Posts Tagged ‘book’

Hey everybody! The website’s been pretty neglected for the last few months, but I have remained busy as ever.

Before all that, I have a little business to attend to: book signings. Taking advantage of the holiday rush, we’ve scheduled signings to support Project R on three back-to-back weekends this month starting tonight. It’s short notice, I know, but if you can make it to any of these I would love to see you there even if you don’t buy any books.

  • Friday, December 2nd 2011 from 4pm-7pm
    -Mead’s Corner, 430 East Douglas Avenue Wichita, KS
  • Saturday, December 10th, 2011 from 10am-2pm
    -Hastings Entertainment, 316 North Main Street Stillwater
  • Saturday, December 17th, 2011 from 10am-2pm
    -Hastings Entertainment, 316 North Main Street Stillwater

I love love love hosting book signings. It gives me a chance to interact with folks as an author and really connect with people who enjoy books in general, not just my own. And, writing being a solitary affair, it gets me out of the house every once in a while which I’m told is good for me 😉

Other Projects
2011 has a been a strange year for in terms of writing.  It has been a year of starts and stops.  I have at least three novel scripts started that I believe are fantastic.  I have at least twice as many rough outlines for new projects.  On top of all that, I’ve started dabbling with writing comic book scripts.  The problem comes from deciding what gets priority, which I prefer to the opposite problem: having no projects to work. 

To give you a little background on the script-writing thing, a while ago I wrote a script for a short film that my brother and a few of his friends worked on.  While the movie never saw the light of day, writing the script was a nice exercise in a medium I had never tried before.  I figured I would give comics a shot for the same reason.  That, and I really love comic books.  It’s been pretty fun.  I’m roughly halfway through a planned 4-issue sci-fi series which I aim to pitch to several publishers of creator-owned works.  My brother and I also have our own projects, the first of which I’m hoping to unveil in the early part of next year.

For you Black Armor fans, don’t worry, Book 3 has not been ignored.  I have part of a draft finished and, once we get through the craziness of the holidays, I plan to make it my top writing priority.  Promise.


I was glad to see folks enjoying the last few blog posts.  I hope you guys know that I write this stuff for you.  I’d be pretty conceited if I spouted this nonsense because I thought you should live the way I do.  My whole focus for writing to begin with is to relay my own personal experiences with things and maybe, just maybe, someone else out there might pick up a nugget or two that will help them as well.

As an FYI, for the next issue we’ll take a break from the book writing topic and pick it back up the following issue.  This book-writing series has many facets to it, I want to make sure to still give time to other topics along the way.

The Outline is Crucial, but it Also Isn’t
I’ve read a ton of different books on writing and was surprised to find that the outline seems to be one of the most disagreed-upon topics.  I wouldn’t call it controversial because to me the whole argument seems rather silly.  From what I can tell, the debate seems to boil down to personal preference.  One person will construct a detailed outline before ever typing the words, “Once upon a time…” while another will start with a single thought and just go.  Even the heavy hitters differ on this point.  Best-selling author Thomas F. Monteleone has never done an outline whereas Ted Dekker will generate a 40-page ‘story document’ for each book that describes every major plot point and provides background to every setting and character. (more…)

Some of you may have noticed that the ‘ol website looks a tad different.  As I mentioned in my previous post, changes were a comin’ and here we are.  The blog has been retooled to serve as my main website on the internet, a virtual hub if you will.  All things clicky associated with me and my books will go from and come to this site.  It’s part of a new strategy to get my name out there.  The side bar to the right has been slimmed down dramatically and the pages completely reorganized.  Things are still in work, but overall I’m pleased with the changes.

As an extra cool treat for everyone, I have added a short story set in the Black Armor Tales universe called A Good Bowl of Ramen.  This was originally handed out as a freebie to folks who bought the paperback version of The Island of Istburn at our book signings when it released.  Well, now you can enjoy it as free digital reading.  You can get a couple of ways: 1) From this website by clicking on the link above my avatar or by clicking on the Free Stuff! tab;  2) Via Smashwords for your ebook viewing pleasure.  I’ll try to see if I can get it onto the actual services (Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc.), but no promises at this point.  Oh, and if you’re feeling generous, you can get a paperback copy of the short story on and CreateSpace.

Speaking of Istburn, I’ve had some issues with getting the book in wider distribution.  Nothing major, just file formatting problems.  Those have now been fixed and the book should be available on multiple ebook platforms soon.  I will make an announcement when that happens.

It’s an exciting time, folks!  Opportunities abound.  The internet is changing everything and allowing those of us who really enjoy writing to connect with those you of who really love to read out stuff like never before.  I can’t wait to see where all this goes.  It should be a fun ride.

Sorry for the blog theme swapping, but I’m trying to settle on something that feels right.  My first one was nice and clean, but didn’t really match my personal style.  The second was closer, but felt a little constrained for some reason.  This new one doesn’t seem as rigid and it has that “je ne sais quoi” about it that I like.  I may change it later if I happen to find something better, but for now, I’ll stick with this.

I recently discovered two cool online places for writers and readers alike, and thought I’d share them with you guys.  The first is called the Writers’ Database, a site put together by Luminary Publishing.  It’s a nifty (and free!) website that helps writers track what they’ve written, who they’ve sent manuscripts to, how many books they’ve sold, and it has a database of contact info for literary magazines and publishing companies that can be perused at one’s leisure.  It even has a word-count tracker that graphs your weekly progress.  Basically, it’s a great big one-stop-shop for the business side of writing. 

The next place I’ve stumbled across is, a sort of Facebook for bookworms.  Whether you’re a reader or a writer, this place looks like a great hub to meet with other folks that share a common interest in books.  I’ve only just signed up myself and have no friends on there just yet, so feel free to look me.  I plan to start blogging there as well.

Writing Update
You may or may not have noticed that the progress meter for the first draft of book 2 has not budged much.  I have worked on it some, but I’ve taken a break from it to work on a cooperative project with my brother that’s been on the back-burner for a while.  Over the last few months we decided we needed to just get it done and spent several late nights hammering out details and storyline.  I won’t say much about it except that it will be of novella length (~25,000 words, or 1/4 the size of a regular novel) and be of the sci-fi/fantasy/military comedy persuasion.  Our plan is to publish this in a literary magazine before making it available as a book.  Each magazine has a different maximum word count, so depending on which magazine accepts it, the story might get broken down into an episodic format.  I’m about a third of the way through the first draft and I hope to finish it before Thanksgiving, then it’s back to work on Book 2 of the Black Armor Tales.  By the end of the year, my goal is to have Book 2 draft 1 completed and a final version of the novella done and sent off to a magazine.

Alright, without further ado, the second installment of…

5 Things from Sam’s Desk of Awesomeness: Books – Fiction Series
This week, we’ve got a selection of several fiction series that I’ve enjoyed very much over my years of reading.  They each have their place in my life and upbringing, and I recommend any one of these series for good reads.

1. Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl Book 1

Eoin (pronounced like Ewan) Colfer has created a unique world that is funny, engaging, and inventive all at the same time.  I first stumbled across Artemis Fowl at the New Zealand international airport while my brother and I awaited our flight that would take us back to the U.S.  There were several books on the shelf and the premise sounded intriguing, but I already had plenty of things to read so I didn’t pick it up then.  I forgot about the series until seeing it yet again at Borders a few weeks later.  My curiosity got the better of me and I bought the first one and I’ve followed it ever since.  The series is named for the young and highly intelligent protagonist who starts out as a sort of brainiac anti-hero that gets mixed up with the underground world of fairies when he cooks up a scheme to take their gold.  As one progresses through the series, however, Artemis matures and begins to find other ways to apply his massive intellect outside of the criminal world.  With a good mix of fantasy, science fiction, drama, action, and comedy, it’s an all around fun series to read.  While you won’t find too many deep, philosophical messages here (they are, after all, aimed at the young adult crowd) the stories are fun with plenty of humor and unique, quirky characters to follow.  There are times when Colfer’s dialog is a little cheesy and the humor a bit forced, but these instances are few and far between.  All in all, a great series for anyone.  Each book is fairly self-contained, and can be picked up and read without any prior knowledge, but you get a more gratifying experience if you start with the first one.

2. The Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett
Colour of MagicIf one were to take Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and mash it together with Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide to Galaxy series, then piled on an extra helping of sarcasm,  the Disworld series by Terry Pratchett is what you would get.  Rife with well-written prose and imagination, the 37 (as of today) book series  is definite must read for any fan of satire and/or fantasy.  Filled with oddball characters like Rincewind, the bumbling wizard, Commander Vimes, the laid-back, no-nonsense leader of the City Watch, and even Death (my personal favorite) who speaks in all capital letters, it’s a series that pokes fun at societal and fantasy conventions while at the same time delivering fantastic stories.   I began reading the series while I was in college, starting with the first book, The Colour of Magic, on the suggestion of an engineering buddy and I’ve loved them ever since.  Calvin & Hobbes books were essentially my “kids’ books” growing up and I read fantasy stories like the Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit, so the Discworld series felt very natural to pick up and read.  They’ve even started to make a decent set of movies based on the series.  If you get a chance, check out Hogfather and The Colour of Magic.  You’ll be glad you did.

3. The Young Indiana Jones series – various authors
Indy JonesThis series takes me back to my pre-teen days when I was all into the short novellas written specifically with young boys in mind.  I liked The Hardy Boys and Tom Swift well enough, but my favorites were always the Young Indiana Jones series.  Adventure, action, and a little (but only a little) romance, and you have all the things a young boy chases after in his imagination.  I’m afraid to revisit them in case I find the writing and stories too cliched or terrible.  Like old G.I. Joe and He-Man cartoons, I prefer to keep them locked in my head where they are still made of awesome.

4. Nero Wolfe – Rex Stout
Nero WolfeAny fan of the mystery genre has no doubt heard of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series.  The premise and storytelling mode is similar to that of Sherlock Holmes.  Archie Goodwin, the assistant, is the series’ narrator and sidekick to Nero Wolfe, the brilliant detective.  However, the similarity with Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic series ends there.  Stout’s characters have a stronger sense of balance between them and their relationship is more symbiotic than that of Holmes and Watson.  Archie is the wise cracking footman and muscle while Nero is the highly eccentric, overweight genius who rarely ever leaves his home.  The charm of the series is their relationship and the ways each of them reacts to the situations they find themselves in.  Stout’s writing is fantastic and his characters jump straight into your mind the moment they arrive on the scene.  My favorites out of this series include The Second Confession, The Black Mountain, and The League of Frightened Men.  I have never actually read a print copy of this series, but I have listened to the audiobooks and, after hearing Michael Pritchard voice all the characters, it’s hard to read the print version because he does such a fantastic job.  There is also an A&E TV series that ran for a short time that was very good, though the actor who plays Wolfe always seems slightly off in his depiction of the great detective.

5. The Inheritance Cycle – Christopher Paolini
Eragon_book_coverI have to give it to Christopher Paolini.  At the age of 19, barely a year younger than I was at the time, he became a New York Times bestselling author with the first book in the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon.  The book spun off a movie (which was sub par in my opinion) and a video game (that I’ve heard is atrocious).  Despite the quality of the movie and the game, the books are actually quite good.  While you won’t find anything too terribly original (some have even mocked it, calling it Star Wars minus lightsabers, plus dragons) the storytelling is solid.  Though his dialogue can be a little shaky at times, his prose is well written and he successfully blends several fantasy conventions into a fun story.  I am actually in the middle of the series right now so my experience is still fairly new, relatively speaking, but his writing gets better as he goes and I look to seeing where he takes it.  I also have to credit Paolini for annoying me enough to get off my butt and finish a novel (though I do have to credit my wife – then girlfriend – for encouraging me along the way).  After reading that he’s about my age and already a major author, I got a little miffed, to say the least, but in a good way.  I have the utmost respect for Paolini and what he’s done.

Alright, that’s it for this week everybody.  Stay tuned for more info on the upcoming novella and book 2 of the Black Armor Tales.  Remember to grab a copy of book 1, The Thief and the Red Mandolin, at or CreateSpace when you get the chance.  Oh, and before I forget there’s also a preview of the book available here and here.  You can also purchase an e-version of the book on Smashwords, Amazon’s Kindle, the Stanza application on the iPhone (via the Smashwords line), and, soon, Sony’s e-bookstore.


El Capitan

Hooo-kay, been a little while since I’ve done any blogging.  Things have been a little interesting around here for a while and I neglected to update everyone.  No excuses other than things have been crazy at work with all the reorganization, and my wife and I have been busy folks.  Having said that, I do promise to be a little better about the posts.  I’ll try to keep them short and quick for your benefit and mine.  Anyways, with that out of the way, got a few things to talk ’bout.

Book Update
First off, the book’s done fairly well so far.  Most of my sales up to this point have been friends and family, but I’m continuing to talk about it with folks we come across on a regular basis.  By the way, if you have not picked up a copy of the Thief and the Red Mandolin, you can do so at  Either do a search for the title or simply click on this ‘lil link here:

Those that have read the first so far have had good remarks about it overall.  The most common statement is that the prose is good which is very encouraging.  The negative comments have actually been pretty varied and some even conflict with each other, so until I get some repeat offenders, I’m going to chalk those up to personal preference.

I’m also still on the lookout for a publishing house.  I’ve sent a copy off to Snowbooks, an outfit based in the U.K. that has a pretty unique take on publishing.  Their focus is more on in-store retail and marketing, and less on traditional marketing avenues like book signings.  Also, they have a different structure for handling books.  One person handles all aspects of a particular novel (cover design, sales, marketing, editting, etc.) instead of having it bounce around from department to department with the more traditional publishers.  I sent it to them in September and I’m still waiting to hear back.  So, be keeping that in your prayers.

5 Things from Sam’s Desk of Awesomeness: Music Videos

I decided to try something new this week.  We’ll see how well I can keep up with the postings, but I’d like to start sharing with everyone five of something I enjoy every post.  I’ll some regular categories like songs, videos, and pictures, but then throw in some random categories at some point.  This isn’t exactly what you would call a top 5, more like a sampling of things I think are pretty dang awesome.  For this first one, I decided I would start with music videos.

1. Linkin Park – Leave Out All The Rest
This video combines two of my favorite things in life: Linkin Park music and epic science fiction.

2. All-American Rejects – Move Along
A nifty video by the boys from Stillwater

3. Red – Death of Me
I had this in an earlier post, but I like the song and video so much I decided to include it again here.  I’ve always liked stories and themes that deal with the opposing forces within each human being as we struggle daily to do the right thing.

4. Skillet – Hero
The video’s kinda generic, but does give tribute to some of our everyday heroes.  The song is great too

5. The Fray – Heartless
This video is awesome for two reasons: 1) The Fray takes Kanye West’s song from crappy to good 2) The visuals are pretty impressive, albeit a little weird.

That’s it for this time folks.  Keep checking back for more news and interesting things I come across.

El Capitan