Friday, December 31, 2010

Thanks for 2010

It's been a year of great new friends, and I'm sure I will leave some people out, but that's solely through my limited brainpower and not through any shortcoming of other people.

So thanks to Neal Hock, Christa Polkinhorn, Danny and Heather at Bewitched Bookworms, Misty at Kindle Obsessed, Crystal Fulcher at My Reading Room, Stephen James Price at Generation Next Publications, Neil Jackson at Ghostwriter, Jeanne Coleman and Virginia Roseman as my #1 fans, Nanette Who-Dat, Gail Lang, Elise Tanzillo, Sergio Castro, Kewber Alves, Ludeshka, Julia at Rex Robot Reviews, Velvet at VVB32, Vicki Tyley, Simon Wood, Debbi Mack, John O'Dowd,Angela at Dark Faerie Tales, the Paperback Dolls team, Zoe Winters, Guido Henkel, Ted Risk at Dellaster Design, Kris the Cajun Book Lady, Jazz at About Books Blog, Rhonny at Dollar Bin Horror, Jenn at Jenn's Book Shelf, Gef at Wag the Fox, Stephanie Boddington, Heather Baror, Barry at Gnostica, Leilani Lopez, Lee Davis, David McAfee, David Dalglish, Jeremy Robinson, Ash at Smash Attack Reads, Josef Bass, Jim Morey, Candace at Candace's Book Blog, Stephen Windwalker, William Meikle, Steven Savile, Steven Lockley, J.R. Rain, Moses Siregar, JL Bryan, Pamela Haworth, Sandy Vaughn, and Lexie Danner.

And all you strange, wonderful people who bring my story to life by reading it.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We did this e-book era, so now what?

If you've been at all interested in indie publishing, you read JA Konrath's blog, and he's made his latest compelling case for controlling your own content in the digital era. While I agree wholeheartedly with the underlying principal, I am not so convinced there will be eternal expansion in the e-book market. The digital book business has changed so much in a year that Joe's and Lee Goldberg's joke of "Who wants to be a Kindle millionaire?" is no longer a joke, it's just a question of who will get there first.

Barely 20 years ago, the average mass-market paperback sold 100,000 copies. Writers who planned their retirements on that expectation are probably in some low-level government job right now (like the other 40 percent of the country) or are lucky enough to be drawing unemployment like the other 10 percent. A writer who expects to continue to earn $2 per ebook for the life of copyright may meet the same fate. Though I suppose for most writers, any job pays better than writing.

I'm on record as predicting the flat-text e-book era has an outside range of five years, at least for fiction--specialized non-fiction and manuals will continue to be valuable for their content alone. I believe e-book sales will continue, but certainly not with expanding profits for all involved. Somewhere along the way, readers have to keep paying to support all this, and there won't always be a fresh army of new advocates every Christmas, and the current readers will have several lifetimes' worth of content hoarded away. That brings us to the question of "What next?"

I see two splits, with some overlap. Bestsellers at 99 cents, and ad-supported books. At first blush, you'd think NY has an advantage, since Madison Avenue is right there. But can corporations, with their large structures, be able to compete when indie or smaller entities can react more quickly to present conditions instead of protecting some imagined status quo?

When someone like Seth Godin breaks from a publisher, it's news. But Seth Godin could snap his fingers right now and line up way more advertisers on his own (or, at least, earn a far greater share of the proceeds) than he could with a shareholder monkey on his back. If you look at what he's doing, he's basically created his own media empire. James Patterson has done the same thing but under a corporate imprint--I wouldn't be surprised if he takes his own road soon, but he may be at the age where he'd rather just ride out his momentum.


This points out the new era of the branded writer. And not just "writer," but "content creator" and even mere "idea marketer." A personality is more suited to building brand identification and audience than a publisher is. I say "James Patterson" and you get an image. I say "Random House" and what do you get? Randomness. We've seen it here locally: "Ray's Weather" is where you check the weather and "Todd's Calendar" is where you click to find what's happening in the region--and both are ad supported. You can get the free content elsewhere but you don't get the human personality attached.

I'm already experimenting with the ad model as my website undergoes redesign. I am counting on Idea Marketing being one of my foundational pillars. I am not quite sure what it all looks like right now, but I look at it this way--you don't need NY in order to give away tons of free e-books or to spread an idea or to build a social platform. I'm still honing my core beliefs, but they center around compassionate self-reliance and the exchange of ideas.

My indie experience was cited on a post by Jim C. Hines where he talks about his "failed experiment" of putting out an indie and mentions Laura Gilman's expressed fear of piracy (for a story collection, of all things--most people would be lucky to have those stolen, though mine do sell unexpectedly well). I don't blame people for sticking with what worked in the past. It all goes to how invested you are in a certain system and how the alternative looks. Publishing-industry talk on e-books uses phrases like "managing risk" and "cautious adaptation." I have nothing to lose so I can afford to go balls to the wall.


I had a talk with an Amazon DTP tech a few weeks back, and Amazon is continually exploring ways to build on the interactive experience inside the e-book. Google clearly is planning an ad-based model. And it's not going to be as clumsy as an image of a refreshing Bud Lite popping up when the main character enters a bar (though it's not unthinkable at some point.)

"I'll quit reading before I put up with that." Yes, I've heard that. I also remember saying I'd never carry a cell phone, or be on Facebook, or give up my vinyl albums, or start thinking that maybe nuclear energy is the best short-range answer to our energy addiction.

I'm not a pessimist, because I'm extremely grateful to be free enough to act as I see fit, but when "How to get free Kindle books" are the bestselling Kindle books, I feel which way the wind blows. Now, as soon as I can figure out how to give away a million sponsored ebooks, I might be in the running.

All you corporations out there that I am studiously avoiding mentioning for free, you know where to find me.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Amazing Digital Year

It was one year ago today, Dec. 22, that I finally decided to try this "e-book thing" I'd heard all the kids raving about. I was dubious about the whole self-publishing movement and I still wasn't sure people were willing to "read books on computer." I'd been taught that serious writers never self-publish, and if I had been offered a bottom-of-the-barrel paperback deal, I would have taken it.
Still, I wasn't going to risk the whole shooting match, and I was shopping a couple of newer manuscripts. But I figured I would put up an old novella, Burial to Follow, and hardly anyone would notice, especially those peers I was so worried about. I did the cover myself, with art taken from the DIRT comic book. Yeah, it's a terribly cheesy cover. I sent it through Amazon for the Kindle, a device I'd read a lot about but had never seen.

And I sold two copies as 2009 drew to a close, but I also uploaded The Red Church, my most successful novel. I had held the rights for more than a year, getting a couple of small foreign deals, but I couldn't figure out a way to get it back in print. Of course, by "print" I was thinking of cranking up printing presses and spending thousands of dollars and worrying about bookstore orders.

I sold one copy of The Red Church before midnight, Dec. 31. In January, when the price was $1.99 and I was making a 35 percent royalty, I sold 67 copies of Red Church and 12 of Burial to Follow. The next month, I sold 413 copies combined. In March, I sold 771 copies as I added another book. It still wasn't much money, but it began to look reasonable and I softened my stance on self-publishing.

April took me a step back to 667 copies total. March moved up to 793, followed by 1,119 in June, 1,152 in July, and back down to 1,146 in August, when Amazon's 70 percent royalty kicked in and I raised some prices to $2.99.

I haven't done an analysis of how many titles I added during this time, or which book was selling at what price, but I had at least four novels up by then, as well as four or five story collections. Individually, nothing was knocking it out of the park, but collectively it looked like The Little Engine That Could.

During this time I'd been called by a Big Agent who had some interest, though primarily it was for ghostwriting, which would only interest me if it was a pay-off-the-house job. The third time I heard "I can't sell this," I didn't waste another second. I started putting everything up on Kindle as soon as it was edited, proofread, and formatted.

Back to numbers. September made a nice little jump, to 1,949 copies, and my first United Kingdom sales trickled in. October saw the first significant surge, up to 2,799 copies. November got crazy when Disintegration broke into the Kindle Top 100, reaching as high as #30 overall. For the month, I sold 12,422 Kindle e-books.

I'll be down for December, as Disintegration did its inevitable cooling, and as of last night I had 5,810 sales for the month to date. All these numbers are for Kindle e-books in the U.S. only. My U.K. numbers are still small in comparison but growing steadily. The Red Church sold 4,764 copies in a year, eight years after its original release and about six years after the publisher had left it for dead. I'm happy to see it is not dead, that people still read it and respond to it. That's one of the best things about this new era: nothing has to die. Ideas can fade and bounce back in a natural ebb and flow and readers can find them in their own time.

In my first full year in the Scott Nicholson industry, I sold 29,120 copies on the U.S. Kindle. I had some print-on-demand paper sales and additional e-book sales on other devices like Nook, Kobo, Sony, and iPad, but Amazon is my main outlet. After Jan. 1, many authors will be blogging about their numbers and their success. I'm not competing at a J.A. Konrath level (thanks for the inspiration, Joe) or an Amanda Hocking level, and I'm not laying out these numbers to brag or send anyone scurrying to measure themselves against me. But I have a pretty nice level that works for me and is easy to sustain and build, and that's all any writer should seek.

I don't even know how much money I made, and I wouldn't talk about that anyway, but I do mix my prices between 99 cents and $3.99. Suffice to say that's more copies than I sold in any of my last four mass-market releases, and I made more money in 2010 than in any year in which I was writing for New York. It's easy to get caught up in real-time numbers and rankings and feel like it's all slippery when you move down a few thousand slots in the rankings. But this is the first time I've stepped back and looked at the big picture, and it's pretty stunning.

If I were running a real business, like selling widgets, it's the kind of growth I could take to a bank. It trends pretty solid and steady, with plenty of potential for growth, considering Amazon is claiming 8 million Kindle sales this year. Sure, I have lots of books out now, maybe around 20, and that's swelling my numbers, but my response to that is: Why in the world do I care how many books it takes? I have them and people like them. I'd be stupid to release one a year like major authors do. I want readers to find all my books at any time. And I will write more. That's what I do.

But I also know I didn't do much besides what I love, and I would have written the books anyway. More than 30,000 of you took a bigger risk than I did. You said, "This Scott Nicholson guy is worth a little of my time and money." And I don't take that lightly at all. Thank you.

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Transparent Lovers in print

I've been so busy on my e-books I've not properly plugged my limited edition hardcover Transparent Lovers from PS Publishing in the UK. The 100-copy limited signed run is 25 pounds, the regular is 12 pounds (I don't know what that equals in US dollars but you can go to the product page to find out.

TRANSPARENT LOVERS:
Private investigator Richard Steele is as surprised as anyone when he turns up dead, and then he is given the most challenging case of his career: he must solve his own murder in order for his soul to ascend.

Sounds simple enough, even for a ghost. All he has to do is retrace his steps and get his revenge before his limited supply of karma is depleted. But he can't resist one last visit with his sweetheart, Lee.

And Richard has other problems besides the goons that put a bullet in him. Like his ex-wife, driven to suicide by his mistreatment and now relishing her own opportunity for payback from beyond the grave.

As Richard finds himself once again in an ever-tightening ring of deceit and lies, he must battle enemies on Earth and in heaven, as well as a little bit of hell. And the eternal love everyone dreams about might turn out to be a nightmare.
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For device owners, we're working on an e-book release, hopefully for January. And, yes, the title is an homage to musician Robyn Hitchcock.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

JT Cummins, rest in peace

I just learned my friend JT Cummins died in his sleep at 51. A cool, inventive writer, we had shared a lot of ideas about e-books in the past year and did some promotion together. He was one of the few doing movie scripts in e-books and he was very excited about the possibilities of the new digital era. I had just emailed him a few days ago to ask about his scripts, not realizing he had already moved on.

A screenwriter and fiction writer, he also worked in special effects in a number of movies like The Thing and House. Hopefully he is sitting in that great movie theater in the sky, watching a double bill with the keyboard by his side.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ads in books?

Writers are already appalled at the prospect of ads in books, but it is as inevitable as rain.

As soon as the dream of making riches as a writer fades from public consciousness (and Stephen King quits featuring bestselling writers as characters), then only a peculiar, suspect group will still be writing. For every Joe Konrath, there are 100,000 people selling a book a week or one a month. I have books ranked all up and down the scale so I have a pretty good idea of what a ranking equals in total sales. The trouble is that right now 100,000 people are reading Konrath and thinking that's going to be them.

Honestly, all those who fear the indie onslaught just need to wait a few years. 10 million slush manuscripts will be pulled from the drawer and sell nothing. Trend over.

About the same number of writers will be making a living then as now. But some of them will be different writers. Some of them will be selling ads. Some of them will do whatever it takes to be a writer and make it work. I went three years with no book deals. I lost faith in the system but never myself, and I wrote some of the best books of my life on only the dimmest of prospects. My best-selling book was never meant to be published. It was survival. I survived.

I just picture those Soviet dissidents in Siberia, scrawling classics on frozen animal skins in beet juice. Renoir, crippled with arthritis, his legacy made, but still cranking them out from his wheelchair. Socrates drinking poison instead of pleasing the crowd.

Instead of saying I will never do something, I now say "What hasn't been created yet, and how can I get to it first, and how can we share it?"

If you're interested in talking with me about promoting in books, drop me an email at hauntedcomputerbooks at Yahoo and let's brainstorm, or kick it around in the comments.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Head Cases Now Out

Head Cases, a collection of psychological suspense and paranoid horror, is now available on Kindle for 99 cents.
Seven stories, including the first-ever appearance of "Fear Goggles." Bonus stories from William Meikle and John Everson, and a bonus essay "The Writing Life."
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why NYT list and BookScan data are worthless

NYT to report e-book sales! You can pay to get your own BookScan data! Hooray! Indie authors and e-books are now legit! We won!

Dude, put down the coffee cup and slowly back away. In prehistoric times, pterodactyls ruled the sky and I'd get on the phone to Ingram's warehouse and see how many copies of my books had shipped. It sort of seemed important, although I never knew what to do with the data. And what agent, editor, or author wouldn't want to say, "I'm a bestseller" and "moving tons of units"?

But if you are an indie author hoping to get some attention, or an underground success planning to go blinking to the surface world, you might want to temper expectations. Or better yet, not waste a second of your time or energy.

Firstly, the NYT bestseller list will only report major publisher data--many indies and small presses will not be reported. You need different ISBNs for each format, and you need it all to be aggregated by some central processing unit. Who will control that? The Times? The publishing industry? BookScan? And who is going to be volunteering the numbers? Amazon, which probably has 80 percent if not 90 percent of the e-book market? Yeah, right.

If you want to go to all that trouble just to appear on someone else's lists, be my guest. Disintegration doesn't have an ISBN at either Amazon or B&N. It was a bestseller, hitting #30 in the Kindle store, which definitely put it in the top 50 of e-books worldwide. For only a time, but still...as my daughter says, "Once you are a bestselling author, you are a bestseller forever." Hardly anyone will know it was a bestseller, even the people who bought it. It doesn't even have an ISBN. Amazon and I are the ONLY ones who know how many it sold. And neither of us are telling.

And the people reading the NYT are not the indie author's audience--they are reading a newspaper, for Jiminy Cricket's sake. They might as well etch it into a clay tablet and send it out via a fleet of carrier pigeons for all the good it will do. Look, the people who were most excited about that announcement, as evidenced by TweetStream, that cool-a-meter of our times, were the entrenched industry types at every level who have so much invested in the continuation of their careers. It's understandable, but it doesn't mean you as an indie author should fight against the currents of time to join them.

The NYT list has been bought and sold for decades--that data is based on advance store orders, which means major publisher push and co-op money paid to big booksellers. Haven't you ever wondered why books show up as bestsellers before they are even released?

This is all a shell game, high-stakes ego moves, a valuable tool or a cudgel depending on your needs as a publisher or bookseller. Sure, some people wander into bookstores and blindly grab the first book they see, and booksellers stack bestsellers in the front of the store, and everybody goes through the motions. I'm surprised there isn't a Patterson store yet, wall to wall offerings by The James Gang.

Bestsellers are made, not born, often even years in advance of their publication. Janet Evanovich doesn't sign a multi-million-dollar, multi-book contract to gather dust, spine out, on the E shelf in "Mystery." How many "surprise bestsellers" have you read about? How did Stephen King just happen to get a copy of Justin Cronin's "The Passage" months before publication? Why did the publisher decide to print 10,000 advance review copies of The da Vinci Code?

Besides, what does the term "bestselling author" mean anymore? I've seen indie authors on the Internet shouting, with multiple exclamation points, "I just hit #19 in the category of Greek History: Ancient Pottery Shards!!!!" There's even a guidebook out there on how to trick up your keywords to rank high in obscure categories so you can be a "bestseller."

BookScan? Measuring point of purchase hard-copy sales at a limited number of outlets? What is that good for these days? Where's Walmart, the airports, Christian bookstores, specialty shops, hand sellers, the drug store that sells local books? Yes, there is a "geographic tracking," but what do you care? Say you're selling lousy in Buffalo. Are you going to hop in your car and drive up there and do a book signing? Can't your e-book squeeze through the frozen ethernet of the Great North?

The bestseller list already exists--there are only two. Kindle and B&N. The Kindle bestseller list IS the e-book bestseller list. No one in NY will admit it and you won't read it in PW. That's not sexy, and major publishing is at an uneasy detente with Amazon at the moment. Amazon has never revealed their data on anything significant, only in the loosest of terms that makes it look good (i.e. "We sold out millions in seconds....")

As an indie author, it is against your best interest to even use ISBNs. They are not required by either Amazon or B&N. The only outlets that require them right now are Sony and Apple iBookstore, and those markets are hardly worth investing the $10 an ISBN will cost you at Smashwords. Oh, yeah, everyone wants their own ISBN for each format and their store, and it has to be different from the ISBN of the print version(s). Seventeen flaming hoops, lots of cost and inconvenience, and all you gain is the ability of corporations to easily track you? Yeah, I'm jumping on that one.

The NYT list is just one last attempt to make NY valid in the new era, and it might have been interesting a couple of years ago, and maybe there's a long shot of a Hollywood sale--but I suspect more movie producers own Kindles than read the NYT. It gets attention because of "tradition," but what is tradition worth right now? More importantly, what is tradition worth to YOU? The most successful indie authors I've seen don't even know what tradition is, nor do they care.

This is data for the publishing industry. I've said repeatedly, if you are an indie author, you are not in the publishing industry. You are in the YOU industry. You don't need to view the publishing industry as competition, not yet, but you might want to consider whether you invest resources in their industry or in your industry.

Just typing all this up kept me from working on my current project, but maybe you will buy my books, or learn something, or tweet me, but in a way, this was energy wasted on tradition. Picking up the hammer to knock down a wall is tedious when you can simply walk away from it, go around it...or fly over it.

If all you ever wanted was to call up Mom and your sixth-grade English teacher and say "See, I told you I'd make the list," then I say go for it. For everyone else, you are better off writing that next book and getting on the list of your reader. That's the list that matters.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Divergence

The publishing world has two paths right now. The first is tradition, with PW reporting ebook growth slowed in October (but overall sales still grew) and Huffington Post lamenting the closing of bookstores.

Then there's the path taken by J.A. Konrath and an accelerating number of authors--the indie way. Or self-publishing. Or vanity press. Whatever.

Joe loves to delve into numbers, and rightly so, given his success and his platform that feeds on being a center of the indie world. It's a smart business, and he's interested, and he's always gone the extra mile to be out front on promotion and the future. And, rightfully, bunches of successful authors chime in with their own numbers. So both paths look a little skewed--New York is shrinking and indie is growing, suggests these two groups of data.

I have no doubt indie is growing, but when I posted on Joe's blog, I didn't see anybody in there saying "I only sold 12 copies that month." But there are hundreds of thousands of authors who sold only that many or less. I know, because I have rankings all over the map for my 18 or so books. I know roughly how many sales will get you at a certain rank, and it's pretty easy to get "locked in" at a certain level. Success breeds success, and not selling makes it harder to sell.

So, really, there's not enough evidence to make a comprehensive analysis, and I don't think the data will ever exist, because few indies will report their numbers, most don't use ISBNs to track sales, and PW will always get a very myopic and limited view of the market. It's simple enough to look at the Kindle bestseller list, which is, for all intents and purposes, the overall e-book bestseller list (though the UK Kindle market is expanding). Bestsellers still sell the best, and that hasn't changed.

What has changed, and what affects me happily, is that books stay in print and available and continue to reach new readers. I love expanding--getting emails, blogging, and even reading my one-star reviews. I say the customer is always right and I stand by it, even when the customer doesn't like my product.

But I've learned that people often take personal truth as a universal truth. For Joe and many authors, it's the best of times and the future looks bright. For an editor who just lost a publishing job, the future looks gray. But 99.9 percent of the readers don't care which view is right.

They want content how and when they want it, at a price they are willing to pay. That's pretty much the X factor to which all surrounding conditions respond. It's not indie success or publishing-industry failure shaping the landscape. Readers are tugging this tide. And it's absolutely cool.

Digital Drive-In flirts with Speed Dating with the Dead

Free multi-author sampler download Just In Time For The Holidays
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour Winners

Congratulations to ellepaulette (Kindle DX), hufflepuffgrl13 (bonus Kindle 3), and dragonfly1976 (Kindle 3 for newsletter followers). Emails have been sent to the winners, who have one week to respond.

ellepaulette came from Book Faery and hufflepuffgrl13 came from Sparkling Reviews.

Winner were randomly selected by Ross Cooper and Evelyn Johnson, staff members at Watauga County Public Library. Thanks to tour sponsors Amazon, Dellaster Design, and Kindle Nation Daily.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

free copies of Curtains: Mystery Stories

Anyone interested in free review copies of Curtains: Mystery Stories, drop me an email, Tweet, or comment below--it is starting to get some sales but could use a few reviews, whether you love it or hate it. The collection contains nine stories by me plus bonus stories from Simon Wood and J.A. Konrath.

Also, post a total of five reviews for any of my books on either Amazon, B&N, Goodreads and Shelfari, and I will send you a free signed copy of Thank You For the Flowers, my first story collection. This is not an attempt to "buy reviews"--I've always said, I don't care if you love me or hate me, just don't ignore me--but a way of thanking you for your time. And tune in tomorrow, when winners will be drawn for the Kindles!

Disintegration finally slid out of the Top 100 in the Kindle store after 36 days there. Thanks, everyone. As Gen. Douglas McArthur said, "I shall return, and what's this lobster doing in my underwear?"

Karen at The Slowest Bookworm crawls into October Girls.

Full-length podcast (30 mins) on self-publishing and marketing at Creative Penn.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Scotty on the knob

Simon Royle gave me a kind interview on The Skull Ring: http://bit.ly/hcjGtW

Red Adept gave a rather astute review of As I Die Lying: http://redadeptreviews.com/?p=3911 (I know I need to revise that later-middle section)

And Joanna of Creative Penn has a video she's releasing next week:

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Future of Publishing Again

Someone asked my view on e-books, and though I answered in depth at Debbi Mack's place, here's a new summary:

1. Paper books will be around for the rest of our lifetimes, but bookstores will be weird and rare little shops in big cities.

2. Ebooks (and the Internet) will be how most people do their reading by 2020.

3. Reading will continue to decline and books will change as technology evolves, just like everything else about our lives changes.

4. The people who love to smell books and hold books? It's purely nostalgia, which doesn't minimize it, but that's all it is. Some people still love vinyl albums because they think they sound "warmer" and more "authentic." Some people said that about the old wax recording cylinders. People said CDs sounded "sterile." Yet how does almost everyone listen to music? How many home videos are on 8 mm film strips? The essential core of the information and story and entertainment won't change, but the structure will change. Even books themselves have evolved. Don't forget, this all started with sticks in the mud and berry juice on cave walls.

BTW Smashwords just announced an increase of royalties for Kobo, B&N, and the other tiny e-book outlets and also an agency pricing agreement that means those outlets won't be reducing prices anymore.

Also selected winners for Overbite: Blood Lite 2 (congratulations, Vicki Tyley) and for the Pandora's Box of e-books on Twitter. The DM was deleted so I assume that winner does NOT want the 100 free ebooks but I will wait five days before I announce another winner.

I still have some space for free Red Church Kindle copies on my list so please email me if you want a freebie tomorrow sent as a gift via Amazon. I have 26 more copies to give away in thanks for your support on the blog tour.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day #90: Just a Guy with a Keyboard...and You

Ninety days.

An idea, a little typing, a lot of generous book bloggers, and many, many friends.
I started the blog tour with a simple goal of promoting e-books and the Kindle, celebrating the new era of literature, and meeting people who love books. Not just books, but words and stories, since we’re not even sure what a book is anymore.

I’ve changed over the course of this blog tour. It went from “90 Days of Nightmares” to a three-month dream. I put myself out there, my real self, in a way I never have before, and you guys put up with it. I talked about this amazing journey, from my early rejection slips to where I am today, with more readers than I’ve ever had and more books available, and a bright future that’s poised to grow and glow. You guys made me a #1 bestselling writer during this tour. I’ll never forget that, because I know who did it. I wrote the words, but you created the synergy.


My daughter said, “Once you’re a bestselling writer, you’re one forever.” That’s true. Sales will slide because we all move on to new things, but Disintegration happened. The Red Church happened again and again. Cursed! and October Girls were born. Some screenplays and collections came out.
But I feel very much the same, despite everything warming to a boil and my sales and connections growing organically and beautifully. It all feels right. But I’m still just a guy with a keyboard, telling stories, not much different than a year ago when I wasn’t sure I’d ever publish another book and that maybe six paperbacks were going to be the only thing the obscure genre magazines would report in my obligatory three-line obituary.
The book I never intended to publish, Disintegration, was written for my survival, during a dark time in my life. Maybe because it wasn’t written for a theoretical market, it told some sort of truth. And it’s fitting that novel became a breakthrough success. It’s so ironic it seems inevitable.
But the books are just part of the story. The fun comments, the new friendships, the blog discoveries, the expanding platform of people talking about books, reading, words, publishing, and just ideas are all wrapped up in this blog tour. It took a life of its own and I’m a little sentimental right now, but I look forward to going back and re-reading all the comments and spending more time getting to know you.
We still have a few days, since the Kindle winners won’t be selected for a week and you still have chances to comment at the recent blogs. And I am cooking up one final idea to make another run for Top 100 so I can give away one more Kindle, but, hey, we have at least three new Kindle owners in the world. And I know 90 percent of you are going to buy a Kindle anyway if you don’t win, because you were interested enough to care.
This phase of the journey is over. Winter is a natural time for going internal. I’ll be back in the spring with another big event, but it’s going to be simpler and shorter. In the meantime, I hope you will continue subscribing to my newsletter even after the winner is selected and announced. I will only use it for major announcements like giveaways or new releases, and I will continue with Wednesday writing chats here at my blog and my Web site is undergoing a redesign to make a multi-functional gathering place. As always I will reward my supporters, because I know where success is born.
I heart you. Thank you.
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Scott Nicholson is author of 12 novels, including the YA paranormal romance October Girls and the thrillers Disintegration, As I Die Lying, Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy, Forever Never Ends, The Skull Ring, Burial to Follow, and They Hunger. His revised novels for the U.K. Kindle are Creative Spirit, Troubled, and Solom. He’s also written four comic series, six screenplays, and more than 60 short stories. His story collections include Ashes, Curtains, The First, Murdermouth: Zombie Bits, and Flowers.
The Kindle Giveaway is part of Scott’s blog tour. Complete details at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/blogtour.htm. To be eligible for the Kindle DX or Kindle 3, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. He’s also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free e-books to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. Thanks for playing!
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Monday, November 29, 2010

If I Were Your Monster

It had to happen. I've done almost everything there is in the field of literature except ghostwrite a celebrity bio. So with little fanfare (sit down in the back, you kids, and quit clapping--no fun allowed), here comes If I Were Your Monster, slobbering and clicking just in time for the holidays. Yes, for a limited time only, this full-color, 24-page children's book has fun rhymes, cool creatures illustrated by Lee Davis, and, well, lizard socks.

(Okay, kids, you can stand up and cheer! Hooray). Yes, you have to make your parents buy it for you. So cry, whine, pitch a brat fit, do whatever it takes to be the first kid on the block to own If I Were Your Monster. Aaaand...just in time for Christmas, special preorders are $6.95 INCLUDING SHIPPING! Yes, for less than the price of one of those stupid old grown-up books, you can have this beast at your door before St. Nick shows up and steals your tree. Or is that the Grinch?

At any rate, kids, just have your parents pay pal to hauntedcomputer AT yahoo DOT com. Or else hack their accounts and do it yourself. (Technically, I am not supposed to say that, so let me take that part back).
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to be a Kindle bestseller

I've eased off on my "indie advice" lately for several reasons. One is that it can sound like a slam on Big Publishing--which is not what I'm about. I love the publishing industry and it's brought both real joy (in the form of books and money) into my life and also my decade of experience has shown me the incredible challenges involved in creating and selling a book--from the author's brain to the editor to the bookstore to the reader's hands. If even one book makes it and changes a person's life, that's something to celebrate.

However, I also believe in Compassionate Self-Reliance, and I don't see the indie path as a subversive way to "stick it to the man." It's got plenty of challenges, too. So today I am sharing in gratitude some of what I've learned, just as I will every Wednesday. My post at Parajunkee's View today tips the hat to just a few of those who have created my success, but I know every one of you--including you who just clicked to this post--are part of the Scott Nicholson dream.

And I don't want to lecture, because I don't know anything except what has and hasn't worked for me. If you want broad advice, snag your free copy of Write Good or Die. If you have a question about any part of the industry or the craft or the art or the life, drop it in the comments, and feel free to offer your own advice and conversation. I will be traveling over the next few days but I'll hit this on my coffee-shop stops.

Self-publishing? Vicki Tyley talks about the indie writing journey and success http://bit.ly/hqa3jO

Zoe Winters talks about her self-publishing experience  

Maximizing your promotional efforts at Windwalker's Indie Kindle blog 

How to be a bestseller? Simple. Sell a lot of books. Don't forget, Writer Babble every Wednesday here at Haunted Computer blog.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

La Chiesa Rossa e Movie Books

Want a free signed copy of Thank You for the Flowers, my first paperback collection? Just write five reviews of my in-print books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or Shelfari. Email me at Hauntedcomputer At yahooDOtcom and tell me where you wrote the reviews, along with your address. I won't be reading the reviews or checking up. I will just mail the book. If you write 10 reviews, I'll throw in an extra free copy of my graphic novel Dirt

Why? Well, reviews help other people learn about the books. And even "bad" reviews help. The more information people have to make a decision about a book, the better. Plus I want to thank you for supporting me.

What have I been up to? Good question. In the past three days, I've published two screenplays and my first indie translated edition, La Chiesa Rossa, traduzione Paolo Albizzati. More screenplays coming up, and of course, the Kindle Giveaway blog tour is winding into its final week. Wow. It must be exhausting to keep up with me. Good thing I'm not paying attention, or I'd be tired, too.


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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cursed! now available

Two #1 Kindle bestselling authors team up, with twice the thrills, twice the chills, and twice the fun. Cursed! by J.R. Rain and Scott Nicholson

Albert Shipway is an ordinary guy, an insurance negotiator who likes booze and women and never having to say he’s sorry.

And he thinks this is just another day, another lunch, another order of kung pao chicken. Little does he know that he’s about to meet a little old lady who knows his greatest fear. A little old lady who knows what’s hiding in his heart. A little old lady who dishes up a big stew of supernatural revenge, with ingredients as follows:

First you take one psychotic ex from a family of serial killers. Next add a pinch or two of an irrational childhood fear. Now thoroughly mix in an angry sister, a life-stealing great-granddad, and a notorious mass murderer—who happens to be dead but doesn’t know it. Let it stew and froth and bubble thoroughly....

In just a matter of minutes, Albert’s life turns upside down and he enters a world where magic and evil lurk beneath the fabric of Southern California. And all his choices have brewed a perfect storm of broken hearts, broken promises, shattered families, and a couple of tiny problems. Namely, killer mice and a baby.

Albert Shipway is finally getting a chance to right some wrongs.

That is, if it's not too late.

Order Cursed! here
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writer Wednesday

Inspired by the #WW hashtag on Twitter, I am starting a weekly feature here where I answer writing-related questions each Wednesday and invite people to sit around the virtual coffee house and do writerly things. I will answer any questions as honestly as possible, based on my experience. Unless it's not in my best interest or I want to "look good." In which case I'll lie.

Obviously I've been on a long blog tour and have some publishing stuff coming up (like Cursed! with J.R. Rain releasing Nov. 20) but I want to share thoughts, ideas, triumphs, and gripes with you. And learn from you. Pour away, and watch those coffee stains. I've got enough drinking problems.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pros & Cons of Self-Publishing

(Official Kindle giveaway stop for Nov 13 so comment to enter before Nov 20!)

Today’s little bulleted list of the “Pros and Cons of Self-publishing” comes from someone who has been there. I’ve had agents, not had agents. I’ve been rejected hundreds of times. I’ve published in major, small, and independent presses, and now primarily self-publish. I’ve been a bestseller and had books I couldn’t make someone read at gunpoint. And all of the routes are difficult. If you think it’s hard to write a book, try selling one.

Pros of having agent
1. Most writers can’t arrange lunch with an influential publisher, talk over salad, and leave with book deal.
2. An agent can get you more money, usually more than the 15 percent commission.
3. An agent can guide you for an entire career, point out the landmines, dun publishers for money owed, and stay ahead on trends.

Cons of having an agent
1. The best book in the world won’t matter to them if they can’t sell it.
2. Your book immediately becomes New York-centric, measured by all the other deals, relationships, commodities, industry politics, and corporate bottom lines, as well as the pecking order of your own agency.
3. It’s possible the agent becomes a roadblock or black hole, where your work vanishes for years.

Pros of having a publisher
1. They do most of the work besides the writing.
2. They have a system in place designed to distribute and promote books.
3. They can pay you money immediately.

Cons of having a publisher
1. They take most of the money.
2. They may keep your rights virtually forever.
3. They solely determine the fate of your book, via profit-and-loss statements, print runs, and the amount of the advance, so there’s automatically a ceiling placed on your book.

Pros of doing it yourself
1. You keep all the money.
2. You get to find your own audience.
3. You control everything, and the success and failure are yours alone.

Cons of doing it yourself.
1. You keep all the money and there may not be much.
2. You have to find your own audience.
3. You control everything, and the success and failure are yours alone.

More and more writers are developing hybrid careers, where they have agents or use publishers but also self-publish material that’s either been out of print or has a small audience. This will probably become the standard working model for middle-class writers in the next few years. But to make it work, pay attention to the rights you sign away in contracts—the fairest deals should return the work to you after a certain period of time or when sales drop below a certain level. After all, it’s your work. If you don’t care about it, why should anyone else?

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Scott Nicholson is author of 12 novels, including the thrillers Disintegration, As I Die Lying, Drummer Boy, Forever Never Ends, The Skull Ring, Burial to Follow ,and October Girls. His revised novels for the U.K. Kindle are Creative Spirit, Troubled, The Gorge, and Solom. He’s also written four comic series, six screenplays, and more than 60 short stories. His story collections include Ashes, The First, Murdermouth: Zombie Bits, and Flowers. His web site is www.hauntedcomputer.com.

To be eligible for the Kindle DX, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. Visit all the blogs on the tour and increase your odds. I’m also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free e-books to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. Thanks for playing. Complete details at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/blogtour.htm

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Writing Talk

I haven't been offering as much writing advice lately because everything changes so much that I don't know what to tell you. Half of the stuff in the free writing manual Write Good or Die is probably useless, but I don't know which half.

Self-publishing has been the best thing I've ever done for my career, but it's not just for practical reasons. The primary advantages for me have been those of the spirit. I feel inspired, I have unlimited income and audience potential, I can craft whatever book or career I feel is necessary, and I've been able to connect or reconnect with you after a couple of dormant years.

No, I wasn't hibernating, as evidenced by the new books I've released this year, and in a way, the timing is right--I finally feel like I am matched up with my era. I love positive partnerships but I'm also the self-reliant sort. So, aside from the brass tacks and sales figures, if you're considering self-publishing, weigh the needs of the ego and your faith and your place in the Word Community. Don't jump in because you're desperate or those "idiots in New York" don't recognize your obvious genius. Do it when you have something to share, when you're giving instead of taking. Give, and then you will receive.


(PS If you like to visit occasionally, please click "Follow" to the right--you don't have to sign up for the feed, but I am trying to build my face pile for reasons that will be made clear later on. Plus there WILL be prizes. Thanks!)

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Comfort Zone? That's the McQuestion

(Karen McQuestion is, along with J.A. Jonrath, J.R. Rain, and others, a poster child of the Kindle era, an author who finally had a chance to reach a virtually unlimited audience. The common denominator is a belief in the work and in self. But sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone, as Karen has challenged herself to do. Today I'm over at Book Faery so come enter for Kindles!)

Karen:

In 2009, after many years of not being able to get published traditionally, I uploaded my unpublished manuscripts to sell as ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle.  What happened next still blows my mind. Call it timing, luck, or whatever, but in the year that followed I had sales in the tens of thousands, received a contract to option my novel, A Scattered Life, for film, and finally, offers of publication from AmazonEncore, Amazon’s new publishing division. 

At this time, three of my books, A Scattered Life, Easily Amused, and my children’s book, Celia and the Fairies, have been published by AmazonEncore in paperback and ebook. Next spring, two more of my books, Favorite and Life On Hold, will be released by the same publisher.  I am in writer heaven. 

Like most writers, I thrive on solitude. A perfect day for me consists of an empty house, a quiet phone, and a working computer. I write in a basement office and just heading down the stairs in the morning makes me happy. I recently discovered Pandora.com, and I’ve been training it to play just the right kind of music for my current project.  It has to be lively enough to keep the neurons firing, but not too distracting or it interferes with my internal word processor.

Honestly, I could keep up this schedule day after day, week after week, and not mind at all. In the last few months though, I’ve been invited to speak to various groups about writing and my publishing journey. Doing so requires me to leave my house, dress up, and interact with others. 

No matter how nice the people are, or how wonderful the event is, I never want to do it. Ever.  While I appreciate the opportunity to connect with readers and get the word out about my books, part of me dreads it.

And then I go and absolutely love it. Library groups, book clubs, students, writers’ groups—they all have different reasons for wanting to hear me speak.  I tailor my talk to the group, and afterward there are questions. The questions are my favorite part. 

Writers always want to know how they can self-publish on Kindle. I tell them to visit my website or J.A. Konrath’s blog for more information. They’re writers, so they take notes.

Book clubs ask about the characters and whether I outline my novels ahead of time (I don’t).  They also want to know where I get my ideas (everywhere).

Library crowds are true book people. They ask a lot of questions and often recommend books to me, and then I’m the one jotting down notes.

Today I spoke to students at a local high school.  I talked, they listened. They were attentive but not overly enthused. I drew names and gave away a few of my books. The winners took the books, but didn’t seem overjoyed. Afterward though, one girl came up to me and had me sign her book. She said she was excited about winning and that she was a writer too.  Then one of the guys in the group came up and said he had one more question for me. “In your opinion,” he said, “in a battle between Lord Voldemort and Darth Vader, who would win?”

Like I said, the questions are my favorite part.  

Just for the record, I said Lord Voldemort. My older son has since told me that I’m wrong and that Darth Vader could definitely take Lord Voldemort.  Live and learn.

I still love my quiet days at home writing, but I’m getting more comfortable doing public speaking.  I think it’s good that I’m being forced to venture out into the world.  Sometimes the questions alone make it worth the trip.

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(Scott's P.S.: If you are a writer interested in advice from 15 successful authors, why not go download the free writing guide Write Good or Die at Haunted Computer, available in PDF, Mobi, and ePub.

Friday, November 5, 2010

David Niall Wilson--Crossroad Press

(While I help the world discover As I Die Lying and what happens when a demonic serial killer's novel gets rejected while he's falling in love, David Niall Wilson is holding down the fort here. A truly gifted writer, he's also proven progressive with his digital publishing efforts at Crossroad Press. And to make this guy even more likeable, let's give away a hardcover copy of his supernatural thriller DEEP BLUE, the first of David's books I read, but certainly not the last. Simply comment within seven days to enter. Take it away, Dave)

My sons and I keep threatening to do a Kindle commercial where a guy is left tied up by kidnappers, or CIA agents, in a room where there is a kindle on the desk.  He hops his chair over, uses a pencil in his teeth to operate the keyboard, and the next thing you see is the door closing, a pile of ropes on the chair, and the cover of an eBook titled "Harry Houdini- How to Escape From Anything" on the Kindle.

When it comes to information, storytelling, and publishing, it's a very new world from that of only a few years back.  Arguments about whether electronic formats will ever "make it" have been replaced with discussions of how far can it go, and how can I get on board before this train leaves the station.  Half the time it seems that the entire train gets re-routed mid trip and you end up somewhere completely unexpected - and ultimately cool.

 As a writer, it's no longer good enough just to tell stories. You have to pay attention, because the audience is shifting, and so are the venues they choose for entertainment delivery.  We jumped from document files to pdf files to eBook files, to files you can read fully formatted on your phone in a matter of a couple of years.  You can personalize and adjust your reading experience in endless ways, have it delivered to you in the middle of a busy city street while you wait, and follow links to more books, or to places you can provide your input and feedback, without taking a step.

 Books used to come and go.  There was a pretty set time you could expect them to remain available, and then, if you wanted to find them you had to slog through piles and piles of used volumes, search libraries, and in only slightly antiquated times, crawl eBay until you found a copy.
 That's how my own love affair with digital publishing began. I wanted to bring back the books that came and went and give them new readers and new life.  I wanted to find those books people always bring up wistfully in comments like, "you remember that one book by so-and-so back in the seventies?  Wish I could read that again - it changed my life."

 At Crossroad Press I've been privileged to help a number of readers with quests like that, and a number of authors whose words languished in forgotten bins and on dusty shelves, and that makes me happy.  I've also found a wealth of books that never made it to audio format, and I've been able to bring a number of those to life, as well.  See, now Tolkein's words can be applied to other words … they have been there, and back again.  And there's no end to how far they can go in this wild, crazy digital world surrounding us.  I'm happy to be seeing a small mountain of them on their way.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

AS I DIE LYING launches Nov. 6

Today's stop is at True Book Addict, comment at my post to win one of two Kindles. Be sure to stop here at my blog tomorrow when I'll have a guest post from David Niall Wilson, successful author and owner of Crossroads Press. Don't forget, Nov. 6 is the official launch of AS I DIE LYING, on sale for 99 cents for a limited time only. I'll be at bestselling author Karen McQuestion's blog on launch day. See you there!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nov 2: Synchronicity

My dark crime thriller Disintegration hit #44 on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list and is now bouncing around in the 50s. I believe in larger forces. I also believe we channel the energy through these forces and draw strength from them. It's not a coincidence that my "darkest moment" has led to my biggest writing success. It's the yin and yang.

It's not a coincidence that I was at #149 and, recalling The Red Church peaked at #148, said, "This is the hard part." As if I were ready to put the barrier up.The Lefthanded Puppeteer simply said, "No, it's not. What's the difference?" So I opened to door to let it go on up. I woke up and it had broken the Top 100 and kept moving.

It's also not a coincidence that I am co-writing the novel Cursed! with J.R. Rain, which we're releasing Nov. 15 or that we're lumped together on some bestseller lists. J.R. is a believer in the Law of Attraction, what some might call "the secret," or the "power of positive thinking." I've been thinking more positively over the last few years, and the idea of "writing success" is now welcome.

I've worked hard. I've worked for positive ideals. I help my friends and peers and promote other people's books because we all get enriched in our lives. I believe in myself. I believe my writing entertains or instructs people. I believe As I Die Lying is a bestseller that many people will love and some will absolutely despise. I believe Cursed! will break the Top 100 and help J.R. and I share our audiences and a good, fun story.

I believe this is fun and good and right. Thanks for being here with me.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

We did it!

Friends, followers, and people who said, "Do it," (including poppa-in-law who got out of bed to buy a copy), thanks for your generous support. As of this writing, my dark crime thriller Disintegration is at #98 on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list. I appreciate your help in telling friends about the book and reviewing it. I'll be talking more about my "evil twin" book in the days to come.

It's now #1 in the "Hard-boiled mystery" category, the third different category in which I've hit #1 this year for Kindle. It's #3 in the overall "Romantic suspense" list, coincidentally enough right behind two novels by J.R. Rain, with whom I am releasing "Cursed!" in a couple of weeks.

Success is an odd thing. I feel exactly the same, and I have the exact same obligations. I wake up every day with 25 hours of work ahead of me. I wake up and smile the first thing every morning, because I am next to the Lefthanded Puppeteer. I wake up and thank God because i have such a wonderful, exciting life. At night, I don't pray to sell more books, I ask how I can be a better man, father, husband, human being.

Disintegration was written at what was probably the lowest point in my life. Maybe it saved my life. It's not a perfect book by any means, and not everyone will like it, but it was the best I could do at the time. That's all I aim for these days. The best I can do. And I can't do these things without you, and they don't matter a bit if you don't share them. For all the reviewers, taggers, and readers, thanks--and good luck now that your chances of winning a Kindle on the Kindle Giveaway blog tour have doubled!

Don't miss today's stop at http://www.briankeene.com

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Disintegration breaking through

Thanks for helping my dark crime thriller Disintegration hit #147 in the Amazon Kindle store. I appreciate your help in telling friends about the book and reviewing it. I'll be talking more about my "evil twin" book in the days to come.

It's now #1 in the "Hard-boiled mystery" category, the third different category in which I've hit #1 this year for Kindle. It's a book I'm relieved to have out there and over with, and now all that's left is for you to take out of it what you can. This one feels like "success."

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Oct 30: Pre-Halloweening

Today's Kindle Giveaway Book Blog stop is at http://themindfulmusingsbookblog.blogspot.com/

Trade paperback graphic anthology Grave Conditions releases Oct. 31--J.A. Konrath, Brian Keene, Jonathan Maberry, Stephen Susco, William Harms, Lavie Tidhar, and more. Order today and get free bonus sketch cards from Shane Kirshenblatt and Digger. http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/comics.htm

My new crime thriller Disintegration officially launches Nov. 1. All author proceeds from sales of October Girls from Oct 25-Oct 31 will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

If you're a writer, why not swing by and pick up your free copy of Write Good or Die?
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Think Pink--Breast Cancer Research fundraiser

In honor of my mother, a breast cancer survivor, as well as my wife and daughter, all author proceeds from sales of October Girls from Oct 25-Oct 31 will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I hope to raise $100, which isn't much, but I've been very fortunate with success and I am grateful for it. This is my opportunity to share.

Yes, I know men can get breast cancer, too, and I like to wear pink myself, but this is a way to honor all those wonderful women out there who raise children, hold communities together, offer compassion and guidance, and generally make the world a worthwhile, magical place. I hope you'll join in, whether by buying October Girls or by donating directly to BCRF, or launching your own fundraiser.



Here's my mom at 16, holding the family musket and powder horn (yes, they are real.) Thanks, Mom, for having me, raising me, and putting up with me.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Disintegration launch approaching

Today I'm over at Gnostalgia talking about spirituality.

My new crime thriller Disintegration officially launches Nov. 1. In the meantime, all author proceeds from sales of October Girls from Oct 25-Oct 31 will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.



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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Simon Wood-- The Fall Guy

(While I am cavorting over at Fishmuffins of Doom for the Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour, promoting the mystery collection Curtains that has a Simon Wood bonus tale, I have a bonus Simon Wood himself here at my blog--enjoy some time with one of the best crime-mystery writers working today).

Designated Hit and Runners
By Simon Wood
 
 
For every seventeen-year-old male in the UK, the number one purchase is a car.  It’s a rite of passage--the first step towards adulthood and independence.
 
I was in engineering college when I turned seventeen.  My birthday occurred late in the school year and several of my friends had already turned seventeen, passed their test and gotten cars--albeit jalopies for a couple of hundred quid.
 
John was the first of us to get his wheels, a ’72 Ford Cortina.  Instead of running for the train to get to and from college, we rode with John.  The convenience of car ownership was all too apparent to me, even by proxy.  The responsibility of this convenience came a few weeks later.  We’d returned back from lunch to the college parking lot.  John found a stall behind the science block and went to park.  He backed the car up, doing all the right things, but his skill deserted him and he reversed into the side of the Vauxhall Cavalier.  There was no mistaking the buckling of sheet steel.
 
We all froze and waited for John’s reaction.  Panic spread across his face.  He had just kissed goodbye any possibility of a no claims insurance bonus.
 
“Do you think anyone saw?” he asked us.
 
The parking stalls were pretty secluded from the main parking lot. We looked around and saw no one.
 
“We’re going.  Cool?”
 
We didn’t reply, just nodded.  John burnt rubber and parked on the street a couple of blocks from the college.  We walked back to our afternoon classes.  John told us we weren’t to talk about this.  He was stern, but I noticed his hands were shaking.  He knew the crime he’d committed and the one we were accomplices to.
 
I was beginning to think we’d gotten away with it by mid-afternoon, until the cops interrupted second period.  Two officers walked in with one of the college lecturers and some kid I didn’t know.  One of the cops asked for John by name, but not the rest of us. 
 
My heart was pounding, so I couldn’t imagine what John’s was doing.  Unlike most college kids, we had more to lose than the rest.  We were employed by an array of big name companies underwriting our college education and paying us a salary.
 
John came back thirty minutes later, looking sheepish.  We were forced to wait until break to find out what had gone down with the police.  We’d thought our crime had gone undetected but we were wrong.  One of the other lecturers had witnessed the fender bender from the classroom.  The lecturer not only knew us, but he knew the name of the second year student who owned the Cavalier.  Giving the cops their due, they were pretty cool about it all, all things considered.  They weren’t pressing any charges as long as John paid for the damage.  They would be checking in with all parties to make sure amends were made.   
 
John made good on his error and the event never made it back to our respective employers or parents.  We all learned our lesson.  It was a stupid thing to do and we were damn lucky to have gotten away with it.
 
About a year later, a form of retribution came knocking.  Kevin (who’d been in the car with us) came back from lunch to find a broken headlight and a note under his windshield wiper.  The note said: People think I’m leaving you my name and address.  I’m not.
 
No one had witnessed the incident and Kevin was left to carry the expenses.
 
These two incidents have always stuck with me.  It’s one of those situations where I’d been on both sides of the equation, even if it was by proxy.  So when it came to writing The Fall Guy, my thoughts fell upon these two incidents and the story was born.  In the novel, the down-on-his-luck protagonist, Todd Collins, backs into a Porsche and leaves a note not dissimilar to the one Kevin found under his windshield.  This sets in motion a series of calamities, which winds up with Todd being indebted to organized crime and spending the rest of the story trying to get the monkey off his back.
 
I don’t know if I wrote the story as a penance or a warning to others, but it may have something to do with a theme that occurs in many of my stories.  A crime, even a little one, can’t remain covered up for long.  I learned that when I was seventeen.
 
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Tour hits halfway point!

Today's post at Larissa's Life address Crystal & Bone's life among the hotties. The Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour has hit the halfway point and I'm still standing. Or crawling. Hard to tell which. Don't forget to follow "hauntedcomputer" on Twitter to be eligible for the Pandora's Box of 100+ ebooks.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grave Conditions shipping

The horror anthology comic Grave Conditions will soon be on its way from the printer, but there's still time to pre-order and get an original, limited edition sketch card by Shane Kirshenblatt. The 108-page trade paperback features stories by Brian Keene, Jonathan Maberry Stephen Susco, William Harms, JA Konrath and more. Books are $9.95 plus $3 shipping, order at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/comics.htm. Just in time for Halloween!

Pop over to Dollar Bin Horror today for the Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour.

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