3 New Books for June

I’ve been busy since school let out less than a month ago. I’ve edited two books and published them, plus one more. All of them are outside my usual genre. Now it’s time to promote them and try to convince you to buy them.

First up is A Light Beyond. This is one I imagined several years ago, when I still had an agent who didn’t really believe in me. He shot the idea down, but it wouldn’t leave me. I wrote the book last semester, putting down a little over 50,000 words in a pretty short time for me during a school year. This is the story of Robert Prince, who meets an older woman when he’s 13 and falls in love with her. He has a friend who is a bully and a home life that is less than good.

Structurally, I tried something different with this short novel (or long novella). Each chapter is from a different stage of Robert’s life. We begin in a Cincinnati subway tunnel, where he’s been severely beaten. We then move to the summer of 1978, when he’s 13 and meets Alia, the older woman down the street. The third stage stretches over a much longer period of time, beginning when he’s about 18 and concluding with the chapter that reveals why he’s in the subway at age 51. Every third chapter goes back to one of these stages of his life.

For the few who are interested, there is a lot of nostalgia in this book for me. The chapters with young Robert are set on the street where I grew up and characters visit real places like Longfellow Junior High School, Bob’s Cone Corner, Hendrie House Buffet, etc. There really was a woman living in the house described who a “frenemy” of mine insisted was a hooker. Like Robert, I spent a lot of summer afternoons working puzzles, playing board games, and reading. But pretty much all the major plot elements are fiction.

A Light Beyond is available in both paperback and for Kindle and the Kindle app.

This next book is pretty special to me. My first genre love was for the Western, though it was more for movies than books. I’d wanted to write a Western novel for many years, but frankly, was afraid to branch out. The research seemed intimidating, too. And yeah, that same agent who dissed A Light Beyond didn’t want anything to do with Orphan when I proposed it to him.

This one is also told from three perspectives, but it’s three different characters. First is Ramsay, a wanted man just trying to get west, away from his old life and all the disappointments it held. When he catches a man cheating at cards in a small east Kansas town, the man pulls a gun and Ramsay has to kill him. This leads the man’s nephew, Jack, to decide that Ramsay is now responsible for him, so he tags along. Back in Chicago, Les finds out his lover isn’t who she claimed to be, and she’s pregnant. If he wants to maintain his relationship with her, he must leave his job as a packinghouse foreman and use his old Pinkerton skills to track down a meat baron’s missing grandson. Eventually, Ramsay, Jack, Les, the grandson, and a bounty hunter all meet up. There’s some shooting.

About the only other thing I can say about this one is that it’s dedicated to the memory of Johnny Quarles, Johnny lived in my hometown when his first novel, Brack, came out in about 1988 or so. I was about 22. Surprisingly for my introverted self, I picked up the phone and called him shortly after his book came out and found him to be a warm, helpful man with a wonderful family. He gave me a lot of good advice and let me interview him for various newsletters and such. In the early days of the Internet he even paid me to create and maintain his first Web site. My character, Ramsay Quarles, takes his name from Johnny and Johnny’s character Brack Ramsay. I hope my book is a worthy tribute to a great man.

Orphan is available as both a paperback and for Kindle and the Kindle app. The audio version is in production at the moment.

The third book I released this month is a really old manuscript. I’m talking like 25 years old. Songbird was written when my wife was pregnant with our first child. We never asked to learn the gender of our kids before they were born, preferring to be surprised. I know, that’s unthinkable today with all the elaborate gender reveal parties, but … whatever. We knew if we had a boy he’d be named Alexander and if we had a girl she’d be Rebecca. So the songbird of the story is named Becca and the wandering sailor who rescues her from the Trolls is Zander.

As you may have guessed, this is a children’s fairy story. Becca trades her freedom to save her village and she’s locked up in the Troll king’s Fang Tower, where she has to sing every time a Troll rings a bell. Zander hears her one day and vows to rescue her, but the Troll king’s ransom requires that Zander find the legendary land of Farin and bring back Queen Roshell’s wedding ring. Can he do it before the Troll king forces Becca to marry him? Well, it’s a fairy tale, so you can probably guess the answer to that one. It’s a chapter book, so I guess the target audience here is probably grades 3 to 8. The font is bigger than normal, so the page count is higher than the word count would suggest.

You’ll find several homages to J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander in this one.

Songbird is available in both paperback and for Kindle and the Kindle app.

Thanks for sticking with me!



Little Graveyard for FREE

lgotpStarting today, you can get my ghost story novella Little Graveyard on the Prairie for free on your Kindle or device with the Kindle app. This free promotion is good for three days, Feb. 15-18. Click here to take advantage.

I would greatly appreciate it if you leave a review of the book after reading it. Books need at least 25 reviews before Amazon will start recommending them to readers.

Dead ain’t gone, and gone ain’t dead.

Harley Shaw’s life is falling apart around him. His best pasture is ruined. His cattle are gone. His wife is gone. His daughter is gone. His sanity is slipping away, and there may be dead people taunting him.

The farm in the story is based on my paternal grandparents’ farm. My grandpa developed Alzheimer’s, and having that is probably my biggest fear. Even more than birds.

Thoughts on Self Publishing

Is there a more controversial topic among writers than the dreaded one about publishing your own work? Probably not. As little as 10 years ago it was unthinkable for anyone aspiring to commercial success to even consider vanity publishing. Of course, back then it was pretty dang expensive, unless you got tied up with a place like PublishAmerica.

Today? Well, there is still a stigma, but the practice is becoming more accepted. For those who haven’t caught on yet, my books published under the MoonHowler Press logo are self published. For the most part these are books that have been previously published in various small presses but the rights have come back to me. I want to recap my experience with the small press before continuing.

3F Publications — The original publisher of Shara. The company published around 200 copies, never paid me a dime other than some free copies, and went out of business within a couple of months after publishing my book.

Double Dragon Publishing — The original publisher of Seven Days in Benevolence as an ebook. To date I have not been paid anything by DDP because the book doesn’t sell. Bad book? No marketing?

Scrybe Press — Republished Shara and was the original publisher of Murdered by Human Wolves, Call to the Hunt, Ulrik, and Seven Days in Benevolence (in paperback). In the beginning they actually paid the Horror Writers Association minimum professional advance and royalties. Then they paid nothing, became unresponsive, and the company is finally gone.

Fine Tooth Press — Publisher of Darkscapes. I never know about sales unless I ask, sometimes multiple times. Not that there have been very many. I also think the book is overpriced. And I hate the cover. Many of the stories have been pulled out and self-published in various short ebooks.

Graveside Tales — Re-released Murdered by Human Wolves, but never paid royalties so I got the rights back. The company is on hiatus. In lieu of owed payment, I asked if the publisher had the rights to the cover art, was told he did, so I asked for those to be given to me. I self-published the book reusing Russell Dickerson’s great cover, only to find out GST didn’t own the rights to transfer to me. Fortunately Russell is okay with me using his work.

Bad Moon Books — Original publisher of Little Graveyard on the Prairie and Amara’s PrayerLittle Graveyard was a straight purchase for a limited edition book, no royalties or anything, and the purchase price was very generous for such a short book. Amara’s Prayer is a trade paperback that is only available through BMB because the company won’t allow a distributor to take a cut and so it has virtually no visibility and thus, very low sales. Plus it’s overpriced, in my opinion.

StoneThread Publishing — Was set to be the original publisher of Inheritance, but less than two months after requesting I send a manuscript, has decided to close its doors. See below for further details.

I’m not dredging this up to blast these publishers (again, in some cases). This has simply been my experience and has led me to recent decisions regarding self publishing. Other authors have worked in the small press with great results, and there are some small press publishers out there that do fantastic work in publishing, promoting, and paying their authors. There are a couple I’d still like to work with. For the most part, though, it just isn’t worth the hassle with the tools now available to anyone with a manuscript.

Amazon’s CreateSpace program is the best thing to happen to authors outside the major publishers. It can also be a slap to the reading public if the author doesn’t do his or her pre-publication work, but we’ll come back to that. CreateSpace makes publishing easy, and for a minimal cost of $10 you can put your own publishing imprint on the book, like I did with MoonHowler Press. For a while it cost $25 to get your print title wider distribution to make it available outside Amazon, but they’ve eliminated that cost now. Then you have Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords for ebooks, all of which is free.

Now, with all that said, self-publishing still churns out a lot of paper that could have been better used on a small roller hanging in a port-a-potty. As an author, you owe it to your readers to make sure your books are edited. If nobody in your critique group has ever worked in the publishing field as an editor, you need to hire someone who has. You also need to put out the money for a good cover artist. There are online sites where you can buy nice stock art for pretty low prices, but you have to consider you might not be the only one buying that piece of art.

The benefit of self-publishing is that I am in control. I set the prices on my books. I do the marketing, so if they fail, I can’t say it’s because so-and-so wouldn’t use a distributor or because the publisher slapped on a stupid cover or whatever. I get to track my own sales; there’s no begging the publisher for a late royalty statement only to find your 23 cents isn’t enough to trigger the minimum $5 payout. There’s also not the fear of waking up tomorrow to find out the company has gone out of business or is still refusing to answer your e-mail or didn’t run the ad they’d promised or has delayed publication because the wife’s car payment had to be made.

There are downsides. Many brick-and-mortar stores won’t carry your books. You won’t have the kind of editing you’ll get at a mainstream publisher, so your work might be published with mistakes (but trust me, people will tell you and it’s easy to correct those and upload an edited version). Your story might be garbage … but look at Twilight. You won’t get rich, but I do know some authors who make a nice second income off their self-published books.

Let’s get on thing straight, though. Traditional publishing with the major houses that pay big bucks is still my goal. I’m still thrilled Tor is releasing the next book from me and Carrie Jones, and I’m hopeful I’ll someday have my own solo contract with Tor, or another major player. I like to be paid and I like the many other benefits of working with a big established company.

NOTE: I’m going to stick with the April 1 release date for Inheritance, but instead of coming from StoneThread it will come from my MoonHowler Press; the owner of StoneThread is a stand-up guy and turned over the formatted manuscripts and the cover he designed for my use, so there are no hard feelings there and it will make my first venture into Smashwords much smoother.

NOTE 2: Nadia’s Children was my first self-published book that had not been previously published by someone else. Sales have been slow, but I am free to try any promotion I can dream up to boost those.

Another Gift of Lycanthropy

As Nadia’s Children, the latest novel in The Werewolf Saga, nears release I’d like to give you, readers, the Gift of Lycanthropy to get you ready for this latest installment. To do that, I’m offering the Kindle e-book editions of both Shara and Ulrik absolutely free today and Monday.*

Remember, this is the MoonHowler Press edition of each, which includes about 10,000 words of Shara that have never been available before. Ulrik includes a sampling of Nadia’s Children.

If you enjoy them and want to leave a review, that would be very kind of you. If you don’t enjoy them, pretend you never heard of them. haha

Here’s the link to get Shara for free. And here’s the link for Ulrik for free.

Look for Nadia’s Children within the next couple of weeks!

I’m sorry I can’t offer Murdered by Human Wolves for free. That title is currently not in my control. However, you can buy the Kindle edition here for just $3.99. Think of it as a buy one get two free deal.

*With any luck the delayed publishing of this post will coincide with the time Amazon begins the promotion…

The bitch is back … again

shara cover mhp kindleAfter being out of print for a little over a year, I’m very pleased to announce that my first novel, and the first full-length novel in The Werewolf Saga series, is back in print. This edition features about 10,000 words that were cut out of the previous editions, offering more insight into the actions and motivations of some characters in the early part of the story.

The cover for this edition was designed by my son, Alex, under my direction. We went for a simple, subtle design and a pallet of only three colors that will be used again on the upcoming release of Ulrik and Nadia’s Children. Unlike previous versions, these covers will really serve to tie the novels together visually as a series.

Also, for the first time ever, Shara is available electronically and exclusively for the Kindle market. In time it will be available for the Nook and other readers.

So far, the book is not showing up at Barnes & Noble online, and I’m told it could be a few weeks before that happens. For now, it’s available here:

The Shara page of this site has been completely updated with more description and blurbs and such. You can see that here.

If all goes as planned, Ulrik will be available within two weeks and Nadia’s Children will see its first ever publication two weeks after that.

Many, many thanks to all the fans who have waited patiently for this series to resume.

Werewolves on hiatus

It was with much reluctance and sorrow that I sent a letter to the owner of Scrybe Press last week withdrawing all my titles from that company. I think the publisher is a nice guy. I don’t think there was any malicious intent on either side in the events that led up to the termination of our agreement. However, there were unfulfilled elements of the contract that made me determine it would be in my best interest to end our long-standing relationship prior to submitting Nadia’s Children for publication.

So, what it means for you, exalted reader, is that The Werewolf Saga will go out of print immediately. I’m pretty sad about this, really. I don’t like change. It also means more work for me as I try to determine my next move with the series. Will another small press pick it up? Will I resort to self publishing? I can’t say yet, but the books will reappear somewhere, in some format, and you will get to read Nadia’s Children.

Some of you may be asking, “You have an agent now. Why doesn’t he resell the series to a big publisher?” Well, a lot of that has to do with the fact so many volumes have already been published. The market, perhaps, has been diluted, which reduces the interest of a major publisher willing to spend enough money on the series to make it worthwhile to use an agent. There’s also the “artistic” aspect of it all. The Werewolf Saga is my baby, my Lord of the Rings, and a major publisher may insist on changes I’m not willing to make.

The upside for you is that I’ll be thinking of some way(s) to get you interested in the new versions and reward you for your very long wait for the new book. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. What would you like to see? New forewords? Introductions? A free apocryphal volume offered electronically? New short stories about your favorite characters? Let me know.

The paperback version of Seven Days in Benevolence will also go out of print. The electronic version from Double Dragon eBooks is still available in multiple formats, though. Here’s a link to the Kindle, and one to the Nook, and another for Sony. Frankly, I think the e-book version is overpriced, but that’s outside of my control right now.

Unholy Womb and Other Tales

Fine Tooth Press, publisher of my short story collection Darkscapes, has long been incommunicato. I have no idea what’s going on there. So, I have considered my contract with the company terminated. To mark that, and to celebrate Halloween, I have pulled my three Halloween-themed stories from the book, added in one that was anthologized last year, plus one brand new, never-before-published story, and created a new little collection called Unholy Womb and Other Halloween Tales that is now available as a Kindle download at Amazon. Here’s the link.

I’m still not a big fan of self publishing, but I don’t have much work available electronically. At least, not legally. “Unholy Womb”, the story, typically gets pretty hot this time of year and I often have to do my own search and demand that people remove it from their sites because I once allowed it to be published online. Anyway, if you buy the Kindle version, you are now reading the only version that supports the author … if that means anything to you. Oh, and you don’t have to have a Kindle to buy Kindle downloads; I have a Kindle app on my computer. It’s a free download from Amazon and gives you access to a nearly endless supply of public domain works at no charge.

I hope you have a wonderfully spooky Halloween season.