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Insamley Different November 18, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in business, Chain story, fantasy, ideas, movies & TV, science fiction, serial fiction, steampunk, VIPub, westerns, writing.

In the old pulp magazine days, it was claimed that there was so little difference between sf and westerns that you could find stories about the rangers heading the outlaws off at the pass…and the same story rewritten to read that the space rangers headed off the bug eyed monsters at the galactic rift. Maybe true. Probably true.

But whether it happened it shows the connection between westerns and sf. Action. Adventure. Derring-do. This carries over to present day and how the same techniques might be used to market westerns and sf. Give this blog from Jim Clay a read. Serial westerns. Action. Adventure. Good reading. And it is exactly what Mike Stackpole, I and others have been saying is an effective VIPub technique.

Give the story out one chapter at a time. Episodic fiction. Archive it for people who don’t want to wait for the next thrilling episode. Or maybe get 75% of the way through and publish the entire piece for a couple bucks while slowly putting up the remaining episodes for free. Want to finish before the end of the month? Buy it now. Will this work? The only way to see is to try it. No harm, no foul since nobody is getting miffed because you have failed to publish it all.

Serialized fiction can build anticipation but you have to leave every chapter with a cliffhanger. Remember the old Republic serials? Gene was always being chased by the Thunder Riders from Murania or in danger of losing Radio Ranch and having to sing before the radium thieves stop him. Or the Copperhead’s car was going over the cliff. Or the robots were attacking and the door to his super-secret lab was locked. You get the idea. Leave the reader/viewer with a reason to come back. It works. At least it always worked for me.

Others do similar things. Check out James Reasoner’s (and Bill Crider’s and…who else?) more ambitious Rancho Diablo. And maybe the poster child for this is Lee Goldberg’s Dead Man books. Those are longer (novel length) work but the idea is the same. You want to get more of the character, to find out what new and horrific challenge will be faced and how he/she/it escapes? This is the heart and soul of serial

“After I pulled myself off the poisoned spikes at the bottom of the pit before the tiger ate me, I climbed the glass slick walls to escape in time to rescue the Princess of Mars!”

A Space Islands story

Wrapping Up November 6, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in business, Chain story, conventions, e-books, food, geocaching, iPad, iPhone, movies, science fiction, serial fiction, steampunk, VIPub, writing.
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Odds and ends. First off, today’s the centennial of Roy Rogers’ birth. The King of the Cowboys.

Next is my website being down. Think it might have gotten hacked. Guru Leif has been informed and will see if it can’t get back into action ASAP. Or at least RSN.

One benefit of face to face meetings such as at World Fantasy Convention, is brainstorming. Or maybe that’s barnstorming. Mike Stackpole, Nathan Long and I got together and have plans brewing with a potential launch on a brand new project come January. And not satisfied with this, Mike’s come up with another project playing off the successful Chain Story concept. Working idea is heroic fantasy and killer stuff. That’ll develop and be a couple months later than the aforementioned steampunk project. The benefit of WFC (or any other con) is tossing out an idea, having it turned over and inside out and revised and added to and subtracted from and coming up with a synthesis better than any of the people involved could have come up with alone. Writing may be a solitary profession but group effort pays off now and then, especially in these days of VIPub. Pooling talent and information is so necessary.

Also at WFC, I got the chance to do some geocaching, with Alice Henderson as well as on my own. I’d bought my android smartphone in June with an eye toward using it with Square to accept credit cards for my book sales. The more I use the phone, the more things I find to do with it. Reading ebooks isn’t as easy as on my iPad but it can be done. The 3G connectivity I lack on the iPad comes in quite handy, though. I can’t say this is a tool for any writer but it is proving useful. I put on the geocaching app and found it quirky but adequate for the task. That sums up the other apps, too. At one time it struck me as peculiar to use a cell phone to call someone who was only across the room–but it is less so now. The sheer immensity of bouncing a signal off a tower, maybe going to a geosynchronous satellite and then back is so….stfnal. Great for getting in touch with people, especially on a 40 acre hotel site such as WFC’s this year. And with internet google capability, factoids can be summoned up fast (as well as maps, restaurants and all the rest of things con goers need).

This is what I found about Angels Flight in LA. And am I wrong thinking this was used in a terrible movie of the great Lawrence Block book 8 Million Ways to Die?

World's shortest railroad

This is The End… July 19, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in awards, business, conventions, sci-fi, science, science fiction, serial fiction, space, writing.
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For you, my friends, of Borders. No takers at any price that would satisfy the creditors and courts, so by Friday they will be closed, 10k people out looking for jobs and 399 empty stores around the country. Here in Abq that means 3 large stores (wow, we were almost 1% of the entire chain?).

And the end also, which is even sadder for me, of the manned US space program. Atlantis is on its way home to go a’spacing no more. But we do have a probe orbiting Vesta, probably made most famous by Asimov’s first published sf tale, “Marooned Off Vesta.”

Finally got down and writing on my spy book. Want this almost done by the end of the month, or at least a significant portion drafted. Then it’s off to another western.

The final installment of “Plow and Sword” is up now. Check it out on Paizo’s website.

And a nice interview/Q&A with Greg Cox and me on Jonathon Maberry’s Big, Scary Blog (JM, too!) On our Scribe nominated books. By this time next week, I suspect Jonathon will have the award on his mantle for The Wolfman

Working sporadically on prepping the final book in the Weapons of Chaos trilogy and dealing with summer, which is proving somewhat more difficult this time around.

And, for today, this is the end of my blog

The Brighter the Light, the Darker the Shadow May 26, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, movies & TV, science fiction, Second Life, serial fiction, steampunk, westerns, Wild West, writing.

It must be “steam engine time,” the notion an idea that pops up in one place will become apparent in another. Or perhaps it is like having your attention drawn to, say, the number 23. That number suddenly crops up everywhere. Look around. You’ll see that it does. (Even outside bad Jim Carrey movies).

My musing on theme and modern sensibilities was taken in a different direction by Mike Stackpole last night in his Second Life “office hours” discussion. He is working on a VIPub WWI alt history steampunk story and said he found that nicotine is a very good in-the-trenches drug. Easy to carry, simple to administer, calms the nerves, heightens senses–just what you want for a solider. So he is putting in a lot of smoking by the good guys (it has become utterly trite now that anyone who smokes in a movie or on TV is the bad guy. One exception: Westin’s mother on Burn Notice). But Mike also said that he didn’t want anyone thinking he advocated smoking so was putting in a surgeon general’s disclaimer at the end of his story.

How far do you have to go? In a western putting in a disclaimer that you shouldn’t shoot anyone? Or drink to excess? (Whiskey was the most common analgesic back then–and there was a whole lot of physical pain from daily living). In a science fiction story, that you shouldn’t build a rocketship in your basement or fly to the Moon in it?

I have the feeling that getting sued for not meeting someone’s preconceived (or intentionally outrageous) belief is skewing our entire country. A disclaimer in fiction? It’s fiction! That means it’s not real, a product of the imagination, something that is not real. The author contributes about 75% to a story but the reader brings 25% that is completely unknowable by the author. Good, bad, it doesn’t matter–the author should not be held accountable for any of that.

Propaganda is something else (The Turner Diaries is meant to incite). I’m talking fiction intended to entertain. How you get the entertainment value is something of a mystery but writers can only try. But disclaimers that you don’t endorse behavior by some/many/one of your characters? That’s going beyond the pale because there can be no end to such rending of the clothing and wearing of the ashes. In this day and age, there will always be *someone* who is offended, no matter what you write.

Mom? (Abortion!) Apple pie? (Alar!) America? (Superman!)

It’s fiction. Suck it up, live with it, and maybe you can enjoy it in ways that don’t require you to be outraged.

The Con(science) of the King April 20, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in business, conventions, movies & TV, sci-fi, science fiction, serial fiction, VIPub, writing.
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Talk about polar opposites! I have a couple convention appearances coming up and wanted to share them. The first is the Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE) with about every artist, writer, TV/move star and film maker you could want. I mean, Stan Lee? Lloyd Kaufman? And I had lunch with a friend who said a friend of hers, Brady Canfield, who does “Ombat Rew” will have a table, too. OK, OK, that was his inspiration–the comic is Wombat Rue. Interesting story behind the derivation of the name and how he is marketing the graphic novel. True VIPub stuff, that–so the serialization technique isn’t a secret, can’t be made one, and is quite possibly the best way to do fiction for the e-readers now.

New people to meet, the chance to talk to so many folks my voice goes hoarse, and (a definite plus) it’s being run by people who know what they’re doing.

This is kinda lowbrow in comparison to Mythcon 42 where they call for academic papers, professors give learned presentations on subjects I am hardly cognizant of–and it will be another great experience meeting new people and hearing topics I never likely considered since my brain would explode otherwise. Interestingly, it seems that both ACE and Mythcon might have the cosplay thing going, the former with pop culture and the latter with SCA. All riiiight!

One aspect of VIPub is the marketing. What better venues than these two cons? The first with video and game tie-in material and the latter with more fantasy oriented stories. Not sure where Career Guide to Your Job in Hell fits in but I suspect both 😉

Getting excited already, but there’s a ways to go before ACE. A sidewalk autographing at Burning Paradise is in there first. More on this as I get closer to May 13.

Fun times.

Keeping Outlaws Straight April 19, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in death, fantasy, history, New Mexico, serial fiction, VIPub, Wild West, writing.
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This article in the UK Guardian originally mentioned US Senator Jesse James (see correction at bottom of article). I love the possibilities inherent in that. Jesse James elected to the Senate. Billy the Kid becomes governor of New Mexico. Doc Holliday as Surgeon General. John Wesley Hardin appointed to the Supreme Court. If you want an alternate Wild West, this is it. The purported lawlessness would be taken to an entirely new level, but this is one of those neither fish nor fowl ideas that likely wouldn’t work. Western readers wouldn’t like alternate history and sf fans aren’t likely interested in westerns..

Things western are intruding on my head again since I have the chance to do a short story. Right now another Mason Barker story is percolating, but the details are a month or so down the road for this to work, I suspect. You know my delight in ghost towns. At one time they weren’t. Shakespeare, NM, is sort of a rent-a-ghost-town now with only the owner and maybe a few others there but at one time it was a way station along the stage route. Its usefulness vanished when the railroad went through Lordsburg. I see the parallel with Mesilla and Las Cruces. Since Sonora Noose is set in this time frame, Deputy Marshal Barker might have to find what happened to a passenger at the Shakespeare way station.

The process begins. A flash of an idea. But is it gold or pyrite?

Another, more immediate concern is rewriting God of War 2. Got the notes yesterday and need to immerse myself once more in that world. Finishing off on a short story, probably today, maybe tomorrow depending on what needs to be added, then onto a quick short story project and…an action adventure spy story. The plot, characters and many details are all in place. I’ll be doing the synopsis this week prior to writing. Great good fun. New projects!

All I need to do is avoid confusing my outlaws, as the UK Guardian did. (Or maybe not!)

Jesse James death photograph

Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear March 10, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in e-books, nostalgia, sense of wonder, serial fiction, VIPub, writing.
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We are entering a new era. Every author can be a publishing company (VIPub!) and those topics and genre deemed unprofitable by the major publishers and their increasingly failing business model can be delivered directly to the readers. So what if the audience is only a few thousand? For the author, that’s good enough. And for the audience that’s paradise!

Last night in Mike Stackpole’s “office hours” in Second Life, he said that he’s come to the conclusion that, on the basis of monetary return, all fiction ought to be put out in digital form, especially books by first time authors. The argument is compelling. A new author might see $3000 for a first novel (and, for the record, that’s what I got for my first book in 1975–times aren’t getting better). Put it up on Kindle for $5, get $3.50 for every sale, sell 10 a month and in about 2.5 years you’ve made the same as the publisher would have given you, with the added benefit of steady income (of course, the publisher would have given you the lump sum up front, or some variation on that). Benefit for the author? The book is all yours. CreateSpace, Lightning Source, Blurb, a lot of places afford you the ability to do print on demand, if you want a dead tree product. But best of all, from my perspective, is the ability to see how the book is selling and to immediately get a sequel or additional supporting stories out right away. A publisher would take 18 months for that sequel–after your book has been out of print for 17 months, making a sequel the same as a “first novel” in the readers’ minds. Series books are especially blessed with VIPub. The first titles are still available if someone stumbles onto a later title but won’t start reading without beginning at the beginning.

I did nine Nick Carter:Killmaster books in the early ‘80s. Loved doing them. They were work for hires, which meant I got the $2500 upfront money and that was it. I did one title in the Baroness series that was suspended in 1979 before my book was published. Consistency kept the audience; a publisher deciding action/adventure books aimed at men were passe killed it. To this day there is a yahoo group devoted to the Baroness series.

And the Nick Carter spirit lives on in a new name and series with Lee Goldberg’s Dead Man books. That it is in the top 100 on Kindle speaks to the readers’ hunger for such titles. It may not be the serial fiction I mentioned yesterday but it is series fiction promised from some mighty fine writers (I know Bill Crider did the Nick Carter book, Coyote Connection, and might have done more and does fine mysteries. James Reasoner is one of the top action/adventure writers. Lee’s Monk books are sometimes better than the fun TV series entries.) You want adventure. Here it is.

And a bit of whimsy from an old timey magazine, copy courtesy of Mike Montgomery.

Weasels Ripped My Flesh