31 December 2013

Writing Goals for 2014

Well, since it's the last day of the year, it's time to start putting together a list of the writing goals I'd like to accomplish in 2014. Of course, I also need to start getting back into the habit of reviewing these goals regularly, something I used to do with at least moderate success...

So, here goes:

1. Finish and publish my new Aston novella Fallen.

My novella Seeker has done quite well in the free download department, and it seems to help boost sales of my other novels. I haven't decided whether or not to make this one free or not (leaning toward a 99-cent download, and just keep Seeker as my one freebie), but I still like this story. Hopefully the fact that I'm racing through to finish the first draft by the end of this week won't cause me issues in the editing department later.

2. Finish and publish my new Aston novel Resurrection.

Those who've read Friends in Deed and Death Brings Victory know that a lot has happened in the Aston West universe (and if you haven't read them yet, get moving!). Building off of the events in my non-Aston  novel The Cure, you can likely guess what's going to happen, but part of the fun is finding out how the story transpires.

3. Publish another Triple-Shot.

I currently have three triple-shots out there, and the well has currently run dry in terms of new short stories (not in ideas for stories, just in stories completed). So I'll need to kick my butt in gear and finish at least three new ones this year to even have a shot at this goal.

4. Finish the next two novellas in the Max McCannor series.

Lyndon Perry and I have published the first in this series, Escape. The goal is to at least finish (although we're hoping to have them published) the next two by the end of 2014. Although I don't normally like to set goals that depend on other people (such as not setting a goal for sales of any of my books), I think this is something we can get done.

All in all, it's going to be a busy year. Thanks to everyone who's purchased a copy of one (or all) of my books, and I'm looking forward to bringing you even more great stories in the near future.

28 December 2013

Author Tag!

I was tagged by my friend Angie Lofthouse for this post, so here goes:

What am I working on?

I just finished a rewrite of Friends in Deed, in order to release it after my contract with Champagne Books is completed. I'm still planning on finishing up the first draft of my new novella Fallen by the end of next week. Then it'll be time to finish my next Aston novel.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Many people indicate that they don't normally enjoy sci-fi, but they love my work. If I was to hazard a guess, I'd imagine that's because my stories usually focus more on the interpersonal relationships between Aston and others, and less on the scientific aspects of Aston's universe. That, and I tend to write stories with high levels of action and dialogue, compared to a lot of sci-fi that's heavy into narrative.

Why do I write what I do?

I love to tell a good story. So far, I seem to be accomplishing that.

How does your writing process work?

It varies based on what I'm writing. Most of the time with novels (and novellas), I plot a general outline that covers scenes I'd like to include. I write the first draft using that outline, adjusting as necessary or when I see something that I need to add or remove. Then I edit several times before shipping it off to beta readers for review. Another edit or two, and I have the final product.

For short stories, I'll often write a one-page briefing for the story, covering such things as characters, locations and themes I want to cover. Then, I write the draft and edit as needed.

Whether I write longhand or go strictly on the computer depends on my mood at the time, as well as the availability of a laptop or netbook.

17 December 2013

Plans for the Break

So, it's been a while since I've put together a "goals" post, but with two weeks of time off coming up, it's time to put something out for what I want to accomplish. So, here goes:

1. Complete the first draft of my new Aston novella Fallen.
2. Complete edits on my re-write of Friends in Deed.

In other news, just a reminder to be sure and pick up a copy of my latest releases:

14 December 2013

Sales Update - December 2013

It's been around six months since my most recent sales update in June, and I have a few updated numbers. So, here goes:

Heroes Die Young has sold a total of 442 sales (print and e-book total), which means 16 copies have sold since June (for a total of just over 2 copies a month over the past six months). This compares to 9 copies sold in the November 2012 - June 2013 range, so sales are a bit up. The five-year anniversary for this one was in September, so we're now dropping below the average of 100 copies per year.

Friends in Deed has sold a total of 100 copies (print and e-book total), which means that 4 copies have sold since June (for a total of around 1 copy every four months). This compares to around 2 copies during the previous reporting period. This January marks the four-year anniversary of this one, so the average is around 25 copies per year. As such, I've decided to go ahead and let my contract with Champagne expire on this one come January. Still working out what to do with it after that, sp we'll see what happens.

I've decided to keep Seeker on the free giveaway list, so have stopped recording paid sales. On average, I seem to give away about 150-200 copies each month. Hopefully that leads to a few paid sales on the other titles.

Dead or Alive is still sitting at 83 copies, as I haven't received a reporting of sales since the last update. So, as such, the book is still running about 2-4 copies a month at last count.

The Cure has now sold 93 total copies (print and e-book total), so 10 copies have sold since my past update, compared to 16 copies during the previous update. This book has been out over 2 years (the anniversary was in July), so again I'm seeing a little over 40 copies per year.

Death Brings Victory was released two years ago this coming March, and 60 total copies have sold, meaning 12 copies have sold since the last update, compared to 11 copies during the previous update. This puts it on track with most of my other novels, at just over 40 copies per year. It will be interesting to see, depending on what I choose to do with the previous book in the series, how sales will be impacted.

I now have three Triple-Shot collections out, with the first having been released in November 2011, the second in July 2012, and the third in September 2013. 77 copies have sold, so 37 copies sold since my last update (versus 12 copies from the previous update). Breaking this down, 44 total copies of the first have sold, 23 of the second, and 10 of the third.

Now for the analysis of this latest period:

Things seems to have stabilized, and not in a good place. Since my latest update (June), I've sold 79 books compared to 63 books during the previous update for an average of just over 10 books per month.
And so I have a statistic when people ask (and quite often they do), the latest "total sales" number now stands at 855 copies (note: this does not count past sales of Seeker...).

And if we put together the last twelve months of sales, I see the following (not counting Seeker, nor DOA, which hasn't had enough records provided):

HDY: 25
FID: 6
DBV: 23
Cure: 26
Triple-Shots: 49

Not to bad, I suppose, to have 129 paid sales in a year...not good, but could be worse...

Alas, I still have a novella and a novel to complete. As you may have already seen, I do have a collaboration effort novella that should have a few sales as well. And although I won't be counting sales of the collection my short story "Ever Dark" is in, I'm hopeful that this will lead to sales of my other titles as well.

Thanks for stopping by!

13 December 2013

New Novella - ESCAPE

Just in time for your Christmas shopping...I have a new novella (a collaboration effort with Lyndon Perry) available in print. Although this isn't an Aston title, it's a great story (the start of a series) that we've put together.

Max McCannor and his friends all suffer under the cruelty of their orphanage headmaster. Finally reaching a breaking point and spurred on by the hope of finding his long-lost father, Max convinces the others to flee their captors and head west. But the headmaster has much to lose, and hires one of his former orphans to track the children down and return them to the orphanage before they ESCAPE for good.

04 December 2013

A Thorn in my Side

Although it hasn't been the only reason for a lack of writing production, my last several weeks (and to be honest, the last 14 months) have been plagued with kidney stones. In particular for these last few weeks, a staghorn calcium oxylate stone in my right kidney, measuring 11mm (or for those of us on this side of the globe, just under a half-inch) about two weeks ago. Below is what one looks like (although mine isn't quite this size, if I'm reading the measurement correctly) for those who've never been privy to the fun and joy they bring.

Needless to say, it won't be coming out on its own at this size, so surgery is coming up next week to break it up with a laser that takes the scenic route up to my kidney. Of course, it would have to be a laser blaster, for a sci-fi writer...

Sadly, this is not my first experience with these buggers, although they have varied in size (sometimes, they've actually made the long journey down themselves), location, and the method of removal over the past 14 years/10+ surgeries. Sometimes, the doctors use ultrasound waves from the outside...which is far less sci-fi-esque than befits my writer lineage (and in one case, left me looking like my back had gone fifteen rounds with Mike Tyson).

And in the last 13 months, I've had to go in for three of these surgical removals...as my urologist remarks, I'm a "stone-forming machine." Let's hope this is the last one, but after 14 years, I'm not too optimistic. I've read Paul's letters from the Bible which discuss the thorn in his side which God never seems to answer prayers about removing...and honestly, I've thought for the longest time that maybe he suffered from kidney stones as well...

In the meantime, be sure to check out the new Raygun Chronicles collection that my story "Ever Dark" is appearing in. It's always a joy to know that my work is lumped together with some of the more famous sci-fi authors out there.

And of course, stay tuned for a brand new novella series that Lyndon Perry and I have been collaborating on...should be releasing in the next week or two, just in time for Christmas! Although this isn't an Aston novella (which I'm also working on finishing one of those), it's a great new series that I've had a lot of fun in  creating with Lyndon, and have really loved the characters and storyline.

And if nothing else, at least my writing should be really entertaining while under the influence of post-surgery medications...