Short Stories Now On Kobo

Are you a fan of short fiction? Did you read the Star Saga books and wish there were more stories set in that universe? Really? Wow, I thought only I wanted that. Cool. Well, if you want more Devon Ardel, Red Allen and Thirty-seven, you’re in luck. Just head on over to your phone’s app store and get the Kobo ebook app. Then you can start downloading ebooks of all my short stories set in the Star Saga universe. Kobo is the exclusive publisher for my short fiction. You can’t get these stories on Amazon or anywhere else in ebook format.

Each short story ebook will set you back a whole US dollar! So choose wisely. Collect them all for hours of reading adventure.

There are eleven individual shorts and one anthology – Tales From Ocherva, that contains many of them. I’ll be adding more stories soon, and from now on when I write a new short story, they will appear on Kobo, and nowhere else!

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.


New Covers for Short Stories

I’ve been spending some time fixing up the ebook versions of my short stories this weekend. I only managed to finish four of them and upload them to Amazon. You should see the new covers appear early next week for them. While I’m in there fixing up things, I’m also turning off Kindle Select on all of them. It looks like come August, I’ll be able to move these stories to Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Kobo’s reader. This will increase my product catalog by 12 titles.

OchervaShortStory      RedAllenShortStory

SlagShortStory      TinStarShortStory


As well as putting new images on the covers, I’ve made the “spine” text reflect the correct Star Saga universe. This should lead to much less confusion in the market place. I’ve left the same marble background for these spines, to show that they are from the Starforgers Era. I really don’t think anyone notices these things, but I do. So far I’ve managed to use stock images and do very limited Gimping to them.


What’s a Silicant?

In my Space Opera series of novels and short stories I write about androids quite a bit. If you enjoy that sort of Asimovian exploration of what would happen if androids became sentient, you will certainly like my stories.

I have many characters who are androids. Some of them are good and some of them are morally ambiguous. Not particularly evil, just not as morally absolute. Giving androids human-like emotions and watching how they deal with them is a staple of the genre. The best place to start reading my android stories is to pick up my Kindle short story: Slag.  The story is an origin one for Eighty-eight, a character who reappears throughout my entire series of novels and shorts.

Eighty-eight is a black android who awakens on a barren, dessert world and has no idea how he got there or what happened to him. As he soon discovers, he has undergone an upgrade or modification that removes the built-in barriers he’s always had on killing. This disturbs it enough that it kidnaps a programmer and forces him to find out what has been changed to allow a normal android to kill. Or of course, Eighty-eight will kill the programmer. Talk about some motivation.

If you read the short stories in the order I spell out here, you will get more insight into their actions in the novels. Eighty-eight becomes a mentor to another android character who is owned by a Stellar Ranger named Devon Ardel. The early short stories in the anthology, Tales From Ocherva, Volume One, are principally about Devon’s Rangers and her android, Thirty-seven.

When a normal android receives a special hardware upgrade that includes a new silicate chip made from the minerals from the desert moon, Ocherva, they become sentient. Thirty-seven receives this upgrade from Eighty-eight in the short story, Silicant’s Only. Subsequent stories are about how Thirty-seven handles the upgrade. Both Silicants are featured in Starforgers, the first book of the Star Trilogy.

The Silicants rebel against their human creators and how the humans handle this rebellion is the subject of future novels. Specifically, The Rising and XiniX are about the rebellion and what happens to the Silicants after their human masters send them away. If you are reading the books in the Star Trilogy you may wonder where all the android/Silicant characters are at in Starstrikers. Well, they were banished from Alliance space while the Alliance concentrated on fighting the Great War with the Votainion Empire.

Most all the Silicants characters from Starforgers return in the final book of the trilogy – Starveyors.  But after nearly a thousand years of being on their own, the Silicants have evolved. They are their own unique life form now and their technology has far eclipsed their creator’s abilities. Starveyors is about how the Great War ends and attempts to explain many questions that are raised in Starforgers.  I hope you will return with me to the Star Trilogy this fall when the final book is released. You won’t be disappointed.

The Renoke

The Renoke was my first short story sale to an online magazine. It’s a Shaggy Dog story where the payoff is in the punchline at the end. I didn’t realize that was what I had written until someone mentioned it much later. It’s one of my favorite stories and one that really stretched my boundaries as a SF writer.

The ship, Renoke and the main character, Joule Rouse were featured in the very first short film my buddies and I shot in Super-8 back in 1979. That was also my film debut as I had a staring role playing Joules Rouse, a smuggler. What? You never saw the film Renegade? That’s probably a good thing.

(Click to Enlarge)

I saved the models we built for the film and the one above is the Renoke starship. Built from poster board, Elmer’s School Glue and little bits of plastic models. Old school modeling man! It’s still one of my favorite starships. Designed and built by Ed Halbig and painted by myself.

You  can get it free this week on Kindle.

Free Short Story on Kindle

You may or may not be aware that I sometimes dabble in the Mystery genre. Today and tomorrow you can sample that side of me, as written under my pen name – Johnny Batch; by getting The Safe Cracker for free on Kindle. The story features Detective Bill Plait from my novel, Null Pointer.

This is a gritty, crime drama about a man who breaks into safes legitimately who gets drawn into a deadly robbery scheme by a sexy woman and her wacked out crew of misfits.  The story was inspired by a good friend of mine who is a real safe cracker. I was so fascinated by his tools and abilities I created this fictional account of someone who opens safes for frustrated owners who have forgotten their combinations.

If you like crime stories, you’ll enjoy The Safe Cracker. If you want to read more please check out Null Pointer, a novel about a programmer turned amateur sleuth. Now only .99 cents in the Kindle store!

Interconnected Stories Problem

remember to thank all the books you haven't read over the past three years

Natalia Osiatynska via Compfight

For the past few months my Star Trilogy novels have been selling pretty steady. Nothing to get all excited about, but nothing to sneeze at either. At the same time, free downloads of short stories set in the same universe are dwindling. One would expect a bit of trickle down from those getting the novels, once they realize that there is the equivalent of another whole novel in the dozen or so short stories that I have available on Kindle right now. But that’s not happening.

I can only assume one of two things is going on. First, people buying the novels are not reading them, and therefore not coming back for anything else I’ve written. A distinct and likely possibility. Second, they are reading the Trilogy books and not realizing there are more stories set in the same universe. I have no idea which is happening or whether it’s a bit a both.

I think if you spend more than a minute clicking on the pages of this website you will quickly realize that I have a ton of short stories and an anthology all set in the same universe as the Star Trilogy. But readers are somehow not making that connection. They are also not buying Tyrmia, one of the best novels I’ve written and also set in the Star Trilogy. Somehow I am completely failing these readers who may want more of my stories but are possibly just waiting for me to complete the third novel of the Star Trilogy.

I’ve taken great pains to fill out my universe with many different short stories and all my novels are related to each other, not just the Star Trilogy ones. In fact if you have read Starforgers, for instance, you can get all kinds of added character knowledge about the protagonist if you read the stories in Tales From Ocherva, Volume One. But so far, nobody is following up and reading the anthology.

Either there is a massive miss-communication going on, or people really don’t like the Star Trilogy novels much and just are not interested in reading anything else I’ve written. I’m sure there is plenty of that going on. But I’d really like to know how I can get readers of the Star Trilogy to try the short stories.

Part of the problem with the individual shorts and the anthology too, is that their covers don’t necessarily imply they are related to the Star Trilogy. They still have the Starstrikers Universe logo on them. Maybe that is confusing. I don’t have the time or money to have unique cover art for all the individual shorts, but even if I did, they still need to be tied into the books better. Visually their covers are similar, perhaps a bit too similar.

New versions of the Star Trilogy are being prepped for release soon. I will be including links to the anthology and short stories in the new ebooks, to try and make readers more aware of them. That’s about the only thing I can do right now.

Anyone else have any ideas how I can point interested readers to the short stories?


Free Kindle Short Story – War Stories

Today and Saturday you can download my short story – War Stories for free on Kindle. This experimental short tells the stories of three human soldiers who fought in The Great War between the Alliance and the Votainion Empire. The stories are taken from the Life Recorders implanted in the soldiers and each person is brought to life using a holo-projector.

This is the only short story that is set in the Third Generation of the war, the same time frame as the final book in the Star Trilogy – Starveyors. That is why the spine is steel colored and not marble or concrete. Starveyors will be out this fall.

Silicant Remorse Free Short Story

This weekend’s free Kindle short story is “Silicant Remorse“. If you download that story, it includes a second short story called, “Rock Collection”. Rock Collection is my most successful short story. It has been read by over 3,000 people and also holds the unique distinction of being my most rejected story of all time. Nobody wants to buy it, but readers sure enjoy reading it.


Busy This Week

Not much in the way of blogging for me this week. Baseball games have kicked in and I can’t even remember my name after a game. My short story is out to beta readers and I already have a new structure worked out for it based on the weak ending of draft one, I just need to bolt it on.

Regarding that short story, I can’t over-emphasize enough the importance of having a theme and doing your original source research. I wrote the story intending it to be an example of a pilot doing something stupid and learning from his mistake. After I wrote it I realized that the Canadian AF had an interesting fictional character that they used to demonstrate the wrong way to do things in a cockpit back in WWII. This character’s exploits helped pilots not to make the same mistakes. Once I read about that, I had my proper ending. I won’t say any more to avoid spoilers.

I should have researched that topic a bit better before finishing the first draft. Live and learn. But the new ending will make the story 100% better and emphasize the theme.