Selling Ebooks at Events

Over the summer I was wondering how I might sell ebooks at events. I've run into quite a few potential readers who have decided to go with ebooks over print books, even signed books. All I had was a handout with links, and the hope that they might buy one of my titles later.

As it happened, I found a link to an article from 2012 with details on how to do this. Here's my particular procedure for doing that. I start by using Calibre to create files for Kindles and other ereaders. I use Calibre because it's free. There's other software out there to do the same thing, so explore and see what's good for you.

Next, I use Dropbox, creating folders for series and titles, and then uploading the files to them. Dropbox is both a file-storage and a file-sharing service. It's the latter part of the service that's important to this method. As you'll see below, you won't want to use the same service for this that you'd be using to back up your private files to.

As far as my payments go, I've been using Square for a few years now.

Here's how the system works:

I use Square to register the sale, either cash or credit card, on my iPhone. I then open the Dropbox app. I tap on the the file, .mobi for Kindles, and .epub for all other readers. I tap the "Share" icon, then tap the "Email" icon. I have them enter in their email address. I send them an email, which has a link to the file on Dropbox. They click the link, and that downloads the file to their device.

It does mean that buying multiple files means multiple emails. But it's a good way to get ebooks into a reader's hands right away.

All the parts came together at the Air Capitol Comic Con. My first ebook sale was the first three Lisa Herbert books. I didn't sell any ebooks at the Emerald City Steampunk Expo the following weekend, but that's okay. I expect it will take time to get readers used to the idea of buying ebooks from an author, especially one they don't know.

If you're reading this, and you're a writer, I hope you'll take advantage of this system, or that you'll create your own variant of it with your choice of ebook creation software and file storage and sharing service. If you know a writer, feel free to tell them about this post. I'd like to see more writers take advantage of this opportunity.


Lisa Herbert #4!

The fourth Lisa Herbert book, Lisa's Truths, is now available. Here's what it's about:

Another couple of years have passed since Lisa’s battle on Barbaree. A new year sees her visiting new worlds as part of her effort to rebuild what was lost during the “Savage Rain.”

This time around Lisa has to deal with old grudges and new concerns. There’s also the ruler of the main town on the planet of Glades. He seems interested in trade, but he doesn’t seem to think anyone else should have his job.

How will Lisa and her friends overcome these new obstacles? What new ideas can she come up with to improve life? What are the truths that Lisa lives by, and how will those truths help her cause?

The book is in print and ebook editions, and is on sale now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. The last book in the series is set to come out in February of next year. Stay tuned for that, and for a pair of ebook compilations of the series that I'll release at the same time.


Writing Stats for November 2014

Here's the eleventh post of the year, reporting on how much I wrote the previous month.

I was doing good until those two cons came up. Being out in the cold and damp did a number on my sinuses. Except for editing the next Lisa Herbert book, I didn't get anything done the last week of November.

What did I do? I wrote 115 pages this month. A bit of a setback, but I was expecting the count to be low. I'm getting better, and while I do have one event in December, I think I can get back to a decent pace.

Still, I did have a good few weeks, and I sold plenty of books at those two cons. Here's hoping for a strong finish to the year!


Two Weekends, Two Cons

So, I had two local conventions on my calendar this month, back to back.

The first came on November 16, the Air Capitol Comic Con. It snowed that morning, but fortunately I had to pick up Kelly Peterson in northeast Wichita. That kept me on city streets, which were easier to navigate.

Attendance was good, in spite of the cold and snow. I saw some people I hadn't seen in quite some time, as well as some familiar faces. I sold 23 books, including my first three ebook sales at an event. (I'll have more on this system next month.) There was also a writing panel that I took part in, along with another local SF/F author and two comics writers. Our moderator wasn't able to make it, so I volunteered to moderate for him. I think the panel went well.

I let Kelly have space on my table to do commission drawings on site and sell them to earn some money. He was busy pretty much the whole day. In fact, I'm pretty sure he was at my table more than I was. I'm glad he was able to make money. It was good to have him around.

The Emerald City Steampunk Expo came around the following weekend, starting on Friday, November 21. Like last year, I had a table in the dealer room.

I saw plenty of familiar faces, including those I'd just seen on the 16th. I also met some new people. The sales numbers were fascinating. I didn't have that many overall sales, but most of those sales were for multiples of books. In other words, there weren't all that many single-book sales. Because of that, I managed to get 43 books sold. That's the most books I've ever sold at a con!

I didn't away from my table as much as I'd have liked, but I did get to look around the con hotel, the Broadview, a little. Most of you may not know, but I wrote a book about the Arkansas Valley Interurban 15 years ago. Some of the backers of the AVI had the Broadview built. The AVI passenger depot in Wichita stood between the hotel and the river, and for a time the AVI used the Broadview as a freight station.

The year in events isn't over for me just yet. In about a week and a half I'll travel up to Topeka for the author fair on December 6. There's also more writing stats and books coming out, so stay tuned to the blog!


Site Update

I've made an update to my SF/F Books page.

I have so many books out that it seemed to me that the page was getting a bit unwieldy to use. My various series were mixed with non-series books. The books were in order of release, which would make it hard if you came here looking for the first book in a certain series.

So, I've added pages to the site for each of those series. The link to each of those pages is at the top of the SF/F Books page. The first book in each series is at the top of each page, with next one below it, and so on. If there are any compilation volumes, that will also be noted at the top of the page, with links to them a little farther down each page.

I hope this is helpful in finding your favorite book or series. I've written quite a few Defender books, so I worry that the series might need more than one page!

Let me know if there's anything else you think I could do to make my blog more user-friendly.


The Defender #4!

The fourth Defender story is now available! Here's what it's about:

A strange announcement has caught the attention of Allan and Nancy, “The Defender” and “The Moon Spirit.” Folk have been warned against venturing out after dark in the dukedom of Green Hills, specifically in the major town there, Green Town. Rumor is that the danger is due to gangs of criminals fighting each other.

Allan heads there first, and learns that a gang led by one “Four-Finger Franklin” was amassing a large group of outlaws, paying them in gold and silver. Then, before his men could strike, the coins turned to stone, and criminals began attacking each other.

It seems magic has to be behind this mess in Green Town. Can the Defender and the Moon Spirit discover the clues, restore order, and secure the ancient enchantments that have brought Green Hills to the brink of chaos?

The book is available in print and ebook editions, and is available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple's iBookstore, and Smashwords.

There is going to be a change in how future Defender stories will be released, starting next year. Individual stories will only be released as ebooks. Five stories will be put together into volumes, and those will be print editions. I'm writing so many Defender tales that to put them all out in print would eat up the limited space I have for storing books and carrying them to cons and events.

An update here at the blog is coming, so stay tuned!


Writing Stats for October 2014

Here's the tenth "writing stats" post of the year, letting you know how my writing output is progressing.

I had some off days this month, but when I was on, I was fairly productive. I wrote 148 pages this month. That's 10 more pages than last month, but still quite a bit lower than I should have accomplished, all things considered. However, October is (I believe) my second-most productive month this year.

Next month I have two Wichita cons to do. One won't get much in the way of writing, but the other one will. I'll also be testing something; more details on that later. Last, for those of you taking part in NaNoWriMo, good luck!


Deciding to Downsize

This post is about some of the decisions I made that inspired me to cut back on some of the things I had. It's a follow-up to this post about downsizing.

One of matters that got me thinking came in an episode of Tiny House Nation. One of the houses built was for a couple that lost their home in Colorado to a wildfire a few years back. The wife was the only one home at the time. The wildfire grew suddenly, and she had only a minute or so to evacuate. She talked about how hard it was to decide that fast what to save and what to abandon.

I can sympathize with those feelings. As some of you know, I lost almost everything I had at the time in the 1991 Andover tornado. My more recent downsizing hasn't been motivated by a fear of that happening to me again. But the episode did remind me how important it can be to look at your possessions and ask, "What would I really miss if I lost everything?"

That question led me to consider what I'd been keeping of late. As I said before, I found I still had letters from people I hadn't heard from in years, along with other bits and pieces that didn't seem to matter as much now as they had once. I felt some regret at throwing those things out. But I also felt good about discovering what I chose to keep. Some good parts of my life that I'd forgotten about came back to me, if just for a little while.

There's also the issue of physical space. For a long time it bothered me that I had stuff scattered over the house. For a time my books were in my office, then in big bookshelves in the basement. Now I have a handful of physical books in the office, and ebooks on my devices. Some of my personal belongings were in my room, while others were in the basement as well. I'd managed to get most of that stuff moved into my room. Now all of that fits in plastic boxes in my bedroom closet. Instead of being scattered around the house, everything I own is either in my bedroom, my office, or in the living room. I won't have to struggle to find where something is anymore.

Here's a more specific instance of dealing with the physical space objects can take up. I've saved all the badges from all the train shows, cons, and other events I've been to. I had no desire to get rid of any of them. However, I noticed that many of the badges were still in their plastic holders. Ditching as many of the holders as was possible meant that they no longer needed their own box, but could share space with other items. That simple choice gave me more space to work with.

If you're considering downsizing your possessions, I suggest you ask yourself these questions. First, what do you own that you'd miss if it was gone? What are you still hanging onto that isn't important to you anymore? How can you maximize your storage space through simple choices? Your answers to those questions should help you through the process.

If you're trying it, post somewhere how it goes, and good luck to you in downsizing your life!


Lisa's Adventures!

The third Lisa Herbert book, Lisa's Adventures, is now out. It's a short story collection, and here's the blurb:

This collection assembles 6 short stories featuring Lisa Herbert, the title character of the novels Lisa’s Way and Lisa’s War. The first 4 stories take place between the novels; the other 2 take place after the events of Lisa’s War. These stories see Lisa going to new worlds and taking on new responsibilities as she helps rebuild interstellar society.

Also included in this books are a pair of short stories from the original vision of Lisa Herbert, when her adventures were confined to post-collapse Earth. Author Robert Collins wrote a few words about those stories to let you know more about his first vision of Lisa’s life and how that vision changed.

The collection is in print and ebook editions. It's available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple's iBookstore, and Smashwords. I have two more books in the series; one will be out by the end of this year, and the other early next year.


Writing Stats for September 2014

Here's the ninth "writing stats" post of the year, letting you know how my writing output is progressing.

In September I wrote 138 pages. That's not bad, considering that I didn't get any writing done the previous month. I finished two Defender stories, and as the month ends, I'm closing in on the end of a third Defender tale. While 138 is well under what I should have done, following the routine I laid out in January, this is the most I've written in a month since April.

Yeah, it's been that kind of year.

I think I should be able to make good progress in October. I've got plenty to work on, and I don't have any planned events to get in the way. I hope I can pick up the pace, since I might lose a little writing time to a couple of local cons I'll be going to in November.


More Life Downsizing

I've had an interest in the tiny house movement for a while now. Recently the FYI Network began airing a series called Tiny House Nation. I'm nowhere near ready to move into a new place yet, but watching the episodes did get me thinking about my stuff.

There was still quite a bit of clutter among my possessions. I had letters from people I'd stopped hearing from 10, 15, even 20 years ago. I had gifts from book talks that I couldn't associate to a specific talk. I had business cards that I was sort-of collecting, though not really.

The matter of efficient use of space also popped into my mind. You might be able to see in the photo the impression in the carpet that my old waterbed made. (I only had it for 10 years, and it's been gone longer than that, but it was so bulky that the impression is still there.) My bed was in the center of the room, with the head of the bed against the wall. The arrangement took up a good chunk of room space.

Sometime back I tried getting a bit more space out of the room by moving my chest of drawers next to the bed (right side of the impression). It was okay, but there was one drawer I wasn't using, and it wasn't easy to move.

For a time I tried using plastic drawers to carry my books to events. The problem with them was they tended to slide open at inopportune moments, like in the trunk of my car, or when I was bringing them into the event space. I ended up using them for storage around the house.

While watching the show, it hit me: why not use those drawers to store the things I wanted out in my room? Why not use the other plastic containers I have to store everything else, and put them in the bedroom closet? Why not move the bed to get more space in my bedroom?

I went through the stuff I'd accumulated and tossed what I didn't want. I moved some of the plastic drawers to the foot of my bed, and I have another stack beside my bed. The possessions I kept are in bins in the closet, along with my overnight bag and cooler. I now have enough space in my bedroom that I could move my computer in there if I wanted to.

(I don't right now. The room bleeds heat in the winter, and I need a space heater to keep the room from getting too cold. There isn't space for a desk and something to put the heater on, and not have the heater get in the way.)

I feel like I have better control of my living space. I feel that much more freed from having stuff.

I know this downsizing isn't for everyone. But it's worth considering, even if all such thoughts do is make you ask what you'd keep and what you wouldn't if push came to shove.


The Defender #3!

The third Defender story is now available! Here's what it's about:

It’s a new year, and Allan must leave the dukedom of Stoneford to continue his work as the masked mage known as “The Defender.”

A man in the city of Oak Falls has been killed. The guards dashed to the home of the murder, and. saw a man run from them. They chased him for a short distance, then he stopped, pulled up the hood of his cloak, and vanished.

Allan fears that someone is used magic to commit this murder. Could it be another mage? Could someone have found ancient enchantments from the era of the Great Mages? The Defender has to go to Oak Falls and discover the truth.

While Allan is gone, his girlfriend Nancy is about to embark on an adventure of her own as “The Moon Spirit.” What lies in store for both these new heroes?

The book is available in print and ebook editions at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords now, and other stores soon.

You can read the first chapters of this and the other Defender tales at Wattpad. Another new Defender book will be out in two months.

I hope you enjoy this tale!


Writing Stats for August 2014

Here's the eighth "writing stats" post of the year, letting you know how my writing output is progressing.

No writing in August. The month started well with lots of books sold at OSFest. I took the rest of the month off. I watched the first season of Arrow, some Doctor Who in advance of the new season, and a couple of documentaries: Dear Mr. Watterson and Downloaded. Look them up if you're interested. I also read The Mask of Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Not that I could completely stay away from writing. I did some poking around the internet, searching for ideas for upcoming works. I now have seven (yes, 7!) stories to write for the Defender series. I'll start on those this month, along with what might be my first steampunk story. I may also have the start of an idea for yet another Defender story, or more likely, a story arc.

So, back on the schedule, and back to writing!


Steam on the Horizon - book review

Steam on the Horizon is one of the books I picked up at OSFest from one of the authors I had the chance to meet at the con.

It's a steampunk novel, the tale of Gavin Roberts, an airman in 1850s Britain. Roberts is first mate of an airship when a boiler explosion damages the ship and kills the captain. As it happens, the captain is the incompetent son of the ruthless owner of the most powerful airship line in London. Roberts makes a deal to acquire the airship. He struggles to make repairs and assemble a crew as a brand-new Captain.

The novel is quite the zippy read. The language can be a bit much at times, but it does evoke something of the style of Victorian literature. There's the usual gears and gadgets as per any steampunk work. The story had some interesting detail touches, such as an inventor's drug habit and references to the Irish Potato Famine.

It's the first book in a series, and I'm interested in seeing where the story goes. Roberts is an interesting character, and the world-building is good.



Heroes, the sixth book in the Blue Pistol series, is now out. Here's what it's about:

The Blue Pistol has been fighting to end slavery in the Settled Domains for years now. When the brother of an ally falls ill, the Blue Pistol sees that slavery isn’t the only problem he faces.

“Ignorance is the problem.”

To combat ignorance, he’ll attack the Slavers Guild on two fronts. His friend Illantia will bring the light of science to the Settled Domains. Meanwhile, his spy in the Guild will seed division and strife among the Guild leadership.

It’s time for the Blue Pistol’s allies to show their superior minds, instead of their superior weapons. Can they rise to the challenge?

This is the last book in the Blue Pistol series. To celebrate, there's a new ebook edition of the first book in the series, Cassia, which will be free for the foreseeable future (starting at Smashwords). You can pick it up, as well as Heroes, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords right now.


OSFest 7

Over the weekend of August 1-3, I attended OSFest up in Omaha.

I had to miss last year's OSFest due to nonfiction book events. I had a table in the "dealer room," which this time around was one part of a large ballroom. There was space for live events next to our area, while at the other end were club displays, autograph tables, and the art show. The open layout was good for traffic, and it kept much of the con together.

As for book sales, well, this was my best con so far. I sold 37 books! That beat the old total from last year's ConStellation by a few. I gave out something like two to three dozen of my flyers. I also tested out a method of being able to sell ebooks at events. I'll try selling them for real at the cons I have locally come November, and I'll report on how the system works then.

I met some authors at the con, and picked up a few books. I'll give them a read and let you know what I think of them later.

The only panel I went to was one on Babylon 5 at 20, and that was as an attendee. It was a good panel. I was happy to see that at least a couple of dozen people attended the panel, if not a few more than that. Good to know that there's still plenty of love for B5 after all these years.

The drive up and the drive back home took me to some new highways this time. Because the highway was closed north of Nebraska City, when I got there I diverted to I-29 in Iowa, took that to I-80, and then went to the hotel. On the way back I took I-29 all the way to I-435 in the Kansas City metro; took 435 to I-35; then took I-35 to Emporia. I popped into the bookstore there to check on my books, got lunch, and took the Turnpike home. This was the first time I passed through Iowa in many years. I'm hoping for a bit longer stay in the state soon.

There aren't any other cons on my schedule until November. I will have more books out, perhaps a review or two, and maybe another post or two in addition to those. Until then, take care!


Writing Stats for July 2014

Here's the seventh "writing stats" post of the year, letting you know how my writing output is progressing.

July was pretty steady, once I got back from SoonerCon. I wrote 115 pages this month. That is way down from what I could have written, if I'd stuck to my goals, which would have been 200 pages. I did have some errands get in the way, and I spent the last several days of the month formatting books for this year and next, as well as editing the latest Blue Pistol novel.

Which leads me to August. Right now I don't have any story ideas to work on. I have some vague notions about what to do. In one case, I need to do research before I can even come up with a plot. In the other case, I need to think of story ideas before continuing the series. There are things in real life I'd like to do, like catch up on shows, and head out on some day trips to take pictures.

So I'm going to pause in my writing for a while. I'm going to do research and think of plots, as well as do other things. I expect to be back at writing in a month or two. I will continue putting out work; in fact, I have enough books lined up that I can publish one a month until the end of 2015. I'll try to post my research progress at the end of August, and if I need to do more, in September as well.


Shine #7: Lost Haven - book review

One of the authors I met at SoonerCon back in June was Sabrina Fish, author of the book Lost Haven, #7 in the series Shine by William Behrnhardt.

The premise of the series is at some point, perhaps in the near future, or in an alternate universe, young women between 15 and 25 begin developing unusual abilities. These strange talents, which seem psychic in nature, are called "Shine." The idea behind this series is that authors will write books about characters they create within this shared universe.

This book follows a young woman from Oklahoma named Camille. Her father is believed to have killed her mother, then himself. Camille has to deal with an ex-boyfriend, a mysterious thumb drive, and an organization determined to deal with Shines, all while she's coping with her own secret Shine.

The book is well-written and moves at a good pace. I didn't have any trouble following the shared world, even though I was reading the seventh book in the series. Camille's an interesting character, religious but not a closed-minded fool. If I have any complaint, it's that the book ends on something of a cliffhanger for the world, and somewhat for the character. I'm not sure about the rest of the series, but I would like to know what happens to Camille after she's gone through the events of the story.


The Defender #2!

The second Defender story is now available! Here's what it's about:

Allan has moved to the dukedom of Stoneford to continue his work as the masked mage known as “The Defender.”

In Stoneford he learns that a man named Malloria has become an advisor to Lord Jason by claiming he can see the future. One of this Malloria’s predications was that doom would befall Lord Jason’s youngest son Kenneth. A few weeks later, Kenneth died of sickness.

Allan knows magic doesn’t work that way, at least not with most knowledge of casting spells gone. He suspects that this Malloria has a darker purpose behind his claim of seeing the future.

Who is this mysterious Malloria? What is he plotting? Can the Defender stop his scheme?

The book is available in print and ebook editions at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords now, and other stores soon.

I now have eight Defender stories completed. The first two are out. You can read the first chapters of both at Wattpad. I still plan to release a new Defender book every other month for the next year.

I hope you enjoy this tale!


Soonercon 23

Over the weekend of June 27-29 I attended SoonerCon 23 in Oklahoma City.

Like the past two years, I had a table in the artist alley. This time around I was in a bit of an odd location. I was next to one of the doors to the dealer room. Across from me, a local Star Trek group had brought part of their replica of the original series bridge, namely the Captain's chair and the navigation & helm console. They were allowing people to get their picture taken on their little "set." It was a bit of a distraction for my books, but I was fun to sit across and watch the expressions when attendees saw it and "performed" on it.

As to my book sales, I sold the exact same number of books I did last year, 20. I gave out about two dozen copies of my new flyer, and added several addresses to my email mailing list. I met a few authors, aspiring and otherwise, and was able to talk up Wattpad to them. All in all it was a good con for me.

A couple of other things happened there. One of the guests was voice actress Tiffany Grant. She was a guest at the first Chronicles con in Wichita several years ago. She took part in a writing panel I did with Todd Hunter. I got to see her Sunday at SoonerCon. She vaguely remembered who I was, and we chatted for a bit.

The other thing that happened was that a few people were going around doing video interviews. I took part in all but one of them. You might see me around YouTube and such in the coming weeks. I may mention those on my social media sites if I get links.

No driving diversions on the way home on this trip. I had too much to do when I got back, including write this post.

That's all for now!


Writing Stats for June 2014

Here's the sixth "writing stats" post of the year, letting you know how my writing output is progressing.

June started slow, as I still had a home-care nurse coming here every morning. The last visit was during the second week of the month. That allowed me to get back to two writing sessions Monday through Friday. I did lose one Saturday to a signing in Emporia, and the last few days of the month to Soonercon (a post on that will be coming soon).

So, I managed to write 106 pages in June. That's way down from what I could have done, sticking to averages, which would have been over 180 pages. But considering that's a huge increase from May, I'll take it.

I suppose I am making progress to where I need to be. Here's hoping that the pace continues to increase in July!


Getting Out of the Hobby

Remember some months ago, when I wrote that I'd completed a new, small, model railroad layout? Remember me writing how I hoped that the new layout, which would let me play car switching games, would get me back into model railroading?

Sad to report, but it didn't. I undertook one test run, assembling a few cars into a train, and that was it. Even though I kept it in my bedroom, and saw it every day, I didn't take it out again. So I tossed the layout, and sold off what I could.

I wasn't able to remain excited about the hobby for two reasons. One was motivation. While I liked visiting websites, seeing what was being done, and what was available, I didn't feel motivated to run trains. I believe that was because of the second reason: expense.

Here's an example. Not too long ago, most freight cars in N scale (my scale; second smallest, and second most popular scale) were fair to good quality, and cost between $10 and $20. What does "fair to good quality" mean? It means that the cars ran well enough (though they sometimes needed modification), but small details either wouldn't be put on the cars, or would be molded on, and thus look absurd if scaled up to real life.

These days most N scale cars are very good to high quality. There are more fine details; details and paint are accurately sized; and the cars run better than ever. However, their prices start at $15 to $20, and go up from there. The expense makes it harder to assemble much of a fleet of cars. The cars look amazing, but you can't afford to have too many of them.

In the past, the solution to that would be to change to HO scale. HO is the most popular scale, by a wide margin, and falls in the middle in terms of the size of the scale. (N scale is 1/160; HO is 1/87.) That popularity used to make HO cars, locomotives, and everything else fairly reasonable in terms of price. That also meant that there were more affordable cars that were good quality or better. Now, though, the cost of materials has brought HO prices more in line with the other scales in terms of price. That makes switching scales a more difficult choice.

The only conclusion I could reach about me and model railroading was that I'm just not as engaged in the hobby as I used to be. It's time for me to walk away from it for a good long while and find other diversions. I did keep a number of articles I'd saved over the decades, and a book or two, in case I decide to get back in at some point in the future. But for now, model railroading appears to be in my past.

It's sad, but that's how life goes. Some things stick with you, while others fade in, then fade back out.


Above Average Jake

I have a new Jake Bonner work out, a short story collection called Above Average Jake:

This collection contains nine short stories featuring Jake Bonner, the hero of Expert Assistance, Haven, and Janitorial Assistance.

Jake faces all manner of adventures in these tales. A scientist is claiming evidence of ancient aliens, and Jake has to offer protection. An old friend needs a guard for a wedding on a posh asteroid. An young star needs help dealing with a rival celebrity. Then there’s the woman claiming to be a telepath…

Jake has to use his wits, his cool ship, and his knowledge of pop culture to solve these problems. Can he survive such a mad galaxy?

As always, the collection is available in as a print book and an ebook. Right now it's at Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Smashwords, with more outlets coming soon.


Writing Stats for May 2014

Here's the fifth "writing stats" post of the year, letting you know how my writing output is progressing.

Yeah, so, May sucked. I had a minor but inconvenient health issue that kept me from writing for a couple of weeks. I'm getting better, but I do have a home-care nurse coming here every morning. Until those visits end, I'm only able to get in one writing session in a day, instead of two Monday through Friday.

So, I only managed to write 60 pages in May. Still, I did finish one project, a 50,000 word novel, and I've started the eighth Defender story.

I've got a couple of events in June, but I should be able to up that page count as I heal. Here's hoping for an improvement next month!


The Defender #1!

The first volume of a new series, The Defender: Elderwood, is now out!

Blurb: Allan flees Elderwood City because he killed the rich man who murdered his sister. He hides in the ruins of an acient castle. He discovers the castle was the stronghold of one the legendary mages of yore.

Allan learns that the magic never went away, only diminished due to overuse. He has the gift of using magic to cast spells, reading the tomes of the long-dead mage. But what should he do with his new-found skill?

Allan decides that he will fight the injustices that threw he and his sister onto the streets, and ultimately led to her death. He will disguise himself as The Defender, and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Allan returns to Elderwood City. He finds that his battle will be against more than common criminals and the idle rich. Corruption goes to the heart of His Lordship’s Manor, and is spread throughout the city.

Can Allan handle his new powers, and succeed as a masked hero? Can he inspire hope, or is the darkness too entrenched to be defeated?

The book is available in print and ebook editions at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords now, and other stores soon.

As I wrote at the top, it's the first of a series. I have six other works written so far. Most are novella length, with the last coming in as a short novel, like Elderwood. I plan to release a new Defender book every other month for the next year.

I hope you enjoy this new world and these new characters!


Writing Stats for April 2014

Here's the fourth "writing stats" post of the year, letting you know how my writing output is progressing.

Things came up this month, mainly my trip to ConStellation 5. Those things ended up affecting how many writing sessions I had, mainly towards the end of the month.

The overall goal for this month was: 4 pages a day during morning and afternoon sessions, 5 days a week; and 4 pages during a morning session on Saturday.

In April I was able to write 140 pages. That's about 50 pages under what I could have written, or about a week of not writing. On the other hand, that's about 40 pages more than I would have written under the old schedule of 4 pages a day, six days a week.

I have one fiction project I'm working on, and one that I'll tackle after that. Beyond that I don't have anything I'm certain I'd like to write. My writing is progressing, but I expect to have lower page counts than normal over the summer due to con season.


ConStellation 5

Over the weekend of April 25-27 I attended ConStellation 5, the SF convention in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Like last year, I had a table in the dealers room to sell my books. This year I sold 33 books. It's about what I did last year, maybe a few less. That surprised me, since I didn't sell that many books at the other cons I was at last year. Still, I'll take any good surprise when it comes to my book sales.

I was also able to get some subscribers to my email newsletter. I should be sending out the first issue of the newsletter next week. It's not too late for you to join up; just enter your data in the boxes to your right and click "Subscribe."

New for me at ConStellation this year was that I did a panel on writing and publishing. The panel ended up being scheduled for Friday at 5 PM. Happily, several people did show up. I hope I was informative and helpful.

I'm trying to save money by bringing some of my own food with me to cons. Before I left I discovered that my old cooler, the one I'd had for about a decade and a half, was way too small. I paused in Augusta on the way up to buy a new, bigger cooler. Slight delay in arriving, but worth it.

The wind was howling on the way back, so I didn't stop to take any pictures. Maybe next time...

My next event is a book signing at The Burrow in Wichita on May 4. Since I plan to have a new book out next week, I doubt I'll blog about that signing. My next con will be ConQuest.

See you soon!


The Convention

I have a new short novel out! It features one of the main characters from True Friends. It's called The Convention; here's the blurb:

David Chalmers is attending Mo-Kan 2, a science fiction convention in Kansas City. He’s there because a national Doctor Who group has big plans for the future. During the con he meets fellow fan Lila Woodson and the members of another fan group, the Space Rats.

Will this convention alter David’s future? Will Lila win the costume contest? Should we be afraid of Doctor Who: The Wrath of Kroll?

The book is in print and ebook editions. Right now it's at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. It'll be at other stores soon.

Yes, I will have copies with me at the cons I'm attending this year.


Writing Stats for March 2014

Here's the third "writing stats" post of the year, letting you know how my writing output is progressing.

I didn't have quite so much come up this past month than in January or February, so that's good.

The overall goal for this month was: 4 pages a day during morning and afternoon sessions, 5 days a week; and 4 pages during a morning session on Saturday.

In March I was able to write 161 pages. According to my numbers, that's 1 page more than the overall goal for the month. That's with missing a few sessions, too.

I blazed through a two works about about novella length. One was fiction, the other nonfiction. I have two fiction projects ahead of me. Their plot outlines suggest to me that they might be longer than the works I've been writing.

At the end of this month my con season gets underway. I expect I might lose some writing, since Fridays and Mondays are travel days. I'll just have to see how productive I am. This year has started slower than I thought it would, but I have written more on the new schedule than I would have under the old one. Overall, I think my writing progress is moving steadily forward.


An Email Newsletter

There's a new widget in place over on the right.

I've decided to start up an email newsletter. I'll probably send out an email once a month when I have a new book out. I'll have the blurb, and a link to the SF/F Books page for store links. There will be links to cons and other events I'll go to. I might also mention what I've blogged about. Down the road I may put in a Smashwords coupon code for certain ebooks.

Please let me know what you think of the first newsletter when it goes out in a couple of weeks. I expect to have to tweak it a time or two to get it right.

I'm using MailChimp to manage the newsletter and the email list. They have an app that will allow me to add emails at events. If you don't want to join the list right away, stop by my table at one of the cons I'll be at this year. We'll see how the app works then.

Here's hoping this proves helpful to you, and to me!



The fifth Blue Pistol novel is out, Spies:

The Blue Pistol is certain that the Slavers Guild will expect more attacks in his effort to end slavery in the Settled Domains. To that end, the Blue Pistol decides to catch the Guild off-guard.

“We’ll give them a year of calm, then hit them hard.”

This means new battles and new allies. Several young women will enlist, to protect themselves as much to support the cause of freedom. New dukedoms will be in the Blue Pistol’s sights, and more pressure will be put on his spy within the Slaver’s Guild.

How hard will the Blue Pistol’s blows be? When will his war against slavery end?

The book is available in print and ebook editions at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble, and will be elsewhere soon.


Writing Stats for February 2014

Here's the second "writing stats" post of the year, letting you know how my writing output is progressing.

Before I get to the numbers, I should say that I had some days this month of getting up late, errands, and a medical appointment, all of which interfered with my schedule. I also spend two days prepping the next Blue Pistol novel for release.

The overall goal for this month was the same as last month: 4 pages a day during morning sessions, and 2 pages a day during afternoon sessions, 6 days a week.

For February I wrote 119 pages. If I had been able to write 6 pages a day, every day, I would have written 144 pages this month. So, once again, my page count was down by about 20-25 pages. That said, under the old regime of 4 pages a day, six days a week, I would have produced 96 pages this month, if I wrote every day.

(For those of you who are into word counts, those 119 pages translates into about 30,000 words written this month.)

I'm starting a new schedule in March. I plan to write two sessions a day, Monday through Friday, with a goal of writing 4 pages in each session. Saturdays I only have a single morning session planned, with a goal of writing 4 pages in that session.

In some ways this schedule reflects what I'm already doing. I don't feel at all productive writing a couple of pages in the afternoon. Rarely do I feel like stopping after writing only 2 pages. Just like in the morning, I feel like I can write at least 4 pages in the second session. So I'm going to accept what I'm already doing and make it official.

As to Saturdays, I feel like I'm not always getting to reading or anything else with two sessions six days a week. The not reading part really bugs me, since I am a writer. I want to put in more time reading, even if I can't always afford to buy every book I want to read. I'll see how I feel after I go at this for a while. Since event season for me starts at the end of April, and will go through early August, I'm not going to consider any changes to this writing schedule until the autumn.

So, first two months of 2014 have been slow, but works are being written and completed. I can live with that.


Ending A Series or Two

In the last year, I've written what I believe to be the last stories in three of my universes. Last year I wrote the last books in the "Jake Bonner universe" and the "Blue Pistol" series. Then, in the third week of February, I finished the first draft of what I think is the last "Frigate Victory" tale, a novel, to be precise.

What feels strange about all those ending works is how long I've been living with those characters. The ancestor of the first Jake Bonner tale, Expert Assistance, was a film script that I wrote in the late 1980s. The first Frigate Victory story was also a script. I believe the first short story was written in the  mid-1990s, because my records show the first short story published, "Positive Spin," came out in 1997.

Then there's the Blue Pistol series. I know the original short story, first called "Stupid Girl," was written in the mid-to-late 1990s, even though the story wasn't published until 2003. I went through at least three drafts of the first novel, Cassia. I even wrote several more short stories; all but maybe one ended up in that first novel.

In the case of the Jake Bonner and Frigate Victory universes, it feels as though I've taken the main characters as far as I can. They haven't exactly gone from zero to hero, but they have progressed farther on and up in their lives as I feel is as possible for them. In both cases, I'm not sure I can take the characters any farther without getting them into some absurdly high-powered adventures.

The Blue Pistol series feels a bit different. I know there's more that the main characters can do to achieve their overall goal. However, it also feels (without giving you any spoilers) that any more direct action would be too easy. There are new characters that could step forward, but I'm not sure, right now, that their adventures would make for interesting stories.

I also know that coming to the end of these roads isn't the end of me. I have a new series, the first volume of which should be out later this year. I have another work that I now see is the first of something. Whether it's the first story in an open-ended series, or the first part of a long single work, I'm not sure. I'll need to do some thinking about that universe and what I want to do with it.

I don't know about other authors, but I have mixed feelings about coming to the end of these roads. It makes me a little sad to think that all the time I've spent telling these stories has come to a conclusion. Yet it makes me happy to know that I can bring a series to a close and move on with new characters and their adventures.


Frigate Victory: Seven Under Dispute

I have a new Frigate Victory collection available, Seven Under Dispute. Here's what it's about:

Captain Jason Ayers and his crew return in three new “Frigate Victory” science fiction short stories and two new novellas.

Ayers’ crew has to deal with new problems, including settling a dispute between two alien races. Both races claim seven planets lying on their border, with one planet settled by both races. The question Ayers and his friends have to answer is this: what’s in the best interests of those living on the “Seven Under Dispute?”

Other stories in this collection tell of the hunt for con artists, a crash investigation, and what the ruins of an ancient machine can tell about a long-dead civilization. If you enjoyed the first two “Frigate Victory” collections, you’ll want to get “Volume 3: Seven Under Dispute.

The collection is available right now at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords, in print and ebook editions. It should be elsewhere soon.


Writing Stats for January 2014

I'd like to start a new series of blog posts for 2014. Inspired by some of the posts I'm seeing from other authors, I thought it might be good to report to all of you on my writing progress each month. If you like these posts, please let me know in the comments or at one of my other sites.

I keep track of my daily progress with a page count. Yes, word counts are the common currency of writing. However, it's easier to write a one- or two-digit number on a calendar than a four-digit number.

One last thing before I get to the stats: my goal is to write at least 4 pages in the morning, six days a week, and at least 2 in the afternoon, six days a week. I'm thinking about modifying those goals in the next month or so. I'll let you know what I decide.

So, for January, I wrote a total of 131 pages. That's about 20-25 pages below what I should have written for the month. However, I did lose a week to suffering a back strain, and there were days where I had to run errands during my scheduled morning session.

All that said, under the old schedule, with just one session a day, six days a week, my output would have averaged about 100 pages a month. So, overall, January was okay, but not as good as it could have been.

(For you writers out there, that means I wrote roughly 33,000 words in January.)

Those are the stats for the first month of 2014. Here's hoping for more productivity the rest of this year.


Lisa's War!

The second Lisa Herbert book is out! Yay!

It's been two years since Lisa first left her home planet to help reconnect people generations after the Savage Rain. A new year finds her learning more about the Savage Rain. She visits a world where no humans are living, and another where women rule due to their fear of raiders from a planet known only as "Barbaree."

Lisa knows that if her work is to continue, she has to face down these raiders. That means going to war. Is she ready to fight for what she believes in? Can she defeat the raiders while still showing that brains are better than brawn?

"There are more worlds to visit, and more things to learn," Lisa says. Will she learn enough to resolve the difficulties she faces?

Lisa's War is available in print and ebook editions. Right now it's on sale at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. Check the SF/F Books page for new store links as they go live.


Characters & Rewards

A recent work of mine got my thinking about my main characters. Most of my main characters are good, decent men and women. Most are smart in some way. Many are both virtuous and intelligent. Those are traits I admire in real life. Thing is, in real life, those characteristics don’t always get rewarded. Sometimes those traits don’t earn rewards. Sometimes they get in the way of getting what you want.
The question I have to ask myself, as a writer, is whether or not I want my stories to reflect real life. While realism is a good goal, so is telling a satisfying story.
The writer’s first job is to make himself happy. If I think it’s good to be smart and decent, then I ought to reward the characters I create who have those traits. If rewarding them is not only going to make a story come together, but will make me happy as the author of said story, then let them have their positive ending. Sure, maybe they have to work for it, but let them have it.
That’s the kind of storyteller I want to be. I’ll keep doing that, and hope that someday I find my reward with satisfied readers.

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