Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I need your help. Really.

Vote for it Here
I need your help.  No . . . . really . . . I do.   Here's the deal;  Amazon has a new program out called Kindle Scout.  An author submits a new ebook to be considered by Amazon to be included in the new program.  If selected, the author and Kindle Scout sign a five-year renewable contract . . . and get this  . . . said author actually gets PAID for his work!  Real, no-shit-it's-actual-money-MONEY!! 

WOW! What a concept!  It's . . . it's . . . Fantastic.  It's STOOPENDUS!!  It's . . . .

Well, you get the picture.

The reader gets the ebook for free.  A free read and all you have to do is vote for it.  And did I say it was a Turner Hahn/Frank Morales detective novel you'll be reading?  No?  Well, it is.  A complex two-case homicide romp through the back alleys of Hell trying to figure out who the hell did it.

I hope I'm selected.  Turner and Frank are old buddies of mine who need to find an audience.  A big audience.  I think they're two unique characters rarely seen in this genre.  But then, I've said this before.  Often.  So why go over it again.

But vote.  Give them the opportunity to find that audience I mentioned.  Make them come alive in the minds of those out there who love this genre and wants to see it flourish.

To vote for it, click on the Vote for it Here tab.  And thanks, buddy.  I can't tell you how much your help is appreciated.

Monday, July 20, 2015

New artwork and a question over design

The clean, Spartan look
Just received the final artwork for the ebook cover of a new collection of Turner Hahn/Frank Morales short stories.  The collection will be coming out soon.  I'm finishing up on a couple of stories as we speak.  But I love the artwork.  The mental image of what I had in mind translated perfectly by the artist who interpreted them.  Give credit where credit is due; Javier Carmona, of Madrid, Spain, is one very talented artist.  Both of them are, actually.  For years the three of us, Javier and Jesus Carmona and myself have worked to bring word pictures to life in the visual realm.  And we've been really successful.  Or, at least, I think so.

Love the artwork.  But a question did come to mind.  About the title and all the attending verbiage which goes into a book cover.  Essentially, the question is this.  Do we go for a simple clean, Spartan look . . . or do we use a splash of color or two and try to add a little more pizzazz to the whole presentation?

My gut feeling tells me color in the title and in the name of the author is absolutely essential.  Presentation of the title . . . its placement and typeset are essential in making a good cover.

The same can be said about placing, typeset, and color of the typeset for the author's name.  The human eye is a quirky creature.  It roams across a cover in a kind of random . . . yet predictable . . . way.  A potential buyer of the book looks at the artwork, looks at the title, and then at the author's name.   But in what order?  And which of these three views are the most important?  Yes, there have been tons of research probably done on this very issue, and to be frank, I must confess I've been a bit neglectful in finding said research and reviewing the findings.

So I'm going on my gut feelings . . . on what I look for when I go shopping for something to read.  And what I look for is something that is both visually, and viscerally, eye-grabbing the moment I lay my eyes on it.  For me, the eye feeds the soul of my imagination.  Let me feast upon something that inflames my imagination . . . and the chances are it's a sure-fire sale.  I'm buying it and rushing home to dive into it as fast as I can.

The pizzazz look.
But add color;  make the presentation both more palatable and more appealing, and the desire to both buy it and read it increases dramatically.  I can't tell the number of times I've purchased a book for its artwork and presentation, only to get home and dive deep into the book and realize the writing is horrific.  Absolute trash.  Yet, because of the artwork and presentation, I would give the author within a far longer opportunity to convince me his writing would eventually come and around and impress me as well.  Eventually. Hopefully.  But usually . . . sadly . . . no.

So.  What to do?  Go Spartan in design?  Or go with a little more pizzazz?

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

While waiting for artwork . .

Yes, my friends, I have way . . . way . . . way too many writing projects going on at the same.  So many that they are driving me nuts.  Or, perhaps more accurately, more 'nuttier.'  But while waiting for some ebook artwork to get done on a couple of projects, I thought I would share this.

For a long time now I've been thinking about redoing a fantasy novel of mine I published back in '06. It was Roland of the High Crags, Evil Arises.  For those of you who have read it (all two of you), you know all about the story.  For those of you who haven't read it the short synopsis goes like this.

A primitive world has two sentient species.  One human. One dragon.  Both equal in technology and capabilities.  They have been at war with each other for a thousand years.  Genocide is a very real possibility.  But one day a dying dragon baron asks a human warrior-monk-wizard to whisk his only surviving family member away from danger.  Not only save her, but raise her as well.  Raise her and train her in the Bretan way of controlling the vast magical powers she already possesses.  

The problem is the little dragon princess is a weapon.  A weapon designed to destroy the entire human population.  Yet, even though he knows this, the human agrees to the task.

I've added a number of pages to this story.  And I've changed the ending, PLUS added a different introduction.  I want to revive the story and bring out the new version of Book One AND add in Book Two (which was never in print) at the same time.

But for now, thought I would share with you the new intro to Book One.  Tell me what you think.

In my Own Hand I write the History of the Great Struggle

            The moonlight streaming through the narrow slit for a window is strong today.  Its eerie silvery light filled with mysteries yet to be discovered and the ghostly whispers of voices yet to be heard.  And peace.  A breath of quiet, still, peace I have not felt for quite some time. I have been in this cell for oh, so long. Years.  Decades.  Perhaps centuries . . .I cannot say.
            But it's time, brother.
            Time for me to leave the confining space of this narrow dungeon cell.  Time to elude my captors and again take up the sword and shield. The fight will continue.  What was . . .  will be again.  The promise of futures lost perhaps ready to be born again.  There is no escaping the cycle.  Years of solitude, of captivity, have only made me stronger. Aye, brother . . . my body is old and frail.  White is the color of my hair now.  The wrinkles of age on my face too numerous to count. My bones creak and groan every time I stir from my bed. But the soul, brother . . . the soul within this ancient casket of flesh and bone remains strong! And as long as my soul lives . . .
            How long have I been in this dungeon cell I cannot say.  I gave up counting the days and years long ago. Suffice to say it has been at least one life time.  Perhaps two.  This narrow slit deep in the bowels of some ancient fortress long forgotten, its walls made of stone streaked with a rare metal which limits my wizardry powers, has counted with me many summers and winters passing.  Patiently I have waited for this day.  I endured. I survived.  I fought back the pain of my captor's torments. I fought the long hours of unbelievable silence which pushed me close to the edge of the abyss called insanity.  For years I heard not the sound of a human voice. I endured in this cell of infinite solitude.
            I gather strength standing in the light of a full moon.  Now, in my old age, it is the white light
of a full moon that soothes the troubled waters of my soul and quietly infuses me with a sublime, almost sensual, feeling of strength hard to describe.  Years ago, while still a young man, I would never have admitted such a truth.  My training, my religious order, would have frown upon these words and would have forced me to recant.  But not now, faithful servant.  Not after all these years of abandonment and solitude.
            Know you, pilgrim, I am, or at least at one time long, long ago, a Bretan monk. A Bretan warrior-monk.  I wear still the yellow robes of that ancient order with deep humiliation and love.  Even though . . . even though in the eyes of my kind, both brothers and sisters of the order, I am an Apostate. A feared and loathed disbeliever who has taken up the sword against his faith.  Against the teachings of the Bretan.
            They will tell you, my Bretan brothers and sisters, that it was I who brought this Great Evil among us.  It was I who, when given the chance to destroy this Great Evil long before she became what she is today, I failed in my faith and allowed her live. To not only live, Pilgrim, but to thrive!  To grow in her strength and powers of the Netherworld through the training and technique of a Bretan wizard.
            For she is indeed a formidable power, brother.  Her command of the Netherworld magic is beyond comparison.  She lives in both worlds.  Both here in the Middle Kingdom where all our souls still wrapped in these caskets of flesh and blood reside in, and in the World of the Dead as well.  The Netherworld. Lives in both at the same time. Aware of both; interacts in both dimensions, all at the same time. No mortal wizard or witch before her has ever accomplished such a feat.
            How many have I died because of Her?  How many empires have fallen?  How many loving families ripped asunder?  Millions.  Hundreds of millions. And she still reins over the many.  Because of her a great imbalance permeates throughout the Great Cycle which both the Neatherworld and the Middle Kingdom revolve around. An imbalance that must be corrected. Has to be corrected if this Universe as we know it is to remain intact and operate like the great mechanism it is.
            But she is, Pilgrim, not the She whom I raised. She is a different soul.  A She from some far distant Past who, when the opportunity was offered to her, stole the one whom I raised from childhood and imprisoned her as well.
            Aye brother . . . aye.  It is something beyond knowing, beyond belief, that which I scribble hurriedly on this parchment  A She from a different Past, you say?  How could this be?  What Dark Magic is being laid bare here? How could someone from the Past, someone long since dead, return to the Now and replace the living?  But it is so, Pilgrim.  It is so. And it falls upon my shoulders to rectify this Great Schism and bring back the Laws of Order and Tranquility from the Rules of Chaos and Darkness.
            It begins tonight, my brother.  Tonight . . .when the full moon hurls its first bright beams of pure light through the bars of this narrow dungeon cell. When the shaft of  soft silvery white light touches the stone floor I will step into its sweet embrace I will . . . I will . . .
            But before this happens.  Before the struggle begins anew, I will hurriedly scribble a few lines of what took place before.  I will write a short History of the Struggle with the forces of Chaos and those entities whom reside in the Netherworld.
            I am Bretan, brother.  Once known as an honorable warrior-monk and wizard.  I am Roland.  Known as Roland of the High Crags.

            And this is my story.