7 Minutes about Free Books

Before I start the timer: As of this posting you have about 80 hours left to get Origin of Storms, my epic space opera adventure novel, for free on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B084DH8D5Q

Alright. On with the show.

Origin of Storms is free right now, and I have been doing some active research on giveaways and free copies of novels over on the bestseller lists of a couple Amazon stores. Turns out, even without moving a whole lot of copies, a book ranks in the top 100 as long as the cover is nice and the ask isn’t too big.

I wonder if my ask with Origin of Storms is bigger than most of these free Science Fiction stories.

You see, as I discussed yesterday, the book is set in a VERY odd science fiction universe, one that defies comprehension by most people when I try to tell them how it works.

That’s an obstacle. The same could be said for the fact that book is over 600 pages long. I like a long book, but this one is currently my longest volume, and it’s scifi, not epic fantasy, so the genre expectations are different.

Even so, I’m pleased to see people downloading some copies.

I guess there isn’t much to say beyond that I’ve been told free series starters are dead on Amazon. Maybe that isn’t true? I don’t really know, and the book is only on sale until the end of October, so I probably won’t find out if it would do well permanently free.

For years now, I’ve wanted to do a sequel to Origin of Storms. One is in the works, but it’s far from completion. After I’m done with this post, some dictation is in my future.

Wish me luck, friends.

I like to type. I like to talk. Combine these two, and dictation should be fun, and it often is. As long as I don’t lose sight of my purpose in the moment and second of the process, I do alright.

The clock is ticking down.

Thanks for reading.

I’ll be out of here at the beep.

More than 7 Minutes into The Pillar Universe

I like some of the fictional worlds I’ve created. I love most of them.

One I love the best is also among the oldest. I created the first inklings of the Pillar Universe (As seen in the pages of the Forces of Empire series) when I was just a kid, definitely not yet 10 years old.

My thinking at that point was based on Star Wars, the original trilogy, which my parents showed me frequently at the time. Already a big fantasy fan, I fell into space opera or space fantasy (Whatever you call it) with a little more sense of what I wanted to do with my life.

I wanted to tell stories, and I knew pretty fast I liked originality.

While my feelings on originality have changed a little, the universe I created from the thought of “Star Wars plus something new.” have only increased in intensity as I developed the universe.

When I was a kid, I thought the least original part about Star Wars was the ‘geography’ (In a manner of speaking). I wanted to make a universe unlike any other, and for my hubris I ended up with one.

The Pillar Universe is a space opera setting, far-flung science fiction, without the physical hallmarks of traditional science fiction: planets, stars, even the void of space itself was replaced. In my case, I replaced the planets with pillars.

Pillars, in this case, are infinitely tall cylinders of stone with cores inside that go from light to dark and dark to light based on the passage of intervals of time. People live in caves within them or on outrcps arond the surface of these huge cylinders, but they don’t have gravity (The physical laws are different too, but that’s a longer digression).

Everything would fall into the airy, cloudy, abyss of space if it doesn’t have somewhere to land.

The abyss is breathable atmosphere, mostly. So much for the vacuum of space. But say hello to the wonders of storms the size of our solar system, massive hurricanes strong enough to hurl flying ships from the sky to tumble into the forever of mist below the storms.

But I missed a spot, didn’t I? The stars.

Where does heat and light originate? Well, some pillars are geologically active, but I figured that wasn’t enough. The equivalent of stars in the Pillar Universe come in the form of mighty serpentine creatures that are born in hives within some rare pillars and then fly out to find a new home as they mature.

These critters are called solnas, and they are nuclear generators crossed with dragons. Stars…in their multitudes (Please, pardon the Les Miserables reference). These creatures scan the cores of the pillars, which themselves are naturally occurring rudimentary computer systems, and the solnas use the data they garner to find the next place to start a hive to reproduce.

As you can see above, the geographty of the setting is rather steep.

If any of that sounds intriguing, check out Origin of Storms (It’ll be free on Amazon.com from the 27th of October to the 31st, by the way). Here’s a link.

That was well over 7 minutes, so I’m changing the title. Hope you stuck with me through all of the above.

And thanks for reading.

7 Minutes about why I (Don’t) Write

The basic premise of storytelling is that one shares experience, whether their own or something they invented. My goal with writing is always to entertain. I don’t have that much to sacrifice for this goal, because I will admit I don’t know much about the world.

I knew less when I started writing, though.

I was thirteen or fourteen. That year was rough for me. I was in the process of adjusting to the middle school environment. I don’t remember that much about the time. Most of what I can recall I wish I didn’t.

I didn’t enjoy 8th grade much.

But I started writing back then. I took lengthy breaks during some years, but I’ve never hung up the spurs and six-guns for more than a few months at a time aside from in college.

And yet, I’m way behind. I don’t have series-length works like I’ll need to attract big readers on Amazon, and I’m not sure I have the will to write a mighty series along the lines of M D Cooper, or Michael Anderle, or any of the other giants out there.

What I have is my desire to entertain myself and others.

Got to keep that one in front of me. I tend to forget it’s there.

Lessons are nice.

Escape can be good.

Fun?

Why not.

Taking joy in what I do means telling tales I love and enjoy.

And still I struggle. I guess I want a series that never feels stale. A book like that. A scene like that. I get stuck looking for north too often.

Never fear. I don’t know how to give up at the game.

Let me tell you, I almost wish I could quite sometimes. But then, what’s the point of that?

Oh well. The timer is ringing.

Thanks for reading my rant.

7 Minutes of Typing Rehab

Two days in a row blogging? Could I be developing a new habit?

Kinda.

You see, ever since I switched to dictation for my fiction, I haven’t typed all that much outside of notes for RPGs.

Thing is, I like typing. I like sculpting sentence at slower than breakneck speed. I like retrospectives on my text. When I edit my fiction, I still get that part of the process. And I love it.

I also love getting words down fast. So, the trade-off here could be accomplished by treating the rough draft as the roughest and most bare bones part of the process. That is my current plan for fiction.

However, to get that to work, I need more practice typing. I don’t know if I’ll be posting here daily, but things could work out that way. I definitely want to do more hereabouts.

After all, a lot of you have followed this blog for some time. Quite a few of you can measure the span you’ve been subscribed here in years. I may have started releasing novels somewhere between the time you long-timers signed up and typing this sentence. I’m happy about that. I hope you are too.

The process of writing has always been close to the front of my mind. Not too long ago I chatted with Mal Cooper on my podcast, Alive After Reading. She mentioned to me she hated writing words that don’t end up in a book. Having authored dozens (Maybe hundreds. I can’t recall. The timer is a harsh master for this blog post), she certainly shows strong results from that practice.

Yet, I think if I don’t put down the rules and details of my world at least somewhat in advance I suffer a bit for it. It’s not because I get derailed in the course of the story, but more that I ENJOY thinking about all these aspects and creating these worlds. Without that part of the process, enthusiasm is harder to find.

But that’s 7 minutes of typing. The timer alarm is drilling into my ears through the headphones.

Thanks for reading.

7 Minutes to Check In

We just got the first snow of the season in my part of the world. It was light snow. Nothing stuck.

Sadly, this reminds me of the position my books have been in for the past couple years. Sure, I’ve gotten mostly positive reviews, but I’m simply not putting my books in front of enough people.

I want to share these stories. Yet, I don’t really know how to get people to read them.

Sure, I’m getting better at it. I’ve learned a few things about making book covers and even a little about writing book descriptions. Yet…it never seems to be enough.

Thanks to dictation, I’m faster and mostly better as a writer than I’ve ever been.

Still…

I can’t seem to focus on a series. My ADHD is a serious obstacle at this point. The time is coming to control those impulses, because I can’t keep failing to attract readers forever.

Honestly, this post started out as a bit of whining, but I think there is a good takeaway from my emotional shift while writing the last few paragraphs. I feel better. Maybe, just maybe, I feel better because I’m writing.

Writers, take notice.

You may just need to do the work to feel better.

Today has been a struggle to optimize marketing, at least for me.

Time to go back to the pages, the stories, the characters.

Thanks for reading.

No limits but death.

I don’t know how many of you know this. I don’t post a lot about politics on this blog (I suppose I haven’t posted here a lot lately, regardless). See, I consider myself a fairly-leftward leaning political thinker.

Okay, some people have called me a communist.

I got introduced to the left by Youtube channels like TYT and the Majority Report. The latter of those I still watch regularly, after starting six or seven years ago.

Yesterday, one of the hosts of the Majority Report, Michael Brooks, passed on. He was only 34 years old, not a lot older than I am.

I didn’t know the man except through his podcasts and social media presence. I liked the persona I saw of him on the internet, but with parasocial relationships like the ones we all form with media figures, none of it feels real. Probably because it isn’t like a normal relationship or friendship.

I tried to reason my way through some of the feelings that hit me last night.

But logic isn’t an answer for suffering. Logic can defeat unreasoning sensations in oneself, sometimes, but I’m not that kind of thinker. Lately, I’m thinking I’m not much of a thinker (Or a writer) in spite of myself.

Sure, depression.

Sure, parasocial grief and loss.

That’s my current set of conditions.

I’ll be honest as I can. I wish things were different, on both those counts. I wish many other things would simply not be the case, but what does that matter. Wishes go up to genies and gods, and genies and gods don’t answer us mere mortals.

What kind of world is this one?

Abrupt.

Painful.

At times, monotononous.

I think it’s easy to forget that, given how many of float on endless tides of media entertainment.

I sank a ritual stake into a bowl of earth at 5:30 in the morning yesterday. It’s a rite I devised for myself, based on one from Hindu and Buddhist tradition. In this case, I wanted to tie myself to the real world.

That metal knife in the dirt represents a tie to the real world.

Real.

What is that?

So many layers of artifice and illusion pervade our lives that becomes easy to forget where the pain of existence originates. Pressure points of suffering and pleasure in each our of personal worlds impel each of us to avoid, or approach them.

But always, in the modern age, it seems even the pain is mediated by distance, by craft, by bullshit arranged to please or shock us.

I tried to use that knife and that bowl of dirt to remind me what is real.

An iron stake in potting soil may look esoteric, may seem bizarre, but it kept me grounded during my work yesterday.

Now?

I feel adrift, as I wonder what its like to die.

I have imagined death many times, many ways. I’ve peered at the implacable and advancing end of my life from what I hope is a great distance.

Reality?

You can’t know how far away that end is from you, or what it really means to die.

I can imagine. I scarcely know how to do anything else at this point.

I can work to survive as long as possible. I intend to do that.

I don’t know.

Anyone who tells you they know is lying.

Until next time, I hope you all remain safe. I’m trying like hell to get to work today. Heaven knows I’ll try again tomorrow.

But what are those things? Are they places we’re going to spend eternity dwelling?

I don’t know.

Thanks for reading.

10 Minutes of Relaunch: Orphan Mage

Hey everyone, Orphan Mage (Shifter Empire Book One) is out now. I’m not going to bore you with my usual apologies over not posting more often. A writer’s gotta write, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do and fiction is my bag, far more than blogging.

The latest book is actually a relaunch of the first three books from my older Spells of the Curtain series, which are no longer available. I originally wrote the three novellas as one novel, so now I’ve put them back together as one book.

For those not familiar with the world of Shifter Empire, and haven’t read the novellas, let me fill you in on the book.

Edmath Donroi is a rarity, an orphan who received training as a mage in the Empire of Zel. He has a unique gift to speak to any animal, but unlike the shapeshifting nobility of the nation, he can’t take the form of any of them.

His first love, Chelka, is a Squid Princess, and his best friend Brosk is a prince of the Whale Tribe. That’s the kind of person who becomes a court mage in the empire due to the expense of training. Edmath’s life has been lucky to a point.

When he encounters a murderous boy with a grudge against mages on the way to the imperial city the danger of his bloodline’s past begins to arise. The imperial gardens are a place of grand power, but diplomats and mages of the rival nations make the place perilous as well.

I love this book and the series that follows it. This first book is also one of touchstones for an effective personal writing rate.

To start this book, I took a Saturday and wrote as long and as much as I could. I got over 12,000 words that day. I was swept up in the story, to be honest. I think if you check out Orphan Mage you’ll be swept up too.

The novel is sword and sorcery with a geeky protagonist and an emphasis on sorcery.

Thanks for reading.

Seven Minutes of Proof Reading

Does the title say 7 minutes? I meant more like 17+ hours.

Yeah, I like proofing, as it turns out. I took the time to re-edit Demon Scroll before I complete the sequel, Shadow Prince because I noticed in some of the reviews there are a large number of typos.

Well, I just uploaded the new edition to Amazon, and it should be out in paperback soon. It’s easy to say this book has never been better, but I’m also embarrassed by simply how many errors remained in the book I launched. Most of those are gone now.

Demon Scroll is my first dictated release, and I am pleased to say the next book won’t have some of the issues that propagated throughout the novel on the sentence and paragraph level, especially.

Thanks to generous early reviewers, the book is still rated pretty well, but I’m finally planning to push the book a little harder now that the story is clearer and cleaner than before.

My other books didn’t have the same level of typos and errors, but dictation is taking me some time to master. Regardless, I enjoyed cleaning the book up. Next time I’ll take this step BEFORE I release the book. Whoops. Egg on my face for that.

Thanks for reading, folks. I made it back here faster than I expected.

Click this link if you care to check out Demon Scroll, or if you have already read it and care to leave a review.

Going 19

Let me start off this blog post by saying, so far, my family and I are fine. My immediate area is not yet fully locked down, but I expect that will happen soon.

I tend to be pretty isolated under normal conditions. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is making my occasions to go out and interact with others even smaller.

I’m working on Shadow Prince as well as on cleaning up a lot of typos I missed before publication in the first book of that series, Demon Scroll. One note about those edits: I regret setting the pre-order too short to allow this level of editing the first time. It won’t happen again, as I’m embarrassed by many of these mistakes.

I hope you’re all safe out there, and I plan to write again soon. Don’t I always say that when I make a post? Well, this time I mean it. Maybe it will be next week, or maybe tomorrow, but I’ll write again soon.

Thank for reading.

Storybundle time!

Hey everyone! I’m pretty excited today, because I’m in a storybundle.com bundle, available right now at www.storybundle.com/steampunk.

Kevin J. Andersen assembled a super-team of books and authors, including little old me. My contribution, Tenlyres, is still one of my best works and there are 12 other books in the bundle, up to and including the novels Kevin wrote with the great Neil Peart of Rush fame (May he rest in peace) .

I can’t say enough good things about the bundle (And my inclusion in it). The bundle is pay what you want, with $15 US required to get every book and not just the first four.

Anyway, this deal is a limited time. I’ll be spreading the word far and wide, naturally. From the date of this posting the bundle has around 30 days left. Click here to get the bundle, share, and enjoy!

Thanks for reading!