Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

Why, hello, dear friends. How are you doing? Well, I hope. I am fine, thank you. It has been some time since I've shared anything with you here, and I'm sincerely sorry for that. On the other hand, I think we both know why.

Come on, we've both sensed it. There have been awkward pauses between us as we've passed each other on the street. Averted gazes. Fumbling goodbyes. Therefore, I think it long past time time we addressed the elephant in the room, to wit: What can you do for me?

I know, I know, it sounds awfully terse and straightforward when you say it out loud like that, doesn't it? Even so, I think it will do us both good if we simply clear the air and have this frank discussion, don't you?

Oh, you do! Thank you. Whew. That's a relief. Well, then! Here goes:

1. The first thing you can do for me is to buy my books. If you have already purchased my books, thank you! They're not expensive. Some people (total strangers, even) think at least a few of them are pretty good. So, thanks for buying one! Why not buy another? Buy them all! Collect them! Trade them! Share them with your friends!

(Seriously, each purchase of either Kindle or paperback version raises my author rank and makes me that much more discoverable to other readers, so sincere thanks to all who have bought one or more of them.)

2. The next thing you can do for me is to leave a review. Books without reviews don't sell. I know! Some of my books have no reviews. And they don't sell! Even a few sentences can make all the difference. To those of you who have left reviews, thank you. It means a lot.

3. If you're a member of Goodreads (or Amazon) put my books on a list! Lots of people use lists to discover new books and new authors. Why not me? For example, here's a Goodreads list of pirate books that I think Swash! would be perfect for! And here's a list of vampire novels that Applewood or any of its sequels could sit on proudly. And here's a list of fairy books that The Mound could find a place on.

You get the idea. Maybe there are other lists you think my books would look good on. Be creative! Don't be constrained! And thank you. I would do it myself, however these sites (rightfully!) don't allow authors to put their own books on lists. It has to be organic from the fan base! And that is as it should be.

4. Like and follow my Facebook page and follow me on twitter. I don't post to Facebook as much as I should, but I'm on twitter most every day. And I try to keep it interesting and keep spamming to a minimum. Honest!

At any rate, I could go on . . . but seriously, it's hard to get motivated to write new books (and I think I've got a bunch more in me! Further sequels to Applewood. A follow-up to The Mound. At least one epic end of the world nightmare.) if you can't sell the books you've written. And I just don't have the budget for traditional advertising. So my books have to sink or swim on their own merits and by word of mouth.

Hopefully (and with your help!) I can get the word out better than I have been doing. And if you have any other ideas, I'm all ears! All suggestions entertained.

As always, thanks for reading.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Space of Life Between

It's morning again in America . . . but not for Scott Dugan.

I'm delighted to announce the next volume in the Applewood saga is now available for pre-order from Amazon.Com. Titled The Space of Life Between, the story goes like this:

Three years have passed since young vampire Scott Dugan and his uncle found refuge in Mexico. They thought they had put their troubled pasts behind them, until the day a familiar face shows up to ensnare Dugan in a scheme that will transport him to the killing fields of war torn Central America and beyond. 

And when Dugan learns the truth about their mission, he must decide whether he owes his allegiance to the human race he was once part of, or to his newfound self.

For those who haven't read them, for a limited time, the price of the first volume Applewood has been reduced to just 99 cents, and the follow-up Fledge to just $2.99. As always, if you're a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can read any of my books for FREE!

If you're unfamiliar with the Applewood saga, it tells the tale of a boy named Scott Dugan, who along with his friends battle a vampire outbreak in their small Massachusetts town. The sequel Fledge follows Dugan as he and his uncle go on the run from shadowy government forces who want Dugan for their own nefarious purposes.

This new entry, The Space of Life Between, picks up where Fledge left off, with Dugan and his uncle refugees in Mexico. I won't say too much more about it, but there are plane crashes and earthquakes and Marxist revolutions, along with surprise visits from old friends, and I hope you'll find it a hell of a lot of fun.

(You don't need to have read any of the previous volumes to enjoy this one. But I hope you will!)

To pre-order the book, click any of the links above to go to my Amazon page, or click this link, or the book cover on the right. Release date for both the Kindle version and the paperback are May 18th, however I'll release it early if there's enough interest . . . and it's done!

And don't forget to check out my other books, such as my most recent book The Mound or my pirate adventure Swash! Most folks seem to like them too!

Thanks, as always, for taking a peek at my work.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Kindle Unlimited

I'm pleased to report I've enrolled all of my books in the Kindle Unlimited program, which means that subscribers to that program can now read all my books for free. It also means I can, for limited periods, make my books available for free to all Kindle users, in the hopes that folks might snag them, like them, review them, shelf them on Goodreads, and tell their friends. So, check in often at my Amazon Author Page to see what book might be free!

(As always, whether or not you're a member of Kindle Unlimited, my books and shorts remain available for sale, all at prices ranging from 99 cents to $4.99. WHAT A DEAL!)

Unfortunately, membership in Kindle Unlimited means my books are now exclusive to Amazon (one of the rules of the program) so none of the links off to the right (other than the Amazon and the paperback link) will take you to my books. But the hope is that if I do well enough there, maybe get myself a readership base, I can at some later date make my books again available elsewhere.

If you've followed my twitter feed at all, you know I have mixed feelings about Amazon's KDP Select program -- no, that's not true either. There's nothing 'mixed' about them. In fact, I think it is borderline illegal.

For example. I think it unfair that Amazon requires authors to make their books exclusive to Amazon to take advantage of some of the program's offerings. In the days of brick and mortar bookstores, was there ever a book you could buy at Borders but not at Lauriats or Barnes and Noble? The very thought of it is preposterous. I think too that Amazon's 60% plus (and growing) share of the ebook market flirts dangerously near anti-trust territory. I'm old enough to remember both IBM and Microsoft engaging in long, drawn out legal affairs when they too began cornering marketplaces. I've often opined how much it boggles my mind that Apple is perceived (and adjudicated) the bad guy in most every ebook skirmish, when it appears to me that it is Apple that has my own best interests at heart. Amazon wants me only to sell books cheap.

On the other hand, there is no denying reality. Amazon does, in fact, have a 60% (and growing) share of the ebook marketplace. Unlike previous brushes with marketplace hegemony, there is no sign that anyone anywhere is going to do anything about it. In my years of holding out on the program I've watched writers I view as contemporaries do very well in the program, some even becoming bestsellers.

Meanwhile, from the outside looking in, I've watched ebookstore after ebookstore close, watched Barnes and Noble essentially abandon the nook, all while Amazon's market share climbs. No, if you are trying to get yourself read and noticed, Amazon is the only place to do it; and if you can't sell books at Amazon, you can't sell books at all.

The good news is that in the brief time I've been enrolled in the program, people are finding and reading my books! In fact, I can now quite literally watch people turning pages as they read them, and I'm delighted to see that most folks who do start them, finish them, sometimes in one sitting.

As always, thanks to all my loyal readers for taking a chance on my offerings (speaking of, have you read THE MOUND yet? It's a fairy horror mystery romance. You'll like it. I promise) and often leaving reviews at Amazon or Goodreads and checking in with me on Facebook. It truly means a lot.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Nation of Gladys Kravitz's

So a tragic, but interesting thing happened over the weekend. David Goldberg, a 47-year-old Silicon Valley entrepreneur (and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg) died “suddenly” while on vacation with his family. When I saw the news, I clicked on a few articles, and was struck immediately that no mention was made in any of them of exactly how he died. And the reason it struck me was because in this day and age, it seems there is no escaping the lurid details of how any of us die.

Yes, I understand we live in a celebrity culture, and people’s appetites are insatiable when it comes to the deaths of famous people. For example, it wasn’t ENOUGH for us to know that Robin Williams killed himself, we needed to know HOW he killed himself (hanging). Then, it wasn’t ENOUGH for us to know that he hung himself, we needed to know also that he wrapped a plastic bag around his head, just to make sure.

I do recognize this sort of thing has been going on since forever. Indeed, the words of Elton John’s tribute to Marilyn Monroe come to mind: “All the papers had to say . . . was that Marilyn . . . was found in the nude . . .”

And hey, so wasn’t Whitney Houston!

When the brilliant New York Times media guru David Carr died recently, dropping dead in the Times newsroom, it was sad and tragic news. But most everyone who knew of David Carr also knew he had battled plenty of demons in his time, most especially, years of drug abuse. He had written a very well acclaimed memoir about it. Those closest to him also knew he was a cigarette smoker (ironically, perhaps one of the more benign substances Mr. Carr had ever put into his body.) And when the news came (because of course it did) that Mr. Carr’s sudden death was due to lung cancer, the moralists and finger waggers of our day had lots of fun with it.

Perhaps the most egregious recent example of wallowing in the manner of someone’s death also comes from the Times, when fashion designer L’Wren Scott took her own life. It wasn’t ENOUGH for us to know that she killed herself. We had to know HOW she killed herself. And if the Times obituary for her wasn’t a veritable “how to kill yourself with a scarf” primer, then I don’t know what would be.

Now, I do acknowledge that celebrities and so-called “public figures” are fair game when it comes to this, however unseemly it may be. But what about the rest of us? Because it seems whether famous or not, public figure or not, the manner or cause of our deaths – what specific cancer kills us, for example – is going to end up in our obituary, whether we want it to or not, whether it’s anyone’s business or not.

Maybe I misremember, but I don’t recall years ago, every obituary containing a cause of death, particularly the obituaries of older people. “Natural causes” was often used as a catch-all for any of the hundreds of things that can (and will) kill us as we get older. Do we need to know that an eighty-year-old man dies of prostate cancer? That a ninety-two-year old had colon cancer? Or, in the case of eighty-two-year old Joseph Lechleider, a Father of DSL Internet Technology, that it was esophageal cancer that finally did him in?

When I opined about some of this on twitter yesterday, someone responded that in most cases, cause of death is a public record, and that gathering causes of death is important for public health. Yes, it is. Then, someone else chimed in that Mr. Goldberg and his wife LIVED online. They OWE us an accounting of how Mr. Goldberg died! No, they don’t (setting aside even that Mr. Goldberg’s 400+ twitter posts is hardly “living your life online.”)

No, I contend that people’s insatiable appetite to know the cause and manner of someone’s death is akin to prurience, plain and simple, an insatiable prurience to know other people’s business. Exactly when did we become a nation of Gladys Kravitz’s?

At any rate, rest in peace, Mr. Goldberg. You died too young, and you leave behind a loving wife and two young children. That’s all I need to know.

UPDATE: The family wished to keep the details private.

It's a shame they couldn't.