Category Archives: publishing

Same Old Woes…

I am running another free-book promotion this month, once again for Recipes for Gingerbread Children. Same song, third verse. It seems no one wants this book. I can’t even give it away for free.

I suppose it might have something to do with the fact that there are nudists in the story. It’s true, the Cobble Twins are teenage girls who love to be naked. And in the story, they spend time at Grandma Gretel’s house walking around with no clothes on. And when they get their junior high friends to visit Gretel, eat her gingerbread cookies, and listen to her stories, they also try to convince their friends to get naked too. But, really, it is a part of the charm of those two characters. It is not a pornographic story, and they basically fail in promoting nudism among eighth graders.

But nudism has a slightly different meaning for Gretel Stein. She barely escaped the showers at Auschwitz. It is the hardest story she has to tell.

Sherry and Shelly Cobble

I am roundly disappointed. I have every reason to believe I am a good writer and this is a good book. But how can I get people to agree if no one is willing to read it? I have to just keep trying. The book is still free until Tuesday midnight.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, gingerbread, humor, novel, Paffooney, publishing

Space Laughs

When I was in college, I met and fell in love with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. I also read, in close conjunction with that book and its sequels, Frank Herbert’s Dune series. I vowed then that I would combine these two different kinds of science fiction to write my own big-book epic. At that time it was called The Dream-Flood and it was basically the story of Astro-nut Robin (inspired by Robin Hood) and his band of Merry Mutant Space Freaks. It was a jumble of bad jokes and weird science and not worth keeping. But some of the characters I created managed to stow away in my stupid head to come back into my writing whenever the opportunity came.

When I became a public school teacher in South Texas, I fell deeply in love with game-mastering for Dungeons and Dragons games with high school boys who had once been in my middle school English classes. Of course, after three years of that, the Southern Baptists in town decided that D&D was Satanic and full of demons, so I had to stop that story-telling nonsense or be driven out of town. So, enough of that. I was not leaving teaching. I was also not stopping story-telling. I switched from playing with wizards and warriors to a game called Traveller from Game Designers Workshop. Spacemen and laser-rifles.

Games inevitably were subject to the whims and humors of the players. And the players were teenage boys of the mega-nerd variety. So, they would blow planets up for laughs. They would make jokes out of serious events and turn side adventures and subplots into the main story.

It was gold for science-fiction humor.

The result of all of this was that when I lost a teaching job and had an unplanned year off, I wrote the novel AeroQuest. It was a novelization of the basic story of that Traveller game. It was a terrible novel. But I got it published without paying a dime with a terrible publisher, the criminals at Publish America. Once that terrible contract expired, and I had become a better writer, I began rewriting and illustrating it to become five terrible novels.

As of yesterday, the first three of those five are now published.

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Filed under aliens, artwork, humor, illustrations, novel, novel plans, Paffooney, publishing, science fiction

Success is All in My Head

Like any Indie writer who has had enough of paying publishers to publish my work, any tiny bit of success is immediately seized upon and cherished, and immediately all goes into my head to swell the ego and make me strut like a rooster in the barnyard who doesn’t realize the next step for him is either the stew-pot or the oven.

I have read enough Indie books to realize that a vast majority of them are written by strutting roosters that, once their head is removed, still won’t realize that they are not the greatest writer since Hemingway and Faulkner. (They can’t compare themselves to Donald Barthelme, or James Thurber, or J.D. Salinger because most of them have never heard of those writers, let alone read anything like City Life, My Life and Hard Times, or Franny and Zooey.) I confess… At least I know I am no Hemingway or Faulkner. But I continue to protect my delusion that I am a good writer of young adult novels.

But this week I got more sugar pills for the ego in the form of reviews and evidence that people are actually reading my books.

My teacher story, Magical Miss Morgan got read at least twice on Amazon Prime, one of those yielding another 4-star review. And A Field Guide to Fauns got its first review, a 5-star review, that can be seen here;http://tvhost.co.uk/april-and-may-reading

That review is written by a fellow author whose novels also contain nudist characters like the Field Guide does.

So, a little bit of success like that makes the old heart keep pumping with hope. But I am still a long way from any kind of financial proof or critical acclaim sort of proof that I am a successful writer. Any notions of success are still all in my head. And that’s where they really ought to be. After all, it is only my belief that my writing is worth doing that will cause any more of it to happen. And more of it should happen. Otherwise my head might explode. And wouldn’t that be a terrible mess?

A road map to the inside of my stupid head. I’m sure there’s a bit of success in there somewhere.

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Filed under book review, commentary, humor, maps, novel writing, Paffooney, publishing, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing humor

Mickey’s Somewhat Pretty Okay Not Rotten Weekend

I have had a rough time since the pandemic began. I still get my pension check at the beginning of each month… for now. So, I am a lot better off than those whose jobs were taken away by the lock-down. But I did lose all potential income from substitute teaching. And the plumbing in the house is still aging badly, sprouting leaks everywhere that I have no money to fix with professional plumbers. I can barely afford Fix-it Tape which only slows a leak and does not completely end it. Notice I said “leaks”, not “leeks”. Onions I can defeat. But water is not my element to master.

Today my faithful microwave, the one that I had for four years in my last classroom, gave out. A spark and some smoke and she cooks no more.

But it is not all bad news.

My wife secretly has two more microwaves in her secret evidence-of-hoarding-disorder stash. She let me use one. She also found a leak-clamp for temporarily staunching leaky pipes at Home Depot where I haven’t dared to go in the pandemic because of my diabetes and high blood pressure. So, the weekend was slightly more un-yuckified than I expected.

And this weekend I was having a free-book promotion for A Field Guide to Fauns. I was expecting to give away too few free books again. I expected the Twitter writing community to turn up their noses because it is a story about a family of nudists living in a nudist park. But the Twitter nudists that follow me because of Recipes for Gingerbread Children were delighted. I gave away more books in the first two days of the promotion than I have given away in any other promotion.

It feels good to have someone reading my books, even if they are naked when they read it.

And I have reached a point where I am relatively certain, without being tested, that the illness I have been feeling is all just diabetes and allergies, and I have not yet fallen ill with Covid 19.

So, I can honestly say that I feel very… Meh, okay right now. Better than expected, and a lot better than dead.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, novel plans, Paffooney, publishing

False Steps and Fortune

I finished another re-read of my most recent book, A Field Guide to Fauns. In spite of this being an experiment expected to fail, I read into it a growing sense of my ability to write well. The issues it deals with, mental health, body shame, self-image, and dysfunctional families, are all things critical to my own understanding of myself. All of these things have deeply affected my life and my family’s life. And, being set in a nudist park, it has a certain aura of comedy about it that you can really only achieve with characters who are naked (figurative or literal are both funny).

Ironically, two of my five best books have nudists in them. Six of my fifteen books over all have nudist adventures in them at one point or another. That’s four more more than have Nazis in them. Four more than have werewolves in them. Four more than have zebra puppets in them, as well as four more than have literal clowns in them. And two more than feature aliens from outer space. Five more than have rabbits who are changed into people by science.

If nudity is not funny, then I have seriously miscalculated the appeal and gone entirely down the wrong garden path of humorous story-telling. So, since I now believe The Field Guide to Fauns is one of the best novels I have done, I may have actually laid an egg. (Who knew that farm boys could one day grow up to lay an egg themselves?) For balance I need to plant a few more carrots of irony in that garden that the garden path of humorous writing leads to.

Mandy Clarke, Pinky Pithers, and Tandy Clarke

I am planning to make my newest novel this month’s free-book giveaway sometime next week. I have a few more corrections to make on it before I do, so stay tuned. I don’t like it when I find bugs in the writing on the fourth re-read. But I think I may have sprayed them all with anti-bug proofing spray (figuratively speaking again, because with Mickey, you never know.)

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Filed under humor, illustrations, irony, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, nudes, Paffooney, publishing

Book Cover Art

I have taken a vow to do only my own covers for my books from here on out. I can draw well. And I have a good artistic eye, at least until I lose my eyesight to glaucoma because I can’t afford eye doctors. So, today’s Art Day post will be about the covers to my books.

The spines of my 14 published books.
This clunky cover was my first published book, published by a big-mistake publisher called Publish America, a company that dissolved in class-action lawsuits.
I vowed to start making my own covers.

I-Universe insisted on giving me a cover that had nothing to do with the story in the book. A girl flying a kite at night? What is that? At no point in the story does anything happen that is even remotely like that.

Page Publishing at least used my own artwork to create the cover for Magical Miss Morgan. They were also incompetent publishers selling me overpriced publishing services that were basically worthless.

These are the covers that I used to replace the first clunky publisher’s cover.

This is the picture I wanted to use on the cover of Snow Babies. But the pixel size of the background photo was too big to use it in larger than postage-stamp size.
A version of this is what I had to settle for in a letter-boxed format.
Here’s the cover of… well, you can see that for yourself.
Recipes’ companion novel, same time, same place, same events, but a different point of view.
The illustration for The Bicycle-Wheel Genius cover.
Like Baby Werewolf and Recipes for Gingerbread Children, this one has a companion book.
This is the other half of Sing Sad Songs.
Stardusters is the sequel to Catch a Falling Star
This is now the only book of mine not published on Amazon.

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My most-recently published novel.
My re-published novel.
The first novel I ever wrote and didn’t throw away.
My current work in progress

So, there is a look at the current state of my novel covers. Not professional, but original.

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Some Small Success

I was able to run my most successful book promotion so far by giving away free e-book copies of my newest novel, The Boy… Forever.

So, unlike in the past, I now have copies of my book in the hands of possible readers.

Some will actually read it.

And I also re-published Magical Miss Morgan as an Amazon Kindle and paperback, now out from under the onus of Page Publishing’s money-grubbing publishing con.

They actually expected me to pay more money than I was getting in royalties every two years to keep my book in print.

I now have more complete control over pricing, royalties, and promotions than I ever have with this, my second contest novel, also a finalist for the Rosetti Award for YA fiction.

I will try running a free promotion with it next month… in March.

I currently have fourteen books in print. In time order by setting they are;

Superchicken

Recipes for Gingerbread Children

The Baby Werewolf

The Boy… Forever

When the Captain Came Calling

Snow Babies

Sing Sad Songs

Fools and Their Toys

Magical Miss Morgan

Catch a Falling Star

The Bicycle-Wheel Genius

Stardusters and Space Lizards

AeroQuest 1 : Stars and Stones

AeroQuest 2 : Planet of the White Spider

And coming soon ; AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets

Here I hold in my hands the first printed copies of my two newest novels in print.

Slowly but surely I am building my legacy in fiction. And I am increasingly proud of the quality of work I have achieved. I may, in fact, live long enough to see some popularity for my works. It seems, so far, that everyone who reads one of my books, really likes it a lot.

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Filed under humor, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, publishing

The Boy… Forever (Free Book Promotion)

My most-recently-published book is now available for free from Amazon. I have tried this free-book promotion idea with other books, but this is the newest book I have available. I need to give away a bunch of books, so help yourself to one with the above link.

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Adding to my Booklist

I have now done two things to increase my published output in 2020.

My most recently completed book is The Boy… Forever.

And I have escaped from the clutches of Page Publishing, republishing my book Magical Miss Morgan with Amazon, both in paperback and e-book formats.

This is how it now appears in paperback form.

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Novel Number Fourteen

Novel #14 is now complete and published. The Norwall Pirates, softball team and liars club, take on an ancient undead Chinese wizard. All of it takes place in small Iowa farm towns during the Bicentennial summer of 1976. But some of the major players in this life-or-death struggle are immortal, and most of them are only high school freshmen, fifteen-years-old and still quite awkward in the face of a dangerous and arcane world full of the difficult problems of growing up.

The novel is called The Boy… Forever. Icarus Jones is a main character like Peter Pan, faced with the possibility of living forever, but never growing older than ten.

For now, I haven’t settled on the next one. But Number 14 is done.

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