Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's Revising Time for Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls!

Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls is drafted! The first complete draft of the second book of The Land of Betrovia trilogy is done!

And I am excited!


As an English teacher of twenty-so years, I liked to edit/proof/critique/grade other people's writings. Even if the content was drab, the grammar atrocious... even if the document wasn't complete! I really did like reading what my students came up with.

The problem was having to read/edit/proofread, etc. ALL of my students' assigned writings! On the average, I had three classes of students who were writing one large paper per month. And no, I don't even want to tangle with the math to compute just how many papers that would add up to in a year!

During my first year of teaching, I was responsible for helping a group of about ten eighth-graders learn above-average grammar and composition skills. Most of the lessons were dull, drab, and disappointing. But one assignment I gave them turned into the first novel that I almost completed! I assigned each student to take a sentence... the first line of a story, and write at least one page (300 words) to continue that story. By the time the activity was over, we had a short story that was ten pages long! Was it a cohesive piece of fiction? Ha! But it did spark something in me that I hammered away on via an electric typewriter most of that winter! All 125+ pages of that novel are still in my house... somewhere. :)

So, as I begin to revise Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls, I will try to pretend that it is one of my students' works. And it is the ONLY one I have to deal with!

Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls should be available via amazon.com for the Kindle, etc. by this Labor Day.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Quick SSFF Review

The Summer Solstice Free Fantasy promotion has ended. And it was a blast watching it come together! 23 fantasy authors chose to promote 29 works of fantasy: historical, epic, urban, Arthurian, you name it. The best part was watching the downloads pour in (out?) via my Amazon KDP page.

Betrovia was downloaded over 2900 times in a 72-hour period from the US Amazon server alone.

Folks who access the UK server grabbed over 50 copies while the DE server surrendered 12.

The big news is that 5 people via the IT server downloaded Betrovia! And up to this promo, NONE had been downloaded from that server!

And what about ES and FR? Zero... nada... zilch! And what do they know about historical fantasy anyway?  :)

Kudos must be given to Chris, the husband and promotions manager for Tristan Tarwater. He set up the wonderful SSFF webpage as well as organized the paid and the free advertising for the promotion.

I also want to thank J.R. Tomlin
 for posting my interview on her blog! 

Greg of Ereader News Today AGAIN picked up Betrovia! Woot! And Spirit Filled Kindle's FB page also publicized the promotion!

So what to do now? Historically, after a decent number of free downloads, sales should begin 24-48 hours after the promotion has ended. But my expectations are very low considering that the TaX Day Free promo in April only netted about 15 Betrovia purchases.

There's talk now of the SSFF group continuing to amass our talents/skills/hutzpah to create a "paid" promotion sometime in the near future.

I'm going to hold off committing to this until for a few days... until I see the results of the SSFF promo.

And here's a bit of news about Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls -- the first draft should be completed by tomorrow night! And it will be over 60K words! The first draft! Woot!

NOTE: A "Donate" via PayPal button has been added to the blog... it's on the right side of the page close to my snarky mugshot! If anyone would like to contribute to the "cause" or to even prepay for a signed copy of Betrovia, the button is there for just for that! :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

JR Tomlin's Interview of Me!

Dave, welcome to my blog. I thought it would be fun to ask some questions absolutely none of which are about writing. 

So, Dave, if you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
Let's say that I just happened to grab my laptop before the boat/plane sank, so I would have that. And of course I'd also rescue a solar-powered generator to keep the laptop battery charged. And the third thing would have to be a harmonica because I've always wanted to learn how to play one of those things. So when I'm not writing novels/short stories, I would be mastering The Devil Went Down to Georgia on the harmonica!

What is one book everyone should read?
Even though it's a compendium of 66 books, it would have to be the Bible. The gospel of John is the best book of the Bible to start with because so much of it are the words of Jesus.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
I would love to meet Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of my favorite novels; I loved re-reading it every year when it was required reading for my high school students. It would be stellar to have a long sit-down with Mark to talk to him about his business adventures as well as his inspirations for writing. He was, BTW, one of the first successful “indie” writers!

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Favorite thing for breakfast? I'd have to say it's what I usually eat: boxed cereal! Myfavorite when I was just a wee child was Lucky Charms; something magical happenedto those little crunchy marshmallow stars, etc. when they were soaked in cold milk! If my Wifey hadn't already stocked the cabinet with Raisin Bran, etc., I would run out immediately and buy a box of Lucky Charms!

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Everyone is challenged to do what is right, and Patrik, Betrovia's protagonist, takes thechallenge and doesn't regret it!

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 
Betrovia is the first in The Land of Betrovia trilogy. Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls will beunleashed on the general populace this Fall. The third book (working title of Ahnak:Edelin's Revelation) should be available Summer of 2013.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?
I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but it would be great to hang out with Bilbo, etc. inthe Shire! The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite stories. It would be great to go fishing with those hilarious hobbits, to take part in their drinking contests (in which I would lose since I don't drink!), and to lay on a Shire hillside in the middle of the night, staring up at the stars while puffing on a bit of Gandalf's select pipeweed.

Would we survive if we met your villain in a dark alley?
I can't really say that there's one die-hard villain in The Land of Betrovia trilogy. Viktor,one of the antagonists in the first two novels, could be considered a scary individual,but that is only due to his adamant opposition to the publicizing of Harrak's scrolls. Soif we were on our way to delivering the scrolls to the Netherene High Priest, and if wemet Viktor on our way there, I'd say that our survival may be in doubt!

Would we want to have dinner with your hero?
Why of course we would want to have dinner with Patrik! Besides being a greatconversationalist,  he's also experienced at running a road-side inn where he cameface-to-face with many very interesting characters! He's also a master hunter and trapper, and it would be great to listen to him as he told of his hunting and trapping adventures!

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
A million dollars? Whoa! Tax-free? Let;s see... I've never had a brand-new car, so I guess my first purchase would be a brand-new Mercedes Benz E350 coupe with all the fixin's! Even though there are more expensive vehicles, there's just something about a Benz! Woot!

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
When I was a little kid, just about the same time that I began eating Lucky Charms for breakfast, I loved to read. And the first story that I wrote in either second or third grade was fawned over by my teacher. This got me thinking that I might like to do this for a job someday! I even dreamed of owning a black leather briefcase (with brass hardware and one of those combination locks) so I could carry my manuscript around with me to show off at work or wherever!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Going Free... Again!

Last Fall when Amazon announced the KDP Prime Select program, I thought that it was a great idea.

If I agreed to sell any e-books that I would upload to the Amazon servers to be sold only via Amazon.com for a 90-day period, then I could offer those e-books as "free" for up to 5 days during each 90 day period. The "free" downloads would count as actual sales when considering the popularity ranking of the e-book that was being offered as free. Also, any Amazon patron who has paid their yearly "Prime" membership fee could "borrow" my e-book, and that borrow would be part of a multi-thousand dollar payout each month (the KOLL program).

In December, I enrolled my only e-book, Betrovia, and quickly used up all 5 of my free days that month. I had no idea what I was doing. I simply designated the days that it would be "free," and hoped that thousands of people would download it.

Betrovia was only downloaded a few hundred times in December, and there were no sales or borrows associated with those "free" promotion days. There were also NO reviews! :)

Huh? How was that possible?

It was so simple: I didn't research HOW to differentiate Betrovia from the thousands other e-books that were also "free" during December.

Oh, I did I let my Facebook friends know via my Facebook page that the book was free. But at that time I only had a few hundred FB friends, and most of them don't even have a Kindle or any kind of e-book reader! (Yes, I have some OLD friends!)

So, after using up all five promo days in December, I impatiently waited for that first set of 90 days to expire so I could re-enroll Betrovia in another session. And I also decided to figure out how to get people to notice the novel.

One thing I did was learn how to notify web masters, bloggers, etc. that my e-book was going to be free. The websites, etc. that appeared to be influential last Winter were Ereader News Today, Pixel of Ink as well as a few others.

Another thing I did was revamp Betrovia's blurb. I asked friends as well as other people via Facebook, Kindleboards.com, etc. for help with improving the blurb.

I also created a new cover for Betrovia. The original cover was the one that I picked from Createspace's default styles last summer; it was a nice forest scene, but communicated little about the plot/characters/conflicts of the novel.

So, in March, when the new 90-day period was about to begin, I was ready!

On March 16th, Betrovia went "free" for just that day. And it was downloaded over 2000 times! It was one of 16 or so that Ereader News Today profiled that day. For a week or so afterwards, nearly 50 Betrovias were actually purchased, it was borrowed a handful of times and even a few paperbacks were ordered!

Later that month, Betrovia was free for another two days but neither ENT or Pixel of Ink profiled it. Because none of the "big" players chose to post it, it was only downloaded a few hundred times, and no sales, borrows or reviews resulted from those downloads.

Around the first of April, a few of fantasy writers who populate kindleboards.com's Writers' Cafe forum came up with a promotion idea. We teamed up to advertise that one of our fantasy e-books was going to be free on April 17 and 18. Someone even paid to have a digital artist create a nifty banner for our Tax Day Free promotion.

Of course, we all notified POI, etc. and we then hoped for the best. Betrovia was downloaded nearly 2500 times on April 17th because ENT once again profiled it. However, POI again did not post it. For about a week after the promotion, barely a dozen e-book Betrovias were purchased, it was borrowed maybe twice and only one paperback was ordered. And no reviews were uploaded.

Yes, the "newness" of KDP Select had worn off a bit.

One of the fantasy writers who took part in that Tax Day Free promotion also writes science fiction. He also has been very active in monitoring and analyzing how Amazon views "free" downloads as they relate to the popularity rankings. In May, one of his sci-fi novels went free for three days. During those 3 days, he hit the jackpot! Thanks to both ENT and POI posting that novel, it was downloaded over 26000 times in that three-day period. That novel, Breakers, is still ranked in the top 1000 Kindle books.

On June 20 and 21, this coming Wednesday and Thursday, an even-larger number of fantasy writers are making at least one of their e-books free. Betrovia will be one of those freebies. We've entitled this promotion "Summer Solstice Free Fantasy." Of course, we are all hoping that ENT, POI and a few other influential websites profile our e-books. And this time we are doing something that for some reason no one thought of doing in April. All of the fantasy e-books that will be free on those two days are included in the "Summer Solstice Free Fantasy" Listmania webpage:  Summer Solstice Listmania . And the nifty thing about a Listmania page? At the bottom of the page is ONE button that, if clicked, will add ALL of the e-books described on that page to the shopper's cart! So, as one member of the Summer Solstice group pointed out, even if POI only picks up ONE of our e-books, potentially it will be like ALL were profiled by that mega-monster of the Kindle freebie world!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rand Paul and the Drones

Important Update!

On April 23, 2013, Rand Paul clarified his stance on the use of aerial drones against US citizens:

"I've never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on," Paul said. "If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash. I don't care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him." Foreign Policy

And how did that song go? Oh yeah: 
"And another one bites the dust! Yeah, another one bites the dust!"

On June 12, 2012 US Senator Rand Paul introduced a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants before they could legally dispatch a "drone" that could be used for surveillance.

Warrants for Drones

Good for him!

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past decade, you are familiar with how aerial drones are being used in Afghanistan, etc. to combat terrorism. Of course it is a great idea to enslave technology in the pursuit of saving the lives of our American military men and women. A week has not gone by in the last ten years where a new blurb about an aerial drone sending a terrorist or two to their eternal dirt-nap has not entered the Interwebz. And this is a good thing!

But should your local sheriff be allowed to dispatch a drone to "spy" on a suspected meth lab manager without the procurement of a warrant?

I don't think so.

Warrants are still required for wiretaps and for placing GPS gadgets on suspect's vehicles. And this is a good thing!

So, even though I have not been much of a fan of the libertarians Rand Paul or his father, Ron Paul, I have to agree with the Senator from Kentucky on this issue.


"Hey there, Sheriff Brown! Want to send up an unmanned remote-controlled helicopter to investigate what Bubba and his buddies are doing out there in the woods?" 

"Get a warrant first!"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Justice vs. "Literary" Justice?

Yesterday afternoon while I was cleaning the windows of the Freeburg Cafe, I overheard on the TV that a jury was about to deliver their decisions. I hadn't thought about the John Edwards case for awhile and was glad that I happened to be reminded of the trial. As I listened while cleaning those windows, I couldn't help but think that the jury would find him not guilty. But I didn't give that thought any credence and finished what I was doing and left.

This morning I get on the Intrawebs and discover that the jury could not reach a decision and therefore the judge ruled it a mistrial.

I almost fell out of my chair.

The evidence was right there! The man had taken money from contributors and used it like it was his own.

So, I thought, another obviously-guilty politician gets away with swindling the American populace. Bah!

But wait!

Here's something interesting...

Rielle Hunter writes her memoirs

What? His former mistress has written a book in which she reveals what he did for her with all those campaign dollars? Very interesting...

Now of course John Edwards will have to rebut -- in some way -- Rielle's story... or will he?

If he publicly criticizes what she has written, then of course we should ask him:

"Mr, Edwards, then what really happened?"

Very interesting...