Change Magic

I have a new collection of fantasy short stories available, called Change Magic:

What happens when a young wizard decides that his society can no longer endure the cruel commands of petty noblemen? Can he and his friends use magic, and their wits, to improve life in their realm?

This collection of short stories poses answers to those questions. They tell of the extraordinary path taken by Oliver of Plimoth and his three friends as they attempt to overturn centuries of corruption and indifference, and make allies along their path to power.

As always, the collection is in print and ebook editions. Right now it's on sale at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. It will be in other stores soon. Check the SF/F Books page for links.


Trent Tinker, Magic Man

I have a new short story collection available. It's called Trent Tinker, Magic Man. Here's a short blurb:

Trent is a young man in search of a path. He’s learned to cast spells, but hasn’t enough coins to start his own shop. One day his father asks him to help light the city’s streets to find a criminal.

That work will start Trent on the journey of a lifetime. He will make discoveries and propose ideas that will change his world forever.

The short stories in this collection take Trent from a minor dukedom to the edge of space. How can you do that with magic? Read and find out...

The collection is on sale now in print and ebook editions at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. It'll be at other stores soon.

By the way, I've added a link on my SF/F Books page to my new novella, Janitorial Service, which is out through Alban Lane. It's another Jake Bonner tale; I hope you like it.


Emerald City Steampunk Expo 2013

Over the weekend of November 1-3, I attended the Emerald City Steampunk Expo in Wichita. This was its third year; I missed it last year, so this was the second time I'd been here.

As with other cons over the last few years, I bought a table in the dealer room. I sold 29 books this year. That's pretty good for this year. That compares with just 8 books sold back in 2011!

I was looking over the post for the 2011 ECSE; that was the first event that I made up a brochure to hand out to people, whether they bought books or not. I gave out brochures this year with every sale, and I handed out at least a dozen more. I never know if they help get books sold down the road, but it's an inexpensive way to get my name out at cons and other events.

I didn't put in for any panels this time around. The only panel I attended, and that was for a few moments at the start, was one on con horror stories. I had one to share. Nothing terrible happened to me at this con; the story is more "here's the tale of the hotel that this con was held at."

There were familiar faces there, including several I'd just seen at Encounters a few weeks ago. I met some new people as well, which is always fun. I talked up a few other cons to some vendors to give them ideas for places to go for next year. I also talked writing and books. If the con continues I'd be happy to return next year.

As it happens, I don't have any more events scheduled for this year. I plan to be at two cons next year, with more likely. I may also have a signing in Wichita next year. I'll try to do an event wrap-up later in December.

More books will be coming out before the end of the year, and I have two writing posts on deck, so keep coming back!


MONITOR Returns!

Monitor is available again!

It's back as an ebook, but now it's in print as well. It also has a new cover by Wichita artist Kelly Peterson. Here's what it's about:

A woman scientist travels back in time. A TV preacher warns of the “mutant danger.” A teenager’s training to be a mutant hero. A mutant villain with ambition. How are these four people connected to a mysterious hero known as the Monitor?

Can the future be changed? And can a person be changed trying to do so?

For now, the book is on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. It should be up at Apple and Kobo soon. Check my store page for links.

I don't have any specific events planned to promote the new release of the novel right now, but I will have copies at the events on my schedule


Encounters 2013

Over the weekend of October 11-13, I was at Encounters, Wichita's SF convention. This was the second year for Encounters.

I got an Artist Alley table again. I sold 24 books at the con, plus 3 more were paid for by someone who'd gotten the books from me earlier in the year. That adds up to 27 sales at the con this year. That's up from 15 books sold last year.

Also up were the number of brochures I handed out. Last year I gave out about a dozen brochures. This year I handed out close to 30. In fact, I ran out on Saturday, so instead of taking part in any evening activities, I drove home after dinner and printed up a second batch.

This year I applied for a panel. My panel on writing and publishing science fiction and fantasy ended up being scheduled for Sunday at 3 PM. Well, someone has to draw the short straw. A handful of people did come to the panel. One young man asked most of the questions, but others took part as well. I'm glad I did it, and I plan to put in for a panel next year.

I saw quite a few familiar faces, both from around here and those who came from outside the Wichita area. I didn't get to meet any of the guests, which was a bit of a bummer. Overall, though, I had a great time. From what I heard, attendance was up a lot from last year. It's good that word is getting out about Encounters. I hope everyone who was there had a good time, too.

There's more book news on the horizon, and at least one more event coming up this year. Because of some glitches, I've created a new events page. Check there for my schedule of cons and book talks.

Talk to you soon!


Back in the hobby (again)

So, I'm going to give model railroading another shot.

I have a little extra time on my hands. I don't want to spend it just sitting around, watching TV, or listening to music or podcasts. Model railroading has been in my life for decades. It's not a hobby that I want to give up without making one more go to remain hooked.

A while back I found a website about micro & small layouts. The layouts featured got me thinking. If I built something small and manageable, a layout I could easily move around, I might run trains more often. The site informed my about puzzles and other ideas to make a very small layout work over time.

Among the forums at nScale.net is one on layout planning. One of the posted threads is in that section is called the "144 Square Challenge." The idea is to build a layout worth operating in 144 square inches, or 1 square foot. That, along with the micro layouts site, got my mind thinking.

Pictured above is the start of my first effort at meeting these challenges. The design is a small yard called an "Inglenook." The idea of Inglenooks is that you have space for cars that you organize into trains. You have an arrangement that makes creating trains a bit of work.

In this case, I have an extension that will only let me move 1 car at time. The siding at the top is Siding 1; it holds 1 or 2 cars. Below that is Siding 2; it can hold up to 3 cars. Below that is the Main Line. Let's say that car A is on Siding 1, and cars B and C are on Siding 2. The challenge is to get them into A-B-C order, moving 1 car at a time. It takes time to get them into the proper order. Begin rearranging the sidings the cars are on, and making up a train will take time and planning. The same goes for adding a fourth or a fifth car into the mix.

This is what real railroads do. Railroads have to organize trains to make it easy on the crew. The crew has the job of setting out and picking up cars along their route, in a limited amount of time. Organizing the cars before the crew departs the yard helps them do that job faster, with a minimum of wasted time, wasted fuel, and extra risk.

That's what I'm hoping to get out of this little layout. I'll try to blog about my progress as I put down scenery, a backdrop, and do some operating sessions. I have extra material left over, so with more track I can build a second layout with a different sort of operational puzzle.

We'll see where this train goes this time around...



The fourth book in the Blue Pistol series, Bombs, is now out:

“With the events in Saint’s Hope and Black Rapids last year, the Slavers Guild might want to go on the offensive against the Blue Pistol. It would be better to keep them distracted.”

That’s why Bart Cochran wants to shift the war of the Blue Pistol against the Slavers Guild in the new year. He suggests targeting a dukedom farther from the gains of previous years. His scheme will involve convincing a Guild Master that the rivalry between the Dukedoms of Hilltown and Low Falls is on the verge of erupting into war.

His other suggestion is to have their allies in Freeman’s Hold build bombs, disguised as letter boxes, that will be sent to every Duke in the Settled Domains that isn’t on the Blue Pistol’s side.

What happens to slavery in the Domains when these schemes explode?

The book is available in print and ebook editions at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Check my book page for links.


Pioneer Memorial Library Book Festival

On Saturday, September 14, I attended a book festival held at the Pioneer Memorial Library in Colby, Kansas.

I left on Thursday the 12th to visit some libraries beforehand. It rained all day, and one of the people I needed to see was out. I did place a few extra books at Kansas Originals, and there's a chance I might get a book talk next year from one of that day's visits. I stayed overnight in Hays.

The next day, Friday the 13th, I spent some time in the morning writing before leaving for the day's visits. I placed some books at the Fick Fossil Museum in Oakley, sold a book to one library, and got to a couple more places. Once I got to my hotel in Colby that afternoon, I did some more writing.

I was one of several Kansas authors attending the festival on Saturday. Not very many people came to the festival, which was sad. The library bought several of my titles, and I sold a few other books, so the day was okay for me. I went to a local Chinese place for dinner afterward. This was the fortune in my fortune cookie: Good books are friends who are always ready to talk to us. I'm going to hang onto that for a bit.

I don't have anything on the calendar until Encounters, but I will have one or two new titles out between now and then.



I have a new novella out, another in the further adventures of Jake Bonner, called Haven. Here's the blurb:

Jake Bonner’s been hired by one of the richest men in the galaxy. This real-estate mogul wants to acquire Haven, a once-famed recreational planet. Haven was abandoned when the robots that served the visitors rebelled.

Are the robots still there? Jake’s job is to find out, and smooth the way for this grand acquisition. Of course, no job is ever that easy.

Will Haven be safe for Jake? Or will Haven be one Hell of a job?

The novella is available in print and as an ebook at your favorite bookseller. I hope you enjoy it!


Museum of World Treasures Signing

On Saturday, August 10, I went to the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita to do a signing for Kansas County Seat Conflicts. It was part of their Customer Appreciation Day.

I only sold one book, but I had a good time. I talked to one of the staffers for a good long while about interesting museums and ghost towns in the area. I also met two young teens who were aspiring writers and SF/F fans. I gave them information about Wattpad and about Encounters.

Unfortunately, I came down with a sinus bug that night. The congestion affected my equilibrium so much that on Sunday I was actually nauseous. As of today (Tuesday), I've improved enough to get to my desk and write this post.

I have a new novella out, so I'll try to post on that this weekend. I'm hoping I'll be over this bug by then.


Rivendell Book Signing

On Saturday, August 3, I had a signing at the Rivendell Bookstore in Abilene, Kansas.

I left the day before. I went through Lindsborg and Concordia, trying to drum up more interest in Kansas County Seat Conflicts. I don't know if I accomplished all that much.

The signing was also slow. I'd decided in advance to stay in Abilene Saturday night, as well as Friday. That allowed me to get to the store when it opened at 10 AM, and stay though the afternoon. There was a fair and rodeo going on in town that weekend, and the folks at the store were hoping that would bring in traffic.

It ended up being a slow day. Only one person came into the store and looked at my books. Others came into the store but passed me by. The folks running the store were happy to hear about area SF cons, and excited for Encounters; they're fans of Jim Butcher.

Still, it was a pleasant little trip. I have another signing on the 10th, and then nothing on the schedule till September. I am in the process of getting out another Jake Bonner novella; I'll let you know when it goes live.


Topeka Book Talk

On Sunday, July 21, I went up to Topeka, Kansas, to talk about Kansas County Seat Conflicts and my other books at the Topeka/Shawnee County Public Library. Sadly, only a handful of people showed up, and I sold just a couple of books. I think the library will get copies of some of my other books, so that could boost the day's numbers a bit.

The next day I went to a few places in northeastern Kansas to distribute more copies of the book and get them interested in events. The Old Depot Museum in Ottawa took a couple copies of several titles for their bookstore. I was also able to contact the Leavenworth library and the Raven Bookstore in Lawrence. I'm hoping those visits will lead to a few more book talks later this year or next year.

I have a signing in Abilene in under two weeks. I'm working on getting more books out, so maybe there will be a post between now and then. Till then, take care!


Smashwords July sale!


My collections, novellas, and some of my novels are half off for the month of July at Smashwords as part of their annual July "Summer/Winter" promotion.

Here's where you can find my titles: Robert Collins

If you're not familiar with Smashwords, they offer ebooks in every format for every reader: Kindles, Nooks, iDevices, whatever you have. Every July they have a "Summer/Winter" sale, as it's summer here and winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and summer and winter are good times to buy books.

Oh, and if there isn't anything of mine that interests you, poke around the site anyway. There might be works by other authors that will grab you.


SoonerCon 22

Over the weekend of June 28-30 I attended SoonerCon 22 in Oklahoma City.

I had a table in the Artist Alley, which this year was in front of the Dealer Room in the center of a conference center. This meant that people had to get around us to get to the Dealer Room, but also to the Art Show room and a theater. Also, we were in sight of Registration, and there was only one way into the con.

I did decently, selling 20 books over the weekend. That was up from 13 the year before. I'm sure having more books available is helping. I brought with me about 3 dozen of my brochures. I gave all of them away, and probably could have handed out half a dozen to a dozen more. Towards the end of the con on Sunday, I even gave out my table sign!

Once again I didn't sign up for any panels. Because of the hours of the Artist Alley and the Dealer Room, I wasn't able to make opening or closing ceremonies. I did meet a few new people at the con, and saw some familiar faces. I wish I could have gotten to more events, but the con ran me a bit ragged, and I was just getting over whatever had given me sinus trouble the last month.

This year SoonerCon was held in the Reed Conference Center, next to a Sheraton Hotel. I parked in front of the hotel, so I had a bit of a walk setting up and tearing down. My room was okay, though cool during the weekend because when I arrived the AC had been set pretty low. Parking was free; hurrah!

On the way back I chose to hop off I-35 at the Tonkawa exit. There I picked up US-77, and stayed on it through Ponca City and into Kansas. That now means I've driven along US-77 from Tonkawa, Oklahoma to Lincoln, Nebraska. That's another highway across Kansas I can check off my list.

I may have another book out this month, and I do have a book talk in a few weeks. Until then, take care and keep reading!


No Easy Futures

I have a new short story collection out, No Easy Futures ---

This is a collection of stories that will make you think about yourself and the choices you make. There are few simple solutions to the problems raised in these pieces. Still, the characters try to overcome the best they can. Among the stories included are:

The Last Medal Winner: Reporter Vivian Ferris speaks to a war widow, who tells him that her late husband never received the medal he was awarded. Can Ferris find justice for the deceased in a time of peace?

Quincy Darby’s Discovery: Quincy Darby has learned that history can be altered. This might end the time travel that society relies on. After announcing his discovery he’s accused of murder. Can he prove his innocence?

Black: A newsman is told than an old friend, a lawman, was killed while committing a crime on a colony planet. The friend was no crook, and the newsman is suspicious. He travels to the planet to learn what happened and why.

This collection is available in print and ebook editions. I hope you'll check it out.


Author Extravaganza 2013

On Saturday, June 15, I went to Emporia to take part in the Author Extravaganza put on at Town Crier Books in Emporia. This was the first time I was able to make it in a couple of years.

This time around I was seated with some other SF/F authors. None of my books sold at the event, though the store did restock my nonfiction titles. It was good to see the authors there, but also to see a few readers who were interested in SF/F. I mentioned the upcoming cons to the authors, so I'm hoping to see some of them again this year.

While I was there I found out about a book festival in northwest Kansas. I'm putting in for a table for it. The trip out will give me some time to hit some libraries and museums in that area with Kansas County Seat Conflicts. I worried about having to make a special trip at some point to visit those places; now I won't have to.

Not much else to say, really, so I'll sign off for now.



Rebels, the third Blue Pistol novel, is now out. Here's the blurb:

The Blue Pistol and his allies have freed a few dukedoms in the Settled Domains from the power of the Slavers Guild. Those gains must be protected, & more people must be freed from slavery.

Two dukedoms are targeted to advance the cause: Black Rapids & Saint’s Hope. One will see an attempt at rebellion; the other, an attack by lies and hard truths.

Can the Blue Pistol liberate more land from control by the Guild? Can more nobles be trusted to see the value in ending slavery? Can the common people of the Domains be trusted to take the reigns of power?

The novel is available in print and as an ebook at all the usual places. I hope you'll check it out.


ConQuest 44

Over Memorial Day weekend I returned to Kansas City to attend ConQuest 44.

I had a table in the dealers room again. This time I brought my new literature rack with me. I was in an odd spot, so I don't know how much the rack helped. I do think it was better having it than not. This time I sold 17 books, 4 more than last year.

I was only on 3 panels this year. The one that was the most noteworthy was the "Classic Doctor Who" panel on Saturday. First, though it was 1 in the afternoon, the room was almost full. Two, the other three panelists and I only had time to answer one question from the audience. What was that question? "Tell me about the Doctors so I can get them straight." It took all 55 minutes to answer that question, and even then we hit the Doctors and some of the companions; touched briefly on the junking of episodes and the 1985-6 hiatus; and didn't get to Paul McGann.

This year I was not on the same floor as RoomCon or any other parties. I was at RoomCon Saturday night for a little while, and chatted with a couple of folks. I then went to the Con Suite and chatted with someone else there for a bit. That was about as much partying as I had the energy for.

As it happened, before the con I sold a Jake Bonner novella. The publisher was there, and he chose one of the artists attending to design the cover. I'll have to get some info to the artist about Jake, and get some files to the publisher. I think this might be the first time I did that sort of business work at a con.

Oh, here's the view I had from my hotel room:

I plan to go back next year.

Coming up on my schedule is the Author Extravaganza at Town Crier. I'm excited to be going back after being away for a year or two.

Talk to you soon!


Filling in the Details

Star Trek: Deep Space 9 did many things to disappoint me. One of them was blowing the chance to fill out the Star Trek universe.

One example of this came in an episode where Captain Sisko's son, Jake, decided to do something nice for his father. Someone came onto the station with a rare baseball card. Jake wanted to get the card to give to his father. Jake's problem was that the Federation doesn't use money. In order to obtain the card, he had to get the card's owner something. That involved going to someone else to get from them what the owner wanted. Over the course of the episode Jake became involved in a series of deals, just to get the card for his father.

Since this episode came late in a season, when tensions were ratcheting up between the heroes and the Dominion, it was criticized at the time as being filler. However, it could have been an important story on its own. The story would have had one of two messages at the end:

One - Jake learns that all those deals are why the Federation has chosen to exist without a monetary system. At some point the Federation came to view money as leading its people to confuse needs and wants. Needs are now taken care of. Wants are harder to obtain, and either require doing what Jake did, helping others, or by being anti-social (stealing, killing, and such). This is why the Federation has no money, and explains more about it.

Two - what Jake went through causes him (and maybe Captain Sisko) to ponder the Federation way. Sure, needs are taken care of, but what about wants? Could Jake have gotten so frustrated that he gave up on his attempt to make his father happy? Could that frustration have instead turned to crime? Is the Federation way truly the best way? Does the system have to be changed, or is this a flaw that people have just chosen to live with, given the alternatives?

Either one of those two messages would have filled in a major detail about the Trek universe. Either one gives the audience a reason to think about how that universe it set up. Is the future portrayed in Star Trek one to strive for, or is there a flaw we need to be aware of as we create our own future?

There are times in fiction where the details can make a difference in a work. I try to keep this in mind when I create my own universes. I'm not always good at filling in the details, but I make the effort whenever I can. I don't want to make the mistakes that I find in other creator's works.


Jake Bonner shorts

I put out a few short stories featuring Jake Bonner, one of the heroes of Expert Assistance, earlier this year. Those stories are (latest to earliest):

Above Average Jake: Jake Bonner is approached by a senior executive at Interstellar Minerals. The planet of Monument is mineral-rich and lawless. The lack of authority is endangering IM crews picking up ore, and seems to have allowed some sort of smuggling operation to take root. Jake is asked to go to Monument and clean up the town. Will his wits and his cool ship be enough to keep him alive as the planet’s only lawman?

Seeking TroubleJake Bonner heads to Breton system to look for work to keep busy. He’s intercepted by the local law and meets a woman named Nina. She claims to be a telepath, helping the local authorities find criminals. She tells Jake she wants to get away from her boss. Jake also meets a girl named Ella who tells him that the authorities are paying more attention to travelers than their own people. Can Jake sort out who’s telling the truth? Will he ever get a moment’s peace?

Criminal MastermindsJake Bonner is hired by a professor to help him survey a solar system. The professor isn’t worried that he doesn’t know who hired him to conduct the survey. Jake’s ship is fired on, the professor turns up missing, and Jake tangles with criminals and corporate drones. Another job, another series of annoyances to be resolved.

All of these short stories sell for 99¢. You can find them where ebooks are sold. Another novella featuring Jake should be out this summer!


Two Book Signings

On Saturday, April 27, I had a book signing for Kansas County Seat Conflicts at The Book Grinder in El Dorado, Kansas. It was quiet as signings go. I sold a few books, and did some editing on an upcoming Blue Pistol novel. As it happened, I didn't sell any copies of the book I was there to promote, but I did sell copies of two of my railroad history titles.

Then on Saturday, May 4, I went down to Slate Creek Books in Wellington to do another signing for Kansas County Seat Conflicts. It was also quiet. This time around I did sell a copy of the book I was there to promote, along with two of my railroad books. I also did some editing, and chatted with the owners about this and that.

The next event on my schedule is ConQuest. Between now and then I'm going to put up a post about some new short story ebooks I've published. Take care!


ConStellation 4

Over the weekend of April 19-21 I returned to Lincoln, Nebraska to attend ConStellation 4.

I did great. I sold almost three dozen books! Last year I sold 17 books, so I doubled my business. I sold books to people I'd met last year, and to new people. I also handed out all 25 copies of the book brochure I brought with me. I hope everyone who bought a book enjoys it.

Sadly, that was all I did at the con. I missed opening ceremonies so I could have dinner. There were a few panels that I might have attended, but they were held during peak attendance times at the con. I'm reluctant to leave my table at such times, unless I'm actually on a panel. I was able to get to closing ceremonies, so I did do something other than sell books.

Still, I had fun. I was able to see and chat with people I hadn't seen in months, or in a year. That's one of the interesting things about going to cons. You're hanging with people you share interests in. Even if you don't see those people very often, you have a connection with them. You stay connected, even if a long time has passed since you saw them last.

The trip to and from Lincoln was good as well. On the way up I visited a library with the new nonfiction book, and on the way back did the same at a bookstore. It's possible one or both of those visits will lead to book talks.

As far as my schedule goes, I have two book signings coming up the next two weekends. I'm off for a few weeks, then on to ConQuest 44. The next post here will probably be after those two signings. Till then, take care & happy reading!


Two Book Talks

I had two talks on Kansas County Seat Conflicts last week.

The first was on April 9 at the annual meeting of the Butler County Historical Society at the Butler County History Center in El Dorado. I spent part of my time sharing the new information I'd found about what happened in Butler County. I was asked a few questions about the phenomenon, and about other fights around the state.

On the way to El Dorado I realized that I had attended my first annual meeting back in 1993 or 1994, when an article of mine took second place in the essay contest the Society used to hold. I'd attended annual meetings off and on during the 1990s, and more frequently the following decade. Since this book is the last nonfiction book I'll be writing for a long while, the 9th could be the last time I attend a BCHS annual meeting. Another end of an era.

The second talk was at the Rose Hill Public Library on April 13. A small crowd came out to hear me speak. Since they weren't as familiar with the fight in Butler County as elsewhere, I went into the fight in our county in more detail. There were questions about other fights around the state, why we have so many counties, and what might happen in the future.

You'll notice from the photo that the library is next to the railroad line that runs through Rose Hill. While I was chatting after the talk a few trains came through, but during the "official" time of my talk, I was not interrupted.

I might go back to Rose Hill one more time. It seems people still want to hear from me about Kansas railroad history.

Coming up is ConStellation in Lincoln. I'm looking forward to getting back there! I'll let you know what happens when I get back.


The Magical Cases of Gwen Conner

I have a new collection of Gwen Conner fantasy/mystery stories out. It's called The Magical Cases of Gwen Conner, and here's what it's about:

Gwen Conner solves mysteries in a land where magic is used to create telephones, dictation machines, and streetcars. In this collection she has to deal with sleazy journalists, corrupt politicians, and a scheme to rob a payroll delivery. These new stories include:

The Plum Grove Robbery CaseGwen is asked by the younger sister of a man accused of train robbery to help her brother. The sister insists her brother would never rob a train. Gwen learns that the take from the robbery was small, and passengers on the train weren’t questioned by police. What will be revealed when Gwen untangles the loose threads of this mystery?

Dangerous DreamA man comes to Gwen desperate for help. He’s had a dream of his hands covered in blood, standing over the body of a young woman. He doesn’t know if he killed her, or if his vivid dream was real. Gwen has to dig into deep into the manufacturing world to determine what really happened.

Here's where you can get it:
Barnes & Noble



The first book events of 2013!

I've completed my first book events of this year. Let me take a moment to tell you about them.

The first was back on March 2. That morning I went to the Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society in Wichita to speak about Kansas County Seat Conflicts. Since it was a Saturday morning, there weren't too many people there. I talked about the book, some of the conflicts in the book, and what the implications of that history could be on the future of Kansas. After the formal talk was more chat about Kansas history. I was able to sell some books there, and I think I might have hooked someone into picking up my Jim Lane biography. It was a nice way to formally kick off a new round of signings, book talks, and conventions.

Then on March 12 I spoke at the Marion City Library. Naturally there were a few questions about whether the brief fight between Marion and Hillsboro over the county seat played a role in the two towns' rivalry. Here's an oddity for you: one person arrived late to the talk. She came in while I was relating the story of how Harper County was established, the unsavory nature of which figured into the county seat battle there. It turned out that she was originally from Harper County!

The last event in March was at the Bookshelf in McPherson on Saturday, March 23. I was there with another author, a local woman who had written an inspirational book. It was her first book, and the event was her first book signing. I'm glad that friends of hers came in and bought her book. I've been doing this for so long that I forget how exciting the first event for your first book can be.

So, the first month promoting Kansas County Seat Conflicts is over. I have more events this spring, including my first SF con of 2013. Here's hoping for a fun and busy year!


The Frigate Victory Collection, Volume 2

The second Frigate Victory short story collection is now out. It's subtitled for one of the stories in the collection, Pirates and Diplomats. Here's what it's about:

This collection contains 9 new Frigate Victory science fiction short stories. 

Major Anita Duncan learns too late of the assassination of the President of Extra-Solar Alliance. She has turn to Captain Jason Ayers of the Terran Federal Republic for help. Duncan and Ayers forge an alliance of humans and aliens to deal with the threat posed by the coup in the ESA.

What will this struggle mean for the future of the galaxy? Can Duncan, Ayers, and their new friends bring freedom and justice to the ESA?

The collection is in print and ebook editions. Here's where you can find it:


I hope you'll get a copy. Thanks for your support!



I have a new Blue Pistol novel out, Nobles. Here's what it's about:

"We must have allies in the Domains," Cassia says to Bart. That means convincing members of the nobility that the Slavers Guild cannot be trusted, and the notorious Blue Pistol is no threat to their rule.

To that end, they kidnap Cornelia, the daughter of one Duke. They show her that her father is treating her like a trinket given to curry favor. Will she get the chance to prove her value to cause of ending slavery?

They also send a merchant and a wizard to the realm of Duke Avitus. These newcomers bring a message of freedom. Will Avitus listen to their message, and risk the anger of the Guild?

Nobles is available in print and ebook editions. Here's where you can get it:

Barnes & Noble

Talk to you again soon...


It's Pulse Now, Pulse is Cool

One of the first apps I downloaded for my then-new iPad was Flipboard. Flipboard lets you read pages from websites based on their RSS feed. It works like a magazine: the sites you choose to follow are block images on a grid; tap the block, and you see articles; tap the article to read the whole thing. I raved about Flipboard here at my blog a couple years ago.

Over time, though, Flipboard began to lose its shine for me. The images in those blocks weren't always new images of articles from the site I had marked to follow. That meant that at times I didn't know if something new had been posted at the site. I had to tap the block to find out if I was missing something.

There was another feature that bugged me: "Popular on Flipboard." Some articles would be tagged as popular. That would be a nice feature, if I wasn't already following that site. Since I would be, that tagged article would be an obstacle to get to new content. It bothered me, seeing something that I had already read through, popping up again, as if somehow I needed to read it again.

Earlier this year iPad Today took a look at some news reading apps. I wasn't interested in the apps they showed, but it did send me to the Apple App Store to search for other news reading apps. I came across one called Pulse.

Like many of these apps, Pulse follows RSS feeds. After just a couple of days of using it, I came to like it over Flipboard. Flipboard seems to limit you to three pages, with eight feeds per page. Pulse gives you up to five pages, with nine per page. Each feed is a row on a page. The latest "thing" is on the left. Swipe right, either on the block of items or when you call up an item, and you see what's next in order. The text on things you've seen is bright white; once you look at it, the text is dim. You swipe left to go back.

The Pulse layout is much cleaner than Flipboard's. There's no guessing if you've read something or you haven't. I don't know if you can tap into Twitter and Facebook feeds, like you can in Flipboard, but that was a feature I never used.

Pulse is now my app for keeping up with various blogs, a few news sites, and a few Apple sites.



I'm going to be changing things here at the blog.

I'm going to move my promo posts over to my Tumblr page. It's a more visual sort of blogging, which is better suited to posting book covers. I'll also try to post event pictures and photos I take while on the road over there.

This means that the posts here will be more text than images. As a result, I might post here less, but with luck the posts I put up here will have a little more meat on them, so to speak. I'll continue to post here about what happened at cons and book events.

I guess we'll find out if this all works out for the best. I hope you'll stay tuned...


The Plum Grove Robbery Case

I have a new Gwen Conner fantasy/mystery short story out. Here's the blurb:

Gwen Conner is back in this new story. She’s asked by the younger sister of a man accused of train robbery to help her brother. The sister insists her brother would never rob a train. Gwen learns that the take from the robbery was small, and passengers on the train weren’t questioned by police. What will be revealed when Gwen untangles the loose threads of this mystery?

It's in ebook form, and first of a new batch of Gwen's stories that will be available this year. Here's where you can find it:

Barnes & Noble



Open Eyes

I have a new Frigate Victory short-story ebook out, called "Open Eyes." Here's what it's about:

Major Anita Duncan stumbles across a coup to replace the President of Extra-Solar Alliance. She fails to stop the coup, and must seek sanctuary in the Terran Federal Republic. Will meeting Captain Jason Ayers and the leaders of the Republic show her a way forward during this interstellar crisis?

This short story was first published in "Just Because" in September, 1998.

This is one of two (and maybe more) stories going up this year, and part of a collection that will be released later this year. The ebook is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble

Thanks for taking a look!


Kansas County Seat Conflicts

Well, it's finally here! Kansas County Seat Conflicts is now in print!

Here's what the book is about:

Since the establishment of Kansas Territory in 1855 well into the Twentieth Century, communities have fought over the privilege of being named the county seat. Over 60 of the state’s 105 counties have seen some attempt, successful or not, to move the county seat from first designated site.

Some have been brief, like the two-month effort in Reno County. Some have been long, like the eight-decade struggle over the seat of Logan County. And some have become notorious for their violence, like the battle between Woodsdale and Hugoton in Stevens County.

Kansas County Seat Conflicts recounts all the fights that author Robert Collins was able to document and research. There are fascinating period newspaper accounts, as well as analysis on the causes of these fights. Collins also considers what lessons can be drawn from these many and varied conflicts. This book also contains maps of the counties mentioned.

The book is only available as a print book. Trying to make the maps come out right in an ebook was going to be too much of an effort for not much reward.

Here's the link to it at Amazon.

I plan to give book talks and do other events to promote this book through this year and probably into next year. Once I've done the last event for KCSC, I believe that will be it for me as far as nonfiction goes. I've run out of projects that I feel passionate about.

More of my works will be going up this month, so stay tuned!

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