Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Roller Coaster Ride

I sort of wish Amazon didn't let me track book sales. Sort of. I'm actually glad they do, but it is an emotional roller coaster ride that I'm not really used to experiencing.

From Feb 18th until last weekend I had my first novel on a countdown deal, and it sold really well. Twenty-six copies during that time. But then the 23rd got here, the day after the deal was over.
Zero sales. "Gah!" I thought. "I'm done, everyone who wants it got it those few days and now I'm a goner."

I resigned myself to that fate.

But no, four copies sold today so far. "Whew!" I said to my dog, because I talk to my dog a lot, "It looks like there are still people out there who want to read my stories about torturing some poor woman as she becomes the savior of humanity."

Naturally he looked at me and groaned, which is a sound sort of like a chain saw in slow motion. "r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rr-r-r-rrrrr". Without moving from his spot, and sometimes without even opening his eyes.

"I know, right Jake?" I agree. "Awesome."

Anyway, the emotions of being an author can be pretty wild.

This, btw, is Jake.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


One of my life's most happy things are dogs. I usually have a dog, and I've had some that are amazing.

I was reading the internet today (not all of it, whew!) when I stumbled across an article about the intelligence of dogs. This is the headline:

Yale Study: Canine Minds Far More Complex Than Originally Thought

You think? Every dog owner knows how smart these little guys are. Or in the case of my Jake, not so little. Jake practically knows English, and my last dog, Maggie was even better. You had to censor your conversations in front of her or the next thing you know she'd be at the door waiting to go for a car ride, standing at the treat box waiting for that, or waiting at the back door to go out. She even learned to spell, eventually, and r-i-d-e or p-o-t-t-y would set her off bouncing around the house.
Both Jack and Maggie are/were Yellow Labradors. Before them I had a German Shepherd named Athena. Athena was every bit as smart as the labs, but she had the added component of being an amazing protection dog.

I'll never be without a dog in my life. My next one may well be a Shepherd again, although I hope that's many years from now. Jake is 9, in perfect health, and I think he can give me another 6 or 7 years of happiness and companionship. Which is a two way street. This dog celebrates my presence. He will bounce up and down and moan he's so happy when I walk in the door. You just can't get that sort of loyalty anywhere else unless you're a rock star.

Here is the article. It's interesting, but I already knew everything that's in it. As I look at Jake laying here next to me, I realize that what really matters is the bond that man forms with dog. When I see a dog abused I am outraged. When I see a dog treated well I'm filled with warmth.

Dogs are our best friends. They don't know how to be anything else unless we teach them. That's the wrong lesson to teach. Love your dog. Praise him. Give him tasty treats because dogs focus around two things. Us and food. Make sure your dog gets plenty of both.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I have a confession.  I'm a lard butt. :)

Yes, that's probably saying it in a way that is politically insensitive, or not up to par with current cultural standards.  But it is my butt, and if I want to describe it as a lard butt I claim that right.

What's more important is that I don't cushion the truth of it because I want to change it.

I've tried my entire life. It's a fact. I've always been built far more like a front lineman than a ballerina. ;)  So do I expect any miracles, no, I don't. But any positive result at this point will make me happy. 

One of the problems is that the two things I've chosen to follow recently, authorship and game design, are both sedentary in nature. Tapping on a keyboard can't burn that many calories. Neither can moving a mouse as I create digital art. I confess, I'm not really that big of a conventional exercise fan. I hate gyms. I don't really like to go for hikes, I'm getting too old for it and it's not at all comfortable to do at 7,000-10,000 feet, which is the altitude everything around here happens at.

So I started looking back at when I really started gaining weight.

Back in high school I graduated at 205#. Finished Army basic at Fort Dix at 185# or so a few months later. Went to college, soaked my body in beer, then joined the Air Force in 1986. Soaked my body in some beer in the Air Force too. Finished the service heavier than I when I graduated high school. Got out of the service, got a sedentary job as an Air Traffic Controller.  Was 230# by 1995 or so. Shit.

But in 1999 I was still about that weight and then something critical happened. I quit smoking. BAM! It was like I shoved an air pump in my flapper and started inflating.

I just realized how pivotal that event was over the last few days.

So I researched smoking and weight gain. Smoking and weight loss. Found several testimonials that vaping induces weight loss in some people. Now I like nicotine. I just don't want all that tar and other chemicals that are in cigarettes, not to mention all the illness that is associated with smoking.

So tonight I decided to try vaping. Yes, I know, fad, trend, danger, blah blah blah.

Let me tell you the immediate effects I felt.

  1. It tastes great.
  2. It's cheaper than smoking.
  3. It doesn't stink, in fact it smells like caramel coffee in my office right now.
  4. NICOTINE.  I immediately felt the influx of that chemical into my system. Side effects were clarity of thought and a feeling of focus. Things I felt were damaged when I quit smoking. Probably because nicotine altered my brain chemistry in the first place.  But I give you this study to ponder. 
  5. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/will-a-nicotine-patch-make-you-smarter-excerpt/
  6. And this excerpt from that article: "Plus it has long been associated with weight loss." (speaking about nicotine)
  1. I shelled out nearly $90 to get started with this new vice.
  2. I got a nicotine headache. 
  3. It's a bit rough on the throat, I'm told that is transitional. But I do wonder, is it the atomized nicotine, flavor, or an effect of warm vapor?  I'll let you know if I remember, which I might do now that nicotine is again a part of my brain chemistry.
That's it so far. There are a few articles saying that vaping is bad for you, but I'm not a believer yet because there aren't any accredited studies that say so.  Tobacco companies funded a study, but if there was ever a biased study in the world it would be one funded by the people who lose money if you vape.

Anyway, I welcome my nicotine overlord back into my life after a many year absence. I can already tell that this is a better way to approach the reason I ever smoked in the first place.

I talked to several people at the vape shop, J Vapes (silly name) and several of them quit smoking because of e-cigs. I don't see how that can be a bad thing. I leave you with another study about nicotine and intelligence. Not to brag, but I'm not a dummy without the nicotine. I see no reason not to step that up a notch if I can.


Thursday, February 5, 2015


I'm not sure how many writers do it, whether they work one piece beginning to end, or if they have a variety of pots simmering in the fire.

I was the one piece sort of guy.  Now I appear to be the opposite.

I have the Dark Seas series, two books of which are complete and one book is about 1/3 done.

I have a political thriller that makes a statement about how the US is becoming much less free and stifles innovation with each step away from that freedom.

I have a short story in the works that is 3.5K words now but probably about 10K words finished. A fantasy piece.

I have an idea for a post-apocalyptic sci-fi that I'm considering writing on a bit today.

Earlier I had an idea about time travel that it probably wouldn't be too hard to work into a story.  Time travel/parallel universes/state of consciousness sort of thing is what first came to mind.

The thriller and post-apoc would be one off novels.  The short story could conceivably turn into a series of short stories about the same heroes.I have no idea what the time travel thing is yet. What's true is that there is no shortage of ideas demanding my attention, but there is both a shortage of time and endurance to get to them. 

Plus soon I want to write a piece about my GTI.  And I'm considering a non-fiction piece on agnosticism for the average dude.

So much variety.  Too bad words don't flow to paper as easily as they flow through neurons.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Not everything is a book.

Hard to believe that an author doesn't put all their time into the books, right?

'Tis sad, but true.

My wife is creating a company to make card games, and I've designed a card game for her to release. It's called All or Nothing and will be going up on Kickstarter "soon™", I believe.

Publishing a card game isn't all that different than getting a book published.

You have to write the game. Design the cards (like cover design in a way) and then find someone to print it.  Unlike a book, there aren't businesses lined up to print your cards, distribute it, and sell it on Amazon for you at a reasonable price. I'm pretty sure the companies that do print cards make a lot higher profit margin than those that print books. I do realize that there is difference in paper quality, which is probably a big deal, but a deck of cards is more to print than a 400 page book. 

But if you look on retail stands, a custom card game is pretty close to the same price as a trade paperback book.  Which means, per copy sold, my books will be more profitable than a card game.

But not everything is about money. 

Sometimes it's about checking that box.  I wrote a book.  I created a game.  I did X, Y, or Z in my life.  That's partially what this is about.  Diversity of experience, and yet another thing my kids can look back on when they're reflecting on my life someday.  I want them to say, "Dad lived.", not "Dad just sat around."

Not to mention they get the legacy.  If any of this stuff goes big, they get to inherit that.

In the end, it's our deeds, our creations, and our impact on the lives of others that survive us. 

I can think of worse fates than being remembered for games and books.