Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. The turkey is in the oven, and my guests are on the way over. In a few hours I'll have to get to work on the side dishes. But for the next hour, I think I'm just gonna veg and maybe play No Man's Sky.

Have a good day everyone, and know that I'm thankful for all of you.

-John Van Stry

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mirror Post: Started Writing 'When It Falls' today

This is a copy of the post to the Jan Stryvant Blog, because I realize a lot of you probably don't even know it exists. I thought you might find this interesting, so here it is:


So today marks the beginning of my writing 'When It Falls.'
I'd actually hoped to be about a quarter of the way into it by now, but Head Down took longer than expected, due to life intruding. My goal is to have this book done and out before Christmas.

We'll just have to see how that goes! :-)

A few notes here, because apparently a couple of folks missed a few things that weren't gone over all that clearly perhaps? Sean's phone is off almost all of the time. He only occasionally turns it on, because he doesn't want to be tracked via it. Also, he accidentally fried it in book 3 and didn't realize for a couple of weeks.
For calling the girls (and for them calling him) they have burner phones. John has messed with all of the phones to make them harder to track, but only by keeping those numbers private, can that be truly successful.
Sean's mom only left the one message, because it was his birthday. Otherwise, since she left, if he doesn't answer, she doesn't leave a message. As that phone is on only some of the time, that makes getting hold of him a rather chancy proposition.

It's been less than two months between the start of Black Friday, and the end of Head Down. Gradatim is very cut-throat in its intra-council politics. Asking for help never occurred to them, too early in the game, and they were planning on taking out the main leadership remember. So yeah, they're not gonna ask for help. The Ascendants just went through an attempted coup among the leadership. Asking for outside help wouldn't look good right about now, when you've just purged a bunch of people.

And Reno IS a 'small town' (Biggest Little City in the World, after all).

But now, now that's all going to start changing, because the Vesti's are the big boys. Sapientia is a big player too (Number Two World Wide), and didn't we hear Arthur Troy mention how he'd been talking to the other council leaders across the country? Oh, yeah, we did, didn't we? ;-) But Sapientia isn't in conflict. So they don't need to ask for help.

Morgan on the other hand, well, we don't know what Morgan's game is, yet. All we know is that he tried to frame the lycans (and right now, doesn't know that he may not have succeeded), and that he is obviously one very tough customer, who is perhaps a lot nastier than we thought Roger and Harkins were.

Guess you're all gonna have to wait until I get 'When It Falls' out to find out, huh? :-D

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

The next Jan Stryvant book is now on sale on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076CHVDD3

I have to admit, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the response. I just can't thank people enough.  This whole bit about 'branding' has worked out really well. I can separate these two things I enjoy writing, without having to worry about people getting confused over which book has what in it.

Plus I have the greatest fans!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

POI #3 is now in Audiobook format!

Portals of Infinity, #3, Of Temples and Trials, is now on Sale on Audible, Amazon, and (supposedly) iTunes / Apple. So, for those of you waiting, have at it!

Monday, October 02, 2017

A typical writing day


For a number of reasons, I thought I would share what my typical (Monday thru Friday) workday is like.

I get up about 7:30. I try to sleep in to 8am, but I rarely do that, even on weekends. Truth is I'm often up before 7.
I go into the 'computer room' or den, where our gaming machines are. I have nice desk there and a fairly up to date system, though honestly I haven't gamed in months. My SO (Significant Other) has their systems (multiple) set up there as well. I spend the next hour or so dealing with business issues, checking my accounts, paying bills, checking sales, email, any issues with adverts, narrators, Amazon, etc. Check social media, the news, and maybe touch bases with some other writers, all while eating breakfast.
About 9 the SO heads off to work, so I go to my office.

My office is the smallest room in the house, the server is in there, and a few odds and ends. My work desk is a small corner desk with almost no space on it. I have my laptop on it with a monitor connected to it, a stereo on the shelf above, and not much else (well, a guitar rack on my left, I take a break and practice my bass once or twice a day). I put on some tunes (EDM, Electronica, Metal, Jazz, Fusion, depends on what I'm writing and my mood) and I get to writing.
I only leave my office to: get water, get caffeine, use the bathroom, nuke lunch, or let the dog in/out. I do that until about 6:45 when the SO gets home. We talk anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, usually while I make dinner. Sometimes we eat together and I go back to writing. Other times I just eat as I write in my office.
I work until about 10pm. Though it things are going good, or I feel like I'm behind, I might work until 12:30 am or so.

Weekends vary, depending on if we're going out with friends, or entertaining people. Or if there are chores around the house that need dealing with. I usually don't start working until about 10am most weekends, and it's not uncommon to take some breaks to do family type things. If we go out, when we get back I'll often do some writing until it's time to go to bed. But I usually spend one day on the weekend pretty much writing, though I rarely do more than 12 hours on a Saturday or Sunday.

Yes, I do try to not write on one of the days of the weekend, and I often get away with it. But I often end up bouncing plot ideas or character ideas off of one of my friends or my SO. When I go to bed at night I'm usually thinking about characters and plot points. It's not something you really get away from much. Now I don't always work this hard at my writing, there are periods where I make a point of knocking off at 6:30. But with the current series, in order to keep up with the goals I've set, pretty much if I'm awake, I'm working.
Because I know you all want to read the next book, and I really want it to be on time, and I want it to be good.
Now off to bed. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Much Wow...

So, Perfect Strangers hit last night, and it took one of the #1 best seller tags away from Black Friday.
I now have -two- #1 best sellers on Amazon.

AND.... Perfect Strangers is #58! I've -never- had a book in the top 100 before, I'm actually closing in on Steven King's IT!

Heady times, I tell ya. I really need to get my head back in the game and finish book #3, which I was planning on finishing the first draft for, today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Just Wow

After all of these years, I finally got one. Sure, it's under my pen name, but I don't care! I finally got one!


Monday, September 25, 2017

So, got my second '#1 new release' tag today!

Apparently the new Jan Stryvant novel is still doing rather well. Today it just earned its second '#1 New Release' tag on Amazon, this time in a second category, than the one it earned a week ago.
It's even climbed into the top 200 overall ranking on Amazon. I'm pretty amazed and happy to see that.
Book two, the sequel to 'Black Friday' comes out this Friday, it's already got quite a few people signed up to buy it, which has also made me pretty happy. Book three is underway, I'm about a third through it and hope to be mostly done with the first draft by Friday.  I'll set it's release date sometime after 'Perfect Strangers' goes out.

Now, if only I can get past Steven King and his book about bad I.T. organizations to get that coveted #1 spot!! :-)

(what? you say it's not about I.T., but about evil clowns? Hey, haven't you ever worked with I.T.? Evil clowns sounds about right... )


(apologies to all you IT folks, but hey, I live with one. So if I'm murdered in my sleep tonight, now you know why...)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

It's Always Something, or the Difficulty of Making a Living in this Business

One of the problems with working in the Entertainment business, and trust me, writing is Entertainment. Is that it's always a moving target. People change, trends change, tastes change and what sells change. So dealing with that can be a headache at times, there's no doubt about that.

But when what you get paid for your work changes, well that ads a layer of complication that makes things even more frustrating at times.

You see, back when I started out I realized that in order to do 'okay' (and by 'okay' I mean make what I consider to be a decent living as a writer) I needed to sell an average of one hundred books a day. This was a daunting task for someone who felt lucky if they sold a hundred books in a month! But, I set out to achieve that goal, by trying to write stuff people would enjoy, and by increasing my 'catalog' of books, so I'd have a steady level of income off of that 'backlog'.

Which I do. With every new book I see a sales bump as I pick up a few new readers who work their way through my backlog, on top of the sales of the new book of course. And after several years of hard work I'm now to the spot where I actually do sell, on average, about one hundred books a day.

BUT

(and it's a big BUT, hence the size of it)

But Amazon came out with kindle unlimited and two thirds of my customers moved over to it. Add to that Amazon's dropping of the price per page that they pay, and I'm making a third of my normal sale price on those books (about a dollar). So, do the math: I'm making 1/3rd what I used to on 2/3rds of my sales. Which works about to about a fifty percent decrease in take home pay.

So now I need to aim for two hundred sales a day! If you think aiming for one hundred is a daunting task, aiming for twice that is even more so. Add in the fear that the rules of the game will change again if I get there (or should I say when I get there, always pays to think positive) and sometimes I wonder if I'm really in the right business. But this is why I've thought of ditching kindle unlimited, yes I get two-thirds of my sales through it, which is huge. But how many of those people would still buy my books if I wasn't in the program? Would it be enough that I'd make more money, or less? Also being in the KU program means my books climb up faster through the ranks because of all the borrows and page reads I get.

Yes, I've lost sleep over this, because making any changes that could lead to financial hardship are what you want to avoid as a writer. So honestly I think my only choice is to try and increase my sales. The only way to do that is to write more, and try new things (hence the new pen name and the new 'brand' - I can't afford to alienate any of my readers because I started writing stories with sex in them, which apparently is still a touchy subject for a lot of people, hell, a simple F-bomb in a book can lose you percentage points!)

And of course, as always, you'd think book companies would be interested in an author who sells over 30K books a year without an advertising budget. But you'd be wrong.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Back from the Reno Air Races

So, I'm back from my one vacation a year, now it's time to get back to work (not like I wasn't working in the hotel each night after a day on the tarmac of course). So I got lots to do on book three, book two is going through a last re-write then out to my Beta readers today.

Here's a few pics from the weekend.



Friday, September 15, 2017

Guess I was wrong about this being a bad time to launch a new book...

So yeah, the new Stryvant novel is the #1 new release in werewolves & shifters on Amazon, and #2 in the category (stuck behind IT by Steven King who is like #8 overall on Amazon).

Honestly, I'm both happy and a little shocked, and very grateful.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Apparent this isn't a good time to launch a new book...

So, I launched a book a couple of weeks after a major hurricane in Texas while another, smaller (but still large) one is going through Florida and heading for Georgia, Alabama, etc.

Apparently not a good idea, as a LOT of people really aren't buying or reading books right now. Honestly wondering if I should have delayed the launch of this new series until maybe November.

Friday, September 08, 2017

So yeah, a new Harem story

I put out another Stryvant story last night, it's not a sequel to 'Shadow' this is actually the first book of a new planned series. It has sex, I'd definitely rate it an 'R', which is why it's under the Stryvant name instead of my own. It also has some aspects of LitRPG in it, as I did get a lot of folks wanting to more about how the protagonist's powers progressed in the Shadow story, (which I had taken out because I thought no one would be interested. Silly me.)

If you're interested, check it out: Black Friday, by Jan Stryvant


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

On my Children of Steel universe, and the book after Interregnum

In short, there isn't going to be one. Probably ever.
Why? Well, Interregnum, that I was bothered by quite a few people to write, only took in $500 in total sales after I paid for the cover. That's right, I made $500 for almost two months of my time. That's less than a tenth of what the average book I write earns me. It's kinda hard to live on less than a hundred dollars a week income, when you have a mortgage, food, and the rest to pay for.

Mind you the book wasn't a failure, best I can tell there were several thousand pirated copies out there, because I found them on every furry site in the world with people telling everyone to spread it far and wide. They all talked about how much they loved it, how great it was, and how everyone should read it, but to date only TWO people have come forth and donated to me a few dollars to cover having read the pirated version.

So, the third book in that trilogy will never be written. For that matter, I don't think I'll ever write in that universe again, despite it being one of my favorites (because it was my first). I'm even thinking of taking down the facebook group I made for it, and when the paperbacks I have on hand run out, I don't think I'll be dragging them around to sell at cons anymore.

I did put up on my patreon that if I got to a certain level of donations, I'd write it, a chapter a month, and post it for all my patreon subscribers, so they could at least read it. That didn't work, so after a year I pulled that reward down.

At this point, the only way I will write it, is if I get at least $5000 in cash (no promises, cash in hand only) up front. Then I'll write it. As for those people saying I should do a go fund me or some such, sorry, not going to waste the time or effort. I don't think I'd get the money. If you want to do one, and promise to send me all the money from it, if it meets or beats the goal, go ahead and knock yourself out. But I just can't afford to waste the time on something that not only isn't going to make me money, but is going to cost me. It took a year for Interregnum to make enough money to cover the cost of the book cover. It's been out over two years now, and is one of my worse earners, ever. Even 'Lost Souls' has made more money and is still selling reliably well.

Yes, it's sad when you have to give up on one of your babies, but such is life.

Monday, September 04, 2017

I'm in Turlock today!

I'm at the Turlock Comic con, at the fairgrounds.
There are a surprising amount of people here today. I'm just glad it wasn't as hot out as yesterday was!

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Audio Book for Portal's of Infinity #3, Of Temples and Trials is Processing!

Yup, got the last files for it the other day and I got the cover for it this morning (why Audible makes you get a different formatted cover is a mystery) and it's been submitted to Audible for review. So, as long as they approve it, it should be on the shelves around the 15th.

I really hope everyone likes it, I like Dusty's take on it, and he's finally hitting his stride, so if this one does well, I'll commission him to do the next one, which I think he could very well have done by Christmas. Now that he's got an actual studio to work in and has mastered the editing console, he's really picked up the pace.

So everyone keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully it'll be up for sale before I leave for the air races in twelve days.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Looking for an artist to hire

I have a small project I might commission and I don't know who to ask. I need artwork for a bunch of different stickers. Simple, 4 color art, on a white / plain background. Each one will be a different species were-creature. Between 20 or 30. This is work for hire, I will own all the rights. Not sure what kind of style, maybe slightly toony.

Anyone know of any artists off hand I should check out? This is a three to four week project, so gotta be someone with a history of producing. Not looking for fancy stuff either.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Friday, August 11, 2017

Another Harem story?

Or actually, a series this time. No, this one isn't a sequel to the last one (I don't even know where to start with a sequel to the last one), this is a new one, and it's going to be a series. How long it runs will depend of course on sales. I'm passing the halfway point today in the first book, I'm thinking each of the books will probably be around 55K to 60K, which seems to be the size of most of the harem books out there today.

This one will also have LitRPG aspects to it, because I got complaints with the Shadow book because I took out the bits that explained how his powers progressed. The current plan is to publish the first book before the end of this month (I'm hoping to have it finished next week) and then follow with a new book every three to four weeks (the first book won't be pubbed until the second book is done, and so on). I'm actually head down and writing hard, 7K to 10K words a day.

Right now I'm thinking the story will go out under the Stryvant pen name, because yeah, there are some sex scenes, and yeah, definitely gonna be harem. I just hope people like it, I know I'm enjoying writing it.

Friday, August 04, 2017


This is the first I've heard of this, so I'd say please avoid using page flip mode.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Book Three in the Days of Future Past trilogy is now out!

For those who have been waiting (and especially for those who won't buy book 1 until book 3 is done in a trilogy) book three is now out:



And for the truly observant, that's Riggs on the cover this time.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Today is Grump and Bitch day.

I find myself self-censoring a lot lately (trust me, if you've been following me on Facebook or elsewhere, that's really dialed back compared to the 'old' days), and it annoys me. I don't like seeing people conned, I don't like seeing people abused, I don't like seeing people doing incredibly stupid stuff, and I sure as shit hate listening to idiots who don't know what in the hell they're talking about while claiming to be 'experts.' Especially the smug self-satisfied ones that you really just want to punch in the face.

And lately? Lately I've been seeing a lot of stupid. And a lot of people who should know better getting taken advantage of. I see the most incredibly stupid statements being issued by people who should know better, and who if they spent ten minutes looking up just how that worked out the last time, would realize that they're being stupid. Or being taken advantage of. Or just plain being used.

History repeats folks. Especially for those too dumb to learn from it the last time around. Everyone has an agenda (mine is to sell more books so I can write more books). Everyone does EVERYTHING in their life because they get something for it. Even if it's just a 'good feeling about themselves'. No one does something for nothing. We're opportunists, it's in our DNA and you can put all the lipstick you want on that pig, but it's still a pig.

Government is not here to help you. Ever. Government is here to help the people in power, period. That's why you want to keep it small.

People who run 'rescues' or 'sanctuaries' are nine times out of ten just trying to get you to pay for their hobby. And if they throw out a line about how only THEY should be able to do this one thing, they're tying to get your government to also pay for their hobby while they con stupid people out of their money. Look at every occupation that requires a license. Yes, some of them should, but most of them? No, not really.

Look at most charities these days. They exist to pay the people who run them lots of money. There are so few charities that actually engage in real charity anymore, that it's pathetic. And the same can be said for a lot of these 'new' churches and religions. Yeah, say what you will about the Catholic church, but I didn't see anyone else out there taking care of all the AIDS patients in SF and other cities, without asking them for money! Same for lepers and a lot of other diseases. And I can make that same statement for a lot of other big organize religions that have been around for a good while. I've seen the Mormon Church shell out some serious money to help its people. Same for a lot of the Lutheran Churches.

But these rich multi-millionaire pastors in their fancy churches and fancy cars? These TV people? Yeah, don't see them spending all that much.

And then there are the people who brand something, with a particular fad or religion and prey on those who wish to better follow their beliefs.

Or a political party that says the most inane and provably incorrect things if you could only remember back more than the last month. Or who claim to only be watching out for -insertgrouphere- yet they're always ignoring or jettisoning those people when the time to represent comes around.

Or rich and famous rock bands and actors! They'll tell you one thing, but they sure as hell won't do it themselves while they're taking your money. Al Gore is perhaps the world's biggest hypocrite, he's got a carbon footprint equal to large town, yet he rails at the rest of us to do that which he refuses to. (I wonder if he still owns that oil company his daddy left him?)

Ever seen the movie 'Little Big Man?' Those scenes where they're doing the whole snake-oil sales routine? Yeah, millions of people are STILL falling for that shit. STILL!! We got quacks telling you to do stuff that in any righteous society would be getting them tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail! Just because you saw it on TV or read it on the internet, it doesn't make it true folks.

Whenever someone tells you something, the first thing you should ask is "What's in it for HIM?" That'll give you a good idea as to why they're telling you it in the first place. Everyone has an agenda, and some people are just plain nuts or stupid or psychotic. Some folks get joy out of seeing you get harmed. So the last thing you should be doing is listening to what these people are saying without a little critical thinking first. And again, just because the government says it or backs it, doesn't mean it's smart, right, ethical, or healthy.

Remember, that whenever anyone asks for your money, to help others, or for power over you, that they're probably evil. Because they're not doing it to help YOU. They're doing it to help THEMSELVES, and they really couldn't care less about what happens to you. Or the children.

If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn't.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

So yea! The old house is done

I have one minor ten minute thing left, after the parts show up tomorrow, but otherwise, it's finished. All of the fence work is done, I replaced an 8th of the wooden fence that surrounds the entire property (great dog property, it's all fenced), the house as I mentioned earlier is now painted. And numerous other tasks have been taken care of.

In two weeks (!?) the town (ie the garbage collection I pay taxes for) will show up to take away the pile of wooden refuse. If I don't haul it off myself first. They make it incredibly damn hard to schedule a pickup, you have to do it online, you can't call in, because they won't talk to you, ever (damn 311 system is a waste of taxpayer's dollars), and when you finally do find the well hidden place to schedule a pickup, it takes two weeks! Which is insane, it should be 4 days max. Glad I won't be having anything to do with the useful entity known as the city of Sacramento after this.

I did take the time to write my city council rep there and give him a piece of my mind over his complete failure as a councilman. Told him he was lucky I was selling or I'd be down at his office bitching him out in person, like I did with his predecessor over the crap job -they- had been doing. Kind of sad that downtown gets all the money and attention, and the people who represent the outlying areas are all okay with that. But grab a bunch of people and go and have a little talk with them, and suddenly they realize that their plum of a job is on the line if they don't perform for he people who vote for them. I doubt I'll hear from him however. He knows I'm leaving, so why would he care?

On the writing front I need to bust my butt and get Future Tense finished. Just need to do the re-write, then engage my Beta readers (if I still have them) and commission the cover. It's possible I could have it ready to go out next week. I'll just have to see. Dealing with the house took about a week longer than I originally thought it would, so I'm behind schedule.

I just hope it sells fast, and I don't end up owing anyone money after the sale (like the Feds with all their new taxes). Doing all the work on the house was not cheap, even if I did most of the labor myself. If only I was one of those rich authors we always see on TV and in the movies! Then I could have just hired someone else to do all the work.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

So what have I been doing? Painting (and other manual labor)

So last week was paint the old house and get it ready for sale. As well as replace half of the back fence. Painting of course is never easy, first you have to clean off the house, then mask off everything. Then paint it, then remove the masking so you can paint all the trim.
Fixing the back fence required dropping a tree first, then tearing down most of the ruined fence and putting up a new one.

Then there were various sundry tasks inside the house that had to be done. The last major house task was finished today, when the door between the house and the garage was replaced (I needed a code approved firedoor, and this being california, they're super special here with super special extras that serve no purpose at all beyond making them more expensive). Tomorrow I have to paint it and the trim, but once that's done, all I have left to do is fix/rebuild/replace sixty-eight feet of fence along the north side of the house.

The house is already on the market (went on yesterday), but it's not open for people to come inside until Friday. As the door showed up sooner than expected, I'll probably let the realtor know people can start going in on Thursday, but I don't think that's really all that big of a deal. But I've been spending almost every day from 9AM to whenever I get tired working outside on the house in hundred degree weather since the 7th. By the time I get home it's usually dinner time and after a shower I pretty much just want to veg out.

But damn if it doesn't look nice.

I'm hoping to have all the fence work done by Thursday, I need to see about renting a nailgun. I'd buy one, but the good ones are like three hundred dollars and this would probably be the only job it ever got used for. Sixty-eight feet of fence in the summer is a seriously pain in the butt job, as well as expensive. I'm already afraid to add up all the bills from this project. It hasn't been at all cheap.
I just hope it sells quickly and that I actually make some money on the deal, so I can pay off all the bills incurred fixing the house up to sell it!

And I think I'm starting to get too old for this kind of stuff. Definitely starting to feel it in the mornings. That never used to happen.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Future Tense, First Draft Complete

Well, I finished the first draft of Future Tense, the last book in the Days of Future Past trilogy. It came in about a thousand words short of where I wanted it too, however I'm still thinking of redoing the final chapter, then of course there are some things I need to add during the re-write, so I'm expecting it to pick up some more size. I don't know if it will hit 70K on word length, but we'll just have to see.

I'm going to be spending most of this week outside cleaning and painting a house, as well as rebuilding a section of fence, cutting down a few trees, and getting those cut up and disposed of (along with the old pieces of fence) and all in 100 degree weather. So not sure just how much re-writing will get done this week. Might not be up to it when I get home.

Giving lots of thought to what comes next, as always.

Friday, July 07, 2017

After several months Amazon got back to me on that DRM thing

So, after almost two months (or was it three? I have to go look) I finally got an answer from Kindle as to why my books have DRM on them, even though I have never selected it.

Their answer?

'It happens when you upload in certain formats.'

Note that they did not tell me -which- formats.

So this weekend I'll be reuploading all of my books in an attempt to get DRM removed from them. We will see what happens.

My Tenant Moved Out Today

My Tenant moved out of my rental house today, after three years of being an excellent tenant. He finally bought a house for his family in an area which he thinks will be a lot better place to raise his children. Also I think it's closer to work for him.

Now my Tenant was very thankful for my taking a chance on him, and renting to him, because when he came to me, his credit was completely shot. He had run up a bunch of debt, and the company he had started working for to clear that up went out of business leaving him in a bad position, and with a family to support. So what did he do?

He joined the military. Full time California Army National Guard.

Now, all things being equal, I was ALWAYS rent to a member of the military before I rent to anyone else, for two reasons: The first is because I know how the military works, if there is ever a problem, I just have to call his first sergeant, and they will take care of it immediately. The second is because I'm ex-military. True I never got deployed overseas, and I never saw any combat (though I did draw hazardous duty pay for a few years), but I still have a lot of respect for my brothers in arms and will always help them out if I'm able.

Now that he and his family have moved out, I'm going to sell the place. The market has come back enough that I can do that and not end up owing anybody anything, even if I'm taking a loss in the process. Honestly I do not enjoy being a landlord, even though my last three tenants have all been good and responsible people (the first one was a gang-banger. Moral of the story, property management firms suck - fired their ass when all was said and done).

Last of all, he is deploying to Afghanistan this fall. So if you are the type that prays, please say a prayer for my now former tenant, and his company. May they all come home safe and healthy when their tour is done.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

LibertyCon

Well, I got back from LibertyCon late last night. The travel was a royal pain, with layovers and delays, but the convention itself was wonderful. I'm really glad I went, and I had a really great time. I haven't been to a convention where writers aren't treated like 3rd class citizens in way too long.
At LibertyCon, which is a literary convention, it's all about the writing, and there are a lot of name authors there, as well as the mid-listers and the independents like myself.

It's also nice getting a little recognition from others in my industry. I've never gotten that before, but I got that this weekend, and yes, it felt good.

There were a lot of learning opportunities as well for me, because I did get the chance to talk to some of the more famous and successful published authors. I also got to talk to the head editor for one of the big five publishing companies, and that was incredibly worthwhile for me.

Had a lot of good food, made a lot of new friends while off having lunch or dinner with people I'd only just met, and really just enjoyed the hell out of being there, meeting people, meeting fans, and talking business. Definitely want to go back next year.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tomorrow I'm flying off to LibertyCon

And the airlines are of course going to do everything they can to make this trip less than enjoyable.
I leave the house here at noon, I arrive in Nashville at midnight, then drive a couple of hours to get to the con.

Why am I doing this again?

Anyways, I hope to make some new friends and maybe meet a few old ones. Time will tell. I just hope as trips go that the traveling part of it doesn't suck. I remember when flying used to be fun. Sadly everyone has done everything they can to wring the joy out of it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sometimes it slips by you

So, I was reading Kaiju, book number seven in the Portals of Infinity series and I realized I'd made something of a blunder with the first chapter. You see, the first chapter is what I think of as a 'throw away chapter', it's not exactly important to the story, it's more of a setup chapter to bring the reader into the story, without going into anything too important, and it allows me to drop a few hints and made a little foreshadowing before I actually start to hit them with the story and the plot.

What I missed however is that there are some things in that chapter that I should have explained for those readers who haven't read the previous books. I missed it because I wrote that chapter when I was about halfway through the book and I realized I needed a different opening than I had, because it didn't 'flow' the way I wanted it to. I wasn't thinking 'new reader' at that point, and I should have been.

So I think I'm going to go back and re-write the first chapter. Oh, not a major rewrite, I suspect I'll add less than two hundred words to the entire chapter. It won't change any of the story, however I think there are a few things that I should have Will or Nikki make comments or asides to, so new readers aren't left dangling about certain aspects of the story, the characters, and especially the world.

Another little thing on the list of a thousand little things, to keep in mind for the future.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Whose Bright Idea was that?

It used to be, when the power light was on, the device was on. When the power light was off, the device was off.

Now, it's the opposite. I really want to know what 'genius' came up with that idea?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It really is 'your own fault' - You are the Master of your own Destiny



I was thinking back today to an incident that happened almost six years ago, when I was among the first to arrive at an airplane crash, right along with the pilot. You may have seen it on the news, some college prof from a lefty school made a lot of money selling footage of it to the media (yeah, that always struck me as funny, a socialist making money off of other people's misery. But do they really know of any other way?)
The aircraft impacted the ground a bit more than a hundred feet from where I was standing, with my friends, at supersonic speed. At one point as it was about to auger in, it had actually been pointed at us and I had everyone ready to run. Instead we just hit the ground and hoped that none of the debris would hit us. Fortunately for us, it didn't. But ten other people weren't so lucky, and of course the pilot was killed instantly as well.
Now I was a fan of the pilot and the airplane (though I'd never really met the pilot personally) and that year I was cheering him on, after he'd been robbed of the championship the year before because of an idiot in a thunder mustang and a bunch of officials who really weren't up to snuff (in short, they canceled the last race and gave the award to the winner of the previous heat). On the previous lap before the crash, I had noticed something that wasn't quite right, which I now know was the aircraft starting to deform and break up. I suspect my report on this behavior to the NTSB probably clued them into a number of things (yes, I made a report, I used to be a flight test engineer for Grumman Aerospace, trained to observe and all that crap). But of course none of us knew what really happened at the time.
Then the report came out, and while there is still one question that they were never able to answer - why wasn't there a fireball when the aircraft hit the ground, they were able to answer why it hit the ground.
The pilot screwed up, like a big dog, and he killed not only himself, but ten other people and wounded dozens more (some horrendously). It wasn't the extreme modifications he made to his airplane, no, it was a lack of proper maintenance and a refusal to stop as his airplane started to show signs of exceeding its design limitations.
The bad maintenance had to do with the trim flap that caused the accident. It came off the aircraft because the bolts holding it on were older than many of the spectators, they were way too old to have been used on that aircraft anymore, and they hadn't been properly fastened.
Also, the plane was obviously starting to break up as he flew it, because the canopy no longer sat flush on the canopy rail. That would have been glaringly obvious in the cockpit that his aircraft was in the process of coming apart. There was no way he could have possibly missed that. He should have knocked it off at that point. But he chose not to. So yes, he caused the crash and he bears full responsibility for everything that happened.
But even if he hadn't been aware of all of that, he still would have borne complete responsibility.
You see, I learned in the Air Force that you, the pilot in command, are responsible for whatever happens to your airplane. No matter what it is. Even if one of the guys in maintenance messes up something that was their job, it's still your responsibility, your fault. Because you own that airplane while you're in it and you should have found that problem or known better. It's your butt on the line after all. You don't just kick the tires and light the fires, you're supposed to do a walk around, look at important parts, and read the maintenance logs.
Now I want you to think about that previous paragraph a moment.
We were taught that if anything goes wrong, if anything bad happens, we own it. It's our fault. Period. No excuses, not ever. It's our responsibility.
Now compare that to what people today are taught, what you've been taught. I was brought up to take responsibility for my actions, but the USAF taught me that I'm responsible for everything that goes on around me, and if something bad happens to me, it's my fault. Not someone else's, mine. That might sound extreme to you, or bizarre, or perhaps even abusive. But you quickly come to realize that they're right.
You are the master of your own destiny and you are the one that controls what happens to you. If something goes wrong that you didn't think of, well then damnit, you should have thought about that, shouldn't you? This whole owning of your own destiny, of taking responsibility, leads you to start looking at things more carefully, of choosing your actions with a little more care to your own personal wellbeing and survival. Of being aware of things around you, and stopping to take care of that little annoying issue instead of putting it off until later, because there just might not be a later and just how stupid will you feel when it bites you on the ass?
So if you get robbed, for example, it's your fault. How come? Simple: Why didn't you see it coming? Why were you in a place where thieves hangout? Why didn't you have a contingency to deal with it? Why did you attract their attention?
You get in a car accident: Why weren't you watching out for that guy? Why didn't you have someplace to go when they made that mistake? Why didn't you know what to do when 'X' broke on your car? Why wasn't your car properly maintained?
You start applying that logic to your life and when things go bad, or wrong, as they invariably do, you don't sit there and blame others, (well okay, maybe you do a bit to your friends and others in public - we're only human after all), but instead, when you sit down to think about what happened, the first thought to go through your head is: Where did I go wrong? Followed by: What did I do wrong? And you usually end up with: How do I keep this from happening again? No, instead you're most likely the person with a plan, and the person who does something to either stop what's happening, avoid what's happening, or minimize what's happening.
You've seen those people who have bad things happening to them again and again, right? They make all sorts of excuses, telling us how it's not their fault! But the truth is, they're the ones doing it to themselves. I know, I've been there; we've all probably been there at one point or another. But after the second time I made changes to myself to make sure that there wasn't going to be a third time. Because I knew it was my fault, because  I've decided that I'm the master of my own destiny.
I've seen too many people locked into cycles of bad circumstances as they just keep telling everyone how it's not their fault, and so they never take ownership of the situation, they never try to fix what's broken or what's wrong, or do something about the thing that is constantly ruining their life. They never find a solution.
Now let's go back to that September day in 2011 when someone tried to drop an airplane on me and my friends. I supposed a lot of you are saying 'well what the hell are you going to do about that?'
Simple, pay attention, weigh your options, and act on them. For several seconds that sucker was literally lined up to hit us, so we all got ready to run. But before we could it changed its target (P-factor) and so we hit the ground instead. When you're only a couple of inches above the ground and there are coolers everywhere, as well as other low level obstructions, that's the best option you have. And because there wasn't a fireball, we all survived without injury.
Now most problems in life do not come at us with the speed of a P-51 mustang in a supersonic dive at full throttle. However that doesn't exclude you from thinking about just what might happen. Did I think someone might drop an airplane on me that day before I went? Of course I did, I was heading to an event where accidents are expected and people do die. It even says on the ticket that you can be injured or killed and they take no responsibility. So I owned it before I even set foot there.
Well life really isn't any different, is it? The stakes are high, it's your life after all, and things are going to happen to you, good and bad, throughout it. So once you become an adult, once you've been handed the responsibility for your own life, you need to own both the good and the bad that will come your way.
Because until you do that you'll never avoid so many of the bad things that can, and do, happen to people everyday. And no, I'm not saying that bad things will never visit you, there will always be those few things that truly are beyond your control. But so much of it is, and until you admit to understanding that the person in the mirror is the one that makes things happen both for you and to you, you'll never be the master of your own destiny.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Miner a forty-niner

Went to my friend's claim yesterday to help him improve the camp some up there. We got a lot of work done, did some brush clearing, put up a tent, hauled a large water tank up the side of one of the hills, cleaned up some more crap that's accumulated there from others.

He just moved onto this claim like a year ago, it's back on a creek he used to prospect on many years ago, him and his dad were the first people to get leases from the owner, something like 40 years ago. So the owner gave him what he thinks is one of the best spots. And seeing it and the other spots around there (the owner owns the entire valley, probably a couple thousand acres) I have to agree he got a really excellent spot.


I do like this a lot better than his previous claim (which he'd been on for over a decade), it's a lot bigger, a bit closer, and there's more room to set up a campsite. He's planning on putting in running water, a kitchen, a shower, and a bathroom. The water tanks he's got are huge, he's got pumps, a filtration system he built, solar panels. It's already looking pretty nice, will be nicer still when finished.


I don't know if I'll do any gold mining there myself, it's a lot of work and the amount you get is usually in the grams, there have been prospectors on the land there for over a hundred years so all of the 'easy' gold is long gone even if you do get the winter floods washing more down each year. It's mostly a hobby for him these days anyway, though he did do it full time once, many years ago. I might give it a go one day just to say that I did it, but not a big fan of panning, and in the end, everything you get has to be panned to get the gold out of it. Unless you're doing a big operation, with all of the money and equipment that takes, you don't find nuggets anymore.


Still was nice spending a day in the mountains, and some time swimming in the creek. It's still up pretty high because of the runoff from the snow melt.
Last picture is of the camp from way on the side of the ridge.



Friday, June 16, 2017

Yes the made in Mexico Nabisco products suck.

I heard people talking about how the Oreos weren't that good anymore, now that they're made in Mexico. They're right, they aren't.

Went out and bought a box of Ritz Crackers today (the old big box ran out a while ago) and tried one. Hey! That's not a Ritz, it's not even a cheap imitation of a Ritz. I look at the box, yup, made in Mexico too.

So in order to save a few bucks, they totally destroyed the value of their brand. I can buy much cheaper alternatives that actually taste better now. I guess they were tired of being in business, cause they just lost mine, for life. And I've been buying their products for decades.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

If it's not one thing, it's another

So, got some unfortunate news today. Now to find out just how much it is going to cost me.
If I get really lucky, I'll get that money back, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Vending at Biggest Little Fur Con

So yes, I tried my hand at vending at BLFC. Mostly I was doing it to gain experience at vending, and learn what I needed to know about it. I was already planning on going to the convention, as it's local and I've been going since it started a few years ago.

I learned from being a vendor that I pretty much have everything I need. I did borrow one rack from someone for doing displays, I will need to buy one of those, and a cashbox (borrowed one of those as well). Otherwise, I have what I need.

I learned that (as I suspected) furries don't read anymore, so sales sucked for me. I was the only author selling at the con, and I was the only vendor selling novels (sorry, graphic novels don't count, they're just overgrown comic books. Porn doesn't count either, they're not novels, and again, pictures). So I won't be selling at any furry cons, ever again.

I also won't be attending any furry cons anymore. While BLFC was very well run (a rarity among furcons these days) I realized that there was absolutely nothing there of interest for me anymore. No one is interested in writing, or reading, anymore. There are no writing tracks, there is nothing for authors.

I've got zero interest in fursuits, or some of the kinky sex fetish panels (of which there are now quite a few). The fandom has now diverged completely from those things that once interested me (and well, I know more than enough about kinky sex that I don't need to go to any panels on it!) Also I no longer contribute anything that the fandom is interested in (writing, lectures on training and caring for big cats, the bar) and while I still know a lot of people there, that's hardly a reason to go to a convention where they're all too busy to be social anyway. So the truth of the matter is, I'm done with furry.

Instead I'm going to start going to regular scifi and fantasy conventions like I used to, as there is a lot more appreciation for authors, writing, and things science fiction and fantasy there. The whole reason I started going to conventions in the first place. I just need to start finding out which ones are within a reasonable traveling distance.

So yeah, busy weekend (it started on Thursday), but not a fun one.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

*shakes head*

I got dinged by a reviewer because they think that a leopard is not a panther and thinks that the hero changed species halfway through the book. *sigh*. A leopard is a panther, and vice versa. Yes at one time they thought there were two species, because there is some size variation, depending on location. It was later discovered that no, panthers and leopards are the exact same species. I think that was in the 50's or the 60's. But it may have been sooner.

As someone who used to own a black leopard/panther, I can tell you that anyone who tells you differently really doesn't know the subject.

But still, you'd think people would at least investigate before going off on an author? But then, people are completely ignoring the warnings about what the book contains and then are complaining about the lack of warnings that the ignored. Too bad I'm not allowed to address reviews under the pen name. Or I'd point a few of these things out :-/  Then again, it's probably better that I don't.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why don't people review the books they like?

If someone hates a book, they'll write a review about 50 percent of the time. Even if they only read a little bit of it. The people who hate something are always very quick to write reviews.

If someone likes a book, they'll write a review 1 percent of the time. That's right, one in a hundred people who like a book with stop to write a review about it.

You'll tip people for good food, good service, for all sorts of things. But you won't take 30 seconds to tell an author that you liked his book. A book that you only paid a few dollars for, but which entertained you for hours.

No, I don't get it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another unexpected joy...

So, yard work is done, I'll just put the tools away in the garage and go shower and get to writing ....

Hey, why is the garage flooding and what's that gurgling noise?

$600 and a few hours later I now have a new hot water heater. At least I was already dirty. :-( Now I just have to fill it up and wait for the water to heat up (gas).

Sunday, May 14, 2017

And this is one of the (many) reasons I need to leave California

This:

California threatens to shut down book signings and therefore small booksellers

That's right, it's illegal for me, an author, to sign the books I write here in California, unless I meet a whole long laundry list of demands. The MINIMUM fine for messing up or not keeping records for -7- years?

Thirty Thousand Dollars. ($30,000)

This being California, if you think there aren't people out there just waiting to take advantage of this situation to screw over authors they don't like, or to make a buck, you're dreaming. When the ACA passed we had a guy making millions going around suing every place that didn't have a suitable wheelchair ramp.

This is what happens when you put evil people in office.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I am so tired of Grammar Nazi's, who DON'T KNOW GRAMMAR

So yeah, some guy gave me a 3 star on Deities and Demigods, because 'there were too many apostrophes,' as in I used it's instead of its throughout the entire book. They then go on to how I need to hire an editor.

What is it with these morons who don't know grammar and their complaining about indy authors needing editors? Really? WHAT IS IT? Cause I hired an editor for that book!

So I went through the entire book and looked at each and every single case of it's and I found -1- (one) that's it, just ONE wrong usage. Which of course I fixed immediately. All of the rest were either contractions for 'it is' or 'it has'. Every Single One.

I don't know what it is with these people. I'll put my editing, before I hire an editor, up against -any- publishing company out there. Because I've seen worse in paperbacks by the big 5 that I have bought, than in my own average story. This is also why I fired my editor. What is the point of hiring an editor to fix your grammar mistakes and typos when these yahoos who do not know grammar at all are going to complain about it no matter what? I could have perfect grammar in a book, totally perfect, but they're still going to complain. I guess so they can feel superior or something.


Look, we all make mistakes, it just happens. And I appreciate those who do find them and send them to me in an email so I can fix them. But those folks who write reviews where they crow about 'all the bad grammar' and then don't supply the examples? Yeah, those people are full of it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

So Google has changed the definition of Fascism

That's right, Google has redefined the word 'Fascism'.

Fascism:
noun
1.
(sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
2.
(sometimes initial capital letter) the philosophy, principles, or methods of fascism.
3.
(initial capital letter) a political movement that employs the principles and methods of fascism, especially the one established by Mussolini in Italy 1922–43.
 
 
Mussolini was a leftist btw. So was Hitler, they were both socialists. And now Google is trying to redefine fascism to mean right-wing, when it does not and never has.
 
I guess Google will start re-writing history next.
 
So folks, if you want to see what evil truly looks like in this day and age, all you have to do is look at Google. Because this really is evil. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Almost done with being sick!

I got sick Saturday. A combination of cold & flu & massive allergy attack. Somewhere in there I think I also picked up a case of food poisoning as well :-P

Today is the first day I haven't spent more in bed than out of bed, which is nice, because I usually don't get sick for more than a day or two, so being down for like four in a row was complete misery (and I felt it too).

Now I can get back to work!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

This is Why I Suck at Marketing

So, just read a story today by an author who has 'New York Times Bestselling Author and USA Today Bestselling Author' branded on all of their books. All of their books.

And they've only been writing since last year, and they don't really have that many reviews on most of their stuff. Now the story wasn't bad, really, it was just all action and not much plot and minor character development. We just go from action scene to action scene, and the book is probably about 55K words long, so it doesn't get to the point of actually being too much action.

But still, I'm looking at this going, 'how did this person make both of those lists?' Especially when they don't say which of their books made the list.

Well some internet searching and I found it. They got into this huge mega box set deal, and there were some good authors in the set (over twenty authors in the box set total). The entire set made the bestseller lists. So yeah, technically he's a bestselling author now.

I would never have thought to put something like that down.

It's like all of those authors who write their bios in third person like someone else is talking about them, or who go through their reviews on the page, pull out a few, and put them up in the 'editorial review' section. Hell, I've gotten reviews from third parties, completely unsolicited, and I've never put them in there.

I really do not understand marketing for ebooks, or just books in general, I guess.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Has Amazon been putting DRM on my books without my Permission?

I don't set DRM on my ebooks. Some people are claiming that Amazon is now applying DRM to all ebooks, even those where the author has requested it not be set. Are any of you seeing this with my ebooks?

Monday, April 17, 2017

So yes, that Harem story

I finished one, and will eventually (probably next month) be putting out a second one. They are under a different name however: Jan Stryvant. Why? Because while I actually enjoy harem fiction, (I think the E. William Brown stories are some of the best) it's not really what I normally write, and well 'Brand Recognition' I guess you would say. I don't mind people knowing that I wrote it, however I want people to understand that this is something different from what I normally write.
And yes, I'm sure there are people who are going to hate me for writing it. Again, different name, so they can just ignore it and not worry about stumbling on it by mistake.

Anyway, here's the link for it on Amazon: Shadow, by Jan Stryvant 

Let me know what you think, and if you like it, write a nice review and tell all your friends.

I may make a gmail address and possibly a blog page for that author name, so if people want to talk about it, they have a place to go. Without having to know my real name.

Politics and checking your six

Now I normally do not talk about politics in this blog, because I figure that none of you are coming here for that, and I don't blame you. I am actually an incredibly politically aware person, and once upon a time I was also extremely active in politics. For a number of reasons I have tried to back off from a lot of it (which I won't discuss here - though some of it has been mentioned elsewhere), but the sad truth is, you can no more get away from politics than you can get away from gravity. Because it's always there.

Right now we are seeing a lot of unrest in the country I live in (the USA). It's not the first time this has happened in my life (I was born in '59), I remember the riots and the terrorists we had in this country in the 60's and 70's. These people murdered others, blew up things, did all sorts of very heinous crimes, even if some of them are now 'celebrated' people, you must remember that they are murderers. They did in fact kill people, and it's only because of really bizarre political dealings that they are not now in jail. Though some of it I think is due to certain people wanting to 'forget' and 'put it all behind them.'

Well, I hate to say it, but the truth of the matter is that we are heading back to those times, and probably worse. The 'Battle of Berkley' wasn't an aberration, it was a sign of things to come. None of this has peaked yet, far from it. Now that those being preyed upon have woken up and started fighting back (and winning) you can expect the people leading the attacks to start bringing nastier weapons than the bricks, pipes, bottles, and clubs that they have been using since last summer.

In most of the state I live in, the government has already chosen a side in all of this, which is why when the violent types crash the rallies and the protests, the police disappear rather quickly, or just watch and don't get involved. People are noticing that, and they're not very happy about it either. After all, we pay the police to stop these things, not to encourage it.

I would tell all of you this summer to rethink any travel plans you may have. Especially for when the weather gets hotter and tempers get shorter. Go look up what months we had the worst riots in the 60's and 70's, and what kinds of places they were in. Look at where they are now as well. If you live in one of those kinds of places, you might want to think about moving. And if you're planning on visiting any of them, I would change those plans.

There are very dark clouds on the horizon. If you don't want to get sucked into this against your will and become a victim, now is the time to start thinking about it.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

What I've been doing...

So, because a bunch of you all wrote me (or responded on Patreon) I took one of my old stories that I wrote for my own enjoyment years ago, and spent a week re-writing, editing, re-arranging, and generally just spending 14 hour days on.
I've now given it to a bunch of folks to read (and hopefully they'll get back to me soon) because I want their opinion on it. It's hard to step back from something you wrote a long time ago and be sure it's good enough to put out. And as this is long (it weighs in at almost 150K words) I suspect it will be a few days before I hear anything, (well one person finished it and said they loved it, so I'm hopeful).
And yeah, it's a harem type story. The story is about a guy who suffers something terrible as a child and develops super powers because of it. He then uses his powers to hunt down and punish those people and others like them. Until one day he starts to wonder about life, and the meaning of his, and decides maybe it's time to start over.
The prologue covers that, and is the set up for the rest of the story, as he decides to go learn about all of those things he's missed. Of course, because of who and what he is, it isn't going to be easy, and while he's not evil, he's not exactly good either. If you're a big fan of the 'super hero code' that the comic books use, you'll probably hate this story, because this guy isn't like that, and neither is his story.

If I get enough thumbs up from folks on it, I will publish it. It will be under a pen name, which I'll mention here. The reason for not putting it out under my name is that it isn't exactly the kind of thing I'm known for writing (and people these days don't like you straying all over the map), so using a pen name will signal everyone that it's something different and not to be shocked at the blatant sex and swearing and violence.

For now, I'm just waiting to hear what people say about it, while I go to work on another (and somewhat) different one. Then I'll go back to working on the stuff that I said I'd be doing. If the harem stuff does well, I'll do more of it. For now it's just a question of wait and see.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Serious Question on Future works (Harem?)

How many of you are into Harem type fiction?
I know the POI books are considered to be 'Harem' by some, and I can see that it sells really well.
So, how many of you would like to see me write some basic harem type stuff?

Just curious here.

I enjoyed this book. Quite a bit.

A friend of mine who also writes, wrote this recently, and it's a really good story:

Cartwright's Cavaliers

It's a futuristic sci-fi story where Earth's biggest economy is its Mercenary companies. It features Mechs, and some other aspects of futuristic warfare, as well as some space combat. Plus you have a very out of place kid who inherits his father's Mercenary company, who happens to be something of a brony and Anime fan.

It's a fun story. Check it out.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Short Stories, and why I don't write them anymore

I used to love writing short stories, and I used to write them fairly often. There were several reasons for this, the biggest being that those were what people where accepting for print. But also because they were low time investments: a few days work and you were done with it for good.

Writing short stories also teaches you a lot about writing. Pacing is more important, and in a short story anything that does not advance the story must go. Must. There are no exceptions.
Novellas of course are the bastard children of short stories and novels that result from drunken liaisons in dark alleys. Really! They are! Just ask one about their parents some day.

But lately, I haven't really been able to write one. And it's sad because there were two anthologies I probably could have gotten a short story sale in, but I just couldn't shift my mind into doing it. I suspect this is because I've been on a novel grind. Everything lately has been about the novels I've been working on, and want to get done this year. I've been so focused on trying to get that done, that when I'm writing, if it's not part of either the book I'm currently writing, or one of the ones on the roadmap for later this year, I'm just not interested in putting any of it down.

I'm not really even interested in thinking about it.

I guess I've just been very 'tunnel vision' about things for the last six months or so. Especially writing. I think some of that has gotten a little worse lately as I'm behind schedule on my plan for this year, I've barely started my second novel that was planned for release next month, and here it is the end of March already. It's hard to focus on something that isn't the 'primary job' when the primary job isn't going well. My mind keeps wanting to go back to the thing that's not going right so I can get it back on track. A lot of that has to do with the way I worked as a consultant. I always got my work done ahead of schedule, some times weeks or months ahead, and then I'd just sit on it while I waited for the other groups to catch up. This way last minute changes were easier to deal with.

Those kinds of things are easy in technical work, which often isn't very creative. But in an endeavor that is 100 percent creative, not so much. And it has been frustrating. I know my plan this year was to write six novels. One published every two months. But I've already realized that I'm probably not going to be able to do that, because you can't publishing anything within about 20 days of Christmas (a lesson I learned last December when I put out a book ten days before Christmas and its release got totally lost in the holiday sales).

The big thing right now is that I need to get POI #8 (Working title: Playing the Game) into heads down and writing mode. Then I need to do the last DOFP book. After that, probably more POI. Maybe I should just consider writing a POI book that is a series of shorts and novellas to fill in a bunch of the gaps and side quests that are part and parcel of Will's life? That would definitely let me flesh out a few things you normally don't see in the novels. Then again, I don't know if you'd all be interested or not.

But it all comes back to being on this runaway treadmill that really requires you to publish every sixty days or so, if you want to stay relevant on Amazon, and keep people seeing your works, and keep selling. I took too much time and money back in January to try and improve my Marketing and expand my fanbase / reading pool. It was, unfortunately, a very big waste of time and money. I even hired someone to help and sadly, that didn't work. It seems that most of you discovered me due to Amazon, not any other outside channel. So I should have been just writing the next novel, not wasting my efforts elsewhere.

I also spent too much time and mental energy trying to land a publishing deal. When they said they weren't interested in my current story lines but were impressed enough with my writing that they would take me on, if I came up with a new line just for them, I should have just turned them down. Instead I spent two months trying to come up with something for them. It takes me a very long time to come up with the idea for a series, or a world. A very long time. While I do have some ideas 'lying around' none of them are really in a final state to write about, or I already would be.

So, if the next POI book does well enough, and I can get both it and the DOFP book done in quick order, maybe I'll have enough breathing space to pick up on writing some short stories again. That or I'll have to find a 'real' job again. Or maybe switch over to writing uber-females in vampire military scifi engaging in galactic conquest :-p

Monday, March 20, 2017

To all of you pirating my books

How about at least nominating me for an award or something? Like the Dragon Awards, or something else that is free to vote on. I know that there are several thousand of you out there, and well if you're not going to pay, how about doing something (that's free) for me that will help me sell more to those who will?

Think about it.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sometimes I just don't get it

I'm an engineer by training. And for me, one of the things that means is that if something works, you use it. And you stick with it. You don't go switching to something new unless there is a good reason, like more or better functionality, or the old one doesn't work anymore, or it's cheaper to use.

Stuff like that.

Now when it comes to instant messengers, I have all the old ones, AIM, Yahoo, a few others. Because that was what other people used, because they only used what came with their service. But now everyone I used to talk with over these things have moved onto a dozen new instant messengers, all brand new ones, with all sorts of things I hear them complaining about.

Why did they move?

Absolutely no reason at all. The services aren't any better, in many cases they're actually worse (in that they raid your private information and use it to try and get others to join - among other things). They just moved on like a flock of birds I guess. To the new 'better' thing. Hell, I don't even use skype anymore, it's pointless to me 99 percent of the time, I give people my phone number and tell them to call me. But amazingly enough, people still use Twitter, even though there are better services out there that don't censor a quarter of their users, and which don't inspect all posts for passing some kind of political litmus test.

Yeah, just don't get it. Must be getting old or something.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The ballad of fixing my Car(s)



So, it always seems that everything that can go wrong, does so right around the time I have to pay my taxes. This year was no different. I have two cars, and they both broke at the exact same time.

Now one of the cars I don't drive very often. It's a sports car I bought a few years ago for various reasons. Normally I only drive it on weekends, but working from home now, well it can go months without being driven. When I was working in Oregon a couple years back, it would also go months without being driven. So the battery went dead this week, for the third (and final) time. There was no recharging it; it would no longer hold a charge. And batteries here in California are pretty damn expensive. Maybe they're that way in the rest of the country, I don't know. I just know from other things (motorcycles) that the prices all have doubled in the last four years.

While that was all going on, my other car started to make the grinding noise of death from somewhere around the fan belts. I thought it was the alternator at first, so I had to start pulling off the belts (there are two - one for alternator and power steering, one for AC). Of course, as odds would have it, it wasn't the alternator.

So, I had to pull off the AC belt, which means pulling off the electric fans attached to the radiator. I get the belt off and check the idler pulley, and it's grindy. Very grindy. That's what I get for buying a cheap plastic one a few years ago when it died the last time. So off to Napa and $40 later I have a really nice heavy metal one with a lifetime guarantee. Yes, the car is a 2006 Forester XT. It's got 130K miles on it. Or, like the Subaru people like to say: It's just getting broken in.

So I put the new pulley in and promptly break the idler adjuster (damn! Didn't I do that last time I changed it? I did? Double Damn!) so I order that and have to wait a few days.

Now, a bit of an aside here. Last week, when I noticed the A/C wasn't working, I recharged it. And things got really noisy after I did. That was when I noticed that the high-pressure line was leaking, hence the noise. Turns out the o-ring went. So I replaced the o-ring and recharged the system and everything was fine.

Or so I thought.

So, get the new idler adjuster, put it on, fire it up. And the compressor is what's now making the noise. So, either the compressor is shot, -or-, hopefully, when the system bled down twice due to the bad o-ring, it lost a lot of oil. So I go buy some oil. It's not too expensive and the can says it contains an ounce. So I put it all in, and the compressor gets nice and quiet like it should be. So obviously it needed oil!

But! Now the system is over-pressured! So I bleed it down.

Now, no cooling, but lots of heat!

So, now what? I figure that maybe whatever propellant they put in the oil can isn't cooling, or maybe it's too much oil or something. I know the older systems took a lot of oil. Or maybe the compressor is shot.

So, I go buy a can of coolant (TEN dollar core charge on a CAN? WTF????? Thank you California!!). Bleed the system down to 0, then refill it with the can. This time the system hits a nice legal pressure, and even as I put the rest of the can in, barely climbs up at all. And best of all, it's blowing nice and cold now!

So. Hopefully it's fixed. It is possible that the compressor may have gotten damaged from the lack of oil, I'm hoping it didn't. At a new one is about $150, which I don't have right now. (That's putting it in myself, so add the cost of oil and R-134a to that). But at least it's all back together and seems to be running fine again. Both cars that is.

But I think the Forester may be up for a clutch soon....
And it still needs the headlight enclosures replaced....

So, if you have, say five or ten thousand friends out there who are looking for something to read, tell them to buy some of my books. So I can finish fixing the car!

Monday, March 13, 2017

So, my 1911 Colt build

(Yes, this has nothing to do with writing, but when your hobby becomes your job, you need a new hobby!)

A couple of years ago, I started thinking about building a 1911 colt. Why? Well, I've always liked them, always wanted a decent one, and figured this would be a good way to get a decent one at a good price.

Yes, I can hear some of you laughing.

But I've done all my own gun-smithing for years now, and I've built a rifle or six, done the 80 percent lower thing and custom modified a few things along the way (all legal of course). I'd seen you could get 80 percent frames on 1911's, and yes, I'd heard that it is not at all easy to build one yourself. So I figured I'd give it a shot.

The frame I got some time ago. The unfinished frame that is. All the drilling stuff was easy and I got around to that eventually. Last year I borrowed a friend's mill to cut the side rails - that took over an hour, because I must have measured it a dozen times before I cut it. I only had the one frame after all, and I sure didn't want to ruin it. A distinct possibility as I hadn't even run a mill in like thirty years, and his was a rather old and rather primitive one (by today's standards). So, finally it was all done. The frame that is, now all I needed where the parts!

Guess what are no longer cheap, even if you can find them? Yup, 1911 parts kits. With everyone wanting to make guns that the state doesn't know that you have, sales boomed and prices went up. One guy at a gun show even had the balls to tell me: You're paying extra so the government doesn't know you have that gun! Hey, the government already knows I have guns! I don't think they're going to care about one more. Honestly, it is cheaper to buy a 1911 now than to buy the parts for one! Assuming of course you can even find them from someone other than con artists at gun shows.

But eventually I found a place online that had a decent kit, at a good price. The only problem was, it was back-ordered from here to eternity. But what the hell, right? So I ordered it, threw the frame in the safe, and forgot all about it. That was last year, over six months ago. (or was it nine? I forget).

Well guess what showed up this last Saturday? Yup! The parts kit. So I broke out the book I had bought a while back on building 1911's from scratch (I'm doing a series 70 btw, the gun doesn't need yet another safety) and started to review. It turns out that all of the caution on the milling paid off, the slide is a perfect fit. I thought I'd end up with a loose fit, or a tight fit, but nope. Got that one right at least.

Next I'm looking at the grip safety. Yeah, that's gonna need a lot of grinding to make that even begin to fit. The frame comes back too far. Then of course I'll have to lap it to make it smooth. But at least it seems to fit fine in all other aspects.

So, if I can find the time, I'll probably have that finished in about a week. I'm thinking with any luck, I might be done with this project before winter. I'm not looking forward to fitting the barrel; I've heard a lot of horror stories about that. Hopefully, as I bought the barrel and the slide from the same place, they'll match up properly. But I did buy this for the challenge of doing it, and being able to say that I did it, once it's complete.