Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Signing: May 6th

I will be signing books at the Historic Old Town Manassas Reads book festival on May 6th, 2017!

I will be signing books along with several other local authors!

I will be in the Harris Pavilion.

Stop in to point and laugh!

Look for my fancy new banner before the wind sends it flying!

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Leighton Dean

Leighton Dean

Tell me about yourself, Leighton?

Let's see, I'm Welsh. But I can't play rugby, seriously. So what else is there?

I play games, probably too much. I’m currently juggling Civilization 6 with the launch of my book. I love reading & writing, anything really but technology plays a big part in most of my works so it lends itself to Science Fiction.

I'm also a cinephile, recently whittled down my VHS collection to the original Star Wars trilogy and the Omen trilogy. All in favor of DVDs which are now obsolete...

When not doing any of these I love to travel with my wife and work on our all important beer blog.

Tell me about your current Book:

When an undercover agent goes missing, his superior must enter an anarchist London to find the leader of the 'Free London' movement, before England invades it's own city.

In 2038 the Government rules from York after losing control of Southern England to anarchy. Now after 30 years of gangland law; Evan Bell has found an opportunity to unite the Kingdom.

Two days before his undercover agent is set to meet with the leader of the ‘Free London’ movement the agent goes missing, leaving Evan no option but to enter the city himself.

But when a Red Cross Transport is shot down it ignites hostilities between the city's gangs. His mission doomed, Evan finds hope in an unlikely ally; Bo, a 13 year old assassin.

Hidden within these pages is the algorithm for winning a national lottery. Guaranteed within four weeks play. Okay, this last part isn't true. But the book is fantastic.

What are you working on now?

My next book ‘Save Our Souls’, think ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ but in space.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

My study. Pacing between my desk and white board, listening to 65 Days of Static.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Finish what you start.

What is your favorite Website?

Den of Geek. Collider is a close second.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

If I see an ending, I can work backward.
—Arthur Miller

Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
—Annie Dillard

What has always been at the heart of movie making was the value of the script.
—Douglas Fairbanks

Forget what you think about it and tell what you feel about it.
—Stephen Crane

Write as often as possible, not with the idea of getting into print, but as if you were learning an instrument.
—J.B. Priestley

The great writers can take us anywhere; but half the time they're taking us where we don't want to go.
—Martin Amis

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make.
—Truman Capote

I never reread a text until I have finished the first draft. Otherwise it’s too discouraging.
—Gore Vidal

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Perfection is a Trap

No one will ever accuse me of writing perfect novels.

Today's tip is a caution. 

The pursuit of perfection will stand in the way of your efforts. This issue is one of the big ones that stops some writers from finishing anything. They constantly revise, wanting everything in the first draft to be perfect.

With this mindset, writers cripple themselves. It crippled me for decades. It can be a kind of self-sabotage.

The solution is not difficult:

Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Hammer though your first draft never looking back. Allow yourself to make typos, write a weak paragraph or slow section. Generate the raw materials that will allow you to return and shape what you have made into the best story it can be.

The pursuit of perfection can still cripple you even if you finish your first draft, second draft, third...

There comes a point when you have polished it enough.

Use beta readers and professional editors to take it far enough.

Then let it go.
Finish it.
Publish it.
Move to the next project.

It will never be perfect. And that's OK. Get used to it, because reviewers will let you know.

--Always know, if you got as far as publishing something you are farther ahead that 99%.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Reading: Dead Six

This week I read the book DEAD SIX by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Michael Valentine, veteran and former member of an elite private military company, has been recruited by the government to conduct a secret counter-terror operation in the Persian Gulf nation of Zubara. The unit is called Dead Six. Their mission is to take the fight to the enemy and not get caught.

Lorenzo, assassin and thief extraordinaire, is being blackmailed by the world's most vicious crime lord. His team has to infiltrate the Zubaran terrorist network and pull off an impossible heist or his family will die. When Dead Six compromises his objective, Lorenzo has a new job: Find and kill Valentine.

As allegiances are betrayed and the nation descends into a bloody civil war, Lorenzo and Valentine must face off. Two men. Two missions. Only one will win.

--Great action adventure with excellent characters.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

How to Become a Professional Author

This may be the best, most direct, simple advice. That and, Finish Things!


Friday, April 14, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Heather Elizabeth King

Heather Elizabeth King

Tell me about yourself, Heather Elizabeth King!

I love books and I love scary stories. I inhale Stephen King. I also inhale indie author, Nicholas Sansbury Smith. He writes para-ops zombie books. Not very girly, but the books are fantastic. On TV I watch Supernatural, Stranger Things, and Midsomer Murders (which doesn’t have any monsters at all. Go figure). One of my favorite movies of all time is Poltergeist.

On the writing end of things, I started telling stories when I was a kid, at sleepovers. I’d make up stories and act them out for my friends. Eventually, a graduated to writing my first screenplay. I was about 12. And because I had a lot of time on my hands, I also wrote the soundtrack. I think it’s safe to say I was born to be a creative.

Tell me about your current Book.

Zoe Matthews, the Undead Ghost and the Demon is a supernatural mystery. Zoe is married to a lying, cheating, SOB. In my world, as happens to all lying, cheating, SOBs, he’s murdered. He shows up in Zoe’s bedroom as a ghost, trying to ask for help. When the daughter of a friend is charged with the murder, Zoe investigates.

When a serial philanderer is murdered, a somewhat saddened, estranged wife, Zoe Matthews, must find a killer, or else risk being haunted by the ghost of her cheating husband forever.

What do you do when the ghost of your murdered husband shows up in your house? If you’re Zoe Matthews, you don’t celebrate the fact that the philandering bastard is dead, you set out to find a killer and clear your name.
The list of suspects seems endless. Was it one of the nearly adolescent girls he’d been sleeping with behind Zoe’s back, a sinister friend who dabbles in black magic, a pair of clueless thugs on the hunt for a missing object they think Zoe has, a sexy and all too appealing celebrity artist new to town, or the stuffy town mayor?

Armed with her two best girlfriends, a ghost hunting sister, a meddling spirit who refuses to leave her loft, and plenty of tea, Zoe sets out to get to the bottom of Joe’s death. What she finds out on this journey into the supernatural leaves her changed forever.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the follow up to the first Zoe Matthews book. This one has been fun so far. Like in the first book, the reader won’t be able tell if the villain is human or supernatural.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I’m boring. I set up the front room in my house as a study. It has my small library or fiction and reference books, a big comfy chair to sit in, my treadmill, and my musical instruments. I guess it’s more of a creativity space than a study. The best thing is that the room a lot of windows. Lots and lots of windows.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?
To write the story the way it wants to be told. Never force anything to happen. If it doesn’t feel natural, remove it. I have a separate file where I put deleted sections from books. After all, you never know when something may fit a different book.

What is your favorite Website?

Netflix! Scary movies at my fingertips!!



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Quotes of the week.

Fairy tales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
—GK Chesterton

Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it.
—Jack London

Create your own visual style... let it be unique to yourself and identifiable to others.
—Orson Welles

As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.
—Ernest Hemingway

If you only write when inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you'll never be a novelist.
—Neil Gaiman

Nothing teaches you as much about writing dialogue as listening to it.
—Judy Blume

The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement—if you can't deal with this you needn't apply.
—Will Self

You can’t be a good writer without being a good thinker. This is a depressing thought for a writer.
—Andy Rooney

Just because you’re sick of your script doesn’t mean it’s finished.
—William M. Akers

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Self Promotion

I love the writing part of being an author. As difficult as that is, It's easy compared to the work associated with Self Promotion.

Self Promotion has several facets:

  • Social media (FB, Twitter, Web)
  • Blogging (You are reading my blog!)
  • Email lists (No Spam!)
  • Community (Lit conferences)
  • Book Signings (face to face)

Today I will talk about in person book signings.

They sound easy, show up with books and a pen? Right? It's a lot more than that if you want to be professional. Many of these tips are hard earned lessons that I want to save you from! Many of them are because you will have to sit there for four hours, chained to your table.

There are different kinds. Some are associated with Books Stores. People buy the books from the store then you sign them. Other times you must sell the books yourself. Be prepared for both. Know what it will be in advance.

Here is a list of the things I have learned to make my book signing events easy:
  • Pee before the event. Seriously, DO NOT FORGET.
  • Take some bottles of water. (snack bars too) 
  • $200 in $5s and $1s for change in a small cash box.
  • Be able to accept Credit Cards. I use SQUARE.
  • Get a little VISA/MASTERCARD sign.
  • Be willing to take checks.
  • Make sure you cell phone is fully charged and you have a backup battery.
  • Bring along more books than you think you'll need.
  • Lots of pens. I like sharpies.
  • Business cards with your email address.
  • Book stands. Because you want people to see them.
  • Book marks, ad cards, signage with QR Codes for direct access to Digital Editions.
  • QR Codes specifically for KindleUnlimited
  • Banners and signage. I have an 8 foot table banner. I plan on more because situations vary.
  • Freebies like candy, bookmarks, links to free online content.
  • A tablecloth. Makes everything nicer.
  • A bowl for collecting business cards for a chance at a free, signed, pre-release edition of your next novel.
  • A travel case to pack all of this stuff.

Most of the authors I know are Introverts with a capital "I". The most difficult thing for them to bring is a willingness to shake a lot of hands. Answer a lot of questions and simply chat happily with strangers.

You need to have a memorized one minute plot overview of each story. You will need to think of answers to questions like, "Does it have any romance?" or "Is this suitable for a 14 year old?" or "Is this violent?". I like to answer with the movie rating system. "These books are rated R. If your son likes the movie Terminator he'll love these."

Comparisons are a good thing to think about in advance. "This story is masup-up of The Martian and The Expanse!" You have to be excited about your stories. For real. Never bad-mouth your own books. Talk to the people. Introduce yourself. Find out what they like. Personalize the signatures. Make them fun. 

One last very important thing: Don't ever get discouraged if you don't sell any books.

--Every book signing should result in notes for how to make the next one better!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Read: Shades Children

This week I read Shade's Children by Garth Nix.

Here is the description from Amazon:

In a futuristic urban wasteland, evil Overlords have decreed that no child shall live a day past his fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the child is the object of an obscene harvest resulting in the construction of a machinelike creature whose sole purpose is to kill.

The mysterious Shade -- once a man, but now more like the machines he fights -- recruits the few children fortunate enough to escape. With luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade's children come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlords' power -- and the key to their downfall. But the closer the children get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become ...

--I got this from my local library. This is the first in a series.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: JD Byrne

JD Byrne

Tell me about yourself?

By day I’m a lawyer. I do quite a bit of writing in that job, but it’s a very disciplined kind of thing. You can be creative with legal arguments (I’ve even won with a few of those), but you can’t massage facts. Particularly on appeal (where I do most of my work), the facts are what they are. You can’t do away with bad facts and you can’t make up good ones.

Somewhere along the line, I decided that I wanted to be able to make up facts. Not just facts, but people and words and worlds. I had always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy, so I decided to start writing it. I wanted to write something completely divorced from my workaday world.

I started with short stories, most of which are collected in The Last Ereph and Other Stories. See? There’s one of those made up words (an ereph is kind of like a priest, except not). My first novel, Moore Hollow, is about zombies (except not) - the remnants of a crooked politician’s reelection scheme deep in the West Virginia coal fields. The Water Road trilogy - which concludes March 22 with The Bay of Sins - is more of a traditional epic fantasy (except not).

I think my legal writing has made me a better writer of fiction, and my fiction writing has made me a better legal writer. Writing is writing and practice (as my clarinet teacher said way way ago) makes better. I plan on getting a lot more practice in over the years to come.

Tell me about your current Book:

The Bay of Sins comes out on March 22. It’s the final part of The Water Road trilogy (the other two parts came out last year). It’s an epic fantasy, but not the standard kind. There’s no magic, although the world is filled with “fantastic” things, like telepathy. There are no humans in it either. Oh, and it’s set in a world that’s roughly equivalent technologically to late 18th/early 19th century Europe, so it’s muskets and cannon instead of swords.

As The Bay of Sins begins the world has settled into an uneasy truce after a war led by Antrey Ranbren, a half-Neldathi half-Altrerian woman who discovered a terrible secret and unified the Neldathi clans in a search for justice. Things got a little out of hand and Antrey went into exile as part of the peace agreement. Now she’s being lured back into the fray, first by the ex-Sentinel Rurek as a means of securing her legacy, second by a group of rogue mind walkers who want their own revolution.

Interwoven with the story of Antrey’s return from exile are stories of assassination and political prosecutions as the world tries to make its way forward. In bombed out Innisport, the Altrerian woman who saw the city through its occupation and initial recovery, Mida, finds herself on trial for treason. Complicated as that is, Mida’s conscience is haunted by a Neldathi locked up with her because he wouldn’t fight against her people. All she wants is for life to get back to normal, but now that might not be possible.

Finally, the newly founded Neldathi city of Albandala has been the sight of a high-profile assassination. Hirrek, once one of Antrey’s closest advisors, has to figure out why a madman turned into a killer and, more importantly, if it was due to some outside influence. What Hirrek finds shows that perhaps the war isn’t as over as some people want it to be.

When a stranger shows up on her exile island, Antrey Ranbren must decide whether to risk the peace she sacrificed so much for, or else risk losing all the Neldathi gained during their bloody uprising.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working through a few short story ideas before I launch into my next novel. One story is about a guy who gets caught up in a kind of magical duel between a pair of wizards. Another is about someone who finds a wish granting machine in the oddest of places. I also have a talking animal story I’m going to pull out and polish for the “underground” anthology that was just announced.

As far as the next novel goes - right now I have so many ideas that I’m still sorting through things waiting for one to demand to be written. I’m leaning toward either a standalone sci-fi novel about a woman whose life in exile is turned upside down and she’s forced to confront her past or starting a steampunkish series about a collapsing empire and the chaos its causing to its world.

But then there’s the comic sci-fi about the dullard who gets the galaxy’s worst tattoo . . . and the potential trilogy about discovering the source of magic . . . and the book about an old, cynical champion brought out of retirement to defend one last innocent person. You get the idea!

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

In my studio at home. I have an open square setup, with one side given over to my writing computer and the other two filled up with synthesizers and other noise makers. It’s right by a window, so I can keep track on the neighborhood. It’s not “comfortable” (it’s a stand up desk), but that works to my advantage. It keeps me on task and makes the inevitable distractions easier to avoid.

I blogged about it a while back:

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

I don’t know if this is a “favorite” lesson, but maybe the most important is that producing books - which is not quite the same thing is writing - is a long process that can really be a slog at times. The actual writing, hopefully, will be a more inspired, slave to the muse kind of experience, but everything else can feel an awful lot like work. That’s particularly true for indie authors who have to format books and the like. It’s not always easy to make yourself do that kind of stuff, but the sooner that’s done and the book’s out there the sooner you can move on to the next one.

What is your favorite Website?

Prog Archives ( It’s a vast discography of progressive rock albums, all cataloged into different subgenres (which are debatable, to be honest, but that’s half the fun). Not only is it a great resource if I’m checking out a new band, but it’s the kind of place where I can go to look up one thing and wind up wasting a lot of time clicking around from one album or artist to another (sort of like Wikipedia).



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Quotes of the Week

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
—Cyrill Connolly

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
—George RR Martin

A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.
  —Mark Twain

It is all very well for you to write simply, and the simpler the better.
—Ernest Hemingway

Don’t be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts.
 —Gene Fowler

Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite — getting something down.
—Julia Cameron

Writing a book is like telling a joke and having to wait two years to know whether or not it was funny.
—Alain de Botton

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Short Stories

I love Calvin and Hobbs.

Calvin is so wrong here. If you wait for inspiration you will never publish anything.

The Muse is a lie.

Writing is work. It's about sitting down and doing it if you feel like it or not.

Short stories are a good tool for writers to tell their stories. They will help you polish your craft.

I like how short stories in writers groups help you. They teach authors how to efficiently develop characters and plots. They need to be lean. They are easier to review and analyze and collect feedback.

Anthologies are really popular right now. The way people read is changing. They want sometime short that they can read on a mobile device.

Short stories can be published to Kindle easily. This keeps authors active.

--Join anthologies. Write short pieces. Practice. Finish things. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Call for Short Stories

Tannhauser Press is planning a new anthology:

      Whispers of the Apoc

This is an open call for a collection of Tales from the Zombie Apocalypse.

We are looking for stories with the following features:

  • 5,000 to 20,000 words
  • Stories about survival
  • Character driven stories
  • Setting in 2017
  • Various setting locations
  • Urban, suburban, rural, desolate
  • No previous experience required
  • $25 to $100 per story
  • More details available
  • Deadline is currently not set

If you are interested, a document with all the foundation additional details are available. 

Email me at and I will send you full info.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: TR Dillon

TR Dillon

Tell me about yourself TR!

I am allergic to bios, so I tend to make them short.  My standard one-liner is that I am a writer who lives and works in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  I am a proud husband and father.  I also am a published poet in addition to my indie-published stories, which include the YA sci-fi series The Hall of Brains, currently at three volumes.  I’ve indie-published various novellas, novelettes, short stories and flash fiction.

On a personal note, I’ve traveled the world and nearly died in Fiji once, and I love France and especially Paris, even with the recent strife.  I love ballet but hate opera.  I am a practicing lawyer, and I was the only witness when Antonin Scalia was sworn in as a circuit court judge a long, long time ago.  I own a Wayne Gretzy rookie card.  And I am a proud member of the Hourlings Writers’ Group in Northern Virginia.

As for my attached photo, please look at it carefully.  See the dot in the middle?  Stare at it.  I mean, really hard.  Now if the lines start to curve and bend, my image will begin to come into focus.  If the lines stay straight, then your eyesight is normal and I do not exist.

Tell me about your current book.

My most recent publication from last December is Burn Boy And Other Stories.  You’ve heard of steampunk, right?  Well, the title story, a novella, invents turbine-punk.  It’s an agrarian, horse-and-buggy world – with turbines!  I know it sounds bizarre, but it works.  Burn Boy also exhibits my strange fascination with arranged marriages and tragic stories that cannot possibly have a truly happy ending.  The publication also contains The Yahweh Project, a novelette which is perhaps the most original time travel story ever written (a bold claim, I know, but true).  You can buy this publication on Amazon and Kindle.

What are you working on Now?

I am now working on a sci-fi novella entitled Mr. Baley.  It’s an android story that explores themes such as man’s inhumanity to man, the meaning of life, what does God want from us, the limits of hatred, love without sex – and that’s just the prologue!  The story will either move you to tears or you won’t finish it.  Those are the only two outcomes.

I write my stories and poems from a recliner in a tiny office in the basement of my house.  Due to a water accident some years back, the carpeting is gone, so it’s just bare concrete.  I have crammed the space with personal effects and mementos.  And I have a cat named Cheezit who tries to stop me from writing at prearranged intervals throughout the day.

If you’re writing a story, the most important chapter is the one you’re drafting right now.  No, seriously.  I know all chapters aren’t created equal.  Some are more important than others.  Like the one where the hero faces enormous adversity, or the girl realizes she loves the boy, or the villain dies.  But don’t short-change the other chapters or it will come back to haunt you.  The running back can’t score the winning touchdown if the nameless faceless right guard slips and falls.

What is your favorite website?

My favorite website is  I am a proud alumnus of the University of Michigan, class of something or other.  Go Blue!

My website is under construction, which means my blog does not yet exist, which means you will have to wait some weeks further to hear my views on U.S. politics, my health, my family, and Cheezit.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Images that Inspire

This is from a Lord of the Rings calendar I had long ago. I saw it on the web and it made me happy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today my first novel was released.


It was a classic bucket list effort. No one is more surprised than me that it has been so popular.

It even hit number one in the Hard Science Fiction category on Amazon.

What has surprised me even more, is that I have written three more novels since then. My fourth novel will be released sometime in April.

To Celebrate, the Kindle edition of STILL FALLING is now $.99 on Amazon!

I want to thank each and every one of my readers. You are a crazy bunch of cats! Keep emailing me! I love hearing from you!

--Back to work! Type Faster Monkey!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Unrealistic Expectations.

A big problem many Indie Authors encounter is unrealistic expectations. It is really a difficult habit to break.

Here are a few examples:

  • My family will read my book. 
  • My first draft is the final draft.
  • My book will be a best-seller.
  •  I will make fat cash!
  • This will be easy.
  • Tons of 5 Star reviews.
  • All this will happen in a week.

Happiness is a simple formula that involves your expectations.

        Happiness = Expectations / Reality

This formula always comes into play with me at the movies. If my expectations are high my enjoyment could be lower. I remember how excited I was to see the sequel to The Matrix. Then being so disappointed.

When it comes to Indie Publishing the expectation I recommend as default is that you will not sell any books. That you will have to work hard to market the book. That someone will give you an unfair one-star review.

If your expectations are too high you will be discouraged when success is not instant.

Keep writing. Your best marketing is the next novel. The more you write the better you will write. Because in the end, it's all about the writing. The writing is the thing. Sales are nice. Recognition is nice. But if you're writing for those things you will likely be unhappy.

--Finish things.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Reading: Warbound

This week I read Warbound by Larry Correia.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Gritty urban fantasy adventure set in an alternate noir 1930s, Book Three in the Grimnoir chronicles.

Only a handful of people in the world know that mankind’s magic comes from a living creature, and it is a refugee from another universe. The Power showed up here in the 1850s because it was running from something. Now it is 1933, and the Power’s hiding place has been discovered by a killer. 

It is a predator that eats magic and leaves destroyed worlds in its wake. Earth is next. 

Former private eye, Jake Sullivan, knows the score. The problem is hardly anyone believes him. The world’s most capable Active, Faye Vierra, could back him up, but she is hiding from the forces that think she is too dangerous to let live. So Jake has put together a ragtag crew of airship pirates and Grimnoir knights, and set out on a suicide mission to stop the predator before it is too late.  

--I love this series.  


Friday, March 24, 2017

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Claire Buss

Claire Buss

Tell me about yourself, Claire.

I am a SAHM, a master of the art of doing at least three things at once whilst managing to zone out the dulcid tones of Postman Pat and/or Thomas the Tank Engine.  Apparently, I work best on minimal sleep so getting up at 5am to write/edit has become a way of life.  I read voraciously in the chair, in bed, in the bath, walking around my home town – whenever I can slot at least a page turn in.  You'd be surprised and how easy it is to cook and read at the same time.  Ideas often arrive at the most awkward moment possible but luckily I have the memory of a goldfish.  Having wasted my literary talents in an office environment for the past eighteen years I now intend to do as much as I can with what I've got for the next few decades.  I've been unhappily married, done the big house in the country, kept fish, been a biker chick, traveled a little, eaten a lot and become a firm believer in the healing power of cake.  I am now happily married with a little family of my own, currently living in Barking, Essex and wrestling with the eternal debate – dog or cat?

Tell me about your current Book:

When three sterile women become pregnant, the group of friends affected, led by Kira & Jed Jenkins, must get to the bottom of a cover up, find out who the blue lady is and discover whether it's really toxic beyond the wall, or have Corporation been lying all this time?

It's 200 years in our future, the planet has been decimated in the High Energy Radiation wars leaving what's left of a sterile humanity spread out across the globe in isolated yet high tech cities.  City 42 is protected from the toxic world outside by a force-field run by a company called Corporation who control sales, marketing and reproduction, allocating lab-grown babies to the general population as and when they see fit.  Kira, an Archivist and Jed Jenkins, a Force Detective, won the anniversary lottery and go to collect their child, choosing an unusual natural parenting route.  But all is not idyllic in City 42 – one of Kira's friend, Martha Hamble, daughter of the Marketing Director of Corporation is raped, the man responsible has no memory of the attack.  Jed's partner, Pete Barnes and his sister, Ingrid, fall in love.  Kira's friend and Anti-Corp sympathizer Ruth Maddocks has a spiritual experience outside the wall with a visiting professor.  When these women discover they are pregnant, a medical anomaly, and their young friend Dina Grey suffers a personal tragedy that should never have been possible, everyone involved reveals having been visited in some way by a blue lady.  Gaia - the goddess of the Earth, seems to have manipulated events to send the group of friends outside the city limits where they discover the planet has started to heal and needs mans help to recover fully.  Will they be able to stop the lies of Corporation and reunite man and nature before it is too late?

What are you working on now?

I am currently editing the first draft of a humorous fantasy novel called The Rose Thief.  The Emperor, may he live forever and ever, in his infinite wisdom has magically imbued his red rose with the power of love.  When the Rose Thief steals the rose and banishes their lover to the middle of nowhere, love begins to die.  It's up to Chief Thief Catcher, Ned Spinks, and his band of motley catchers to save the day.  Things go wrong, they get complicated.  Druids, vampire mermaids, magic, evil sorcerers and criminal family members all get involved in what I hope is a very entertaining read.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

The only place I have to write is my front room table.  Even then I have to fight with meal settings, paperwork from school, the latest crafty project so therefore glue & glitter, various electronic devices and about four half drunk, cold cups of tea.  I used to write in a little book cafe near the station but they have no toilet and sadly you can't sit in a cafe and not drink sold beverages – apparently it's a thing.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

No-one can tell you what to write, it's all you.  Very scary yet very liberating at the same time.  Also, it takes longer than you think and you do actually have to work really, really hard.
You can half-arse it but if you expect other people to read it then you probably shouldn't.

What is your favorite Website?

My favorite website is HAED, a cross-stitch site that offers huge, complex designs many of which are fantasy-themed.  Or it would be if I had any time to visit it.

The other sites I visit regularly are Pinterest and Goodreads which I do because I love them as websites and not just because they are useful author tools.



Thursday, March 23, 2017

Images that Inspire

I like to have actual locations and images I can use to help me write scenes that take place there.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Quotes of the Week

A film is never really any good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.
—Orson Welles

The historian records, but the novelist creates.
—E. M. Forster

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
—George Bernard Shaw

To find joy in work is to find the fountain of youth.
—Pearl S. Buck

There are many rules of good writing, but the best way to find them is to be a good reader.
—Stephen Ambrose

You can fix anything but a blank page.
—Nora Roberts

The notion of talent is quite irrelevant. I see instead perseverance, application... will, will, will, desire, desire, desire.
—Gordon Lish

There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen

I have a superstition that if I talk about a plot, it’s like letting sand out of a hole in the bottom of a bag.
—Shirley Hazzard

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Covers

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.  Don't believe it. You could have the best story in the world and it your cover is crap, it won't sell. Cover problems is a common issue with Indie Authors.

The biggest tip here is that the cover should target your audience at a glance from six feet away. The art needs to be professional.

Make yourself a checklist for your covers. I have started one that includes the following:

Front Cover:

  • Is your title unique?
  • Are the Fonts easy to read?
  • Is the text too close to the edge?
  • Is the artwork engaging and professional?
  • Does the artwork represent the book?
  • Do the artwork and text work well together?
  • Can you read the cover from six feet away?
  • Can you read it as a thumbnail?

Back Cover:

  • Is the text blurb easy to read?
  • Is the text too close to the edge?
  • Does the blurb have a hook that will attract readers?
  • Does the blurb tell the reader too much?
  • Does the text include the book price?

The Spine:

  • Is the spine easy to read from six feet away?

The Finish:

  •  Is it better with glossy or mat finish? 

When Indie Authors are this close to publication they might rush the cover creation/review process. Try not to rush it. I like establishing the cover before the first draft is complete. It gives me more time for tuning.

--Covers are super important. Give them the attention they deserve.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Last week I read Fields of Fire by Marko Kloos.

Here is the description from Amazon:

The time has come to take the fight to the Lankies.

Mars has been under Lanky control for more than a year. Since then, the depleted forces of Earth’s alliances have rebuilt their fleets, staffing old warships with freshly trained troops. Torn between the need to beat the Lankies to the punch and taking enough time to put together an effective fighting force, command has decided to strike now.

Once again, seasoned veterans Andrew and Halley find themselves in charge of green troops and at the sharp tip of the spear as the combined military might of Earth goes up against the Lankies. But if there’s one constant in war, it’s that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy…and the Lankies want to hold on to Mars as badly as humanity wants to reclaim it.

--I love this series. Excellent Military Science Fiction.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Eric Michael Craig

Eric Michael Craig

Tell me about yourself?

A bit about me… Hmmm, I’m a retired Scientist/Engineer that used to get paid to play with cool toys. I’m kinda the hot-rodder type, but rather than hot-rodding cars, I worked in quantum gravitational physics (I really came within an order of magnitude of creating a black hole once, and nearly vaporized five years of work, and several of my friends in the process … I’ve got witnesses too, so I swear it’s true) .

Generally speaking, I like to stay outside the box (there’s a dead cat in there … or if he’s not dead, he’s pissed as hell at Schrodinger, and I don’t want to be the one to tangle with him … plus I am not really a cat person anyway).  For most of my career, I worked far from “mainstream accepted science,” and even though I didn’t act like one of those hair-brained inventor types, those stuck in the sagging edifice of convention probably would have thought me one …

Tell me about your current Book:

Ok so you know, because of the way Stormhaven Rising and the other two books that follow are written, I have a huge cast of characters, and even my “bad guys” are not really bad guys… so I can’t clearly pick a single protagonist.

This book is asteroid porn. But it’s not like any version of that kind of story you’ve ever read. I don’t fall into the trope of bringing Bruce Willis  and his big, uhm … heroism … to save the day. I stick to reality as far as the science is concerned, and then I throw a lot of varied and colorful characters into the mix and give them a chance to run around, and beat the hell out of each other, as I turn them all into real life “Chicken Littles.”

Now that probably sounds a little fluffy doesn’t it?  In truth, while there are some light hearted moments, this book digs very deeply into the idea that if we were to face something like an impending asteroid strike, we’d likely not pull together to fight it.  Most of the key players in this story are bound by ideological walls (and technological incompatibilities) that make it almost impossible to rally around the common need. The US and China both have plans to defeat the asteroid that are worlds apart (although both of them are viable solutions) but for either side to help the other, it would take the one thing that neither has.  TRUST.

Ultimately as the story progresses through the first two novels in the series, the ball is fumbled, intercepted a couple times, and, well … there is no Bruce Willis to blow himself up and save the day.  If they can’t do it for real, then the story ends up like Hamlet (He Dies, She Dies, Everybody Dies Dies). Fortunately, hope dies hard.

What are you working on now?

I am finishing Book Three in the Atlas and the Winds series (Shadows in the Flame) and hope to have it out by late spring.  I also have a standalone novel that deals with a first contact situation that I’ve been simmering that might leap forward for a September release.  Then there is another book that I planned out most of a year ago that is the prequel for a potential TV series concept, and that might be done by the end of the year (Yeah I know writing the prequel first is a novel idea isn’t it?).

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

Tau Ceti Six.  The Coronal Aurora have been spectacular for the last ten years and they tend to inspire me to poetic prose.

Actually I write at my computer.  I have a laptop but I only use it when I have no choice. I live in my cave with my supercomputer … My roommates slide pizza under the door, and my dogs clean up anything I drop or leave uneaten.  Dogs are like a omnivorous Roomba.  I never have to clean up anything but dog hair that way.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Go big, or go home.  It is essential that indie writers hold the bar high.  If you act and work professionally, you become professional.  If you write as a hobby or approach this like art, you need to depend on being discovered to succeed.  Work it like a business and you will profit like a business. It takes being relentlessly driven and focused to make it.
And finally, you have to get out there and sell yourself.  You can write in a cave, but you sell in the sun.

What is your favorite Website?

I don’t have a favorite site.  I have favorite tools I use online, and I have websites I follow in order to keep up on science and technology (being technologically bent as I am), but when I am not writing or researching, the internet is not a playground for me.  I like to get out and wrestle the wilderness, or play with my dogs rather than play with the web.

To me the internet becomes a black hole, and I try not to orbit too close to the event horizon.




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Shows that Inspire: Samurai Jack

If you are not watching the new Samurai Jack, you should be.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Quotes of the Week

Love words, agonize over sentences. And pay attention to the world.
—Susan Sontag

All writers have this vague hope that the elves will come in the night and finish any stories.
—Neil Gaiman

Why say “very beautiful”? “Beautiful” is enough.
—James Joyce

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
—W. Somerset Maugham

If your book doesn't keep you up nights writing it, it won't keep anyone up nights reading it.
—James A. Michener

A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the author's soul.
—Aldous Huxley

There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.
—Alfred Hitchcock

No one who loves life can ignore literature, and no one who loves literature can ignore life.
—Laura Esquivel

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
—Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday Tips: The Second Edition

One of the great things about being an Indie Author is that you are the master of your own destiny. It means more work and learning how publishing works, but it's worth it.

The tools that are provided by Amazon and to manage your books are really great. They allow you to publish a second edition with ease.

There are several reasons to issue a second edition of your work:
  • Adding review quotes to the back cover. 
  • Fixing typos.
  • Adding additional acknowledgements.
  • Changing cover designs.
  • Changing what ever the hell you want! You're an Indie Author!!

The process is basically the same as the original publication. I recommend you take the time to review another Proof, especially if the number of changes are significant.

--Please note that there will be a window of time that your book will be unavailable for purchase.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Read: The Space Scavengers

Last week I read The Space Scavengers by Cleve Cartmill.

My friend David Keener loaned me this book. I was brainstorming a new novel in our writers group about a deep space salvage team and it made him think of this.

This was published in 1975 and was really a snapshot in time for the post pulp no mans land of Science Fiction.

Here is the back cover description:

It was fun stuff and a quick easy read at less than 190 pages.

Cleve Cartmill  was an American writer of science fiction and fantasy short stories. He is best remembered for what is sometimes referred to as "the Cleve Cartmill affair", when his 1944 story "Deadline" attracted the attention of the FBI by reason of its detailed description of a nuclear weapon similar to that being developed by the highly classified Manhattan Project.

--Thanks, Dave!  I had fun.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: M.L. Spencer

M.L. Spencer

Tell me about yourself?

Hi, I'm M.L. Spencer. I enjoy writing, teaching, being a mom, MMORPG games, and I have way too many other hobbies to keep track of! I love to read and write epic fantasy, especially dark epic fantasy. When I'm not writing, I'm working as a biology teacher in California.

Tell me about your current Book: 

Darkstorm, Book One of The Rhenwars Saga.

When acolyte Merris Bryar stumbles across a dark conspiracy, she enlists the help of Braden Reis to stop it, or else they will open a gateway to Hell.

When Merris Bryar stumbles across a secret meeting in the forgotten passages beneath Aerysius, a harrowing sequence of events is set into motion. Merris discovers that deep below the city of the mages, forces of chaos are hard at work boring the Well of Tears, a gateway to the Netherworld.

Faced with an imminent cataclysm that will destroy the magical heritage of their people, a conspiracy of darkmages have resorted to harnessing the powers of Hell to save their legacy. The only mages who can oppose them are Merris and her mentor, Sephana Clemley, along with their protectors, Braden and Quin Reis: two brothers with a turbulent past and a caustic relationship. But both Braden and Quin are compromised, harboring terrible and tragic secrets.

Will Braden and Quin be able to protect Sephana and Merris long enough to stop the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they fall victim to the darkmages’ sinister manipulations and join their conspiracy?

What are you working on now? 

Darkland, Book Three of The Rhenwars Saga

Where is your favorite place to be when you write? 

My bed!

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing? 

Pick either indie or traditional early, and stick with that path.