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Not Tired of Winning May 21, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in awards, business, e-books, outlaws, westerns, Wild West, writing.
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Awards are nice. Very much so, but cutthroat, dog-eat-dog competition for them has always struck me as worthless. A writer’s job is to entertain. An award for giving readers a moment’s fun is great. A writing award gained by maneuverings and political machinations is not so great. And I am unconvinced that putting “Winner of XYZ Award!” on a book cover has much selling power any more.

That said, I am delighted and incredibly honored to have won the Western Fictioneer’s Life Achievement Peacemaker Award for my work, especially since it puts me in the company of writers I respect and admire so much.

While I am considering having the award tattooed on my chest, I doubt it means much in the way of additional sales. A million-copy bestseller means 329 million people in the USA never bought the book. A trickle more might have read it in a library. Most of those who do read the book probably can’t tell you the author’s name. Just the way it is. As authors we want to establish ourselves as a brand, something readers will hunt out when they are in the mood for more entertainment. Practically, it doesn’t happen except for a very few. Love the award, thank everyone responsible for giving it to me, but the lifetime achievement and $10 might get me a small exotic coffee at Starbucks.

But would I trade it for that $10 cup of exotic Starbucks coffee? Not in a million years. It tells me readers (and other writers) appreciate the handful of books I (as Jackson Lowry, Karl Lassiter, Jake Logan, Jon Sharpe, Ford Fargo and others), have written.

As a real bargain, you can get not only what I consider my best Jackson Lowry western (The Artist) but also seven others from different writers for a mere 99 cents.

The Artist

Double Down May 14, 2017

Posted by bobv451 in awards, business, contest, e-books, ideas, Uncategorized, VIPub, writing.
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When you write a story, consider how many different ways you can use it/sell it.  Easiest of all is submitting a story to a contest.  I saw one that is pretty nifty with big prizes.  Futurescapes Contest

Benefits: you write, you win.  You become an award-winning author (and much richer, in this case).  If you don’t win, you’ve got a story that can sell elsewhere.  A story you can use as a promotion for other work (your ebook can contain an entire novel *plus* that story as a bonus).  A story to put into your own collection.  A story that might just fit into the raft of theme anthologies that crop up all the time (but which have impossibly short deadlines–”Sure, I can get you a story by Thursday.”  And you can since it is already written.)  And it’s possible that story can serve as the beginning of a longer work.  A first chapter, if you will.

How many other ways can that single story be used?  Let me know.

Some contests are futile to try, being set up to give specific authors a win.  Beware of those which charge an entry fee.  Those might be used to generate money for the people running the contest and nothing more, but if the reward is big enough and you’re confident, go for it.  Look for contests where your entry is anonymously judged to avoid a judge knowing and hating you (for whatever reason).  Some contests you might have to swallow hard to consider, but there are worthwhile results.  Writers of the Future
might be like that, but the contest seems fair, the judges are well known and respected pros and if you win (and there is a steady stream of winners), you can make a bunch of bucks with your story.

Your story is going to be tied up in the sales process anyway.  A few extra weeks or months can benefit you greatly by putting a contest at the start of the submissions queue.

And another list.

Write on!

Tied-in, Not Tied Down April 28, 2013

Posted by bobv451 in awards, business, Star Trek, writing.
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I’ve done a lot of books in a lot of genres and all have their special claim to my writing pleasure. Doing tie-in books is a skill that requires more honing than is immediately obvious. Mostly, tie-in writers “can’t get no respect” as Rodney Dangerfield might have said. This is the reason the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers was formed several years ago.

Tie-ins are more of a committee effort than you might think. The property is owned by some megacorp (usually) wanting to protect not only the written word but the entire franchise, whether it be gaming or TV or movies. As such, everything has to pass through the hands and red pencils of someone charged with maintaining continuity. Even when you are a big fan, writing such novels can be an exercise in banging your head against the wall over (to you) trivial details. When I wrote the Star Trek books I used the word ”chair” and was told in no uncertain terms that there are no chairs aboard the Enterprise, only seats. How I wanted to have a meeting with the “seatperson” presiding!

Those books were tie-ins, but not the kind demanding even more research and head banging. Original novels set in someone else’s universe are one thing (think: Star Trek, Star Wars) but tie-ins also include adaptations. Pleasing everyone (or anyone!) is difficult when something like a video game becomes so popular that every nuance is etched in the players’ minds. Deviate from this in a book and trouble boils up. You have violated a tenet, but the truth is that 100% adherence to what happens in a game would give 100% boring book. They are different and need different treatments. God of War is a thrilling game to play but it is entirely about fighting, solving puzzles and moving on. This isn’t the stuff of a novel. Putting in material not in the game but *implied* to form a background is necessary to build the world, shape the characters and give new dimensions to the story. I think I have done that in both God of War 1 and the recently published God of War 2.

New characters otherwise in the shadows, political intrigue, motivations brought into the spotlight, these are the things a novel can do that a game doesn’t–and shouldn’t. They’re different beasts. Each has its strengths and both are enjoyable.

If you think tie-in writing is somehow inferior, I recommend to you any of the IAMTW Scribe nominees. This is a first rate slate of books for about every genre taste.

The 2013 field will be just as strong.

You Don’t Have to Be Crazy, But It Helps February 28, 2013

Posted by bobv451 in autographing, awards, business, conventions, e-books, fantasy, VIPub, writing.
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Writing can be so strange. Sitting and writing is great, but no much else is required now. A writer is a small corporation, a business doing everything from thinking up the ideas to marketing them (I call this VIPub–Vertically Integrated Publishing).

I’ve spent the past month working on an sf book. It’s done, it’s sent out and when I get the okay, I will let you know all about it and the exciting project surrounding it. Since I spent most of January coughing up my lungs, not as much work got done then as I’d’ve liked. So, two months gone, only one book written so far this year.

Now that it is off to the editor, I had to catch up on other writing chores today. Updated my website. Wrote this blog. My accountant is asking where all my financial stuff is. Yeah, tax season. But then it’s always tax season when you need to file quarterlies and tons of other forms. This morning I went through a half dozen questions–Q&A–for an Writer’s Digest article on tie-in writing. Sent it off. Jeff Mariotte asked if I’d like to join him in an autographing at the end of March. Sure, it’s here in town, 4 miles from my front door and a block from the high school where I graduated, uh, er, a while ago. Looks good to get Ian Tregellis and Steve Gould there, too, plus some western fiction and nf writers. I sent out a bunch of emails and am happy at the response. Struggled with Walgreen’s over my online account, did too many mundane things like laundry and packing and…you get the idea. Not writing things.

But one writing thing I am delighted about was a fan letter from “Raven Van Helsing.” He’s the guy whose YouTube videos
I used as a guide for both God of War 1 and 2.

I had sent him a copy of GoW1. Here he is with it.

Raven Van Helsing with GOD OF WAR 1

Raven Van Helsing with GOD OF WAR 1

I’ll be autographing this, God of War 2 and Career Guide to Your Job in Hell at the Arizona Renaissance Faire March 3, all day at Lady Ann’s Book Shoppe along with the inimitable Michael Stackpole.

Stop by and see us. If you can’t make it, you can still snag the books here. Huzzah!

Scribe Award nominated novel

Scribe Award nominated novel

God of War 2

God of War 2

Career Guide Job in Hell

Career Guide Job in Hell

Quick on the Draw–2012 SASS End of Trail July 1, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in awards, Billy the Kid, conventions, history, hobby, New Mexico, outlaws, westerns.
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Turn left at the mailbox painted with Bill the Kid’s face, another left and a right and you’re at the End of Trail, the annual Single Action Shooter’s Society getogether. All this in Edgewood.

Come on over, pahdnah!

They have built up a great facility over the years, with a main street lined with permanent buildings. Newly added this year (or maybe in the past 2 since I missed last year’s) is a white church with a steeple. For those rootin’ tootin’ two-gun weddings, betcha.

I think something went wrong with their online coupon. Scott, Pat and I got out there and entry was free, no parking charge, the awards presentation was in full swing. The public is pretty much welcome whenever as long as you don’t cause a fuss, but the paid entry days have more of a rodeo/sideshow atmosphere. But all the shops were open. Scott and Pat are inveterate clothes shoppers. Me, I was wearing a shirt I got 30 years earlier. But they actually wear the stuff they buy, so it isn’t “costume” as much as daily wear for them.

By the big Red Rider

After meandering up and down in the hot sun, Scott suggested lunch in Edgewood at Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill (spellings are all accurate, btw) to partake of the Thunder Burger, a deep-fried hamburger. Deep fried anything is a tad repulsive sounding to me, but since I’d never done it, why not? I sorrowfully admit the Thunder Burger was not only good, but I would order it again (maybe with more green chile). The meat had green chile and cheese mixed into it before the deep frying, but it came out more like meatloaf. From the heat, I assume. Most tasty. Today, hamburgers, tomorrow…deep-fried Snickers? I hang my head in shame even as my arteries harden at the mere idea.

Me and Red Rider gunnin’ for the bad guys

Warning: the awards are for marksmanship

Last stage ot Albuquerque

The new Old West

A Moment of Bragging April 3, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in awards, business, e-books, Free, ideas, New Mexico, outlaws, westerns, Wild West, writing.

Yesterday my western editor at Berkley let me know that “Jackson Lowry’s” Sonora Noose had been nominated for a Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award as best novel. Wowza. Woot woot!

My novel lost out in the NM Book Award competition last year to Rudolfo Anaya’s Randy Lopez Comes Home. That was no surprise to me. Nor will a loss on the Peacemaker be unexpected. My money’s on James Reasoner’s Redemption, Kansas to be the winner. If not that, then Dusty Richards’ Between Hell and Texas. (But Rod Miller is on a roll this year, already winning two Spur Awards so The Assassination of Governor Boggs can be there, as well as Lyle Brandt’s Blood Trails.)

A lot of tough competitors.

But I am still doing a happy dance being in their company.

Been thinking about another Mason Barker novel and have notes all over the place, as well as a basic outline scratched down in my notebook. Apache Tears is my working title. For those not in the southwest, an apache tear is a small chunk of obsidian. The title, as it stands is a pun or maybe a metaphor. No good luck will come from this small bit of volcanic glass.

Try a free Jackson Lowry short story, “Fifteen Dollars.”

Back to work (on a fantasy short story, then a new bit of a western novel). A good day to stay in since it is snowing and has accumulated more than a half inch already. Quite a change from the 80 deg a couple days ago. But the winter wonderland outside cannot dim the warmth in my heart over the Peacemaker nomination.


Look to the (New Mexico) Skies! February 24, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in awards, business, history, New Mexico, space, writing.
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Last night I trundled on down to the NM Museum of Natural History to attend a talk on 100 years of space flight in New Mexico by author Loretta Hall.
She won a NM Book Award for her history of space exploration since 1930 and gave an entertaining presentation ranging from Robert Goddard to 2025 or so, when Virgin Galactic figures to break even on its space tourism.

Much of the talk was familiar, especially the pictures of early launches from White Sands. She touched on how Randall Lovelace was charged with testing the Mercury astronauts (and that the movie The Right Stuff was pretty accurate). What I had never heard before was Lovelace’s crazy notion that women ought to be in the program, too. One pilot named Jerrie Cobb tested out to within 2% of the top men. Five other women also qualified. So it ought to have been the Mercury 13, not the Mercury 7–except NASA wouldn’t accept women. The kicker was that the women weren’t jet test pilots.

One of the un-Mercury 6 has a ticket on Virgin Galactic. I hope she makes it (another interesting factoid–90% of everyone from 21-80 yrs old can qualify to be a space tourist. Think I could raise $200k on Kickstarter for a ticket? Loan me $200k till my (rocket)ship comes in?).

The entire space tourist trip will last about 2.5 hrs, with 90 minutes being a slow spiral upward to 50,000 ft to get above the turbulence. Another 6 minutes to apogee, perhaps 10 minutes of floating about and sightseeing, then descent a la space shuttle (ie, unpowered, like a falling brick) Hall said that maximum g-force would be 6g, which seems wildly high to me since the shuttle launch only had a max of around 3g. Instantaneous g-loading? A football player takes 80g instantaneous–repeatedly. So maybe 6 isn’t outrageous for a sudden stop?

NM has a great history from Goddard’s liquid fuel inventions to probably satellite launches from White Sands/Spaceport America in a few years. Ad astra!


And the Winner Is… January 24, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in awards, business, e-books, movies, science fiction, VIPub, writing.
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The Oscar noms went out this morning. I try to keep up with movies, though I am in a declining segment of the population to do so. Even then, I hadn’t even heard of some of the nominees. The few I had seen were good but, all in all, 2011 was a crummy year.

The award isn’t to the most popular, of course, but to the best. However that is defined in an industry whose representative openly admits to bribing politicians.

I saw Hugo and enjoyed it a lot, but it is strangely paced and the plot changes halfway through the movie. It’s seamless as you watch but don’t think about it or you’ll realize how this goes from a plucky homeless kid with a clockwork automaton story to the destroyed dreams of an old film maker.

A broader question isn’t what is nominated or even if the winner is any good but what additional revenue will this generate? Movie ticket sales were up 10% over Christmas but this is a comparison with 2010. What isn’t mentioned is that twice as many “tent pole” movies were in release, with budgets at least 2x as much. So for twice the expense, Hollywood brought in 10% more revenue. Poor incremental return on your money, if you are a film maker. Will an Oscar significantly boost the winner? I doubt it. In DVD sales? I doubt that, too, since the markets are changing.

Carrying the question to publishing, do awards give a significant boost to book sales? For the Big 6, they’d have to reissue since the shelf life of a book is about 16 days. Hugo (the sf award, not the Scorcesse movie), Nebula and all the other awards simply don’t generate the buzz an Oscar does–and wouldn’t trigger reprints. Do you buy new books with “Hugo Award Winning Author” on the cover simply from that datum? NYT bestseller works better, but there is a proliferation of bestseller lists. One might even say a compost heap of them.

I can’t see any boost in sales on Career Guide to Your Job in Hell, in spite of that hitting #2 on the Kindle anthology bestseller list. Moonlight in the Meg hit #3 in high tech and technothriller.

No significant boost afterward. Would it be different if they weren’t ebooks?

One advantage of VIPub ebooks over Big 6 print is that they can stay in print forever. We might see if a Hugo or Nebula win boosts ebook sales eventually. Time will tell, but I suspect awards will decline as a sales factor in favor of simply good storytelling.

Not Just (Billy the) Kid(ding) December 4, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in awards, contest, death, ghost towns, gummint, ideas, New Mexico, westerns, Wild West.
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A few months back I mentioned New Mexico’s Billy the Kid hunt. Items or clues placed at historic spots around the state–sort of a collect the entire set kind of quest. NM Tourism spent about $600k on the project and says it has netted over $2m. I assume this means that $2m was spent that wouldn’t otherwise as a result of the promotion. That’s fine and dandy, and I’m happy to see someone in Santa Fe doing something other than ignoring their jobs.

Since the state is stymied in developing its extraction industries and more than 70% of the land is owned by the feds (and therefore off the tax roles) NM scrapes the bottom of the barrel when it comes to generating revenue. “Catch the Kid” resulted in a $10k reward being split between two teams, one of which notably called itself “The Regulators.” Other prizes were significant.

Our history is about all we can use to generate new money. Spaceport America is a good start on continuing revenue coming in from outside the state (and US) and now is the time to push tourism since Jan 6, 2012 marks NM’s 100th anniversary as a state.

Why not a tour of outlaw hot spots? Blackjack Ketchum is a gruesome ending to a New Mexico outlaw is notable. (pictures at the link might be sorta, well, gruesome for you) Elfego Baca is on the other side of the badge–he wore one. His shootout is nothing less than astounding.

Shakespeare, NM is a veritable time capsule of outlawry. You might want to check my fictionalized version of deadly happenings there in the story “Silver Noose.”

So much history. I’m glad “Catch the Kid” was successful. May the tourism dept think of something even more successful for NM’s centennial year.

Already Took Names, Now It’s Vote Kicking Time August 7, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in awards, contest, conventions, VIPub, writing.
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Already Took Names, Now It’s Vote Kicking Time

Been wrapped up in personal stuff and getting my car back where it belongs. Some sad stuff, some glad (getting the car back in running condition!) But ultimately a time sink away from blogging. Don’t look so relieved at that, my droogies.

Here is the poll for the name the critter contest. You have two days to vote on your favorite. Winner gets $50 gift certificate to my online store.

Ready, set, vote!

Critter at Albq Comic Expo