Tag Archives: fiction

A different angle on editing

I’m down to the final reading of each manuscript. This is something I always do, but since I have three, there might be an option.

Today, I started out reading one chapter, then switching stories to do the same thing. Right now, I’m up to about seven on each story.

I did this, because when I get into the tale, I start enjoying it, then I miss things. I have no illusions about missing something. There’s always some stupid thing that gets published.

It honestly feels like it’s working better to do it this way. Doubt I’ll ever have three finished stories at the same time again, but this one time it feels right.

I’ve also decided I still have to do a final final reading only concentrate on one entire book. Maybe I made more work for myself, but if the product is some small degree better, it will be worth it.

I started watching The Last of Us on HBO last night. Pedro still has to impress me after that dismal Wonder Woman movie. Honestly, it doesn’t look like much goes into being The Mandalorian. That’s about my favorite thing of the last few years, but he’s a guy in a suit 99.9% of the time.

The girl from Game of Thrones is fun, but the one who died early on was, too. I am enjoying the settings. I can recognize some of the fungi that went into making them, like shelf mushrooms and slime molds.

I actually wrote slime molds into the SF book I’m editing right now. These things are cool, because they move, have a certain amount of memory, and a few other amazing things. I’m not creating zombies out of them, but modifying their genes to have them perform useful tasks, like identifying minefields.

The show makers seem to have done their research into fungi. They shouldn’t be completely bound by facts, and they aren’t, but it’s nice to see some of the small inclusions. Things like “root” systems that can cover miles. Some fungi could be the largest things on Earth if you consider acreage over weight.

Things otherwise are kind of boring. Work has been extreme and home feels like a food and sleep station around the office. Things seem to cycle like that, and I’m looking forward to a week where things dial back a little.

I might get another lap of editing this evening. Right now, I need the break, and might not return to it until Sunday.

Hope all of you are having a great weekend.

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Vacation’s over

This is it for my big vacation. Back to the office tomorrow to see how far behind I am. At least it was during the holidays, so it might not be so bad.

One of the things I really enjoyed was being a more frequent blogger. I like chatting with you guys and it’s a shame the workaday world changed my schedule so dramatically. I’ll probably be back to a weekly post in no time.

I added a ton of words to my remaining WIP. Today, Mari finally made it home to discover squatters on her farm. I’m this close to finishing this project, but it will have to wait until a weekend or two.

I scheduled my next Story Empire post for later this month. I managed to milk three posts from this topic and I hope you check out my Creature Feature posts.

I also hacked out and scheduled my 2023 business plan post. That one should go live sometime on Wednesday. I’ll handle comments before the commute, but won’t get back around to them until after work.

There are three books of edits, rereads, and modifications ahead of me now. Once this tale is finished, it might be months before I tackle a new draft.

I accomplished a lot during my time off. I managed a short but wonderful visit with my daughter. I took a brief nap nearly every day. We binge watched some good stuff on the streaming channels, and it’s hard to stop at this point.

Still, the actual paycheck covers the bills and it’s time to return to that world.

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2022. That’s a wrap.

It’s that time of year once more. This is the post nobody is looking for, but it always gets a lot of reaction. The 2022 wrap up leads into the 2023 business plan, which I generally hold until after all the New Year’s Resolutions quiet down.

I was surprised when I reviewed my 2022 business plan. Based upon the interferences with daily life, I determined to limit myself to two publications, both in The Hat Series. I vowed to take more time for myself and work on some things that weren’t in that series.

It appears I met my goals, but it doesn’t feel like it. I published the two stories. I worked on other materials, but not to the degree I intended to. I have that stand alone book getting close, and wrote another one in The Hat Series. It needs some sprucing up, and I’ll probably hold it back until I can release the solo title.

I haven’t produced another volume in the space trilogy, and frankly need a few more ideas than I have. Those usually come once I read through the first volume again. The second volume is where the villains make major moves and progress. They’re generally fun to write and read.

Right now, the stand-alone book is all I’m working on. I’m usually better with two at once, and one of those is usually part of my other series.

Right before my 2021 wrap up, my father passed away. Nothing like that this year, thank God. Still, life keeps throwing hard curves. I’m monitoring a health problem, and more. We had to have the roof replaced.

One of my 2022 goals was to take life as it came. To relax a bit more. Life came in the form of a failed roof and struggles in the workplace. Where was the relax part???

Story Empire remains very important to me. I covered all my posts and they seemed to have reasonable performance. I want to keep doing this, but am struggling with topics. After years of sharing over there I wonder how much more I have to offer. One of my colleagues suggested a kind of creature feature and I’m giving that some deep consideration. I have a post about witchcraft in mind, but debated sharing it on this site as part of some book promotion. Don’t have to worry about it for a couple of months.

As far as the author world goes, I met my goals. The last few years were kind of crappy all around, but I met my goals. I’ll have to set some for next year, but I’m still going to keep them realistic.

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Too many windows

I generally only have one or two windows open at a time. Recently, it’s gotten kind of crazy. I’m working on two manuscripts at once, so when I find something interesting or informative, I currently leave that window open. Beats adding a bunch of bookmarks when I only need them temporarily.

Let’s take a look at them, just for a laugh.

Entertaining Stories – you are here.

Facts about Potassium Iodide – used for radiation poisoning

Google window -for saltwater taffy

Recipe – for saltwater taffy – vehicle for Potassium Iodide

Google translate – for English to Spanish

Biography site – about a lady named Madeleine Mellinger. I was looking for a cool name, but I like the history, too. Probably just call mine Mad Mellinger. She could be a little mad.

Google Window – how to make kombucha

Site – what is a SCOBY

Google window – culturing beer yeast

Biology site – toad trilling sounds

Site – yeast ranching

Google window – mother of vinegar

Site – Eastern diamondback rattlesnake

As I use data from these sites, I will close the windows. At that point, I usually add notes to my cast of characters, that way I will have a smaller, more pertinent, line or two about the subject.

It’s too many windows, but I intend to close a few of them over the upcoming holiday weekend.

It might surprise some of you to find that speculative authors also do a ton of research. I reserve the right to change some of it up, but want to know the basics before I do.

How many windows do you currently have open?

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Not according to plan, but I’ll take it

Today might be my last flex day ever. I really wanted to make the pixels fly, and earmarked this time for Lizzie and the hat.

All I needed to do first was go back through Mari’s story for some quick changes. I wanted to add a few southernisms and some Spanish to my dialog. Little things like Miss Kililah, as opposed to just Kililah.

I wound up getting into the story as I edited, and added 3500 words to it. I got through a tropical storm, and the Voodoo scene I’ve been looking forward to. I did some research here, and think I stayed fairly true, but also made it work for the story.

Papa Legba is an entity who can speak every language. Extinct languages and even those that haven’t been created yet. He serves as a kind of broker between us and the Gods because we can’t speak their language. His favorite number is three. I used three old fashioned keys to a really cool effect. He loves black and red, so I covered an altar with deadly coral snakes. He also loves dogs, more on that in a couple of paragraphs.

It may seem like a neat thing, or even a handy tool for Mari, but it’s actually a major upgrade. We see a lot of heroes who can fly, are bulletproof, stretchy and bendy. This story doesn’t lend itself to that. How many heroes have you ever seen with an enhanced olfactory sense?

To expand on this, Mari rescued a black & tan coonhound. She’ll have to rescue her one more time, but I didn’t get that far. Here’s Mari, having lost her family, and suffered through a brutal gang rape. I gave her something adorable to grab onto. The fact that it’s a hound with a superior olfactory sense works wonders for me. It gives me some better bonding opportunities to work with as Mari learns her way around this unique skill.

I stopped right there and moved over to Lizzie’s story. I want to read what I have so far, and will focus on that before adding any new words. I still have hopes to move Goodbye Old Paint ahead before the weekend wraps up.

If I get anything done tomorrow, I’ll check in again.

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Reporting in today

Plans didn’t change, but nature dictates what I can do.

I actually wrote that one into The Midnight Rambler, and got the cover ordered. I plan on releasing this one for the Halloween reading season. It’s a hat story, and I’m excited to share it with everyone. I wasn’t going to talk about it today, but this song is invading my head right now.

While Lizzie and the hat are chasing the Midnight Rambler, there is a major flood event happening. Naturally, the band drifts into songs about rain.

It was raining when I woke up. It rained all day. We have a first-rate thunderstorm brewing out there right now. Safe to say, spraying my trees wasn’t on the agenda today.

I wound up starting with Mari, back in the swamp country. This involves a big portion of world building in a town called Columbia. This is based upon a nuclear submarine that washed miles inland during the big war. The reason this is a post apocalyptic world.

The end of the war involved nuclear weapons and the subsequent wave brought it to rest. The town built up around it, and some wise person used the reactor to provide electricity to the town. They boast it’s the only town with electric lights in the whole world.

This next section is going to be hard to write. I need some time to think it out, because Mari is going to get herself in trouble.

I switched back to Goodbye Old Paint. Lizzie is dealing with the FBI and the file they have on her activity. I have some real problems in store for her, too. I need to get things moving and this always takes a bit of dabbling. Lizzie’s problems will be more humorous, while Mari’s are pretty serious.

Lizzie is sorting things out from the end of Midnight Rambler, like FEMA benefits. I swear this will still work as a stand alone.

I need to get her to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to see her problem first-hand. It’s going to be something she and the hat are ill equipped to handle. (Still coming up with things the hat can call this agency that are incorrect.)

Still, I added words to both stories. I’ll probably stick with Lizzie and the hat tomorrow. Assuming it’s still going to be raining. If the weather breaks, I may actually spray my trees.

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Assessing my promo

I’ve done an Amazon free day many times over the years. They used to work pretty well, then stopped being productive.

Back in the day, when Panama was a fairly new publication, I managed to hand out over 400 copies. After that, they seemed to taper off. Future attempts even had me paying for a bit of advertising and boosting posts on Facebook to help things along. Those netted me numbers around 40 – not 400.

I gave up on free days because of this. Any I held after that were more in support of something else I had going on. Meaning if I had a Halloween tour happening, I might have a free-day for The Playground, something along those lines.

I’ve been pretty “In your face” about my interview on Blog Talk Radio this week. I decided to set up my free days based upon my historic experience. Something to reward those who tuned in, maybe give away a dozen books. I never did a lick of promo other than a mention on this site.

I was kind of blown away by the result this time. I chose to have free days for Grinders, because I think it’s one of my best and deserved a bit more love. I also went with Serang. It’s a good story, and it’s also a stepping stone into The Lanternfish Trilogy. This idea stemmed from the idea that the final Lanternfish book will come out this year.

Now that it’s all over, I want to share the results with you. Maybe this is an anomaly, and maybe things have changed on the promo front. If you have deeper knowledge of this, I’d like to hear from you. Any readers might be interested in your comments, too.

The promo ran for three days. This was to take advantage of Fresh Ink Group’s advance promotion of the show, and to gather those who might have tuned-in the day after.

I managed to give away 1,646 books. Now that’s two titles combined, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. If I had sold that many it would cover the mortgage and Old What’s Her Face’s car payment this month.

The dream with freebies is that people will read them. I’ve found that comes to about 10% or even less. Even so, 165 readers can do nothing but help me. Of those I might net a dozen reviews. The other dream is that people enjoyed the stories and take a chance on additional titles.

Keep in mind that Amazon has a bestseller list for free titles. It probably doesn’t mean as much as the paid lists, but it always feels good to see your name on there. Serang peaked at #2 on two different lists.

Grinders actually hit number one for a while yesterday. Here’s the proof.

Okay, Urban Fiction is an odd place to put it. It hit #2 in cyberpunk. Still, we authors tend to work alone and haunt these sites looking for good news. Some days, even I get lucky.

You can still read them for free with Amazon Prime.

Rumor is, this kind of thing will spill over into sales. That remains to be seen. The giveaway ended a few hours ago, but I’ve already sold three copies of Grinders. (One of which immediately returned it for a refund.) I have no idea how to take that one.

Still, I’m happy. I failed to do anything productive yesterday and just allowed myself to enjoy it. I’m also motivated to keep going, and maybe one day I’ll see one of my titles take the top slot on the paid lists.

I’m a firm believer that the indie author group should share. I’ve shared results from almost everything I’ve done on the promo front. That includes some less successful pushes. Maybe someone out there can strike while the iron is hot. Maybe one of you holds some great secret you can share in the comments. We’d all like to know, and maybe we can all benefit.

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Murder They Wrote #Anthology #Murder

I’m visiting with Gwen Plano today. The topic is the anthology I contributed to, and my character, Jason Fogg. Stop over and meet this amazing author.

Summer is slowly slipping away, but at least in the Midwest, family pools still offer a welcomed escape from the heat. If you’re searching for a good poolside book, I have one for you. It is a collection of short stories by seven writers, each using a different genre for their story. Murder They Wrote features award-winning authors and edge-of-the-seat dramas.

One of the writers, C.S. Boyack, is a friend from Idaho. His stories always bring a smile, because in his paranormal world, anything is possible. Even unlikely creatures such as a yak, speak. Really? Yes, really. And, to top it off, he writes great stories. Craig visits with us today to tell us about the anthology. Let’s see what he has to say.​


Thanks, Gwen. I believe this is my first appearance here, and I’m excited about it. My door is always open to you if you ever want to spread the word about one of your projects.

​Today, my topic is an anthology called Murder They Wrote. Seven fabulous authors contributed a short story, and I’m honored to stand among them. Keep reading here.

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Welcome John Howell #NewBook

Let’s all welcome John Howell to the blog today. John is a fabulous author, one of my fellows over at Story Empire, and one of my first blogging friends. John has always been a big supporter of the indie community, including my work. Let’s make him feel welcome by using those sharing buttons. If you’ve even had your work featured here, John did it for you. Welcome John:

New Book Launch – Eternal Road – The final stop.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Craig, and thank you for helping me launch this book. You have a unique and fun storytelling style and I am grateful to be here. Speaking of the book, let me describe it. Eternal Road is the story of two people finding their way through the selection process leading to the place where one will spend eternity. Yes, it is true. They both have passed away. James Wainwright just died in an auto accident. Samantha Tourneau died seventeen years before. Sam is James’s guide to help him decide where to spend eternity. This is not your usual thriller or paranormal romance. It is a piece of fiction that is a combination of inspiration, adventure, time travel, sci-fi, a touch of erotica, and a dash of spiritual. In short, it is a lot of things, but hopefully, a story that will make you happy to have read it.

It is now available on Amazon in paper and Kindle. The Kindle edition is introductory priced at 99¢ until October 15th

Here is the universal link

Kindle

Paper

The blurb

James Wainwright picks up a hitchhiker and discovers two things 1. The woman he picks up is his childhood sweetheart, only Seventeen years older. 2. He is no longer of this world.

James began a road trip alone in his 1956 Oldsmobile. He stops for a hitchhiker only to discover she is his childhood sweetheart, Sam, who disappeared seventeen years before. James learns from Sam falling asleep miles back caused him to perish in a one-car accident. He also comes to understand that Sam was taken and murdered all those years ago, and now she has come back to help him find his eternal home.

The pair visit a number of times and places and are witness to a number of historical events. The rules dictate that they do no harm to the time continuum. Trying to be careful, they inadvertently come to the attention of Lucifer, who would love to have their souls as his subjects. They also find a threat to human survival and desperately need to put in place the fix necessary to save humankind.

The question becomes, will James find his eternal home in grace or lose the battle with Satan for his immortal soul and the future of human life with it? If you like time-travel, adventure, mystery, justice, and the supernatural, this story is for you.

An Excerpt

James eases the 1956 Oldsmobile sedan to the shoulder and can’t help kicking up some dust in the process. The sign is facing him even as the person turns away to avoid the dust storm he has created. Kansas City in black marker on cardboard is all it says.

He opens the passenger door and waves her over. “I’m going to Kansas City. Want a ride?”

The young woman looks back at him, and he can tell she is doing an evaluation of the safety prospects of accepting a lift. She slowly hoists her backpack on to her shoulder and walks with hesitant steps toward the car. She puts her hand above her eyes to cut the glare of the sun and stops short of the door. She leans in. “Did you say you’re going to Kansas City?”

“Yes. Yes, I did. I also asked if you would like a ride.”

“That all depends on your intentions?”

“My intentions?”

“Yeah. You are offering a ride. How much will it cost me?”

“Cost you? I’m going to Kansas City. Your sign says Kansas City. Why would it cost you anything?”

“Just want to make sure is all.”

“No charge. I’ve been on the road forever, it seems, and I would welcome the company. My name is James.”

“Sorry, James. I know I sounded a little ungrateful, but I have also been on the road and have met several guys that think I owe them something for a ride.”

“I can understand that. Let’s just say you can ride or not. It’s your choice. No other decisions to be made.”

“Fair enough. I accept your offer. My name is Samantha.” She slides in and slams the door.

“Nice to meet you, Samantha. You want to put your backpack in the rear?”

“No, I’ll just keep it here in the front with me. You can never tell.”

“Tell what?”

The trailer

John’s bio

John is an award-winning author who, after an extensive business career, began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written five other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. The paperback versions are also available in the Indie Lector store

John lives in Lakeway, Texas, with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Contact John

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

John’s other books

 

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We interrupt this blog tour…

I’m supposed to be promoting the heck out of HMS Lanternfish, my new book baby. I’ve done it all week, but it’s the weekend now. Since the free days for Voyage of the Lanternfish have lapsed, I’m going to tone the tour down to a couple of days per week.

Today, still finds me promoting to a certain degree, but stick with me, because I think it’s interesting.

Once Upon at Time (2019) I wrote a book called Grinders. This is a cyberpunk tale about Earth’s near future. I published it on February 18, 2020. Most of my followers understand the writing process, and most of this was a project dating back to the summer of 2019.

Check the publication date once more: February 18, 2020. This was before the world went to crap and everything became one massive upheaval. Some of what I’m about to share with you kind of freaks me out, even though I should feel somewhat justified.

Part of writing in the near-future involves making some guesses at the changes that might happen between now and then. I really put my effort into the world building here.

Since I’ve published, COVID-19 has changed our world, but there have been many changes aside from that.

I wrote about cyber-shut-ins in the book. This was based on the ability to work from home, and have virtually everything delivered, including groceries. We’re already living in that world mere months after I published. I made quite a few projections about things like Alexa and how artificial intelligence would improve over time. These haven’t come true, but I almost think it’s inevitable.

I’m a big believer that history repeats itself, and I’ve seen it too many times to think otherwise. I knew that historically there were many kinds of currency in the United States. This could be anything from Army scrip to company dollars that you could only spend in the company town at the company store. This was a way for big businesses to create a captive labor force, because they couldn’t afford to leave the coal mining community, for example.

I took part of this concept and projected it into cyber-currency. Many cities in Grinders have their own cyber-currency and this led to an active exchange business where executives can work from home as modern-day money changers.

This week, I found a news article involving local currency. It appears one small town in Washington is going back to something they did during the Great Depression. They are printing their own local money to help people get through the C-19 crisis. This money can be spent all over town, and is somehow redeemable for US currency eventually.

This will provide the locals a way to keep the wolf away for now, but it also traps them into shopping local. That helps the local businesses stay afloat, because places like Amazon aren’t going to accept this local currency. You can’t drive down the coast and spend it either.

I see it as one more step toward the world of Grinders. Check out the article here.

I also projected what global warming might do to us a hundred years down the line. The temperature belts have drifted away from the equator. My story is set in San Francisco, which is almost sub tropical now. It still has its cold snaps, but the weather patterns are different.

The seas have risen, and the entire coastline has been changed. Some of the original buildings still stand slightly offshore. These have been modified to allow occupancy of units that are below the waves. You might stumble across Telegraph Island if you’re reading the story. This doesn’t exist today, but could if things keep changing.

Then I found a recent news article. The last Canadian ice shelf has broken up. Read that again. The LAST Canadian ice shelf has broken up. There is a chunk of ice floating around now that is bigger than Manhattan. The article says it will melt rapidly now that it’s surrounded by sea water. Here is the link if you’re interested.

I don’t have links for other articles (sorry) but this has been happening in Antarctica, too. The point is that when all this ice melts, the seas are going to rise. Some of this has been predicted for a long time, but I never actually thought I might see it in my lifetime.

One of the things they’ve predicted is that the Pacific will get the worst of it. There is more melting ice at that tip of the South Pole. Maybe the California Coast will wind up like I predicted.

There are a couple of scenes in the book with holographic projections, even one involving a doctor. Is this so far removed from the tele-medicine we have making headway in the country?

Since all of this seems to be happening now, maybe someone will get to work on some of the good things in the story, like The Grid. A programable surface on the street that pairs with automobiles and drives them for us. No more traffic, because it handles all the cars at once. Oh, it also generates electricity as a kind of solar panel system.

If Grinders sounds like something you might like to check out, I would really appreciate it. I’ll drop a cover and blurb while I’m at it.

We will return to our regularly scheduled blog tour next week.

Blurb:

Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with a veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

Don’t forget you can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Purchase link: http://mybook.to/Grinders

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