Thursday, May 28, 2015

Conspiracy Newsletter Sign-Ups and Free Audiobook Offer

image from

There's a lot happening on my side of the universe, and much of it I'm trying to get done before I get swallowed into a black hole.  What the hell does that mean?  For those who don't know, I'm on a countdown to a deployment into the Middle East and trying to tie up a lot of loose ends before I get there, and I'm nearly done.  Obviously, this whole life-altering change of venue will have a big impact on my family and "real" life, which come well before my writing life, so...  A lot of gear-changing going on right now and for the near future.   

For today, I'm just here to post two things of many that have been happening lately:

1. My new "Conspiracy Newsletter" now exists, which you can sign up for in the left upper corner of this blog, and/or by clicking this link.  I can safely promise not to bombard you with emails through this medium, as I will barely have time to write new material, much less mess around with cyberspace.  But from time to time, I will use this as a means of keeping in touch with my readers and those interested in what book is coming next, when something new is out, and with occasional priority offers and deals.

2. Which also includes a first crack at a free download of the new TARNISH audiobook, narrated by the talented Todd Menesses.  In the next few weeks I'll be sending out my first Conspiracy Newsletter and including a chance at a limited number of free downloads, so if you're not on the list yet, I suggest you sign up!

I've also produced a couple more paperback editions of ebooks recently, and also had my most successful book signing event to date just a couple weeks ago, but haven't had time to blog about them.  I obviously have other pressing matters to attend to, which I should actually be working on right now.  So, I better be signing off for now...

But don't you forget to sign up!  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Fantasy Epic Comes to Audiobooks

At long last, my 400-page coming-of-age fantasy adventure TARNISH comes to life as a 15-hour audiobook!

This book was contracted for a long time to a voice producer who was stricken with a bad case of Real Life and became too busy with his day job and family to complete the contract.  But I hold him no ill will for not being able to finish and he and I were brothers by the end.  And it all turned out great in the end anyway, for next I found Todd Menesses, who is a tremendous voice talent.  He's done an amazing job with TARNISH and we're already talking about him doing HUNGRY GODS next.

So if you're into listening to your fantasy adventures, give this one your ears!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Superhero Fiction: Dreams of Flying

I've been sitting on this for a few days (or has it been a week already?), waiting for the ebook to be up on more sites.  Well, I'm tired of waiting, so here it is!

The Identity Crisis Universe is filled with heroes, horrors, and hard won victories.  Spandex, after all, isn’t just a fashion statement, and it’s not for the faint of heart.  This first trio of IDCU stories both explores and defies the conventions of the superhero genre.

     “Invasion” – 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...  But repelling this invasion may not be enough.  In order to safeguard the Earth and rescue a benevolent alien planet from oppression, Adam Smasher, Symian, and Ballista 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.

     “Puppet Theatre” – In Mesa City, there’s one hero you can count on to defend justice. Okay, there’s two: the mysterious Shadow Puppet and that show-off, Mr. Wonderful. After his last tragic encounter with the villainess Kitty Kat, the Shadow Puppet is thought to be dead. And the man behind the mask would almost prefer that, but he can’t let the Mr. Wonderfuls of the world get the best of him. Tonight, he returns from the grave!

     “Dreams of Flying” – Herb Collins doesn’t just dream about flying, he takes to the skies.  And as soon as this self-conscious grocery store manager can figure out a proper secret identity, he’ll be the biggest superhero Cleveland has ever seen!  His first encounter with real thugs, however, and a chance meeting with his idol teach him that his ambitious dreams may be misplaced.

Superheroic adventure for adults.

This is the first book of my newest series.  (Yes, I've started too many series.)  This particular run of stories and novels will come from far and wide across the superhero universe that I started with Hungry Gods.  That series (Identity Crisis) will focus on the Phenomenal Five, while the books of the Identity Crisis Universe will star different characters and even different timelines.  

Where can you find this fun and exciting triple feature?  Here's a couple links as of now, but look for it on your other favorite ebook sites as well:

I am working on the paperback edition and it will eventually be produced in audio as well.  But all these things take time, which I have so little of (and less all the time).  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

40K Chaos Cult Formations

Before you get too excited, this is not a rumor blog, whether supposedly confirmed via secret toilet paper messaging system from GW's outhouse, or unconfirmed via drunken nerd convention.  I was actually just talking on the phone with a friend who was telling me about the wildly amazing new Eldar formation bonuses.  Which are very very nice, but, let's face it, terribly outclass ever other codex out there.  Then again--golly gosh!--I guess GW will just have to put out all new $50+ codices for every single army all over again, and every year until our wallets are all emptied out and we can't keep up anymore. 

Oops, I'm getting off topic...  

Anyway, in an indirect way, the conversation made me miss my Chaos, and then I started thinking about different formations and rules that they could do for CSM.  Each chapter/cult/warband could have special formation blocks that grant special rules appropiate to their fluff. 

I did a similar post in November of 2013 when the last Space Marine codex came out with the new chapter tactics.  So most of what's here is copied from that post and slightly added to below.  I'm not putting much into this, just killing some time in the wee hours on a night shift and avoiding the work I should be doing...

These are just a few underdeveloped ideas that I thought up just for fun. 

When I say "Block" it refers to the minimum core units needed to make the formation (I don't know what GW calls them in the books), such as 1 HQ, 2 CSM units, a dedicated transport, etc.

ALPHA LEGION: They are described as being "disciplined almost to a fault" and as insurrectionists who sow deceit and chaos by infiltrating societies.
Block:  A block unit might include a minimum of 2 cultist squads to show they've been recruiting by "sowing deceit."  This would grant them bonuses, such as:
Disciplined to a Fault: The core units are Stubborn.
Insurrectionists: Up to three of these units can deploy as Infiltrators/Outflank.

BLACK LEGION: These are the once proud warriors of the Warmaster Horus himself. Of course,the character Abbadon mostly has this covered if you field him.
Block: Units that resemble Space Marines, such as a lot of CSM units, maybe 1 or 2 Dreadnoughts from the olden days, and at least 1 Chosen squad.
Black Crusader: All these units get Hatred vs. Space Marines. 
The Warmaster's Chosen: Veteran Chosen units and Dreadnoughts may pick a bonus trait from these: Infiltrators, Scouts, Tank Hunters, or Prefered Enemy.

IRON WARRIORS: Masters of the siege and builders of war machines.
Block: The block must contain 2-3 Warpsmiths.  These don't count against any HQ requirements or limits.  It also included Forge Fiends and/or Mauler Fiends, and it'd be nice to see some corrupted servitors.
Let the Seige Begin: All units get the Tank Hunter special rule and may reroll Penetration against buildings.
Masters of the Machine:  All Warpsmith's get +1 bonus to their repair rolls. 

NIGHT LORDS: Masters of terror and terrorist actions, they stalk the darkness as predators in search of prey.
Block:  A Lord or Sorcerer with a jump pack, as well as having as many Raptors as CSMs.
Lord of Terror: Your HQ/Warlord has the Lord of Terror Trait, thus causes Fear.  Raptors already cause Fear too.
The Hunt:  Raptor units (along with the HQ if he's attached) may deploy as either Infiltrators or Scouts.  They also start the game with Shrouded until they move, and have Stealth thereafter.

WORD BEARERS: The most fanatical of all Legions in their dedication to the worship of the Chaos Powers.
Block:  The core block must include 2-3 Dark Apostles (that don't count against you for HQs) and an equal number of cultists. 
Shepherds of the Faithful: The number of cultists that these Shepherds lead is never-ending.  Every time a cultist unit is completely destroyed or routed off the board, place it in reserves.  An identical replacement unit comes in on a normal reserve roll.
Dark Crusaders: All Word Bearers in the block unit have the Crusader special rule.

* * *

In my original post I didn't include the god-specific legions, such as the Thousand Sons, Death Guard, World Eaters, and Emperor's Children.  I figured they had marks so they didn't need other chapter rules.  But, brainstorming right now, a few possible Formations might be...

Thousand Sons:  Obviously a Block would include Thousand Sons and be led by a Sorcerer HQ. Having this Formation might unlock some new bonus spells for any of them to use, like a big sand storm or something.  And to go along with the Egyptian theme, I'd like to field some fantasy mummies as cultist/zombie-type units (but that's just me). 

Death Guard:  Would of course include Plague Marines, and I'd like to have access to zombies without having Typhus there all the time.  I could see giving some units (say some ragged Spawn) a disease that they can infect the enemy with, like a Soul Fire effect that lasts after the fight until it burns itself out. 

Emperor's Children:  An HQ with the mark, along with Noise Marines minimum.  Their persuit of perfection might give their dedicated CSM +1 to WS or BS (like the aspect warriors get in the new Eldar blocks).

World Eaters:  Berzerkers required.  Taking the whole formation might give them Fleet on their charges or Crusader, as well as Adamantium Will.

Red Corsairs:  I'm a fan of the Red Corsairs and especially of Huron Blackheart.  He would lead a Block, which would include some Fast Attack units, like Bikers.  His Warlord Trait is to make Infiltrators.  I'd also like to see some kind of sabotage rule or something, something "piratey", like causing a vehicle to fail on a roll of 1 the first time it moves or something.  There's got to be a way to work in a pirate theme there somehow...

* * *

Okay, I guess I should get back to more constructive crap around here.  If you have any other ideas, please comment!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Writing 2015: April Recap - Spring Brings Changes!

This post, and others like it, are mostly for myself and any like-minded writers who might be interested.  If that's not really your bag, you might check out the limited time sale on my superheroes vs zombies novel by clicking here.  (Only good for a few more days...)

Or you can just read on anyway.  Or, why not do both?

Major changed coming to the way I do business, set my goals, and how I count words.  If you are a writer-type like me, you may have read my previous monthly recaps.  This one will be a little different, as my modus operandi is a little different.

What changed and why?

1. I have received orders to deploy.

That's right, I'm being sent into a hot, sandy, and unfriendly region of the world.  (But don't worry, I will be on one of the biggest, safest bases.  I'm more concerned about missing my family than getting hurt.)  But obviously, this is a big fucking deal.  (Hence the appropriately large font.)  Once I arrive and get settled in-country, I will actually probably have a lot more time to write (since there will be little else to do when I'm not working).  But working my way up to that point over the next several months, I will obviously have more important things to do, like prepare myself, my family, and my home for this huge but temporary change of universe. I am not due to return to way things are now until about this time next year.  So, that's a full year of monkey wrench.  Must adapt.

My previous goal was 3,000 per week, translating to 12,000 words per month and a gross K for the year (144,000).  Not happening anymore.  My new goal is to hope to write a total of 100,000 words for the year (though I'll forgive myself if I don't quite make it).  I'll continue to keep track, but once I finally get Dreams of Flying published, hopefully this week, writing and all things related take a back seat for quite a while.

2. Barnes and Noble woke up for me.  

What I mean is, after selling almost nothing anywhere but Amazon, I have finally started selling on other channels.  In fact, I sold more ebooks on B&N than on Amazon for the month of April!  That's great!  New doors opening, and I've only had my foot firmly planted in the jamb for three years now...

I have thus far been content to let Smashwords distribute to B&N for me, but now that I can see a future where I actually sell there, I am going to start publishing directly through their Nook Press system.  This will improve my take of the B&N pie by 5 percent.

Is 5% worth the bother?  Well, in small sales no, but in the future, yes.

The royalty I get via Smashwords is 60%, vice 65% if sold directly with Nook Press.  Five percent of Hungry Gods (at $5.99) is $0.30.  Thirty cents is not a lot of money.  But what if I were to sell 1000 copies of HG there?  That becomes $300 that I gave Smashwords instead of myself.  What if I sold 10,000?  That's $3000 I gave away, and I need it more than they do.

So that's another task to add to my busy schedule, which is why I haven't bothered until now.  Dreams of Flying will be my first book published straight to Nook Press, and I'll get HG and Tarnish, at least, converted over very soon as well.

3. I am moving from a 3-draft writing system to a 2-draft writing system.

Not long ago, I decided that I would whittle my cumbersome writing process down to 3 drafts: 1st is obviously writing it, 2nd is revising it, then send it to my proofreader, and the the 3rd is fixing what the proofer/line editor has sent me (if I agree). Then, publish it.

For Tarnish, I probably had 4 or 5, maybe 6 drafts.  Not kidding.  I spent one year writing it, and years more being afraid it wasn't good enough.  Such a severe lack of confidence is a huge waste of time.  (And in the next point, we'll see that time is money!)

So I finished the 1st draft of Invasion this month and then started on the second.  And you know what I found?  It was pretty darn good the way it was!  I mean, the beginning always needs work because I never know what the hell I'm doing for the first few chapters, and then I had some specific things I knew I had to fix throughout, but for the most part, I didn't need to spend another month or two revising what wasn't too shabby in the first place.

And wasn't that what I has hiring a proofreader for anyway?  That's like spending your Saturday cleaning, and then hiring a maid to come over on Sunday.  I'm paying the proofer to identify the mess.  Why do their job first, then hire them to do it again?  Especially when it wasn't that messy to begin with?

So now I'm moving my writing process forward into a 2-draft system: write it, send to proofreader, fix it.  Done.  Publish and move on to the next book.

I have several series in mind right now and I can't write fast enough to keep up with all the ideas my brain is churning out.  Why waste any more time than needed?

4. I have decided to start tracking my time as a business expense.  

I have been tracking my gains and losses of writing as a business for a few years now, and actually applied it to my taxes for two years.  Up until now I have not, however, been counting my own time as an expense, and I should.  Do I not invest a lot of time into writing, formatting, revising, making covers, marketing, etc?  If I were an employee of a business, would I not be getting paid for that time?  Would that business not be spending money on that time?

Of course.  So it is only fair to my self and my future business that I start doing so right now.  Even if it makes the numbers a bit more depressing to look at.  (Costs will go up by a lot!)

These past few months I had been using a formula to track time spent revising, but now I'm scrapping that.  Instead I'm going to use the following as a logical estimate of the expense of my time.

Assume that for every 1000 words I write, I spend 2.5 hour writing it, then later revising it, then formatting it (as a whole manuscript), searching for images, making book covers, marketing via this blog, social media, advertising systems, etc.  This rough estimate of 2.5 hours per thousand words covers all that.

Then I pay myself $30 per hour.  How did I come to this number?  I started throwing different amounts into a 40 hour work week, times 50 weeks a year (figure 2 weeks unpaid vacation), to what I think would be a fair living wage for me as a writer supporting a family.  Some people would say this is high, some would probably say too low, but right now if I could make $60,000 per year as a writer, I'd consider myself quite successful in making a living at making shit up.

($30/hr) x (40hrs/week) x (50weeks/year) = $60,000 per year, before taxes.

So now I take my monthly word totals and plug them into this formula:

(Total Word Count) divided by (1000) x 2.5 hours x $30/hour

I'll use K to represent the word count/1000, and 2.5 x 30 is 75, so:
  K x $75 = monthly labor cost

For example, April's K = 13.1, so my time spent on all things writing this month was worth $798.75.

Okay, given that, I am spending way too much money writing about this topic!  On to the numbers, and then on to revising!  I have a book to publish this week!   


Numbers for the previous months may actually change a bit in my records, as I have removed credit for revised word count.  On my blogs, including what I have copied and pasted below, it isn't worth the time required to change it all.  (Honestly, it's not that big of a change anyway.)

April:  - 13,100 words written
            - 7900 of those were on Invasion, written in 3 days, and finishing the 1st draft of the book!
            - My short story "Green-Eyed Monster" was accepted by Meerkat Press for their Love Hurts Anthology, where it will appear right next to stories by big names, like Hugh Howey.  (Which I'm very excited about.)  I'm sure I'll give that it's own blog post when the time is right.
            - As above, a milestone: I sold more books on Barnes and Noble than Amazon this month.


March:  - 11,500 words  (5400 on Invasion, 5600 on Ghosts of Chaucer)
               - (This is technically just below my monthly goal.  But the week that I did no writing at all was the same that I logged about 65 hours in with the Navy and moved my family from one house to another on my days off, so I'm okay with this total.)
               - 5400 of those words went into Invasion, and 5600 started a new novelette called Ghosts of Chaucer. This distraction I then put on hold so I could finish Invasion.
               - republished Puppet Theatre as a free preview of both the IDC and IDCU series
February:  - 15,400 words (9550 words on the novella Invasion)
                    - redesigned my blog
                    - submitted stories to magazines
                    - ebooks of Hungry Gods also sold very nearly every day during this month

January:  - 12,650 words (8550 words on the novella Invasion)
                  - published The Prince and the Darkness
                  - published Hungry Gods
                  - Hungry Gods release sold well beyond my goal, had a nice halo effect that reached pretty much all my other books, and all the accumulated sales were spread across SIX different countries!


So there, I wrote 1500 new words for this blog post.  I would be paying myself $112.50 for this.  If I had any money...