Monday, December 31, 2012

Anno Domini Two-Thousand and Thirteen

Out with the old, in with the new.

The year 2012 was a strange one for me.  My writing life didn't quite measure up to what I had hoped, but it wasn't terrible, either.  I'm learning and growing all the time, and I believe my writing is getting better with every typed word.

I'm not much for New Year's resolutions, but I have some plans and goals to help my writing career grow.  Let's hope I can stick with it.  If all goes well, my wife will be graduating from nursing school in May and reentering the work arena.  We are both looking forward to that.

It's been a tough year.  Not bad.  Just tough.  My deepest hopes and prayers are that 2013 will be a better year for us all.  A safer, steadier, more productive, and more prosperous year.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas from me and my own.  I hope your day is filled with peace and joy, safety and satisfaction.

For all of you who receive an Kindle or tablet or PC or smart phone for Christmas (or those of you that already own one), I would like you to know that my novel Predatory Animals will be FREE on Amazon's KDP Select on 12/26 and 12/27.  I invite you all to stop by and download a copy, click Like on the page, write a review, and please feel free to gift a copy to all of your friends.

Thank you.  I appreciate all that you do.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Answering A Few Questions

In my last post I linked to Sherri Rabinowitz's blog where she answered a few questions about one of her books.  If you missed it, you can find it here.  I agreed that I would answer the same questions about one of my own books then try and pass the baton on to someone else.

So, without further ado.

 1) What is the working title of your book? 
The title is Predatory Animals.  It took me a long time to decide on this for the title.  Sometimes they come to me at the same time as the story concept, but not this time.  I think it was the last thing I added.
 2) Where did the idea  come from for your book? 
I got the idea from watching my two dogs and their uncanny knack for hunting other woodland creatures.
 3) What genre does your book fall under? 
I have it under Dark Fantasy, a sub-genre of Horror, but it also fits nicely into Contemporary Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, or Paranormal Thriller.
 4) Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition? 
Give me Christian Bale to play Casper Brown. He's gold in my book and can pull off the wounded Marine aspect of Casper.  For the villain Arthur Pummel, I'm going to go with Jason Isaacs.  He has the look and can play a great bad guy.
 5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? 
A man suspects his dogs, with whom he has a supernatural connection to, of being involved in missing persons about town, but soon must rely on them when a hidden evil turns its eyes on his family.
 6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
I have already self-published Predatory Animals.  You can find it here.
 7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
I believe it took me about three months to complete the first draft.
 8) What other books would you compare this story to?
The first book that comes to mind is Dean Koontz's Frankenstein novels.
 9) Who or what  inspired you to write the book? 
My two dogs, Sammy and Sadie, are my inspiration.  Without their insatiable blood lust, I may have never thought of the story.
 10) What else about your book might pique the readers interest? 
I think readers will enjoy the strange town of Shadeland.  It is a place of secrets and shadows and I plan on writing other novels based in Shadeland.
 
Be sure and check out Kelly Michaels' blog, especially next week as she will be answering the same questions about one of her own works.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

A Special Note

My friend Sherri Rabinowitz posted a special book tour edition on her blog Ri the Bard.  I promised that I would give her a shout out, and I'm a man of my word (though sometimes a bit late).

Go take a look, and don't forget to read up on Sherri.  She has multiple blogs and a BlogTalk Radio show.

She's an interesting person and I think you'll like her.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Paper or Plastic

Assuming the world doesn't end on the 21st, Christmas will be here soon.  Inevitably the question arises "What do you want?" to which I reply with a shrug and a blank look.

I'm at the age where there isn't much that I want.  I've either already bought it for myself or it's too expensive for me to own.  The first list seems to be shrinking while the second list is growing.  But I digress.

Books are a sure thing for me.  I love to read.  And I'll read just about anything.  I even read Twilight!

Oh, calm down Twi-Moms, I won't rip your beloved today.

But in this crazy digital world we live in, what kind of book should someone buy me?  I do so love reading on my Kindle, but I'm not as easy as all that.  I do admit that cheap ebooks have ruined me a bit.  I find it very hard to fork over $30 for a hardback.  But under the right circumstances, I will take that hardback over even a cheap ebook.

Let me explain.

I'm not sure how the rest of you are, but I love to collect books.  I have several series.  *If another book comes out in that series I'm compelled to buy the next one in the same format as the others I own.  Weird, I know.

So, for example, I started reading The Hunger Games on my Kindle.  When I buy the next two books it won't bother me in the least to buy them as ebooks.  But, on the other hand, I have Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series in hardback.  When the time comes to buy Odd Apocalypse, will I fork over the cash?  I'm afraid I will.

I don't know if this is normal or not, but it's the way I am.

This is one reason why I don't buy into the whole "ebooks will kill print books" doctrine.  When someone asks me "paper or plastic?"  I'll reply, "both, please."  And I'm sure I'm not the only one.


*I know the the pic shows both paperback and hardbacks of Harry Potter.  Please know I'm not happy about this and will remedy it as soon as I can.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful to be an American. Though she has her problems, there is no other place I would rather be.

I'm thankful for freedom of speech and religion, that I can speak my mind and you can speak yours.

I'm thankful for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I'm thankful for a home, a car, a job.  For food on the table.

I'm thankful for my wife.  My children.  My family.  My friends.

I'm thankful for my health, both mind and body.

I'm thankful for every soldier that has given so much, from missed holidays to the laying down of lives, that I may continue to live free.

Though some days I complain and lament my economic standings, I realize that compared to much of the world, I live as a king.

Lord God please know, I'm simply thankful.

Monday, November 05, 2012

A Little Change

I've decided to enroll Predatory Animals into Amazon's KDP Select Program.  For those of you that don't know, that means I have agreed to sell the digital version of PA exclusively on Amazon for 90 days.  Amazon Prime members can borrow the book for free and I'll be offering it for free to everyone else at some point over the next three months.

I know that there is a lot of controversy over this, and I'm not doing it to anger anyone.  It's just a little experiment.  I promise, when the 90 days are up PA will once again be available at all the normal spots.

In the mean time, if you have an e-reader other than the Kindle, and you just can't wait the 90 days to read Predatory Animals, please email me and I'll make sure you get a copy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween.  It's by far my favorite holiday.

Here is another little secret.  I love the actor Tim Curry.

Why, you ask?  Because, he can make even THIS look good.

Happy Halloween everyone.




Friday, October 26, 2012

A Quick Announcement

I just wanted to pop in real fast and announce that Predatory Animals is now available in paperback.  You can find in on Createspace right now.  It should show up on Amazon in a few days.

So, those of you that still love the feel of dead-tree books in your hands, head on over and have a look.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fourteen Years

It doesn't seem possible.  Fourteen years?  Is that right?  Surely it has only been five . . . six, tops.

Today my wife and I have been married for fourteen years.  If you count the two years that we dated before tying the knot, we've been together literally half of our lives (well half for my wife, slightly less for me).  It seems so strange when I say that out loud.

And yet, when I examine myself, I cannot imagine a life before her.  There is no part of me she doesn't inhabit.  We have seen good times, bad times, and strange times, but we have traversed them together.

I'm not much PDS (public displays of sappiness), but she deserves it.  For putting up with me all these years as much as anything else.

Thank you for fourteen joy-filled years.  Happy Anniversary, Brandy.  I love you.

Here is a picture of the grand day that we started our adventure together.  If we look like kids it's because we were.  But man, look at the hair on that handsome young man.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Why I Think Movie Theaters Will Go The Way Of The Dodo

My wife and I went on a date night last night.  We don't get many since those two crazy Carpet Trolls invaded our lives.  Before the kids came alone, my wife and I were regulars at the local drive-in and movie theaters.  We love movies.  Love to discuss and critique them.  Love to watch them over and over while reading the trivia and goofs on IMDb.  Love to share the good ones with those poor unfortunate souls that have yet to experience their grandeur.

Needless to say, there was hardly a flikr-show that escaped me.  Now, not so much.

So, as an early anniversary gift to each other, we went to see the movie Alex Cross.  This post isn't about the movie (which was good) nor about Tyler Perry's successful transition from comedy to action.  It's about the highway robbery that is the modern movie theater experience.

Now, I know the movie theater industry has been gouging us all for years.  And it's not like I haven't been to ANY movies since my kids were born.  But I was shocked and a bit put off by how much hard earned dough I forked over.

For two tickets, one medium popcorn, one medium soda and one medium icy the bill came to just a bit under $40.  Prices vary around the country, so to some this sounds high and to others it's way low, but regardless it's ridiculous.

Maybe it's these trying economic times.  Maybe it's that I'm getting older and find it harder to stomach spending money on non-necessities.  Probably a bit of A and B.  But for $40 dollars I can buy a Blu-Ray, watch it as many times as I want and still afford a trash bag full of popcorn.

The movie industry needs to take a good hard look at themselves and consider what has happened to their cousins the music industry and the book industry.  Digital, like the unstoppable Huns of old, is coming their way.  If they aren't careful they will price themselves right out of a job (at least the theater component, anyway).

Here is what I see on the horizon.

As technology advances and our TVs and entertainment systems continue to get better, there will come a day when movies--and I'm talking premiere Hollywood Blockbusters--will be available to stream directly to your home.  No waiting three months.  I mean opening night.

Oh, sure the price will be high.  Say $100 or so.  It will be similar to Pay-Per-View events.  But it will be oh so much better.

Imagine this.  Instead of trudging out into the night, wading through a river of traffic, elbowing through the crowd to see a movie, you instead invite your friends over to your house to stream the movie onto your 70 inch high def screen with surround sound.  Everyone splits the bill which will be cheaper than the ticket price (depending on how many show up), you sit in comfort with people you like and eat snacks that don't cost you your children's college funds.

It will never happen, you say?

Yeah, and how are the music and book stores doing these days?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The New Website

I've started a new author website.  It has taken me a couple of weeks to get it up and running due to some problems with the domain name and hosting site.  Okay, it was mostly user error, but that's what I get for doing it all myself.

It's a simple website.  Nothing fancy.  It's just a spot for people to find me and my books.  I was using this blog, but I thought an actual website would be better.

The website is just in its infancy.  I plan on adding on later.

One piece of advice for you DIYers.  Never go look at a multimillion dollar author's webpage for inspiration.  It'll only serve to depress you . . . unless you're a pretty good web designer, which I am not.  Once I'm pulling down seven figures on a regular basis I'll fork over the cash for a highfalutin website.

Until then, this website will have to do. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Changes On The Way

Forgive me Blogger, for I have sinned.  It has been twenty days since my last post.

I am going to be making some changes to this blog and other aspects of my writing life.  One of the reasons I've had so much trouble with this blog is that I find it hard to come up with topics to blog about.  I started it as a way to chronicle my writing life in hopes of attracting an agent.  But, I only have so much writing advice to give.

Besides, my goals have changed.

I'm no longer interested in attracting an agent.  It's readers that I'm concerned with.

Your average reader isn't concerned with the Indie v Trad wars, or story structure, or any of the other countless topics that interest writers.  But, I do think readers like to get to know writers on a personal level.

So, my plan is to lay back on posting about writing or my books, and to just blog about my life and the things that interest me.  Hopefully readers of this blog will like me as a person and that will drive them to want to read my books.

Maybe it'll work and maybe it won't.  Either way it should be therapeutic.

I'm also in the process of setting up a static website where I can have links to all of my books, this blog and the mob of social media sites to which I belong.

So keep your eyes peeled.  The winds of change are blowing.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Four Years Ago Today

It happened four years ago today in the wee hours of the morning.

My wife woke me with a gentle nudge.  I wiped the sleep from my eyes and looked dreamily over at her.  Something was wrong, but I couldn't quite process what I was seeing.  She was bent over, hands on knees, huffing and puffing as if she just ran a long distance.

"I think it's time to go to the hospital," she said with a pained grin.

I jumped up with a start and just like every cliched movie, I stumbled around the room like an idiot.

We loaded our son (only 18 months old at the time) into the car to take him to my wife's grandmother's house.  I called my wife's physician on the way, left a message and did my best not to speed or run stop lights.  When the call came back, I flinched so hard that had my window not been rolled up, I would have thrown my cell phone into the street.

We dropped our son off then sped to the hospital.

The contractions were coming fast now.  We had to stop a couple of times during the short trip from the parking lot to the hospital doors so that my wife could breathe through the pain.

You see, this was our second child, but it was night and day different from the first.  Our son was overdue and labor had been induced.  It was calm and organized.  Show up at this time and have a baby.  I won't say it was easy, cause my wife will tell you different (and likely pull my bottom lip over my forehead), but it wasn't quite as chaotic as the second time.

I'll skip the gross parts, but let's just say that 45 minutes after we walked in the hospital doors, we had a beautiful baby girl.  She came into the world on her own terms, and still seems to live that way.  She is smart, strong and radiant with a good helping of mischievousness blended right in.

She is one of the best things in my life.  If you ever need to find me, just check this girl's little finger.  I'm usually wrapped around it.


Happy Birthday, Olivia!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Comfort Zone

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Do one thing every day that scares you."

I think it is a good thing to step our of your comfort zone.  Without the courage to press into the unknown, the human race would be in a sad shape.

Today I did something I've never done before.  I gave an interview.

Doesn't sound like much, does it?  I've done a lot of blog interviews, but this was a live radio broadcast.

LIVE!

I was a nervous wreck.  I don't have a problem speaking in front of people, but I'm not the best self-promoter.  I tend to blabber on, get lost on what I was talking about and end up on a totally different subject.

I don't know if that's good or not.

Luckily I had the wonderful Sherri Rabinowitz to keep me focused.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and had a lot of fun in the process.

Just in case you missed the live broadcast of Chatting With Sherri, here it is again

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Self Promotion Saturday

The title says it all, doesn't it.

I've done a few interviews lately.  The first was on author Beth Jones's blog The Hungry Freelancer.  The second was on author Kim Mullican's blog.  The third won't air until September 4th 1:30 pm EST.  Sherri Rabinowitz is interviewing me in my very first radio interview.  Here is a preview.

I hope you'll have a look see.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Never Forgotten

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

-John Donne

In loving memory of my father-in-law, Max Edward Campbell, Jr.  May 25, 1956 - August 30, 2002.  Ten years gone, but never forgotten.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Looking Forward

This blog is approaching its sixth anniversary, and as I look back at the sad number of post that have accumulated here, I see for certain that I have no idea what I'm doing . . . at least blog wise.

The reason I started this blog six years ago was that I had a novel that I wanted to shop around, and like so many authors out there, I was deluged with advice on how to land a top agent.  I was told that I needed to sell several short stories to the top magazines to prove my writing ability and that if I wanted to land an agent I needed to have a following already established.  Blogging was the way to go to accomplish that.

And I swallowed it hook line and sinker.

Then, in early 2011 I decided to give up my exhausting search for an agent and self publish.  I'm not bad mouthing the traditional path.  It's fine if that's your choice.  It was just no longer the right choice for me.  I'll go into those reasons some other time.

It's been a little over a year since I published my novel Guarding the Healer.  You hear all these stories about self published writers skyrocketing to thousands of sales a month within the first year of going indie.  I am not one of those writers.

My sales are lackluster and the income my writing brings in monthly isn't even enough to buy my family a single meal.  Did I make a mistake self publishing?

In a word . . . no.

Don't get me wrong, I've made plenty of mistakes, but self publishing isn't one.

I think one of the major places I've messed up in self publishing is that I'm reaching out to the wrong people.  I joined Kindle Boards, found several writing groups on Facebook, most of my Twitter followers are other writers.

Now, while I do love hanging out (virtually or in real life) with other writers, they are not my key demographic.  I write fiction.  Mostly dark paranormal fiction.  Writers are great readers, there's no doubt about that, but they have their own works and agendas.  I can't read all of their work and they certainly don't have the time to read mine.

The people I need to reach are readers.  Plain ol' don't-write-squat, everyday average Joe/Joanna Reader.  If you look at it from a business standpoint they are known as the fat part of the bell curve.

Have I figured out how to reach readers yet?

No.  But I have some ideas.

First of all, I'm going to change this blog up a bit.  But I'll tell you more about that next time.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Predatory Animals is Live

I'm happy to announce that my latest novel, Predatory Animals, is now Live.

You can pick up a digital copy at Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.  It should be available anytime on Barnes & Noble, but they seem to be taking their own sweet time.

Predatory Animals isn't available in print, yet, but it will be soon.  I promise.

IN THE TOWN OF SHADELAND, PEOPLE ARE VANISHING.

After suffering a near-death accident, Casper Brown awakens with a strange new connection to three stray dogs recently adopted by his family. Casper’s nights are filled with dreams of the dogs’ activities; at times he can even see through their eyes. And what he witnesses has him worried for his family’s safety.

AN ENIGMATIC EVIL IS HIDING, WAITING TO STRIKE.

The Pummels are the most beloved family in town. Though their wealth, philanthropy, and charisma form a cloud of mystery about them, their work with the town’s exotic cat rescue center has captured the heart of the people. But the Pummels are guarding a secret. One they will kill to keep quiet.

ITS HUNGER IS INSATIABLE.

Shadeland is a town of shadows, where hunters hide in plain sight and prey scurry about unaware. But a new predator has been unleashed. One unlike any this world has seen.

ITS SURVIVAL IS OUR DOOM.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A Teaser and Some Secrets

I've been working really hard lately trying to get Predatory Animals ready for publication.  Because of that, I haven't been paying near enough attention to this blog.  I was hoping to have P.A. go live tomorrow, but I'm still sifting through, searching for those tiny errors that escape you the first hundred times you read through the manuscript.  As a bit of a teaser, here is the description I plan on using for P.A.

IN THE TOWN OF SHADELAND, PEOPLE ARE VANISHING.
After suffering a near-death accident, Casper Brown awakens with a strange new connection to three stray dogs recently adopted by his family.  Casper’s nights are filled with dreams of the dogs’ activities; at times he can even see through their eyes.  And what he witnesses has him worried for his family’s safety.
AN ENIGMATIC EVIL IS HIDING, WAITING TO STRIKE.
The Pummels are the most beloved family in town.  Though their wealth, philanthropy, and charisma form a cloud of mystery about them, their work with the town’s exotic cat rescue center has captured the heart of the people.  But the Pummels are guarding a secret.  One they will kill to keep quiet.
ITS HUNGER IS INSATIABLE.
Shadeland is a town of shadows, where hunters hide in plain sight and prey scurry about unaware.  But a new predator has been unleashed.  One unlike any this world has seen.
ITS SURVIVAL IS OUR DOOM.

This has very little to do with Predatory Animals, but I have a thing for conspiracy theories and secret government installations, so I've added a fun little video.

Enjoy.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Cheap, Easy and Quick. Oh No!

It's been almost a month since I last blogged.  I've been immersed in trying to get Predatory Animals ready for publication.

Since my family has come upon some hard financial times, it has put a bit of strain on my venture as a self publishing author.  Those pesky upfront charges are small when weighed against the life of your e-book, but when weighed against your empty pocket book, it makes it a little harder to swallow.

When I published Guarding the Healer I subbed out some of the work, willing to part with the money to speed things along.  The talented Barry Napier created my cover art and I had the wonderful Rob and Amy Siders of 52Novels do both the digital and print formatting.

It was well worth the money I spent.

But then the family budget ran dry and one of the first things to suffer was my writing business.  That was okay.  I didn't begrudge it.  That's just life.  Heat and food are more important than publishing my stories.

But I didn't want to stop, so I improvised.

With Contemplations of Dinner I scraped up the money for a cover.  It's not the best in the world, but good for the money I spent.  I searched online and found a way to create a mobi and ePub file and then sent it out in the world.  I blogged about the process I used.

I want to make something very clear.  DON'T USE THIS PROCESS!

Yes it was cheap.  Yes it was easy.  Yes it was quick.

But when have you ever known these three things to create something great?

Oh sure, it'll create a passable e-book.  But for indie authors reaching for the top, striving to outshine traditional books, passable just isn't good enough.

A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.  I'm on my way to being smart.  I hope you're on your way to being wise.

As I was finishing up my manuscript of Predatory Animals, I had a game plan running in the back of my mind as to how I was going to get it ready for publication.  Though it put me behind my target publication date, I saved the cash for a cover artist.  I have absolutely no graphic design skills, nor the time to learn any, so this was a must.  This time I went with Dustin Ashe of Indy Armada.  Dustin is great to work with, and I love his covers.  I also decided an editor was a must.  This time Barry Napier agreed to edit the book (he's a triple+ threat).

But what about the formatting?

I really wanted to work with 52Novels again, but the money just wasn't there.  So, I figured I'd go the cheap, easy, quick route again.

Thank goodness, somewhere along the way I picked up a great e-book titled Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran.  Man o' man am I glad I did.

There is a lot of great information in this book, but the part that caught my eye was the section on formatting.  Mr. Gaughran said something that really hit home for me.  He states:

"There are no shortcuts! You might hear of shortcuts and think I was unaware of them. But if you try, for example, just to export an e-reader ready file from your manuscript in Microsoft Word, you are asking for trouble. Trust me.
You might also hear about programs such as MobiPocket Creator, which can produce a Kindle-ready file straight from your Word file. You might hear of people who did this and said their formatting was perfect. You might even be one of those people. However, this approach can result in problems with your formatting that you may be unaware of."

Yikes!  That's exactly what I did for Contemplations and what I was planning to do for Predatory Animals.  But if there were no shortcuts and I couldn't afford professional help, what door was left open to me?  He goes on to say:

"You are going to have to get into some HTML; there is no avoiding it. If you are smart enough to write a book, you are smart enough to do this. Don’t fret. It’s not that bad if you take your time and follow the instructions exactly."

This was what I was afraid of.  I'm not a very tech-savvy person, and I know (or knew) zilch about HTML.  But I took a deep breath, read through David Gaughran's explanations, then under his advice read Guido Henkel's nine part blog post about formatting.

It didn't sound so bad.  Henkel's explanations seemed easy to follow.  What did I have to lose?

And you know what?  It really wasn't that bad.  Henkel is a MAC user, whereas I use PC so there was a bit of translation needed.  I got snagged once, but I sent David Gaughran an email and he responded within the hour.

That is one of the things that continues to impress me about indie authors.  The willingness to help each other out.  David has his own writerly things going on.  He didn't have to take the time to help some unknown person halfway around the world.  But he did.  And fast.  He walked me through a few things and got me right back on track.

It took me about a day to complete formatting Predatory Animals, but considering I thought it would take me a week, I was well pleased.  And the final product looks so much better than the cheap, easy and quick version.  And another thing, I actually enjoyed it.  I like to work with my hands, to build things, whether it be a deck, a garden, a marine aquarium or a book.  I also like learning a new skill and being able to handle a problem on my own.

Now, I'm not discounting using a professional.  There is something very comforting about handing that off to someone else so you can focus elsewhere.  I loved working with Rob and Amy at 52Novels.  I will most likely seek their help again.  If you have the money to pay someone to format for you, I suggest you look them up.  But if you like or need to format yourself, that's fine too.  The goal is to have a professional looking book.  It doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you get there.

So the choice is yours.  But if you decide to format for yourself, don't go the cheap, easy and quick path.  Take the plunge and get your hands dirty.  I promise you'll be fine.  If I can do it, anyone can.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A New Review

Author Christine Rice just posted a review of my novel Guarding the Healer.  You can read it here.  In short, she loved it.  And I'm smiling ear to ear.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Call Bull Barnes & Noble

So, it seems Barnes & Noble has a problem with the DoJ's lawsuit against five of the Big Six and Apple.

No surprise there.

You can read more about it on The Consumerist, but the jist of the story is that the mega-bookstore feels that the DoJ is way out of line and needs to keep their nose out of a business they know nothing about.  They go on to say that this lawsuit will hurt consumers by creating higher e-book prices and less choices.

Are they serious?  How did they manage to say that without choking?

Does B&N really expect us to believe they care about helping the little guy?  They didn't seem to have a problem wiping their backsides with all those independent bookstores.  No sir.  Back then they were pillaging like a band of Vikings.

But now that Amazon is doing the same to them, they are calling foul.

I don't have a problem with people who disagree with the DoJ's suit.  In fact, I wish they would call it off.  I think the DoJ is right, but the more the Traditional publishers charge for their books, the easier it is for me to make money by undercutting them.

My problem is people hiding behind noble notions to further their self-serving cause.  B&N doesn't care about the little guy.  They care that Amazon is blowing them out of the water.  They should be learning from Amazon and adapting, but instead they claim that Amazon is the devil while trying to hide their own horns.

Bob Mayer brings up a good point about the hypocrisy of the Author's Guild, BEA and certain authors.  If Amazon is so evil then why don't they pull their books?

Exactly.


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Curious About King

There has been much and more written lately about the supposed "war" between Traditional and Indie writers.  I'm not going to expound on that right now, except to say that I think either is a fine choice.  I love self publishing and I'm sure that I will continue to do so as long as it is a viable way to reach readers and make money.  But if a Trad deal fell into my lap, I can't say that I'd turn my nose up at it.

Like many others, I'm of the opinion that it wouldn't hurt to dabble in both arenas.  There is no "war", no competition--except in the minds of those that resent the other side.

Crap!  I said I wasn't going to expound.  *shrugs*  Oh, well.

It's a great time to be a writer.  We have more choices than ever to get our stories out there.  The power is shifting back to where it belongs:  into the hands of those that read stories and those that create stories.

There are some on the indie side of the coin that shake their heads and wag their fingers at Trad writers that are supporting their publishers.  They think they are obtuse, archaic, brainwashed and shortsighted.

Am I one of those people?  Sometimes, but not always.  Just like most of you, I'm complex and my views shift depending on the information I've assimilated.  Most days, though, I understand why Trad writers stay.  It's comfortable.  It's safe.  Publishers are the ones that brought them into the light, made them their money.  And right now print books are still outselling ebooks.  I stress the "right now" part.  I understand.  It seems treacherous to turn your back on people you were seeking approval from.

What I don't understand is why more Trad writers aren't at least testing the self publishing waters.  That's what seems shortsighted to me.  Don't burn your bridges.  Don't bite the hand that feeds you.  But why not stretch your legs and wander outside your own yard?  There is a whole big world out there.

Take for instance Stephen King's decision to publish his latest book, Joyland, as a print version only.

Mr. King has been a revolutionary force in writing.  He has talked candidly about the biases and snobbery of the writing world (mostly literary vs genre writers).  He has expanded into movies, mini-series, and experimented with almost every way to tell a story.  In 2000, way before the ebook explosion, he stepped out and released Riding the Bullet in an electronic format.

So, now he as decided to cut off a whole section of readers.  I know he says it's due to his love of paper books, but I don't quite buy that.

I'm not saying Mr. King should shuck off his Traditional Publishing cloak and put on the mantle of the self publisher, but I'm a bit surprised he hasn't at least dipped his toes in the water.  If any writer has the power to go it alone--even if it's just one book--he does.  His name alone sells millions of books.  He has the connections in the industry.  He can definitely afford the upfront cost of producing a quality book.

So why not try?

It may be that if King tries and succeeds at publishing his own work that it would encourage other Trad writers to follow and would speed the collapse and restructuring (not death) of the Traditional world.  I don't know, but I think that stepping over all of the readers that prefer digital books is an unwise decision on King's part.

Joe Konrath addressed this very topic on his blog.  Konrath predicts that Joyland will be one of the most pirated books.  He also showcased what he believes will be the next big thing . . . animated ebook covers.  I think he may just be right.

So, what do you think?  Is Stephen King crazy?  Out of date?  On the right path?  An indestructible futuristic writing cyborg sent back in time to depress me about my own writing?

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Comic Relief

Wow.  Has it really been almost a month since my last post?  Sorry about that.  Some day I'll get the hang of blogging.

On to my point.

There has been a rash of comic book movies in the past several years, and in truth, I love almost every one of them.  In know they are unrealistic, somewhat corny, predictable films, but I'll watch them every time.

Many writers will brag that they have been avid readers from an early age.  And not just that, they were reading high quality literature, nothing low brow.  I read Dostoevsky at the age of three.  Yeah, well good for you.

I was no slouch in the reading department, but as a young man my taste ran more toward comic books than "appropriate literature".  My parents were never distressed by this and were happy to feed my addiction as long as I agreed to keep it within a budget.  But there are many that looked down their noses at reading that sort of drivel.

But I have great memories of going to the comic book stores in town and roaming the aisles for hours.  Or during recess me and my friends would run around the playground playing X-Men.  I always wanted to be Wolverine, but my buddy Israel always claimed that persona.  I most often played the part of Beast.  We would draw our own characters, and write our own comics.

I think this was the beginning of my writing life.  It was those comics that taught me to love story telling and world-creating.  They carried me to the greater works and kindled a fire in my imagination.

So, go easy on those kids and their comic books.  They aren't all bad.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fear is an Empty Page

I'm on the verge of starting a new novel (writing not reading).  Well, I'm actually a bit past that.  I had intended on starting a couple of weeks ago, but something got in my way . . . FEAR.

I'm not the kind of writer that uses outlines.  I lean a bit more toward free writing.  I know this causes all the outliners to gasp and shake their heads.  What about the plot holes?  The dead ends?  The run on writing?  Truth is, that's not what I'm afraid of.  Free writing comes natural to me and some of my best ideas come straight out of the blue.

What is it that scares me, then?  A blank page does.

Once I get words down on paper (more like computer screen) then my muse usually kicks in and the story unfolds on its own.  Now, that's not to say I don't hit snags that have to be fixed in the rewrites, but most often the Fear stays away.

But it's the moments just before starting, the time when you sit down to a blank page and search for the perfect opening line, that gets me.  That's when I start second guessing my muse.  Are you sure I shouldn't write this thing in first person?  Should this character live or die?  Is a mutant dragon/unicorn really necessary to my YA Police/Doctor drama with sparkly swamp creatures that teach children to do taxes?

The problem is, this new novel has a few elements that I've never tried before.  It's dystopian, it's the first in a series, and the horror aspect of the story has the capacity, if not done right, to come of as hackneyed and b-rated.

So, here I sit, procrastinating, second guessing, staring at a blank page.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If You Dream It . . .

It's no big secret that I'm a HUGE Jim Carrey fan.  I remember seeing this guy flail around on stage during his stand up, or drive me into fits of hilarity while he was on In Living Color.  Even back then, I knew he was going to be something special (like most everyone else).

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't stalk the guy, but I do find him very interesting.  Below is an interview with Mr. Carrey.  Pay special attention to his story about the bike.  It is a wonderful testament to the power of positive thinking, and I believe it applies to all of us reaching for a dream.

My dream?  To be the self-published Stephen King.  Lofty goal, I know, but I'm putting it out there.  I'll continue to work my butt off and see what doors open to me.

Don't be afraid to speak your dreams aloud.  You never know who might be listening.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What Else Can I Say?

So, I've been considering weighing in on the DoJ's case against Apple and five of the Big Six, but there is so much out there already.  Needless to say, I am taking the DoJ's side in this, and not just because I'm a self-pubber.

There is plenty of Amazon-bashing going on, and I just don't understand it.  Yeah, they are a powerhouse, but they seem to be the only one that is working to improve both the writer's and the reader's experience.

But it's late and I spent the day digging large rocks out of my yard, so I think I'll defer this to three people that can blog circles around me.

Nathan Bransford tackles the subject in his post What Will the Book World Look Like After the DoJ Lawsuit?

Then there is the ever-vocal Joe Konrath and his post The Agency Model Sucks.

And lastly is David Gaughran's Don't Be Fooled: Big Publishing Hates Competition.

Sorry for phoning this post in, but my hands hurt and I really need to get to bed.  If these three can't convince you that the Big Six don't care about you, then there isn't much I can say that will.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Free Weekend Results

This past weekend I used the last two days of my KDP Select free days.  In my previous post I shared some helpful tips others had used to make the best of their free days.  If you are planning on signing up with KDP Select and you haven't read that post, go now.  Right now!

I came across many of those tips too late, and wasn't able to implement them, but you better believe I will with the next book.

I used the first of my five days at the end of January.  I did a moderate amount of tweeting, I did a blog post, and did an all out Facebook assault, hitting every book related page I could find.  The results:  221 free US downloads for Contemplations of Dinner and 740 free US downloads for Guarding the Healer.  I was pretty happy with that, though I didn't see very many paid sales follow behind.

I used two more days at the end of February.  I fell ill to a bad case of self-promotion remorse so I did a little tweeting, a blog post and very little on Facebook.  Self promotion can be a lot like drinking a gallon of castor oil, but it doesn't have to be that way.  If done right it can be an enjoyable experience.  I, however, didn't do it right.  The results:  23 free US downloads for Contemplations of Dinner and 346 free US downloads for Guarding the Healer.  Ouch.  And that was over two days.  That just goes to show you, if you don't care to spread the word about your books no one else will, either.

For the final two days I went all out.  I tweeted up a a storm.  I carpet-bombed Facebook.  I contacted all the places that mention free books.  I highly recommend you read my previous post and follow the links.  The results: 2,038 free US downloads for Contemplations of Dinner and 4,565 free US downloads of Guarding the Healer.  Wow! What a difference.  Contemplations topped out at #126 in the overall free rankings and hit #2 in Horror>Short Story.  Guarding the Healer topped out at #84 in overall free and stayed in the top 100 for a good while.  I've had a steady stream (albeit a small one) of paid sales and I've already received a 5 star review.

Although I'm not going to re-enroll these two books in KDP Select, I'm pretty sure that I'll be giving it another try with the next book.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another Round on Me

I'm here to announce my final two day giveaway for both of my books, Guarding the Healer and Contemplations of Dinner.  Both will be FREE from 12:00 am PST March 23rd until 11:59 pm PST March 24th.

Like most other writers I had my reservations when Amazon first announced their KDP Select program.  Then, like everyone else, I started hearing all the success stories of books coming off of their free promotions.  I wasn't selling much of anything on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, so I figured what the heck.  It's only three months, after all, and e-books are forever.

I split my five free days into three sections: one in January, two in February, and the last two this weekend.  I wish that I could tell you that I am one of those writers enjoying an enormous sales boon, but alas, I can't.  My downloads were nice while the books were free, but nothing to write home about.  The numbers quickly dropped off once the books were no longer free.

But don't let that discourage you.  I made a lot of mistakes.

Kristen Lamb tackled the subject of FREE a while back in her post R-E-S-P-E-C-T isn't Free.  I really wish I would have read this before I joined KDP Select.  Would it have stopped me from trying it out?  No, but I would have waited a bit longer.  I don't agree with everything she writes, but there is a lot of good wisdom in this post.  She's a smart chick and if you don't already, I recommend you start stalking reading her blog.

David Gaughran is another intelligent writer that has been scrutinizing the Select program.  He has had many guest bloggers post about their KDP successes.  In his post Why Giving Away Thousands of Free Books is a Good Thing, author Tony James Slater lays out an amazing story: 22, 701 downloads!  Don't think it was easy, though.  He put a lot of thought and elbow grease into the venture, but it paid off.  I've often heard it said that "Preparation always precedes a blessing".

If you go over to Digital Books Today and read their post Maximize Your KDP Select Free Days you will find a cornucopia of great advice from author Ruth Francisco.  Once again, I wish I would have read all of these posts before I signed up.  Oh well.  There is always the next book.

So, while KDP has yet to lead me to large paying sales, it doesn't mean is has to be that way for you.  You'll just have to prepare a little better than I did.  I tried to implement as many tips as I could for this last free promotion, so hopefully this will be the one that brings me to #1 and starts bringing in the dead presidents.

If you haven't downloaded my books yet, then please stop by sometime this Friday or Saturday and take advantage of the free.  And don't forget to spread the word.  As always, I can use all the help I can get.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

A Note of Encouragement

 A few days ago I received an email from my wife.  You see, I've been a bit down about my writing lately.  The second draft of my current novel is taking longer than expected, and I've been having those neurotic writer's spells where I feel like every word I type is utter crap (should I use crap here?  Isn't there a better word I could use?  Stop that!).  And as always things are moving W A Y . . . T O O . . . S L O W for my liking.  As soon as I perfect my Straight-From-Brain-Downloading-System I should be able to pump out half a dozen books a month.  I'm almost there.  The test monkeys have stopped exploding and now only sizzle.

Sorry.  Back to my sensitive mental state.


I usually get this way when I read one of those ultra successful authors whose books are so good it should be criminal.  I start comparing my work to theirs and it's just an epic shame spiral from there.  In the past my melancholy has stemmed from King, Koontz, Rice, Saul, McCammon . . . you can see a pattern here.  Lately I've been reading the Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin.

Although I hadn't really said anything, my wife could tell I was down.  This is what her email said:


A Game of Thrones is a huge hit but it wasn't always that way.  It took almost 15 years from the time it was first published to the time it reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.  It didn't happen overnight but it did happen. 

This is from Wikipedia: "
A Game of Thrones is the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire, a series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin. It was first published on 6 August 1996. The novel won the 1997 Locus Award,[1] and was nominated for both the 1998 Nebula Award[2] and the 1997[1] World Fantasy Award. The novella Blood of the Dragon, comprising the Daenerys Targaryen chapters from the novel, won the 1997 Hugo Award for Best Novella. In January 2011 the novel became a New York Times bestseller[3] and reached #1 on the list in July 2011."

If you keep going and doing all the awesome work you're doing I'm sure it won't take that long for you to see the success you deserve.  Love you babe!


Pretty cool lady, huh?

That's the thing about those divine writers.  Even though they bring an enormous pile of self-doubt to people like me, they simultaneously drive me to write better/harder/smarter (dang! what word should I use?).  And just because my novels aren't selling great today doesn't mean they won't be bestsellers tomorrow.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Do Believe in Fairies

Who wouldn't want to fly and live forever?

In 2003 one of the many versions of Peter Pan came out. This is the one with Jason Isaacs (a.k.a. Lucius Malfoy) playing George Darling and Captain Hook. It's a good flick and I recommend it. A few months ago we came across this movie on Netflix and now my 3 year old daughter is hooked . . . no pun intended.
She wants to watch it every day. Sometimes she watches it several times a day. She has asked me to call Peter and invite him over to our house and even claims she is going to marry him.

My e-book sales haven't been what I want them to be. I've had some decent success with KDP Select as far as free downloads go, but nothing to brag about. But my paid sales haven't taken off like other authors. Now if I was traditionally published, my lackluster sales would put me at odds to get another contract, my book would eventually disappear from shelves and I'd most likely have to start writing under a pen name.

The Peter Pan movie is pushing a decade in age, yet even after all that time it still gained a fan in my daughter. We are going to be buying the DVD soon so that me and my wife can regain the TV. The great thing about e-books is that they are forever. Bad sales today does not hinder the chance of finding a fan base in the future. Joe Konrath often talks of how some of his older novels cycle around and become the best sellers.

This is the hope I hold on to. This is what keeps me writing. And if you believe hard enough even that which is dead can live again.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Year of Technology

I've always been behind the curve on technology.  When the original Nintendo came out, and my friends were all playing this new game called Super Mario Bros., I was racing Pole Position on my Atari 2600, on a black-and-white TV none the less.  By the time I got a Nintendo I believe the Super Nintendo was already growing old.  I didn't have a TV in my bedroom or access to a computer until I got married.

It's not that I have a problem with technology.  Video games remain one of the greatest threats to my writing.  I'm just somehow always slow to get on the bandwagon.  For Christmas I got my very own Kindle Touch and recently I traded in my Motorola Razr (that I had been carrying for almost 5 years) for an iPhone.

My point?  I don't know, does there have to be one?  Oh, okay.

Technology is awesome.

The late Steve Jobs truly was the Thomas Edison of our time.  His inventions revolutionized they way we live and interact.  I grew up with a rotary land-line phone.  We didn't have cable.  I remember when we got our first VCR (it was the size of a boombox and had a remote tethered to it by a 10 foot cord) and I can recall a time before microwaves.  And now we have a pocket sized portable computers that give us instant access to just about anything we want and connects us to people all around the globe.  It's so ingrained in our lives that most people can't function without it (I mean smart phones in general, not just iPhones).  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not, but it sure is a fun toy.

I fought the idea of e-books with all of my writerly dignity until a saucy, out-spoken scribbler named Joe Konrath converted me.  Self publishing has given me a whole new look on writing and I love reading on my Kindle.  I'm right in the middle of The Game of Thrones: A Clash of Kings, but it's the dead tree, hardback version.  Every time I lug that turtle-cracker around I lament that it's not on my sweet little Kindle.  I'm not saying that I'm giving up paper books completely, but I can't see myself spending $20 - $30 for a hardback anytime soon.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

TINSTAAFL

In high school my economics teacher taught me about TINSTAAFL (There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) and the concept has been with me ever since.  Simply put, everything in life costs someone something.  This concept does not just apply to economics, but to every aspect of life itself.  Consider Newton's Third Law of Motion.

What does this have to do with writing?  Conflict.

Every story should have conflict.  Without conflict there is no story.  If no price is paid then there is no conflict.  It's as simple as that.

No matter what our days are like, whether adventurous or boring, we pay a price for every action we make.  The price may be time, or money, or pride and sometimes even our very lives.  But everyone pays.

It is well known around my house that I do not like the Twilight series.  Now before I get into my rant, please know, I do not think that people that love Twilight are stupid or anything like that.  My wife is actually a huge fan of Twilight (both the books and movies).  I'm just going to explain what I have against it.  I have an old saying.  Opinions are like butts.  Everyone has one, and most of the time they stink.  Crass, I know.

Spoiler Alert.  If you haven't read the Twilight Series and don't want to know how it ends, stop reading here.

Okay, one of the first things I don't like about Twilight is Bella herself.  She is a very annoying character; awkward and self-conscious.  Now, I know that we are all that way sometimes, but she takes it to a point that distracts from the story.  She is beautiful and popular, yet her self-esteem is so low that she sees herself as ugly and boring.  Beautiful people often feel this way, but Bella pontificates about it so much that I couldn't stand to read about her.  Have you ever been around a very skinny person who complains about how fat they are?  Annoying, right?  Now place that same person in the midst of people who actually have a weight problem.  All of a sudden their self critiquing becomes insulting.

The main issue I have though is that Bella's little adventure costs nothing . . . at all.  For four long books she whines and complains, sometimes like a petulant child, about wanting to become a vampire.  So, how does the series end?  With Bella getting everything she wants.  That's not a bad thing, but it should cost you something.

Does Edward die?  No.  Jacob?  No.  Her parents?  Her friends?  Any of the Cullens?  Does she die?  No, no, no and no.  Instead, after four books of tantrums, Bella marries Edward, gets pregnant, becomes a vampire, and even has the baby with very little pain to her or those she loves.  There is no war between the Wolf Pack and the Cullens.  And no big showdown between the forces of good and evil (a.k.a. the Volturi).  It ends with a very anti-climatic live-and-let-live compromise.  Sure a few vampires are ripped apart, but so what?  No big loss.

An adventure should cost something.  Vampire Bella doesn't even crave human blood.

I know these are just stories.  Vampires and werewolves don't exist (that I know of), and it's all in good fun.  But every story has an underlying message.  A moral, if you will.  What is the moral of Twilight?  Complain long enough and you'll get everything your little narcissistic heart desires.

Now compare Twilight to Harry Potter.  Harry is a victim of circumstances beyond his control.  Bella pushes her way into trouble like a spoiled child.  Harry, though he loves being a wizard, would have been happy just to get away from his abusive family.  Bella feels entitled to immortality.  Many people die to protect Harry and bring him to his goal of defeating Voldemort.  Harry is humbled by this to the point that he willingly sacrifices himself to save the others.  Bella gets everything her little bratty heart desires, and it cost her nothing.

In my humble opinion, the story would have been much better had Bella died in childbirth, or Edward by the hands of the Volturi, and the baby comes along to set matters right.  But what do I know?  Stephanie Meyer is a billionaire, traditionally published author and I'm just a blue collar shlub who earns less than a pittance on my self published stories.  And I'm sure there are many who will claim that something so bad would never have captured the attention of so many.  You might want to read this.

I will admit to a bit of jealousy, but that still doesn't sway my opinion.  It's just not a good story.  But don't take my word for it.  Many wiser heads have made their own observations.

Before you strike out to write me some hate mail please remember:

I don't HATE Twilight.  I only dislike it.
If you do like/love it, that doesn't mean I question your intelligence or sanity.
It doesn't mean I think Ms. Meyer doesn't deserve every penny she's earned.
And last, but not least, it's only my opinion, and much like my butt, it sometimes stinks.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Simply Thankful Saturday

I've been lacking on subjects for blog posts of late.  I'm trying my best not to constantly blog about my own writing, as that is narcissistic and boring.  But, I don't really have all that much else to talk about.  I'm not an expert in the technical side of writing.  I'm not at a place where I would call myself a successful indie writer, so I feel a bit uncomfortable about giving out writing advice.  And I don't live a very exciting life.  I go to work, come home, play with my kids and in between I write as much as I can.

I wish I had more to offer you.  Really, I do.

So, for lack of a better subject, I'm going to steal a post idea from my wife's new blog.

It's time for Simply Thankful Saturday.  Here is a random list of things I'm thankful for.

1. My wife.  Times have been tough, financially speaking, the last couple of years.  But through the struggle we've been given a glimpse of the truly important things in life.  She's a great support for my writing, even though right now it's more of an expensive hobby than a lucrative job.

2. My kids.  They are a crazy couple of gremlins.  They wreck up the house.  They leave no clean space unsoiled.  I haven't had a good days rest since they came along.  But when they smile and hug my neck, it's worth every minute.

3. My Kindle.  I love my paper books, don't get me wrong, but e-readers have made reading so much more convenient.  I can carry my library with me.  No more bulky hardbacks.  Plus, the technology has given many great writers a chance to get their work out to the world.

4. The warm weather.  Indiana has been having a warm winter this year.  Many are upset about this.  They want the cold.  They want the snow.  Not me.  I wouldn't mind snow if I could just hunker down for the winter and hibernate, but alas, I must go to work.  Part of my job requires that I do snow removal.  No snow makes me a happy worker.

5. My writing friends.  I have made a lot of new writing comrades over the past couple of years, and each has taught me something new.  They have been there to help me promote my work, or be a beta reader, or even design a cover for me in a pinch.  Their blogs are a treasure trove of information.  My hope is that I can be the same for them.

It's easy to get bogged down in the dismal side of writing.  Don't forget what Yoda said. "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."  Remembering what you're thankful for is a great way to fight the fear.