Essay–Mind The Order

I have a ton of writing to do. And by ton, I mean reams and reams and reams of stories before I finish the series known as Garaaga’s Children. Considering it starts in pre-history and continues on through history until it meets the modern era, it’s a very large undertaking. But I have a question to answer.

Since the success of The Black and the fact is (re)releasing Legends of Garaaga next month, I have to make some decisions regarding my writing schedule. First off, yes, I’m still working on the paraquel to The Black. That’s the first priority. Second priority? Hmm… Good question.

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Posted in Essays

Essay–Contracts For Nothing

Writing is a business. Wait…no…publishing is a business. Writing is the stringing together of words through some strange process incorporating the brain, a writing medium, and Cthulu’s leavings. Publishing, on the other hand, involves editors, designers, layout, production, and marketing. Or at least it should.

As I’ve mentioned multiple times, I’m a hybrid author. All but one of my books has been published by or Blue Moose Press. In both cases, I am the publisher. And guess what? I pay editors. I pay designers. I pay folks to layout the text. I pay someone to produce the books. Unless it’s an ebook. Then I don’t pay myself for putting it together. Once all that’s done, I release it to a myriad of marketplaces and pray to Garaaga that someone will notice.

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Essay–The Try and Fail of Subtext

With each book I write, I try something new. Hell, sometimes the entire process of writing the book is a new journey. The Black was the first time I attempted to write an ensemble novel and it’s worked out pretty damned well. Its sales have shocked me as have the fantastic rbneviews.

But there’s something bothering me. In several of the reviews, including author Ed Lorn’s fantastically kind words, it’s been mentioned that readers had a difficult time keeping track of the character names. For instance, Thomas Calhoun is referred to by both his first and last names. Multiply that by ten times and you can understand the confusion.

Before I sent the final version to the publisher, I thought I’d cleared most of that up. Evidently I didn’t. That’s on me and no one else. I’ll do better next time to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen.

So why did it happen at all? What the hell would possess me to do such a thing? Simple–literary sensibilities. Wait, that sounds too hoity-toity. Oh, well. Fuck it. I stand by it.

Here’s what I was thinking. If you pay close attention to The Black, there are two different cliques on the rig. There’s the engineering team and the roughnecks. The engineering team, when referring to one another, use only their first names. The roughnecks, however, refer to them by their last names.

The idea was to add to the tension between the two groups and show the distance they had from one another. It was a great idea. However, I failed in making it work. And for those of you that read The Black and were somewhat confused by this? I apologize. Again, my fault.

Why would I try such a thing? Why bother? Too many fucking literature classes in college. Over the years, some have complained that the Garaaga’s Children series has much the same problem with the ancient terms it uses. Why is that a problem? Well, I don’t go into detail about them.

Xiphos, for instance, is a short sword much like the Romans carried during their reign. In my story Interlopers, Alexander The Great’s scouts carry these weapons. A xiphos isn’t exactly anything special. But it’s how the scouts would have referred to their swords. They wouldn’t just call them “swords.” That’d be like calling a shotgun a firearm. It’s less specific and too general.

The subtext is pretty easy to pick up. You pull the xiphos from a hilt and and you start swinging. Therefore, it’s a type of sword. But the narrator isn’t going to go to length to describe them. Why? Because he’s in the head of one of the scouts. Nerutal isn’t going to spend half a page of the story talking about what a “xiphos” is. He already knows what it is and spending time on a goddamned infodump just isn’t worth it. At least not to me as a reader or writer.

One of my readers once jabbed me by saying I expect my readers to do a little research. I guess that’s sort of true. When writing historical fiction, you can toss these terms around and give them as much subtext as possible, or you can spend pages describing the history of those terms, their etymology and what they signify.

I can write tomes on the color of dress through the ages. How red and purple were for the wealthy and powerful while the other hues were for the servants and the poor. I can discuss the different metals for jewelry and decoration and what they meant at the time. I can do all that. But does it really add anything to the story?

And that’s the problem. To me, massive infodumps serve no purpose to move the story along. They have nothing to do with what’s going on. But I drop those details in the story so that if you’re paying attention, you pick up on what those colors mean and signify. Isn’t that a better way to handle it? I think so. I still do. Shit, maybe this is why those stories aren’t popular.

So with The Black, I tried to make a point through subtext. And as I said, it obviously failed. Lesson learned. Mea culpa for the next book. I’ll do my best to make sure it never happens again. But if we writers don’t take chances, don’t try anything new, then our readers just end up with the same old shit. As a reader, that would bore the hell out of me.

I don’t treat my readers like ignorant fools who have to be told every little thing. I feel patronized when a writer does that. It’s insulting. I’m smart enough to figure this stuff out. If it’s important to the story, then it begs for more care. If not, then throw it out there and move the fuck on.

There. I said it. Those are the kinds of books I want to write because they’re the kind I like to read. Everything I do won’t work for you. And for that, I apologize. Let me know what works or doesn’t. It helps me grow as a writer and I don’t mind the critique; I welcome it.

Now that this little mea culpa is done, it’s time to focus on the story at hand. I hope you enjoy it as much as y’all seemed to have enjoyed The Black. I promise it will have more darkness, more speed, and leave you quaking in your shoes.

Posted in Essays

Essay–The Indie Stigma

For some reason, I thought the world was intelligent enough to move past this. Apparently I once again put too much faith in humankind. One of the listeners of the Dead Robots’ Society posted in our facebook group this morning about how he was told “you’re not really published. Because anyone can do that.”

All right, kids. Let’s talk about this for a moment. When I first started podcasting my fiction, the first thing I was asked was “are you published?” My response was always “are you listening to it?”

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Posted in Essays

Essay–Mind the Price

As you have probably figured out by my flurry of posts the last couple of months, I’m now what’s called a “hybrid” author. For those not in the biz, this means that I not only publish books via my own publishing company (, I also have a publisher for other titles. My hybrid experience has been incredible thus far and I plan on continuing running both sides. Because, frankly, I have a lot of stories that seem too eclectic for the mainstream publishers, but I love writing them and my patrons want to hear and read them. And who knows? After some serious publicity from The Black release (published by Severed Press), my independently published works might even catch on.

But that’s not what I want to talk about at the moment. Instead, I want to talk about e-book pricing. Readers need to understand something–authors have little to NO control (and NO CONTROL is almost always the case) over how their books are priced by their publisher. Unless you are independent, you can’t nudge the price anywhere. After all, the publisher is supposed to know what’s best for your book, right? WRONG.

Recent studies by Amazon (yes, they’re probably biased, but I agree with them) is that you get more bang for your proverbial buck if you price e-books less than $9.99. Even that is too steep a price in my mind. I’m a software developer. I created MyWrite for authors to sign and personalize e-books. I KNOW what goes into creating a good e-book. Once you have laid out the manuscript for a trade paperback or hardcover, it is absolutely trivial to create one of these things. Basically, the Big 5 (fucking douchebags) want to pass on their costs twice. Once for the printed material, and then again on the e-book to further cover the costs for the printed matter expenses.

This is absolutely ridiculous. They don’t seem to give a flying fuck they could make more money by selling more units. Not to mention, gain an author new readers. Instead, at prices greater than $9.99, they are ensuring that only the loyal (or price invulnerable) readers are going to show up. That’s a serious issue and I think it hurts mid-listers more than anyone will admit.

The huge authors? Yeah, they can survive that kind of pricing model. But if you’re starting out or are already stuck in the dead stacks of the mid-list, then it’s very difficult for you to grow your readership. At least in my humble opinion.

This pricing myopia seems to be in direct correlation to the dinosaur that is big publishing. Evolve or die, fuckers. But don’t drag down your authors with you. That’s just selfish. Not to mention unconscionable. So, Author’s Guild and other morons like Hachette who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge reality, get with it. Or your sales are going to go out the window. Just like your ethics did years ago.

Posted in Essays

Mythwits!–Fade To Black

I was on the Mythwits last night. Was a complete blast. You can watch/listen to the episode here.

Posted in Pimpage

Guest Post: Sometimes it takes an Ensemble

I wrote a guest post for Mr. Patrick Scaffido (fiendling and fellow traveler of dark, twisted roads). He asked about the difference between The Black and my other writings that are more “character” driven.

Posted in Essays

2014/2015 Schedule Changes

Now that the madness has died down, it’s time for me to get my collective shit in order. What does this mean? It means re-prioritizing my existing schedule.

The plan was, in fact, for me to get back to work on Flames and one more Garaaga’s Children story for y’all. However, since The Black‘s sidequel (paraquel, sequel, whatever the hell you want to call it) has been purchased, it’s now my top priority. Everything else is going to slide. For now.

While writing the next book, I’ll be recording The Black for audiobook sale as well as for the podcast. You know, that thing I used to do? But because I have to split time between the two and I have an aggressive schedule for the The Black‘s sidequel, it will take a bit longer than I’d planned.

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Posted in Essays, Pimpage

The Black–Another Update

Why do I keep writing these updates? Because things are moving so fast I can barely keep up.

Last night I received two awesome pieces of news. First off, the paraquel to The Black is going to happen. Severed Press wants it. I’m going to write it. And it will be even crazier than The Black was.

The second piece of news? The Black is being translated for the German market. That’s huge. It’s the first time any of my stories will appear in a language other than Texan. Or English. Or Java. Or something.

What does this mean? It means 2014 has been by far the most successful year of my writing career. The Black is still selling. It’s not setting the world on fire by any means, but its sales have been consistently good. Am I happy? Yes. Am I terrified? Absolutely. Why? Because I have to do better next time. Every book has to be better than the last. But considering the amazing support from y’all and the improvements I’ve made, it’s not as much a worry as it probably should be.

Last Sunday was the day I received the cover for The Black. One week later, the sequel was purchased, German rights sold, both ebook and paperback are out and doing well. One. F’ing. Week.

Be careful what you wish for, kids, because it can happen. And when it does, you better be ready. I’m ready. Hopefully you’re enjoying The Black and can’t wait for the next installment.

Now if only someone will purchase the movie rights…


Posted in Pimpage

The Black–Numbers and Sense

A little update for you on “The Black.”

As one expects, the first day of the ebook launch was insane. “The Black” bounced around all day from the 6ks in Amazon’s total sales up to 23k. The rest of the week, the book’s rank bobbed up and down between 12k and 23k. Right now, it’s back to 14k. I’m not sure what’s driving it right now, but I assume it’s because readers tend to purchase books near the weekend.

The paperback is selling too. It hasn’t even been out a full 24 hours, but it’s sitting at 33k in rankings. But what does this mean?

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Posted in Essays

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