Siren Song

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I slipped in one last minute publication before the end of 2018.

The Siren of Songwind Wood is a free short story. You can get it about anywhere at no cost to download. Just click here for links to your fave e-shop.

To be honest, Siren is a story that I lifted from a previous work of mine. I kind figured that offering this sample story for free might draw some attention to my fantasy novel Tarnish. The background of Tarnish is told by the characters as exaggerated adventure stories. Siren is one such tall tale.

Check it out risk-free and maybe you’ll be curious about the 430-page novel it sprang from, fully formed like Athena from Zeus’s head. (Or something like that.)

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Ghost of Christmas Future

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“The thing that all men fear.”

I only recently understood this line from Scrooged! It isn’t future Christmases that are scary, it’s our ultimate future: death. Thus the reaper-looking ghost. Duh.

This third of three blog posts, however, is not about our ultimate demise. It’s about my hopes, dreams, and (most importantly) plans for 2019.

One thing going forward that I would like to do (if I can scrape together the time) is get to this blog more regularly! Like, once a week, at least, aiming for Fridays and/or Mondays as posting days. I also would certainly like to talk about more than what book or story is coming out, or happens to be on sale this month, or whatever! No one wants to hear only about “Why don’t you buy this?” all the damn time!

Unfortunately, in the chaotic maelstrom that has been my during 2018, I haven’t had much time for the casual, “So how’s tricks?” blog posts. During a typical day, I’ll come up with lots of little tidbits, reflections, and opinions I could share, but having immediate access and/or time to blog about them just isn’t happening.

(And whatever is happening in the really-real world probably takes priority over blogging anyway, right?)

So anyway, one hope/plan for 2019 to blog three or four times a month, maybe every Friday or Monday if possible. And to talk about more than just my own damn books.

Some blog topics I do expect to do are the writing discussions from my book Top Secret Codewords for Indie Writers. The whole thing started as blog posts anyway, so it’s only fitting to bring it back to that too. I can do a chapter a week, or a fragment of, in the case of longer chapters. There are about 15 chapters to the book, so that’ll take a while. Can’t do it right now, because it’s currently enrolled in KDP Select, which is Amazon’s 90-day exclusivity deal. I’m generally against the exclusivity thing, but I do sometimes experiment with it to see what happens.

Another topic I’d like to be able to share more about would be games, more specifically Warhammer 40K and Dungeons and Dragons. I barely get to play either one anymore, but I’d like to! And I’d like to make more time for not just playing, but talking about them in general.

To that end, another of my would-be New Year’s resolutions is to manage to paint one unit a month of 40K miniatures. Over the decades I’ve collected quite a few—too many, in fact! I have enough to field armies of Eldar, Crimson Fist Marines, Space Wolves, various colors of Chaos, Daemons, and a few odds and ends. And I’d like to try out just about every force in the 40K universe, just for fun! I’ll never get them all painted, unless Games Workshop all of a sudden decides to hire me on full-time just to see if I can do it. (Purely as a challenge—they’d never hire me for my painting skills.) But if I can get to a single unit a month—be that one hulking monster or a 10-man infantry squad—that might be a realistic goal. (Semi-realistic, anyway.)

So that’s another possible, don’t-quite-hold-me-to-it resolution: Get one unit of 40K models painted per month.

On the D&D side, it’s mostly talking about what I like about 5th edition, maybe updating my optional rule companion on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, the Fifth Edition Creative Companion. Although, I’m kind of waiting to update that after I write a fantasy book that’s literally been brewing for years, so that I can then include what would be their 5th Ed stats, too.

I also hope to read more in 2019. I’m probably not alone in that one, eh? I’ve read more in the last few months here than I did all year, and probably all last year. I’ve started reading before I go to sleep at night. That helps alot! I was also reading during my lunch while I worked at the busy, busy hospital. Needed the relaxation there. Eventually I’ll blog about what I’ve been reading, too.

And, of course, there’s the usual New Year’s fare: lose weight, get into shape, make more time for friends, make some friends, go to Mars, discover the cure for cancer, and other equally lofty and unlikely things.

The biggest focus for me, though, is more writing and more business of writing. Expand my penned library and build more of an actual business from it so that, one day, it might actually serve as my full-time job. Even if it allowed me to work a day job only part-time, I’d be good with that, too. But if you want writing to be a business, you have to know something about business! So I need to carve out time for that, too. I’m writing and making book covers and all the fun stuff. That’s getting done. But the harder side of things, the marketing, the accounting, the taxes, etc. All that… Not so much.

There are resources out there, indie writers more successful than myself who are lending a hand to (and making a big chunk of income from, btw) other writers.  I have been collecting lectures and videos and slideshows and tips and everything! (…pant, pant, breathe…) I just haven’t had the time to make use of them.

So next resolution: focus on business, as well as writing.

To which end, I also always reassess at the end of each year to see how I can streamline my operation. Remove clutter, reduce drag, you know. This year, I think that means cutting two sites that I’ve been publishing on. Neither of which produces jack for me anymore. (Or ever did.)

Now it could be argued that, since I’m already there, I should just leave everything up. The work that’s done there is done, just leave it be.

But they’re both still work. When I upgrade and update things, like with my whole superhero universe right now, I have to go back on and spend hours on those sites doing it too. And for what? No one ever buys anything there. No one even knows I’m there! It’s hours of work with no appreciable results. So…

Streamlining.

Okay, that brings me to the last section of Future, the best part: my writing plans for 2019.

Of course, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy and mine pretty much change monthly, if not weekly or even daily. But here’s the basic structure/idea I’ve got going forward right now:

In keeping with my “Donut Hole” codeword/philosophy, I have existing series started but not finished. Those need to keep running. But unless fans give me a reason to really dedicate my efforts to one series or another exclusively, I also have many more ideas that have been waiting years to finally reach the page.

So, going forward, my tentative plans are:

  • One Identity Crisis Universe (superhero) book. At least one. (Besides, Deus Ex Machina, which will land January 31st, technically a 2019 book.) I’m already about 10,000 words into Golden Age Heroes (Secret Origins: 3) and about 25,000 words into Twilight of the Gods (Identity Crisis: 3). TotG I literally started writing years ago. It’s going to be a long one, though. I once thought it might be two books instead of one, but I really want to keep it inside one cover right now.
  • One Cold Stars book. This is another long-view vision of a science fiction series. I envision six books, the first two of which have essentially been all short stories. Book 3, Ghosts of Chaucer, will include two novellas. Book 4, then, will be the first full-length novel. (Which I already wrote, back in 2003! Needs tweaking though.) The early books set up characters on their own paths across light-years of space, who, by Book 3, are drawn together into one big plotline. Books 5 and 6 will be way more focused on one galaxy-threatening story.
  • One or more miscellaneous, as time allows. As I said, I’ve got years’ worth of shit swirling around up in my noggin. 2019 will definitely see Green-Eyed Monster come out by spring, which is a collection of 9 or 10 short stories and novelettes. Those are all but ready right now. Beyond that, I could also write the first of my D&D-style fantasy books, start the long-awaited space pirate series, do my relatively new werewolf-space samurai trilogy (not as lame as it sounds, I promise!), or maybe my “strange noir” book. So many options, so little time!

Am I really going to write three or more books this year? With my crazy life?

It’s certainly possible. I generally aim for 10,000 words a month. (Unless I’m editing/revising a book at that time.)

And my doable, working stiff publishing goal is 80,000 words a year, which will already be covered when Deus Ex Machina lands in January. (Although a lot of indies might say, “That’s not enough,” they may not have as much on their plate as I do.)

So the pressure’s off, baby!

That gives me a year to have 80K ready for 2020. Easy breezy! (Though don’t worry—I have no intention of waiting until 2020.)

Okay, that’s it, folks. The end of my Christmas Ghosts. And the end of 2018!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, have a good Kwanzaa, celebrate the New Year, and I’ll see you on the other side of 2019!

(P.S. If you want to join up for the future, you can enlist on my Conspiracy Newsletter by clicking here… I’ll never spam you or abuse your info. I’m way too busy for that crap!)

Ghost of Christmas Present

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To continue with my Dickens/Scrooged theme…

The Ghost of Christmas Present. What’s happening right now. (Aside from starting a new job, first Xmas home in about 11 years, etc.) Basically, my big project right now is my IDC Campaign.

I’m excited to finally present the new book and new look for my Identity Crisis Universe (IDCU) titles, all fun romps through a slightly more realistic, grown-up superhero land. Consider it all to be PG-13, give or take. My new series/universe catchphrase is “Capes aren’t just for kids anymore!”

There are three series in the IDCU: the Identity Crisis (IDC) series, starring Spitball and the Phenomenal Five (living and dead… and undead, in some cases); the Secret Origins (SO) series, spin-off stories giving more background on various characters in the universe; and the Identity Crisis 2029 (IDC’29) series, which started out as a one-shot novella that I’ve since decided should be the first installment in a trilogy of its own, although I haven’t progressed on it as of yet.

The first book in the IDCU, Hungry Gods, has been my most successful book ever and was first published nearly four years ago. I’ve been working on the sequel, Deus Ex Machina, off and on for about three years. Finally, it will go live exactly four years to the day from HG’s original debut: January 31st, 2019. (But it is available now  for pre-order, if you’re interested…)

So, the IDC Campaign. What’s that?

Honestly, I’m still wading in and figuring it out. As I’ve probably said, I haven’t had as much time for admin/infrastructure in the writing biz as I’d have liked, but I’m making a go of it right now. Kind of building the airplane in mid-flight, as it were.

STEP ONE: Cover Convergence

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Over the last few months, I’ve been working to revise and recover (re-cover?) all these IDCU books so that they look the same. (That decision was finally made back when my Sun Tzu inspiration hit, which I blogged about and then included in my indie writers’ survival guide TSC4IW…) With the help of the talented Henry Ponciano, I have now assimilated all the IDC and SO covers to follow the same visual theme. This way, passersby will know at a glance that all these books are related, even though they are in different series.

(Invasion (IDC’29) will follow before long. That one’s on hold for now. Henry actually did the current/original cover for that one, too.)

The sad part about revamping covers that there are some I like and will miss. (And some I don’t like and won’t.) I’ve been planning to have an “obituary page” on my website at some point, featuring all the covers that have moved on over the years.

If you’d like to check out any of these books, you can click here:

STEP TWO: Make Them Easy to Get

The first part of making them easy to get is “going wide”. I know a lot of people swear their allegiance and financial futures to Amazon, but I’m not one of them.  So if you prefer Kobo, iBooks, B&N, even your local library, you can do that.

The second part is putting the first book on sale.

For a limited time, Hungry Gods is only $0.99!

(And if you like it, you might consider leaving a review that says so and then moving on to another IDCU book.)

And for those who do prefer Amazon, I’m giving away 21 copies of Hungry Gods there.

The drawback is that there’s only 1 winner for every 100 entrants. I’m not super thrilled about that method, but that’s Amazon’s new way to doing things, I guess. I prefer the lottery draw after a certain date, but Big A’s new thing (from what I can tell) is 99 people enter and don’t win, #100 does, rinse and repeat.

The other drawback is that it ends on December 21st! Which I didn’t realize when I set it up a week ago and got too busy to anything with it! CRAP! So go there now and try your luck!

(UPDATE: Amazon and I both screwed up, in my view. I didn’t get the word out in time, but they didn’t award any prizes to those who actually did sign up. Hmmm…)

Which means, the more people that enter, the more who will win. So if you want one, it actually helps to tell other people to join in too!

And if you don’t want to leave it to chance, you can score it for cheap right now! Free or a buck, now is the time to grab it. After this free-for-all is over, the price will go back to $4.99.

I’ve already mentioned another aspect of Step Two, which is putting Deus Ex Machina up for pre-order.  Pre-orders tune up the cyber-gibberish algorithms to help make a book more visible. (Apparently doesn’t work on Amazon anymore though–they like to dismantle everything that helps authors for some reason…) So if you know you want to read something and it’s on pre-order, you could actually be helping the success of that book by pre-ordering it before it releases. (And we appreciate that immensely.)

I’ve also set Silk Spider: Behind the Eight-Ball, an IDCU short story, at FREE on all sites. And it will likely stay free so that more folks will be willing to give the IDCU a try in the future.

STEP THREE: Tell All the Good People!

Which is what I’m doing now!

But my voice doesn’t carry very well. Which is why I deeply and truly appreciate it when you pass this news along.

If you know anyone who likes superheroes, science fiction, or fantasy… If you’re a social media butterfly who always posts your most delicious findings…. If you feel the holiday spirit and just want to share, share, share in this time of giving… Please let other people know what’s happening here.

All you’re doing is telling your friends where they can find a book for a buck, or even for free. They might just appreciate that.

And so will I!

Thank you for reading this far, thanks for your support, and good luck for those who will try for the freebie.

Next up: the thing that all men fear…

Last Kickstarter Days for Pulp Fiction Mag Cirsova

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I’ve been meaning to get back to a few different blog posts that have been swimming in my brain, but just haven’t found the time. TIME, as I always say, is THE most precious resource. It disappears second by second, constantly, never stops leaving and never comes back. SUCKS, don’t it?

But you know what doesn’t suck?

CIRSOVA Magainze! It’s one of the big pulp rev titles that are bringing back sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery that is written to be FUN. All the big literary SFF mags want stories that are  politically correct and have the big thrust as something that your English teacher would like.

But most of us aren’t English teachers. We what about the rest of us?!

Cirsova is for the rest of us.

And to ensure there’s a Volume Two to this magazine, we need a few more people to care. And, frankly, to show they care by contributing a couple bucks. And/or telling some other folks they know who aren’t English teachers (or are—they like this stuff too, they just can’t admit to it!) about it too.

GO HERE to Kickstarter and see what you can buy for your couple bucks. And help keep this indie mag going and keep giving indie authors somewhere to publish!

 

Snake Eyes is Live. Plus More Cheap eBooks

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As of July 20th, my latest standalone short story is live just about everywhere.

How do you kill a man who has Lady Luck wrapped around his finger?

The man known as The Gambler went from loser to ruler almost overnight. Now he sits at the head of all tables. And those he toppled, the mobsters getting his scraps, they want him dead. 

But rumor has it that The Gambler has a cosmic cheat. A piece of science fiction come to life that twists all probability in his favor. 

If you believe in that sort of thing. The hitman they call Snake Eyes, he doesn’t. His dice are loaded. So is his gun. 

Let the final game begin.

A tale of death, noir, and impossible odds from the author of One-Eyed Jacks, Unfeeling, and Moondance. 

You can find it by selecting your favorite retailer–just click here. 

Also, July is still on, and so is Smashwords’s annual Summer/Winter Sale. Everything of mine over there currently has an automatic coupon attached. That’ll get you short stories for free and everything else for between 1 and 2 bucks! Check it out now, cuz July is just about over! 

New Superhero Secret Origins Started!

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Despite the recent chaos and ego beating of my present job searching situation, I managed to start on the next book today!

I was thinking the other day to blog about how hard it is to get started.

“A beginning,” the Princess Irulin told us in the first line of 1984’s Dune movie, “is a very delicate time.”

And despite all your mental preparation, squeezing out the beginnings of a new story or novel is hard. It’s like jumping out of an airplane or off a cliff (I imagine). Even if you’ve done it before, looking over the edge at what awaits below is still there. Throwing yourself from that nice safe bit of solid ground beneath your feet is just not natural.

Okay, it might not be quite that bad, but starting is difficult. It takes a leap of faith. And sometimes a shove out the door from behind.

It’s especially tricky when your confidence is not at its best. Which is my case at present, in the face of trying to support my family with no job at the moment. But I spent the last two days in job searching mode and have set up two promising interviews next week. So I think that may have secured for me the sense of, well, security to enable some new writing today. With that safety harness strapped across my shoulders, I was ready to take the leap!

And so I have. Got the first chapter in the can! I haven’t decided yet if the title of this novella is going to be The Golden Age or Golden Age Heroes — it’s been GAH in my mind, but that feels awkward to me coming off the tongue. (What do you think??? Let me know in the comments!)

Either way, it’ll be Book #3 in the Secret Origins series, right behind Masks and Secret Identities. (Which you can learn more about by clicking those titles now…)

And then, this book will get paired up with the recently completed Deus Ex Machina as the next superhero sequence this fall/winter.  (For more on sequencing, see the last Indie Writer Code Words post here.)

Okay, gotta get moving. Lots more to do with the day. But the most important bit is done!