21 January 2013

Ray Gun Revival Lives On

For those who didn't already know, several of my short stories found their way to publication through Ray Gun Revival, which ended their stint as an online magazine after 6 glorious years.

As a tribute to the magazine, an anthology is in the works which will feature some of the best space opera stories (including one of mine) from the magazine's run, along with some newly penned pieces.

Currently, the creators of the anthology are accepting donations via Kickstarter (in order to pay the contributors). If you're a fan of great space opera stories, I'd highly encourage you to check out the details.

18 January 2013

SFFS: Another Snippet From "Hiding in the Shadows"

Welcome back to yet another installment of Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday here on the blog. Thanks for all the feedback you give on my snippets, and be sure to go visit all of the other writers through the SFFS link above as well.

I've been slowly working through edits on my short story "Hiding in the Shadows" this past week. Lest everyone get the impression from last week's snippet that Aston was facing the villains of this story, I've decided to post up another snippet from later in that same scene. Enjoy!
I nodded sharply, then stepped backward, trying to put some distance between us before turning.

Sand exploded off to my left. I grabbed for my weapon, forgetting it was still on the ship. My eyes went wide at more than a dozen personnel decked out in golden body armor and full helmets covering their faces.

Then I saw the firepower they were sporting. It looked as if they’d taken stock automatic blast rifles and outfitted them with larger power generation units and targeting computers normally reserved for military use.

I’d fallen into a sting operation.

Things going from bad to worse? I'd say so...

11 January 2013

SFFS: A Snippet From "Hiding in the Shadows"

Welcome back after a long hiatus from the regular Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday installments on the blog. Thanks for all the feedback you give on my snippets, and be sure to go visit all of the other writers through the SFFS link above as well.

I'm deep into working several different projects at once (because I'm a glutton for punishment). Hopefully this will keep my blog filled with snippets for the rest of the year. At the moment, I'm working up a submission for an anthology call. The title is still a bit up in the air, but for now, we'll keep the interim title, "Hiding in the Shadows" for this Aston tale. As always, things go from bad to worse for poor Aston. At this point, he's making one of his usual transactions that may or may not be completely legal:
I watched the ship’s mechanical arm lift out a cargo container, easing it down into the soft sand. The claw remained attached as I’d instructed. Though these three professed no love for the black market beauty Angelika, I didn’t plan on getting screwed over in this deal.

One of the other men scrambled over, popping open the latches atop the rectangular container. He climbed up the frame, lifted the lid and peeked inside, before giving a nod of confirmation to his leader.

The team leader tossed the money box toward me. I snatched it mid-air and examined it closer. My stomach churned and I stared daggers at him.

“There’s only six thousand here.”

This is why it's always important to get your money upfront and in full. Hope you enjoyed the snippet, and can't wait to bring you more in the coming weeks from this and other projects.

05 January 2013

The Usefulness of Smashwords

Something that has been weighing on my mind recently is the usefulness of using Smashwords for distribution of my self-published works. With Barnes and Noble and Kobo (two of the major distribution channels for Smashwords) both setting up their own avenues for authors to put up their titles, it's something to seriously consider. So, for the past year, I've been tracking the number of sales directly through Smashwords.

The charts below display the trends of Smashwords sales (red lines) compared to the number of Smashwords sample downloads (blue lines) for my three major works.

One thing I notice is that Smashwords users tend to do a lot of downloading, but not a lot of buying. My free download "Entrapment" (only available through Smashwords) just recently passed the 1000-download mark. My hope had been that the free sample would drive users to buy a copy of my other works. That really hasn't panned out as I'd hoped.

Now, for a comparison of sales via Smashwords to the sales made through B&N and Kobo:

For Seeker, the only "sales" made via Smashwords were free giveaways using coupon codes. Kobo sold half as many (but as full price), while no sales were made over at B&N.

For The Cure, the only "sales" made via Smashwords were free givewaways. Kobo didn't sell a copy, but B&N still made seven times as many sales over Smashwords, and all of them were for money.

For Death Brings Victory, Smashwords was the only spot that sold copies, and 80% of the sales were for full price. I will point out that it took several months for this title to show up over on B&N, which may be skewing the numbers a bit.

That said, it certainly does look like most Smashwords users are out for free stuff only. So, perhaps the thing to do would be to use them only for the sites where I can't distribute books myself, but go directly through Kobo and B&N myself for each title.

In fact, I've recently posted up Death Brings Victory over at B&N using the PubIt feature...so we'll see how it does in a head-to-head competition. Someday soon, maybe I'll do the same thing over at Kobo.

02 January 2013

The Next Big Thing - Round 2

I actually did one of these "Next Big Thing" blogs back in October (where I was mentioning my new in-work novel Resurrection), but since I was tagged for another by Lee S King, and since I just came up with a new novella idea New Year's Eve, I figure I'll go ahead and give it another go with that one.

The rules of the blog hop:
  1. Mention who tagged you, and link to their post.
  2. Give the rules.
  3. Answer the ten questions below.
  4. Link to several more people.

1) What is the title of your next book?

I haven't come up with an official title for this latest novella, and actually I haven't even started brainstorming potential titles. So right now it's being saved off under "New Novella" - but if I had to come up with some thoughts off the cuff, I'd probably go with Silver and Gold, The Sacrifice or perhaps The Fall.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I'm a plotter, and while I was over in India back in February, I was generating plenty of notebook paper sheets with scribbled notes of potential ideas. Two of the sheets ended up merged, and New Year's Eve, I started putting fingers to keyboard and came up with a general plot summary and character sheets.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Science-Fiction Space Opera (toying with the idea of how to make it incorporate some steampunk as well)

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Plenty of folks who'd be good as Aston...I used to say Nathan Fillion, but I saw him the other day in "Castle" and since I can't go back in time for his "Firefly" look, I'll have to come up with someone else...perhaps Viggo Mortensen or Matt Damon.

The female lead, in my mind, resembles Ursula Andress of Dr. No (007) fame...but again, since we can't go back in time, I'll have to settle for someone modern. Maybe Heather Locklear...

The villain would probably be good as Mickey Rourke, but only if he could resemble his character from The Expendables.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Aston West lands on a technologically-simple planet where he's considered a deity, but must try to protect his new-found followers from a group of pirates bent on exploiting them.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

If the question is between these two, I'd go with self-published. If the question is meant to be self-published or submitted to a publisher, the jury is out, but I'm still leaning toward the same end.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I've only put together character sheets and a rough plot summary at this point. Once I get started, I'm hoping that everything moves quickly. Since I'm shooting for a novella-length piece, I'm hoping that it will take me about three or four months for the first draft.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I'm sure if I thought hard enough, I'd come up with a suitable comparison. At the moment, I can't think of anything that similar.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

2012 had been a rough year, output-wise. I guess that when New Year's Eve came around, I decided it was high time to get some stuff done this coming year.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I'm once again toying with the idea of bringing romance into this story...we'll see how it goes, but...

That, and the fact that the villain is someone who readers of my short stories will remember from a pair of my pieces ("Obedience" and "Profit and Loss").

And now it's my chance to inflict some pain...er, pass the baton (I decided to spare those who I tagged in the previous edition):