Whoopsie and Updates

So, you know how sometimes you figure out you’re going to do something in a few months, set all the conditions, and then think “Of course I’ll remember that!”?

Come to find out, when there’s a pandemic, cancer scare, and various other issues, you don’t remember to do that things because you’re busy doing something else.

At least, that’s my explanation for why I inexplicably forgot to take Barren SEAD “wide” after taking it off Kindle Unlimited exclusive.  Realized that as I was seeing to another matter.  Namely updating Pandora’s Memories after I realized a continuity error that was occurring in Against the Tide Imperial.  As my rule is novels > short stories, I’m modifying Pandora‘s while also fixing some formatting errors.  This is one of the advantages of being indie–you can quickly fix things like this.

In any case, Barren SEAD is now available at many more retailers than Amazon in ebook form.  Clean link is  https://books2read.com/Barren-SEAD if you know anyone who is interested in Vietnam air warfare.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00018]

The Cosmic Chuckling Continues

So the original version of this event was announcing my location and attendance at Planet Comic Con 2020, 20-22 March at Bartle Hall in Kansas City.  As usual, I was going to be in attendance with Anita C. Young with her artwork and books.

Well, as you can see if you go to the Planet Comic Con website link above, the Con has been postponed (full statement here).

 

KCPCC 2020 Location

Alas, right now the dates they’re talking about for the postponement take place in September 2020.  Given that I have a couple commitments in that month already (see Cincy Comic Con), this means I’m going to take the option to have my tables this year rolled over to 2021.

This is going to be a crazy time due to the Covid-19 virus.  I hope everyone stays safe and healthy and look forward to seeing you guys on the Con circuit when (and I do think it will be when) this pandemic is past us.

You can order Anita’s new magnets at our Etsy store.

2019 in Review

Man.  It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating the imminent release of Those In Peril and preparing to go to Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE) Symposium in Utah.  Next thing I know, 2019 is in the rearview mirror, the Phases of Mars series is complete, and Against The Tide Imperial is…well, still not done, but definitely getting there.  Still, 3 anthologies in a year is not bad, and objectively I think it was a fair trade.  I mean, guys—I edited S.M. Stirling, Kevin J. Anderson, Taylor Anderson, Sarah Hoyt, and David Weber this year.  In books with my name on the front cover.  Shout out to Chris Kennedy for taking on a beer bet and to team “and more” for being amazing.

By the numbers, over 1,500 people visited the page this year, which was almost double the number of folks who showed up in 2018.  Thank you for coming along on this wild ride, and here’s to hoping that you continue to enjoy a glimpse inside the crazy.  Externally, this was my second year in a row over 1,000 books sold / 500,000 Kindle pages read (not counting the anthologies) both online and in person, and with at least one book coming out that will helpfully increase.  Moreover, I learned a lot this year about marketing, networking, and this profession in general.  While those could be 20 or more blog posts in and of themselves, the “Top 3 Things I Learned in 2019 Are”:

#1 Professionalism Matters—Nothing like being the chief editor for something to help you realize one’s reputation precedes you.  From the perspective of dealing with fellow authors, I was taken aback by the number of folks who do not understand some basic etiquette in dealing with their fellow human beings.  Or the importance of things like, “Hey, when the requirement says 7-10,000 words, that means you don’t turn in 6500 and cop and attitude with the editor.”  People will remember if you pull some prima donna crap when you really didn’t have to, and word spreads quickly.  Likewise, if you become, shall we say, radioactive in other venues, there will be folks who have problems with sharing a common battlespace with you.  Bottom line:  If you’re involved in a project, be on time (or admit that you’re not going to be able to do something in a timely manner), write to the specifications, and don’t be a jerk.

#2 People Plan, the Universe Laughs—I can honestly say 2019, while not the craziest year I can remember (oh hey, 2009), was up there.  Between deaths, getting forcibly invited to someone else’s car accident, a new job, and various other “What the Hell?!” things that occurred, I’ve come to realize the path to sanity involves accepting that life is chaos.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m still very much a work in project on this.

However, I’ve increasingly tried to take an objective look at what has occurred, then ask myself “Why did this happen?”  If it’s someone else’s fault, that’s usually followed by “Was this accidental, malicious, or unforeseeable?  If accidental, has the other party acknowledged their role in the negative outcome and taken measures to keep it from happening again? If malicious, is this salvageable or is it time to just close that particular airlock?”

If it’s my error, “What have we learned and how do we keep from dropping that ball again?”  This is usually followed by “How do we make amends?”  Because saying “I’m sorry…” is kind of pointless unless there’s an actual intent to make things right.

Above all these things, however, 2019 taught me this:  “If I died tomorrow, would I be happy I spent ___ minutes / hours / days dealing with rectifying this problem?”  Because having someone go from “I’m glad I’m finally going to meet him…” to “Whoa.  He’s going to be dead in less than eight hours…” definitely made me start assessing time and how I spend it.  Spend time doing what you love and with people who make time for you, as our hourglass only has so much sand in it.

#3 Network Makes The Dream Work—Among the “people who made time” for me were my writing tribe.  It really does take a village, and one never knows what connection will suddenly bear fruit.  I can honestly say that in 2019 I had positive interactions with people I first met back in the 1980s, went to school with in the 90s’, served with in the Army in the ’00s, and even folks I saw in passing at a random con sometime in the last six years.  In some instances this was expected.  In others, it was definitely one of us saying to each other or about someone else “Uhhhh, you know, let me see if _____ can help with that, because holy smokes you’re in a bad way”-response.  The outcomes were almost always great and definitely far better than I would have accomplished on my own. Whether it was fiscal (increasing royalties!), introducing me to another pro who provided a story (or stories) for the anthologies, or just providing a “morale boost” when I was questioning my sanity for even pushing on with this crazy dream, I’d like to issue a blanket THANK YOU! to the tribe and fans at large.  You all made 2019 great, and I look forward to what 2020 has to bring.

All right, that’s enough from the foxhole for today.  I’m going back to figuring out what happens when over 100 American aircraft surprise six Japanese carriers equipped with stolen British radar.  That’s right, it’s called “alternate history” for a reason, and boy howdy does the Kido Butai having decent radar change a lot of factors involved in World War II carrier fights.

 

Paths to Publishing

Fellow author (and good person) Holly Messinger shared this infographic on paths to publishing on FB earlier today.  The original source has more information and commentary at this link.

I agree with what the original poster said on most counts.  As an indie, I assure you, fair reader, that you will be doing a lot of hustling if you wish to be successful.  To paraphrase a certain superhero, “With great independence comes great responsibility.”  Being independent means much of your life is like being a shark, i.e., if you’re not swimming, you’re drowning.  It also makes you subject to the vagaries of your given outlet, with Amazon’s algorithm shifts being the most well-known (and complained about) example.

Having just completed a certain trilogy ( with the conclusion hopefully more Wookies than Ewoks), I can now say that there are advantages and disadvantages to the small press route as well.  As with any joint endeavor, there were vehement disagreements with regards to direction, participation, and marketing.  However, I can say with 100% certainty, that “James Young, Slinger of Tales” does not land all the names you see on that last cover.  To hint at my “year in review,” I’ll merely say that this was a fun exercise, but it came at the cost of me being behind in my own projects.  Ergo, while I’m not saying I won’t be in or run another alternate anthology ever again, I am confident in saying it’s coming on the back side of my next two books.

Ultimately, no matter what your choices are, remember no one will manage your career as well as you do.  Keep your head on a swivel, and make choices that look out for your interests.

 

Guest Blogging, Some News, and a Little Q&A

Sorry for some of the intermittent posting.  I have spent most of the last few days filling out interview questions for my blog tour through Goddess Fish Promotions.  For those of you who do not know what a blog tour is, basically a promotion site sets you up with guest blogs / reviews of your book on several different websites.  This is my first time trying it, so we’ll see it goes.  Even if it doesn’t work for me, successful paranormal / urban fantasy author R.L. Naquin swears by them–so it may be a genre thing.

In other news–I have recently been published in Armor magazine, the U.S. Army’s professional journal for mounted warfare.  You can find the article here:  http://www.benning.army.mil/armor/eARMOR/content/issues/2017/Winter/  .  It’s regarding doctrine, so odds are it may be a little dry without context.

Out of all the questions I got asked (and there were a lot), I had the most fun with the “What is your musical playlist?”  one.  I kept it limited to 15 songs, but here was my answer (with some Metal Monday Alumni):

1.) Dawson’s Christian – Vixy and Tony (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjxMieuRPe4)

2.) Husker – Bear McCreary, from BSG: Blood and Chrome (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeCFZ04ggQ0)

3.) Gettysburg Trilogy – Iced Earth (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxkVNYPSups)

4.) The Stars Will Fall – Crom (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky1nY3jlq1M)

5.) One Last Battle – Vic Tyler (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFzpZeSVPRA)

6.) Attack – Hans Zimmer, Pearl Harbor OST (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p0rVpyxnwI)

7.) Requiem For A Tower – London Music Works (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaioIutcHKI)

8.) Theme from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla—Akira Ifukube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfwLQIE3l4s)

9.) Bottle of Pain—Combichrist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyFyTHQqIFc)

10.) Freedom Fighters—Two Steps From Hell (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP1QHVNHMAE)

11.) The Bleeding—Five Finger Death Punch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeeWq3hDMCU)

12.) I Love You—Woodkid (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afqeBydhpQU)

13.) Long Live the King—Sabaton (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rIYMEl_4xc)

14.) When Winter Comes—Miracle of Sound (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDt3jeXGfDU)

15.) Even in Death—Evanescence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9btPqVRZIlY)

I also learned that a lot of interviewers unwittingly ask the same questions.  I don’t want to steal any of the gracious hosts’ thunder, so I’ll start regularly answering a set of these questions  here on the blog / in my newsletter.  (“Newsletter?  How do we sign up for the newsletter?”  “Click here, my curious friend!”)

“A Midwinter’s Ski” was reviewed by Roses In Ink.  If you liked it as much as they did, pick it up for free on Amazon.

Last month I rode out to San Diego to attend the WEST 2017 Naval Conference hosted by the USNI (United States Naval Institute) and AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association).  The primary purpose was to receive my physical award for winning the USNI’s 2016 Cyberwarfare Essay Contest.  As a bonus, I also got to see a lot of awesome exhibits, visit the U.S.S. Midway, and talk some slight smack to a Class of ’64 USNA grad.  (“I guess we decided after 14 years to finally let your guys experience a victory.”  “_My_ class never lost to Navy, Sir.”).  This is me with the other award winners:

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Here’s what the plaque looks like:

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I’m pretty sure that The Prolific Trek is still muttering about driving halfway across the US to pick up something that would have easily fit in a mailing package.  But, had I done that, I would not have gotten to see the Grand Canyon:

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Or totally fan boy over meeting the amazing Vincent P. O’Hara, author of several naval history books.  The one I’m holding, The U.S. Navy Against the Axis, is probably the best single-volume coverage of the USN’s surface fleet during the Second World War.  While James Hornfischer’s Neptune’s Inferno is my go to recommendation for the Guadalcanal Campaign, O’Hara’s is my choice for a complete series.

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Finally, my next upcoming event is Little Apple Comic Expo (LACE).  It will be hosted at the Kansas State Student Union on 18 March from 10 AM to 6 PM.  Feel free to swing on by to see Anita C. Young and I hawking our wares.

Anyway, that’s it from the Midwest.

Promotion (Not Posthumous) Post #1–In the Navy (and / or Army, Marines, Air Force…)

Howdy everyone!  Sorry I’ve been so quiet over the last few days.  I’ve been doing National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. “NaNoWrimo.”  For those who don’t know, information can be found at nanowrimo.org .  Unless your name is Michael Stackpole, it’s probably too late for you to knock out the requisite 50,000 words this year…but you can file this away for next.  Nano is a good time, and it really helps to get the rust off the writing gears so to speak.  At the beginning of this show I was struggling to knock out the requisite 1,667 words, but now I’m really…

Oh wait, I’m not here to talk about Nano.  No, I’m here to talk about Promotions, a.k.a. ways to get your book out there into the wild.  As time is short (it’s late y’all, and I’ve got to get a good night’s sleep for once), I’m going to keep tonight’s Promo talk oriented on one of the world’s most captive audiences: the military.

I know, I know, for those of you who haven’t even finished your book, this is kind of “Uh, what?”  Ditto those of you who may write romances (although you’d be surprised what gets read on staff duty).  Don’t worry, your posts are coming–it’s just that I’m in the midst of doing some promoing in another tab right now, and it occurred to me that would be a perfect time to share.

So, without further ado, here are some places to write in order to get your book in front of service members.  In almost every case, this is a matter of “You gotta spend dough to make bread…”…but that’s pretty much how a great deal of promo works anyway.  (More on “Free Promo” at a later date.)  What I’m basically saying here is this:  If you cannot or will not spend $75 to purchase 15-25 books that you will never see again, stop reading now.  On the other hand, if you don’t mind donating material that may brighten a service member’s day and possibly get you a lifetime fan, keep on delving down.

 

The USO

The United Service Organization (USO) is the non-profit made most famous by Bob Hope.  If you’ve never been or traveled in the military, you’re probably going “WTF?” right now.  Those of us who have been in the military and traveled overseas are probably thinking about cookies, friendly volunteers, and that guy who is doing a Permanent Change of Station from the Land of the Morning Calm (Korea) to the Land of Schnitzel and Booze (Germany) via flying all the way across the United States.  Basically, imagine if someone set up a cubbyhole with a couple couches, a TV, some board games, and a few tables for service members, and that’s your average airport USO.

Know what?  When that guy who is doing the “Three Continents in Three Days”-Challenge is not horizontal on the couch snoring away, he’s probably bored out of his mind.  Why?  Because he just got through battling with some O-6’s two bratty kids for the last remaining 110 outlet like they were three monkeys on the ramp to Noah’s Ark…and he’s not the monkey who brought a .45.

3rd-monkey

I’ve been that guy (albeit before we had cell phones, so it was a whole different circle of Hell).  In that situation, a person will read anything.  *pause* Anything.

“Why are you reading Marie Claire?”–guy next to 2LT Young, Seattle USO, November 1998

“It’s got words.”–me

You know who takes free book donations?  The USO.  Know who will put your novel right there in that bookshelf so the poor guy contemplating dependent assault can read it?  The USO.  Now, it can’t be anything too controversial (Timmy’s Guide to Satanism is ruled right out…as are bodice rippers).  However, if you have a first book of a series or several chap books that may or may not have typos that made it past your beta readers?  Perfect place to send them.  Because nothing brightens a mood like a good novel, donated Girl Scout cookies (see, the green-sashed crack dealers know what’s up), and USO coffee.  Make sure it’s your good novel.

How do you get a hold of the USO?  Just go to their site and pick a location.  I recommend someplace that has a lot of unaccompanied personnel like Korea.  Drop a line to the email for that location.  Wait.

Carriers

I’ve never served in the Navy.  For some reason people seem shocked at…oh, yeah, it’s all the boat and space stuff.

Anyway, if there’s one thing a lot of Navy and Marine brethren have told me, it’s that being aboard a ship is boring.  Really boring.  Like, “OMG, I’ve now read everything in the book library and I’m basically banned from the Playstation tournament because I went 16-0 in the Madden league…”-boring.  The average U.S. carrier has, oh, the population of a small town.  “A one stop light that’s always blinking OMG I’m related to everyone…”–small town.  For those of you who did not grow up in the Land of Everyone Knows My Business, the average small town library is not exactly well stocked.  Now imagine if that same small town library happened to have a clientele that trends heavily towards military sci-fi yet often has the same popular books that the last steel can with a flat top did.  Think maaaaaaayyybbeee that’s thousands of sailors who would REALLY LIKE SOMETHING ELSE TO READ?

I have donated to three carriers.  All three donations have led directly to confirmed sales either in person or via Kindle.  That’s right, when you give someone a free book, they will happen to see your sign at a con, stop dead still, and ask, “Are you the James Young [or, hopefully, your name]?  The sci-fi guy who donated a couple books to the [insert carrier]?!”  Once you confirm that yes, indeed, you are [insert your name or, if you have no scruples, name they actually thought you were], at the very least profuse thanks will likely ensue.  At the very best, if they see you in person, they will buy muchos more stuff.

“But good sir, how do I get in touch with a carrier from someplace nowhere near the sea?”  Well, here’s what’s worked for me so far:

 

  1. Pick a carrier, any carrier (but preferably one at sea).
  2. Check out the carrier’s Facebook page.
  3. Under contact us, there’s usually an email.  Ask to be put in contact with the Morale or Recreation officer.
  4. Wait for that individual to write back.  This may take a while, as usually this falls under an additional duty.
  5. Write a letter introducing yourself and  explaining you’d like to donate free books either for the library or for sailors just to take.  Ask how you go about doing this.
  6. Follow the instructions and make this as easy as possible for said officer.  Createspace, for one, will even let you mail directly to the carrier.  However, that doesn’t let you put any of your marketing goodness like bookmarks into the envelope or box.

Again–this ain’t gonna be cheap.  However, you’re A. doing a good deed and B. giving sailors something new.  Given that the carrier will also farm out to its escorts, this may mean your book gets passed around a lot.

Book Donation Sites

Operation Paperback is the most famous of these.  However, local business will often collect books to donate to troops overseas as well.  In any case, a little bit of research will often provide several inexpensive opportunities for your to get your books in a care package to soldiers overseas.  Often times, your fellow authors will do it among friends. This is totally worthwhile because, again, captive audience.  As I alluded to above, I’ve read just about anything while on staff duty, in a waiting room, or in a situation where I needed something to occupy my mind.  I have confirmed that this is a desire that bibliophiles still strive to meet when stuck somewhere.

In any case, hopes this helps folks with some new ideas on off the beaten path ways to get books out in front of readers.  There will be more conventional posts coming, but for now I’m dragging myself off to sleep.

 

Welcome, welcome! (House Rules)

Greetings all.  Sorry it has taken so long to get this site active.  As the commemorative post, let me say welcome to Colfax Den and I hope to keep this updated on, at a minimum, a biweekly basis.

Some ground rules before we begin:

1.) There are plenty of places to have political, social, ethical debates about current events and recent history.  This is not one of them unless said factual interjection is pursuant to discussing one of my works or another science fiction piece.  Yes, glad you feel passionately about [insert political party] or [burning political issue].  People in Hell also feel passionately about the need for asbestos underwear, doesn’t mean I want to hear them screaming about it.

2.) All constructive criticism / critiques are welcome.  Constructive:  “Hey, I don’t think that someone would react to [gruesome fate befalling fellow character] that way.  This is why…”

Non-Constructive:  “You suck.  I wish I’d never bought your work, and you have no grasp of physics.  I hope you go blind so your crap no longer pollutes the internet.”

In the case of the former, I’ll be happy to explain why I did something or say, “Crap, you know, maybe I need to fix that.  Mr. Retcon, please pick up the white courtesy phone for an urgent edit.”

The second?  Well, I tend to ignore idiocy, but just in case we’re unclear I’m always prepared to let “haters” demonstrate that they can do better.  (For those with synaptic issues, linking to your favorite author is not “doing better.”)

3.) In that same vein, everyone who comes to visit here is my guest.  I would not expect a houseguest to verbally abuse other people I invited to my home in real life, so I will certainly not tolerate it here.  On the gripping hand, I tend to trend towards sarcasm (as do most of my fellow travelers), so folks who come to visit also need to bring a thick skin and willingness to say, “Hey, that’s getting kind of personal.”  Be adults about your disagreements, in other words.

4.) Everything here is (c) myself or, in the case of artists, the original artists.  Very rarely do I consider intellectual theft to be amusing or “something everyone does.”  If you want permission to post a snippet or draft elsewhere, feel free to ask and in most cases I will say “yes” or contact someone to get their permissions.