Looking for writing-related posts? Check out my new writing blog, www.larrykollar.com!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 6 comments

Writing (WINNER!) Wibbles

Let’s get the cool stuff out of the way first—the One World, Two Ages raffle results! I’ve emailed the winners, and am looking forward to giving out stuff:
1st prize: Jim Zarling
$20 Amazon gift card
Accidental Sorcerers eBook
White Pickups eBook
Water and Chaos eBook (ARC)
Heroes and Vallenez, eBook by Angela Kulig (ARC)
2nd prize: Nicole Lee
Accidental Sorcerers eBook
White Pickups eBook
Water and Chaos eBook (ARC)
Heroes and Vallenez, eBook by Angela Kulig (ARC)
3rd prize: Tony Noland
Accidental Sorcerers eBook
Congrats—and happy reading—to all the winners!

I must have been crazy to commit to releasing two books, even if they were “only” novellas, two weeks apart. But things are going well enough since then. Both books had minor issues in Smashwords that prevented them from getting into Premium right away… but Accidental Sorcerers has already made it to iBooks. Funny, how Smashwords implies it’ll take Apple longer than any of the other stores to list your Smashwords book, but it’s actually the fastest in my experience.

So how are the books doing?

I put The Crossover on Smashwords Sunday night to get it a little head start, and to have a link already pre-digested for Amazon when I obeyed their suggested to “tell us about a lower price.” Since Smashwords doesn’t seem to have a problem with revealing numbers, I’ll say that 82 people (as I type this) have downloaded their free copy in the last three days. That’s a little better than one per hour. I’m hoping it’ll really take off once Amazon price-matches.

As for Accidental Sorcerers, it plodded along until the blog tour got going. Since then, it has been climbing Mount Rankings pretty steadily, sometimes taking a step back before taking two steps forward. It seems like the purchases have been increasing along with the ranking, which keeps it moving pretty steadily. After two weeks and a day, it has come this far:

I really need to stop checking the numbers every waking hour, but it’s so much FUN when they’re moving in the right direction! Besides, some funny things turned up. At first, Smashwords was doing fairly well keeping up. Every third Amazon sale, I’d get a Smashwords sale. Then Amazon kept going, and Smashwords didn’t. And, on average, I see a book returned for every 31 sales. That’s more entertaining than annoying—I figure someone hit the wrong button, or might have sent it to the wrong Kindle (forgetting that you can pull a purchase to any of your Kindles from the cloud or archive).

It’s also doing much better than White Pickups, which leads me to wonder why. The Truckalypse gets great reviews, but not many sales. I can think of four factors, ranked by my guess at probability:

  1. I’m right about a 99¢ eBook being an impulse purchase.
  2. I got some good (i.e. popular) blogs lined up for the blog tour. The interview with Patrick Satters was retweeted a LOT, for example, even if he said it didn’t get the usual volume of pageviews.
  3. The cover art doesn’t do the story justice. (This is Angela’s #1 guess.)
  4. More people read YA Fantasy than adult paranormal.

It’s most likely a combination of factors, perhaps all four, with different weights. We’re working on a White Pickups cover art reboot, as part of the run-up to launching Pickups and Pestilence in April. If sales immediately take off, I’ll move #3 up to #1.

And I owe everyone who has bought my books so far (and in the future) a huge THANK YOU!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 4 comments

Launch #2!

And… there’s the Launch Cannon! I reversed targeting order for The Crossover, to give Smashwords a head start on Premium. Then again, the Smashwords version of Accidental Sorcerers has (as I type) only made it out to iBooks (where it’s erroneously listed as “Children’s Fiction”).

Anyway…The Crossover is now in the Amazon store. But it’s 99¢ there, until Amazon gets around to price-matching Smashwords (where it’s free), so grab it at Smashwords for now. If you want a Kindle copy, come back to the Kindle Store when the price adjusts. Or heck, if you want to throw some money at Amazon and me, go ahead and buy it. ;-)

Amazingly enough, I wasn’t fiddling with this book right up to Launch Day Eve, as usual. I had it done on Thursday, fixed up the .doc file on Friday, then made one final fix and re-spun everything on Sunday.

I’ve made a few adjustments in Scrivener, which should make it easier to get a clean .doc file to Smashwords, but there’s still a fair amount of tedium involved. For whatever reason, Scrivener doesn’t apply styles to RTF files, so I have to apply them all myself… then there’s building the linked Table of Contents.

So… that concludes the One World, Two Ages project! The raffle winner will be notified soon and I’ll get the prizes out in a few days.

Tomorrow, I’ll wibble about how Accidental Sorcerers is doing… so c’mon back!

Friday, January 25, 2013 14 comments

Special Report (#FridayFlash)

Image source: openclipart.org
“Channel 3 News will stay on the air, commercial-free, as long as we can—”


“Lt. Carson of the Georgia State Patrol says if you need to get essential items, by all means go ahead and get them. But otherwise, he’s urging everyone to stay home—”


“The National Guard has closed all streets into the commercial districts, to prevent looting—”

Sam hit the power button on the remote, and tossed it onto the end table. “Nothing’s on!” she growled, chewing one of her braids. “Is it gonna be like this the next three days?”

“It’s not too often we get hit by an asteroid.” Pam reached across her partner, picking up the remote and turning the TV back on.

Sam stood and sniffed. “No, but the talking heads sure love to hype this crap up. Besides, it’ll probably miss, or turn out to be no big deal. This disaster-porn always turns out like that.”

“Tell that to your brother. Wasn’t he in Hoboken when Sandy hit?”

Sam huffed and dropped back onto the love seat.

“—latest model from NASA says this is not an extinction-level event. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be huge problems from this.”

“Isn’t that the weather dude?” Sam whispered.


“—updates from NASA and JPL models as they come in, but the last three runs have Lucifer entering Earth’s atmosphere over the Arctic ocean, near the Siberian coast, on Monday morning around 1:30 a.m. Eastern time. It will pass over eastern Greenland mere seconds later. What happens next, depends on many factors. If Lucifer breaks up over the Atlantic, as expected, we’ll have a string of ocean strikes from roughly the latitude of Boston, perhaps all the way down to Rio de Janeiro. Tsunami warnings and mandatory evacuation orders have already been posted for the entire Atlantic basin. That includes the Gulf of Mexico.”

“I think beachfront property values just cratered.” Sam chuckled. “Get it? Cratered?” Pam, who worked in a real estate office, rolled her eyes.

“—here in Atlanta, we don’t have to worry about a tsunami, but that’s not to minimize the very real problems we’re going to have. The big question is, long-term, what’s it going to do to our weather? Since this is an ocean strike, it’s going to throw a huge amount of moisture into the upper atmosphere. A lot of it will come right back down as rain, or maybe hail, so expect torrential rain most of next week. The rest of it will take some time to work out, and will spread worldwide as cloud cover in the meantime. That’s going to cool us all off, for at least the next five years. Not an ice age, but we’ll have a temporary break from global warming.”

“At least it’s gonna do some good,” Sam mumbled.

“—you’re in a low-lying area, or along a river downstream of a dam, you should consider evacuating to higher ground, just in case. We’re talking unprecedented amounts of rain next week. Flash flooding is very likely, and many roads are going to become impassable.”

Sam snatched the remote and turned off the TV.

“Heyyyy!” Pam protested.

“They’re just going to show the same thing, say the same stuff, over and over, until the damned thing hits,” said Sam. “Then they’ll show us live helicopter footage of the tsunami wiping out the coast. Again and again. Like I said, disaster-porn. Let’s go to bed, okay?”

“Fine.” Pam sighed.

“I wonder why they had the weather dude showing this stuff, though.”

Pam snickered. “Well, he is a meteorologist.”

Sunday, January 20, 2013 2 comments

Blog Tour: One World, Two Ages

Celebrating the Accidental Sorcerers launch, and the upcoming launch of The Crossover, I proclaim the blog tour to be on the road! Both stories are fantasy novellas, set in the same world of Termag, but in different ages.

Get it now!
In Accidental Sorcerers, magic is on the wane. “Folk grow in knowledge, and a little in wisdom, and the Principle of Necessity demands that magic steps aside.” Even so, Termag has only taken the first baby steps toward a technological future. Thus, there are fewer sorcerers in the world. Into this world comes Mik sim Mikhile, who turns out to have an incredible amount of magical Talent. Mik ends up apprenticed to a sorcerer, the clumsy (but kindly) Bailar the Blue. There he meets Sura, the sorcerer’s daughter and first apprentice. Love blossoms, and adventure follows hot on its heels.

The life of a sorcerer in this age is supposed to be sedate, but Mik and Sura must not have received the memo. And Accidental Sorcerers is only the beginning! Their second adventure, Water and Chaos, is coming this summer. And there’s a third on the way, with ideas for others.

Available Jan. 29!
Eight hundred years before Accidental Sorcerers, the Age of Heroes came to a close. The adventurers, warriors, mages, and Captains were still doing what they were doing, but things began to change.

One of the most well-known historical figures from that moment of time was Captain Chelinn, known as “The Madman” to his detractors. In The Crossover, he and a friend, LodrĂ¡n, end up by coincidence on a hostile flotilla. They pair up to thwart the actual goal of the flotilla, to recover one of the Eyes of Byula, but end up in a completely different world—ours!

Later in life, Captain Chelinn wrote several books. One of them, An Account of Different Worlds, captivated a young Bailar to the point of distraction. Perhaps, in a future Accidental Sorcerers story, we’ll hear what Bailar thinks of us.

But for now, you can read the books and decide what you think about them. Hit the rafflecopter for some neato prizes, and make sure you visit all the other stops on the tour:

Sunday, Jan. 20: Patrick Satters
Tuesday, Jan. 22: Taryn Raye
Wednesday, Jan. 23: Tony Noland
Friday, Jan. 24: Angela Kulig

Bookmark this post, or leave it in a tab in your browser, so you can hit each stop along the way. I’ll add last-minute entries (if any) as they arrive.

And now… the raffle!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 18, 2013 25 comments

Sacrifice (#FridayFlash)

The bamboo door banged against the flimsy frame of the hut as his daughter stormed out.

“Come back here, child!” he shouted.

“Let her go,” said his wife, putting a placating hand on his arm. “She will return.”

“Does she not realize what an honor it is, to be chosen? And she has thrown it away! The shame! It is greater by far than not being chosen at all!”

The wife took a deep breath. “Where is the honor, if you’re not there to see it?”

What? You’re taking her side?”

“I’m taking no one’s side, husband. But perhaps you would understand better, if boys could be chosen as well.”

“You speak nonsense, woman!”

“Do I?”

Image source: openclipart.org
He paced the hut. “Mark my words, this will not end well. If every daughter of the people sleeps with a boy, where will we find a virgin for the sacrifice?”

She smiled. “You always say the elders are wise. Let them do their work. Or one could throw himself into the volcano. Or perhaps the volcano is sated, and needs no more of our daughters.”

“Bah. One might as well say the volcano erupts when it will, regardless of whether we offer it sacrifice!”

“You are wise, husband.” She gave him her most dazzling smile. “Now let us put this aside, and begin planning our daughter’s wedding.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 3 comments

Writing Wibbles

The Launch Cannon went BOOM, and Accidental Sorcerers has landed at Amazon and Smashwords! The other eBook stores should have it as soon as it works its way through Smashwords Premium. Don’t forget to hit the blog tour, and check out the cool people who are hosting me next week.

Meanwhile, I’m cleaning the Launch Cannon and getting it ready for The Crossover. This is an interesting experiment, launching two stories in a month. Since The Crossover will be free on Smashwords right away, and will be on Amazon once the price-match kicks in, I’m hoping to see a lot of download action with that… enough to pull along the other titles with it, maybe.

The thing is, it’s too easy to find free eBooks, and I’m not talking about pirate sites. The Kindle Store has dozens of free titles, in just about any genre you can name, and the list changes daily. So, before you realize it, you’ve downloaded a pile of books that sound interesting. If they were paperbacks, you could fill a full-size bookshelf with the bounty. To have some chance of reading everything, you swear off the free lists, at least until you can whittle down the pile—but then your social-network friends post links to more free books that they think sound cool. And even adding only two new ones a week, that to-read shelf isn’t getting any smaller.

So you start ignoring the links. Then authors on Goodreads and other places send you “invites” to download a free copy of one of their titles. For some of them, you can avoid the temptation. Some. And then…

I opened Gmail last week, to find that one Winston Emerson sent me the following missile, I mean missive:

Hello everyone. This past Wednesday, I took a major blow to the head by a ten-foot cedar post. Today, I'm giving away free digital copies of The Object: Book One to everyone in my email list and anyone else I can find.

One thing has nothing to do with the other.

Attached were MOBI, EPUB, RTF, and PDF versions of his book.

So I guess there’s no avoiding free eBooks, because they’ll follow you home if nothing else.

This isn’t a method of distribution I’d recommend to anyone, especially if you don’t have an established relationship with the recipients. Since he serialized his novel (and plans to start his next one in May), I took the opportunity to point him at TuesdaySerial instead of admonishing him about spamming. I just hope this doesn’t set a precedent; I think the last thing we all need is having our inboxes clogged with free eBooks.

I spent some of my holiday/sick downtime trying to put a dent in my own huge to-read pile. Odd thing, several of the titles I thought I’d like were both poorly written and poorly formatted. On the other hand, one I didn’t think I’d get into, The Black Opera, has the kind of production values I aspire to with my own titles. And it’s engaging.

I need to grit my teeth and write a few reviews, but the book prep has been demanding most of my writing time right now.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 4 comments

Launch #1!

Ready! FIRE! Aim!
I was a little worried, yesterday, when people were panicking on Twitter and Google+ about uploading to the Kindle Store and not seeing any results—or having missing cover art, and the like. But I crossed my fingers, formatted a MOBI of Accidental Sorcerers out of Scrivener, walked through it on my Kindle, found a couple last lingering errors, then re-spun it and uploaded it to KDP. That was around 11pm last night. Then I started on the tedious part: formatting a .doc file for Smashwords. I got to midnight, then went to bed.

Whatever was going on with KDP, they must have fixed it—because when I got up this morning, Accidental Sorcerers had gone worldwide on Amazon! I updated the Goodreads page, packed up the computer, and took it to work with me, figuring I’d finish pounding on the Smashwords version at lunch.

And… that’s exactly what I did. As usual, I dotted the Ts and crossed my eyes, and the initial launch was done. Now, we’re just waiting for it to get approved for Premium, then distributed to all the other eBook stores.

Hop on over to the Accidental Sorcerers landing area for links to your favorite eBook outlet, especially if you have 99¢ (or the equivalent in local currency) burning a hole in your pocket. I’ll update links as soon as I have the latest info.

But we’re not done just yet—The Crossover is launching in two weeks! That one’s going to sell for the exorbitant price of $0.00, so I don’t foresee having any trouble peddling it. Stay tuned…

Friday, January 11, 2013 14 comments

Friends Old and New (#FridayFlash)

Since Accidental Sorcerers launches next week, and once again I got nuttin’ for #FridayFlash, I’m making a virtue of necessity and posting an excerpt.

For those of you who have been reading the serialized version (about half the entire story), our heroes were last on the way to Queensport and the annual Gathering of the Conclave. And now, they both get to meet other apprentices…

Mik and Sura were separated, as expected, and taken to the dormitories they would share with the other apprentices. Sura stepped into the girls’ room, and was swept up in a gleeful embrace.

“Sura! I got your letter last summer, I’m sorry I didn’t write back, but I got so busy when Father apprenticed me to Tonima! It’s so wonderful, we won’t have to spend all that time in the kitchen this year! We’ll have our studies together…”

“Isa! Hello!” Sura disengaged herself and looked at the chattering girl who had always been her best friend at the Conclave. Isa hailed from Ugar, one of a loose alliance of city-states along the coast, east of Queensport. To be honest, Sura had been too busy herself to wonder why Isa had never written back. “It’s good to see you too! The year’s been good to you.” That was true; Isa’s childhood softness had ripened into a more mature kind. She wore the brown sash of Earth magic.

“So how’s your apprenticeship?” Isa asked her. “Anything exciting?”

“Oh, Isa, you would not believe…” She gave her friend a lopsided smile. “Father got a second apprentice over the winter, and he’s… well, we…”

Isa squealed. “Oh, you must introduce him to me! So… are you two—” She squeezed her thumb and forefinger together, and Sura blushed. “I knew it! You’ve got so pretty since last year, of course the boys would notice you. I won’t try to steal him, I promise!”

“Two apprentices? Must be nice,” said one of the older girls from her bed; several others voiced agreement. “And he’s your boyfriend too?” The others gathered around Sura and Isa. “Tell us all about it. Sounds like the most exciting thing we’ve heard so far.”

Mik looked around the boys’ room. The arrangement reminded him of the bunkhouse at his aunt’s ranch outside Lacota—except that all the beds were on the floor, and a bunkhouse did not feature ornate stonework and mosaics. Other boys, most older than Mik, from all points of the compass, chatted near the large window or stowed their baggage in drawers under their beds. Most were Western, like Mik: ruddy complexion, dark hair that often waved or curled. But there were many Northerners, tall and blonde, and even a few from the East and South. He shrugged and dropped his pack on a bed near the window.

Two of the older apprentices turned to face him. “Is this bed taken?” Mik asked.

“Over by the door, boy,” the taller one sneered—his accent, pale skin, and thin yellow hair marked him as a Northerner. “This side is for the senior apprentices.”

After facing rogue mages and river pirates, let alone an ice dragon, a supercilious apprentice intimidated Mik not at all. “I was told I could take any open bed. Who are you to say different?”

The blonde scowled; to Mik’s surprise, the other one grinned. “You should know me, boy. You certainly will in time to come. I am Hen sim Miran, descended from the Age of Heroes and the brave men of Ak’koyr. And who are you?”

“Mik sim Mikhile. My mentor named me Mik Dragonrider.”

The older boy barked laughter. “Dragonrider? Because you sat on a skink?”

Mik felt a touch on his arm and heard a low voice: “There’s plenty of bunks over by mine.” Mik turned to find a Western boy, closer to his age, wearing a friendly smile. “I’ll be better company than them, for sure.”

Mik returned the smile, and gave the newcomer a nod. He hefted his pack and looked at Hen. “What you believe does not concern me in the least.” He turned away, this time to a laugh and stifled snickers from Hen’s counterparts.

“I’m Charn sim Bas,” the new boy said. “You’re a brave’un, facing down that braggart.”

“Eh,” said Mik, “I’ve seen scarier things than him.”

“Oh? Like what?”

Mik grinned. “My aunt. She’d have cuffed me if I let a tater intimidate me.”

“A tater?”

Mik pitched his voice higher and rougher, mimicking his aunt’s voice and Low Speech dialect: “Yar, a tater, about his ancestors goin’ on. Best part of him’s buried, it is!”

Charn whooped with laughter, rocking back on his bed. “Oh, that’s one to remember! I’ll have to tell my mentor that, she has to deal with taters all the time!” They bumped fists, and Mik had a new friend.

“Are you first-year too?” Mik asked.

“Second,” said Charn. “But that’s all right. We’ll have a fine time.”

Several other younger apprentices gathered to see what the commotion was about. The older ones ignored them, except for a brief glare from sim Miran. Only the latest comers missed the confrontation, and even they were drawn to an animated low-voiced conversation. “Why did your mentor name you Dragonrider?” one of them asked.

“It’s a long story,” said Mik.

“Good, you can tell it tonight,” said a brown-sashed Easterner. “After His Imperial Highness over there goes looking for a girl to impress.” He held out a fist with the pinky drooping away, an insulting gesture that he made sure Hen sim Miran could not see, and was rewarded with a chorus of snickers and stifled laughter.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013 12 comments

Indie Life/Writing Wibbles

First off, I’d like to thank Ali Cross for linking to the Indelibles page. This matches up well with my normal “Writing Wibbles” column, which I like to do on Wednesdays anyway. So, on to the post…

Do you think 2012 was a good year for writing? Publishing? Anything?

Overall, I have to say I’m pretty happy with it. I published my first novel, White Pickups, in August. Sales haven't been what I'd like, but it takes time to get things off the ground. I kept on writing, finished the sequel (Pickups and Pestilence, scheduled for release in April), and wrote several novellas.

Too awesome to
not post again…
Two of the novellas are being released this month, one of them next week in fact! I’m excited, can you tell? Next week kicks off the two-week One World, Two Ages blog tour (link goes to a post with covers and blurbs). Having released a much larger work already, I have a pretty good feeling that this will go smoothly. Last-minute edits are happening now, and I just learned that Smashwords is now accepting EPUB uploads—just in time!

So those long droughts, when nothing seems to happen, aren’t really droughts. Those are the times we lay the groundwork for the next story, or take care of all the non-writing things that need to happen before Launch Day. Writing stories is definitely not the thing for someone who expects instant returns on everything. No matter how tempting it is to just blast something out there, we owe it to ourselves to get it right. We aren’t going to be lined up and shot, if we release something a week later to get those crucial copyedits done, right? (Besides, I have the Launch Cannon, I can shoot back.)

I’m looking forward to seeing what the other writers have going today. Hop back to the Indie Life page and see what they’re talking about…

Monday, January 07, 2013 3 comments

Pictures by (not of) Mason

Mason provides a lot of the content for the blog these days, although that has always meant I take picture of him and post them. It got a little different today…

We were taking a break from playing this afternoon. I let him use my phone to play some games, hoping that he’d get still long enough for a nap, while I fiddled with my laptop.

Then I heard, “Smile, Granddad.” I looked up, and Mason was pointing the phone at me.

“You found the Camera app, I assume?”

He nodded, I smiled, and he poked the clicker a couple of times. Then he turned away and did some other things. So how many three year olds actually create content for a blog?


All my cars

My foot
He’s probably not quite ready for lessons about framing, focus, and so on, so I’ll not confuse the lad. But I’m looking forward to many future guest posts…

Saturday, January 05, 2013 7 comments

Sick for the Holidays

What I’ll look like, if this cough keeps up.
Source: openclipart.org
At least I have an excuse for not blogging much lately, even for #FridayFlash. The afternoon before Christmas Eve, I began to feel fatigued while running an errand. That’s often the first sign that I’m about to come down with what’s officially called an ILI (Influenza-Like Illness). But a cup of coffee erased the fatigue, so I figured it was just lack of sleep.

Unfortunately, I woke up shivering around 4am that morning. I thought to myself, “No, I can’t get sick now!” but viruses don’t give two tin toots about the in-laws coming in later that day. I dragged myself through the last-minute preparations in the morning, then went back to bed for the afternoon. So I missed out on a rather large feast, for which I’d made rolls, but I was too feverish to care much.

Then the wife got it, too. Christmas Day, we both sat in the lounge chairs, trying to be part of the thing. The Boy was here, fortunately—and even more fortunately, he limped in with a deteriorating CV joint, so he was more or less stuck at FAR Manor for the week. Between himself and Daughter Dearest, who got along pretty well this time, they kept Mason busy shredding wrapping paper and blasting through his presents. Snippet, whose boyfriend also has an iPhone, uses FaceTime to “see” Mason every couple of weeks, and they pinged in to watch Mason open the big box of stuff they sent him. That works out pretty well: during those calls, she mostly focuses on Mason, who usually grabs a handful of toys and plays while she talks to him. Being a thousand miles away, she can’t get on The Boy’s nerves or tempt Daughter Dearest to commit ditzicide.

The next day, I was feeling well enough to drive, and took the wife to the doctor’s. I figured she had what I had, and would be feeling better the next day, but I still wasn’t in any condition to argue. They took a throat swab, and she had strep. At that point, I should have asked for a swab as well, but here’s where I brain-farted. I figured since I had a routine appointment scheduled for the next day, I could get it all done then. The appointment was actually scheduled for a week after the next day. I continued to feel incrementally better with each new day, but figured it was better on the half-dozen co-workers who’d be at the office if I stayed home and used the VPN. Oh, and The Boy got his car fixed and departed on time.

So I finally got to my real appointment, which included an application of The Glove cue banjo music. I got the throat swab, and yup, I had strep too. The antibiotics are already doing their thing, but I have this almost-dry cough that won’t go the eff away (cough syrup is effective for maybe 20 minutes). I’m either going to hack up a lung or have washboard abs by the time it’s done.

Here’s hoping your holidays were pleasant and disease-free.


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