Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Where Are You?

I'm Here!

Yeah, I've been negligent in keeping the blog up to date.  Feel free to whip me a hundred lashes with a wet lasagna noodle.  Mainly, I've just been focused on trying to put the ribbon on Zegin's Abduction.  I've gotten so wrapped up in the story - I purposely have ignored the blog.  My bad!

But, the good news is that I'm getting close to having the draft completed.  Once again, I'll be using a professional editor to run through it for me.  And I'll be picking some new art for the cover.

So, would you like a small taste of the story?  Well, here's a sneak peek at a portion of Zegin's Abduction - raw and pre-edit (so be kind):

Zegin's Abduction (Sneak peek)

“More sleep, more credits, and fewer scars,” Zegin mumbled to himself. “Well, at least there are fewer scars.” He smirked at his own statement while controlling the zipcar on his way to the Cydonia spaceport.  There was no one to listen to his snide remarks, which was all for the best anyway.  “Best to keep my remarks to myself,” he continued mumbling.  “Especially when enlisted with Navy Command.”  He chuckled at himself while remembering why he mustered out of the United Terranian Navy Command.  

He was one of the best at Cyber and A.I. Forensics but UTNC tends to chew up their best.  Lack of sleep, too much to do, and high risk discrete operations took their toll.  He mustered out and took his pension after 12 Sol years to become a starship troubleshooter, with the hope of getting more sleep, more credits, and fewer scars.  “That’s right!  Fewer scars.”

Zegin always talked to himself when he was tired.  He hoped it would keep him from falling asleep at the controls.  He could have used automated nav, but he would fall asleep for sure - which wouldn’t look very good when he arrived to meet his next customer.  Between the late conversion with Rebecca about her day at work and the howling of the neighbor’s banderdog, there was little sleep to be had the night before. 

Contributing to the lack of sleep was his curiosity about his new customer - Mr. Criswell, of Criswell Shipping Lanes.  Net research the night before revealed very little about Mr. Criswell or his business.  There was one entry for a port landing a few months ago, only for a half hour.  Barely enough time to take on fuel and refresh the ship’s systems.  Something in the back of his mind told him not to take the job, but he felt he was being overly cautious.  The lure of some quick credits, in a slow period, was strong motivation for this sleep deprived shooter.

"That's odd," Zegin stated as he pulled the zipcar to dockside of port 73. "It’s a shuttle - not a ship."
3 men were standing outside the shuttle.  They watched patiently as Zegin grabbed his gear and released his D-rack diagnostic robot from the back of the zipcar.

"Good morning gentlemen," Zegin said as he approached the men.  "I understand you're having some problems with the navigation computer on your ship, or is it with this shuttle?"  Zegin started to feel a little uncomfortable.  Rarely were there three people meeting him for his jobs and these three didn’t seem normal.  Something was a little different about the look of these three and as he got closer old memories came to mind.

"Haas low, Miiistar Thooomaaz,” the smallest of the 3 men stepped forward while bowing slightly.  He held his hands, finger tip to finger tip, on his chest, in a contemplative sort of way, slowly tapping each in succession.

Zegin froze at hearing the strange greeting as his D-rack bumped up against the back of his legs and stopped.  Zegin noticed the man's hands had no fingernails and the man’s eyes seemed to be recessed back farther than normal.  These guys are Sarreth, Zegin realized.  A chill ran up the back of his neck.  Thoughts of his encounters with them while enlisted with the UTNC quickly flashed by.  They are barbaric and slow of speech.  No fingernails, strange faces, and not exactly friendly with Terranians - especially after the mining belt encounters.

"Are you Captain Criswell?" Zegin asked while taking a quick look at the other 2 aliens, standing to one side of the smaller man.  He was still stunned at the realization that they had managed to penetrate the defense grid and actually land at the Cydonia port.  

Their gazes from recessed eyes were directly at Zegin, adding to his discomfort.  "Kaaap tan inn shhhhip," the little man, or alien, stated as he gestured toward the hatch of the shuttle.
Zegin decided this was not going to be his gig for today.  He needed to quickly get away and alert the authorities.  "Well, sir. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be able to help you out today."  He pulled out a quick excuse.  "You see, my D-rack is having navigation problems and I need to fix those before I can do any other jobs."  He kicked at the D-rack with one foot, trying to push it back toward the zipcar.  The D-rack squawked in defense and started to drift toward the zipcar.

"Yooo muuussst coommmm," the short alien gestured again toward the shuttle hatch.  

Zegin stepped back while keeping an eye on the shorter alien and trying to make a quick glance at the other two.  His heart raced as he calculated his exit away from the aliens.

Zegin noticed a small glint of reflection out the corner of his eye.  He turned to face one of the two other aliens as a small object hurled toward him, striking him under his right ear as he flinched from the movement.  A combination of fear, anger, and surprise swept through him as he watched the ground rapidly approaching his face.  He felt hands grab at his arms, stopping his impact with the ground.  He shivered at the thought of alien fingers with no fingernails gripping him tightly.  The revulsion was soon replaced with blackness.

(End of the sneak peek)

Where to go after KDP?

My exclusivity has run out with Amazon's KDP.  I now have the option of posting Zegin's Infection on other eBook sites and make it available via print.  I just need to take the time to investigate where to post.  All I need is time - and maybe a clone.  If anyone has recommendations, I'd be happy to hear them.  

Latest Statistics

Klout Score: 51 (-2) Page Loads for the past month: 1100 (+230)
Twitter Followers: 1935 (+332)
G+ Peeps Following: 889 (+310)
Zegin's Infection Sales/Downloads: 45/558

Not sure what I think of Klout.  I know for a fact that I've increased my Twitter activity. I'm posting more and receiving more interaction.  But my score has been hovering around the same and dropping.  I'll keep at it for a little while longer to see if it's really worth tracking.  

Twitter and GooglePlus followers are up significantly. Mostly due to my interaction on both.  Most of my postings have been on Twitter with an occasional post onto G+.  I still haven't found the perfect tool for syncing Twitter, G+, and Facebook.

Sales for ZI have dropped off a little.  Once again, I don't have huge expectations for this release.  I think it'll pick up more once I get Zegin's Abduction released.  ZA will be a much longer story, not quite as pencil headed geeky, and will provide some background for what's going on in Zegin's universe.  It will lead the way to more stories as well.  Anyway, I hope that my next blog posting will be the announcement of completion of the first draft.

Till then, keep reading and writing.   

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Grandiose Plans

El Tajin Ruins - Big show the evening before Spring.
"Life is what happens when you're making other plans!" (Author unknown)

Ever since I first saw that phrase on a wall in the movie "Kuffs", it has been one of my favorites.  Because it is so true, as I have recently discovered, once again. 

I had a lot of grandiose plans for book promotion, marketing, and taking advantage of the Amazon KDP Select promotions.  This all came to a screeching halt when a member of my family had a medical emergency.  It was one of those situations where I had to just drop everything and handle necessary matters.  It turned out to be a full week of unplanned activities, all prior to a planned week in Mexico to visit with friends and family.  The good news is that the family member is doing quite well now.  And thanks to my many loving friends and family members, I was able to continue with my trip to Mexico.  Fortunately, for you, I won't step through all the details and pictures from my trip. (As awesome as it was!)

What's this have to do with writing?  Well, per the phrase at the top, things happen.  There are things that carry more weight than my personal desire to write.  I thrive on my relationships with my family, friends, and my spirituality.  My writing takes a back seat to these things.  This also helps me to keep my balance.  Sure, it would be nice to just lock myself up somewhere and do nothing but crank out words till a book is completed.  But life doesn't work that way for me.  I would like to think that keeping this view helps me to be a happier and well balanced person.

Okay, yes! There is a point here.  Don't let life interrupting situations deter you from your goals!  Just because I've had to put things on the back burner for awhile, it doesn't mean I've abandoned my goals and my direction.  It also helps to be flexible.  Realize that there will be things that interrupt the writing process.  Go with the flow.  Take care of what is important and then continue.  The books and stories might not happen when you originally thought they would.  But if you keep at it, they will happen, and you will reach your goals.

Driving to a Destination

One thing I will mention about my trip to Mexico is that I got to do some driving while I was down there.  It was a enlightening experience.  Road markings, signs, lines, and lights are merely suggestions.  It's not NASCAR driving but it IS like Formula One.  You get as close as possible, dive for position, with as much speed as nerves will endure, and just go for it.  In a sense, it was actually refreshing.  And when I reflect on the whole experience, it has the appearance of a large dance in which everyone enters a room surrounded by doors.  Everyone manages to reach their destination with a minimum amount of contact.

So, I'm back on track.  I've reached a destination and I've actually managed to pick up a passenger along the way.  I had one of those moments where I was dreaming and I was able to wake up well rested and still had the dream in my mind.  It sparked an idea for a book.  I spent several hours that day writing down the ideas.  It was pretty exciting.  Each idea and plot in the story lead to more ideas.  I can't wait to get started on it. 

However, first things first!  I have to put the ribbon on Zegin's Abduction, get it edited, and then published as the next story in the Zegin's Adventures series.  I'm preparing to do some promotions via Amazon's KDP Select program with the help of a few promotional outlets on the web.  I'm hoping for some good results.

Speaking of results:

Latest Statistics

Klout Score: 53 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 870 (-207)
Twitter Followers: 1603 (+190)
G+ Peeps Following: 578 (+153)
Zegin's Infection Sales/Downloads: 17

The lack of promotional activity for two weeks has contributed to the drop in the page loads.  Plus, I've not posted to the blog for a while.  However, the Twitter and G+ increases are nice.  I'm starting to post the book downloads as well.  Yes, this is pretty low.  But with all things considered, I'm actually pleased.  Aside from some Twitter and G+ postings, I've really not done much promoting.

I did receive another review on Amazon while I was in Mexico.  While it's for 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 on Amazon), it's a very fair review and I'm pleased with it.  I haven't been fishing for reviews so I feel pretty good about what has been said.

Well, that's the update for now.  Keep on reading and writing!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Post Release Post

After the Release

Zegin's Infection has been on Amazon for a whole 7 days.  Needless to say, I've been busier than a one legged skate boarder on a sail boat.  Mostly with marketing and promotions via Twitter, Google Plus, word-of-mouth, emails, and a Book Card (left). 

The book card took several attempts to get just right.  I kept messing with Microsoft Word (again, I learn the hard way) which took a whole evening to tell me that it wasn't going to do what I wanted.  When I went to to get one of their templates for my card stock, I discovered that they have a very cool online card designer that does a pretty good job of integrating images and text.  I managed to have a nice set of hand out cards in less than an hour of layout and printing.  And I've been handing these out to friends, family, waiters, baristas, gas station attendants, etc.  While the use of self-printed card stock is okay, I do plan on ordering some professional looking cards as well.


So, I know you're itching to hear the figures.  Book has been out for a week.  How are the sales?  Well, are you sitting down?  Here it is - twelve.  Yes, just 12.  But hey, I'm a new fiction author, no current fan base (aside from some folks at work, a few friends, and family members), and it is a "short" story.  I actually like to call it a "lengthy" short story. ;)  Anyway, it's a good start with all things considered.  I'll admit that in the back of my mind I was thinking how nice it would be for 1-2% of my Twitter followers to be interested in buying.  Let's see - 1413 followers x .01 = 14.  So, I'm 2 short of my Twitter market goals.  Heh. 

Actually, I'm not disappointed.  This is just a start and it is going to take a while to build a following.  As word spreads and reviews come in, I'm sure the sales will pick up.  I don't expect to make my investment back any time soon.  But once I get the next release out (Zegin's Abduction) and demonstrate that I'm serious about this series, the sales will pick up.  This is a long term effort and I went into this knowing it would take time and persistence. 

A Check List

I came across a wonderful check list on one of the Google + communities that I visit on a regular basis.  I wish I had this list when I started this whole process.  But I was quite pleased to see that I'm pretty close on following this list.  The list is from the book, Indie & Small Press Book Marketing
by William Hertling.  Thankfully William has provided a dropbox link to the PDF file for this checklist.  Which is also a great idea for promoting a book - give something away for free!  Here's the link:  And yes, I did ask William for permission to re-post.  (Thanks William.) 

First Review

The first review from a reader has been posted on today.  It is a nice and fair review (even if I do say so myself) and I will say that it came from one of my co-workers who purchased and read the book.  Feel free to check out the review here.  Four stars for my very first fiction release - woot! (Does a happy dance.)

Regarding, I just discovered yesterday that I could create a Author's Profile page.  (Thanks to Alexandra Apostol for the tip.)
I should have known this since I had a book on Amazon since they started.  But part of the reason I didn't know about the profile is due to it not being a link from the KDP site.  It has to be set up and configured from  So, now my Author's Profile can be found at   

Latest Statistics

Klout Score: 52 (+2) Page Loads for the past month: 1077 (-199)
Twitter Followers: 1413 (+196)
G+ Peeps Following: 425 (+65)

Twitter and Google + have had nice jumps.  Klout continues to make a slow gradual climb up.  I'm sure I'll hit some type of plateau there since I'm not engaging in massive amounts of Twitter spam.  The drop in the blog visits I attribute to my not writing a significant posting for a couple weeks (not counting the small release announcement).

In a few weeks I'll be taking a break from the marketing and postings to focus more on getting some actual writing done.  I figure that I'm currently spending around 4-6 hours a week on postings, marketing, and reading other posts/blogs.  That is significant when I could be spending that time writing.  And all while holding down a full time job, 10-13 hours a week in community services, and taking care of my other responsibilities.  Whew.  How do I do it? No TV!  Okay, I might watch a hour or two each week but that's about it.  And I have significantly reduced my gaming.  I said goodby to Eve-online and rarely hop onto Minecraft or Star-Trek Online.  It's all a matter of priorities.

So, set your goals, keep reading, and keep on writing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's Alive!

Zegin's Infection is on Amazon

It's finally published!  Zegin's Infection is now a real eBook on Amazon.  This is my first self published eBook and will be the beginning of many more.  But it's not the end of the blog postings.  Now that I've revealed how much I've invested I'm going to be posting how many sales I get.  Since this is a short story (33 pages) it's only selling for $.99.  However it serves multiple purposes:
  • I gathered an education on the whole process from beginning to publishing.
  • I now have a pretty good idea of the cost and effort required to have a quality book published.
  • It introduces me and my fiction writing to a new market, thus getting my name and style out there.
  • It opens the door for more Zegin's Adventures stories.
  • And by the time I get my full length book done, I hope to have an established fan base.
And let's not forget that I get to blog about the ongoing process as well. ;)

I will say the formatting and submission process was a significant education.  I'm pretty geeky when it comes to the use of computers and software.  But there were some frustrating moments when I just couldn't get it right with Microsoft Word.  Seems I was taking a step backward when I copied from Scrivener to Word and thus saved as HTML.  I learned if I just keep everything in Scrivener and save into eBook format for Kindle, it's a much smoother process.  I'll soon be discussing this whole process via this blog in the near future.

I'm keeping it short and sweet for this posting.  Being the proud author of my first Amazon release, I have to give myself a blatant plug:

Check out Zegin's Infection!  It's only .99 cents, it's a cool sci-fi technology story, and it includes a bonus short story called Jezi's Delima.  You can't go wrong for only a buck!  All you have to do is click here.

[Set blatant plug off]

I would love to hear any feedback.  It's okay. I can take it!  No, really, I can.  And if you're itching to write a review and submit it to Amazon - I'll be eternally grateful.

Check back in a few days and I'll give you all an update on my social marketing statistics and how the new book is doing.

Keep reading and writing!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

We Have Ignition!

The Submit Button

I just hit the submit button less than 15 minutes ago!  Whew.  What a journey this has been.  The past week has been full of formatting and layout for the final submission up to Amazon.  If there's one single most important thing that I learned this week that is worth sharing - it's "Be sure to set up your Styles in MS Word before doing anything."  There's a great thread on the Amazon KDP Support forum for this.  It was a little hard to read through (and I'm tempted to re-write it to make it easier to follow) but it was well worth the effort.

If I consider the end of the Edmonds Writers' Conference as the beginning of my goal of getting this story published, I'm looking at 4 months of activity.  It has been a great education and it has given me a lot of confidence in the process.  But it doesn't end here.  I can't just sit back and wait for the royalties to pour in.  It just doesn't work that way.  Now comes the promotion (without nagging and spamming), completion of the next Zegin story, and the ongoing writing of the full length novel.  The work is just beginning!

Zegin's Infection Audience?

Someone asked me recently who my target audience was.  That question really made me take a long pause.  Basically, science fiction is the easy answer.  Some would call it hard sci-fi since I try to deal with technologies that are feasible.  More toward the Star Trekish side of science fiction.  I love Star Wars too.  But, I'm not one for delving into fantasy type forces as a writer.  While my stories deal with a lot of technology, I'm very sensitive to not detracting from the characters.  I feel that if the technology gets in the way of the reader trying to relate to the characters then I've failed.  There are two books that I recommend for describing how to do this:
- The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells, by Ben Bova
- Characters & Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card

Thus, the audience?  Technology sci-fi with strong characters and story lines.


So, now I wait for the conversion and publishing process to be completed.  One of two things is going to happen.  One - I'll like the result and will start promotions.  Two - The layout will stink and I'll go back and re-do it.  I guess I won't know for another 12 hours.  Humm, that would put me at around 4am.  You might see me tweet around that time. ;)

Socializing Progress

Here are the latest figures for this milestone event:

Klout Score: 50 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 1276 (+35)
Twitter Followers: 1217 (+148)
G+ Peeps Following: 360 (+46)

These are good numbers for this week.  That extra Klout point was a tough one.  But I feel that it was a good hurdle to jump.  Twitter is making a nice climb.  Page loads are pretty steady.  And Google Plus is taking a nice jump.

Most likely I'll be blogging again in the next couple days to discuss what is happening with the story release.  Thanks to everyone who has provided me with feedback about my very open discussion of my progress.  If anything, I hope it'll help others who are wanting to make the jump.

Keep writing.  Check back soon!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cover Is Done

The Cover Is Done!

Woot!  I received the final cover art from Sean Hill this week and it looks great.  It has the look and feel that I was aiming for.  Even though it was all done on computer it has a very artsy freehand feel to it.  Great job Sean!

The next step was to pick the font, effect, and layout.  I wanted to keep it clean and use a font that gives it the sci-fi and geeky feel.  After scouring and locating 8-10 font candidates, I had to figure out how to install the fonts on my Mac.  Turned out to be very easy.  Just had to know which folder to drop the files into.  I then used iStudio Publisher to review and select the titling to use.  This actually ended up taking a significant amount of my day.  I had a Google Image view of "sci fi covers" in one browser tab, a listing of "science fiction" books sorted by popularity on, and my wife peering over my shoulder.

Once the font (Ethnocentric) was selected I added a very subtle red blur shadow effect to the title and my name.  I also added "A Zegin Adventure" in a standard Courier New Bold font using CRT green as a computer geek touch.  And no, I'm not an expert at this stuff.  I may have been around computers, programming, and networks for many years but I'm far, far, away from being any kind of a graphic artist.  Anyway, I think the end result turned out pretty good and I'm going to run with it.  My next step will be to see how it looks on a Kindle Fire HD.

In the Red

As I've been touting via this blog and I've been taught from other writers in the community, it is very important to make an investment in time, effort, and money to have a successful release.  This all started with a story idea and several rewrites to embellish the story.  I could have posted to Amazon at that point and hoped for the best.  But I decided to jump through the extra hoops, take the time, spend the money, and do what I could to make this a quality release.  So, where am I at financially in this?  Here are my numbers:
  • Professional Editing : $100
  • Custom Cover Art : $350
  • iStudio Publisher Software : $29.99
Total expenses thus far : $479.99

That's not a small chunk of change to spend on a short story eBook release!  There's no guarantee in any of this.  I might end up being in the hole on this first push into eBook publishing.  But I can say that I've learned a lot and have opened up a lot of doors during the process.  I feel pretty good about where I'm at and I'm getting excited about the upcoming release.  The trick now is to take a deep breath, keep working through all the details, and not get a bad case of hurry-up-itis. 

Next (Tim Conway) Steps

Now that the story is done and the cover is done, I have a few more steps to go through:
  • Write the Intro page and credits page
  • Include Jezi's Delima story
  • Add a teaser for Zegin's Abduction
  • Format all the content (Cover and text) for Kindle eBook
  • Set up the Amazon KDP account
  • Obtain the ISBN 
  • Publish
  • Tell everyone I know and don't know about my new book (Twitter, G+, etc.)
Social Media Progress

The latest statistics:

Klout Score: 49 (No change) Page Loads for the past month: 1241 (-39)
Twitter Followers: 1069 (+90)
G+ Peeps Following: 314 (+24)

Woot!  I passed the 1k milestone on Twitter followers.  Thank you all!  Klout seems to be stuck at 49.  I keep tapping on the screen to unstick the indicator but it doesn't seem to be working.  And again, Google Plus is just slowly climbing up. 

Once the story hits Amazon I'll do a big push on the social media marketing.  Then I'll be diving back into the rest of the writing and get Zegin's Abduction out next.  Gotta keep the pipeline busy.

Keep reading and writing!

(Cover art is Copyright (c) 2013, Sean Hill)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tim Conway Steps

Tim Conway Steps

Usually, the phrase is "baby steps".  But I prefer the use of Tim Conway steps (as the old man).  That's the method a writer should use for getting something published.  One tiny step at a time.  When I started this new direction to fiction writing, I had attended a local writers' conference, and I defined some goals last November for myself.  These were:
  1.     Expand my audience via social media marketing (Twitter, Google Plus, Blogger, Word of Mouth).
  2.     Write more!
  3.     Find an editor to work with.
  4.     Write more!
  5.     Find a graphics artist for quality cover art.
  6.     Write some more!
  7.     Track my ideas.
  8.     Sample/publish some writing.
  9.     Publish a story on Amazon.
For this initial project I'm down to the last 2 steps.  But I should adjust it some.  My steps should become ongoing processes to be stepped through over and over.  So, here is my adjusted list:
  1. Keep writing!
  2. Keep editing and use professional editor when needed.
  3. Add professional cover art when needed.
  4. Submit completed work to various markets and/or self publish.
  5. Continue marketing via social media.
  6. Read other authors work.
  7. Note (journal) new ideas.
  8. Do not wait for acceptance notices - go back to step 1.
I figure that if I can just stay focused on this process, the success and the sales will eventually follow along. 

Zegin's Infection Progress

The story is done and ready for Amazon formatting.  As a bonus, I've decided that I'm going to include a teaser for Zegin's Abduction and one of my other short stories.  I'm leaning toward including Jezi's Delima - about a space traveler who is misrouted while she is in stasis. 

The cover art is coming along quite nicely.  This is the latest update from Sean Hill.  Zegin's diagnostic robot is getting re-worked and is pending some additional textures.  And some of the external space port textures are in process.  I'm looking forward to the final.  (No pressure Sean!) ;)

Social Media Progress

Here are the latest statistics:

Klout Score: 49 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 1280 (+239)
Twitter Followers: 979 (+218)
G+ Peeps Following: 290 (+72)

Big jumps for Twitter, page loads, and Google Plus.  I've been trying to increase my activity on Twitter and including my page link in my Follow Thank You messages.  This seems to have helped with the page hits.  Regarding Google Plus - I believe the increase is due to the increase in usage by other authors.  I'm still looking for a good process for posting to both Twitter and G+ at the same time.

Now back to reading (Impulse! by Steven Gould) and hopefully some more writing.

Keep on writing!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Frame by Frame


It has been a very productive week.  Now that I have all the edits completed on Zegin's Infection, I went back and applied what I learned from Debra and did revisions to "The Wings of Leonardo" (WOL), "Invis", and "Jezi's Delima".  I received a rejection of WOL from Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show (Whew, what a title!)  So, I just turned it aournd and I submitted WOL to Escape Pod in the hopes it will get picked up for their podcast magazine.  Escape Pod is pretty cool.  They turn the stories into spoken podcasts for their subscribers to listen to.  I think it's a great idea and I'm actually pretty excited about the prospect of having WOL as a narration.  I also submitted "Invis" to Kasma SF Magazine.  I figure I'm paying my dues for having it so easy in the non-fiction market.

   Non-Fiction : 42 articles, 3 manuals, 2 Books - only 2 rejections
   Fiction : 14 rejections & no sales yet

What a difference!  But it is a totally different market and industry.  Basically, it's as if I'm starting as a brand new writer.  However, I do know that eventually I will sell something.  One of my goals is to not just get a sale but to be able to meet the criteria for joining SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America).  One sale will make me eligible for an Associate Membership.  Three sales of short stories or one novel will make me eligible as an Active Member.

Frames of Art

Sean Hill has been making great progress on the cover for Zegin's Infection.  He's been a pleasure to work with.  I really appreciate that he's willing to ask for and receive feedback about the art.

This is the first concept drawing that Sean provided to me.  To get to this point I provided Sean with a copy of the story and a small sample of the type of art that I was looking for.

(BTW: All of these pictures are Copyright (c) 2013, Sean Hill.  Please do not copy and/or distribute without written permission from Sean.)

The next piece that I received from Sean shows a significant amount of work.  This provided me with a view of the textures that he was using and content of the spaceship loading dock.  However, I felt that some of the perspective angles were not quite right and I provided some feedback to him by overlaying the red lines (from SnagIt).  Turns out he was already aware of the issues with the perception lines and had started on fixing those.
As can be seen in this next piece, the perception lines have been fixed and Sean is beginning to do more work on the interior of the spaceship.

When I received this next piece I had a "Oh, wow!" moment.  I love what Sean is doing with the textures.  I provided some feedback about the light sources and the hovering d-rack behind Zegin.

While Sean is not done with the cover art yet, I wanted to at least give a glimpse of the process.  One of the things that was hammered into us writers at the Edmonds Write On the Sound conference, is the need to have professional and quality editing and art for anything targeted for the eBook market.

It has become so easy for anyone with a story idea and a computer to just throw something together and throw it up on Amazon with the expectation that it's going to become a huge success.  However, the truth is that a lot of "junk" writing is appearing on the market with poor grammar, inconsistent story lines, and clip art covers.  The author might get some sales initially.  But sadly, as we all know, first impressions are the most important and the sales dry up.

Personally, I think it's great that writers now have a new medium for expression.  And with quality work, it is very possible to get to market in the span of a few months instead of the traditional 12 to 24 months for printed media.

I'm far from being an expert in this side of the fiction industry.  I'm learning as I go along.  And I'm hoping that this preliminary work, time, and investment will pay off.  I don't plan on breaking even with Zegin's Infection.  But I do plan on using it to introduce myself to the market.  If all goes well, more Zegin stories will follow (2nd is in the works), the audience will grow, and readers will find as much enjoyment in reading my stories as I have found in creating them.

Social Media Progress

Here are my latest statistics for this past week:

Klout Score: 48 (+2) Page Loads for the past month: 1041 (+125)
Twitter Followers: 761 (+148)
G+ Peeps Following: 218 (+9)

Great progress, especially with Twitter.  My goal is to have 1k+ followers by the time Zegin's Infection is ready for release.

I really appreciate the follows and I hope I'm providing a good forum and example of how someone can get published in the fiction market with some time and effort.

I'm Reading

Part of being a good writer is being a good reader.  If you're not spending time reading then you're not going to be able to be a good writer.  Plain and simple - fact of life.

I just completed "7th Sigma" by Steven Gould.  It was a good read and I enjoyed it.  But it did take me a bit of time to get wrapped up in it.  I would recommend it if you're a hard core Steven Gould fan.

Currently reading:
  • Impulse by Steven Gould
  • The Double Bubble Murders by Azalia Yadinah-Parker (a very entertaining short story well worth the price).
  • Write Good or Die by multiple authors and edited by Scott Nicholson.  Currently free and I highly recommend it.
 In the queue:
  • APE How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki & Shawn Welch
  • Master-Mind by Maria Konnikova (How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes)
  • Collapse by Richard Stephenson.  Proof that Twitter works.  I discovered this writer on Twitter.

Whew!  My short post became a lot longer than I anticipated.  Thanks for reading and feel free to drop me a line here, on Twitter, or on Google Plus to let me know if you're enjoying the posts.

Keep on reading.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What a Character!

The nice thing about writing a series of stories is that I don't have to let go of the lead character.  After all, he is a little bit like me.  At least on the geeky side.  Dr. Doyle provided a nice complement in her critique of "Zegin's Infection":

It moves fast, it's heading in a definite direction rather than wandering around all over the place, and it focuses on a competent character working in his area of expertise, which is always a plus when you're thinking about the core audience for science fiction. It's been observed, more than once, that science fiction fans have a serious "competence kink" -- they are far more likely to sympathize with competent characters who can rise to an occasion than they are with ordinary or less-than-competent characters. 

Then she proceeded to let me know what I needed to fix. ;)  But I really appreciated what she said about the main character.  Zegin is an expert at what he does - starship diagnostics.  Think of a futuristic MacGyver who knows how to program computers, minus the bad haircut.

It has to be a fine balance though.  If the character is too strong then the readers loose the ability to relate to him (or her).  Which is why the lead has to have a "achlles heel" - something that they are struggling with.  Superman has kryptonite, Batman has his internal dark thinking, and Zegin is a bit sensitive and worries too much.  But when there's trouble he's always willing to jump into the fray.

My only concern with the Zegin stories is the level of geek speak.  At times the story will get a little technical.  I try to counteract this with dialog as Zegin tries to convey his technical actions.  Early readers have stated that it does get a little geeky but that they were able to stay involved with the story.  I guess I'll find out once the first story is released.

Making Progress

It has been a good week.  I completed the revision of Zegin's Infection from Debra's edit and critique.  I'm very pleased with the end result.  It has a smoother flow.  And the additional content helps to provide more of a background story and will lead to some interesting stories in the series.  

The next steps are to wait for Sean to finish the cover art, get the title placed on the cover, and then get it formatted for Amazon.  And to finish up the writing on "Zegin's Abduction" - the next story.

Stats for this past week are:

Klout Score: 46 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 916 (-38)
Twitter Followers: 613 (+112)
G+ Peeps Following: 209 (+10) 

My goal for Twitter is to have 1k followers by the time I release Zegin's Infection to Amazon.  That will be a nice round number for getting some statistics for Amazon sales.

Ongoing and Future Projects

Aside from the various story lines and adventures I have in mind for Zegin, I also have a full novel in the works.  I'm currently 5 chapters into "TransOp" - a near future story where corporations are the government and one company abuses their technological power to manipulate the general population.  And Steven Gould's new book "Impulse" arrived on my Kindle this week.  All I need is more time.  Cloning is out since my wife refuses to let me do it.

Keep reading.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ball Is In My Court


It was nice having some time the past few weeks to cough up a lung, sleep a lot, take lots of meds, and recover from a bad chest cold!  (Not)  As if the cold itself was not enough, I received the edits back from my editor.  Which actually, were quite good!  However, I just didn't feel like a rewrite and I reasoned that having a cold and a chemically induced stupor was not conductive for writing.  But now that I'm feeling much better I'm back on the court and swinging away.

Now that I have the edits back and I'm quite pleased with my editor, I think it's time to sing her praises.  I had spent almost a month putting the word out that I was looking for an editor for my first soon to be self published short story.  After receiving a few offers but not being pleased with the lack of experience in my target genre, I decided to seek out a recommendation from Steven Gould (Author of the book, Jumper).  Steven is one of my favorite authors but I had never been in touch with him before.  I found a "Contact Me" link on his site and I mentioned that I was looking for a good editor with experience in our genre.  Several weeks later I actually received a response and a recommendation to use Dr. Debra Doyle.  At around the same time, I received several recommendations from folks on the Absolute Write forums to use Dr. Doyle as well.  So, after some correspondence and a paypal payment, the Doctor started her work.  I'm very pleased with the edits and feedback that she provided.  She is very detailed but has great insight on the market and provided some kind, but spot on, recommendations.  So, now I'm editing and doing a bit of rewrite on the story.

A Picture is Worth...

The picture on the top right is the first concept sketch from the cover artist, Sean Hill.  Sean is a student of the International Academy of Design and Technology and was recommended to me by one of my co-workers.  The cover art work is progressing nicely and I'm looking forward to the final.  I'm quite pleased that he's one of those artists who is willing to get a lot of details on what is needed before starting the work and he's been great with asking for feedback during the process.

Social Marketing Progress

Klout Score: 45 (+1) Page Loads for the past month: 954 (-71)
Twitter Followers: 501 (+139)
G+ Peeps Following: 199 (+36)

The bulk of the growth has been on Twitter.  I'm amazed at the increase even though I haven been very active on the number of tweets I do.  I'm also finding twitter to be a great source of information for writing related sites.  However, at 500+ followers, I'm finding that watching the twitter feed is kind of like trying to drink from a garden hose.  To help, I'm using a product called YoruFukurou that I found on the Apple App Store.  I have no idea what the name means - a colorful metaphor? All I know is that it allows me to create columns that show tweets from a list of folks that I want to specifically follow.  Such as close friends, favorite authors, etc.  I've yet to find another twitter application that does this.

I'm also finding that I have to limit my time spent on twitter and Google Plus.  There is a ton of great content on the new G+ Communities.  But if I was to join every invitation sent to me I would have no time for writing, eating, or sleeping.  So I've kept it down to 6 communities - and I may be dropping a few of those in favor of focusing only on those that have the most impact on what I'm doing.

Wrap Up

Unfortunately, having a cold doesn't provide much opportunity for finding a humorous tidbit to share with you all.  Instead, I want to mention that Steven Gould has a new book out this week - Impulse!  It's a continuation in the Jumper series and I'm very excited about diving into it.  I highly recommend him as a writer.  And if you come across his book on the shelf in any bookstore, do me a favor and send him a twitter pic.  I'm sure he'll appreciate it.  He can be found at @stevengould

Thanks for reading folks.