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Where have you been?

I know I have been a really bad host lately. I keep inviting people to the party, but then I never show up.  I’ve been less than active on this blog and not very active on social media either. So what has been going on?

Well, I’ve been a bit down about things. I have not felt very validated as an author and have been in one of those self induced moods where I hide from the world.  But, I’ve come back out from my cave, and I didn’t see my shadow. So I think that means I am able to break down this barrier and start working on what I enjoy. And to start, I put out this blog post.

So what have I been up to?

DetCon1

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Well, lets start with the biggest of things that kept me away.  And that is DetCon1. Most of you know how excited I was about being part of the participants for this great convention. And it was really a good time.  I got to meet some great people, break down my fear of reading in public, and even got a few great compliments.

One of the things that was so cool was I got to meet, and for just a little bit, talk with John Picacio. He is one of my all time favorite artists and we talked for brief moment before he was off to do more Guest of Honor stuff.  But, he happened to know who I was.  We’ve interacted a few times on Twitter, and I guess he seemed to remember me from there.  I also attended some of his panels, including one where he broke down how he did “Girl with Microphone”, which is one of my favorite art pieces (bottom left of the picture below is my print copy which I won at the art show!).

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I also spoke to Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld at some length after one of his panels (the day before we sat on a panel together). Clarkesworld, and Neil, have been a great inspiration to my work on Plasma Frequency. And Neil was very much aware of my publication and I was so pleased to know that. He also shared some great insight with me into his own experience in the business and I was quite surprised by things I learned from him. Needless to say, it made me feel as if Plasma Frequency was doing some good in the Science Fiction short market world and I can’t wait to push forward.

Photo by Al Bogdan

Photo by Al Bogdan

I also had a panelist on my first panel tell me that I had a “Stephen King vibe” to me. I took that to be a compliment and he seemed genuinely surprised that I had not hear this before.   Perhaps that means that I am good on these panels and can be invited back for more.  I don’t believe I have signed up for WorldCon in Spokane, so I better do that now.

I had a big fear of reading in public.  I am not the best out-loud reader and I notice if more and more as I get older. I stubble over words when I read out-loud to the kids. So I was really worried.  I did have a reading, but it was late and not many people showed up.  I went last, and many people walked out during my reading. I don’t know if that was from boredom or from it being close to the end of the panel. I hope it was the later.

Plasma Frequency

Oh, this magazine of mine. It is always on the list of things that keep me from writing, but that is a good thing. We are starting year 3 with the publication of Issue 13 on September 5th. We are making some changes to the publication this year. And just like last year we are letting our readers choose half the stories we publish in the Year 2 Anthology.  You can vote on those here: LINK.

We really need the support of our readers if we hope to continue. So we are also asking for your ideas and thoughts in our survey that is just before the story voting.  We are also asking you to pick the cover artist for the anthology.  So if you have read Plasma Frequency at all, please go complete the survey.

A Day Job

So I got one of those again.  Which is good because I was out of a good paying job for sometime.  But I have one that pays pretty good now.  I am still in physical security.  The job is boring, has lots of down time, and the hours really suck.  But, I did finally get a laptop this last week.  So I can now  make use of the down time.  Can’t do much about the bad hours right now.  It is just hard on family time, especially once the kids are back in school.  But, I will make use of the downtime to get things done that need to get done.

A new cover for Volition Agent

Volition Agent eBook

So, I finally decided I needed to do something about the cover for Volition Agent.  The original cover wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t enticing buyers either. So I had Rebecca Treadway at ATRTink redo the cover.  What do you think?  I think it is awesome while still using the model and photographer that worked so hard to get me the first cover.  Also, you can now get Volition Agent on Kindle for just 99 cents. So go pick up a copy here: LINK

Family Time

So I touched on this when I mentioned the new job.  It has meant that when I am off work, I am spending time with the family. This is because I know that time won’t be around when all three kids are in school on my days off and I don’t see them. Especially since I work 18 of my 40 hours on Saturday and Sunday.  So I have been spending the time with them exploring Washington state, our new home state.

My Health

My health hasn’t been so good as of late. I am thinking my gallbladder is acting up. I was in a lot of pain off and on while at DetCon1 and lost 10 pounds in the week I was gone.  Which is odd, considering you don’t typically lose weight on a vacation.  I can’t see a doctor until 2015, unless something changes and I can get insurance before then.   That is a long story.  But I have to have them run a whole series of tests on me, because I am also dealing with some other issues health wise.  All in all I need to make sure I take care of myself.

Feelings of Failing

I touched on this at the start of this blog.  I can’t help but feel as though I am failing at doing what I love. Writing is so much fun to me, but I am just not getting the attention of readers. I recently discovered that none of my books have even broke even. And that is a bit of a sad fact of being a self-published author.  And when you feel like you are failing is can be difficult to motivate yourself to write.  So while I have a whole list above of valid reasons that kept me from writing.  This funk is the real reason.  The rest are just excuses.

So what is coming next?

Well, finally adding a laptop to the equation should help me get back into the swing of things. I will be able to get more writing and Plasma Frequency business done when I am away from home. And that is a huge plus.  It also means I will be able to finally start putting words down on the sequel to Dissolution of Peace, which is starting to be on pace to be a lot longer of a novel than the original is.  I am still trying to think of a good series title for this series.  Any ideas from my readers?

I am trying to keep my chin up.  DetCon1 was a huge boost to that.  I think once the kids are back in school, and before the Washington rain hits, I’ll take this laptop out to one of the great state parks here and use nature as my inspiration to start putting the letters on the page again.  In the meantime, I think this blog post is a good re-connection with the writing world and I’m ready to get things rolling again.

2014: Looking Ahead

10310_wpm_lowresSo it is 2014, though I am still a bit in denial about that, and now is the time everyone puts up new year posts.  I guess I will too.  There is a saying, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?” I always thought that was kind of a silly saying.  I mean if everyone is doing it, there has to be a reason for it.  So at the very least I’d start gathering some facts.

None of that has to do with 2014, I don’t foresee any massive bridge jumping events in the near future.  In fact, I am not very good at predicting the future.  If I was, the Sharks would have already won the Stanley Cup years ago.  So while I say I am looking ahead, I am really just planning ahead and hoping it all works out.

I’m not much for the resolutions thing.  The meaning of resolution has been perverted over the years, and the definition really should be changed.  Now a days a resolution is a plan you make in January and break by February (March for the diehard folks). Personally, I am so sick of the lose weight and eat better resolutions.  There are no points for originality there.  And the gym advertising that starts in late December and runs through February kills me.  Undoubtedly the gyms make money hand of fist with people who buy memberships in January and never use the gym again after April.

I do like to make plans for the new year though.  A plan sounds better.  And everyone know even the best plans go to shit real fast.  So when your “plan” gets all jacked up, it was expected all along.  I never feel nearly as guilty when my plans fail as I did when my resolutions failed.  That being said, one of my personal plans for 2014 is to lose some weight (yeah, I know what I just said).  So far so good.  Even with the holidays in the way, I’ve lost almost 12 pounds in December.  I have no plans for a gym membership though.  My new apartment has a fitness center on site, so perhaps once all the resolvers have given up, I can start using the treadmill there.  Of course, a walk around the block is also free.

I have a number of personal plans for 2014, but that really wasn’t the point of this blog.  This blog was more about what I plan to do in the writing and publishing aspects of my life.  That is why most people read my blog.  Actually the truth is I don’t really know why most people read my blog.  I’m not even sure how many people bother to read past the few corny jokes.  So I suppose if you’ve made it this far down my blog, I owe you some good solid blogging.  But, as my credit rating suggests, I rarely deliver on what I owe.

broken trustMy first goal for 2014 is to release three novels this year.

Three.  The past two years I’ve only released one a year.  And many writers were surprised I had time to release them that fast.  So three is a pretty lofty goal.

Here is what stands in the way: Broken Trust is already way behind schedule.  So at this point a March release seems impossible.  My editor, who I love to work with, is also very behind.  I’m guessing May before that one comes out.  The sequel to Dissolution of Peace is slow going.  I’ve been hitting a lot of stumbling blocks on that one.  Hopefully the ball gets rolling on that one.  And finally, I don’t have a solid novel idea in place for the third novel this year.

Here is why it can happen: Broken Trust is almost ready right now.  So I just need to get it rolling through the process again and it will be ready for release. All the cards are in place.  The sequel to Dissolution of Peace is being written and once I find my groove, I can tear out a lot of words per day.  For that third novel, I am playing around with a Volition Agent sequel (though I hadn’t planned on one).  Volition Agent was always planned to be a stand alone book.  But I am thinking about writing more about Lexia.  I do also have plans for a third novel in the Dissolution of Peace story line.  And I left Broken Trust open for a sequel as well.  But I also have ideas in their infancy for other novels.  One, could be an elaboration of my first short story “Death Watch“.

My second goal is to increase the pay rates at Plasma Frequency.

I had really hoped to do this in 2013.  I wanted to push hard to triple our rates, but the goal was just out of reach for a number of reasons.  But, I learned a lot in 2013 about the business and have made some changes.  This year I hope to go from 1 cent to at least 2 cents by the end of 2014.

Here is what stands in the way:  The funding is the biggest challenge.  I still fund about 95% of the operating costs for the magazine.  And not that I am out of work I can’t afford to increase those costs.  Also, increasing our readership has been harder than I expected.

Here is why it can happen:  We recently started charging for our electronic issue.  We’ve seen a slight reduction in electronic subscriptions but we did see an increase in print subscriptions.  Amazon gives us more exposure and that has resulted in a steady increase in readership.  We’ve also seen an increase in social media interactions and reader feedback.  All this means Plasma Frequency is on the up and coming.

My third goal is to start speaking at Conventions.

After attending Lone Star Con 3 this year.  I knew I wanted to speak at these convention panels.

Here is what stands in the way:  I don’t have much “cred” to get convention programmers to consider me.  That is the hardest part.  I also have to have the money to get to many of these conventions.  I’m still learning what conventions there are and when they are.

Here is why it can happen:  I’ve already applied to DetCon to participate.  I am already going there and I keep hoping they will contact me for at least one panel.  I’ve also started looking into all the other conventions out there.  Also, I am confident once someone gives me the chance I’d be really good at it.  I love public speaking.  And, as my blog reflects, I love sharing my experience and knowledge with others.

My forth goal is to expand what I do.

I want to be a writer.  I don’t want a day job anymore.  Of course, I need one.  Writers rarely make major amounts of money.  But my hope is to expand what I write and what I publish so that writing become more of a substantial source of income.

Here is what stands in the way:  The odds.  Making a lot of sales on my books is tough.  Also, to make more I need to write more.  And funding so I can publish more is also a challenge.  Plus, once I get a day job that gets in the way of writing time.  Also, it can be hard to write new things when you are so used to what you already write.  I write Sci-Fi.  I’ve considered non-fiction recently but fiction is what I know so that is a challenge in itself.

Here is why it can happen:  If I keep writing, the sales are bound to happen.  The more books I put out (hopefully 3 this year) means the more I have to sell.  Also, in the coming weeks Plasma Frequency will be announcing a plan to publish longer fiction.  As far as non-fiction goes, that is what I blog.  So I suppose that if I put my mind to it I can find a topic to write a non-fiction book on.  Though with my current publishing plans, the non-fiction book likely wouldn’t release until 2015.

So those are my plans for my writing career in 2014.  Now to see what actually happens.

Project Announcements

As always, I have several projects going on in my life.  There are some things that I can’t wait to share with you, so I am going to give you a few updates on some projects.  I’ll ask for a little bit of your on input on some of these.  So please feel free to leave a few comments with your thoughts.  I’d love the feedback.

Dissolution of Peace Second Edition

Dissolution of Peace CoverAs most of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know, I have hired another editor to do over the manuscript of Dissolution of Peace and fix the mistakes that were missed by me despite my first editor’s best efforts.  I am a difficult person to be an editor for because I simply don’t get it.  There are many grammar and spelling rules that I simply don’t understand.  And even when they are explained to me a thousand times, I just don’t get it.  So even though my first editor was amazing, I still missed a lot of stuff.

I hired a new editor for Volition Agent, and I have since hired her to look over Dissolution of Peace again.  The main reason I felt compelled to get this done right away is that I got a big explosion of reviews. And, while all the reviews seem to love the story, a lot pointed out distracting grammar mistakes.  And, I listed to my readers and feel that fixing those will be a simple thing to do.  My new editor Tiffany Carrera is a great match for my books.  She is patient with me and my lack of knowledge, she deals with me constantly asking “how much longer”, and she has a passion for assisting writers with getting their work to be as perfect as possible.  Tiffany is also a prior member of the military, which is handy since I write a lot of stories with a Military and/or Police element to them.

At last update from Tiffany, she was a little over halfway through it.  My hope was to get it out by the one year anniversary of the book, but that doesn’t look likely.  Maybe by my birthday in November (feel free to send gifts) I will have it out.  I am going to ask Amazon to notify all of those who bought the kindle edition, so that they can download the updated version.  Hopefully that won’t be a problem.  But that will be up to Amazon.  Of course I will update on Twitter, Facebook, and here.

The Next Novel

I am really excited about my next novel.  I recently asked my social media followers to give their ideas on a few titles for the next book.  I am terrible with titles and I always will be.  I originally billed this as being a Post Apocalyptic/ Dystopian novel.  But I think I will cross off the Dystopian part.  In fact, it has more to do with rebuilding than any dystopia.  There are two titles out of the list that I really like.  Broken Trust and The Council’s Mistake.  I am leaning more towards Broken Trust because it plays on several levels of the story and in several different story lines.  Though the story is also propelled by several of the Council’s mistakes, the title doesn’t work for me is some way.  I would like to know what you think of the titles, let me know.

I have also put together a blurb for the book.  Tell me what you think:

Liam Fisher never wanted to be a leader.  But after finding the survivors, protecting them, and founding the city-state of Lagoon Hills; the people demanded he be their leader.  Instead, Liam agreed to sit on a Council with four other leaders, each of them with a specialty.

Together with Talya Brooks, the person who saved his life after the collapse, Liam runs the militia of Lagoon Hills.  And though it was tough early on, the people of the city now live in relative comfort and safety.

But Liam is fighting his own personal demons: The loss of his wife and unborn son. Rachel, his long lost love has suddenly arrived in the city. And a neighboring city-state is threatening war.

The people of Lagoon Hills are counting on Liam for their safety.  Can he keep himself together and be the leader everyone wants him to be? Or will the people closest to him be the greatest threat of all?

I feel like it captures a lot of the essence of this book.

So what is the next step for this book?  Well I am currently about 25% of the way through the second draft.  I don’t waste time of creating a second draft.  I mentioned before that I don’t find much use for a “cooling off period” and so I tend to dive right in.

Once completed with the second draft I will be asking for beta readers.  If you are interested please let me know.  Beta readers are a very important part of the writing process.  All too ofter I have trouble finding Beta readers, and even more trouble getting them to respond in a timely manner.  I am hoping to have it ready for Beta reading by the middle to end of the month.  All of November I will be working on NaNoWriMo, but I would like to work on Beta edits for this book in December.  I hope to get it to Tiffany in January and maybe see a release by March.  Maybe…  Anyway, if you want to Beta Read, please let me know, just make sure a November reading works for you.

Also I am looking for cover art.  Either premade or custom made.  So feel free to leave your artist suggestions too.

NaNoWriMo

I am going to make a first time honest effort to do NaNoWriMo this November.  I already know what I am going to write and I am already working on the plot points in my head.  I will be writing the sequel to Dissolution of Peace and I am excited to get this project started.  I’ve talked before about why NaNoWriMo is so tough for me.  But I really want to do it this year, so here is hoping I am up for the challenge.  I know I am excited about it.  I may actually have a title for the sequel too.  But, I am not sure what to call this series.  I need to give it a series name for the sake of my own sanity.  I have been tossing around ideas for some time now.  If you have some ideas, please let me know.  You can probably expect some other NaNo updates as November comes along.

Author Features

I’ve had a few successful author feature posts over the last two months.  I am really enjoying doing these.  You should sign up if you’d like me to assist you in promoting your works.  I have dates in November and December open for all of the feature types.  You can find out more about those by going to the Author Feature page (under contact me).

Plasma Frequency Anthology

Kindle Cover

After so much work, the Plasma Frequency Anthology has been released and is available on Amazon for your Kindle or in Paperback.  The cover art is amazing and was done by Laura Givens, who has done number of art works for our magazine.  Please consider checking it out.  The money raised from selling the anthology goes right back to the magazine.

On the topic of the magazine, Issue 8 released earlier this month.  We made some major changes to Plasma Frequency after all the knowledge I picked up at WorldCon.  We revamped the website, we revamped the magazine, and we changed how we distribute the magazine.  Working with Amazon and Weightless Books should prove to be a good thing for our publication.

We are also looking for good people to help us with our magazine.  Namely in the marketing and social media and in the need for additional readers.  If you are interested, you can find out more on our website.

WorldCon 2014

I had such a blast at WorldCon this year that I really wanted to go to London.  But, the deck has been stacked against me.  The final straw was when I found out that LonCon 3 will take place right at the same time by kids start school.  And 2014 will be my youngest first day of school ever.  Somethings are more important than conventions, and family is one of those.  So I won’t be going to London, unless something changes, but it is unlikely.

I will however be going to the NaSFIC in Detroit this year.  I am excited about going to this and have already upgraded to an attending membership.  I’ve also already submitted my participant ideas and suggestions.  The odds of me being chosen to speak on any panels is probably slim, but I wanted to try.  As many of my regular blog followers know, I have no problem sharing my opinion and giving tips and tricks that I learned along the way.

I wonder what other conventions would some of you suggest I attend?  I am knew the convention scene and only really know of WorldCon/NaSFIC.  I don’t really know of many others.  What others are great for writers like myself?  What about conventions that would be good for my to attend as an Editor for a magazine?  Let me know what you suggest.  I think I could get used to attending a few convention a year.

Other Events

What other events can you think of?  When Dissolution of Peace is ready for the second edition, I plan to contact a few local book stores for a book signing.  We have a small shop in downtown here.  I think there are some other small town bookstores around.  I don’t know how much interest a Barnes and Noble would have in me.  Any suggestions on that?  What other places might be a good spot for a book signing?  As I release more books, (maybe I will even have four out by the time I go to Detroit) I hope to attend more signings and events.  So I would love to hear your suggestions.

Narrowing Down my Ambitions

I wrote a post a little bit ago about getting focused on what I want.  And besides being so busy with all the stuff above, I have tried to limit all the other distractions.  There are people in my family who don’t seem to understand that I am working to a goal and therefore may spend a lot of time in my office.  And I think next week I will write a blog on the difficulties of choosing a “hobby” as a career. That should be an interesting post.  See you next week.

FREE eBOOKS!

As I announced a few days ago, today my books are officially free on Amazon.com.  Get a copy for your Kindle for free!

Both Volition Agent and Dissolution of Peace are 100% free for Kindle.  Please pick up a copy and share the links with your friends.  We can make these books top sellers!  The are free until Labor Day so get your copies soon!

Volition Agent - Kindle Cover (Hires jpg) Dissolution of Peace Cover

 

 

 

WorldCon Upcoming and Other News

Last week I didn’t do my normal blog post, the one from the Monday before was very emotionally draining and I needed a break.  I wasn’t surprised that post got little attention, even from my friends, but there is still something about laying it all out there that drains you.  The good news is I am feeling much better.  I wrote more on my work in progress, got a very good review on Dissolution of Peace (see below) and have been working hard to get ready for WorldCon.

WorldCon!

For those that don’t know about WorldCon, it is the World Science Fiction Convention.  It is held annually and also is the host for the Hugo Awards.  I’ve been trying to go to one for three years now.  When I first learned about WorldCon, I tried to go to Renovation, but at the last minute I had to cancel.  That was a shame because it was only about a four hour drive from my house.  Chicago was just not going to happen, the cost was too much.  But finally this year I get to go.  Lone Star Con 3, in San Antonio looks like a ton of fun.  But I made several mistakes that I will have to plan for next year (though I don’t think I will get to London, I hope to get to the North American Science Fiction Convention (takes place when WorldCon is not in North America).

First, I had no idea about the panels.  That is to say, I knew that there were discussion panels to see.  What I didn’t know was that I could ask to be on them.  Second, I delayed to long to get back to them about a signing.  Third, I couldn’t get a Dealer’s Table for Plasma Frequency.  But, I think this actually works out better.  I get to experience the convention, learn all there is to learn about it, and hopefully next year I will know better where I can help out.

I am beyond excited.  I’ve got some business cards to hand out for the magazine, and I have some postcards to hand out during the event.  The postcards are for my book and they are announcing a way to get both my books free.  I’ll explain that more soon.

Whether you are a fan of my books, fan of Plasma Frequency, or a writer/artist looking to talk to me in person about getting your work in Plasma Frequency; I hope you will seek me out.  I’d love to meet with writers, artists, and other professionals in the industry.  If you see me there, please feel free to say Hello!  If I have  a moment I would be happy to talk to you.  Also, I understand that you can leave a message for me on the Voodoo message board.

While I was not able to get involved in any of the panels as a panelist.  I fully plan to attend a lot of convention activities.  Below is a list of some of the activities I plan to attend.  Of course, I may have to cancel some of these depending on what else I discover.  But maybe I will see some of you at these. (Sorry if I butchered any of the panel names, I wrote them from my memory).

Thursday:

4pm Self Promotion

5pm Opening Ceremonies

9pm Best Practices for Booksellers

Friday:

4pm The Romance of Military SF

5pm How Magazines are Changing in a Digital World

8pm How to build a Book Campain

Saturday:

11am How to Write a Short Story

12pm Planning a Starship

2pm LSC3 Film Festival

4pm The shift for Print to Electronic

5pm Writing Combat

Sunday:

10am Mars and/or Bust

11am Should SF consider the Furture

1pm Crowdfunding

2pm Real Animals in a Fantasy World

5pm Extend your book into Social Media

8pm Hugo Awards

Monday:

10am Writing outside Genre

12pm Armed Society is a Polite Society

3pm Closing Ceremonies

The rest of the time I will be either moving around the convention to see the exhibits or out sightseeing in San Antonio.  I plan to spend some time at the Riverwalk, the Tower of the Americas and the Alamo. When I get back, I plan to write a blog post all about my experiences there.  I’ll also be on my Twitter and Facebook with updates of where I am and what I am seeing.  I also will have an article in Issue 8 of Plasma Frequency all about the trip.

Get My Books Free!

Design by Mister Signs

Design by Mister Signs

Design by Mister Signs

Design by Mister Signs

In honor of my first WorldCon and because I can’t think of a better way to get the attention of a ton of Science Fiction readers, I have made Dissolution of Peace and Volition Agent free for Kindle from August 29th to September 2nd.  Five full days to celebrate my books and WorldCon.  I would really like to see my book make some “Top Seller” lists on Amazon.  My readers did wonders with Dissolution of Peace on its first free day.  So please spread the word that these books are going to be free on Amazon.  The more people who know the better!  Thank you!

New Dissolution of Peace Review!

Bookworm Babblings reviewed Dissolution of Peace today!  They were very excited about this book and said some excellent things.  It really brightened my mood.  Please go give it a read, and leave a comment if you’d like.

 

Hope to see some of you at WorldCon!  See you next week for my post about the trip!

 

 

Volition Agent Release Party!

It is official.  Today Volition Agent came out on Amazon.com. Which means, I officially released my second novel!  I am so excited for this novel and I hope you guys are too.

BOOK COVER:

Volition Agent - Kindle Cover (Hires jpg)

BOOK TRAILER:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/L7cxwbEllBs]

BLURB:

Lexia is an ordinary person, with no special training or unique skills. That is until Lance, her handler, jumps in and takes full control of her every action. With Lance, Lexia is one of the deadliest government agents. Without him, she is a useless civilian who is completely disposable. When one of her missions goes wrong quickly, Lexia finds herself scrambling to escape capture. The agency she works for disavows any knowledge of her existence and leaves her for local authorities to arrest her on murder charges. Lexia must fend for herself if she wants to survive. With no clues, minimal training, and an unlikely ally she searches for answers. The agency wants her dead. Can Lexia stop them? Or are they still in control?

BUY THE BOOK:

US Paperback: (ISBN: 978-0615840802) Regular price is $6.49, but at the time of this post Amazon has it at 10% off!

US Kindle: (ASIN: B00DMCLTQM)Regular price is $1.99, you can borrow free if you are on Amazon Prime

UK Paperback: Coming SOON

UK Kindle:

I will hope that many of you will run over to Amazon.com and at least spare $1.99 for the Kindle copy.  The sudden increase in sales would be great for opening week.  And $1.99 is very little compared to other things we spend money on.  Besides, you will want to read Lexia’s story over and over again.

RELEASE PARTY

It is time to have a big part to celebrate my second novel being published!  So for the next week I will be playing all types of games, contests, giveaways, and blog posts.

Games:

I am going to play a few social media games over the coming days.  The other night I played one on Facebook with trivia questions about the book release.  To maximize your chances of winning copies of my book, I suggest you follow me on my four social media outlets: My blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  Over the next week there will be different games you can play by following these.  I’ll be giving away Kindle Copies of the book for prizes (and maybe other prizes).

Watch for more games on my social media sites!

Giveaways

There is currently a Goodreads Giveaway, and by later this afternoon there will be a Rafflecopter giveaway by tomorrow morning.  The best way to find both of these is by visiting my website and clicking on the giveaways tab.

Photo Contest:

Recently cover artist Kristin Irons and cover mode Joy Anna received their paperback copies of the book and sent me some pictures.  Below are pictures of each of us with our copies.

Kristin shows of her logo!

Kristin shows of her logo!

Joy shows off her work as Lexia.

Joy shows off her work as Lexia.

Richard with his second novel.

Richard with his second novel.

These photos got me thinking.  To honor Kristin and Joy’s talents in photography, I thought it would be fun to have a photo contest.  So here is what I am doing.  You can enter between now and August 2nd.  Take your picture with your copy of Volition Agent.  Once I have all the pictures, I’ll decide which are the best and they will win some prizes (see below).  Of course there are contest rules and directions for entering below.  Be creative, have fun, and take some great pictures.  I’ll be scoring them on their creativity, and fun.  Winners will be announced by August 13th.

Prizes:

1st Place – $100 Amazon Gift Card

2nd Place – $75 Amazon Gift Card

3rd Place – $50 Amazon Gift Card

4th Place – $25 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Rules:

Be submitting a picture you agree to the following Terms:

Submit a picture by posting in on Richard Flores IV Facebook Page timeline, if that does not work you can enter by emailing me the picture to floresiv.richard@gmail.com.  Tagging photos, or other methods of submitting photos will not be accepted.

By submitting the picture, the picture becomes Richard Flores IV’s property and you agree that Richard can use the picture for marketing, and promotional purposes.  Some examples, but not limited to, posting on my blog, website, and social media sites.

Pictures must be submitted by 11:59pm pacific time on 8/2/2013 to be considered.  Pictures submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Photos must include the entrant and a copy of Volition Agent (ISBN: 978-0615840802) where the cover can be seen and readily identified as belonging to said book.  Those are the only two requirement, the rest is up to you.

Limit two photos per entrant.

Winners are determined solely based on Richard Flores IV’s discretion by methods determined by him.

Prizes will be paid to the entrant only.  Richard Flores IV is not responsible for agreements the entrant may have made with other people involved in the photo submitted.

Family of Richard Flores IV, those that work for Plasma Spyglass Press, and those involved in the production of Volition Agent (Editors, Cover Artists, Cover Models) are not eligible for this contest.  When there is a doubt on eligibility, Richard Flores IV will be the sole decider of eligibility.

Richard Flores IV reserves the right to exclude photos from the contest if he feels the content is not appropriate for the contest.  If said picture is deemed unacceptable, Richard Flores IV will notify the entrant.  They will still be allowed to enter to win if they wish to enter another photo.  Removed photos will not count against the entrants maximum number of photos.

By submitting a photo for the contest you agree to these terms and conditions.  If these terms are violated your entrance will be removed and prizes forfeited.

Blog Posts:

Several people have agreed to post reviews, author interviews, and book features.  If you want to post a review on your blog (I’ll send you a free Kindle copy in return), do an author interview, or feature the book, please feel free to contact me.  I will be posting links to various posts as they are posted.  I typically post these on Facebook and Twitter.

Volition Agent – Chapter 2 reveal and Preorder details

We have only one more week until Volition Agent releases for public sale.  To honor this, and to get you wanting more, I’ve decided to share Chapter Two with all of you.  If you haven’t yet, you can read chapter one hereVolition Agent releases on Kindle and Paperback on July 2nd.  The Nook release is still TBD.

You can add Volition Agent to your Goodreads here, and please do.

If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can get an Advance Reader Copy in PDF or Kindle formats.  All I ask is for a review on your blog.  Contact me and we can discuss this.

If you want to pre-order your paperback copy of Volition Agent, you can do this through Createspace (an Amazon company), the book printer.  If you order today, and use standard shipping, it should arrive very close to the release date (or earlier).  There are currently no options to pre-order for Kindle.  So if you’d like a Kindle copy early, the only way to get it is to be a book blogger/reviewer and get an ARC.

Paperback Pre-Order

Below you will see the print cover spread.  I think it is absolutely great.  Once again I have to thank Kristin Irons and Joy Anna.  With out them the cover would be very lack luster.

Here is Chapter 2:

Volition Agent Book Spread

Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons and Richard Flores IV

Volition Agent: Chapter 2

Copyright Richard Flores IV

Lexia burst through the door into the alley, still cursing at Lance. She shut up when she saw the red and blue lights reflecting off the buildings. Lexia peaked around the corner slowly before pulling her head back.

“Please tell me that isn’t your car out front,” Lance said in her mind.

Lexia just nodded. She ran down the back of the alley. Two cops came around the back of the building.

“You, stop!” One ordered.

Lexia turned around and ran the other way. Two more came around the front of the building. Lexia looked back and forth at the cops. She took a few steps back and then ran her way through the door of the neighboring building.

She sprinted down the hall, ignoring the cops yelling at her. She hit the end of the building and came to a door. It was locked.

“Hurry up, Lance.”

“I didn’t exactly expect you to park right in front of the target.”

“This wasn’t an assassination assignment either,” Lexia said as the door clicked open. She sprinted up the stairs.

“She attacked us.”

“We’d disarmed her,” Lexia yelled.

“Listen, I handled it within regulations.”

“Regulations! She was a mom; that baby has no parents now thanks to your trigger finger.”

“Can we focus on getting out of here?”

They crashed through the last door and onto the roof. Lexia looked around quickly. “Well, how are we getting out of this?”

The building was shorter than the other two next to it. Three floors, if Lexia counted the flights correctly. This building was twice as wide too. She started to run to the back of the building. She could hear the cops coming up the last set of stairs. She looked over the edge. It backed up to the next street over. From down there she would have a better chance of escaping.

“No way,” she said.

“It’s a survivable jump.”

“It’s my broken bones.”

You want to be arrested?” Lance’s voice rang through her head. “You know the rules.”

The Agency would disavow her in an instant. She looked back at the door. She took three steps back. “I don’t really have a choice.”

Lexia ran forward and jumped from the building. She opened her eyes for the landing just in time to see a cop car coming around the corner. Hitting the ground, Lexia rolled over several times. The cop car slammed on the brakes and swerved as she tumbled in front of it. The car hit a lamp post.

She jumped up in an instant and took off running down the street. Lexia heard more sirens in the distance, each getting closer. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw another cop car round the corner. The sound of the car behind her was close. She thought she could feel the heat of the engine as it barred down on her. At the last moment she cut down another alley.

Lexia heard the car screech to a halt. She looked over her shoulder to see another cop chasing her. She rounded a corner right into another dead end.

“Did you even look at any of the maps?” Lexia’s voice snipped at Lance.

“Shut up.” Lance’s voice chilled her spine.

The cop came around the corner. His gun pointed at Lexia.

“Hands up!” The cop ordered. Lexia was glad Lance listened. “Turn around slowly, in a complete circle.”

Lexia kept turning and turning until she spun one full time around and now faced away from the cop.

“Stop. Down to your knees.”

Lexia followed the instructions and put her arms on the back of her head. She waited nervously as she heard the cop approaching behind her. He was slow and methodical in his steps. She prayed Lance had a plan out of this.

She felt the handcuffs ratchet onto her right wrist. Just as the cop began to pull her wrist, Lexia dropped forward and pulled hard, toppling them both over. Her wrist screamed in pain as she grappled with the officer.

They rolled over and she managed to get a solid punch to his face. He shoved her off of him. Lexia began to topple backwards, but managed to catch her balance and lunged forward. Knocking the cop over again. Grappling with his arm until she finally pinned him to the ground, she pulled his arm behind his back. She used her other hand to flip open the cops handcuff case. She used his cuffs to restrain him. She pulled him up and sat him against the wall.

“I think he’s back here,” Lexia heard a voice yell out.

“I’m here!” The cop yelled.

Lexia knocked him out in one swift blow.

“Was that necessary?” Lexia asked.

“The fire escape,” Lance said.

Lexia looked up. She took a run, jumped up on a dumpster, kicked off the wall and just barely caught the bottom of the fire escape ladder. She pulled herself up quickly to the first landing. She checked the window, locked.

“Up there, on the escape!” A cop called out.

She scaled the next ladder and found an open window. Slipping inside, Lexia quickly made her way for the door. She flung it open and ran for the elevator. After hitting the button twenty times the elevator opened. Lexia pressed the basement button inside and leaned against the back wall trying to catch her breath.

“Now what?” She said between gasps.

“Basement parking garage.” Lance’s voice didn’t sound very reassuring in her head.

“They’re bound to have the building surrounded.”

The elevator opened. A strong odor of urine entered. Lexia peeked out cautiously. She didn’t see anyone among the dimly lit rows of parked cars. She ran until she spotted a sedan and walked around it. Taking the handcuff still hanging from her bleeding wrist, Lexia swung hard at the glass. First time nothing happened, just a loud noise that surely told everyone she was down here. The second time the window shattered.

“Well, they know we’re here now,” Lexia said as she slid into the car. “I don’t know how to hot-wire a car.”

“I do. So just let me work,” Lance said.

Lexia just let Lance have complete control as he went to work. The sound of the orphaned child’s cries rang in her mind. She couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d done. She was sure this wasn’t the first child whose parents she had killed, but she just couldn’t get the crying out of her head.

The engine roared to life. She sat up and put the car in reverse and pulled out slowly. As Lexia drove up the ramp she was kept her speed within reason. She was glad Lance didn’t want to draw attention.

She came out to the street and pulled away slowly. She was careful not to look in the direction of a cop, who was just coming out of the alley. Two more cop cars screamed past her. As she turned on the next street she gunned it.

“Can you get to the safe house from here?” Lance asked.

“I hope so.”

“Don’t go home until I can get things in place with The Agency.”

Crap! They got my car out front. It wouldn’t be long until they figure out who I am. How could I have been so stupid as to park nearby?

“Lexia, you understand?” Lance’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “Go to the safe house, stay there. I’m jumping out.”

Copyright Richard Flores IV

PRE-ORDER: PAPERBACK

Official Volition Agent Book Trailer!

As you know I have been hard at work getting Volition Agent ready for publication.  Well, actually over the last week I haven’t done much with the book itself.  You see my editor has it, so she is hard at work getting it ready for me to get ready to publish.  So in the mean time I went to work on a Book Trailer for Volition Agent.  This one was a lot harder for me than the Dissolution of Peace book trailer.  The main issue being that Lexia has already been so perfectly defined by Joy Anna’s portrayal in the cover art.  This left me with more of a challenge.  No stock footage I could find of women with guns fit the image of Lexia.  So I scrapped that idea all together and went in this direction.

I really like the music I found to accompany this.  It is a stock piece for one of the stock material sites I visit often.  You may also notice a date has been picked for the release.  I know when I originally announced the novel I said the first part of June, but these things take time and so July 2, 2013 is the official release date.  Though there will likely be some Advanced Reader Copies arriving a little before that.  If you are a book reviewer, or review blogger, and want to review this book before it comes out let me know.  So without further chatter from me.  Here is the trailer (I recommend HD).

[youtube=http://youtu.be/L7cxwbEllBs]

What a Book Tour Journey!

10310_wpm_lowresSo today is May 13th and that means the Dissolution of Peace blog tour is officially over.  The folks over at Orangeberry book tours did an amazing job getting everyday filled with some type of post.  There were a few of my followers that even signed up for a day.  I was disappointed that none of the Book Reviews came threw, in the end they all wound up being book features.  But other than that, the tour was a lot of fun.  With the giveaway and the tour I gained some new blog, Facebook, and Twitter followers.

Truthfully, I didn’t sell many books on this tour.  So in terms of getting a return on my investment, the tour was not even close to successful.  But you can’t always measure these things in dollars and cents.  And while I eventually want to write for a career, I never became a writer to make a ton of money.  I will likely do a book tour again.

Don’t forget you have another week to enter the Giveaway and a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift card.  So go over the this page and enter to win.  Don’t miss out on that chance.  You can gain five more entries from checking out this blog, just enter “Orangeberry” as the pass code.

All my blog tour hosts were great, but I did have a few favorite stops.  Here are a few of them for you to go back and read:

Here is my stop at Anya Breton’s Blog.  I enjoyed my interview with Michael McDuffee on his blog.  My guest post at KY Bunnies Blog was a topic I talk about a lot.  You can find a excerpt of Dissolution of Peace on Gentleman Reads.  Find out why I don’t use an outline on this post at Blog-A-Licious Authors.  And last, find out ten things you didn’t know about me at Books are Magic.  You can find a full list of all my tour stops here.

As I mentioned, Orangeberry did a great job filling the tour.  They did so well, that there are lots of posts still to come.  I will post those on Facebook and Twitter as they come along.  Please check them out.

As a special thanks to everyone who followed along on the tour, I am going to post at excerpt of my next novel at 3pm pacific time!  Other than five beta readers, no one has seen the first chapters of Volition Agent, I am excited to share it all with you!  I’ve also never shared an excerpt before, so if this creates a buzz maybe I’ll have a few more sneak peaks.  In either case, make sure you come back to see it (I might even add more entries to the giveaway).  And if you haven’t yet you can purchase and review Dissolution of Peace on Amazon.

Self Editing and What are Beta Readers

I’ve mentioned this several times, but my work goes through a process before I set it up for publication.  A quick summary:

I write it.

I self edit it.

I send it to Beta Readers.

I self edit it (again).

I send it to a professional editor.

I fix it.

I have it published.

When I list it all out like this it seems very simple.  But anyone who has ever put words on paper knows it isn’t so simple.  Most writers understand the first part.  Write it.  And most writers are capable of sending it to a professional editor and changing what they mark up.  But many writers miss the middle parts.  And, like a sandwich, the meaty parts are in the middle.

Self Editing

IMG_20130406_142102_592If you’re going to send this off to professional editor, why is self editing so important?  Well, two things.  Editors are humans too, they won’t catch everything.  Especially if your manuscript is error plagued. Second, you will quickly find that you discover a lot about what doesn’t work in your story’s plot by doing a self edit.

When I self edit, I find that I still miss a lot.  So I learned a little trick, and tried it out for the first time with the Volition Agent manuscript. I printed the entire manuscript and went over it, using a red pen to mark up what changes I needed.  I use the red pen because it stands out.  So when I went back to make changes, I could find them quickly and fix them quickly.  I print it out because it gives me a chance to read my words in a different way than I did on a computer screen.  When you look at your words in a different way, things stick out that you would otherwise miss.

When I self edit, I look for the following things:

Grammar mistakes.  This is the first thing I look for, though I am also the first to admit I am very bad at catching them.  Though I did find that having the manuscript printed in front of me (versus on my computer screen) was much easier at seeing these things.  But still, I recognize that grammar is not my strong suit so I do my best with checking for this stuff.

Punctuation errors. For me, this is most often missing punctuation.  No period.  Using a period when I meant for a question mark. The other thing that I have a habit of doing is putting a quotation mark at the end of the paragraphs during multiple paragraph dialogue (by one speaker). So I have to remove those.

Typos. I type at 60 words a minute with no errors.  But when I write my stories, I typed at 80-90 words per minute with a lot of errors.  Some have told me to just slow down.  But when I type from my mind, my mind goes much faster then 60 words a minute.  Probably much faster then 90 words per minute.  So I often find a lot of typos, missing words, or added words.  Easy to fix, and really easy to spot when you read it.

Plot Errors. I’m not an outline writer, so I ofter find things in the early chapters that I missed or didn’t need to continue the story for the later chapters.  I’d say 90% of my red marks on my manuscript this time around were for plot and prose issues.  Either to remove something or to add something.  In fact, I reworked the entire ending and will be going back to add 5 new chapters throughout the book.  Some will say this is why outlines work.  But I also know many outline writers.  They too say the bulk of their self editing goes to the plot.  The most important part of your story is the plot, followed by how you tell it.  Remember this doesn’t just include missing or extra plot points.  This includes all aspects of your story not related to the above topics.

Said Tag.  English teachers love to tell you about the 1,000 different way to say ‘said’ or now I think they want to make it a million ways.  It is all a bunch of bull. It is made up by English teachers (just like the author’s message). Said is the simplest (and most over looked) word to describe dialogue.  Since I write a lot of official reports at work, I am am trained to write “stated” on most dialogue in my reports.  So I often find my stories are loaded with “stated” instead of “said”. So I have to fix those.  But the best way to break up dialogue is not with “said” but with some type of action.  For example: “I’m writing my blog,” Richard didn’t even look away from what he was doing.  His fingers still clicked on the keyboard. “I’ll take care of the garbage when I am done.”  So where applicable, I avoid using any dialogue tag and use action.

Repeated words.  My characters like to look at each other a lot.  They also love to smile.  So I often over use those two words.  Repeated words are not always bad, sometimes it is required to make a point.  But overuse of any word will be noticed by a reader and can become jarring.  So I look for those.  I also look for repeated phrases and dialogue points through out my story.

What are Beta Readers?

I’m having a heck of a time finding beta readers for Volition Agent. I think this is largely because people don’t understand what a beta reader is.  If you know video games, beta testers get their hands on an early copy (not finished) of a game.  They get to play it and in return they provide feedback to the game developer.  They let them know about glitches in the game, issues with game play, story elements that seem out of place, and an overall opinion of the game.  The developers take that information consider it all and then make changes where they think they should.

Beta readers do the same thing.  They get an early copy of the book.  They read over it, point out mistakes, things that confused them, story issues, grammar mistakes, and provide an overall opinion of the story.  The writer takes all this information and uses it to make the book better.  Just as a developer won’t change everything the testers complain about, an author won’t change everything.  But they will make the story better as a result of the Beta Readers’ input.

Authors need a cross section of beta readers.  I recommend you get a few who don’t read your genre.  I recommend a few that are writers.  Also a few that are editors.  And then a few that are just readers of your genre.  Can you have too many beta readers?  Yes.  If you get overloaded with information it won’t do you any good.  But if you have too few readers, then you won’t get a good sampling for your book.  The number is up to you.  Somewhere between not enough and too much is what I recommend.

Beta Reading shouldn’t be confused with Advanced Reader Copies (ARC).  Typically ARCs are finished.  They are handed out to reviewers in exchange to get review quotes to hopefully use on the book itself. That’s how all those review quotes wind up on the book the day it is published.  Sometimes review quotes are gathered from Beta copies, but that isn’t the purpose of a beta reader.  The beta reader is there to improve the work so the author can put out the best story possible.  Advanced Readers are there so the author can better market their work.

Why self edit again?

If you took all the information from beta readers, and did nothing with it.  Well that would be a complete waste of everyone’s time.  While you might not change everything the beta readers point out.  If the majority of them say that a certain scene doesn’t work.  It would be best if you made it work.  Once you make significant changes you need to review those changes for yourself, the same way you did the first time.  That will involve a whole rereading.  But it is worth it to put out the best book you can.

Once you’ve got the meat together in you sandwich, it’s time for the top piece of bread.  Get a professional editor and have them review it.  Then your sandwich, um I mean story, will be ready for the masses.