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!

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