Saturday, April 30, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 17 - 33 A.D.

33 David McAfee

Started: April 30
Finished: May 3

Notes: Vampiric assassins are sent after Jesus. That's the basic plot. I didn't really need anything else to draw my interest.

Mini review: Great read. Vampire fans, especially those who like stories that keep moving, should enjoy this one. I have one nitpick with this novel, however: It ended too soon. Glad to hear there's a sequel in the works!

One of the few things I hate about writing a novel ...

... is all the ideas I get for other projects. With short stories, it's not that big a deal. I know I'll be done with even a long short story within a few days at most. With a novel, more than likely at least a few months are going to pass before I'm finished with writing a novel.

For instance, a week ago I started my latest novel. Initially I'd had intentions of working on a thriller or maybe a horror project, which would be normal for me as I'd just finished up a fantasy trilogy. I like to switch things up a bit.

But in this case I was feeling the pull to write another Kron Darkbow novel, so I started the next such novel, titled Ghosts of the Asylum. I'd had the idea for a good while, and currently I'm about 12,000 words into it.

Then I get this great idea for a novel. And a couple of hundred other ideas for other projects.

Damn. I hate when that happens.

So, what to do? Well, there are basically two choices. I can either continue working on the Darkbow book, or I can set it aside and get into another project.

What am I going to do? I'm going to stick with the Kron book. Why? Because I don't like splitting up projects. I'd never get anything done if I did that.

Though I have been known to take a break from novel writing to pen a short story. I usually only do this when an editor has requested a story or if there's a really cool anthology coming up that I'd like to be a part of.

Ah, well. The writing life. If I had a real job, I'd bitch about it, too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trends I've noticed in my Kindle e-book sales

I've noticed a few general trends over the last six months in my e-book sales for the Kindle on Amazon. In no way do I consider this information scientific. Nor do I consider it applicable to all who publish for the Kindle. But there are some interesting things of note, at least for me:

1.) My sales on the weekend, Saturday and Sunday, are roughly about half of what they are during the weekdays. I've had several other writers tell me they've experienced the opposite, with more sales on weekends. Why is this? I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I've published mostly fantasy novels and horror short stories.

2.) On the flip side of this, my horror tends to sell better on weekends than during the week. Wonder why that is?

3.) About 95 percent of my sales are through my fantasy novels.

4.) Short stories don't seem to be big sellers, even when packaged together. At least for me.

5.) Fantasy readers don't reach out to other genres, or at least they don't in my case. Since the vast majority of my sales are through my fantasy novels, it's obvious those readers aren't coming back for my horror short stories or my more literary works. But then again, they also aren't coming back for any of my fantasy short stories.

6.) My sales on Amazon, averaging about 3,000 per month over the last six months, has not equated to similar success over at Barnes & Noble. At B&N, I'm lucky to sell 50 e-books a month, and that seems to be staying pretty flat. At least my Smashwords numbers are growing each quarter, but not by leaps and bounds.

7.) The second and third e-books in any of my trilogies tend to sell about 75 percent of the number of sales of the first book in any of my trilogies. That leads me to believe that roughly 75 percent of those who read the first e-book in one of my trilogies liked it enough to want to continue the series. Those are numbers I can deal with.

8.) Trying to figure out the Amazon ranking game is near impossible. There have been days when one of my e-books has sold only a single copy, yet it's somehow jumped up in the rankings. Other days one of my e-books has sold 50 copies, but it's actually gone down in the rankings. I realize the rankings are based on many different factors, including the sales of others' e-books, but this strikes me as odd. Though it's not something I lose sleep over.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 16 - One Hundred Years of Solitude

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Started: April 22
Finished: April 30

Notes: I've heard so many great things about this novel that's supposed to be a masterpiece of magical realism, I just knew I had to give it a try. Here goes.

Mini review: Just an awesome, awesome novel. At first it struck me as something I would detest, full of telling and no showing hardly at all. But after a hundred pages, I realized there was a certain genius to what was being written. At its most basic, this is the story of a family and the growth of a small town in South America over a hundred years. But it's really so much more than that, so much so that I can't really describe it. This was my first knowing experience with literature that is supposed to be from the magic realism genre, which is closely related to fantasy, but I can see the difference. Would I recommend this novel? Not for everyone. If you are someone who enjoys overly literary tales which say much between the lines, then this is for you. If you are a reader who likes straight-forward stories, this won't be your thing. I like both, depending upon how good the writing is and my current mood. During the time I read this novel, it was perfect for me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Replacing my music

Bruce Springsteen - Greatest HitsBecause of long, boring details I won't go into (basically one weather disaster plus some financial troubles), a while back I lost nearly all of my music collection, 30-plus years of CDs and cassettes. My actual record albums I had sold or given away years ago.

Fortunately, I was able to save a handful of CDs, mainly stuff that was stored in my vehicle at the time. These were:

The Doors - Greatest Hits
John Lennon - Greatest Hits
The Beatles - White Album
The Animals - Greatest Hits
The White Stripes - The White Stripes
The White Stripes - De Stijl
The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
O' Brother Where Art Thou? - Soundtrack
Magnolia - Soundtrack
Singles - Soundtrack
Nirvana - Nirvana (greatest hists collection)
David Gray - White Ladder
David Gray - Lost Songs, 95-98
Rage Against the Machine - Renegades
Elvis Costello - North
Bruce Springsteen - Greatest Hits
Van Halen - Van Halen I
Van Halen - Women and Children First
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin I

Until very recently, that was it. That's all I've had to listen to for the last year or so. Believe me, I've come to know all the songs on those albums quite well.

But I'm very slowly re-building my music collection, purchasing a few CDs every month.

What's interesting to me about this is the decisions I'm making about my music purchases.

First, let me say that yes, it is CDs I'm buying. I don't have a dedicated mp3 player and have no plans to purchase one, though I'm not a Luddite trying to make some stand against modern music technology. I like CDs for a variety of reasons, a big one being that I can play them in my current vehicle. If I decide for some reason I need an mp3 of a song (such as for my Kindle, which will play mp3s), I can always burn it off the CD.

More interesting to me, however, are the choices I'm making. There's a lot of music I used to have that I won't be buying again. For example, I do not feel a need to purchase any of the Poison cassettes I got back in high school. Yes, you can laugh now. Go ahead. I bet there's some real gutbusters in your own music collection.

This whole situation has made me really have to think about what music I find practically "necessary." I put "necessary" in quotes because music is not "necessary" in the sense that we do not need it to eat and breath, though arguably it can help one thrive as a human being.

I haven't made a list of what I'll be purchasing in the near future, but I can give a short list of what I have bought most recently, what were my first purchases upon jumping back on the musical bandwagon. In order of their purchase, the CDs are:

The Who - The Ultimate Collection
The Rolling Stones - Hot Rocks: 1964 - 1971
The Police - Synchronicity
The Police - Every Breath You Take (greatest hits collection)
Nirvana - Bleach
Nirvana - Incesticide
The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan
The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers

Are those the albums most important to me? Yes and no. The collections for The Who and the Stones definitely are important to me, while the others are mostly ones I have enjoyed immensely over the years.

So what should be my next purchases? I'm leaning toward U2, though who knows. A lot will depend upon my mood at any given time,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Robert E. Howard vs. J.R.R. Tolkien

Which was the better writer?

Okay, I'm not looking to start a fight here. But the subject matter of REH vs. JRR is one I brought up in the messages beneath my "The Duality of Heroes" article over at Rogue Blades Entertainment's Home of Heroics site.

I, in general, find Howard to be the stronger writer. Though I do believe Tolkien had quite a few strengths over Howard, including world building (come on, Tolkien actually created languages for his various races -- though it helped he was a linguist, of course).

So, what's your opinion? Who was the better writer, Robert E. Howard or J.R.R. Tolkien? And please give some reasons why you think so.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My next novel, or the return of Kron Darkbow

I recently finished my Sword of Bayne trilogy, and I'm glad that's behind me. It's time to move on.

But as always happens with me once I've finished a major project, I wonder what I should work on next.

I had looked forward to getting into a horror novel, but recently I kind of lost interest. I had not wanted to venture into another fantasy novel or series, mainly because that's what I'd spent the last year working on, but all of a sudden I felt a yearning to write another Kron Darkbow novel.

So it seems that's what I'm going to do. I've started the next Kron novel, which is currently titled Ghosts of the Asylum.

As I'm early in the project, I suppose it's not impossible I might feel myself being pulled in another direction, and I might go off onto another project. But rarely does that happen to me. Once I've begun a project, I usually stick with it until the end, barring some minor distractions such as a short story here and there.

Okay, gotta go. Kron has a riot to confront.

Literally, a riot.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Under the Mountain: Part III of The Sword of Bayne" is now available

Under the Mountain: Part III of The Sword of BayneSeems like it took forever (even though it was really only a few months), but Under the Mountain: Part III of The Sword of Bayne is finally available in e-book formats.

In the first e-book in the series, Bayne's Climb, the protagonist Bayne kul Kanon hunted for his past. In the second e-book, A Thousand Wounds, he finally discovered his past. And now in Under the Mountain, Bayne has to face his future.

Thus ends this series. But will it be the end of Bayne? You'll have to read to find out.

Currently this e-book is selling for only 99 cents, as are the other two e-books in the series. If you are interested in purchasing Under the Mountain, here are the appropriate links:

For Amazon's Kindle

For Barnes & Noble's Nook

For Smashwords and other formats

Eventually Under the Mountain will be available at Sony, Apple, Kobo and other online venues, it just might take a few weeks for the processing to go through.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The First Book Project

If you've not heard of the First Book Project, it is a program to help low-income children receive free books to better their education.

To help along the project, a number of authors are lending a hand at the No Trees Harmed site.

What can you do to help?

It's simple. Buy a book or e-book, one of the ones listed at the No Trees Harmed site. Each author is offering a different incentive, but here is my own: If my epic fantasy novel City of Rogues cracks the Top 100 Kindle e-books on Amazon, I will donate $500 to the First Book Project.

Some of the more skeptical of you might believe I'm doing this only for promotional benefits. And while I admit there is a little truth to that, the fact is kids and education and reading are of high interest to me. And yes, I do believe it's possible my novel could crack the top 100 list. City of Rogues has been as high as the 600s, so why not give it the extra push to reach 100 and help provide children with free books?

And if you aren't into epic fantasy or have already read City of Rogues or you just want something else, check out that list of other e-books available.

Books read in 2011: No. 15 - The Mysterious Island

The Mysterious Islandby Jules Verne

Started: April 5
Finished: April 21

Notes: It's been at least two decades since I've read any Jules Verne, and as a younger man I enjoyed this author. That's why I've decided to read him again. And it helped this was another Kindle freebie from Amazon. Also, I was turned toward this novel a year or so ago when I read it was one of the influences upon the television show Lost; if nothing else, it would appear the title was an influence.

Mini review: It was a joy to rediscover Jules Verne after all these years. This was an excellent, fun and intriguing read. It was also obvious the influence this book had upon the Lost TV show. As an added bonus, this book turned out to be a sequel to Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, a novel of his I cherish, and another of his books, In Search of the Castaways, which I'll have to read. Also, this was one of those novels in which you hate to say goodbye to the characters when you're finished reading.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 14 - Crime Scene at Caldwell Ranch

Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranchby B.J. Daniels

Started: April 2
Finished: April 5

Notes: As those who know me can attest, I'm not a romance reader. In fact, unless you count Gone With the Wind, I've only read one romance novel my entire life. But there are a couple of reasons why I'm reading this novel. For one, it was free. I was attending the North Carolina State Fair in 2010 where there were several tents under which were a half dozen or so young people handing out bags and bags of free books. Being a sucker for free books, I took a couple of bags. Upon returning home, I opened the bags to find they were stuffed with a dozen or so copies of one book, this one, Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch. So I got if for free, and have given away all the other copies I had. The other reason I'm reading this novel is for education. Romance novels are huge sellers, and since I'm a writer, I feel it behooves me to study the market some. And that's what I'm doing.

Mini review: This was actually a fun little read. Nothing overly thought-provoking here, but this was definitely a page turner. The writer did a great job of keeping the readers interest, doling out just enough information to keep you flipping pages. For those who normally don't like the romance genre, I have to say, there really wasn't a lot of gushy scenes here. There is one very brief love scene that takes up about a page, and it's not overly intrusive. The mystery writing here was solid, but don't expect great literature in a classical sense. Not a bad read.

Books read in 2011: No. 13 - The Gods-Forsaken World

by Steve Goble

Started: April 2
Finished: April 2

Notes: I've known Steve Goble for more than 15 years. We have worked together as journalists, drank beer together, gamed together, listened to music together, he's even been my immediate supervisor. I was at his wedding. I only wish I still lived nearer to him and his family. And I have one more wish. That there was more Steve Goble fiction available. Not only has Steve been a good friend, and introduced me to other good friends, he is one heck of a writer. So it was with some joy that I recently found he was beginning to experiment with Kindle publishing by making some of his shorter works available. I've read nearly all of Steve's published works, but this was one that had slipped past me somehow. It is a tale of Calthus, Steve's returned-from-the-depths-of-hell Sword and Sorcery creation. If you like S&S, do yourself a favor and read some Calthus stories.

Mini review: Each Calthus tale is better than the one before, and Steve Goble did not disappoint with this one. Also, I want to say something, and I say it not just because the author is a friend, but: Steve Goble is the best modern traditionalist Sword & Sorcery author writing today. I do not say he is the best writer living or to ever live or that he is my all-time favorite writer, nor that is he necessarily the best fantasy writer today. I'm not being that grandiose. But I am saying that if you are a fan of early pulp Sword & Sorcery stories, you need to be reading Steve Goble's works. Fans of Robert E. Howard who are looking for a modern equivalent, here are the stories you need to be reading.