Hey Netflix, I Hear You’re Looking for New Shows …

So some news slipped across my radar this morning that Netflix, determined to claw back a sudden drop of subscribers, has put $18 billion toward pursuing new content to woo audiences with. Included among these, from what I gather, is a desire for a “female Jack Ryan,” aka a female action-adventure protagonist with intrigue, action, etc etc.

Netflix, might I humbly suggest Colony and the rest of the UNSEC Space Trilogy?

It’s got exactly what you want: Annalyne Neres, the South American mercenary who is one of the three primary characters, is absolutely an action star. There’s political intrigue as the three protagonists maneuver their way through various competing factions, there’s action as negotiation gives way to frantic, dangerous violence—

Oh, and did I mention it’s Science-Fiction? In other words, the perfect thing to fill the void left among viewers now that The Expanse is over and done.

Action, intrigue, mystery, and an audience of the streaming market that’s currently looking for the “next big thing.”

Better yet, it’s complete. The final book of the trilogy is coming out later this year, so a successful first season wouldn’t need to panic and stall while some finale is figured out. No filler needed. A complete story, and the rights are available and ready.

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OP-ED: Don’t Ban Things Just Because You Don’t Like Them

This post has been on my mind for a few months now. Like others, it’s being written in advance for posting. But in a way I’m glad, because I’ve already written it once and retooled it. After some consideration, I think the best way to go with this post is to be short and sweet.

There’s been a real rash in the last decade or so of folks seeking to “remove” what they don’t like from the public sphere. Various methods are being used, from twitter mobs that go after creators to try and get them removed or banned from communities or positions, to the latest incarnation, which is to use politicians and laws to block or remove things simply because one disagrees with them.

I wish I were joking. Kentucky just passed a law that, as I understand it, gives state politicians ultimate say over all public library funds and what they go toward. The implication made by the supporters of the bill is that it will allow them to examine what books are on public library shelves or requested by readers and then block all library funding until the “problematic” titles are removed. A similar bill is being pushed in Idaho that would launch an investigation into public libraries of that state to find “problematic material” and remove it from the library (likely, from what I’ve gathered, along with punishments to the library and staff for offering such “problematic” literature).

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Read the First Four Chapters of Shadow of an Empire Absolutely Free!

We understand: Shadow of an Empire can be a daunting prospect for a reader. A nine-hundred-plus page book? In paperback? Is it even worth the money? The reviews say yes, but folks don’t always trust reviews. They’d like to experience what’s between the pages themselves.

Which is why as we’ve done with our other books, we’ve made the first four chapters of Shadow of an Empire free to read for all. Right through your device and broswer. No catches, no subscription needed, no personal information required. Go ahead, open it in an incognito tab if you so desire! We don’t mind! Four chapters of Wild-West Fantasy adventure, right here at your fingertips.

It’s as easy as clicking the cover below. Hit that gorgeous sunny scene, and if your time in the deserts of Indrim leaves its impression, you can pick up a personal copy from our books page (or your local bookstore can order it for you). Enjoy!

The LTUE Writing Con Starts Tomorrow!

Hello readers! This post is going to be short and to the point: LTUE starts tomorrow!

That’s right, Life, The Universe, and Everything 2022 kicks off tomorrow morning, with registration opening at 8 AM and the first panels starting at 9!

Will I be there! Of course I will! A little groggy, perhaps, but I don’t miss LTUE. And fortunately, all of my panels are in the evening and afternoon, so I have most of the day to wake up. And see other panels.

Really quick, if you’d like to attend my panels, here’s a quick recap of the schedule:

Thursday:

  • 3 PM – A Space Opera Starter Kit
  • 4 PM – No Mirrors: Character Description in First Person
  • 7 PM – My Genre Wish List

Friday:

  • 7 PM – Book Signing!

Saturday:

  • 5 PM – Science Fiction Faux Pas
  • 7 PM – Fanfiction: Having Fun

But these are by no means the only panels in action at LTUE. You can check out the grid schedule of titles here, and I may see you at a few of these, since I love attending the panels. But I’ll be out and about as well. With free bookmarks! So if you grab a copy of Axtara or Shadow of an Empire at the LTUE bookstore, wave me down and get it signed! Or come to that book signing Friday night …

Anyway, tonight is the eve of the con, and I am jazzed and ready to go! If you see me (and in fairness, I have a distinct look), say hello!

A Week for Good News: Alpha Reading Starforge, New Store Fronts, and More!

So this will make everyone chuckle a bit, I think. This week has been awesome. This News Post? Packed with cool stuff I’m about to inform you about. Save one minor quibble in why you’re hearing about it now, on a Thursday afternoon, possibly with questionable grammar.

Why questionable grammar? Well … the one low point of this week has been a nasty cold I was fighting off Monday which has since blossomed to consume my days. And don’t worry, I’m starting with this as both a “bad news first” sort of thing and an explanation for where I’ve been. The answer is “sick.”

Not COVID, thankfully. Just a nasty cold that’s left me rolling through tissues, achy, tired, and suffering from several days of constant headache. Good news though: Last night I slept until 2 PM, and as a result I’m feeling much better. I’m still fatigued, but the headache is gone and I’m seeing signs that all the crud is losing the battle. Huzzah! But this does mean this week was kind of a sick week (during which I pretty much slept).


Which is kind of a shame as so much awesome happened this week. I’ll start with the big one. The following link is to an item now listed for sale at Wal-Mart, so get ready. Here it is. Click it, and you’ll notice something that’s very big.

Yeah, that’s Axtara – Banking and Finance. Selling at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is now carrying Axtara. Want a copy? You can go get it at Wal-Mart.

This? This is awesome. Yes, Axtara is available at other bookstores, but Wal-Mart is a pretty big market. The fact that they’re carrying Axtara? AWESOME.

This could be why sales this week seem to have picked up from last week (another bit of good news). Wal-Mart is a big market. A lot of eyeballs roll through there. Their stocking Axtara is another milestone for me and a huge moment to be celebrated.

So, if you haven’t picked up a copy of Axtara yet, you’ve got a new option now. You can order it at Wal-Mart and pick it up with your groceries.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Axtara continues to soar.

There’s more cool news, so hit the jump!

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Being a Better Writer: Having an Online Presence

Good afternoon, readers! Welcome back on to another installment of Being a Better Writer! We’ve got an interesting topic to discuss today, which will probably go by pretty quick (that’s okay, it’s a holiday) but before we do, it’s time for a little news. Emphasis on little, so you can read through it without getting too bogged down.

First up, Shadow of an Empire‘s print proof will be in my hands this week. Yes, you read that right. I am excited to be holding it at last. I don’t anticipate many issues between the proof and the final copy either, since Shadow of an Empire, unlike Axtara, has been out digitally for a few years already and seen a few cleanings already. With the paperback release it’s going to be checking it to make sure that the formatting is good and nothing unexpected happened. After which paperback sales can be approved!

Speaking of which, based on the poll I put up last week (Side note: the WordPress base poll tool isn’t very good, as I have to vote to see the results) has been overwhelmingly in favor of the option I wanted to go with: Expanded distribution. Which means that yes, Shadow of an Empire will be available to libraries, bookstores, and the like. However, since most of those places want their cut, it does mean the book is going to cost a bit more.

$21.99 in total, to be precise. Before some of you blanch, this is for a 600+ page trade-sized paperback (same size, in height, as Axtara). By comparison, the non-trade paperback for Dune (releasing because the movie is coming out) which is a smaller, cheaper to manufacture paperback, is 500 pages and sells for $17.99. The math does work out: This is just a big book.

Which amuses me personally, because a few friends who’ve heard about this have already dropped the comment of “But isn’t Shadow of an Empire one of your shorter books?” To which I have to say “Well, yes?” It’s more in the middle, really. But Colony and Jungle are certainly larger, plus Starforge

Anyway, that’s the update on Shadow of an Empire: The print proof will be in my hands this week, with paperback sales opening shortly thereafter.

One final question before we dive into today’s topic, though: Axtara does well as a paperback, but how would you readers feel about a hardcover release?

Right, I promised short news, so that’s it. Instead let us turn our minds to the act of writing. Well, sort of. Today’s topic is one of the rare BaBW topics that’s less on the “nuts-and-bolts” side of things and more on the side of authorial things that don’t quite involve sitting down at a keyboard to work out your latest story. That said however, today’s topic is incredibly valuable. Quite simply put, if you ignore today’s topic, you’re unlikely to ever see more than a few book sales without someone else doing it for you. It’s that critical.

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Shadow of an Empire: The Paperback Price Poll

Hello readers! I come to you today with news! And also, with a question.

The news, first. But those of you tempted to skip it, don’t. The question is tied deeply into it, and I would prefer feedback from you, the readers.

So the news: Shadow of an Empire is almost available in print. The proof has been ordered! That’s right. At long last, those of you who loved your sun-soaked journey across the desert Outlands of Indrim will be able to order a paperback copy to sit on your nightstand or coffee table!

Now, this is a chonky boy of a book. At the same trade size as Axtara – Banking and Finance, Shadow of an Empire has smaller text and is still twice as thick. It’s gonna be a hefty volume (and this isn’t even my longest work by far). But as you might expect, this comes with a catch.

See, the print cost is more than double what Axtara‘s is as a result. And when combined with expanded distribution that allows it to show up in bookstores, libraries, etc, that means that the price point for Shadow of an Empire‘s paperback is … significant.

How significant, you might ask? Well, for it to be available in bookstores, libraries, etc, the prices needs to be … $21.99.

Yeah. For a paperback. A good quality one, if Axtara‘s paperback quality is anything to go by, but … yeah, still high. Granted, it’s not too much higher than most similarly sized paperback books of similar quality. Dune is what, 500 pages and that’s retailing at $17.99 or so right now.

But here’s the thing. If I don’t allow for expanded distribution, IE, no libraries, bookstores, etc … then that cut doesn’t exist, and the price could be $15.99 … a full six dollars less.

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OP-ED: I Have a Confession to Make – I Can’t Stand Dragon-Rider Books

So the other day I was on Amazon, doing the usual bit of browsing, when I spotted one of those little advertisement bars that Amazon uses to get eyeballs on products by advertising things “like” what you’ve purchased or are interested in. To what should be no one’s surprise, Amazon has figured out that I like the book Axtara – Banking and Finance. Which isn’t exactly true, since I love that little book and its characters. Like isn’t a strong enough word.

Anyway, naturally I browsed this little recommended section because hey, I love Axtara, and Amazon thought these books were similar. It’s not always right, but I’m always down for a good dragon book, so I gave it a look. Even clicked on one that from the title, looked a little promising. Lots of reviews, high rating, all about dragons—

Oh wait. Scratch that. It wasn’t about dragons, but about dragon riders. That’s right, yet another book where dragons, intelligent or not, are reduced to glorified flying horses for a surely-not-just-like-every-other-fantasy-protagonist human.

To borrow from River City Ransom: BARF!!!

Look, I’ve always enjoyed dragons, ever since I was a kid. But I never enjoyed books about dragon riders (with one exception) because, well, honestly they never go past the trope. Again, with that one exception. The dragons are just mounts. Spiny, scaled, flying mounts that may or may not breathe fire. Worse, often they’re intelligent, as in fully sapient, but just fine living in a stable, being treated like a beast of burden, and generally only talking so that the protagonist has someone to talk to to reassure them that they’re “doing the right thing” or whatever.

Does it not bother anyone that a massive swath of dragon books involve treating a sentient being like a piece of property? If the dragon were human, we’d call it “slavery” and YA Twitter would descend with torches and pitchforks to burn that author’s career to the ground … even if the book were about how wrong it was and how the cast overcame it or fought against it.

But hey, if they’re not human, that makes it “okay” I guess. Sure, buy and sell the sapient species. They’re made to be mounts anyway! It’s what the universe intended!

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Being a Better Writer: Why Indie Isn’t Evil

Hello readers! I’m actually out of the office today, and this post was written in advance! So while you’re reading this, given the schedule I’m probably pressure-washing the underside of a 48-foot commercial fishing vessel.

Anyway, today’s post is another reader request. Understandably so, too, since the topic of Indie, or independent publishing, has been a hot one across the industry for the last few years. Last decade with some change, really. But the storm surrounding it has continued to swirl and continue to be hotly contested. Hence, why I often get questions about it, and even have talked about it before here on the site.

But this reader wanted it directly addressed as part of Being a Better Writer, not just in an opinion post or as a side piece on the site. So, today we’re going to talk all about independent publishing. More specifically, we’re going to talk about why it isn’t bad, which is what the reader specifically wanted to know.

So settle back, grab a snack, and hit the jump.

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OP-ED: Has Trad-Pub Just Become a Vanity Press?

So this question was posed and tossed around the other day in a writing chat after I came out with this week’s Being a Better Writer post (Working with Trad-Pub). Initially launched because someone had asked me if I was going to discuss Vanity Presses in conjunction with Trad-Pub, it later came back up because while the two are still different and separate, that barrier between the two has, from my perspective, shrunk quite a bit.

But before we get into this observation and musing, I do have one bit of news to share. The first draft of Starforge is now at 300,000 words, and about 66-70% of the way done. Step by step, day by day, the finale to the UNSEC Space Trilogy moves forward!

That’s all. Not saying anymore. So let’s talk about this odd question: Has Trad-Pub basically just become a form of Vanity Press? Well … yes? And also no. Vanity Press itself is on the way out, thankfully, due to the changing conditions of the publishing industry (independent authors helped, but print-on-demand is the real heavy hitter), but I’m getting ahead of myself. What is a Vanity Press, for those of you that don’t know?

Basically, back in the day, someone realized that of all those people submitting to the slush pile, there were a percentage of them with lots of money who didn’t have the inside connections that could have gotten them around the slush pile (this was in the days before agents or independent authors). So if they got their hands on a printing press, they could charge these people a large amount of money for their dream. They would provide no editing, no advertising, no marketing, nothing. And there wouldn’t be an advance. But they would deliver completed, printed copies of that “customer’s” book! And then that customer could tell people “Look, I’ve published a book!” which for many of them, was all they wanted to do.

And sure, they might promote the chance of fame and fortune, with a constant reminder that “Hey, that end is on you.” Might be just a little predatory, especially if they’re convincing people to take out loans to meet their printing costs, but that’s the cost of “business,” right?

Yeah, you can see where this is going, as well as why Vanity Press has such a negative stigma. People with a printing press taking folks money in exchange for printing copies of a book 100% as it was from the creator. Vanity Press didn’t provide editing, marketing, promotion, aid for the author (such as flying them to signings, or even setting those up) … none of it. Oh, and the person wanting the book published paid the publisher, not the other way around.

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