News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #152…

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.

There are two online organizations, HARO (guess what the acronym means—the clue is found above) and PitchRate, that connect reporters to potential sources. I belong to both. I’ve rarely found a journalist’s request that matches my expertise, though, either as a scientist or acquired from research for my books. In fact, too many of the requests that are listed relate to pop culture trivia—I generally do well at Trivial Pursuit, but I’m sure the so-called experts would serve the journalist’s needs better for those requests.

But it’s always good to help a reporter out—I did so for Indie Author Day, but that had no relation to either of the two online services. They don’t seem to be useful to me. You might find otherwise.

On a related note… I mentioned themes above. Almost all my stories have themes involved. They help give substance to a plot. Teeter-Totter between Lust and Murder considers gun control and sexual exploitation, Aristocrats and Assassins considers terrorism, and Gaia and the Goliaths considers environmental issues, for example. And I don’t treat these themes in a one-sided fashion—Aristocrats and Assassins considers some of the origins of terrorism, for example, although I’m completely against it. Some of these themes (stolen art and the associated black market in The Collector and Rembrandt’s Angel, for example) required considerable “research” on my part.

Print books not popular at Indie Author Day. Events seem to be a mixed bag. Many readers who stopped by my booth asked if Rembrandt’s Angel was in ebook format (it is) an even whether it’s in the Montclair Public Library (it is, as a donation from yours truly), but very few readers seemed to be interested in the print version. In other events, it’s been just the opposite, and I know many readers still prefer print.

Conclusion: Some readers like print books, others like ebooks. And people still use libraries. None of that’s a surprise. What is surprising is the difference from event to event.

Boats and cars. You won’t find many planes or trains in my books, but a yacht and cruise ship play important roles in Family Affairs. I also love cars. The Scotland Yard Inspector Esther Brookstone in Rembrandt’s Angel owns a Jaguar, Mary Jo Melendez loses her little Miata over a Big Sur cliff in Silicon Slummin’…and Just Gettin’ By, and a classic ‘Vette is featured on the cover of Pasodobles in a Quantum Stringscape and in probably my best short story, “The Bridge,” which originally appeared in eFiction magazine.

But don’t think I own a boat or a sports car. I’m just a starving author now—well, not exactly starving, but not rich enough to own either. My one luxury is to own a bookstore…in several cameos in my books!

Where’s my new novel? I could be glib and ask “Which one?” because I have several ongoing projects. But you might be wondering about The Last Humans, my new post-apocalyptic thriller. Rest easy. It’s in limbo right now while I decide how to publish it. My experiences with Penmore Press (Rembrandt’s Angel) and Carrick Publishing (most recently with the Chaos Chronicles Collection—see below) have been so positive, I’m in a quandary. We’ll see what happens. (You can read an excerpt in the “Pre-Release Excerpts” of my blog—Oasis Redux was the working title.)

Now’s your chance to read epic sci-fi! The “Chaos Chronicles Trilogy” is now a bundle. You can read all the books in the “Chaos Chronicles Collection,” an ebook that costs less than the ebook for the first novel in the trilogy. The novels, Survivors of the Chaos, Sing a Zamba Galactica, and Come Dance a Cumbia…with Stars in Your Hand!, take you from the Chaos years of an Earth dominated by multinationals and controlled by their mercenaries to Humans’ first interstellar colonies and a first encounter. You will meet strange ETs, good and bad, bipeds and collective intelligences, and experience mystery and intrigue, as Humans expand into near-Earth space. Soon available for the bargain price of $5.99 on Amazon and Smashwords.

Smashwords book sale. Mystery, suspense, sci-fi, conspiracies, and a multitude of thrills await you with the “Mary Jo Melendez Mystery Series.”  Mary Jo, an ex-USN Master-at-Arms trying to get her new civilian life established, is framed in Muddlin’ Through.  Her search to prove her innocence takes her around the world from one skirmish to another, a gypsy romance, winning new friends, and a new self-understanding.  In the sequel, Silicon Slummin’…and Just Gettin’ By, the bad guys are back, she acquires a stalker/serial killer, and she finds a new love. On sale on Smashwords from November 1 through 30—use the coupon code during checkout.


In libris libertas….     



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