Friday, August 29, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 29-Aug-2014 / new title for collection

Over the past few months, I've been listening to James Altucher's podcasts (he has two, as of this date) on my Stitcher app.  One of the topics he preaches is getting in the habit of making lists.

Now, I love making lists.  When I published Killzone: Book 1 of the Shadowkill Trilogy I made a list of potential projects.  Some I took to heart, while others will have to sit patiently.

James says to make it a habit of creating a list of 10 items each and every day.  That's 70 new ideas after the first week, and of course 3,650 over the course of a year.

Try it--or, as Yoda would say, do . . . or do not, there is no try.

I've been putting this task to heart, listing out 10 of this topic and 10 of that topic.  One of these was a potential title for the upcoming short story collection.  Now, I did have a cover made up for what was going to be the title before.  Here it is:

Now, it's a decent cover and fit the bill exactly how I advised the artist.  There's only one problem.  I won't be using it.  I might down the road, but for now I have another title.

If Walls Could Talk.

When I brainstormed a list of titles the other day, I came up with 20.  And this was one of them.  I like it.  I'll have another cover made up for it.  I'm editing the final story, and then I'll probably put it up for pre-orders.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The war on terror the government doesn't want you to know about

Ramadi, Iraq - the summer of 2006

LUCAS SIMMONS and TRE PAXTON are recruited to be part of a top secret military project. Along with a group of four other highly skilled video gamers, they’re brought to a government installation in the heart of Washington DC.

Instead of testing game simulations, they’re powering a team of robotic soldiers called SHADOWs.

The Strategic Hazardous Android for Defensive Operations and Warfare is the latest innovations in robotic technology. These androids look and act just like real people.

But there’s a problem. One of their team members has a secret project of their own, and is bent on revenge for the catastrophic disaster perpetrated on September 11th, 2001.

Are Lucas, Tre, and the other members of Shadow Team strong enough to stop him?


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Monday, August 25, 2014

Wanted: beta readers

If anyone is interested in reading some new material--FOR FREE!--and providing feedback to me, please e-mail me:

My well of beta readers has gone fairly dry and I'd like to add some new readers.

If you'd like to help out, please e-mail me.  It would be much appreciated.

Also, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter.

Oh, before you go, I'd like to lay down a few ground rules in regards to becoming a beta reader.  I want honest feedback.  Also, the more specific on what you find that works and what doesn't, the better.  I don't want to hear, "Oh, it's really good." (okay, we all like to hear that, but I'm not a brilliant wordsmith that is in no need of editing).

No problem?  Good.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 22-Aug-2014 / The end of KDP Select (for now)

A few weeks ago, I had a Kindle Countdown for both the US and UK markets on my new novel Killzone.

Sales were horrible.

I don't blame anyone.  I don't even blame Amazon.  Sure, I could've gone on this huge marketing spree, spending hundreds of dollars to advertise from here to the moon and beyond.  I didn't.  I am on a very limited budget.

That being said, I am ending my reign on the Amazon KDP Select.  I will be publishing both Beholder's Eye and Killzone on other platforms--I just need to let the 90 day periods run out first.  I am gaining a little traction on Barnes and Nobles NOOK store, the Apple iBooks store, Kobo, and Smashwords, and want to see how well these titles do there as well.

But, Mark, don't you get any borrows?  And what about the new Amazon Kindle Unlimited?

I'll take my chances.  If I see a lot of movement in the next few months, I'll reconsider.

For now, adios KDP Select.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Need an author website? Check out this free video tutorial by Simon Whistler.

Are you an author in need of a website?

Simon Whistler of the Rocking Self Publishing podcast has put together a free, simple tutorial on how to do so.

Here's the link:

A few months ago I updated my website although I didn't know how to work many of the features.  Now I do, thanks to Simon.

So, be sure to head on out to and check it out.  It's a total of 12 videos: an introductory video and 11 how-to videos.

Happy creating!

By the way, I did take a lot of Simon's suggestions and tips, and updated my own website.  It still needs work and more content, but it's MUCH better than what it was:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 15-Aug-2014 / the one story I hate

Aside from the death of 63-year-old Robin Williams, this week started out really crappy.

As you may--or may not--know, I'm putting together a collection of short stories.  Roughly half of them are fairly new, while others are older.  Both age groups need work.

But I have one that I hate.

Then why publish it, you may ask.  Because I have to.  I don't hate the story--I actually love the story and its potential.  I just hate it in its current form.  Monday at work, on my breaks and lunches, I wanted to rip the pages in half and toss them into the garbage.  The story needed that much work.

This story had been submitted to a fiction website roughly 6-7 years ago and I recieved some great editorial feedback.  Unfortunately, at the time, I concentrated my efforts elsewhere and this story sat and sat . . .

Now I am resurrecting it.

From scratch.  This is taking longer than I thought, and I am just itching to continue with the sequel to Beholder's Eye.

Soon, my friend.  Very soon . . .

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Troubles coming up with a book title? Try this.

I recently chatted with an author who was having troubles coming up with a title for the fantasy novel she was working on.  We threw out a few ideas, several of them good.

Then, I told her to try this: take a blank piece of paper and write down 20 titles.

Some of the ones she already possibly chose, of course, would make the list.  But having them down on paper, in a way, clears the mind to brainstorm more.

If you're having troubles coming up with a book title or a direction on where the story should go or how to end the story or coming up with a book cover design (or countless other decisions), try the brainstorming method.

Take a blank piece of paper or blank document.

Then write down 20 ideas.

After the end of 20 ideas, put it away, and the next morning brainstorm 20 more.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The passing of Robin Williams - one of the greats

I never thought I'd ever write the words Robin Williams and passing all in one sentence, except if by some stroke of luck he passed me on the highway--a near-impossible feat as he lived in California and I in northern Minnesota.

But he did pass away.

And he was one of the greats.  If not the greatest.

Robin Williams

One of the first movies I ever saw in the theater was Popeye.  He played the part to a T.  I clearly remember being mesmerized by the spinach-eating, muscle-bound sailor who tried to save Olive Ole from Bluto and company.

Over the years, Robin Williams starred in movie after movie.  Now, most of them were comedies, and even in his stand-up performances, he was an absolute genius.  I split many a gut from his antics.

It wasn't until I saw Awakenings that I understood just how talented Robin was.  Awakenings wasn't a comedy.  There were a few scenes that made you laugh, as one cheered on his co-actor Robert DeNiro.  But in that movie, as well as in Dead Poet's Society, I was in awe at his talent in such a serious role.

Robin Williams completely transformed the characters he played and brought them to life.  He portrayed such a wide range over the years, from comedies to serious roles to even a serial killer, that you saw past the actor and saw the character.  He was that good.

No, he was that great.

Robin Williams battled depression, as millions of people do.  A close friend of mine passed away a few years ago, and he also suffered from depression--both met a similar tragic end.  I won't cloud the memory of what Robin has done, in entertaining the masses, by how it all ended.  I will just remember his greatness.  And his geniusness at making us laugh and cry and be mesmerized by what he was able to do.

One that could never be replaced.

Goodbye, Robin.  Rest in peace.

The first step in overcoming obstacles

Let's admit, you know a thing or two about obstacles.

You have to work two or three jobs, just to make ends meet.  Your spouse is battling a debilitating illness, leaving you the primary caregiver.  You are a parent and work hard at trying to raise contributing members of society.  You keep getting asked to be in this committe or that committee.  At the end of each day, you're completely exhausted.  It's possible you are not well, physically, or the mental demons inside you are eating at you.  Your to-do list is longer than your arm . . . and you haven't the slightest clue how you're going to get out of it.

Any of these obstacles look familiar?  Yes, I'm sure you could add to it.  Want to overcome them?  Good.  To this: acknowledge them.

If you know what obstacles you have in your life, then you can go about tackling them.

I am a father of three (two of my children are type 1 diabetics) and my wife is still recovering from leukemia.  She is still in remission, but a lot of the household duties fall on my shoulders.  There are days I feel like completely giving up on writing (and everything else, for that matter), but I trudge onward.  Obstacles are tests of my endurance.

I acknowledge them.

And I work hard at overcoming them.

Are there days I don't feel like writing at all?  Sure.  You know what I do?  I write anyway.  Even if it's a little, I still accomplished something.

What obstacles are in your life?  How are you overcoming them?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 08-Aug-2014 / Prologue or no prologue, that is the question

There's been a fair amount of discussion lately on the good ol' web, via podcasts in particular, in regards to prologues--and epilogues as well.  In other words, do you use them or do you avoid them like the Black Plague?

Personally, I believe it's fruitless to completely dismiss prologues and epilogues outright.  Some have.  I will not expose them here, but they're out there.

Prologues and epilogues are tools.  If used correctly, they can tell a more compelling story.  If overused, just for the sake of using them, then frankly they give the tools a bad name.

Some view prologues and epilogues as devices that need to be far removed, time-wise, from the current story.  I disagree.  Many thrillers use them to introduce the killer or an added scene to increase tension.

Use them, if deemed necessary.

I am still at work on my short story collection.  Hopefully, by next week, I'll be much closer to completion.

Until then, happy writing . . .

Friday, August 1, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 01-Aug-2014 / A little of the old, mixed with the new

I am still hard at work on my first short story collection.  Originally, I had a publication date of July 31st.

Needless to say, I'm only halfway done.

The short story collection is titled Tales From The Outhouse, Volume 1.  There are six short stories and one flash fiction piece.

The stories are a mixture of new stories and ones from way past.  Now, I'm not in a habit of re-working on old stories like I had been years ago, but these are stories I have identified and will work well in this collection.

More to come.  Stay tuned . . .