Friday, December 10, 2021

How Do You Define Success?

From December 3, 2021

Hi, Packmates!

A little over three decades ago, when I was trying to kick a serious drug habit, my support group encouraged me to regard every day I made it through without using drugs a successful day.

It was good advice. Especially since so much of my life at the time was crashing and burning around me, I needed something to hold onto that indicated a positive direction. But as the one-day-at-a-times accumulated into months and years, I needed to raise the bar on the definition of success. I wanted to succeed in my career, build a good marriage, raise a kid who didn't turn into a serial killer, stuff like that.

Some of those things turned out successfully ... some, not. (I'm happy to say, there's not a single body part stored in my son's freezer - that I know of.) But, through it all, it was a good idea not to lose sight of that original success definition - each day without using drugs.

Okay, I won't elaborate further on that. If you're a recovering drug addict, you know what I'm talking about. If not, let me give another example.

When I decided to reawaken a lifelong dream of becoming an author, I knew the first thing I had to do was write a book. When I finished one and published it, I called it a success. And I think anyone who's ever tried to write a first novel would agree. But after I finished a series and decided to write full time, I raised the bar on my definition of success. Wisely (I think), I didn't raise it too high. I just wanted to be able to afford to keep writing. So far, the bills are paid (mostly), and I'm not starving.

Now I'm raising the bar a bit higher. I'm doing a real book launch, with a marketing campaign, promotions, the whole nine yards. I'm not sure what success might look like. Mr. Miyagi talks about best seller lists and movie deals. Me? I'm hoping to cover my costs. Whatever happens, I don't want to lose sight of the fact that I finished the book, published it ... and it's a good one.

This Month's Feedback Question: What's something you've been successful at? How did you determine it was a success? Got anything in the works? Leave a comment below.

Wahoo Moment: It's here! The ebook launch date is set for January 27, 2022. You can order it now on Amazon.

<View on Amazon>

This Month's Giveaway: This month I ran a giveaway of a signed paperback copy of Half Human to the first three responders to my newsletter. At the time of this blog post, all copies are claimed. Unfortunately, I distributed the newsletter by time zone, which gave those on the East Coast of the US (and Pakistan) an unfair advantage. So I'll run the giveaway again next month. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, click here: <Newsletter Sign-Up>

That's all for now. Until next time ...

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 26, 2021

It's Okay - They're Only Half Human

From November 17, 2021

Hi, Packmates!

The crew of the SS Huey is an eclectic mix of scientists, technicians, and forgotten heroes whose vision is to take down the paramilitary corporation that controls commerce in the human colonies. Their task may not seem humanly possible. Don't worry. They're only half human. The paperback is now on sale! Check it out on Amazon: <Half Human>

The ebook for Kindle will be available for pre-order soon. Once we accumulate a minimum of ten reviews for the paperback, Mr, Miyagi and I will set a date for the Kindle launch and start scheduling promotions. So far, the book has been enthusiastically received by reviewers.

We don't want to stop at ten reviews, though. we want as many as we can get between now and the launch of the ebook, which we hope will be in January. I'm offering a free signed copy of the paperback to anyone who is willing to read and review an advanced digital copy (for the sake of speeding up the process of getting reviews posted). Email me at if you're interested.

I'm accepting referrals, too! For the rest of November, I'm giving away a boxed set of the Red Wolf Saga for Kindle to anyone who refers a new member to the pack (i.e., sign up for the newsletter). The new member gets a boxed set, as well, plus the opportunity for a signed paperback if they're willing to read and review Half Human. There's a limited number of days left, so email me those referrals to!

That's all for now. Happy Reading!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Newsletter Volume 8: Slogging Through the Wilderness

From November 5, 2021

I know a beautiful place. Hilliard Falls is a little slice of Heaven where you can skinny dip in a clear pool at the bottom of a lovely waterfall with a near zero chance of being discovered. The reason the place remains idyllic and pristine is it's accessible only via a side excursion off the Cherokee Foothills Trail after slogging over twenty miles of wilderness to get to the trail access.

I'm not using the word slog lightly. Much of the hike is uphill where the only reward for reaching the top of the hill is ... you're no longer going uphill. And it's not a side excursion you can take on a whim. It requires some planning, choosing a nearby base camp, and adding an extra half-day to your backpacking trip itinerary.

But the effort is worth it.

It's a lot like the creative process in some ways. There are brief periods of inspiration, when you can skinny dip with your Muse, sandwiched between long periods of slogging through the wilderness of the mundane. Unlike an excursion to Hilliard Falls, you can't know when the inspiration will hit. But, if you don't do the planning and the slogging, you'll miss the inspiration.

Oh, the inspiration will still be there, just like Hilliard Falls isn't going anywhere. But without the work and planning, you won't be able to take advantage of it.

I'm doing a lot of slogging, right now. I've been immersed in the final edits of Half Human and will begin the tedious process of formatting the print book after I finish this newsletter. Next comes the preparation of review copies to be sent out to my ARC team. Strangely enough, although I don't necessarily enjoy this part of the process, I've found that some of my best ideas surface from this tedium. So, I'm ready with a document of ideas and an outline of the next book open in another window on my laptop.

This Month's Feedback Question: What do you do during those periods of time where inspiration or productivity is low? Do you have some planned slogging you do to be ready when the inspiration or energy hits?

Last Month's Giveaway: Congratulations to Gary F, who won a $100 Amazon gift card by identifying all the characters in my new web banner. Gary is a three-time winner, now. Amazing. As promised, here are the correct answers.

Characters, from left to right: Clifford Crane (the werewolf), Me (struggling author), Danielle Anderson, Heather Felton, Nicole Black, Sethmus (the demigod), Pieter (the dragon), and Abby Fly.

This Month's Giveaway: I'm giving away a Red Wolf Saga boxed set for Kindle ($7.99 value) to anyone referred by one of you to join the pack. Any current member who refers a new member gets a boxed set as well. Just email me at with the first name and email address of the individual you are referring. Refer as many new members as you can!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Wolf Pack Feedback

From October 15, 2021:

Hi, Packmates!

I'm not just talking about feedback from the pack. It's feedback on the pack, as well.

You see, I was talking to Mr. Miyagi the other day. (That's what I call my marketing sensei - behind his back, of course. His real name is Adam.) He was describing our launch strategy for Half Human and the fact that we needed at least ten reviews before we start promotion campaigns. I said, "I can get that from my newsletter subscribers and my ARC team, easy."

He was skeptical, since he knows my list is relatively small. So, I started bragging about how great y'all are - how I go for quality, not quantity. I wasn't just blowing smoke. Y'all are pretty awesome, way better than the industry standard for email engagement. Most authors' emails have a 20% open rate, at best, but almost 60% of you guys at least look at the ones I send out. In fact, most of the time one or two of you reply with some comment or feedback I've asked for. I described you as "a burgeoning community." (Maybe that's going a bit far, but I liked the sound of it.) Each one of you is a gem, one of the Elite.

"Fine," said Mr. Miyagi, "we need a thousand more just like them."

"Whoa. What the...?" I was crestfallen. Mr. Miyagi had sucked the wind from my sails. How could there possibly be a thousand more like you? But..I told him I'd work on it.

So...if you guys know of anyone who might be interested in reading my books, getting these updates by email, getting a free book to review, stuff like that? Please ask them to log on to this blog and click the <subscribe> link to join the pack. (There. I worked on it.)

Now that's out of the way, here's what I'd really like some feedback on: my product description for Half Human. It's the thing that'll be on the back cover of the book and the description you'll see when you search for it on Amazon or click on an ad. It's supposed to grab your attention, pique your interest, and compel you to buy the thing (or, at least, look for more info). It's supposed to give you an idea of what to expect from the book and some confidence that you'll get it. Here's what I have, so far:

Last time they met, she promised to kill him. Now their lives depend on each other. Will she have his back...or blow a hole in it?

An outer arm of the Milky Way. Legendary shifter Clifford Crane reluctantly accepts an offer of employment from an unexpected benefactor, a being from his past he hoped never to meet again. Clifford knows it's a setup, and his fears are confirmed when he comes face to face with another new hire, Heather Felton. She's a deadly female alpha...who promised to kill him if he ever re-entered her life.

They've both been tricked into joining Half Human Enterprises and the crew of the SS Huey, an eclectic mix of scientists, technicians, and forgotten heroes. The crew's vision is to take down the powerful paramilitary corporation that controls commerce throughout human space. It's an ambitious undertaking, one that doesn't seem humanly possible. But don't bet against them. They're only half human.

The Huey's captain and CEO has chosen Clifford and Heather for an undercover mission. If the two shifters can pull it off, they'll stop an evil oligarch from supplying THE Corporation with an army of cyborgs. But the clock is ticking...on the time they can stay alive before their cover is blown...and how long they can work together before killing each other.

So, does it pique your interest? Does it give you an idea of what to expect from the book? Would you want to look inside and read the first few paragraphs? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Remember This Month's Giveaway: In my October newsletter (previous blog post) I presented my new web banner and offered an Amazon gift card to anyone who could identify all the characters, in order from left to right. So far, no one has gotten them all correct. Folks seem to be struggling with one character, in particular. (No, it's not the dufus at the keyboard.) 

Hint: Check the last chapter of Rivers of Red. It's not too late to submit your guesses. Email me at or

Okay, that's all for now. Looking forward to hearing from y'all soon. In the meantime, happy reading!




Thursday, October 7, 2021

Newsletter Volume 7: Branding With a Hot Iron

 From October 1, 2021

Hey, Pack Mates!

No, I'm not going all cowboy on y'all. It's the title of a chapter in Chris Fox's Write to Market. My online writer's book club read it last month, and the phrase seemed like a great subject line for this month's newsletter.

Because that's what I've been doing lately...branding with a hot iron.

I think I mentioned in the last post that Adam Houge's Fan Base Formula marketing group is guiding me through the launch of the first book in my upcoming Spaceship Huey Adventures series, Half Human. A lot of what we've been working on is my author brand.

Branding is a buzzword thrown around a lot in marketing circles. I don't pretend to understand all the ins-and-outs of it, but I think we're trying to work towards the goal of having my name being recognized as an author and associated with good books.

And that would be cool.

Two of the first "hot iron" tasks involved is setting up a new website and look-alike author page on Facebook that can be associated with ad campaigns. Want to see something really cool? Here's my new web page banner...

My brilliant cover artist, Ivan Zanchetta, put this together. Great job, don't you think? Soon you'll be able to see the final product on a new website and Facebook page. In the meantime, I want to celebrate by challenging all of you to identify the characters pictured above.

October Giveaway: This month's giveaway is for true fans only. I'm giving an Amazon gift card to everyone who can identify all the characters in my web banner. From left to right, there are eight of them, all characters from my books (except for the dufus at the keyboard). Contact me by email ( with a name for each face. They must be in the correct order, left to right. If you get them all, you get a gift card. Since I don't have unlimited funds, I've set a budget for the total amount I can give away, and I'll divide it equally among all winners. If a lot of you get them all correct, the cards may not be worth much. But I have a gut feeling that one or two of you will win big.

September's Giveaway: Congratulations to Cari W, who won the printed boxed set of the Red Wolf Saga, plus a signed copy of The Cargo. Your books shipped out the first of this week. Enjoy, Cari!

Well, until next time...

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021


From September 17, 2021

I found it!

My genre, that is.

The month of September has been filled with marketing research, with a tiny bit of writing on the side. Since signing on with Adam Houge's marketing group, I've been diving deep into the space opera genre, looking for clues in how to position my upcoming shifter space opera series for launch in the first quarter of 2022.

Typing random words into Amazon's search engine with an incognito browser and crunching the numbers on the results may not sound like much fun to you. Believe me, it isn't! It's a lot like panning for gold, I guess. It's tedious and mind-numbingly boring...until you find that gold nugget.

And I found the gold nugget!

I am not the only one writing about werewolves in space. I'm delighted to have found two very successful series that have mashed up the urban fantasy and science fiction genres into some great reading.

If you liked The Cargo, I guarantee you'll like my upcoming release, Half Human.


You'll like the Kurtherian Gambit series by Michael Anderle. He's cranked out twenty-one of these babies since 2017. I've already devoured the first two. They're fast-paced, in-your-face, vampires vs aliens, fare that folks have been reading like crazy. Check out book one, <Death Becomes Her>, on Amazon. I bet you like it.

I bet you also enjoy the Shamans and Shifters Space Opera series by Jenny Schwartz. It's a sci fi romance between a gifted shaman who guides ships through dangerous wormholes and a werewolf bounty hunter. I'm currently absorbed in the last few chapters of <Her Robot Wolf>

If you try out one of the above, you'll probably get hooked. And then, next year, when you're searching for the next Anderle or Schwartz book on Amazon, you'll run across this listing among theirs...

In other news...

I'll be participating in some cross-promotions with other science fiction and fantasy authors, starting in October. I hope you guys will take advantage of the opportunity to download some cool books for free. More will be revealed.

Feedback from the Pack: You guys blessed me with some cool names for groups after the last newsletter. Some of the best were a little X-rated, so I can't share them here, but here's a few good ones...a plethora of pre-schoolers, a gaggle of gals, an obstinancy of buffalos, and a shrewdness of apes. Thanks, guys.

A quick Blink rant: (Sorry - I can't help it.) After months of waiting, Blackpink's Lisa finally dropped her first solo, Lalisa. I was slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong. It's a catchy tune, guaranteed to stick in your head for weeks after hearing it. It's already hugely successful. It broke sales records just from pre-orders, and there were over 70 million views of the M/V in the first twenty-four hours. And I'd be happy just watching Lisa stand there for four minutes, doing nothing. I thought the song was a great celebration of her success, but it barely scratched the surface of her potential. That being said, I just watched this on YouTube for about the fiftieth time: <Watch Lalisa on YouTube>.

This Month's Giveaway: It's not too late to enter for a chance to win a printed boxed set of the Red Wolf Saga, plus a signed copy of The Cargo. Contest ends 9/30/21. Just click to <enter the giveaway>.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

-Red Wolf John

Monday, September 13, 2021

Newsletter Volume 6: A Clot of Smokers

From September 3, 2021

I spend way more time than I should playing a game on my phone. Trivia Crack is aptly named because it is hugely addictive. I've been playing for about five years now, during which time I probably could have written two extra books if I'd just put down the phone for an hour during the day. Oh, well.

One of the popular types of questions you get in the games is the names applied for certain groups. Some of my favorites are, a murder of crows, a tower of giraffes, a flamboyance of flamingos, and a bloat of hippos. Crazy, huh? You can't make this stuff up.

Wait, sure you can. Somebody does, right? I've always wondered who the people were that came up with those names, because I have one I'd like to throw out there, but I don't know how to go about it.

You know those groups of smokers that hang out in the designated areas you somehow always have to walk through to get where you're going? I want to call them, clots.

It fits. But I don't have any idea how I could get it into the approved lexicon. I'm not very good at setting trends. I can't even get a nickname to stick on any of my friends.

I did a little research. (Not too much, mind you, because I'd much rather make up stuff than get to the truth of things. I'm a writer of fiction, after all.) Apparently, these group nouns are the results of centuries of English language evolution, but many of the ones that have stuck may be the result of having been chronicled in a 15th century book, The Book of St. Albans, written by a Benedictine prioress named Juliana Berners. Check out the reference <here>.

I guess it's too late to get my 'clot of smokers' into Berner's book. But I bet I could put it in one of mine. I think I'm going to weave it into Half Empty Half Full, which should be coming out towards the end of 2022.

This Month's Feedback Question: What are some of your favorite names for groups? Do you have any you've come up with on your own? Maybe we could get something started that would stick. Post a comment below. I'll publish the good ones in the next blog post.

Speaking of good ones (how's that for a segue?), did you know you could get the entire Red Wolf Saga in a boxed set? For a fraction of the cost of each individual book separately? Almost too good to be true, isn't it? Consider giving it as a gift by clicking the link <here>, or if you've already read the books and just want to help by giving the series a review, click <review the Red Wolf Saga>.

Winners of the August Giveaway: Congratulations to Gary F, Patti S, and Midhat H, who will all receive a signed copy of The Cargo with the new space opera cover.

This Month's Giveaway: Unfortunately, the Red Wolf Saga boxed set is only available as a Kindle eBook. But you know what? I'm assembling a one-of-a-kind printed boxed set, plus a bonus copy of The Cargo with the old series-related cover, for FREE to one lucky entrant. Just click to <Enter the Giveaway>.

As always, if you'd like to get these blog posts sent to your email as they come out, just sign up to become part of the Red Wolf Pack by clicking <Subscribe>. You get a free download of my short story, The Alchemist's Ledger, when you subscribe.

Until next time, Happy Reading!