Cord-cutting (& Music) Revisited

It's been something like a year since I posted my thoughts about whether or not I could cut the cable cord. One of the considerations was my interest in music, how I was getting it from cable TV, and how I might get it from internet services. I'd like to follow-up on that topic and let you know how things are working now.

I first tried a subscription to CalmRadio. I liked that they had streaming stations that fit my interests, such as classical music and soundtracks. However, it wasn't long before I started seeing a problem with listening to these stations. The streams would cut out after about an hour or so. It wasn't one station, it was every one I listened to. It didn't happen once or twice, but just about every time I tried to listen, especially at night.

My guess is this will happen with a less popular streaming service. They don't have the servers to keep up with demand. Demand surges at night, and streaming connections get dropped. In the end I had to terminate my subscription due to this problem.

The next streaming service I tried was Rdio. They'd just introduced a new $5 a month plan. They also had the ability to locate your music on your hard drive, and you could create playlists with that music, as well as what they were streaming.

The downside was that for this budget plan, you were hamstrung with what you could add from their streaming catalog. You had to download tracks to listen to them. You could add tracks to playlists, but it seemed that you'd have to download them under the budget plan to listen to them as part of a playlist.

Something else that drove me nuts about Rdio was that the app would favorite every track you owned in your collection. That skewed the recommendation engine, which meant I had to unfavorite everything. That included multiple versions of tracks, since it couldn't always figure out which was which. It was also buggy, in that unfavoriting tracks on the mobile app didn't always work, but doing so on the website usually did.

Suffice it to say I canceled my membership before the free trial ended. (This story from iMore in November reports that Rdio will be shutting down.)

The other motivation to cancel was the announcement of Apple Music. This has been working out well for me. It's already linked to what I've bought at iTunes. Nothing interferes with what I have, and any skewing of recommendations can be ignored easily. The streams hardly cut out. The service can be buggy at times, but most of the time it just works.

That's where things stand for me as far as cord-cutting and music goes. If I have any other thoughts about other aspects of cord-cutting and how I consume media, I'll put up another post. I hope posting my thoughts gets you thinking about whether you'd cut the cord and how you'd get your media.


Writing Stats for November 2015

Here's the latest post about how much I've written the past month.

November was an up-and-down month for me. I had two cons in the middle of the month that kept me from writing. That said, before and after those events I was fairly productive.

That means I wrote 85 pages in November. That's down about 15 pages from October. Still, I was able to complete two Defender stories this month, so that's good.

I don't know about December. I do have one event scheduled. I might also have a civic duty to perform that might keep me from writing. Aside from those, I don't see any other obstacles coming up outside of the odd errand. Here's hoping for a good month to close out 2015!


The Defender: The Black Ghost

The latest work in The Defender series is now out, The Defender: The Black Ghost.

Word has reached Crown’s Hold of a dangerous new outlaw, “The Black Ghost.” For some time, the Black Ghost has been stealing from travelers on roads in the eastern dukedoms of the Kingdom. Now the outlaw has robbed a merchant’s home in one city, and has killed a band of thieves in another.

Queen Elspeth sends Allan and Nancy, “The Defender” and “The Moon Spirit,” east to hunt down the Black Ghost. But while they’re searching, another murder happens in a third city.

Who is the Black Ghost? Is there a motive behind these crimes in separate cities? Can the Defender and the Moon Spirit capture the outlaw before he strikes again?

Like the rest, this is available as an ebook. Check The Defender page for store links.

Also, the next print compilation volume, Tales of the Defender, Volume Two, is now on sale. This combines the sixth through the tenth stories into a single print book. Check the page for store links for that as well.


Writing Stats for October 2015

Here's the latest update about how much I've written.

October was an odd month for me. I lost some writing sessions due to a convention, mainly being a bit worn out by it and having to take care of errands the con got in the way of. On the other hand, I wrote two novellas in my new steampunk series.

(My thinking is to release both separately as ebooks, then combine them into a single print volume. That release is over a year away, so nothing's set in stone right now.)

So, I wrote 101 pages in October. That's a little more than half of what I could have written without the interruptions.

I don't know that I'll get all that much done in November. I have two conventions to attend. I also have works coming out next year that I'll have to edit. I should be able to get some writing done early in the month, and probably late in the month. Here's hoping for some good progress!

One last thing: if you're taking on NaNoWriMo, good luck and good writing!


You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

For my 50th birthday I bought myself three books (as ebooks). One was Felicia Day's new memoir, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Felicia has an interesting story to tell. She was homeschooled in possibly the oddest way possible. She entered college as a young teenager. She struggled as an actress, got addicted to online gaming, then used those troubles to create the web series The Guild. I first saw Felicia in the last season of Buffy, became interested in her work just as the Guild was picking up, and have enjoyed her creative efforts ever since.

All that would make for an interesting read, but what resonated with me what her description of her struggles with self-esteem and anxiety. Any creative work can put you in a bad headspace from time to time. The creative life is one of lots of rejection and precious few bouts of acceptance, from yourself or from others. It's reassuring to learn when other artists have difficulties that are similar to yours in some way. It's helpful to hear how they cope so that you'll have some idea how to when the voices of discouragement start sounding in your brain once again.

Felicia is also an example of how good it can be for an artist to take charge of their art. She just didn't star in The Guild; she wrote it and got it made. I hope reading her story kicks me in the butt every now and again.

I can't recommend Felicia's book highly enough. If you haven't got it, and you're any kind of artist and a geeky person, buy it!


Willow Hill

I'm taking my first foray into Steampunk with my new novel, Willow Hill. Here's what it's about: 

Andrew Manson has traveled to Pensacola, Florida, to see his college friend Richard Abbott get married to a local lady, Samantha Grimes. The Civil War ended over a year ago, and all seems bright for the couple.

But a rumor threatens to spoil the happy occasion. Samantha’s uncle is believed by some to have secreted away a fortune on the eve of the War. Those that believe the tale think the fortune is buried on the plantation he owned, Willow Hill.

Ghost sightings, contradictory stories, and murder complicate the efforts of Andrew Manson to find out the truth of the tale. Can the promises of airships and inventions help or hinder Andrew as he tries to uncover the secrets of Willow Hill?

The novel is available in print and ebook editions. Check my books page for links to your preferred online store.


Writing Stats for September 2015

Here's the tenth post of the year, reporting on how much I wrote.

I felt pretty productive the first half of the month. The second half was take over by two cons, a backing up research clippings to the cloud, and edits on my next novel. That means I wrote 79 pages in September. That's less than half of what I could have done if I'd written every day. Still, half a month of productivity is better than none.

I may lose a few days in October, but I should be able to get back to writing. I'll need to be productive, as I have two more cons in November that will take me away from writing.


The Defender: The Witch Lands

The latest story in the Defender series, The Witch Lands, is now out. Here's the blurb:

Prince George has the ability to use magic, just as “The Defender” does. He also has the curiosity that his sister, Queen Elspeth, does.

Magic and curiosity have led Prince George to want to explore the lands beyond the edge of the Kingdom. He wants an expedition dispatched to a place across the sea known only as “The Witch Lands.”

Has magic returned to the Witch Lands as it has to the Kingdom? Will the folk there be friendly to Prince George and the Defender? What secrets from the time of the Great Mages are lurking in the Witch Lands?

The Witch Lands is on sale as an ebook at various online stores. Visit the Defender page for store links.


Writing Stats for August 2015

Here's the update on how much I've written in the month just gone by.

August was an up-and-down month for me. When I was writing, I was productive. But I had errands and my annual eye exam get in the way of my work. I was able to write 126 pages in August. That's about two-thirds of what I could have done without the other stuff getting in the way.

I don't know how well I'll do in September, since I have a con coming that month and an important appointment as well. Here's hoping for more productive days to make up for any unproductive ones!


The Fateful Lightning

My latest novel, The Fateful Lightning, is now on sale. Here's what it's about:

Owen Brown has followed his father, John Brown, and his brothers to Kansas Territory to fight the wicked institution of slavery. He’s met one of the native medicine men of the Territory, who teaches him something the white men call “magic.”

Owen encourages his father to learn native magic. It could be a tool in their struggle against the nation’s great sin, slavery. John Brown is persuaded, and the two learn from the native.

Over the next decade, Owen will use magic in the service of his cause. It will take him across the Territory during “Bleeding Kansas,” and across the nation when the Civil War comes. His powers will increase, but so will his duty to himself, his beliefs, and to those around him.

The novel is available in print and ebook editions. Click this link to find an online store.


Writing Stats for July 2015

Here's the seventh post this year about how much I've been writing.

July has been and up-and-down month. I've had solid days of writing, and days where errands got in the way of some of my sessions. All that means I wrote 133 pages this past month. I may lose a week or so in August, due to errands and such, but there's nothing on my schedule until well into September. Here's hoping for more writing done!


The Defender Number 8

The eighth book in the Defender series, The Conspiracy, is now out. Here's what it's about:

Prince Alfred has not forgotten his humiliation in front of his father, King William, by “The Defender” and Princess Elspeth. She will follow their father to the throne, not Alfred.

Princess Elspeth fears that Alfred and a few Lords might be plotting to stop her as her father lays dying. She enlists the help of the Defender and his wife, “The Moon Spirit,” to find the plotters and expose them.

Will the Defender and the Moon Spirit be able to uncover the conspiracy against Elspeth? Can their magic prevent a civil war?

Like the others in the series, this is available as an ebook at all the usual places; check the Defender page for store links.


Writing Stats for June 2015

This is the sixth post of the year, updating you about how much I'm writing.

I was fairly productive for the time I was writing. As I said previously, I had two cons to attend, so I lost several days to all that. So, for June I wrote 118 pages. Off, but I'm pretty happy about how much I did.

I have some odds and ends to take care of the first few days of July, and a con at the end of the month, but I should be able to make progress the rest of the month. Thanks for all your support!


Bear At The Door

The last book in the Frigate Victory series, Bear at the Door, is now out! Here's what it's about:

Captain Jason Ayers returns in this novel-length adventure.

The Grazhochi, the elder race in the galaxy, have invited the younger races to come to their world to learn about each other and to build peace. But this comes as the militaristic Felith are cracking down on members of their race who protest their dictatorial rule.

Captain Ayers finds himself in the middle of an interstellar crisis, while dealing with a crisis of faith in his own government. He has to use the military, diplomatic, and political skills he learned as commander of Victory to cope with the challenges posed by the BEAR AT THE DOOR.

The novel is available as a print book and as an ebook. Check the Frigate Victory page for store links.


Writing Stats for May 2015

Here's the fifth report for this year about how much I've written.

Okay, so I had two cons to go to in May. That, plus needing to think up more story ideas, pretty much made me put writing on hold for much of the month. I got some work done early in the month, and a little at the end. It added up to just 43 pages written in May.

I might be able to write more in June, but I'm pretty sure I'll lose the last week or so due to two more cons on back-to-back weekends. After that, I believe I'll only have one con per month for a few months. Here's hoping for better results!


ConQuest 46

Over Memorial Day weekend, May 22-24, I attended ConQuest 46 in Kansas City. It was my first time back since 2013, as a minor health issue kept me from going last year.

It was great seeing folks I hadn't seen in quite some time, and meeting some new people. I chose not to take part in any panels, as I wanted to sell books and talk to folks. As I had to edit the proof of an upcoming book, and as I was on a dealer room schedule, I didn't go to any late-night parties.

As to the selling books part, I sold 27 books at the con. That's 10 more than in 2013, which is a nice jump. That said, it seemed like there were twice as many attendees this year as in 2013. That means I was something like 7 books shy of doubling my numbers from two years ago. Not a huge number to be sure. Sometimes numbers mean something, and sometimes they don't.

Speaking of sales, a few more of those were ebooks. It's not as much of an advantage in sales, being able to sell ebooks at cons, as it was being able to take credit cards instead of just cash or checks. But it feels like it's opening up a few more opportunities for me. By the way, if you're an author, and you're interested in how to sell ebooks at events, check out this post.

I took something of the long way home on the way back from ConQuest. I drove US-69 from the KC metro area to Fort Scott, and ended up taking K-39 from Chanute to US-400 due to a construction detour. Quite a few of the rivers and creeks I drove over were high; we've had a lot of rain this month.  One good thing about all this rain: the trees and grass were really green, and that's always nice to see while on the road.

I have just under two weeks to rest, then I'm up to Emporia for their annual "Author Extravaganza." Hope to see you somewhere!


ConStellation 6

Over the weekend of May 8-10, I went to Lincoln, Nebraska, to attend ConStellation 6.

As in previous years, I had a table in the dealer room. Attendance appeared to be down from last year, most likely because that Saturday was graduation day for the university, and Sunday was Mother's Day. Still, I didn't do too bad. I sold 26 books over the weekend. I also had a friend buy several of my books at the Kindle Store. I also added a couple more addresses to my email newsletter. (It's quarterly now, if I haven't mentioned it before. You can subscribe to it at the right.)

I didn't do any panels, but I did agree to do a reading. However, I drew the short straw and ended up with my reading being at 10 AM on Saturday. Instead of reading, I just chatted with the few that showed up about various and sundry.

There was a little bit of an adventure on the trip. After I fueled up and got lunch on the way up Friday, I saw that the "Maintenance Required" light on my dash blinked for a bit before it went off. It did the same once I unloaded at the hotel and drove into the parking garage. I thought I hadn't tightened the gas cap, so I did that. The light came on and blinked just like before as I headed out Monday.

It seemed too early to find a garage in Lincoln, so I stopped in Beatrice. Turns out I was due for an oil change before the mileage for my regular service came up. Got that done, and made my way home safe and sound.

My next con is ConQuest, in just over a week and a half. Hope to see you there!


The Defender Number 7

A new title in the series, The Defender: The Staff of the Throne, is now out. Here's the blurb:

“The Defender” has been summoned to meet the King. Allan answers the call of His Majesty. Allan’s wife Nancy, “The Moon Spirit,” follows him to Crown’s Hold.

Allan not only meets the King, but his daughter, Princess Elspeth. Elspeth reveals that her brother, Prince Alfred, is not a nice young man, and might not be a fit heir to the throne. Elspeth’s research into the past has uncovered that there was once an enchanted object, “The Staff of the Throne,” which used magic to determine the best kings.

Elspeth gives the Defender and the Moon Spirit a mission: find the Staff of the Throne, so it can be used to determine if Alfred should become King.

Can the Staff of the Throne be found? Will it help or harm the future of the Kingdom? What might happen to the Defender and the Moon Spirit if it it’s found and used?

It's on sale as an ebook at Amazon, Smashwords, the Google Play Store, and elsewhere. Check the Defender page for store links.


Writing Stats for April 2015

Here's the latest monthly update of my writing progress.

I lost some ground in March, and I know I'm going to lose some ground in May, so I put in the hard work in April. I lost a few sessions to errands, but by and large I met or exceeded my session goals. I wrote 199 pages. That's a handful of pages over the normal monthly goal. Yay!

Not only do I have two cons in May, but I think I need to get caught up on some reading, and I need to do some story plotting, so I might not get all that much written. Considering how good April was, I will be okay with that.


The War Scam!

Another story involving Jake Bonner, The War Scam, is now for sale! Here's what it's about:

Jake Bonner, the hero of Expert Assistance, Haven, and Janitorial Service, is back in this new short novel.

The richest men in known space are gathering together, just as several colony worlds are creating an interstellar alliance. Something’s up, and Jake’s asked to find out what that is. He calls in favors from his friends from past adventures to get to the bottom of what those wealthy men are planning.

Jake’s going to need his wits, his cool ship, and his pals to pull off the greatest scam in galactic history. Can they do it, and with style and snark?

The book is for sale in print and as an ebook. Check the Jake Bonner page for store links.

By the way, Expert Assistance is now FREE as an ebook at Smashwords and a few other retailers, so you have until at least the end of the year to check out the first Jake Bonner tale (or you can read the whole novel at Wattpad).


Writing Stats for March 2015

Here's the third post of the year about how much I'm writing.

I said in the February post that I thought March was going to be a down month, due to Planet Comicon and some editing work. That turned out to be true, as I wrote 119 pages in March. That's about two-thirds of what I could have done without the interruptions. That said, all the Defender stories I'm going to publish this year are edited, and the next Jake Bonner work is ready for release.

April is going to be quiet for me as far as events go. That should give me plenty of time to write. I'll need the time, since I'll be going to two cons in May, and I have two set for the last two weekends of June. If you're following me on social media, you know that I do have projects to work on. If you're not following me, why not click on one of those links and do so?


Planet Comicon 2015

I was in Kansas City the weekend of March 13-15 to attend Planet Comicon. This was my first time at this con, and it's by far the biggest event I've ever had a table at.

I arrived on Thursday the 12th to set up. My space was in the Artist Alley, close to the entrance. Because I was staying at a hotel some distance from the convention center, I took the hotel shuttle up Friday and Saturday. As a result I arrived at the venue later than I normally want to arrive at a con dealer's room. I'm going to see about changing that the next time I attend.

As far as sales went, I was able to move 30 books. That's good, but less than what I was hoping for, consider that PCC is much larger than the cons I usually do. It's true that this is more a media con than a literary con. Also, it was my first time there; it's huge; and, from what I heard, there haven't been that many authors there in the past. Still, 30 books is nothing to sneeze at, so I do plan to go back next year.

Because PCC is so big, it was hard for me to see much of everything. I spent most of my time at my table, with essential runs for food, water, and bathroom breaks. There were only a handful of booths and people I wanted to see that I did get to see. I don't know what I'll be able to do about that in the future, but I'll give it some thought.

If you weren't there, you're probably wondering how big PCC was. The hall was spread over a couple of city blocks. Yes, you read that right; between 13th and 15th Streets, if my memory is correct. I did a great deal of walking around over the weekend, even if I didn't get to see close to everything. It was probably the most walking I've done in years.

Overall, I had a good time. I'm hoping that the sales and connections I made will result in more sales throughout the year. I plan to apply for an Artist Alley space for next year.

I took a long route home, and was able to adda few more highways to those I've driven this decade. One length is US-169 from Olathe to Paola; the other was US-59 from Garnett to Parsons. There was one other auto milestone crossed on this trip: the mileage on my car is now past 100,000 miles!

My schedule is going to be quiet for the next month and a half, then I'm going to have a busy May and June, with four cons in two months. Keep an eye on my Events Page for where I'll be, and any updates to my schedule.


Defender Number 6

The sixth Defender tale, The Curse of Ironwood, is now available; here's what it's about:

Allan and Nancy want to find more ancient magical artifacts, as part of their roles as “The Defender” and “The Moon Spirit.”

The trail leads them to the dukedoms of Stonebridge and Ironwood, which are suffering under a few years of poor harvests. Allan’s knowledge of magic leads him to discover dark magic at work in the ground around Ironwood.

Can Allan and Nancy uncover the truth about this dark magic? What will they learn about the history of their land as they search for the source of Ironwood’s “cursed” soil?

The ebook is on sale at the usual stores; please check the Defender page for links. The price for the ebook is $2.99, and I've lowered the price of the other titles to $2.99 as well.

Con season is just about to start for me so, yes, you can buy the ebook from me if you see me, along with all my other ebook and print works.


Writing Stats for February 2015

Here's the second post of the year about how much I'm writing.

February has been a remarkably steady month for me. I only lost a few sessions to errands. The sessions I did have were quite productive That means I wrote 178 pages this month. That's all of 2 pages over what I would have done if I'd only written to my goal of 4 pages per session. This has been a great month!

However, I'm sure March isn't going to be as strong. I'm going to lose about a week to Planet Comicon. I have one final Jake Bonner book set to release in April, so editing that will take some time as well. I do think I'll continue to be productive when I do write, because I've got a work that's flowing well at the present time. As long as it flows, I think I'll be good.


Could I be a cord-cutter? (Part 2)

In the previous post, I told you what cord-cutting was, and why it's on my mind. Now I'll talk about how cable is (and isn't) fitting into my life.

There's very little tying me to cable TV right now. There are all of two TV series that I watch on a regular basis: Doctor Who and Tiny House Nation. The latter might not be a problem, as video and episodes are posted at their website. The former is trickier; to get new episodes when they air, I'd have to subscribe to the series at iTunes or a similar service, which means paying for episodes I may or may not like. The only channels I watch daily are a few of the Music Choice genre channels. Other than that, there are a handful of channels I tune into weekly for perhaps an hour or two each week. I do sometimes watch movies when they come to HBO, Cinemax, or Epic. I do channel-surf on occasion, but it's not really how I watch TV, and sometimes the surfing drives home the point that there isn't much on that I want to watch.

Indeed, much of my entertainment time (and the programs that I like to keep informed about what I'm interested in) is spent listening to or watching podcasts. For that I have the Podcast app on my iPhone, and the Podcast channel on my Apple TV. There are also some video-blogs (vlogs) I watch via YouTube, and I follow a few YouTube content creators. As I said in the last post, I'm a Netflix subscriber, and I could add Hulu to that if I want to. As far as news: I have the Circa app on my iPhone; I have some local news outlets on a Twitter list; and there's what gets shared by my friends on Facebook.

That does lead to the one source of entertainment that I can't get anywhere else but from cable: Music Choice. I use a few of their genre channels as background music during the day. Right now the Radio channel on my Apple TV gets internet radio stations, all of which are add-supported (and the channel app isn't as good as it could be).

However, I have taken a step towards dealing with that concern. I'm now a subscriber to Calm Radio.
It's an online streaming music service with a wide variety of channels. Not only does it have several classical music genre and mix channels, it has specific classical music composer channels. There's also new age music, world music, and jazz channels. The tricky part now is that I can get Calm Radio's music channels through my MacBook Air and iPhone, but not through my Apple TV, since there's no Calm Radio Apple TV app. There are rumors of an Apple TV refresh coming, so that could change.

You might be wondering if I've looked at the various streaming music services out there, like Pandora and Spotify. I have, and I'm not interested in them. While I'm not a huge music fan, I am willing to buy what I really like. I stopped listening to commercial radio some 25 years ago because, more often than not, I heard what I didn't like more than what I liked. I pretty much own all the rock and pop I want to hear. There are a few genres where I know I'll buy more, but they're the sort of less-popular genres that I found didn't work out on those streaming services. That's just me, of course; you mileage will almost certainly vary.

At the end of this thought experiment, I have to say that yes, I think I could be a cord-cutter. Not much at this point in my life is tying me to cable TV. As long as I have high-speed internet, I can get almost all of the audio and video content I want.

I hope these two posts have got you thinking as well. If so, post your thoughts at your blog, and let everyone know (including me). Thanks for taking the time to read this!


Could I be a cord-cutter? (Part 1)

One of the podcasts I watch every week is Cordkillers. The premise of the podcast is simple: the hosts talk about trying to watch what you want, where you want, on whatever device you want.

The movement the podcast reflects is that of "cord-cutting." The idea of cord-cutting is cutting the cable TV cord, and watching what you want via online services like Netflix, as well as streaming services and what you own or can rent. It's still a small movement, but it is growing. Most cord-cutters are in their twenties; some are called "cord-nevers" because they never subscribed to cable since becoming an adult. That said, more and more older age groups are taking the plunge; the hosts of Cordkillers are both around 40.

I've been thinking about whether or not I could cut the cord since I started watching the podcast. This blog post was inspired by a friend who just subscribed to Netflix and Hulu. I already have Netflix, and would like to know her experience with Hulu before I subscribe.

Let me say right off that I can't cut the cord at the present time. I'm living with my mother, and I doubt she'll ever want to give up cable. For now this more a thought exercise for me than something I could seriously consider doing.

If you're not familiar with cord-cutting, you might be wondering why anyone would want to get rid of cable, or would never subscribe. For one thing, there's the expense. If you want anything more than a basic cable package, you have to pay at least $75 a month. Watching Cordkillers, I hear people mention bills of $100-$150 a month. While that usually does include some form of high-speed internet, it's still a lot to pay.

What are you paying for? That's another reason for cutting the cord. You pay for basic channels that you never watch. The idea for this is that supposedly most cable channels would never get enough subscribers on their own to to pay for delivery to those who would want them. We pay for a broad spectrum of channels so that everyone can (in theory) find channels they like.

Beyond the problem of paying for channels you don't like (and may not want to support), mobile technology and internet video are changing this equation. Channels can now create mobile apps; the next step will likely be making them subscription apps to send their content to those who want it. Internet video allows anyone to create content, making it available everywhere, and find fans willing to support their work.

This is the cord-cutting landscape as it stands now. In the second post, I'll tell you how the landscape affects this thought experiment in my particular case.


Lisa's Discoveries

The fifth and final book in the Lisa Herbert series, Lisa's Discoveries, is now out. Here's what it's about:

Another year brings another handful of planets for Lisa to visit, as her struggle to rebuild society generations after the “Savage Rain” continues.

These journeys won’t be like any other Lisa and her friends have taken. One world was devastated by a mysterious disaster in the past. On another world, an ancient machine is still running. And past that second world is Earth.

Why didn’t Earth stop the Savage Rain? Can they help Lisa’s effort? What will Lisa discover when she goes through that last hyperspace gate?

The novel is available in print and as an ebook at the usual stores. In addition, the ebook edition of the first novel, Lisa's Way, is now free at Smashwords, and will be soon at other online stores.


Writing Stats for January 2015

It's a new year, so here's the first post of the new year, detailing my writing progress for the first month of 2015.

For various reasons, there were days where I didn't write much, or only wrote during one session instead of the two sessions a day. On the other hand, when I did write, I wrote quite a bit, almost as if I was trying to make up for what work I didn't accomplish.

So, in January I wrote 165 pages. That's a pretty good number, but about 30 pages under what I could have done, if I'd written 4 pages during every scheduled session. Still, that's not a bad total to start the year. We'll just see how I keep the totals up considering how busy this year is shaping up to be.


Now at Google Play Books!

A message came from an overseas fan of mine at Wattpad the other day. He was interested in buying my books, but only had access to the Google Play store.

I had uploaded a few of my books to the Google Play store a year and a half to two years ago. I found the experience confusing and clunky, and I was never sure if my books were on sale or not. However, not wanting to lose a possible customer and reader, I decided to give it another go.

The experience has much improved over when I last tried it. Uploading was easy, as was entering in the information. (It helps to always scroll down the windows you come across.) The only clunky part was pricing. Google will discount your books, so you have to adjust your price so that Google's discount doesn't take you under what your price is at Amazon, because Amazon is very aggressive about price-matching.

As of now, most of my titles are on sale at the Google Play store. I'll update the various pages here at the blog over the coming week with links for each title.


Defender News!

Lots of news about the Defender series to get to. First off, the fifth book in the series, Red Raymond, is now out. Here's the blurb:

News from elsewhere has caught the attention of Allan and Nancy, “The Defender” and “The Moon Spirit,” not long after their adventure in Green Hills. A mysterious outlaw known as “Red Raymond” is robbing travelers on the road. Rumors hint that Red Raymond knows magic.

Allan and Nancy head to the dukedoms of West Bend and Whitewood to investigate. Locals tell tales of Red Raymond eluding guards, and giving what he steals to the poor.

Is Red Raymond a mage? Is he giving up what he takes, or keeping it for himself? Should the Defender and the Moon Spirit stop him, and if they should, can they stop Red Raymond?

This is when changes in the releases of the Defender series will start. Red Raymond is only available as an ebook. But there will now be 5-volume print compilations published with every fifth release of the individual titles. Tales of the Defender, Volume 1, is now available in print, and I'll have copies at my events.

There's one last change to tell you about. You can now read the first Defender tale, Elderwood, in its entirety at Wattpad, and the ebook is free, right now at Smashwords, and elsewhere later.

I hope you enjoy the Defender series, and like these changes!


Writing Stats for December 2014

This is the final post for this year, letting you know how much I'm writing.

This has been a decent month for me, even with the holidays and being out of town for an author fair. This month I wrote 154 pages, so, yes, I did end the year with a good page count

As far as the year goes, I wrote 1,281 pages, which translates to about 320,000 words. I know that's lower than I could have done, all things considered. These monthly posts about my page count tell me that, while there are times when I slack off, I do have to take into account that life sometimes gets in the way of writing. Conventions, minor health matters, and urgent grocery runs do come up and will interfere with writing. I think the best thing for me to do, going forward, is to work to make up for those lost days whenever I can. I know I did some of that in December.

I plan to carry on with these monthly posts in 2015. Here's hoping for more productive days!

Happy New Year!

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