Oh, Hello Blog!

I’ve been away from this blog for a long spat of time. I really can’t remember when I stopped posting. Checks logs. Oh, last time I posted was on my birthday back in September. Well, high time I posted again, or the internet might revoke my domain or something.

I finished writing my latest mystery novel and it’s out to Beta Readers at the moment. So far they are loving it and I will soon be cleaning up the manuscript and sending it off to my editor. I’m not sure that I will self publish this one. I have totally failed to succeed with the first mystery, Null Pointer. So I’ve started taking it out of online stores. If you still want it, get it ASAP. I’m thinking come Christmas, it will be gone. The reason I’m taking it down is that I plan on sending the second mystery to an agent. It’s the second book of a six book series, so I’m hoping to sell it as a series. Anyway, sometime early next year I’ll be sending it to agents who work with mysteries and sci-fi.

Because, I also have a stand alone sci-fi novel that is nearly ready to be edited too. If I can snag an agent for the mystery, I’m hoping they will at least consider the sci-fi manuscript. Anyway, all that will be going on in the next few months behind the scenes. Meanwhile, I have a couple of series that I need to get back to.

First up is book 4 of the Starship Series which will be called Destroyer, Declo Demons. Follow Captain Armon Vance and his Destroyer crew into a seven planet star system in search of Trin Lestor. This is the first of the middle trilogy books and I hope to have it out in the Spring. The other book that I will write next year is Book 5 of the Star Saga – XiniX. I know, I’ve been talking about that one for a while. 2020 will be the year it gets written. Unless of course I sell a mystery series and suddenly have to write four more Joshua Jones novels. ;-)

I tried to make the writing of the Destroyer novella live on Google Docs, but I didn’t get the impression anyone cared. So I’ve taken it off line and loaded it into StoryShop. Not sure if I’ll like writing in this on-line IDE, but I’ll give it a go with that book. I do like the casting ability of this tool which lets you create character bios and pictures of your characters.

As for me personally, Fall is here and I’m still out there running three times a week and lifting in my garage and eating as best as I can. So my health is good physically. My mental health is being treated with books and less and less TV News. It’s the only way I can make it through this long National Nightmare. I’ve read far more books this year, than I have in a long time. Unfortunately, most of them are non-fiction books about politics and science. But the political books are nearly done and the science books will take over. In between them, I’m hoping to get back into more fiction. Both SF and mystery.

My trusty System76 laptop is still going strong, but will soon be retired from book writing. I’m passing it down to my son who will use it to write programs and web applications. Meanwhile, my primary writing laptop will be an HP Spectre x360. It just won’t run a crap OS. It will be running stock Ubuntu. ;-) As many of you may know, I write primarily on my lunch hour at work. My employer has mandated that we only use HP laptops while at work, so I’m towing the line. Luckily, HP makes some bad-ass laptops and I’ll be driving a pretty cool one. Here’s a picture of one, below.

 

That should get you up to speed regarding me and my writing. Next post I’ll let you know some of the books I’ve read this year and why I recommend them.

 

 

 

What’s Coming Next

With the release of the third Corvette starship novella coming in just a few short weeks, I thought I’d take a moment to let you know what’s coming up next. The Corvette Trilogy is just the first of three planned trilogies with the same main character – Armon Vance. His story started with Corvette, then advanced with Corvette: Seer of the Black Star and finishes with Corvette: Pirate’s Lair.

          

The next book I will write for this series will be called – Destroyer: Declo Demons. Look for it in the Spring of 2019. Following along on the heels of that will be book 2, Destroyer: The Mutineers, which should ship for Christmas in 2019. The trilogy will finish in the Spring of 2020 with Destroyer: Letting Go. The Destroyer Trilogy will be darker and all the books will take place in a single system with seven habitable worlds, none of which are in the Federation.

I have one final starship trilogy planned. It will be called the Explorer Trilogy. The names of those books are still subject to change, but chronologically speaking, will end with the events that take place in Starforgers, Book One of the Star Saga. That will complete the Captain Vance starship series and take you right into the Star Saga.

Speaking of the Star Saga, I need to get back into that middle trilogy starting with Book 5 – XiniX. The Starstrikers trilogy will continue in parallel with the Starship Series. After XiniX comes out, there will be a novella – Dark Wind, followed by the final book in that trilogy: Nex Gen. Now the Star Saga books take longer to write because they are closer to 300 pages long and usually have more involved plots. So it’s going to take me longer to write them. But when the Starstriker Trilogy is over, it will have three novels and two novellas, just like the Starforgers Trilogy.

Needless to say, my lunchtime writing sprints are spoken for well into the near future. I should continue to have two books come out every year for the next decade or so.

 

Writing Update

Corvette 3, Pirate’s Lair is heading out to Beta Readers and will then go to my Editor. I’m hoping to have it out in ebook format in May. I still have to make a cover for it. At this late date, I have no idea what that cover will look like. I think it will be orange titles and mostly blue nebula. Probably have some “laser beams” on it because, hell yeah, lasers!

Meanwhile I’m well into my next Mystery novel written under my alter ego’s name, Johnny Batch. It’s called Kill Dash Nine and I hope to have it out before Christmas of this year. So if you’re one of the one percent my readers who have read Null Pointer and are still waiting for another Joshua Jones mystery, this is your year.

So what’s on tap after I finish KD9? I had planned to dive into the fifth Star Saga novel – XiniX. But looking at my book sales numbers tells me I need to keep writing Corvette books like there’s no tomorrow. I’m selling far and away more copies of them than any of the Star Saga books. So XiniX is going to the back burner for a while. I’ll probably start writing the first of a trilogy called Destroyer using the same characters from Corvette trilogy. I’d like to plan out all three books and then start writing the first one in the fall of this year.

So in 2018 you will get the third Corvette novella and a new Mystery novel. Next year you’ll probably get two new Destroyer books. I have three novella trilogies with the same cast from Corvette. The ninth novella in that series will end right before the events in Starforgers, Book 1 of the Star Saga. If I continue with at least two novellas per year, then in 2021 I’ll finally be working on XiniX.

That’s all for now. I’ll try and do another post before the end of the year.

 

2017 Book Sales

Last year I made over $18,000 US dollars selling my Sci-Fi novels on Amazon. At first glance that sounds AMAZE BALLS. But in reality, it’s just a blip on the radar for a ten year career writing and selling genre novels. Most years I’m lucky to make a couple of hundred dollars. In fact in 2016 I made $200 for the year. Not even enough to tell the IRS about. That’s pretty sad. I have 12 novels in my back list but when nobody knows who you are, they don’t sell.

Before last year my biggest success came with my first novel, Starstrikers. It earned about $3,000 US when it came out. Sales climbed and then fell in the classic three month bell curve and then I was back to nothing for the better part of a decade. Back then, I didn’t have a back list so folks read Starstrikers and then had nothing else to purchase. My next novel didn’t come out for another year and then I published at least one per year since. But nobody who purchased Starstrikers knew about the new books and so I had no sales to speak of. For a decade. That’s ten years of writing and publishing in a complete vacuum.

Then last year I put out a novella called Corvette that I hoped would attract people to my Sci-Fi series. I wrote it to market, using standard tropes and what do you know, it took off! Only this time I was ready with a twelve book back list. Readers who enjoyed the novella, did eventually try the series and my sales continued to jug along at a decent clip after the initial bell curve. By the end of the year I was making about $400 US per month.

So far in 2018, one month in, I’m making about half of that per month. If the trend continues, I’ll be making next to nothing in a few months. So much for the back list.

Cheered on by the success of the novella, I wrote a sequel and published it over the holidays. Nothing. No interest at all. Sales are flat. But I continue to write the third book to finish out the trilogy. It is doubtful that I will write any more books related to Corvette, even though I have plans for at least nine total. Book 3 will drop this Spring and then I’m back to my original series.

In all likelihood, I will continue to write at least two books a year until the series is complete. I don’t write to become rich and famous. I write because I have to. I’m sane when I write. But most of all I write because it’s fun. When the fun subsides, I’m likely to stop writing.

In 2018 I will write two books. One is Book 5 of my Star Saga and the other will be a sequel to my Mystery novel, Null Pointer. Next year I plan to write Book 6 of the Star Saga and probably a vampire novel. Just because.

Below are the numbers from 2017 per book.

These are my numbers from 2016.

Time Lapse Book Writing

On Jan 3 of this year I took a picture of my watch and the lower corner of my Write screen that showed my word count. I did it again after my next writing session and kept it up for the entire month. Everyday that I write on my novella at lunch, I document it with a similar picture. Boring, right? Perhaps. Perhaps not. If you enjoy watches, you might find it interesting to see which of my watches I’ve worn or which band decorates it. Others might find inspiration in my word count or my ever increasing page count.

Either way, I’m still taking pictures after I write and posting them in this Google photo album. A time lapse recording of the writing of a novella. Or perhaps just the last half of one.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/FkF6qESZi5oulC5G2 

My Thoughts on The Last Jedi, Part 1

There’s much to love about the new Star Wars chapter – The Last Jedi. But before I post what I liked about it, I need to address the problems I have with the story. The film succeeds on many levels and has more going for it than just about any other SW film to date. However, in my writer’s mind, they botched the middle and the ending.

The middle is too long and the whole journey of Finn and Rose is largely just a political statement about how bad the one percent are. Politics aside, you can accomplish the same character arcs and the same plot points in less than half the time by just having them find the code breaker and leave – quickly. It would also help the time constraint that was created by having the Fleet stay out of range of bad guys. Because I for one started thinking about the Fleet when I was supposed to be feeling sympathy for wonder horses and slave kids. It would be even better if they found JD on another Resistance starship in the Fleet.

But what about the slave kids and the Walt Disney ending with Tinker Bell? Not needed. This is the middle film of a trilogy. It’s supposed to be a downer and you need to save the warm fuzzy hopeful message for Episode IX. This film subverts the audience’s expectations in many ways and I agree with all of them, but it does not need to offer much in the way of a happy ending or hope. It already has a Rey of hope and it botched her journey in the ending.

The second big problem is General Leia and Admiral Holdo. Their roles needed to be reversed. Leia should have been the one to drive the ship into the enemy super star destroyer. This act of bravery would have saved the Resistance and brought Luke back to the fight and his heroic ending. It would have left the Resistance with a new leader in Holdo and it would have been a great send off for both of the remaining original characters. Again, reinforcing the theme and providing an emotional punch that the film lacks in the third act. Also, given the unfortunate passing of Carrie Fisher, I know I would have been weeping if she had actually died in the film.

Now back to Rey. Just like in the film, after she escapes from Kylo, the movie pretty much forgets her. We don’t see her dealing with what Kylo told her about her family – the fact that she’s alone and not related to the Skywalkers. We need to see our heroine come to terms with that and that scene should provide the Rey of hope we need that the Resistance will survive. She needs to team up with Holdo and Poe and they need to pledge to rebuild the Resistance to honor what Luke and Leia died for. That’s your hopeful ending. Not some space kid who nobody cares about. As it plays now, I really don’t care what happens in the next film. I needed that final emotional scene where the Resistance leaders are inspired to make a come-back.

I waited to post this until hearing the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, because I hoped that they would come to the same conclusion as I did. They did. Go listen to it, well done them.

 

Inspirations – Marty Robbins

A few years ago I wrote a bunch of short stories about a Stellar Ranger company stationed on a small, desert world named Ocherva. Those stories eventually culminated in book one of the Star Saga – Starforgers. The western style hero of my stories was a blonde woman named Devon Ardel. Devon went on to become the central character in the first three Star Saga novels and a huge reader favorite.

But she was born from a long and masculine tradition of the American cowboy and more specifically the Texas Rangers. Pictured above are some actual Rangers posing with their weapons. Pretty much the quintessential western bad asses. So I created the Stellar Rangers in their image. But in my research about the west and lawmen I came across a 1950’s album called Gunfighter Ballads by Marty Robbins.

I loved the gunslinger pose Robbins did for the album cover and specifically I liked the flat brimmed hat he wore. That became the look of my my Stellar Rangers. As I listened to the album I quickly became a fan of Marty’s music. Some of my short stories make references to songs on that album that probably only a Marty Robbins fan would pick up on.

I’m not a fan of today’s Country music but I really enjoy these Western songs from the 1950’s. If you’ve never listened to this album you owe it to yourself to give it a spin. Great stuff and great musical story telling by Marty Robbins.

 

The Corvette Trilogy

When I set out to write the Corvette novella I specifically designed it to appeal to a certain type of reader and for the most part, that reader type responded and made it my most popular novel to date. I also intended it to guide new readers to my Star Saga series which it has, quite nicely. I didn’t expect it to do quite as well as it has, but now that fans have found it, they deserve more stories about the crew of the oldest corvette.

I spent the early spring months of this year brainstorming about where to take the crew next and what kind of stories to tell. I went off on a tangent that I thought would have been awesome and then realized that the readers of Corvette, probably wouldn’t accept what I was writing. So I stopped and recast and re-plotted the story into what you can read today as Seer of the Black Star.

It’s hard to talk about the new book without triggering spoiler alerts, so I’ll talk about it from a 30,000 foot vantage point. The big picture. I decided to make the Corvette books a trilogy in the classical sense and to loosely follow the career of Commander Vance. There is one year between each book of the trilogy and the over-all character arc concerns how Vance adapts to being a captain and handles some difficult crew issues and tough villains. If the trilogy continues to sell well and there’s a market for more books about Vance, I will continue his story as a Destroyer captain in a second trilogy. There is a very definite finale in mind to Vance’s character arc and hopefully readers will get to that point.

In Seer of the Black Star we start to see how a respected loyal crew member can go rogue and leave the Fleet. In many ways Vance takes that personally as he is involved with that crew member. But it is more than just a strained relationship story. There are rises and falls in many of the minor character arcs in this trilogy. As for Commander Vance himself, his career will take its own path and it’s not always going to be the proper one. I hope you come along for the ride. It’s going to be fun.

Readers’ Favorites

  

Last year my novella, Devon’s Blade received a Five Star review from Reader’s Favorite. This year my novella, Corvette, won Silver Award and received a Five Star review from Reader’s Favorite. Both of these stories are Military Sci-Fi and feature my style of realistic story telling coupled with characters that you want to root for. Both of them are also small stories that focus on a small portion of a larger conflict. Devon’s Blade is a classic air combat tale and Corvette is an old Naval tale re-imagined in the genre of Sci-Fi.

Both of these novellas have inspired a loyal following from readers, Corvette in particular really took off on Amazon and sold enough copies to garner me entry into SFWA in a single month. Corvette continues to sell better that any other book I’ve written and it’s success has been good for my back list.  It’s good to get some recognition bling for it now.

I’m currently editing the second Corvette book and writing the third one. Look for those ebooks to hit Amazon starting next month for book 2 and possibly book 3 by December.

 

 

Book Series Issues

I’m having quite the time figuring out the branding of my Sci-Fi universe. For the past few years I’ve been calling it the Star Saga, which is accurate in that the whole series follows multiple generations spread out over a thousand years, but doesn’t make it easy for the reader to understand. So I’m reorganizing the books once again for clarity.

This is part of branding my fiction and plays into how it gets advertised to readers. If the reader comes across one of my books I want her to know where that book fits into big picture and where to find the next book so she can continue the story. This is no easy task when confronted with the Star Saga. It was previously divided into three trilogies and then each of those trilogies became five books long, which technically means they are no longer trilogies. Then I added some short story anthologies to the mix and finally, a prequel series revolving around a single starship and its crew. The end result was mass confusion.

I’ve given up on the whole trilogy moniker and instead will start using “series”. So the Star Saga now contains four series each in a different time period and with a mostly different cast of characters. The next problem becomes what to number them. Some of the books are full on novels and some are novellas and the novellas come in between the novels. Currently the plan is to just number them in time order, regardless of whether they are novels or novellas. This will suggest reading order and when done, each series will be just five books long.

But what happens if I write another cool novella set in the middle somewhere? Then you can’t just redo all the book covers in the series. Do I say Book 2.5 in the series? Then later I write another related novella and call it 2.1 and that one comes before 2.5? So I think I’ll only number the main trilogy of three books. That’s the main arc of the story and the lead characters. The novellas are fillers and smaller tales so they won’t get a number but they will be in a specific order that will be listed in this read order list. This lets me come back to the series and write another Devon Ardel novella that takes place before Devon’s Blade or After The Rising and as long as this one page is updated the reader will know the time order of the book.

Below is the latest incarnation of the Star Saga broken down into four series. I will put a page that shows this breakdown in every book going forward and hopefully by next year they will all have it and possibly a galaxy map. Although that has yet to be commissioned.

 

The Star Saga

Starship Series

Corvette (Starship Series, Book 1)

Seer of the Black Star (Starship Series, Book 2)

Pirate’s Lair (Starship Series, Book 3)

(30 Years)

Starforgers Series

Tales From Ocherva, Vol 1 (Starforgers Series)

Starforgers (Starforgers Series, Book 1)

Devon’s Blade (Starforgers Series)

The Rising (Starforgers Series, Book 2)

The Blood Empress (Starforgers Series)

Counterattack (Starforgers Series, Book 3)

(500 Years)

Starstrikers Series

Trader Tales, Vol 1 (Starstrikers Series)

Starstrikers (Starstrikers Series, Book 1)

K’Nat Trap (Starstrikers Series)

XiniX (Starstrikers Series, Book 2)

Dark Wind (Starstrikers Series)

NexGen (Starstrikers Series, Book 3)

(500 Years)

Starveyors Series

Anthology to be Named Later, Vol 1 (Starveyors Series)

Starveyors (Starveyors Series, Book 1)

OPFOR Vikens (The Starveyors Series)

Tripartite (Starveyors Series, Book 2)

Nor Alien I (The Starveyors Series)

Ancestors (Starveyors Series, Book 3)