Saturday, August 28, 2021

Half Empty Half Full

 (From August 20, 2021)

That's the title of the next book in the Spaceship Huey Adventures series, Half Empty Half Full. I started writing the first chapters this month. A theme that recurs throughout the book is the contrast in positive and negative outlooks on life of some of the characters.

Don't worry. It's not going to be too deep, or anything. It's a space opera, after all, not a philosophical treatise. But I'm planning on having some fun with that aspect.

If you've been with the Pack for a while, you know that I'm a glass-half-empty kind of guy. I like to look at the negative side of things before going all Pollyanna over something. I don't look on it as a defect of character. Bad shit happens. I want to be ready for it.

It drives people around me crazy, though. For instance, don't ask me to serve on a planning committee of any kind. I can shoot down any idea that comes up. I'm good at it.

There's a lot of glass-half-empty stuff going on in my life right now, too. Here's a short list:

  • First, getting The Cargo re-published this month, with the marketing makeover provided by Best Page Forward, including the new cover, was a pain in the rear end. Amazon did not want to accept the subtitle changes, and I had to go back and forth with KDP Support for a week or so before they finally relented.
  • Next, Amazon decided to take down some of the hard-earned reviews for The Draculata Nest. That was a bummer. Admittedly, it's the worst book I've ever written (the first, so that's to be expected, right?), but it's the first in the series, making it the one I have to advertise, and I know the lack of reviews influences readers not to buy. (Hey, I know many of you have read it and tolerated its mediocrity. You could really help me out by posting a review <here>. It doesn't have to be glowing, and I would really appreciate it.)
  • Finally, YG Entertainment has yet to announce a release date for BlackPink Lisa's solo debut. How am I supposed to schedule my life with something like that hanging in the air?
Okay, take a deep breath. These are all first world problems, after all. I should look on the bright side. I should make a gratitude list. I should take the lemons and make lemonade. (Ugh! I hate those glass-half-full platitudes.)

Well, there is one thing I'm grateful for: my beta readers! Good professionals aren't easy to find, yet I have been blessed to discover a couple that are worth every penny of their reasonable fees. I highly recommend both Sue McKerns of <Otterville Overhaul> and <The Book Gremlins>, who also beta read The Cargo. Great work, guys.

Now, the professionals are fine, but you pack members who volunteered to beta read for free are truly near and dear to my heart. I need to express my deep and sincere thanks to Gary F and Debi Z, who have gone the extra mile to overcome all sorts of technical obstacles to read the first complete draft. Thanks to you guys, Half Human is turning out to be my best work to-date.

So, Advanced Reader Copy team, look out. Very soon copies of the final product will be ready to send out, well in advance of the official book launch, so y'all can have your reviews ready to post when it goes on sale. Keep your eyes on your inboxes and don't worry, I'll give you plenty of advanced warning and time to read. Oh, here's the working cover. I'm not sure it'll be the one we go with in the end, but I love it and wanted to share...

Just a reminder: it's not too late to enter this month's giveaway. Click on the following for a chance to win one of three signed copies of The Cargo, featuring the new cover: <Enter the Giveaway> 

Want to receive news and updates via email? <Subscribe>

Thanks, and happy reading!

Red Wolf John

P.S. Since this original writing, things are looking up for Blinks and Lilis like me. Lalisa launches 9/10/21! Yahoo!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Newsletter Volume 5: Werewolves in Space

 (reprinted from August 6, 2021)

Hi, packmates. It's that time again, time for the monthly Red Wolf newsletter!

First of all, congratulations to the winner of the July giveaway, Patti S. Patti, you should already have received your Amazon gift card!

Now for the topic of this month's newsletter: What in the world (or, in this case, the galaxy) is the genre in which I'm writing?

If you recall, we started talking about this a few months back. For marketing purposes, it's very important to know the genre and sub-genre (and sub-sub-genre) in which you are writing. It affects the kind of cover, product description, keywords and categories (that's Amazon publishing gibberish to most of you, but if you're a KDP author, you know what I'm talking about), and just about everything that's important in positioning your book for success, as far as sales go.

An author who is a savvy marketer knows his genre before he starts writing. Me, I don't fall into that category. Nope. Not savvy. I'm learning, but it's a steep curve. Anyway, suffice it to say, I knew none of this while writing the Red Wolf Saga (see the My Books tab), and my sales statistics prove it. I labeled those four novels as Urban Fantasy, an extremely broad sub-genre, and I'm still trying to find the right sub-niche, so they'll stand out from the crowd, or at least stand with the right crowd.

Well, with The Cargo, I crossed into the realm of Science Fiction, an even broader category. Sci Fi is something I've been in love with since I was a kid, and it's even more hard to define than Urban Fantasy.

If you go to Wikipedia, you get something like, "a genre of speculative fiction that typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. It has been called the 'literature of ideas', and often explores the potential consequences of scientific, social, and technological innovations."

Um...okay. What about werewolves?

See, I didn't want to make the same marketing mistake I did with the Red Wolf Saga. So, congratulations to me. I made an even bigger one.

And I've outlined a series of at least three books to follow it, all written in the same vein: werewolves in space. So, to keep my writing life from being completely miserable for the next three years, I sought out some help.

Bryan Cohen's Best Page Forward group has been helping me with the ins-and-outs of Amazon advertising. I commissioned the group to research The Cargo and tell me where it fits in the world of sci fi.

And they did it!

Turns out, The Cargo, and, subsequently, the Spaceship Huey Adventures series (renamed from the Half Human Saga), is a Shifter Space Opera.

Yes, there is such a thing.

No, I didn't know it, either. Here's my new cover:

It reflects the kind of cover that is standard for a shifter space opera. I kind of miss the characters that were on the old cover, but they apparently hinted the book was a romance. Also, we've removed the words, half human, because people were getting the impression it involved cyborgs. I will, however, keep the Half Human title for the next book, coming out in a few months. It has cyborgs, so that's okay.

This Month's Feedback Question: What do y'all think of the new cover? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

Monthly Giveaway: This month, I'll be re-booting The Cargo, with the new cover and a promo or two, leading up to the release of Half Human, the first book in the Spaceship Huey Adventures series. To celebrate, I'm giving away three signed copies of the book with the new cover. Click here to <enter the giveaway>.

Sign up for the Red Wolf Pack newsletter: All new subscribers receive a free short story download and chances to win free stuff in the months and years ahead. Click here to <sign up for the newsletter>.

Thanks, packmates, and happy reading!