Archive for the ‘News and Notices from the Writing Trenches’ Category

News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #154…

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Books as gifts. I’m probably preaching to the choir here because you all know books make excellent gifts, whether print versions, ebooks, or audiobooks. I made out very well over the holidays. I received Isaacson’s Leonardo Da Vinci (even if there’s an ebook version, I’d recommend print because of the excellent art reproductions that accompany the text describing Leonardo’s development), Mark Weir’s Artemis (see my review on my blog), and Orwell’s Why I Write. There are no better gifts for a reader or writer!

Voices. On Saturday, January 13, I had the honor of being interviewed by Donna Carrick of Toronto’s Carrick Publishing. Donna handles most everything for my indie books beyond the writing, and she’s an excellent writer in her own right—see The First Excellence, her mystery/thriller set in China.

She now also creates the podcast series “Dead to Writes”; the link for my interview is: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/dead-to-writes/id1323768397?mt=2. She precedes the interview with a reading of my short story, “The Case of the Carriageless Horse,” which appears in the anthology World Enough and Crime along with many other excellent crime stories. She has the voice for this; I don’t.

I found this to be a new, interesting, and educational experience. Isn’t technology wonderful? Kudos, Donna!

Talk. I’m looking forward to my talk at the Montclair Women’s Club on January 26; it begins at 1:30 p.m. I’ll be discussing writing and publishing and my recent book, Rembrandt’s Angel (published by Penmore Press last year).

If you’re in the Montclair, NJ area and have the time and interest, please drop by. The address for the Women’s Club is: 82 Union Street, Montclair, NJ.

Amazon. Don’t expect my books to be on sale at this online retailer. I’m no longer exclusive to Amazon—I haven’t been for some time—so Amazon doesn’t allow me to offer special sales at their site. Amazon is anti-indie in many ways; this is one of many. See my recent blog posts for more.

Sci-Fi Sale on Smashwords. If I offer special sales of my books online, this is where you’ll find them. Right now, More than Human: The Mensa Contagion and Rogue Planet are on sale at Smashwords—use the indicated coupon code during checkout. I only offer ebook sales online. For those readers who prefer print, I often offer a special event price for print books at events in the Montclair area—for example, at the talk at the Montclair Women’s Club.

Free books. Generally speaking, I only offer free copies of my books to reviewers in exchange for an honest review. Ebooks are the easiest, but print versions are doable within the U.S.—both ebook and print versions have a cap for each title. Beyond that, I mentioned on Donna’s podcast another alternative: I can’t publish everything I write—even the good stuff (the bad never sees the light of day, of course)—so I offer PDFs free for the asking. See the list on my “Free Stuff & Contests” webpage, and query me using my website’s contact page (or by responding to this email). You also can find free short fiction in my blog categories “ABC Shorts” and “Steve’s Shorts.”

What’s a bundle? This is a new publishing term for a collection of several novels. For example, I have several old print books on my shelf that are collections of Agatha Christie novels. The term “bundle” is generally reserved for the ebook collections, but I’m a bit old-fashioned so I still called my bundle of sci-fi novels The Chaos Chronicles Trilogy Collection, available on Amazon and Smashwords and all the latter’s affiliated retailers and lenders.

What’s coming? In the first quarter you’ll see the second edition of The Secret Lab, and in the third quarter The Secret of the Urns. These are two YA sci-fi mysteries. Other novels in the works: The Last Humans, a post-apocalyptic thriller; #3 in the “Mary Jo Melendez Mysteries” (title TBD); and #8 in the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series” (title TBD).

Do you want to see these published ASAP? Purchase some of my already published books. I reinvest my royalties to publish the next books.

A. B. Carolan. I’m honored that A.B. has decided to collaborate with me. I always wanted a collaborator a la Preston and Child (Pendergast thrillers) and Niven and Pournelle (sci-fi). A. B. lives in Donegal. I met him on a trip to Ireland, and we’ve had some lively email exchanges since then. He’s a bit of a recluse, so he’ll be sharing this website—you might have already read some of his short stories.

Rumor has it that he’s a descendant of the great Irish bard Turlough O’Carolan. He definitely has a way with words. He’ll be collaborating on my young adult novels.

He’s finished the rewriting and reediting of the second edition of The Secret Lab (to be published this first quarter of 2018) and is finishing a new novel, The Secret of the Urns, which is inspired by my short story “Marcello and Me,” found in the speculative fiction collection Pasodobles in a Quantum Stringscape, mentioned by Donna Carrick in her podcast.

In libris libertas!

News and Notices from the Writing Trenches # 153…

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Don’t miss out. Books make excellent holiday gifts, so don’t miss the chance to give the avid readers on your list many hours of reading pleasure.

First, all ebooks in the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series” (seven novels) are on sale right now at Smashwords.  The two NYPD homicide detectives’ cases often start out local and blow up into national and international crises (at least the ones I report on).

Second, The Chaos Chronicles Trilogy Collection bundles together the sci-fi novels that take you from a dystopian Earth dominated by multinationals and policed by their mercenaries to three colonies among the stars…and beyond.  All these books are offered to you at great savings for the holidays.

And, if you’re worried about package delivery schedules, ebooks are immediate downloads, and almost every online site allows you to send them as gifts.  Happy holidays!

Talk. I’m looking forward to my talk at the Montclair Women’s Club on January 26 (82 Union St, Montclair, NJ, 1:30 pm). Female readers outnumber male readers, and I’ll be talking about Scotland Inspector Esther Brookstone, the main character in Rembrandt’s Angel and one of my most interesting female characters. Many of my books feature strong, smart women, so the book isn’t exceptional in this sense, but Esther is one of my favorites.  Hopefully my audience will be happy to meet her too.

Star Wars. “My main reason for making it was to give young people an honest, wholesome fantasy life, the kind my generation had.”—George Lucas.  Note that he said FANTASY.  Star Wars is sci-fi only to the extent that it plagiarized OLD sci-fi masters like Edgar Rice Burroughs (for example, Jedi warriors) and Isaac Asimov (the evil Empire). It also heavily borrowed from Japanese ninja stories. The most original thing about the whole franchise is the music!

The Gabo archive. When the University of Texas bought many documents pertinent to the life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel winner and author of 100 Years of Solitude, among many other fine books, I cringed. The thought that this treasure trove would be in the U.S. was appalling.  I’ve changed my mind somewhat. They’ve digitized over 27,000 documents. I haven’t had the occasion to try it, but I understand anyone can access them online, in either English or Spanish. The Ransom Center probably can provide details. The few documents I’ve seen are fascinating and show the workings of the mind that created magical realism.

The genre myth.  Is The Midas Bomb a mystery or a thriller?  Is Survivors of the Chaos dystopian sci-fi or conspiracy thriller?  Is The Secret Lab young adult, sci-fi, or a mystery?  Aside from its use in bookstores, genre is about as relevant to today’s publishing scene as a mastodon stuck in a bog.  Moreover, it creates immense confusion among both readers and writers.

Readers are used to talking about it, but fans of some of the new and strange subgenres seem to be speaking a foreign language!  We have quantum fiction, for example, which is characterized by use of an element in quantum mechanics, but it’s just everyday life that hinges on some aspect of the quantum nature of reality and doesn’t have much to do with real physics.  We have the various “punk” genres—splatterpunk (horror) and cyberpunk and steampunk (sci-fi).

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News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #152…

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

C&W v. books. Don’t get me wrong. I like some Country and Western music—Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Dylan’s C&W period, for example. But I also like to read a book on a long flight, either a PB from one of those airport stands or on my Kindle. And during those in-flight movies, when everyone glares at you if you put that little overhead light on, I snooze. I can’t read or snooze with some wannabe C&W stars singing with a Nashville twang, though. Pox on Southwest Airlines for their new policy that allows this intrusion.

Sales and contests. I offer few sales of my books, and they are for ebooks I have on Smashwords. Two major things motivate this: (1) For ebook sales on Amazon, I need to be exclusive to that internet giant, but they don’t have the distribution network Smashwords has, so I’m not. (2) My ebook prices are already low prices—sales prices, if you will, so, in a sense, they’re permanently on sale. (See the last item for the most recent Smashwords sale.)

Many authors have contests where they give away books. I don’t have many, but two are continuously running. Graduates from Mt. Whitney HS in 1964 and UMass Amherst in 1985 can drop me a line via my contact page, answering the questions on my webpage “Free Stuff & Contests,” and receive a free ebook of their choice. The limit is ten books for each group of alums.

Authors and journalists. Non-fiction writers (of textbookss, how-to, and self-help books, for example) often possess skills and expertise, so they can help a reporter out when a reporter is looking for information or an expert’s opinion. Even if you’re not an expert, you can maybe help point the reporter to one.

Even fiction writers develop some expertise about subjects by searching out background material for a story (as I did for Rembrandt’s Angel)—again, at the very least, they might help a reporter on her way to preparing a good article on a subject). A good fiction book will contain some serious themes that weave in and around a plot, and that’s where the author’s “research” usually lies.

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News and Notices from the Writing Trenches # 151…

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Indie Author Day, October 14. If you attended one of these events near you, or any other local book fair, for that matter (‘tis the season), thank you. Whether reader or writer, these events carry on an important tradition—books are part of being human.

At the event in Montclair, I enjoyed chatting with readers, many of them Montclair Public Library supporters, who wandered through talking to the participating authors. I enjoyed chatting with other authors too. Such experiences file off some of my rough edges of introverted author, probably not unusual when everyone is interested in the same things—books, in this case.

“Indie” is a very ambiguous term when applied to authors. Very few indies in the room were 100% DIY (not recommended—if you’re a writer, you probably aren’t a cover artist, for example). Traditional publishing was represented by authors who write for small presses, sometimes called “indie publishers,” i.e. those traditional publishers that aren’t part of a huge Big Five publishing conglomerate. Readers are the ones who benefit—so many good books and good authors now.

Internet readers. Not all readers read books. Maybe you read shorter and pithier articles on internet websites more than books, if you read the latter at all? I do both (not tweets, though), but I get it. You have a busy life and don’t have time for books? That’s OK. That’s why I provide lots of content JUST FOR YOU at this website. I haven’t perused the websites of authors I met at Indie Author Day yet, but just from talking to people it seemed my website is unusual (it is what it is, whether good or bad).

Here are the usually weekly offerings: a quote of note, one relating to current event or reading and writing (Mon); an op-ed article commenting on recent news items or general societal and cultural concerns (Tues); short fiction pieces and/or this newsletter (Weds); an article about reading, writing, and/or the writing business (Thurs); and a book or movie review (Fri).

In total, this amounts to a weekly online newspaper, written just for you. You can peruse the daily offering on the bus or train (please don’t do it while driving). Some days there’s nothing, though, because I either had nothing to say that day or my caffeine just hadn’t kicked in enough to write it down. Good reading!

Oxford comma. In jest on my Facebook author page, I defined this as “a sleepy docent in England who hits one too many m’s on his laptop.” What it really means is adding that last comma in a series: X, Y, and Z, and NOT X, Y and Z. There’s an ongoing battle (because Oxford somehow got involved, shall we call it a “storm in a teacup”?) with fanatical writers choosing sides on whether that comma is needed.

My take: once one of my old English teachers, from back in the days when they actually taught students how to write, told me, “Put a comma in when you’d pause while reading the phrase aloud.” (Yeah, I mentally corrected her—sometimes a semicolon has to be used.) If you can say “Jack went to the levee in his shiny new Chevy, Jill stayed home to play solitaire while drying her hair, and Thomas drove to Toledo to play basketball in his speedo” and not pause before “and Thomas,” you should be free-diving for pearls in the South Seas, not writing. ‘Nough said.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This is the great title from a 1968 novel by Philip K. Dick. I agonize over my titles as much as I do for “the hook” (found sometimes in a first chapter, other times in a prologue) that begins a story and the climax that ends it (usually followed by a denouement or rehash that ties things together and answers questions the reader might still have—sometimes in an epilogue). I usually don’t settle on a title until I’m ready to copy-edit a final manuscript before sending it to beta-readers. The Last Humans, my new project, had the working title Oasis Redux, for example.

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News and Notices from the Writing Trenches # 150…

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

[Another milestone for this online newsletter: edition # 150…and it doesn’t even come out every week. OK, I’ve been doing this for 10+ years now, but it’s still fun! Hopefully for you too.]

Would you rather be reading? Of course, this question probably doesn’t apply to you—that is, all the avid readers out there—but I can now add two more modern activities that have less worth than reading. In other posts I’ve mentioned streaming video (especially “binge viewing”) and video gaming. The two new additions are fantasy football and online gambling. As the smartphone becomes more like a miniature laptop, people sit around (or worse, driving!) and become addicted to them like they were the modern version of Brave New World’s soma (don’t know the book? shame on you).

You, noble reader, probably don’t do any of this, but if you know people who do, help them out of their mental passivity by giving them books and encouraging them to read them. Books make us human; those other activities make us vegetables. In libris libertas!

Twenty years of wonder. On September 15th we bid farewell to the NASA space probe Cassini. Some of its discoveries from its twenty-year mission were already incorporated in Survivors of the Chaos and More than Human: The Mensa Contagion, and maybe some of my short fiction for all I know. Read the “Ode to Cassini” now featured on my “Home” webpage. The data obtained from the probe will keep scientists busy for years…and might appear in more of my sci-fi stories.

Just in from Midwest Book Review (on the mystery/suspense shelf): “A deftly crafted and consistently riveting read from beginning to end. ‘Rembrandt’s Angel’ showcases author Steven Moore’s genuine flair for originality and his impressive mastery of the Mystery/Suspense genre. While unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that ‘Rembrandt’s Angel’ is also available in digital book format.”

(Thanks to James Cox, Editor-in-Chief, and his excellent staff at Midwest Book Review.)

And to continue… this thread, let me state I’ve loved public libraries since I was a kid, so I’m honored that Midwest Book Review recommends Rembrandt’s Angel to them. Recently I also made ALL my other ebooks available to these libraries at a reduced price on Smashwords. If your library lends ebooks as well as print versions, let your librarian know. (Smashwords performs a great service in allowing authors to offer special prices for libraries.)

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News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #149…

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Reading “older books”. In a Goodreads thread, I championed reading “older books.” (You can follow me on GR and even become a “friend.”) I think too many readers overlook too many less recent books that they’d find just as entertaining and intriguing. (Some of my special favorites are listed on the “Steve’s Bookshelf” webpage at this site. I periodically talk about them on my Facebook author page.)

Many older books also contain current themes too. One of my gripes about Amazon and Smashwords is that they overly emphasize newer books. My novel Full Medical (now on sale at Smashwords along with the other books in the trilogy) has themes that are probably more current today than when I wrote it, for example. The problem is that search options on retail websites usually come up with the most recent books first.

So, please readers, look for those older books. They aren’t “classics” per se (although they could be), but they might just be a better read than many new releases.

Types of editing. Readers often complain about editing. I do so myself, for both indies and traditionally published books, and everything in between (older Big Five paper versions re-released as ebooks are often badly edited). Many times readers are referring to copy editing or proof reading errors. What’s the difference?

First, there’s content editing, which I never trust to an editor. The logic and flow of my story are parts of my personal style—changing that to suit an editor’s whim makes it that person’s style or voice, not mine. Readers might be uncomfortable with my dialogue, where I put flashbacks, when I feel the need for back story, and so forth, but those are my own choices.

Copy editing finds spelling and grammatical errors like “it’s” in place of “its” or vice versa (MS Word always gets that wrong, by the way) or not closing quotes or parentheses. After formatting, proofreading makes sure the final product adheres to industry standards and the original intentions of the author in her or his manuscript, all this so the reader has a quality product to read.

Who is Steven M. Moore? Maybe you’ve read my bio on the “About the Author” webpage at this site, either the short or long form (kudos to you if you got through the latter). But, if you google “Steven M. Moore,” you’ll discover there are many of us out there, and even more Steve Moores. The biggest mistake I’ve made in my writing career is not choosing an uncommon pen name (somewhere in the “Writing” blog archive, there’s a post about that). So, if you see some Steve Moore wanted for a bank heist or creating a Ponzi scheme, it isn’t me. I’m not an ex-Patriots football player either, nor am I deceased. I do have a few cameos in my books, but I’m also not a bookstore owner.

Why so few books this year? My readers might know that two is a bit less than my usual output. I’ve only published (so far) Gaia and the Goliaths (Carrick Publishing) and Rembrandt’s Angel (Penmore Press). I’m not really slowing down. I have The Last Humans, a post-apocalyptic thriller, with beta-readers, for example (see the following summary). I spent a wee bit more time (so did Penmore Press) getting Rembrandt’s Angel ready and then its PR and marketing campaign ready (probably spending what I saved in production costs on that), so at the half-year point I’m a bit behind my pace. Of course, there’s no race nor pace. And you can find plenty of excitement and action in my “older books” (see above).

Summary of The Last Humans. The apocalypse kills billions—numbers so large that most survivors’ minds snap shut. Foes of the U.S. have attacked with a bioengineered contagion that spreads around the world.  One of only a few survivors, Penny Castro, ex-USN diver and L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy, reacts differently. She fights back and creates a life for herself where death is the common denominator. On a forensic dive, she is interrupted. When she surfaces, she finds all her colleagues dead, so she has to battle starvation, thirst, and gangs of feral humans until she ends up in a USAF refugee camp. A post-apocalyptic thriller for our times, Penny’s adventures will entertain and shock you into asking, “Could this really happen?”

Why don’t I sell books on my website? There are so many book retailers on the internet that I don’t need to do that. You’ll find my ebooks just about anywhere that’s legit (and unfortunately in some places that aren’t). I’m limited to one link per book cover on the “Books & Short Stories” webpage, though, and they take you to Amazon, which also lists the print books as well as ebooks, if the former are available. Smashwords and its associated retailers like Amazon, Apple, B&N, and Kobo only deal with ebooks (B&N is the exception), but you’ll find me there too. And all my books save one (see below) are reasonably priced already, so I couldn’t offer you much savings for buying here, and my costs would go up (someone has to pay for this website’s programming—oh, yeah, that’s me!).

Reviewers v. beta-readers. Reviewers get free books in exchange for an honest review. Beta-readers get to read a manuscript (MS) before it becomes a book. I value both sets of people. They work hard if the job’s done right, but the latter group probably works harder—they have to read an MS Word document, looking for logical errors (the getaway car changes from red to blue in the middle of a chase), and they often catch a few remaining copy-editing errors too. Reviewers get to read a finished book and should say what they like or dislike about it and why. (Sometimes beta-readers do that too, but it isn’t a requirement.) I have to put my trust in both, but I screen beta-readers more. Most of my books need reviews, though; you can sign up to do one using my contact page. (Any reader can become a reviewer, of course, by simply reviewing the books s/he reads.)

Bundle or not to bundle? One of my more expensive ebooks is Survivors of the Chaos, published by Infinity Publishing, an old print-on-demand (POD) outfit (production costs for indie author’s print books are now less with Amazon’s Create Space, and even zero with small presses). I have a second edition ready. I’m planning to bundle the entire “Chaos Chronicles Trilogy,” meaning that readers can buy one ebook and get all three novels for a price less than the Infinity ebook first edition.

This is an experiment, so we’ll see how it works. The other two ebooks in the trilogy haven’t done well, and I’m suspecting that Infinity’s price for the first is a major cause. (All the books in the trilogy will be rewritten and reedited.)

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News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #148…

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

[Note from Steve: Do you enjoy reading this newsletter? Please tell family and friends about it! And you can always comment just like you can for any other blog article.]

What do you prefer? Standard fiction comes in three forms: short stories, novellas, and novels. I write all three because I never know when I start a story what it will become. You can read some of my short fiction in the blog category “Steve’s Shorts” and in the PDFs free for the asking found in those listed on the webpage “Free Stuff & Contests.” I like short fiction enough that I have several collections available on Amazon too—they’re ideal reading material on a trip. And be forewarned: the free short fiction can always disappear and become a collection, so tet it while it’s free!

Small presses. Do you only read books spewed out from the Big Five conglomerates? That’s like seeing only the latest blockbuster movie and ignoring smaller-budget films with some more meat to them. My experience with Penmore Press, publisher of Rembrandt’s Angel, has been rewarding and interesting. Apparently this experience isn’t new. Consider the quote from The Guardian: “These days, it is minimally staffed and funded firms who invest in new authors. The giants avoid such risk, only picking the writers once their names are made….” (UK, Dec. 8, 2016). If you’re looking for new and exciting authors, please look beyond the Big Five publishing conglomerates.

Reviews are still coming in for Rembrandt’s Angelbut here are excerpts from one just posted:

a thrilling, globetrotting adventure that provides readers a glance into the world of art forgery, Neo-Nazi conspiracies and even links to ISIS. The duo of Brookstone and van Coevorden can be favorably compared with utmost respect to Agatha Christie’s classic characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Esther is a strong, well-liked character with a saucy disposition, while Bastiann, though he plays costar and lover to Esther, is able to hold his own with regards to likability.”

“…Steven M. Moore’s novel should be read by fans of the mystery genre. Particularly because the author has a keen ability to weave a great storyline that is not only filled with suspense, but captures a reader’s attention. A few quotes stood out as quite descriptive and remained with this reader well after the book was completely read, for example, ‘In the ice cream shop of crime, there are many flavors’ and ‘A committee of clouds enjoyed a private meeting over the manor.’”

“…the character Esther Brookstone provides readers with an unusual female protagonist who is more than just a senior Scotland Yard Inspector, she is a memorable and tenacious dame who readers will undoubtedly enjoy throughout the novel and will look forward to reading any of her possible future exploits.”

Rembrandt’s Angel is a complex thriller with several plots intertwined throughout the story. It is recommended for serious mystery fans who are looking for not only a challenging read, but also one that allows readers to become an armchair adventurist and detective, along with Brookstone and van Coevorden, spanning many different parts of the globe.”

—Lynette Latzko, Feathered Quill Reviews.

Thank you, Feathered Quill and reviewer Lynette. You can read the full review here.

…and Feathered Quill interviews me… I answer questions about my writing in general and about Rembrandt’s Angel in particular. See the full interview here.

Availability of Rembrandt’s Angel? You’ll find the ebook version on Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords (and its associated retailers and ebook lending services). It’s also available in print version on Amazon, B&N, or at your local bookstore (if they don’t have it, ask them to order it). It’s newly published, so don’t look for it in libraries just yet (except at Smashwords’ associated lending services). The ebook is also available overseas, of course; I don’t know about the print version. (Both are available at Amazon UK—I just checked.)

Ready for some post-apocalyptic reading entertainment? The Last Humans is worth waiting for. It’s a post-apocalyptic thriller that’s mind-bending enough for the most avid fan of this subgenre. The manuscript is now with my beta-readers.

Strange star. Readers of my sci-fi novel Survivors of the Chaos know that the planet Saturn and its moons play important roles in the novel. Recently a star smaller than Saturn was discovered. It has 300 times the mass, though, so it’s massive enough to sustain nuclear fusion. We’re learning more about our Universe every day!

Reading ebooks. Did you know that with a Kindle app you can read .mobi-formatted ebooks on most any device? My Win 10 version came with it, but you can download it from Amazon. Yes, I know many readers like the look and feel of a print book, whether trade paperback, hardbound, or airport-sized paperback, but they’re usually paying a higher price (print books are more expensive to produce) and also missing out on a lot of good reading that includes new editions of literary standards (I have a few on my Kindle, like Tale of Two Cities).

I used to be exclusively a print book reader, but I received a Kindle as a birthday present and it has become my constant companion. That said, the app is a good alternative for those who don’t want to invest in yet another device.

***

In libris libertas!

 

 

 

News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #147…

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Freebies. Although my books are never free now (except when a reviewer offers to do an honest review), I do offer other freebies. Here’s a description of a few:

First, there are my blog posts. Among these you will find book and movie reviews as well as short stories and novellas (archived in the following blog categories: “book reviews,” “mini-reviews of books,” “movie reviews,” and “Steve’s shorts,” respectively). The op-eds usually aren’t related to writing or the book business, but you might find those entertaining too. Comments are always welcome.

Sometimes I compile my short fiction into PDFs. See the list on the webpage “Free Stuff & Contests.” These PDFs are all free for the asking. You can circulate them to friends and family as long as you respect the copyrights.

Articles about writing and the book business. Readers and writers might be interested in these. They’re archived in the blog category “Writing.”  My blog also features this online newsletter, “News and Notices from the Writing Trenches.” You can sign up for a free email newsletter too.

My little course on writing fiction (another PDF free for the asking) might be interesting to readers and of help to writers. In it I relate some of my experiences I’ve gained as a writer publishing over the last 10+ years.  There’s an updated version now available where I relate some of my experiences about traditional publishing and the trade-offs between indie and traditional publishing. This five-lesson course (with references) complements Stephen King’s little book On Writing, but it can be read independently.

Both the articles and course offer an insider’s viewpoint that often goes beyond similar material you might find elsewhere. Check them out—all free!

Want some awesome book recommendations? In addition to my book reviews, don’t forget the books listed on the webpage “Steve’s Bookshelf.” These are books I’ve found particularly interesting, both fiction and non-fiction. You’ll probably recognize many of the authors, but other books different from those that made them famous are often listed. Moreover, there’s a list of up-and-coming authors and their books you might have yet to discover.

In the last category, let me recommend Donna Carrick’s The First Excellence and the stories of Scott Dyson. Donna runs Carrick Publishing and does the formatting for many of my books, both ebooks and trade paperbacks, but she’s quite an author in her own right. Scott has some really creepy tales, many of them reminding me of Stephen King in his early career. Scott is also one of my beta-readers, but he didn’t learn to write horror from me—I’m not good at that, so he has a natural talent.  Both authors, Donna and Scott, are good friends…and quite talented.

Are you waiting for my post-apocalyptic thriller? It’s been sent to beta-readers. The post-apocalyptic subgenre is very popular now, but The Last Humans is a bit different than your average post-apocalyptic thriller. First, it’s nearer present day. Second, it mostly takes place in California and is only the second novel of mine to take place in my home state (the thriller Silicon Slummin’…and Just Gettin’ By was the first). Third, it features another strong, smart woman who manages to survive the aftermath of an apocalypse.

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News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #146…

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Summer reading. Vacation or staycation, you can get some good R&R by reading a good novel or two. Also short story collections which portion out good tales in bite-size chunks even when your days are full. In fact, even if your days are hectic with different activities related to work or play, a good book can be a rich dessert to top everything off. It’s a good time to catch up on those books you’ve been meaning to read too!

There are many book sales for summer and holidays. Avid readers watch for them, and any reader can take advantage of them. (For the Smashwords site-wide sale, see below.)

Watching for classics. I’ve recently purchased some “classics” (fiction and non-fiction) on sale as ebooks. Some I have in paper version, but I wanted a copy for my Kindle; others are “new” to me—books I missed or originally found to expensive to buy. Take advantage when you see one available for $5 or less. New purchases of these classics will encourage authors and publishers to recycle these great books. Who knows? I might encourage Big Five publishers to drop all their ebook prices!

Literacy. David Baldacci is a great promoter of literacy and takes time to promote it while other writing superstars just count the money rolling in, although they wouldn’t be against it, that’s for sure. While I’ve yet to see an entire book written in social media’s acronyms—Ann w LOL: “OMG! WITW? TACP!”—I worry that internet communication will destroy literacy. When I worked in my high-tech day-job, I found many technical people who struggled to express themselves clearly, but this is becoming generalized. The next decades could be interesting.

“Steve’s Bookshelf”. I’ve always been an avid reader (speed-reading ability helps). Even now, as a full-time writer, I take time for reading and reviewing. The list of books on this webpage are just a few that have impressed me over the years.

Book piracy. I hope you read my blog post on this topic. Authors and publishers are discouraged from writing and publishing more books because of this prevalent practice. Support your favorite authors and publishers by buying their books. Reading for free shouldn’t be some vicarious turn-on (free copies in return for honest reviews are exceptions, of course).

First five-star Amazon review for Rembrandt’s Angel. I receive some reviews for my books, but this is the earliest I’ve ever received. Here are excerpts:

“If you lean toward mysteries that entertain as well as intrigue, this title is for you. …successfully couples history’s fascination with the still-missing master artworks that disappeared under the Third Reich with a pair of intercontinental sleuths who are more than a match for the cast of neo-Nazis they choose to tangle with. I say choose because 60-something Esther Brookstone of Scotland Yard and her somewhat younger partner and paramour Bastiann van Coevorden (Interpol) are clearly in command as they pursue a missing Rembrandt canvas across borders….”
“As the story unfolds, the pair maintain a delightful banter centered as much around their sex life as their pursuit of artworks and the crooks who would trade them for enough cash to finance a new and even more nefarious Nazi regime. Read it to find out which side triumphs and how they do it. Then join me in hoping there are more stories ahead starring this clever pair.”—Amazon Customer

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News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #145…

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Likes. I’m not referring to Facebook here. I’m referring instead to readers’ tastes. Some readers like action, others intrigue, snappy dialog, interesting 3D characters, a complex plot, and so forth in their fiction (these elements can be in biographies too, of course). Authors have to write stories that can appeal to all these readers’ likes. The best way for an author to do that is provide a mix. Striking that right balance is work, but it’s also fun.

Word count. There are times when an author has to respect a word count limit—a 3000-word short story s/he’s planning to submit to a ‘zine, for example. For most of my writing, I just spin the yarn and later determine if it’s a short story, novella, or novel. That’s better than trying to pad a story or cut out large sections of prose.

Readers shouldn’t care about any of this, of course. They just want a good story to read. But I think that some are neglecting the short stories and novellas in favor of novels. Story collections don’t sell well, and those ‘zines are fast disappearing.

Voting and reading. When I voted in the NJ primary last week, I noticed all the voters were older adults. I only had a small sample, of course, but I think that’s a national trend. Since I’m an author, I wondered if this voting behavior correlates with readership numbers. Do readers tend to be voters, and vice versa, and do readers share the same trend: are they older adults? That might be even more stimulus for getting kids to read at an early age.

Younger adults shouldn’t be put out by this. I’m worried about the trend because there are so many entertainment and other distractions today, and forgetting to read could affect a lot of things.

Reviews of Rembrandt’s Angel. If you would like to review a free copy of my new book in exchange for an honest review, email me via my contact page. This goes for any of my books, of course, but I limit the numbers. No author needs thousands of reviews, only enough to cover all the opinions and inform other readers about the book. Of course, I learn from the reviews too. (If you’d like the free PDF “Two Articles for Readers of Rembrandt’s Angel,” mention it in your query.)

Reviews and interviews. I do both.

My “official reviewing” is done via Bookpleasures.com; authors should query there because there’s a whole team of reviewers, and that improves your chances for a review. I do not accept direct queries, but they still arrive. When they do, and if the book is interesting enough, I’ll add it to my TBRoR-list (that’s “to be read or reviewed”)—no guarantee about when I’ll read the book, and I’ll review it only if I like it (you take your chances with Bookpleasures).

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