Writing Prompt: End of the Line

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but this one jumped out at me. It’s called End of the Line, by Stephen Zavala. See if you come up with anything:

End of the Line, by Stephen Zavala

Booktrack Social Promo

If you haven’t already, head over to BookTrack and check out ‘Unforgiving’. BookTrack is a free service that adds sound effects, music and ambient noise to a story. It gives it a very movie-like feel (I wrote some about it for Nerds Feather).

WOO Free Stuff!

WOO Free Stuff!

The reason I bring it up is because ‘Unforgiving’ has moved to #3 on the ‘most popular’ list over there, but still has just under 500 reads. One of the things I have seen is that very nearly everyone who has read my work enjoys it- even if they don’t usually like SciFi or short stories. As many of you know, one of the biggest obstacles in writing is getting people to find and read you- even $5 on an unproven commodity can be a hard sell. I think BookTrack, as a free service, can be a great way of turning it into a proven commodity. If thousands of people have read something, and it has a high rating, it means it’s probably pretty good, right?

So, in order to get more eyes (and, in this case, ears) on it, I’m going to run a social promo for it. All you have to do is read it, and then share it on the social media channel(s) of your choice. Once ‘Unforgiving‘ hits 1,500 reads, I’ll pick five random people* to receive a 3024AD swag pack (stickers, zipper pull, pin and, ya know, the book).

So there you have it- read a free story, win free stuff! As always, thank you and enjoy!


*sorry, but US and Canada only

Getting Over Yourself

Allow me to present two truths:

1. No one likes being rejected

2. If you seek to write professionally, you will be rejected.

Bummer, right? It seems every day, on some form of social media, someone is bemoaning a rejection. Not that this is bad- that’s just point number one up there. But, as a writer, you know it’s coming. Even the best of the best, the most well-loved and revered authors were rejected. In some cases, much more harshly than you or I ever will be. So how do you get over it and move on?

It's not as bad as all that

It’s not as bad as all that

It starts, I think, with what’s inside. Artists are, generally speaking, kind of an insecure bunch, particularly when it comes to their own works. So when the work is rejected, that makes it sting that much more. But, as point 2 states up there, it’s gonna happen, so my advice? Expect, revel in it, and just accept that. That’s not to say you’re going to (or should be happy), but do this: when you get a rejection, set a timer of some sort. That’s your time to feel crappy about it. When that time is up, it’s over. Tell yourself to bury it and move on. Or, as the saying goes, hope springs eternal: Have another something ready to submit. Rejection from one place? Fine. I’ll submit something somewhere else. They don’t need you? You don’t need them.

Sometimes there is a silver lining as well- it is a pretty saturated market out there, after all- and most of us are eager to sign the first chance we get, be that for short fiction or some book deal. But how many stories have you heard of someone passing up an offer, and then getting a better one? So maybe the short story you submitted to the place that pays $0.01/word will get picked up by Fireside. Or you pass up a small press and get signed to a big one. Step back from the rejection, and look at the big picture- maybe they did you a favor.

Speaking of the big picture- there is simply so many people submitting to so many markets, you’re going to get left out sometime. Your work might still be fantastic, but those are the numbers. Besides, would you really want everything you wrote to be accepted? Sure, the paydays would be nicer, but what motivation would you have to improve? Would readers want all you, all the time?

So- take it in stride as best you can, and be the best writer you can and it will all (probably) work out.


Writing Prompt: Golum

So I poked around Ramatozz’s DeviantArt page some more, and really liked this piece too. Enjoy!

Golem, by Rahmatozz

Writing PromPt: Cloud City

With the Kickstarter all wrapped up, I am going to disconnect a bit, and you know, write, while I wait for payments to go into my Amazon account. I found this awesome piece by Rahmatozz over at Deviant Art, so if you’re looking for inspiration, hopefully this helps (he has some other great scifi pieces on his page):

Cloud City, by Rahmatozz

Kickstarter: Wrap

Well, that went considerably better than last time. To all of you who backed it, helped spread the word, or put up with my spamminess over the last month: Thank you!



I have wanted to write, professionally, for a living, since I knew it was an option. It’s a long road to get there, and I am certainly not there yet, but this is a huge step towards it. My hope, nay, plan, is to do something different and better than what has been done before. I want to have a way to distribute my books in brick and mortar stores without them carrying it begrudgingly. I want to sell ebooks in a way that doesn’t leave me at Amazon’s mercy when they axe the 70% royalty option (and they will).

You all are helping make that happen. And, despite being someone who intents to make a living off words, they honestly fail me here. The support that’s been shown- and I don’t mean just monetarily- means the world to me. I’ve always wanted to write, to have people enjoy my silly stories of spaceships and tragic romance, and that you do, well… Like I said, words fail me.

So- what’s next? More details as events warrant, but the short version looks like this: As soon as the money clears, I will order the rewards and send out surveys. The new cover will be finalized and I will decide on a publisher. Once I have a good idea of when I will have the books in hand (squeeeeee) I will schedule the launch event at Village Books- probably a few months in advance, so all the reward copies will ship and be in people’s hands well before it hits the shelves. After that, I shift gears to marketing the heck out of it, and wrapping up Series Two (with the named character rewards!).

So, there you have it. I’ll keep you updated with progress as it happens. Again, thank you all so much.


Kickstarter: Final Hours

Sixteen hours and $730 to go, as of this writing, for the print edition of 3024AD. If you haven’t yet, please head over there and pledge now- every little bit helps! Over at Nerds Feather, I wrote a short list of reasons to support it, if you aren’t already sold.


Weighted Words

There was some little to-do recently about short stories being little more than a learning exercise for longer form works. I’ll talk about the merits of short fiction as stand-alone entertainment another time, but I wanted to talk about my own experience with writing in the medium.

You may be aware that I have a short fiction collection out (you may be aware I have a Kickstarter for it. You may not have backed it. Please rectify this). This wasn’t my original intention; I didn’t really pay much attention to many short stories (though there are some I have always loved). I considered myself a long-form guy, and never thought I’d write much short stuff. But as I worked on the 3024AD universe, I liked the idea of a lot of short stories set in that universe, around ostensibly minor characters. I started writing some (‘The Bounty‘ was the first, if you’re curious, although ‘The Gathering Storm’ I started first, but later re-wrote), and they began to form a major part of the universe, and my writing projects in general.

But I learned something from writing them, something that applies to long and short form, and that has to do with the words. In long form, it’s a sandbox. You can go anywhere, do anything, and I always viewed that as a positive. You can explain Every. Little. Detail. But is that really so good?

Allow me to back up- growing up I loved The Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan. Needless to say, I was ridiculously excited for A Song of Ice and Fire and devoured the first couple books. But the same problem started to creep in that had killed my loved for The Wheel of Time. I remember thinking this is never going to end, is it? I don’t know if it’s because you never kill the golden goose, or it’s just that fun to write, or what, but Robert Jordan died writing WoT, and I’m pretty sure GRRM is going to do the same.

The words because wasted to me. It wasn’t even information overload- it was why am I even reading about this? I love details as much (more) than the next person, but there comes a point where it doesn’t contribute to the story.

And that’s what I have learned from writing short fiction- not to leave out details, but to make sure the right words are used, that they have weight and bearing on the story. To be sure, it’s improved my longer-form work, but I think it’s a good lesson that applies across the field. If each word carries weight and adds to the story, it will be richer and vibrant, without the lulls and clutter so common to scifi and fantasy.


Why I Get Paid to Write (and you should too)

This is a thing, it seems, which crops up from time to time. Some form of writer’s not being paid, maybe they shouldn’t, exposure is reward enough, etc. Now, for the most part, the people saying this are probably quite well-intentioned. But it’s untrue and a trap for writers.

I have about 950 followers on Twitter, a couple hundred subscribers to this blog, and like ten on Facebook, because I hate Facebook and forget it exists. So it’s not like I am swimming in fame or my Kickstarter is the literary version of the Veronica Mars campaign. Obviously a little exposure would do me good (also, I’m kind of a miserable self-promoter). But here’s the thing: Giving my work away doesn’t help.

I’ve done it- the 444 project was a free thing- and, as I said, well intentioned, but it didn’t do me any good. Perhaps a few followers, but no books sold and no backers to Kickstarter as a direct result of it. Because what happens, when you give your product away, as a writer, is you remove value from it. SFWA pro rate says that a word of fiction is worth $0.06, and various markets are higher or lower, but that’s the baseline. So why should I tell people each word is worth zero cents?

If you think that’s not the case, and are saying, no, Dean, they read the free bit and then love it and then go buy the book, think of your last trip to the grocery store where they had samples out. You took one, even if you weren’t hungry, right? And how many times did you buy the product that is sitting right there? Pretty rare, right? Most of the time- in most cases, always- you munch on whatever it is, and then go get what you were going to get anyway. It works the same with writing. Maybe one person or two loves the free stuff, and shells out a few bucks for my books, but the odds on that are slim- let’s say one person in 1,000, which is probably optimistic. That means if I make $5 off every book sold, I need 60,000 people to read the free bit to equal what I would make off one 5,000 word sale at pro rate (that number is 120,000 if it’s a Fireside sale).

Stitch Loves Getting Paid for his Work

Stitch Loves Getting Paid for his Work

It also devalues the market as a whole. It’s a buyers market, to be sure, fiction is. Just search the hashtag ‘writer‘, ‘amwriting‘, etc on Twitter and see how many results you get (also, fellow scribes: can some of you be a little less up-your-own-ass about writing? It’s just pretentious sometimes, ya know? If you’re nodding, going yup, ignore this. If you’re incredulous, I’m talking to you). There are other markets that pay a whole bunch more than fiction does, because no one writes press releases for a hobby. It’s a big sea of fiction out there (which, incidentally, decreases your odds considerably in the above paragraph), and sending the message hey I am just giving it away doesn’t help the market overall (it bears pointing out that publishing it- even for free- likely means you can never sell it, either).

There are, however, ways of sampling your work or gaining exposure that are beneficial. A guest post or interview will often do wonders. This gains you exposure while accomplishing the opposite of giving a story away- it emphasizes the value of your work, shows you have pride in it. Readers respond to this. Likewise, I write my column at Nerds Feather for free (You can pay me if you want, G), and guess what? This blog, the Kickstarter and my book have all had hits and sales because of it.

Excerpts are a different story, and the more effective sample. Leaving the reader hanging will make them want to know what happens next- think of the grocery store again. Which is more likely to get someone to buy bacon- giving them a strip of bacon, or them smelling bacon cooking? Let them smell your work, and make them hungry for it. Don’t give them a bite size piece they can munch on and walk away.


PS: gentle reminder that I have a Kickstarter campaign running right now to support a print run of 3024AD that will be distributed through indie brick-and-mortars. Please support it!

Why Fireside’s Success is (still) a Big Deal

In case you missed it (and if you follow me, you probably didn’t), the Kickstarter campaign for Fireside Magazine- Year 3 just ended, successfully funded, with a few hour to spare.  I’ve known Brian White, who started the whole thing, for a while, and he is one of my favorite online friends. But I don’t have any personal stake in it- none of my work has ever appeared there, though I hope it does, one day. My love and respect for what Brian is doing is, basically, because I’m a writer of fiction.

Allow me to explain. I have a friend who is a blogger, writes press releases, that sort of thing. I was talking to her and she talked about press releases paying a dollar a word.

A dollar. Per word.

I would kick a puppy to get paid a dollar per word.

Obviously, it’s far from realistic for fiction, for a whole lot of perfectly good reasons. Pro rate, according to SFWA, is $0.06 per word, and while a lot of markets pay that, they are highly competitive and many, many more pay less. Now, I’m not complaining, at all- these are just the facts that set up why what Fireside does.

Fireside pays $0.12.5 per word. Over double the new pro rate. It is great enough that someone is doing it, but even more so that people are rallying behind it, for years now. A friend of mine tweeted, as Fireside was facing another monster climb, that they had gone back to the well too many times. But then, the rally came again and Fireside cleared its goal by $1,000.

Maybe I never make twelve cents a word. Honestly, that’s OK with me. I’d take it over not, ya know, but the reality of it is that someone will, and that is good for the industry, for writers, and- most importantly – for readers. That people care enough to put their money forward to support writers getting paid well, well, that matters.

As with what I am doing with my own campaign, I hope that a few years from now, Fireside will have provided the template for how things are done.


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