A Story A Month

As I stated before, I give my Patreon patrons a short story every month.  I just posted this month’s story:

A single sock missing from the wash – the source of universal frustration and untold family bickering.

Justine never gave thought to what happened to those missing socks, and where they went. Until the day her mother sent her into the basement to change a load of laundry, and she learned the unbelievable truth behind it all.
It’s a little goofy, but it’s fun.  So go on over and become a patron, and then you can get this and every other story I post up.  Because I love you and want you to be happy.
🙂

Covering Down

Sunday is my publishing work day.  I think I mentioned that before, didn’t I?  I got a lot of good stuff done over the last couple weeks, and I just thought I’d share.

Last week, I worked on getting my novelette, The Best And The God-Woman, ready to go.  I wrote this one something like a year ago.  Don’t recall exactly.  I submitted it to Writers Of The Future, and it either got straight-up rejected or an Honorable Mention.  I don’t recall, which is pretty bad.  Anyway, after that I sent it around to the other venues that will accept submissions of its length (16,500 words) but had no joy.  And then I just let it sit.  I had other things in my crosshairs (Pericles and Out-Dweller primarily) so I didn’t do anything with it.  Anyway, it’s the last of my completed works that’s not out there for the world to enjoy, so I decided to fix that.  Here’s what’s in store:

Beast Cover (600x900)

The greatest terrors come from within.

Yili never questioned the Gods’ decrees, as handed down to the people from the elders.  Do not tarry long on the beach, for there lurks the Beast.  Do not venture beyond the breakers, for the sea holds nothing but death and man lives on the island alone.  Until the day a strange object approached the island, borne by the wind and waves toward Yili’s home until it broke apart on the reef and deposited a woman and a man, who could only be Gods themselves, onto the beach.

The Beast wants to destroy them.  The elders distrust them.  And Yili finds himself helplessly drawn to the God-Woman, at the risk of all he knows and loves.

Stay tuned; The Beast And The God-Woman will be available by the end of the month.

But wait!  There’s more!

Yesterday, the Admiral (my better half) ran the Hot Chocolate 15k in downtown San Diego.  After cheering her on, I got to work again.  First up – an audiobook cover.

Yes, I said audiobook.  I decided to get rolling on that side of the business a couple weeks ago, prompted by ACX’s impending shift in royalty split.  That change has been discussed ad nauseum elsewhere so I don’t feel the need to opine here except to say I’m conflicted about it.  On the one side, screw them.  There are other distributors out there.  On the other side, while several of those distributors offer a better split (I found one that does 80/20 to the writer), after audible takes its cut that split ends up being less than the new rates under ACX.  So although the abrupt and unexplained change pissed me off, from a strictly monetary perspective it won’t pay to go elsewhere.  It’s going to take some heavy thought to decide how to roll on this one.

Ah decisions, decisions…

Anyway, I put all of my short stories and my two collections up for audition with the hope of getting deals finalized before the deadline.  Only my short stories because I want to pay for the production vice do royalty split and I don’t have the $ to do the novels.  *shrug*  Maybe I should have done the novels under royalty split, but I don’t like the notion of 7 years of royalty splits – that could get VERY expensive if the audiobook does well.  As it is I’ll wait until the novels bring in enough $ to justify the outlay for the audiobooks myself.  The short stories, though, are much less expensive, even the collections.  So I’ve got 6 or 7 audiobook titles in production as we speak.  I would have liked to get them all done – I told the guy who auditioned for the collections to audition for the individual shorts as well; since he would record the stories anyway it made sense to knock them all out.  But he didn’t get auditions in for them all by the cutoff.  *shrug*  Oh well.  Another guy auditioned for a couple of them, so I’ll just pay the other guy separately.  It’ll end up costing more, but them’s the breaks.

Anyway, the second voice actor, Nick Mortise, finished up his rendition of How NOT To Rescue A Damsel In Distress on Saturday night.  Sunday I went into ACX to look at what I need to do now – review and approve it and supply cover art.  Then fun thing about cover art is it’s a different size than for an ebook.  Ebooks I generally make 2000×3000; the audiobook needs at least 2400×2400, square.  So I couldn’t just use the same cover art I had before.  And besides, I don’t really like the cover art I had for Damsel, or really any of my Larian short stories.  They were done a while ago, and I’ve learned a lot about cover design since then.

Observe:

How NOT To Rescue A Damsel In Distress Cover Measuring Up Cover First Blood Cover Grandfather's Pendant

Not very good, right?  They’re not very appealing and they’re not branded for the series (it’s not really a series per say, but they’re all stories about Larian so they ought to be similar) or for author.  Genre?  I guess they do that ok.  But still they needed an overhaul.  Since Nick is going to voice all of them (I think) I figured I might as well do the overhaul now.

Here are the new Larian stories covers:

Damsel Cover (600x900) Measuring Up Cover (600x900) First Blood (600x900 Grandfathers Pendant (600x900)

Much better, right?  I am a big believer in simple = elegant = better, so I figured I’d just keep the basic design the same, changing only the image in the middle and the title.  That works much better for branding too, I think.  I like them.

In case your wondering, here’s the cover for the Damsel audiobook:

Damsel Audio Cover (600x600)

 

The same design, but with a different aspect ratio.  Looks nice, right?

I only had one concern, once I finished.  The new covers looked very similar to the cover for Brother In Law, Brother In Blood.  They’re both plain white with black text, with a single image in the center.  Brother In Law is not a Larian story, and I worried that the similar designs might cause confusion.  For a minute I considered throwing out the new designs, or the Brother In Law design altogether.  Then I hit on the answer: just change Brother In Law’s color scheme a bit.  A simple transparency layer in the GIMP file did the trick.

Brother In Law (600x900) Brother In Law (600x900)

It’s not a big change. It’s pretty subtle.  I may darken it up a little bit more, but not too much because I don’t want to spoil the image.  As it is I think it works to differentiate the branding from Larian.  What do you think?

So that’s what I’ve got for now.  Look for that audiobook in the next week or so, along with God-Woman, with more audio versions of my short stories to follow.  Pretty sweet.  🙂

Have a good one!  See you tomorrow for the next chapter of The Pericles Conspiracy.

FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!

*insert Mel Gibson yell*

*cue the Braveheart music*

 

Right.  Now that we have that out of the way, something special’s going on this weekend.

Brother In Law (600x900)

 

I liked the cover so much, I wrote a great story for it (yeah I know the story came first.  Roll with it).  I liked the story so much, I decided to make it free 15-16 February (that would be this weekend, in case you’re away from your calendar).  🙂

So go pick it up.  Have a fun read on me, because generosity.  Then leave a review (even if you hate it) and pick up something else, because that’s what nice people do.  🙂

 

And don’t say I never did anything for you.

🙂

Sunday Publishing

I think I mentioned it before, but this year I’m setting aside Sunday as my official “working on publishing” day.  I had prepped Short Story 10-Pack last Sunday, but didn’t hit publish until Friday for reasons I spelled out before.

Well, this Sunday, before the Super Bowl, I did some more publishing work.  Two of the shorts in the 10-Pack had not been published before, so I worked on covers for them and put them up.  Observe.

Memory Cover (600x900)

The Memory Of Justice

In the future, mankind outlawed capital punishment. Instead, the worst convicts had their memories erased and new personalities implanted. Then the authorities set them up in a far-away place and left them to live out their lives. This process worked well, to everyone’s approval. Except for the families of the victims.

Brother In Law (600x900)

Brother In Law, Brother In Blood

A great hero can come from a humble past. Great love can bloom from the embers of conflict. And sometimes the two can happen at the same time, to the near ruin of both.

 

Both stories are up on Amazon, for $0.99.  I’m keeping them exclusive to Amazon for a while, since I put the 10-Pack in KDP Select as one last experiment with that program (I keep saying that).  Some kind soul already bought The Memory Of Justice and left a very nice review of it, so that’s a promising start.  🙂

On a final note, I think the cover to Brother In Law is my favorite, and IMHO the best, of all the covers I’ve made to date, with the exception of The Pericles Conspiracy.   What do you guys think?  Pretty nice, huh?

Right.  That’s it for now.  Until next time.

Lots And Lots Of Shorts

You may have noticed I’ve fallen off the short story bandwagon lately.  There are a lot of reasons for that, which don’t really bear going in to now.  One of the things I intend to do this year is get back into the habit, though, because there is a lot of goodness to short stories.  And because I can’t enter Writers of the Future without writing them (or at least novelettes).

That said, I have a few short stories sitting around on my computer that have not found homes in publications.  I’ve meant to put them out myself, but haven’t gotten around to it.  For that matter, I’ve a couple novelettes still sitting around that need to go up as well.  Well, I’ve decided that from now on Sunday is going to be my official “work on publishing, not writing” day.  When I have stuff that’s ready to go up, that is.

So this past Sunday I got all of my short stories together into a big collection, including the couple that haven’t been published yet, and  formatted them into a collection.  I  also created a cover.  I was all set to push publish when it hit me: Copyright Registration.  Is it strictly speaking necessary?  No, not really.  But it does open the door to statutory damages, and it records my pseudonym for posterity and to avoid confusion.  Problem was, several of the stories had already been published, but not registered.  So how do I handle that?  I decided to wait until I could talk with the Copyright office, because their circular wasn’t completely clear on that question.  I spoke with them on Tuesday, got the copyright registered last night, and pushed publish earlier today.

And so, without further ado:

10-Pack (600x900)

The Short Story 10-Pack.  $4.99 on Amazon.

A bundle of ten science fiction and fantasy short stories – a 50% discount compared with buying the stories individually.

Lords of the Remnant – Aliens strike at the Centauri colony, overrunning it completely. Then, sooner than anyone imagined they could, they arrived at Earth to continue their conquest. An infantryman, certain resistance is futile, nevertheless deploys with his unit to fight against the first wave of invaders. As his comrades die around him and all hope seems lost, he finds the courage to fight on, but is confronted with a choice that will not only affect his own future, but that of all mankind as well.

How NOT To Rescue A Damsel In Distress – Bandits stabbed Larian’s father and kidnapped his girl. Confident in his freshly-learned swordsmanship, Larian set out to track them down, avenge his father, and rescue his first damsel in distress. Things did not exactly go as planned.

The Blob On The Rock – A scientific expedition to deep space makes a discovery that will re-shape what we believe about life in the universe. As long as it doesn’t kill them first.

Falling Softly – An assassin and his partner embark on the biggest job of their careers. The payment if they succeed is enough to set them up for life, potentially allowing the assassin to get out of the business and finally live a normal life. But even succeeding in a high profile job like this carries its own danger.

The Memory Of Justice – In the future, mankind outlawed capital punishment. Instead, the worst convicts had their memories erased and new personalities implanted. Then the authorities set them up in a far-away place and left them to live out their lives. This process worked well, to everyone’s approval. Except for the families of the victims.

Measuring Up – Larian Elesir, a young recruit in the Citizens’ Army, arrives at his first post. Eager to join the war effort, he is nonetheless nervous in his new environment and worried about setting a foot wrong. During his first day in camp, his new companions put him through his paces as they both learn who he is and teach him the basics he’ll need to survive in his job in the army.

A Chat Before Dinner – A record of a Zombie’s rant about the trials and tribulations of his life as a dis-respected member of the Undead. His rant centers around humans’ inherent racism, and he attempts to cajole his human listener into understanding his point of view. Darkly humorous and snarky, this story paints a new picture of a Zombie’s life.

First Blood – Intelligence told the High Command that the Mar Tabban, arch enemies of the Citizens’ Army, had moved into the territory garrisoned by Larian’s Regiment. In response, the Regimental Commander sent the B company scouts, Larian’s unit, out to investigate. On his first operational assignment, Larian has to overcome inexperience and his own fear and uncertainty if he wants to survive and get the information his Regiment needs to emerge victorious.

Who Ate My Sock? – A single sock missing from the wash – the source of universal frustration and untold family bickering. Justine never gave thought to what happened to those missing socks, and where they went. Until the day her mother sent her into the basement to change a load of laundry, and she learned the terrifying truth behind it all.

Brother In Law, Brother In Blood – A great hero can come from a humble past. Great love can bloom from the embers of conflict. And sometimes the two can happen at the same time, to the near ruin of both.

It is up now, and ready to read.  Enjoy!

 

2013 Writing Goal – Weeks 15 and 16

Yeah…I forgot to post my progress last week.  Silly me.

So, week 15.  Didn’t meet the goal.  5,016 words total:

Week 15

No real excuse for missing the goal.  I just…missed it.  One thing I’ll note about the last few weeks, where I haven’t made my goal: I’ve been doing very little at the beginning of the week, leaving me to play catch-up later on.  Clearly that’s not a winning strategy.

Which brings me to Week 16.

Week 16

Crushed it!  11,482 words!  Who’s your daddy?!

That brings my total for April to just over 22,000 words, and for the year to 79,400 words.  Not too shabby.  A little below the glide slope for my overall goal, but not too shabby, all the same.

That said, a couple notes about last week.  First, I did the same thing as the last several – almost nothing early in the week, necessitating a lot at the end.  Second, and the key to my success this time, was I did a little time travel.  By that, I mean I flew to Japan on Saturday, the 20th.

The neat thing about flying west across the Date line is you get there a day after you left.  Conversely, flying east you get there the day before you left (depending on when you left).  To put it more precisely, my flight to Narita left LAX at 12:30 on Saturday and landed at 15:30 on Sunday, even though it was only an 11 hour flight.  So when you see the Saturday and Sunday numbers from Week 16, they really, from my perspective, happened on the same day.  I just split them up between writing on the ground in California (Saturday) and writing in the plane or here in Yokosuka after I arrived (Sunday).

I made excellent use of the time on the plane.  Consequently, Sunday was the best writing day in my writing history: 7,082 words.  Pretty sweet.

And yes, I’m aware it’s still Sunday back home.  Well it’s Monday here in Japan.  So chill.  🙂

So.  How am I going to maintain this success, if an 11 hour flight was the key to it?  Great question.  This week will be relatively easy, I think.  I’m here in Japan for an exercise, just me and my coworkers.  Since money is a little tight this time, I don’t intend to go out in town much at all.  In fact, I went by the Navy Exchange just now and got a bunch of Ramen noodles and such for my meals this week.  So I think if I’m not working the exercise, I’ll be in my room, writing.  And then on Saturday, I’ve got a 9-ish hour flight back home.  I think I ought to be able to equal last week’s word count fairly easily.

Once I get back?  One word sums up what I need to continue being successful – discipline.  And so discipline I shall employ.

So there’ve been a few words written lately.  How goes the novel, you ask?

Well.  The Pericles Conspiracy is now up to just over 107,000 words.  And it’s not done.  It’s got somewhere between 5 and 10,000 words to go, if I had to hazard a guess.  Of course, every part I put in ends up being longer than I thought it would, so who knows.  But seriously, it is really really close.  In fact I’ve got the end just about all the way written.  There’s just this part in the middle that I need to finish.  It’s a fairly important/epic/tricky/fun couple of chapters, but I skipped them to finish up the ending because…well, because.  That’s all.  Just because.  🙂  But if all goes well I should have it done this week.  If all goes well.  🙂

I also started another, shorter work that was inspired by Imagine Dragons‘ song, Radioactive.  Even though the song is not about a post-Apocalyptic world (no really, it’s not.  The guy who wrote the song was quick specific about that in several interviews on the subject), this story is about the immediate aftermath of a nuclear war.  Lots of fun.  Must be I’m getting psyched for Wasteland 2, or something.

Right.  That’s about all I’ve got.  Until next time, Go Redskins!

🙂

2013 Writing Goal – Week 13

The picture speaks for itself:

Week 13

Didn’t meet the goal.  But that’s ok; I had lots of family fun instead.

Oh, and I published a short story, under my mystery pen name.

Across The Line Cover

Across the Line is a 4,300 word short story about a hostage negotiator who finds out that his son is mixed up in his latest case.  I rather like it, so all y’all need to check it out asap.

🙂

That’s all for this post.  Off to write, so I can make the goal this week.

 

 

2013 Writing Goal – Week 11

Another week ended the other night.  Time to tell you guys how I did.

In a word, meh.  Observe:

Week 11Just 4,402 words.

But that’s ok.  I ran a freaking Triathlon last week!  Suck it, beeotches!  😛

Or something like that.

But seriously, not so good.  I didn’t hit the goal.  But I’m over 77,000 words on The Pericles Conspiracy now, and the end is in (close) sight.  I feel good about that.

On another down side, I heard back from Ellery Queen about my new Cop story: they don’t want it.  And I heard back from Writers of the Future about my first quarter entry: straight up reject.  That brings me to 5 rejects and 3 Honorable Mentions.  Not a horrible ratio but still, this whole R/HM trend is getting old.  How about a Semi- or Finalist or winner, Dave?  🙂

The story in question from WotF is called The Beast and the God-Woman, and runs at 16,500 words.  Given its length, most of the short fiction markets are out, but I decided to try one I’ve not gone to before: GigaNotoSaurus.  It’s a monthly web-zine that pays, but not at pro rates.  But they’ve pub’d some good folks, so what the heck?  We’ll see what happens.

And in the meantime, I’m working to finish up Pericles.  I’m actually to the point where I’m getting sick of it, so it’s a good thing I’m almost done.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a great story and I love it.  I’m just tired of writing it, want to move on to the next thing.  And I’m eager to see what other people will think of it once it’s (finally – and I mean really finally; I only wrote the first scene in May 2011, for Christ’s sake) finished.

Wow, the last couple paragraphs were rather depressing to read.  But no worries, I am not upset, angry, hurt, depressed or what have you.  My ego and feelings are far tougher than all of that.  It comes from the submarine life; you learn quickly how to focus on the mission and how to fend off being made fun of.  Making fun of each other is how we entertain ourselves underway, after all.  No room for emo wimps on a submarine, let me tell you.  So the idea of getting freaked out or all “Oh woe is me” over a rejection or two is just, frankly, stupid to me.  Every time I read some writer opining about how rejections are so hard, I have to stop myself from leaving a comment saying something along the lines of, “Seriously?  Grow a pair will you?  Stop being such a fucking crybaby wimp.  You are not the center of the universe, you know!”

So yeah.  Rejections don’t bother me.  It’s just business, and I can always post them myself.

That said, I guess I’ll get back to writing something.  Cheers, y’all!

 

2013 Writing Progress – Week 9

I’m a little late in updating for this week, but that’s ok.  I don’t hear any complaints.  🙂

Simply put, I crushed it.  Observe:

Week 1011,212 words, almost 50% above my 7,500 word goal for the week.  It helped that I was off on travel in Japan (Okinawa, to be precise).  And it helped that I lived Saturday twice; the beauty of flying west-to-east across the date line.  I actually landed in LA before I departed Tokyo, at least as far as the date and hour were concerned.  Plus it was a 9.5 hour plane ride, on that leg alone.  Another 3 hours from Okinawa to Tokyo, and a couple hours in various airports.  The flight from LA to San Diego was miniscule, and I didn’t write; it was low altitude and I love watching the landscape during low altitude flights.  Long story short, I was able to get a lot done on Saturday.  Obviously I did not write the entire time on the plane; I attempted to get some sleep.  And for obvious reasons I did not right Saturday night or Sunday – one must reunite with one’s family after all.  🙂

It was a good week.  I made a LOT of progress on The Pericles Conspiracy; it’s up to a bit over 72,000 words now, and I’m well past that difficult hump so I think I have clear sailing from here to the end, in another 30k or so, depending.  I also completed a short story, which I intended for this quarter’s Writers of the Future entry.  But now I’m wondering if I might submit it to Clarkesworld first, since they have a quick turnaround (just a few days).  I really dig the story and think it may do well.  If they like it, I still have time to write another story for WotF.  I don’t know.  I’m still pondering.

Complicating that calculus is the fact that I’ve lined up a cover artist for Pericles.  She’s penciled me in for the 28th of this month to work the cover, and since I’m getting both an ebook and print cover from her I need to have at least a reasonable guess as to the book’s final page count so she can get the cover dimensions correct for the print version (damn that spine width bit!).  So I really need to devote the majority of my attention to Pericles so as to get it done.  Pronto.

So I’ll probably just send that short story to WotF and worry about Clarkesworld et al after the quarter’s results are in.

Regardless, just because last week was a good one doesn’t mean I can rest on my laurels.  I didn’t write yesterday, and I’ve only done 459 words today, so I really need to get back to cranking this week.  Must meet the writing goal, and Sunday at least is going to be busy.  I’m running a triathlon, so I can’t count on a ton of free time that day to make up any slack I may leave this week.

Right.  So, back to it then.  Cheers!

Goal Progress Update

It’s been several weeks since I did an update on here.  Got some good excuses, which aren’t really excuses but reasons.  I’ll discuss them  as we go.  Ready?

Ok.

Week 6

Week 6I only got 2,248 words that week.  I was Mr. Mom, but interestingly enough I only got words written after my Mom left.  Odd.

Week 7

Week 7You’ll notice I didn’t get much written in week 7 until the middle of the week.  That’s when my better half came home.  Not sure how that correlation works.  It’s not like taking care of 3 kids is all that stressful or time consuming.  I blame watching too much TV and drinking too much wine.  Yeah, that’s it.

Week 8

Nada.

The thing to know about that week is it was the last week of an internation tactics course at my place of work.  A bunch of Australians flew into town to train with us.  I got out of playing with them the first two weeks because I took time off to deal with the family crisis.  But even if I’d wanted to, I could not get out of this week.  Because I am in charge of their course of instruction, and while the previous two weeks were classroom, this one was hands on.  We went underway on a couple destroyers for the night, flew back in a Navy helicopter, toured a few other ships, went to the Navy helicopter simulator, and generally had a great time.  And then on Saturday I flew to Japan for two weeks of exercises and training.  The fun thing about flying to Japan is that you get there a day after you left, because you’re flying west across the Date Line.  So even though I left in Saturday, I arrived (pretty late) on Sunday night.  So even if I’d had the energy to write that night, there would be no more writing that week.

Week 9

Week 9I hit the goal this week.  You’ll notice the writing was weighted toward the end of the week.  That’s because the exercise we ran in Yokosuka last week kept me busy.  And because after the exercise each night, we tended to go out and get dinner.  I mean drink.  Ok, both.  But we finished the exercise on Thursday, and I flew here to Okinawa on Friday.  We didn’t start the training here until yesterday, Monday in Japan (Sunday to people in the US).  So I had time to write.  And I did so.  It worked out well.  🙂

I’ll tell you what, I’ve not been to Okinawa since 1999.  I until last October, I hadn’t been to Yokosuka since 2000.  Things haven’t changed that much.  As before, I find I like Okinawa more.  It’s less cluttered and it’s tropical.  What’s not to like.  This trip, four of us are renting a cabin from the Navy WMR on White Beach, which is where CTF 76, the command we’re training, is stationed.  There’s not a lot on the base, but it’s a pretty nice place, nonetheless.  I’ll post some pictures a little later.

 

Long story short, I’m now a little behind on my annual goal.  I’m at 32,500 words written so far, in 2 months.  Do that math on that: if I continue at this pace it’ll take 19 months to complete my 300,000 word goal.  Fortunately, I’m not going to continue at this pace.  A lot of stuff went on at work and at home in January and February, but the busy season at work will be over soon, and that’ll help.  So I’m not panicking yet.

I’ve made a lot of progress on The Pericles Conspiracy.  I’ve also completed my vampire demon bunny story: it ended up at 25,500 word novella.  And I finished the cop story I started a long, long, long time ago: it came out to 4,300 words.  I named it Crossing The Line and  submitted it to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.  We’ll see how that works out, but I like how the story turned out.  So even if EQ doesn’t dig it I’m still happy.

🙂

Ok, getting back to writing now.  Cheers.