Showing posts from 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

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

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

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 as

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 a


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,

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'

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

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 categ

Vella Could Change Everything

From July 17, 2021: Well, not everything, of course. But it may change the self-publishing landscape significantly. Hi, packmates. Time for my middle-of-the-month blog update. After months and months of hype, this week Amazon finally launched Kindle Vella, a platform where readers can read episodes of serialized stories without having to purchase or borrow an entire book. It might change the way authors write, especially indie writers like myself. In fact, I’ve already revised my writing schedule and goals for 2021 and 2022. I wanted to be a published author most of my life. One of the stumbling blocks I could never overcome was the specter of endless submissions to (and rejections from) publishers that most writers go through for years before any of their work gets in front of actual readers. When digital platforms like Amazon KDP surfaced in the first decade of this century, that specter was gone. It was relatively simple to get what you had written formatted, even printed,

Newsletter Volume 4: Kindle Vella Project Reveal

From July 2, 2021 Hi, packmates. It’s that time again. Time for the monthly Red Wolf newsletter! First of all, let me wish everyone a happy 4th of July. Next, congratulations to the winner of our June giveaway, Debi Z. Debi will soon be receiving a complete boxed set of Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series. Debi, I hope you enjoy Georgina half as much as I have. Finally, the big news for July: On June 15, Amazon announced that its Kindle Vella program is set to launch in mid-to-late July. That’s this month! If you haven’t heard, Kindle Vella allows people to read episodic stories on the Kindle iOS app and without having to purchase or “borrow” an entire book. Readers can get the first three episodes of a story for free, then use pre-paid ‘tokens’ to buy more episodes if they like what they’ve read. Episodes are 600 - 5,000 words in length and are priced based on word count. Authors can leave notes about each episode and readers can leave comments about what th

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

From June 17: One of my favorite books - I’ve talked about it before - is Richelle Mead’s Succubus Blues. In it, there’s an ongoing debate over the above question. Georgina thinks it’s lame for readers to ask that question, but her author crush insists it’s a legitimate question for readers to ask. I do, too. I mean, if you follow an author for any length of time, don’t you at some point, in amazement, ask, “How in the world did he/she come up with this?” I imagine Stephen King has figured out a way to work through his nightmares. I think Dean Koontz must be working through some conspiracy theory paranoias that plague him. The thing is, everyone has ideas. We all have crazy thoughts, don’t we? Uh, don’t we? You know, maybe I’m making a false assumption, here. It could be it’s just me and a lot of folks I hang out with. For the sake of this blog post, though, I’m sticking with the hypothesis. So, the difference between the ideas that earth people have and authors have is, an e

Newsletter Volume 3: Genre Quest (Going Off Half-Cocked)

From June 4, 2021 Clifford Crane, the main character in my novels, tends to go off half-cocked. He doesn’t always think things through before he acts. Neither do I. Which is fine for an action hero. It keeps things interesting. But for an author? Not so much. Case in point: Back in 2010, I had a story to tell. So, I started writing the Red Wolf Saga. When The Draculata Nest was finished and I went to publish it on Amazon, one of the first questions that cropped up was, what’s the genre? My answer?   Uh… (A lot of my answers begin like that. This time, however, it ended that way, too.) I really hadn't given genre much thought. I just wanted to write something I'd enjoy reading myself. (Since it was likely I'd be the only one reading it, that seemed like a practical goal.) Here's the kind of stuff I was reading at the time, the kind of story I was looking for in my saga... I asked Google, and the term Urban Fantasy popped up. Research done. That’s what I tagged

World's Oldest Blink

Hi, Pack Mates! If you’re close to my age, or you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you might not know what I’m talking about. A “Blink” is what they call fans of the wildly popular K-pop girl group, BlackPink. I stumbled on the Netflix documentary last year and fell in love with Jisoo, Jennie, Rose and Lisa (especially Lisa). I went to YouTube, right away. Now I’m hooked. I have to watch some version of Kill This Love, Du Du Du, or Lovesick Girls at least one a day. Usually more. I like to share my musical discoveries with my son, Seth. Sure, there’s a generation gap, but I respect his tastes. After all, he’s the one who turned me on to Cake and Vampire Weekend. So, I queued up my favorite version of Kill This Love and sat him down in front of my laptop. He watched, cutting sideways glances at me, for about a minute. Then he hit <pause>. “Sexy teenage girls,” he said. It wasn’t a compliment directed at the group; it was a judgment of my character. The

Newsletter Volume 2 - May, 2021

  Hi, Pack Mates!   I can’t believe it’s already time for another newsletter. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? I wonder about that saying, sometimes. I mean, it’s true, I suppose. But sometimes time just flies because…it’s time. There’s another old saying I’m sure you’ve heard - you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That’s complete bull. Old dogs can learn plenty of new tricks.   They’re just not interested.   The truth is, old dogs - I’ve qualified as one for a while, now - already know enough tricks to get by. They’ve filtered out the ones that aren’t useful and have stored away in their trick bags all the good ones. So, it’s not that they can’t learn. They just don’t want to.   Unless they’re motivated.   Case in point: When I decided to become a full-time writer, I had to learn a lot of new stuff. I had to learn about marketing, cover design, composing product descriptions and ad copy, how to negotiate the Amazon advertising platform (whew, is that complicat

Dumb Question: Inhale or Exhale?

  From mid-April, 2021: Hey, pack mates. Here’s the question: Would you rather inhale or exhale? It’s kind of a dumb one, don’t you think? I mean, it’s not like you have a choice to do one or the other.   But my son asked the question a while back, and I’ve trained myself over the last twenty-two years to give all his questions careful consideration and to answer them the best I can. People think you’re a good parent when you do stuff like that.   It wasn’t hard to answer, either. “Exhale,” I said. “It’s easier.”   “Hah!” he gloated. “I knew it!” It seems some psychological research suggests the answer to that question says a lot about your attitude toward life. “I like to inhale,” he elaborated. “All that fresh air coming in with a deep breath, the energy, the life. It’s wonderful.”   Seth has an enthusiasm for life that can be infectious…if you’re into that sort of thing. He did NOT get it from me.   I don’t think he got it from his Mom, either. Which supports the hypot

Newsletter Volume 1 - April, 2021

  Hi, pack mates. It’s my first newsletter and giveaway!   Not only that, but I’ve received my second dose of the COVID19 vaccine. Whew. I am so ready for this pandemic to be over.   I admit being in lockdown at home has been great for getting some writing done, but I have developed a chronic case of cabin fever. To keep myself from going completely bonkers, I tried to find at least one day each week for a hike in the nearby Uwharrie National Forest.   If you’re familiar with the Red Wolf Saga, you know the Uwharries are the setting for a number of scenes in the books. Here are some pics I’ve taken over the winter. Not only does a five-to-ten-mile hike every week keep me from murdering those close to me, it gives me time to work out some of the plot corners I’ve written myself into while working on Half Human, the paranormal sci-fi series starter I’m releasing later this year. I’ll give y’all more info on that, including a cover reveal, in the coming months.   Insider Fun Fact: T