29 February 2012

Why Self-Publishing? (Part 2 of 3)

Welcome to the second installment of my discussion on self-publishing. If you haven't seen the first, which covered how I got to this point, be sure to check it out. And in today's segment, I'll discuss some of the pitfalls I see with self-publishing.

Pitfalls of Self-Publishing

One must know what they’re doing, in all aspects of the business. Whether it be writing a story that will sell, or having an intimate knowledge of editing, formatting, and promoting, you’re going to be the only one involved in every aspect of the publishing process. If you don’t already have these, I’d recommend either continuing down the “traditional” route, or working on improvement in these areas.

It will be costly if you aren’t. Certainly, if you don’t have the traits described above, you can proceed without them, but expect your book to suffer in the marketplace, costing you sales (or rather, repeat sales on future books). You can also hire those who have these traits, but it can get a bit pricey when you enlist the services of an editor, a formatting guru, marketing specialist, promoter and publicist.

If you’re looking for bookstore placement, odds are against it. Although e-books certainly won’t be stocked by a brick-and-mortar store, many have corporate rules which also prevent print-on-demand (the most popular form of printing for the self-publisher) titles from being stocked. There’s the possibility that you may be able to get in on a consignment offer (splitting the price 60/40 with the store), but even then, your book may or may not even be easily visible to crowds. Other printing methods do exist, but all can get into the high costs previously mentioned.

The time investment required. As mentioned, you’re going to be taking on the roles not only of writer, but of editor, publisher, and promoter. Like or not, all of this takes an enormous amount of time to do properly. If you have a day job meant to pay the bills, or small children who require your attention, your days are going to get filled and fast.

The stigma (and there still is one). Although there are many out there who profess that self-publishing is the wave of the future, just as many still consider it a way for “hacks” to bypass the system. Sadly, there are many authors out there who don’t do an adequate job in editing their book or acquiring decent cover art, and in this game, the sins of the few spread out onto the many. There will be those out there who decry anything self-published as unworthy of publication. The goal is to convince enough people that your work is different.

Make sure to turn in next week for the final installment of this series, where I'll go over the benefits of self-publishing. And again, feel free to leave comments...I'll be sure to respond to them all when I return.

28 February 2012

Weekly Goals - February 28, 2012

Welcome, everyone! As I mentioned last time, I'll be without consistent internet access for a few more weeks, so this will just be a reminder post for those who missed the original.

To recap, the goals for the coming weeks:

1. Develop plots for seven short stories
2. Complete first drafts for four short stories
3. Complete final drafts for two short stories

4. Write 10K first draft words on Resurrection

24 February 2012


Welcome to another installment of Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday here on the blog. As you may or may not know, I'll be without dependable internet access for a few weeks, but will be coming on to comment when I get the chance. So, feel free to leave comments...I'm not ignoring anyone, honest! :-)

Again, for those who may or may not know, I've recently finished up final edits on my latest Aston novel Death Brings Victory (debating whether to keep "the" in the title). So, with that in mind, I'm offering up a small snippet from that one. And since it seems like Aston is always falling into trouble (even going so far as last week's post bringing people to wonder if we should re-name Murphy's Law as Aston's Law), I figured this one would have Aston in one of his other roles, that of kicking butt and taking names. To set this one up, Aston and Rione (and her trusty disintegrator cannon) are storming a government spy satellite on a strike mission...

She punched in a series of numbers and a green light flashed on the keypad. The hatch slid open and we rushed in, catching two pale Torians in white lab coats off-guard. Rione fired off a shot as one of them grabbed for a laser pistol resting on the counter.

His body decomposed amidst gut-wrenching screams, and her cannon whined through its recharge cycle. The other technician tried to take advantage of the respite and grabbed for the same pistol.

I fired my blaster, striking his arm with far less dramatic effect. He grabbed the injured limb, cursing.

“Step away from the console,” I demanded. “You get shot in the chest next time.”

If you enjoyed this, be on the lookout, because a full first chapter is bound to be making the rounds soon...and in the meantime, check out all of my novels!

And again for a reminder, for the next several weeks I'll have sporadic internet access, so may or may not have a chance to sign up for the list properly. I do intend to keep my posts going each Saturday, and hope you'll stop on by. I'll answer all comments when I get the chance... ;-)

22 February 2012

Why Self-Publishing? (Part 1 of 3)

As I'm going to be away from the internet for a few weeks, I've decided to schedule some posts for folks to read in my absence. Go ahead and comment...I'll respond as soon as I'm able. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this post, the first of three discussing my take on self-publishing.

A little about my story

If I’m honest about it, I’ve been seriously writing for the last twenty years or so. Sadly, my first experience with “publishing” was a disaster, and soiled me on the idea of finding another publisher for several years (but thankfully, it didn’t keep me from writing more books). Then I was propositioned about moving that first book over to a small press publisher who primarily focused on e-books (as well as some print titles). I had some familiarity with those running the company, so I took the opportunity and my first book (Heroes Die Young) and then my second (Friends in Deed) were both published.

Along the way, I’d also gotten into short stories, having several published in various online magazines. One of the magazine publishers was also starting up a small press, and approached me about doing a collection of short stories. Jumping on the opportunity, my first collection (Dead or Alive) was published.

The Disturbance (or, how I started self-publishing in the first place)

I follow many blogs online, and one of them is Joe Konrath, a successful mid-list author who first decried self-publishing, until he soured on the publishing establishment. Once he converted, he began professing that any author who wasn’t self-publishing was a fool (and going into the multitude of reasons why). It was an interesting theory, but my mind was entrenched in the idea that going that route was for those who couldn’t hack it in the real world.

Back in the fall of 2010, I’d written a small novella for a submission call (for space opera, right up my alley) by a fairly popular romance e-publisher (not up my alley, by the way), which garnered a rejection (not the level of romance they were hoping for). So, I had this novella on my computer and was debating what to do with it. I’d enjoyed the story, and wanted to see it published, but was a bit concerned what sort of price point my other publishers would place on it (I’ve always been a bit antsy about pricing, likely stemming from my first sour experience in publishing).

So, I decided to try out self-publishing for Seeker, figuring it was a good throwaway novel if things turned out poorly. But lo and behold, I was selling about the same number of copies of this one as I was with my small press titles. I was hooked, and ended up self-publishing a full-length novel I’d created in 2011, The Cure (this one, I also went ahead and created a print-on-demand version of).

Tune in next week, for the second installment of the series!

21 February 2012

Weekly Goals - February 21, 2012

Greetings, all! Still on a high after Death Brings Victory (decided to drop a "the" from the title), and completed all of my goals for the week. However, I'll be without consistent internet access for the next several weeks, so am going to be putting together goals for a three-week period, just in case I can't get in to give an update.

Results for this week:

1. Developed synopsis for Death Brings Victory
2. Amazon and Smashwords versions formatted for Death Brings Victory

And now the goals for this coming three weeks:

1. Develop plots for seven short stories
2. Complete first drafts for four short stories
3. Complete final drafts for two short stories
4. Write 10K first draft words on Resurrection

17 February 2012


Welcome to another installment of Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday here on the blog. If you saw last week's snippet from "Redemption" and the previous snippet from "Lifeline" and enjoyed both, then you'll be glad to know that the Dead or Alive collection is being discounted to 99 cents for the rest of February. I was also informed that my second novel Friends in Deed is also being discounted this month over at Amazon. And in the spirit of the season, I'll offer up a snippet from that novel here. As a brief set-up, Aston long ago escaped from a Gohr prison planet. If they ever catch him again, he'll be put to death. Unfortunately, he ended up making an unscheduled stop just outside of Gohr space, and then...

I opened my eyes once again. The sound of debris against the hull had ceased, but yet we were still in normal space. “Jeanie...”

“Forward coolant injectors are not responding.” Without coolant, the hyperspeed engines would turn my ship into a ball of liquid metal.

Definitely not anything to experience firsthand.

“Wonderful!” I leaned back and stared at the beige overhead liner, then rubbed my temples. “Can anything else go wrong?”

“I’m picking up a Gohr destroyer departing orbit around the planet.”

If you enjoyed this, make sure to check out the entire first chapter, and then pick up the full novel for only 99 cents (through the end of February). Enjoy!

And as a side note, for the next several weeks I'll have sporadic internet access, so may or may not have a chance to sign up for the list properly. I do intend to keep my posts going each Saturday, and hope you'll stop on by. I'll do my best to answer all comments when I get the chance... ;-)

14 February 2012

Weekly Goals - February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! This past week has been a good one, and I'm finally finished with Death Brings the Victory (at least the writing portion of things). Now it's a matter of formatting, and working out the cover art...and sometime soon, I'll be working on some new material (some short stories and the next Aston novel).

Results for this week:

1. Finished all edits on Death Brings the Victory

And now the goals for this coming week:

1. Develop synopsis for Death Brings the Victory
2. Format e-book versions of Death Brings the Victory

13 February 2012


No, nothing here about climbing mountains or extreme sports...but something that authors (new and experienced) should keep in mind when putting together their manuscripts. Readers are getting shorter attention spans with every passing day, and as such, it's going to become more important to toss in those ever important cliffhangers (usually at the end of your chapters).

What makes an effective cliffhanger?

The old adage is whatever it takes to get the reader to turn the page to the next chapter. That's a little vague. So, I'd like to propose that your characters should be facing one of the following:

-Impending Death: Nothing gets a reader engaged in the story more than wondering how their favorite character is going to escape death (let's face it, unless you're ending a series, or going for a major plot twist, you're likely not going to kill that character off). Don't do it too much, as then people will start losing interest...but a well-placed death-defying escape now and again keeps things moving and lets people root for your main character.

Author's note: I use this often in most of my novels.

-A Major Fact Just (or about to be) Revealed: This has to be of great significance to the plot, or it simply will not work. In the case of ending the chapter on a reveal about to happen, you also need to do the reveal shortly after, or your readers are going to be let down (the "about-to-be" reveal is a contract with your reader, and you need to pay it in full. One other point about this...sometimes, if you've pulled the reader along a few chapters (using other techniques along the way), it can make the reveal that much more satisfying.

In my novel Friends in Deed (which is currently 99 cents over at Amazon for the rest of the month), I use this at the end of a chapter in which (after Aston wondering what the twins really want) I reveal their true intentions (and its a doozie).

-An Act the Reader Has Been Waiting For: Although not as effective (in my opinion) as the other two listed here, the sense of satisfaction the reader achieves can be used to get that page turned. If they're happy (make it really good!), there's a higher chance they'll be willing to keep moving toward your next cliffhanger.

Author's note: I use one of these quite well in my next novel...I don't want to give it away, so I'll leave it at that.

-Another Piece For the Puzzle: Not nearly as effective as the others above, this can still be useful if you're trying not to overuse your other techniques. In essence, you can lay another piece in front of the reader, so that they can work through the mystery in their mind. Unfortunately, the setup for this cliffhanger can take a while, so it also runs the risk of cutting off your reader's interest.

Author's note: I use this from time to time, including when I introduce one of the main antagonists in my novel, The Cure, and the character reveals that she's been spying on the main character, and isn't against the idea of killing her (sprinkling a little implied "Impending Death" doesn't hurt).

Are there any other cliffhangers that you're particularly fond of (either reading or using)?

12 February 2012

Friends in Deed Excerpt

In the depth of my nightmares, Lycus IV would always be a formidable hell, no matter if the scenery gave off the illusion of mighty grandeur. Lush green trees lined the banks. Sporadic cloud cover offered broken views of a distant pale blue mountain range.

This prison planet’s terror was not found in its natural surroundings, but from its unwilling inhabitants.

A wide river flowed slowly before me over a bed of rocks. Filthy clothing, ripped and shredded, barely covered my bruised and bloody skin. I gazed across the clear, inviting water.

A bellow filled the air. I turned as a pale, naked giant rumbled through the brush, yelling at the top of his lungs. His makeshift mallet towered above his head, a boulder strapped into the fork of a tree branch. I jumped aside just before the weapon crashed down.

One of his eyes grew crazy-wide, while the other glazed over. Saliva dribbled from his lips. “I am King of the Wooded Realm! You dare invade my territory?”

This wasn’t a fight I planned to stick around for. This beast was obviously psychotic, and they were always the worst type of violent.

He hoisted his club and swung it. I stumbled back and it sent a breeze across my face. Escape was my only chance for survival, so I turned toward the opposite bank and sprinted across the riverbed.

“Your punishment is death! Vengeance is demanded!”

I high-stepped through the water while the beast screamed bloody murder. I didn’t want to look back, because that would leave no doubt he gained on me.

My foot tripped over a cluster of submerged rocks and I splashed into the cool, clear water. I flipped over and faced my attacker as his cold, dark shadow enveloped me. Milky-white foam oozed over his lower lip, dripping long strands toward the water below.

“Prepare to meet your maker!”

He raised the mallet high above his head. At least my death would be quick, but I couldn’t say much for painless. I shut my eyes tight and waited for the crushing blow.

A sharp whistle passed overhead and the giant beast gasped and choked. My eyes flashed open as the beast dropped his weapon into the river behind him.

Only one object stood between me and oblivion, a homemade arrow buried in his neck, with feathers fashioned into rear fins. He couldn’t pull it out from the front, so reached back. The beast’s mind finally gave up hope as soon as his fingers felt a stone tip emerging from the back of his neck. His eyes rolled up into his skull, then he fell backward.

The corpse splashed down and huge waves pushed against me. I jerked my head around and stared at the opposite bank. There, a bow in his left hand and a quiver of arrows strapped to his back, stood the man who’d just saved my life.

Elijah Cassus.

* * *

I shot awake, drenched in sweat and breathing heavy. The ship was rapidly decelerating, and something was definitely wrong. My ship’s computer usually gave me advance notice before we dropped below the hyperspeed threshold.

I wiped my forehead and tossed my legs over the cot’s side, speaking to my computer. “Jeanie, where are we?”

Her seductive voice was little comfort to me. “The Bacauri system.”

I involuntarily shuddered, even knowing we’d pass this way when we first set a course for the Tranon system. Quite likely, it was why I’d had a nightmare about my time on Lycus IV. Trouble was, we weren’t scheduled to make a stop before reaching Tranon. I scrambled for the bridge. “Why are we slowing down?”

“A power fluctuation interrupted the hyperspeed engines.”

This had never happened to me before. But as always, my life was a textbook example of bad timing.

“Once they cool down, continue course.”

I slumped into my captain’s chair, staring blankly at the viewscreen. A lone red planet, uninhabited, rested several megpars ahead, surrounded by tiny light specks.

I examined the sensor screen in my left side console, and confirmed I wasn’t just a victim of overactive paranoia. Sure enough, the Lycus system border was only two megpars off my port side.

I shivered. “Jeanie, how much longer?”

“Should only be a few more moments.”

I took a deep, calming breath. The prison planet Lycus IV had driven fear into my heart. My escape definitely hadn’t made me any friends with the territorial rulers, the Gohr. It had almost led to my death, more times than I wanted to remember.

Without warning, the viewscreen filled with bright white light. I held my hand up to shield my eyes.

“Incoming transmission, unidentified vessel.”

Ships didn’t make unscheduled stops in the middle of nowhere, especially when there wasn’t a communication beacon anywhere nearby. It meant one thing.

Someone was after me.

“Put it through.” A window popped up along the left half of my viewscreen, and I was face-to-face with a Wasirian in a chair. The squat translucent beast stabilized the gigantic bulb, which served as both his upper torso and head, using several hundred short tentacles grasping onto every surface nearby. Black eyes were huge against his green skin.

Wasirians were a nasty species, known for their short tempers and violent tendencies. At least the males. I never knew anyone who’d actually ever met a female Wasirian. It made one wonder if there was a reason they were always so frustrated with the universe.

The beast’s tiny beak at the center of his body flapped rapidly. “Give me back my cargo!”

“What cargo?”

“Are you Aston West?”

“Yes, but what...”

One of his tentacles broke from the pack and jabbed at the screen. “Then give me back my Nomarian ale.”

I scowled. “I’m telling you, I don’t know...”

His forked tongue flapped out from his beak and he hissed and shrieked, loud and shrill, to silence me, before going back to his demands. “You stole my cargo!” His giant bulb doubled in size and deepened to a red color.

I rushed to prevent another interruption. “I didn’t steal anything. What proof do you have?”

“An eyewitness saw you do it.”

“Then your eyewitness is a liar.”

His eyes narrowed to vertical slits. “Give it back or else!”

I muted the audio and spoke to Jeanie. “What’s his armament?”

“Proton cannons and a set of four AIR-3’s.”

Adilphi Interceptor Rockets. I could evade one, maybe two at the most. Four would be a stretch.

On the other half of my viewscreen, I watched his ship drift, pointed in roughly the same direction as I was. No more than half a kilpar long, the bullet-shaped front transitioned to a rectangular cabin, accented at the rear with four exhaust nozzles. Delta wings were nestled underneath his aft cabin.

His head grew a darker shade of red as I returned to the conversation. “Listen, I’m sorry you lost a shipment of Nomarian ale, but I don’t have it. Scan my hold for yourself.”

I didn’t even know what Nomarian ale looked like, but knew all my holds were empty.
His tongue flapped a few more times. “Everyone knows scans can be deceived!”

True enough, but I didn’t have his ale. I wished I did. Business had dried up lately, no pun intended.

“Maybe we can retrace your steps and figure this out.”

I had no idea why the idea of using diplomacy even entered my head. It wouldn’t have been any use with a Wasirian, even if I’d been good at it in the first place.

“You will not return my ale?” His eyes widened. “Then you will die!”

My life’s never dull.

The sub-window disappeared from the viewscreen, which left me an expansive view of the starscape outside.

A skin panel rose along the top of his ship, just forward of the nozzles. His thrusters flashed and the vessel turned toward me. He was about to do something very stupid.

Jeanie confirmed it. “His rocket launchers are deployed and targeting is on-line.”

“Idiot.” I grabbed the control stick on my left and rested my other hand on the thruster control panel.

The ship banked and propelled itself in response as I jerked the stick forward and to the left, keeping him from getting a targeting lock. I kept his ship centered in my viewscreen.

“Can you hack into his computer and disable his targeting computer?”

“Negative. I have attempted to do so since he dropped out of hyperspace. He has a very impressive security system in place.”

“Guess we’ll have to do this the hard way. Bring up the proton cannons, continuous burst.”


“Disable his targeting computer. Maximum power.” The sooner I disabled his ability to kill me, the better.

“Maximum power,” she repeated.

I leveled my ship out. “Fire!”

Green beams pulsed from either side of the viewscreen and impaled his launcher.

“Whoa! Cease fire!”

Jeanie obeyed immediately, and the beams dissipated to nothing.

“I wanted to disable his targeting computer, not destroy his warheads.”

“His targeting computer is located inside his launch bay. It has been disabled as you requested.”

At least no further damage had been done.

Or so I thought, just before all four warheads glowed bright red and then exploded. Another blast followed when debris ripped into the engine pods, and the ship was shredded to pieces. A fireball ignited, then extinguished itself in the vacuum of space. Scrap metal raced away from the scene of the crime. Small fragments pelted my ship and I cringed. The last thing I needed was a hole in my hull. Emergency depressurization in the middle of nowhere would be yet one more nightmare I could live without.

“No life signs detected.”

As if there had been any doubt.

I closed my eyes. I hadn’t meant for the fool to die. Sure, he hadn’t been the first person I’d ever killed, but there was usually a reason someone had to die. Stupidity wasn’t one of the better ones.

Why hadn’t he just believed me? Now he was dead, because of lost cargo neither one of us had possession of. The truly sad part was neither of us had the ale.

“Wait for the debris field to clear. Then get us out of here.”


This brief interruption had given me a respite from my earlier fear. Without death staring me in the face, though, I returned to my thoughts of Lycus IV.

I closed my eyes and took another deep breath. As long as I stayed on this side of the border, I had nothing to worry about. The Gohr were notoriously mean and vicious, a fact to which anyone who’d heard of them could attest. They only left their territory to annex others, though, and for nothing else.

I opened my eyes once again. The sound of debris bouncing off the hull had ceased, yet we hadn’t moved. “Jeanie...”

“Forward coolant injectors are not responding.” Without coolant, the hyperspeed engines would turn my ship into a ball of liquid metal.

Definitely not anything to experience firsthand.

“Wonderful!” I leaned back and stared at the beige overhead liner, then rubbed my temples. “Can anything else go wrong?”

“I’m picking up a Gohr destroyer departing orbit around the planet.”

I double-checked the sensor screen. “What’s it doing outside of Gohr territory?”

“I don’t have an answer to that.”

I turned to the viewscreen. The destroyer rapidly approached and triple-barrel turrets atop the vessel emerged in exquisite detail. Twin stacks were mounted just forward of a raised bridge. One shot, and there wouldn’t even be debris left to sift through for my remains.

If they discovered who I was, and they would, my escape from Lycus IV would mean my death. My stomach churned with the knowledge my weapons and hull would be useless against a warship. There was no way I’d outrun them, either, not without operational hyperspeed engines.

“They’re closing to weapons range.” Jeanie announced. “Incoming transmission.”

* * *

Buy a Copy From These Stores:
Print E-Book




Battle Royal - Choose the Winner!

Well, it came to my attention that two of my books have now been put on sale for the rest of this month over at Amazon, for the low price of 99 cents. So, I personally think we should have a Battle Royal between the two. So, it's a race to the top...which book is going to hit the #1 spot first? My Aston novel Friends in Deed, or my short story collection Dead or Alive? You choose!

10 February 2012

SFFS: A Snippet from "Redemption"

Greetings, everyone, and welcome to another installment of Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday here on the blog. Make sure to check out all the other authors involved via the previous link. Like last week's snippet from "Lifeline" I'll be digging into my Dead or Alive collection for today's snippet, which comes from another of the included stories, "Redemption":
I yanked my Mark II blaster out of its holster, rotated the container’s handles and threw open the lid against my instructions.


I climbed up on the bay’s support structure to look inside.

My mind raced to process the images. A young woman stood naked at the middle of the container, save for a long mane of bright red hair. She covered herself and fell silent. I looked around the container and saw eight medical beds angled up against the two side walls.

My skin crawled at the sight of other unclothed beings. Various ages and genders were represented through each bed’s lid. I assumed they were alive, but it could have gone either way.

Whatever this was, I wasn’t going to like it.

If you liked last week's snippet (or the full story for those who found it via my website), and liked this one as well, make sure to pick up a copy of the full collection. Enjoy!

08 February 2012

Sales Update - February 2012

It's been a little over three months since my last update on sales figures, so I figured now would be as good a time as any to give a little update. To recap those figures, here are the stats from that previous post (as of October 30):

Heroes Die Young (released September 2008) had sold a total of 231 copies (print and e-book total), for an average of around 73 copies per year.

Friends in Deed (released January 2010) had sold a total of 65 copies (print and e-book total), for an average of around 33 copies per year.

Seeker (released December 2010) had sold around 42 copies (e-book only).

Dead or Alive (released in print, February 2011) had sold 19 copies. An e-book version was not available.

The Cure (released in e-book, July 2011; in print, September 2011) had sold 2 print copies and 11 e-books.

And now for the new stats:

Heroes Die Young has now sold a total of 260 copies (print and e-book total). This includes copies that were previously sold, but not yet paid for by the vendor (such as Amazon), so 29 copies have passed through the system in the last three months. I have not yet received my royalty statement for the 4th quarter of 2011, but am expecting it soon, so any copies appearing there will be included in the next update.
Friends in Deed has now sold a total of 66 copies (print and e-book total). Same comments about the upcoming royalty statement.  There may have been a discrepancy on the past update, as I've sold 6 copies since then...but the 66 copies is correct.
Seeker has now sold around 50 copies (99-cent e-book only), so about 8 copies have sold over the past three months.
Dead or Alive has now sold 22 print copies (3 copies over the past three months). An e-book version was made available in July 2011 over at Smashwords (Kindle version came out in January 2012), and has sold 6 copies (an estimate based on sales ranking numbers...with four of these for the Kindle in the past month).

The Cure has now sold 29 copies (print and e-book total), so 16 copies have sold in the past three months. One side note to this is that I recently dropped the price to 99 cents, and my sales in January and February so far (at least through Smashwords) have been the same number as my sales were in the first six months at the $2.99 level.

As mentioned in the last update, I went ahead and put out my first Triple-Shot collection in November 2011 for a 99-cent price point. Since that time, 8 reported copies have sold.

Now for the analysis:

First, in conversations with others, they aren't entirely sure why some of these numbers are so low. Other books seem to do far better, even though they aren't written as well. This could be for lack of sufficient marketing, a matter that I've previously mentioned is being corrected.

As I mentioned about The Cure, sales drastically increased when I dropped the price to 99 cents. Although the royalty figures decreased accordingly, I believe these prices will need to stick around until such time as my sales figures improve. All of my self-published titles have been priced at this level now, but once my new title (Death Brings the Victory) is released, I'll have a decision to make regarding that price point. Since it already has a base with fans of Aston, it may sustain itself at a higher price. Time will tell.

In the past three months, I've sold 76 books for a total of just over 25 books a month all-inclusive (counting all titles). This backs up the assertion that many have made before, in that putting out additional titles helps boost sales figures. So, if you're spending all of your time trying to promote one book while neglecting your next book in the process, you're doing it wrong. Promote, yes, but if you don't have a new book coming down the pipeline, you're only hurting yourself.

Hopefully I'll do a little more analysis about these figures (specifically, the comparison between sales figures for each book) in an upcoming post. In the meantime, I hope they were useful to you in your search for a publisher, agent, small press or for helping you decide whether to go into self-publishing.

07 February 2012

Weekly Goals - February 7, 2012

A good week on the edits, and even better, almost to the end. Almost there!

Results for this week:

1. Edited 5 (versus goal of 5) chapters on Death Brings the Victory

And now the goals for this coming week:

1. Finish all edits on Death Brings the Victory

03 February 2012

SFFS: A Snippet From "Lifeline"

Greetings, everyone, and welcome to another installment of Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday here on the blog. Once again, make sure to check out all the other authors involved via the site link above when you're done reading. For those who were not aware, I have an eleven-story collection Dead or Alive featuring my space pirate Aston West through the folks at ResAliens Press, and you can pick up the e-book version here (a paperback version is also available). Today's snippet comes from one of the included stories, "Lifeline":

She’d drugged me, there was no mistaking it.

The walls in front of me were decayed gray stone, overgrown with fuzzy mildew. I stood with my back flat against a table. Nothing but cold metal touched my backside. A rush of frigid air flew under a thin gown draped over me. I shivered.

I didn’t have my jacket, so couldn’t contact my ship’s computer to get my current location, or come and pick me up. I had no clothes on, and that was disturbing because I didn’t see any sign of the woman who’d given me a drink.

A male voice spoke behind me. “Ah, you’re awake.”

"Lifeline" was a top-ten finisher in the 2009 Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. I highly encourage everyone to go pick up a copy of the full collection, especially with this month's discounted price. Enjoy!

01 February 2012

SEEKER Excerpt


I was in deep crap. The white flash faded from my forward viewscreen, leaving me right in the flight path of an assault ship. The attack vessel took up my entire display and then some, its twin claw-like engine nacelles stretching out as if to crush my ship in their grip. There had to be at least a dozen automatic laser turrets I could make out. This definitely wasn’t what I’d signed up for in coming here.

My ship’s computer’s voice carried over the internal speakers. “They’re hailing us, audio only.”

I was glad someone had bought all my contraband during my last stop. Being arrested was the last thing I needed. “Put it through.”

“Sierra-tango-four-two-four, shut down your engines and prepare to be boarded.”

“Tell me what this is all about,” I told the screen.

The response was all business. “Random cargo check.”

With a sigh, I watched the dark gray structure approach, battle scars lining the outer hull. Odds were this wasn’t as random as they made it out to be. I reconsidered the idea of making a run for it, but another look at the assault craft’s firepower made my decision simple. There was no way I’d escape alive.

My innocence would get me through this. If that failed, Jeanie could sabotage them. I hoped so, anyway.

“Shut us down, Jeanie.”


Impending doom festered in my gut as our thrusters cut off. I responded to the assault ship. “I have important business waiting on one of your outer planets.” A blatant lie, though I almost convinced myself. “I hope this won’t take long.”

“We’ll process you as fast as we can.” His tone told me I could toss myself out the nearest airlock. “Prepare to be boarded.”

I cursed aloud.

“The transmission has terminated,” Jeanie responded.


The two engine nacelles passed off either side of my viewscreen. Even being innocent, I couldn’t stop the intense dread. A large access tube telescoped out from the nacelle on our port side. Bright yellow flashes shone all over the assault ship as its position thrusters lit off in random sequence.

Loud thumps echoed as their docking clamps ensured my ship stuck around. Another even louder clang right after made me cringe as the airlock tube sealed against my hull. I was sure they’d be disappointed if they ended up smashing a hole in the side of my ship, but I’d be the only one suffering the permanent consequences.

Jeanie’s voice returned. “Pressures should stabilize in a few moments.”

Once the atmospheres on either side of the hatch were equal, it would open. “Take your time.”

“The process is automated based on a set schedule. It is not something I can adjust.”

Sarcasm was still tricky for her. “Never mind.”

I reached down and pulled a half-bottle of Vladirian liquor from my captain chair’s side pocket. Peace and quiet would both be running short, and as I faced the prospect of several unwelcome guests on-board, I needed something to take the edge off. Uncapping the lid, I emptied the sweet yellow nectar down my throat.

Passing through the doorway into my living quarters, I tossed the empty bottle into a clothes pile, crinkling my nose at the stench. The entry hatch popped open as the pressures between the two ships equalized. Six automatic blast rifles were pointed directly at my chest, giving me the usual welcome I received in these circumstances.

Knowing the drill by heart, I clasped my fingers atop my head. Troops piled in, yelling jumbles of words at each other and at me. Someone kicked the back of my legs and a rifle barrel was shoved in my face as my kneecaps struck the metal floorboard.

“Don’t move, scum.”

In my youth, I would have taken exception to such treatment. Age and more than my fair share of holding cells had made me wiser. I bided my time quietly, since I had nothing to hide. A pair of troops tore apart my quarters while others ducked off into my aft cargo hold.

Testosterone flooded the compartment, and all of it was wasted. They were going through this exercise and would end up with nothing to show for it. I smiled, knowing I’d have the last laugh.

“Wipe that look off your face, dirtbag.”

I looked up into the fiery green eyes of my captor. His helmet matched the metallic gray body armor he wore. His nose and mouth were covered in black fabric, but nothing muffled him from running his mouth, unfortunately. “Answer me when I speak!”

I frowned at his abusive attitude, just in time for him to club my head with his rifle butt. He jerked the barrel back at my chest, while my skull throbbed.

The only thing preventing me from jumping up and pummeling him was the fact this would be over soon. I forced words through clenched teeth. “Yes, sir.”

It was good my Mark II blaster was hidden in a secret crevice next to the airlock. Had it been holstered under my jacket, I might have been shot dead like a wild animal, instead of just beaten down like a domesticated one.

Those inside my living quarters finally gave up the search just before the other troops came back from my cargo hold. Their dejected facial expressions told me everything I’d already known; there hadn’t been anything they could find to implicate me. A smile almost crept back onto my face, but I refrained. I really wasn’t in the mood to end up with a concussion.

Another man entered through the hatch, absent any sort of body armor. His dark gray shirt bore a pair of silver ornamental bars on each shoulder. He looked down upon me with all the contempt I’d expect out of a ship’s officer. “Take him to the interrogation chamber.”

My heart sank. It wasn’t supposed to go down like this. “Why?” I protested, before my captor’s blast rifle tagged me again.

I brought my eyes back into focus while another man’s voice carried through the room. “Lieutenant, this ship’s completely empty. There’s no contraband on-board.”

“We’ll see what else he has to hide. The seeker should get some useful information out of him.”

My two-time attacker yanked me to my feet. “Up, scum!”

Already in a poor mood for this unsubstantiated detainment, I pulled away. “Get your paws off me.”

His eyes went wide. He shoved the barrel against my chest. “Give me an excuse to drop you, punk.”

“Enough!” We both faced the officer, whose stare burned into the armored guard. “You have your orders.”

His eyes narrowed, nostrils flaring as he shoved me. “Move.”

The officer led the way. We ducked into the telescoping airlock tunnel, where I worried the spongy floor might bust through with each step. There weren’t enough words to express how thankful I was when my feet stepped inside the craft’s entry corridor. The rubberized floor panels and metallic hull were definitely welcome.

My senses were assaulted with an overwhelming aroma of honey. The mixture was a rare delicacy out here in the depths of space, something I’d only had a few times in life. I looked off to my left as the lieutenant started off in the opposite direction. A woman faced me, shimmering black dress brushing along the floor, her breasts jutting out against the fabric. A hand-crafted shawl was draped across her shoulders, the same color as her fire-like tresses, making it hard to tell where the garment ended and her hair began. Her eyes were two milky white globes against a face of smooth, pale skin. Her petite frame seemed as though it would break just by looking at her.

And look I did.

It wasn’t often I stood this close to such beauty, let alone caught a woman’s stare. At least I assumed she was looking at me. Those milky globes haunted me, somehow conveying warmth despite their cold, empty appearance. It was a shame she was so out of place standing between her escorts, a pair of tall, armor-clad monsters.

A bright flash blinded me. Quick glimpses, images, random visual fragments bombarded my vision. Two bodies, intertwined, slowly came into focus.

Then, blackness collapsed it all.

Massive pain radiated through my skull. My sight slowly returned to normal, and I found myself chest-down on top of the cushioned floor panels. I was back on-board the assault ship.

“Move, scum,” a familiar voice spat above me.

I climbed to all-fours and looked back at the red-haired vixen, fear in my eyes. What just happened? The woman’s forehead creased as I stood.

The armored guard gave off a deep belly laugh. “She’s already in your head, isn’t she?”

It finally made sense. This was the seeker the lieutenant had mentioned.

The bastard kept up with his jubilation, speaking to his comrades behind him. “She’ll crucify him.”

I kept my eyes on the woman and my mood turned from bad to worse. I had no idea what she was capable of, but she could get inside my head, and that scared me to death. I was privy to a lot of information not meant for anyone to know, much of it illegal activities. I’d mistakenly thought my present innocence would lead to freedom. Now, it seemed past misdeeds might be my downfall.

Fear building, I followed the officer, who watched with a subtle laugh under his breath. He hadn’t reprimanded his subordinate this time, which meant I’d used up my one get-out-of-being-assaulted-free card.

He let loose his chuckle. “Afraid of a pretty woman?”

I didn’t bother to answer, instead figuring out my options. I couldn’t fend off another mental invasion.

In other words, I was screwed.

* * *

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