Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Wrap-Up: Writing, Review, and the Final Days


I have amazed myself with what I can accomplish when I really set a goal and strive for it!  I decided on DEC 22 that I was going to finally write a story I’d been dreaming on for a while, and get it done in time to submit it to the current quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest.  That deadline being DEC 31st.  So I had one week to get this done, even with Christmas and working four 13-hour shifts.  

To my own amazement, I made it!  And in doing so, learned a little about myself, my writing, and conquered a couple of imaginary barriers within myself to getting things done. 

One being, the false idea that I have to be setup in 95% perfect surroundings and situation in ordered to get real writing done.  That shouldn’t be necessary.  As I’m fond of saying but not of practicing: “Mood is a thing for cattle, and love play, not for writing!”  (If that sounds familiar or you’re hearing it in Patrick Stewart’s voice, I stole it from 1984’s Dune movie and changed one word.  Can you guess which?) 

Another one is embracing the teachings of Heinlein and Dean Wesley Smith.  Specifically, I sat down, banged out the story, and with just a once-over of revision, sent that bastard out!  BAM!  Now it’s time to move on to new stories of wonder! 

(Actually, it’s time to get my butt back to writing the sequel—or rather prequel—to Hungry Gods.)

In other news, this blog has now officially surpassed the 100,000 page view mark.  Woo-hoo for that!

And with 2016 only days away, I have of course been refining my goals for the next year.  I actually started working toward that in October and have been making progress since then. 

One aspect of that is to do even less blogging than usual (which isn’t that much to begin with), less Facebook (maybe even do away with it all together), less Tweeting (again, virtually none now), and less of all the messing around that isn’t writing.  Only WRITING is writing.  Everything else is of limited value.  Very, very limited, in my opinion. 

I did spend an awful lot of time on other-than-writing things in 2015, including some reformatting, republishing, and too much marketing (though not nearly enough by some folks’ standards).  My research and experiments in marketing proved that the amount of money and time dumped into that stuff does not come back to you.  Or at least, it didn’t come back to me.  I think the marketing market is exaggerated by those who stand to make a buck from it, while those of us trying to utilize it (under peer pressure from those who may or may not really know what they’re talking about) end up not getting the exaggerated results we were promised.  I think you have to be at least a minor-league Somebody for any of that marketing to do your book sales much good.  And in order to get there, you have to do more writing! 

So my goals for words produced keep going up, even while my time allowed for doing so keeps going down.  Though I did surpass the 100,000 mark on words written this year!  Actually, about 123,000w.  Woo-hoo for that, too!  Now that word count is a measure of work done, not necessarily of words published in books.  My blogging this right now goes into that count, as does time spent revising, adjusted as half as many words – it’s a weird equation, but one I’m comfortable with.  Because, again, it’s a measurement for me on how much writing work I’ve done, and this year I did a damn good job, considering I work 50+ hours a week, have a family, and spent 2-3 months barely writing as I was gearing up for a deployment to the Middle East.  And in 2016, I hope to be even more productive.

I also learned a lot this year.  One of those lessons, in fact, was to not spell out exactly what I did learn or what my ever-shifting plans may be.  Therefore, I’m not going to say anything more about that.

In fact, I’m not going to say anything more at all right now.  Happy New Year, everyone.  Now, I have writing to do!



Sunday, December 13, 2015

Superheroes vs Alien Invasion


My short novel Invasion is now available.  Again.

Let me explain.  Invasion first appeared in Dreams of Flying, but the way it ended I realized that the story had to go on.  Invasion is now the first of a series that I hope to complete in the next few years.  (Dreams of Flying, then, will be republished with some new material to take Invasion's place later on.)

Here's the description:

The future of the Identity Crisis Universe hangs in the balance.

A swarm of biomechanical monsters attack the Volans Space Station during a test of its artificial gravity system.  Two of the station’s engineers, however, are more than just astronauts. 

The Earth’s Apex superheroes—a physicist turned nuclear colossus, a hyper-intelligent silverback gorilla, and an otherworldly gladiator —are all that stand between an alien beachhead and the billions of innocent lives below.  Adam Smasher, Symian, and Ballista must fight off an insectoid infestation with one foot in the airlock, and the other kicking inorganic butt back into space.

But repelling the first wave may not be enough.  In order to safeguard the Earth, the trio volunteer to leave this world behind and venture into deep space, where the void—and the mission—may be darker and colder than they ever expected.


Fifteen years after the events of Hungry Gods, the superhero lineup is very different, and about to change even more.  J. D. Brink’s mature brand of spandex adventure comes to a new series for grownup fanboys and fangirls of every timeline. 

*  *  *

This puppy is only available as an ebook right now, paperback coming soon (weighs in at 160 pages).  Here's a few places you can find it, but there are others.  Try your favorite ebook outlet, chances are it'll be there:
Amazon  
B&N  
iBooks  
Kobo  


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Superhero and Zombie Audiobook


After a lot of hard voice work by Todd Menesses, the Hungry Gods audiobook is available for purchase!  Don't have time to read anymore?  Maybe a chapter during the commute or at the gym is just what you need.

Find this fun superheroes versus zombies adventure in three convenient cyberspace locations:




Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tarnish: Fantasy Trilogy


My coming-of-age, fantasy novel Tarnish is now available in trilogy form!  The whole thing is certainly still available in its full 130,000 word unabridged version (as an ebook, paperback, and audiobook), but since that’s equivalent to three regular novels anyway, I thought I might as well break it down into its three “acts” and see what happens.  So readers can pick up the same novel that’s been out there, or they can try it in a smaller series of books with some cool new covers (which were great fun to make).

Here’s each book’s cover and individual description:


Silver, they call it, the light of the full moon: celestial magic that changes men into beasts and calls the dead from their graves... and young men to their destiny.

Billy Cole is the son of legendary folk hero Ian the Black.  He should be marching to war, battling dragons, and rescuing fair maidens.  Unfortunately for him, the war is long over, the last dragon was slain by the Dread Duke, and all the girls in Redfield are either several years younger than him or already married.  Billy is sixteen springs old and ready for a life of valor and excitement.  So far, however, he seems destined only for boredom and manual labor in a small farm town. 

Then a scarecrow tries to kill him and a monster of swamp water and vines trudges into town and attacks his father.  Evil has risen from the Blood Marsh and Redfield needs a hero.

And while Billy has the brass to take on an entire army alone, he’s smart enough to know better.  Instead, he straps on the sword of Trevor the Red and takes the name Wil Thunderstrike—wandering hero and teller of tales—to venture into the Free Fertile Lands and find the help they need.

But the world beyond Redfield isn’t like in the tavern tales, and not everyone who carries a sword is a hero.

Tarnish is a grittier coming of age tale than you’re used to, where destiny is forged, not written.



Wil Thunderstrike’s journey into legend continues…

Forging ahead despite his earlier failures, Wil Thunderstrike arrives in the shadowy city of Fellwater in search of his prey, the bandit Mad Dog McCray.  And seeking the heroes he needs to save his hometown, of course. 

Though it’s easy to get distracted in a place like Fellwater.  Gambling on boxing matches and chasing a flirtatious pickpocket prove to be dangerous forms of entertainment.  Wil soon finds that he’s making more enemies than friends. 

Meanwhile, back in Redfield, Trevor and Ian fight to hold off the Blood Marsh and to hold the town together.  Farmers and tradesmen, however, make poor soldiers and in this small war, there will be casualties.

But all is not lost.  Wil meets a rival storyteller who promises to introduce him to just the kind of hero he’s looking for to save his home.

And only then do the real trials of William Thunderstrike begin.



The making of William Thunderstrike concludes in this action-packed volume.

Billy Cole—formerly Wil Thunderstrike, now the warrior Lockheed—has started down a new heroic career path as one of León Shimmerskin’s champions.  But the illustrious tales of the Colors Three never prepared him for his new patron’s particular brand of justice.  The path of the traveling hero, it seems, is darker than he’d imagined.

When he at last returns to Redfield, Lockheed must face the tragedies that have befallen his home and its people.  And by his own actions, he will either prevent or bring about even more of them. 

The final battle for Redfield is coming, and it will decide not only the fate of Billy Cole’s home, but that of his soul as well.

*  *  *

This series is available only in ebook form at all major retailers: The Quest ($0.99), Among the Shadows ($2.99) and Heroes and Villains ($2.99). 


Monday, November 30, 2015

Love Hurts Anthology Released!


I'm excited to announce that Meerkat Press's LOVE HURTS has now been officially published.  Here's the skinny:
*
Twenty-six brilliant speculative fiction stories about love, and the pain that so often accompanies it. Enjoy a cornucopia of imaginative tales, wondrous settings, and unforgettable characters—such as the disillusioned time traveler who visits ancient Japan to experience a “Moment of Zen,” the young woman from planet Kiruna who can only communicate in song when the moonlet Saarakka is up, and the sorcerer who loses their happiness in a bet with a demon.


Rich and wonderfully diverse, this collection spans many speculative fiction genres: from SciFi to Dystopian, from Fantasy to Magical Realism, from Steampunk to Superhero, from Horror to Weird. Sometimes funny, occasionally happy, frequently gut-wrenching—these stories will take your heart on a wild emotional ride.


Stories by Jeff VanderMeer, Hugh Howey, Karin Tidbeck, Charlie Jane Anders, Holly Phillips, Aliette de Bodard, A. Merc Rustad, Steve Simpson, Mel Paisley, J. D. Brink, Matt Leivers, Michael Milne, Michal Wojcik, Carla Dash, Terry Durbin, Michelle Ann King, Kyle Richardson, Leah Brown, G. Scott Huggins, Dan Micklethwaite, Victoria Zelvin, Shannon Phillips, Keith Frady, Jody Sollazzo, David Stevens, and Morgen Knight.
*
You can find ebook and paperbacks on Amazon by clicking here.  Can't wait to get my copy!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Free and Discounted Fantasy Fiction: Final Phase of the Fall Fallout

Wow, that's a lot of F's.

This is the final week of my "Fall Fallout Campaign" during which I've been running discounts on almost all of my ebooks.  I don't expect to be running any deals for quite some time, so get them while you can!


My 400-page fantasy novel Tarnish is just 0.99 (dollars or pounds, US or UK) right now through the 22nd.  You can find it on Amazon by clicking here now.

Being a hero isn’t as easy as the tavern tales would have you believe. 

Billy Cole has always been a quick study, be it at telling tales, brewing ale, or swordplay. 

And yet it surprises Wil Thunderstrike, his alter ego, at just how hard and fast the lessons come on his first venture into the real world of back-alley thieves, traveling talespinners, and warriors of renown.  

Wil’s quest is to find epic heroes to save his home town, but it'll take more than a sword and the inspiring tales of his legendary idols to survive the harsh world beyond Redfield.  And the further he travels into the night, the darker he gets.

Tarnish is a grittier coming-of-age story than you’re used to, where destiny is forged, not written.  


What kind of hero would you be?


You can also pick up The Prince of Luster and Decay, a Tarnish prequel story, for FREE through the 22nd.  Find it on Amazon right now by clicking here.

In war, men don't only fight the enemy. Sometimes they must also fight themselves.

Sergeant Knox leads the Head Knockers, a unit of scout-saboteurs in the war against the Dread Duke and his armies. They are the favorite squad among Captain Brighton’s Stormwalkers, until an ambush kills the Captain, half the company, and Knox’s best men.

Now the new Captain has new orders.  He’s sending the Head Knockers to investigate the possible source of the attack.  The town they find appears empty, but there’s something waiting for them there.  And they’ll need both heart and steel to defeat it.


This stand alone, sword and soldiery novella gives a glimpse into history of the fantasy novel Tarnish.

Only a few days left!
  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Writer vs. Publisher: Superhero vs. Alter Ego


I find myself spending all my "writing" time working on "publisher" tasks and not getting enough new writing done.

Lately I'm doing all of the following (other than writing):

  * Searching for, discussing/negotiating with, and preparing materials for a cover artist.
  * Filing paperwork and scheduling time for having a book sale and signing in the next couple weeks (at which time I'll spend a whole day doing that instead of writing).
  * Reformating (and trying to resist the urge to revise again) a novella I'm republishing as it's own stand-alone book.
  * Reviewing/listening to the audiobook files for Hungry Gods that's in production now.
  * Fretting over what project I should be working on next (while actually writing the prequel to Hungry Gods) and figuring out a schedule of intended works for 2016.
  * Scheduling and marketing my "Fall Fallout" sales campaign, of which the third and final phase is on right now.
  * Continuing to send out short stories when they come back rejected, researching the next best market, and getting it back into the "mail," as well as recording all of that.

Very frustrating, and I wonder how much of it is necessary.  I need to start sacrificing some of this for actual writing.  The sacrifice I see making (which I'm sure flies in the face of many fellow indies in my position) is the marketing/promotion!  I really don't think it pays back the time and money we tend to dump into it, so I'm not going to allow it to suck up much time.  Even though I have a sale on RIGHT NOW!  

And all of this is on top of working 50+ hours a week and having a family.  This is why time is more valuable to me than money!

So what I'm saying is, I need to be Clark Kent less often and Superman much more!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Love Hurts Anthology Cover Reveal


I'm super excited for this book to release, probably because I have a story in it!  Publication date is set for December 1st.  You can check out the list of author's whose work will be featured by clicking here.  (And make special note of name number three on the list...)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Indie Writing, Marketing Controversy, and Naked Numbers

In this new era of indie publishing (a chimera that isn’t done evolving yet, maybe never will be), there’s a lot of talk and controversy about marketing.  Actually, there’s a lot of talk and controversy just about every aspect, but I’m talking about my experience with marketing today.  I have recently completed an October promotion campaign and wanted to share my results.  You can take them for whatever they are worth to you. 


I came into this with two thoughts about the whole indie book marketing monstrosity:

1) The book marketing business is a hundred times bigger than the actual indie author business.  Every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a website will gladly take your money to spend five seconds posting your book, and all those guys are making a thousand times more than your average indie writer. 

2) Despite what they would have you believe, marketing your indie books can have only a limited effect unless you are already well known and/or already have quite a backlist of books to gain a residual benefit from. 

These past two weeks have only reinforced these two notions for me.

I have heard it said many times, and with good reason, that the best way to promote your books is to write the next book.  I had decided well before today that until I have half-a-million words in print, I’m not going to go overboard trying to promote anything.  My “Fall Fallout Campaign,” as I have dubbed it, is my biggest promo effort to date.  I figured you have to spend money to make money, which is no doubt true, but I also expected to be disappointed.  Given all this, my results aren’t all that surprising.  And despite the potential embarrassment of exposing these less-than-best seller numbers, I hope doing so will be helpful to some of my fellow indies.  Maybe they’ll keep a few more dollars in their pockets and a few more hours in their chairs, writing.  This whole campaign, small though it is, has distracted the vast majority of my writer’s time away from banging out forward progress on a keyboard.  The money is more than I’d yet invested in marketing, but it wasn’t horrible.  I expect I’ll make it up by the end of the year anyway. 

That said, I should also note that when you do some marketing and a big sale, part of the purpose is to sell more books in the future, and at full price, so the short term monetary gains and losses aren’t the main goal.  Still, there is such a thing as spending too much on false promises.  Again, there seem to be a lot of folks out there happy to take your money for “advertising” your books, even if the expected results aren’t quite what they advertised to you. 

Okay, after all that introduction, on to the actual campaign.


I have thus far completed two of three legs of my “Fall Fallout Campaign.”  The first was for my SF novelette The Thorne Legacy.  I also put a handful of books exclusively on Kindle Unlimited for a 90 day stretch to see if that would help me any.  It hasn’t.  Well, my novel did get a few KU downloads, but so far I have gotten no reviews from them and have only been paid a half-cent per page, which is far less than if someone bought the book.  So overall, in this 90 day period, I don’t see any overwhelming benefit convincing me to cut out all retailers except Amazon.  So I’ll be coming back out of the KU exclusivity and posting to all my channels again next month.

The Thorne Legacy ran free for five days, during which time I gave away 444 copies.  Pretty good.  Not the thousands of new readers I was hoping for, but I’ll take it.  In addition to minor efforts on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads (costing only my time), I also used the following sites at the cited prices:

$$$
0
indiebookoftheday.com
14.99
BookMarketingTools.com
5
Kindle Book Review Daily
0
awesomegang.com
5
freediscountedbooks.com
30
indie.kindlenationdaily.com

This totaled about $55 with no immediate monetary return.  Basically, I paid about 12 cents a copy to give them away.  I can live with that.  Hopefully this planted seeds that will grow in the future.  Only time will tell.

In October, I decided to spend more cash with the hopes of getting a more immediate return.  For the Halloween season I gave away one book for free and sold two at $0.99, which were normally priced at $5.99 and $4.99.  (Some of you are saying those prices are too high; that’s a conversationfor another day, but you can read my opinion on the matter here.)  The books themselves, I feel, are well written, have a professional look and feel, have few but good, honest ratings, and would be darn good reads for such bargain prices.  (And all of these things are also factors in whether they sell or not.  You can judgefor yourselves, if you like, by checking out my blog post on the salehere.) 


Again, embracing the idea that you have to spend money to make money, I did some research on where it might be best spent and aligned all three book deals so they reinforced each other and all fit the seasonal theme (hoping that more people would be in the mood for some scary-type reading).  I also edited the descriptions of all my works to advertise the Halloween sales on these three.  What I have below is the list of promotion sites I used and how much each cost.  Below that is a day-by-day account of how many books sold.  You’ll notice some spikes on the days that certain ads went off.  From there you can decide for yourself which sites may or may not be worth your hard earned coin.

BOOK
LIVE
SITE
COST
HG
30-Oct
Kindle Nation Daily (& BookGorilla)
99.99
26-Oct
Bargain Booksy
40.00
1-Nov
Fussy Librarian
14.95
25-Oct
Ereader News Today
25.00
P&D
27oct, 28oct
HotZippy’s 13 horror street
10.50
Walk
22oct-26oct
BookMarketingTools.com
14.95
22oct&26oct
Awesomegang feature
10.00

This totaled just over $215.  For my indie operation, that’s a nice chunk of change.  My hope is that I can make more than that back before the end of the year.  (A realistic goal, I think, with the holiday season and a return to normal pricing.)  But as the numbers below show, I took a big loss in the short term.  None of the sites sold their fee’s worth of books on the days in question, and the most expensive (at 100 bucks) wasn’t even the best sales spike.

(And yes, I did query Bookbub multiple times, and—no surprise—didn’t get in.  I think I’ll need at least a hundred more reviews before that’s a possibility.)

It’s worth noting that before the “Fall Fallout Campaign,” I’d been averaging one or two sales a day all year, the vast majority of them being for my novel Hungry Gods.  I noticed a surge in May and June and a drop in August and September, which makes me think the school year is also a factor.  All told, 2015 has been my best year to date as an indie author, with steady growth each year since I started—healthy, realistic growth, in my opinion.  I’m not expecting the lottery ticket, instant millionaire lightning strike that everyone hopes for when they start out.  I’ve moved past those dreams to setting more realistic business goals. 

And, of course, this marketing microcosm is just one guy’s experience in the short term, and there are certainly more factors to consider.  But since I don’t have the funds or the time to do this often, I’ll personally be basing future decisions on these results.  (By the way, these numbers are all from Amazon; I did have a total of 12 sales for the month on other venues, but they aren’t factored in here.)

total paid sales
HG
P&D
Walk (free)
22-Oct
3
3
22
23-Oct
3
3
7
24-Oct
3
3
15
25-Oct
40
39
9
26-Oct
19
18
7
27-Oct
8
7
1
28-Oct
4
4
29-Oct
3
3
30-Oct
30
27
2
31-Oct
2
2
1-Nov
1
1
2-Nov
4
4
3-Nov
0
totals
120
114
3
60


RESULTS:  So what am *I* taking from this?  Well, “Fall Fallout” has one more leg to it in November: a novel down to $0.99 and a related KDP freebie.  I’ve already invested in Amazon KDP advertising for the first time, so that’ll run through the end of the month (and I’ll see how well that goes).  On top of that, I’ll probably place another $25 ad with Ereader News Today, and that’s going to be it.  (The $100 Kindle Nation Daily ad certainly wasn’t worth the exorbitant price.)  For the freebie, I’ll likely go with Book Marketing Tools, which reaches 30+ sites for $15, and that’ll be it for that one.  (I do also have an ongoing campaign with multiple books using Goodreads ads, which renews when the funds get spent, and I’ve so far been pretty happy with.  It’s impossible for me to really know how many clicks there become actual sales, but I consider the service worthwhile.)

And while I wait for Phase Three to kick in next week, I’ll be back to my desk, writing more books and stories.  I don’t plan to bother with any more promotion nonsense until my next big book comes out.  Because no matter what these marketing sites may say, I believe most of the subscription and Twitter numbers they boast about are fellow writers—not readers—and that these most readers find their books by some other means.  I have come to think of myself as having three roles in the indie publishing business: writer (duh), publisher (formatting in different media and getting out to as many venues as possible, and all the research and learning that comes with it), and marketer.  And I bet you can guess which is most important in my model of things, and which is least.  

I hope my experience and this exhaustive, rambling essay has been helpful to some of my fellow indies.


Keep writing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Halloween Sale: Zombies, Vampires, Spandex, and Other Scary Stuff


Now through Halloween weekend (and maybe even "bleeding" into the first couple days of November), you can score two great Halloween-flavored ebooks for just $0.99 each.

Hungry Gods is my best selling work to date, pairing gritty superhero-types with flesh-hungry zombies from a small, Midwestern town (kind of like where I grew up).

On Amazon, you can find it here.

The Prince and the Darkness is actually an even bigger bargain, because it combines two other books into one volume for a total of five tales of creepy content.  If you enjoy sides of crime, noir, and sword and sorcery with your spookfest, give this a read.

Its Amazon home is here.

Not an Amazon user?  You can find links for these books and more on the Fugitive Fiction website, leading you to all the major ebook retailers (just clicking here).


I'll even throw in one for free!  Get A Long Walk Down a Dark Alley for free on Amazon, October 22nd through the 26th.  Click here for its Amazon love nest.

(And to answer your question, yes, A Long Walk does constitute half of The Prince and the Darkness.  The other half is the novelette The Prince of Luster and Decay, which goes for $2.99, so you can still go cheaper by buying P&D while it's only 99 cents!)

Hurry, this is only through Halloween!  And because I prefer writing so much more than marketing, it's not likely to come around again any time soon!

Hellboy: A Review



Yesterday I picked up Hellboy: Wake the Devil from the base library.

My assessment: Pure alchemy.

I am mesmerized and jealous every time I pick up a Hellboy book.  Mignola seamlessly melds history, mythology, the occult, and pure fun.  His storytelling is elemental and irreducible.  And that goes for the visual art too.  It’s obvious that Mignola is the graphic storyteller as well as the scripter, because the two aspects are inseparable in style and psychic impression.  And they are bewitching every time.


My only critique would be that Giurescu (who promised to be a cool villain with a great back story) and even Hellboy himself are upstaged by Rasputin and his crew.  I dare say, given the page time dedicated to them, that Rasputin is the main character of the story.  (Which isn’t all bad, but it does say “Hellboy” on the cover...)

If all you've seen are the movies, you're missing out!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Halloween Giveaway Countdown: 8 Days Left


Eight more days to score one of these signed paperbacks for FREE on Goodreads.  Click here, scroll down, and enter the giveaway.  Clock runs out on October 25th!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Halloween Reading Giveaway: Dark Fantasy Double Feature



Now through October 25th, you can enter to win a free paperback version of my dark fantasy double feature, The Prince and the Darkness.  'Tis the season for a great Halloween read! And this one combines two of my previous works of dark fantasy and horror.  The description follows, right after this link to the Goodreads page, where you can sign up to have me send you one of four signed copies:



The Prince and the Darkness combines A Long Walk Down a Dark Alley and The Prince of Luster and Decay into one bargain-priced volume.

The first four short stories feature wise guys and private eyes, black magic, bleak futures, and the feminine wiles of inhuman beauties. Your imagination will flicker with the atmospheric images of mobsters and monsters, all cast in black and white—and red.

These deliciously dark tales are followed by a lengthy novelette of sword and soldiery warfare, where the enemy isn’t just fought on battlefields, but in the soul as well.


Both originals are also available as ebooks, paperbacks, and richly-told audiobooks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ready, Player One?


I have to stop buying books.  Or maybe get with the times and start reading ebooks.

I keep amassing paperbacks, often to fill out the "free shipping" requirements on Amazon ("I only need to spend 7 more bucks...").  Then they sit on my self for months or years and when I finally get around to reading them, I'm disappointed.  I don't think I could read off a screen--I'm definitely a paperback dinosaur--but I do think I'll be going back to my local library from now on...

I'm only 100 pages into Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, which there has been a hell of a lot of hype about, even from my friends.  And it's a charming, fun kind of story, sure, but...  I just don't think I can stomach anymore 80's references.

I have to compare it to hydrogenated trans fats, where hydrogen atoms are forcibly squeezed in against nature to make SUPER unhealthy fat that eventually kills you.  The narration is not only saturated by contrived references to 80's games, movies, and tv shows, but it's SUPER saturated.  Whatever story might be lurking behind all that has to be pushed out of the way to make room for more exposition about the 1980's.  In 100 pages of book so far, I'd have to say that "80" of them are about the 80's and maybe 20 of them are actual story.

Okay, those 80 pages aren't just about the 80's, but also exhaustive description and exposition about the world or how things work or how things got to be this way.  But it's definitely not forward-moving narrative.

I can't say the reviews and rumors were false, though.  This book's buzz and charm are those very references.  And I am a child of the 80's and a self-confessed D&D and comic book nerd, however I also like a bit of story with my novel.  I don't know that I could get through 300 more pages of this one before a trans fat induced heart attack takes me out.  Therefore, I may be done here.

What's the next dusty book on my shelf...?


UPDATE OCT 11th, 2015:  I never did get back to this book, and today I'm posting my review to GR, Amazon, and B&N (90% of which is copied from the above).

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Free Sci-Fi Ebook, Passing at Light Speed!


Just a quick note to let you all know that starting today (Thursday, Sept. 17) through Monday (Sept. 21), you can nab The Thorne Legacy for FREE on Amazon.  


Here's the description:

He'll be court-martialed. If he lives that long.

Corporal Cranston Thorne is the black sheep of the family and about to be kicked out of System Guard for his selfish and reckless behavior.

His father, Captain Thanos Thorne, would like nothing more than to see that happen. Unfortunately, he can't stay for the trial. A remote outpost at the edge of the system has gone silent and he must take the fleet out to investigate.

The real danger, however, isn't at the edge of the system...


This novelette was Writers of the Future contest finalist in 2012 and also comes in paperback and audio format.  Though only the ebook is free, and it's probably free while you're reading this!  But only for a limited time.

And here's the link to Amazon: 


http://www.amazon.com/Thorne-Legacy-Endless-Dark-ebook/dp/B00ES2GWQW/

Go ahead, enjoy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Selling Books on Amazon: A Book Review


I just finished Let's Get Visible by David Gaughran.  Just a quick post here with my review for my fellow indie writers who might be interested.  Click here to see the review on Amazon now.

*** THREE STARS

Lots of filler here, but the few nuggets are worth while

This is a decent resource, though I think indie writers newer to the dream will get more out of it than I did.  Eighty- to ninety-percent of the material was somewhat obvious and often repetitious, and honestly, I felt like much of the writing was intended to fill pages and swell the page count.  The book is also two years old now, so some of Amazon's mechanisms may have changed.

I definitely did, however, come away with some new, useful information and tactics that I am putting into practice, which is worth the five bucks I paid for this ebook.  When compared to paying the same for a cup of coffee, I'm certainly getting more use out of Mr. Gaughran's knowledge and hot tips than I would be a hot beverage.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Indie Writing in 2015: Tracking Summer Progress


As an indie author with aspirations for the New Year, I set some resolution goals about writing in 2015.  And I had been doing quite well with them, pushing out a few new titles in electronic, paperback, and audio formats and keeping my monthly word count high.  I was also posting monthly progress reports like this one.  Up until May, that is...

I received orders in April to deploy as an Individual Augmentee (IA) to the Middle East, set to be leaving mid-summer.  (Being an IA means it's just me, not the whole unit I am attached to now, being sent for a temporary assignment of several months to take a rotational turn in the hot zone.)  This obviously reset my life priorities quite a bit, and therefore threw off my personal goals to make room for my professional commitments.

Then, at the end of July, things changed again, as they often do in the military.  Suddenly, just as quickly as I had been snatched up for an intense assignment, I was dropped back down.  So the months of training and personal and family preparation that had dominated my life for four months no longer applied.  Semper gumby.

In the aftermath, I am attempting to get back on the rails and salvage the remainder of the year. 

My initial monthly writing goal was approximately 3,000 a week (figuring 1,000 a day, three times a week), averaging out to 12,000 a month.  This includes not only stories and novels, but blogging and other projects as well.  As long as I manage 12K a month (thus a gross K of 144,000 words for the year), I feel content.

Or at least, I would have.  With the spring/summer spent otherwise occupied, I'm hoping to still make 100,000 words for the year, but we'll see how it goes.  

I have also been keeping track of other accomplishments per month, as you'll see below.

In my last post in this series (back in May) I put forth a few other goals, viewable by clicking here.

So now, as I had been doing before this hiccup in military status, I will track my months thus far in 2015.  This is mostly for my own benefit, but also for my fellow indie writers who may be interested in commiseration, co-encouragement, and comparing notes.

August:
   - 15,300 words
   - "Frozen Heart" novelette completed. Submissions to magazines/contests begin.
   - Twilight of the Gods started (sequel/prequel to Hungry Gods)

July:
   - 2400 words
   - New cover for The Thorne Legacy using free software

June:
   - 8150 words

May:
   - 5300 words
   - Book signing and sale, most successful to date (read more here)
   - Dreams of Flying published in ebook and paperback
   - Tarnish audiobook published
   - The Prince and the Darkness paperback published

April:
   - 13,100 words
   - "Green-Eyed Monster" picked up by Meerkat Press for their Love Hurts Anthology

March:
   - 11,500 words
   - Puppet Theatre republished as a free short story and preview of Hungry Gods (everywhere but Amazon)

February:
   - 15,400 words

January:
   - 12,650 words
   - Hungry Gods published as ebook and paperback
   - The Prince and the Darkness published as ebook "dark fantasy double-feature"

Total words thus far: 83,800

Not too shabby for a busy, busy guy!