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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Blessed Days

Having family dinner and opening gifts this afternoon so everyone is free to enjoy Christmas on their own. Wife and I plan on taking our kids to see the Hobbit. The grandkids are still a little too young for that long of a movie.

May everyone have a blessed week and be safe while traveling or braving roads with those who don't understand the need to drive sober.

If anyone has some spare time over the next few days and feels like reading all you need do is go to Amazon.com and look up Patrick Prescott. Vander's Magic Carpet, Human Sacrifices, Fan Plan Meteor Strike and Fan Plan Preparation are still only $.99 as e-books. Optimus: Praetorian Guard is under P.M. Prescott.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Poem finish

Fellow blogger Ruined Chapel posted this and challenged us to finish it. I'll give it a try.

He’s been sitting in this bar for the last fifteen years,
Waiting for the Devil to come make a deal for his soul.
Don’t bother to talk to him, I think that his ears
Are shot from all of this bad rock ‘n’ roll.
One more blood shot drink for the road… [This line contributed by Thingy]

Sitting in his battered car waiting for the ringing in his ears to stop
"What's he waiting for?" he fumed. "All he need do is ask, I'll come cheap."
Starting up the car the road started swaying. A loud noise came from above.
He was buried under three stories when the earthquake finished.
With his spirit leaving he was met by a demon.
"This cannot be," the man cried, "he hasn't paid me for my soul!"
The demon laughed maniacally, "Why would he pay for something he already owns?"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Favorite Authors: James A. Michener

James Albert Michener  February 3, 1907 – October 16, 1997) was an American author of more than 40 titles, the majority of which were sweeping family sagas, covering the lives of many generations in particular geographic locales and incorporating historical facts into the stories. Michener was known for the meticulous research behind his work.
Michener's major books include Tales of the South Pacific (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948), Hawaii, The Drifters, Centennial, The Source, and Poland. His nonfiction works include the 1968 Iberia about his travels in Spain and Portugal, his 1992 memoir, and Sports in America.

Of all my favorite authors in this series I started reading Michener first. I didn't finish that first book until fifteen years later. It was his book The Source. Everybody bought this book in 1962 when it first came out. It is still in print to this day!
For those not familiar with this book, it is the craziest book ever written. It starts off with archaeologists in Israel starting a dig on a small mound between Acre and the Sea of Galilee. For the first hundred pages or so you learn how archaeologist work, what a Kibbutz is, are introduced to a host of characters, a summary of the book of Deuteronomy and a number of artifacts they discover. Then it changes, starting with the oldest artifact Michener writes a short story set in the time period of the artifact weaving a tale about a family changing from living in a cave as hunter gatherers to building a house and growing crops. The wealth of information concerning the historical significance of this major shift in human history is mind boggling even for a twelve year old who at that time wanted to grow up and be an archaeologist. Years later when teaching World History The Bee Eater, was of all the stories from this book that fascinated my students the most, and I was effortlessly able to explain what a huge change for humans transitioning from tribal wanderers to civilization.
I read about on-third of the book and got bogged down in the short story set in Byzantine times. Squabbles between Christians over Christ being flesh and not spirit as well as nitpicking Jewish Rabbis beginning the Talmud made me put the book away for many years.
I picked it up again in college to discover many more fascinating stories. I have spoken to many people from my parents generation and mine about the book and it is almost universal that they say, "I started the book, but didn't finish it." I'm not the only one who bogged down on the short story The Law.
In-between the short stories the archaeologists discuss the artifacts, which in almost all cases I found distracting, with the exception of Cullinane's comparison of two Crusader kings. Saint Louis and Frederick The German. Louis is held up in history as a great king even though he never won a battle and saw army after army slaughtered. History remembers him for his strong faith. America even has a city named for him.. Frederick on the other hand after landing in Acre negotiated a peace that lasted for a hundred years and upon leaving with his army was jeered and had pig guts dumped on him. Does that kind of remind you of the hatred directed at Kennedy for negotiating a peace with Russia on the missile crisis and SALT treaty compared to the adulation of George W. Bush for starting two meaningless and stupid wars that have taken a heavy toll in lives and wealth. But just listen to the howls, wailing and gnashing of teeth because Obama negotiated with Syria on WMD's and now with Iran.
Sorry to go on at length on this book, but in my opinion it is the one book everyone in the world should read to understand world history and apply it to what's happening today. Skip the one story on the law, unless you're really into Jewish Talmudic scholarship.

While the kids were little and as a teacher I had lots of reading time after teaching summer school. I read the complete Harold Robbins one summer so the next summer I thought I'd read everything by Michener. It took me all summer just to finish one of his books. When computers came out and I started writing short stories and novels my goal of reading the total tome of Michener bogged down.
I did like Alaska, Poland, Texas, Chesapeake, The Drifters, but some of his later books felt like he'd run out of story ideas. Michener started writing at age forty and published for fifty years. Quite an accomplishment.
One tidbit I read in an interview. His first book after he was discharged from the Marines after WWII was Tales of the South Pacific. He walked through a small muddy village in New Guinea that was named Bali Hai, he thought the name was beautiful and put it his book. The book was turned into the
Broadway musical South Pacific with Bali Hai one of the most memorable of songs.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fan Plan Preparation now available

Book 2 in the Fan Plan series is now at Amazon.com as an e-book for the amazingly low price of 0.99. If you have Amazon prime it can be borrowed for free. I actually get more royalties from KDP and the prime borrowers than from buyers.

If you haven't read book one, it's only 0.99 and available on Prime as well.
Book 3 is in the works and hopefully will be out before Christmas.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fifty Years in respective

Everyone is chiming in on the fifty years since the death of a president by an assassin's bullet. No reason I shouldn't put my two cent worth in.
  • I was ten on a day everyone alive would have burned into their memories and now fifty times the news media has abetted bringing back those painful days.
  • I was fifteen when I first saw the parade route for the motorcade and immediately realized no one in their right mind would leave the freeway for a short trip around Dealy Plaza and then get back on the freeway. It was intended as a kill zone. Did anyone question the man in charge of planning this route, arrest him and execute him? Of course not. This was a random act by a deranged man. Give me a break.
  • Freshman year in college we had a track meet in Dallas and the coach pointed out Dealy Plaza as we whisked by it. I got all of a fraction of a second to take a look. The year I lived in Fort Worth and the summer I spent in Canton while Dad was in hospice and I flew in and out of Dallas a number of times I never felt like revisiting the site.
Growing up in the 50's, 60's and being a college student, getting married (twice) in the 70's I lived through perhaps the most tumultuous decades in American history. I was born he year Ike was sworn in so I've lived under a lot of presidents. I've seen the deification of Kennedy and now the feet of clay. Here's my perspective both personal and researched. I'm about to piss everyone off.
  1. Kennedy's most lasting legacy was dying. (I'll wait until all the booing stops)
  2. He was in office for 1000 days and he was no Roosevelt with a super majority in congress. He didn't have time to accomplish much.
  3. Bay of Pigs he inherited from Eisenhower and was a learning experience. Missile Crisis, thank God Nixon lost the election or cockroaches would be the only ones living on the planet.
  4. He did launch the space race and peace corps.
  5. Civil Rights act, voting rights act,  food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, HUD were on the democratic platform, but stalled in congress.
  6. Johnson was able to pass the Civil Rights, voting rights act, and the war on poverty after his election in 1964 with a comfortable majority in congress due to sympathy from the voters after the assassination.
Everything Johnson was able to accomplish in 1965-66 for the minorities and the social safety net is really Kennedy's legacy. He died for it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Favorite Authors: William Manchester

William Raymond Manchester (April 1, 1922 – June 1, 2004) was an American author, biographer, and historian. He was the author of 18 books which been translated into over 20 languages. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal and the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award. (No Picture available)

I've covered my favorite fiction writers so far. Asimov wrote non-fiction, Ellison wrote essays, McCullough used research for the setting of Rome to make it come alive, but Manchester is straight non-fiction. He is so easy to read on very different subjects. A true historian's historian. Not without much criticism, but that's to be expected with all writers fiction or not.
1973, the ten year anniversary of Kennedy's assassination. The summer before my sophomore year in college I pulled out a dusty copy of Death of a President. I was ten on that unforgettable day and remembered Mom and Dad reading the book when it came out. In the evenings in my parent's basement I read this book revisiting the horror of a dreadful week. It was an eye opener on the pettiness of politics, the squabble between Connelly and Johnson over who would be riding in the car. The book made everyone human. The timetable blow by blow was riveting. My roommate when I got back to Wayland was from Booker, Tx and we roomed together our freshman year on the road for the track team, he was a pole vaulter. We got along on just about everything, but when I mentioned reading this book I encountered a side to him I hadn't seen, a look of pure hate at just the mention of Kennedy ten years after his death. I see that look today at the mere mention of Obama by people I know who are reasonable and rational on just about everything else. The Kool-Aid of hate keeps getting passed around.
Other books I've found fascinating by Manchester:
Goodbye Darkness: an autobiography where Manchester revisited the islands in the Pacific twenty years after he fought on them during WWII.
American Caesar: Biography of Douglas MacArthur. The movie starring Gregory Peck relied heavily on this book. Dad and I discussed it at length after we both read it. He still believed some of the scuttlebutt that was said about him.
The Glory and the Dream: If there is any one book everyone should be reading today as we're going through a Great Recession it's the first half of this book when he covers the Great Depression. He covers both political parties, their ideas, what they stood for, and how it all played out. He also makes observations. Concerning the assassination of Huey P. Long of Louisiana, who was perceived as a threat to Roosevelt's re-election in 1936 he says that this was one death that influenced history more than any election in history, or something to that effect. In response to the constant Republican refusal to admit there was hunger in America from 1930 to 1934. He relates that in 1942 when men who were children during this time reported for duty to fight, 1/4 were unfit due to rickets or bowed legs (calcium deficiency) and poor eyesight (vitamin A deficiency) from malnutrition as children. He says if Hoover had been elected in 1932 and his policies continued the U.S. might not have been able to field an army in WWII.
WWII and the 50's are interesting. In the Sixties he covers civil rights and Vietnam ending the book with the resignation of Richard Nixon after a pretty good recap of Watergate.
The Arms of Krupp: Manchester covers the rise of Krupp works from the 1600's to post WWII. The majority of the book deals with Frederick Krupp developing the first breach loaded steel cannon and unleashing them on the French at the battle of the Sudan in the Franco-Prussian War. Gustov marrying Frederick's daughter Bertha, changing his name to Krupp instead of hers to his. Krupp Werks being in an ideal location in a valley with rich iron ore deposits on one mountain and coal on the other. One piece of information I found interesting. Krupp developed the firing mechanism for artillery shells holding its international patent. England and France couldn't develop one equal to it so they purchased the right to use the Krupp mechanism based on a few cents for every shell fired. After WWI the English arm's manufacturer didn't know how many shells were fired over the course of the war and they settled on paying a certain amount for every German killed during the war. Gustov Krupp who was an early Nazi supporter took the money and used it to develop the Tiger Tank and ME 109 fighter plane.
After the war Krupp began setting up steel mills in third world countries and I find it interesting that the elevator in my wife's office building has a manufactured by Krupp prominently displayed.
There are many more of his books I'd love to read, when checking up on him through Wikipedia I discovered he wrote a novel, maybe that will be next on the list, but A World Lit By Fire about the Middle Ages and Renaissance sounds fascinating too.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Favorite Authors: Anne McCaffrey

Anne Inez McCaffrey (1 April 1926 – 21 November 2011) was an American-born Irish writer, best known for the Dragon Riders of Pern science fiction series. Early in McCaffrey's 46-year career as a writer, she became the first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction and the first to win a Nebula Award. Her 1978 novel The White Dragon became one of the first science-fiction books to appear on the New York Times Best Seller List.
In 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named McCaffrey its 22nd Grand Master, an annual award to living writers of fantasy and science fiction. She was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame on 17 June 2006.

If you haven't read the Dragon Riders of Pern, stop right now go to Amazon.com or another book store on the web and download the first book Dragon Flight or get the whole trilogy with Dragon Quest and The White Dragon. The money, time and energy you spend reading them will be well worth it. You'll also then need to read the Harper Hall Trilogy that runs concurrent with the Dragon Riders, who are the aristocrats, while the harper books deal with the common people who don't ride dragons, but own fire lizards.
I remember when I gave my sister, who was in high school at the time, Dragon Song, after she finished the book she said, "I want a fire lizard."
Known mostly for her Dragon books, she also wrote hard science books like the Ship Who Sang in a series of books known as the Brain and Brawn Ship Series, where space ships have human brains partnered up with a pilot. Another series of books The Crystal Universe where all interstellar communication is done from crystals found only on one planet. Killishandra Lee is the singer who cuts the crystal and these are fascinating books. Notice McCaffery infuses her stories with singers something most writers omit.
In the 35 years since we've been married I've found one of the few writers I can read to my wife that she enjoys is Anne McCaffrey. Over those years we've shared the Dragon books, Crystal books, some of her Brain and Brawn Ship books. This lady's stories anyone will love if they take a couple of minutes to start reading her.
I'm currently reading the first in her Acorna series and enjoying it like all the books I've read by her.
After I saw the movie Dragon Heart and saw how realistic the CG animation was able to make a dragon I thought Hollywood needs to start filming her Dragon Riders books. I call for an international outcry that these books be turned into movies just like Tolkien's Hobbits and Lewis' Narnia Chronicles.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

My Favorite Authors: Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough was born in Australia. A neurophysicist, she established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, then worked as a researcher and teacher at Yale Medical School for ten years. She is the author of the record-breaking international bestseller The Thorn Birds as well as eleven other novels, and lives on Norfolk Island in the Pacific with her husband.

Yes I read the Thorn Birds and enjoyed it, drooled over Rachel Ward in the mini-series, but that's not why this great lady influenced my writing. Without her Optimus: Praetorian Guard wouldn't have been written.
I stumbled upon her book The First Man in Rome in Don's Paper Back Exchange. You take in a sack full of used books and walk out with a handful of other used books for less than a buck. It wasn't far from where we lived at the time and it kept Mom, Dad, wifey and me in hog heaven reading wise.
Looking over the book I noticed a large appendix in the back so I read it before starting on page 1. I recommend this for all of her books in this series. It is the best primer on Roman culture I've ever read, and I've read a lot about Rome. She has a diagram of what a toga looks like flat to get it to drape the right way. A list of Latin curse words, names of places in that time like Lundinium for London. It's worth buying the book for just the appendix.
There are seven books in this series: The First Man in Rome, The Grass Crown, Fortune's Favorites, Caesar's Women, Caesar, The October Horse and Anthony and Cleopatra.
Book one is about the rise of Marius in the time of the Divine Julius's grandfather. Marius is the first man to totally dominate Rome politically and become The First Man in Rome. In other words he ran the Republic. The Grass Crown is about the rise of Sulla and the civil war between Marius and Sulla. Fortune's Favorites deals with the young Julius Caesar as a child and what a mine field it was to survive the animosity of Sulla. Caesar's Women is about Caesar working up the Cursus Honorum, the political ladder to become a senator and then Consul by the time you're thirty and his fight with Cato. It is amazing how much this book mirrors our current political squabbles. Caesar is a fascinating account of the time Caesar was in Gaul and all the fighting to subdue the area. This book is a much better read than Caesar's Gallic Wars, while staying true historically. The October Horse is about Caesar's death. I haven't read Anthony and Cleopatra yet, but it's on my list.
I've seen the BBC's I Claudius and HBO's Rome. There is a hunger concerning this time period. A network could create a daily soap opera using these books that would have much better viewership than the tired and worn ones my wife and daughter watch because it would be different and exciting.

A side note about the Grass Crown, The Roman Republic was against any form of kingship, such as gold of silver crowns. Their crowns or coronas were made out of plants. Laurel leaves for victors in the games, Oak leaves for someone who saved a comrades life in battle and the victorious general after a battle would be given a grass crown from the field of battle stained with the blood of the dead. This was the highest crown they could give. It made the general Imperator, the word that has become Emperor. Think of Jesus on the cross. The crown of thorns was a way of ridiculing him, but it was still a grass crown and he conquered death by rising from the grave.

So much of what I learned about Rome from these books was used to flesh out my story. It was in a Sunday School class we were studying the book of Acts where Peter had his vision about unclean food and was sent to convert Cornelius of the Italian Cohort. From reading these books I knew that Cornelius was a very common last name in Italy because Cornelius Sulla picked up lots of clients during his war with Marius and all his clients took on his family name of Cornelius. I also knew that the Italian Cohort was made up of Italian Allies of Rome, the Sabines, Samnites, Greeks from Neapolis (Naples) and all of them would return to Italy after their tour of duty. I was planning on writing a book about one of the Apostle Paul's guards while he was awaiting trial in Rome because Christian tradition holds that his guards had to be replaced every two or three weeks because he converted them. What clicked in my mind was a connection between my guard and how close the Empire came to having a Christian Emperor in the first century. I needed a way for my protagonist to have an in with Domitian's family. From this I created Lucius Cornelius Judeaus, the son of the Cornelius mentioned in Acts who then marries his sister to Optimus. Truly without reading these books my first  novel would still be nothing but research.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Favorite Authors: Harlan Ellsion

Harlan Jay Ellison (born May 27, 1934) is an American writer. His principal genre is speculative fiction.
His published works include over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, teleplays, essays, a wide range of criticism covering literature, film, television, and print media. He was editor and anthologist for two ground-breaking science fiction anthologies, Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions Ellison has won numerous awards including multiple Hugos, Nebulas and Edgars.

Going through my divorce and devouring as many books as Gwen Shultz recommended I discovered Harlan Ellison. It was a collision of perfect timing. I was hungry to read, deeply depressed with plenty of time on my hands and Harlan Ellison was having a Renaissance.
In reading Asimov's anthology of the Hugo winners I read Ellison's story Repent Harlequin, Said the Tic Toc Man. It was interesting, but as with a lot of the winning stories I wasn't impressed.
Gwen recommended Death Bird Stories. This book has a warning to not read it in one sitting as the stories are too disturbing. The first story blows you out of the water. Whimper of Whipped Dogs. Using the media circus about the murder of Kitty Genovese in New York where numerous people watched and did nothing, now called bystander syndrome, Ellison weaves a tale of a vaporous inner city god calling people to worship. It is mind blowing to anyone, but for someone coming out of a year of seminary and horribly depressed a surprising thing happened. It lifted my spirits. The next stories in the book gave words to the feelings I was experiencing but couldn't describe. I subsequently discovered Ellison was on his third or fourth wife. If anyone would know what that feels like he would. I know it sounds weird but reading very depressing stories lifted my depression. I wouldn't recommend this as general therapy as it could deepen another person's depression.
  I read everything I could find of his over a summer. All of his books were being reissued at that time but you could only find them at a bookstore across from UNM. Since we lived near there that wasn't a problem. A side note my novel Human Sacrifices is influenced by Whimper of Whipped Dogs. Stephen King writing a forward to one of Harlan's books said that reading Ellison made you write like Ellison.
Dad was an ex-Marine so we kind of avoided the "Hippie" and "Anti-war" thing. Besides at my school the hippies wanted the money spent on athletics diverted to classroom instruction and were against JROTC. I ran track and cross-country and was enrolled in AFJROTC. I turned 18 the last year of the Vietnam Draft. My birthday was 76 in the lottery. I received notice that they were drafting that year to 75, but if anything happened they would draft up to 100. My freshman year of college I was under the sword of Damocles. It made me look at options. I concluded if I was called up I would go.
I said that in preamble because in 1977 I read Ellison's The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat. Compilations of essays published in The Los Angeles Free Press (Freep) critiquing television. Ellison critiqued everything. Mostly diatribes against the Vietnam War, support of Civil Rights and vey much anti-Nixon and Agnew. These books were finally being republished after Vice President Spiro Agnew ordered the first publisher to burn them. The publisher even gave Ellison the publishing rights back and no one would touch the books until after Watergate. My political views didn't change that much, but I realized how much the general public and I was deceived by the government and horror of horrors, maybe the hippies were right.
When I started teaching 7th and 8th graders in English I discovered very quickly that you CAN'T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF OF THEM FOR A SECOND! Fortunately I have an excellent memory and instead of reading to the students I started telling them stories. (when most of your students can't read past 3rd grade the biggest problem is not word recognition it is visualization. Being read to helps them see the action of the story that reading it themselves doesn't) The trick is to find stories that interest boys, girls not so much as all books written at this level are purposely designed for them. Just try to publish a Youth book with a male protagonist and brain yourself on the brick wall. J.K. Rowling nearly died on this brick wall, but look what happened when the boys in England started reading about Harry Potter.
Back to my point. One of my favorite short stories by Ellison is Along The Scenic Route. Its about a married couple on a Sunday drive that gets bullied by another driver and they enter a legally sanctioned highway duel with machine guns and lasers. For years I would run into former students working as waitresses, fast food restaurants, student teaching, fellow teachers. They all told me that the one thing they remember from my class was that story.
I could write even more about his television impact: Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever, Next Generation: Far Point, Outer Limits: Demon With a Glass Hand, Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Memos From Purgatory, The New Twilight Zone: Shatterday
The cult classic movie A Boy and His Dog.
Nuff said.

Monday, November 04, 2013

My favorite authors, Isaac Asimov

I'm working on the second book of my Fan Plan series and won't be starting from scratch on  novel for Nanowrimo. Thought instead I'd say a few words about my favorite authors instead.

Isaac Asimov born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in nine out of ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

The first book by Asimov I read was one of his history books: The Greeks: A Glorious Adventure. I was in 6th grade and loved history books, still do. He wrote a number of easy to understand histories. Two on Rome, Britain, the Near East, The Old Testament and New Testament.
I wasn't aware of him as a science fiction writer until 9th grade. A friend of mine shared his copy of Nine Tomorrows, and I've been a big fan of sci-fi ever since. After I finished the Lord of the Rings that summer I started reading The Foundation Trilogy I followed that with I Robot and unfortunately graduated from high school. In college I had too much other reading to do so I put sci-fi aside.
Returning from graduate school, going through a long and painful divorce and no job I had time on my hands and was used to reading around 500 or more pages of theology a day. There was a little book store across from a park by my parent's house named Trespasser's William run by a wonderful lady named Gwen Shultz. I would sit with her and talk sci-fi though most of her books were children's. We both loved Asimov, who that's ever read sci-fi doesn't?
I joined the Science Fiction book club and bought a number of his anthologies, the subsequent Foundation books, but it was his compilation books that opened and even wider range of sci-fi for me. He edited the Hugo Awards books, Before the Golden Years a compilation of stories from his childhood that made him the writer he was, and a few others. I also got a subscription to Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine where he had a monthly column on hard science.
His book Beginnings and others were a compilation of those articles. He was just an amazing writer and the world was truly blessed with his works.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why am I still a Cowboys Fan?

I've followed the Dallas Cowboys since forever. Don Meredith was QB, All American from UNM Don Perkins was RB. Suffered BS (Before Stauback) when Tom Landry would alternate QB's with each possession between Stauback and Morton. Hoping beyond hope that Danny White would somehow figure a way to win the conference championship game and make it to the Super Bowl, only to be crushed time and again. The agony has always been worse than the ecstasy.
Wife and I timed her contractions when she went into labor with our daughter while watching the Pokes lose a game the last year Landry was coach.
 Ah the glory days of Super Bowl victories, the despair of Super Bowl losses, but at least they went to the playoffs, won more than they lost and if they had a bad year there was always the Denver Broncos to fall back on especially with Elway.
Since Aikman and company, what a great team they had for a few years, there's been nothing worth rooting for, but still every game the adrenaline ramps up, I hold my breath on important plays and hope with futile hope that Romo will not get intercepted in the last minutes of a game or the center won't hike the ball over his head, or a wide open receiver drops the ball in the end zone or when they do catch the game winning touchdown at the last second a ref drops a yellow flag.
I'm sure everyone who has spent 50 or more years following a beloved team has similar feelings because all teams have their good years and bad years.
I really wonder about Detroit fans when their team has never been to the Super Bowl. Come to think of it, have the Jags and Panthers ever gone to the big game? It must gall Cleveland fans that the team they rooted for that never made it to the Super Bowl moves to Baltimore and has won two.
As I said I follow the Broncos, yell and scream when they score or get intercepted, but I don't get the adrenaline rush in their games like I do with the Cowboys it's just not the same.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Maximum Frustration

I sent the manuscript and cover to Lithexcel on Tuesday expecting to have ten books in hand by now. They haven't even given me a quote yet and aren't returning my calls. Guess I'll need to find another printer.
Smashwords has accepted the manuscript, but not the cover. This means the book will be on their site, but won't go out on their list to other companies like I-books or Nook. They want the picture to be 1400 pixels in width and 1700 pixels in height. Using Publisher I can get my front cover to 1000 pixels in width and 1350 in height. That's 24" in height and 17" in width, what the fuck to they want a wall size painting?
They recommended using a free picture program named Gimp. I downloaded it. Actually got the dimensions they want, but can't size the picture to the frame. Oh the program is free, but if you want to figure it out Amazon sells about five books starting at 25 bucks to 30 bucks.
I've removed the book from SW.
Speaking of Amazon, they at least have a cover maker program, but you use it while publishing and you can't save the picture or download the program. Amazon has the KDP select where their members on Prime can borrow a book for free every month. If you put your book up for this you can't be e-published anywhere else, for three months.

Lithexcel finally got back to me and I'll have the first ten books Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fan Plan Meteor Strike Published

 Today I sent Fan Plan Meteor Strike to the printer and I should have the hard copy in hand by the end of the week. I've e-published it on Smashwords and it is available now for a mere ninety-nine cents until Monday October 21 when I will raise the price of the e-book to $1.99 and e-publish on Amazon at the same price, but it will be available on Kindle Direct Publishing so those who are members of Amazon Prime can borrow the book for free.The paper and ink book will sell for $10.00 each. The beauty of doing my own publishing is that I can retail the books for what would be my cost through Create Space and other print-on-demand companies. Those companies also insist that e-books sell at paper and ink book prices.
I need to write the second book in the trilogy Fan Plan Next Generation, edit Human Sacrifices and Vander's Magic Carpet to publish them in paper and ink before finishing the trilogy with Fan Plan The Count Down. Methinks there is much work to be done.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Zebra Balloon

It's that time of year again in Albuquerque. Our international balloon fiesta. We stopped braving the crowds after our kids became adults and leave it to them to take the grandkids. Where I work is very close to the park and it's easier to watch from there. Here's a video of a zebra balloon that flew overheard Saturday.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

My obligatory Breaking Bad post

Today in the NY Times there's an obituary of the show. It finished with these words:

But the show never fully spelled out why Walt broke away from Gretchen and Elliott in the first place.
There were hints throughout the series. On several occasions, Walt accused them of cheating him out of his share; that bitterness seemingly helped steer him into his life of crime. But it wasn’t clear that his version was correct — in an episode where they confront each other at a restaurant, Gretchen said that Walt left her without any explanation. And the true story never came out.
“Breaking Bad” brilliantly tracked Walt’s transformation from teacher to criminal mastermind. But it’s still a mystery why that talented chemist turned his back on fame and fortune and became a humble high school chemistry teacher.
That is one secret Walter White took to the grave.
Here's my two cents worth on the descent of Walter White brilliant scientist to zombie science teacher. To a certain degree the first year of the show is the anti-Mr. Holland's Opus. There's more to being a teacher than getting a paycheck, Walt never understood that.
  1. Jessie tries to talk Walt into quitting reminding him that in the beginning all he wanted to make was 270k to see is family comfortable after he's gone. They now have millions so why keep going. Walt tells him that he sold his shares in Gray Matter for a couple of months rent before it got big and that GM is now worth 27.5 Billion dollars, he checks on it. Knowing what he could have had and threw it away has eaten at his soul all his life from that time on.
  2. When Walt meets with Gretchen and tries to get her to say they are paying for his treatment without explanation, this is where she says he left without explanation. Here it takes a little reading between the lines. Walt is verbally abusive to her. There was a reason he left and sold out. My reading is he suspected her of having an affair with Elliot, but wouldn't accuse her of it directly. The fact that Gretchen and Elliot then get married and go on to live on Mount Olympus reinforces his suspicion and animosity. It explains also why he won't take their guilt money or sympathy. Pride goeth before a fall, and it certainly applies with Walt in the first season.
  3. A quick scene where Walt and Skyler are looking at buying the house. She's pregnant with Walt Jr., he's working at Sandia Labs, which is much better pay than teaching. He wants a bigger house, she's conservative and wants to go small and get a bigger house later.
  4. The explanation for his lung cancer is that it came from his work at a lab, I think they said Los Alamos, but the other scene it was Sandia Labs. Could have been both or they forgot to have a continuity check between episodes. Reading into this, Skyler may have nagged Walter into leaving the labs due to the radiation he was working with, though it was too late. Skyler took a man capable of being a master of the universe and turned him into Harvey Milktoast. Walt was a brilliant mind forced to wander in the wilderness of mediocrity for most of his life. 
  5. Face it Walter is whipped the whole series, nothing says this louder than after Jessie pours gasoline on their carpet and he's frantic to have it cleaned up before she gets home when they have a storage shed with over 80 millions dollars. Now that is one whipped man!
  6. I'm not dissing Skyler, she's right. All that money made them live in fear, it gets Hank killed, she's terrorized by masked men, they become destitute and Walt is on the run finally dying in a shoot out.
  7. Skyler loved Hank the school teacher and fights his every attempt to break out of the mold she forced him into. Hank hated his life and when he knew his days were numbered he equated love with money only his pride wouldn't let  him accept Elliot and Gretchen's offer, and chose to make it outside the law. The tragedy of living outside the law is you lose the protection of the law.
  8. The ascent of Walter White from zombie science teacher to super meth cook was his death sentence. He finally admits it in the last episode that he did all of it for selfish reasons. Breaking the law and living in fear made him feel alive. Maybe taking a ride on a bull named Fu Mancu would have been better.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bummed on Sleepy Hollow

I tried to watch Sleepy Hollow. It started out okay for network TV series which has a censorship handicap over cable and premium channels. Then they got into the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse crap. To set the record straight: Death rides a pale horse, the color of ashes. Not white like in the show.

Revelation 6  (Greatly redacted)

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The First Seal—Rider on White Horse

 I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

The Second Seal—War

 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.

The Third Seal—Famine

I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.

The Fourth Seal—Death

 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him.

The Fifth Seal—Martyrs

The Sixth Seal—Terror

Okay, if you have ever seen any of the old sand and sandals movies about ancient Rome, they used to have something called a triumph, modern day parades descend from them. Envision these seven seals as a military triumph.
The conquering general would led the triumph riding a white horse and the defeated Kings or generals would follow behind him as captives. Jesus is riding the white horse, War, Famine and Death are defeated and follow him as captives. After the captives would come the victorious army, which would be the martyrs. The sixth seal or all the natural calamities like earthquakes, volcanos, floods, etc are also shown as under the control of Jesus.

Now can you see why I can't stomach Hollywood bastardizing the Bible.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Golf Course Balloons

Went to the local golf course. Haven't been there since May when it was awful. Winter kill left nothing but dirt. They've closed off the front 9 and reseeded and it won't be open till Spring when they close off the back nine and do the same. Today the executive 9 was in the best shape since I started playing there in 2000. And Rainbow Riders landed. They love flying over my house about once or twice a month, but today they only made it as far as the golf course about three miles north.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Found a Printer

I put out a post on my Writers 2 Writers fb page for a local printer that could do what Lightning Source is doing. Gerdean O'Dell and Jill Lane recommended Print Express and LithExcel and I appreciate their recommendations. I can now print my books at 50.00 for an ISBN and a 6X9 book of 200 pages will run $4.00 per book. I can pick them up so there's no shipping. If I buy ten books it comes to less than a hundred dollars. I sell the ten books at ten bucks each which breaks me even, but I can buy more and I'll be making 60% profit from that point on.. I'm not looking to make a killing off printed books, just want to have some and go back to doing book signings. I can still price the e-books at .99 or up to 2.99. This way if those at a book signing don't have the money they can always buy them at home.
At this price over time I can re-print Optimus: Praetorian Guard, print Human Sacrifices and Vander's Magic Carpet.
Not sure about the children's book Friends Forever I publish for Anne Littlewolf, but we're working on some senior picture books that this should work for.
A whole new world jut opened up for me, ain't it great?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A touchy issue: same sex marriage

This video was shown at my church this past Sunday. I agree with most of it. I was forced to define my position on same sex marriage. This is what I've concluded.

I am a licensed Southern Baptist Minister. I am also a citizen of the United States and understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is possible to hold certain religious beliefs without making them the law of the land. There is no cognitive dissonance here. Jesus said it best: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's."
I feel it is time to voice my opinion on the issue of same sex marriage.
  • Is homosexuality a sin? From my interpretation of the Bible as a Baptist it is, but so is the fact I'm divorce and remarried, so is lust, greed, envy, gluttony, pride etc. No sin is greater or lesser and as Romans 3:23 states: For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
  • Can a person or couple living in this lifestyle be saved? All sinners can be saved even if they continue to commit the sin. If God withdrew his salvation because of continual sin, then those who smoke and can't quit are lost (ruining God's temple), I would be lost for the thirty-five years I've been remarried while my ex-wife still lives (committing adultery). Those who get angry and commit murder in their heart would be lost. The point Jesus made in his Sermon on the Mount was about the impossibility of salvation through the law and the importance of forgiveness for God's forgiveness is absolute over all sins.
  • Should the Church allow same sex couples membership? By all means yes. If churches started refusing sinners from joining, the pews would be empty and the pulpit vacant. I have a feeling that many Christians will be shocked entering the pearly gates to find this kind of sinner also present.
I have lived next door to, worked under and with, as well as taught students who live this life style. They are human beings and deserve all rights guaranteed under the constitution. As a Christian I am to treat them as any other of God's children and as an American respect their rights as they respect mine.

Two big issued on this have come up in New Mexico the last couple of weeks. The state constitution does not specify gender concerning marriage. Gary King the attorney general for the state was asked to render a decision on the matter, and he punted saying it should be left to the legislature. He is going to run for Governor next year. A county clerk in Los Cruces decided to start issuing same sex marriage licenses. Surprisingly the Tea Party Governor did not call an emergency session on the issue and punted as well. She is up for re-election.
A number of couples sued to get a court order issued forcing their county clerks to issue same sex licenses. As of yesterday eight counties are now issuing them. Those against this are crying foul, because they are suing only in the counties where the county clerk is in favor and does not argue against them at the hearing, so only one side is represented. In an adversarial legal system this is a valid point.
The argument for allowing same sex marriage is that since the constitution doesn't specify or prohibit these marriages they should be allowed. All laws by their nature forbid and what is not forbidden is permitted.
The argument against has two points. 1. When the state constitution was written in 1912, it wasn't an issue that needed to be addressed. The state had sodomy laws making homosexuality illegal. These laws were repealed in the 1960's. Therefore the "spirit" of the law should be observed not the "letter" of the law. (A little irony here, those against are the "strict constructionists" on Roe V Wade, but flip flop when their ox is gored). 2. Precedent: A few years ago a county clerk issued same sex marriage licenses and the state Supreme Court ordered her to stop. This decision should be upheld until such time as the state Supreme Court reviews and overturns its previous ruling. Gary King as AG has ordered that the marriage licenses from this time are valid and to be honored. A previous AG said they weren't.
The Sticky Wicket
The state Supreme Court did issue a ruling recently angering many against same sex marriages. A couple approached a photographer about taking pictures at their wedding. The professional photographer refused citing his religious beliefs on the issue. The couple found another photographer who was cheaper. You'd think that would be the end of it, but they sued the first photographer for discrimination. The state Supreme Court ruled against the photographer and he was forced to pay damages. This could be construed as the state Supreme Court tacitly approving the licenses.
Those who have been oppressing same sex couples can now claim victimhood. This poor picked on religious fanatic has been harmed. Pardon my sarcasm, but if the guy didn't want to do the job he could have said no and left it at that, he didn't have to give a reason or a sermon. Ever since the sit in at a Woolworth's lunch counter public businesses have been required to serve all customers. There are consequences of discrimination under Civil Rights law. Sorry Mr. Photographer you should have kept your mouth shut or done what you are in business to do, take pictures at weddings. A photography studio is not a church.
Should a pastor who is opposed to same sex marriages be compelled to officiate one? No. The pastor and Church is covered by the first amendment. Public businesses are not.
In Conclusion:
What is happening right now in New Mexico is known as a fait acompli. By the time the legislature meets nothing they do will change what's happened. Its a done deal. Like the fight over legalized abortion that doesn't mean it will go away. The rabid fundamentalists will have another dead horse to beat, but what else is new? They fired all missionaries that were divorced and remarried when they took over the SBC in the 1980's for the sin of living in adultery, and I have been treated as a second class Christian due to their misinterpretation of God's mercy and grace. That doesn't mean all Christians are that deluded or insensitive to other's spiritual needs.
I  have no problem with same sex marriage. Religiously its an issue of all God's children being sinners and to love them as He loves me. Politically it's an issue of equal human rights. I, or any other Baptist, do not have the right to legislate the morality of another person based on the what the Bible says. The first amendment protects me from other religions forcing me to believe their way and protects others from me forcing them to believe my way. That's freedom of religion and the free exercise of it.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Fan Plan: Meteor Strike

Finally getting a handle on the pricing of books I've reached a conclusion. Keeping the cost of the book at retail to $10.00 I've edited out thirty thousand words and reduced the font to 9 and 10. Not satisfactory.
The book has to be readable and font that size is just too small. Cutting so much back story and other places made the story a little too Spartan.
So I'm turning the story into three books.
Book one I've named Fan Plan: Meteor Strike bringing back the Drake and Eastman family history. The story starts with the meteor strike in 1965 and the formulation of the Fan Plan then back tracks to the 1920's with the creation of Trans Global Oil and Fort Worth Steel. It will end in 1969 as Patrick Eastman and his O'Neal half-brothers go through Faith Boot camp.
Book 2 will cover the 1970's through 2000 as the third generation of Eastman's and O'Neal's head off to college, get married and start working for the company and foundation.
Book three will end in 2012 adding the fourth generation of children.
By breaking up the story I'm able to devote more time to fully explore the wide variety of characters in the family and all the measures they take to prepare for a world wide disaster.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Comparing Create Space with Lightning Source.

Fellow Wayland Alum and chess master, Terry Austin, sent me what it would take to publish on Lightning Source. Thought I'd do a comparison.

Lightning Source (Underlining mine)
Professional Cover Design - $150-175
ISBN - $25 if you buy 10 at a time or I think $100 if you want just one.
             Not a bad price if you're publishing ten books. Initial out of pocket would be $250.00.
Print Set up - $37.50 for cover and $37.50 for interior
Printed Proof (if you want to see one) - $30.00
The cost of each book is calculated according to size:
·        $0.15 per page
·        $0.90 for cover
A 200 page book will cost you $3.90 plus good discounts if you buy quantities.
Lightning Source lists the book on Amazon and other sellers and take care of all order fulfillment for them. They send you a check every few months for those sales.
Create Space:
Professional cover design starts at $250
ISBN - three choices:
  • free, but Amazon has publisher rights and marketing rights
  • $10.00, author has publishing rights, Amazon has marketing rights
  • $99 author has all rights.
 Print Set up: Free for cover and interior
Printed proof, I've now purchased two at $3.00 + $3.59 S&H = $6.59 each.
Cost of Fan Plan: 180 pages minimum purchase price is $5.03 so I set the selling price at $5.99.
Lightning Source                                                           Create Space
$25.00 ISBN                                                                  Better choice for ISBN
$70.00 print set up.                                                        Print set up free
$30.00 for printed proof                                                 $6.00+ per book
Initial set up $125.00                                                      Initial set up price of printed proof
Long term $4.00/book beats $6.00/book. It would take purchasing 60 books to recover the initial set up costs of Lightning Source. I'm not sure I'll buy that many books. I'm thinking of around 20 or 30 to have an inventory for book sales. There's less temptation to give the books away if inventory is low.
Lightning Source does have wider marketing with more outlets than just Amazon, and Kindle. The $99.000 ISBN lets you expand marketing. Amazon does offer wider marketing, but at additional cost.
The real decider is shipping and handling costs. If Lighting Source has a better purchase discount for authors and equal or lesser S&H then it might be the better choice. Right now Create Space looks like the better choice.

Here's a reply from my friend:

I saw your blog post last night and had a couple of thoughts if you are going to compare Lightning Source and Create Space. Since you currently design your own covers, you will not have the $150-175 cost of cover design. Lightning Source does not design anything, that is simply what I pay for a professional designer. If you are simply interested in selling enough books to get your money back, here is the scenario with Lightning Source.
·        Pay approx. $100 for setup ($37.50 for cover, $37.50 for interior, $12 for catalog listing)
·        Purchase an ISBN $55.00 (Bowker has a plan for independent publishers)
·        Pay $4 per book (you really don’t want to use a font smaller than 11 pt if you want people to read the book).
·        Set the retail price at $15 (or $14.99 if you wish) so you will make at least $10 per book sold.
·        You have approx. $150 invested
·        Sell 15 books and you have your money back.
It’s a pretty scaled down model but it does allow you to get your money back quickly. Also, there is nothing to keep you from selling more books. Unlike Publish America or Create Space, you own the book totally, Lightning Source is simply a printer, you have complete control.
Thanks Terry for sharing.

What intrigues me now is that using LS over CS I'm free to e-publish at any price I want. With CS I can put it on KDP which goes out for free to those on Amazon Prime, but it can't be published anywhere else. The e-book and paper book have to be priced the same, I do get a bigger royalty off the e-book. But why pay the same for an e-book? Most of the cost in a paper book is in the materials. E-books are electrons.

Conclusion: I'm already committed to CS for Fan Plan. I like the ISBN options better here. I may revise Human Sacrifices and Vander's Magic Carpet and have LS print them. Something to think about anyway.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Proof book

Book cover submitted, final edit submitted, Create Space offered a free pdf for proofing or I could buy a printed copy for a little over two bucks, but with their shipping it came to a little over six. Here's a picture of me holding it. When I checked the picture I used for the cover it was copyrighted. So I came up with a new cover from pictures I've taken myself.
First thing I noticed was the print was way too small. I normally use 1.0 reading glasses and I had to use my 2.75 reserved for reading pill bottles. It was rather easy to proof on the hard copy and then make corrections for resubmittal, which I did today. Create Space will get back to me most likely tomorrow and I hit the final submission buttons for it to become a living breathing novel in both hard copy and e-book. I upped the font from 9 to 10 adding 40 pages and upping the price from 4.99 to 5.99. I really wanted to keep it at five bucks, but the print was just too small. It doesn't matter with e-books because the readers let you change the size of the print. I don't expect to sell a lot of hard copy's, but this book is special and I wanted a hard copy of it along with the ones of Optimus.
I'm thinking about turning Human Sacrifices and Vander's Magic Carpet into hard copy too now I've figured out how to get published this way.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Tale of Two Publishings part three

I started writing The Fan Plan in 2011. The story just took off in my mind and I had fifty thousand words in a matter of weeks. I knew that this was a story that deserved to be in hard cover. I thought about using PA again, but didn't want to be nickeled and dimed like last time. I looked into Create Space when I first started e-publishing, but decided against hard copy for Vander's and HS. There is also the problem of the same price being set for hard copy and e-book. This never made sense to me. I mean there's a printing cost and material cost for a 6X9 paper book. Why charge the same price for something delivered by and read by electrons? The advantage of e-readers is that you don't have to pay 3 to 5 bucks in shipping costs.
I asked around to the other writers at Southwest Writer's Workshop and Writer's 2 writers concerning other POD companies. Many seemed to be better than PA because they will release the book on e-format with the publishing, but again e-book and paper are same price.
I then thought about simply going to a local printer and paying them print the book acting as my own publisher, but they all need a volume of from a hundred to a thousand copies which is way beyond my budget up front.
So wanting this novel to be in paper I started the process with Create Space. It is much more complicated than PA.
I set up an account and started doing their steps. I submitted the manuscript for their review which says takes 2-3 days before they get back to you, but is usually ready in a day. They came back with format problems. I had to download their template and copy and paste from the Smashword's template onto theirs. It makes sense because you're downsizing from letter to a 6X9 page where the left page has narrower margins than the right page. If threw o
ff all the indentations and other formats. At this time the story was 120 thousand words. Going through the story to re-indent and paragraph led me to do a little trimming to move it out of the R rated category to a PG.
They also had me download instructions on making the books cover. Their instructions were for Adobe IP. I downloaded and could use this program for 30 days. It costs $400. I really do hate instructions that say if click on this then this screen should pop up then click on this link, because guess what, when you click on the this the screen they say should pop up doesn't and you can't go on! I did through trial, error and multiple temper tantrums turning my poor German Shepherd into a quivering mass of jelly came up with a book cover complete with spine and back page. All to be told when submitted that the pictures didn't have enough pixels. I've made three other covers using different pictures in HD 1141X1000, it still says not enough pixels. I give up and am using the last cover. My thirty day trial was over by the third try but I've had Microsoft Publisher since it was free for taking an Intel Teach to the Future class ten years ago. I worked with it and came up with the latest cover. When I looked at their pdf of the cover it looked fine to me. The pictures were clear, not blurred as they said it would be.
Cover entered, reworked story entered I submitted them and got to the part about pricing. It calculated the printing of the book at $4.77/copy and I could price it at anything above that. $4.99 makes sense, but that only gives me 23 cents per paper book and a buck thirty seven per e-book. I downloaded a pdf proof copy, but instead did another edit trimming it down a hundred pages to 98,000 words. This cut out a lot of back story, but after a good run through makes the plot quicker. I'm still setting the price at 4.99, but the publishing cost is down to 4.37.
Everything is now re-submitted. I have a pdf proof copy and purchased a hard copy today. The proof copy was 2.62 +3.59 shipping and I will have it in a week. I'll wait to do the proof on the hard copy then transfer them to the pdf for resubmittal. I'll also be able to judge the cover to see if it looks good enough.
All in all I'm happier with Create Space than with PA. They offer professional editors and cover artists, but at way too big a price for a retired educator. I can see how other authors getting tired of paying agents and being pushed around by traditional publishers would go this way. It gives more control over the integrity of your story and affordable pricing.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Tale of Two Publishings part two

Before I get to Create Space a few words about e-publishing. When I published Optimus it was by far the best way to get published. The traditional way of publishing was to find an agent (not very easy), who would send it to an editor who would then send the manuscript back for revisions taking your hard work and squeeze all the life out of it to satisfy the cookie cutter marketing dept's demands. If they accepted it there might be a three to five year delay before it reached print and bookstores. They wouldn't accept a work that didn't merit 50,000 copies. It was that or self-publish with a 2 or 3 thousand dollar up front cost and then buy your books from them. Then came Print On Demand, like Publish America and many others. No up front costs, no large print runs. The bea
uty of this is they can print one or a thousand in next to no time. a revolution in publishing. In 2006 after two years of beating my head against the traditional wall this was a godsend. But as explained in the last post their grip on the price of the book and shipping costs kept me from being able to market it successfully.
Then I discovered e-publishing. Wow what a liberation. I wrote my first novel in 1991 for Ted Turner's Tomorrow Awards. It was gathering dust. While writing Optimus I wrote a short story with a female protagonist as an exercise in strengthening my female characters. For years I would in the evenings find a picture and describe everything about it in detail, this quickly turned into weaving the details into one to three page stories, what later I found are called "flash stories."
E-publishing let's the author set the price from free on up. Anything under 2 dollars gets a 35% royalty over 2 bucks is 70 to 75%. I sold a few stories, but at the same time I started downloading and reading other e-books. I quickly realized that free stories had lots of downloads and anything over a buck was bypassed. I am just as guilty at going for the cheap. I mean I can download on my kindle eight really good novels for a buck, why pay more?
The three anthologies I priced for free. The two novels I priced at .99. Amazon makes you price at least .99, but if you publish KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) those who are members of Kindle Prime borrow the stories for free and you get a percentage of the set amount per year they put into the kitty for every time your book is borrowed. The catch your story has to be exclusive. Smashwords sends your story to Nook, Pubit, I-books, Sony, Diesel, and through them on eight different formats. In the two and a half years since I started e-publishing I've been getting bi-yearly royalties from both publishers. I make about three times as much from Amazon, but I still submit to both. The good thing is that I have my stories being purchased in the UK, Canada, Denmark, France, and Germany. In those two years only one month was nothing sold. Usually I have three to five sales per month and around the holidays I usually have over ten. January seems to be a good month as everyone with a new e-reader starts buying.
I started taking a number of my flash stories and turning them into short stories, then publishing them. My anthologies are: Flash Stories Married Love, Erotic Flash Stories, More Erotic Flash Stories.
Short Stories are: Wife Quest, Woman on the Beach, Car Hop, Super Erotic Bowl, (Sapphire, Misty and Velda), Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair, Convert or Corrupt, Companion, Happy Triple, First Friday: Aug-Oct, Brenda's Story, Companion: Sasha's Story, Esmerelda, and Shari Sadeyes.
Amazon for some reason lowered the price on Convert or Corrupt to free and in three months I had over two thousand downloads. I didn't mind as it got my name in reader's minds.
I republished the anthologies and short stories under the pen name of Javan Tenebrae. With my novels having religious themes it was better to separate the titles. Not that these stories are all that erotic, I'd rate the stories at PG-13 or R, but because it is adult themed I felt it best to label them as erotic. Most erotic stories on amazon and smashwords are pornographic and I hate having mine in that category. The one review I received on amazon for Convert and Corrupt complained that it wasn't erotic enough.
In 2012 I republished Optiumus as an e-book. Of the approx. 140 books I bought in five years I sold maybe sixty. So far in a year and a half I've sold fifty copies in e-book. At only .35/download compared to two or three dollars per book sold, maybe not that much money, but I don't have to keep an inventory that's given away, no book signings taking up my time. Yes at this rate I'll never recover the $70 paid to PA to convert it to e-book and the $200 spent getting my rights back, but I have around ten readers in Europe that I'd never be able to reach otherwise.
The beauty of e-publishing is you can revise and resubmit the stories as you grow as a writer. The more stories or novels you put out there the more your name gets known building a fan base and royalties start adding up.
It's easier to market. Every time I meet someone socially I can give them my card and tell them go to my website (Yahoo website lets you forward to another link which is my Smashword's dashboard, so going to my website of pmprescottenterprises.com and there's my novels.) I can also tell them to look up my name on Amazon to find my books there for kindle. Not always, but after I've given my card to someone I'll get an e-mail telling me someone bought one of my novels.

Friday, August 09, 2013

A Tale of Two Publishings part one

 Optimus: Praetorian Guard was published in Nov. of 2006. I contacted Publish America in August of that year, submitted my manuscript and gave suggestions for the cover, a picture of the author, bio and description in September. In October they sent a pdf galley to proof and got my approval for the cover, which was exactly as I described it. I found a number of changes which I documented and they corrected. It was published in November and I had the first two books in hand to be submitted to the Copyright office with a check for $35. I received a congratulatory letter with a dollar bill on it.
They set the price at $21.95 per book. In five years I bought 126 books from them costing me around $12 per book. I paid $70 to have them convert it to e-book on Amazon, Google Books and their site. They upped the price of the book to $27.95 even for the e-book. I bought 6 copies in hard back at $32.00 each which they priced at $35. This was for vanity to actually sell.
 Most of the books I sold were to my mother. She either gave them to friends or sold them to members of her Sunday school class, pastors and anyone she could brag to for having a son who's an author.
I donated two books to the West Mesa High School library getting my picture in the school newspaper. A few of my teaching friends bought books, even the principle. I gave a lot of them as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. For everyone I sold, most at $15 since no one would buy them for over 20 I gave away at least three. I did a number of book signings at Hastings, Bibles Plus, B Dalton in Cottonwood while it was there. I seemed to sell four books in four hours each time.
The summer of 2007 I spent in Canton Tx helping Mom with Dad while in hospice. I set up book signings before the diagnoses giving him six to eight weeks to live. Mom paid for my flights back to Albuquerque to keep those book signings. While back home I did have a few family things to take care of and get my classroom ready for the coming year. For a book that sold for twenty dollars my cut after the book store's take was three dollars. Let's see $12/4=$3 per hour. They would order ten books and I purchased at retail the remaining so they didn't get sent back. Those book signings proved very expensive.
Fred Aiken teaches a class through Southwest Writers on the business side of writing and he walks his students through how to claim expenses on your income tax. That year I had lots of deductions.
I continued to do book signings whenever a good friend like Dave Corwell invited me join him at a flea market in Tijeras Canyon or Tesuque Pueblo, even did eight hours at the State Fair. Sold books everywhere, but the fair. That's when I gave up on book signings. I started checking Amazon.com for used copies of my book and started rebuying them for around eight dollars including 3.99 shipping and handling, cheaper than getting them from PA.
All told there is about 140 copies out there. Total spent at PA was over $1300. Add the ones purchased from Bible's Plus, three different Hastings, B Dalton's and the used ones from Amazon it's still under the three thousand up front cost to self publish from a college friend who quoted me this price a little over a year ago.
Back to PA. I paid 70 dollars to get the book converted to e-book, but six months later it still wasn't converted. There was no one to contact to complain. I submitted Human Sacrifices and when the editor e-mailed me back concerning it I sent word to her that I wouldn't publish until they did what I already paid for. It was promptly converted and available at Amazon, Google books didn't get it for a year. I never published HS through them.
In 2011 they contacted me since I hadn't bought a book from them in a year letting me know they would sell publishing rights back for $200. I only needed to wait two more years until they were mine for free, but I had some inheritance money and got them out of my life. It took six months to edit and revise it to my liking. It is now available for $.99 at Amazon as an e-book and at Smashwords which sends it out to Pubit, Nook, I-books and other places.
The one real plus from Optimus was the pastor of the house church we started attending read it giving me a glowing review on Amazon. He's also an attorney and when I retired he had a case ready for trial. The first day of my retirement he called me asking if I'd like to work for him. I was retired one whole day. Needless to say P.M. Prescott Enterprises reports more earnings from legal assistance than book sales.
The next post will relate my experience in e-publishing.