wait until next week, so to all of you Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Experiments & Observations

I remember one time when I was younger, my cousin and I were playing around with a home chemistry set.  It was one of those benign kits with nothing at all dangerous in it.  The ones designed for kids.  So, what did me and my cousin do?  You guessed it, we improvised.

We were over an my cousin's house and I'm sure his mother didn't give a second thought about leaving us to try out the suggested experiments.  She may have even been proud that we were attempting something academic.  But you should never leave two boys to their own devices.  Bored with the included ingredients, my cousin and I soon found ourselves raiding the cleaning agents under the sink.

Stupid, I know.  You don't have to tell me.

Now I can't quite remember what all we mixed together, but we ended up making this green liquid with a terrible smell (luckily nothing deadly). I do, however, remember the last thing we added:  yeast.  We filled a glass jar full of the green sludge, screwed the lid on tight, and marveled at our own scientific endeavor.

Then we left to go to dinner.  Did I mention we left the jar sitting next to a desk lamp?  I didn't?  Well, we did.

When we got back to my cousin's house the first thing we noticed was the smell permeating the entire house.  We climbed upstairs, went into his room and wow!  It was our first lesson in what yeast does.  The light bulb caused the yeast to rise and that glass jar could only take so much.

The strange thing is the jar didn't react as you would expect it to.  It seems like the swelling green gloop should have blown the cap off, or exploded the glass jar in all directions, making my cousin's room look like the set of some show on Nickelodeon.  I suspect the chemical brew we had concocted had weakened the glass, because instead of rupturing in all directions, the terrible slime shot out of the side of the jar and made a B-line straight for a cage across the room holding my cousin's finches.  I mean it, not even a drop was on his bed or the wall.  I don't know if it was the slime or the sheer shock of the explosion, but we found the little birds at the bottom of the cage, little twig legs sticking up in the air.

Why did I tell you this story?

I don't know.  It's a cautionary tale that never fails to bring out a chuckle in me.  Seriously, though, I've done some experiments with my writing life of late and found some things I didn't expect.

First of all I experimented with the price of my book Guarding the Healer.  My sales have been less than great, despite some nice reviews, so back in October I decided to drop the price to $.99.  Many writers have reported huge jumps in sales after doing this, and even have earned more money even though you have to sell 6 times as many.

My sales in October went up a tad, but not even close to justifying the royalty drop (70% to 35% in case you didn't know).

In November I decided to bump the price from the original $2.99 and list it at $3.99.  The reason I did this is some were conjecturing that the $2.99 price point was a marker of indie authors and may be driving potential buyers away.  Some were finding that by bringing the price up they were getting more sales and making more money on each book sold to boot.

That didn't work for me.  My sales bottomed out, and I mean ROCK BOTTOM.  Guarding the Healer is now back at $2.99 and my sales numbers rebounded a bit, but are still bad.  I'm not sure what all this means, except that I'm obviously doing something wrong.

Trial and error is what a good experiment is all about, right?  I just hope I figure things out before too long.

Sometime soon I'll tell you about how to tick off half of Kindleboards with only one word.  I'll also discuss the two categories of writers, and no it's not genre v literary.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bad Mojo/ Good Karma

I've been feeling a bit cursed these days.  It just seems like things haven't been going my way.  Maybe it's just the cold and rainy weather and a bad case of the mully-grubs.  I don't know.  But I feel like I need to do something to stir up some good karma.

I have no idea what that could be, so I'll just try to send some good vibes to some of my other writer friends.

First, I think you should all go and check out Barry Napier's blog.  He has a new collection of short stories coming out soon titled Tricks of Shadow and Light.  It sounds really good.  Barry did the cover himself (along with the cover of Guarding the Healer), so if you need a cover or help with other aspects of self-publishing I encourage you to try him out.

Then there is Aaron Polson.  Aaron's prolific writing never fails to make me ashamed of my own output.  This isn't a bad thing.  Aaron is every bit as busy with his regular life as I am, yet he somehow writes three times the stories I do.  He encourages me to write harder.  Aaron has a new book out titled In the Memory House and now he's offering a bonus story to go along with it.

Next, let us travel across the pond and visit an incredible author named Cate Gardner.  Cate's work is hard to pin down to any one genre.  It is steeped in the fantastic with touches of horror dabbled in.  Cate is someone to watch out for.  She is probably one of the most imaginative writers I know (and that is saying a lot) and it won't be long before she is a household name.  By the by, the covers of her books are awesome.

Last, but never least, is Chris Holm.  Chris is one of the first writers that I made contact with when I first started looking for an agent.  He's been a big help to me in numerous ways.  Chris's work is a great combination of crime, pulp and horror.  His writing career has been gaining momentum and with good reason.

There are countless other writers I could and should mention, but I'm going to have to stop here.  I have two toddlers screaming for daddy's attention and I need to go.

Well, hopefully that breaks the bad mojo hanging over my head.  Seriously though, I encourage you all to check out these authors.  You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


My Kickstarter campaign is now live.  You can see the widget in the sidebar to the right.  Due to job troubles (both my own and my wife's) this is my only hope to publish my next novel, Predatory Animals, and the collection of short stories, Contemplations of Dinner.

I have 30 days to raise the money.  No more, no less.  If I don't meet my goal by December 17th then the project ceases to be and no money will go toward my project.

That being said, if you would like to donate I will be eternally grateful.  If you can't, do me a favor and help me spread the word.

Thank you so much.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Muse Fuel

It has been Monday all day long, and I don't know about you, but when it comes to the M-word, I am of the same opinion as Garfield.  If you, too, are worn a bit thin by the first day of the work week, and you're having some trouble getting your muse to get out of bed then I just might have the answer.

It's time for another installment of Monday Muse Fuel.

It seems zombies are all the craze these days.  I don't know if they are the new vampire, but they have definitely captured our hearts and minds (or is it brains?).  So, what would you say if I told you that zombies were real?

I tell you no lies.  Very real, though a bit smaller than you might think.  But if you feed this story to your muse I'm sure she can come up with something zomielicious--yeah, I went there.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Full Steam Ahead!

Today I typed the words "The End" and it was a wonderful feeling.  The first draft of my next novel (right now I'm still titling it Predatory Animals) is finished.  I'm going to let it ferment for a few weeks then start the revisions.

I had a really good time writing this novel.  It came from a very small idea and blossomed right before my eyes.  There were moments when I hated to stop typing because I wanted to see what came next.  Stephen King describes this experience with the analogy of a paleontologist discovering a fossil in the ground and then slowly and carefully brushing away the dirt to see what kind of animal is hiding below.  I can find no better description.

It is my plan to have Predatory Animals go live by the end of January or the beginning of February.  If all goes well I will also be releasing a collection of short stories, titled Contemplations of Dinner, at the same time.

My pockets are bit empty these days, so I am going to try my luck with a Kickstarter campaign (as I mentioned in my previous post).  In the beginning I had mixed feelings about this path, but after some heavy research and discussing it with other authors--some who have used Kickstarter and some that haven't--I feel much better about it.  It is not about begging for funding or panhandling.  It is really no different than taking pre-orders for your novel and running a reward oriented campaign to stir up interest in you and your work.

I will be starting my Kickstarter campaign sometime in the next week or thereabouts, so keep your eyes pealed.  I'm going to be offering some simple, but nice rewards.  If you can donate I will be forever in your debt.  If you can't or won't, I understand.  Perhaps you could help me spread the word, though.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Full steam ahead!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Hey Buddy, Got a Quarter?

I'm closing in on the last few thousand words of my WIP.  It's a little tale about a trio of dogs with an overactive knack for hunting, a well-liked family hiding a dark secret, and a deadly evil breeding in the forest out side of a town named Shadeland.  I'm leaning toward the title Predatory Animals.

I plan on letting the story simmer for about a month before I start the second draft.  After that I'll let my wife read it first, then a hand full of beta readers.  But that might be as far as it goes.

Why?  Do I think it's terrible story that should never see the light of day?

No, not as of yet at least.  My opinion might change after the rewrite, but we'll have to see.

The real problem is funding.  I like very much being an indie writer.  I enjoy the freedom and control it brings.  I'm not opposed to the traditional route.  If I was offered a fat contract I'd most likely jump at the opportunity.  I'm just a bit disenchanted by the traditional writing world right now, ranging from the elitist gatekeeper attitude to their obtuse stance on e-book pricing and royalties.  I know there are a lot of indie writers out there making good money.  I'm just not one of them right now.

I want very much to self-publish my next novel, along with a collection of short stories, but I don't have the scratch to get it done.  Without bumming you too much I'll tell you what I'm up against.  My wife's job is being outsourced in about ten days.  She is also a full time nursing student, but won't be out of school for another year and a half.  My job has decided to cut my hours to keep from paying me benefits.  Things are starting to get tight.

With my first book, Guarding the Healer, I used some money from our tax return, but that can't happen this year.  I was sort of hoping that Guarding the Healer would earn enough to pay for the next book, but my sales have been less than stellar.

I'm starting to bum myself out so I'll hurry up and get to the point.

I'm thinking trying a program known as Kickstarter.  It's a nice little program where you take your ideas to the public and they can choose to fund your project, usually for some kind of token gift.  Yes, it's a little like panhandling, but in this economy, can you blame a guy.

I have some mixed feeling about this path, but this may be the only way I can self-pub this book.  It's my understanding (and I believe it to be true) that if you want to be a lucrative indie author you need to have as many works out as possible to expand your virtual shelf space.  If I'm ever to make enough money writing to quit the day job then I have to get more books out.

I know what you're thinking.  Why not learn to create my own covers and format my own books?

I could do that, I guess, if I wasn't working full time and chasing toddlers around my house.  Besides, I want my books to look their best, and sometime you should know your limitation and just call in the professionals.

I don't know.  I wish it wasn't so hard.  I wish it was enough just to write a good book.  Maybe it still is.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Please Help Those That Help Others

I would like to take a moment to step away from my normal blathering about myself and my writing and talk about a serious subject.

As I'm sure most people in America have heard (I'm not sure if the news has spread across the pond) there was a large number of exotic animals--including lions, tigers, bears and other beasts--released from a private animal preserve in Zanesville, OH.  The last report I heard is that the owner opened the enclosures before taking his own life.  I'm not going to speculate as to why or how this man died, or even how the enclosures were opened.  My deepest sympathy goes out to his family and the people of Zanesville who have had to brave this nightmare.  It is a miracle that there was no loss of human life other than the owner's.  And for that I am thankful.

In an effort to maintain safety many of the animals were unfortunately put down.  This is extremely sad to me.  I understand why and I'm not questioning the actions of the Zanesville authorities.  What I do question is this country's lax laws on owning and breeding exotic animals.  But that is for another time.

Not far from where I live, in the town of Center Point, IN, is a wonderful place called the Exotic Feline Rescue Center.  EFRC is a non-for-profit organization that is dedicated to taking in and housing exotic cats that have been mistreated and abused.

I have had the pleasure of visiting EFRC twice in the past few months and I am in love with this place.  The people there are kind and compassionate, working long hours for little to no pay, all for the purpose of giving these majestic cats back their dignity and giving them a place to live out their days.  Many of the cats' stories are heartbreaking, and it is a testament both to the cruelty of some and the unconditional love of others.

Michael Koryta is a wonderful writer making a great name for himself.  He and I are from the same town, and though we have never spoken, we actually have a close link (his sister and my wife are good friends from high school, and she was a bridesmaid in our wedding).  I have been following his career with great interest, and someday I'll work up the courage to give him a call and pick his brain.  But again, that is for later.  (See how easily I get distracted.)  I mention Michael Koryta because he is also a big, BIG supporter of EFRC.  I understand that his novel The Ridge was inspired by EFRC.

So, what does all of this have in common?

The last that I have heard, the EFRC is attempting to take some of the exotic cats from Zanesville that have survived.  Their nobility, it seems, knows no bounds.  But remember, they are non-for-profit.  They rely solely on the income they receive by giving tours and donations from other kind-hearted people.  If you are passing through Indiana, I encourage you to visit EFRC.  It is worthwhile and they can use the help.  If you are interested in donating, I'm sure they would appreciate anything you had to give.

Michael Koryta has made his book The Ridge available for sale in the EFRC gift shop with all the proceeds going to help the center.  I'm not sure if the proceeds still go to the EFRC if you buy the book from Amazon, but hey, you should be supporting a great author like him anyway.

If you have ever stood close to a majestic beast like Raja (above picture taken with my cell phone) then you'll understand the need to help.  I hope you will.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Never Too Late for a New Trick

So, I looked up a bit ago and realized we are 14 days into October and I haven't made a post.  I've been very busy with my WIP, and have had little time to read, blog, Facebook, self-promote or much anything else.  I'm shooting to be done with the first draft of Predatory Animals by the end of the month and I still have roughly another 20K words to add.

I should be fine as long as nothing derails me.  I've been sneaking much of the writing in at work (shhh, don't tell) and a bit more at night after the kids go to bed.  I'm excited to see this through, then it'll be time to concentrate on rewrites, beta readers, cover art . . . it never ends.  But that's okay.  I'm having fun.

On to the sequel news.

You all might remember a little novel written a few years back call The Shining.  No?  Well it was this nice little book about a family's wonderful adventures in a hotel one magical winter.  The author was some guy named King.  I don't think he really went on to do much after that.

Can you feel the sarcasm?  Good, cause I'm laying it on plenty thick.

Well, it seems an old dog can learn new tricks, and it's never too late to write a sequel.

The sequel, titled Dr. Sleep, catches up with a 40 year old Danny as he uses his Shine to help terminally ill patients pass into the afterlife.  Oh and there are Shine-sucking vampires.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited.  I loved The Shining and have long waited to hear what has come of Danny.  I hope Mr. King gives us glimpse of Danny sending messages back to himself as a child (in the guise of Tony, of course).

It just goes to show you how the characters we write about do not belong to us.  Sometimes we think that we are done with a story, but if the character isn't finished with us, they'll find a way to come back around.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Spooky Times

In honor of the spookiest month of the year, I have decided to drop the price of Guarding the Healer to $0.99 from now until Halloween.  This price applies to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Don't be afraid to take advantage of the discount.

Have a good weekend.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Only Thing Constant

Okay, I know you shouldn't beat a dead horse, but is it all right if I poke it with a long stick?  I'm referring to George Lucas's decision to once again alter the Star Wars Saga in the new Blue Ray releases.

Some people are fine and like the changes; some are, well, less than happy.

This got me thinking about stories and their creator's right to alter them after they have been released, especially in this digital/e-book era.  Now, I didn't have a huge problem when Lucas released the Special Edition.  I understood his thinking.  The technology finally caught up with the vision in his head.  Fine.  Whatever.

Then came the prequels.  Lucas then made more changes to Episode VI by replacing Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen.  Uhm, okay.  And now come the Blue Rays, complete with a more vocal Vader and blinking ewoks.

Now let's talk about books.  When J.R.R. Tolkien released The Lord of the Rings he went back and altered parts of The Hobbit.  Stephen King did something very similar with his Dark Tower Series.

With Tolkien his changes were to fix a major plot hole--i.e. Gandalf knowing in The Hobbit that Bilbo had a magic ring.  He changed the story so that Bilbo hid the ring from Gandalf until Fellowship of the Ring.

With King the Dark Tower books were written over such a long period of time that some changes were necessary in the earlier books to make the whole story more cohesive.  King explains this by reminding us that writers, when finished with a story, go back and work out the kinks and plot-holes in the second (or more) draft.

So what's the difference between what Lucas is doing and what King and Tolkien did?

In my opinion it's all about the motivation behind the changes.

Tolkien and King had the readers in mind.  They made the changes to make the story better.  They weren't frilly, non necessities like dialog that doesn't advance the story or changing someone's appearance.  With Lucas he makes changes that no one cares about.  So what if the original ewoks didn't blink?  Did that stop people from loving Return of the Jedi?  Did anyone walk out of the theater saying, "Yeah, it was all right, but am I supposed to believe those furry dudes don't get dry eyes?"  Did it stop anyone from buying the gazillion pieces of merchandise spawned from the franchise?

No, no, no and no.

Frivolous changes tend to irritate the readers/spectators.  As the genesis writers of the e-book world we must resist the temptation to change our published works every time we think the hero's eyes should be blue instead of green, or that the villain's name should be Smarmy Joe instead of Slimy John.

I think it is great that we live in a time when a writer can so easily update his/her creations.  I just think we need to remember what Uncle Ben told Peter Parker.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Watch Your Holes

Yeah, I said it.

My wife sent me an article discussing some major plot holes in some very famous movies.  Some of the holes I've thought about before, some were new to me.

It got me thinking about how that when you are drawn into a story you are willing to suspend a whole giant dump truck full of disbelief.  This can happen in books as well.  But that doesn't mean you can leave that gaping hole just sitting there.  Once you see a hole, fill it in, man!

Yeah, I said that, too.  What can I say?  I get a bit frisky on the weekends.

Sometimes when writing I'm in such a hurry to get to the meat of the story that I blow right past the little details.  Those details soon run together to make a sinkhole big enough to swallow a house.  If this happens to you, don't despair.  You are in good company.  Besides, this is what editors, beta readers and second (third, fourth, fifth . . .) drafts are for.  Sometimes we are just too close to the terrain to see the pitfalls before us.  That is why, though writing is a lonely endeavor, to be great you cannot go it alone.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Will Not Forget

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I know there aren't too many hours left in Wednesday, but I thought I'd sneak this in anyhow.

I am currently 26,000 words into my WIP.  I'm thinking the title will be Predatory Animals.  I was hoping to have the first draft finished by the end of September, but I'm still having trouble getting good numbers every day.  It may be closer to the end of October.  I'm still planning on releasing a short story collection.  I'm going to work on that while I let the first draft cool.

In other news, I finally managed to get Guarding the Healer out in paperback.  I'm still not sure why there is such a royalty rate difference between Amazon and Createspace.

The sales for Guarding the Healer have been pretty low across the board, but I'm trying to remind myself that it has only been out for just over three months.  Hopefully sales will pick up or I might not be able to afford to self-pub Predatory Animals.  I had plans to spend the tax check, but due to unforeseen car troubles that will no longer be possible.

I'm not telling you this to get sympathy.  I just want other writers out there to know they are not alone.  But if we stick together and persevere I'm sure we'll be all right.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday Muse Fuel

It's time for another addition of Monday Muse Fuel.

I know that it's Labor Day (for those of us in the US) but Monday is still Monday.  If your muse is a bit tuckered out from your holiday celebrations then I am here to help.  Anyone that knows me knows that I HATE spiders. 


So this little article gives me a cosmic case of the heeby jeebies.  With a story this weird I know there are countless paths your muses will carry you down.  Let me know what you come up with.

Good luck.  Now, go forth and write.  And don't forget to have fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Wordslinging

Hello fellow wordslingers.  If we were soldiers then our weapons would obviously be words.  English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton said it best when he coined the phrase "The pen is mightier than the sword."

Now, there are some authors, like King, Koontz, or Anne Rice, that own a level of vocabulary that makes me feel illiterate.  Not that big, flashy words make a great story, but if you don't have control of your words then how can you convey your message to your readers?

There is nothing wrong with a light vocabulary--at least that's what I keep telling myself--but there is also nothing wrong with trying to better yourself.

So, with that in mind, when I'm reading and I run across a word that I either have never heard before, or am familiar with but not quite sure of the exact definition, I write it down and look it up.  I've collected a good sized list.  Here are a few of my words:


adj \əb-ˈstre-p(ə-)rəs, äb-\
1: marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness : clamorous <obstreperous merriment>
2: stubbornly resistant to control : unruly
ob·strep·er·ous·ly adverb
ob·strep·er·ous·ness noun


noun \ˌra-ˌkän-ˈtər, -kən-\
: a person who excels in telling anecdotes 


adj \-dənt\
: shining brilliantly : characterized by a glowing splendor <meadows resplendent with wildflowers — Outdoor World>
re·splen·dent·ly adverb


\ˈbi-zən-ˌtēn, ˈbī-, -ˌtīn; bə-ˈzan-ˌ, bī-ˈ\
1: of, relating to, or characteristic of the ancient city of Byzantium
2: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a style of architecture developed in the Byzantine Empire especially in the fifth and sixth centuries featuring the dome carried on pendentives over a square and incrustation with marble veneering and with colored mosaics on grounds of gold
3: of or relating to the churches using a traditional Greek rite and subject to Eastern canon law
4: often not capitalized a : of, relating to, or characterized by a devious and usually surreptitious manner of operation <a Byzantine power struggle> b : intricately involved : labyrinthine <rules of Byzantine complexity>


\i-ˈfem-rəl, -ˈfēm-; -ˈfe-mə-, -ˈfē-\
1: lasting one day only <an ephemeral fever>
2: lasting a very short time <ephemeral pleasures>
ephem·er·al·ly \-rə-lē\ adverb
Noun : something that lasts for a very short time : something ephemeral; specifically : a plant that grows, flowers, and dies in a few days

These may be words that you already knew or maybe not.  Go forth, write and choose your words wisely.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Monday Muse Fuel

Today was Monday in full force.  If the M-word has given you a bad case of brain-drain and you're in need of something to tickle your muse's fancy, how about a possible UFO found on the ocean floor.

Now, don't go ripping off Michael Crichton's Sphere, but feel free to feed your muse with this story and see what she gives you.

Good job surviving another Monday.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Not Looking So Good

Once again I've let my blogging duties go by the wayside.  I apologize.  I'm working on it.  Really, I am.

You will notice that the blog looks different.  This is not the final product.  I'm just tinkering right now.  And just like any renovation, things are going to look a bit messy.  But just for a bit.

So, why the change? you might ask.

Well, it all has to do with Kristen Lamb.  She has been posting great advise on how to improve your blog.  You can read the specific posts that inspired me here and here.  So, right now I'm searching for a better look and a new banner.

In the mean time, I've added quite a few links over in the Promote Your Work section.  If you are in need of a place to showcase your work, any one of the links are yours to use.  All are easy to contact, prompt to answer, and in most cases cheap or even free.

Now, for a bit of "Me News".  According to Kristen Lamb it's not good to always talk about yourself, but since I've been an absentee blogger, perhaps you won't hold it against me.

I entered Guarding the Healer into Smashwords' Summer/Winter sale.  It's free and will continue to be until the end of July.  To date 128 people have "purchased" the book.  I've been exhaustively promoting, sending free copies and interviews to whomever will listen.

What are the results?

Other than the 128 from Smashwords, I think I've sold two books.  Yeah, it's that bad.  I'm hoping that all this promoting and free giveaways will gain me some fans and a few reviews.  I know it's a marathon not a sprint.  If only I could get rid of that nagging stitch in my side.

I'm working on another novel, tentatively titled HUNTERS.  I'm only about 6,000 words in.  I'm hoping to up my daily word count (I'm only able to get about 1,000 a day) so that I can get it out before I lose steam.  I'm still wanting to release a collection of short stories as well, but unless someone wants to loan me some of the hours from their day then it's going to have to wait.

So, go check out the links and watch for the changes.

Monday, July 04, 2011


Freedom Isn't Free

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young soldier saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many Pilots' planes shot down?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No Freedom isn't free

I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard at the
bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.....
No -- Freedom isn't free!!

...Cadet Major Kelly Strong

Air Force Junior ROTC

Happy 235th Birthday America.  Though I don't always agree with what you do; though I sometimes fear where our future lies; I am blessed beyond measure to be counted one of your children.  Sometimes I forget myself and bemoan the conditions in which I live, but then I look about at foreign lands that truly know what heartache and sorrow are, and when I come to myself I feel such humility.  I have a car that runs.  I have a home that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  When I hunger, my biggest troubles are where will I eat not how will I eat.  Compared to so many across the globe I live as a King.  I am proud and thankful to be an American.  I am forever indebted to the every soldier that donned the uniform, signed his/her life over willingly, and paid for something I could never earn nor deserve.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Learning To Spread the Word

And I thought writing was hard.

Wrong!  Maybe because it's the part I enjoy most, but writing seems a dream compared to self promotion.  Like most things it's a learning process.  I don't claim to know much, and right now I don't have the sales to back up what I'm about to say, but if you are struggling to promote your own work, here is my advice.

I can't imagine there is a writer out there that isn't a member of some sort of social media, but if you're not stop right now and go sign up for one.  MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, United Basket Weavers Association . . . something.  Go on.  I'll wait.

I'm on Facebook, Goodreads, and Kindleboards.  Now, I can't say that these places will greatly increase your sales, but they can't hurt.  On Facebook I've created an Author's Page that is dedicated to just my writing.  That way I can keep my personal life and writing life a little more separate.  I also joined a couple of FB writing groups (Indie Authors International & Indie Writers Unite!).  They have been a great support to me during my short time as an indie author.

Goodreads is another great place, both for readers and writers, to discuss books, movies, or just life.  There is every kind of group to join.  You can create an author's page, start a discussion group centered around your book, make quizzes, there seems to be no end.

Also, in the right sidebar I added a section titled "Promote Your Work" that has a short list of blogs that do free reviews, interviews, or allow you to advertise your book.  There are two links to free press releases as well.  With one press release I got around 200 views on the first day.  Did that translate into sales?  Not yet, but we'll see.

Joe Konrath has said it time and time again.  E-books are forever.  That's a long time to make sales.  Self promotion can be kind of a crap shoot.  It's hard to tell, especially in the beginning, whether you have made a difference or not.  But if you do nothing at all, you have no right to complain about your terrible sales record.

Self promotion can make you feel like a wave lost in the ocean (believe me, I know).  But you never know when you'll break the surface, and with a little help you just might become a tidal wave.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Write Where You Can

So, I'm trying a little experiment the week.  My word counts have been less than fabulous of late, and it's been driving me crazy trying to figure out how to fix this.  My wife works full time and is going to school.  We have two young children.  There is always something broken at the house.  My car is trying to commit suicide.

I'm not complaining.  It's just life.  But for most of us, life and writing seem to be at odds with each other.

So, onto my experiment.

A while back I mentioned that I bought a netbook so that I could be more mobile with my writing.  Yet, I still struggled.  Kids have a way of finding you no matter where you hide.  Now, what I tell you next you'll have to promise to keep between just us.

At work I sometimes have a lot of downtime (hopefully my bosses don't read this).  So, I've been sneaking my netbook into work so that I can write in between my other duties.  So far things are going well.  I'm not getting great numbers while at work, but every little bit helps.  Right now I'm trying to finish up a few short stories that are rattling around in my head, then if thing go well, I'll be moving on to my next novel.

Of course, now that I've posted this I've most likely doomed myself to get caught.  But a writer's gotta write and sometimes the only way to get the story on paper is to write where you can.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

One Hundred and Sixteen Years Later

In 1895 Mark Twain wrote an essay titled "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses".  Twain stated that Cooper, in his work "Deerslayer", violated 18 out of 19 of the rules governing literary art.  Here we are 116 years later and the rules still hold strong.  I cannot say that I've never broken any of these rules . . . I cannot even say that I haven't broken them all.  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

I've heard that rules are flexible and even meant to be broken. Yet that power should rest in the hands one who understands the rules through and through.  Here are the eighteen that Cooper broke.  Have you broken any of these in your latest WIP?

1. That a tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere. But the "Deerslayer" tale accomplishes nothing and arrives in air. 
2. They require that the episodes in a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help to develop it. But as the "Deerslayer" tale is not a tale, and accomplishes nothing and arrives nowhere, the episodes have no rightful place in the work, since there was nothing for them to develop.
3. They require that the personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others. But this detail has often been overlooked in the "Deerslayer" tale.
4. They require that the personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there. But this detail also has been overlooked in the "Deerslayer" tale.
5. The require that when the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject at hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say. But this requirement has been ignored from the beginning of the "Deerslayer" tale to the end of it.
6. They require that when the author describes the character of a personage in the tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description. But this law gets little or no attention in the "Deerslayer" tale, as Natty Bumppo's case will amply prove.
7. They require that when a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven- dollar Friendship's Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a negro minstrel in the end of it. But this rule is flung down and danced upon in the "Deerslayer" tale.
8. They require that crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader as "the craft of the woodsman, the delicate art of the forest," by either the author or the people in the tale. But this rule is persistently violated in the "Deerslayer" tale.
9. They require that the personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable. But these rules are not respected in the "Deerslayer" tale.
10. They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the "Deerslayer" tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together.
11. They require that the characters in a tale shall be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency. But in the "Deerslayer" tale, this rule is vacated.
In addition to these large rules, there are some little ones. These require that the author shall:
12. Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it. 
13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.
14. Eschew surplusage.
15. Not omit necessary details.
16. Avoid slovenliness of form.
17. Use good grammar.
18. Employ a simple and straightforward style.
Does anyone out there know what rule #19 is?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Now Available

Guarding the Healer is now available on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.  I will be releasing a print version in a couple of weeks.

I would like to thank Barry Napier for creating for me an incredible cover, and Rob and Amy Siders at 52novels for formatting the manuscript, and giving me some much needed hand-holding.

It's been a nerve racking experience, but I'm excited to try it all over again.

Here is the book's description:

"When Silas Walker is endowed with the power to heal, he discovers that no gift comes without a price.

Thrust into the path of a murderous evil, and given an ominous warning, "I have no need of martyrs", Silas embarks on a journey to discover the true purpose of his gift and draw the Demon Stalker away from those he loves.

While his guardian angel, Nassarius, is certain that Silas is heading into an ambush, he also knows that there is no turning back.

Even an angel can't alter a man's destiny."

I would greatly appreciate anyone willing to write a review or spread the word to friends or blog-followers.

As usual, I need all the help I can get.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Nice Birthday Present

Today is my birthday.  I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but it is somewhere between 33 and 35.

Ouch, that hurt!

Anyway, today I received a nice birthday present -- something I've been looking for since February.  To the left is the cover for my upcoming novel GUARDING THE HEALER.  Who did this incredible cover? you ask.  It sure wasn't me.

The artist is none other than the incredible Barry Napier -- writer, poet, cover-artist extraordinaire.

But, please, let me start from the beginning.

Back somewhere around the beginning of the year I finally gave in to all the self-publishing propaganda and decided that I would throw my hat into the ring.  I did some research and decided to have Rob and Amy Siders over at 52novels do the formatting, and then I chose my cover artist (who shall not be named out of professional courtesy).

The formatting went well.  Rob and Amy are great to work with, and I highly recommend them.  The cover artist . . . not so much.

I contacted him in February, giving him the specifics of my book, and some ideas I had for the cover.  He emailed me back and said he's have something for me the first week of April.

April?  I didn't like it, but I understood.  He was busy, and it wasn't really that far away.  I'm just an impatient person.  So, I waited.  And waited.  Each day I checked my inbox for any kind of news, and the closer it came to April, the more excited I grew.

The first week of April came . . . and then it went.  No word.  I gave it an extra week just for good measure then sent another email.  No answer.  So, I waited some more.  I have been so used to dealing with publishers and agents, crawling, groveling, begging for just a bit of attention, that I forgot that he was working for me.  I finally got an email explaining that he had had some system problems, and that he'd have something for me the following Wednesday.  That was the last that I heard from him.  Not even a response from the email I sent him stating that I no longer required his service.  Hopefully all is well, and I wish him nothing but good things, but business is business.

I have been following Barry Napier's blog for a while, and I connected with him on Kindle Boards, where he offered to help me with my cover art.  On May 5th I emailed Barry to see if he would still help me.  Here we are twenty days later and I have a cover for my book that I couldn't be more proud of.

If you are looking for a cover artist then I suggest you give Barry Napier a call.  He's professional, timely, friendly . . . is it too much to call him a visionary?  I'll let you decide.  Anyway, shoot over to his blog and check out his work.  You can see some of the covers he's done for his own books here, here and here.

GUARDING THE HEALER should be available shortly on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and Smashwords.