Sunday, September 11, 2016

Five Years

It's funny; most of my "author bio" entries out there contradict one another, with one claiming to be in Richmond, Virginia, another in Memphis, Tennessee, and later on Mobile, Alabama. I'm thinking that now that we're in Topeka, Kansas, I'm'a just not gonna put that location piece anywhere -- well, but here in this post -- and avoid possibly jinxing us again. That said, we are now, finally, happily, settled in Topeka, and I'm already working furiously on finishing both Novel Three (don't have a formal title yet) for the Elf Queen series and Bacon. That'll make seven novels, in total, that I have written.

"Have written" is such a different phrase, psychologically, from "am writing," as nearly every writer can probably confirm. When people at my new place of employment find out that I'm an author, their first question is often how many books I "have written."

Five. That's the answer. I "have written" five novels.

Wow, that's impressive, they always say.

It is. Sort of. Impressive, yes. Prolific, no. I look through this blog and realize that I time-stamped my writing career through it.

Five years.

I've been writing for five years. One novel per year isn't all that impressive coming from some of the more prolific novelists. Now, before anyone starts offering soothing noises or placating comments, let me say that I'm not judging myself (or anyone else) over it. First, there are plenty of great novelists who don't put out a novel per year. Second, I admit that I've been through some less than positive circumstances along the way. I've had some more than positive circumstances, too, to be honest, and those have often hampered my writing efforts as much as the others. But, you know, life happens, whether we wish it to or not, and for us writers it all gets stored for later in that great big plot-device warehouse up in Schenectady.

Regardless, it's been one heck of a ride.

I posted over a year ago that I was back on my feet, that the fam was settled down there on the Alabama Gulf Coast, and that I'd be cheerfully starting my blog posting and other stuff up again.

Didn't happen.

I'd like to think now that I'll reverse that. I've got a great job, and a nice place to live, in an absolutely charming little city, now. Maybe it's time to get serious about all this stuff.

Maybe. No promises, though.

Right now, it's time to get serious about this novel I'm revising. And then, who knows?

Y'all have fun!


Monday, October 12, 2015

Gearing back up

Okay, so it's been a while. Yes, I know. I actually had to sign back in to my own blog, if you can believe it. "Haven't seen you in a while -- you sure you're who you say you are?" the computer seemed to be saying.


Anyway, was in a dark place for a while, and was recovering for longer, but none of that matters anymore. I'm back.

Did you know that, according to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) you shouldn't follow the em hyphen, which indicates a major break, with a comma or period when it ends a sentence? I didn't either. Hence all the errors in my previously published books that even a pro editor didn't catch.

It's fixed now. Okay, it's fixed now in Prophecy and in the newest, most awesomest, book Trial of Ice, which was just released this week! Return of the Gods, I'll fix when I get time.

Still, isn't it exciting? I haven't even blogged for months, and yet now I'm cracking that shell back open. Talk about cool -- at least, for me.

Looking forward to it.

So, I've pushed out Book 2 of Elf Queen. Hope you enjoy it. I've also significantly shortened the series in my head, to the point where you should actually see the big bad, bad guy in the next novel. Yay! You also won't see any periods or commas following em dashes, but that's -- well, kind of a grammar nerd sort of yay! 

Meanwhile, I have Life with Bacon, a coming of age story about a farm boy who detests his father's GMO and non-organic practices, story to get out, and at the same time I'm really putting pressure on myself to finish Book 4 of Return of the Gods. Not that there's anything specifically timely about that story, but it's about death and the living's view toward that eventuality, and it's in honor of the real life people who inspired the characters of Phoenix and Birch, who happened to have passed along recently themselves, and so it's kinda important I get that done.

Thus, no NaNoWriMo for me this year, but I have so many other important projects that I don't figure anyone will mind.

Y'all have a great start to October!


Sunday, June 14, 2015


Are you up for a contest?

Those of you who've read Prophecy: Elf Queen of Kiirajanna, thank you! I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed it in the year and a quarter since it's been out.

Now, about Book 2....

It's been a whole coming. As I've mentioned before on the blog, I was in a rather dark place emotionally for much of last year, which in turn caused my writing to be pretty dark as well. Thus, once the draft of Book 2 was done and revised, it was -- well, dark. Not at all like the first one. And while darkness is, in fact, coming to Kiirajanna, it's not there yet, nor is Alyssa's tone ever going to go that direction.

So, yeah. Near-total rewrite.

And I'm almost done with the editing phase. Yay!

Here's the thing, then. I need a title.

The book blurb (which still needs some editing, too -- getting to that!):

Join Alyssa as she and her band of companions journey to the northern forests of Kiirajanna to seek the endorsement of the mighty chieftain, Padrig, on behalf of his clan. There she's treated to delights only available in the north: frozen fields of ice, moose head stew, a bear encounter, and the northern lights. She also finds the Cult of the Wyrm, who she'd believed to be defeated and destroyed, flourishing and plotting its next attack against her. Will she and her friends be able to escape the trap tightening around them, or will they discover it too late?

So -- yeah, it's rough, but that's kinda the gist. What do you think? Ideas for a title?

G'head and post your thoughts about the title in the comments. I can't wait to read them! If I use your idea, I'll send you a free copy of the ebook once it comes out.


(PS - as always, if you help me out with the book, you'll also get a mention in the Acknowledgements page)


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Lesson - Genres

Happy June! June 2nd, to be specific. Sometimes I'll type the date into Wikipedia just to see what it comes up with. Happy Decorations Day (honoring veterans) to my Canadian friends! Happy Sack of Rome Day to my -- um -- never mind.


The almighty genre. Find one and stick to it, they say. Write the genre you love to read, they say. Don't spread your efforts, your brand, your time too thin, they say.

They say a lot, whoever they is. But is it useful? In the case of genres, companies stretch their brands all the time, and more or less successfully at that. Take Disney, for example: from movies to amusement parks to cruise ships, with hops in between. Then there's Virgin: music, airlines, banking.

And who doesn't like Trump vodka on Trump airlines? Oh, wait -- those both failed.

Trump isn't alone; according to a Nielsen report I just read, one out of every two attempts to enter a new product genre ends in failure. Yes, some succeed, and grandly (and profitably) at that. Back to writing, Stephen King's a master of the art of brand-stretching. Robert Gailbraith? Not so much.

Recently I've thought of trying my own hand at it. Heck, I figured, I've been more or less successful with fantasy now. Not J.K. Rowling successful, mind you, but not bad either. But, see, there's this romance genre over there that's tantalizing. I mean the genre, not the work. It represents the largest customer base out there.

TV-wise, there's been plenty of action for fantasy, with Game of Thrones and so on. No options envy there, then. Still, I've watched Outlander with my family with interest, in large part because that series successfully bridges fantasy with romance. It's got great characters, and it's a very well executed storyline from a historical perspective.

Just watched the last episode of the first season, though. Nope. Can't do it. I can't write that stuff.

Gonna go back to my gods and elves and dragons and so on. They, at least, play nice with each other. Usually, anyway; when they're not playing nice, they're just killing and maybe eating each other.

No genre-stretching for me....


Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I remember hearing a story about how lion taming worked. That fascinated me, honestly. I mean, the idea of going head-to-head with an animal that's heavier than you, faster than you, stronger than you, and -- um, claw-ier than you -- armed with nothing but a chair seemed like it was doomed to end in tragedy. But no, it works, and according to the story, it works because Mr. Lion gets confused. So the story goes, and as I confirmed over at HowStuffWorks, the beast, the very King of the Jungle, tries to worry about all four legs of the chair at the same time. When he can't, he just decides that maybe there's easier dinners out there. Like, I don't know, Burger King.

While it astonishes me that this technique actually works with mighty predatory cats, I've seen it work on humans often. Hey, it even works on me, and here's how. We recently launched my beloved bride's blog on eating with allergies, Gluten Free with Heide. (somehow I expected the universe to end when I linked to from, but it didn't) At the same time, I'm shifting all my works over to Smashwords in order to enjoy the multi-formatting options over there, but to do so requires significant reformatting. I'm still trying to keep up with this blog, and with my own meager marketing efforts. Meanwhile, I'm refining a couple of short stories to try to sell them to SFWA markets. Then there's the pesky little novels that I'm still trying to get refined to the point that y'all will enjoy reading them.

And that's an authorpreneur's life.

Let's see, that's one, two, three -- six chair legs, if I counted correctly. Yep, I'm getting Trained. Only, instead of slinking away to the other side of the circle like Mr. Lion, I open a DOSBox window and play me a round of Empire (an 80's-era strategy game in four colors that takes a good 24 hours to play out on a moderate-sized map). That, and heading over to Facebook, where instead of using my author page to engage readers and potential readers, I sit on my personal page and poke fun at the hundreds dozens of people declaring themselves candidates for the next Presidential election.

...which is all fine, if Facebook were going to pay my rent.

I'm not the only one. As a career college dean I've seen hundreds of students fall into this trap. "Oh my goodness, I have four things to do, so I can't do any of them!" seems silly when said that way, but remember that it works on the King of the Jungle, too.

What do you do about it, then? Well, first, recognize that it's happening. If your keyboard is perfectly clean, yet you're cleaning it again anyway, you might be in this trap. If you're engaged in a discussion on Facebook about gay extraterrestrials landing on the moon, and yet you're neither gay, nor an alien, nor from the moon, then you might be in this trap. And if you're in the trap, make a decision to stop it. Facebook, powerful as it may be, has the same little X button at the top that every other window has. Admit to yourself that nobody really cares if you manage to win an Internet debate, were that even possible, nor does anybody care how clean your keyboard or your desk is, and just -- stop.

Then -- prioritize. What puts you into the trap in the first place is having four (or more) things coming at you with apparently equal force. That's an illusion, though. Some of those are going to be more important than others. Some will take more or less time than others. Pick the most important one. If things are relatively equal in importance, pick the quickest one to get out of the way (hence, in my case, a blog post).

And then? Just do it. Focus on one leg instead of four (or six, or eight) and knock it away. Celebrate -- yay! And then get to another leg, again based on priorities. And while you're getting all accomplish-y and stuff, try to remember how fun it was when you got into it in the first place, okay?

Good luck!


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

From Amazon to Smashwords

I'm excited! 

So excited, in fact, that I'm making my first blog post in over a month.  *ahem*  Sorry.  If I told you about being busy with a new day job, helping my beloved launch her own blog (yay for Gluten Free With Heide) and working around the clock (ish) to get Volume 2 of Elf Queen done and ready for you -- well, that would sound like excuses, and I don't like those.  So I'll just say mea culpa and move on to....

I'm excited!  (you got that, right?)

Why?  Well, I've been holding on to the promotional deals that Amazon has available through their KDP Select program, to the expense of some of my readers.  Specifically, Amazon allows you to use their promotional tools, but you have to, in return, give them exclusive rights to distribute your book.  That means it's all about the Kindle, 'bout the Kindle, no Nook, and -- oh, sorry.


So bad singing aside, the exclusive deal used to be worth it.  The promotional tools used to work well in conjunction with other efforts, and sales were good.  But recently they've changed their algorithms, and added some new stuff, and -- not trying to bash them, but it isn't working for me.  Granted, my own personal promo plan over the past few months has been pretty skimpy as I've settled into new digs.  Still, that notwithstanding, I decided to make a move.

This past weekend I took the three works that are no longer in KDP Select (Cataclysm, Prophecy, and Undercover Truths/Undercover Lies) and uploaded them into Smashwords. 


Wait -- what's that mean, you're asking?  Well, Smashwords in turn uploads -- or crossloads -- or downloads -- or, well, whatever silly direction we wish to indicate -- loads the appropriate version to all appropriate venues.  That means those three ebooks will soon be available from B&N online, iTunes, and so on.  That, in turn, means that all you Nookies can read them! (sorry, I probably shouldn't have -- well, heck, it's funny)

It means one other thing, by the way.  Amazon makes money from sales of the book, of course, and so books that are set to permanent free aren't welcome.  Hey, I have an MBA; I can dig that.  But Smashwords does not.  Well, they do make money from sales of books, that is, but they are fine with perma-free. 

What's that mean?  I set Undercover Truths/Undercover Lies to free.  That's not "free till Friday" or "free today only," that's free.  Free as the birds.  Free as the meat in fresh roadkill.


But no, seriously, it's free.  Go download here: .  It's available in whatever format you wish to read it in. 

And then?  Please, go post a review of it somewhere.  That's the most awesome-est-est-est gift you can give me, or any author. 

And, I know what you're thinking: "that might work, but how will we get the God of War to wear a tutu?"  No, sorry, that was a bad flashback.  What you're thinking is: "when will the other two books in the first series be available in all formats as well?"  Answer is, they're still under contract with Amazon.  One comes out this week, and the other in a couple of months.  Sorry for the delay, but I'll get it as soon as I can honestly do it.  In the meanwhile, enjoy a double dose of first volumes!

Thanks, as always, for reading!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Hating the Language

I have a historical adventure story in my head that I'm a little bit intimidated over writing.  It's not the story part; I'm getting used to that.  No, it's the language.  I mean, I can barely keep up with changes to the mother tongue in my own lifetime; how am I to handle it 400 years ago?

Now, I grew up in a linguistically unpretentious region in the southern United States.  Back home in Mississippi, we might've used a metaphor or two to make ourselves sound cooler'n a....  Um, smarter'n a....  Well, you get the drift.  Anyway, that was the extent of our linguistic shenanigans, generally speaking.  Words just plain meant what they meant back then.

Okay, I know what you're thinking, and you're right.  There is one rather well-known exception to my previous statement, and it has to do with blessing peoples' hearts when there really isn't any blessing being done to any hearts whatsoever.  In fact, it didn't just mean one thing; the phrase could be used to signal all sorts of sentiments.  The connotation depended -- and still does -- entirely on usage.  For example, the three words at the end of "my cousin's entire mobile home park was taken out by that tornado, bless their hearts," mean something entirely different from the three words at the end of "they found the permanent markers to use in drawing on my kitchen wall, bless their hearts."  Same words, different intention, and if you didn't catch it, you're as sharp as a cue ball.

Back then, though, it should be pointed out that we didn't have an Internet to pass things around, either.  When I moved to California to finish high school, they actually thought I was wishing blessings upon their hearts.  Now, I did, very quickly, stop contracting "you" and "everyone" into the vernacular "y'all," but that was simply because I didn't enjoy the attention that the shortened, more flexible utterance brought me.  Overall, the language was the language.

Now?  Sheesh.  The "mother tongue" has spawned some really strange offspring.  Thanks in part to the rapidity of dissemination and complete lack of grammar checking on the Internet, linguistics has gotten nuttier than a squirrel turd.  I mean, do you remember when literally and figuratively meant opposite things?  Recently they literally changed the dictionary definition so that they're the same word, but only if you mean 'em that way. And then there's gay.  Used to be that word meant happy, lighthearted, carefree, but my generation was pretty effective at redefining it to refer to someone who is homosexual -- because, um, someone who is homosexual is obviously happy, I -- um, guess.  Now, though, it means something completely different.  How gay is that, right?

And what's up with hate?  Growing up, to hate meant something fairly specific.  You knew if/when you were being hated on.  That, though, was before the haters and the haters of haters got hold of it.  Now, if you write a law that somebody disagrees with, you're hating.  Meanwhile, if you disagree with said law, you're hating.  If you disagree with the disagreement--you hater, you! 

(that said, let's please leave the actual political stuff to my personal Facebook page)

I hate it.  Literally.