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

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Wednesday Challenge 040120

This week is my favorite series and why.

Casca: The Eternal Mercenary series. Casca Rufius Longinus, the soldier who stabbed Jesus in the side and becomes immortal. It was started by Barry Sadler who wrote the first four or five books then turned it over to ghost writers. Each book is set in a different time. They range from 1st century to the present with every time period and continent covered, except Antarctica.
This was the series of books that I got middle school boys to want to read.
When Sadler died there were a few books by different authors until Tony Roberts took over the series. He's now written around 25 of them. Warfare and battles are well written. The society and economy of the time period is also well done.

Kastania Chronicles series, by Tony Roberts: Empire of Avarice, Throne of Envy, Prince of Wrath, House of Lust, Patch of Pride and God's of Gluttony with more on the way. 
This series in the real deal when it comes to Byzantine politics and warfare. The family soap opera and talk about really nasty religious leaders, inept governors, traitorous nobles. This series delivers the goods. The kicker it that everything that's happening in these books is also happening today.

Dark Blade Series by Tony Roberts: Faerowen is half human and half dark elf. She lived in a small fishing village with her mother until the mother dies. Cast out of the village she sets out on a quest to find her father and follows clues he leaves her. She gets training in a school on how to fight and cast spells. Leaving the school after killing one of her instructors she adds her skills of fighting to different kingdoms and becomes a Queen of one of them. She is still finding artifacts her father's left her in order to unite the dark elves and retake the elven kingdom. The plot is simple, but the tale is complex and compelling and the writing is first rate.

My dual books in one now.

TTT 033120

Today's topic is ten ways I let people know I read books.

1. I tell them about the books I've written. I post their covers on TTT and Wednesday Challenge. When they read them they know how much research I've put into writing them. For every page I write I read at least a hundred pages in research.
Optimus and Stephanus now available in e-book for $2.99 and paperback for $14.99 at Amazon.

2. I drive my wife crazy when watching a movie when I've already read the book. "They left out this," or "they added that." Don't get me started on the movies they made out of Tom Clancy's books or James Clavell's.

3. I write reviews of some of the books I read. Not many people leave comments about my reviews on this blog, but I also post them at Amazon to help indie writers. If the book has thousands of reviews what I have to say has already been said.

4. In conversation I'll quote from books I've read. Drives my wife nuts. Especially when I quote scripture.

5. My books shelves. I have a house full to the brim with books. Not all of them mine, wife and kids read a lot too. When we were first married and my in-laws visited our tiny apartment. My MIL asked me if I'd read all the books in my bookshelf (cinderblocks and wood planks). She was surprised when I said, "Yes."

6. While waiting in the doctor's office, or auto repair shop, or standing in line, or you name it; I'm reading on my phone or tablet. Others may play games, I read.

7. When teaching English and history I told the students stories I'd read. With 7th and 8th graders you don't take your eyes off of them for a second. I memorized the stories and spoke them aloud. Facial expressions, word inflection and eye contact helped them visualize the stories. For years I'd run into former students and they tell me they still remembered some of the stories I told.

8. Posting on TTT.

9. Posting on Wednesday Challenge.

10. Posting on Facebook.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Cherry Point, NC

I've run into an odd coincidence lately. I was born at Cherry Point, NC. 
Dad was a marine during Korea. I lived there about six months. He was shipped out and Mom took my brother and me to Colorado, with her family, while he was overseas. When he came back he was stationed in California and we moved there. When he mustered out we moved back to Pueblo, Co. Later we moved to Albuquerque and except for five years of exile in Texas while going to college and Seminary it's where I've always lived. 
I've been to both oceans, but was too young to remember them. I spent one night in Galveston  before running a district track meet in Houston my freshman year of college. So the only major body of water I've seen is the Gulf of Mexico.
All my life (and I'm not a spring chicken anymore) every time I mentioned Cherry Point everyone has asked, "Where's that?" I'd never run across anyone who's been born there. Until recently:

Coincidence 1. 

There's a very dear lady in my Writers2writers group named Dr. Irene Blea. I've posted pictures of her books and she is a brilliant writer. She grew up in Pueblo and remembers The Record Music Store, that my maternal grandparents owned. She also lived close to the CF&I steel mill where my paternal grandfather and my dad worked (before he decided going to Korea was safer than working an open hearth.)
While talking with Irene at our last W2W meeting (alas suspended) we were talking about where we were born and  I mentioned Cherry Point. Irene said she was stationed there with her ex-husband during Vietnam and that's where she bore her daughter. Wow, not only someone who actually knew where it was, but lived there and gave birth. Who would have thunk that two people with such disparate backgrounds would have so many points of contact? Before we even met!

Coincidence 2. 
My sister's daughter moved with her father to North Carolina after my sister died from Ovarian cancer. I've mentioned that she has a passage in the book Torch, about Ovarian cancer previously. My niece married a marine and they were stationed at Cherry Point.

Coincidence 3. Berthold Gambrel posts lots of book reviews on his blog. He wrote a review of I Put my Pants on for This? by Jackson Banks. It's a book of short remembrances. I finally got around to reading it and the very first story the author mentions he was born at Cherry Point, NC and lived there for eight years. (Many years after I was born there).

This is getting weird.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Optimus and Stephanus together

Now available at Amazon in one book:
Optimus: Praetorian Guard and its sequel Stephanus. In e-book it's $2.99 in paperback it's $14.99. If you have Amazon unlimited (KDP) it can be rented for free.
For a review of Optimus by Berthold Gambrel click here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Wednesday Challenge 032520

Favorite things to do in Spring.

Walking my dog.  With school out the track is open for walkers during the day.

Taking my grandchildren to the park. We play bad mitten, lawn darts, and tennis. Actually they do I watch.

We used to take a trip to Oklahoma and Kansas. Brother and family are in OK, and Wife’s brother and family in Kansas. This year we’ll have to wait for Fall, if then.

When and if the lock down is lifted I’m planning on resuming book signings after I have some paperbacks of Vanders Magic Carpet, a combined book of Optimus and Stephanus, maybe Human Sacrifices too.

TTT 032420

Today it's what is my favorite genre.

I'm rather eclectic. I grew up on Sci-fi and fantasy. I enjoy a good romance both contemporary or historical. But when it comes to where I want to escape it's James Bond, Jason Bourne, Mike Hammer or Sam Spade to the rescue. I like the spy and detective thrillers. Here are some recent and some written before I was born. All I found to be great reads.

Friday, March 20, 2020

A Tale of Three Printings

With the release of Vander's Magic Carpet in hard copy it's the third time I've published a book in ink and paper. Here's my journey of getting actually published.
I finished Optimus: Praetorian Guard in 2004 after ten years of writing it over summers. I spent years on Writer's digests, Writer's bible, and other sources of how to get published. I found there wasn't much of a market for historical novels. I spent $200 for a Christian Writer's Workshop in Glorieta, NM so I could get ten minutes with a Zondervan publisher. He gave me five. Told me my opening was too flat and re-write it. I took him at his word and the opening scene where Optimus is in bed with an intimate description of a beautiful woman and he can't perform is taking him at his word that I needed a hook.
I heard about Southwest Writer's Workshop in town that met on the first Saturday of every month. I went to one in August on 2006. The authors who came in with published work placed their books on a table where others could buy them. I sat next to a man with a number of books on the table and asked him how he got published. He enlightened me about Publish America.
This is one of many known as Print On Demand. He gave me the information to contact them. I proceeded to e-mail PA and they asked for a copy of the story. I e-mailed it to them and in September they accepted the book and wanted my idea for a cover. I told them what they wanted and in a week they sent me the beautiful cover that was better than I envisioned. They wanted to edit the story for a fairly steep fee. I declined.
In early October they sent me back a pdf as a galley and my wife and I proofed it. My wife is an excellent proof reader. (It's true, but if I didn't say that she'd brain me.) I sent back a list of pages and lines with corrections.
In early November I received two free copies of the book in the mail. (I had to send those copies the copywrite office.)
In early December fifty copies of Optimus came in a box. That's how fast it was published. Those fifty copies cost me $200. I gave a free copy to my friends who were beta readers, family and friends. I sold four books at my first book signing. A Hastings on Coors and Montano. I set up a book signing in Cottonwood Mall and the picture above has them advertising an on the front table. I sold four books that day. At $21.95 per book that was pretty good.
Over the next three years I bought more books and had more book signings with fewer and fewer sales. I spent $70 dollars for eight hours at the state fair with 0 sales. After a year of not buying any books from PA they offered to sell me the publishing rights. I bought it back as I discovered e-publishing. Optimus has been on Amazon as an e-book since 2011.
I did a revision of Optimus and ran out of the paper books. I bought a few used ones off Amazon usually for about five bucks each and resold some of them. I found out about a printing company in town that would print books. I contacted them and paid $50 for an ISBN number and about three dollars a book for ten books. $80 for ten books was a lot better than the 12 to 13 dollars per book I was paying for them at PA.
I retired from teaching and started working as a legal assistant, glorified gofer in a law office. I had lots of time to write and e-publish in an office.
Amazon for awhile had their own POD called Create Space. I looked into it and they would publish in both paper and e-book, but they set the price at about 20 bucks per book with the e-book at the same price. No thanks.
I don't know when it started but Amazon now has an easier way to publish in paper. When you publish an e-book you can now get it published in paper for only the printing cost. You set the price after that.
I chose Vander's Magic Carpet as it's my shortest book at only 61,000 words. It's my trial run. I ran into trouble trying to use the cover for the e-book. The OCR on my pdf software wouldn't take it. Bummer. Amazon has a cover creator so I used that. Problem solved. Next came getting the layout the way I wanted it. When you're working on it and make a mistake or change your mind there's not back button! You have to start all over again. Then the book was not big enough for a spine. I found Word had switched my usual Arial 14 for New Roman 12. I hate Word when it does that. Switching font and size was still not enough. I added excerpts from Optimus and Stephanus. Met their width requirement. That kink worked out I sent it for publication and the printing cost was less than three dollars. It said if only for U.S. distribution the minimum price per book was $4.99 for international it was $6.99. I set it for international and priced it at $9.99.
Here's the good part. I was able to buy from 1 to 499 copies for printing cost + shipping. I bought 20 copies for a little over $70. If I sell all twenty, very unlikely, that's $130.00 profit. Not counting if I sell any through Amazon. My royalty is only about two bucks per book there. My first 20 books should arrive at the first of the month. Amazon is putting this on hold so people can hoard more toilet paper for he time being.
I'm now doing a complete proofread of Optimus and will combine it with Stephanus into a single e-book and paper. Then Human Sacrifices, then Fan Plan. I can buy books for book signings. If things return to normal.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wednesday Challenge 031820

The weirdest thing I’ve learned reading fiction.

I’d say it’s how many authors that write historical fiction have no knowledge of the time period they are writing about. Here’s some examples:

Found in a religious bookstore, a book about the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD

·       The doors to the temple were made out of mahogany. Wrong, Cedars of Lebanon dummy, read your bible. Mahogany comes from South America.

·       Introduces Flavius Josephus before the revolt in Jerusalem. Youseph ben Youseph didn’t change his name until spared by Vespasian after he was captured at the battle of Jotapata.

·       A character says he’s from Saudi Arabia. That didn’t happen until after WWI. There was an Arabian Peninsula, but they were called Nabateans at this time.

Another book on the Vikings has them eating potatoes, six hundred years before Pizzaro conquers the Inca.

Food is the big giveaway in historical fiction as much of our diet today comes after Columbus. Potatoes, yellow corn, tomatoes, all types of chile, eggplant, sweet potatoes to name a few of the food from the New World. Sorry the Romans had pasta, but no tomato sauce for spaghetti. Yes, Romans had pasta, it was developed for long voyages aboard ships. Marco Polo only said the Chinese had noodles similar to the ones in Italy.

The sequel to Optimus: Praetorian Guard is now available on Amazon as an e-book for .99.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

TTT 031720

Top ten books on my TBR list.

Between good deals offered by Amazon and First reads I'm getting quite a list. Add the titles that grab my attention from TTT and WC it's rather long.

First I want to announce the publication of Vanders Magic Carpet. My science fiction novella about marketing the first flying car. For a fantastic review by Berthold Gambrel click here. It's available as an e-book for .99 and in paperback for $9.99. It's nice to be able to set my own price on both types of publishing.

Now to the TBR list.

Just finished this one. I listened to on audio while working out at the gym. I highly recommend it for the North Carolina accent the reader uses. Three hanky story at the end, kind of hard to hide the sniffles on the treadmill.

This is a nine box set and I'm on the third book. Tough half African American half Thai woman in the FBI and later private security solving murders while trying to keep from being killed by her vengeful ex-husband.

This is my non-fiction book also from First Reads. Don't know when I'll get to it.

Another First reads I've held onto for awhile. 

I've seen this one on a number of lists over the past few weeks so I've got it and it's there for when I can get to it.

Downloaded this one today. It's at the bottom right now. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Wednesday Challenge 031120

Sorry, but I'm tied up today and having to skip this week. I'll make it up next week.

Found some time, just a little late. Okay the one skill I wish I had, but don't.

I wish I could make friends. At best I make acquaintances. Growing up we moved a lot. My older brother could walk into a new school and have three or four friends the first day. I was lucky if I had someone I could talk to and liked me before we moved again.
I never had trouble getting a date or being friendly with girls. Different dynamic. If there was a girl I was interested in I would ask her out, she either said yes or no. 
Somehow going up to guy and saying, "Do you want to be friends?" Doesn't work.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

TTT 031020

Today's topic is which authors I follow on social media.
Hmmm..... If I include all the authors on TTT and Wednesday Challenge, that would be a bunch. I'll narrow it down to those I am friends with on Face Book and that I regularly blog with.

Joseph Badal. He's now living in New Mexico and writing two series of books set in New Mexico. His spy thriller series is every bit as good as Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy.

Anne Rice. I read most of her vampire books, witches, historical novel, body snatcher and mummy books. She doesn't post often, but it's a pleasure when she does.

David Gerrold. Screenwriter for Star Trek most memorable is Trouble with Tribbles. He's very politically active.

George Takai. Another politically active Star Trek alum with a few books to his credit.

Irene Blea. Author of a number of textbooks on Women's studies, she has a trilogy about the life of her aunt who was married at 13 to an old man through an arranged marriage. She's in my Writers2writers group.

Hank Bruce. I've mentioned him and his non-profit group promoting the Moringa Tree to curb world hunger and create industry in the tropics. He's currently publishing a gardening book for seniors and their caregivers.

Jonathan Miller. A local attorney who has a series of books about the Rattlesnake Lawyer. He told me about Southwest Writer's Workshop in Albuquerque where I found way to get published.

Berthold Gambrell. We blog and through his blog I discovered authors that led me to TTT and WC. He's written reviews of my books and I of his. Good friend.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Wednesday TTT

Today's challenge was difficult. I don't normally read about  short, fat, balding, old men. I prefer to imagine myself looking like Harrison Ford or Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Brad Pit... Get the idea.
I'd love to say James Bond is just like me, but then they'd put me in a rubber room. So I've chosen movies where there was a character like mine. Not always the hero. I'm more the extra or side kick, except in the classroom. There I was the king of my domain.

My all time favorite movie is Friendly Persuasion. It's about a family of Quakers trying to keep their beliefs in a world that challenges them at every turn. The major tenet is non-violence. Can they stay true to their faith when attacked by Confederate raiders. Growing up I sided with Josh. The son who struggles on whether to fight or stay passive. I faced the same dilemma when it came time for the lottery for Vietnam. Do I go or flee. There were no more deferments. My number was 76. I was given 1H status. I was on hold. They drafted to 75. Any emergency my freshman year in college and I was called up. The peace treaty was signed in the Spring of 73 and I was off the hook. I would have been inducted. By the grace of God I wasn't. 
Later in life as I've watched this movie hundreds of times, I came to realize to my shame I wasn't like Gary Cooper as Jess Birdwell. I was like Friend Purdy. Friend Purdy was the one who always claimed how nothing could induce him to violence, but when attacked he tells Jess he has to fight. What's right for Purdy has to be right for everyone else. I find myself being like that. And fight that tendency.

Another movie I found myself identifying with a character is John Denver is Oh, God. Denver was so believable as someone struggling with his faith in God, even when he's manifested to him. It's taken a lifetime of belief and faith and still I struggle.

I was a public school  teacher for 27 years. I didn't think much of any TV show or movie about teachers or teaching. Dead Poet's Society and Mona Lisa Smile. They praise the non-conformist teacher coming in to shake things up, but then either get fired or drop out after a year. 
A true teacher sucks it up and stays for the long haul. Sidney Poitier in To Sir with Love. One year's success does not translate to the next year, but he's there for the long haul.
 The one movie that struck a chord with me the most was Mr. Hollands Opus. In the movie he teaches a troubled kid to play the drums and few years later he's going to the boy's funeral killed in Vietnam. It took 18 months after we invaded Afghanistan for one of my former students to come back in a body bag. 
I have a former student spending the rest of his life in prison for murder. I have another who is Secretary of State for New Mexico and running for the U. S. senate. You get a wide range of students over the years. Some you reach and some you don't.