3…2…1… Download! Empty Quiver for FREE on Amazon

Voting is closed over at the Books Go Social 2015 reader nominations. Thanks to everyone that voted for Crimson Son! I’ll keep you posted as to who the lucky winner is. Win or not, I’m just happy somebody out there thought Crimson Son was worthy of the nomination.

Right now, and I mean THIS VERY MOMENT, I’m trying to make some more noise with another release, Empty Quiver. For today and tomorrow, Empty Quiver can be downloaded on the Kindle for the price of $0.00!

Yep – Zero dollars, Zero cents.

And we’re off to a hell of a start – number 3 on the Kindle Short Reads List and we’re only halfway through the first day!

EmptyQuiver_freeRanking

Empty Quiver provides a backstory for the events of Crimson Son and can be read as either a primer to the novel or a standalone. No spoilers. No familiarity with the universe necessary. You will see a few familiar faces in the mix plus you’ll be introduced to Augments who just might show up in book two.

Wait? What’s this?

Yep, I said it. Officially. And not in some late night, sleep-deprived Tweet. I’ve got plans for a Crimson Son sequel in 2016.

Spencer will be back. More stories about a kid whose only power is an ability to make whatever you are drinking come out of your nose. Honestly, I hadn’t planned on a second book but he and and Eric WON’T SHUT UP.

Pretty soon* you’ll have to listen to them.

I’ve still got to wrap up my fantasy series (working title, First Song – more on that in the coming weeks). I’m putting the final polish on book one for that series and will be ripping into book two by the end of the week to try and have both out by Christmas. That makes the goal for 2016 to publish the final installment of that series and Crimson Son 2. (No title for that one yet, only an outline and some seriously twisted, exciting, uncanny ideas.)

Until then, get your copy of some Empty Quiver goodness. EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT!**

*This is not a Winter is coming situation…If Winter doesn’t show up on time, I’ll send Crimson Mask to the other side of the wall to drag its ass here.

**I literally started this post, grabbed a screenshot at #135 on the Kindle Short Reads list, finished the post and checked again to find it at #3.

Crimson Son Nominated for International Book Award

Reader-Nominations

Well, this has surely been a roller coaster weekend. First thing’s first: Crimson Son was reader nominated for an international indie book award! Crazy, right?

If you love me, you’ll go here and vote for Crimson Son. If you hate me, I guess you’ll go there and vote (but I guess it might not be for me.) On second thought, if you hate me, go here. Then come back.

Still have the same opinion? Fine. Send me a note with your e-mail and mention you want a free book. I will send you one. This is called bribery. If you enjoy my proffered bribe, then perhaps you’ll have enough information and will give me your vote?

None of this working? Wait. What are you doing here then?!?

Whatever you decide, DO IT NOW! You only have a few weeks to vote! They’ll announce the winner in Dublin at the end of this month (if anyone wants to also buy a plane ticket to Dublin for me, I’d be hella grateful.)

I’m always flabbergasted to hear people say they’ve read my work, let alone nominated it for an award. When reviews pop up or even just ratings on any of my blathering, I’m like, “Really? You read all of that?” Partly this is because I read it DOZENS of times (this is a conservative estimate) and haven’t been able to go back and look since publication. Mostly though it is an overwhelming sense of gratitude that anyone would choose to give my stories their viciously competed for eye-time.

Speaking of ratings, this leads to the roller coaster part.

Some would say that the “downhill” part is the bad because it represents the troughs. The lows. Wrong. It’s the uphill part.

That part where you are slowly being ratcheted into the sky, your back parallel to the ground and the tracks ahead dropping off into whatever great unknown is going to swallow you up and spit you out the other side. That’s the terrifyingly bad part.

I’ve sold and/or given away over fifty copies of Empty Quiver and I’m still grinding up that hill. I have yet to see a review pop up (except on Goodreads and it was from this completely biased, pompous ass who delivers voice-over work on the weekends.) So, if you happen to have read it, show an author some love and leave an honest review!

Next up this weekend, I was asked to record voice-over for a fellow author’s audiobook. They needed someone to play a pompous ass and I was like, “I don’t know, that’s a stretch.” But I did it anyway. I’ll have more details as they’re released.

Thanks everyone and have an awesome week.

After you vote for me.

Until then it will be mediocre at best.

Empty Quiver Now Available!

“so real, so believable, that you’re left wanting more…” – The Author Visits 5 star Review of Crimson Son

WANT NO MORE

Empty_Quiver_Cover

Empty Quiver: Tales from the Crimson Son Universe is now available on Amazon!

If you snuck in on my mailing list, you received your FREE copy of Empty Quiver. (Sign up now for future freebies and notices!) If you’ve read it, please consider leaving a review and buying a copy of Crimson Son to continue exploring a world of superhero fiction reviewers are raving about:

“…character driven, action packed”

“…worlds of augmented super-beings and shadowy government conspiracies. It shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it does. In spades.”

“This bright, quirky fantasy, gives ‘superhero’ a whole new meaning.”

Empty Quiver is a novella that explores the historical ramifications of a super soldier program gone awry. It sets the scene for the events of Crimson Son and gives fans a more in-depth background of the fictional universe along with guest appearances by fan favorites, Hurricane and Hound. (Keep a close eye out and you’ll see a few other familiar Augments…)

The ‘Cane Train struggles to keep tabs on the irrepressible, Hurricane and charts the program from the very first operation to a grisly clash of Augments.

Fat Man and Little Boy tells the story of a man of earth-shattering power who can’t escape his troubled past.

Codename: Danger follows an inner city kid who escaped the streets only to live a life of fear. The fear, a gift of the Augment program, has kept those around him safe but at his expense.

Aurora emerges in the waning days as a desperate administration seeks to find a way to regain control. For the first time, women are allowed to apply to the Augment program but greater control is far from what their experiment uncovers.

Alter Ego is a tale of the quiet sacrifices of heroes and one young girl’s obsession with her favorite Augment, Ember.

Get your copy today!

Wherein a Bug Makes a Bet and Wins Big

PMB-FINAL-sub-smallBugs.

I have this thing for bugs lately and I have no idea where it came from. I really enjoyed writing the scenes with the Black Beetle for Crimson Son. He’s the Crimson Mask’s arch-nemesis and is a bit obsessed with insects. Bugs are efficient. Orderly. They’re often voted “Most Likely to Survive the Apocalypse” in their high school yearbooks.

And of course, for the past year I’ve been working on a fantasy series which stars a bugman.

Enter Christopher B. Wright’s, Pay Me, Bug!

Part space opera, part rebel smuggler homage, all wrapped up in a browncoat and set adrift in a quadrant that does not resemble Federation space, Wright has truly created something special here. This isn’t visionary sci-fi, though there is enough touch of innovation that ensures it never sinks too far into the formulaic. This is a fun, quip-filled romp which quickly develops into a complex heist with a backdrop of political intrigue.

Wright has also satisfied my inexplicable urge to see more bugs in fiction. It could be my infatuation, but Ktk, the engineer for the Fool’s Errand, is a complete scene stealer. Wright never bothers to try and onomatopoeia us to death with bug speak. Instead, since very few can under its language and Ktk refuses to wear a translator (it finds the emotionless robo-voice annoying), we hear Ktk “speak” in straight narrative passages that make plain what it has said.

Interestingly, these passages are flat and factual – quasi-robo voice one might say – and damned hilarious.

Oh yeah, there are others on board the smuggling ship. They are of the soft, squishy, water-filled variety. I suppose I can mention them if I must.

The rest of the crew is a fairly stereotypical collection of smugglers and ne’erdowells which you might find in a bar on Mos Eisley or lurking around the Eavesdown docks on Persephone. They aren’t all human, mind you. There are a few more aliens to round out the mix. But stereotypical does not mean uninteresting. Wright manages to create a chemistry with these characters that firmly establishes their past together as a rough and tumble group of privateers.

From the first page, this book pulls you into the action. And this a isn’t laser-firing, dogfighting kind of action. There is some of that, but most of the punches and bullseyes are accomplished with solid dialogue and character interaction.

In a few places Wright seems to want to draw us into a more traditional sci-fi tale. Heavier on the technical descriptions or processes of how stuff works. These are interesting passages, but don’t always advance or add to the plot. Wright is at his best when rogue-ish (and near-sighted) Captain Vindh is scheminging with his crew.

The universe he’s created also borrows from known quantities (specifically Firefly) without managing to be straight-up fan fiction. There is a complex political structure underlying the plot which includes religious zealots, telepaths, privateers and space-borne baronies.

To put it simply, this book was well-executed and a blast to read. Wright does a fantastic job making the world and crew feel established and using that unspoken past to repeatedly return and haunt the otherwise lucky scoundrels.

Buy it. Read it. Ktk would likely express his approval and you can be sure he has a bet riding on the outcome.

(Oh, and each chapter has a title preceded by “Wherein” so, if you want to rename my last week’s post to “Wherein I Pirate the Title Sentence Structure from Christopher Wright” then feel free.)

Wherein Doof Warrior Tells You to Shut Your Whatever-Gendered Facehole

Doof Warrior says shut your whatever-gendered facehole.

Doof Warrior says shut your whatever-gendered facehole.

I’m a highly critical person. I think many writers are, especially when it comes to their own work. It takes a certain obsessive mindset to pick apart a 90,000 word document over and over and over and over again. (I even counted the “overs” and decided there weren’t enough, but I’ll leave it as is.)

When I watch movies or read books, I usually stumble across one flaw or another. Like all critical observations, the flaw is based on my own personal perceptions. Hell, what I see as a flaw might be a shining moment for others. But I always feel like I have a decent justification for my judgment. I try to be thoughtful.

Often, I get stuck on issues of craft. Story structure, plot or characterization. It’s a hazard of the trade. Every so often, a social issue will rear its head as well – whether the story intends it or not. Those can be fascinating discussions and can really open people up to new ideas.

Lately though, as I look at my social media feeds, as I watch the death spiral of the Hugos, see the ridiculous flap over Mad Max and Avengers: Age of Ultron, I’m starting to wonder if people haven’t completely lost their fucking minds.

Sometimes, a movie or a story is just a movie or a story.

I write what I like to think are thoughtful works. My books and stories are specifically made to be commentaries on deeper subjects. If anyone wants to discuss those or even call me out on problems portraying those issues, I’m game. I welcome healthy criticism.

However, a few of my fellow netizens seem intent on proving that sort of healthy debate can’t happen.

In fact, they seem set on completely skipping rational thought and flying right into assigning blame. They’re becoming the prejudging jackasses they all claim to be fighting against.

For those crusading netizens, let me spell it out: not everything is a fight. Unless you’re in a war rig barrelling across a post-apocalyptic wasteland, there’s no need to start lobbing incendiary devices and trying to BURN EVERY MOTHERFUCKER TO THE GROUND with your Fender flamethrower.

Reality is you’re most likely a Guitar Hero “medium” player with a bic lighter. About the only thing you’ll burn is your own thumb.

When people stop being thoughtful and just blunder into a story specifically looking for evidence of whatever internet-ized agenda they’ve got eating at their brain, that’s when their critiques stop being even remotely useful. Sure, like I said, we all flavor our critical thinking with personal biases. But when those biases overrun your logic, you’re drifting into spray paint huffing territory.

I have a quick and easy cure for this: Shut up and watch the damn film. And get off the internet – it has poisoned you. Made you delusional. Still have burning, righteous issues you want to discuss? Find a member of the “enemy” group and chat them up face to face. You just might learn something aside from hearing your own echo in the digital void.

Proper Care and Feeding of an Eleven Month Old

Crimson-BabyI know, I know, I missed my normal posting schedule this week. I’ve been a Monday / Wednesday (with the occasional Friday) poster for months now. But I have a good reason.

My baby is eleven months old and he’s a real handful. A bouncing baby boy who will, before the end of the year, have siblings (we’ve seen the ultrasounds and OMG are they frightening.) He’s been quite the handful.

Loud, obnoxious, and extremely outspoken for his age, I can only attribute this to the nearly two year gestation time wherein something most certainly went wrong. He’s top of the class in trouble-making, demands constant attention, and though I thought he was maybe a touch behind on his motor skills, he just finished a marathon and placed reasonably well for his age category.

At daycare, he’s the kid you tell your kid not to hang out with. He eats paste. But not like the other kids. He has a pallette for the stuff, preferring certain vintages of Craftbond glue sticks for their woody notes.

June 14th, my boy will be a year old.  His proper nurturing has consisted of a series of spreadsheets, shameless and highly public doting, along with loaning him out to the highest bidder.

Nearly a year on and I’ve been going back over the numbers for Crimson Son. I have a fairly detailed spreadsheet where I track sales, social media, and advertising efforts. I ran that through some tests and complex formulae (actually, I eyeballed some shit – changed a diaper or two). It was full of lots of very useful information and nuggets of truth (Wow this analogy got seriously disgusting). But the useful information was mostly this: You’re doing it wrong.

I can sell books. I can now safely say I’ve sold thousands of books (barely thousands…) What I haven’t done though is sell them efficiently.

If you noticed, I’ve been doing some experimentation. Giving away books. Trying to build a list of people that want to read my books so I stop annoying those that don’t. And cross-promoting with other authors like with the amazingly successful Storybundle.

I’m also taking a really close look at how I spend my time as a self-published author. Time is any writer’s greatest enemy. If you’re self-pub, you simply need more hours in the day to write and market and publish. Most try to balance all this and a full time job. I’ve been that route and desperately don’t want to go back. So I need to make this work and work well.

The reason I’m telling you all this? Things might change around here on the blog. I might fade away from social media platforms and explode on to new ones. I simply don’t know.

But if you enjoy my fiction, if you like character-driven stories told for the young at heart and old souls alike, keep an eye on this space. Sign-up for the mailing list so you can pass the time reading a free copy of my latest, Empty Quiver, on me.

My boy’s down for a nap at the moment, but he just learned to run so look out.

Support Two Mighty Writing Charities

GWN_square_orange_logo4Heads up: You have just over 24 hours left to grab the Immerse or Die Bundle at Storybundle. And when you click this link and buy the bundle, I want you to MAKE SURE to select the dropdown box and pick a charity.

10% of your total will be donated to either Mighty Writers or Girls Write Now.

Girls Write Now pairs inner city girls in New York with women professional writers. These are young women whose stories aren’t being told in popular literature. Women who have a unique experience and voice to share with the world.

Not only are these students mentored in the craft, they’re given opportunities they might not have had otherwise. One hundred percent of the program’s participants go on to college – some on full scholarships which their participation in Girls Write has enabled them to secure.

Mighty57b597e4-4b4a-46db-8ef8-c967192d2ae1 Writers was established to combat a literacy crisis in Philadelphia. Forty percent of the city’s students drop out of high school and over half of working age adults have basic literacy issues. Mighty Writers offers free programs to kids ages 7 to 17 to assist in their academic success. Their classes include essay writing, SAT prep, and workshops taught by local journalists and writers on a wide variety of subjects and genres.

These are both amazing programs and I hope you can support them with your purchase. Writing is not only a crucial skill but an inspirational one. A gift we can give to others. Both of these programs empower disadvantaged youth that our broken systems have forgotten. Please help add their voices to the literature we all love!

And get some award-winning books to read while you’re at it.

Immerse_Or_Die_Bundle_Covers

Don’t want the books but these organizations sound GREAT? Donate directly to them at their websites:

Girls Write Now Donations

Mighty Writers Donations

When Card Games can Script Your Superhero Movie

91joc03kHuL._SL1500_First thing: THE BUNDLE SALE ENDS THIS WEEK!

Okay, got that out of my system. Now on to other things like gaming and probably the shortest most mixed review of Avengers you’ll see on the ‘Net.

I finally got to break away from the keyboard and do geeky things. A few friends and I met up at our local game shop and played a new game, Kingsburg  followed by Once Upon a TimeI’ll get to the Avengers in a bit…

From one play through, I found Kingsburg to be a very well balanced game. Each player would construct buildings for their kingdom, working their way down tracks that included a religious track (golden idols, churches and cathedrals), a defensive track (guard towers, city walls, fortresses) and several others.

61h7Vh38iXLBut winter was coming (five times…it had an amazing refactory period) and with winter, a mystery invader arrived.

The central mechanic was an action die pool where each player rolled three d6s and assigned one or more die to an action (which cost anywhere from 1 to 18.) Since only one player could select an action, and turn order was determined by lowest to highest cumulative roll, you had to plan your actions around other players’ dice rolls and strategies.

Collect resources, victory points, buy troops or even extra boosts for your roll – the actions presented allowed for any possible strategy. In the end, even with three new players, it was a tight game that came down to a single die roll to defeat an invading dragon.

Since we hadn’t closed down the game shop yet, we broke out a light storytelling card game, Once Upon a Time. The basic premise here is you are given a hand of storytelling cards which include places, characters, events, and things, along with one ending card. The point is to tell a story with your cards and work toward the ending you’re given. The catch? Everyone else is trying to do the same thing.

As a writer and practiced impromptu storyteller (through RPGs and such), I was amazed at exactly how utterly horrible I was at this game.

We went from a husband and wife to an adulteress and on to a talking platypus really quickly. Maybe too quickly. When the flaming sword of Talking Platypus Slaying came out, I was relieved, but somehow a giant, a cook, and dragon liver pâté got involved… I’m not even sure. Mostly, I was staring at my cards trying to figure out how to get in on the action. In fact, that seemed to be what happened much of the time – one person rambling on while everyone else was unsure how and when to jump in.

I tried to chase down online reviews and found the best to be a review played while intoxicated. So I have decided I will try this game again, but under the influence.

Finally, this weekend I saw Avengers, Age of Ultron, (sober) but everybody and their talking platypus is reviewing the movie, so I won’t say much other than it was pretty much what I expected – a fun superhero movie with some great CGI and some killer lines.

Storytelling wise, well, it also went as expected.

The movie plot started to resemble a round of Once Upon a Time beginning at about the halfway mark: a string of single story elements loosely connected by a chaotic banter-filled fight scene. Joss simply had way too many ends to tie, future movies to promote, and characters to introduce than anyone should ever try tackle in one flick.

There is only so much creative editing and sound swells can do to tell a story. At some point, you need to stop and expand on elements, but there were way too many to allow that to happen and someone was in a rush to get to their “end” card.

Even so, I enjoyed the movie for it’s Marvel fandom geek-out level, visual bad-assery, and flashes of Whedon genius. However it seemed to signal not the glorious beginning of a new and exciting story arc for the Marvel Universe, but the dense montages associated with the end of an era. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

FEAR MY LUKE-WARM STARDOM

You asked for it. 69 pages of HomeBrew RPG goodness...

Click the pic. You asked for it. 69 pages of HomeBrew RPG goodness…

Last month I posted about getting hits to my website from search terms related to an old DnD campaign. Back in the day, I had an entire campaign website (I still park the domain eyrurpg.com) and even maintained a mailing list. They were a quiet, non-rabid fandom and when I finally pulled the plug on the site, I figured the campaign had run its course. Nobody seemed to mind.

Years later, and suddenly, people are stumbling across my luke-warm stardom and saying “Hey, didn’t that guy used to run a bizarre Irish Celtic RPG site?”

Yep. I did.

Today, I got an email request to post the documents. It was all Open Source using the SRD guidelines for 3.5e DnD so I figured, what the hell.

This is rough. Messy. I don’t even want to read it now because with all the writing I’m doing lately, I know this is a hot mess. But somebody actually wants to see it so, why the hell not?

If anyone plays a campaign with this I WANT TO KNOW.

Famous Last Words from the Ass-End of the Universe

Light or sphincter? You decide...

Light or sphincter? You decide…

There is a light at the end of this tunnel. I think.

It could be the place where the singularity collapses and I get playdoh-extruded out of the universe’s sphincter. Not sure. I just gotta get there first.

My publishing schedule for this year is nigh insanity. Empty Quiver is back from the editor and since this is a sort of experimental anthology, I want to try my hand at formatting.  I used to layout magazines and newspapers, so how hard can it be? (#FLW…)

And then I’ll just follow that up with two more books. No problem. They’re mostly written…

Mostly.

It has become clear in the editing stages of First Song, that this may indeed be a trilogy. Based on some insightful developmental crits from the North Branch Writers, I decided I needed an entirely new starting point for the novel. Turns out, starting a fantasy novel medias res may lead to confusion, disorientation, and severe stomach cramps.

About 8000 words later, the setup for this world is more clear, my protagonist’s motivations better spelled out, and overall I have a stronger setup. Strong enough it even suggests a better stopping point for the first book. Which rearranges book two. And might imply a book three…

This is quite possibly Sam’s fault.

With ambitious plans come necessary sacrifices. You may have noticed (or you will if the sidebar calendar will ever update) that I had to cancel my Comicpalooza appearance at the end of May. I enjoy geeking out with others and attending or even sitting on panels, and I was stoked to be invited. But right now, I need to be putting words on the page.

Conventions are amazing opportunities to network and meet new fans, but I have to run my fledgling publishing empire on a tight budget. With three books coming and wanting to maintain the professional standards I set with Crimson Son, I need every spare penny invested in their production. Once all this is over, I might head back to the con circuit.

Or maybe not.

I’ve got another book buzzing around in my brain which I HAVE TO IGNORE… LA LA LA LA LA LA – I CAN’T HEAR YOU…or risked being derailed on my current projects. And after that, I’m positive that on my trip through the ass-end of the universe, I’ll see something cool that sparks a new idea or three.

We’ll see. I may become a digital hermit sooner rather than later. Though…I suppose that’s not possible. Everyone knows where to find me.

Hang on. Let me adjust this plug on my router…