Thursday, March 29, 2018

Book 3 is now novel-sized

Broke through the 50,000-word mark.  It's officially a novel, though one without an ending yet.  I'm still working on that.  But I always end the story; I don't do cliffhangers.  I always wrap up the main plot.  So don't worry about that.

I'm on page 6 of my 13-page outline, but I think the stuff nearer the end of the outline is more dense.  By that I mean it should translate into fewer draft pages than the first half of the outline.  I highly doubt this first draft will break 100,000 words.

Caverns of Mercury and Cities of Mars will both feature in a Kobo promotion in a few weeks.  I'll announce the sale when the time comes.  I've had some small success with these Kobo promotions, and I only need a few more sales before I reach the threshold for Kobo to pay out.  I'm not optimistic about getting traction on that retailer yet, but I'm optimistic about becoming optimistic.  Baby steps.

It's still my goal to have book 3 out some time this summer and book 4 out before the end of the year.  Not sure if I can make it, but I'll try.  Wish me luck.

Man-eating dinosaurs

Suppose I said there were about a quarter million man-eating dinosaurs currently living in the state of Georgia.  You'd probably laugh, right?  Or perhaps you'd simply look at me as if I had just told you that reptilian humanoids from Zeta Reticuli secretly ran the world in the guise of Illuminati, Freemasons, and the Knights of Malta.

But what if I said there were a quarter million alligators living here?  Well, that's a perfectly ordinary and reasonable claim.  Everyone knows gators live down in the south Georgia swamps.  (And, occasionally, make their way up to the Atlanta suburbs.)

The difference in reaction is all in the name.  The names we give things carry power, and how we react to things is, in part, a function of what we call them.  Shakespeare knew this, which is why his "What's in a name?" monologue is recited by a character who ends up dead.  Juliet wants to believe that names don't carry any real meaning, that it's only the underlying reality that matters, and she pays the price for her naivete.  It turns out that names matter a lot.  They're life and death matters.

In the novel 1984, the government is in the process of removing words from the English language.  Its goal is to control thought by controlling the mechanism with which people think.  It's a brilliant bit of imaginative writing by Orwell.  Names have power, especially true names, and if you want to strip people of their power, then one way to do that is to make it impossible for them to speak truly about anything.

So, fiction writers, give some thought to your names.  Not just character names, but names of machines, places, rituals, animals, plants, and so on and so forth.  There's power in those words.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Amazon knows what I want before I do

Last night I was browsing Amazon for halberds.  Because let's face it... when you need a halberd, nothing else will do.  And halberds are just plain awesome to have around even if you never use one for its intended purpose.  I'm not convinced that every household needs a halberd, but I'm not convinced they don't, either.


What do I see in my inbox today?  An email from Amazon advertising medieval clothes and belts.  Cosplay-type stuff.

Now, I'm not a cosplayer.  Not even a little bit.  But I couldn't help checking out those products.  They were interesting, and a part of me was tempted to spend some money.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Amazon is eating every other retailer's lunch.  They know what you might like even if you don't.

I know... "Cool story, bro."  But I found it amusing, especially since I was tempted to purchase things I've never wanted before.

I doubt I'll end up getting a halberd.  But you never know.  And if I do, then maybe I'll get some of those recommended other things to go with it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Action at Kobo is picking up

I had 215 free downloads of Clouds of Venus on Kobo last week.  This was after the promotion, not during it, so it's all organic.  The folks at Kobo say "free" is the most often searched-for word on their site, and I now believe it.  I moved more copies of this book on Kobo than on Amazon last week, and that's kind of mind-boggling.

Kobo readers, I hope you enjoy the book.  Thanks for reading.  :)

In other news, I've had a migraine for most of the day, which means being in a semi-conscious daze in between bouts of puking, and I'm only just now starting to feel human again.  Naturally, my productivity today has been nil.  Hopefully I can get back in a groove soon.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Progress report

I've started my first scene on a particular Felid world.  This is the second Felid planet in the book so far on which some POV action takes place.

It's a special place, and I hope I get it right.  I'm excited, but also a little nervous.  If I screw up, a certain assassin-monk will come after me, and I don't want that.

Word count so far is just over 46,000.  Still on page 5 of the outline, but the next scene will put me on page 6.  And some of the later stuff in the outline is very detailed, so it's possible I'm already past the halfway point as far as the first draft goes.  I expect to add a considerable amount of stuff in revision.  Some authors cut material during revision; others add.  I'm one of the latter.  My brain zips through the action faster than I can type it out, so stuff gets left out.  I have to go back and add it in later.

I expect to break the 50,000-word mark before the week is out.  When that happens, it'll officially be novel-sized.  My progress has been slower than I would have liked, but them's the breaks.  Just have to try to do better going forward.

In the meantime, if you're in a generous mood, feel free to help me out a little by telling your friends about my books.  ;)

Until next time... free Hesperus, and Free Space!  :D

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Finally... the Lightbridge scene done.  Man, that was a bear.  It ended up being longer and more complex than I had outlined.  Anyway, it's finished, so I can move on.  Still on page 5 of my 13-page outline.  Word count is just over 44,000.  I hope to finish the draft before the end of April.

I did some quick math on my KDP Reports page.  The U.K. is responsible for about 30% of my Amazon income over the last 90 days.  Thanks for your support, U.K. readers.  :D

Covers are pretty much done for books 3 and 4.  Still working on the covers for books 5 and 6.  They're getting better, but I'm still not satisfied.

I had planned to submit a short story to Alasdair Shaw for his upcoming anthology, but I don't think I'm going to make it.  I'm behind on this novel, and I just can't spare the time.  But I've got until the end of April, so we'll see.  If I write ultra-fast for the next few weeks I might be able to pull it off.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Got my tax stuff to my tax person

For the first time ever, I'm hiring someone to do my taxes.  That's what happens when you're filing new forms and you dont want to screw everything up.

I'll also be making a quarterly tax payment soon for this year's first-quarter sales.  Another first for me.

Another author once said that if you're a writer, you have to pay self-employment taxes, and if you're a successful writer, you have to pay quarterly taxes.  Does that mean I'm "successful" now?

Anyway, the downside to all this tax stuff is that I've been so focused on getting my documents in order that I haven't written any fiction in three days.  I'm about to remedy that.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Progress report

I've punched through the 40,000-word mark on the third Wheel of Fire book.  I'm still only on page 5 of the outline, though.  I'm starting to wonder just how long this book's going to be.  Oh, well... I doubt the readers will complain about getting a little more for their money.  I intend to price it at $3.99, just like the others.

I ran a couple of promotions this weekend on Kobo.  One was to put Clouds of Venus on their "free" page.  The other was a 40% off deal for VIP members for Mind Games.  I gained one free download of CoV and one sale of MG.  So Kobo remains a sort of dead zone for me.  :(  I really wish I knew how to get traction there.  Maybe some day I'll figure it out.

Today was a warm day, and the flower buds on the dogwoods have already cracked open.  Spring will be here soon.  That makes me happy.  :D  Perhaps my feet can finally thaw out after being frozen all winter.

I've got taxes to deal with soon, so I'll be a little distracted, but I'm hoping to finish the first draft of this book before April 15.  That's my new sort-of-a-deadline.  Wish me luck.

UPDATE: Okay, the promo I ran on Kobo for Clouds of Venus actually resulted in 123 free downloads.  Apparently those stats only update once a week or so.  The stats for paid sales, on the other hand, update daily, or maybe even in something approaching real time.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Robot bee apocalypse

I found this at The Passive Voice.  It's an article from Big Think about a patent filed by Walmart for robot bees.

Now, this is the part where we all say to ourselves: why would anyone want to build robot bees?  Well, here you go:

The patent outlines how tiny autonomous “pollination drones” would use sensors to locate crops, transport pollen, and verify which crops have been successfully pollinated.

So it's for farming purposes.  Makes sense, I guess.

Still, though... we all know it's only a matter of time before the robot bees turn on their human masters.  From Frankenstein to Skynet, sentient creations always turn on their creators.  It's like a natural law or something.  When it happens, we'll get to experience the chaos of the Bee Revolution, the riots of the Night of the Big Swarms, and the horrific oppression of the Reign of Stingers.

And that will be the end of human liberty.  Done in by freakin' robot bees.

Toys-R-Us is shutting its doors

All 800 of them.

Toys R Us, once the country’s preeminent toy retailer, has been unable to keep up with big-box and online competitors.

It's sad, and the end of an era.  Either I'm getting old, or change is happening too rapidly for us all to keep up the way we used to.

Amazon and Walmart better not get complacent, or else they'll suffer the same fate.  I say that knowing full well that they'll eventually get complacent.  It's the cyclical nature of things.  Entropy comes for all.  But the longer they can hold out, the better for everyone.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Stephen Hawking has passed away

He was 76 years old.

I've only read one of his books, and that was over two decades ago.  It was Black Holes and Baby Universes.  I don't remember much of it, but I remember just how important his discovery was concerning Hawking Radiation.  Prior to that, black holes were immortal monsters that only got bigger and more powerful until all things in the universe were consumed.  Hawking's theory liberated us from the that terror.  Black holes are now more like everything else: lesser gods in a pantheon ruled by entropy.

And, of course, Hawking was an inspiration to anyone with Lou Gehrig's Disease.  That diagnosis was terribly demoralizing to him--as it would be for anyone--but he didn't let it keep him from doing great things in the realm of physics.

R.I.P., Mr. Hawking.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Are we really better off?

Back in the 1980s, we didn't have the multitude of electronic devices that we have today.  The internet existed, but it was a thing most people had never heard of let alone actually used.  For us kids, the larger world was only what we saw on television, read about in the newspaper, and learned about in school.

On the one hand, this made learning and research a lot more difficult.  If one wanted to know something, one had to use the library.  And the library wasn't open at all hours.  And its selection of material was seriously limited.  Compared to now, it was a terrible time--a veritable Dark Age--for the dissemination of knowledge.

On the other hand, we were allowed to make mistakes.  Our minor faux pas didn't follow us around for the rest of our lives.  And they certainly weren't broadcast on the internet for all the world to see.  When we did "stupid kid stuff," we were allowed to put it behind us and get on with our lives.  We weren't weighed down with irremovable albatrosses.  Today, kids who don't color completely within the lines of social acceptance get pilloried mercilessly, sometimes resulting in suicide.  I remember a kid committing suicide when I was in high school, but it didn't have anything to do with the sort of public shaming that goes on nowadays.  (It was accidental and drug-related.)

So we've gained knowledge and communicative connectivity, but we've also gained an enormous amount of societal stress.  I'm not sure which one outweighs the other.  One thing I'm certain of is that the rate of technological change is too fast to be socially sustainable.  We've already seen plenty of warning signs.  There will be a correction at some point, just like what happens periodically in financial markets, and it won't be pretty.

But I suppose that's the nature of humanity.  Rise and fall, rise and fall.  Just like those "The Course of Empire" paintings by Thomas Cole.

I don't know why I felt the need to mention all this.  Just needed to mope a little, I guess.  Sorry for being such a downer today.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Progress report

This third book in the series is proving to be the most violent so far.  It was to be expected, of course, because the war's in full swing now, but still...

I'm 31,000 words in and on page 5 of a 13-page outline.  That's right on target, so I'm pleased.

In other news, I'm working on book covers for the later books.  I've got the covers for books 3 and 4 done, so I'm currently working on the one for book 5.  I'm still not happy with it, but I'm getting closer.  This cover design stuff does not come easy for me, and it takes many iterations before I can create something I can live with.  That's why I have to start on them long in advance.

I've got a couple of Kobo promotions coming up next week.  That retailer's still basically a dead zone for me, but the last promotion there netted several sales, so I'm cautiously optimistic.

All right, enough dawdling.  Back to the space battle.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Battle scenes are fun, but tough

Battle scenes are fun because you get swept up in the action.  The problem is that it's really easy to write in a plot hole or some other kind of goof.  These kinds of scenes require more self-discipline than usual, at least in my experience.

Progress on book 3 is still slow.  I've got about 26k words in, I think.  On the other hand, I've already killed off tens of millions of people, so things are happening.  Right now I'm in the middle of a Calael-POV scene.  I had to stop and give it some thought, though, because my outline didn't detail this scene very well.  I'm still trying to figure out how I want to do it.

I've got a detailed outline and cover made for book 4, but that's as far as I've gotten.  My outlines for books 5-8 are sketchy and still need to be fleshed out.  And I've still got to make covers for those books.

Free advice: If you're ever thinking about writing some epic series with a huge cast of characters, don't try to have a lot of characters.  Just make them up as you need them, not before.  Because in my experience, you'll naturally end up with more characters than you would have predicted you'd have.  The "huge cast" thing sort of takes care of itself.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Thanks to Patty and the readers

I saw a noticeable spike in sales of Caverns of Mercury over the weekend.  A big thanks to Patty Jansen for promoting my work.

To those who purchased during the 99-cent sale: thanks for your support, and I hope you enjoy the book.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Patty's 99-cent sale and Alasdair's roundup

Patty Jansen is running a sale, and I'm a part of it.  This weekend, you can get Caverns of Mercury for 99 cents.  You can get a bunch of other books for that price, too.  Check it out:

Direct link:

Also, Alasdair Shaw is doing his usual monthly roundup of new releases.  Since I released Mind Games last month, I submitted it to him for inclusion.  To see other new science fiction releases, just click here:

In other news, I'm currently about 23,000 words or so into the first draft of book 3 of the Wheel of Fire.  It's getting brutal, too.  Huge body count so far.

That's all for now.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.  :)