Triage March 17, 2013Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, fantasy, ideas, money, sci-fi, science fiction, VIPub, writing.
Tags: decisions, fantasy, ideas, sci-fi, science fiction, VIPub, writing
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Ideas are easy, developing them isn’t. Worse, choosing which to work on is even more daunting. I have a row of notebooks filled with ideas accumulated over the years and, as good as some are, I will never try to use them because others are better.
This segment of a Dilbert cartoon seems appropriate.
So how do you choose? Excitement has to be a factor for any writer. All you have in way of capital is time that must be spent properly. An idea that won’t let go of your imagination is a good candidate, but writing and rewriting it in your head isn’t good enough if you want to sell it to a publisher. Think of a Venn diagram of all the ideas you want to write and ideas that are salable. The intersection of the two sets is where you write. That’s not to say any other point in your “what you want to write about” set isn’t worthy. But to sell to an editor, that overlap has to be there.
Otherwise, VIPub (Vertically Integrated Publishing) is the way to go. Do it yourself. Damn the commercial sales, full steam ahead! This opens vistas galore, but the money isn’t likely to be as good (face it, not every book is going to be 50 Shades of Gray, which, depending on your outlook, is a good thing. But I am talking sales, not content.)
So, traditional dead tree publishing requires that overlap in idea/commercial. That eliminates a lot of what is always kicking around in my head. For a year or two I’ve wanted to do a Gormenghast type fantasy but it doesn’t have the feel of something that would sell. But it would be great to write (from my personal standpoint). Likely, it’ll stay on the backburner until a mystery and an sf book, both dancing on tippytoe through my head for years, are done since both strike me as great fun to write and commercial. One way of deciding if an idea is “good enough” is the test of time. Does it endure in your head and even grow? Or do newer ideas supplant?
You’ve got to decide, then stick with it to finish the writing before moving on. Don’t be seduced by the Siren’s lure of a “better” idea or you’ll never see a completed story.
Welcome to the New Mayan Long Count December 22, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, End of the World, Free, sci-fi, science fiction, steampunk, VIPub, writing.
Tags: apocalypse, end of the world, free, sale, sci-fi
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Survived the last 5125 and unfortunately the new page on the Mayan calendar doesn’t have any of those frisky Mayan maidens with cavorting jaguars, either. Next time.
For those of you looking forward to the next end times but unsure what to do until then, let me remind you I’m having a super duper post-apocalyptic sale in my store on all sci-fi titles. Only a couple more days so hurry hurry hurry.
Today’s Lio cartoon sums up so much so well so quickly in 2 frames.
Been There, Done That…But… December 9, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, fantasy, ideas, science fiction, VIPub, writing.
Tags: conventions, fantasy, ideas, sci-fi, VIPub, writing
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A couple years ago I came up with a dynamite idea. Super stuff. Still think it’s great but there’s only time to do so much, and this one has been sitting on the cerebral back burner. Imagine my horror when I came across other authors’ use of that very idea. How dare they!
Ideas can’t be copyrighted, of course, and I looked this “usurpation” over. It’s, let’s be polite, terrible. Nothing like the idea still churning away like a green chile burrito in the gut, only in my head. I may still give this a try, but it has dropped a notch or two on my to-do list because of possible perception I was just copying what has already been done (and not too successfully if the Amazon sales # is accurate, which I doubt, but that’s another story).
Harken back to 1973. I had gone to Torcon World SF Convention and had a chance to meet one of the greats in sf fandom, Bob Tucker. We’d written a few letters back and forth and he had done a couple articles for my fanzine (think dead tree blog with staples, if you will). I had the horrible, awful, sinking feeling I would be introduced and have nothing whatsoever to say to him–and vice versa. Turned out to be a misplaced fear. Tucker greeted me like a friend of a thousand years and the first words out of his mouth were, “I stole an idea from you!” What? How can that be? And we spent the next hour talking…like friends of a thousand years.
But he had only taken something I’d written and run with it in a direction I never considered. Therein lies the truth about ideas.
They are never unique. It’s how you use them in a story that’s most important. Last night a friend said that Steinbeck stole Of Mice and Men from a social worker. I couldn’t pin him down if he meant flat out plagiarism or simply using information about the Dust Bowl. One is completely different from the other. It’s hard to believe anyone could see such social upheaval and physical destruction without thinking what a novel it would make. Ideas are out there everywhere.
The old story about John Campbell assigning the same idea to 3 writers might be apocryphal but the punch line is worth mentioning. Two turned in stories so far apart in treatment it was almost impossible to figure out what the kernel had been. What you do with the idea matters. And what writer hasn’t read something and thought, “I can do better than that!” And with elements completely missed and adding a character, and getting rid of that annoying part, but I can…
You get the idea. Which is the idea.
Boo…Boo…Bubonicon. 44 August 23, 2012Posted by bobv451 in autographing, Billy the Kid, conventions, e-books, fantasy, Free, movies, movies & TV, New Mexico, nostalgia, science fiction, sense of wonder, VIPub, westerns, writing.
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This weekend. Starting tomorrow! Coming amazingly fast this year–and anticipated even more since I missed last year.
Brandon Sanderson is GoH and via reports from GenCon he will make one fantastic guest of honor. Michael Cassutt is the TM and Ursula Vernon artist GoH. Wow. And George RR Martin and dozens of other writers will be there, too. But you can read all about this at the convention web site.
Want more info? Great article in the UNM student paper about us.
My schedule is packed to the gunwales. First out of the chute on Friday (that’s tomorrow as I write this!) is the Crazy Buck Rogers panel. 4-5pm. Following that I have a reading or discussion or whatever you want for an hour, 7:30-8:30PM. I’ve got a trio of stories I can offer up. A horror story (Avian Evisceration Device) from Career Guide to Your Job in Hell,, a fantasy (Memory of Wind) or a mystery mashup with Sherlock Holmes and Sir Denis Nayland Smith (Adventure of the Greenwich First Light). I don’t like to read so I am quite willing to talk about writing in general, ebooks, e-making your own, what to e-expect and all that good stuff. After all, my ebooks are now available in India via the Kindle. I can even be paid in rupees. If they offered royalties in a hard currency (say, Canadian loonies) that would be better. But I’ll take it in soft currency, ie, USD.
But wait, there’s more. There is the Cheesemagnet Panel at 9:30-11PM, if you don’t get enough cheesy movie talk in your workaday life.
Saturday the 25th? Why, yes, I have a panel 4-5PM on marketing sf via stuffing it into a teeny little niche. Instantly following that in the same room is the 5:20-6:30PM mass autographing, if your Higgs boson provides you enough mass to autograph. I don’t anticipate having much in the way of books to sell, so stock up from Nina and Ron Else in the huckster room (Who Else? Books), but I will have a copy or two of some titles (credit cards accepted). If you ask during the autographing, I will tell you how to get 44% off e-titles from my online store. Ebooks only, please, for this offer.
For most fans this would be enough. Not for yhos. Sunday.1:00-3:30PM auction. Super stuff. Super silly stuff, all auctioned off by the Bcon team of crazies (sans Gordon, alas–doctor things prevent him from attending this year)
This is coming up over the weekend. The past couple weeks have been filled. Finished 1.5 stories in a min-anthology I am doing before I speak at the 23rd Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium.
Also finished copyedits on China Jack, due out Dec 11 (you better read it quick–only 10 days from release date until the Mayan Apocalypse). And almost done on the edits for the final Star Frontier title, Black Nebula.
And work proceeds apace on the final touches for God of War 2.
Plus work on tax accounting stuff, student mss and generally goofing off. I leave you with this. My very first published book has been e-reprinted. This is it! Grab it at this low price while you can.
Time Enough For…Time August 12, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, End of the World, fantasy, Free, movies, movies & TV, sci-fi, science fiction, VIPub, web & computers, westerns, writing.
Woefully absent from these pages during the past 10 days or so, I have experimented with time management and trying to see where It All Goes. A good 3 hrs a day can be sucked up by kitty videos, Facebook and other nonproductive pursuits. The question is: do I garner enough enjoyment from these online time wasters compared with dealing in real world stuff.
While I’d rather watch the cat videos or guys getting smashed in the balls in new and extraordinary ways more than cleaning the garage or doing bookkeeping, they ought to be treated as candy. A little bit is good, a lot will ruin the waistline. I am getting more work done (and amazingly enough, looking forward to doing it) and not missing the blog quite so much.
A momentary diversion. About FB. I have been nailed finally with the Timeline format. Don’t like it, don’t see how it is an improvement, but Zuckerberg can flip us all off and there’s nothing we can do other than stop using FB. I find it useful to let everyone know what’s going on in a timely, concise way that stays around (unlike Twitter, which I have also cut waaay back on) such as the release of Sandcats of Rhyl and how it was free last week. And only $3.03 now. But I don’t want to play games and I will delete anyone posting to my page (I hate that feature letting anyone else post to my page) anything I deem unsocial. This can include but is not limited to calling anyone a Nazi (and I don’t even agree with Godwin’s Law), politics, and how “fill in the blank” is a baby killer who wants granny to eat dog food before shoving her over a cliff to steal her wheelchair. But that’s just me.
All that eats away at my time, hitting that delete button. I would rather be writing. I suppose in the old days watching TV was the time killer. Now it’s the Internet. Another fun tool to be managed. I do have the odd picture of time wasted on the Internet swirling down a drain that clogs up and then the temporal pressure gets so immense that it explodes in a Big Bang and creates a new universe. Maybe the Internet does have a purpose
How have I used my freed up time? Four titles in the Jade Demons Quartet are prepped and getting ready to be posted. A western short story is about half done. The synopsis for a new sf book is shaping up and another western synopsis is about ready to launch into writing phase. Western Fictioneers has a fabulous new project in the works, of which I intend to be a part with my novel contribution. And Empires of Steam and Rust is showing signs of life once more with new stories promised because of my time shiftings so I can pursue this.
I never thought of my time as being wasted reading, but I do watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Internet. Why is that? More to think about until next time.
ACE-ing It June 7, 2012Posted by bobv451 in autographing, business, conventions, e-books, New Mexico, science fiction, writing.
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I will be off the grid, kinda, for the next few days. In a couple hours I’ll be lugging boxes of books down to the Convention Center to set up for the first day of the Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE) tomorrow (Friday 8) and through the weekend.
I’m sharing booth #401 with Scott Phillips. If you come in the main entrance, as opposed to sneaking in through the ventilation system, look for my Cephalobob banner
at the booth on your immediate left next to the signing tables for the Really Big Guests. Don’t get us confused with the likes of Adam Baldwin or Peter Mayhew. Or, if you like, go ahead and confuse us. We’ll sign about anything!
I have about two dozen titles to sell. More online at my store, of course, or Kindle or Nook. I’ll have QR codes for getting there if you prefer digital to dead tree. But you can get the dead tree books signed. Yes, I’ll do that.
If you still have trouble finding where I’ve set up shop, Saturday I will have booth babe Ashley Bryce (most recently in a Longmire episode) pointing the way. If you aren’t familiar with her work (or ACE honcho Craig Butler’s) here is something showcasing their talents.
See you this weekend!
Thern and Texas June 6, 2012Posted by bobv451 in fantasy, history, iPad, movies, movies & TV, outlaws, sci-fi, science fiction, Texas, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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Or maybe Thurn and Taxis, if you are a Crying of Lot 49 fan.
But therns. I saw the supposedly awful John Carter movie again on Monday. 2D this time, a better look for the movie (the colors die in 3D, it appears). I say “supposedly awful” because that is a critics’ opinion, not mine. I liked it even more the second time. I might even try for a 3rd view before it leaves the big screen, or as big a screen as the $1 movie theater has. This is a movie that deserves to be seen in IMAX.
The look of the movie is good, the pacing is off, taking too long to get moving, but the plot is heroic fantasy and the sfx are lovely. (That adjective can be applied to Dejah Thoris, too). Taylor Kitsch (what a name!) might not have been my pick for the John Carter role, but he does fine. I even liked Woola a lot more this time around. The reworking of the original book plot makes it into a stronger movie–face it, a 100+ years makes astral projection kinda clunky. Go for that Stargate!
An entertaining movie which comes out in Blu-ray today (or soon–I don’t have a Blu-ray so don’t pay close attention). I’ve heard that there will be an iPhone/iPad app that will add to the experience. No idea what it is but this pushes the connection of home theaters and iPads a bit closer together.
Also of note are the new westerns. History Channel did Hatfields and McCoys starring Kevin Costner and Bill Pullman. I enjoyed the first 4 hrs or so but began to tire of the repitition in the final 2 hours. All this killing over a pig. Sort of like the War of Jenkins Ear. Lots of background to what sounded like a trivial reason to go to war.
Better is A&E’s Longmire. A modern day western with cowboys and sheep herders and Indians and six-gun totin’ marshals set in Wyoming, or maybe Montana. The pilot was a bit contrived, making me think the bad guy would never have been caught if he hadn’t used an antique rifle and instead relied on a .30-06 but the show has promise. I’ll tune in again.
One Writer’s Journey: A Guest Blog By Scott Gamboe May 11, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, contest, e-books, fantasy, sci-fi, science fiction, writing.
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Almost six years ago, my first published novel hit the shelves of bookstores across the country. Several years had passed between the first day I put pen to paper, and the day that book was rolled out. Now, six years and five novels later, I find myself looking back at the path that brought me to where I am today.
A quick bio about me: I currently work as a police officer in central Illinois, where I serve as a crime scene investigator and traffic accident reconstructionist. I live in Peoria with my wife, Jill, and my daughter, Erica. I spent four years in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, where I participated in the parachute invasion of Panama in 1989, and the First Gulf War in 1990-91. I recently got involved in running. Last year, I ran my first marathon. This year, I have my sights set on a Half Ironman Triathlon: swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles. And from there . . . who knows!
I started writing The Killing Frost (science fiction) in 1995. Off and on, for the next several years, I wrote bits and pieces of what would become my first novel. Eventually, after a complete and very thorough rewrite, Medallion Press agreed to publish my book. We signed the contract in December of 2005, and the book was released nine months later. I attacked my second book much harder. After all, I was getting paid to do this now! In 2008, the result of my efforts was The Piaras Legacy, a medieval fantasy novel. Medallion Press picked this one up as well, and they secured the incredibly talented Dave Dorman to create the cover art. For those who don’t know him, Mr. Dorman has worked with George Lucas, creating artwork for Star Wars and Raiders Of The Lost Ark. I followed this one up in 2009 with New Dawn Rising, the sequel to Frost.
This is where my publishing life took an unexpected turn. Medallion Press changed their format. They were no longer interested in what I was writing. In fact, they switched almost entirely to ebooks. We agreed to part ways, and we remain on friendly terms. I will always appreciate MP for giving me my first shot at publishing.
But this left me back where I started: no publisher, and no agent. Over the next few years, I searched for a new home for my work, all the while continuing to pump out novels: Archon’s Gate, the sequel to The Piaras Legacy. Martyr’s Inferno, a police thriller. A Matter Of Faith (unpublished), medieval fantasy. The First Gambit (unpublished, but under submission), from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. And a science fiction vampire novel, 14 Days ‘Til Dawn. The plots for two more novels, a sequel to my thriller and a standalone contemporary adventure, are bouncing around in my head. But where would I publish these books?
Enter Amazon and the Kindle Store. Just as the iTunes Store revolutionized the music industry, Amazon has changed the way we buy books. But it also changed the way we publish. No longer are agents and editors the gatekeepers that can make or break an author’s chance at success. The main benefit to Amazon’s new system is that anyone can publish their novel. The main problem: anyone can publish their novel. With no gatekeeper, books that should never have seen the light of day end up side-by-side with literary masterpieces. This leaves authors struggling to get their work noticed.
I published three books on Amazon: Martyr’s Inferno, Archon’s Gate, and most recently, 14 Day’s Til Dawn. I have high hopes for this last one, and it has nothing to do with the current vampire craze. Actually, the idea came to me while listening to a Tom Petty song, “Freefalling.” The second verse provided me with my story: “And all the vampires walking through the valley; move west down Ventura Boulevard.” Why would vampires move west? To get away from the sun! The next thing I knew, I had a flying city filled with vampires, orbiting a moon in the Alpha Centauri system. The moon has a four-week rotation period, so the nights last for two weeks. Where could you find a better place for vampires?
I’d like to thank Bob Vardeman for graciously allowing me to post a few words on his blog. I’ve been reading his books since the early 1980′s, so it was quite a thrill for me when he agreed to write a blurb for The Piaras Legacy. He has offered me his help a number of times, most recently by promoting my Kindle Fire giveaway. My next contest: three winners will receive autographed copies of all six of my published novels. To enter, you need only post a review of 14 Days on Amazon, then notify me by email. The winner will be drawn on July 15.
Thank you, and keep reading! If you are interested in learning more about me, or my books, you can visit my website at http://www.scottgamboe.net.
Packing Up, Moving On Down the Road April 22, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, fantasy, sci-fi, science fiction, steampunk, writing.
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I’ll be away from the blog posting for a while as I venture into Tornado Alley. I hope there are no “stories” to tell when I get back. I don’t want “adventures” or “thrills” due to dodging F5s or being pummeled with grapefruit-sized hailstones. If all goes as planned, I’ll be delivering a big screen TV and that’ll be as exciting as it gets.
Until then I’m leaving you with a bunch of links. While I’m gone, buy my books. Help me pay for $4/gal gasoline out on the road. My online store has lots of great stuff. Some free stories, a couple novels under $3 (in the case of Lord of Death and Life, only until I return) and super fantasy, sf and other genres. Sign up for the newsletter and be eligible for a promotion after I change hosts in a couple weeks.
You like sexy spy books? Hot Rail to Hell is what you’re looking for.
Steampunk? You can’t go wrong with the initial story in the Empires of Steam and Rust series.
Great fantasy? You can read the complete Accursed trilogy, which has never been published in the US before (only in the UK).
Or here is the entire 9-book series, Swords of Raemllyn.
SF? Space opera? Give the complete Weapons of Chaos a read.
Or the entire Biowarriors trilogy.
And I’ve done some editing. Want a sampler of some mighty fine writers? Try this one…
Chasing Away the Dust Bunnies…For Now April 20, 2012Posted by bobv451 in business, contest, e-books, End of the World, iPad, New Mexico, outlaws, sci-fi, science fiction, Second Life, VIPub, weather, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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No specific theme today but a lot of tidbits that have accumulated during the past few days. It’s been a busy time for me. The last science fair judging of the year is past and, as before, the Manzano Day School kids had some great projects. This was the year when high tech really kicked in. One budding scientist had a video (taken underwater!) showing the effect of drag on swimmers. Another surveyed cooking pans to find which baked the best chocolate chip cookies (I told her bribing the judges with the cookies would have worked well–didn’t really matter. She did a good job. I didn’t know the high-end cooking pans were dual layer with air between. And yes, they seemed to cook the most evenly.) Analysis on the cookies included using a cellphone gizmo to evaluate color which correlated with even cooking. Amazing.
These were 4th and 5th graders.
A couple days ago I got a surprising call from my agent. Last year Berkley decided the Slocum Giant books weren’t selling and eliminated the annual book. My last royalty statement was extraordinary. And I have a new Slocum Giant to do ASAP for likely publication in November. Working title: Slocum and the Silver City Harlot. Others in Western Fictioneers have commented on improved royalties for their westerns. If you live long enough, the wheel always spins back to you. Do love those westerns.
I also love my sf. Check out this review of Moonlight in the Meg from Virgil Kelberwitz of Second Life fame. His reaction to the protagonist not being named until late in the book is interesting. Final Blackout used this technique to even better purpose, I think. Best use of the techniquye–ever–was in The Prisoner.
As you know by now, I didn’t win the $650m Megamillions lottery (I did win $2, though. BFD) However, someone who did win something of both worth and usefulness is Terri D, the winner of a Kindle Fire in Scott Gamboe’s contest. A great prize and I’ll try to get Scott to do a guest blog here on how the contest helped his numbers on Amazon.
Check out another Scott’s new blog. Scott Phillips is now doing a daily blog. Very funny stuff. And touches on a lot of nostalgia. If you remember 8-tracks and hate spiders and…well, read it for yourself. Rattle and Blast.
After 30 years I have stopped receiving a daily newspaper. The $200/yr was a factor but realizing I can get all the news and features on my iPad convinced me to save a tree and cancel the Abq Journal. Their national news is always 2 or 3 days late and local news tends more toward pet adoptions now. I will miss the Trever cartoon on Sundays, but he used to do more and is mostly retired. Having lunch with John on occasion will have to suffice.
I am not sure how many new blogs will be done in the next couple weeks since I am heading over into Tornado Alley. Trust me, I want nothing more than to get back to this keyboard in sunny, dry, twister-free Abq as soon as possible.