Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back at 2012

Taking a moment this morning to look back at the year that was. And 2012 was a big year. Huge in a lot of ways, but two big things come to mind.

I started the year unemployed, having lost my newspaper job in September 2011. Gina and I made it through thanks to a lot of prayer and knowing that we wouldn't be given anything we couldn't handle. But even having the confidence we'd make it through, it was still tough. My unemployment check kept us from having to dip too deep into our savings, but by the time 2012 rolled around I think she and I had both had enough of me being out of work.

Thankfully, we didn't have to wait too much longer for me to find employment, because in February 2012 I started my current job. It was something that happened quickly, like I'm sure most of things do. I went from hearing about the job to being hired in less than a week. I wrote more about the process and my relief over finding a job here, if you want to read more.

It's a great job working with great people, doing everything that I love in an industry that feels much more stable than newspapers. I really do feel like I've been tremendously blessed.

But the blessings didn't end with a new job. At almost the same time I lost my job, we found out that Gina was pregnant. So we spent the first half of her pregnancy with me out of work. But, obviously it all worked out, and in June we welcomed Ellie Harper into the world and our family.

(Ellie on Dec. 18, the day she turned 6 months old.)


She's amazing. She's hilarious. And she's been life-changing in all the best ways. We already can't imagine our lives without her.

People tell you that the time flies by so treasure every moment. You hear it so much that you start to ignore it. At least, I did. But it's really true. I'm writing this with her in a jumperoo next to me and she's bouncing away. It's hard to believe that she's already 6 months old and cutting teeth. We saw her first one on Christmas. Unbelievable.

So, that's my year. Those are the highlights of 2012 for me. Hope your year was as blessed as mine, and I hope your 2013 is doubly so.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I need other writers' advice

Hello, blog friends. I seem to be staying away longer and longer lately, only checking in or reaching out when I need something. Horrible behavior, I know. But this time's no different. I need some advice from other writers.

I have a former coworker who teaches a creative writing class at a local community college. Last year she asked me to speak to her class at the end of the semester. It was great. I talked about what to do with your book once you're finished with it, and I discussed the traditional publishing route versus the indie path.

The former coworker has asked me to come back this year, and I accepted. I can give the same presentation as last year but with some tweaks. I feel like the divisions between traditional and indie have kind of melted away over the last year. More and more traditional authors are climbing into the indie pool, and there are more and more traditional publishers picking up previously indie folks. And there are a bunch of people who are picking and choosing publishing routes by project now. So, I could update last year's presentation.

But I thought I'd ask other writers I know what they think I should talk about. If you were in a creative writing class and could hear someone speak, what do you hope they'd talk about? What questions would you like answered? What topics would you like addressed?

Help me out. The last class of these kids' semester is counting on you, writer friends. You're their only hope.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Checking in

Hey, blog. It's been a while. I've been busy. You understand. Lots of writing getting done, but it's the kind that pays the bills. Unfortunately that's not my fiction right now. It will be someday, but not yet. So most of my best words are going toward speeches and blog articles. But they're words, and I'm still flexing the writing muscles. So that's something.

Anyway, I don't have much to tell you other than that. I did figure out how to tell the third Jackson Cane story. I've known what needs to happen in it ever since I conceived of the series, I just didn't know how I'd tell the story. I do now. And it's called Others. That may give you the smallest hint of what's going to happen. Then again, it's one word. It may not help at all.

OK, that's really it. Nothing else to say. As a way to make up for a lack of actual content, hopefully you'll accept this photo of the cutest baby girl I know. She'll be five months this weekend. Unbelievable.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Consider Us Even hits 1,000 downloads

Checked in at Smashwords this morning and saw this.


I've been inching close to 1,000 downloads of Consider Us Even for what seems like eternity. It was in the 990s for about a month. Then suddenly I was seeing a download or two a day over the last week. I knew that it had to be close to hitting 1,000. And, sometime between Sunday evening and this morning, it did. So that's cool.

Actually, it's more than that. It's motivating. I've admitted recently that sales haven't been great. And by "haven't been great" I mean stagnant. Almost non-existent. But this gives me some hope that people may want to read what I've written.

I'm excited by the fact that it's reached 1,000 downloads at Smashwords alone. It passed the 1,000 overall download mark a longtime back. It's probably getting close to 3,000 overall downloads now. But I like seeing that four-digit number all in one place.

What's it meant for sales of Chasing Filthy Lucre? Nothing, really. I included a long excerpt of Chasing Filthy Lucre with Consider Us Even in hopes that it would spur sales. It hasn't. Not at Smashwords. Not anywhere. There are people who actually complain about the fact that the excerpt is there over at Barnes and Noble. They felt like Consider Us Even was just a ploy to get people to buy Chasing Filthy Lucre. And, I suppose that it was, or is. But it's also a free story, so, really, what are you complaining about. You aren't out any money, and no one is making you buy anything after you're done. Some people, right?

This is a short story that I really like. It's only about 2,000 words, and some people have said that it doesn't really go anywhere. And, I guess they may be right. I always thought of this piece, though, and just a momentary look at one guy's life. He's living near the bottom of a pretty low society and he finds a little pleasure if just for a moment. You don't get the traditional beginning, middle, and end, but I hope you get a satisfying tale.

Want to get your own copy and help me get that second thousand downloads? Click here and go to Smashwords.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Get to know Jake Bible

Jake Bible is an author I've followed on Twitter for a while, and, as you'll see, his writing career is something I've followed from a distance. He's got a new book out, Metal and Ash. It's the end of his Apex Trilogy that started with Dead Mech. I asked him the other day if he wouldn't mind answering some questions. He said yes, so I sent him a few. These are the answers he sent back. Take a couple of minutes to read them and get to know Jake Bible, then go buy his books. Links are at the end.


Give us the elevator pitch for Jake Bible, not your latest book. You’ve got 150 words. Go.
I'm a writer. From military scifi to hardcore erotica, if it can be written I can write it. Pure and simple. My life's goal is to be a working writer that can support my family with words alone. That is my entire focus.

How do you classify yourself?

I don't. I have always refused to be classified. Story of my life.  I write the stories that are in my head. If they can be put into a category then great! But I am not a writer that can be thumbnailed. I wirte the story that needs to be written. I lean towards scifi/horror/thriller, but most of my novels are a nice mix.

OK, now tell us about the newest book, METAL AND ASH.
Here's the official description. It really sums it up:

"What began in the wasteland of DEAD MECH, continued alongside in Europe and Asia in The Americans, now has its epic conclusion in Metal and Ash!

Commander James Capreze and his team of mech pilots no longer must battle just zombies, cannibals, religious cults and the ever dreaded dead mechs. Now they will be put to the test by the forces of the Three as the evil alliance bent on dominating every inch of the world attacks from two fronts, forcing Capreze to split his forces and make alliances with those he had been sworn to defeat. The wasteland becomes the setting for an epic fight for basic human survival like it hasn’t seen in hundreds of years.

Will fifty foot battle mechs be enough against hundreds of thousands of techno-zombies ready to wipe everything living off the scorched map that is the wasteland?
Join Capreze, his mech pilots, the refugee Americans, end every denizen of the wasteland as they make one final stand to keep the Three from bringing humanity’s downfall. Alliances are formed and broken, mech pilots are made and murdered, secrets are revealed and agendas destroyed, and thousands of bodies fall and rise again in the Apex Trilogy finale: Metal and Ash!"

I write all my own summaries, descriptions and synopsis so I hope the above works.

Where did your interest in mechs come from? Were you a Robotech or Voltron fan as a kid?

I have always loved the idea of a pilot inside a massive battle machine. I'll be honest though, I really never got into BattleTech or Mech Warrior. I did watch Voltron as a kid and Transformers. I just really liked the idea of mechs smashing zombies and also of a zombie controlling a mech. It was something I had to write.

DEAD MECH is the world’s first drabble novel. Your use of the drabble makes me think you’re a fan of flash fiction. Am I right? Why or why not?
 I'm a fan of all fiction, great and small. I do like flash fiction, but to be honest I am really a novelist. I rarely write short fiction anymore because my mind just keeps expanding the stories. I have a hard time nowadays keeping a story short. I do still write my weekly free drabble, though. Each week I have the Friday Night Drabble party on my website so fans can have a free drabble if they like. There's hundreds there for people to peruse, if they choose.

You’re a self-published author. What’s that journey been like for you?
A long, strange trip, for sure. I started self-publishing because my first publisher just wasn't ready for ebooks. He understood print books only. I was lucky to get my rights to DEAD MECH back; the publishers was easy to work with. I published DEAD MECH as an ebook and as print in February 2011. I have since published two more novels, a novella and short story collection, and have a YA novel on the way. Plus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, which is ebook only and has some fine illustrations to go with the brutal, violent story. It has been crazy, for sure, being a self-published author. It is a lot of work, and actually I would prefer not to do any of it other than write. That's why I have an agent. My hopes are to sell some of my novels for traditional publishing- as long as the contract is fair and good! ;)

You are a name I’ve seen for a while. You appear to have the kind of success that lots of other indie authors would like to have, me included. You have any secrets to share? Are there publishing gnomes whose palms I should be greasing with freshly printed twenties?
Okay, gonna have to be brutal and crush dreams. There is no secret. I may have my name out there, but I am no where near making a living at writing. Only about 5 percent of writers make a living at it. Seriously. The successes I have seen have been short lived. Publishing is publishing, whether self or traditional. I'd say there is the same percentage of success in either one. All this press about self-published writers making money hand over fist is all about the same group of writers. It's all BS. The gold rush is over and all that is left is the same old back breaking work that has always been there. Sorry there aren't any gnomes. :(

You are sitting at home. A masked man kicks in your front door and screams something unintelligible. You sit in stunned silence for a couple beats, and then the man raises his mask and says “Come on, I’m kidnapping you, and we’ll never return. But grab three books to bring with you. I’m not a monster.” What do you grab and why?
They'd be three empty composition books so I can keep writing! I don't tend to re-read books. I'm one of those people that can't stand spoilers so re-reading books is anti-climactic for me. Not that I haven't done it, just that it isn't on my priority list at all. Writing is what I can't give up.

Give us the names of some writers we may haven’t heard of, but we should have? And what work of theirs should we read to get an idea of who they are as a writer?

James Melzer, Phil Rossi, Justin Macumber, Paul E Cooley are just a few. Read everything by them. Great stuff. You can't go wrong there. I might also recommend Scott Roche, Shannon Michaels, Mur Lafferty and Jeremy Shipp. Go get their books! Oh, and Robert R. Best and Timothy Long. Too many! Too many!

What about overhyped? You bold enough to name any names?
No such thing as overhyped, in my opinion. Hype is a writer's dream. I long for the days when my name is as ubiquitous as James Patterson's!

What’s next for you? Anything coming up that we should look for?
My first YA novel, Little Dead Man, will be out in mid-November. It is for middle school and up. It is the novel that landed me my agent, but we just couldn't find a home for it. I didn't want it to sit around, so I am publishing it myself. Just in time for the holidays! What's it about? Glad you asked!

"Garret Weir has just turned seventeen. For any normal teen this would be quite the milestone. But for Garret it’s even more amazing he’s made it to this age, because in Garret’s life the human population of the Earth is gone, changed and turned into flesh hungry zombies, or “necs”, as he calls them. In the world he was born into, except for his parents that have kept him safe in a small compound hidden in the mountains of southern Oregon, Garret has never known another living soul. However, he is not the only seventeen year old in the family. Just the only one living. For Garret is alive and breathing and his twin, Garth, is undead, has been since birth, leaving him the size of an infant and attached to Garret’s spine. And he won’t leave his brother in peace. Set decades after the zombie apocalypse, Little Dead Man tells the story of conjoined twins Garret and Garth Weir. A fast-paced, high-action tale that doesn’t pull any punches as Garret, with Garth always attached, must struggle with a mother that is mentally unstable, a missing father that has kept too many secrets and the fact that the world he had always been told was completely dead, actually has well-developed human survivor pockets. And not all of those are friendly. Not even close."

Get a copy of any of Jake Bible's books for your Kindle by clicking here.
Get a copy of any of Jake Bible's books for you Nook by clicking here.
And if you prefer Smashwords, click here.
And check out Jake's blog, Brain Squeezin's, for more from him.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Help me fix Reunion and Scouts

Have you ever had a story that you just wanted to tell people? Something that happened to you or someone you know, and it's such a great story that you need to share it, but you can't find anyone. No matter how hard you try, there's no one around that will listen to your tale?

I think we all have. I've got two. One is Reunion. The other is Scouts. They are my Jackson Cane stories, and I think they're great. But no one is reading them. No one. Almost literally. And, honestly, I don't get it.


A couple of weeks ago I tried to change the blurbs. They were admittedly poor. They needed to be beefed up, so that's what I did. I updated and hoped that I'd see sales start to increase. But nothing. I don't think I've sold one book since the blurbs were updated. I think the covers are good. They are simple, but I like them.


So, I'm stumped, and I need your help. What's wrong with these stories? Why aren't people buying them? I'm going to post the new blurbs and covers here, and I want you to tell me what's wrong. And don't pull any punches. Let me know what's wrong. Why aren't people buying. I want to get these stories into people's hands.


REUNION



Play cops and monsters with Jackson Cane and the rest of the Freak Police.

They’re cops, sort of. Cane and his coworkers chase certain undesirables back to where they belong. Back through the portal in a dark alleyway. Back to their own dimension. Back home. Cane's the best of the bunch, but his next cases are going to bring him face to face with someone he's not sure he wants to see again, with creatures he’s never seen before, and something he’d only heard stories about.


In this first adventure, Jackson Cane is called to a gruesome crime scene that looks like the handiwork of someone he knows all too well. He hopes he’s wrong, because, if he’s not, he’s headed for a reunion he never wanted to happen.


This nearly 8,000 word short story is the first in a series.




SCOUTS



Play cops and monsters with Jackson Cane and the rest of the Freak Police.

They’re cops, sort of. Cane and his coworkers chase certain undesirables back to where they belong. Back through the portal in a dark alleyway. Back to their own dimension. Back home. Cane's the best of the bunch, but his next cases are going to bring him face to face with someone he's not sure he wants to see again, with creatures he’s never seen before, and something he’s only heard stories about.

In his second adventure, Jackson Cane spots a trio of suspicious 20-somethings eating noodles at Charlie Chan’s Kung Food. His instincts tell him something's wrong. When he sees the same trio later, Cane finds out his instincts couldn't have been more right -- and that's bad news for him and the rest of the Freak Police. Because these young ones are only the first wave of something bigger, and the Freak Police may not be ready for that kind of fight.

This 13,000-word story is the second in the series of Jackson Cane adventures.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chasing Filthy Lucre still on sale

I decided last night that I'd extend the half price CHASING FILTHY LUCRE sale through the end of the month.

So, if you wanted to get a copy for half off, go to Smashwords and enter coupon code VW64G at checkout.

And keep an eye on this space the rest of this month. There'll be more sales you'll want to take advantage of.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's my birthday. Here's my gift to you.

Today is my birthday. I'm 39. Just one more year and I'm 40. I'm not afraid of it, but it does have me thinking that I need to set a few goals to accomplish over the next year. I have a few in mind already.

I'll save all of that for another time. Today, I wanted to give you a gift. For today only — at least for now* — I'm offering CHASING FILTHY LUCRE for half off at Smashwords. Just enter coupon code JK44E when you checkout.

Just $1.49 for a book that's been called "entirely thrilling" and writing that's been compared to Richard Stark and William Gibson. That's a steal folks.

Your gift to me can be spreading the word about this. Since I'm turning 39 I'd love to sell 39 copies, but I'll be happy with a handful. So retweet this, pin this, do whatever it is you do to spread the word. I'd appreciate it.

* I say for now because I'm toying with the idea of making this a weekend long sale since my birthday falls on a Thursday this year. But don't count on that happening. If you are thinking about getting a copy, don't wait. Do it today.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Finally, a useful online survey

The folks at lifehacker have just posted the results of the very best online survey ever, one that's finally useful.

Lifehacker: Five Best Budget Pens

I love pens and notebooks. I have a ton of each, almost literally. I'm drawn to a hardbound notebook with an interesting cover and a pen that writes smooth.

I prefer rollerball or gel ink, and I think that's because their ink is darker and I can use it to put a thick line on my doodles. They also write smoother and when you are taking notes or jotting down ideas you can writer faster. At least it feels like i can. Like when you're a kid and wearing a pair of new shoes and you think they make you run faster. What a depressing day when you realize it's not the shoes that are slowing you down. It's your genes.

I do have one ball point pen that I like, and it makes this list. It's a Zebra. That's a picture of it up there. I discovered them when I was working at an office supply store in college. They write easy and have a fine point that makes detailed doodling super easy.

Anyway, pens. I like them, and I like this list. Read it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A new cover for CHASING FILTHY LUCRE

I uploaded a new cover for Chasing Filthy Lucre tonight. You can already see it at Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. Hopefully it will be up at Amazon soon.

I liked the old cover. A good friend made it for me, and it worked really well as a thumbnail, although my name was a little tough to read. Even though I liked the cover, it was time for a change. Sales of Chasing Filthy Lucre had trickled to a near stop. I'll sell a copy or two every month, but never more than that.

I know people are seeing the book. I track the traffic from these posts and from tweets. I know that people are clicking on the links to the book pages at all the sales sites. But they aren't buying the book. I don't know if it's the cover or the blurb that's not capturing their attention. Since I don't know which one is the problem, I'm going to change the cover first and see if we have any uptick in sales. Then, the blurb is being changed next.

I'll post the new blurb here and ask for feedback. Please be honest. That probably won't happen for a couple of days.

Here's the new cover. Hit me with any feedback you might have. I'm really happy with it, not that I want that to color your opinions.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Music and writing: Smack you in the face

When I was writing the first draft of Chasing Filthy Lucre, I did it while listening to a lot of trip hop music. It had the feel I needed to keep me moving forward, and I had this thought. What if I could create an original soundtrack that went along with the book? I even went as far as creating a track listing.

I asked my brother, who is a musician, if he'd like to try his hand at creating these songs. He was too busy to do it, and the project never got anywhere. But I'm still listening to trip hop while I write the follow-up books to Chasing Filthy Lucre.

I was going to write a paragraph or two here about the power of music, but it seems like something that doesn't need to be said. I think we've all experienced hearing a song and being taken back to some memory. So, yeah, music is powerful. It can invoke memories. But it can also invoke a feeling.

Someday I'd love to write something that feels like these songs. Kind of heavy, rough around the edges, bluesy, smack you in the face.

In my head I see shady characters with greasy hair and sideburns that come down their jaw line. Their clothes are a little too tight and a little dated. Their breath smells like coffee and cigarettes. They are always in the middle of some kind of scheme. They have experience with mugshots and know what it feels like to be handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car.

The White Stripes CANNON


The Black Keys HOWLIN' FOR YOU


The White Stripes BALL AND A BISCUIT


The Black Keys LONELY BOY

Monday, August 27, 2012

Price increases coming in September

Just a quick post to let everyone know that there are a few changes coming to the books I've published. Well, it's one chance, and it's to only two of the books. It's a price increase.

I've debated this for a while, and I've decided to pull the trigger and do it. What that means is that come the start of September the price for Chasing Filthy Lucre (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords) is going to go up to $2.99. And the price for Scouts (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords), my newest, will be going up to $1.99. That's a $1 increase for both titles. The price of Reunion  (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords) will remain unchanged,

I'm making this change for a couple reasons. One is to keep up with the market as it seems to be shifting. I have absolutely no statistical evidence to back up that claim, but I've noticed that novellas the length of Chasing Filthy Lucre are routinely being priced at $2.99 and often higher. Same thing with Scouts.

The second reason I'm doing this is to bring these books in line with a general ricing philosophy I'm adopting. Anything under 10,000 words is $0.99. Anything between 10,000 and 20,000 words is $1.99. Anything above 20,000 words starts at $2.99. Probably more info than you cared to know, but there it is.

Like I said, September prices go up. What's that mean for you? It means that if you've ever wanted to get a copy of one of those two books, you have a few days to save a couple bucks. In September they'll each cost you a buck more.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

You can now get Scouts for your Nook

Took a few days, but Scouts is now available for Nook. Go and get your copy here. Lets sell dozens today and see if we can't get this thing to become a Nook bestseller.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Star Wars characters sing Call Me Maybe

This may be the perfect use of the Internet.

Scouts is available

I promised you that the second Jackson Cane story, Scouts, would be available today, and it is. You can get it at Smashwords and Amazon for now. It's still working its way through the process at Barnes and Noble, but it should be available there by the end of the day.

If you're one of the people who's grabbed a free copy of Reunion in the last few days, or you're one of the few people who've paid for a copy of Reunion in the months that it's been available, you're going to want to get a copy of Scouts. This story lets you get a much better look at Jackson Cane, and it sets up a bigger story that's going to be a lot of fun. I'm excited about it. You're going to like it. If you need to know more, here's the description that I'm using for now. This will probably change a bit.

When Jackson Cane spots a trio of twenty-somethings in a restaurant, his instincts tell him something's wrong. When he sees them later, he finds out he couldn't have been more right, and that's bad news for Jackson Cane and the rest of the Freak Police. This 13,000-word story is the second in the series of Jackson Cane adventures. 

So get a copy of Scouts at Smashwords here: Scouts

Or at Amazon here: Scouts

And, if you have a Nook. keep checking back here. I'll update this space when  link is available.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A new story up at A Twist of Noir

A quick note to let you all know that I have a story up at A Twist of Noir. It's called Like Candy, and it features a couple of characters I've been writing a while just not publishing. They are named Dirk Daring and Paisley Trinket, and they're thieves.

Since this was going to be the 693rd story posted at A Twist of Noir, the challenge was to write the story in 693 words. I found Like Candy on my hard drive, and with a little editing I made it fit the word count. It's much tighter now that it used to be, and I think it's better for the editing.

Anyway, go check it out. Leave a comment over there. Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Get ready for the release of Scouts by getting Reunion for free

 We are a week away from the release of Scouts, the second Jackson Cane story. I know many of you are counting down the days.

Well, for those of you who aren't, don't let it be because you haven't read Reunion, the first Jackson Cane story. Right now, and until the end of July, you can get Reunion for free over at Smashwords.

In case you've missed it before, here's a bit about Reunion.

Jackson Cane is a cop. Well, sort of. Cane and his coworkers call themselves the Freak Police. They chase certain undesirables back to where they belong. Cane's the best of the bunch, but his latest case is going to bring him face to face with someone that he's not sure he wants to see again.

Sounds good, right? I really think it is. I love writing these characters. You're going to love reading them. And now you can try Reunion for free to see if I'm right. Besides, I know where this story's going. You're going to want to get in on this one early. There are three more stories coming after Scouts. You don't want to hear about how awesome Jackson Cane is and then have to play catch up. No, you're going to want to be the one telling everyone about this great stories you've found.

Take advantage, guys.

But it's not just Reunion that's being offered at a discount. You can also get Chasing Filthy Lucre for 99 cents. That's half off. You might want to snap that one up too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

She's here



It was a week ago today that we finally got to meet our beautiful little girl. Gina started to feel lousy on Sunday. We stayed home from church because there were signs that labor might be imminent. We did all the Fathers Day activities with each of our families that we had planned, but I was always keeping an eye on Gina.

We hadn't let anyone know that she was starting to see signs that we may be having this baby soon. But throughout the day we'd whisper to each other about things that were happening.

We went to bed on Sunday and I told Gina that I wasn't going to go in to work on Monday. She said, "No, you're going." Then about 11 p.m. Gina woke me saying she thought she was having contractions. She was. We timed them and waited. Once they got to be about 5 minutes apart we headed to the hospital. And a mere 19 hours later, we met her. Ellie was here.

Baby is great. Mom is great. Dad is tired and not ready to go back to work yet.

You're going to have to forgive me if the posts here are a little more baby focused for the next little bit.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Due date + ?

We've been waiting for baby for almost a week now. Actually, if we can make it a few more hours, our little girl will officially be one week late.

She's still moving like crazy. You can see and feel it, so we know she's in good spirits. She just seems a little shy.

I keep making the joke to people that for a girl who has a father who's an editor she doesn't seem to have very high regard for deadlines. That joke seems funnier to me than it is to everyone else. Doesn't keep me from making it though.

The doctor always told us that he wouldn't let Gina go more than a week past her due date, and he's not. Well, not by much anyway. We are scheduled for an induction at 5 a.m. on Tuesday if things don't happen naturally.

So that's where we are. Still on baby watch.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Coming soon


Coming July 16.

The second story in the Jackson Cane adventure is coming in July. It's in the final stages of editing now, and, if I do say so myself, it's good. The story of Jackson Cane and his Freak Police partners really gets rolling here. It's got monsters. It's got cops who hunt the monsters. 
It's got guns and fights. 

Scouts is part of a five story arc that will culminate in all kinds of craziness. You'll like it. Trust me. But to really understand Scouts you should read the first in the series, Reunion.

"Jackson Cane is a cop. Well, sort of. Cane and his coworkers call themselves the Freak Police. They chase certain undesirables back to where they belong. Cane's the best of the bunch, but his latest case is going to bring him face to face with someone that he's not sure he wants to see again."

Get Reunion at Barnes and Noble.
Get Reunion at Amazon.
Get Reunion at Smashwords.

Monday, June 4, 2012

We're on baby watch. Any advice?

Today we are officially within a week of our baby's due date. If she arrives on time she'll be here in six days.

We've been on baby watch for a while now. She could've arrived at any time for the last two weeks. We've been spending almost all of our free time getting the house ready. Her nursery is finally done, and it looks fantastic.

Being first time parents, we've been getting lots of advice. The most common being to get lots of sleep while we can. Or sleep when she sleeps. Lots of advice that's sleep related.

A few weeks ago we were at lunch and one of the other customers at the restaurant started asking questions. They were pretty harmless at first. "When are you due?" "Do you know what you're having?" That kind of thing. He kind of went on and on, and all we wanted to do was eat our sandwiches and go. Then he started to get personal, asking if Gina was going to have an epidural. I know he was just being friendly, but back off, weirdo.

So, since we've been getting baby advice from everyone we see, I wanted to give all of you with kids the chance to chime in. What's something you wish someone had told you before you became a parent?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mai -- Episode 4. A serial story


Part 4 in the ongoing tales of Mai. Enjoy it. Let others know about it. Spread the love.

Mai
Episode 4
Yun crawled back into his cot. His feet hung over the edge and pushed a bump into the curtain. He looked at the ceiling and the venting that ran over his head. He listened to the air rush through the sheet metal tubing. He listened to the engines of the cargo hauler rumble. Only one was running, best as Yun could tell.
“Why run both?” he said to no one. “There’s not enough cargo on board to require the extra power.  Save fuel.”
That’s what his uncle would have told him. It’s what his uncle had taught him. Save. It didn’t matter what it was. Save. Always.
It was a lesson a much younger Yun had learned over dinner. Mai splurged. A big sale to a man looking for the big guns left a little extra money in his pocket. He called to his nephew as he climbed the hill when the sale was complete.
“Yes, uncle,” Yun shouted down to his uncle after Yun had scampered from the tent he’d been playing in.
He started to run down the hill. He was a 5-year-old tangle of under-coordinated arms and legs at the time. A soiled white t-shirt covered his top. A pair of tan shorts covered his bottom. Nothing covered his feet.
Mai smiled as the boy stumbled toward him and he stopped walking. He knelt down and stuck his arms out in front of him to catch his nephew. A wad of bills was still in his right hand.
Yun fell into his uncle’s arms and Mai scooped him up and hugged him to his chest.
“Tonight,” Mai said through a smile, “we eat chicken.” Yun copied his uncle’s happy face and cheered. He banged his hands together and Mai put Yun back on the ground.  Yun ran ahead of his uncle and reached blindly into the tent that they shared. He pulled out a pair of worn shoes. He sat on the damp ground, slipped them on his feet, and was back standing by the time Mai made it to the tent.
“Ready,” the eager little boy said.
“What about this?” Mai asked and touched the dirt stains that were across the front of his nephew’s shirt.
Yun pulled the shirt off, its neck hanging up on his ears.
“Ready,” he said, his shirt in his hand and hanging at his side.
“No,” Mai said. “Not yet. You do have to wear a shirt.” Mai was changing his own clothes.
Yun scampered under the canvas side of the tent and dug in a crate where he kept the few changes of clothes he had. He came back out a moment later in a wrinkled blue tank top. Mai smiled.
“Still not great, but it’ll do,” he said.
Yun banged his hands together and asked, “Can I go to the boat?”
“You can go down to it,” Mai said, “but don’t get in it. You know you wait for me before you get in.”
“Yes, uncle,” Yun said as he ran off down the hill.
Mai reached into the tent and grabbed a pair of sandals he kept by his bed roll. His good sandals. He put them on his feet, shoved his large roll of cash into the pocket on his best robe, and ran off after his enthusiastic nephew.
After getting Yun and himself settled into the small boat he kept roped to the rocks near shore, Mai yanked hard on the cord of the small motor at the back of the boat. It sputtered to life and the little boat pulled slowly away from the shore.
Yun worked his way to the bow and got up on his knees.
“Careful,” Mai shouted of the motor. “Sit on your bottom, please.”
Yun dropped to a seated position.
“Thank you.”
Once the boat was out of the cove of the island, Mai pointed it toward the lights in the distance. The City of Lights. He gave the little motor more gas and listened to it whine its disapproval. Mai didn’t like being out in the open water with the small boat and this small engine. The boat slowly picked up speed and the wind that rushed across Mai and Yun was cold. Yun dropped to his stomach and did his best to get below the sides of the boat and out of the cold.
Mai smiled at his nephew, and Yun waved to him.
“A few more minutes,” Mai shouted over the engine and the wind.
Yun nodded and smiled.
Minutes later Mai brought the engine to almost a full stop and Yun got back to a seated position. The darkening sky was lit by fireworks and the embers were crashing all around them. The water sizzled. Yun stared up, all of his focus on the explosions of color above him.
“You’re missing it,” Mai said to the boy.
“No, I’m not.” Yun turned back to his uncle.
“Oh, yes you are.” Mai pointed across the bow of their little boat.
Yun looked up to see a massive structure right in front of him, dipping and bobbing on the waves of the harbor.
It was built out of dark wood with four massive masts. From each of the masts popped three sails made of a deep red fabric. And on each of the main sails on each of the masts was sewn a black, coiled snake ready to strike.
Yun jumped to his feet and clapped and cheered the ship’s passing. He recognized the symbol of the rebels.
“On your bottom,” Mai shouted.
Yun dropped to a seated position and turned to his uncle and asked eagerly, “Do you think they’re on there? My mom and dad. Are they on that ship?”
“It’s possible,” Mai said, even though he knew the chances were remote. His sister would never make it on a boat. There was a better chance she was holed up in the hills somewhere coordinating an offensive strike. Huddled in a tent, a blanket wrapped around her, and studying some lines on a map.
Yun watched and waved at the ship. A few of the men on the deck waved back.
Mai fed the motor on the back of the boat a little gas and his small craft made its way into the harbor. He was dwarfed by all the other boats. Even if they weren’t as big as the massive rebel boat, they still made him small. Their sails extended and puffed from the breeze. He steered his way to the docks on the shore and threw his line to one of the men waiting there.
The man caught it and tied Mai’s boat securely to the dock. The man lifted Yun out of the boat and offered Mai a hand. Mai gave the man a fresh dollar for his trouble and the man smiled. He nodded his thanks.
“We’ll be quick.”
The man nodded again.
Mai took Yun’s hand and they walked to the market just up the hill from the dock. It was an aisle with booths on both sides. Women selling fruits, vegetables, and fresh meats. Halfway down the aisle was an open space where pots of food were cooking over open fires. Smoke disappeared into the night sky through a hole that was cut in the roof.
Large lights hung over every other booth and bathed the whole place in a bright glow. The ladies working the booths all smiled and waved at Yun. He waved back. The woman selling spices held out a stick of candy for Yun to take. He looked up at Mai before accepting her offer. His uncle nodded, and Yun snatched the candy from her hand.
“Good evening , Mai” said the women behind the booth. Carrots, potatoes, and turnips were displayed in front of her. “Hello, Yun.”
“I think we need six carrots, two turnips, and three potatoes tonight,” Mai said. “You think three potatoes is enough, right, Yun?”
The boy smiled and nodded, still holding on to the end of the candy sticking out of his mouth.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Million-year-old methane is invading the atmosphere



Am I the only one who finds this headline disturbing? The arctic is farting ancient methane into the atmosphere. Click the link and read it. It's short. Shouldn't take long.

I know. Methane, like from cow farts and all that. Ha ha. Funny.

But seriously. Million-year-old methane is escaping back into the atmosphere. This is methane that's been steeping for a million years. Like a teabag that sits in a cup of hot water for an hour, I'd say there's a better than zero chance that what's escaping is super-powered methane.

Even if there's nothing different about this methane, there's got to be a story here. Like along side this escaping methane was some sort of zombie super virus. That's what really killed the dinosaurs and now it's coming for us. BOM BOM BOOOMMM.

Someone let a thriller writer know. We need them to get on that.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What makes you feel old?

I saw this collection of items on Buzzfeed last week, 48 Things That Will Make You Feel Old.

I'll be honest. There's nothing on that list that makes me feel old. Most of it was culturally significant long after I stopped caring about stuff like that. Most of it is from the 1990s. I graduated from high school in the early years of that decade. I'm a child of the 1980s.

That reminds me. I read or heard an interview with Britney Spears years ago. She said that she grew up in the 1980s. No, you didn't. You were born in 1981. Your formative years were in the 1990s. Just because you and your parents choice of career stole most of those years from you doesn't make it less true. There are quite a few of us who were lucky to grow up in the 1980s. And I'm serious about that. The 1980s were a fantastic time to be a kid.

Anyway, give me a minute to put away my mini soapbox. My point here, is that I'm 38 and none of the things on that list made me feel old. Not much does, honestly. Most of the time I'm still waiting to feel like a grownup, much less old.

But there's one thing that will do it. It's when I flip around the radio and hear a song from my childhood on the local oldies station. It happened on Sunday. I was driving home from a writers conference and "Easy Lover" by Phil Collins and Phillip Bailey was on. That song came out when I was 11.  And that song's old in comparison to other songs from my childhood that I've heard on the oldies station. I distinctly remember being played at junior high dances that have been played on the oldies station.

For some reason that kills me. I start thinking, "No way can I be old enough to have songs form my childhood on this station." Then I remember that my 20th high school reunion is coming this summer, and, yeah, I'm old. Even if I almost never feel it.

Your turn. What makes you feel old?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mai -- episode 3. A serial story.

The next episode in the ongoing story of Mai. Hope you like it.
Mai
Episode 3
The large-hulled ship was thirty minutes away from the beach when the man who’d been on the left got up from behind the controls and introduced himself.  He stuck out a hand, palm slightly up, for Yun to shake.
“Maryweather,” he said and waited for Yun to take his offer of a handshake. “I’m Maryweather.”
Yun took his hand.
“That’s Jacobs.” He pushed a thumb over his shoulder at the other man, the one now flying the ship. “Let’s give you the quick tour.”
Maryweather pushed himself past Yun and walked into the cargo hold. He stood near the cargo door that the two men and Yun had used to enter the ship.
“This is it, really. There’s not much to this cargo hauler. Lots of open space so we can carry lots of stuff.” Maryweather pointed to a row of rooms hidden by three separate curtains that were on the opposite side of the cargo hold. “Mine’s the one on the left behind the green curtain. Jacobs has the middle. The one with the blue curtain. You get the one with the orange curtain. That’s your door, so keep it closed.”
Yun inspected the curtain from a distance. It was wrinkled and tattered. A tear that started at the bottom and extended to nearly the middle had been patched with a sloppy stitch.
Maryweather kept talking. He was pointing to a sink that was just past his blue curtain. “We eat there,” he said. “Or we prep stuff there. Quick-make dehydrated meals are in the cabinet above the sink. Don’t use too much water. There’s only so much we can carry around with us, and we need it to do more than eat.” He elbowed Yun in the ribs and gave the boy a goofy grin. Yun jumped.
Maryweather stepped away from the door and started walking toward the back of the ship and a pair of doors that were marked “Crew only.”  
“You don’t go back here,” he said, trying to sound stern. “This is for me and Jacobs only.”
Yun nodded that he understood.
“Now why don’t you go get comfortable in your room?” Maryweather patted Yun on the back once. “We’ve got a lot of flying to do. We’ll come get you when we’re preparing dinner.”
Yun nodded and walked toward the crate he’d carried to the ship earlier. He’d placed the bag he’d packed on top of the crate before they left the island. He grabbed his bag and headed to the orange curtain.
The fabric felt scratchy and unfinished in his hand when he pulled it to the side. There room was only as long as the cot that came from the wall. It wasn’t much wider either. Across from the bed was a pair of shelves, one high and one low. Other than the cracker-thin mattress on the cot, everything in the room was made of metal. Cold and grey.
Yun tossed his bag onto the bed and sat down. He stretched out his legs the best he could, never getting his knees to pop like he’d hoped. He sat still for a moment and then exhaled a long breath.
He pulled his bag onto his lap and undid the zipper across the top. He pulled out handfuls of clothes and put them in sloppy piles on the top shelf. The bottom shelf he saved for the few personal items he was able to hurriedly grab. His headphones and music player. A book his uncle said his mother sent to him. A bag of beads that his uncle was teaching him to make into jewelry. That was all he had, and he spaced it evenly along the length of the shelf.
He lay back on the bed and felt the mattress flatten to the point that it was almost nonexistent. His feet hung off the edge of the bed at least a foot. He wiggled his feet and watched them puff the soiled, orange curtain.
Yun stayed in the bed, trying to clear his mind. Trying to calm these nerves. Trying to stop his mind from replaying the day. Nothing, though, would work. He couldn’t get it out of his head that the uncle who raised him sold him for 200,000. Yes, he could buy more weapons to sell, but Yun was family. You don’t disrespect family, not matter how bad it gets.
Yun reached under the bed, where he’d stored the bag after it was empty. He pulled the scrap of paper on which his uncle had written the coordinates out of the inner pocket. He rubbed his thumb lightly across the numbers and thought about the island and how quickly everything had changed that morning.
Yun folded the paper gently in half and put it in the pocket on the front of his shirt. He took a moment to fasten the button over the pocket then got off the bed and opened his orange curtain.
He stepped into the cargo hold and headed toward the lights glowing in the cockpit. He’d taken his boots off and slipped them under his bed and his socked feet made little noise as he crossed the metal floor.
The voices in the cockpit were growing louder. It sounded like Maryweather and Jacobs were arguing. Yun stopped just at a point where he couldn’t be seen and listened.
“You shouldn’t be so nice to the kid.” It had to be Jacobs. Yun didn’t recognize the voice.
“Why can’t we be nice to him?”
“We bought the kid for a reason. If you’re nice to him now, it makes it harder later.”
“Not that much harder.”
“Still, it’s harder.”
“If he’s going to have to be with us for a while, then we should at least be polite to the kid.”
“Look,” Jacobs said, “we both know what’s going to happen to him. If you want to get all buddy-buddy with him then it’s your choice. But when the time comes, you can’t go and change your mind.”
“I won’t,” Maryweather insisted.
Yun backed up slowly, sliding his socks across the floor, then spun and headed for his orange curtain.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How do you choose which books you buy?

We've been doing some renovations around the house to get things ready for the baby we'll be welcoming in just about a month. Wow. That's soon. That's where I've been the last few days. I was trying to post three times a week. April I was able to do that. Then comes May and the house projects and my schedule got way off. Sorry about that.

But doing these renovations has us moving some things around in the house. That includes bookshelves and books. It gave me a chance to look through a bit of my personal library. What I figured out is that, as a reader, I'm a bit unpredictable. I don't have a certain genre I read more of. There was plenty of crime, plenty of sci fi, plenty of literary fiction. So, obviously, I buy whatever sounds good to me. You'll see the same thing if you looked at the stuff on my Kindle.

What about you? When it comes to buying books, do you stick with a certain genre, or do you just buy whatever looks good to you?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What is a Christian author?

If you noticed in the first post that I did in the 5Ws and 1H series, I mentioned that something that really shaped my writing was my faith. Like I said then, I'm a Christian. It's something that shapes who I am as a person, and because of that it's something that shapes my writing.

So, what I'm wondering this week is whether or not that makes me a Christian writer. Or does it make me a writer who's Christian? There's a definite distinction. I don't write Christian allegories. I don't write stories about people finding God or finding their way back to Him.

I can't say that I won't ever write those things, but I don't plan on it now. I do write stories, though, that I hope have a nugget of hope in them. I think that is something that comes from my faith. It's something I get from it at least -- a sense of hope no matter the situation. So am I a Christian writer, or am I a writer who's Christian?

And, a second question since this is my blog and I can do that, would someone being classified as a Christian writer make you more or less likely to read something they wrote? Or would it not affect your decision at all? Does the term Christian writer come with connotations?

Tell me. I really would like to know.

Monday, April 30, 2012

5Ws and 1H -- When

It's another 5W and 1H day. This week it is 'When.'

Sales numbers are something I don't share often. I don't feel like they need to be shared. I don't casually throw them out there like some well-known self publishers. For one, my numbers aren't that impressive. Two, I hope that if you are here at the blog you've read one of my books and are wanting to know more about me. Or you've been here before and enjoyed what you read. That brought you back.

Today's different though. I'm sharing some rough sales numbers to ask the question of "When are you a success?"

I suppose the answer all depends on what your measuring stick is. If you self-publish a book so you can say you've published a book, then you're happy. You're a success. If your goal is to sell a book, once you sell a book then you're a success

But let's say that your goals are bigger than that but smaller than become an New York Times best seller. If that's you, then when are you a success? Is it measured with a certain number of sales overall? Is it measured with a certain number of sales per month? Is it measured by a certain amount of money made per month? Is it when you can quit a day job and work full-time as an author?

I suppose that last one makes the most sense, but what if you are married to someone who does very well financially and that person's salary allows you to devote your time to writing. That's great for you, but it doesn't mean that you're making enough to support yourself.

If we do measure success by number of overall sales, what number do you go with? Is it 1,000? Is it 2,000? That's roughly where I am right now if you count my free book downloads. Am I a success?

Or is success not at all measured by sales, but consistency. Is someone who writes multiple books and continues to produce content even though their sales aren't great a success? What about someone who produces just one book, but it sells like gangbusters?

I'd love to know what you think. Tell me, when do you think an author is a success?