Friday, October 28, 2011

Poem: Enduring Flame

Enduring Flame

At seventeen, you caught my eye
My ardor burst in flame.
I wooed and won, you with a sigh
Ignited just the same.

My soul is kindled by your smile
Sad heart singed by your tears.
Some loves run hot, then cold a while,
Ours more than burns - it sears.

The glowing embers of our nights
Light up the days between
Hot passion every glance incites
Lust sparks against the screen.

But what cold future lies ahead,
A passion doused by time?
Fear not, we'll burn until we're dead
In ashes we'll recline.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Writing my first romance novel

For a while, I have been intrigued by the idea of writing a romance novel. I've written a few romance short stories, but I am very impressed by those who plot and plan their way to a good romance. Done well, it certainly rivals a mystery for planning, with a much greater demand for emotional intensity and understanding of human dynamic.

That said, I can't just write a contemporary romance. I need to pull in some of my other writing energies, so I am writing a gritty urban fantasy romance... with mermaids.

The working title is Deep Embrace. I am hoping to do this more transparently than some of my other writing, meaning occasional updates here on both progress and challenges.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Poem: A Distant Drum Roll

A Distant Drum Roll

We stand in full regalia
In solemn ranks under the sun,
All mindful of the same idea,
Our duty clear, we cannot run.

Though fear may gnaw inside each breast
No outward sign will brave men show.
What painful inner doubts attest,
We grit our teeth, let no one know.

The line stands firm, as each awaits
A distant drum roll, marching feet.
What lies beyond those stony gates?
Our victory, or grave defeat?

But hark, the drum roll beckons us
The rigid line begins to move
In quiet wonder, no more fuss
It's time for valor now to prove.

The gates are open, we approach
With heads held high and manner cool.
Our courage is beyond reproach.
We start the year at our new school.

* Across from my office window is the school where all 5th and 6th graders in Shaker Heights go, leaving their familiar elementary schools behind.  Every year, I watch as the brave new 5th graders wait in line for the opening bell.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Excerpt: Ragnarök (apocalyptic scifi)

Excerpt: Ragnarök (opening scene)
“Don Newton ragnacked last night.  Closed the garage door and turned the car on.  I can’t believe it.”  Ken stood in the sunny kitchen, telephone still in his hand, forgotten in the moment.
Carla shook her head, looking dismayed but not terribly surprised.  “Irene must be so upset.  I’ll give her a call later.”

“Don’t bother.  Don left a note.  Irene ran off with that piano teacher who’s been giving lessons to their daughter, Marcia.  What is the world coming to?”  

As if he had to ask.  Everyone knew what the world was coming to, and even when.  The mother of all asteroids, estimated by scientists to be six times bigger than the one that killed off the dinosaurs.  The astronomers called it Asher-Lev 14, but some joker had nicknamed it Ragnarök, and the name stuck. 
Within days, the name spawned its own vocabulary.  Rag off: run away from your spouse with a new lover or old flame.  Ragnabber: person who ransacked and looted to get things he or she had always wanted.  Ragnack: take your ending into your own hands.

“I don’t get it.  Three weeks to live, why kill yourself now?”  Ken stared at the phone, which had started beeping, and slammed down the receiver. 

“I understand it.”  Ken could barely hear her.  Carla leaned against the wall as if she couldn’t hold up her own weight.  She stared out the window at Lucy, playing in the back yard.  After a silence she continued, “It’s the waiting that’s so bad.  Waiting and knowing what’s going to happen.  Lucy’s the only reason I keep going, wanting her to have a last few happy weeks, but watching her…  She’s never going to get to grow up.”  Carla looked at Ken with tear-streaked eyes.  “She’ll never have a first kiss, or go to Prom, or have a baby of her own.  She’ll never know any of that.”

Ken crossed the small kitchen and put his arms around Carla.  While she cried, he murmured reassuring words he didn’t believe.  Mostly, he tried not to shake.  A couple of times a day, he found himself shaking uncontrollably, unable to cry, unable to do anything.  As Carla’s sobs subsided, he turned her to face him and said, “We need to get out of here.  Take Lucy and get away, away from all the craziness.”

Carla shook herself free, not angrily, but with determination.  “You know we can’t do that.  We can’t leave your mom; she’s too sick to travel, and she won’t leave her church now—she spends most her days there, praying.  Besides, Lucy needs to be near her friends.  This is all confusing enough for her.”  She wiped her eyes and put on a resolute, if lopsided, smile.  “Lucy’s not going to get a whole lifetime, but I’ll be damned if she can’t have a few happy weeks of normal childhood, or as normal as I can make them.  Besides, maybe the experts are wrong.  Maybe this is all a big mistake.”

Ken tried to smile, but couldn’t.  “Yeah, maybe it is.”  He knew it wasn’t, and she probably did as well, but why push the issue?  There were plenty of doubters, or had been when the news first broke on the internet. 

A couple of Chilean astronomers blogged about the asteroid, and nobody would have paid any attention if not for the U.S. government’s ham-handed efforts to deny the rumors.  By the third Presidential press conference in a week denying the reports and expressing simultaneous complete confidence in the U.S. military, everybody knew.  By the time the President admitted the truth, the internet was overflowing with evidence.  Somebody even set up a live astro-webcam at the Mt. Hamilton observatory in California.  Watch your doom approach in real time!

To read the rest of Ragnarök, visit Smashwords at or wait a day or two and it will be up on Amazon and B&N. Only $0.99, Ragnarök celebrates the ability of the human spirit to transcend the ultimate catastrophe.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mistaken All Week - poetic paean to dates who are duds

Mistaken all week - a poetic paean to dud dates
(from the lady's point of view)

My life seemed boring, something seemed amiss
I craved adventure, so I told my Sis.
But Sis thought I was crazy, she said, “Hon!
You’re quite mistaken. Strangers are no fun!”

Limerick Letdown
On Friday, I went out with Mickey
Who thought he was terribly tricky
He felt it romantic
To fumble, quite frantic.
And end up the night with a quickie.

My Sis said, “Told you so!” without remorse.
So I went out and tried again, of course.

Haiku Hangup
On Saturday night
I discovered with sadness
That Hung Lo – wasn’t.

My sister laughed and said with bawdy wink,
“He was so short, sometimes you have to think!”

A Cinquain in the Park with George
I dined with George
Whose eloquence promised
A night of sensitivity
…or not.

I’m glad to say that Sis was somewhat kind..
She’d dated George herself, “I liked his mind”

Acrostic between a Donkey and a Snake
L eonard asked me out on Monday
A nd I said I’d happily go,
R elieved ‘cause we went out for sundaes,
G oing well meant going slow.
E ventually we went to his place
B ut we still just sat and talked
U ntil finally we got started
T hen his lordly member… balked.
L usting for his apt proportion
I  tried things not taught in school,
M ade an effort, tried extortion,
P roduced naught but flaccid tool.

Well, I told Sis I’d stayed home, watched TV.
There’s some humiliation I don’t need.

Epigram Telegram
On Tuesday I went out with Ray.
Turned out he was charming and… gay.

My Sis, she harkened back where she’d begun,
“You're still mistaken. Strangers are no fun!"

Take me out to the Etheree
On Wednesday, I went on a date with Sam
He took me to the ball park to see
The Indians play the Yankees
We sat in the second row.
He drank way too much beer.
He tried to grope me
Out in public!
I slapped him.
Fuck off,

I went back to my sister and I cried,
“I’m done”, I said, but thankfully I lied.

Thursday Sonnet
With heavy heart, uncertain and depressed,
I planned to stay at home and count my woes,
But then a call from Mike, whom I’d impressed
When he met me last week; my spirits rose.

He asked if I would come out to a play
He said he’d pick me up at half past eight
I felt like I did not know what to say
I dressed and paced ‘cause I could hardly wait.

I knew I should stay calm and circumspect
My failures of the week should sober me
But when he came he showed me such respect
My mind went blank – don’t know what came o’er me.

He held my hand and gazed into my eyes
And when we kissed, explosions lit the skies.

I must have looked like I had lost my head.
I grinned so wide and to my sister said,
“Dear Sis, I’m glad to say that I have won.
You’re quite mistaken. Strangers can be fun!”

* The contents here are fiction. They do not represent any real people or events, although they may reflect real emotions.

*Notes on formats*

A Limerick is a rhymed humorous or nonsense poem of five lines which originated in Limerick, Ireland. The Limerick has a set rhyme scheme of : a-a-b-b-a with a syllable structure of: 9-9-6-6-9.

A Haiku is an unrhymed verse of Japanese origin consisting of three
lines of five, seven, and five syllables (5, 7, 5) or 17 syllables in all.

A Cinquain is a short, usually unrhymed poem consisting of twenty-two syllables distributed as 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, in five lines.

An Acrostic is where the first letter of each line spells a word or multiple words, usually using the same words as in the title or relating to the title.

An Epigram is a short satirical poem, usually a rhyming couplet, ending with either a humorous retort or a stinging punchline.

An Etheree consists of 10 lines of either 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 syllables or 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 syllables.

A Shakespearean Sonnet consists of 14 lines in iambic pentameter as three quatrains and a couplet, and rhymes
abab cdcd efef gg.

The discussion between the sisters is in iambic pentamber couplets rhymed as
aa bb ...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Excerpt #7 from Savage Fire

Now that Savage Fire has been out for a bit, I thought I'd post another excerpt. There have been six reviews posted on Amazon (five of them 5-stars, one 4-star), and two of the reviewers have singled out Worth Watching as of special interest. To thank then, I have included an excerpt below from the beginning:

Start of Worth Watching, an excerpt from Savage Fire:

It was a sunny day. Ned peered out at the sky, but there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. Nonetheless, he slipped on his galoshes and raincoat and tucked a small black umbrella into his pocket. Ned stepped outside, checking both ways for bicycles or unobservant pedestrians.
“Lovely day, isn’t it?” Mrs. Stepford smiled and waved, and Ned gave a half-hearted wave in her direction. In his opinion, it was the ones who smiled and waved who were most likely to trip you, steal your wallet and leave your battered carcass in the alley behind the dumpster. People like that needed watching. He glanced back several times to check on Mrs. Stepford before turning the corner.
“Morning, Ned.”
“Hey, Ned! Dressed for the weather, I see. Ha ha.”
“Ned, need a paper today?” 
It was like any other day, and after placing his rain gear near his office door, Ned scrubbed his hands for a good five minutes. The germs you don’t see are the ones that kill you.
Using a tissue to hold the mouse, Ned scrolled through his new messages. Two spam messages and an email from his mother went into the Trash folder, but he read one titled Twenty Thousand: Thursday with interest. He checked his calendar, nodded and typed a short reply. A quick squirt of hand sanitizer and Ned was ready for business.
Ned carefully planned his approach. It was essential that no detail be left to chance; danger lurked around every corner. Ned wrote nothing down. One never knew who might snoop.
Satisfied, Ned left for home after putting on his galoshes and raincoat, and checking that the umbrella was in its place. He stepped back out into the bright sunshine, looking both ways as he did.

Would you like to read more of this and the fifteen other stories in Savage Fire? Pick up a copy on or or Smashwords or most other digital bookstores. You can also buy it here with Paypal or a credit card, and have a personal dedication added if you like. (See right sidebar)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Want to star in a published horror story (for free)?

I recently introduced the option to buy a copy of Savage Fire and have it include a personalized dedication to you (or to the name you request). I am intrigued by the idea of customized stories, so I am making an offer to you, my loyal readers.

Pick one of the stories below, each taken from Savage Fire, and tell me which character you would like to be, and what format is easiest for you, Kindle (.mobi), Nook (.epub) or PDF. In stories with multiple characters, you can choose names for any secondary characters listed if you like. Post in the comments (or via Facebook, Twitter DM or email, whatever) the story and name(s), and I'll send you that story with the names altered appropriately. No cost.

If you want to go one step further, order the book from this page (see Buy Now on right), and I'll include the customized story in the full set, as well as dedicating it. Otherwise, if you don't order, you will get a single story.

"Savage Fire": In this tale of Victorian England where the undead walk, Richard Galworthy is the protagonist behind the Alchemy, and the subject of his experiments is Sir Julian Wattford. (Full male names only, one or both of the two characters can be named)

"Awake in the Age of Lizards": Tommy Gwen’cher is the only named character is this short, bizarro piece with religious undertones and large bipedal lizards. (Either male or female, full name)

"An Island Never Cries": In this story of bloodthirsty urges, Kate is the young lady who is bitten, and goes out to wreak havoc on the people in her life, her friends Jasmine and Carla, a football hottie named Sam Taylor, and an innocent man who suffers anyway named Tim Davis. (Female first name for Kate and first name of either of the two girls or full names of the two males)

"Unfinished Business": Pamela is dead, but horny as hell. Her partners in the story are Robert Wilson, Jimmy and Becky (yes, they all get some), and her enemy is Jacob. Would you like to star in this steamy zombie story? (female first name for Pamela and first names for one or more of the other three males or the female)

If anybody has a special favorite among the other twelve stories, let me know and I'll see what I can do. Please let friends know as well, as I'd like to have some fun with this.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Does your ebook come with a personalized dedication?

There's something special about a book signed by the author, especially when he or she writes it to you specifically. I've been thinking about whether there is a way to sign copies of Savage Fire, and I have come up with a way.

If you buy a copy of Savage Fire through this blog, you can specify the format you want for the ebook, and also a name to be used to personally dedicate the book. For example, imagine that Alice Rasmussen (a purely fictional character, not meant to be any specific individual) wants to buy a copy dedicated to herself. Alice has a Kindle, so she picks the Kindle format and writes her name in the text box, "Alice Rasmussen", and then clicks on the Buy Now button and pays with her Visa card.

About an hour later, Alice notices in her mail that the personalized copy has arrived. She opens it with her Kindle for PC application, and sees the following as the first page that appears. Alice is so excited, she orders another copy, this one dedicated to her father, Frank Rasmussen. She then sends it to him as a late Father's Day gift.

Click to show full size.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Update on pricing at $2.99 vs. $0.99

This post is a follow up to my earlier post,  Does your $0.99 book sell six times as many copies?, which generated a good deal of interest. I started at $2.99 for Savage Fire, dropped it to $0.99 for a week and then returned to $2.99.

Thus far, it appears that Savage Fire is selling a little faster at $2.99 than it was at $0.99. It is hard to be very certain of the impact of such a change when you are only selling a couple a day, but even that seems pretty good for a short story collection from a relatively unknown author.

I'd be curious how others are faring with either raising or lowering their prices. I know of one author who raised her price from $0.99 to $2.99. Actually, I encouraged her pretty strongly, so I feel a little responsible. If you go buy her wonderful YA book of witches and intrigue, I Wish... (The Witches of Desire), you will not only help to prove me right, but get a really good book as well.

Another author raised her price from $2.99 to $4.99. I didn't encourage that (or discourage it, or have anything to do with it), but it is a book I would gladly have paid $4.99 for, though I happened to purchase it before the price change. Her book is also YA, but a darker, more intense contemporary (no paranormal or fantasy) called Cage of Bone.

How about you? Have you raised your price, or lowered it, or stuck with what was working? Any feedback would be welcome, and of course you also get a chance to provide a link to your book.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Web comic for "Unsettled Hearts" from Savage Fire

I have been tweeting web comics for each story in Savage Fire, my recently published short story collection, to give readers ideas about the stories, as well as a puzzle to solve. I call them web comics, but the structure is a limerick loosely about the story written on top of an image that has some relationship with the story. If you own a copy of the book (and if you don't, hurry over and buy a copy on Amazon or at Smashwords for only $2.99), you can read the story and figure out what twisted logic I have employed to get to that image and that limericks. If you don't get enough from that one story, don't worry, there are sixteen in all.

The seventh story in the Savage Fire book, "Unsettled Hearts", is Old Western/action/lesbian story. Seriously. Not kidding. Read it and you'll see.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Does your 99 cent book sell six times as many copies?

I have been playing around with the pricing for Savage Fire, and was convinced to drop the price to 99 cents as a promotion tactic. It hasn't made much difference, as I sold about the same number of copies as I had in the same number of days before that.

But this is where Amazon gets you. Drop the price to 99 cents to compete with all of the other 99 cent books, and your commission drops to 35% instead of 70%. What does that translate to in revenue? Each copy of Savage Fire selling at $2.99 made me a commission of $2.06 on Amazon. Each copy of Savage Fire selling at $0.99 made me a commission of $0.35.

Therefore, six copies sold at $0.99 each would make $2.10, or $0.04 more than one copy at $2.99.

Obviously, there is a value to getting more copies out there, but this is the raw truth behind the differing commissions and the downward price pressure. If more authors would insist on the $2.99 as a floor, that would become more widely accepted by buyers. If everybody races for the bottom price of $0.99, the only one happy is Amazon.

(As an aside, the comparable $0.99 book sold at Smashwords directly brings in $0.56, while the $2.99 book brings in $2.21, so four copies would make more, hardly surprising when the price is three times as much.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Web comic for "Saving Grace" from Savage Fire

I have been tweeting web comics for each story in Savage Fire, my recently published short story collection, to give readers a puzzle to solve. At least I call them web comics. Each is a limerick about the story on top of an image that has some relationship with the story, even if it is that odd uncle who always trails his tie in the soup. If you own a copy of the book (and if you don't, hurry over and buy a copy on Amazon or at Smashwords for $0.99 this week only), you can read the story and figure out what twisted logic I have employed to get to that image and that limericks. (Of course, some may be beyond all understanding, in which case blame the whiskey.)

The sixth story in the Savage Fire book, "Saving Grace", is a more gentle, haunting story, with a liberal dose of sibling rivalry gone wrong.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Web comic for "Double Cross" from Savage Fire

To give my readers a taste of the variety of stories in Savage Fire, my recently published short story collection, I have been tweeting web comics for each story. At least I call them web comics. Each is a limerick about the story on top of an image that has some relationship with the story, even if it is just a bastard stepchild. If you own a copy of the book (and if you don't, hurry over and buy a copy on Amazon or at Smashwords for $0.99 this week only), you can read the story and cringe at the twisted logic (and painful puns) behind the limericks.

The fifth story in the Savage Fire book, "Double Cross", goes in a completely different direction, with a hard-boiled, hard-drinking private eye faced with a difficult case, complete with the requisite leggy dame.

Web comic for "Worth Watching" from Savage Fire

To give my readers a feel for the variety of stories in Savage Fire, my short story collection, I have been tweeting web comics for each story. The comic is a limerick about the story superimposed on an image that has to do with the story in some way, obvious or otherwise. If you own a copy of the book (and if you don't, hurry over and buy a copy on Amazon or at Smashwords for only 99 cents this week only), you can read the story and cringe at the twisted logic (and occasionally terrible puns) behind the limericks.

The fourth story in the Savage Fire book, "Worth Watching", introduces an odd obsessive man with quirky habits, some of them quite deadly.

Click on image to see full size

Friday, June 10, 2011

Web comic for "An Island Never Cries" from Savage Fire

To give my readers a sense of the stories in my Savage Fire short story collection, or simply a sense of what an odd person I am, I have been tweeting web comics for each story. Each is a limerick about the story superimposed on an image that makes some sort of sense, if you read the story. So, if you buy a copy on Amazon or at Smashwords for only 99 cents, you can read the story yourself and see the logic (and occasionally terrible puns) behind the limericks.

The third story in the Savage Fire book is "An Island Never Cries" which is a dark, vampiric story with questionable dark sexual undertones (do I know how to sell a story or what?).

Web comic for "Awake in the Age of Lizards" from Savage Fire

To give my readers a taste of the stories in my Savage Fire short story collection, I have been tweeting web comics for each story. At least I call them web comics. Basically, each is a limerick about the story superimposed on an image that makes some sort of sense. Of course, if you bought a copy on Amazon or at Smashwords, you could read the stories yourself and see the clever (or not-so-clever) logic behind the limericks and the image.

The second story in the Savage First book is "Awake in the Age of Lizards" which is a short bizarro piece with odd religious allusions. The image is a bit bizarro to match the story.

Web comic for "Savage Fire" title story

To give my readers a taste of the stories in my Savage Fire short story collection, I have been tweeting web comics for each story. At least I call them web comics. Basically, each is a limerick about the story superimposed on an image that makes some sort of sense. Of course, if you bought a copy on Amazon or at Smashwords, you could read the stories yourself and see the clever (or not-so-clever) logic behind the limericks and the image.

Or just laugh at me. I can take it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

TGIF! Celebrating with 50% off sale this weekend only

Thank God It's Friday! To celebrate, get a copy of Savage Fire for 50% off on #Smashwords using coupon FW77X

Valid through Sunday $1.49 at Smashwords page

Heck, for that price, pick up a copy for a friend.

Excerpt #6 from Savage Fire

Now that Savage Fire is available and getting snapped up by discerning readers everywhere, I thought I'd post another excerpt. Since I promised a few naughty bits, here's the start of one of those stories.

Start of Unfinished Business, an excerpt from Savage Fire:

     Pamela opened her eyes, but it made no difference. She blinked. Still nothing. Her arm was very stiff, but she lifted it with an effort. It smacked into wood with a dull thud a few inches above her face.

     Damn! She was dead after all. Jacob had startled her horse, she fell, and now here she was in a coffin. It figured.

     The day had started well. Pamela rode her horse, Dusty, to the general store to get sugar and flour for Jenny’s cake. The Wilson’s older son, Robert, was alone tending the store. He had the dreamiest blue eyes, which grew wider when she flipped the sign on the door to Closed and unbuttoned her blouse. Robert said he couldn’t, but what do you know, he could after all. Once past his shyness, he’d been quite enthusiastic.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Second day sales results

It's a bit hard to pinpoint sales since Amazon waits so long to post results (Smashwords is virtually instantaneous), but the current results shown are:

Amazon US: 11 sales
Amazon UK: 2 sales
Amazon Germany: 0 sales
Smashwords: 3 sales
B&N (not available until Smashwords accepts into Premium catalog)
Kobo (not available until Smashwords accepts into Premium catalog)

So, a grand total of 16 sales in two days. Obviously, that rate won't necessarily keep up, although I have a variety of people who are reading and planning on reviewing, which should help.

According to a statistic I saw today (unverified), only 5 out of a 1000 books published sells 100 or more copies. Using that as a very rough benchmark, I have 84 copies left to sell to break into the top half a percent. Scary!

Lessons learned while formatting Savage Fire

Having just made it through the process of getting Savage Fire published, I thought I would share what I learned while formatting, first for Amazon and then for Smashwords.

Lesson 1) Format for Smashwords first, and then for Amazon. The Smashwords formatting guide is good, if extremely demanding, but it helps you lay things out right from the beginning.

Lesson 2) Read and follow Guido Henkel's excellent series, Take pride in your eBook formatting as you prepare for the Amazon publishing. Since the early stages of Guido's process suggest using Word, start with the Smashwords, get it working, save a copy and then start with Guido's steps.

Lesson 3) Calibre is awesome (and free) software, but don't use the PDF they create unless you want to use it on very small devices. It sizes things as if you were using an iPhone. The Smashwords PDF is far better, but you can also use a product such as PDF995 to print from the Smashwords document to PDF. If you plan to do that, insert the cover image into the first page before you create the PDF.

Lesson 4) Don't start formatting until you have absolutely finalized the editing.  Making changes in the prepared document can be done, but it is where most errors come in.

Lesson 5) Add two hard returns (hit enter twice) before you insert a page break and set the style for your chapter heading. Otherwise, the font and style mess up the last paragraph on the page before.

Lesson 6) Check and double check your final, formatted document in every format you can.

Lesson 7) Since both Amazon and Smashwords allow sampling, test the samples to make sure they don't end in an obnoxious way. I don't know how easy that is to change on Amazon, but on Smashwords it is very easy to change the percentage. I wish they allowed you to set a mark as the "end of sample", but I couldn't find one.

My first review for Savage Fire - Five stars

It is nerve-wracking waiting for your first review of your first book, but it was worth the wait. I got a five star review that said:
Sixteen short stories, all of them different from each other except that most are ironic or dark. My favorite is one called "Worth Watching", because of its central character. No spoilers in this review, but let's say the story contains an unexpected, fun twist. Solid work on the Victorian dialects in the opening tale, "Savage Fire", and weird, beautiful prose poetry elsewhere in the volume. The inclusion of an old-fashioned, hard-boiled detective short story was a pleasant surprise. Worth buying.

Wow! Thanks, P. Teintze!

You can order your own copy from Amazon or from Smashwords.

Thanks to all the readers supporting me. You make it worth writing. Oh, and please review the book after you read it, even if you can't give a five star review. All feedback is appreciated, whether it is on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords or your own blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kindle the Savage Fire!

I am very pleased to announce that my first collection of short stories, Savage Fire is available now for $2.99 for Kindle (unless Amazon puts it on sale). It is also on Smashwords for various digital formats, including on-line reading (with paid order). The cover and ordering info is on the right sidebar.

I appreciate all the support I have gotten here and on Twitter and Facebook as I have prepared this short story collection. Of course, along with the gratitude, I have to ask another favor. Buy a copy of the book, and let me know what you think. If you like it, terrific! If you don't, I still want to know.

There are sixteen different stories in Savage Fire, from Victorian zombies to bizarro to beastly horror to humor. Chances are, you won't like every story the same amount, so let me know if you have any favorites (or most hated).

And thanks again for sharing my journey.

First update on sales: I don't know how far behind the reporting is, but so far there are 4 sales on and 2 on
Second update on sales: There are 6 sales reported on, 2 on and 1 on Smashwords. The best Amazon rank I saw was #13,182 Paid in Kindle Store.
Third update on sales: As of 6:45am, there are 8 sales reported on, 2 on and 2 on Smashwords. The Amazon rank is mow I saw was #17,363 Paid in Kindle Store.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Excerpt teaser #5 for Savage Fire

Four days.

My short story collection, Savage Fire, will be released on May 31st as an eBook. I posted a rough copy of the cover and a table of contents, but I wanted to put up one more excerpt from one of my favorite stories, An Island Never Cries, with a different kind of beastliness.

Remember to watch on Twitter for the hash tag #savagefire, which I am using for tweets and hints about the collection. When the eBook is available for pre-order, I'll tweet about it. When the book is available, I'll tweet about it. I think it is safe to say that I'll tweet too damn much about it.

The opening of An Island Never Cries, bloodthirsty horror from Savage Fire:

Wind careened across the bay, churning and roiling the water. A wave crashed against the rocks, and the wind carried the spray, dousing Kate with frigid salt water, but she was already soaked to the bone and didn’t stir. She huddled on the edge of the porch and watched angry clouds scuttle across the moon. She would not give in.
An hour later, Kate’s nails had gouged her palms. Teeth clenched, fists closed, she fought. She would not, could not give in. Cold sweat mingled with the spray and trickled down her face, ran across her cheeks. Some ran into her mouth and she swallowed the salty moisture, but it only made the pangs worse.
Half an hour later, maybe even forty minutes, she could take it no longer. Staggering off the porch, her eyes narrowed, she stared about as if food, sustenance, might be lurking in the dark. She laughed, but even to her ears, it sounded desolate and grim.
Down to the dock she ran, slipping on the slick wood in her eagerness. She struggled with the knots she had tied so carefully earlier in the evening, fumbling madly against her earlier willpower. As soon as she could slip the lines off the mooring, she leapt into the small craft. The wind howled around her, so she made do with the jib. Even so, the small sail filled in an instant and knocked her off her feet.
Where to go? Kate’s mind spun wildly with the need to get to the mainland, to feed the terrible hunger, but a little corner, the human side of Kate, warned her away from Tyson’s Cove. She fought herself, and managed to aim a little northward, up to Johnson’s Point at least. People lived there, but further inland. It might slow her down.
The boat bucked and tossed in the wind. Whether nature forced its will or the wild part of Kate took over, the prow kept skewing southward. Each time Kate leaned on the rudder, she lost ground. Through the tumult of the waves, Kate saw the dim lights of Tyson’s Cove.
One last time, the tiny flickering light in her brain seized control, and she shoved the rudder over, heading further south, perhaps down to Star Beach. Nobody would be out on Star Beach in the storm. It was no use; the light sputtered out as the small craft veered back northward and headed to shore.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Savage Fire Table of Contents

Four days until Savage Fire is released, so I thought I'd list the table of contents:

1) Savage Fire (Victorian undead goodness)
2) Awake in the Age of Lizards (bizarro)
3) An Island Never Cries (bloodthirsty horror)
4) Who's Watching (odd thriller)
5) Double Cross (noir intrigue)
6) Saving Grace (haunted horror)
7) Unsettled Hearts (action Western)
8) Got It? (dark comedy)
9) So Pretty (mythological dark comedy)
10) Missing You (dark)
11) If Not Mistaken (bizarro)
12) The Sea Witch's Daughter (dark fairytale)
13) Blood Feast (beastly horror)
14) Unfinished Business (erotic horror comedy)
15) Last Stop (dark dialogue)
16) Without Remorse (beastly horror)

Yup, sixteen stories in a wide variety of styles.  Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Make it Easy to Buy

I have been in the software business for a long time, since long before the web as we know it appeared. One fundamental tenet of that business is Make it easy to buy.

The book publishing business is no different. The big publishers understand that. Amazon and B&N and others understand that. But independent authors often don't. I took a fellow author to task because she had a blog with great content, and even provided an excerpt and talked about her recently published book, but she had no links or way for a reader to buy.

Remember, the reader is asked to part with his or her hard-earned cash, which is a hurdle to overcome even if the book is 99 cents. Don't put up any obstacles. If they have to go to Amazon or Smashwords or B&N and search for your book, especially if the book title is ambiguous or made of common words (Try searching for 'I Wish...' via Google, then try searching for 'Paranormalcy"), they may lose patience before they get there.

The three things that are most important to provide, either directly or indirectly, are a link to where it can be bought (even if you are selling it directly), a cover image (picture is worth a 1000 words) and an indication of genre/age ('Mary, Mary Quite Contrary' could be children's rhymes, YA romcom or horror). The last is sometimes clear from context, which is fine.

If all goes well, in a couple of days, you will see an image and link appear on my blog for Savage Fire. As soon as it is available to pre-order or order, I'll make sure you can see it, get to it and know what it is. Do the same for your book. You don't want a potential reader to skip on by to the next blog because there wasn't a simple way to buy your book.

Trust me. In the software world, it's known as a newbie mistake (although large corporations sometimes make it - not mention names such as IBM or anything). Don't be the newbie with your precious book (or software). Make it easy to buy, and people will.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Excerpt teaser #4 for Savage Fire

Nine days.

My short story collection, Savage Fire, will be released on May 31st as an eBook. I have posted a rough copy of the cover and three excerpts, which you can find on the blog without being Sherlock Holmes or anything. Today, I decided to do a bit more straight horror (not heterosexual horror, but horror that is more mainstream). It has a nasty beast in it.

Remember to watch on Twitter for the hash tag #savagefire, which I am using for tweets and hints about the collection. When the eBook is available for pre-order, I'll tweet about it. When the book is available, I'll tweet about it. I think it is safe to say that I'll tweet too damn much about it, but twitter is a stream rushing away, so close your eyes and wait a moment, and my useless tweets will have floated away.

An excerpt from Without Remorse, a beastly treat from Savage Fire:
            "You misunderstand, daughter." Fernand looked at her, tears streaming down his face. "He says that I may stay, if you will accept Stephen's offer of marriage."
            Gabriella leapt to her feet. "What? Never. Stephen is a brute. No woman will have him."
            "There is no choice, Gabriella." Pain scored Fernand's face, and he gripped her hands in his. "We cannot fight him."
            "Then we shall leave. We can make a new start elsewhere, Father. I can work as a seamstress, and you…"
            "We can never leave this land." His words came out with such force that Gabriella stepped back, and ran into the counter. She had not seen that wild look in her father's eyes before, and his vehemence scared her.
            Fernand made a visible effort to calm himself, and went on. "I hoped not to tell you, Gabriella. The reason we did not sell our land when your mother was ill, the reason we had to take on those debts, is because of a dark secret in our family."
            He paused. Gabriella waited in silence, fearing to hear what he had to say, but anxious to know what terrible fear her father harbored.
            "Many years ago, your great-great-grandfather, Rudolf, lived in this house. He was a stubborn man, quick to anger. Nobody knows what your great-great-grandmother saw in him, but she bore him three children and never said a word against him in public.
            "One night in late November, a storm blew up…"

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guys - Why YOU should support paranormal YA writers

Ladies, if you will pardon us for a moment, I'm speaking to the guys here. If you must listen in (like I'm going to stop you), please keep the chatter down so the guys will pay attention.

Why should we, as healthy, red-blooded guys promote and support the legions of ladies who write paranormal YA books (face it, it's mostly ladies, though I respect the guys who buck the tend)? Don't kid yourself, I can sense the collective eye-rolling and ball-scratching. After all, we're guys. Sparkly vampires make us cringe, even though we have never read Twilight or watched any of the movies. (Even those who went closed their eyes.)

But having duly noted your disdain, I want to tell you, we still need to support these ladies. I mean, even aside from the hot profile pics. (I won't name names, as I'm a happily married guy and want to stay that way, but if I were less discrete? Kiersten White, Wren Emerson, and pretty much every other paranormal YA author I follow. See what I'm saying?)

Excerpt #3 from Savage Fire

Eleven days.

My short story collection, Savage Fire, will be released on May 31st as an eBook. Two days ago, I included an excerpt of a bizarro story. Yesterday, I added another for my noir fans. So, what can I think of for a Friday? How about a bit of dark comedy? (I have something special for tomorrow in honor of the Rapture, so stay tuned. Unless, of course, you plan to be whisked away, in which case have a good trip!)

Remember to watch on Twitter for the hash tag #savagefire, which I am using for tweets and hints about the collection. When the eBook is available for pre-order, I'll tweet about it. When the book is available, I'll tweet about it. I think it is safe to say that I'll tweet too damn much about it, but twitter is a stream rushing away, so close your eyes and wait a moment, and my useless tweets will have floated away.

An excerpt from So Pretty, a mythological treat from Savage Fire
     Empty wooden steps, except for the small package addressed to her, Betty Fea. But where was the mailman? She ran down the steps in time to see his back disappearing around the hedge at the end of the drive. "Yoo hoo, Mr. Mailman," she called. "I have a lovely batch of cookies if you would like to stop and visit."

     The mailman didn't answer, and Betty couldn't tell whether he had heard and ignored her, or simply not heard. She stamped her foot in frustration, although it was perhaps a good thing, since she had not really made any cookies after all.

     Looking around, Betty sighed and walked over to Mrs. Kendall, the Welcome Wagon lady. A plastic bag had gotten stuck on Mrs. Kendall's arm, probably blown by the wind. After two years, Mrs. Kendall had never blown away. One day, Betty was going to have to bring the wheelbarrow around and lug the stone figure away. To think that Mrs. Kendall had never even had a chance to admire Betty's hair, or the way her figure looked so svelte and attractive even after three thousand years.

     "Hello, Mr. Johnson," she cooed to the attorney who had come to finalize her mortgage papers. "Oh, you like my dress. I wore it just for you." Conversations with Mr. Johnson were always one sided, but she did fancy that his obsidian eyes glinted when he watched her sashay by him at the edge of the garden.

     Hiss. Betty's serpents coiled and twisted on her head at the sound of a car pulling into the drive. It jerked to a halt, no doubt because the driver was squeezing his or her eyes closed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Log of live tweets for I Wish by Wren Emerson

I Wish... (The Witches of Desire) 

In case anybody missed the fun, I decided to preserve the tweets I made while live-tweeting my reading of Wren Emerson's YA paranormal, I Wish... (The Witches of Desire).

The rules, as I have defined them for myself, are one tweet per chapter, each a rhyming couplet which reflects the action in the chapter, or perhaps reflects on it, but without giving too much away. If you have already bought a copy of the book, or if you click on the link above and buy it now for only 99 cents, you can check after each chapter and see if you agree with the tweet.

Feel free to offer a couplet of your own in the comments if you think you can do better than I did. In any case, buy a copy and support a poor, starving author (starving when she isn't buying celebratory pancakes for herself and minions). If you want to read the many pleas and chit chat also tagged with the hash tag , just click on it and read for yourself.

May 18, 2011 Approx 8:00pm

May 18, 2011 Approx 8:30pm

May 18, 2011 Approx 9:00pm

May 18, 2011 Approx 9:45pm

May 18, 2011 Approx 11:30pm

May 19, 2011 Approx 3pm

May 19, 2011 Approx 6:00pm

May 19, 2011 Approx 6:45pm 

Excerpt teaser #2 for Savage Fire

Twelve days...

My short story collection, Savage Fire, will be released on May 31st as an eBook. Yesterday, I included an excerpt of a bizarro story, but the collection has more than bizarro. It has both undead and alchemy, horror and humor, as well as a dose of my trademark noir. I decided to focus on that last genre for my excerpt today.

Remember to watch on Twitter for the hash tag #savagefire, which I am using for tweets and hints about the collection. Please feel free to mention Savage Fire to all your friends and relatives, mail carriers and teachers, stalkers and confidants. Unless they plan to be Raptured this Sunday, in which case they may have other things on their minds (and probably wouldn't be great candidates for Savage Fire anyway).

The opening of Double Cross, a story from Savage Fire:

"Better make mine a double."

Sal's eyes crinkled at the request, but otherwise his face remained impassive.  In the four years Nick had slunk down to the bar from his dingy office, arriving winded despite the single flight of stairs, he'd always ordered a whiskey and always amended his order a minute or so later.  Come to think of it, he'd probably done the same for the years he worked across the street above the Winking Newt, and hung out there after work.  Sal had taken on Nick as a tenant and regular customer after the Winking Newt burned to the ground—the owner, Chuck, got fed up with paying for protection; Tony's gang presumably got fed up with Chuck.

"Who was the dame?" Sal kept washing glasses, but he'd been itching to ask since Nick showed up.  Sharing a stairway meant directing a lot of lost or confused souls up to Nick's place.  Sal didn't mind much.  Quite a few stopped in for a confidence booster first.  Some made it no farther.  The dame in question hadn't stopped for more than directions, but everything about her called for attention.  She wouldn't have looked more out of place in a Tibetan monastery.  Nick didn't look up from his drink, but it was clear he'd been expecting the question.

"Just a client."  He tossed back the drink and made to stand up, but Sal wasn't having any of it.

"Not your usual sort."  Sal didn't elaborate.  It was easy to picture Nick's usual sort, either too young with big sprayed hair, cheap cherry-red lips and surprised shock at a husband's betrayal, or women a few years grayer, thicker and no longer surprised, but hoping the little shit had some hot goods stashed away that could be hocked for groceries.  Few would turn any heads, except for those husbands who turned away, seeking solace in a bottle or another womanno better, but a little less familiar.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Excerpt teaser #1 for Savage Fire

My short story collection, Savage Fire, will be released on May 31st as an eBook. Yesterday, I showed a rough draft of the cover, so today I thought I'd offer an excerpt from one of the stories. The stories range from noir intrigue to horror to bizarro to (dark) comedy, but this is a mix of a couple of those. (I won't say which - you are free to guess)

Also, watch on Twitter for the hash tag #savagefire, which I am using for tweets and hints about the collection. I depend on all of you to share and retweet those links to let more people know what's coming. (Who am I kidding? You don't ever know what's coming until it hits you upside the head.)

Excerpt from Awake in the Age of Lizards, a story from Savage Fire:
The faithful were sore afraid and flagellated themselves with thorn-covered rose branches, but the lizards paid no heed.  Lamenting their fate, the faithful walked across hot coals, but the lizards did nothing except cringe at the horrid burning-flesh smell.
Fearing a loss of faith amongst the faithful, Tommy Gwen'cher stood and spoke to them, encouraging greater flagellation and faster walking across coals, but the faithful started to edge toward the exits.
"I will not be swayed by the shifty-eyed or the meekly acquiescent," he declared, and brandished an AK-47 assault rifle.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The countdown begins...

On May 31, I plan to release Savage Fire, a collection of my short stories, on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. From horror to bizarro to dark comedy, these are tales to challenge your mind, or at least keep it occupied while you ride the train to a boring job, or wait for the plumber to show up.

In the days between now and then, I'll share teasers from some of the stories included, but I thought I'd start things off with a rough draft of the cover. This image evokes the the title story, Savage Fire, which is a story of Victorian England, treachery and tragedy, death and undeath.

Psst! Free story of mine over at B.C. Young's blog

Author B. C. Young is posting flash fiction stories by other authors on his blog this week. I have the significant honor of being first up (probably due to sending him my story five minutes after he asked). The story is a previously unpublished sci-fi story for kids called Watch Where You Winkle (also for adults with a snarky sense of kid humor).

It's short. Really, you could read it in the time it will take you to read this post, assuming you read this post pre-coffee and the story post-coffee.

So, go read Watch Where You Winkle. Laugh or groan as you see fit. Leave a comment. Get another coffee, and perhaps a danish. Smile.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Poem: The Unicorn

Some people over at the Library of the Living Dead forum are holding a Fetid Poetry contest.  I thought I'd whip up a quick fetid poem, and this came into my head.  Perhaps I should cut back on the refined sugar...
The Unicorn

The lonely unicorn stood tall upon those sea-swept banks
and watched the rising waters 'till they crested on his flanks.
He'd dallied way too long while Noah called them forth to board
And now he faced a circumstance  that was quite untoward.
Yet though the situation might have seemed completely grim,
the unicorn had secrets which he carried deep within.
His Aunty Mabel's cousin knew a voodoo trick or two,
The time seemed quite auspicious for such measures to pursue.
The waters lapped around his neck; he spoke the ghastly verse.
It mightn't make things better, but could hardly make them worse.
As down beneath the roiling waves, he sank without a sound,
his soul descended far below where it would ne'er be found.
For forty days and forty nights, he galloped 'neath the waves,
Awaiting final vengeance on the ones that Noah saved.
And when the waters slipped away, revealed his undead horn,
he charged the ark and killed the lot, that zombie unicorn.