Monday, November 14, 2011

Chasing after higher sales…

I envy fellow ebook authors who manage to do a boatload of marketing. They have my respect.

So far most of my efforts have centered on Facebook posts. I do character teasers to try to pique the interest of potential readers. Some “friends” will share my novel-related posts and that helps spread my marketing efforts far beyond my 213 Facebook friends. Some of the folks I’ve “friended” have hundreds, even thousands, of Facebook friends.

At this point I need to give a thank you to indie author Lindsay Buroker who has done a remarkable job promoting her novels. On her blog site Lindsay has linked to my blog.

In a recent blog, Lindsay wrote, “The last month I made less than $1,000 was in May. In August, I broke $3,000. Alas, earnings have dropped off a lot since then with October barely hitting $1,500. Nothing to scoff about, but I’m glad I still have income from other sources!”

How does Lindsay do it? Here’s what she says: “Some of you guys have seen my free podiobook, my free short stories (Ice Cracker II and Flash Gold are currently free), my goofy videos on YouTube, my various interviews and guest blog posts, and of course my daily chatter on Twitter (yes, some people have told me they actually found my work that way). Oh, and don’t forget my Facebook fan page (if nothing else, I have some fun steampunk pictures up there).”

Lindsay has tapped into the Internet Age and is making the technology work for her.

I met Lindsay online several years. Both of us were using the Online Writers Workshop (OWW) of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror to get some helpful critiques of chapters. I found her reviews insightful.

Beyond Facebook and sending out news releases, I struggle to find the time to promote my two published fantasy novels, The Emperor’s Mistress and Thief’s Coin. I’m a weekly newspaper reporter who covers an entire county, both news and sports. I work harder now than I ever did back in the ‘70s and ’80 when I was a reporter for Ohio and Florida dailies. But my news release sent to the local newspaper, the Wilmington Star-News, did translate into a news story about the release of Thief’s Coin. I figure it may have led to some sales on Amazon.

A week ago I went to the Fictionwise to see how Thief’s Coin’s sales are doing on the Barnes & Nobles’ ebook site. What I found was a pleasant surprise. Thief’s Coin was ranked 16th on the site’s best-seller list. Not in Fictionwise’s fantasy category but all the books listed on the website. The novel has since fallen to 20th place, but that’s still a healthy number.

In Fictionwise’s fantasy category, Thief’s Coin is ranked fourth on the best-seller list. The Emperor’s Mistress is fifth. The Emperor’s Mistress is the first book in a trilogy; Thief’s Coin, the second. The Emperor’s Mistress has been out for 15 months, Thief’s Coin for just two months. The first novel has obviously gotten a spike in sales because many buyers want to read a trilogy in sequence.

Again, I need to return my focus to Lindsay Buroker. Lindsay has a growing fan base, and some have no doubt used her link to check me out and buy my novels. She’s sailing to Tahiti right now, but if she sees this blog, I want her to know I appreciate her helpful link. My website – – has a link to her blog, but I think she’s been more help to me than vice-versa.

Lindsay’s novels are fun to read. I helped review The Emperor’s Edge and I can say definitively that her heroine, imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon, is a memorable character. The novel takes place in an era of steam, which makes it different from typical fantasy novels with their medieval or renaissance settings. Check her out at

Well, I did write that I have a trilogy. That means I need to get back to working on book three, Assassins’ Lair. I started workshopping it on the OWW over a year ago, but put it aside to concentrate on my newspaper job and getting Thief’s Coin ready for publication. No more excuses. Time to start cranking out pages.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Discover the World of Stealth and Derrius...

A novelist can’t help but wonder if readers will feel about his book the same as he does.

He knows the publisher liked it enough to take a chance and publish it.

The staff at Wings, my publisher, uses test readers to initially assess a novel for readability and quality.

Two test readers get the first look at a novel. You want both readers to enjoy the read. That makes it more likely the book will eventually get the publisher’s nod of approval. That’s the way my first novel, The Emperor’s Mistress, got to be one of Wing’s General Fiction/Fantasy offerings.

My second novel, Thief’s Coin, had an easier route to publication. It didn’t have to go through screening writers. It went straight to the copywriter. Thief’s Coin is the second book of a fantasy trilogy called Larenia’s Shadow. I figure the staff felt the writing of The Emperor’s Mistress was high quality, and Thief’s Coin wouldn’t suddenly become blubbering awful.

I workshopped Thief’s Coin through two drafts on the Online Writers Workshop of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Everyone seemed to like the main subplots – the ongoing love story of a prince and a thief, and the struggle of two fractured personalities sharing the mind of a sorceress.

A published author read my final draft and disliked the personality of my prince in the second book compared to how I left him at the end of the first book. She felt Derrius was far too wimpy and nonassertive and let Stealth make the decisions. She also felt I had made the sorceress into a character who no longer had overarching evil goals but wanted to torture people for meaningless reasons.

So I took the book through another draft, tweaking Derrius’s personality to make him a more forceful character once more and making clear that the sorceress’s off-the-wall behavior is due to her multiple personality disorder.

I like complex characters with personality shortcomings they must overcome if they are to succeed at their endeavors. All my main characters have flaws.

At the end of The Emperor’s Mistress, Derrius’s party has barely survived an attack of horse-size dragons called amphipteres. Half the party is dead. One of the main characters, an elf maiden named Arlienn, has been poisoned by amphiptere blood. The cure requires a potion with one unusual ingredient – the grounded up finger bone of the sorceress. One of the subplots of Thief’s Coin is how Arlienn and mage Teverus make plans to pilfer that finger.

In the first book Derrius pretends to lead a coming-of-age trade party while actually questing for a magical sword – Larenia’s Shadow – that dispels magic and if put in the hand of his uncle the Emperor would free him from the sorceress’s charms and love potions.

Early in Thief’s Coin, Derrius and his lover, the thief Stealth, must separate from the rest of the “trade party” and by themselves make their way to where the sword is hidden. They masquerade as runaway peasant lovers on the way to a nearby city to get married. Will the sorceress find them before the warring personalities in her head drive her mad? Will Stealth and Derrius use their new-found love to bond even closer and convince everyone that they are peasants on the run or will their old class differences lead to disaster?

Buy Thief’s Coin and find out.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thief's Coin awakes at midnght hour

Welcome, Thief’s Coin, to the World of Publishing.

Today Wings launched its September stable of new books and Thief’s Coin is one of them.

It was a harried birth. Thief’s Coin was targeted for an October birth, but the Wings people decided to push it up to September.

In mid-August they forwarded an email request for me to submit 10 questions to a fellow author that will appear as a new novel interview on the Wings’ website. In turn, another author would submit questions to me.

But there was a bit of a snag. I’m embarrassed to say I accidentally deleted the email. Knew nothing about it until another email arrived in my In Box asking why I was late. I pulled it off, though. A few hours later 10 questions went to H.L. Chandler for her soon-to-be-published novel Lost in Fear.

A few days later a set of interview questions came to me from author Laura Burke. I set my mind to answering them and soon had the finished interview flying back to Wings. Go to and check out the interview. You’ll find the four newly published novels, including Thief’s Coin, on Wings’ home page. Just click on the cover of my novel. After reading the interview, think about purchasing Thief’s Coin. And since it’s the second book of the Larenia’s Shadow trilogy, you’ll want to purchase the first book, The Emperor’s Mistress. They really should be read in sequence.

By the way, what do you think of Thief’s Coin’s cover? Artist Richard Stroud created the scene, which depicts the young thief Stealth as she eyes the tower that may hold a prisoner, Prince Derrius Hextor, the boy she loves.

Richard also did the cover for The Emperor’s Mistress. He’s very good at capturing action. The scene of Stealth stabbing at the dragon with her long dagger can’t help but pique the interest of any reader who loves fantasy and Dungeons & Dragons style adventure.

Getting to this point with Thief’s Coin wasn’t easy. The galley was sent to me a week ago with Hurricane Irene lurking off the Florida coast and headed up toward where I live – Wilmington, North Carolina. The publisher wanted the galley proofed and back to Wings as soon as possible. The hurricane didn’t cooperate. High winds starting Friday evening and continuing into Saturday afternoon sent limbs tumbling onto electrical lines. It’s difficult to proof a galley when there are brownouts every ten or fifteen minutes and finally an outage.

When the lights went dark in the house at about 2 p.m. Saturday, I expected we’d be without electricity for perhaps a day or longer. During Hurricane Fran in ’96, we ran the generator for nearly a week, powering just the refrigerator, one light and the TV. But Fran was a far more powerful hurricane. During Irene, the electricity came back on in less than two hours.

That was fortuitous for Wings. I was able to get the corrections back to the publisher on Wednesday.

Now I need to focus on the third novel, Assassins’ Lair. It has been started with the first fifty-five pages, or seven chapters, written. But I put the project on hiatus in December to concentrate on edits to Thief’s Coin. My job as a weekly newspaper reporter takes up an exorbitant amount of my time, but I’ll need to figure out how to set aside some time to work on book three. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Publisher offers contract for 'Thief's Coin'...

Well, that was fast.

The finished manuscript for Thief’s Coin went to Wings ePress in Mid-June and within a week or so it was accepted for publication.

The contract came via email. I printed it out, signed it and sent it back by snail mail. Wings ePress wants to release Thief’s Coin in October.

As the publisher’s name makes clear, Wings ePress is an online publisher. The company’s lean and does things fast. While a traditional publishing house can take to a year to get a novel to publication, Wings ePress does it in three months.

Thief’s Coin is the second of my novels Wings ePress will publish. The publisher released The Emperor’s Mistress in August 2010. The novels make up books one and two of the Larenia Shadow Trilogy. Some of you may have bought The Emperor’s Mistress. If you did and liked it, consider purchasing Thief’s Coin. Some of you may not know I’m an author. Why not consider purchasing books one and two of the Larenia Shadow Trilogy? Then you can critique my novel-writing skills?

The third book, Assassins’ Lair, is underway—barely. The first seven chapters have been written. It’s only about 20 percent complete.
These books are fantasy novels. The trilogy is about two teenager lovers – a prince and a thief – on a quest to thwart the ambition of a thousand-year-old sorceress to rule an empire and take revenge on the royal family who imprisoned her deep in a glacier. The lovers, Derrius and Stealth, can pull off their quest by “stealing” a magical sword – Larenia’s Shadow – and using it to negate the sorceress’s magic.

The novels are set in an alternate world similar with aspects of both Ancient Rome and Medieval Europe. In The Emperor’s Mistress, the action takes place in the countryside. Thief’s Coin is mostly an urban adventure. The plot puts Stealth back in the warrens of her hometown where she has to use her cunning to rescue Derrius from the clutches of her archenemy Jarn Sork, the sorceress’s master spy.

I tweaked the plot of Thief’s Coin after evaluating a critique by fellow author Jeannette Cottrell. By focusing on Stealth’s actions, I weakened Derrius’s personality, Jeanette said. I went back through the novel and toned down places where Derrius might have come across as a wimp. I finished tweaking during a visit to Las Vegas in late March to visit my friend Sharon. Once back in Wilmington, I read through the manuscript a final time to make sure my editing changes meshed with the plot and then emailed it to Wings ePress.

I’ve still a couple of things I must do. First, I have to provide some suggestions for a cover. Artist Richard Stroud did the cover for The Emperor’s Mistress and it’s quite stunning. Go to my website at and check it out. I hope he does the cover for Thief’s Coin.

I also have to provide a back cover blurb, a 25-word plot summation and a three-paragraph synopsis.

Come October, folks, think about ordering the book. You’ll be able to order directly from the Wings ePress website, Fictionwise or Amazon.

Some of Wings ePress’ romance writers have half a dozen or more published novels. They spit them out like Henry Ford’s assembly lines spit out Model Ts. They must get some very nice royalty checks. Maybe someday, eh?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What a combination! Sumptuous strawberries and a book signing …

I’ve some breaking news regarding my writing career.

I’ll soon be doing another book signing for The Emperor’s Mistress. This one is scheduled for Saturday, May 14 at the Carolina Strawberry Festival in Wallace, N.C. I’ll be set up in the Wallace Enterprise tent in downtown Wallace.

A news story about the book signing will be going into the Wednesday, May 11 edition of the Wallace Enterprise. Hopefully, the story will generate some interest in the novel and I’ll see people dropping by the tent to buy the book. 

My last blog in March reported on my frustrating efforts to finish the second book of the Larenia’s Shadow trilogy. I was hopeful I could set aside some time during my April trip to Las Vegas to finish up editing Thief’s Coin

I know some of you are saying: You went to Vegas and worked on your book? Are you crazy? 

My girlfriend Sharon lives in Henderson just outside Vegas, and I went there to snuggle with her. Well, she had to work some of the time, so I figured I’d focus on Thief’s Coin during the hours she worked.

I managed to crank up my laptop and stay away from the slot machines in Sunset Station. A fellow author had recommended some fairly extensive edits that would require a bit of rewriting, and I managed to make those changes.

And I did get to play with Sharon down on the Vegas Strip. She got to show me all her favorite haunts…the Bellagio Fountains, the gondolas of the Venetian, the overhead light and music show on Fremont Street.

I’m now doing a final read-through on Thief’s Coin before I send it to my publisher. It would be embarrassing if a continuity disaster slipped through. I’ve just finished reading page 100. The novel is 444 pages in length.

I’ve added quite a few new Facebook friends in the last few weeks, people I worked with back at the Daily Commercial in Florida in the ‘80s and at TSI in Wilmington in the ‘90s. Hopefully some of you are taking a gander at the blog and perhaps even checking out my website.

My publisher, Wings ePress, is a small operation, and doesn’t have much of a budget for marketing its authors. We are expected to help out with marketing. I’ve done the website, this blog, and sent out news releases, but my efforts are really quite minuscule compared to what I’d like to accomplish. The job at Cape Fear Newspapers leaves me little free time.

I’ll blog again after the Strawberry Festival and let people know how the book signing went. Hopefully I’ll be able to report some nice sales. And if I’m really lucky, maybe some bookstore owners attending the festival will want to do some book signings.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I've an overwhelming need for a magical clock...

It’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve been weighed down by an incredible amount of work. If you get a job offer to become a weekly newspaper reporter, particularly in sports, reject the offer—especially if another job with normal hours is a distinct possibility.

I’ve not been able to finish the editing of book two of my Larenia’s Shadow trilogy for months now. I have just one hundred pages left to edit on Thief’s Coin. Get that done, and then I can give it a read-through to ensure the novel still makes sense with all the edits, some of them extensive.

Thanks to a new Postal Service program that resulted in last week’s newspapers being a couple of days late to subscribers, the publisher decided to move deadlines up a day. I’m writing this blog on Sunday, March 20. Normally I’d be writing sports stories and using Photoshop to prepare photos for the paginator. But I did all that yesterday. In fact, I wrote up both news and sports stories. Hour-wise, that’s from 9 a.m. Saturday until 1:30 a.m. today.

I wanted to transition from sports to the news side so I’d have more time to finish editing Thief’s Coin and renew writing chapters for the third book, Assassins’ Lair. But the new sports editor quit after only one week, citing too much driving and too much work. So now I’m doing both jobs.

Next weekend I’m flying to Las Vegas to meet up with my girlfriend and shower together in the proverbial Fountain of Youth, letting it rejuvenate our five-decade-old bodies, becoming—at least in our minds—twenty-somethings once more. But we can’t play all the time…she lives in Henderson and will have to work some of the time. So that distressing fact gave me an idea. I can bring along my laptop and finish those final one hundred pages.

So I can enjoy two kinds of romance…romance with a wonderful woman and the romance of writing books.

The first book of the trilogy, The Emperor’s Mistress, has been out in print since September of last year. Now I can actually visualize emailing Thief’s Coin to my publisher, Wings ePress, sometime in the next few months. For a while I was beginning to wonder if I would ever find the time to finish the novel.

But I still need to find a way to resume working on Assassins’ Lair. I’ve written several chapters, even posted them on an online writers workshop where I received helpful critiques. I participated religiously in the Online Writers Workshop of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror from 2002 until last year when the weekly newspaper workload took away all spare time for creative writing. Sadly, at the end, I had even broken the workshop’s 11th Commandment…thou shalt return critiques to writers who critique your chapters.

Ultimately, the answer is to find a job that will give me back a private life where I can work on books, go out to a restaurant occasionally, sometimes see a movie. In January I had started to look for a job in the Vegas area…that is until the workload made that impossible. I need to find a magical watch that can stop time for everyone but me so I can resume that job search. Anyone know of any pawnshops where I can buy one?