Monday, December 14, 2015

Does anyone else find it funny

That people go on about how bad a series is, yet they continue to read it?
If it's so bad, why can't they put it down?
Why do they keep reading it?
It's not like someone has a gun to their head!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

If I could, I'd like to ask you all for a favor.


Could you go to the product page, on Amazon, for Book one in the series, and 'vote up' some of the 4 and 5 star reviews? 
 
 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MKSLRH0

A while back, an organized group came through and voted up some of the 1 and 2 star reviews, so even though 80 percent of my reviews are 4 and 5 stars, the majority people see on the main page are 1 and 2.

So, if you could help me with this, I would appreciate it.

Thanks,
-John

Should I add explicit sex scenes?

Really, should I? I'm already accused of writing porno's, etc, even though I haven't put any explicit sex in any of my books. So should I just say 'screw it' and put that stuff in?

I mean Laura K. Hamilton has made bank off of putting explicit sex in her stories, so have a lot of other authors. It's actually hard NOT to find explicit sex scenes in a lot of stories these days, so should I just give up and do it too? Like I said above, I'm already accused of it by my many detractors.

And if so, what level of explicitness would you like to see?

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Please Stop Hitting my Forester

About five years ago, I bought a used 2006 Subaru Forester. The price was right, I needed a new car, and I wanted something versatile, because I have large dogs.

I think it's safe to say that it has been hit, more times, then all of the cars I have previously owned, combined. Thankfully none of the hits have been serious enough to require body work, but the car picks up one new dent or scratch, about every other month. It's been backed into at least once recently (the right fender is slightly bowed now) from the front, and twice from the rear (I had to replace one of the rear taillights, that was smashed, and the rear bumper and quarter panel don't quite match up anymore).

Then there are the shopping cart dents and scratches. The one from a home depot where someone let a bunch of something fall against my car and then fall over (dent above one of the doors, and a scratch in the window), hell I've even picked up two dents on the hood and a bunch on the roof of all places.

I don't know why people think it's okay to put dents in my car in parking lots, and then split. Yes, I know we have a lot of illegals here who can't drive (as well as a lot of semi-legals who also can't drive) who all have no ethics or morals at all, and who will run off whenever they damage someone's property. I know we also have a lot of regular citizens who do the same thing these days as well (but at least they tend to be better drivers, so getting hit by them isn't usual).

But please, really, stop hitting my car. I don't need anymore dents and scratches in it.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Free Stuff!

Well, I finished the short excerpt that covers what happens with Laria when she first visits earth in book 6 of Portals of Infinity. If you go to my author website (www.vanstry.net - link on the right sidebar) you'll see a tag on the left side of that page, for 'Free Stuff'. Click on that and you'll go to the new page I put up a few days ago, that contains mobi and epub versions of that short.

I figured as long as I was putting that up, I'd add a few other things! The 'Origin Story' for Will's sister Nikki is up there as well (25,000 words - it's a novella). I am giving that away for free, because a lot of the events in that story are covered, more or less, in book 3. This just gives it all from Nikki's perspective.

I also added to 'fanish' stories I wrote a while ago, about the 'Banner' character in Lisanne Norman's Sholan Alliance series. The first one is fairly short, (Recruitment) the second one is considerably longer, more of a novella than a short story.

If you haven't been to the website in a while, please check it out. As I mentioned a few months back, I added maps and sub-pages for each of the series that I write. Take a look and let me know if you have any suggestions.

Thanks,
-John
(PS, sorry about the way the mobi versions look, I need to find a different converter than Calibre for mobi files. I only just found out it has spacing issues.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Server Died

My server (snowcloude.com, what the link on the right there points to) died about an hour ago.
Right now, it looks like a total loss, but we'll have to see.

I have a RAID5 in it, which we decided to go to a while ago, because they're more robust and we wanted to protect the data on the system. Well, checking it today, and one of the drives had died and  another one was throwing errors. So out to the store to buy two new drives.
We replaced the one that had died and let it rebuild, which it did just fine, and I guess it removed the bad sectors on the one throwing errors, because that one said it was now OK.

So, once that is all done we powered down the system, to put in a new backup drive (even with the raid we'd been doing backups, but the drive we had was no longer up to the task, so not everything was getting backed up). And apparently that killed the system. The raid is fried, apparently the raid card (very expensive raid card) decided to crap itself, and we've lost everything on the system. Some of it was backed up, but a lot of it was not.

I don't know when I'll get the system back up, we may be able to throw something temporary up for a while, but the server is 5 years old, so it may just be time to trash it and build a new one. I think if we do a raid again, we'll do a software raid, because then at least you're not spending a fortune on a fancy hardware raid controller, that only lasts a few years. Unlike the motherboard, which lasted a good long time.

EDIT: We were able to recover the system late last night. Still no idea why it crapped out on us. I immediately did a system wide backup to the new backup drive (now that we have one large enough). Not sure what the long term plan for that server is going to be right now though. Probably will have to start thinking about replacing it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Yea, Bike's done

So, the part I've been waiting for came in a couple of days ago (stupid o-ring) and I got the bike back together and just ran it. Changed the clutch cylinder fluid while I was at it (hasn't been changed since I bought the bike in '03), found that whoever installed the bleeder valve clogged it, which was a surprise. Easily fixed though.
Cleaned and re-oiled the K&N air filter. Not sure how long it's been since I've done that last.
Put in fresh radiator fluid and bled the cooling system, now I'll do an oil change and put the fairings back on and it's done.

Now as long as that oil leak is truly fixed...

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Portals of Infinity, Book One, on Sale 5th thru 7th!

Book one of the Portals of Infinity series (Champion for Hire) will go on sale tomorrow, at 99 cents for two days (Thursday and Friday) then $1.99 for two more (Sat & Sun).
So, if you're interested, but weren't sure, now you can check it out for just 99 cents!

http://amzn.to/1GLHGU4


Sunday, November 01, 2015

A Few Comments on the New POI Book, Reprisal

A few things seem to have come up in the comments on the new book.

One is that there was little time spent talking about Laria's time acclimating to some of the changes she went through. To be honest, I had thought about writing on that, but I honestly didn't think people would be interested in reading it. Apparently that may have been a mistake, so I'm considering writing a short story, to go over the few weeks she and Will spent at the faire. If I do write it, (and I probably will) it will go up on my website, for free.

The other has to deal with Laria being able to bring something back, that William was not allowed to. Fel made the simple comment that 'she was carrying it, you weren't'. Which in this particular case is true. Now there has been some debate over this, and while I find it kinda cool that there are people into my writing enough to debate some of the aspects and plot points, there is actually more to it than was let on by Fel at that point.

I'm sorta debating how much I really want to go into it here, because I was thinking of using this as a minor plot point in Nikki's story, but yes, it is more complicated than people seem to be thinking. Yes, Laria was able to bring back an item that Will could not. Something that Will had not considered. Which may perhaps be a little surprising when you think how often he's trying to game the rules, but we all have our off days, and he had other things on his mind. Yes there are tech limits on what you can and can not bring into a world, but those limits are often about physics and the laws thereof.

Though not always. There is the rule about champions bringing in items/devices/etc of excessive tech, or higher tech, so you've already seen. There also appears to be a rule about bringing devices of significantly higher tech as well, but its only been hinted at, I don't think you've seen it applied yet. The rule on champions has affected Will in subtle ways in the previous books that you may not have noticed, otherwise all of the gods would simply recruit champions from high tech worlds and have them come to theirs and build high tech wonders and death machines (and then there would be no low tech worlds, or developing worlds).

This is why you haven't seen Will use his engineering skills to 'do great things'.

Also, most god's champions can not travel through portals. Will is Fel's first champion with that ability. Eveon is also the first of her god's with that ability. Tantrus, has had several, but then he is a very powerful and old (by that sphere's standards) god. The ability to sense portals is very rare. Until Will showed up in Hiland, no one in the kingdom, or any adjoining ones, had it. So random people stumbling in, with specialty items is going to be a very hit or miss proposition.

And therefore, because of all of this, you are going to see some very byzantine plots and behaviors by the gods revolving around or involving portals. Sometimes it makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Amazon owes me money...

Yeah, so Amazon screwed up and didn't pay out their royalties this month.

To anybody.

When you're a full time writer, and that's your income, that's kind of rough. Now they did pay out for all of the foreign stores, so that was enough to cover all the small bills, but things like the mortgage, my car payment?
Yeah, those are gonna be late.

Hey all of you who pirate my stuff! How about tossing me a little cash via the donate button so I can eat next month?

And Jeff, I'm willing to go back to QA work for a while to fix your problems, I sent you my resume, give me a call! You obviously need a QA director at KDP, because you have live production servers linking to dev ones. That's a pretty bad problem. But so is not paying people.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Latest Portals of Infinity book is now available on Amazon

Portals of Infinity, Book six: Reprisal is now up on Amazon!
For those of you in the KU program, it WILL be enrolled in that program, as soon as I can submit it. So hopefully later tonight, but by tomorrow I'm sure.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017CI4BGQ

Portals of Infinity, Book Six: Reprisal Cover Photo

Hi all,

Well, Dane from ebooklaunch.com just delivered the cover for the new book to me, so I'll be submitting it to Amazon here in the next hour. That means it should be up for sale in about six hours from now (maybe sooner, these days you never know!)

Here's the cover:


Sunday, October 25, 2015

First Draft done, halfway through the first rewrite

So book 6 of 'Portals of Infinity: Reprisal', is in the rewrite stage, and I'm about halfway through it.
Tonight it should go out to my beta readers, and Monday or Tuesday it will probably go out to my editor.
I'm still hopeful that it will be up for sale before Halloween, but I need to make sure everything in it is right. There are still two small scenes I've flagged for a rewrite, but those shouldn't take more than an hour to do.
But it will be out soon, it's in the final stages. Then I can take a few days to fix that annoying oil leak on my bike, gonna have to take the exhaust headers off to get at that one, probably check the valves and a few other things as long as I'm in there.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Some Comments about Lost Souls, the first of my Shrean Fantasy Novels

I decided to write this today, because I was thinking about one of the reviews of the novel. Someone was upset that it wasn't a Portals of Infinity book (which was why I but the 'Shrean Novel' tag on the cover, I didn't want there to be any confusion). But also because I think they missed some of the byplay that takes place in the novel. Maybe I didn't write it well enough? It is a book I wrote a while ago, maybe I should have reworked it more. But whichever, that is the reason for the comments below.


**Contains Spoilers**

First of all, yes, the Shrean books are NOT Portals of Infinity Books. They're meant to be different, and yes, aimed at a younger (and different) audience - generally speaking.
The lead character in the first one is one of those people who are all about 'duty, honor, country.' The kind of soldier who lives by the book, and lives and breathes the honor of his Queen. When he gets ordered to leave, and exiled, the idea of disobedience is alien to him, because everything he is, has come from his 'following the book'.

Ever seen 'Hot Fuzz'? (it's funny, you should if you haven't). The main character in that movie is actually the same sort of person. It's not until he gets shafted over doing what he's supposed to, that his eyes are (eventually) opened.

And in Lost Souls, that is what has happened to our hero. He's not really 'our hero' anymore. Oh, he's still a good person, he still tries to do right, and be honorable, but that book he lived by? Yeah, he's burned it. That code? Torn it up.

When it comes to the end of the story, what he does there is something he would never have done in his previous life. Instead of following the rules, he makes the rules follow him, he changes them for the one he loves, to get what HE wants and screw the rest if they don't like it.

I'm not sure everyone got that. Oh he still looks like he'll do whatever he's told, but at that point, he's just humoring them so he can get his revenge. Think of the several run ins he has with the King and the Queen in the short time he's around them in the book, the queen realizes that she's lost him, but shes feeling remorseful because she screwed herself when she screwed him, so she just gives him power cuts him loose. The King just doesn't want to see it, but does Jareth really show either one of them the kind of respect that you'd show your monarch?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Need Sick Days

The problem with being an indy is you don't get any sick days. I think I wrote a thousand words today (I needed to write about 7000). I think I'll try to write some more before bed, but I'm not so sure I'll be able to finish the first draft tomorrow, unless I can really rock it.

Guess we will just have to see.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Six Nearnig Completion.

As I may, (or may not) have mentioned, I hit a bit of a wall on the book about Nikki, William's sister, that was supposed to be the next one out (it's about half done) so I set it aside to work on Portals of Infinity, Book Six <no title yet, sorry> while I thought about it.

Well, I just passed 60K words on book six. I have one scene I need to go back and finish, but other than that, I'm in the final act or 'end game' of the novel. That's going to be at least another 10K words, but I wouldn't be surprised if it goes over 20K.

So depending on how much I get done this weekend, and how much I beat myself up, anywhere for 4 to 6 days to finish the first draft. Tomorrow I'm going to commission the cover from Dane over at ebooklaunch, so I need to come up with the title tonight. I already know what I want the cover to look like at least, so that helps.

Then I'll take a few days off, do the rewrite, and then engage my copy editor and send it off to them. So, as long as nothing unexpected happens, I think you will see Book Six published and up for sale before Halloween!

-John

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Question, if I were to raise some of my prices, would it affect your purchases?


I see a lot of people charging 4.99 and up, for books the same size, or even shorter than what I write.
Now with the exception of one book (which is over 170K words) all of my stuff is priced at 3.99 or less.

If I raised the prices on my 3.99 books to 4.99, would that affect your buying my books? Would you not have bought them? Would you stop buying them?

These are important questions to me, because this is what I do for a living, and I'm always wondering if I'm charging too little, when I see higher prices on other authors. I a also afraid of charging too much. for me, I see 4.99 as a lot for an ebook, but then I started out when even 3.99 was considered a lot for a self published author to charge.

Honestly, I've even thought about getting my stuff printed in lots, to bring the paperback price down, just to see if I could lower the price of my print books, which are already a lot cheaper than anything comparable in print. I just don't think the upfront investment would be worth it. Setting price points is tough as an independent. I want to offer a good value to my readers, but I need to eat and keep a roof over my head as well.

So please, let me know.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

This copyright thing...

Just a short note here.
I do not like it when people pirate my work, especially since the people doing it get paid more than I do. I do not like it when I go to a 'fan' website where I'm told I'm popular and I see links to pirated copies of my work. Not just because I'm seeing people stealing from me, but because I MUST (by law) do something about it.

You see, if the copyright holder does not protect his copyright, he loses it. So if I see someone infringing on my copyrights, I am required by law to file a DCMA and a C&D (Cease and Desist), or it can be said I ignored violations of my copyright, that I knew about, and therefore have 'given it up'. It takes time having to do those, and it is a pain in the ass. I'm split between annoying people who like my stuff, and having to protect my work, not a fun place to be (even if they are ripping me off).

So please, don't steal my work.
And please, don't bring up sites to me where others are stealing my work.

Yes, I know people think authors make a lot of money, but the truth is, I'm making less than $10 an hour here (I have to work +80 a week to maintain the publishing schedule I have), and I pay twice the tax rate as you do, because I'm 'self-employed' and there is a penalty for that.

And I just blew half my day dealing with all of this. That's ten pages.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Don't Spoil the Mystique!

There really is such a thing as 'trying too hard' when working in the arts. I think it tends to hit those who are new, who are still learning the craft. They're not only artists/performers, but they're also fans, and they get into what they're doing as a fan, when they're in the position of being the creator/performer.

Now the enthusiasm is nice, and it can be fun to watch at times, but you can make it harder on yourself than it should be, you can be putting way too much energy into your work, and while it may be flashy, it won't sound or look as good as you might want it to, or you'll find yourself making too many mistakes.You need to remember that the people are there, because they want to be there, and they're going to go with you, when you take them for this ride.

So don't force it, don't make it harder than it has to be. Don't exhaust yourself on the easy parts, and especially don't kill yourself on the hard parts. Just lean back and let it come, and keep working at it. You'll get there, and it will come off looking like so much more to the fans, than you thought it would. Because remember, you see the insides, they don't. You see what it took to get there, they don't. They only see the finished product.

So don't try too hard. Don't ruin the mystique by trying to do everything, or show everything. Writing is like any other art, or performance: It takes time to learn how to do it right, and you will always be learning more and improving.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Bass playing is progressing nicely...

Yup, another non-writing post. Maybe I'll even post something about lion taming next week!
So, I've been playing bass for almost two years now, lately I haven't been practicing as much as I should, I need to get back to an hour a day, not just a half-hour, and I need to make sure I don't skip any days.
The nice thing is I'm getting better at finding the frets I need without looking at them, and I've almost got the jump from 3 to 7 down without having to look (when I'm sight reading), though I think I'm slipping a little on the sight reading, as I'm looking more at tab than at notes again. Probably should work on that.
But I've been playing with a pick lately, something I haven't done since I played guitar (which was a good many years ago, so I've forgotten much of that), and that has been a little distracting. But it's interesting using a pick, versus finger plucking, and if I try to play a song I play by finger plucking with the pick, it's really all sorts of messed up right now.
While I know there is a huge divide over finger plucking versus picking, I think right now I want to learn and do both. The sounds of the two styles are different, and being able to do both is interesting. I also hold the bass a bit differently for the two, holding it up higher when I pick, because I pick fairly close to the bridge.
I think in another year or two, I might start playing my old acoustic guitar again, just to refresh my knowledge. I think all of my growing bass skills will probably make me a better guitar player than I used to be, though I'm really more interested in playing bass, now that I've started to really get into it, than I am guitar.
It is fun playing an instrument again, and again, I find playing bass a lot more enjoyable than I did guitar or piano. I think that may be because I played drums for so long back in the 60's and 70's as a kid and a young man, that I just have a more developed attachment to rhythm and the groove. What's funny is last month my teacher told me I was ready to start coming over the neck with my thumb to mute the e-string. I thought he was crazy when he said that, but I find when I'm playing with a pick I have to come over the top to mute that string, and with the way I'm holding the bass while picking, I can do it without really thinking about it.
I know a lot of people like to sling their bass really low when playing it, and they tend to 'choke' the neck a lot, but I'm starting to think I may start wearing mine a lot higher, like Donald 'Duck' Dunn did, because I can see there just might be advantages to doing it that way. I have a pretty long reach, so I don't really need to have so much of an angle on it when playing.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Let us all remember Chris Mintz!!

Chris Mintz, 30yo Army veteran from North Carolina.
According to Fox 8, when the gunman tried to enter Mintz’s class, Mintz told the students in his classroom to get to a safe place, then said to the shooter “you’re not getting by me”
This is the man we should be remembering from yesterday. Not the scumbag who was trying to get famous by murdering Christians! But the man, who on his SON's birthday, said 'No!' The man who risked his life and charged the shooter, and got shot 7 times for his courage, but yet still lives.

If more people had the courage that Chris Mintz had shown, how many more people would be alive today? How many less would have been murdered? Celebrate Chris, promote what he did, let him be the man we remember, that we celebrate! So that the next time this happens, people emulate him, those who want to be famous, follow his example and attack the shooter, and save the lives of those around them, rather than just sit there an cower like sheep.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Haters gonna hate...

So, came across a new author the other day, E. William Brown. Started reading the first book in his Daniel Black series, and I'm really enjoying it. If you like my stuff, you might like his stuff too, so go take a look. I will note that his book does have a little (Edit: I just finished it) LOT more on camera sex than mine do, and a bit more frank discussion on it than I've used. (Which I have been tempted to do myself, but won't because that's the tone I set in the series). But if you're not put off by sex in your fantasy books, you may want to check it out.

But the part that I found most interesting, is when I went and looked at his 1 star reviews, in that there were quite a few familiar names with the same reviews! Oh, I had a good laugh at that!! What is it with some women that they can not stand stand for story to be written that features a more masculine hero, and more feminine heroines? ESPECIALLY when we have Paranormal Romance, where each Heroine ends up with MULTIPLE slavishly devoted males, who satisfy her every sexual fantasy, which is explained in graphic and minute detail?

I don't see guys going there and making one star reviews complaining about how the female author is a stunted teen-aged girl who has never slept with a man and is writing a mary sue based on her childish adolescent fantasies, do you? Of course not.

PNR and woman's romance is far far 'worse' than anything I (or this other author) write, or have written, when it comes to sex, descriptive sex, sexism, etc. So why don't these harpies feel the need to attack that as well? Do they think it's okay for women to write these kinds of things about men? But heaven help us if a man writes anything even close to that?

I used to write PNR under a pen name, it was (and still is) quite successful. While some people may not have liked the story, or complained about the quality, no one ever ever ragged on it being a teenaged wetdream, or demeaning to men. Even when my heroines ended up with their own personal harem's of male lovers who worshiped them! But then, everyone thinks a woman wrote those stories, so that makes it okay then, doesn't it?

*GRIN*

Never been a big fan of double standards! I mean if you don't like my stuff, that's fine! I don't write for everyone, and I'm not going to change to suit the people who don't like it. Especially not the social justice harpies. My stories are meant to be fun, they're meant to be escapism, and I just want the people who read them to have a good time. I don't criticize women's fiction for the way it demeans and uses/abuses men. Maybe you shouldn't criticize men's fiction, especially when it doesn't come anywhere near that level of abuse. (Oh, and almost all of my beta readers are women, two of them are department heads managing lots of people in critical environments, definitely -strong- mature women, they don't have a problem with my hero's in the slightest, and they are not the type to hold their tongues either!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wait no! Stop! Please don't write!!!! PULLeeeeeease!

*Ahem*

Have you noticed lately that there are a bunch of people going on about how ebook authors need to write less, or perhaps not write anything at all anymore? Seems kind of strange, doesn't it? I mean when the failures at traditional publishing were doing it, you just kinda laughed and moved on. When people who have managed to get at least one book traditionally published, you start to wonder (but still point and laugh).

But when people who are considered 'successful' traditionally published authors get out there and naysay you have to wonder if they're being told to do it, (Possibly) or just overheard their master's lamenting about how they're in trouble financially and decided to do it on their own (more definitely).

Look, the fact is, traditional publishers are going out of business. Oh, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but definitely a lot of them will be dead and gone in the next few years, unless they wise up. Not that it will be a bad thing though, because most traditional publishers treat writers like their personally little slave-bitches. And I mean that in the worst way possible.

A lot of authors only get 5K for anything they submit nowadays. That's it, a $5000 advance, and then they never seen another penny. Meanwhile, the people working at the publishing house take down nice six figure salaries based off of that work they just paid five thousand dollars for. Of course, as they never EVER let anyone examine the financial books, you have no idea how much money your little book really earned, but I don't see those six figure salaries sagging, yet I HAVE seen advances go from thirty thou, to ten, and now just five.

Maybe we need 'fair trade' publishers like we have 'fair trade' coffee, huh?

Sixty percent of all the books sold in the last year were ebooks. Forget what those liars over at the New York Slimes said, they left out the indies, because they're a publishing company in league with the other New York publishing companies, and they hate the indies. Because they're being made redundant by them.

I mean think about it, you can get five grand for a book you wrote from a traditional publisher, who will NEVER tell you how many copies it sold, leaving YOU the person who created the thing that they are selling driving an old broke down junker and living in a cheap apartment, while THEY drive a Cadillac and live in a mansion...

-OR-

You can self publish and become an indy, and if your book is any good, you'll make that five grand in a couple of months. Yeah, it may take longer, it may take a year, but guess what? You continue to sell, rather than never seeing another dime because they either pulled your book, or they claim it isn't selling. And as you keep writing, and getting more readers, you'll make more and more money. If you keep at it, you'll eventually make enough money that you may even be able to live off of it! What a concept!

So, when you see the naysayers, ignore them. If you want to be a writer, write! Learn your craft, get out there and do it. Improve, tell your stories, find your audience.

After all, you have nothing to lose but your chains.

Now, this isn't to say that all of the traditional publishers out there are bad, just most of them seem to be, and lets be really honest here, if they're on the up and up, they'll pay you a worthwhile fee for your book, they won't lock you into an unfair contract that holds onto your rights forever, and they won't be doing everything they can to shoot down ebooks, which are the new horizon, the future of publishing.

And beware of the many writers organizations out there that claim to represent the writer, but which really represent the publisher, and who have a great many members who haven't written anything in ages, and when they did write, they only wrote the bare minimum to qualify.
Beware the organizations that rant against the very places that are paying you good money, and yet defend the publishers who are screwing their authors over.
Beware the people who want to control what you write, who you sell it to, and how much you are paid.

And again, beware the naysayers. They aren't doing you any favors, they are in fact trying to do themselves a favor by killing off the competition before it can even get started. They are the drowning man trying to pull down the others, hoping to stand atop your body, killing you so that they might instead live. But it won't work, because they are doomed and they know it.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Two maps from Portals of Infinity are now up.

Yes, I finally redrew two of my maps (they're still not very fancy, I'm not much of an artist) to make them a bit larger and a bit nicer. They can be found at my homepage:

http://www.vanstry.net/vanstry/index.html

Click on the 'Portals of Infinity' link in the left side bar. You can click on the maps for an enlarged view. I'll try to get the map for Hillshire done in the next few days, but that one will have very little detail to it really.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Back from the Air Races

Just got back from the Reno Air Races, and it was actually one of the best years for racing in a very long time. There were no accidents, serious or minor, and the airplanes that had to pull up out of the race due to mechanical problems were remarkably few. There were also very few 'infractions' during the races (cut pylons, too high, too low - which is pretty hard).
But that wasn't what made it one of the best, what made it good was that there was a lot of hard racing going on, and a lot of positions were contested in the different classes, there were a lot of very close finishes, some of which only a few feet made the different between 1st and 2nd, or 2nd and 3rd.

Some years are definitely better than others, and this year, racewise, was one of the better ones. It will be talked about for years to come.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Nearing the Halfway Point

Well, the first POI book about Nikki is almost halfway done, normally I'd be hoping to wrap the first draft up next week, but next week is my one vacation a year (and it's not even a week long!) when I go to the Reno Air Races, from Thursday to Sunday. We used to go on Wednesday, but for some reason I don't recall, we stopped going on Wednesday a few years ago.

I may get some writing done back at the hotel, but I don't really want to count on it, I do very much want to have this book finished before the end of the month so I can start on POI #6 asap. I'd like to get #6 out around the end of October, but it may slip a little bit from that. The target is to have it out prior to Thanksgiving, but I'd like to beat that a bit.

I'm not sure how the story on Nikki is going to be received, I'm hoping people like it, because I'd like to write a few more stories about her, to show off some other aspects of the whole 'universe' as it were. I'm also debating writing a few short stories, about characters we know about, and perhaps a few you don't know about yet. There are some aspects I wanted to explore, that I haven't put on a storyline yet, so I just have to see what works out.

As for the Shrean stories, yes, they're not POI, they are written for a different genre, and have a bit of a different thrust. I wonder if I should have put them out under a pen name, especially as the main characters in the next one are all under twenty.

I am curious as to how my POI readers, in general, feel about the Hammer Commission, and if they'd be interested in any more stories there. I will eventually put a second one out (I've mentioned that elsewhere I believe) and I'm wondering if any of you will find that interesting.

As for POI, once #6 is out, I'm going to spend a little time thinking about how I'm going to approach the next one. #6 is going to wrap up one of the current arc, so moving forward from that I need to think of how I want to approach the following stories so people can jump right in, if they want to (I believe I've mentioned that before). I am curious as to what the rest of you think, would you rather see, 1) more stories of Will in the near future, 2) more stories of Will, in the far future (after he's moved on from Fel), 3) stories about a new protagonist, 4) stories about others you already know about.

Let me know, I'm curious.

-John

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Trigger Warnings are Censorship



Yes, they are. All those people who will tell you they're just there to protect a small handful of people who cannot control themselves if they see or hear something upsetting are lying to you, or they're lying to themselves, but in either case, they're lying.

Are there people who are so sick that when they see a word they lose control? I'm sure there are, and I'm also sure that we shouldn't be changing society to protect this incredibly small minority. We also shouldn't be changing it to protect that larger group of fakers and whiners who claim that certain words 'Trigger' them. That later group should learn to shut up and grow up, and we should pay them no heed at all. Actually we should all disparage them, because they deserve it, for using the mental issues of those who really are ill, as a trick to force their worldview on others.

Look, there are things out there that upset all of us, in one way or another. But you don't see the vast overwhelming majority of people in the world falling down and screaming every time they see or hear something that 'Triggers' bad feelings or memories, do you? No, because they're grown up adults and they know that the whole 'Trigger Warning' fiasco is just that, a fiasco based on lies.

Of course there are those people who will claim 'It's only Voluntary!!!' Yeah, I'm sure the Nazi's told the Jews that the camps were 'only voluntary' as well (oh noes! Godwin alert!! Yes, I used Nazi's on purpose, are you triggered yet? No? Guess I'll have to try harder). Oh, and yes, they did.

The problem with any 'voluntary' standard is that sooner or later (usually sooner) someone always comes along and makes it mandatory. Go look around, try to find some cases where this hasn't happened (yet). Oh, I'm sure there are a few, but the fact is, they're so few that you'll have to really search to find them. The first thing that always happens is social pressure. In one debate I was a part of recently, the person in favor of 'Trigger Warnings' accused one of the opposed to being favor of rape. "How can you be opposed to putting Trigger Warnings for rape on a story, unless you are in favor of rape!" They said.

I'm not kidding, they actually said that, they actually made that accusation, and then for two weeks the discussion fell silent because none of the others who were opposed wanted to be branded a rapist.

And that is what will happen if everyone starts giving into 'Trigger Warnings,' if you as an author don't, you'll be silenced by being accused of the most heinous crimes imaginable. And if you do give in and start putting them on, well, do you want to be putting such 'tags' on your story as 'Rape, Murder, Mutilation, Incest, Assault, Battery, Theft, Robbery, Violence, Curse Words, Religious Overtones,' etc, etc, etc? No, of course not, so you'll just stop writing instead.

BTW, I just described almost every Greek and Shakespearean play ever written, as well as 90 percent of most classic literature. There probably isn't a book on the NY Times best seller list that doesn't contain 80 percent of those 'Triggers'.

Trigger warnings are the foot in the door for the speech and thought police, it is not something being done to help people who you shouldn't be worrying about in the first place. It's solely a method for those that think they are better than you, and know better than you, to control what you say, what you think, what you believe, and what you read. And if you don't see that, you are a very foolish person who has no understanding of history, or human nature.

Trigger Warnings are an attack on authors everywhere, on all artists, on all creative people. It is a war, and if you give in to it, you will be silenced if you do not write the approved stories with the approved words. If you don't stand up against it now, while you still can, you find yourself being attacked for saying and writing the 'wrong' things. You will doxxed, you will be swatted, you will lose your job. Don't think they won't do it, they're already doing it in other fields, now they're after us, the writers.

Remember: It is better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees.
But it's better still to take a stand against those preaching censorship before they have their foot in the door, and have gained the power to crush you.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Move those goalposts!

So, I was in a debate over censorship (which I disapprove of), and I made an argument, in the debate which proved my point perfectly, as one person in the debate was actually using the very thing I was arguing against, to censor people in the debate.

Score!

So what does the other side do? They totally ignore my 100 percent factual proof, and claim that I was getting 'too emotional'. Yup, they lost, they knew they lost, they couldn't argue against me, so they changed the goalposts and started to argue that my point wasn't valid, because I was too emotional.

So yeah, done with those folks. The next thing that comes after personal attacks are motions to ban, because obviously you are a bad person.

To be honest I don't know why I even bothered. I thought they wanted to talk about writing, but instead they just wanted to push the next SJW item on the checklist, speech control.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Somebody in England ALWAYS makes it.

Why this is, I have no idea, but sometimes I think it speaks volumes for a particular segment of English society. I engage in a couple of different hobbies, like motorcycles, and sometimes those require a special tool, if you're the type of person that does all their own maintenance.

I have found, that while certain tools are almost impossible to find, you will always find at least ONE person, in England, who makes it, and is selling them.

My ZZR1200 needs a special tool to tighten down the nut that holds the front forks on. Most people (dealers included) use a tool that doesn't really work right, and sort of does a half-assed job. Especially as you can't put a torque wrench on it. There is a special socket however that will do the job, and yeah, only one guy in England makes it.

It just came today! Now to go wrench.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

So, the year so far

So far this year I've put out four novels. To be honest, I'd hoped to be at five at this point, but with my father dying, and having to fly to NY twice this summer, well, let's just say writing wasn't a priority for almost three months.
As it stands right now, I have two more novels planned to be out this year, and a third one if I can find that time (which is already halfway finished, so it should be 'easy' to finish - ha!).

Of the two planned ones, the first is in the Portals of Infinity universe, but is not part of the existing series, it's about Nikki, the sister of the hero from the series, who has found herself drawn into this new and interesting universe. For her, this is a huge bonus, because she will finally be able to do the things she always wanted to do, but couldn't in our world. I haven't titled this story yet.
The other planned one, will be book Six in the Portals of Infinity series. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the books after #6 will still (mostly) be in chronological order, however, I will endeavor to write them so that you can pick up any one of them, and read it, without having to read the previous ones in the series.

The third one, is another book in the Shrean universe, where Lost Souls takes place. Different characters completely, different story line. Much more adventure with a lost prince, young love, and all that kind of stuff. The first half of that is done (I wrote it while watching deadliest catch. American restoration, and pawn stars), I'm curious as to if people will like it, it's different from my other stuff, just like Lost Souls is different. More YA / Romance / shifter stuff.

I do have two other books planned for the Hammer Commission story line, one is a prequel about how Rafael came to be where he is today, the other is about what happens to Mark after he's 'loaned' out to the US government. One of those will get written next year, and if it does well, the other one probably will follow six to nine months later.

As for the anthro fiction, if enough people show an interest, I will start a kickstarter for the third book in the COS trilogy. Due to the overwhelming amount of piracy those books are receiving versus sales, I will only continue to write in that universe if paid up front. Sorry folks, but I can't afford to work for free, much less lose money on a book. I have to eat, and I have bills to pay. Furry fandom is not as big as the other fandoms, and hard SF still isn't as popular as it used to be (which is why I don't write much of it currently). So when hundreds of people pirate those stories, that's half the audience, and earning a thousand dollars for 8 weeks worth of work (and I have to pay $400 of that to the government in taxes), is not smart. Sign twirlers make more money than that.

I am always open to comments from my readers as to what you'd like to see next, or see more of. I want to do my best to please my readers, because you folks are the reason I'm able to do this. Being able to tell these stories that are bouncing around in my head, and make money at it, is a privilege.

Thank you,
-John Van Stry

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The people at Amazon really are very helpful

So, insomnia, woke up at 5am, couldn't go back to sleep.
So while dealing with some correspondence (I have a distant relative who is a lawyer and I keep getting his email lately) I discovered that book one from my Portals of Infinity series was no longer showing up on my author page (the detail section) and a link to a former bogus/scammer paperback version (which Amazon removed) was still there (now it's a dead link).

So rather than write them, I called them (well technically they called me), and they took care of all of that. The person on the phone was actually very technically skilled and went in there and fixed it. Not what you expect from tech support these days, right?

I know a lot of people like to bag on Amazon, but to be honest, they've always done well by me and always done their best. Few companies these days really make the effort that Amazon makes in customer service, and not just for its customers, but for it's vendors as well.

Thank you, Amazon.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Does this constitute as a 'sex scene'?

Really, I'm curious.

'He made love to her.'

'They made love.'

'They relaxed together after making love.'


Now, I'm curious, do any of those constitute a sex scene to you? I always thought a sex scene had to have descriptions of actual sex, you know, like a porno shows two people have sex, but if the scene fades out and you see nothing, well, it's not a sex scene, because it's all in your head.

anyway, curious minds want to know and all that!


*sigh* Looks Like Lost Souls is a flop. Edit (Maybe not?)

Well, apparently no one likes 'Lost Souls', while I did get a few positive emails, I haven't gotten a single review on Amazon. So sales, which started off okay, have dropped significantly. It's still getting some reads in KU, but again, with no reviews after a week, people aren't going to give it a shot.

I might finish the next book I wrote for that 'world' as it is already half done, remember I wrote these mostly for myself, for fun, but it's on the back burner now, so it'll be a while. My beta readers all thought it was a great story and would do well, but I guess not. I wonder if I should just pull it and release it under a pen name? Maybe people don't expect that kind of story from me?

I don't know, but if it doesn't pick up a lot of reviews by Tuesday, and if sales don't come up, it's dead.

But this shows how important reviews are, if you like a book, and you don't review it, don't expect the author to write another one like it. Because reviews sell books, and without reviews, we won't write those stories

Edit: Apparently the KU borrows on it (which I normally don't pay attention to, because under the old system those weren't worth much to me) are continuing to go up. So while I may not get many sales, I may get borrows. Strange, never had more borrows on a book than sales, but this is getting about 10 times as many. So it may NOT be a flop after all.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Wow, this is a first

If Amazon pays out the same for the KU program as they did last month (about a half penny per page read), I will possibly make more money from page reads than from actual sales!

That has never happened before. The old system favored short stories, so of course it quickly got scammed by a lot of people, and folks like me, who write novels were getting screwed (along with Amazon - who did something before us novel writers all left). Now all the scammers/gamers are screaming about it being 'unfair', and suddenly people who write books that people actually read all the way through are making money.

I have never written my books to try and game the KU system, I just try to write things that people will read and enjoy. My target has always been books sold, not KU borrows. And for the first time I'm getting almost as much money for a KU borrow, as for a sale.

This is a very pleasant surprise.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Just what's been going on...

I've been busy this week with a few things. A lot of it has been centered around the new book 'Lost Souls', I've been doing some promoting of it, as well as converting it to paperback. I need to do book 5 of POI, which is the latest, I may do that this weekend.

I've also been dealing with some issues on the new book, which as usual is still untitled. One day I'll be better about titles, I'm sure. This will be the first book that deals with William's sister Nikki in the POI universe. There are going to be some changes going forward, either with the book six in the series, or the book afterward. To you, the reader, hopefully you won't really see anything different, but I want to restructure a few things so that people can pick up any future book in the series, and read it without having to go back to book one, unless they want to.

Now, there will be some books that are a bit more tightly linked of course, so you may have to go back one book, but I want to make it easier on those people who are new to the stories. The difficult part of this will be in titling the books. I think I'll have to add a list of the books in chronological order in the flyleaf, or after the copyright page once I start doing that, so people will know where they are in the series chronologically.

Also, as I write books about other characters in this universe, I'll need a way to communicate timeline order, not just when they were written, but when they take place. The current book I'm working on actually starts at the halfway point of POI book 3, and there is some crossover. But not much. And that's only because I have the start of Nikki's story, which we saw a little of in book 3 of POI.

As for writing Nikki, she's going to be a lot more of a tomboy than other female characters I've written before, so it will be a little bit tricky to try and get the right mix of feminine and more 'butch' like behavior. I'm am modeling her after someone (and I will never say who!) that I think captures that kind of behavior. (Well, actually two someones).

I'm also going to redo my main website, sometime in the next week or two, and I'll be putting up some primitive maps of the two main worlds in POI, I really need a simple wysiwyg html editor, I'm tired of coding html in vi. I may just do it in word (because I own a copy of word), yeah I know it's full of bloat, but it's easy. And all the 'free' wysiwyg html editors I've seen to date are complete pains in the butt to use.

So, that's it for tonight, and if you haven't checked it out, please check out a few pages in Lost Souls and let me know what you think here. It's a lot different than the POI series, and yeah, a bit of a romance in some aspects. I grew up in a day and age where writers diverged all over the map, and I'd like to do the same occasionally. Keeps things fresh.

Lost Souls Print version now available

For those of you who may be interested, the print version is now available!

https://www.createspace.com/5704708

Friday, August 21, 2015

Lost Souls is now available on Amazon!

My latest novel, Lost Souls, is now available on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01489KXRS

Please check it out! No, it's not a Portals of Infinity story, this is more of a high fantasy type tale, in a world full of mythical beings and creatures, like Elves, and Dwarves, and Shreans.

Wait? What are Shreans you ask? Well, maybe you should read the book! :-)
Or at least check out the free sample!

Thanks,
-John

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lost Souls, Cover is done

Well, here is the cover for the new book, Lost Souls. The text is still out at the editor, so I can't commit to a publishing date other than 'soon'.

This is a new story and a new Genre for me, as this is a YA Fantasy, an it introduces the Shrean race. As I've mentioned before, I have a few of these stories that I wrote more for my own pleasure than anyone else's, but when they came up in conversation, a few folks asked to see them, and they liked them, so here they are.

I'm not sure when the next one of these will come out, but this one is a standalone. The next one is about totally different characters and is even more YA than this one, as the characters in it are teenagers, but it is the same fantasy world, just a different place in it.

I just hope people like it as much as my niece did!

-John

Oh, the cover:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I hate reviews, by people who don't read the book (or just skimmed)

That, or they either have no reading comprehension, or no memory. I was just reading a review of book one in the POI series and it says 'he decides to become a warrior, and just does it, but without any training'.

Umm, William spends over a year in training, it's mentioned in the book, plus he was studying martial arts for years before the book starts. Which is also mentioned in the book.
It specifically calls out when he starts to study fighting with the staff, when he hires a man to teach him sword fighting, and when he joins a sword fighting display team (and if you think that won't teach you sword fighting, talk to the folks who do it).

I find it weird that people will write a review of a book that they just skimmed, and then claim parts of it that were there, weren't.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My First Novel - How it came about

Someone posted a link to this Living Color song yesterday:
Type - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HbF3EAt3ck

Actually, two people did. It was in response to someone's post, I think it was on FaceBook, but it might have been on one of the writer's blogs that I follow. I tried to find where it was this morning, but couldn't.

I had to go watch it of course, I haven't seen that video in a very long time, and except for on my own stereo, that song hasn't been played on a radio in an even longer time. For some reason the song 'Cult of Personality', which is not as good, or as deep IMHO, eclipsed 'Type' which was the early hit from the album.

Now this song means a lot to me, for numerous reasons, you see, it was the inspiration for my first novel: Children of Steel. In fact, after hearing the song only a couple of times, I sat down and wrote Children of Steel​, or rather started it. The first draft took me close to a year, and it was re-written several times over the years, and a few things added. If you listen to the song, really listen, you might understand some of the underlying themes and ideas of the book (and that 'universe'), which even the folks on 'my' page at TV Tropes, completely missed. The song really does have a lot to do with the novel, even the music video (which I only saw once back then) had some impact on the story.

That also gives you an idea of how old that novel really is (First draft - 1990). I couldn't sell it, and I tried, so I just gave up on selling on it, and sat on it, for twenty-one years, until I published it as an ebook in 2011 on Amazon. I was both happy and surprised that it sold, as well as by the reviews I got being mostly positive.  So while it may have taken me twenty years, that song is a big part of what launched my writing career. I wrote quite a few short stories and a few other novels before I got published in 2011. I discovered 'furry fandom' in the 90s, something I had no idea even existed, and started writing for one of the bigger fanzines in it, under both my real name, and a pen name.

I would like to take a moment to give my thanks to Gerald Perkins, one of the editors at Yarf! who helped me when I was getting started. I have received almost zero help in my writing career, my sister is probably the only person who has read everything I've written, prior to it being published, and my former gf Lisanne also gave me some pointers on one of the short stories I wrote (odds are if you've read my anthro stories, you've read all of her novels, she's way more famous than me). But Gerald is really the only person that ever made a serious contribution to my actual writing abilities, he taught me a lot, and did it quickly and painlessly. I wish he was still around, because I would love to thank him once again for his help. He helped me a lot with the actual mechanics of writing a story, things like 'sayisms' which are a lot more important than you might realize, as well as the actual mechanics of short stories.

The next biggest influence was probably Orson Scott Card, for his book 'How to write Science Fiction and Fantasy' (I loaned my copy out to someone who never returned it, no idea where it is now). Most of it was worth reading, but the section on the 'MICE' bit is what really helped me straighten out what my problem with writing novels was. I read that book in 1990, and I think I had my 'aha' moment around the same time the song Type captured my imagination, and off I went writing a huge five hundred plus page novel with no prior experience.

So, everything does come from somewhere, and now you know where Children of Steel came from.
Danger Money came from the album by the same name by the band U.K. If you liked that book, listen to that album sometime and you'll get some insights as to what's going on in the background as well.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Book review, for 'Off Leash'

So, I was talking with another author the other day about some sales stuff on a forum, and they put up the link to their book:

Off Leash (Freelance Familiars Book 1)
 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011J9L5JA

And I went and read the intro, and liked it, so I bought it. I then spent the next two days reading it in my spare time, and didn't put it down until just about an hour ago. I really liked the story, and not just because the protagonist finds himself turned in to cougar. The writing is very well done, and I found the story compelling. We have someone here who has really been having a very bad time of it for months now, and suddenly everything gets worse. On top of that familiars (of which he is now one) are pretty much treated like slaves, captured and then bought and sold. Something which he really wants no part of at all.

Add to this the circumstances of why he's now a familiar, his extreme stubbornness in the face of his new reality, and his finally growing a bit of a spine, the book and the story are captivating as you wonder if he'll hold to his morals, or not, and if he'll get what he wants (his freedom) or not. And of course, just what he's going to do in either case as he starts to learn more and more about the hidden world of magic that he's now a part of.

This is a really great book, and a great story. I loved it, I think you should all take a look at it as well.

-John

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Well that has to be the fastest turnaround ever...

Amazon turned around the processing on Book Five in less than an hour! I'm impressed!

So here is the link to Book Five, the current price is $3.99 (US), I may raise it to 4.99 in two weeks, due to it's size (it's big) so buy it now!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013HAIIM6

Book Five of Portals of Infinity has been submitted to Amazon

Book Five: Demigods and Deities is currently in processing on Amazon.
So, sometime early tomorrow I should have a link for you, when it goes live.

Until then, here's the cover:

KU readers should have access not long afterwards, I just can't put it into KU until after it's published. Don't know why they don't give me that option at publishing time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book 5 is done

So, I just finished the rewrite on book 5, and sent it off to my beta readers. It's 91K words long, which makes it half again as long as the previous books in the series. I'm honestly thinking of charging 4.99 instead of 3.99 for this one. If I do, I'll have it on sale at 3.99 for like the first ten days or so.
There's a lot that goes on in this book, I just hope I got it captured right.

Not sure on the pub date yet. I still need to send it to the editor.

I think I'm gonna play wolfenstein for the rest of the day.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

POI Book 5 almost done

So, I passed 80K words today, I think this one is going to come in at 90K, which means it's going to be almost a third longer than the longest one in this series so far. I've got about three more chapters to write, then the first draft is done. I think it will take about a week to edit, so I don't know if it will be out before the end of this month (sadly) but barring any incidents, it should be out in the first week of August, at the latest.

I hope you all like it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

No More Furry Fiction

(Note: This does not apply to my POI series, nor the other series I have in the works.)

Sorry to have to announce this, but the piracy of my anthro works has become so bad in the 'furry fandom' that it's destroyed my sales of those works, and now I'm losing money on them. So I won't be writing them anymore, unless paid up front.
I have bills to pay, I have to eat. So I'm only going to write those things I actually make money on. Sales of the Anthro stuff have never equaled my other stuff, because it is a SMALL market. But I enjoy writing that stuff, because it's where my roots as a writer are. So I was willing to deal with the smaller profit. But when I find my stuff being spread throughout the fandom and my sales of it crash the same week that the pirated files hit a fan site:

Well, I'm done.

I do not understand the reasoning of people who think that stealing the work of people who are producing the stuff they like will encourage them to make more. No, it encourages us to stop.

I apologize to all of you who like my work, and wanted to see more in the COS arc, and the COS universe. I'm sorry that there will not be a sequel to Interregnum, as a project it has been shelved.

Friday, July 17, 2015

On Ear Worms and other such things

This is the song stuck in my head this morning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0CYB5V9e64

Songs like this do have an effect on my writing at times, because they make you think. I actually happened to like several of the songs from this album. You can really hear the pain.

So, these are the things that run through your authors mind while writing.
Well at least this one maybe.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

On my Patreon account

I started this account about two months ago, to see if there would be much interest, and yes, to help pay the bills. While it has attracted several very nice people, I'm starting to think that the folks who buy my books either are not in the Patreon demographic, they don't know about it, or it's just not the sort of thing they want to engage in (which is fine, I have no problem with that).

So, I'm going to give it a few months longer, and see if it perhaps improves, but if it doesn't, I'll either scrap it completely, or just leave it as a place people can throw money at me if they want, but without any rewards. The reasons for doing this are simple, I'm making maybe $5 an hour for what I do there. While writing does pay less than minimum wage fairly often (take that burger flippers!), it does pay more than that. (I work 60+ hours a week, and I have to pay special extra taxes because I'm self employed - yes I love what I do, but the pay sucks).

I think I'll just add a paypal donate button to my sites, and see if that helps. And who knows? Maybe the people who pirate me (and love to tell me how much they're 'helping' me) will toss me a few bucks!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Five, The Problem Child

Okay, no that's not the title, but I almost think it should be.

Book five in some ways has been very hard to write and full of troubles. Not just the book itself, mind you. But events and circumstances that have surrounded my writing it. And no, this is not a 'the book is going to be way late' posts, I actually passed 60K words last night. It's just that at this time, I have no idea right now how long it -will- be.

Let's back up a bit, just to put things in context. Book Four was really supposed to be Book Five, that is, some of the overarching story arcs (and there are a couple) were supposed to be 'progressed' in Book Four. But I had to alter a few things, and change a couple of things plot wise when I got to the finer details, and suddenly what was supposed to be a short segment had to become a much longer one and some things couldn't be addressed and hence they got pushed back to Book Five.

As some of you may remember, when Book Four was being wrapped up and prepared for final edit and review, my Father died unexpectedly. As I live on the far side of the country, AND I wasn't even home at the time, but was a twelve-hour drive from home, it had a huge effect on the schedule, as well as my life. If any of you have ever had to deal with an unexpected death in the family, you know that there are family issues, as well as legal issues, that continue for months afterwards. I've had to travel back east a second time since then to help deal with those issues, and all of that has Book Five about a month behind schedule. Which is why I'm now working twelve to fourteen hour days to try and get it to everyone when I said I would.

I'd also determined early on, that I wanted Book Five to be a bit longer, about twenty pages longer. In part because I want to keep my readers happy, and in part because there was a lot I wanted to put into this story, there was a lot of ground and plot points I want to cover.

So last night I'm sitting there, and I'm in the middle of a major act in the book, and I'm starting to estimate how many words will it take me to finish the act, figuring out what I need to cover and about how much space that will take. And then I start thinking about the next (and final) act in this installment. And I realized that I'm gonna go long. I'm not sure how long, I could easily go a lot longer than I really want to, hell I could go forty thousand more words long if I'm not careful!

So I started wondering if maybe I should make Book Five a two-part episode thing? But then, not only would that be messing with the initial concept and even the title of this book, but it means I'd have to immediately start on the next one, or the complaints about leaving everybody hanging could turn into people (figuratively) knocking on my door and yelling at me.

And none of us want that, right? Right?

So yeah, I wanted to have the first draft done in two more days, and I'm starting to think that it's probably going to be more like a week, and I'll be spending another weekend working. I won't know just how long it will be, or will take, until I'm about halfway through the next act. But I should know by Friday.

So, all in all, this book in the series has been a problem child, with much conspiring against it. I will be incredibly happy when it's finally finished, edited, and published.

-John

Monday, July 13, 2015

Been editing all weekend

And this song has been stuck in my mind:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbpS2LfoTKU

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lots of long hours this week

So book five continues to progress, and I'm feeling pretty confident about having the first draft complete by next Friday, the 17th. The only thing I'm not sure about is the size, I know what I want to it be, but right now I'm just not sure if I can cover all the parts of the story I want to in that size. So I guess it's possible the story might run a bit longer than first planned. I guess I will just have to see.

This week has been pretty productive however, and I've been working fairly long hours. As in to 11pm almost every night this week. There have been a lot of 12+ hour days this week, and a couple of 14 hour ones. But a lot has been written, over twenty thousand words, I'd have to look at my writing journal for an exact count. I have come up with what I'd like the cover to look like, so I'll be contacting Dane, my cover artist and setting up that work tomorrow. By this time next week, I'll probably have the cover done. I'd love to be able to release on the 25th, but until I get the first draft done, I'm a bit hesitant on committing.

I bought two sets of glass for wearing while writing, started trying them out today, when you're spending 12 hours a day staring at a monitor, it does lead to eyestrain. Once I get this and my next book out (Lost Souls - it's a YA novel) I'm definitely taking a week off to recuperate before starting on the next novel.

I don't know how much I've mentioned about Lost Souls here, and as it's 2am (can't sleep) I don't feel like going back and looking. But basically it's one of a couple of books I wrote a while ago, primarily for my own enjoyment. They're high fantasy, set it a world reminiscent of JRR Tolkien. I shared them with a few folks a couple of months ago (I did a re-write on Lost Souls over the winter while I was doing that contract up in Oregon), and the response I got was rather surprising. So, I need to make a few minor changes to Lost Souls, commission a cover, and then I'll be able to publish that as well. I'll probably work on it while Book Five of POI (Demigods and Deities) is being proofread by my editor and beta readers.

I do need to try and get myself back on a better schedule though, writing until ten or eleven every night is probably not a good habit, and I do need to get out more. But sometimes I do get caught up in it, and I know everyone wants to see the next book, so I've been pressing on ahead. I'm even going to be working on it this weekend as well, (normally I avoid working on the weekends) because with all of the family issues this year I'm about a month behind schedule, and I really do need to get caught back up. There's so much to do, and some days it feels like there is hardly enough time to do it.

But honestly, you all make it so worthwhile. I love my job.
-John

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

A Little Venting

So, some of you may have heard (though most of you probably not) that Amazon changed the payout method for the authors of books in the Kindle Unlimited program. The reason for this change was that a very large number of authors were gaming or scamming the system.

Eh, gaming is too kind, they were scamming it and they knew it.

See, in the old system, you got paid when your book was borrowed and someone read 10%. Everyone got the same amount, no matter how big, or how small. So needless to say the scammers took advantage of this, which not only drove the share from $2.40 down to $1.35, but it forced Amazon to pour tens of millions of dollars into the program to keep the people who were actually WRITING BOOKS from leaving (that would be people like me, BTW).

Now the scammers came in two flavors. The worse were the people who would put out a ten or so page book, with one or two pages of original content, and then the rest was all just shit cut and pasted off of the internet. Those people, as a whole, raked in millions, and as fast as Amazon could find them, they left and created a new account.

The other flavor were people who just wrote short stories, lots and lots of short stories, usually serials and series. They'd take what would have been, say a 200 page book, and would turn it into twenty 10 page books, so suddenly they're getting $20 instead of $1.35 like everyone else. Those people scammed Amazon out of TENS of MILLIONS of dollars.

'But Wait' you say, 'How was that a scam? They were selling real stories!'
Well no, they weren't. You see, if they were selling real stories, then people would have been buying their stories on Amazon, in regular sales. But they weren't, their actual sales were probably less than 1% of their borrows. They'd make between 3K and 10K a month (some way more than that) from their borrows, and maybe $10 a month from their actual sales. They'd go on and on about how great they were, but as long as someone read the first page or two, and then moved on to the next one, they made bank. Because the people borrowing the books are getting them for free, so they don't care, and they're not going to complain.

These people are now crying and screaming the loudest. They ripped off Amazon by taking advantage of the system, and now that Amazon got tired of losing about a hundred million dollars and went to a system that is a lot more fair, they're all upset that they can't continue to publish shit and rake in money hand over fist.

I like to point at them and laugh. A lot. Because they got what they deserved, it's just too bad it didn't happen a lot sooner.

For me, this may very well mean that my Novels will start getting more money, instead of less, because there aren't all these scamphlet writers diluting the pot. Also this has encouraged me, and a lot of other writers, to put our longer and more expensive works in the program. Which is what Amazon wants. They don't want a sea of short stories written by scammers trying to rip off the system, they want decent novels and longer books. And with this system, that only pays on pages actually read, if you fill up 90%  of your book with crap, or if you can't write all that well to keep people reading, you won't get money you haven't earned.

Despite what you may be hearing, this isn't a loss for authors, but a win. It's a loss for people who were ripping off the system. Those who can actually write will adjust accordingly and move on. Those that can't, well I really don't care what happens to them.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Home Again

So I am home again.

This is the first year, in a good many years, where I've spent more time away from home, then actually at home. Being away was neither fun nor easy this time, and I'm getting too old to be sleeping on couches and the like. However my brother did need a break from some of the many family tasks that have fallen to him, and I'm glad I was able to give him a bit of one. Sadly I live three thousand miles away, so this isn't something I can do much of right now.

Plus flying has often become something of a sojourn in hell, especially the longer flights. I dislike when people bring a baby onto an aircraft, and I hold it as child abuse myself. The babies cry because they're in pain, barotrauma is something few doctors are versed in, I however am very conversant in it, as I have been both a deep diver and a high altitude pilot. Babies do not know to equalize their ears, or other things, so yes, being in an aircraft is painful to them, and hence they cry. If your child isn't walking, they shouldn't be flying.

And taking your crying screaming baby and walking up and down the length of the aircraft while people are trying to sleep is something that I'm not sure the gods themselves will forgive you for. It does nothing for the baby, however it makes everyone equally miserable.

I did not get much done on book five while I was away, I had an ailing parent to deal with, and that did of course cause interruptions in the ability to write. I think I'm about back to normal now, Sunday, and tomorrow I will get back to the salt mines and see if it is possible to get the first draft completed by the month's end. Financially, having this as a non-publishing month will not be very beneficial, however, family must at times come first, and I gave my word I would help, and my word is something I take seriously (as my bank account has often shown).

I do want to get Lost Souls out soon, I just have not found the spare time to give it the attention it needs, which isn't much. It will either be addressed immediately after book 5 is done, or during a break in work. I think sixteen hours is about all it needs, possibly less. The next book in that 'world' is actually the first in what could become a series, and its (according to my sister and beta readers) very YA (Young Adult). I'm surprised by that, because as I have mentioned elsewhere, it's something I was writing simply for fun, and totally for myself. I never intended to publish it at all.

I spent last night and this morning re-reading 'Nine Princes in Amber', an old favorite (by one of my most favorite authors) that I had not read in probably twenty years now. I think it says something about my life now that I can see many of the 'missteps' that Corwin makes in his journey, and I'm truly impressed that Zelazny was able to write those in so seamlessly. There are things you don't notice when you're younger, because you don't have the experience, but as you get older, you (hopefully) learn a few things. Writing those kinds of actions into a story I think is actually harder to do as you get older, because you tend to shy away from making those kinds of mistakes. So it takes more of a conscious effort to write them in.

There are a few tricks of his, that I have learned about over the years, from reading interviews with him and I do try to use them. One of them will become apparent in book 5, for those who have been taking issue with a minor thing, namely the way I used a particular word in book 1. Some people I think are just way to trusting of some of the words that come out of some of the characters mouths in the series (and that includes William!). Sometimes people do make mistakes, or forget, or skimp, or mislead, or even (gasp) lie! And then there are things that the character whose eyes and ears you are experiencing this all through might not realize are important, well until perhaps later.

One of these days I may have to try and write down some of the rules and show everyone, but I don't know, that would take the fun out of watching people try to figure them out!

Anyhow, that is enough rambling for tonight, tomorrow it's back to work (I hesitate to call it a 'grind' because it definitely isn't that). I've got much to get done before Fallout 4 comes out and I disappear for a few weeks into it.

-John

Friday, June 19, 2015

3 Typos

Someone filed a complaint with Amazon over finding three typos in the book Interregnum.
Three is pretty good! I fixed them of course and updated the new version, I do try to fix issues when people point them out (and I still have a couple in two other books I'll get to when I get home), but three is a lot less than you'll find in actual print books these days, so if between my editor, and my beta readers, we can keep it down to less than a handful, I'm pretty happy.

I'm also trying to track down some of the people who find these things and report them and ask if maybe they want to be beta readers. :-) If they're going to point the errors out anyways, might as well get them to do it for me in advance, right?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Should I be worried?

So the new COS book, Interregnum (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YIP44D2) currently has seven, 5 star reviews. That's really nice and incredibly kind of the people who wrote them.
But I'm worried that people coming to look at the book will think I paid for them or something, because there are no 4, 3, or lower star reviews.

I've heard people say (you know the infamous 'them' we hear so much about) that if they don't see any lower reviews, they think they're all fake. Then again, this book is a sequel, so odds are no one is going to look at it, who haven't read the first one already. So maybe it doesn't matter.

Ah the things we authors worry about.

Still stuck in NY for a few more days, and not getting as much work done as I wish I was. Can't wait to get back home and back on schedule. Probably have to work a few weekends to get caught up.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fallout 4

I watched the Fallout 4 launch last night.
I think November is going to be a complete write-off as far as getting any work done.

I've seen quite a few game launches over the years, and even more product launches (I've been involved in some fairly large ones myself). I think Bethesda just outdid everyone in the game industry with their product, and their launch. Giving everyone in the world a free game as part of your pre-launch? Yeah, genius.

And looking at the game, and what they put in it? Just amazing, they really gave us all so much more than what we expected. You now have a game with so much content, and so many variables that you can bring into it, that replaying it many times is guaranteed. Also, the snapgrid (or whatever it's called, I forget at the moment) that they announced for Doom is extremely impressive. I bet the Doom players are all in a lather over that as well. I can see a lot of tournaments and competitions coming out of that, because anyone now can build a course for timed runs and point runs.

Gaming took a big jump forward last night, and with over a half million people watching it live, I think Bethesda probably will book over thirty million in sales by the end of this month, maybe even the end of this week. Fallout 4 will probably make them record amounts.

Now to buy me a pip-boy

I have to laugh...

Or maybe cry a little?
I went and checked out a few of the 1 star reviews on the first POI book, mainly out of curiosity, and I was a bit surprised at the people decrying Will's behavior towards women, in that he was sleeping around with quite a few. Ummm let's see, a young man, comes into a bit of influence and power, and he takes advantage of it at first? Yeah, that's not science fiction, that's more like science fact.

Of course the people doing this are the same ones who see no problems at all with the reverse of that behavior, you know how in many PNR books the female lead has two (or more) husbands. That's fine, but the reverse is not? George Martin has women raped constantly in his series, and lots of pretty nasty stuff done to them, and that's okay, but a little catting around by a young man isn't?

Yes I know that a couple of my 1 stars are hit pieces by people who personally hate me (they've made mention elsewhere about it) and I understand that's just the cost of doing business. But the true ideologues, they leave me scratching my head. There was a time in my life when I was young, and came into quite a bit of status and had a rather large and disposable income. Did it go to my head? Of course it did! I was young and stupid and just wanted to have a good time. Like pretty much every other young man OR woman. People claiming it's unrealistic must have been cloistered or something when they were young. Even if you didn't do it, you had to know someone who did.

And understand, I consider my own exploits to be somewhat average, because I had some friends who were a lot wilder than I was, who really played the 'game', and they weren't just guys. I never judged anyone for doing it either, male or female. We were just finding our own way through life, yeah sometimes I wish I had saved some of that money I was making instead of spending it all :-)
But it really was a lot of fun.

Friday, June 12, 2015

On Writing

So, I'm stuck in NY for another week, and I thought I'd post a little something on writing tonight.

A few of us have been having a bit of an open discussion on science aspects of science fiction over the last few weeks, dealing with different things. When you're writing SciFi, you have to be careful whenever you get into anything science based (which of course happens a lot) because you don't want to do something that is already known to not be correct. (That was always the thing that annoyed me most about Star Trek TNG, because they were often guilty of it. Also their own 'science' was often inconsistent as well.)

Now I have an engineering background, and I've done a lot of science work over the years, so I (hopefully) have all of the basics down. I also expect one of my beta readers to catch it if I make a mistake. On the larger issues, I usually will talk to someone, or do some research. But this brings us  to the initial topic I wanted to discuss: Science in today's fiction.

A lot of discoveries have been made in the last twenty plus years, even in just the last few, that are changing the way you might look at something like space travel. If you go back to stories from the forties, fifties, sixties, and even seventies, you can find things that we now know are not true. But there are also things that have been written in the last ten years that are no longer science fiction, especially dealing with mass-less (or 'energy only') drive systems. So what do you do about things like that?

Well as a friend of mine once said, never describe how something works until you absolutely have to. And when you get to those things that are deep in science theory, well, yes - don't describe them. In my COS series, I have not gone into any real detail on how the FTL works, except to note that there is no FTL communications, you have to be a certain distance from a gravity well/source, and that when you exit FTL there is an energy dump. I think I've also mentioned that there is no communication or observations possible when in FTL mode.

Now this doesn't mean that I don't have copious notes on it, and on how it works, because I do. I have a few charts and other things, because I need the way it behaves to be consistent, I need what you the reader sees, and what the characters experience, to be understood. I need to make sure you have an idea of what to expect from it. But do you (or they) really need to know the scientific details? No, of course not, you really don't need to know very much about how it works, unless its important to the story. The only person who really needs to know, is me.

It's like how a car works, oh I suspect a lot of you know how the internal combustion engine works in theory, and a few probably understand the roll of the timing gear, push rods, cams, etc. But I'd be surprised if more than a handful of you really know how an automatic transmission works in detail, or what a planetary gear looks like. Same for say, an airplane, how many of you know how lift is generated? Or how a flight control system works? Or navaids? Because it's not important to you to know, and in any story about current times you might read or movie you may watch, you take these things for granted.

Some of it is 'suspension of disbelief', some if it is not wasting time to explain those things that 'everybody already knows', unless of course you need to give your reader a basic understanding for the purposes of the story. Some of it is just letting the background be the background.

Believe it or not, a lot of new writers really get hung up on this. They spend way too much time on developing their word, or their science, and then of course they want to tell you all about it. They can go into overwhelming detail about how it all works. In short, they want to tell you all about the map, when they need to be talking about the trip you're taking across the map.

They need to talk about the story.

The story is first and foremost what everyone has come to read. They want to read and experience the story. They want to get to know your characters. After that, they will have some interest in your world and the way it functions, they will also have an interest in how the people in your world function. Those last two can be swapped in order, depending on the type of story you're telling, but they are really, typically, the last things you introduce your readers to.

Now this isn't to say you can't go into great detail on your science, but if it is not key to your story, why would you bother? And if it is key to your story, don't describe it in anymore detail than you really need to, because the time may come where you have to change a detail. If you haven't described that detail, it's a lot easier to go back and fix it, than if you have. Also, it makes it easier to keep your science consistent if you don't go into unnecessary details.

Now yes, there are authors out there, very experienced authors, who can create a beautiful and very complex world and you really do want to learn about the world because it's so amazing (like say Tim Powers) but they're highly experienced pro's and they know how to break the rules and get away with it. But for most of us, it is better to never show more of the cards in your hand than you have to, and make sure that your science is consistent from front to back. And if you must do something inconsistent, have a reason for it that makes logical sense in your world. Which again, if you've only shown what you had to show up until then, will be a lot easier to deal with.

Now I think I'll go to bed, it's hot sticky and very very late here.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Proof readers... I thought I had one...

I have an editor who I pay to proof read and copy edit.
And still some people continue to say I need one.

So either the one I have isn't doing a good job, or some people don't know grammar as well as they think they do.

Not really sure which the case is, but it's only a couple of people complaining, so I don't think it's worth going back through the books and re-editing them right now. But it does drive me a bit crazy, I know my books are not littered with errors, there's probably less than 5 or 6 in a book, if that many. But I guess one mistake every 10K words is too many for some people?

Between editing and cover art, I have to sell 250 copies of a book before I start to make any money (and all of my books are pirated within 48 hours of publishing, I'm very popular with people who spend two grand on a computer, but can't spend 3 or 4 bucks for a book that takes me 8 weeks to write), so spending even -more- money on an editor to catch a few more mistakes? I'm not sure it's worth the money.


Saturday, June 06, 2015

Big Cats do not have slit pupils ('cats' eyes)

If your artwork or comic has say, tigers and lions with 'cats' eyes, you know the slit pupils that small cats have, well then I'm probably not going to look at anymore of your work. Because you didn't take the time to ever once in your life to look at a tiger or a lion. Because you would have seen then that they have round pupils. Like people do.

These are also the kinds of 'little' mistakes that I see others make in other things, (and that I try very  hard to avoid making myself) that show you really just couldn't be bothered. I mean it's one thing if you make an occasional mistake here or there, but when you mess up a fundamental, and you mess it up constantly, well, you lose me. And probably a lot of other people as well.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Be mean to Will month

So June looks like it is going to be national 'Be Mean to Will' month.

Let's get started, shall we?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Sequel to Children of Steel is Posting to Amazon

The sequel to Children of Steel is complete, the title is Interregnum, and I will be posting it to Amazon for sale in a few hours. So it should be on sale sometime early tomorrow morning (Saturday).

Here's the cover:






The cover for this one was done by Rozga (http://rozga.weebly.com/) That is what the Astra looks like minus the cargo containers that it usually hauls.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Patreon - I now have an account

If you look to the right of this page, you  will see that I now have a patreon account.

The primary reason for the account, is the same as for most of the others that people have out there: To help me cover my bills and allow me to write full-time.

Being an artist or a writer is a difficult job: You don't get a regular paycheck, and your pay varies significantly from month to month. Book sales are cyclic, and you always know that some months are going to be slow. So hence the Patreon account. Basically by contributing you are making it easier for me to be creative and write. To devote more time to creating more of the stories you like and want to read, so I don't have to take consulting side jobs to cover expenses, during which I'm often so busy that I rarely can spare the time to write anything.

I have set up a few rewards for people who donate more than just a few dollars, to show them that I appreciate their contribution. Of course being new to this I'm still looking at the page and wondering if I should make any further changes, so suggestions are welcome.

-John