The Opposite of Absolute

I have a new fantasy novel out, The Opposite of Absolute. Here's what it's about:

John Ewert is one of a handful of survivors of a mysterious plague that kills off most of humanity. Strangely, the plague leaves those survivors with magical powers.

One group of survivors gather around a man named Gabe in Ames, Iowa. They believe The End Times are at hand, and they will be the heroes of Revelations. Others follow a woman named Lucy to Dallas. She tells them they’re going to fight and win the final battle of the haves against the have-nots.

As what seems to be the last of humanity goes to war, John wonders, “Is this the apocalypse, or just an incredible simulation?”

The novel is in print ($8.00) and ebook ($2.99) editions. Here's where you can find it (for now):


Happy Holidays!


The Trail to Better Days

I have a new fantasy novella out, The Trail to Better Days. Here's what it's about:

One day Will Beck says to his patron, Duke Amos of Columbia, “I’m under siege on two fronts. My trading business has to pay duties to bring goods into Columbia, and I have pay more for plows and such for my estate.” Beck has an idea: go directly west, over the plains, and attempt to establish a direct trade route to the dwarves and their prized metal goods. Can this simple suggestion improve the lives of Beck and his people?

As with my other novellas, there are print and ebook editions. The ebook edition is 99¢, while the print edition is $5.00. Here's where you can get it:


This novella was inspired by the research I did into the Santa Fe Trail, back in the day. Driving this story was the real-life history of the founding of the Trail. I hope you enjoy this novella, and I hope you'll do some research on your own into the Santa Fe Trail.

Talk to you again soon!


Event Report - McPherson signing & 2012 wrap-up

On Saturday, November 24, (yes, the Saturday after Thanksgiving), I went up to McPherson to do a book signing at the Bookshelf. I was there with several other authors.

It was a fun morning. I chatted with two of the authors there about book promotion. I sold a handful of copies of my nonfiction books. The store took a few more for their stock. I had a proof copy of my next nonfiction book, Kansas County Seat Conflicts. Everyone who saw it was interested in it. The store's owner was able to find the section on McPherson County, and I told her that I was able to find out about the rumor about an attempt to renew the county seat question there in the 1880s. (It was something locals had heard about, but no one knew anything for certain about it.)

This was my last book event for 2012. Over this past year I attended 5 SF cons; had 8 book talks or signings; and attended book festivals in Hutchinson and Topeka. I traveled quite a bit in eastern and central Kansas, and went to Lincoln, Omaha, and Oklahoma City. I met many people, and overall had a good time at all my events.

Next year promises to be busier than 2012. I expect to do more book talks because of Kansas County Seat Conflicts. I would like to get to one or two more cons next year; we'll see how that works out. Looking ahead, I plan to continue promoting KCSC through 2014. At that point I think my nonfiction writing career will go on hold so I can shift more of my energy to SF/F.

There should be one or two more posts this year, as I have two more fantasy books I plan to release. Things might be quiet the first couple months of next year, but I have more SF/F works I intend to put out early in the new year.

Until then, take care & keep in touch!


A Somber Tale

I have a new novella available, called A Somber Tale. Here's what it's about:

Four old friends, former officers in the army of their kingdom, gather one night. One them, looking haunted by his past, tells them of his meeting with a legendary warrior on the vast plains, his encounters with the Lizard Men, and what he knows of the powerstones that fuel magic.

Starting with The Valley Springs Resort in September, I decided that I would release both print and ebook editions of my novellas. Right now the ebook versions are 99¢; I might increase that price after the first of next year. The print editions are $5.00. I have one more novella that I plan to release this year.

I hope you'll take an interest in A Somber Tale. Here's where it's available:

See you next time!



I have a new novel out, Cassia. It's the first Blue Pistol novel. Here's what it's about:

A young woman named Cassia, journeyman in the Slavers’ Guild of the Settled Domains, is tasked to capture a mysterious outlaw named The Blue Pistol.

Her encounter with him will shatter her life and subject her to physical and emotional agony.

But in understanding his battle and her own past, Cassia will seek to overcome her pain and prove that she can be of value to those who are willing accept her.

It's a dark story that I've wanted to get out for a long time. An early version of what is now the first chapter of the novel appeared in the online magazine Aphelion several years ago. Cassia is available in print and ebook editions.

Here's where you can get it now:

Talk to you again soon...


Event Report - Book Signing in Wellington

On Saturday, November 3, I did a signing at Slate Creek Books in Wellington.

A handful of people showed up, and they bought a handful of books, so that was good. I talked to the owners of the store about some of the area SF cons, and a few other topics like Wattpad. During the few quiet moments I did some editing on a Jake Bonner novella. It was a three-hour signing, but the time really flew by. I expect to do another signing there after Kansas County Seat Conflicts is published.

I didn't take the direct route to Wellington on the way down. I used this event as a chance to head back through southern Sumner County. I had been throughout the county back in the early 1990s when I had been publishing my Touring Kansas Counties books.

On this trip I drove through South Haven and Caldwell before going to Wellington. South Haven seems smaller than I remembered. Caldwell is looking good. The downtown buildings are being kept up. There are still historical signs around town. I noticed that the Border Queen Museum was in a different building than where it had first started 20 years ago.

That pre-signing side trip also meant that I've added another highway to the list of routes I've covered. I have now driven along US-81 from Caldwell to the Nebraska border. I am, slowly but steadily, driving across the length and breadth of Kansas once again.

As you can see, I have one more book event on the calendar for this year. The next two posts here will be about the latest books I have out, then I'll post a report about that last signing of 2012. Until then, take care!


Event Report - Encounters

The weekend of October 19-21 I attended Encounters, a new sci-fi con in Wichita. It was a good con for me.

As far as my sales went, this was the best con of 2012. I sold 15 books at Encounters, just over the totals I sold at the other cons earlier in the year. Most were SF/F, but I did sell a handful of nonfiction books too. I handed out a dozen copies of both my ebook brochures (one's for books, the other for short story ebooks). I've got my fingers crossed for more sales in the days to come.

The Whovians of Wichita were there, of course. My table was next to a local dealer who had DW merchandise. If I noticed someone looking at the DW stuff, I tried to point them to the Whovian table when they passed by mine. I was able to sit in (well, just outside) on the first hour of the DW panel Saturday night. Yes, the first hour. I heard it went on for quite a bit longer than that.

Since this was a Wichita con, I saw some familiar faces. Some I hadn't seen in months. There were a few I hadn't seen in several years. It was good to reconnect, even if it was just for a couple of days.

I hope Encounters is here to stay. Wichita needs a good all-genre con. I'll be pulling for them to iron out the bumps, to grow, and to improve. If you were there, I hope you had a good time too.


Surgard Short Story Ebooks

Since August I've been making the stories in the Surgard collection available as ebooks, either as singles or pairs of stories. Here's the breakdown:

Surgard and the Plague of Poets

Surgard the Riddler / Surgard's Ray of Light

Surgard Goes for the Gold / Surgard and the Cattle Thief

The Hero, the Dragon, and Surgard / Surgard's Beautification Project

And this month: Surgard's Lousy Celebration (the very first Surgard story that I wrote!). Since the collection has been out for a few years now, I won't recap the plots of the stories. All are on sale where fine ebooks are sold.

For the rest of the year I plan on releasing novellas. I'll let you know more about them as they come out.



Event Report - A Talk & a Signing

On Thursday, October 4, I had a book talk at the Raven book store in Lawrence. I was there to promote Kansas, 1874. A handful of people came out, so that was good. I ended up talking about my railroad books, Jim Lane, and the state of publishing, along with the 1874 book. Everyone who showed up bought a book, so, yay!

Then on Saturday, October 6, I did a signing at Ad Astra Books in Salina. No one came to see me, but one of the guys working bought a book, and I had a nice chat about books and publishing with the other young man working that day.

I took roundabout roads to get to Lawrence on the 4th and back home on the 5th. On the way up I passed through White City. I had no idea the town had a park named for the Katy railroad. They have an old boxcar that appears to be some sort of museum. It was one of the cool finds on that trip.

I've got about a week and a half of quiet before the next event. Next week I'll post about the latest short stories to have gone up as ebooks. Until then, take care and happy reading!


Event Report - Book Talk and Book Signing

On Thursday, September 27, I gave a talk about Kansas 1874 at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita. My talk was part of their celebration of a new exhibit about the Wild West.

Only a few people came to hear me speak. The talk was booked only a few weeks before, so I don't know how well the Museum was able to get the word out. There were more Museum staffers there than attendees. Still, the talk went fine, and I sold some books. There's a chance that the Museum might stock some of my nonfiction titles. Last, I was able to look over the new exhibit. It's doesn't take up much space but it's good. If you visit the Museum of World Treasures, give yourself plenty of time to see everything, including their Wild West section.

The next day I hit the road so I could do a book signing at the Rivendell Bookstore in Abilene on Saturday, September 29. Again, only a few people came out, but quite a few books were bought. The store also chose to get copies of my nonfiction books for their own stock. I'll go back there once Kansas County Seat Conflicts is available.

The Abilene trip allowed me to do a little more sightseeing. I hadn't been to the Eisenhower Presidential Library in about 40 years, so on this trip I went. I didn't take a tour of the home, but I did walk through the Museum. I'm glad I was able to visit.

Funny thing about both events: I met SF fans! Some of the Museum staff were fans, as was one of the railroad fans who came to my Rivendell signing (and, well, the store too). I got the chance to talk up Encounters and the Whovians of Wichita. I hope they benefit from those chats.

I have two more signings coming up this week. I'll let you know how those go next week!


Event Report - The Kansas Book Festival

On Saturday, September 15, I went to the Kansas Book Festival in Topeka. I shared a table with another Kansas author, Tom Mach.

I was able to sell just 4 books at the Festival. However, I did meet quite a few people, including several authors. I noticed there were lots of children attending, so not having any children's books might account for my low sales.

It was a fun event. In spite of the few books I sold, I would be happy to go back next year. It's important for authors and readers to support events like this.

This trip was also a chance for me to put some extra miles on my car. On the way up Friday, I drove along the Native Stone Scenic Byway. I wasn't able to take any pictures along the byway, but the trip was worth it. On the way home Sunday, I decided to take US-75 to US-400. There were low clouds all morning, and I hit a few patches of fog, so no pictures.

Here's the neat thing about Sunday. Driving the leg from Topeka to Neodesha now means I've traveled the whole length of US-75 in Kansas. Now that I think of it, I've driven US-75 (in varying stretches) from Omaha to Tulsa. I've now covered the following highways in their entirety in Kansas: I-35; US-75; K-177; K-254; K-17; and K-196. I have a few miles left to cover for US-77 and US-81, and quite a bit more for several other highways.

Check the schedule: I've just added a book talk next week at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita. It's going to be a busy autumn!



The Fantastic Cases of Gwen Conner

I now have all the Gwen Conner fantasy/mystery short stories, the ones I've been publishing as ebook shorts, placed into one collection, The Fantastic Cases of Gwen Conner. Here's the back cover blurb:

Gwen Conner’s world isn’t your typical fantasy setting. She solves mysteries in a land where magic is used to create telephones, dictation machines, and streetcars. It’s also a world of scheming criminals, cheating spouses, and charming con artists. This collection contains nine Gwen Conner stories, plus three more set in her world. These stories have appeared in Tales of the Talisman and Pulp Empire, among others. Included are:

Spook Wagon: An ex-girlfriend of Gwen’s brother asks Gwen for help. The young woman’s hometown wants to build a power plant, but a ghostly wagon has the town on edge. Who’s behind the wagon? Are they trying to stop the project?

The “Affair” of the Love Letters: A woman who once loved an up-and-coming politician comes to Gwen. Someone wants the letters he wrote to the woman, and doesn’t want to take “no” for an answer.

A Lady Never Knows: A police officer asks Gwen to deliver a ransom to kidnappers. Can magic help her avoid danger when she meets the criminals?

The collection is available in print and as an ebook. Check your favorite retailer, or come to my table at one of my events this autumn and pick one up.


The Story's Story - Protection for a New Age

This is another post about how of my stories came to be. This time I'll talk about Protection for a New Age.

The idea behind this story is that the force that's used to cast magic spells has declined over the centuries. By the time the story starts, wizards and enchanted items are the stuff of myth and legend. The characters discover that this magical force is getting powerful again. Their society is on the verge of a new age of sorcery.

This concept of magic gaining or losing strength over time came from one of the rulebooks in the third edition of GURPS. It was one of several suggestions offered in the book to gamemasters who wanted to introduce freshness into their campaigns. If magic was unpredictable, players might be challenged to create more interesting characters, or have adventures that contained more surprises.

I've found over the years that role-playing games can offer interesting ideas for stories. The adventures themselves aren't usually where the ideas come from. Adventures and campaigns tend to follow the conventions established in their genre settings. Instead the story ideas come from thinking about the settings of campaigns, and the suggestions for creating settings and adventures that surprise players.

Early in this story the characters fight a magical creature. That's pretty typical for a fantasy story. Yet there isn't a character who knows magic when the story begins. That's a signal to the reader that this story might not be what they expect. It's unusual, and I hope interesting. That's what makes for a good story.

Please let me know if you enjoy this series. Talk to you again soon!


The Story's Story - Dramatic Solution

Here's the second post about how one of my stories came to be. This time I'll talk about one of the Frigate Victory stories, Dramatic Solution.

The Victory stories began as my effort to create something in the vein of Star Trek or Babylon 5. I wanted my stories to be more grounded. There would be no grand myths, and the duties of the ship and crew would be clearly defined.

The first Victory story written was actually a film script. It was the crew's first adventure together, and involved an encounter with a pirate. That's all I remember of the script. The pirate captain character was interesting; he's one of the elements that I brought in for this story. A second element ended up being hinted at: Captain Ayers uses a bit of deception to capture the pirate's ship.

Another element that drove Dramatic Solution was the idea that Victory had to protect a planet of low-tech colonists from the danger of pirates. The problems were that Victory (nor any other warship of the Terran Federal Republic) could remain in orbit, nor could Captain Ayers build some sort of automated satellite to do the job. I think the idea Fournier comes up with to protect the colony is quite clever.

In this story, the main battle takes place off-stage. While writing the story I realized that describing the battle would only take up space. The battle wasn't important to the plot. What was important was that the pirate ship that Victory bests is one of several under the command of the pirate captain. Adding to the complication was why that one ship was in orbit around that particular planet.

Battle scenes can be exciting. But in a short story, you only have so many pages to tell the tale. A battle that isn't absolutely essential to the plot wastes space. Wasting space will waste the reader's time.

I hope this gives you more insight into this story, and in how I write. If you like these posts, please let me know. Thanks!


Event Report - OSFest 5

Over the weekend of July 27-29, I went up to Omaha to take part in OSFest 5.

This time, instead of sharing a table with other authors, I bought my own table in the dealers room. I never did have a neighbor to my left. For part of Friday, on my right were two girls selling buttons. They moved sometime after setting up to be near another dealer that they knew. On Saturday that table was occupied by the local reading charity that the con supports. As it happened, I was next to that charity and the woman who represents it at OSFest last year. She was only there for Saturday, so on Sunday I had no neighbors.

I didn't sell quite as many books this year as last year. Last year I sold 17 books; this year, 12. However, it wasn't as easy to get to the dealers room this year as it was at OSFest 4. Things were slower in the room this year. Still, I reached par for a con. As far as sales went, I'm happy.

I didn't contact the programming person so I had no plans to take part in any panels. I saw Guy Anthony De Marco in the dealers room; I first met him at ConStellation. He graciously allowed me to take part in two of the Saturday night panels he was on. I had fun on both. I do wish the other authors on the panel had the time to get to my table so we could talk a bit more.

Overall I had a great time at the con. I plan to keep going back as long as they'll have me.

Sadly, something flared up my sinuses around that weekend. I developed a head cold and wasn't able to attend GlitchCon. I do have one more SF con on my schedule, Encounters right next door to me in Wichita.

For the next few weeks I'll put up posts on various subjects, then even reports through the fall. We'll see if there aren't some other posts I can add to the schedule.

Thanks for your support, and stay tuned!


Cutting Back

Over the past several months I've been getting rid of books, DVDs, and other "excess baggage."

I took a look at all the "stuff" I had at the start of the process. I found that I'd accumulated a lot of things that I had only looked at once. Some were books that I had bought for one of my nonfiction projects. Some were movies that were replacements for ones I had lost in the Andover tornado way back in 1991. There were also a couple of shelves of contributor's copies of magazines I had sold short stories or articles to.

Deciding to get rid of the books and DVDs was pretty easy. If I wasn't going to keep looking at something, it had to go. It's easy to acquire things that you're partially passionate about. But if those things don't mean a great deal to you, what reason to you have for keeping them? My answer was "no reason," so out they went.

The decision about the magazines followed another line of reasoning. Many of them hadn't aged well over the years. I don't mean that they yellowed or had faded. I mean that they just didn't look very nice. Some had hand-drawn covers; some were stapled in one corner; many were laid out the old "cut and paste" way. Even some of those that did look okay still didn't move me to keep them. I chose to keep about a dozen that I felt were important to me, and threw out the rest.

I think I used to be a little bit of a pack-rat. I see now that it isn't important to keep everything associated with your life and projects. Memories will do fine most of the time. It's better to devote space to what's really important to own.


I have two cons on back-to-back weekends (!), so I won't be posting here until they're over. So, stay cool and keep in touch!


The Valley Springs Resort

This month I have two new short ebooks for sale. One of them is the first novella I've put up for sale. It's called The Valley Springs Resort, and here's what it's about:

The Valley Springs Resort is a place on a distant world where visitors can relax and have a good time. You might not think such a place has much of a story. You’d be wrong, which is why you need to go there. From its founding by a lovable eccentric to its sad-yet-funny end, this novella tells the tale of the Valley Springs Resort.

(Boring parts left out to further your enjoyment.)

(Sordid bits left out at our attorney’s insistence.)


This is 99¢, just like the others, and you can find it where you buy ebooks. At Smashwords, it will be FREE until the end of July, as are all my short story ebooks!

Later, dear readers!


Better Tomorrows

I have a new short story collection out, Better Tomorrows. It contains several of my more upbeat science fiction & fantasy stories. The stories have appeared as 99¢ ebooks over the last year. The collection is in print and ebook editions. Among the stories included are:

Protection for a New Age:  Four friends search for an artifact from a mythical time when magic was supposed to be real.  Could those myths be true?

The Choice:  A young starship officer is assigned to make contact with an outdated generation ship. While on the generation ship, a father asks the officer to find his daughter.  What effect could that simple task have?

What To Change: Doug Patterson gets the chance to go back in time to alter his life.  Will he be able to change his life for the better?

Stories: Daniel & Tamara were supposed to be part of humanity’s effort to settle space. Instead they go forward in time, passing along news and entertaining colonists.  When they come to a colony that’s taking a dark turn, will their skills help?

And here's where you can get them:

Print edition (Amazon)

Enjoy, & keep in touch!


June Short Story Ebooks

This month I've made available two pairs of Gwen Conner fantasy/mysteries. Pair number one:

A Lady Never Knows:  A police officer asks Gwen Conner to deliver a ransom to kidnappers. Can magic help Gwen avoid danger when she meets the kidnappers?

Gwen Defends A Creek: A small-town mayor hires Gwen for an unusual job. He wants trespassing fishermen kept away from a creek and harming the chances of the town's new recreation area. Can Gwen and her brother use magic to keep the trespassers away?

Pair number two:

Gwen the Sleuth: While visiting a friend in another town, Gwen Conner gets involved in a murder at the home of a newspaper columnist. The problem is, the columnist had magic protecting his house. How could someone with hostile intent get in?

Cane and the Con: Gwen is hired by an insurance company to investigate a suspicious death claim. The stubby fields of sugar cane around the “dead man’s” hometown figure into the mystery. Can Gwen make everyone happy?

You can find both pairs of stories at Amazon and Smashwords. Both sell for 99¢. Yes, a Gwen Conner collection is coming soon.

Oh, there's also a freebie at Smashwords: The Best Days.


Event Report - Soonercon 21

Over the weekend of June 15-17 I was at Soonercon 21 in Oklahoma City.

I had a table in the Arists' Alley. I did about average as cons go, in terms of book sales. I sold about a dozen copies of my books, including a couple of my Kansas history books. I also gave out several copies of my e-book brochures. I don't know if the brochures are generating sales, but I'll keep at them.

There were some familiar faces at the con. I did get to meet new people, including a few writers. I also met Peter S. Beagle, one of the major guests.

Once again I got the word out about Encounters to as many people as I could. It helped that this time two members of the Whovians of Wichita, who are also on the Encounters staff, were present. One was able to hand out flyers. I introduced a few people I knew to them. I hope all these efforts help come October.

I chose not to volunteer for any panels at Soonercon. Looking over the list, I don't think there were very many panels where I could have made much of a contribution. I also didn't do much in terms of staying up late. In fact, Sunday evening I actually napped for an hour, then slept 7 hours during the night!

Soonercon was at a Sheraton, but this hotel was much better than the Sheraton ConQuest was at. The food in the hotel restaurant & lounge was on the pricey side, but boy was it good! One of the wait staff told me she went to the con to buy art. Parking was inexpensive; I spent just over half what I had in Kansas City, yet was parked for one more day in Oklahoma City than in KC.

I hope I can return to Soonercon next year. I had a great time.

There's nothing on the schedule for another month. In the meantime I have a couple posts about ebooks, short stories, and a new collection in the pipeline. See you soon!


The Story's Story - Spook Wagon

I thought I would start putting up some posts to explain how some of my stories came to be. If you like these posts, please say so in the comments, on Facebook, or by sending me a message on Twitter. I'll begin with one of my recent Gwen Conner stories, Spook Wagon.

Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s I wrote for two of Steve Jackson Games' periodicals, AutoDuel Quarterly and Pyramid. One of my articles for ADQ was a scenario idea involving a remote-controlled "ghost car" that was troubling a small town. The players would have the task of dealing with the car, as well as finding out why the car was "haunting" the town.

I had wanted to use the idea in a short story. It wasn't until I had created the character of Gwen Conner for Something About the Vegetables that I was able to pair the idea with a main character.

Since Gwen lives and works in a world with magic, the next problem was this: was the ghostly wagon a real wagon made to look that way, or was it an illusion spell?

Third problem: the reason why the "spook wagon" is employed. My first thought was the reason that Gwen discovers. However, that reason seemed too simple, and had the possibility that, if it was true, it could radically change the town. Thinking about it not only led to how the story does actually end, but allowed me to bring Gwen's brother back in and make him useful to the plot.

One of the lessons I learned from writing this story was that sometimes your first idea is the most obvious. The obvious idea rarely makes a good story. If you want a story to stand out, you might have to give that idea more thought.


Event Report - ConQuest 43!

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Kansas City for ConQuest 43. It was a great convention!

First off, I sold about as many books this year as last year. Unlike last year, my spot was right up front. I didn't catch the eye of everyone who passed in front of me, but I did fine.

Also unlike last year, I signed up for some panels. My Friday panel was about cancelled TV shows. I don't know why I was there, but it was fun to take part. I flew the flag for Police Squad, Sledge Hammer, and Max Headroom. I lucked out on Saturday; I was on a panel with two of the main con guests, Gardner Dozois and Shannon K. Butcher. I had two Sunday panels, but opted out of the second so I could remain in the dealers room.

What's great about going back to a con is seeing people you haven't seen in a while. It was good seeing everyone, chatting, or getting to talk for some length of time. Writing is mostly solitary, so I try to enjoy the opportunities offered at cons.

I will fess up to dropping my Ho-Ho at opening ceremonies. I am not coordinated in any way. Yes, a picture was taken.

I went back to Room-Con this year. I actually stayed for an hour and half. For someone who doesn't drink and is usually in bed around 10, I think that's good. For the second year in a row, my room was on the same floor as Room-Con; in fact it was a few doors closer.

One other thing I did was try to get the word out about Encounters. I didn't have flyers, but I did send some people the site link or let them copy it off of my iPad.

Once again the hotel was the one downside. Sheraton took over the old downtown KC Hyatt. For some reason they chose to have their renovation of the hotel going on at the start of the summer travel season. Parking was the pain it always is. Wifi was weak but working. It felt like the prices in the restaurant went up, especially for the breakfast buffet.

Hotel notwithstanding, I will go back next year. I'll keep going to ConQuest as long as they'll have me.

Next up is SoonerCon. I plan to make a few calls to bookstores next week, so there might be some events added to the schedule. I'm hoping to put up a new post between now and SoonerCon.

See you then!


Short Story Ebooks!

Here's my latest!

Spook Wagon: An ex-girlfriend of Gwen Conner’s brother asks for help. Her hometown wants to build a power plant, but a ghostly wagon has the town on edge. Who’s behind the wagon? Are they trying to stop the project?

And here's a free story...

The Best Days: A young man visits a local historical museum to see if he can learn more about his father. What will he find? How will it affect him? Will it change what he thinks of his father?

You can get The Best Days for all ebook readers at Smashwords.

I'll be heading to ConQuest this weekend. I'll try to post about the con sometime after Memorial Day. If you're going, stop by my table or come to one of my panels. Otherwise, have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!


Short Story Ebooks!

I have more short story ebooks on sale!

The “Affair” of the Love Letters: A woman who once loved an up-and-coming politician asks for Gwen Conner’s help. Someone is trying to get the letters he wrote to the woman, and doesn’t want to take “no” for an answer.

Protection for a New AgeFour friends are asked to recover a strange object from an ancient ruin. One of them finds she can read a book of magic spells, and knows the history of the object they find. Could the legends of mighty wizards be true?

Explaining the Confession: Gwen Conner is approached by a friend on the police force. A child had gone missing and a couple confessed to her murder. The child has turned up safe, but the couple are still claiming guilt. Can Gwen find out why they’re behaving so strangely?

The Musical Bracelet: A wealthy man hires Gwen to recover a magical bracelet he’d given to his mistress. As she gets closer to the thief, Gwen learns about the dangers of casting intricate spells.

(Explaining the Confession & The Musical Bracelet are offered together.)

Solemn DutyCaptain Ayers presides over the trial of an officer accused of murdering pirates after they had surrendered. Something about case troubles him. What is it, and how will it cause him to vote on the officer’s guilt?

You can get these at Amazon and Smashwords, and at other ebook retailers, along with all the other short story ebooks I've released.

***If you've bought one and read it, please leave a review. The more reviews an author's works have, the better they will sell.***




This time around I want to post about how I use my iPad. Today's topic is an app: Flipboard. Click the link to learn more about it.

I'm using Flipboard in part to follow the news. I check a few times a day to keep up on local news, national news, entertainment news, and Apple news. I also look in on a Flickr feed of Kansas images, and Kansas Memory for Kansas Historical Society images.

If you look to the right of this post, you'll see that my blog list is much smaller than it used to be. Adding several the blogs that I had followed here to Flipboard allows me to keep this blog neater, yet still keep track of the blogs I want to keep up with. Since the app updates each time I access it, I just have to flick the screen once or twice get to the group, tap the square of the item, tap the story, and maybe tap one more time to get to the original website.

I also like that I can use it to keep track of my Twitter feed. I'm not keen on the Twitter app for iOS, and I'm reluctant to pay for other Twitter apps. I'm trying to remember to use it every time I open Flipboard.

Flipboard has been called the "killer app" for iOS. It's true; this really shows off how to use the iPad and how useful it makes an iPad. Their website says that an Android version is coming soon. If you have an iPad or an iPhone you should get this app; if you have an Android device you should get it as soon as it comes out.

One last thing: it's free!


Event Report - ConStellation 3!

The weekend of April 13-15 I was up in Lincoln, Nebraska, for ConStellation 3. This was my first con of 2012, my first time at ConStellation, and the first time I had been to Lincoln in something like 4 decades.

I had a great time at the con. I met GOH Elizabeth Bear; she signed my copy of Chicks Dig Time Lords. I also met another Kansas SF author, Bryan Thomas Schmidt. I was able to talk about writing to a few people. I sold something like 15 books.

The con staff was great. They had good food in the con suite, and brought the vendors dinner Friday (I passed) and lunch Saturday (great sandwich). They had volunteers manning tables when us vendors had to step away. Let me give out one last "Thank You" to the staff for being so kind.

There was a little excitement late Saturday night: for a short time Lincoln was under a tornado warning around midnight. I had to get up and go down to the basement, where I heard a small bit of the ongoing panel about nightmare con experiences (I kid you not!).

The only downside was the hotel. The vent system was either heat or AC. I spent two cold nights in my room. The wifi was down when I arrived Friday afternoon. The con staff was able to get it working Saturday around noon. The restaurant in the hotel was short staffed, but their food was good. It wasn't the best hotel I've been to, but it could have been worse.

My first con of 2012 was great, and I hope I can go back to ConStellation next year!

Next on my schedule is a signing in El Dorado. I might put up another post between now and then. Keep an eye on my schedule; I should be adding more events for this year.

See you on the road!


A few updates...

I've added images for the short story ebooks that I now have out. The one shown above, "Protection for a New Age," will be going up this week. I've started uploading my Gwen Conner fantasy/mystery stories. I'll be doing that for several months. I've also uploaded two Frigate Victory stories; these will be the last to go up for some time.

In other Victory news, a collection of the stories is now on sale. The ebook edition is already out; I expect the print edition to go on sale this week (around the time my copies arrive). Here's the blurb:

The Frigate Victory Collection, Volume 1: This collection contains 13 Frigate Victory science fiction short stories. The stories are in chronological order, and are together for the first time. Captain Jason Ayers and his crew deal with aliens, politicians, colonists, and pirates. There are action stories, mysteries, and dramas. These tales have appeared in Tales Of The Talisman, Golden Visions, and The Fifth Di..., among others.

This weekend is my first con of the year ConStellation. If you near Lincoln, NE, I hope you'll go, and if you go, I hope you'll stop by my table and say hello.


Event Report - Cow Creek Book Festival

On Saturday, March 31, I took part in the Cow Creek Book Festival. It was put on by the Hutchinson Public Library.

(Pictured is Roy Bird, author of many Kansas books, including a new one on Ike's boyhood in Abilene. Next to him is Beverley Olson Buller, author of children's books about William Allen White and his daughter Mary White.)

I gave a brief talk about how readers can help authors. Aside from buying books, readers can leave reviews at sites like Goodreads, Library Thing, and where they buy books online. Any review, even if it's only mildly positive, is helpful.

Turnout was on the small side, but I was able to sell a handful of books. I talked to a few of the other authors about ebooks and promotion. Overall I had a good time. I hope the festival happens next year, and that I'm invited back.

Coming up in just under two weeks is ConStellation. I'll try to remember to post about my latest short-story ebooks before the con.

Have a good week!


Event Report - Halstead Book Talk

On Sunday, March 18, I spoke at the Halstead Historical Museum (at the old Santa Fe depot). I spent much of my time talking about my Kansas, 1874 book. Most of the questions that came after my talk were about the Arkansas Valley Interurban. The AVI was the trolley line that connected Wichita, Newton, and Hutchinson. The AVI ran a block south of the depot, and the Halstead AVI depot still stands. A couple dozen people came to the talk, and I sold a handful of books.

(The photo, BTW, wasn't taken on the 18th.)

I decided to ramble a bit before my talk and take some pictures. Here's one of the shots: an abandoned church in Sylvia.

My next book-selling event is the Cow Creek Book Festival at the Hutchinson library on the 31st. If you're going to be in the area, or know someone who will be, please let them know about the festival.


Event Report - Paola book talk

On Wednesday the 29th, I had a book talk at the Miami County Historical Museum in Paola, Kansas.

On the way up I made a few stops. I placed copies of the new Lisa's Way at Town Crier Books in Emporia. I gave a copy of Pieces of Kansas History to the Kansas State Historical Society. The KSHS wasn't able to take my donation of part of my clippings collection. These are the clippings of newspapers made from microfilm that I use as research for my books. The Andover Public Library has agreed to take them. Right now they have the clippings from my Lane and Blunt biographies and my railroad books and articles.

My talk in Paola was about Kansas, 1874. About half a dozen people showed up, but I sold 9 books. I talked about the book and my railroad books. Even though the turnout was low, I'd be happy to go back when I have my book on county-seat conflicts out.

As it happened, I also got the chance to show off my iPad. The clerk at the hotel in Paola has some books he'd like to publish. We also talked about the iPad, since he had an interest in photos, ebooks, and audio. On the way back Thursday I stopped at the Book Grinder. I was there to place books; the owner was also interested in the iPad. She's like something easier to use than the desktop PC she has behind the counter.

Overall it was a nice trip. I should have some book news soon...



Sorry I let so much time go between posts, but I had a cold this past month. I'm better now.

I wanted to let you know that my new nonfiction history book, Pieces of Kansas History, is now available. What is it about? Here's part of the back cover blurb:

"This is the second collection of historical articles by Robert Collins. In this volume is the story of the Luke Short and the “Dodge City War” of 1883; the questions raised after an 1884 bank robbery in Medicine Lodge; and critical views of two Kansas Civil War generals. Other essays look at the tragedy of the Irving tornado and a death that affected a major Indian treaty. There’s also a three-part look at the history of roads and highways in Kansas’ largest county."

You can find it in a few stores, and at Amazon. Since most of the articles are about Butler County, I don't expect to do many book signings or talks about it. If I do anything I'll post it in the events section.

I've updated the covers on my Short Stories page and my Nonfiction Books page.

Next week is the first book event of 2012. I'll let you know how it goes.

See you then!


Late January, Already?

So, it's been a while since I last posted. Sorry about that.

I've been writing quite a bit. I have two new Jake Bonner stories written (he's the hero of Expert Assistance), a third plotted, and I've started plotting a fourth. I'll let you know what happens with them.

I've updated my short story page with the covers for the newest stories for sale. I'm always putting up more. Next month I may dip my toes into Amazon's Select Program with one of my Frigate Victory short stories. I'll try to keep you in the loop on that.

On the left in the Schedule section you'll see actual events! I'm hoping to add some more, including more SF conventions. I don't know if I'll do many more nonfiction book talks this year. I'd like to do more than the one I have scheduled. If things get booked they'll be posted.

That's all for now...

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