I went out of town on a trip this weekend to a yearly event I always attend. Brought my new laptop with me, hoping to get at least a couple of hours of work a day in while I was at Panama City Beach. Rode the motorcycle down, the first long trip on the bike, and the first other than local ride I have taken in many years. Unfortunately, the wifi at the hotel was awful, and my new installation of word didn’t work on my laptop. Was still able to post my tweets for the Aura promo to Hootsuite, and check up on the sales and giveaways on the KDP Report site. I did not have my spreadsheet on the laptop, and so had no firm numbers, but when I got back to my house in Tallahassee today, and pulled up all the numbers on my desktop, I was delighted to see that Exodus: Empires at War: Book 1 has now sold over ten thousand ebooks. Now to me this is a very big deal. Not Stephen King numbers, but still very respectable. And Book 2 of the same series is getting close to eight thousand sales, with book 3 coming out toward the end of May. Books 1 & 2 sold for $2.99 each. Book 3 will sell for $5.99, twice as much as the others, but it is also twice the book. Some of the reviews I received on books 1 & 2 stated that the books were not long enough, though they were the normal 110,000 words novels, about what most novels are if you’re not buying Wheel of Time or some others. Another strange thing about the numbers is I am now selling more of the Exodus series in the United Kingdom than in the United States. That’s cool. I can live with that, developing a fan base in another country. Sales are also pretty good in Canada and Germany, with some sales in Spain, France and Italy as well, and three books to Brazil. Need to figure out how to crack that Japanese market though, LOL.
Received a review on Exodus: Books 1 and 2 that really blew my mind, especially coming from a reader of speculative fiction. It really was the same review, two stars and the same complaints, but posted for both books. Basically, there were three complaints, after the praise for the descriptions and battle scenes. 1.) I had too many women in positions of military authority, and since men and women are really so different (his words, not mine) this was just liberal nonsense. 2.) I had portrayed sex between military superiors and subordinates, which is bad for discipline and is not tolerated. So I guess my own experiences in the Army, seeing a Sergeant Major have an affair with a female 2nd Lieutenant, or a Sergeant receiving oral sex from a female private, were just illusions. Not to say that all the historical precedents of this kind of activity. 3.) I had Muslims, Christians, Wiccans, Jews, Hindus and Atheists all working together for the common good. He did not believe this was possible. The reader finished the review by stating that he would not be buying any more of my books. I wish I could have written him a thank you for that last statement. You see, the way I view the future we will be able to get past our religious and gender issues and work together. And if there is some other, alien or otherwise, that we may have to unite against, our own differences will not seem so vast after all. But we will still be human, and humans don’t always follow the rules, no matter how reasonable they may be from an intellectual stance. If that makes me a liberal, no problem. I think it puts me into the mainstream of science fiction writers who portray the same principles in their books.
Aura, my high fantasy novel about three siblings, fraternal triplets, fighting for survival in an evil land, will be free on Amazon from Friday, 4/26/2013 to Monday, 4/29/2013. In this land the Aura determines ones future. A strong aura will lead to a priest or mage, a normal aura a normal farmer or store keep, or a soldier. A weak aura will become a slave or laborer, while one with no aura is considered an abomination, one who cannot be controlled by magic, and the ultimate threat to the hierarchy. Into this land are born the triplets, one with a supreme aura that makes her the target of the Dragon God, who is in search of a new avatar to hold his essence on Earth. It will give her great power, at the cost of the destruction of her soul. One of her brothers is born with a weak aura and is sold into slavery, to eventually become a gladiator in the arena. The third is born without an aura, and is rescued from death by an order of assassins who kill magic users who abuse their power. The girl grows past puberty, and she is about to become the avatar of the Dragon God. It is up to her brothers to rescue her from a fate that is truly worse than death. Four reviews so far, with a 4.8 average. And one that I believe lovers of high fantasy will like.
Tomorrow I am going to attempt to put out my first news letter. I put the link to the mailchimp newsletter in my books in January. Since then I have sold over ten thousand books, but only forty-three people have so far signed up for it. It will be an experiment. Hopefully the subscription list will grow as I add content. Nothing I can do on my end, but put it out and publicize it.
I am halfway through the first revision of Exodus: Book 3. Should be finished this week, then will do the grammar and spelling checks, then off to the fan who has agreed to proofread it. Hopefully still out by the middle to end of May.
Tomorrow is the official release of my science fiction novel We Are Death, Come For You. My fifteenth novel on Amazon, initially priced at $3.99, Friday and Saturday (4/19-4/20) the ebook will be offered for $0.99, On Sunday it will return to the regular price. We Are Death, Come For You, is a stand alone novel, no sequels planned here. I happen to think it is a very good story. That’s my opinion as the writer, now I just need to get some readers’ opinions up on Amazon.
We Are Death is an alien invasion story with many of the tropes of such stories removed from the plot. Unlike most such stories they are not here for our resources, our land, or even our organs. No, they are simply here to end all life in our solar system, and in every solar system we occupy, in their campaign to rid the Universe of Life. I was always impressed by the book Footfall, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell. In that novel the aliens are more advanced than us, but not to the point where we can’t resist. In fact, in my novel, the human race has been battling in space for centuries, as the governments of Earth, The Belt, and The Moons (of Jupiter) play the age old game of resource and territory acquisition. Until something new enters the mix, an alien species who worships death and sees life as an abomination. Their mission is to rid the Universe of life, including their own when the job is done. Cruising the Galaxy in their massive (16,000 cubic kilometer) sublight mother ships, we are the next civilization they have come upon. We know they are coming, there is no sneaking up on anyone from space. The might of the Solar System is mobilized, but will it be enough?
We Are Death, Come For You is a story of greed and sacrifice, of cowardice turned heroism, of self centeredness turned self sacrifice. A technologically superior foe takes on the supreme warrior race, us, in a battle to the end, with no quarter asked or given.
Be sure to pick up your $.99 copy on Friday or Saturday.
Tomorrow I will be putting another novel up on Amazon, and no, it will not be the third book or the Exodus, Refuge or Deep Dark Well series. The third books of all those series will be out this year, starting with Exodus next month. But I needed something to do with my spare time (LOL) while I had put Exodus 3 to bed for a short break and was working on the first draft of Refuge 3. I actually finished the first draft of We Are Death in January of 2012, after a horrible 2011 in which I started 7 books a finished none (more to come on those, as all will be finished, some day, and two others were). That was after an 2012 in which I completed five first drafts, including the two very long manuscripts that eventually became books one and two of both Refuge and Exodus. Originally with a working title of Tau Ceti, after the Earth colony mentioned in the first chapter. I then titled it The Last Invasion of Sol, but also didn’t like that title all that much. So I thought one of the statements by my antagonists might make a good title.
The idea for this novel came about from the movie Independence Day, and in fact I think of it as my Anti-Independence Day. Now there were a lot of things I liked about ID, great effects, big name stars, but horrible script writing. The two things that bothered me most were that a virus written on Microsoft could infect an alien computer system, and a tactical nuke could destroy a ship a quarter the mass of the Moon. I know, screen writers tend to think that all nukes are equal, big flippen devices that can destroy just about everything, but it just ain’t so. Add to that the tired trope of aliens trying to take the Earth for our resources, when there are more resources in space than at the bottom of our gravity well, and the movie has the same ridiculous antagonist motivations of many aliens before and since. So I decided to go with a different motivation, a simpler one. The aliens are death worshippers intent on destroying all life in the Universe, including, eventually, their own. And we know they are coming, having seen them first destroy one of our colonies on a laser transmission, then see them coming across the light years in their sublight ships. Needless to say, the aliens have superior tech, mostly, versus the industrial base of the Solar System. But never count humanity out. Some of their tech is more advanced, other tech isn’t, and humanity is a past master of space warfare.
As said, the book will be on Amazon tomorrow. Official release day will be Friday, April 19, and the book will be offered for 99 cents on the 19th and the 20th. It is a stand alone novel with a lot of action throughout. I hope all of my readers enjoy it. And remember, Exodus, Refuge and The Deep Dark Well books three are coming.
About a month ago I decided to give Dungeons and Dragons a try. Now, I have played a couple of RPGs (Role Playing Games) in the past, D & D one time while in the National Guard, and some futuristic game one time. Besides that I have played a lot of CRPGs (Computer Role Playing Games). The old D & D Gold Box games, Neverwinter Nights, Might and Magic, Wizardry, and of course Morrowind and Oblivion, two of my favorites. The cool thing about computer games is you can play them whenever you want, without having to round up a group of real people. The bad part is it’s still a game against the computer, with all its limitations of tactical thinking, and it doesn’t have a personality. And of course, good and bad, is that I have total control over all the characters in my party. I can guarantee I won’t fire off an area spell that takes out my own characters, or stumble into one. I also enjoy the books by R A Salvatore, and some others who write in this world. Some are world class, some are really bad. Avoid the bad and embrace the really good.
So I thought that playing real D & D, with real people involved playing other characters, might be good for the imagination. And was it ever. I started off one night at the local Gamescape at Tallahassee Mall, which has an open game night on Wednesdays, and made up a quick character on their computer. And then jumped into tthe new 4.0 rules, which were really beyond me at that moment. I was used to the old rules from the computer games, but found the at will powers to be a great improvement over the old 3.0 and 3.5. I really hated playing mage characters under the old rules, since once a wizard fired off his last magic missile spell he became a very weak and useless melee fighter. Now, with the at will powers, you wcan fire off magic missiles all the way to the grave. I learned very quickly that a good Dungeon Master (DM) could really make the game fun. He could make things occur that you didn’t expect, good and bad. And the game became both fun and humorous. Someone might throw a spell at the bad guys, only to have it miss and splatter a table all over the room. Or a player might swing at an Orc, and hit his compatriot standing next to him. On the second night I played a woman decided to fire a cone effect spell at the monsters, which wiped them out, while also taking out my character. She then decided to loot the bodies, including the one of the characters her boyfriend had played who had died the round before. Instead of helping the surviving characters fight the still extant monsters. Something that never would have happened in a computer game. Talk about a true mercenary.
Playing D & D with live people has worked beyond my wildest dreams. Seeing how people interact in this fantastic playground, how their own wants, desires and plans shape the adventure, has given this writer numerous ideas. I was going to base the third book in my Refuge series entirely on the campaign of the legions of the Earth people. Instead I have decided to split the book much as was done with Lord of the Rings. Part will still follow the campaigns of the legions, while the other will be the story of a quest to find the artifacts of the Gods, to keep them out of the hands of the evil bastards the Earthers are fighting. I will continue to play a D & D character through another round of encounters, using those interacts to come up with ideas to use in my work.
Welcome to the first of what I hope will become a weekly blog entry on movies, fantastic and otherwise. Since I went and saw this movie in Imax yesterday I thought I would start out with this one. Of course I went and saw Jurassic Park at the theater when it first came out. And then bought the DVD as soon as it came out (or was it a VHS, I really can’t remember). It was much better than either of the sequels, which is not unusual. I have always been a big dinosaur fan, growing up like most kids with a love of the big guys. Of course, at that time most believed that dinosaurs were slow moving, cold blooded creatures. I read a book called Hot Blooded Dinosaurs by L. Sprague de Camp (yes, the scifi and fantasy writer) in which a new viewpoint was put forth that the creatures were actually warm blooded and quick moving. I embraced this theory, and was ridiculed by many friends. I was later vindicated, as now most scientist believe dinosaurs were indeed warm blooded and fleet of foot. So I grew up watching all the dinosaur and other big creature movies. My father told me about seeing King Kong in the theaters, and how the Willis O’Brien ape and dinosaurs looked very real to him. O’Brien did many other animated features (moving models around and photographing them) over the years, as did his protege’, Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen extended the art to its ultimate, and the dinosaurs in The Valley of Gwangi looked very real to this child when I saw that movie. And of course there were the monsters that were nothing more than men in suits, Godzilla, Gamera, and the English takeoff, Gorgo. And I remember the awful slow moving animatronic beasts in The Lost World with Doug McClure. Like most zombies, you could slowly walk away from these creatures. And then along came Jurassic Park, and Dinosaurs were made real on the big screen. Of course there were some very well done beasts in movies before this, the dragon in Dragonslayer comes to mind, but most were only good because we hadn’t seen anything better. (Saw Dragonslayer recently and the dragon holds up well in modern times). I remember reading somewhere that originally the movie was to use animatronics, though I hope better ones than The Lost World (or was it The Land That Time Forgot?) And then someone told Spielberg that they could do something much better with computers. And now we have all those wonderful BBC dinosaur shows.
The dinosaurs in the new presentation of Jurassic Park looked much like those in the old one. Very well rendered, they looked like living creatures. I remember when I first saw them on the big screen I thought we had arrived, now we had animals that looked real. So Jurassic Park Imax 3-D did not really improve on the animals. They were on a larger screen, which made them look bigger, and the 3-D to me really didn’t improve on the experience. Oh, it was good 3-D, but again 3-D sometimes looks really cool, and at other times just seems like a wasted trick. And it still had the one complaint I had about the original presentation (since that’s basically what it was). There were not enough shots of the dinosaurs. I wanted to see more Brachiosaurs, Duckbills and others. Instead there was a lot of talking, with Laura Dern telling the old park developer how he had made a fatal error. If you liked the original Jurassic Park (which I did) the movie is still good. I really didn’t think the 3-D and the larger screen did anything for it though. You can buy the original movie on Blue Ray for just a bit more and watch it as many times as you want.
On Thursday, March 28th, 2013 I spend my last day on the job for the State of Florida. I was looking forward to that day as the next was the start of a new freedom as a writer, able to use my time as I wanted to. A week later I realize that there was more to it than that. Freedom is great, but with it comes responsibility. I am now my own boss, and things get done or don’t get done because of my effort or lack thereof. This last week there was a distinct lack thereof. It wasn’t that I didn’t get anything done. I bought a motorcycle and set it up the way I wanted it. I bought a computer that turned out to be a lemon and sent it back to the manufacturer for a refund, which took time. I went and saw an old work buddy of mine in The Color Purple at FAMU in Tallahassee, where I live. I helped out at the Tallahassee Writer’s tent at Springtime Tallahassee on Saturday, as well as a meeting of the Tallahassee Writer’s Conference Committee. I expanded my writing desk for the aforementioned computer, and then bought a better machine online. And I took a lot of naps, went to some movies, and read a lot. What I didn’t do was a lot of writing and rewriting, which is now my job. I did do some new words on Refuge 3, not enough, and started the second rewrite of a novel I plan to put out this month called We Are Death, Come For You (which is a hard science fiction novel I call the Anti-Independence Day, which was written last year). I don’t get writer’s block, so there is no excuse for not getting more done on Refuge 3. I had the scenes in my head, enough to turn out a hundred thousand words, almost half the planned book.
When I was working for the state I would actually do some writing at work every day. I had to be there, in front of my computer, every day, and I had to produce a certain number of reviews and background checks a day. I actually did more than quota most days, in six of the eight hours, and normally produced between two thousand and three thousand words a day of my stuff, novels, blogs, etc. Then I spent at least two hours every evening doing rewrites or other writing related activities. Now that schedule is gone. My resolution for this week is to do three hours of new words a day, and to work on finishing the rewrites on two novels, including Exodus 3, at least another four hours. Not undoable in any means. Just have to treat this as a job, making sure that my butt is in the seat actually typing or reviewing at the same times each day, every day. I really don’t look at it as a forty hour a week job, more like fifty to sixty. But is is the thing I want to do. I owe it to the people who are reading my series, as well as to myself. I can make a living doing this thing that I love, but only if I do the work. So here goes.
Up until a month ago I had never seen Game of Thrones, the HBO series based on the work of George R R Martin. Then I saw the first season on sale at Walmart on Blue Ray. Since I have a blue ray player and an HD TV, I am always on the look out for bargains to play in high definition. The first season was on sale for less that forty dollars, so I snatched it up, took it home, and put it in the player. Wasn’t really sure what was going on at first, though I knew the idea of medieval kingdoms on a world that had multi year summers followed by multi year winters. And it had Sean Bean in it, one of my favorite actors since his days of playing Richard Sharpe. There were some characters I really like from the start, including most of the Starks, Tyrion of the Lanesters, and Daenerys, the woman whose brother married her off to the horse barbarians so he could take the throne he thought was his. There were also a lot of scumbags, and nobody seemed to keep their word about anything unless it was in their interest. Not really my idea of good fantasy, which should have at least some noble souls in it, loyal to a fault. And some magic. the magic came later, along with the dragons, also a favorite of mine, but the lying stinking betrayals just increased as time went by. I bought the second series before finishing the first, and then was horrified when they took off Sean’s head, and one of my favorite actors was no longer in the series. I was pissed off, and I didn’t watch the second season for almost two weeks. Still populated with people I despised. Joffrey, the little useless shit who was now the king, Melisandre, his incestuous mother, and Jaime, his uncle/father, Theon, who seemed a good guy and then turns into just another scoundrel.
I realized about the time I was hitting episode 9 of season 2, hoping that Joffrey would be killed in some horrible manner, that the series was doing its job. I was emotionally invested in the characters. I may not have liked all of them, and in fact despised most of them and their actions. Tyrion was still the only Lanester I thought much of, since he had a wisdom and a total lack of blood thirstiness about him, the Starks, and Daenerys, the mother of dragons. And I really loved the little beasts that were her children. I am in her corner, cheering that one of the little guys will grow up to immolate and eat Joffrey. In fact, I was so invested now in the characters and the story that I added HBO to my cable just so I could see the new season and not have to wait until it came out on Blue Ray. Bravo, Game of Thrones. And more about the Dragons please.