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Thanksgiving Progress

Last week, Peacekeeper Pathogen stood at 54,864 words. I've been on vacation since then, writing almost every morning. This morning, the word count is 64,070. That's 9,206 words in a single week. When you stop and think about it, those numbers mean something significant and tell what the future will bring when I retire. Provided I can keep up the writing, I could conceivably finish the first draft of an entire novel in about two months. Editing, of course, will take another month or two. Figure in a couple week break to catch up on television and other things and the math claims I could crank out right around two books a year. Assuming I retire at age 70 and I keep writing until I'm 90, that's 60 books after I retire. Figure in an average of one book a year while I'm working, add in what I currently have published, and my lifetime total seems to be around 80 large novels--that's quite an accomplishment!

Those 80 novels could bring in royalties for many years giving someone a small but steady income for the rest of their life. Provided you can make money in this market, this looks like a great plan to help your kids long after you're gone. It's a wonderful dream to have. But this dream has a catch--you must have a plan to turn over ownership of your copyrights to someone who will continue to allow the books to remain published. You do this in a will or by using a trust. If you don't, then who knows what will happen to your legacy when you're gone.

Book sales have been doing quite well recently. I am very disappointed, however, that Dragonverse Origins has not sold more. I still don't have a single review and reviews are very important. Origins is a wonderful book which was enjoyed by everyone involved in editing and proofing it. My Dragonverse series has never sold well on Amazon, which surprises me because of all the dragons that appear in movies these days. When I sell at conventions or events, Dragonverse sells more than Translight. Perhaps I don't have the book's genre properly identified or people just don't know the books are out there.

I've been focusing on writing and that will remain my goal. But, as soon as I put "the end" on Peacekeeper Pathogen, I will be turning my attention to redoing the covers on the Dragonverse series as well as reformatting the print versions. I will also have time to set up an Amazon ad campaign for Origins as well as work on tweaking the settings in the ad campaigns I have going for the other books. Amazon advertising does work but you also have to put some time into adjusting your settings.

Today is my last day of vacation and the time I have for writing is slipping away. From where I sit, I can envision a long road of time ahead of me filled with words being strung together into new novels. But the road behind is forever set in stone. It is what I do today, right now, that matters, because once the instant of time you are now experiencing passes, it cannot be altered--ever. Plan for the future, live for the moment, but always remember that how you live and what you do will be remembered as your legacy for all time.



Peacekeeper Pathogen currently stands at 54,864. I am currently working on writing the last few chapters. Since I don’t work off an outline, I have no clear idea as to how much is left—especially since I threw a monkey wrench into the plot the other day. My guess is I have 4 more chapters left. Since I try to keep my chapters at around 2,500 words, this puts the final word count at approximately 66k. That’s short of my standard goal of 80k to 90k. I’m sure the word count can be expanded especially since I need to add a couple additional chapters earlier in the book. I’m resisting the urge to add them now—need to finish this thing first.

On Wednesday, I was all set to help kick off the NaNoWiMo event at one of our public libraries. This library is on my way to/from work so dropping by for a few hours to share my experience in self-publishing was no problem. Another author drove about 45 minutes to attend. The event was for Middle school kids and began after school. Unfortunately, because of some issues the library had had with kids in the past, they required that the children be accompanied by an adult. Nobody showed—nobody. I was fine with this as it did not impact my schedule at all. I felt bad for the other author though.

Even though nobody showed up to attend the event, I found the interaction with the library staff to be quite interesting. Some time ago, the same library had hosted a “Cooks and Books” event. During the event, one of the staff walked around and asked each author to give him their elevator speech. This same person is the one who set up the NaNoWiMo event. He told me that after the Cooks and Books event, he went out and purchased a copy of each of my books for the library. I’ll be getting a picture of them sitting on the shelf the next time I drive by.

Knowing my books are in a library was thrilling but what he told me next put a smile on my face for hours afterward. This staffer also runs a writing primer workshop at the library. He uses a copy of When Ships Mutiny in his class. I never thought I would hear anyone tell me they were using one of my books as part of a teaching class.

Finally, I feel compelled to say something concerning the recent election results. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been in a down mood ever since the results were announced and every time I look at my Twitter feed I get a bad feeling in my gut. Historically, this country has claimed to stand for the freedom and rights of its people and it is actively engaged in bringing those same rights to the people of other nations. We condemn those nations that oppress the freedom of their people to express themselves. Based on what I’ve seen happening, it appears as if our government has become a hypocrisy. Being an American meant you enjoyed being free; free to worship the faith of your choice; free to speak your mind without being persecuted. America is viewed worldwide as a country that will welcome you with open arms. A place where the persecuted can come and live freely without fear. All this is changing. If the writing on the wall becomes reality, we will no longer be seen as the leader of the free world. We will be seen as a nation of greedy, hypocritical, arrogant people who are intolerant of the differences that make us human.



Peacekeeper Pathogen is now at 52,259 words. Unfortunately, I seem to be working on the ending. It is not going to be a quick ending though so the final word count of the first draft will most likely be around 65k. That's not too bad, but it does not satisfy my desire for a minimal size of 80k. This is, however, the first draft and there are a large number of items I need to go back and add. What worries me though is that during my editing, I typically remove sentences, shorten them, and generally make the manuscript shorter. Getting the book rounded out to a minimal 80k could be a challenge. We will see what happens as the story continues to unfold in the computer.

I have several pieces of news to share with you in this department. Let's start with where I was yesterday--the Cuyahoga County Library Indie Author Expo. This was their second year and 53 authors were granted permission to set up in the library auditorium to sell their books. The only requirement for entry was to have published a book within the past 2 years. You send them a copy of the book and if it is approved, you're in. Here is a picture of the event in progress as viewed from my table.

Even though this was only their second year, there was a large turn-out. I did sell an entire set of my Dragonverse series. That might seem like a small accomplishment but events like this are more than just sales. I had printed out several copies of my self-publishing guide and by the end of the 2-hour event, they were all gone. I also talked to a lot off people and handed out a good number of business cards. I also met several of the other authors were there.

Now here's the interesting part: When I got up this morning and checked ebook sales, they were up a noticeable amount. People will go to these events and a few will buy a physical book. But, if you engage with them and give them a good impression as to who you are, they will take a business card, go home, and buy a book online. For me, this event was worth it and I will look forward to returning next year.

Readers of this blog will also recall that I've been experimenting with Amazon advertising. With one exception, I've been pretty happy with it. The exception is the experiment I did in allowing Amazon to automatically choose my keywords and promotional opportunities itself. I've let this run for a few months and the results have been much less than I anticipated. In fact, I have received only a single click event costing me $0.05 the last time I checked. Amazon advertising does work but only if you elect to enter your keywords manually. I will be doing this very soon.


The Future

Peacekeeper Pathogen is now at 49,343 words. Looking toward the future, I've created a bit of a problem for my characters and right now I haven't figured out how to get them out of issue so the story can come to a satisfactory end. My brain has also been apparently performing internal reviews of the story and has begun pointing out things I missed in earlier chapters. I didn't ask my brain to do this! But, I'm glad it does. I just keep a side-log of things so I can go back and fix them during my first editing pass.

I realized yesterday (which turned out to be a non-writing day) that I have put writing ahead of many things I should be attending to such as: My website is very out of date; Several books require reformatting and cover alterations; Critical off-line backups had not been done; Scanning and filing of household documents had been delayed. I took care of the documents and backups yesterday. The rest will have to wait for when I not only have time to write but time to do other things as well. Prioritizing is often difficult.

The Future
I write science fiction and as such I try to be as up-to-date on all the cool gadgets people are creating these days. We live in an age of ultra-fast advances--often too fast for these advances to be properly integrated into our lives. If our society were different, these advances would be quickly turning our lives into an abundant, thrilling existence. Instead, it often serves a darker purpose.

Take the internet of things as an example. For a disabled or elderly person who finds it difficult to get around, having the ability to remotely control the lights in your house, view what's going on in another room, adjust the thermostat, or see who's ringing your doorbell can make life much better. But when these same devices can be hacked, it can make that same person's life a living hell. Those same devices can also be used by those who really don't need them. Why get up off the couch to turn off the kitchen light when you can pick up your phone, open an app, find the appropriate icon, and flip the light off? These devices, while useful to some, can also end up turning us into couch potatoes of the extreme kind. Too lazy to turn off a light.

Because we have certain types of people in our society, the manufacturers of these devices need to consider what can happen if their helpful devices are exploited by people who have social issues. The devices need to be easy to use but at the same time they need to be secure. But, manufacturers are driven by greed (called profit in social circles) and taking the time and effort to make their devices useful yet secure is not in their business model. Because of that, people suffer. Yet, if the manufacturer does try to do what is right and profits fall, the same people who are demanding they build better devices make the manufacturer suffer by pointing out that their profits have fallen.

We are rapidly moving towards a world where robots will be common, vehicles drive themselves and talk to each other to prevent accidents and increase efficiency, and machine intelligence is used by professionals to make everyday decisions. This is the world of science fiction! But is society ready for this? Have we advanced enough culturally and sociologically to handle what we are now capable of building? Given what I have seen in the news over the past few months the answer is no. After I'm done writing Peacekeeper Pathogen, I'm seriously thinking of writing a darker science fiction story of the near future where people cower in fear of the very machines they thought would free them because others have taken them over for their own purposes.