Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Snowybrook Inn stuff

I just published some new Snowybrook Inn titles. The first is Snowybrook Inn: Book Three, which contains two new novelettes.

The second, Welcome to Snowybrook Inn, collects the first three Snowybrook books into one volume. This is for new readers to the series, who will no longer need to buy the three books individually. With the publication of the third book, the series has reached novel length, so I thought it was a good time to collect the stories together into one place.

Friday, November 30, 2012

New audiobook released - Demonspawn

The audiobook for my fantasy novel Demonspawn has just been released by Audible. It's narrated by Clay Teunis.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Adventures of Captain Bob in Outer Space

I've put out a new print edition of The Adventures of Captain Bob in Outer Space. There are a few differences from the previous print edition. The new edition has a larger trim size (7" x 10" as opposed to 6" x 9"). The new edition also includes "The Trouble With Doubles," which wasn't in the previous edition. Also, the episode "Das Boot" is completely finished in the new edition. In the old, it was only half done, with the final ten or so pages consisting of a thumbnail script of the rest of the story.

So the highlights of the new edition are:

  • Larger trim size (7" x 10")
  • More story and more pages (6 issues rather than 5)
  • Everything is complete

Monday, November 12, 2012

New audiobook released - Zombie Galaxy: Outbreak

The audiobook for my novella Zombie Galaxy: Outbreak has been released on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. It features a fast-paced performance by Andrew B. Wehrlen.

Incidentally, Andrew is also an author, and you can check out his first book, The Portal's Light: The Portal Opens, here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New audiobook released - Colony

The audiobook for my science fiction novel Colony has just been released by Audible. It's narrated by Martin Scott, a veteran in the voiceover industry. It's available at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Give it a listen!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book notes - Billy Barnaby's Twisted Christmas

In honor of my novel Billy Barnaby's Twisted Christmas being released as an audiobook, here are some book notes.
  • Billy Barnaby was inspired by the movie Monsters Inc. Not the story itself, but the motivation for writing it. I loved Monsters Inc, and it made me want to write a kids’ story that would delight children everywhere. I don’t feel that I succeeded.
  • I saw Monsters Inc over the Christmas holiday season of 2002, so I decided that my hypothetical delightful children’s story would be a Christmas story.
  • After brainstorming in January, I wrote the first version of the novel between February and mid-March of 2003.
  • Sometime later that year I adapted it into a screenplay.
  • I like to think of the story as a cross between A Christmas Story, Willy Wonka and Die Hard.
  • In 2005, I pitched the screenplay to a producer in Los Angeles, who told me the story needed a more specific threat, to make the danger seem more real. It wasn’t enough, she said, for the villains to threaten something vague, like the entire world. The threat needed to be to a person. Apparently it wasn’t enough that Mrs. Claus was being threatened. So in 2006, I decided to take her advice, and I rewrote the screenplay, cutting a lot of what I thought were boring scenes, and added a storyline where the U.S. President is assassinated. I also ended the story with an opening for a sequel, which the original didn’t have.
  • Of course, a second movie producer, about the same time I was talking with the first, told me the story was too dark and violent for children. So what did I do? I instead took the first producer’s advice, and made the story even more dark and violent, because I don’t think it’s any more dark and violent than a lot of children’s movies I’ve seen (including Disney stuff).
  • The second version of the screenplay was a top 10 Finalist in the 2008 AAA Screenplay Contest sponsored by Creative Screenwriting magazine.
  • It was also in the Top 10% of the 2010 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition, which is sort of the Rolls Royce, or the Holy Grail, of screenwriting competitions, run by the people who do the Oscars.
  • From 2007 to 2009, I took a break from writing and spent the time illustrating the screenplay into a graphic novel, which is available in print on Amazon
  • Recently, in 2012, I finally got around to working the revised screenplay version back into the original novel.
  • Eventually I plan to write a sequel, which I’m tentatively calling Butch Blackman’s Twisted Christmas.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New audiobook released - Billy Barnaby's Twisted Christmas

Billy Barnaby's Twisted Christmas, my newest audiobook has just been released on Audible and Amazon. It's narrated by Michael Adashefski, who gives a fantastic performance that rivals Jean Shepherd in A Christmas Story!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

New audiobook released - Snowybrook Inn: Book One

My newest audiobook was released on yesterday. It is Snowybrook Inn: Book One, and it's narrated by Fred Kennedy. He's got the perfect voice for fantasy stories, and really brings the book alive. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New audiobook released - Liberal vs. Conservative

Just in time for the November elections!

The second of several forthcoming audiobooks was released on this morning. It's my novella Liberal vs. Conservative, and it's narrated by the very talented Larry Oliver.

audiobook link

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Audiobooks coming soon

I've got several audiobooks currently in production by very talented narrators. Over the next several months, they'll be available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

On a related note, I'm way behind on my writing goals for 2012. At this point, it's looking like the only other releases I'll have this year will be Snowybrook Inn: Book Three, and the next installment in my Zombie Galaxy series.

So many book plans, so little time...

Actually, I'm really not writing any slower than I always have. I'm going at about the same pace as usual. But now that the ebook revolution has made writing fun again for me, I was hoping to increase my productivity. Oh well. At least I'm not slowing down as I get older.

But the book ideas are far outstripping my writing speed. At this rate, I'm going to have to be reincarnated several times to turn my outlines into novels.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Movie Review - Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

           Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
            Who on Earth thought that such a ludicrous concept would ever fly as a serious movie? This movie might have worked as a comedy. But it takes itself absolutely seriously, so that the comedy is unintentional, and that’s the worst kind of comedy.
            There’s so much wrong with this movie that I don’t even know where to begin.
            I guess I’ll start with the subtitle, “Vampire Hunter.” The titular character doesn’t actually do any vampire hunting in the movie. Rather, a renegade vampire feeds Lincoln the address of a vampire, and Lincoln goes to the address and slays the vampire. Where’s the “hunting” in that? Lincoln is a vampire slayer, not a vampire hunter, so the movie goes wrong right at the title.
            There’s also not much of a plot. Lincoln slays vampires on the way to his presidency, and when he gets to be president, he keeps on slaying, until the head vampire’s plan to take over the United States at the Battle of Gettysburg is thwarted. The movie is more like a travelogue detailing Lincoln’s secret life on the way to the White House.
            The movie loses all credibility when Lincoln starts swinging his axe and slaying vampires like he’s the chick from Resident Evil. The sight of a dignified American icon moving like a Ninja is beyond ludicrous.
            Then there are the actors themselves. Honestly, every single actor in this movie looks like a refugee from a comedy. Their hairstyles are comical, their facial expressions are comical…To a man, every second they’re on screen, they look like they’re all about to bust loose with a joke or a punch line.
            I saw this movie in 3D, and even the 3D sucked.
            All that being said, the period set pieces were really nice. If this movie were a Western, or a genuine biography of Abraham Lincoln, it would have looked great.
            Avoid this movie at all costs, unless you’re looking for a good laugh.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A way to sell fan fiction on Kindle

I would like to be able to write and sell Star Trek fan fiction on, and I have an idea how I think fan fiction in general could be sold on Amazon.

Here is my idea for how the process would work:

Paramount Pictures agrees to license Star Trek and all its characters for use by Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Anyone who wants to write Star Trek fan fiction does so, and then uploads their story/novel to KDP. Amazon takes a 35% cut of each story/novel sold, Paramount takes a 35% cut (a licensing fee deducted from the author’s sale), and the author takes a 30% cut. Or whatever percentages are deemed fair for all concerned.

No up front licensing fees. Just a percentage deducted from each sale. Paramount is happy, Amazon is happy, and the author is happy.

One problem I foresee is that there is already so much Star Trek fan fiction out there that people could simply start scraping fan fiction sites and publishing stuff they didn’t even write, thereby stealing from the original authors. I mean, you can’t copyright fan fiction, and a lot of fan fiction was put up under weird pseudonyms like StarMaster, etc. So a creator would have a hard time proving that he/she was the actual author of a particular piece. Anyone could publish a piece and claim it was theirs.

To get around this, Amazon and Paramount would have to insist that all work uploaded was either written after the KDP licensing program was initiated, or that the piece uploaded had not been previously made public. Amazon already checks everything published for possible copyright infringement, so this wouldn’t really be a big change.

I can’t see why Paramount wouldn’t want to do something like this. People have been writing fan fiction for decades, and that’s never going to stop. Why not let everyone involved make a little money from it? I think Amazon and Paramount could make hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars per month from such a program.

The stories/novels could be clearly labeled as fan fiction, and not official series canon. You could make the argument that Paramount wouldn’t want to “taint” Star Trek by endorsing unofficial fan fiction, a lot of which would be complete crap. But not all fan fiction is crap, and there’s a lot of it out there already, so the danger of “tainting” the show’s image isn’t really a danger at all. If it could be done, it would have been tainted by fan fiction long ago.

Besides, Paramount has licensed Star Trek characters for use in GoAnimate’s application, where any user can make their own Star Trek shorts. So apparently the “tainted image” thing is not really a concern.

There’s no valid reason why a licensing program like this shouldn’t be put in place, other than that it might be too difficult to implement. The only loser might be Pocket Books, who currently holds the exclusive license to publish Star Trek books. No doubt their sales would plummet if Paramount threw open the gates to everyone. But if Paramount was able to make at least the same amount from licensing to individual writers instead of to Pocket Books, then who cares if Pocket Books lost money from the deal?

I mean, if the walls of traditional publishing are being torn down by the ebook revolution, why not tear down the walls of exclusive licensing too?

Such a program where studios license rights to individual authors through Amazon would work for any series or movies, not just Star Trek. I’m only using Star Trek as an example because I used to write Star Trek fan fiction, and I would love to write more, particularly if I could make a bit of profit from it.

Other shows that would be perfect choices for licensing:

The various Stargate shows
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Space: 1999

Just throw in the title of you favorite series, and it would work.

It seems to me that it would be as simple as talking to the major studios, getting a licensing agreement in place that authors would agree to when they published on KDP, open up accounts for the major studios to which the author’s fees would be sent, and then open up the gates.

Does anyone have any idea how to get the ball rolling for something like this? Has this idea already been put forward and rejected by the higher powers?

Friday, June 1, 2012

How I, as a reader, decide which ebooks to buy

This post, rather than being a post on writing, is a post on reading, from my perspective as a reader. Maybe it will benefit other authors in marketing their own books. But mainly, I just wanted to write a bit about how my reading habits have been changed by the “ebook revolution,” and to explain how I decide whether to purchase an ebook.

And yes, my reading habits have been changed by the revolution. For one, I’m reading more, about as much as I did when I was younger. For a bit of background, I’m in my early forties. When I was younger, I used to read all the time, mainly science fiction and fantasy, and I would read three or four books a month. (Yes, I’m a slow reader; I like to take my time and “relish” the words). But when I hit my mid-thirties, for whatever reason, I found myself reading less and less SF/Fantasy with each passing year. By the time the Kindle hit in 2008, I was reading at most one book (sometimes more, sometimes less) of my favored genre every two months or so.

Nowadays, I’m back up to my old “speed” of three or four books a month.

The only reason I can think of for my renewed interest in reading is the convenience of ebooks. There’s a lot more choice, and I no longer have to visit several bookstores to track down a particular book I’m looking for. Reading itself is also more convenient, because I can carry around an enormous "stack" of books with me (on my phone, which is my primary reading device right now) wherever I go.

I now read almost exclusively digital. The only books I read in print anymore are non-fiction, and fiction books I want to read but, for whatever reason, can't read electronically. For example, Anne Tyler, one of my favorite authors, has a new book out now, The Beginner's Goodbye, that I really want to read. But the ebook version is currently $12.99. That's too high for me, not because I can't afford it, but because it makes me feel like the publisher is trying to gouge me, and I refuse to pay that much for an ebook. If I'm going to pay that much for a book, I want it in print. But since I no longer want all those print books cluttering up my living space, I'm waiting on a print copy to become available at my local library. Sorry, Ms. Tyler, but your publisher is making it impossible for me to financially support your writing career.

Here is how I choose the books I actually purchase.

I browse through the Amazon Kindle store (no, I don’t buy books anywhere else. What’s the point?) and load up my book with samples. I am a big sampler. I sample just about every book that even remotely interests me, and I use the sample to determine whether or not I’m interested in buying the book. I’m a big sampler.

This is another area where I think the ebook revolution has renewed my interest in reading: the ability to sample. Before, I would not stand around in the bookstore reading pages from the book. I would flip through the book, reading an occasional sentence or two to see if I liked the writer’s style, and if I liked the actual text (some books, I simply didn’t like the look of the font, or the darkness of the ink, or the size or spacing of the letters, whatever). But I wouldn’t spend much more than a couple of minutes deciding whether to buy a book. And a lot of times, I got burned. The book disappointed me, and I didn’t finish it; just put it away on my shelf, where it gathered dust.

Nowadays, I’m not often disappointed when I purchase a book, because I’ve read a decent chunk of the book in the sample, a lot more than I ever read back in the old days where there were only print books. So if I buy the book, it’s a pretty safe bet that I won’t be disappointed. I think the ability to sample before buying, at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home, is one of the most important and beneficial results of the ebook revolution. Imagine if, before Kindle came along, you had the ability to walk into a bookstore, rip out fifty pages from every book in a sci-fi section that covered several square miles, and take them home with you for free, to read at your leisure. Would that have affected the way you bought books back in the days of print-only? I know it would have for me.

So back to searching for books to sample. I usually type in an author’s name or the title of a book that I liked, and then surf through the “also boughts” of linked books, collecting samples that way.

Another way I sample is to type in keywords, such as “dystopian,” or “steampunk,” or whatever, and then choose one that intrigues me, and begin surfing that book’s “also boughts,” loading up with samples.

 I very rarely go to the top of a category or to one of the bestseller lists and start browsing randomly. That’s usually my last option, if my author or keyword searches and “also bought” surfing haven’t turned up much of interest.

And I don't read a book's sample as soon as I run across a book. I just read the blurb, look at the cover, look at the page count, maybe read the first few sentences in the "look inside" feature, and then decide whether to snag the sample. I'll send a sample to my phone, move on to another book, decide whether to sample, send the sample to my phone, and move on. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until I have dozens of new samples on my phone, waiting to be read whenever I get a spare moment. I spend maybe thirty seconds to a minute per book deciding whether to sample, and my sample-collecting sessions usually take me about five or ten minutes.

During my reading sessions, sometimes I’ll read a book I’ve already bought, or I’ll read one of my hundreds of samples. And I read everywhere I have an idle moment. Sometimes I only have a few minutes, as I’m waiting in a theater or wherever. Other times, I sit and read for a half hour or so. I find that usually, I read samples when I only have a few minutes of reading time, and I read my “real” books during the longer stretches. By “real” book, I mean one I’ve already purchased and have thereby committed to reading. If I’ve bought it, I’m interested, and intend to read the whole thing. With samples, I don’t usually plan to read the whole book; it’s just part of a decision-making read, a sampling; the sample read is not a “real” read.
Some readers complain about the flood of “crap” books on the market, since anyone can now publish books. But I actually don’t mind wading through the crap. It takes time, but so what? I’m glad for the increased choices. I like being able to make my own reading choices, rather than have my choices filtered by an editor at a big publishing house. Who knows what that editor might have turned away that I might want to read? Just because Joe the Editor doesn't like a book doesn't mean I won't like it.

I’ve found that I don’t care who published the book. I do look at the publisher to see if it’s self-published or not, but the publisher doesn’t sway my decision to buy or not. I only look as an author, because it makes me happy to see that others are self-publishing now. I’ve been self-publishing since the late ‘90’s, and it’s nice to finally have a bit more company.

As a reader, my decision to purchase is based solely on my sample read. If the writing is crap, I don’t finish the sample. There’s really no time wasted even if the writing is crap, because you can usually tell within a few sentences or paragraphs. So you won’t hear me complaining that there’s too much crap to wade through.

How do I determine which books to sample? The blurb, mainly. I don’t care how short or how long the blurb is. I just need enough information to pique my interest in the story. In other words, I just want to know the basic idea of the story. A fancy blurb isn’t needed; just the concept, please. If the basic idea even remotely interests me, I’ll download the sample. I may not get to it for a while, but I’ll download it.

Once I've decided to sample, the book has made it out of Amazon's slush pile and into my "possible purchase" pile.

I said I don’t care who published a book when I make a decision to purchase. But when I make a decision to sample, the cover actually plays a big role in whether I will sample. If the cover looks really amateurish, I will move on to the next book. If it screams, "I'm a self-publisher who has absolutely no clue how to use graphics software," then I'll probably pass on the sample. I may sample a book with an amateurish cover, I may not. Most likely not, unless the blurb really interests me. But sometimes a cover can even influence whether the blurb interests me. If the cover is crappy, I will read the blurb with a negative attitude, so the blurb will have to work a bit harder to overcome my dislike of the cover. If that makes any sense.

Don’t get me wrong. The cover doesn’t even have to be “professional” level. Amateurish is okay, but just not too amateurish. I can’t say exactly what “too amateurish” is, but I know it when I see it. In my surfing of samples, I’ve found that if the cover strikes me as being too amateurish, usually the sample does as well. And yes, I have actually sampled books where the cover was too crappy in my opinion, just to make sure I was being fair and wasn’t dismissing the book out of hand.

With me, it’s become a rule of thumb. If the cover is too amateurish (entirely subjective), then it’s a safe bet the book isn’t worth reading. But it’s not a law.

And if your cover is too crappy, it’s usually the artwork that’s the culprit. So if you’ve got a crappy cover, I think you’re better off just putting the title and the author’s name on a blank, book-shaped cover. No artwork. I think the simplest possible cover—title, author name, and solid white or colored background—is better than a cover with crappy artwork.

I also look to see whether the author has written more than one book. If the author is self-published and only has one book up, it makes me suspicious that they could just be a dilettante trying to cash in on the ebook gold rush, and aren’t really cut out to be a writer. If the self-published author has more than one book, then, even if they were drawn by the so-called ebook gold rush, I at least know they’re making an effort, and taking the writing thing seriously. I don’t like one-hit wonders.

So, a self-published, one-book author has to work a bit harder to make me want to buy his or her book. But if they’ve got more than one book available, then they’re on equal footing with other self-publishers and traditionally published authors. And as far as I’m concerned, self-published and traditionally published makes no difference. I’ll read either. The writing or the story just needs to impress me, and the cover can’t look amateurish.

Now, here’s a caveat that I don’t know the answer to: if I weren’t a self-published author myself, would I, as a reader, give such a break to self-published authors? I honestly don’t know. I certainly hope I would, because, speaking as an author, I don’t want to be read only by other self-published authors. If only self-published authors are willing to give self-published authors a break, then this whole self-publishing thing is nothing more than masturbation.

I hope my sales are to genuine readers. I like fraternizing with other self-publishers, but I don’t want them for an audience. No offense, but I want bona-fide readers reading my books. I don’t want other authors reading me to see what the competition is doing, or to support the self-publishing community, or some other author-driven motivation. If other authors do read me, I want them reading me because they actually want to read me from a reader’s standpoint. Because that’s the only reason I myself read other self-published authors: because I the reader, not I the writer, want to read what they’ve written. When I’m reading, I really don’t care about the author; I only care about the story.

As far as free books go, do I actually read them? Sometimes. But rarely. I don’t like the idea of free ebooks. If I really want to read a book, I actually prefer paying the author or the publisher for the privilege. And not because I’m an author and I have a stake in whether authors get paid for their work. If I go out to eat at a restaurant, I don’t want a free meal. I want the waitresses and the cooks to get paid for feeding me. And if I read a book, I want the author and the publisher to get paid for feeding my mind. Sure, I read library books for free. But I know that somebody has already been paid for the book I’ve checked out, so it doesn’t bother me.

 If I read the sample and I like the book enough to buy it, I’ll buy it. Free makes almost no difference in whether I want to read a book. I won’t read a book just because it’s free. The author or publisher might as well just rely on their sample to make me want to read their book, because I WANT to pay them if I intend to read the book past the sample amount. I just don’t want to pay them eight or nine dollars, or a price equal to the paperback version, and certainly not a price equal to the hardback version.

As far as ideal price goes, I as a reader feel uncomfortable paying more than $6 or $7 for an ebook. Not financially uncomfortable, just I’m-being-taken-advantage-of uncomfortable. But I don’t like paying less than $2.99, unless it’s a short story. If I saw a traditionally published book for .99, I would be suspicious of the quality. So whoever publishes the book, a novel at .99 makes me suspicious and a bit more wary when I’m reading the sample.

Also, if I weren’t an author and didn’t know how much an author made on each sale of a $2.99 ebook, I might be suspicious that $2.99 was too low as well. So I think a price in the range of $4 - $7 is probably the best for me as a reader. In that range, I’m not suspicious and I don’t feel like I’m being taken advantage of.

Back to the subject of free books: I won’t download a book just because it’s free, and I certainly won’t read the whole thing just because it’s free. When presented with a free book, it gets the same evaluation I give a book when determining whether to download a sample. So the author or publisher might just as well not make the book free, and just hope I’ll stumble across it when browsing. Because I don’t go out of my way to look for free books.

I’m not more likely to give an author that’s new to me a “chance” just because his/her book is free. I mean, if the author’s book is, say, $4.99 rather than free, I can still sample the book for free, and if I can’t make it through the free sample, then it doesn’t matter whether I have the entire book already at my disposal, or whether I have to pay if I want to read further. If I dislike the book within the standard sample length, I won’t keep reading if the book is free. So the author or publisher might as well leave the book for sale and make some money off me if I want to read the entire book. If I make it through the sample and am interested enough to keep reading, I’ll buy the book sooner or later.

The only benefit I can see to making a book free is that it gets you on a list alongside paid books. And sometimes it can get your book pretty high up on the list. So a free book can get your book noticed, but it doesn’t make me any more likely to download it. I think the best thing to do is not to give the book away for free.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts from a reader’s perspective on the ebook revolution, written, I guess, in the hopes that it might help other self-published authors figure out how to get their books into the hands of readers. I’ve laid out all the factors that go into my decision whether or not to purchase an ebook. Maybe there’s some useful information in here, maybe not. And if there is, hopefully I wasn’t too rambling and convoluted in the way I laid it out. I know I could probably present this more effectively, but the post is already long enough, and I'd rather concentrate on my "real" writing than editing this post.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New novella published: Zombie Galaxy

My new 35,000-word novella, Zombie Galaxy: Outbreak, has just been published. It's the first installment in a new series about a zombie apocalypse that sweeps a galactic civilization in the far future. I used to swear that I would never write a zombie story, but I got caught up in The Walking Dead, so here it is. I can only hope that I won't break down and write a vampire book next. Somebody please shoot me if I do that.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Map of Snowybrook Vale and Surroundings

Here is the first of several maps (others coming eventually) that goes with my fantasy series, Snowybrook Inn. Click on map to enlarge, right click to save. Other maps soon to be available: a map of the town of Snowybrook Vale, and a floorplan of Snowybrook Inn.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Notes: The Last Legend

  • My fantasy novel TheLast Legend was inspired more by The Hobbit than by The Lord of the Rings. I read The Hobbit at least half a dozen times from 1979 to 1982. Those readings culminated in the writing of a short story, “The Enchanted Sword,” in early 1982, when I was 13.
  • In seventh grade I was in a class for gifted students called Project Potential. One week the teacher had each of us do a creative project in our spare time at home, just anything we felt like doing that was somehow creative. I told her I’d write a short story. I had just finished writing “The Enchanted Sword,” so at the end of the week, I handed that in as my creative project, pretending that I had written it in my spare time during that “creative” week. So I guess I sort of cheated on that assignment, since I never really completed it. But the teacher loved the story, and her assistant typed it up for me, since I had hand-written the story. (We didn’t have word processors back in those days, and I didn’t know how to type).
  • In 1984, I wrote a series of one-page vignettes that were basically descriptions of various historical events in the history of the world of “The Enchanted Sword.”
  • In 1988, I wrote “The Power Scepter,” a short story set in the world of “The Enchanted Sword.”
  • In early 1995, I decided to continue the story that was begun in “The Enchanted Sword.” Years earlier, I had realized that I had left the story open-ended. The whole point of the story was that Beamer had been given the Enchanted Sword for a reason, but I never said what that reason was. He just put the sword up on his mantel and forgot about it. I guess that was acceptable to my 13-year old mind, but the unfinished nature of the story had begun nagging at me in the early 90’s. So in 1995, I added a few details to the story and made it chapter two of book one of the novel The Last Legend. “The Power Scepter” became the prologue.
  • I originally named the main race in The Last Legend the Munchkins, but a few years later, I realized there were Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, so I renamed them the Little People. Soon after, I realized that name was too reminiscent of Darby O’Gill and the Little People, so I again renamed them to “falliwagns.” The name is pronounced fowl-ee-wans. The g is silent. I have absolutely no memory of why I named them that.
  • The falliwagns are, of course, the hobbits of my novel. Beamer is Bilbo. The Brown Lands are the Shire. Baldurn is Gandalf.
  • Chapter two of The Last Legend, “The Enchanted Sword,” is almost exactly as I wrote it when I was 13. It hasn’t been edited. I did add the part about Beamer bottling the “miracle water” from the stream in his cellar and floating it down the river. I also changed the last hundred words a bit to make it easier to continue the story.
  • The Last Legend originally ended with chapter 10 (Second Coming) of book one. I thought the story was done with, so I patted myself on the back for having written my first novel.
  • I actually dropped out of college because of The Last Legend. I was writing notes and portions of the book in classes, when I should have been listening to the lectures. One day during a biochemistry lecture, I looked down at all the story notes I was scribbling on my notepad, rather than notes related to the class, and I had an epiphany: I didn’t belong in school. I belonged in front of my computer, writing books. A few weeks later, I dropped out and finished writing book one of The Last Legend.
  • A year later and a half later, at the end of 1999, I realized that The Last Legend still wasn’t finished. So I wrote chapter 11 of book one (Salvation of Malhar), then banged out book two in December and January of 1996. I wrote book three over February and March 1996, which finally brought the novel to a close.
  • I’ve never been satisfied with the way the story turned out. I had always intended to continue the history of the world of The Last Legend, with other stories and novels planned. But the ending of The Last Legend ruined all those plans for me, destroying all my plans of continuing in that world. The Last Legend ends with the complete destruction of the world, and then its recreation by the main character, who becomes God of the resurrected world. I don’t know why, but even though the resurrected world is supposed to be completely identical to the old one, it never seemed like the same world to me, so I lost interest in it. I kind of fouled my own nest with the end of that book. I don’t think it’s a bad ending for the story; I just look at it as a bad ending personally because it spoiled my interest in continuing the world. After the ending of The Last Legend, the book’s world seemed too impermanent and unstable, and I just didn’t like the idea of building a fantasy history that could be so easily swept aside and rebuilt, if that makes any sense.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Demonspawn map

Here is a map for my fantasy novel Demonspawn. FYI, the dashed lines are roads, not country borders. Click to enlarge, right click to save.

The Last Legend map

Here is a map of part of Skalar, the main continent in my fantasy novel The Last Legend. Click on it to enlarge, right click to save image.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Trailers - Good Idea or Bad?

Book trailers - good idea or bad?

I think book trailers are probably a bad idea. At best, they're probably an ineffective marketing tool.

Your ultimate goal in marketing your book is to get people to read your sample. If they like it, hopefully they'll buy the whole book. So all your marketing efforts are basically intended to make potential readers aware of your book and entice them to read the sample. Once they find your book's page on Amazon (or wherever), the main tools to drive them to read your sample are your cover and your blurb. You need a decent cover and a decent blurb. If you don't have those two things, the potential reader probably won't download your sample and you've lost the sale.

I think book trailers are similar to the blurb and the cover. That is, a book trailer is a third way to jeopardize a sale. If they don't like your blurb, the odds of sampling decrease, and if they don't like the cover, the odds further decrease. Do you really want to add a third method to decrease the odds of sampling? If you're doing everything yourself and you're unable to make a decent cover or a decent blurb, odds are your book trailer won't be decent either. Or you may have a decent cover and blurb, and then your sucky trailer blows the whole thing. Then again, having a decent trailer alongside a bad cover and blurb may save the sale. But why take chances by adding a trailer to your marketing arsenal?

Readers want to read. Trailers are another medium entirely. Why mingle the two?

Let's say you do make a trailer. Isn't it hard enough marketing your book? If you're successfully able to make a potential reader find your book, you've already won the battle. Why waste time trying to make them aware of your trailer? Why not bypass the trailer and send them directly to the book?

I'm thinking along these lines: if you're talking to a potential reader, whether in a forum, on twitter, facebook or wherever, you've already got their attention. Why send them to a book trailer? Send them directly to your blurb or your sample. As a reader, I want to read, I don't want to watch a video. You may make a good trailer, but that doesn't mean your writing doesn't suck. In my quest for something to read, I'm looking for a good writer and a good book, not a good filmmaker. You're trying to sell the written word, not the visual picture.

Suppose you're a great writer but a terrible filmmaker, and you send me to your book trailer, which sucks donkey balls. You've turned me off and I probably won't sample your book.

If you're thinking of using a trailer on youtube or some other video-oriented site, then you've got the same problem you've got in trying to market your actual book: you've got to market your trailer. Because you can't just throw something up on youtube and expect it to go viral. Your video won't get many hits at all unless you make some sort of marketing effort. You then have a choice: do you want to spend time marketing your video, or would you rather spend time marketing your actual book?

Having a good trailer would be an asset, I suppose. But it's risky as to whether you'll actually make a good trailer. I think your time is best spent on making your cover and your blurb the best they can possibly be, because those are your two main tools. Adding a third is a big, unnecessary gamble.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Notes: Demonspawn

I'm going to start writing notes on each of my books. This first post is on my novel Demonspawn, which I think is one of my better novels.
  • I wrote Demonspawn waaaay back in 1998. It took me about nine months total to write, working at a lazy pace, taking a few days and sometimes even weeks or months off at a time.
  • At the time I was writing it, I was really into “The Book of Words” series by J.V. Jones. In Demonspawn, I think I actually was trying to sort of match Jones’s writing style. It’s been a long time since I wrote the book, but as I recall, Jones’s series heavily inspired my own book.
  • The character of Nisiter was inspired by Jones’s own character Baralis.
  • The two guards in Demonspawn, Carl and Dale, were inspired by Bodger and Grift, two similar characters in Jones’s series. I originally meant them to be just two generic background characters, but they sort of took on a life of their own whenever they showed up in the book. I liked their comic interplay so much that they became my two favorite characters in the book.
  • By the time I finished writing Demonspawn, I had intentions to write a sequel featuring the characters of Carl and Kala, the Shazaran slave girl. In Demonspawn, they’re last seen heading south together, and the sequel would have followed their adventures in the south. But I never got around to writing the sequel.
  • I was having a hard time coming up with a name for the character of Nisiter. I finally settled on “Nisiter,” as a play on the word “sinister.” I wanted the character to come across mainly as a sinister man, so I finally just twisted the word around and came up with Nisiter. 
  • My favorite scene in the book is when Captain Thasus is castrated, and his men take him to the hideous old witch woman Druza, who cauterizes his wound, equips him with a makeshift catheter, and demands that his men sleep with her as payment. This was an unforeseen development that just came to me as I was writing, but which became a major turning point in the story arc of Thasus.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Yes, that last blog entry, "Awesome Space Adventures," was a joke, in case anyone wasn't sure.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Awesome Space Adventures: (Read this one first since its part one)

Inspired by Moon People, reviewed on The Huffington Post, I have begun work on a new series. Here is the first installment.

AWESOME SPACE ADVENTURES: (Read this one first since its part one) by Scott Reeves

            Because I decided to write a new short story, so here it is. It has gotten a really cool space battle near the end, so you should stay tuned. There’s aliens too.
            She said she had wanted to go to the store, so he took her. Afterwards, she put her panties back on and they went down to Wal-Mart. They had gotten a stain on them, so she decided she needed a new pair. So she tried them on in the dressing room while he went down the aisles an d brought the groceries from the list she had given to him.
            When they got back home she tried the panties on and he told her he liked them. He had always liked Oreo cookies. That’s why he had brought them, even though they hadn’t been on her list.
            Now this is where the alien comes in. Apparently it had made it’s home in a bag of beans that Darrel had brought. Cheryl found him when she was making dinner. Or found it, I should say. Because it didn’t have sex. It looked like a bean, but it was an alien, about the size of a grapefruit, and purple like unto a grape. That’s why it had taken a hiding place into the bag of beans. It couldn’t be seen by people or it might get taken away and desiccated by the government, so it had hidden inside the bean bag. To avoid capture by the men in black.
            At least that’s what it told her while she was fixing the evening vittles for her husband. I need to get home. Will you help me get home? I was trapped in that Wal-mart for so long, thank God you found me and brought me home.
            Yes, I’ll help you get home, Cheryl told the bean alien. Where is home by the way? she questioned it. And do aliens believe in God? Since you said thank god, I just wondered.
            It’s far, far from here, where all the other aliens live. We’re at war, so we’ll have to be careful or they’ll shoot us before we get back. They will recognize my ship, and if we don’t get passed their line of battle, they’ll shoot us and my ship will blow up.
            She told him she wouldn’t want that, and then her husband Darrel walked in looking for some. He was hungry, and squeezed her pert rear end affectionately before taking the bowl of ham and beans over to their dining table. That’s when he noticed the alien, right before he almost ate into it before realizing the bean on his spoon was alive.
            And so she told him the story, right up until the part I just told you. Darrel said he to would help the alien back home.
            It’s just like that TV show, he said with laughter. Its Okay Alf, your as good as home, he told the bean and they all had a big laugh. Beans don’t laugh like persons do, especially when their aliens, they kind of make a high pitched noise that’s a little annoying if you hear it for too long. But they all new what he was doing anyway, so they laughed along with it.
            When the sun came up in the east the next morning, they went back to Wal-mart, where they located the alien space ship out back around the dumpster where Wal-Mart throws out its trash.
            While she was bending over to open the little hatch, the alien bean tried to probe her. Not one of the weird types of probes, just the anal one. But still, that was the type of stuff only a husband or boyfriend should do to her. The husband didn’t like it, so Darrel decided to smash the alien. When it was just a smear on the palm of his hand, he told his wife to pull her pants back up and told her also that now the alien was dead, they might as well take it’s spaceship for a little ride. It was only fair, after what it had done to her.
            You could of just told it no, she cried, you shouldn’t have kilt it.
            He smiled at her. It will be all right, he told her. Now let’s get in the ship and take off.
            That’s when the Wal-Mart guy almost came out and told them to stop digging around in the dumpster. But they were in the ship and shooting up toward the clouds before he was able to yell at them.
            That’s how their adventure started. That’s how they got their spaceship and were soon flying toward the alien battle fleet that made a giant ring around the enemy star system. On they’re way there they wanted to test how sex in zero G felt. It was okay, but the stuff floated around in the air afterward, like raindrops that wouldn’t fall to the ground but was instead just sort of hung there and splatted against whoever came near. But it was good.
            Then they were near the alien battle fleet, the ones who the bean alien had said were his enemies. The other aliens must have known they were coming, since they broke free and flew out to meet their new spaceship.
            Darrel thought that someone might be trying to hail them, but he didn’t know the language the aliens were using, so he couldn’t identify himself and let them know he came in peace.
            So the alien ship opened fire, and Darrel had to swerve to the side. It happened really quick, so he realized their ship could move really quick, and so it made invasive maneuvering easy. They dodged anything the aliens threw at them, and then they made it past the ring and into the solar system.
            Where should we go now that we made it to the alien’s home? Sharon asked.
            He put his arm around her in a characteristic display of the love he had for her. “Anywhere you want, baby,” he said. The sky is the limit. This whole galaxy is ours, now that we have this ship.
            And they flew from one star to another, having a lot of adventures that I’m going to write about in the sequal to this opening story. I’ve got a lot planned, so you’ll want to stay tuned and look out for more stories in the future. Maybe even a novel. I’m working on one soon, so I’ll let you know. I should have an exclusive blog up pretty quick, so you can tell how far I’ve got left to write on each story and novel. I’ll put in the link when its ready.
 Copyright 2012 by Scott Reeves

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Very early short story - Mickey and the Thing Under His Bed

This is a really short story that I haven't published anywhere else before today. I wrote it in 1985, when I was 17.


“Mom! Dad!” Mickey Charles sat up in his bed screaming. He clutched his covers close about him. “Come quick! There’s a thing under my bed!”
His bedroom door flew open and his parents came rushing in.
“Hush!” yelled his father. “Quiet down!”
Mickey shut up, but he didn’t stop shaking. He was scared to death.
“Now what’s all this about, young man?” his dad asked. He wasn’t too happy about being awakened in the middle of the night.
“Th-th-th-there’s something under my bed! It’s huge and scaly and smelly, and it has horns—”
“Oh come on, Mickey,” his father interrupted his frightened son.
“You’re thirteen years old, and that’s entirely too old for you to still believe in things under your bed! Now go to sleep!” Dad stalked out the door.
Mickey gave his morn a pleading look. “Honest, Mom. There’s something under there!”
Mom bent over and peered beneath the bed. “Well it’s gone now.”
Mickey got out of bed and looked for himself.
His Mom got up and walked to the door. “Go back to sleep now, Mickey. It’s all right, you’re safe. Goodnight.”
She was out the door.
“But...” Mickey repeated.
There had been something there just minutes ago. It had laughed at him in a deep, rumbling voice. Then it had screamed foul words at him, its fetid breath oozing over him, making his skin crawl. It had swiped its claws at him. That’s when he had begun screaming. The thing had retreated back beneath his bed. Mickey slowly climbed back under the covers. He shivered, though not from the cold in the room. Some supernatural terror lurked under his bed.
It was out to get him. But no one believed him.
He didn’t sleep a wink the rest of that long, unusually cold night.
The next morning, his brothers and sisters laughed at him when they heard of last night’s incident. Mickey sniffed. No one believed him! He was beset by a monster from Hell, and no one would help him!
That night, Mickey once again lay in his bed. But he wasn’t asleep.
It was nearly midnight. That was when the creature had awakened him last night.
He burrowed deeper into the safety of his covers.
Suddenly a breeze was blowing through the room, bringing a deep chill and an unholy stench with it. Mickey pulled the covers over his head.
Now a heavy breathing sounded. A sharp yank, and the blankets no longer covered Mickey. A ten-foot, reeking horror lowered over him. A twisted, fur-covered face curved horns protruding from the forehead glared down at him.
It smiled a totally evil smile.
“I’ve come for you, horse dung,” it croaked. What awful breath!
Mickey closed his eyes tight and screamed as loud as he could.
Footsteps sounded out in the hallway.
In a moment of bravery, he opened his eyes and looked around. The thing was gone. He looked over the edge of the bed and screamed when he saw a barbed tail disappearing beneath his bed.
The door opened. Mickey’s dad walked into the room.
“What is it, Mickey?”
With a trembling finger, he pointed beneath the bed.
His dad threw his hands in the air and sighed. He stared at Mickey, then turned and left.
Once again, Mickey didn’t sleep for the rest of the night.
Mrs. Charles was really worried about her son. It didn’t seem normal for a person to have the same nightmare two nights in a row. Her husband didn’t see any reason to worry. But, she thought, that’s a man for you.
She would keep an eye on Mickey. If he had any more nightmares like the last two, she would take him to a psychiatrist.
For the third night in a row, Mrs. Charles was awakened by her son’s screams. She tapped her husband’s shoulder.
“Huh?” he said sleepily.
“Go check on Mickey. He’s screaming again.”
“Don’t worry about it. He’ll quiet down soon.” Mr. Charles promptly went back to sleep.
“Oh, I’ll do it myself!” She got up and donned her nightgown.
She stopped outside Mickey’s door. The screams had stopped. Maybe he had gone back to sleep. Should she disturb him? She shrugged. Better safe than sorry.
She opened the door—
And her jaw fell open in terror. She tried to scream, but could make no sound. Then she tried to run, but found herself rooted In place. All she could do was gape.
The thing sitting on Mickey’s bed grated out, “Hello Mrs. Charles,” and burped loudly. Then it got up and began advancing on her. “Now it’s your turn! I sure am hungry tonight!”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Novel Published

My latest novel, Inferno: Go to Hell, has now been published, available exclusively on Kindle for the next several months.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My 2012 writing plans

Here are my writing plans for 2012:

Near the end of January or early February I will be publishing a novella, Scruffy Unleashed, adapted from my screenplay of the same title.

In February, I will be publishing a new novel titled Inferno: Go to Hell.

After that, I'm going to write a few more Snowybrook Inn short stories, then begin working on another novel.

I plan to write at least 1,000 words a day. Sounds like a paltry word count, I know, but that's 365,000 words per year. Since most of my novels are about 55,000 - 60,000 words on average, that's about six and a half novels. If I write six and a half novels this year, I will be a very happy camper.

Novels you might possibly see from me this year, besides Inferno, are:

Flames of the Sun
The Christian Mortician
The World of Tomorrow
Trace's Tale

I've already got the novels planned out. It's just a matter of sitting down and actually writing them. For me, that's the toughest part about writing: actually managing to motivate myself enough to sit my butt down and start writing. I never have a problem with finding things to write about. I have enough ideas for future stories and novels to keep me busy writing non-stop for years, if only I actually had the motivation.