Monday, December 31, 2012

Short, Sweet, and To the Point.

[For some reason the original contact me link didn't save.  This has been rectified.]

So, as promised, the "big" news.

On November 2 I received an email that had me stunned.  Someone working for ICM Partners asked me who holds the film and TV rights for Subject 12 and all following works in the series.  I was also asked if I had an agent.

Just to be absolutely clear on the matter for anyone reading this, the answers were then and are now "myself" and "no".

I replied (after doing some due diligence by vetting the individual as best I could with internet searches) within 24 hours.  My e-mail was brief but I passed along the requested information.  I had some time constraints preventing me from being more thorough in my reply.

A week later I sent another e-mail because I hadn't heard back yet.  This e-mail was a little more informative and friendly as I was far less occupied (I was watching the merchandise at a psychic fair during the night because the hotel had no way of locking the rooms to prevent intruders when I sent the first one) when I replied.  I felt it was better to reply promptly than take the time to butter the buns before serving, as it were, the first time.

So, now it's December 31, 9:40PM and I have heard bupkis from her, ICM Partners, or anyone else.  I don't know if this is because my e-mail replies bounced, were eaten by spam filters for some reason, I haven't been patient enough (almost 60 days so far), I didn't meet criteria for continued discussion (the lack of an agent), whoever thought of it lost interest in the idea, or whatever.  Suffice it to say, the fact that I haven't heard back from one of the largest entertainment firms in the world (look at any top-ten list of talent agencies in Hollywood and you'll see them in the top five or even the top two on virtually every one, and check out their website for both information and a telling lack of flourish) for an unknown reason after they approached me has been a bit disheartening.  Still, it hasn't stopped me from doing what I can to get more ready for you guys to read.

I'm not holding my breath to hear back from them.  I haven't yet and I won't.

So, as there has been interest in the past...  I am the exclusive copyright and rights holder to Subject 12, The Grand Granger, and all future works unless otherwise noted.  I currently have no agent.  I'm not looking for one but I'm also not against the idea of having one -- I just don't feel like jumping through a bunch of hoops again only to be ignored like I was the last several times I've tried.  As such, if anyone has any questions or whatever, feel free to contact me.

Thanks for reading and have a fantastic new year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Well, I Survived

I survived the horrible storm that just passed. It dumped in excess of 10 inches in my driveway, which I had to shovel out over the course of 2 days. My back, my knees, and my left arm all hurt and don't want to work very well, but I did survive and I did get myself dug out so I at least I won't starve.

Despite the fact that it seems the snow plow driver on my road has a vendetta against me, I have to say that, all things considered, things could have been a lot worse and I am in okay shape.

It looks like I will be sharing thr information that I have been keeping secret since early November with you, but not until New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, at this point it is entirely too anticlimactic to be really worth mentioning. I'm just going to do it because I'm stubborn like that.

Work continues on  my projects, so with any luck I will have something good to announce shortly. Thank you for your patience!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Subject 12 is now a KDP Selects Exclusive.

Post title says it all, really.  Now that all the holdouts have finally released Subject 12 from their catalogs, Amazon is the exclusive place to buy a copy.  The good news is that if a Prime member wishes to borrow it I can now get paid for said borrow.  As this impacts ~.1% of my readers, I'm not going to make a big deal out of this.  Mostly just making a note of it.  Also, as said before, if you purchased a copy through any other outlet then you should still be able to get a copy if you change devices or experience some other hardware hiccup.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cliffhangers, Novellas, and Google Plus.

It's come to my attention that the endings of both Subject 12 and The Grand Granger have left some readers, shall we say, unsatisfied.  I assure you that this was not intentional, and I'll attempt to explain why in this blog post.  I'll address The Grand Granger first as that one is easier to explain.  I apologize if I speak of issues I've spoken of regularly.  I don't want to sound like I'm complaining or repeating myself, but I also don't want a new reader to come across this blog and feel left out or obligated to dig through everything I've said so far just to be in the loop.

The Grand Granger is a novella.  Novellas are currently out of favor with the American public for some reason I cannot fathom as they fill a useful niche in the storyteller's ecosystem; longer than a short story yet shorter than a novel they allow more character and plot development while allowing for a faster pace than a traditional novel as well as the quick satisfaction and brevity of a short story.  Many of our greatest classics are novellas, especially in the realm of science fiction: War of the Worlds comes to mind, not that I'm trying to put my work in the same league as Verne's.  If you look at the Hammer's Slammers novels by David Drake (and I recommend you do as they're great reads if you like military sci-fi), they are collections of short stories and novellas.  Stephen King writes a lot of novellas.  I give you the following link for the list:

Novellas, like short stories, don't have much fluff.  As a result they pack a lot of punch in a small spaces.  Also like short stories, when they end, they end.  There isn't much more to say, so they don't usually say any more than they have to.  This is why The Grand Granger ends the way it does.  Some might find it abrupt, but that's where the story ended.  While I don't currently plan on giving Xii and Reg any more "screen time", that's not to say they won't appear again.  Their story, for the moment, is over.  That doesn't mean I won't be writing more in the Tal'Red universe, just that the characters you've seen so far may not be making another appearance.

Subject 12 ended on a cliffhanger of sorts.  This was, at the time, a matter of necessity.  While I find some people are capable of writing upwards of 10,000 words in a day, my output is much lower.  Part of that is physical, some of it psychological.

My arthritis causes my hands to hurt when I type too much, my back hurts because of my crappy office chair (there was $200 well spent, not), and I get chest pains from the bad angle I have to sit at in order to type on my PC for any length of time (again, office chair) -- and none of this can be helped with even OTC pain medication because I can't even take acetaminophen without experiencing gastric issues that can last for 24 hours.  I'm a rather large man and require a plus-rated office chair to sit in, so I can't just run to Office Max or Walmart and pick up the $69 special and expect it to last more than a few days.  I also spend upwards of eight hours a day in a chair, so it has to be durable.  As such, my research has lead me to the inexorable conclusion that I need a 24-hour chair rated at more than 300lbs as the one I currently have is rated at 300lbs (though I thought it was supposed to be 350 when I bought it, which I got to make sure I'd have a lot of reserve) and was showing signs of fatigue after two weeks of use.  As for the psychological reasons, I find writing to be a very intense and often emotional experience.  I agonize over things, and I'll spend hours researching minor points just to make sure I'm not making a mistake.  While this may lead to a superior product, it really cuts into my output some days.

I try to output at least 1,000 words per day when I'm writing regularly, but that's hard for me to do most days because of everything else I have going on, arthritis issues (some days I can't even hold a pen to write with, let alone type much), or just plain writer's block.  However, unlike these writers who slam out 10,000 words a day during NaNoWriMo (or as I call it, November), I find that I prune very little of what I write unless it's utter trash.  I sculpt and massage and shape and hammer on what I write until it's in the proper shape, or temper it until it's the right hardness, but I don't cut 30% of my writing from first draft to final.  Actually, I find I'm adding anywhere from 5-10% of the first draft's word count per revision (or the equivalent if not more in rewrites).  If I do find something that needs to be cut, be it a sentence or a few thousand words, I cut it because sometimes things just don't work, or the story's gone in a new direction.

What I'm trying (and failing) to say is that I just ran out of steam by the end of Subject 12, and I think it really showed in some of the errors that crept in despite a substantive and at times exhausting editing cycle.  At the time I simply couldn't write any more.  The story wasn't finished -- isn't finished, unless I die before I can get Rogue up for you guys -- but I couldn't write any more of it.  I had a choice; delay publication and try to get the story wrapped up in another chapter, which would be doing you, me, and the story itself a huge disservice, or finish it on a cliffhanger and write a whole novel as a sequel.  I chose the latter for two reasons.  First off, comic books (which Subject 12 is both an homage to and send-up of) are the epitome of cliffhangers.  Denying that would be pointless and flat out wrong.  I felt justified for this very reason.  Secondly, rather than trying to condense everything to ~20,000 words, by giving myself an entire novel to stretch in, I'm allowing myself to do justice to the story as it could, nay, should be.  I owe it to my readers as much as to myself to do it justice, so I will do my best to do so.

Speaking of Subject 12, I've finally gotten the feel I needed for the characters in the story I'm working on in Reagent Protocol, which will be an anthology of three stories (See, that pesky novella crops up again.) as I've mentioned.  They will tie into Subject 12 quite nicelyBanshee you're already familiar with, and I've given you the outline for the story I'm working on now.  The third one is in preliminary planning stages.  I can't say as the whole thing will be worth the wait, but I hope it will be well-received.  I will keep you posted.

As the title of this post indicates, and as I've alluded to a few times, I've been giving thought to the concept of opening up a Google Plus page.  I've received a single piece of feedback on the matter, and it indicates that I might get more feedback if I open said page.  Well, I don't want people to think I'm hard to reach, or difficult to speak with once I've been reached, so I'm thinking it'll be a project for the new year.  I look forward to hearing from you, even if you just want to say "hi" or "you suck".  I actually already have a G+ account activated; I just haven't done anything with it yet.  I'll have some free time coming up soon, so hopefully I can look into it a bit more.  Everything I post here will be cross-posted there, so this blog may even become a bit pointless -- but I'm not giving up on it.

Anyway, it's time to wrap this up.  My traffic from Belgium is back so Bonjour, mes amis!  Comment allez-vous?

Thanks, everyone, for reading and Happy Holidays!

(Bonus paragraph!)

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I hoped to share some really big news with everyone.  Unfortunately, the whole idea seems to have died.  If I don't hear more by the end of the year I'll probably tell everyone about it in the new year, with details, just not e-mail addresses or names.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

That was interesting...

I mentioned Belgium in my last post and suddenly I stop getting hits from Belgium.  That makes me curious.

I took Subject 12 off Smashwords yesterday afternoon and most retailers have removed the book from their catalog.  I do hope that I can get it back up soon, but only when I've cleaned up the typos and have final say over the output.  We'll see.

I've received zero feedback on the Google Plus idea, which is what I've basically expected.  For those in the know, I don't need to explain what the advantages of setting one up would be, but for those that don't...

Google Plus is similar to Facebook, but not as invasive, and with a few nice features Facebook just doesn't have.  It'd allow easier interaction, among other things.  Just an idea, but nothing I'll lose sleep over if nobody thinks it's a good idea.

Well, back to the grind!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Good Morning Belgium!

Since I'm no Robin Williams I can't make it sound like Good Morning Vietnam -- all I can do is type it.

I've noticed a major upswing in traffic from Belgium over the last month.  As in, something like 5-1 traffic from Belgium compared to the USA.  I have no idea what this means, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's a good thing and not just a bot.


On another note, I'm seriously considering moving the majority  of my posts to my Google+ (Google Plus) account.  I'm considering this move to encourage, streamline, and ease participation and feedback from you guys.  Considering how much life's been getting in the way lately (including my 24 year-old pump dying this weekend and it taking until yesterday to get a replacement pump installed and wired into my old system), I'd like to do something for my readers that won't take a few months to finish up.  So, with that in mind, what do you think?  Would G+ be better for you to contact me?  Let me know!  Thanks!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Banshee Typos and a Word Count Error

I started this post with good intentions:  I had misremembered how many words were in Banshee.  As such, I am not roughly a third of the way to where I want to be prior to publication in my current project.  I found this out by opening Banshee and going for a word count. However, when I opened  the file I saw a message saying the program had an update, so I installed it.  Lo and behold, it finally had a functional spellchecker.  This spellchecker pointed out that I had not corrected all of the misspellings that I thought I had found and killed.

As a result, you will find links to the corrected version of Banshee in formats suitable for all e-readers at the conclusion of this post.

I say I started this post good intentions.  What I mean by that is that I started this post to give this information and provide the links, but instead when I opened up the website to start typing I got distracted by Conan the Destroyer on the TV.  This movie is one of the few movies that falls under the heading of so horribly awful I cannot take my eyes off it whenever it happens to be on television.  As this is a an extremely rare occurrence, I do not have a problem with it...  Aside from the problem I have with the fact that the movie is actually on and I am suffering through it, of course.  Such a shame, too.  After all, the original is a truly excellent movie.  And no, I do not want to hear about the remake.  Ever.

I may be asking for reader feedback on something in the next little bit, so keep your eyes peeled.  Thanks for reading!

Guild Files: Banshee in MOBI format for Kindle

Guild Files: Banshee in EPUB for everything else

Friday, November 16, 2012

Re: Smashwords

I've given Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Sony, etc, and their respective bookstores several months to show me improved sales figures.  They have, in a word, failed.  In fact, failure is too kind a word, but I'm not going to go into it as I've already expressed my feelings towards Smashwords in a previous blog post.

My plan is to pull the plug on December 1st. Since I'm already stuck waiting for their 1099-MISC next year (which this year they e-mailed me approximately two weeks after their legal deadline to have delivered it to me), this will hopefully prevent me from having another nightmare when it's time to pay the government for the privilege of living in this great nation.  The nightmare that was my tax experience this year finally ended earlier this week; hopefully never again.

I originally signed up for Smashwords with high hopes.  75% royalty rate for direct sales, distribution to virtually every e-book store at a fair royalty rate, and so on.  So far this year I've been paid $18.09 and am owed $13.41.  That's right, $31.50 for the first 10.5 months of the year, from virtually everywhere outside of Amazon.  For comparison, I've sold 133 copies of Subject 12 so far this month alone.  At ~$2.60 per copy, that works out to $345.80 for the month of November if I sell no other copies before the end of the month -- an occurrence I really hope doesn't happen.

In any case, thanks for the support and for putting up with my flaky update schedule from all my health issues and time constraints.  I'd hoped to have some bigger news to share by now, but it looks like what I'd hoped it would be has turned into disappointment.  If I ever know more for sure I'll fill you all in as soon as I can!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Progress Report

As the title implies, today/tonight's blog entry is a progress report of sorts.

First, progress on Guild Files: Rogue:  Stalled.  Chapter 1 is mostly done, though I'm not happy with some of it and will probably be going back with the editing mallet before I move on.

Unfortunately, with everything else I've had going on this year, progress is currently zero.  That doesn't mean I'm not planning and plotting, just that I'm not doing much, if any, actual writing in an average week.  As intense as writing Subject 12 was, I needed a long break to recoup.  That break is part of the reason for The Grand Granger, however, so it's not been a total loss.  Have no fear, Hammer, the Guild, and sundry will return -- it's just going to be a while longer.  I don't want to do you, the reader, a disservice in writing something sub-par, so I want to be really ready before I return to writing it.

Next, progress on editing Guild Files: Subject 12 in preparation for a possible print run:  Slow.  More on this following.

Finally, progress on the proposed anthology set in the Guild Files universe:  Moving along apace.

As Banshee will be part of the final production, I have to include the word count in my final tally, and I'm about halfway to my minimal goal for publication.  Best-case scenario will have it available on Amazon some time shortly after the first of the year, but as I've been having such a hard time meeting my self-imposed goals lately...  I won't put a timeline on it.  It's also very different from previous works, and I'm not 100% sure how it'll go over, so I'll be doing some testing before release.  I expect that will add about a week to the publication time, at least, barring any rewrites.

So, all that being said, I wish to apologize to you guys for failing to fulfill many of my promises.  This year has not been easy for me, but that's no real excuse.  I offer none, merely an explanation -- my health has been poor this year and my stress level has been through the roof.  Among my health issues, and I hesitate to share this because I don't want anyone thinking I'm digging for sympathy, was a medication reaction that was causing severe memory impairment:  I honestly don't remember much of September and the first half of October.  As this was when I was supposed to be working on the editing of Subject 12, I didn't get it finished and have had to put the project on hold temporarily.  I have since discontinued the medications that were causing the issue, and the replacement blood pressure medication not only has fewer side effects, it's much more effective.  Needless to say, having a foggy brain and little memory has not been helpful to my production.

I'm trying, though!  Thanks for sticking with me, I greatly appreciate it.  Feel free to ask any questions or post any comments you may have, I'll get back to you as soon as possible if I can!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Surprise! (Updated)

Well, the moment I'm assuming at least a couple of you have been waiting for...

The revelation of what I've been working on for the last, um, month...

Okay, I'll admit, that took longer than it should have.  Life kept getting in the way, then there was shipping lag, working with the systems to make it work, etc.  However, without further ado...

Okay, just a little more ado.  I have to fill the space up sometime and I'm a real bastard when it comes to dragging things out to make the moment last longer.

This also explains why so many versions of The Grand Granger should have appeared for you to download if you bought a copy.

The Grand Granger in print!

I'm working with CreateSpace for this due to their integration with Amazon and their relatively-simple formatting requirements.  Royalties are a little screwy and based on distribution channels, so the price listed is the best compromise I could come up with.  Expect to see it on Amazon here inside a week, hopefully linked directly to the e-book, but royalty rates are significantly higher on CreateSpace than they are on Amazon.  So, if you're going to order a copy, please consider ordering through CreateSpace if you can [EDIT: see below].  I'm going to do my best to get the linkup on Amazon done correctly, but this is a learning experience for me, and mistakes have and probably will continue to happen.  With luck, it'll slot into place directly linked to the e-book and offer both choices for ordering.

And yes, this whole thing was done with the main intent of learning what I needed to do to set things up for a future release...

How's that laugh go?  Oh yeah!  MwahahahahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Thanks for reading!

Everything below is an update:

The book is live on Amazon now.  Unsurprisingly it's eligible for Prime.  Considering the price to you, the reader, is the same for the book, ordering it through Amazon is cheaper.  How much cheaper?  CreateSpace charges shipping and for one item it's approximately $4 for standard shipping, so up to $4 cheaper.  With that in mind, while I'm not redacting my CreateSpace endorsement at the moment I cannot wholeheartedly point to it to buy from.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Surprises in the Works

I have a small surprise in the works.  It's nothing earth-shattering by a long shot, but I hope to have it finished by the end of the week at the latest.  We'll have to see.  I'm hoping it helps current readers, brings in new readers, and helps me with my bills.  For those of you wondering, yes, this directly relates to that mysterious package I got today.  Sorry, forgot to mention that earlier (which is why this is being edited).

Oh, and it portends something that I think might appeal to a wider audience.

On that note, I should be done with my edits to Subject 12 before the 2-year anniversary of its publication hits.  Hopefully inside a week, but things are crazy here lately.  Don't have enough time to do everything I need to do, let alone things that aren't immediately pressing.

Work on the next Guild Files story continues, if slowly.  Hopefully my voice-recognition software will arrive tomorrow so I can get back to work on the computer without having chest pains from leaning over the keyboard.

Comments or questions?  Feel free to post!  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Comments and Signins

As I'm feeling very under the weather at the moment I plan on this being very short.

I have received notification elsewhere that posting a comment here requires signing into something.  As I have the system set to accept comments from anonymous posters I don't see why that's the case, so if someone is still having issues with it, please let me know via comment here, a message on Twitter, or via my e-mail address which I listed in another post.  Thanks!

On another note, I've sold more copies of Subject 12 so far this month than I have any other month, and usually several months put together.  In fact, other than last month, you could take any two months' sales figures and add them together and you still wouldn't equal the number of copies I've sold this month!  Thanks!  This is great!  Makes me really want to write more and get it out there for you guys and gals, and make no mistake!  As soon as I'm feeling better I'm getting back to work, and that's a promise.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Reviews, Both Positive and Negative.

Thanks for the support, guys.  I really do appreciate it.

Over the last two years I've received a number of reviews for my works on several sites.  From Good Reads to Smashwords to Amazon, I've received a fair amount of secondhand feedback.  I refer to it as secondhand because the reviews are not meant, specifically, for me.  They're meant for other readers to help them make choises in what they want to read.  I want to make this distinction because I want all my readers (both literary and of this blog -- so hello, new reader, if you haven't read anything else of mine) to know that I understand the difference.

This brings me to the main thrust of this post; reviews and my response to them.  Positive reviews I treasure because, like any human being, I am in part ego-driven.  Tell me I did a good job and I'll want to do more for you.  Tell me I did a bad job and I'd like to know how so I can fix it and do better the next time.  Interestingly enough, as I was writing this post I got a new review for Subject 12.  That's exactly the kind of review I like to get.  It's not 5-stars and I'm still glad to get it.  It doesn't need to be a "perfect" review because the book isn't perfect as-is.  First off, there are some glaring editing mistakes in Chapter 7.  When I went back to read them the first time after publication I physically cringed at how bad some of them were.  I'm going to fix them and I plan on doing it in the upcoming month, hopefully in the next two weeks, but I'm not holding my breath.  Back on topic, that review clearly outlined his considered pros and cons, and pointed out how disconcerting it was for the love scene to end so PG (I'm going to kick it up a notch, bam) only to have the next scene open so much more graphically.  It also touched on the editing issues.  I hope I can win that star back with the corrections I'm going to make, but if I don't I'm not going to complain.  In fact, I'm not going to complain about any fully-negative reviews I get, including this one for The Grand Granger.

While I find that aforementioned review confusing in the sense that the blurb and sample should have been enough to tell him that he wasn't going to like the rest of the story, I'm not going to respond to it directly or indirectly any more than I have. There is nothing I can say or do that would reflect positively on me or my writing, and I honestly don't expect everything I write to be appealing to all readers.  Furthermore, I refuse to be another Anne Rice and attack people who don't like my books.  Aside from my lack of obsession with homosexuality, rape, and sadomasochistic sex in my writing (the lack of vampires, though that may change in the future, should further differentiate me from her), I'm just not a Mac user, that worried about people thinking my work sucks if it's substandard, or a giant in the literary field.  I freely admit to being a former fan of hers.  Unfortunately, I just could not get through Armand the Vampire -- and I suffered through more than one of her series in my attempts to support and enjoy her writing.  Interview With the Vampire will forever be one of my favorite books, so in that sense I'm still a fan.

Whew, sorry, I got up on my soapbox there just a bit.  I'll try not to let that happen again.

So, where does that leave me standing?  Someone didn't like one of my stories.  That's fine.  I don't think the reader handled things appropriately by either Amazon (A week is too damn long to allow returns of e-books, guys, seriously.) or the reader (bought, read, refunded, and complained) in question, but it's far from the end of th world or more than a minor annoyance.  I'm curious what you the reader feel about both The Grand Granger and the review in question, of course, but other than that I'm pretty much through with the matter.

Keep reading, keep telling friends and family, and keep reviewing!  The more word gets out about my writing the more readers I get and that encourages more writing!

Oh, and for all of you that read this far, I want to give you a peek into the story I'm working on right now.  I don't have a title for it yet, but I'm having some good ideas.  I'm also having some problems because the original story was supposed to be twice as long as Banshee and it's grown into something at least as long as The Grand Granger in what I have planned.  Probably longer, if I want to be honest.  Anyway, without further ado:
Alaska. A lonely Guildhall, more than an hour away from any civilization besides the small, surrounding village, whiles away the 22-hour summer days.  Things are quiet, like they always are.  Sedate.  Actually, downright boring.  Out of the blue, word comes that a new recruit is on the way; a Reagent Protocol recruit.  The last one didn't work out so well, considering he died from self-immolation shortly before he went through with his plan to murder a local family.  This new one, despite also being a former Confederation member, seems different.  Erudite.  Educated.  A fifth-level Shadow Mage and far too powerful to be stuck so far from anywhere his abilities might be useful, actually.  So why was he there and not somewhere his abilities could be of more use?  Could be be trusted?  What were his plans?
 Thanks again for reading!   Don't hesitate to drop me a line!  The spam protection on here requires me to authorize all posts, so I do read them, even if I don't respond.  Sometimes I'm just too busy and forget.

Friday, August 17, 2012

DMCA Takedown Letter

So, in order to combat the piracy of my book (and I haven't even looked for The Grand Granger yet, so I'm keeping that singular at the moment), I have to start filing DMCA Takedown Notices/Letters.  This isn't too bad, all things considered, except that I now have to start doing regular searches for my book to see who and what's pirating it.  Needless to say, this isn't something I'm looking forward to doing, and so far today I've dedicated at least an hour to this crap when I should be writing -- which I was doing until this e-mail I'm about to share and discuss arrived.

There's a catch to filing DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright ACT) Takedown Notificiations.  To show this as graphically as possible,  I'm going to copy/paste an e-mail I just received from a company I contacted (2Shared, for those who are wondering).  I'm going to edit out e-mail addresses and suchlike and add emphasis at key points, but substantially this will be the exact e-mail I received.
 Please write us back arranging your complaint into the correct copyright
report sample set by DMCA and we'll react on this matter asap.

According to DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) the notification must:
1. Identify in sufficient detail the copyrighted work that you believe has been infringed upon (i.e., describe the work that you own).
2. Identify the in-world item that you claim is infringing on your copyright, and provide information reasonably sufficient to locate the item in-world.
3. Provide a reasonably sufficient method of contacting you; phone number and email address would be preferred.
4. Provide information, if possible, sufficient to permit us to notify the user(s) who posted the content that allegedly contains infringing material. You may also provide screenshots or other materials that are helpful to identify the works in question. (This is for identification only, not to 'prove' substantive claims.)
5. Include the following statement: 'I have good faith belief that the use of the copyrighted materials described above and contained on the service is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or by protection of law.'
6. Include the following statement: 'I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.'

The DMCA provides that you may be liable for damages (including costs and attorneys fees) if you falsely claim that an in-world item is infringing your copyrights. We recommend contacting an attorney if you are unsure whether an in-world object is protected by copyright laws.
I'm going to focus on point 2 first.  What qualifies as in-world?  I believe websites do, but I'm not 100% sure.

Also, "liable for damages"?  So, basically, if they feel my registered copyright isn't sufficient to protect my rights to control distribution of my work they can sue me?  Also, they recommend contacting an attorney so I can verify that my registered copyright is sufficient to protect my work from their unauthorized distribution?  I can't afford either.  It's bad enough I have to take screenshots and send them to a company that isn't even registered with the US Copyright office like it should be.

So where does this put me?  Unfortunately, it puts me in the "I'll just have to wait and see if sales continue apace or if they start to slump again" category.  If sales drop again like they did in January I'll have no choice but to talk to a lawyer and possibly alienate my readers much like over the whole Napster/P2P crap.  I don't have the money, I don't have the income, and I don't have the time if I want to continue focusing on my writing instead of being distracted by all this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Piracy -- I'm now a victim.

I found out why a lot of my blog traffic is coming from various malware-infected and piracy sites.  People have been posting copies of Subject 12 on the web for free download.  This is NOT approved by me in any way, shape, or form. While I have given away copies of The Grand Granger via Amazon's KDP system, Subject 12 has never been offered in such a manner.

I'm flattered that people think that my work is worth sharing and that other people feel it's worth downloading, but I have to point out that my total gross income from last year was under $2000 and that every download of my book that didn't result in a sale cost me at least $1.40.  So, if anyone out there reading this downloaded Subject 12 and enjoyed it but didn't buy it, I ask that you please head over to Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony, iTunes, etc, and purchase a copy.

I'm currently looking into what I'd need to do to get the download links for my book taken off of 2Shared,, and similar sites.  I'm also looking at what I'd need to do in contacting Google to remove the offending links from their search, but it's a bit overwhelming at the moment (I'm no lawyer) and it's taking away from my writing time.

So, please, support an author and buy my book instead of just downloading it.  It encourages me to continue writing by keeping me fed and not distracted by pesky things like legal disputes.  Thanks!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quick Update

It's been almost a month and I haven't moved vis a vis Smashwords.  Why?  I've been too busy in my day-to-day life to even do the research I need to do in order to start transitioning.  Things are cooling off with me, so expect updates by the end of the month, including the possibility of new markets -- but don't hold your breath on that one.  Progress on my followup piece to Subject 12 has been slow, but progress is being made.  I've found that, once again, I've had to go back to writing things out longhand before I can type them up.  This is, obviously, very time consuming; but it has the benefit of creating a first draft before I even start typing.  This means editing time gets cut down slightly in compensation, and it means I can write without benefit of a laptop (of which I do not have a functional unit), or the distraction of having a laptop with internet connection while I'm out.

Also, I'm seeing that a lot of the traffic I'm getting here is potentially malware-related and coming up from the weirdest searches across the globe, including a lot from Russia -- of which a fair amount seems to be malware-related -- and a fair amount from Romania, Bulgaria, and other places that I never thought I'd sell books to.  I cannot stress enough to you guys that you have to be careful.  Run antivirus and anti-malware programs.  There are plenty of free and effective tools you should be running at least once a week to maintain your computer's functionality as well as protecting yourself financially and your privacy.  I'll be happy to make some suggestions if anyone would like to know more.

The good news is that Banshee seems to be a hit, judging by the number of page hits that blog entry still seems to be generating.  I'd like to hear more about it from my readers, hint hint.  (I don't want to dig up a picture of a wink here, or use the emoticon, so please assume I did.  Thanks!)

I'll be doing a better blog entry here in a day or so, so please keep your eyes peeled!  Thanks for the interest, thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from any and all of you!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Smashwords No More

As I've noted before, I've had a less-than-positive experience with Smashwords.  Their draconian formatting requirements, their spotty sales, slow pay schedule, random updates to their sales figure, and their overall bad reputation among the buying public were not offset by the "ease" with which I was published on several major retailers.

Furthermore, I sell more copies of The Grand Granger in a month on Amazon than I give away copies of The Supernatural Cookbook in a quarter on Smashwords.  If I include all the retailers I sell through via Smashwords then this comparison falls down, but since I was giving TSC away to drive up exposure and sales of Subject 12 this is pointless to me, especially considering approximately half the reviews I get through the Nook store for TSC seem to indicate that people think it's supposed to be a serious piece.

I looked today to refresh my memory on all the steps I'd have to take to publish on Smashwords and my mind boggled even as my soul rebelled.  Yes, selling The Grand Granger through all the outlets Smashwords offered was appealing.  However, the 26+ step process to format the blasted file to Smashwords (but not mine) satisfaction was prohibitive to say the least.  For a $.99 ebook (yes, that I'd be get 74 cents per sale), it was insane.  It's not happening.  Ever.  Period.  Take that to the bank, it's safer than a Volvo parked in Fort Knox.  I don't have the time, inclination, or desire to rip my stuff apart to get it into something that resembles how I want it to look all while waiting hours upon hours to get a sneak peak at how it actually came out.

So what does this mean to you?  Not much.  First off, I've sold 14 copies of S12 through Smashwords and I believe around 20 copies though Smashwords' distribution network.  Maybe a few more, here or there, but less than 50.  These people should be able to refresh their copies as needed into the future without problem  If this includes you, don't worry -- I'm trying to get your back, Jack.  How will I do this?

Since I originally published via Smashwords Barnes and Noble instituted -- or at least publicized -- their program for independent authors and publishers.  So did Google Books (which I don't think existed when I signed up for Smashwords, but I digress), and several options for cross-platform distribution opened up or became public enough that I finally caught wind of them.  While payment per-copy may be lower at the same price, not having the Smashwords-taint or formatting requirements appeals to me.  I will be investigating them further to join in at the level I want -- but I will be publishing directly to Barnes and Noble without anyone else sticking their nose or fingers in.  As I own both a Nook and a Nook Color (the Nook Color is an Android tablet running a ROM directly form the SD card, but I do own one), Barnes and Noble has always been a market I wanted to break into directly -- current sales of S12 being nonexistent there or not.

Since I'm sure someone is curious what I mean by Smashwords-taint, I'll explain.  Smashwords attracts a lot of authors publishing low-grade erotica.  A shocking amount, and I'm someone who has spent a lot of time on the internet.  In addition, their formatting restrictions are painful and the end result is "pretty good", but not as good as a human-created file could, would, and should be.  In order to publish on Smashwords, one must create a .doc file in a very specific format.  As step 1 in the process is to "nuke" all the fancy formatting stuff an author may have put in (such as tabs, smart/curly quotes, etc.) and then replace them all with specific indents and various other chores, this is time-consuming, frustrating, and pointless.  Next, and perhaps the worst offense from my point of view, the instructions are all for Microsoft Word/Office 2000/2003/2007.  I don't use any of them, I see no point in paying for them when I can use Open/Libre Office, and the "style guide" reads like it's written for people who think that all caps and sixteen different fonts in a book make it more attractive.  Seeing the end result and proliferation of, let's face it, garbage on their site I have to admit that maybe it is.  It's a real shame that there are so many jewels awash in a sea of trash on the site, but there's nothing I can do about it -- and I find myself being considered guilty by association.

I'll admit that Subject 12, Banshee, and The Grand Granger aren't for everyone.  In fact, the Guild Files stories are actually targeted at a relatively-small audience, though I'm glad to see that people have embraced it from outside the group I targeted it at.  The Grand Granger, being a novella, hasn't been as well-recieved as I'd hoped due to its length.  However, I'm also sure that I can do better selling them -- and I will!  I will keep all files on Smashwords for a couple more weeks, most likely, but they will be down by the end of the month if at all possible (even if it means I won't ever see the $7.20 they're currently waiting for/holding for me since it takes $10/quarter worth of sales to get paid) and I'll have other options up and running as soon as posisble.

So, thank you for reading, thanks for your support!  If you know anyone who might like my books, don't hesitate to tell them about them.  If you have something to say, contact me, leave a comment, or hit me up on Twitter.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Guild Files: Banshee -- Ready For Download

I changed my mind for two reasons.  First, this made more sense, and second, I couldn't get the PDF version to look at all good and I didn't feel like spending another hour trying to fix it.

So, without further ado, I give you Banshee.

For Amazon/Kindle/Kindle Fire/Kindle app users, you'll want this version of it.

Guild Files: Banshee in .mobi for Amazon users

For the rest of the world, you'll want this version.

Guild Files: Banshee in .epub for everyone else

The content is identical, they're just formatted slightly differently and the .mobi has a mock cover image because if I didn't have one I got errors in the Kindle previewer program.  Not owning a Kindle, I can't test it on it, but I got good results with the .epub version on my OG Nook.

Thanks for reading and please don't hesitate to share you thoughts either directly with me via e-mail, Twitter or via any other outlet you can find, and if you enjoyed please tell all your friends!  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Hear a Banshee Floating Around

Well, I'm almost ready to load Banshee up for people to download.  I just need to set up a Dropbox account and upload.

Just to recap:  Banshee is the story of Jared Blackroot, son of David Blackroot, a disability-retired Heroe's Guild legend.  Unfortunately, there's bad blood between David and Boyd Pelcrow, father of Darvis Pelcrow, who has been making life in and out of school impossible for Jared.  What Darvis doesn't know, however, is that Jared actually is the "freak" he's been calling him since Jared's family moved to town, and he's not just a one-off weakling -- something Jared has kept secret from everyone except his family, and something he may finally show the world after the last beating Darvis and his toadies gave him.

This story comes with a content advisory -- the violence and language are graphic in places.  Also, a disclaimer is needed:  Much like The Justice Fiend in Subject 12, opinions stated by characters are not my own.  I feel the need to emphasize this as one reader was so turned off by the opening scene that she had to force herself to read the rest and part of it was the sentiments and epithets uttered by one of the characters.

Well, with that out of the way, I want to share my plans for this piece.  I'm going to offer it in epub/mobi/pdf formats for free download with no cover image via Dropbox for an unspecified (but at least the month of July) amount of time.  If I can find a cheap (under $10 -- I got paid $85 this month in royalties) cover I'll throw it on and put it up as a "donation" version on Smashwords for $.99 if I can stand to jump through the hoops I'll need to in order to get it formatted.  Why Smashwords and not Amazon?  Royalties.  The Grand Granger sold 40 copies this month, totaling $17.40 in royalties that I'll see in 2 months.  Smashwords offers a flat 75% royalty plan that means I'd see 2x per sale, even with a delivery charge.

If I can work through my ADD enough to finish the project, Banshee will be at Amazon, however, in an anthology of short stories.  I don't plan on spilling the beans on this one, though, as I don't want to get hopes up in case I run out of steam or interest in the project.  Suffice it to say there will be a direct tie-in to Subject 12.

As soon as I have Banshee converted and uploaded I'll edit this post to include the link and post about it on Twitter as well as in both the Subject 12 and my author's profile discussion forums on Amazon.

As always, feel free to comment or ask any questions here, on Twitter, or on Amazon.  I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Banshee Early Reader Results

I sent the smoothed-out rough draft of Banshee to be read and early feedback is less than positive.  I need to hear from more readers, but what I've heard so far is worse than early reviews of The Grand Granger.  As that was bad enough, this twist is rather discouraging.

Will post more as I know it.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I finished the rough draft of Banshee tonight about 20 minutes ago.  It currently weighs in at over10,000 words and probably expand by as much as 20% by the time I'm done editing, so referring to this as a "short" story is perhaps an understatement.  Of course, the people I ask for opinions on it may make me cut quite a bit out.  We'll see.

I'm still planning on giving copies away, but I may have to make it a bit more limited in scope than originally planned.  The story grew in the telling until it was far bigger than what I'd set out to write, and I think it's better for it as well.

Details on everything will be posted later, as they're finalized.  The details I can give now are that the story is graphic both in violence and language:  To do otherwise wouldn't reflect the spirit of the Heroes' Guild/Subject 12 universe, and might deceive new readers (if there were any to get their hands on a copy) as to the nature of the beast.

Speaking of the nature of the beast, I'll try to address a few points in future blog entries that have come up in both reviews, conversations I've had with readers, and my own thoughts on the matter.  In the meantime, however, you can probably expect Banshee to be available before the 4th.  I'll let you all know as soon as I'm happy with what I've written and can share it.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two Quick Notes

While I won't go so far as to say I'm cooking along in writing it, I will say that I'm progressing nicely with the short story I'm working on for you guys.  I figure I'm about 2/3 done and I like how the story is growing and going.

The $.99 experiment on Amazon isn't paying off, literally.  Maybe it's too soon after the free promotion to really tell, but while sales are up they're still not paying the difference yet.  I'll give it to the end of the month, though, just to see.

More updates as they come. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Change in Pricing

I recently changed the price of The Grand Granger to $.99.  On a side note, I wish the cent sign were still in the standard compliment of keystrokes available, but I digress.

The reason for the change was simple -- my contract with Amazon to sell exclusively was up and I was sick of asking so much for something that, however enjoyable, felt overpriced at that price point.  Unfortunately, I also lost my 70% royalty option on it.  What that means is, instead of just over $2/sale, I'm now making 35 cents per sale.

This doesn't seem a like a lot because it isn't.  However, I didn't write The Grand Granger to get rich.  I wrote it for people to enjoy and to gain exposure for my other works.  I can't say it's worked fabulously to garner more attention to Subject 12, but over 300 people have downloaded it and, hopefully, read it.  Let's see if they come back for more.

On another note, free time is at such a premium for me lately that it's stressing me out.  That means (since I write in my free time, currently) I'm not writing as much as I would like.  I'm also keeping two or three projects going at once so I don't get too frustrated or bored, which also impacts my completion rate.

One of those projects will be a short story that will be available for free download.  I'm working on how best to distribute it, but it's still a weeks (at best) from completion. It's set in the Subject 12 universe and is about a teenager named Jared Blackroot.  His father, David, is a disability-retired Guild member who was quite respected before his injuries.  Unfortunately, there's bad blood between David and the father of Darvis Pelcrow, and Darvis has been making life impossible for Jared.  What Darvis doesn't know, however, is that Jared isn't just some one-off super, and Jared has had more than enough -- especially after the last beating Pelcrow and his toadies gave him.

I'll let everyone know when I'm finished.  Once again, thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Back in Black.

I was tempted to start this blog post with a copy/paste of the lyrics to that legendary rock tune.  However, I decided at the last minute that while I'm not above puns so bad they make me groan as I'm writing them, I'm not quite that cliché.

As anyone following my Twitter account knows, I've had some computer trouble this week.  To wit, my copy of Windows ate itself during a driver update for my video card, and since I stored a lot of things on the desktop, a direct reinstall was not advised since it might wipe out everything stored on the desktop.  As this could potentially wipe out things running the gamut from pictures friends had sent me up to thirteen years ago to my entire collection of mp3s to, perhaps most important for anyone reading this, everything I'd written over the last fifteen years, I decided not to take the risk.

This meant I had to back up all the important stuff from the hard drive without a working OS on the drive.  Since I've worked some freelance PC repair over the last few years I had an external adapter and backed up the most vital data on a microSD card via a borrowed laptop.

But only after knocking the hard drive to the floor AS it was energized: IE, spinning.

There was some data corruption, but I recovered almost everything I couldn't replace.  Luckily, this included everything from master copies and rough/early drafts of Subject 12 and The Grand Granger to what I've written of Rogue and the followup to The Grand Granger, which I'm calling The Princess Diamonda Incident at the moment.  I may change it, depending on feedback.  I haven't verified the files yet, other than TPDI to see if there was any corruption, but I'm going to take it on faith that, because these files are so small, the ECC capability of the hardware saved them.

I'm now running again on a 2TB Seagate hard disc that I hope doesn't have any of the issues plaguing a lot of the manufacturers since the flood in Thailand last year.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

So, on to more savory things.  First off, I am already back at work.  While I've had to put Rogue on hold again (I'll explain more about that in a later blog entry if I get any questions regarding it), I am hard at work on the followup to The Grand Granger.  I refuse to put a completion date on it, but I will say that with luck it'll be published before August.  At that point I'm planning on dropping the price of The Grand Granger out of the 70% royalty zone (check earlier blog posts if you have any questions about that), but I'll be doing another 1-day giveaway to drum up interest in the sequel.  I don't plan on letting anything slip about it at this juncture, but I will say that if you read The Grand Granger you'll probably enjoy it a lot more, but it should stand entirely on its own.  The same could not be said for Rogue which will require having read Subject 12 in order to get the most enjoyment out of it -- but as I'm having extreme difficulty with getting from where I am in the story to the later scenes I have all planned and scripted, I cannot say that it's really that important at the moment.

I want to apologize for not responding to the blog comments personally at this time.  The reason being I've been busy, under the weather, and have had issues with my computer and smartphone for weeks now.  I think I can attribute some of the PC issues to the failing hard drive/Windows install, but the cell phone problems are because I can't leave well enough alone and keep upgrading the firmware whenever possible.  As such I like to use early release, bleeding-edge if you prefer, versions of the firmware and things often don't work as they should the first time -- or begin lagging/developing issues under stress.  So, I want to take a moment here and thank both commenters for their feedback.  I will reply to future comments, and that's a promise, whenever possible.

I'll try to post again sooner than I have this time.  Thanks for reading and for your support!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Plans for the Future and Notes on Pricing

Hello again.  Just figured I'd update, pass along some info on the seemingly-strange pricing structure I have, and share some plans I have for the future of my novels.

Let's get to it, then.  My immediate plans for my novels are on hold.  There are several reasons for this, but probably the biggest one is called stress.  My doctor had to double my blood pressure medication to bring my numbers back down to a reasonable level.  Yes, at 32 I'm battling high blood pressure.  I've been fighting it since I was 15, so this is nothing new, but the increase in medication level is.  Normally any change is just in type of medication rather than the strength, but that's pretty irrelevant.  Right now I'm on the highest dose of this particular medicine and if I can't get my numbers under control long enough I'll have to add more -- and that will bring with it even more side effects.  So far the worst one seems to be a very depressed energy level (which I probably don't have to tell you why that's not good for writing), but I'm watching out for some worse ones.  However, I am trying to get some writing done.  I've written probably two thousand words in the last two weeks, which makes me feel embarrassed at such a low output level, but it is what it is.  Adding to my stress are tax woes, though half of that is my own fault.  I could have used some advice for a fist-time filer that I didn't get until after I'd already filed.  Yeah, I only owe $65 more in taxes than I paid, but it's a pain in the butt to amend a tax return.

Now, that's probably more personal information than anyone actually cares to read, so let's move on to the pricing structure.  Put simply, The Grand Granger is $2.99 because Amazon forced me to price it that way.  That's a head-scratcher to some, so I'll try to explain.  First off, Amazon has two royalty schemes; 35% and 70% (compared to traditional-published royalty rates of 25%).  Obviously the 70% royalty scheme is more attractive, but it comes with some strings attached.  First, a book has to be a wholly-new creation (that's how I'm simplifying the actual details) instead of a public-domain novel (aka a classic).  Secondly, and this is the kicker, the book must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99 in the USA store.  What does that mean?  Well, since all books have to be priced (at least last time I checked) in $1 increments starting at $.99, I could either get paid ~$.35, $.69, or $2.09 (not counting the delivery charge).  Considering I feel The Grand Granger is worth more than a paltry 70 cents per sale, I opted for the $2.99.  If Amazon would allow the 70% royalty option at $1.99 you can bet your breakfast I'd have my price lowered to that as soon as the Kindle Select promotion period ends -- or sooner if they'd let me while keeping the Select status.  Meanwhile, when I debuted Subject 12 I priced it at $4.99, dropped it to $2.99 to boost Christmas sales, and pushed it back up to $3.99 because I noticed sales were the same at both prior price points.

Continuing in that vein, there are a few things that probably need more explanation.  For starters, what is Kindle Select?  It's an exclusivity agreement with Amazon.  In return for a 90-day exclusive sales agreement, Amazon offers to let me offer any book enrolled in the program for free for up to 5 days during the 90-day period, pays me if anyone who subscribes to Amazon Prime "borrows" the book, but at the caveat that it has to be enrolled at the 70% royalty level as well.  There's a little more to it, but that sums it up.  Since I wrote The Grand Granger to be kind of a loss-leader to get more sales of Subject 12 on the books, my plan all along was to get it either at the $.99 price point or in the Kindle Select program so I could give it away, and it took me 4 months to write instead of 4 weeks, I went the latter route for now.

So, why do I price my books so low when some people have been surprised that I wasn't published traditionally?  Simple.  Value.  I'm of an age where I remember going into bookstores and walking out with three paperbacks for $10, and I don't mean used paperbacks.  I remember staying up late to devour those books, being tired all the next day at school but insisting on staying up late again so I could finish one more chapter before passing out again, dragons and spaceships and superheroes battling it out in my dreams.  I wanted to continue in that tradition of fun, inexpensive books, so I went low-ball when I had the chance.  Unfortunately that also comes with it the perception of value.  How good could it be for only $4?  $3?  It must be crap!  Well, I'm trying to prove those people wrong every day, and with your help I can do it!

Well, I think I'm done for the night.  I encourage you to leave comments or hit my up at my Twitter if you want.  I promise to get back to you as soon as I can.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Free Promotion Fallout

Well, as you no doubt are aware, I ran a free giveaway promotion of The Grand Granger on Amazon for my birthday.  Total tally for the day was, worldwide, 274 copies "purchased" and I reached a high of 33rd for the day on the science fiction charts under the free titles.  While I realize that a lot of people probably won't ever even read it, the fact is that for a book that's been on the market for less than three weeks (just over two at that point, actually) that was pretty good.

So thanks, everyone, for helping that number reach so high.

As to why I entitled this "Fallout" when "Update" would have been appropriate...  I guess sometimes I just need to make things sound dramatic when they aren't.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Little More About Me

Okay, it's been a few days and, with my impending birthday and accompanying giveaway of The Grand Granger for that 24-hour period (see my Twitter feed on the right if you haven't already), I felt it was probably a good idea to share a bit more.

Since I left things focused mostly on my currently-published books and some experiences while publishing them, I'll spend more time talking about myself so you, the reader, can get to know the author better.

To begin with, I am not a city boy.  I like being able to step outside and see trees rather than neighbors, an open field instead of asphalt, and to hear my roosters crowing, my ducks quacking, and the wind rustling through the leaves.  There's nothing quite like sitting in the shade on a warm summer day, savoring a cigar, reading a book, knowing the chores are done and the only thing I have to worry about is one my cats jumping in my lap or a chicken being stupid and pecking at the ash on my cigar.  Yes, it has happened, and it's usually followed by a look of disgust and some serious beak-wiping on the grass.

I've loved reading all my life.  I've devoured books from almost every genre at some point, and when I was sick last year I read almost the entire Discworld series by Terry Pratchett in about two weeks.  If you haven't yet, and you like books that make you laugh out loud and read passages to friends and family members, I highly recommend them.  However, despite dabbling in other areas, I find myself returning to fantasy and science fiction time and time again.

When it comes to my writing I usually have more than one project going at once, which does help me from getting too bored with any one of them, but slows my output and encourages mental and physical exhaustion.  Since I suffer from bouts of tendonitis in my right wrist (and being right-handed), extended bouts of writing will often leave me in pain for days, preventing me from typing excessively or even writing things out long-hand.

Speaking of writing things long-hand, a lot of my rough draft work is done on paper, with a fountain pen.  I find the two-stage process encourages creativity while allowing me to write almost whenever the mood strikes.  Too bad it usually happens after I'm in bed, trying to get to sleep.  Insomnia is often the result -- but so is some of my best work.  If you do a lot of writing and don't need to worry about carbon paper (which is actually the reason the fountain pen lost favor and the ball-point became so ubiquitous) and haven't tried a fountain pen, treat yourself and give it a whirl.  Just don't totally cheap-out or you'll find out why a good fountain pen would last fifty or sixty years of use and still work well and why a cheap fountain pen usually found its way into a desk drawer to be forgotten about as soon as something better could be obtained.

So, we come back to progress reports on my writing.  The sequel to Subject 12, Rogue, is progressing very slowly.  There are various reasons for this.  Without going into detail that's irrelevant at the moment, my free time (which includes writing time) is at a premium and has been for a while, I'm working on the second complete rewrite of the first chapter, and in an attempt to boost cashflow I'm editing an old book I wrote in an attempt to make it marketable.  That I have a sequel to this old one already partly written doesn't hurt, either.  But, have no fear, I am working on Rogue.  My goal is to have it up by the end of the year.

On the subject of Subject 12 and Rogue, another goal I have for the year is to edit out all the typos in Subject 12 and update the copyright page (among other things) so I can republish it.  When I do I'll include a sneak peak at Rogue as a bonus, so keep your eyes peeled because I'll post an announcement here when that happens.  Anyone who has a copy through Amazon will get the update first (though they'll probably have to delete their existing copy on whatever device they have) because of Smashword's publishing requirements.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone, and thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Welcome to my blog.

First, a little about me.  I've lived all of my life, aside from a month or two here and there, within forty-five minutes of the Saint Lawrence River.  Northern New York state is fantastically beautiful (at least this part of it) at some point during all four seasons -- and for two of them the entire season.  I've tried my hand at a few things, including four fabulous years as a paranormal investigator (and on occasion eliminator, but I'm no Ghostbuster and I never crossed the streams), but I always kept coming back to my desire to write.  So, in 2010, I made it my goal to take this novel I'd just finished (Subject 12) and get it published.

I couldn't get a single agent to return an e-mail.  Not even a rejection letter.  Of course, I respected those that advertised and said "no unsolicited manuscripts" and every other caveat they put down, including the dreaded "do not submit manuscripts to anyone other than me if you expect me to respond".  Again, I got nothing.

So, since I knew Subject 12 would have a fairly small audience, I went ahead and looked into electronic publishing.  Luckily, Amazon had released the Kindle and made things relatively easy for the new author to publish.  I say relatively because their formatting guide was a joke and you needed extensive knowledge of XML, HTML, and (it seemed) two different programming languages to create a book suitable for e-publishing on Amazon.  Thankfully things are a lot easier now, but at the time it was stressful.  I spent a week (giving up the opportunity to meet someone I'd grown very fond of in the proceeding couple of months -- who moved shortly thereafter and I've lost track of her) putting in up to twelve hours a day researching tools, programs, and formatting aids to figure out how to get a file that Amazon would accept.  The day I was supposed to leave and drive to Vermont I found the two tools I needed, but only well after I would have had to have left.

Fast forward a couple days of experimenting (and a lot of cursing on my part), frustration (more cursing), failure (did I mention cursing?), and almost-successes and I finally had what I wanted.  It was crude (if you've read the Amazon version you can see what I mean), it barely passed muster, and I really should have spent some of that time cleaning up typos that I had missed during the editing process, but it worked.  So I published, filed for a copyright (I think I filed for a copyright first, but that's not central to the narrative at this point), and waited.  Amazon was on the ball and I got it up in short order.

Time for a celebration!  Except I couldn't get a sale in the first few days.  I closed out October of 2010 with zero sales.  In a way, though, I didn't mind too much.  It was almost the end of the month and my goal was it WOULD be up before October 31st come hell or high water.

So, I published on Smashwords (which has turned out to be a mistake for a variety of reasons) because it was the ONLY way I could find to get on the Barnes and Noble bookstore -- and, amazingly, it also got me on Sony, Apple, and Diesel.  The markets they serve have continued to increase over the years, and unlike Amazon they allowed me to publish a freebie.  So I dug out this "story" I'd written as a joke and published it.  The Supernatural Cookbook was a joke I'd come up after a conversation with a friend.  She'd said I could make anything sound good to eat.  In the internet meme world I would have put the CHALLENGE ACCEPTED banner on it, because I instantly -- and I do mean instantly -- began describing roasted ghoul haunch.  She laughed, I laughed, the people she shared it with laughed...  And my "story" was created.  It tied in with another short I'd written, so I ran with it.  To date the Supernatural Cookbook has been downloaded at least 4,000 times between all outlets, but I can't attribute a single sale of Subject 12 to it.

I don't want anyone to think that I feel Smashwords isn't a great venue.  It is.  It offers a higher royalty rate than anyone else, it allows both free and paid works, it publishes to all the major e-tailers except Amazon, the cost of admission is merely an annoying and potentially frustrating and (I'm going to be honest here) pointlessly byzantine and draconian formatting method.  The net result is a clean, finished product, in every major (and a few minor) formats for any and all e-reader devices and tablets, but having to lose all your formatting or use a specific word processor (that I, as well as many others, hate) that costs a lot of money isn't worth it.  At least not to me.  Furthermore, despite sales that started topping 100 copies a month on Amazon with Subject 12 alone, I was lucky to sell a single copy of Subject 12 on Smashwords, Apple, Diesel, Sony, Barnes and Noble, etc, per month.

In the meantime I began work on several different projects, got extremely sick and almost died, had to deal with family drama, had a neighbor's dog kill several of my ducks and the ensuing confrontation was so unpleasant that I've been looking for a place to move to, and in general had life decide that I needed to be a punching bag again.

The sad fact is, Subject 12 exhausted me.  The reason why it ends on such a cliffhanger note is because I had a choice -- continue writing and try to wrap up such an epic storyline in a single paragraph while I was finding it harder and harder to even put a hundred words a day to paper (my goal while writing was one thousand per day) or wrap it up and do a full-blown sequel.  I chose the sequel and, from the sounds I've been getting from most of my readers who have reviewed or contacted me directly (I've replied to every one that I'm aware has done the latter), I chose wisely.  But, and this is the point I want to stress, I was burned out.  The fight scene between The Justice Fiend and Hammer was written in a single day.  If you do a word count you'll find it's around, and probably north of, eight thousand words.  You'll also find it's the only place in the book that has numerous typos in a short space.  It took more out of me than I had to give, yes, but I refused to compromise on quality for the rest of the book and, ultimately, was why I decided on the sequel.  I'd failed to meet too many of my self-appointed goals already.

I started working on the sequel but I ran out of oomph and interest way too quickly.  I started another project that I plan on revisiting soon, but I ran out of steam and interest (mostly because I shared the first part of it and the entire feedback I got was "can we start an off-topic area in the staff area of this forum for posts like this?" directed at an Administrator) shortly after beginning.  Again, I was burnt out from the intensity of that fight scene in Subject 12.

Fast forward a year.  November, 2011, I decide that I need to keep rolling on the wave of Subject 12's minor popularity.  After all, sales jumped in June, then again in August, and continued growing slowly in September, and October, and November was shaping up to be the best month yet!  I wanted a quick-and-dirty short, no longer than 20,000 words, that I could sell on Amazon for $.99 to really attract attention to me.  About that time Kindle Direct Publishing Select program had come out, but only for books with a 70% royalty rate, which meant a $2.99 minimum price tag.  Thus began The Grand Granger.

Health issues, family issues, relationship drama, wash, rinse, repeat.  I was late getting it out the gate.  I "finished" the first week of December, but it wasn't good enough.  I sought feedback so I could tell where it needed improvement.  Very few would give me any, and the first person to read it described it as "like sex, but without an orgasm".


I mean.  Damn.  Really.  Ouch.

So, I went back.  I hammered on it, tweaked it, cleaned it up, expanded here and there, and put more backstory and a glossary in it.  Got some more feedback on it, but it was like pulling teeth.  Gave up, came back to it, lost time due to more drama, worked on it some more.  But I got it done.  By then I had at LEAST six times as much in time, effort, and energy (not to mention frustration, aggravation, and disgust) tied up in it, and Amazon still only offered Select status for 70% royalty books.  So, since I could get virtually no feedback on the finished product, I decided to go ahead with it anyway.  A friend sent me a list of typos and I fixed them.  Two or three days later I had formatted for publishing and I started the process.  Filed a copyright, made 2 sales, and found a typo that had been overlooked.  I fixed it, uploaded the final result, and notified the two buyers (both of them follow me on Twitter), and started expanding my outreach to you, my readers.

That brings me up to tonight, where I'm going to wrap this up.  I'll try to use this site as a contact point for you, so don't hesitate to leave messages or e-mail me (which I'll have up as soon as I can get this thing figured out), comment on any blog post I make, and to keep you updated on what the heck is going on with my various projects.

I guess what I'm trying to say is have no fear, Hammer will strike again.  The Confederation and the Tal'Red have many more stories about them yet to be told.  I hope to have another book I wrote years ago cleaned up and published before the end of the month, but Hammer and the Confederation may call me too much to make that happen.

In the meantime enjoy the stories and don't hesitate to contact me.  Thank you for reading!