2014-12-28

Time to begin writing

I guess blogging every two weeks while I'm between projects is going to be the norm. I hope everyone had a good holiday. My wife and I were very busy as usual. This was the first Christmas my mother-in-law missed attending the family Christmas dinner. Early in the week, we had dinner at my sister-in-law's house then a get-together later at the other sister-in-law's boyfriend's house. Late that night, my wife got a call from the retirement home informing her they were sending her mom to the hospital. Turns out she has pneumonia and is now on some pretty heavy duty antibiotics. She's diabetic and the drugs began messing with her sugar. Things are now under control but my wife's mom is going to miss out on all the holiday activities.

I found a fatal flaw in my plot for my next book and I spent most of my free time trying to work out a solution. The other day, I had the answer. I wrote it all down and fired it off to Lee Dilkie who is my content editor. If he can't poke any holes in it then I think I have a story. I'm excited about this one because it will allow me to link Dragonverse with one of my stand-alone books. It also means I have a lot of work cut out for me for the next two years.

Linda Nagata's recent blog post talks about how well she did in completing her writing goals for 2014. I never thought about doing something like this since my writing goals are usually pretty simple. It's the same every year: I expect to write one novel and read at least 2 books on how to improve my writing. This past year was no different. Next year, however, is going to be a bit of a challenge. I will start off by going through Dragonverse and Ishnef's Revenge making modifications and updates to bring them up to my current standards of writing. I will also make some minor plot additions to prepare the books for the next novel. (Try doing that with a book you sold to a publishing house!)

While my wife goes through the updated manuscripts, I will begin work on my next project. Writing should take most of the year. I will be passing chapters to Lee Dilkie as I finish my editing so he can chew on them and try to shoot it full of holes. After the final editing is complete, I will pass the book off to my wife so she can proof it as well. While she is doing that proofing, I will be entering the changes she's made to the first two books. Once I'm done, if my wife has not finished proofing the next book, I will start working on the stand-alone to bring it up to current standards. The 5th book in the series will be on hot standby and I will begin working on it as soon as time permits—most likely at the beginning of 2016.

So what's the name of my next project? Unless Lee is able to shoot it down, the book will be called Dragonverse Origins.

As you can see, 2015 is going to be a busy year. I'm also planning on a trip down South to see my dad as well as my yearly trip to Laramie to attend Launch Pad. A month after Launch Pad, I will be flying to Spokane to attend WorldCon 2015. If you are planning on attending WorldCon 2015, please let me know and let's see if we can't get together; I would love to meet some of the people who are reading this blog.


Finally—I'm going to be running a GoodReads giveaway as soon as I can get my head wrapped around how to use their website. I will be giving away two signed copies of one of my books. If GoodReads allows it, I will let the winners select which book to receive. I'm going to try to run this in parallel with a similar give away on my website. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to limit it to the United States and possibly Canada to prevent having to spend a fortune to send a book overseas. If anyone has any ideas to work around this little problem please let me know.

As always, I welcome comments and feedback from those who've read my books. I always respond so feel free to write.

2014-12-14

Subtle Power

I've been collaborating with Lee Dilkie again on my next project which is about to be kicked off in a few weeks. We are still working out the details but this next book is going to be wonderful. I'm not going to spoil the fun by pre-announcing what we are talking about but stay tuned for further information. The interesting thing about this collaboration is that I've never met Lee. He was a person who read my books and occasionally commented on them. His comments were always correct and to the point. Last year, I asked if he would like to be a beta reader for Peacekeeper 2. He agreed. His comments on the book were enlightening and the corrections I made because of his feedback have made Peacekeeper 2 one of my best works (in my opinion anyway). There are two points to make here: 1) Writers should always listen to what their readers have to say. 2) The internet is a powerful force that can bring two absolute strangers from two different countries together allowing them to work as a team on a project.

I'm going to discuss something I rarely talk about with anyone. Writers have the ability to shape people's minds. We don't do it with a gun in our hand or by using threats of violence. We do it with the subtle power of words. We create entire universes that exist only in our minds and the reader gets to enjoy being immersed in these foreign universes. While doing so, the reader's mind is learning, adapting, and changing in subtle ways. For those of you who've read my books (hopefully all of you reading this blog) you may have noticed a subtle theme throughout almost everything I write. I see the future much the same way I try to live my own life: racially neutral and religiously tolerant.

Let's take the first lifestyle and dig a bit deeper. I've always tried to see people for what they are - human. My brain can't help but notice that someone's skin is a different color, the shape of their face and eyes is different, or they talk with an accent. The logical part of my brain, the part that distinguishes me from all other life-forms on Earth, glosses over these details. I see a person, a fellow human, a man or a woman who belongs to the same species as myself. I try very hard not to judge a person based on their outward appearance. It's probably why I have such a hard time recognizing people because their looks are not important to me.

Over the years I've learned never to judge a person by what others say about them. I want to form my own opinions. I was told by many people that my current manager was unpleasant and difficult to work with. That could not be farther from the truth because we get along great. I continually heard bad stories as people talked behind the back of another supervisor I worked with. I never got to know the man well enough to form my own opinion. When I moved into a new department, I heard a completely different story. The work this man did was viewed with high compliments. Don't fall into the trap of going along with the rest of a group and start thinking badly about someone. You might be totally wrong and he might turn out to be one of your closest friends some day.

Religious neutrality is another life-style I follow. Religion has been and continues to be the cause of more suffering than any other human institution. People use it as an excuse to kill, torture, and belittle others. Is that really what religion teaches? Really? Religious fanatics are people who use religion as an excuse for them to act violently. I am a firm believer that people should be able to 'believe' in anything they want. If you want to believe that the Earth is flat - that's perfectly fine with me. I will disagree with you and I might try to convince you otherwise but your belief is just that--a belief. Your beliefs are a personal choice and I should respect that choice no matter how I might feel about it.

Disagreement between people is natural. It is how we handle this disagreement that matters. We are an intelligent species and we should show that intelligence in how we act. I might disagree with you about something but that does not mean I'm going to strap a bomb to my chest and kill your entire family. Disagreement is actually a very good thing because it drives human progress. If we never disagreed with anyone then we would never have built airplanes. Scientists of the past were firmly convinced that nothing manmade would be able to fly. A disagreement over this 'fact' resulted in the creation of the flying machine.

Scientists disagree all the time - it's part of their job to question theory. Stephen Hawking, Einstein, Newton, and many others became historical figures because they disagreed with current theory. Disagreement is a driving force in human innovation. How we handle our disagreements is an indicator of our intelligence. If your cat disagrees with being given a bath, it will physically attack you because it has no other recourse. The cat can't discuss the bath with you so you can arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. Even our closest genetic cousin--the ape--resorts to violence when disagreements break out. It's because they have no means to use to work out their differences. They don't have language.

Writers should be masters of language and as such we have the power to change the course of human civilization. Use that power wisely. Think about what you write. Very carefully analyze the subtle messages your stories send to the reader. Do you stereotype people without even realizing it? Are your characters racially and religiously neutral? We are an intelligent species--it's high time we started acting like it.

2014-12-07

Interfacing with other writers

I'm still a bit undecided as to what my next project is going to be. I wrote up a detailed (except for the ending) synopsis of the YA/dragon/deformed teen novel I've been kicking around and sent it out for feedback. An interesting thing occurred while writing the synopsis. Before starting, I thought I had a good idea of how the plot would progress. The plot changed as I started writing; becoming a better, more interesting story. Time and time again I sit down at the keyboard with a plan in my head and that plan changes as I actually put words into the computer. My fingers seem to know more about the story than my brain does! I also surprised myself—I managed to make a connection with another of my books. It won't be a strong connection, but it's there and that opens it up for a third book to tie everything together. The problem though is—will it sell?

Writers write because they must—it's an itch that just has to be scratched. But if we have a choice between working on a new novel that is part of a proven series and working on a novel that will turn a stand-alone into a 3-book series with unknown sales potential…well…it's a hard decision. If I go ahead with the YA (which might turn out to be more of a book for adults), I will pretty much have to write the third book in the series. That will delay work on a Dragonverse 3 by 3 years. I already have a tentative agreement by a prominent YA (Young Adult for those who don't know) author to take a look at the final product once it's done late next year. Her schedule and my writing schedule seem to be a pretty good match—at least for next year. Do I go ahead with this new story and delay work on Dragonverse 3? Do I forget about the new book as well as Dragonverse and work on another Peacekeeper (which has been doing quite well)?

Right now, I'm leaning heavily toward the young adult/dragon book mostly because it is the one that seems stuck in my head. I don't have a firm idea for the ending though and if I can figure that part out then it will be a go. I'm also waiting to hear back from Susan Forest to see what she thinks of the synopsis I sent her. I have been told by several people that my endings need more work. Nobody is perfect and everyone can learn by listening to constructive feedback. That's why I listen to my readers. The way I figure it, if someone takes the time to write to me to point out what I did good and where I can improve, then I'm going to take the time to listen to them. There are some writers who never read their reviews or reply to reader emails. I don't believe that's the right approach.


Although writing is a solitary activity, writers should not live in isolation. We need to interface with other writers as well as the people who read our words. Before going to Launch Pad, my only contact with other writers was the small number of people in the writer's group I attend monthly. The leader is a mystery novelist and most of the regular attendees are unpublished. Launch Pad put me in contact with a movie producer, a game developer, award-winning editors, and professional, published, and award-winning authors. Each and every person I've met over the years has had some impact on my writing. You may not realize it, but your brain is always learning. Take advantage of this fact and get to know your readers and other writers.

This past Saturday, my wife and I were at the local Barnes & Noble as we almost always are on a Saturday. There was an author there: Donald Templeman. He has 4 books out and he was promoting his latest. I stopped by and said hello. His intro pitch was perfect and I was tempted to buy a copy. Unfortunately, I simply don't have the time to read another book at the moment. We chatted for awhile and then I let him know I was also an author. He took my card and listened as I told him about Launch Pad. I hope to hear from him again. His books are getting good reviews and it would be nice to add yet another author to my list of writer friends.

There are rumors that the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) are voting on whether or not to admit indie writers into the organization. I'm not sure what membership would bring us, but being allowed to join would be one step toward acknowledging that indies are actual writers. Most indies work just as hard on a book as a writer who has been published by one of the major publishing houses. Fact is, if you're a good indie, you probably work harder. The publishing companies cannot be expected to sign contracts for hundreds of new authors every year. That leaves self-publishing as the only other avenue for writers like myself to publish their works and it's time the SFWA acknowledges that fact. I haven't tallied up my total sales recently but I'm sure I'm over the 100,000 mark--if not, I'm damned close. Why can't I join the SFWA?

I'll be keeping an eye on this and I will let you know if I hear of any changes in policy.

2014-11-30

Thoughts of my next project

Yes—I missed last week's post. Since I'm between writing projects, I've been spending a large portion of my time on non-writing activities. My biggest project of late has been reorganizing the collection of Microsoft Access database applications I wrote shortly after accepting my new job as a database administrator. Instead of a loose collection of programs, I've created what I call "The Plan". It centralizes the automatic database updates into a single program and organizes the primary data repositories into a tightly integrated database system. Data is stored in specific locations with well-defined groupings. These databases are updated using a single application. Three other Access applications make up the various user interfaces each one meant to be used by a specific group of people. This will make maintaining the entire system far easier.

This does not mean I've not been thinking about my next project. It has been a close toss-up between a third Dragonverse novel and a new YA novel involving a dragon and a deformed teenager. If I do a third Dragonverse book I'm going to have to go back and revise the first two to bring them up to my current standards. I've learned quite a bit about writing since penning Dragonverse and if I'm going to write a third book I'm going to want to make sure the first two are updated.

The other possibility is a YA (Young Adult) novel about a dragon and a deformed teenager. I've never written a YA novel before which means the story could be a challenge. The genre has certain formats that must be adhered to otherwise it might be rejected by the readers as not being a true YA novel. Luckily, I will have the help of Susan Forest, an award-winning YA author whom I met at Launch Pad this year. She has expressed an interest in reading and reviewing the story once it's complete. I'm still working on the major pieces of the plot and if I can solve a few issues before the start of next year then this will most likely be my next project. I want the story to teach a lesson as well as present a story to the reader. I will need to develop a large amount of back story—most of which will not appear in the book—in order to make it clear in my mind as to how everything will fit together. I will let you know in this blog how this goes.


In other news: I picked up the recent copy of Locus magazine and was shocked as to how many people I've met are in the magazine. I originally picked it up because of a large article featuring Linda Nagata--another author I met at Launch Pad and someone I've kept in touch with over the years. A quick flip of the pages revealed Jenn Brissett, Ann Leckie, Ellen Datlow, and Eugene Myers—all people I've met at Launch Pad. If you are a writer and you do not have a circle of acquaintances who are published writers, then I highly recommend you do something to change this situation. The above writers are all award-winning, well-known writers in their field. They are people just like you and me. I count them as friends and acquaintances I can talk to if I need advice. We stay in touch via Twitter and an occasional email and we will get together anytime we find ourselves in the same location together. We support each other as all writers should.

Writers need to interface with other writers. I did not really understand this until I attended my first Launch Pad. Attend conferences, join a writer's group, apply to Launch Pad (multiple times if you have to), go to conventions, or watch to see if a writer is appearing in a library or a book store. Introduce yourself to them. Talk to them. But don't think that getting to know a well-known author is a gateway to publication. They've all worked hard to get to where they are. They will give you advice, provide guidance if they have the time, and will answer your honest questions if at all possible. But they will not, and cannot, give you a direct line to their agent or publisher. That's your job. They also don't have the time to read everything every writer asks them to read. The biggest advantage of knowing other writers is feeling like you belong. Listen to what they have to say and learn what they have to offer in the form of wisdom. Eventually, if you treat them like a person and not a means to achieving another goal, you will gain their confidence and eventually their friendship and trust.

2014-11-16

Taking a Writing Break

I would like to remind everyone about my short Guide to Self Publishing that's available on my website. It provides a good kick-starter for getting started in the self-publishing business. If you are a writer and you haven't published your first book yet you should still read this little guide. What most people don't realize is that writing is a business. And as a business, you are entitled to certain tax deductions. Several members of my writers group did not realize this. One of them recently purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 which is used exclusively for writing. She did not know she could write that off as a business expense. You don't have to have a book published to be in the business of writing. All you need is a plan to publish and you can call yourself a business.

I am taking a break from writing for the next few months. I have tons of things that have been set aside while I was working on Peacekeeper 2 (which is now available from most retailers). Lee Dilkie and I will be corresponding, deciding on what my next project will be and bouncing overall plot ideas between us. I have a YA Medieval dragon story I'd love to sink my teeth into but there are other projects that could be just as fun. As with everything I do with my writing, I'm interested in what my readers say as well. Any ideas or requests?

I was having a hard time getting Peacekeeper to pass Smashwords test for ePub compliance. They use an ePub validation website set up by the International Digital Publishing Forum. It can be found at: http://validator.idpf.org/. After a book is submitted to Smashwords, the author can download the ePub version and run it through the validator. If it has no errors, you're good to go. No matter how closely I looked at Peacekeeper 2, it kept coming back with errors. Mark Coker's excellent book on how to properly format a book for electronic publishing (The Smashwords Style Guide) provides what he refers to as the "nuclear option". It's a way to strip all formatting from a document and start over. I did this and now Peacekeeper 2 has passed the validation check. So how did this happen?

I write using Scrivener. I used to do my last few editing passes in Libre Office because it would automatically return to where I was at when I last closed the document. Libre Office is not 100% compatible with Microsoft Word and so I would export to Word-97 format and then run through it one more time to get things formatted properly. I believe Libre Office introduced hidden formatting codes that are virtually impossible to locate and screw up Smashwords conversion routines. I was using a very old version of Microsoft Word (2003 to be exact). I am now using Microsoft Office 365 and this problem should hopefully never return again. I'm lucky in that the nuclear option takes me about 2 hours to complete. A more complex book would require far more time.

If you've seen the movie Interstellar, then you will enjoy reading Christian Ready's blog post on the science behind the movie. Christian is one of the regular Launch Pad instructors and his astronomy-centered blog is informative and enjoyable to read--I visit it regularly.

2014-11-08

Peacekeeper 2 is available

Please share this with your science fiction reading friends.

Peacekeeper 2 was uploaded to Amazon, CreateSpace, and Smashwords on the morning of 11/07/2014. It became available on Amazon-US around noon yesterday. It is also available on Smashwords main site. If you are overseas, it should be available soon. If you prefer to use Barnes & Noble, Apple iStore, or others, I'm afraid you will have to wait a short time. I'm having an issue getting my document to pass Smashword's rather stringent ePub verification. I'm also delaying a second upload to Smashwords because one of my readers is finding small mistakes that were missed by three proof-readers.

These mistakes are not major show-stoppers: A few formatting errors; 'Hanger' used instead of 'hangar'; and other minor mistakes. These will be corrected in the Amazon version as soon as Ekkehard Flessa finishes his reading.

I have also finished my little document on self-publishing. It can be downloaded from my website at:
http://www.dougfarren.com/Self_Publishing.pdf. This document has not gone through any review process so there will most likely be mistakes in it as well. I plan on periodically updating this document and when I do I will let you know through this blog. If you find I've missed something or you think I need to clarify something in the document, please let me know.

2014-11-02

BSinSF - Scorpion

Peacekeeper 2 has been formatted for printing. During the formatting process I found and corrected two additional errors in the text (breath vs breathe and a stray word left over from a previous correction). I am now awaiting the results of the final proofing before I upload the final product to Amazon. If my plans pan out, the book will be available by next weekend.

I am almost done with my guide to self-publishing. As soon as I put the finishing touches on it I will send it off. I won't bother anyone with another email - I'll most likely include it in the weekly blog post reminder next week so keep an eye open for it.

I woke up this morning with the first signs of a cold. One of my coworkers came to work sick and I'm pretty sure he's the one who gave it to me. Started on the anti-flu homeopathic cures we keep in the house this time of year. Unfortunately, this is one of the weeks I absolutely cannot take off from work. Mondays I run a report for my manager. I am one of only two people at my site who have the security to log into the server that holds the data needed for this report. The other person is gone on maternity leave. I also must complete a monthly report that is viewed by corporate. I am the only one who knows how to gather this data. Luckily, I've automated the process as best as possible so now instead of taking 4 days to finish it, I can have it done in 3 hours.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen a tweet a few days ago concerning Scorpion. The show had potential but they blew it in the science department--so bad in fact that I've cancelled all future recordings and will no longer watch the show. This is a very good example of very bad science in the media and there are people out there who actually believe some of the stuff that appeared in the show. The episode that put me over the edge involved a nuclear power plant. Okay, I have an advantage because I work at one, but they were so far off into left field that they couldn't even see the stadium anymore. Here are some examples of what this show has portrayed:


  • Commercial aircraft would not be able to land because someone uploaded a flawed version of the flight software into a terminal and this software then automatically uploads to the aircraft. Even if the software was faulty, the pilots can still land the plane. One of the planes in the show was able to buzz the airport, clipping the tower with a wing in the process. Should have crashed because of that but of course it didn't. They flew to within 25 feet of the ground, wheels down. So why didn't they just land?
  • It is possible to  drop a network cable from an airborne jetliner through the wheel-well to a moving car below and in seconds download the software. Come on! This isn't even close to being possible. Nothing in that scene is even remotely possible.
  • You can prevent a bomb capable of bringing down a building from doing its job by encasing it in quick-hardening epoxy. I'm no bomb expert, but the amount of epoxy used in the program would probably not have had much of an effect on a bomb of that size. In fact, the configuration of the epoxy and the bomb would most likely have focused the blast upwards causing even more damage. These guys are supposed to be super-geniuses, you can see the detonator caps sticking into the C4. Couldn't they just pull them out?
  • Nuclear power plants that are to be decommissioned are left unattended. The only people around in this episode was a military guard. Nobody left to maintain the equipment that was keeping the core cool. Nobody in the control room. Sorry, I hope the public doesn't believe that one.
  • An ancient computer can be overloaded by running a 'circuit check'. According to the show, the overload triggered a fire. I hope the next time I try to run to many things on my computer that it doesn't explode on my desk.
  • A computer is the sole device keeping the core from melting and this computer suddenly stops working because the software is out of date. What? Better keep up with all those security updates on your home PC or it will suddenly stop working. Nuclear power plants have multiple backups--equipment that will fire off and run without any human interaction. These systems do not rely on a single computer to operate properly.
  • The core temperature suddenly went from 'green' to 'red' (over 2,000 degrees if I remember right) when one of the geniuses pulled a box full of wires from inside a control panel and announced he had found a blown fuse. Absolutely everything about this is wrong and I won't bother to explain any further.
  • Computer geniuses can hack into virtually any network, gain control of the internal camera system, and read encrypted data files within a few minutes of connecting to the system. No, no, no. Yes there are hackers out there who are very good at breaking into systems but it takes time and effort. Most internal camera systems are on a separate network. Planting a trojan requires intimate knowledge of the type of operating system and security measures in place. Enough said.
I don't mind a few blunders in the entertainment industry but I will no longer continue to watch a show that is filled with errors so bad that the entire episode or the entire premise of the movie is impossible. Edgy science is okay because one never knows what we humans will develop in the future. But doing the impossible, especially in a show that's supposedly based on today's technology, and doing it all the time and in such a bad manner is something I will no longer stand for. I just can't enjoy a show with such bad science. The writers could have made Scorpion a very good program because they also had the human element woven into the plot but the extremely poor science has turned me away. When will the entertainment industry learn?

Finally, I bought my membership for the 2015 WorldCon. I learned that one of the member of my writers group will be going as well. Many of the people I've met at Launch Pad will also be there. I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

2014-10-26

PK2 Proofing is Complete!

The proofing of Peacekeeper 2 is now complete. The book will get printed and mailed to a final proof reader to catch anything that may have been missed. This round of proofing will not take very long. In the meantime, I will be formatting the book in preparation for publication. I will send out a special announcement to everyone on my mailing list when the book is available. Please tell your friends.

I have also made very good progress on my Self-Publishing Guide - An Indie Point of View. This will be a short, free guide to help a new author get started at self-publishing their book. It's not meant to be a tutorial on how to work your way through the various screens on Amazon or CreateSpace to get your book published. It's more of a starting point in learning the basics of self-publishing. I will also happily answer any questions people may have in getting started toward publishing your novel. Although I am totally self-published, I am not against getting an agent and shooting for a contract with a large publishing house.

I'm going to keep this entry short as I have a ton of things to do the rest of the day.

2014-10-19

Self-Publishing

My wife (my proofreader) is nearing the end of her job. There are only a few chapters of Peacekeeper 2 remaining for her to review. She hoped to finish it yesterday while we were at B&N but her sister popped in and that meant socializing and not proofing. Family does come first though and I am not complaining. She should be done very soon and the manuscript will be sent off to one more person to read--maybe. I say maybe because this last person is currently in the hospital after falling at home. She's okay but they are working on a possible heart issue which might delay her return home. The plan is to prep the book for publication while she takes a look at it. I'm still hoping for a release by the end of the month. Cross your fingers!

My free time has been split between reading several books and writing a small guide to self-publishing. An acquaintance of mine, Christie Yant (@christieyant on Twitter), guest-edited a special edition of Lightspeed magazine titled Women Destroy Science Fiction. This book has been receiving considerable praise from around the world. I've only read the first 5 or 6 stories so far but all have been quite good. I've also been working on a guide to self-publishing.

I was surprised when I started work on Self-Publishing from an Indie Point of View to learn that I seem to know quite a bit about this aspect of the industry--more than I realized. Figuring out how to put everything I know into a handbook and in what order to put it has been a challenge. My plans are to make it available for free if possible. That might be a challenge because you can't give anything away for free on Amazon. I might be forced to sell it for $0.99 which is the lowest price Amazon allows. I will send it out free to everyone on my mailing list when it's done. If you're interested, get on that list!

Nobody correctly guessed the origin of the photo that was used to create the cover for Peacekeeper 2. It's a photo of Mars taken by one of the orbiters. My friend Heather Zak did her magic to add the massive beam of destruction and exploding lava to the photo.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time may recall that I have been against purchasing Microsoft Office. Well ... that changed yesterday. I have LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and Microsoft Office 2003 all installed on my systems. The first two are free. Why pay to upgrade when you can use a free program? The answer--compatibility. My niece-in-law came over the other day with a school project she needed to print (their printer was broke). It was created in Word. I opened it in both LibreOffice and OpenOffice and she said the formatting was incorrect. Opening it up in Word produced a correct document. Amazon and Smashwords use the Word format for uploading. I normally use Word anyway to create the final output just to avoid any formatting issues like I saw above. Word 2003 has security issues and is no longer supported. So, I dropped the money and purchased Microsoft Office 365 yesterday. I use it at work which is also another reason to upgrade.

Finally, yesterday, I received an email from Jody Lynn Nye concerning the status of Launch Pad - the Anthology. The original publisher had issues with getting it into print and has transferred it to WordFire Press. It will soon be available in both ebook and print format in the very near future. They will also be promoting this book which will not only help boost sales but it will help Launch Pad obtain the funding it needs to continue its mission. I will let you know when the book is available.

2014-10-12

Strange Coincidence

After posting my blog entry last week, I received an e-mail from my copy-editor. He suggested working on Dragonverse 3. He also indicated he had some ideas. Never one to turn down a possible plot, I asked him to send me what he had. I about fell out of my chair when I read his idea because it was a near duplicate of what I had been thinking about! It was just too strange to be true--but there it was in black and white staring at me on the computer screen. I have never written down my own idea nor have I told anyone else. So I guess, Dragonverse 3 will be next. Well--almost.

I've been gathering thoughts in my head about a short manual on self-publishing. I think I'll be putting that together first. My best friend in Minnesota should be getting close to finishing his novel and I have other friends who've never self-published before but are interested, so writing this will benefit people. It will also be something I can present/use/hand out at WorldCon 2015. This will be my next project and I'm going to begin work on it today.

My wife has made significant progress toward proofing Peacekeeper 2. As proof that I do listen to my readers--I no longer bother (i.e. nag) her about getting the proofing done. It takes what it takes. She is well-aware of the fact that I'm waiting on her before I can format and publish. There is one more final reader involved but she is quick and I should have her feedback quickly. In the meantime, I can work on formatting the book for final publication. I can enter her feedback in the final version just before I send it off to the virtual press.

I will also be copyrighting the manuscript after I have a near final format. It's the words that count when you copyright a novel. This is something I've talked about in the past and highly recommend copyrighting your work. Click here to see the start of a short chain of posts about my copyrighting experience or just do a search for 'copyright'.

Yesterday, at the writer's meeting at B&N I read a chapter from PK2. The feedback was positive and I got some good ideas on some minor changes. I can easily make those changes without impacting the publication schedule because my wife has not yet reached that point in the book. I will be working on that right after posting and sending this out.

Only one other person had something to read and it was so good I told the group that she should collect the posts into a book and publish them at a later date. She is taking care of her mom who has Alzheimer's disease. If you're interested in reading her blog you can find it at: http://rbnrob6.wordpress.com/.

I also wanted to remind those who are interested about my mailing list. Instead of having to remember to go to my blog to read it, you can sign up to receive a very short reminder each week when I post. If you're not interested that week, just kill the email. To sign up, follow this link: http://eepurl.com/VYmMD

2014-10-05

The Next Project

My wife is now about 3/4's of the way done with her proofing of Peacekeeper 2. I think I remind her at least 3 times a day to please try to work on proofing. We have had a very busy week and she has been quite busy. Next week looks to be a bit better. I do tend to get very impatient around this stage of the writing process because I know there are people out there who are waiting to read the book. Naturally, I also want to see it published. But, I need to learn how to have patience. Perhaps next time I will not be so revealing as to how far along my next project is and then I won't get myself into this situation.

I have several ideas bouncing around in my head for what my next project is going to be. I have been working on a YA story involving a disfigured boy and a dragon but I have not yet figured out what the middle of the book is going to be like. I've already come up with some great stuff but right now it's all in my head. I will have to put it into writing soon before it fades into oblivion.

Another possibility is a third Dragonverse. There are some very good possibilities there but I think I would have to go back and clean up the existing novels first. I've learned a lot about writing since then and I can see where the books need improvement. Since they're in electronic format, I can easily make changes and republish.

I've had a number of people ask me to write a sequel to Off Course and I have some interesting ideas there as well. I haven't given it much thought while writing PK2. but I've thought about it in the past.

Finally, I've been giving some serious thought to writing a short guide to self-publishing. Since I'll be sitting on a self-publishing panel at next year's WorldCon I'll be doing some additional research into the subject. I've been doing self-publishing since 2009 and I think I have a good enough background to put together something that other aspiring writers will find useful. I used to be against signing on with a major publisher but today's contracts are actually pretty good for writers - as long as you get one of these contracts. There's also the issue with the SFWA and its treatment of self-published authors. They have their reasons, but I think it's high time they realized not all self-published authors write sub-standard novels.

2014-09-28

PK2 Cover and News

This has been an exciting week. First, I would like to share some very exciting news (to me anyway) concerning WorldCon 2015. I have been asked to be on a self-publishing panel at WorldCon 2015. This is not a 100% confirmed deal but it looks like this is going to happen. The director of programming for next year's WorldCon not only likes the idea but is open to more than one panel and possibly a workshop. This is a big deal for me as an indie author.

I did not ask nor did I suggest this idea to anyone. The email came out of the blue. It's a big deal because it means I've been recognized. It's one of those little things that carries a lot of weight. At my day job, I try my best to recognize those who do a good job. It's a form of positive feedback which research has shown has a greater affect than negative feedback. I've already booked my hotel and as soon as I can do so I will be booking the flight. If you're thinking of going to WorldCon - GET YOUR ROOM NOW! Many of the hotels are already sold out and rooms are going fast.

The panel invite brings to mind another point--if you're a serious writer you need to form contacts with other writers. Had I just been satisfied with publishing my books and never attended Launch Pad the invite would never have happened. Going to Launch Pad brought me into contact with other writers. Staying in touch with them and getting together with some of them at DragonCon most likely led to the invite. If you are serious about writing, start forming a network of relationships with other writers. If it's within your financial means, expand your relationships outside of your local area. I know people scattered all over the world.

My wife has been having to spend more time than usual over at the nursing home attending to her mom. She has lost her ability to stand even with a walker and now needs more care. This has impacted the time she has for proofing Peacekeeper 2. She's hoping to be finished by the end of next week but that's an aggressive schedule. This delay has allowed me to get a good cover for the book as well as finish the prologue. If all goes well, Peacekeeper 2 will be available before the end of next month. I want to thank everyone for their patience. Writing, editing, copyediting, proofing, finding a cover, and formatting the final product all takes time. I promise you - PK2 will be worth the wait.

Speaking of the cover: Here it is--

This is almost how it will appear when the book is released. I've requested the font of the main title to be changed. Comments from my blog readers are welcome. It's not too late to make additional tweaks. I have to thank Heather Zak, the wife of my best friend from high school, for the work she's put into the cover. AJ (Arnold J. Zak) found the background image which she then modified. I'll give a free book to the first person who can identify the background picture.

There have been some other exciting developments at my day job as well. I very much enjoy my new job and (once again) the recognition I've been receiving from upper management and the corporate home office have made it even more enjoyable. I won't bore you with the details especially since this post has now gone on for too long.

I will continue to post updates on Twitter. If you don't follow me and you would like to my Twitter username is: author_farren

2014-09-21

Are Writer Groups Necessary?

Yesterday, I attended (for the second time) a writer's group. Prior to the meeting, the group's leader handed out a prompted writing assignment. I did not do it because I was finishing up with Peacekeeper 2. At the meeting each of the attendees who did the writing prompt read their work and received feedback. I then handed out the final chapter of Peacekeeper 2 for feedback. Some of it was quite good. I got my papers back and when I got home I flipped through them to see what people had said. A couple had taken the time to make punctuation changes. My wife is my grammarian. She worked at a newspaper for 27 years and has a good grasp of how things should be written. I showed her the one copy with a bunch of suggested punctuation changes and she disagreed with quite a number of them. So did I.

It was interesting to compare the notes from all the other attendees with one another. A couple simply wrote 'Nice article' or 'Good world-building' at the top with little to no comments in the body. Others wrote great feedback while another attempted to proof the entire handout for punctuation.

So here's the point. I attend two writer's groups mainly so I can interact with other writers and be exposed to different styles of writing as well as receive feedback and suggestions on my own works. But you must also consider who is providing the feedback. One member of both groups holds a master's degree in creative writing. Her feedback carries more weight than the others. I am unsure of the background of the other members and so I listen to their feedback but I don't always necessarily follow their advice. Each writer has a style of their own and one person may not agree with how a paragraph is written or even if it needs to be there.

I also pay particular attention to how the group reacts to someone's comment. If the entire group seems to agree to a particular statement then it carries more weight. If there's a discussion or a disagreement, I'll listen and then chose what I feel is correct. Even something as mundane as punctuation has some leeway in how it is used. Do I put a comma here or not? Do I use a colon or a semicolon? Long sentence or short? Obvious errors in the use of punctuation are easy to spot. The more subtle ways of using a comma are a matter of personal choice. Some strict grammarians may disagree with me on this but English is a flexible and changing language. Writers can shape it to produce anything they want as long as the readers enjoy the story.

Bottom line: Yes -- I strongly believe writer groups are something every writer should be a part of. Don't think you are an expert on every subject and your writing is the best in the world. Listen to what others have to say and accept their comments as a way to improve your writing.

I am working on a prologue for Peacekeeper 2. My wife is making good progress and is about 50% complete. I hope to have the prologue done today and then I start putting her changes into the book. The cover is nearing completion. Looks like I am all systems go for a publication launch next month. I will post the cover on Google+, Facebook, my website, and on Twitter as soon as it is complete.

So what's next? I haven't decided for sure yet. As always, I'm going to take some time off writing before starting my next project. I have books to read and other things to do that get put aside while I'm working on a project. I'm leaning toward a YA novel about a boy and a dragon. I know this sort of thing has been done before but I think my take on it is unique. I also have a desire to do a third Dragonverse book. It will require making some minor changes to the first two in the series. Dragonverse needs a bit of a rewrite to stretch out the timeline or at least better identify how long it takes for the main character to develop his powers (feedback from a reader). I have possible stories for a sequel to Off Course as well. At the moment, I do not have any ideas for a sequel to When Ships Mutiny which is also a reader request. I am open to ideas from my readers though.

2014-09-14

PK2 - Final rewrite complete

At long last, the final rewrite of Peacekeeper 2 is complete. I am now waiting on my wife to complete her grammatical review, then it's on to a final review by another grammarian, and then the book will be published. There is a cover in the works but it's far from being close to a reveal. I am also working on a line to gain access to another photo that would be perfect for the book's background but so far I've not heard back from the photo's owner.

Readers of the GA series will remember the race called the Kyrra. The Kyrra first appeared in my mind back in 1977 when I was drawing science-fiction scenes and pretending I could be a writer. Recently, I picked up a book by Stanley Schmidt titled 'Aliens and Alien Societies'. My jaw threatened to disengage from my face when I read a passage where he mentions an alien race he created called--of all things--the Kyyra. The spelling is different, but the name of the race is the same. As best as I can determine, the book this is from (The Sins of the Fathers) was published in 2009. What are the odds of two authors creating an alien race with nearly the same name? I know there's no possibility he heard it from me and I've never read any of his books. Now that's a head scratcher.

A friend of mine, author Linda Nagata, has been working on a sequel to her award-nominated book The Red: First Light. I've been waiting for it for quite some time and assumed she was having a problem finding the time to finish it. I patiently waited. In a recent announcement she explained the delay. Her books are going to be picked up by a major publisher. I must admit, I am a bit jealous but I'm also a little concerned. Linda has been with a publisher in the past and some time ago decided to go indie. She's familiar with how publishers work and she's also familiar with the indie side of publishing. She's also a very smart person. If she believes going with a publisher is a good thing then I can only conclude that it is indeed the right thing to do. Only time will tell.

How would I react if an agent asked to promote my books to a publisher? I honestly don't know. I would most likely give Linda Nagata a call and ask her opinion. I have mixed feelings about going with a publisher which I've voiced in this blog in the past. Right now, sales are doing okay and I get a good royalty from them. If the books continue to sell then I might have a steady income for decades. Book rights are also a property and can be passed on to my kids. A publisher might sound like a wonderful idea especially when they dangle a large advance in front of you and make promises that the book will be well promoted. Most will follow through. But after a few years when sales begin to slump, then what? I have another friend who sold two books to a very large publisher. He received a good advance and then nothing - that was 10 years ago. He has tried and failed to get the digital rights for these books. Retaining ownership is very important because steady low sales will bring in a nice steady (although low) additional income. Once sales fall below a certain number with a large publisher, your book is shelved. The only way to make a living writing for a large publisher is to crank out more books. I've been averaging one a year so I could do that: it would be a tough choice. I do wish Linda all the luck in the world and I will stay in touch with her to see how this pans out.

That's it from my little world. Time to start putting some grammar changes in Peacekeeper 2.

2014-09-07

PK2 - Almost done!

I almost forgot to write this post. I've been adding new and exciting stuff to the book and almost forgot today was Sunday . Right now, I'm at 87% complete with my final editing pass. I am adding one more large chapter and also a prologue that will add to the final word count. That currently stands at 88,665. My editing will be done next week. My wife is making good progress on her proofing even though she does not like scifi. My biggest concern right now is having a cover for the book.

I've also decided to send the book to my dad's wife. She has been quite good at catching small mistakes that seem to slip by everyone else. It helps to have several people look at the manuscript before calling it complete. I am now a firm believer in having access to a good copy editor as well as a proofreader or two. While my oatmeal is cooking, I will give you a very quick run-down on my new and improved writing process:

The project starts with Scrivener. The first draft is done in Scrivener because of it's ability to display all the information I need to track in a single location. It can also move chapters around with ease. After the first draft is complete - roughly 6 months - it gets moved into an ODT file so I can finish it with LibreOffice. I could use Word but I'm running a 2003 version which does not remember where I left off. I don't see the need to pay for a new word processor when I can use a free one that works just as good.

Next, I make a full editing pass, making changes to get the story to fit together into a coherent whole and doing general editing. Then its off to my beta readers and copy editor. When I get all the feedback, I make a final major editing pass to create the finished manuscript. As I finish each chapter, I print it out and hand it to my wife who does her grammatical magic. I enter these changes last. for PK2, I'm printing it out again and sending it to my dad. He and his wife will have a final chance to fix any mistakes that were missed. Then, it's time to publish.

My oatmeal is done and that means it's time to eat. I must set the book aside for now to mow the lawn which I have neglected for far too long. The next time you hear from he, my editing will be done and I hope so will my wife's.

2014-08-31

Time Management

Most writers have day jobs and that means a writer must struggle to find time to write. Time management is a primary requisite for being a successful writer. I get up for work at 0500 and I typically begin my workday at just before 0600. I sit in front of a computer and write code, attend meetings, read programming books, and sometimes just sit and think about how I'm going to solve a particular problem. I have no time for writing while at work. I am home anywhere between 1500 (that's 3:00 PM for you non-military time fans) and 1600. If my wife is not home, I write until she arrives. Often, she is over visiting her mom or out of town seeing a movie or spending time with a friend. If she's home, I spend time with her. My wife is usually home in the evening and that's family time - the writing computer remains closed.

Weekends and vacations are when I get most of my writing done. I always get up before my wife and the 2 to 3 hours in the morning before she get's up is when I do the majority of my writing - this blog included. I continue to write while she goes through her morning routine. Most Saturdays, we drive to the Barnes & Noble store (about a 30 minute drive) where I get more writing done. I usually go with her to visit her mom (she's in a nursing home across the street) and sometimes I will walk back to the house to either write or do household chores (mowing, cleaning, fixing, etc).

If I'm working on a new project, I think about the upcoming scenes pretty much any time I have a free moment. I think while driving to work, showering, mowing the lawn, and almost any time I have a few free moments. Putting those words into the computer happens whenever I can find the time. I have a laptop that is synchronized to my desktop via Dropbox. If I happen to find myself with 15 minutes of free time I pull out the laptop and start writing.

When you add up all the little times available throughout the week I probably manage to log about 10 to 15 hours of writing each week. This has allowed me to write one book every 8 to 11 months. So, when you hear an aspiring writer say "I just don't have the time to write", tell them they're wrong. I do not watch hardly any television other than in the evenings with my wife. I do watch Falling Skys. My computer records this show and I watch it when I am eating or 10 to 15 minutes at a time while my wife is out doing something else. She is not a fan of science fiction. Reading is often done in the bathroom (isn't that the favorite secondary activity that takes place in that room?). The books I read are on my cell phone and I read when I have a few minutes (waiting in line, bathroom, etc.).

The bottom line in all this is that there is time available to do things -- you just need to know how to properly manage your time. I am rarely idle. Even when someone might think I'm just sitting around my brain is working on the next scene of my current book. I don't spend hours on the internet, I get my news on the way to and from work. I read my Twitter while eating breakfast and then catch up in bits and pieces during 2 and 3 minute breaks throughout the day. I don't check my Facebook page and Google+ is pretty much for outgoing stuff only.

I will be out of town in a couple of weeks for work-related training. Instead of joining the rest of the group at the bar in the evening I will be spending my time in my hotel room working on my writing. You have to set your priorities. If you want to be a writer, you're going to have to give up something to make that dream come true. Find the time to write. Find the time to read (because reading helps a writer become better). Manage your time.

And now I'm going to manage mine by closing out this entry and getting back to editing Peacekeeper 2. I have about 100 pages of 1.5 spaced type left. My wife is making a dent in her portion of our editing process. The book is nearing completion. I'm still waiting on a decent cover from the person who does my artwork. I will keep you all informed of the progress.

2014-08-24

Peacekeeper 2 - 50% mark

Final editing of Peacekeeper 2 has passed the 50% point. My wife is trying to move through the proofing as fast as she can but family events are interfering. This is the point in all my novels she hates the most because I am so focused on finishing the book I tend to exclude everything else. Her time has also been limited due to her mother's health issues (in and out of the hospital in recent days). But good progress is being made.

Last week, I received an email from an 11th grade student in Australia asking if I would mind being interviewed for a school project she was doing. Of course I agreed. The questions were about science fiction and how it relates to religious beliefs. I found them to be very eye-opening and many of them I had to pause and think before I answered. She seemed pleased with the answers. I hope she receives a good grade.

I also received the highest compliment possible from one of my readers yesterday. He compared me to E.E. 'Doc' Smith, an author from my youth who wrote stories back in the 50s. I consider him the master of the space opera and I periodically reread his Lensman series. Although I have a style of my own, it is heavily influenced by Smith. I could not have been happier.

I attended a different writer's group yesterday. This one has a much longer format running about 5 hours. I enjoyed the feedback they provided to the others in the group (I did not bring anything this first time) and I will go at least one more time. It's farther away and it does take up another Saturday so I may not continue to attend. If, for some reason, I miss my normal meeting, attending this one would be a good option.

I said last post that I had wanted to write something about my programming activities. My new job entails writing a lot of code in Microsoft's Access database program. I'm a heavy user of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and quite good at building complex solutions. I would prefer to build my programs in a better language such as C# but there would be nobody around who could maintain the code after I leave. At least by using VBA there is a chance someone else can take over. My company does not support non-IT people writing code and installing a C# compiler would require so much paperwork as to be nearly impossible.

What I really wanted to mention is being efficient. There is a project I will have to tackle in the next few months that boggles my mind. Our work is divided up into weeks with 13 weeks to a period and 4 periods to a year. We have a website where people can go to look at past or future work for almost an entire year. Each of these weekly reporting periods has 6 types of reports. The current way of generating this data involves 6 x 13 x 4 = 312 separate reports. Maintaining this collection is a nightmare. If a change is needed to one report a minimum of 52 reports have to be changed. My plan is to use programming code to reduce the number of reports down to 6. The reports don't change, just the data they work with. Proper coding can simplify generating this grid of reports making maintenance far easier. This is what computer are for and this is how they should be used.

I did a similar thing on a project I just finished. This one generates charts - 8 to be exact. But the charts all look the same - just with different data. I created a single function that can feed the correct data to a single Excel spreadsheet which generates the chart and then exports that chart as an image (JPG). It is those images that become part of the final report. One routine and some code to feed it the correct data was all that was required. These charts used to be done manually taking 3 to 4 hours a day. The program spits out the report in about 30 seconds.

That's efficiency.

Now it's time to get back to editing.

2014-08-17

PK2 - Editing continues

I was so focused on continuing to edit Peacekeeper 2 this morning that I nearly forgot it was time to put out a new post. This one will be relatively short as I'm anxious to get back to editing.

The initial draft used a large number of scene separators within chapters, especially to indicate a switch to another location. The switches were so dramatic I decided to make them into chapters instead. So, my chapter count is changing. Instead of removing material (which is common during editing) I've been adding large chunks of stuff. Word count is now over 82,000 and climbing. Feedback from my fan turned copy-editor is that the book is greatly improved following editing. My proof reader (my wife and grammarian) also agrees. I'm getting a very good feeling about the quality of this book.

I will not rush getting this out for publication. If it takes another 2 months then so be it. I'm a self-published author and I don't have to rush to meet a deadline. But I know people are waiting for this book so I am going to continue editing as often as I can. I am over 1/4 of the way through and moving along at a good pace.

I received a question from a reader in Germany the other day (yes I'm talking about you Ekkehard). He's an engineer and asked a very relevant question. I mention that Tom's new cybernetic limbs are significantly heavier than his original biological limbs. This leads to a question of whether or not the limbs would pose a problem at the connection site until the full cybernetic conversion process is complete. He suggested cybernetic 'training limbs' made of lighter components. That's the level of detail that science fiction readers are capable of and known for. This is also the kind of feedback I love! He's right too - if I ever go back and make some changes to Peacekeeper I will address this problem. Thanks and great job Ekkehard!

Oh, that wasn't the only question he had either. We had a nice back and forth discussion concerning his other questions as well. If you feel inclined to write me about something in one of my books, I will write you back. I will keep this practice as long as I can. Some authors have had to stop doing personal feedbacks because their inbox becomes too overwhelming. I'm not even close to that yet.

I did sort of want to talk about my programming job (another passion of mine) but I will leave that for a later day. Now - it's back to editing.

2014-08-10

PK 2 - Editing

After receiving some very good feedback from my new copy-editor as well as some from my writers group, I've decided to go back to chapter 1 and revise. This will mean another delay but I think you will be pleased with the results once the book is released. I will be working hard at finding at least an hour each day for editing to speed the process up.

My big problem with the Galactic Alliance series - especially PK2 - is my familiarity with the GA universe. I've been living with GA technology (in my head of course) since the early '70s. It's so familiar with me that I just let some things pass in the books without describing them. Now, many writer books say that in science fiction the tech should just be there. The books should show the tech without having to explain it. The reason they say is because explaining the technology detracts from the story you're trying to tell. This might be okay for some things and for some types of science fiction, but I have to disagree when it comes to the GA series.

There are some things that will never be explained, like how a shield works. But other things need some explanation or at least some further details added. For instance, the Peacekeeper's biolink is a marvel of engineering but it has its limitations. It cannot allow a PK to control his entire ship by his mind alone. The biolink can sense thoughts and it can--on a simple level--send them, as well. But it cannot immerse the PK into a virtual reality world. If you've read Peacekeeper then you know I've used a total virtual reality world before. This is easy for a PK because the ship's AI simply has to take over control of the PKs cybernetic systems and use the existing connections from these devices to trick the PK into thinking he's in a virtual world. Did I explain this in sufficient detail in Peacekeeper? I'm not sure.

The point is - PK2 is going to be delayed by a few weeks and it's going to be a far better product for it. I will be sending my wife individual chapters to proof as I finish them so the re-write/editing/proofing process will continue in parallel.

Thank you for your patience. I'll let you know how I'm doing with this blog.

2014-08-03

Peacekeeper 2 editing

The editing of Peacekeeper 2 is continuing and will move even further along as soon as I post this blog entry. Right now, I am on page 59 of 151 pages. Lee Dilkie (fan turned copy-editor) suggests I write a prologue. After talking around with others, I've decided he's right. That means I will need to write a short introduction to Peacekeeper 2. The ebook version will include a hyperlink to skip the prologue if the reader is familiar with the series.

I've usually had a couple of people read my novels before publication and in recent years I've had my wife check out the book for grammatical mistakes. Most of the comments I get back are similar to: "good book", "I liked it", and "great job". These are 'feel good' comments and are not what I'm looking for from a beta reader. The reviews I get on Amazon and other sites also fall short. If someone reads one of my books I like to hear suggestions for improvement. When I collect enough of these I will even go back and revise previously published works.

What Lee is doing for me is far different and it's the sort of feedback I've needed for some time. A copy-editor does much more than read a manuscript and generate a short review. A copy-editor looks for inconsistencies, identifies sections where improvements can be made, and ensures the overall story structure is intact and holds the reader's interest. A copy-editor is usually not concerned with grammar although there's no reason why that level of detail can't be done at the same time. I told Lee he was working off a second draft and not to worry about grammar - that's my wife's territory.

The result was a document with helpful comments and suggestions. I began Peacekeeper 2 with one goal in mind - to write a novel that allowed a reader to learn about an alien culture. I've found that's not such an easy task. It is very difficult to create an alien culture because we humans know only our own and it's a very narrow slice of what exists elsewhere on our own planet. There are cultural differences between different areas of the United States as well as different countries. Many people are completely unaware of these differences and even subtle nuances can create friction between two people. If we have this sort of problem among humans, imagine what it's going to be like when we encounter an alien species.

I would like to add a polite reminder. If you know of anyone who would be interested in reading this blog please ask them to sign up for my mailing list. The sign-up form can be accessed by clicking here.

I hope to have Peacekeeper 2 ready for publication in about a month. A lot of it rests on finding the time to do my final editing as well as my wife's grammatical checks. Her mom is currently in the hospital and time to proof my book will be hard to find. I will keep you informed through this blog.

2014-07-27

Launch Pad 2014

It has been two weeks since my last post. The delay was caused by my attending Launch Pad 2014. Last year, I increased my blog schedule to post on the activities at Launch Pad nearly every day. I did not do this this time because most of it would have been a duplication of the events of a year ago. If you're interested in reading what happened day by day you can start here. If you are interested in reading the blogs of some of the other attendees, you can click here, here, and (especially if you want to see some of the presentations) here. I'm sure I missed some but those will give you a flavor for how well received this program has been.

I was accepted to my first Launch Pad event in 2012. I enjoyed it so much and met such a wonderful group of people that I practically begged Mike Brotherton (the program's founder) to return. He eventually said yes. Now, I help out by renting one of the vans and providing transportation from Denver to Laramie every year. I'm also hoping (once I learn how to do website maintenance) to help them out by becoming the web master for the Launch Pad site.

Pictures and videos of this year's as well as previous year's Launch Pad adventure can be found on my Flickr account.

Editing for Peacekeeper 2 is moving along at a slow but good pace. One of my more outspoken and helpful fans -- Lee Dilkie -- is doing a very good job of copy-editing for me. His comments have caused me to stop and think as well as to alter and improve the novel. Peacekeeper 2 might be slow in being released but it's going to be a much better book because of the help I'm getting. As soon as I'm done with my final editing pass I hand it off to my wife who looks for grammatical errors. Even after all these passes and multiple people looking at it, some errors are bound to creep in. That's why I ask my readers to give me feedback. I prefer constructive feedback so please just don't say "I didn't like it". If that's your opinion then at least tell me why so I can improve.

In other news - my new job at the nuke plant has been keeping me busy. I'm enjoying myself at this new job and I count myself to be among one of the lucky few who actually enjoy going into work every day. Writing database applications is fun -- I could do it 12 hours a day, 6 days a week if need be. But of course, that would cut into my writing time so that's not going to happen!

Time to get back to editing!

2014-07-06

By The Numbers

Possible Delay of Next Week's Post
I leave for Laramie, Wyoming next Sunday to attend the 2014 Launch Pad Workshop. This means I may not generate a blog post next week. I'll be meeting another wonderful group of authors, editors, game developers, and others in the entertainment industry. In case you're curious, here's a list of who's coming:

            Ann Leckie                            Ann Toole
            Lisa Yee                                Malinda Lo
            Jenn Reese                             Meg Howrey
            WilliamLedbetter                    Amy SterlingCasil
            Eugene Myers                        Marc Halsey
            Geetanjali Dighe                     James L. Sutter
            SarahMcCarry                       AndrewLiptak
            Susan Forest                          Gabriella Harbowry

My apologies for the two missing links. I have not yet mastered the zen of Google. I also hope I got all the links right.

By The Numbers
As an indie author, I like to know where I stand in relationship to other authors – especially other indies. Writing is NOT a competition (which is why I'm not a big fan of awards), but knowing how well you're doing in comparison to other authors is very useful. If my sales figures are low then I need to work harder. Based on reviews it may be better writing or it must might mean I need to spend some time on the internet talking about my book. But, unless other indie authors share these results with the community there's no way to make a comparison. Everyone seems to know how much actors make – especially well-known actors. Why not indie authors?

I've discussed this topic in the past and I mentioned that I've compared my sales (not monetary income but units sold) with another author who is far more well known than myself. I've learned that I'm doing quite well. The daily sales numbers I'm about to present might seem low but they are steady and that's what an author wants – a steady flow of sales.

I'm going to share my sales numbers with you on a regular basis and, if I can find the time, I plan on posting them to my website. I hope that other authors may share their sales figures publicly so other indie authors can learn how well they're doing in comparison. Indies should stick together, share our numbers, share how we promote our books, and talk among ourselves.

I don't collect the data every month but usually do it about 3 or 4 times a year. There's a tremendous spike in sales beginning in October of 2011 and peeking in March of 2012. Sales then dropped and have been fairly steady for some time. Smaller spikes occur when I release a new book. Why the giant spike in sales? I wish I could tell you. I suspect Amazon may have featured Translight in their daily deals but I really don't know.

There's a lesson in the sales numbers – just because you have a good month – or several months – don't quit your day job. Sales can fall just as fast as they can rise.

Year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
2009




7
12
6
4
3
9
4
13
2010
31
16
29
6
11
16
12
28
51
53
38
51
2011
51
60
51
64
52
69
89
138
216
676
913
1,197
2012
1,608
8,614
10,752
7,838
5,568
3,693
2,766
2,119
1,429
951
586
455
2013
435
262
280
232
252
189
185
165
133
400
820
526
2014
330
202
149
73
98









If anyone else cares to share their numbers, I would be happy to receive them. If you do, please let me know if I can make them public otherwise I'll keep them private.

Peacekeeper is still being analyzed by my beta readers. If I get comments back before I head to Laramie I'll begin the final editing pass while I'm there. Then it's off to my wife for her proofing.