Tag Archives: E-Publishing

Short story 4 is back from the editor!

The fourth short story in my upcoming dark fantasy is back from my editor, the merciless ogre and wielder of the blood pen!

Progress is good.

He excels at BJJ, so I must approach his revisions carefully, at the risk of my ancient joints and bones.

Once finished, that leaves eight remaining before we finalize the anthology for publishing. Updates will follow!

Thanks so much for everyone’s encouragement and asks about the anthology’s progress! I promise, we’re going as quick as we can, while adhering to some fairly demanding quality standards. (I cannot escape neck cranks. Therefore, I must rewrite). Being an Indie, limited resources means fluid timelines. Your patience is much appreciated!

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Crazy Fast Amazon Developments in Canada!

When I started out with Amazon’s KDP service, customer delivery was less than stellar. I had customers on the other side of Canada simply just not get their book because they weren’t home to receive it, and a wait time from click to doorstep of longer than three weeks.

Well, welcome to 2019!

Not only was I grateful to hear a reader had ordered both of my novels for Christmas (Merry Christmas!) on Thursday, but I was amazed when she told me it was delivered Saturday morning!

Seriously.

That’s a huge improvement.

To think that we’ve arrived at a time when the purchase click creates a printed book, ships it, delivers it into the customers hands, records and sends statistics on the sale directly to the author, and instantly deposits their advance, all in under 48 hours, is pretty mind-blowing, even for a jaded old get-off-my-lawner like myself.

Maybe this isn’t news to our American KDP comrades (and maybe even Canadian indies operating through KDP have already grown accustomed to this), but it sure is a rapid advancement in business efficiency for me.

Speaks well for the future of all indies. In a world where new creative product is, I feel, the biggest of future economies, making our products available faster for cheaper, and, I assume, catching us up to speed with the American ‘Zon market practices are the kind of assist we can all benefit from.

Speaking of cheaper, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that both paperbacks of To Drown in Sand and its sequel, To Drown in Ash, are on sale in time for the holidays, in case you’d fancy a copy.

Juris Lunence: A Tale of the 10th Lunen Regiment
Scoundrel. Saviour. Sniper..
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Publishing Industry Nightmares.

In the ongoing discussion about whether indie publishing is tenable, or even a thing, a lot of ugly business emerges. Most of it is discovered after some careful digging through sites like J.A. Konrath‘s and others in the field who have exposed life in the publishing tower’s secrets. Every year, it seems more of Big Publishing’s practices are exposed, and more and more, they remind me of Big Oil and other “Bigs” who are desperately struggling to understand life in this digital age, and failing.

I strongly believe that we are just as immersed in a technological revolution, that has really just started, by the way, as society was during the Industrial Revolution. Fists are being banged onto desks refusing to acknowledge new ways. Furious millionaires are determined to choke every last dollar from dying industries and practices before they draw their last breath. Men who rose to power with typewriters and letters in the mail scoff at those who dare to publish without them, and do their level best to crush their progress.

Don’t believe me? Read through Konrath. or read this:

https://publishedtodeath.blogspot.com/2017/09/an-insiders-view-of-publishing-business.html?fbclid=IwAR1ltemVunMfjPrdJFe4_nvoayR-bm-KzCNZcNhlHdjV2MoQ1Py5EGO7UWg&m=1

I’ve written in the past about developments in the publishing field in the midst of all this; I find it fascinating to study. I also continue to describe my own journey through and around the barrage that is modern publishing. Note that I do separate that from writing; I don’t believe the two are necessarily connected, and for most people, shouldn’t be. (Same as self-publishing and indie-publishing are not necessarily the same thing).

Erica Verillo‘s not wrong. The chaos she describes is pretty plain to see; just look at your average bookstore chain’s shelves over a year and you’ll see it too.

I firmly believe the future is micro-economic. Small, cottage producers of content that grow organically to be sniffed at by Big Industry, prompting the creators of that content to decide to sell their wares to the machine, or not. And new, pioneering companies like Engen who take their drive and dreams and carve out a chunk using the current technology and craft relationships with their local writers who would never get a chance elsewhere. That is the future, friends.

This is not a new concept. See Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, Call of Cthulhu, and every other small project that eventually became a marketing powerhouse.

And how did they do that?

Quality.

It always starts with quality.

I’m not saying I’m one of those. But I am saying I’m writing to write, small and in the dark every morning, shaping my stories, grooming them for the world that technology has finally made possible.

I’ve gone from coil-ring notebook, longhand writing to typing on paper, to blogging with clickable links, to printed copies in my hand and my amazon store of published novels and short stories.

And we are just getting started. But the journey, the process of this evolution, is really fascinating and worthy of recording. I really do see it as one of the greatest advancements of the arts in generations.

There was nothing like this for H.P. Lovecraft, or Charles Dickens, or Stephen King. Imagine if there had been! I’ve discussed such in The Write Podcast.

Society is quickly growing exhausted of reboots, and throwaway conclusions of stories because the writers had more lucrative things to do, and the endless mining of old material. They are starving for fresh stories, new worlds, and original ideas. There has never been a better time to have an idea. Everything you need to present it is literally at your fingertips.

And that’s me talking; the darkest, most jaded person I know. So, you know,…possibly relevant.







Juris Lunence: A Tale of the 10th Lunen Regiment
Saviour. Sniper. Survivor.
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Great News! KDP FINALLY reveals your historical sales!

Not sure if you noticed (the savvy among you probably have), but KDP quietly rolled out their new reports format!

I’ve wondered since I started with Kindle Direct Publishing why they could not plot out the master sales list for the titles Indies publish. Not only would it make for great nostalgia during those cold, isolated months of dead sales, and drive writers forward after seeing that, yes, there once was a day when you were knocking it out of the park (regardless of numbers; in this day and age, all readers are precious readers, in my opinion), but it’s important to be able to look back and see what you’ve accomplished in total.

At least, my accountant thinks it is.

Well, wonder no more!

screencap new archived database KDP

KDP’s new Historical Report gives you every single sale monthly since you started publishing, and every single KOLL page read. This enables you to accurately track total sales, identify trends, and total your copies sold and free titles distributed since the dawn of KDP-time.

The new format also sets up by sales period, and lists all royalties earned by country in total, which immediately gives you your best selling countries. The report still offers the month-to-date tables, but now provides a payments and pre-orders tab, all  in one header.

Slick, easy to use, and all in one place.

A huge development for Indie writers everywhere!

Stop looking at my short blue poles. I was busy writing.

Go check our your new KDP report page! What do you think of it?

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My Fantasy Anthology is Underway, and it is a Heavy, Dark Thing.

UPDATE:

Three short stories in the can, three others ready for the editor, and six more in various stages. My next release, an anthology to introduce the world of my fantasy novel, is setting up nicely. Twelve stories so far, each set in this new medieval world of shadows and emerging war. Here’s the finished (but nothing’s ever really finished) prologue:

The Maw of War has opened.

After a century of peace, the world is being twisted and bent by the ruthless egos and dark ambitions of man.

Across the Eastern Sea, a horde of monstrous evil drives the brave Dwarven warriors of Wendthairne into the ocean in a desperate flight for refuge, hoping for solace from their former enemies, the long-silent Elves of Ahmrael.

The north of the Realm has frozen into a wasteland. Deep in the ice-encased mountains of North Elan, creatures stir that the world has never seen. Their hunger for ruin is absolute as they are borne from the shadows, seeking to bleed humanity. Enslaved by a new God, they exist only for his revenge and the destruction of mankind.

In the west, Archduke Lierdstiern schemes for the fall of a nation and the usurping of order. His swelling ambitions seduce him to concert with madness under the corrupting power of a new religion. His lies and merciless drive seduce him to new depths of unspeakable evil.

The kingdom of man, tethered together by the dream of peace in the Hall of Kings, is crumbling. Betrayal and deceit erode the carefully constructed foundations of a centuries’ serenity.

Darkness shrouds the evil work of deceit and murder. Horror and madness are creeping out from under the shadows of the night.

The Age of Peace is dying.

The door to ruin has opened. These are the stories of the destruction of hope. The seduction of sanity. The revenge of the forgotten. The wrath of bones.

The Wrath of Bones will be available this November.
Probably.
Meanwhile, I’m approaching the halfway point (Chapter Nine, Scene One) of To Drown in Ash, the sequel to Sand. Issep and the Boddies are in desperate times, surrounded by imminent death and unrelenting evil. The sequel has a much darker tone. The central theme emerging is loss.
Ooh.
THAT sounded foreboding.

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Achievement Unlocked: You Have an Editor!

About a year ago, I stumbled over a title minnowing through my newsfeed. It was a free promo, and the description intrigued me, so I downloaded it. The book was called Sweet Violent Femmes by Holly M. Kothe, and it was one of the best Indie products I have ever, ever seen.

I ripped through the book in one night. The theme throughout was the violent revenge of several women scorned. The tone and the writing left me stunned. I love dark fiction that makes me uncomfortable. Holly’s setup for her characters, how vulnerable they were, how driven and intent they were, were the perfect recipe to keep me locked in her pages.

I remember thinking that I wanted my work to read like that. For my books to be packaged that professionally. I considered Holly’s collection of short stories my benchmark.

Holly recently sent another minnow down my newsfeed. She had started an independent editing business. I wondered if this would be the chance for me to climb the writer’s stairs and improve my work. To get it closer to my expectations. It was time for me to take that next step.

I scrounged my lunch money and emptied my writer’s account and borrowed change from my son. (Not really, but almost). I had no idea how much Holly would charge me for her work. I knew that editors are ridiculously expensive and meant only for the marble halls in New York and Who-do-you-think-you-are-anyway-having-real-writer-expectations-of-yourself?

I looked into Holly’s site. Read the reviews by other writers. Counted how many writers she had edited. I studied their covers and Amazon pages. I narrowed my eyes a lot. These were pro writers with solid covers and there were a lot of them.

I sent off the manuscript to Holly on May 6th . I received my contract and bill for half of her (VERY reasonable) price that afternoon. I signed the bill digitally, pressed send, and left the rest to the will of the Gods.

I had the edited manuscript back in my digital hands on May 13th, and the invoice for the rest of her fee.

Eight days.

Eight.

Her work on the manuscript for my short story was exactly what I had hoped for. She was supportive, objective, clinical, and precise. I could not be happier with her work. With her edits and her suggestions for certain story flow mechanisms, Upon the Devil’s Shoulder reads like a polished, professional work.

And I’ve already finished anther short for the anthology to send to her.

See, because that’s what I’ve learned. How it works when you don’t self-edit, and leave that up to the pros.

You can just go write.

A LOT.

It’s a tough lesson to learn. I know not everyone is in the position to afford an editor. But, after spending 2 years rewriting To Drown in Sand (AFTER it’s been uploaded), when I could have used that time writing its sequel, I can no longer really afford not to. And I’m pretty confident, after seeing what this short story is becoming, that the result in quality will help me afford access to Espresso Editor a lot faster.

I did not for a moment experience the insecurity/protective instinct that I’ve had in the past. Having read Holly’s work, I knew THAT was what I wanted my work to look like. In a way, she is her own best promotion.

And I genuinely feel that I’ve stepped to another platform: from hobby writer to the real thing. Once you’ve read Upon the Devil’s Shoulder, you may agree with me.

If you’re an Indie writer, and are considering going to an editor, stop. Don’t consider it. Go do it. And one of the brightest young women you could ever hope to find will edit your work quickly and quietly at Espressoeditor.

Just don’t get her too busy. I would now be lost without her.

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What KDP Select taught me.

Kindle Select offers quite the pull. As in, towards the Death Star kind of pull. I wondered. I agonized. I rubbed my knuckles on the bones of my forehead. The seductive potential of larger markets tapped at the glass in my dreams.

Giving up other publishing venues for exclusive access to the Kindle Select pool makes sense to the hungry-for-reader writer in me. (Also, making money from someone reading 30% of my work, when the work can be a short story, REALLY made sense).

So, I ran an experiment in KDP select.

The results were poignant and huge.

Like the Titanic.

I wrote a (quite) short story, thinking that the 30% point would be quickly reached by a reader, and then no big loss if they quit after the first page (a theory of mine about free sample readers). I could still reap the benefits of the zillions of dollars in the KDP fund.

Yeh.

Not so much.

I’m not the type to whine. This was a marketing experiment, and I’m glad I dipped my toe in the Kindle Select pool. And, there were inherent process issues against me. I’m an Indie. I’m an unknown. The story may have been too short (although, I thought, for free under a Kindle Select membership, that wouldn’t matter). But in this pool, a shark took my toe, my leg, and pooped them out in the deep end.

I also wanted an opportunity to start my fantasy writing. I find that genre has a wider base than the Military Sci-Fi market has for my other work.

All this knowing that I still have not completed the ‘magic number’ acknowledged by most successful Indies by my research: Three Full Novel Titles In My Genre.

Bone was released on Dec. 20th, 2014. It contained about four pages of promotional material, with links to my other writing, and about four pages of story. It has an awesome cover by the brilliant Dylan Edwards, and, in my humble opinion, is really quite good for a short.

Bone cover final

My free short story, Juris Lunence, had been enjoying at the minimum a download every day that led to one purchase of either Upon a Wake of Flame or To Drown in Sand every ten free downloads.

On December 21st, 2014, all downloads of Juris stopped dead and have never recovered.

I thought it was a glitch, or lead-in to Christmas, or celestial working of ancient, playful, blind Gods.

But, no.

All of my work over 2 years digging through The Algorithm in KDP was undone in one night by signing up to Kindle Select. And, to challenge my sanity even further, I was now locked in for three months.

KDP Select destroyed the momentum I had built with my other titles. Free DL’s flatlined, and only now, FIVE MONTHS later, has the ‘once a day a new reader finds me’ process staggered back out of the KDP Select Sales Shredding machine. It’s wobbly and bleeding, but has started taking baby steps for me, as long as I promise not to do that again.

No problem with that commitment.

Because, after 3 months, Bone obtained ONE download.

One.

And that person did not read the required 30%.

So, lesson learned there. KDP Select is not the system for me. At least not now, and not for my work in the Fantasy Genre.

Bone is now released from the KDP Select isolation chamber. Amazon refuses to price-match it to free (like they did for Juris Lunence), so I gave it the cheapest price they allow, and left it on Amazon. It’s completely free on Kobo.

So, from all things, lessons.

KDP is great for some. Not for me.

I got the coolest new cover yet out of the deal.

And, during my promotional blitz, when Bone ran for free, it was downloaded in Japan, so we cracked another country.

We are retrofitting the cover, and I’m hard at work on several short story projects (more on that in future posts) that is a construct for an anthology to introduce my fantasy novel series.

Bend bad things into lessons, use lessons for good things.

Such is life.

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Of Very Busy Times and Such Things.

I’ve been a negligent Blog writer.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whom I was writing to, until I checked my stats recently.

Wow. Peeps are reading stuff here.

Little surprises are the best ones.

So; quick update!

This happened:

 

Picture 1

 

It’s my first fantasy title. I just bought the cover from Dylan Edwards over at Rootwoodpress. Needed to get back to cobblestones and sword-blades for a break from the railguns, snarling madmen bent on Triumvirate destruction, and interstellar mists for a bit. Chew the mutton and gulp the mead, as it were. This will be the cover for a short story anthology that is currently underway. The first of which is right now being edited for final draft, and will be a freebie on Amazon and Kobo.

And how’s business, you ask? Well, I haven’t reached my goal of being able to buy a tank of furnace oil yet, but Princess (my wife’s insistence on the nickname, not mine) and I did go for a delicious coffee date using the sole proceeds of my writing income for the first time.

It’s the little things.

Before Juris went live for free, it was crickets. A few sales once in a while, but mostly just little red mountains on my Amazon horizon:

For blog 3

 

 

That has changed substantially:

 

Picture 2

Only one ‘Dead Day’ since release. Every day, someone new reads a title of mine. And lots more little red mountains. That makes me smile into my pillow.

When Juris Lunence hit over 500 downloads in two months across three countries, I nearly screamed from my rooftop. (But, the pitch of my roof is too steep, so I settled for a quiet chuckle on my deck, thus avoiding startling my puppy and kids).

 

Picture 4

 

Then, the sweetest thing happened. My first cosplay fan, Joseph Crosby, designed a replica of Lunen gear, right down to First Squad’s shoulder-pads (Love shoulder-pads), and walked into our local Chapter’s bookstore, with a copy of Sand in hand, as a part of a Halcon Cosplay promotion:

 

Picture 6

 

Can’t really describe how Joe’s very kind gesture and incredible input of time affected me, but warm molasses coating my heart comes close.

And now, the planning for the new Fan Festival is underway (more on that later).

All this during my minor league football coaching season (Go, South Shore Seahawks!), replacing my deck, packing one son off to university, and working my Real Job.

None of which excuses my negligence, but perhaps explains it adequately.

Full lives are the best lives.

Thanks for reading!

Onwards!

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What works with Amazon: An evolving education in Indie publishing.

 

So. I conducted an experiment.

“You gotta have free stuff,” they said. “Folks love free stuff.”

My Indie Pubbing guru J.A. Konrath says it, too. More quality, more titles, more free. And Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt describe it thoroughly, using the concept of Funneling.

The Traditional Publishers still gnash their teeth, flap their tiny arms, and growl that not anyone can do this; that they have special services that guarantee quality and success.

They’re right; they do. But I say anyone can make their own success, if you learn the game, and demand quality of yourself.

Juris Lunence took only about four months to finish from initial draft, to polished, packaged, buffed, price on the windshield, and out on the lot. Plus, it was a lot of fun to write. So overall, not a loss of time in any way. It’s a short story prequel to Book 1 of my Trilogy, To Drown in Sand. 

Kobo went live with Juris Lunence first, and that was intentional. We loaded it to Amazon, didn’t announce it, and read the purchased copy while Kobo chewed on the upload. Since Kobo takes considerably more time to publish a title, we used that to proof the digital copy that went live on Amazon that was still priced at Amazon’s somewhat silly $.99 price. We caught our glitches, re-uploaded to Amazon, and the final copy was live before Kobo hit the market. Then we uploaded the corrected version to Kobo. Kobo’s copy of Juris went up for free (because they do that), and we reported Amazon being undersold by Kobo. The $.99 still appeared on the Amazon copy for first three days, but buyers received it free because of price-matching. At the end of the third day, Juris Lunence looked like this:

 

Juris Free

 

Then, the FB group blitz. My poor followers. Their feeds must look like I’m a megalomaniac. Over 40 groups in one night, then roughly 15 more over the next few evenings. They were kind not to appear on my lawn with rage and torches.

I purchased a small bottle of Goldschlager (one of those tiny airplane bottles, I’m not a drinker), my favourite Victory Juice. Parked it next to my laptop on the kitchen table, and waited. I was only going to open it if I hit 10 free downloads.

Then this happened:

photo 1

Those little buggers are hard to open when you’re excited. I had to use my pliers.

3 days later, there wasn’t a bottle big enough to celebrate cracking an Amazon Top Ten list, and the Top 100 in Kindle Books:

photo 2

10 days later, here’s what the 4 months of work did for my Author rankings:

Author Central Stats Sci-Fi and Fantasy Ranking Scince fiction rankings

 

And here’s the total snapshot of Juris Lunence downloads, and what it did for To Drown in Sand (the little red lines at the bottom).

photo 3

 

Did I sell a lot of copies of To Drown in Sand? Not really, at least not yet.

Did I sell more than if I hadn’t written and promoted a free release? Yeh.

Did I climb through the Amazon algorithm and increase my Author ranking? You betcha.

Did I gain new readers, and get over 100,000 new people looking at my title? Yip!

Is Konrath and Truant and Platt right? Absolutely.

The conclusion is pretty much irrefutable, which is rare in this Grand Indie Game.

Free works as long as it’s quality. And anyone can make that happen.

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Just a quick mo’…

Just popping in to provide the means to acquire a professionally edited, reasonably well-written, and ABSOLUTELY FREE  story about a fantastic character.

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/juris-lunence

 

Juris 2nd draft covr

 

There. I’m done. Please return to your awesome day.

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Red Pen-marks are not scars on the soul.

Juris Lunence just went live yesterday. It’s the origin story of one of my favourite characters in To Drown in Sand, mainly because when he stepped on stage in my mind, I had no idea who he was. Then he started doing Very Awesome Things, and became a lynchpin plot figure for the climax of the novel.

Juris marks the first time I’ve gone beyond Beta and self-editing, and it shows. My amazing editor, Chad Horton, graciously offered to edit for me pro bono. His warnings were clear:

“I will be merciless.”

And, thank the Saints, he was.

This is what I got back,over a very nice lunch.

Image

 

Image

Image

Image

 

What surprised me, though, was that no tears fell onto my Fish and Chip dinner.

Instead, I was more excited than ever before. He had magically taken my work, sensed exactly what I was trying to do with it, and pushed me back to tweak the language and structure. I learned so much from rewriting Juris that I shudder to think what it would have become without him.

Yes, there were rewrites and revisions afterwards. Typos caught and created, little mice to chase through the pages. But the PLAN was clear.

 

Image

It wasn’t like before. No doubt-filled story arcs and soul-squashing plot questions. I had a plan; a highway, with signs, little yellow marker-bars, and a destination. And I saw the difference in the end result between this story and other stuff. Not that it wasn’t good writing; I really think it stands up.

But not as pain-free as having a qualified eye take my work out of the jar that is my head, and look at it through the microscope of the objective reader.

Thus, my new rule.

Get It Edited.

I was editing before, but not in the way that created the separation required. It’s a lesson I’m ecstatic to learn, especially as an Indie.  Call it a corner in the path, I guess.

Nice view from here onward.

 

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What I’ve learned: 4 months post-release.

It all started with an initial wave of increasing sales every month. Upon a Wake of Flame was released as a test in the fall, and Sand was released just before the beginning of December. I watched the KDP sales reports like a maniac. By February, I was closing in on 100 copies sold. Then things slowed, and I realized I had probably run out of friends who bought my writing out of support. I watched this thing return to a state of rational conduct.

But, something silly had happened. I stopped Writing, and started Marketing.

I had let something happen that I had promised not to; I had fallen for it. I had let myself enjoy the film. Suspended my disbelief, and let myself buy in. I’d grown accustomed to the 4 months of increasing sales, and the little rush of beating last month’s numbers.

But, as it inevitably had to, things calmed down, and, in February, To Drown in Sand was raised from its comfortable sit, propped up by its little arms, and set free. No more Facebook sales drives. No more Pinterest jamming. I want to see what it can do; what happens when someone doesn’t just BUY my writing, but READS my writing, and tells someone else about it. So, now, the book is up on its own legs, and is taking its staggering, uncertain steps forward on its own.

Hard to watch. The coffee tables around here have very sharp corners. I’m holding my breath.

Since the beginning of March, sales have continued in the UK, which is great, because word is getting around over there. And that’s a huge surprise. In the US and Canada, each month brings someone new to Alseiry Beach, Shastre, and the Boddies, so I’m more than cool with that.

So here’s what I’ve learned:

An Ebook is NEVER finished.

Endless tweaks. Endless. Each new upload of even the smallest change results in catastrophic changes in page breaks, margin changes, and even accusations of disorganized formatting in reviews. Such things are taken, considered a part of the exercise in education and live formatting, and fixed.

Speaking of which;

If I read my reviews, I pretend I’m someone else. As in, a potential reader. And then I forget about it. Back to the keyboard.

Pinterest is fun; a great, free, promotional tool, and a substantial time-sink.

I spent a LOT of time fishing on Pinterest. Which was fun, but killed my writing time. And, while I did see direct sales from it, I had much more enjoyment discovering new writers like A.J. Wilson, Brian Parker,  Terry C. Simpson, and Holly m. Kothe, and promoting them on my Pinterest boards.

Facebook is a sticky, ego minefield.

Facebook  groups became a bit of a mire; free advertising that resulted in direct sales, but it taught me a lot about the demographics of Indie writers that spend time there. Some people don’t really want advice when they ask for it. They want you to tell them how awesome they are. They want to smack you in the face with their books. IF they’ve really published one. There are a lot of writers who haven’t actually published anything, which shocked me. And a lot who probably shouldn’t have published what they did. A quick glance at a free sample of their writing shows which writers think their story is too precious for an editor, and which editors weren’t real editors, and which writers really, really want their work to be good.

Others, though, are incredible folks who want to accomplish what you want to. They want to be Writers. Find those, and you have comrades.

Overall, no big loss of time. I learned volumes from the exploration. Biggest take-away? Just like my heroes say.

Get back to writing.

It’s true, you know. The only thing that will sell your last book is your next book.

Thus, I dove back into the fray. That awesome, loving, splashy, ridiculous fray. On went the headphones and the Steve Jablonsky music. And man, it was good to go back.

Thus, Juris Lunence was born.

I’ve just finished the latest draft of the new back-story for one of my favourite characters from the 10th Regiment. Even got a new editor to take a look at it, and rip into it with his red pen. (More on that next time).

Great fun was had by all. My awesome graphics designer Dylan Edwards is hard at work on a cover, and the final draft will be ready for release soon.

I don’t have any free stuff. Everyone says “You gotta have free stuff.”

So, we’ll go with that for this release. It’s about 25 pages, but they are 25 Very Good Pages. Juris Lunence was a great deal of fun to write, and will go in the stack that will eventually create a short-story anthology; a complete prequel-set for the 10th Lunen Regiment Trilogy.

Here’s a glimpse of the (very) rough draft of one cover concept; Dylan is drafting a few more that I’ll be too excited to contain, and therefore will pop up here for perusal.

Juris Lunece Concept

More updates on its release as things unfold.

Onwards!

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Of Reviews and Such.

Across Kindle, Indigo/Chapters, and both the .com and .ca Amazons (which don’t share reviews both ways, I was saddened to learn), both ‘Wake and ‘Sand have garnered some pretty great reviews.

Scattered as they are, I thought it might be swell (as in, my Ego) to gather what readers have written thus far, put cheek in hand, and bask for a bit.

Feel free to join me.  However vain, one should bask once a day. It keeps the spirit shiny, especially when reality pokes one in the knees with sharp, pointy sticks.

Upon a Wake of Flame reviews:

http://www.amazon.ca/Upon-Wake-Flame-Lunen-Regiment-ebook/dp/B00ELP2LOS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388674197&sr=8-1&keywords=upon+a+wake+of+flame

~

“I thoroughly enjoyed this short story/intro piece.

The pacing was good for it’s length and it did what few books are able to with me: quickly bond me to the characters. Within the first few pages I was genuinely concerned for the characters and their struggles, which is exactly what I look for while reading.

It has fairly detailed and graphic battle “scenes” as well.

For being an intro short story it is of excellent quality in my opinion.”

~

“This short story was a pleasant surprise. Not having read much of the Sci-fi/fantasy genre recently, I was expecting more of the same old good verses evil theme and somewhat predictable plot. That is not what I found. I found interesting characters, descriptive narratives and a plot that kept this reader engaged. There were also some subtle insights into the more complete novel to follow. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and will look forward to B.C. Laybolt’s more extensive adventures in his upcoming novel. A great introduction to a new author. Good read.”

~

“A short prelude to the upcoming debut novel by B.C. Laybolt, which is a brilliant way to introduce yourself as a new author. After reading it, the first thing that came to mind is that gritty opening to the Fallout games, “War never changes…” It is an intense, action packed, brutal wartime sci-fi story. Great characters that you DO NOT want to get attached to, because they may -realistically- be torn apart at any moment. Great tension, because you DO get attached. A great read, but what really hooked me was the dark and foreboding hints of what was to come. Excellent foreshadowing! Check this out! — Justin Killam, author of Seven Crows.”

~

To Drown in Sand Reviews:

(This first one really got me. Still gets me very emotional to read even now):

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/to-drown-in-sand/9990011527775-item.html?ikwid=To%2520Drown%2520in%2520Sand&ikwsec=Home

~

Science fiction FOR soldiers.

Coming from the infantry and finding good science fiction is always a problem for me. Nine times out of ten the author just doesn’t “get it”. They either try too hard, with over the top clichés, or don’t bother to even attempt to understand and it ends up silly.

This is author is different. The characters are visceral and the combat is intellectual, which is the opposite of most others. The story is compelling and rolls along at high and low paces, mimicking normal army life nicely. I am not sure if Laybolt ever served, but he rights like a veteran.”

~

http://www.amazon.ca/Drown-Sand-Lunen-Regiment-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00GWRQLQW/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1

~

“Having read B.C.Laybolts introductory short story “Upon a Wake of Flame”, I was eagerly awaiting the first novel in the trilogy of the Lunen Regiment. The book did not disappoint. It was a very engaging story with great character plots, suspenseful action and explicitly graphic. A very gripping novel that was hard to put down until finished. Highly recommend this novel to any one and will patiently wait for the next in the series.”

~

“I enjoyed this book a lot even though I think felt there were many flaws. There seemed to be too much missing information for the reader to adequately understand the plot. When I finally found out the motivations of Issep, Ter Ense, and others I still don’t get it. I feel like the author has character files somewhere with detailed histories, goals, and motivations, but chose to only provide 5% of that info for the reader.

As for the setting, we can kind of piece together a brief history of the Triumvirate, but the differences between the three member-states are never explained. There was also some kind of fantastical/paranormal stuff happening that the characters didn’t seem to find all that strange and yet didn’t seem to be at all normal in the setting.

I rated To Drown In Sand four stars because the experience was enjoyable. The setting has a lot of potential. The characters are good and the dialogue even better. The writing is clean. If some more information was revealed during some key scenes I feel like this would be a real winner.

Sorry if I’m rambling, but this is a hard novel to review…”

~

Not too shabby for the first month of release! I’ll post more as they roll in, unless they begin to  cripple my soul. Then I may not. I may quit the whole thing and begin a short career as a clumsy tree pruner. We’ll see.

Onwards!

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To Hold in Hand Completion.

Everybody does this now. I hate to be everybody. But there’s nothing else like it, and now I get why.

The first unboxing. The birth of the Galley, and the delivery into your hands.

One very, very surreal moment.

Wow.

The hand stops a-tremble when the eyes read the words.

The hand stops a-tremble when the eyes read the words.

600 pages of work. Sitting in your hand.

Now THAT’S why we do this.

Please forgive me while my innards glow.

 hard copy
If you’d like a copy for your very own hand, here’s where you can get one:

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Upon a Wake of Flame. A short story. Part 1 of the prequel to To Drown in Sand.

As promised, Part One of the prequel for my novel, To Drown in Sand, to be released in November 2013.

 

Upon a Wake of Flame

A story of the 10th Lunen Regiment

By

B.C. Laybolt

 Cast:

Petty Officer Second Class Fiodek Berr – Callsign:Bear’.

Master Seaman Owiqued – (Pipes): Callsign: ‘Howler’.

Master Seaman Thuigrae – (Manta): Callsign: ‘Stomps’.

Master Seaman Bonfodighen – (Flamer): Callsign: ‘Steambath

Able Seaman Yuekijae – (Medic): Callsign: ‘Gauzer’.

Able Seaman Edroit – (Rifleman): Callsign: ‘Milk-crate’.

Able Seaman Clurrid – (Rifleman): Callsign: ‘Paperback’.

Able Seaman Kepeht – (Rifleman): Callsign: ‘Dogfood’.

Able Seaman Bavdemix – (Rifleman): Callsign: ‘Badmix’.

Able Seaman Rokemigveuse – (Rifleman): Callsign: ‘Migve’.

Lieutenant Bob Griare – Callsign: ‘Tailflip’.

~Orksen Isle, in the Derry Atrus Atoll, 30 kilometers Due South of the Alseiry Peninsula on the dwarf planet Shastre.

 

The shot cracked across the road from up high. Its echo bounced and barked across the cratered street from doorway to doorway, looking for a place to celebrate.

The heavy bullet punched him in the chest and threw him into the mud-brick wall on the wrong side of the alley, crackling the rough, hand-pressed plaster behind him. Scabs of gritty sand-plate tumbled over the rim of his helmet as he slid down into the dirt.

He watched the man who shot him nestle in behind his large black scope, high on the second floor, tucked in under a wooden kitchen table, the sides hung down to block the sun.

Black lightning-bolts of capillaries split his vision.

Shot in the chest.

And here it was his thirty-eighth Saints-damned birthday.

Petty Officer Second Class Fiodek Berr; Third Squad, Threadfin Boat, Second Company; Sturgeon Battalion, Tenth Lunen Regiment, dragged in a hissed breath that screamed against his sternum. He tried to roll over, to tip out of the sniper’s view.

“Frock!” Berr heard Clurrid, his stern-guard rifleman, holler over the rumble of his pulse in his temples. He watched as the sky stained with water-colour black. “P.O. Down! Gauzer! Bear is down!”

“Huh…Huh…Hold it!” Berr managed, and pointed his medic back to the safety of the alley wall.

“He’s waiting for you.”

Berr watched panic flash across their faces. Spearing pain rippled through his chest, hammering his ribs and breastbone with every jagged, shuddering breath.

Berr wobbled his head to check again at where the shooter was perched. He could make out a grin spread from behind the long, tubal optic.

Berr squinted at the sniper’s scope and smiled back.

The top floor of the shabby, smashed hut exploded in a roar of ripping splinters, blasting clouds of dust and clay, and wet chunks of the enemy sharpshooter.

Berr chuckled, then grimaced and let his helmet thump into the dirt.

“Oh, for frock’s sake! They got him. The bastards finally got him!”

Two sets of hands scrambled over his dented chest-plate, and grabbed the curved, heavy gorget of his vest. His boots bobbled and carved shallow trenches in the dirt as they dragged back up the alley.

Above him, the sunlight thinned and died to embers. Nine blots of shadow crowded into what was left of the sky, bumping for access.

“Nice shot, Stomps. Took dat roof right off of ‘er!”

“That’s irrelevant. Is he alright?”

“For frock’s sake! Get back! How the frock am I supposed to get at him? You know what to do! Form a frocking perimeter, cover us, and let me do my job!”

“I said is he alright?”

“And I said Steady Up!

Mumbles of their barely-contained panic bubbled in his mind and started to swirl, lost in the reaching darkness.

Berr groaned.

Today of all days.  Eight hours into thirty-eight years old, and millions of cables away from the only person who knew it.

Despite her fiery, naval language and raised voice, his wife had still, at least, wished him that much in her comm-send that had finally arrived last night. Her voice had been terse; loaded and cocked with warning.

That’s the problem with interplanetary arguments while you’re on deployment, he thought. One-way only, and weeks to send.

Takes too long to fire back.

His pulse calmed. He inhaled, and fresh pinpricks of pain riveted across his shoulders, gathering in the bones over his heart.

He had heard the dit that there was that delay in all the soldier’s sends, too. At first all the troopers had mumbled about the usual scanning for intelligence material. Tactically Sensitive information. Later, that had begun to change.

Overhead, clouds crawled by, a convoy of fist-shaped, relentless frigates shrouded in billowing white in a blue sea, stained black by the shock of the shot.

Weeks of delay. Berr thought.

That’s new.

The comms-monitors were scanning the infantry’s correspondence home more carefully than usual. Crawling over their words like ants on a corpse. Scouring and seeking.

And he suspected it had a lot to do with the secessionists that they were fighting here on the Derry Atrus island chain.

He was a veteran. Fifteen years with the Tenth Lunen Regiment. He had seen blood, rebellion, and his slice of the pie of war had been monstrous.

But the enemy they faced here on this small planet called Shastre were different. And the data-crawlers knew it. They weren’t protecting themselves by trying to catch leaks.

Berr knew they were protecting the innocents. Those at home. From learning the truth.

That there were monsters here.

The sound in the alley swallowed him. Third Squad’s boots ground into the grit. They mumbled curses that betrayed their panic, their fear that he was dying. The shuffle of Gauzer’s hands, digging and prodding into his chest, searching for an entry wound. The wet squish as he found the laceration of the shoulder-strap that had cut into his deltoid.

The ping of a syringe-cap tapping into the clay.

After a moment, all sounds became one, rushing through his mind like water, on a platform of another haunting, echoing noise that lingered around the walls of his skull and forced his eyes shut.

The echo of that sniper-round.

“I got him.” Gauzer, his medic, said. “He just needs a minute.” Gauzer slipped closer now, a whisper next to his ear. “You had the air punched out of you. Your armour held. I don’t know how. But it stopped the round.” His voice was shaken, but solid enough.

Berr thanked the Saints. He blinked quickly, blinded by the sky that now flooded back to blue. Gauzer reached out a hand, and he grabbed it.

Sitting up felt like having his chest ripped open.

“Third Squad. Get back in the stack.” Berr’s voice was wet gravel. “Jonah’s down.”

Berr gingerly pulled in a deep breath, shook his head, then staggered over and leaned into the scarred alley wall. He sighed, and carefully peeked out around the corner. His skin submerged into a tide of Gauzer’s warm spread of pain-narcs.

He peered down the debris-littered road, rough with tossed stones and scattered shell casings; toppled, kicked-out doors and collapsed walls that spilled out onto the hard clay road like guts. Behind him the rest of Third Squad stacked in a crouched line against the wall, pressed tight against each other.

At the end of the road squatted a fat, mud-scabbed hill, its top punched flat by aerial bombardments. Third squad’s first objective of the day. Beyond that, a field that Int had said would be spotted with more ruined huts. A small village that had been smashed open by the retreating enemy soldiers, but held intact enough to offer cover for Berr’s squad to advance.

Berr winced as he swung out and sighted down at the end of the road. The side of the hill that faced them was covered in the rough scabs of boot-prints left from the enemy’s retreat.

Hundreds of boot-prints.

The intelligence operator who briefed them had been a tall, strong-shouldered black sergeant named Omram, from Cixca, the Triumvirate’s headquarters planet. Omram hadn’t been able to accurately assess how many of the secessionists would be left in the ruins of this town, or how many had retreated over that hill to wait in the field beyond. All he had been able to tell Berr and his lieutenant, Griare, was that whoever was left of the secessionists here on Orksen Isle had nowhere left to run. The Tenth Lunen had pushed the enemy militia back all the way across the island, and now they were trapped. Their last and only option was to try to swim to the mainland from here. Or surrender.

Which these maniacs never did.

“Good luck, Bear.” Lieutenant Griare had said, with a slap on his Petty Officer’s shoulder-pad. “Don’t let anything happen to you until I catch up to you. I won’t be able to find my arse or my elbows without you.”

“Aye to that, Sir.” Berr had said. “But that’s fishguts. And we both know it.”

Griare had become one of the best officers he had ever worked with. Organized, thorough, and knew when to get out of the way. And when to listen. He was a random rarity, in Berr’s experience. They respected each other, and better yet, they seemed to be becoming friends.

“Fiodek?” Griare’s grip had lingered on Berr’s shoulder. The Lieutenant’s glare made Berr pause as he fussed with his gear.

“Sir?”

“I mean it.” Griare had said.

Berr coughed now, spat white chips of stone dust from his teeth, and wiped flakes from the corners of his eyes. Orksen Island was covered in chalky fragments that crept everywhere, coating their hair and skin in a skin of crusty, dry white slivers. He coughed again, dry and pointless.

The Shastre cough. He was still adjusting to the change in pH on this planet, where the air was like breathing deck-cleanser. At least at first. The three weeks of injections aboard their battlecarrier had helped his lung’s surfactant adjust, but the cough lingered, stabbing fingers of irritation and pressure into the inner edges of his ribs.

Now, with the round he had taken, his chest flared into fissures of pain, angry at every cough.

Berr grunted and pivoted behind him, signaling to the male and female trooper next in the stack who squatted there, waiting on his word.  They stared like tigers watching Berr decide on his orders.

“Badmix. Migve.” Berr whispered. “Cut across this street.” He knifed his hand at a blown-out, two-storey wreck across from him. “Grab cover on that corner. Sight down the starboard angle, on my two o’clock, and see if we’re clear for that side.”

“Aye, Bear.” They said.

“On my signal.” Berr said, pivoted back, and sighted down the street.

So, so quiet. Like a hunter waiting in a hide.

Just like it was a second before that bastard shot me.

A dry, crisped leaf tumbled across the two ruts in the clay road, pirouetted in a breeze, and tumbled against a shattered curb.

He held up a finger.

“Go.” He grunted, and pointed across the road. He squinted through the twin alloy pins at the end of his muzzle, and waited to kill anything that twitched.

Badmix outpaced Migve as she sprinted into the alley opposite Berr, followed fast by her larger counterpart. They slammed the backs of their dirt-scuffed, blue armoured vests into the clay-brick wall of the building and looked to the clouds overhead as they caught their breath. Badmix swung into a low crouch and leaned out over a pock-marked set of mortar steps, scanning down Berr’s side of the street. Migve’s rifle muzzle panned just above her head. The solid azure line and arrowhead, that designated her rank of able seaman, crested to the brow-rim of her black helmet and pointed down the road of roofless homes and smashed-out stores.

Berr remembered painting the arrow’s wings on her helmet just four weeks ago to celebrate her promotion. He had never seen Badmix cry before. That night, around a blazing beach-fire, he had seen tears rise in her eyes in a tidal creep of pride.

But she had managed to keep them contained.

They perched on the corner for three minutes, waiting. Badmix peeked over at Berr, and then nodded at him.

Berr turned and pointed at the next two in the stack.

“Gauzer. Dogfood.” Berr said, thumbing at the medic and his best friend. The two were inseparable; their matching tattoos read Not for glory; For my brother in scrolling script on their right shoulders. “Haul taut up into the starboard line. On the lee of the staircase and doorway. Clear it and stack it. Then lie to until you hear otherwise. On my signal.”

“Aye, Bear.” they said in unison.

“And knock that bilge off.” Berr muttered. “It’s creepy as frock.”

The two men grinned and bounced on their heels.

Berr glanced back over to his two prone shooters across the road, and signalled them that he was sending more forward. Migve nodded. Berr saw that his shoulders were anxious and tight, his hand wrapping and re-wrapping around his rifle-grip.

“Go.” Berr said, and they loped around him and sprinted off, their shoulders scraping against the cracker-dry bricks as they picked their way to safety, sighting into the shadows and blown-out windows ahead and across from them.

Just five more to tuck in to safe slots along this road. That’s all he had to do. Three more positions, including himself, just one more time, all safe, all fine, all ‘Lunen Blue’.

Then repeat it a hundred times until he got them all home. Or at least back to the battlecarrier. Then he could finish his argument with Lois.

It would take forever to be able to send back to his wife now. He’d have to wait until he could breathe without her noticing the pain, or any hesitation when he spoke.

Better not to bother, he thought, and not try to hide the hit I just took.

She’d only see it anyway. Somewhere.

We’ve been married so long, we’re probably psychic.

He nodded behind him at the next two.

“Paperback. Milk-Crate.” He pointed laterally across the street, to a doorway that arched open like bowed legs. “Doorway, Port side. My eleven o’clock. Go.”

He listened at the scuffy, reassuring slaps of his men’s boots as they dashed for safety across the killing zone, then thump into the solid haven of cover in the doorway.

Berr counted them all again. Even though he didn’t need to, even though he knew he only had three left to send, and that they were accounted for. He counted them again.

He rolled back against the wall. Next to him, his comms operator perked his eyebrows.

“De Big Dogs, eh?” Howler said, in the clipped, twisty accent of the Chireesh. It had taken Berr four months of their eight-month voyage aboard the Tenth Regiment’s dropship-battlecarrier, the Whaleshark, to master the accent and decipher Howler’s subtexts.

But, as difficult as it had been for Berr to learn the Chireesh’s accent, Howler’s keen intelligence had made the struggle worth it. He’d been thrilled to discover his Pipes was a genius with languages. Howler had already pieced together the basics of the enemy’s tumbling, guttural dialect through his careful monitoring of their sparse comm-sends.

The black shark-fin antennae of Howler’s Tactical Information Management Array System, the Timas, bumped the back of his helmet as he nodded at Berr and waited.

“Big dogs.” Berr said.

Behind the comms-op, the massive, brooding black shroud of the Manta mech-pack cloaked Stomps, his heavy gunner. The turbine housed in the rear of the mech whispered and whined, and the servos in the mech-arm hissed a thin hydraulic thread of noise as it helped the muscular woman hoist her Narwhal heavy-gun. The gun clunked as she thumbed the barrel selector, and threaded a round into its receiver. The three barrels of the weapon yawned, waiting to smash her enemies apart with torrential rapid-rounds, large-bore shots, and grenades. Hungry for more devastation like she had wrought on Berr’s sniper.

She had originally balked at Berr using himself to flush out the shooter and leaving his safety up to her. But as always, she had proven herself.

The mech’s legs unfolded silently as Stomps stood up from where she crouched, silently hoisting the massive turbine that powered and cooled the gun. Fingers of her brown hair spilled down from her helmet and curled around her determined face, framed by the Manta’s cowl. Behind her, Third Squad’s flame-man, Steambath, squeezed out around the Manta and leaned forward.

“We’re ready as that wind now, my son.” The Torcher muttered to Berr. “Today ain’t getting any younger squatting here on our arses. Let’s get at her.”

Berr couldn’t suppress his grin. He bore a genuine reverence for the older flamer operator. Steambath was a genuine shellback. He had burned his way across every island in the atoll, always at the front of the flanks and immune to fatigue, like most of his people from his rocky, barren island back on Lunen. His eyebrows and close-trimmed hair, shingled with thin grey patches, were permanently singed and curled from the charring burn of his weapon. The flamer in Steambath’s hands seethed and drooled droplets of fire from its charred muzzle, sizzling into a puddle of black sludge next to his dirty, chipped boot.

“Aye.” Berr said. “You two have the farthest. Get up to the bow. I need you in the nose when the rattle starts. Up the deep starboard, ahead of Gauzer and Dogfood.”

“Right where I should be.” Stomps said, and thumbed her gun onto large-bore. The weapon thunked as it primed a fist-sized sabot round, and the turbine’s high whine lowered to a growl.

“On my signal.”

“Aye to that, Bear.” Stomps said. She turned back to the Torcher. “You ready?”

“Stomps, by’s, don’t be wasting my time with fishguts interrogatives.” Steambath chuckled and waggled the long cylinder of flame-fuel screwed into his weapon’s belly. “I was ready when your father’s seed was swimmin’. Let’s get on with it, now, my sons.”

Berr levelled his rifle out. The tether-cable that attached his gun to the hub in the center of his chest-armour squeaked as it spooled out. He sighted down the street.

Still nothing.

Potentially hundreds of them.

And nothing.

Saints-damn this place.

Go.” Berr said.

He watched Stomps and Steambath jog around him, then hug the cover of each building’s buckled walls as they bolted to where Gauzer and Milk-Crate hunched into balls of aiming tension in the recesses of their crumpled stairway. The Manta-mech and Torcher swept past their two squadmates, and crunched into cover ahead of them all.

Howler stiffened next to him.  “Movement.” He said, his voice twisted by the butt of his rifle.

“Where?” Berr said, and cursed. Howler had eyes like a Heron-gunner. But Berr should have seen it.

“Down d’air. Deep Port. End of dat road.” The Pipes-man whispered. “Two ‘eads. Peekin’ out around deh corner. I think d’air gonna do deh run for deh ‘ill. Stragglers, maybe.”

“Let everybody know, Howler.” Berr muttered.

~

The rest of Upon a Wake of Flame will be released on Amazon for Kindle and on Kobo in August 2013.

© 2013 B.C. Laybolt

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Hanging out with heavily armoured dudes. Chills; I tell ya!

Catherine Croft and her gang did a wonderful job organizing a great day for the kid-nerds at Mill Village Consolidated School for the May the 4th Be With You event, and I was lucky enough to get to go.

The gang from Maritime Heavy Armour (https://www.facebook.com/MaritimeHeavyArmour?fref=ts) thrilled the kids, and me, by showing up and posturing with us all in an appropriately menacing  way.

We played some tabletop 40K, chatted about figs and gaming, and I got to do a dry run of my book promotion in front of real people. So that was cool.

And my mom bought me fries.

It was the only event of it’s kind permitted by the Lawyers of the Empire (Star Wars, not Warhammer, the Inquisition would never have allowed such a thing) to show a screening of all the Star Wars movies. Catherine even had a large outdoor projector, and showed it as a drive-in feature.

photo (1)

The Vulcan intimidated me most.

photo

One never usually gets this close to a Space Marine. And Deathwatch sightings are especially rare. And one never, never gets to actually HUG a Deathwatch Space Marine. But I did. Turns out I shared an ancient secret Mechanicus armour technique, and he was most grateful. And hugs are nice. He deals with a lot of Grim Darkness, so I thought he could use the bro-love.

And then there was THIS, which the caricature guy did for me, which shall now be framed in my office. Terribly, I never caught his name:

photo (2)

Awesome time had by all!

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Of the Almighty Blurb

After much research and fussing, I took the advice of my graphics designer, the amazingly talented Dylan Edwards. About eight months ago, when we were discussing the blurb for my book, he gave one of his priceless pearls of wisdom to me:

“I don’t think writers should write their own blurbs. They’re too close to their story.”

However, I don’t think he realized what he had said. Because  last week, I took him up on his advice and asked him to write one.

Thankfully, he was able to squeeze time out from his busy work schedule as an animator, film maker, cover designer, all-round creative genius, and father, to put an awesome first draft together.

After some editing (which was hilarious, ME editing HIS work for  a change), we came up with the result below, which thankfully, he thinks will fit on the back cover:

To Drown In Sand – A Novel of the 10th Lunen Regiment
by BC Laybolt

No matter how far you run, your shadow follows.

Centuries ago, they fled the doomed Earth. Their damaged flotilla stumbled on a new star system and colonized the worlds they found there. The ragged remnants of mankind fought the elements and each other to survive. Out of terror and darkness, the Nar Exus Triumvirate was created, enforcing a fragile peace between their planets.

But on the dwarf planet called Shastre, the people’s simple life along the rivers and in the mountains, unconcerned with the politics of the Triumvirate, has backslid into superstition and savagery under the sway of a murderous warlord known only as Ter Ense. The Triumvirate has responded to reports of genocide on Shastre by sending the 10th Lunen Regiment to restore order. But danger dwells deep in the jungles of Shastre. An ancient darkness that predates the flotilla is awake after a long slumber.

To escape his tragic past, a man named Kyris Issep arrives on Shastre as a fresh recruit. He has come to a war zone, seeking peace for his damaged soul. His commanders see him as a weapon they hope to wield against the enemy. His squadmates see him as a bad omen they fear will get them killed. Issep is not sure of the truth himself, only that something in the jungle is calling to him, and he will travel into the heart of darkness to confront it.

Ooh…catchy!

The blurb also fits well into the Wiki for the book.

Another step closer!

© 2013 B.C. Laybolt

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Evolution of a cover. (Or, Holy Crap, this is really happening.)

My brilliant cover artist, Dylan Edwards, has been slaving away, eking out time from his busy work and family life, to work on the cover for the first book in my trilogy. Talk about blessed with convergence: he’s a genre fan, writer, graphic designer, Beta Reader, and one of my Apex editors. So, I’m lucky enough to have the guy who knows the story intimately working on the pinnacle image for the release of the book.

That. Never. Happens.

Super, Super excited. He’s amazing. And incredibly patient. Quote of the night last night?

“Oh, S**t, I forgot to mention the flamer!”

Luckily, he hadn’t.

Here’s the 2nd draft, before tweaking some of the necessary elements (the very first rough sketch can be found in an earlier entry on the blog):

todrowninsand_rough

And, below, the 3rd generation image, which is very near the final product. I keep staring at it, trying to figure out which of my characters are which.

Really, it’s a lot like pulling the blanket back in the bassinet. Enjoy.

todrowninsand (3)

CopyrightBCLaybolt2012

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When the Tech-gods smile, and sunshine pours from the computer screen.

Or:

Amazon inadvertently knocks 2 months off of my production schedule!

Amazon has recently announced the long-awaited arrival of Kindle downloads and E-books on their Canadian site (.CA)! This is ENORMOUS news to Canadian Indy E-Pubbers; we can now upload and publish straight to our home market first, without having to wait for the labyrinthine, gargantuan system of the ITIN application process, and the dreaded Form 1040NR mailing and return before publishing!

While it’s important to publish across formats, and still a priority to upload your product to the U.S. market (which makes the bureaucratic nightmare of applying for treaty-based tax-exemptions inevitable), it’s a huge step forward to be able to load our E-books up to the Amazon system, and make it available to our home market first! That enables us to utilize existing accounts to later offer sales on Amazon.com, while already taking advantage of Createspace POD hard-copy publishing, buying copies of your own product, and the sheer bliss of posting the link with your actual book for sale, far earlier in the process.

For an idea of how arduous a process this can be (and if you are into self-torture, or numbing of the mind), check out this excellent post at Step-By-Step  Self Publishing:

http://www.stepbystepselfpublishing.net/how-to-get-an-itin.html

Somewhere in the ether, the benevolent Bishops of the Tech-Gods are nodding in their heavy cowls upon seats of black stone, chuckling at my rapture.

Seriously. This takes 2 months away from my production schedule. That was how long I had built in to allow for the craziness of the ITIN process. A HUGE barrier has simply disappeared! No mailing my passport to the U.S. (Shudder!), no repeating the process 7 times because someone at the IRS didn’t dot an ‘I’.

Technology curing digital systemic constipation. Go figure!

Onwards!

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Waiting for Betas (or the anticipation of cutterage).

During the agonizing wait for my last two red-penned copies to return to me from the trusted hands of their Beta-reader surrogates, I’ve been slapping together the sequel’s first draft, which seems to shaping up nicely. It’s nice to distract oneself when you know surgery is imminent. Other interesting things have been happening, too.

In the distance, I can hear the swipe of a digital paintbrush, as my cover artist ekes out time from his young family and full-time job to put together the next stage of the book’s awesome cover. And we’ve started talking theme, and theme editing, and fruitful things have been squished out from between our foreheads when we’ve pressed them together through emails.

My beloved rocket-scientist/technology guru continues to fire off amazing new ideas at me, which I try to catch and see if they will fit in the rewrite.

Happily, I keep glancing at the first copy that returned, that said science guru read and diligently chewed through, with copious notes that must have taken a huge amount of time to process. It’s resting on top of my original copy, pressed into the surface of a coffee table by Ademir’s, under the added weight of his red ink.

for blog posting Ademir's return.

Only two more. Then it begins to begin. It’s amazing to look at, really. And humbling, too. That someone took such an amount of time out of their lives to help you make your dream clearer, more tangible, and hopefully, more successful.  For a jaded old guy like me, images like this are too rare, and only prove that writing is so much of the right slices of our collective human psyche.

And messages of support like his go a long way when one is alone, typing away in a dark corner of his kitchen at 5:00 in the morning.

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