It’s been a huge honor and thrill to be a part of a competition sponsored by Booktrack.com. The finalists were announced today, and I’d like to congratulate them and everyone who submitted a piece of fan fiction or an audio Booktrack. I’ve had a blast going through and reading your stories and listening to the atmospheric treatment you’ve provided for Half Way Home.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Booktrack, you should be. Augmented e-books have been slow to catch on, but that’s because few companies have nailed the balance of adding to the reading experience without distracting from it. Booktracks work best when they provide mood, just like a heavy rain or the sound of the nearby sea can make reading a book even more enjoyable. When the sound effects and music are done right, you’ll read a story like never before. For creators, the interface is a joy. You have to play around on the website to appreciate how slick it all is.

This competition also cemented my love of fan fiction. Reading through stories based on my world of Half Way Home, the special power of fan fiction hit me: You get the quick romp and tightness of a short story but with the deep texture of epic fiction. Since the world and its rules are already established—as are the relationships between characters—fan fiction can jump right to the middle of the action, orbit a climactic event, but with all the complexity of a larger story. For readers familiar with the world, it’s a chance to reunite with old friends and see them through another adventure. If you enjoyed Half Way Home, you simply must read the stories from these five finalists. In no particular order: Continue Reading →

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UPDATE: The Juke Joint is open today, so ignore their website. Opens at noon. See you there!

Heading to Atlanta tomorrow for my first-ever Dragon*Con. Anyone else going? Any Atlanta natives out there?

A few readers have emailed about a possible Meet-Up, so it’s now officially on. The Meet-Up will be Saturday at noon. The venue is Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint: 200 Peachtree Street, Suite #L05 Atlanta, Georgia (404) 230-5853.

We have a table reserved for 30. Chime in below if you are for sure coming. If we need to get more room we will.

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If you feel paralyzed while working on a rough draft, think of your work like a maze. Sometimes you have to write down a dead end to discover that this is NOT where the story needs to go. Writing and deleting is better than not writing at all.

Imagine tracing your finger down a maze and coming to the first forking path. If you can glance ahead and see it’s a dead end, no problem. But sometimes the dead end is too long or there are too many branches ahead to know which way to go.

The important thing is to choose and keep moving. Find out what works and doesn’t. You can always go back. What you can never do is finish a maze if you stop at a decision point and wait for the entire solution to come to you.

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Okay, this would be a very long list if I didn’t give it some focus. For instance, I want to know stuff as banal as why in the movie LOOPER they didn’t just send those people back in time about a mile up above those corn fields. Be simpler and scarier. But I’m going to stick with stuff I would love to know from Amazon, since they are sitting on a pile of data that would help me reach more readers. Many of these things go for all my digital distributors, but I’m going to focus on Amazon because some of them are Kindle Worlds and Createspace related.

1) I would love to know how many readers borrow a book and then go on to buy a copy of the same book. I’ve done this before, and I tend to doubt my uniqueness. For Prime members especially, who only get one borrow a month, do they ever love an ebook so much that they decide to own a copy for good?

The reason I ask is because authors tend to view a borrow as a lost sale. If you could show me how many duplicate transactions there were like this, it would be super useful in understanding reading and purchasing habits.

2) I would love to know how far into my books readers get. Do they finish the work? Do most who drop out do so around the same chapter? What about from those who return the ebook? When I return a physical product to Amazon, I am asked to select a reason. Does that information get passed along to the supplier? If so, do the same for us. If you hate sharing even anonymous data without permission, allow the reader to adjust a slider when they leave a review to show how much they read. If they don’t adjust it, we see nothing and they share nothing. I think readers who complete works would love to participate in this. Continue Reading →

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It’s day two of the Sao Paulo Book Fair here in Brazil. This is everything book festivals should be in the US. It runs until 10pm at night, so people can come after work (and so cocktail parties can break out in the convention hall). Kids are brought in by the busload and run around with book highs. It’s a consumer-oriented show, but plenty of business is conducted amid the throngs. Just a ton of literary excitement. For those bemoaning the slide of BEA toward a more reader-centric show, I say go get a boardroom. This rocks.

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Let me fill you in on a little scam that’s cruising the interwebs. It’s called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and it’s a fund raising scheme concocted by a handful of us here in South Florida to dupe the rest of you into freezing your noggins off, knowing that when it cycled back around to us, we would be able to bask in our daily ritual of dunking our heads in a bucket of ice, and you all would think we were doing it for charity.

So far, the scheme is working brilliantly. The ALS Bucket Challenge has raised millions of dollars and tons of awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a very nasty neurological degenerative disorder. The challenge goes like this: If you are called out by someone who took the challenge, you have 24 hours to take the challenge yourself and donate a little money to ALS, or you can skip the ice water and donate a lot to ALS. I mixed and matched and went with the ice water and a full donation. The point here is to raise money. And it’s super easy to give. Just go to this link to give over the web. You can use a credit card, Paypal, or your Amazon account. I went with Paypal, and it took five seconds.

It took longer to record and upload the video, which you can see after the break. Continue Reading →

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But three lefts do.

And what of Orwellian triple-speak? That’s like double-speak, except you circle back around to the truth again. I’m seeing some bizarre protestations about an Orwell quote making the rounds among the anti-Amazon crowd. When Amazon sent a letter to KDP authors asking them to help talk sense into Hachette, one of the points detractors seized upon was a quote from George Orwell about paperbacks. From the letter:

 The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.”

The quote was taken out of context, pundits and bloggers cried. The rest of the letter from Amazon was dismissed because of a single fact that seems to have been gotten backwards. In reality, they said, Orwell thought cheap paperbacks were great. He flat out says so. Can’t you hear the sarcasm dripping from his voice? He wasn’t really suggesting collusion.

Except he was. And he wasn’t being sarcastic at all. An intrepid researcher tracked down the origin of the quote, and Orwell was indeed suggesting, just as Amazon portrays, that he and others of his time thought cheap books would destroy the trade. Great for consumers, sure, but bad for everyone else. Here’s the link. And the quote in full: Continue Reading →

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Not since I, ZOMBIE have I so thoroughly loved writing a novel that I knew full-well everyone else would hate.

44,380 words into THE SHELL COLLECTOR. Well over halfway. I’m calling this a romance novel, but I have a feeling the readers of that genre will walk away disappointed. Because I have no clue what the hell I’m doing. But I’m loving every word of it.

My very rough estimate for a launch date is mid-October. But if this thing keeps writing itself the way it has been, it could be earlier than that. I just hope I can get David Gatewood to do the editing on this. And that he can make it through whatever the hell it is that I’m writing.

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I get a lot of awesome emails. I wish I could share them all. No way I could keep this one to myself.

Email subject:Eerie in its accuracy

Your scene in Shift set in Kramer Books between Donald and Sen. Thurman is eerie in how closely it parallels an experience I had thirty years ago. I had gone into Kramer Books to browse the biography section when I realized there were fewer and fewer people around. I noticed suited men at the end of each isle preventing new shoppers from entering the stacks. Then I saw the curly wires of their earpieces. A gentleman, the only other person in the stacks by then, browsed my way and asked me if I was going to read the book I had in my hand (the 3rd volume of George Kennan’s memoirs), and I told him I thought I would. We continued talking and after a while it dawned on me I was talking to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. I stifled my disgust and remained polite and he eventually picked a biography and a history book and, as you described, handed them to one of the secret service agents to take to checkout. So, yeah, the scene seemed real enough to me!

Best regards,
Brad

Follow-up email:

It was 1977, when Pinochet came to Washington for the ceremony to sign the Panama Canal Treaty during Carter’s presidency.

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Two M.S. Corley covers. One short story. How do I decide?

If you have a huge preference, let me know!

**Update** Well, that was overwhelmingly lopsided. Shows how much I know to be torn. #1 is the winner, and the new cover is already up!

WalkUpNamelessRidge_1 (1)

WalkUpNamelessRidge_2 (1)

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I just got an email from a reporter asking me why indies are fighting for lower priced ebooks. I’ve seen many indies ask each other the same thing. After all, affordable pricing is one of our biggest advantages. Why would we want that to go away?

What I find interesting about this question is the insight it provides about the people doing the asking. It would never occur to me to question another person’s willingness to perform selfless acts. I’m far more curious (and wary) of those who seem to think this is alien behavior. Maybe there is a lot of projection going on here. I don’t know.

What I do know is that this shouldn’t be a conundrum at all. Go look at the KBoards’ Writers’ Cafe. It is a free-for-all of helpful advice, of authors sharing their tips and secrets with as many other authors as possible. Many of us don’t see our fellow writers as competition. We see them as colleagues and comrades. A good book helps sell more good books. A rising tide lifts all ships.

My private worry is that reading will decline overall because of a pricing strategy motivated by viewing titles and formats as competition to one another. Publishers view backlist as competition to frontlist, which is crazy. They view debuting authors as competition to established authors, which is also crazy. Continue Reading →

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This is a crazy-awesome honor. Autumn Kalquist’s latest tune was inspired by my MOLLY FYDE series. It’s a catchy tune with silky smooth vocals. Give it a listen, then check the link after for a story about how Autumn put it together:

Here’s Autumn’s blog post about writing and recording the tune.

The four books in the series were recently updated with new covers that combine the original Jasper Schreur’s artwork with Jason Gurley’s typography:

Howey_MOLLY_FYDE_BOOK1_EbookEdition copy

Howey_MOLLY_FYDE_BOOK2_EbookEdition copy

Howey_MOLLY_FYDE_BOOK3_EbookEdition copy

Howey_MOLLY_FYDE_BOOK4_EbookEdition copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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