Review: Always Gray in WInter


As a SF/F author I go to lots of comicbook conventions with my books and meet new an interesting folks. I also blog and keep in touch with my readers and I am always somewhat fascinated with the furry community (and being from the Midwest, I’ve never seen a higher per capita number of furries at con than Fargo, ND). That’s how I was introduced to Always Gray in Winter by Mark J Engels.

The book is technically SF/military SF and for a few good reasons. As an avid fan of World of Darkness in my teen years (Werewolf the Apocalypse, Vampire the Masquerade, etc.) I appreciate shapeshifter fiction, and I had always loved that universe’s bastet (werecats,) of which Pawlina Katczynski is one (and the word play in the naming is ingenious.) Continue reading Review: Always Gray in WInter


State of Writing


Things seem fairly quiet on my blog these last couple weeks. Between my busy work schedule and a few other side projects I haven’t had an abundance of free time to research and write on a few relevant topics… but I’ll be back soon. I have a few short items in the works, some short fiction I’m working on and my CYOA story is about half-done as well. I hope to have it ready by the summer.

On a sidenote, I have a bunch of promo stuff coming up soon and a newsletter about to drop. stay tuned!

State of Writing


I spent all of this last week pretty much under the weather (and speaking of weather, I’m living in a blizzard warning area… right after I put my snowblower away for the year. go figure.)

Despite that, I managed to get a few words on pages. I’m about 10% deep on a choose your own adventure style book I thought I’d throw together. It’s a little harder than I’d expected, but I think my available writing time is more a factor than anything else. I’m splitting time with researching a new workshop module I plan to begin teaching soon (I also revamped and taught one this last weekend and wrote another new piece for an artists retreat coming up next month.)

My plan is to have this CYOA piece (it’s another humor story: Lord of the Fries, about a fast food worker set in a fantasy kingdom where a lowly frycook tries to impress a coworker at MimicDonalds by sneaking into the neighboring rival: Kentucky Fried Tengu,) done by the end of April and then I’ll be back onto Austicon’s Lockbox and full speed ahead on my SciFi.

Dinosaurs, Lies, and Christian Bookstores


I was speaking with another Indie author at a convention over the weekend and she told me of the last panel she had participated at a different con. “I was next to an author who, after I’d answer the moderator’s question, would say the opposite of what I’d said and then insinuate I was somehow lying. He insisted that the traditional model was the only way and that anybody not published by the Big 5 was a no-talent hack.” I was not led to believe that this fellow was printed with said publishers.

His response is indicative of what he is: a dinosaur of the publishing era and someone who refuses to update his thinking based on the modern market and technology. He’s not uncommon, either.

Guys like him are leading the charge towards extinction and there is no easier place to see the fall out of his thinking than in the near-total collapse of the Christian book-selling industry. Within two years we’ve seen the largest two Christian brick-and-mortar book retailers completely close their stores, and the secular publishing world isn’t faring much better. So in the microcosm that is the faith-based publishing industry, what does it mean for Christian authors? The pending changes could be scary… Continue reading Dinosaurs, Lies, and Christian Bookstores

State of Writing


I’m getting to this report a little late (I was on the road until about 3am driving back from a convention.) Last week I managed to complete the recording for the final installment of the Armageddon Seeds books. It should be available in a week or two via Audible. I also got my new covers uploaded for several of my titles (I’ve been working with a pro cover designer.)

This week I’ve got to prepare a few items for a workshop I’m teaching this weekend. While I’m started on Austicon’s Lockbox (Dekker’s Dozen #3) I have another tiny project I might work on that should only take a couple weeks.

Over the weekend con I got to hang out with some of the folks at the Bard’s Tower, an author collective featuring folks like Mercedes Lackey. All around thumbs up (even if I was sick all weekend and only at about 40%). Brandon Sanderson was there, too… but I didn’t have an opportunity to cross paths with him (though I had a good chat with Keith R.A.  DeCandido who wrote the novelization of the Serenity movie.)

Author Feature: Ryan Smithson


Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI (HarperCollins, 2009) and 10 Klicks South of Whiskey (Black Rose, 2018) are two books by Ryan Smithson.

“GOW is my memoir of my service in Iraq and has been selling well for several years. 10K is my latest release and about a wayward street magician who gets arrested and given the choice to go the jail or join the Army. He has a reckoning of the soul when he witnesses his leader make a fatal mistake during a mission.”

Tell us about yourself and how you got into writing:

Writing was always something I could do, but I didn’t realize how special it was until I had a reason to bleed onto the page. I was home from Iraq for about a year, had not talked to anyone about anything, when an essay assignment in a college English class changed my life forever. I wrote about one of our engineering missions, and the catharsis was indescribable. The professor asked me to read it to the class, and one of the students, who had no idea I was in the Army before then, raised his hand and said, “You gave me a whole new perspective on this.” That’s when I knew I had to write not only for myself but to share the human experience with others.
That essay began a flood of other essays, which eventually became my memoir, “Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI” (HarperCollins, 2009). My second book, “10 Klicks South of Whiskey,” was published in 2018 and began as a play I wrote for my master’s thesis. I’ll talk more about that below. Continue reading Author Feature: Ryan Smithson

Why run ads? Pt 1. The Plan.


Unless you are a household name and automatically sell books based on your name or brand recognition, you’re going to need to purchase some advertising in order to move some books.

The plain and simple fact of the matter is that Indie Authors must make serious attempts to become individual marketing professionals if they want to be successful. Gone are the days when writing a book was a significant accomplishment. Any idiot can write and publish a book. Nowadays, there is a significant qualifier to success: writing a book that gets read. Notice that I didn’t say write a good book, because the success of books like the 50 Shades series has shown that writing quality should be a concern, but gets lost in the shuffle of marketing.

If you can get a handle on how to sell your book, it will make money regardless of the content, in spite of it even. Worry about quality and content! But learn the ropes on how to market and don’t plant your flag that says “I’m a writer and I refuse to learn advertising.” I’m not there, yet, but I recently scored thousands of downloads while toying with some marketing techniques and here were my results…

Continue reading Why run ads? Pt 1. The Plan.

State of Writing


While I did get some writing done early last week, I worked quite a bit on some other things: a total rebrand of my Dekker’s Dozen series… new graphics/covers. I am just waiting on the final cover for the Last Watchmen, now. I also worked on recording the last installment of Armageddon Seeds for Audible; it’s about 30% completed and I hope to get it done by this weekend. It helps to refresh myself on where the universe left off as I continue to write in it (I’m a couple chapters deep into writing Austicon’s Lockbox.)

I’ll be taking Friday off of work and driving all night on Thursday to get to St. Louis MO. If you’re in that neck of the woods, drop by Planet Comic Con and say hello!