Bob Gets Another 5-Star Review! Sale! Animorecon begins!

Bob Gets Another 5-Star Review! Sale! Animorecon begins!

Greetings all,

I had a great day today. A class of my BMCSC students graduated (that’s always fun to see)! Then I came home to get ready for Animorecon, and while I’m setting up, I see The Journals of Bob Drifter got a 5-star review on Goodreads!  Now that’s just about an amazing day! You can read that very kind review here.

Bob_Caught_99_SaleThat review comes with great timing since both e-versions of Bob and Caught are only 99 cents during the convention. So if you haven’t had a chance to pick up either of my books, this is a great opportunity!

I’ll be at the convention pretty much all weekend, so I might be a bit it or miss with the blog and social media. I’ll try to post pics of what I’m up to and all the great cosplay I see. I’m excited to start my tour, and I hope it goes well for me.  I’d be very happy to see any of you there.  If you can’t make it, this sale I’m having is just my way to try and make sure everyone can save on my work.

Thanks for reading,


Some Dream-Come-True Moments

Some Dream-Come-True Moments

b2b-WEBSITE-LARGE-BANNER-LANDSCAPE-The B2B Cyber Convention just wrapped up. I’ve been super busy these past few days, but I wanted to take a moment to share some things (one of which was truly amazing).

The first is a story I’d like to share with you all.

I’m a creature of habit. I do my laundry on the same day. I eat at the same place every Friday. I work the same schedule every day. I like routine. The thing about routines though is you tend to have this expectation that every day, week, and moth will work out exactly the same. Most times, when there’s an interruption to my routine, I’m actually quite difficult to deal with.  But sometimes, it’s just wonderful.

Every other Friday, I go to the same place to cut my hair. I eat at the same place as I do every Friday. I check to see what movies are out that I might want to see. I stop by the book store in the mall just to see what may have gotten released without my knowledge.  That’s when I head over the my hair place.

This particular Friday, I arrive to find the woman who does my hair isn’t available for  awhile.  I don’t think much of it. I arrange a time later that evening with her. I’m about to head out to knock a few items off my to-do list when someone taps me on the shoulder.

One of the other employees caught my attention and pointed to the woman he was working with.  The woman smiles and points at me.

“Aren’t you that author?”


You see, my whole life, I’ve always wanted to be, “That Author.” That identification may be on the top three list of things I want to put on my tombstone.  When The Journals of Bob Drifter was first published, my sister bought me a personalized pen.  When she gave it to me, I told her it was a life dream of mine to have someone approach me and ask for my autograph.

So when Karen asked me that question, she quite literally made one of my life’s dreams come true.


A picture of me and Karen after the autograph!

I don’t really remember much after that. My euphoria made it pretty hard to think straight. I said yes.  She said that she’d recognized me from my book (Journals). Since I’m a regular at Rafet’s (the place I get my hair cut), I thought to plop a copy of the book there so people could read it while they wait for their haircuts. Now, that book has been there since Bob got published (two years now).  Turns out, at least one person had been chipping away at it!

So we chatted for a while. She told me the book really grabbed her attention. We exchanged contact information, and, yes, I gave her an autograph.  I originally gave her an autograph on a sheet of paper (which I tell my students to always have on their person). The establishment actually gave her that copy of the book, so I later signed that one and grabbed a selfie with Karen.

The world is a wonderful place sometimes. A guy can just be going about his day, and suddenly God smiles on someone. The little things are usually more special than the big. That moment will fuel my dream to be a “successful” author for quite a while.

So to those of you a little earlier in their journey than I am, I say you have to remember it’s a marathon. You have to work. It’s not an overnight thing. This isn’t the realm for instant success. But if you keep at it, and you’re consistent, you’ll get these little moments that mean so much. My sales are still right about where they normally are, but I found a fan and a new friend. If you’re reading this, Karen, I say again, Thank you!

BloodSpringThunderclapThat was how my weekend started! I posted on Friday about the Brain To Books Cyber Convention 2017.

The first cool thing was how many more authors I met. I got to hang out more with Joshua Robertson, who I met a few months ago and got to know a bit better when his book Anaerfell was up for Book Cover of the Month. I also met so many other cool authors: My internet is really acting up, so I can’t really link them all like I want.  But just a few are: Heidi Angell (she’s not THAT kind of angel), Richard White, A.L. Mabry, Suzanna J. Linton (a fellow Dragonriders of Pern fan), Tim (again, my internet isn’t letting me find his last name), and Joe Compton. I PROMISE I could go on for days. I don’t know how many panels or group chats I did. What I DO know, is I’ll be adding a page to this website soon. I’ll add those videos, because they’re fun for readers, writers, and authors trying to figure out marketing.

Angela B. Chrysler and I had an idea at about the same time. I’d been trying to figure out a use for Youtube, and so she created Nerd Rage, which will be a monthly Youtube event we do. We’ll film them the last Saturday of every month. There may be a time or two we can’t all make it, but for the most part, there’ll be a handful of us just needing out about whatever topic Angela pulls out of a hat. (No, I mean that literally.) If you can’t wait for me to get around to loading what videos I’ve already been a part of, you can look at those and everything else here.

caught-front-coverWhich leads me to my last thought of the day. I’d mentioned that one of the events I was taking part in was a covers war. I’m very proud to announce that Caught won the cover war for horror and thrillers! I have to admit, I campaigned pretty hard to win. I was a big fan of my cover, and I wanted it to get recognized. It turns out, a bunch of my Facebook friends and a few of my Author/Wordpress friends (Hi JR! Hi Corey!) came to offer me support! Look, it’s basically just bragging rights, but it’s like I said, the little things make all the difference sometimes. So I wanted to end this post with a huge thank you for that support in giving that cover some love. Thank you all.  Now, I have a short story to revise, another short story to write, two books to write and a series to get started on. All by 2018.  So…I’m off.

Thanks for reading,



I, Writer

I, Writer

There’s a magic trick to writing.  It’s a sacred technique passed on from master to apprentice since time began.  This carefully guarded secret seems to be the great barrier between those who want to write and those who don’t.

I reveal that trick to you now at great risk to my own life.  Should these be the last words you hear from me, guard this secret.  There are anti-writing ninjas in the world who seek to take this technique, not for their own misuse, but worse, to destroy it thus ensuring the end of the line of writers.

When I was but a young apprentice, I had no real master.  I had to survive watching the battles of history’s greatest.  I studied all their moves.  I watched their fights over and over again, trying to find out what made them great.

ice-cave-1198591_960_720Whilst wandering the Earth in search of more skills, I came upon a scroll.  I don’t know how it came to be under a rock in a cave I didn’t realize I’d need to sleep in until the snow grew so thick I couldn’t see, nor do I understand why I bothered to glance at it before I burned said paper for much-desired warmth.  The important thing is I read it.

I unclasped the metal pin and stretched the parchment out before me, thinking to get more heat if I burned the paper in smaller bits.  I was shocked to read the title.

The Great Secret to Being a Writer.

This was it!  The secret to my greatest question in life had just fallen into my hands.  I unraveled the scroll, eager to read its many instructions.  I revealed a foot of the scroll…nothing.  What cruel joke was this?  Quickly, I unraveled more and more, equally desperate to punish whoever played this joke on me as I was hopeful to find some hint to how to be a writer.

I’d thought all was lost.  Then I came to the end of the scroll, and found a single word.


shou kakuI re-read the word over and over.  Was there more?  Nothing.  Who would waste so much paper for a single, five-letter word?  The excitement I felt when I saw the title was replaced by the need for self-preservation.  My body was shaking from the cold at this point and my fingers were likely to become individually wrapped popsicles.

I prepared to turn the scroll into a raging heat-giving inferno when I heard something clink at the core of the scroll.  Attached to the end of a thick piece of old bamboo was a metallic and ornate bulbous endcap.  I gripped it and pulled it away finding a single pen inside.  As I held it, I found another message.

“All you ever need to be a writer is something to write with, and something to write on.”

Indeed I was impressed at whatever master engraved such words onto this pen because I couldn’t for the life of me determine how so many words could be placed on such a small object.  Whatever the case, I understood.  I had received The Secret.  Not only did I receive the wisest word I could have ever behold, but I was given all the tools I would ever need.  So I obeyed.

I took the quill (It’s a quill now, cause that’s cooler.  Don’t ask how anyone could engrave on a feather…it’s a magic feather.  If they can make elephants fly, they can hold a single prolific message.) and wrote…

(Now that I have a magic quill, I can keep going…)

…at least I tried to write.  But where where my ideas?  Indeed my mind was emptier than a bottle of Vodka in Russian winter.

I froze.  Devastated, I told myself I could not write, because I could not think.

feather-310073_960_720“You gonna hold me all day, or do you mean to do something?”

I leapt from my spot on the moist cave floor and scanned the area.  Nothing.

“Hey, down here.”

I looked at my hand and realized my magic quill had spoke to me.  (See…I knew that’d come in handy.)

“Why aren’t you writing?”

“I don’t have any ideas.”

“But why aren’t you writing?”

“Aren’t you supposed to give me inspiration or something?”

“How can I possibly do that?” the quill asked.  “I’m a quill.”

“You’re a talking quill,” I replied.

“You’re telling me you have the imagination required to hold a conversation with a quill, and you can’t write?” it asked.

It had a point.

light-bulb-1042480_960_720“I still don’t have any ideas.”

“But why aren’t you writing?” it asked again.

“How can you write without ideas?”

“Well,” the pen said, as if talking to the dumbest ninja ever, “You should probably start by putting me on the paper.”

I shrugged, thinking, “Well, what could happen?”  I placed the metal tip of the quill onto the paper and waited.

“You do know how to write don’t you?” the pen asked.

“Of course I can write!” I replied.

“Then why aren’t I moving?” the pen asked.

“I don’t know what to write?”

“I can’t help you,” the magic quill with the ability to both write and display prophetic words of wisdom said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because I’m a quill,” it answered. “If you’re truly a writer, I’m all you need.”

scroll-1410168_960_720Frustrated, I stabbed the pen onto the scroll and started writing a story about an argumentative quill destined to help an aspiring author create the greatest story ever told.

By the time I finished scribbling, I’d run out of scroll.

“You’ve done well,” the pen said.  The scroll glowed red.  It became so bright I had to step away, holding the pen in the air lest it melt in the heat. Just when I thought the scroll would explode, a poof a smoke gave birth to another blank scroll.

I stared at it.

“So, um…” the quill said.  “Do you…do you need me to tell you what to do with that, or is that a too subtle a hint?”

Well?  Is it?

I write 1,000 words  a day.  Now I define writing as drafting, editing or worldbuilding.  Whatever produces words, I call writing.  When I first committed to that goal, it was miserable.  I didn’t know what I was doing, how to work, or even what the word “predicate” meant, much less where it goes in a sentence.  (No, seriously, I was 17, and I’d lived my whole life wanting to be a writer, and I couldn’t talk about writing using the proper terms).  None of that mattered.

hands-1369316_960_720I’d decided to be a writer, and I realized all I needed to be so was to write.  I started out as a discovery writer.  I just made crap up and wrote until it made sense to me.   I kept going until I’d finished my first book.  It was awful.  The description was lacking.  The setting made no sense. The plot was trite.

It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever made with my own two hands.

Then I took the hint.  I wrote another.  I learned the language of the craft.  I visited blogs and read books about the subject.  I started reading more and more (which I’ll discuss later).

old-books-436498_960_720I joined the Navy and learned how to be a journalist.  I saw a bit of the world.  I got distracted, but I eventually recommitted to what I wanted to be.  I wanted to be a writer, so I wrote.  I tried to save that first book.  I literally tried 21 times to make that book something ready to be published.  It’s still not.  So I wrote a new book.  I joined a writer’s group.  Those words came more and more easily to me. The more I wrote, the more I wrote.  The more times I typed “the end,” the more times I started a new book.

I have a challenge for you.  I’m not a magic quill in a cave.  You’re not a dense ninja looking for warmth.  But my challenge is the same.  If you want to be a writer, where, exactly, are your words?

I challenge you to ask yourself two questions if you can’t seem to put pen to paper:

  1. Do you really want to be a writer?  It’s okay if you don’t, just don’t complain that you’ve never finished that book if you don’t ever, you know, sit down to write it.
  2.  Are you having trouble thinking of ideas, or are you just afraid someone won’t like what you’ve written?  I’ve already given my perspective on what you should do with fear.

book-863418_960_720Everyone with a dream has that moment of calling.  It’s almost never some obvious magical moment in a cave with a magical, talking quill.  It’s hardly ever some wise old traveler coming to change your life.  The real world isn’t that kind.  The real world lets you do, whatever it is you want to do.

You can choose to write, or you can choose to (in my case at the moment, play video games).   But I started asking myself, “What am I doing right now that’s more important than writing?  There are things.  Spending time with family always trumps everything.  Video games are less important, unless, of course I’m playing video games with family.  I’m still afraid the Journals of Bob Drifter sucks despite the 4.21 average rating on Goodreads.  It’s natural to be afraid.  But if you want to do something, inevitably, good or bad, you do it.

man-1465441_960_720I don’t care what you write.  Just write.  I don’t care if it’s good; that’s what editing is for.  I don’t care if no one likes it;  write what you like.  Just write.  It doesn’t have to be a thousand words.  It can be a block of time or a smaller number of words.  But every day you write, you’ll find it easier to write.  I promise!  Every day you write, you’ll find you’ve written more and more.  I promise!

I’m not a writer because I’m published.  I’m not a writer because I’ve sold my book at conventions.  I’m a writer for one very simple reason.  I write.  Therefore, I, Writer.

So consider me your magic talking pen.  I’m here, and there’s a scroll open before you.  Is this hint too subtle?

Directions to New Readers

Directions to New Readers

When I published The Journals of Bob Drifter, I had some pretty funny ideas about how the book would sell.  I thought I had friends who would buy the book and recommend it to others.  I thought those readers would recommend more.  I thought I’d do a few events and I’d need boxes and boxes of my book just to keep enough stock.

hand-truck-564242_960_720That wasn’t remotely the case.  While setting up what I call my six-month tour in my little area, I did manage to get invites from a few bookstores, who not only allowed me to peddle my wares in their place of business, but they also have a few copies of my books.  To this day, I’m grateful for them, but I have yet to sell a single copy of my book anywhere I’ve been that sells books.

Now, it’s possible that I just don’t know what I’m doing.  If you’ve had success at a bookstore, please let me know in the comments below.  As I was looking for the closest window from which to leap, something occurred to me.

People don’t go to bookstores to find books.  They go to bookstores to find books they’re looking for.

books-985954_960_720That might sound like the same thing, but stick with me here.  I love books!  I love reading.  I have my own little system regarding how I buy my stack of books.  As I stood there watching people walk by trying ever so politely to pretend I don’t exist, I realized those people didn’t come to the book store to meet a new author.  I know I don’t go to a book store to do that.  I go to book stores, to find the latest books form authors I already know and love.  I walk in the door, scan the “coming soon” sign, zip straight to the Fantasy section and look for those names I’ve already learned I enjoy seeing work from.

How many of you have a list of favorite authors?  I know I do.  I have what I call “Authors who I drop what I’m reading for.”  I have authors who I know I will enjoy reading while I wait for one of those other authors to finish writing another book.  Every rare now and again, I’ll be so hard up for a book I’ll wander my favorite section and give a cover that draws my attention a shot.  But my time is rare these days, and I have a  lot more author friends now.  I tend to read their work and the work of their friends.

I mentioned in my last blog that I met C.L. Schneider online after I complimented this cover, but isn’t it great?

The point is, I don’t meet new authors there.  Do you?  I give new authors a chance through one of three ways:  Way One (most rare):  I’m desperate for something to read, and I look for the coolest cover I can find.  This scares me because I usually end up in the middle of a trilogy or not liking the book.  I have a rule about finishing books I start, and sometimes the “cover” technique disappoints me.

Way Two (Next Most Rare):  I read anthologies when authors I love are in them.  Honestly, this has been the most reliable.  I’m a huge fan of Peter V. Brett, but I never would have known about him had I not read an anthology that included Brandon Sanderson.  There are a few other authors I’ve discovered in that manner, too.  Lucky for me, I’m very lucky to be involved in Idle Voyages, and I’m optimistic about the chances those readers will find a bunch of authors they’ll enjoy.

Way Three (Most Common):  Word of Mouth.  This has burned me every bit as much as it’s been a blessing.  I’ve come to expect some recommendations will be better than others.

What awkward position does this method put a self-published author in?  I’ve only just been invited to participate in an anthology.  I have a few friends and readers that sing my praises.  I have one in particular who may have sold more of my books than I have.

Don’t fret.  While I’d like to hear from others who have more success than I do through social media, I do know of one glorious place where people are willing to give new authors a shot.

11350504_10204667964279001_1461503149014383244_nConventions!  Disclaimer:  I’m a fantasy/paranormal/science fiction author.  Conventions work for me because that’s where my readers go.  There, they’re willing to meet people and give new authors a try.   I have the most sales at conventions, and the residual sales are also more effective.

Now I noted in a lot of my earlier blogs that I went into this ignorant and without a plan.  That was just plain foolish of me.  Since then, I’ve become more active in social media.  I’ve gotten my website to be more effective (Thanks Quintessential Editor!)  It’s just too soon to see if these methods will help more, but basic marketing still holds true.

Identify your audience.  No.  People everywhere won’t love your book.  You’re audience isn’t everyone.  You’re audience is very specific.  I like it when lots of people try reading my book, but when I sit and think about who will most like my book, I get a very specific picture.  You should too.

my-name-is-1185862_960_720Find out where they go to hang out.  You want your marketing to get your product in front of your potential readers.  I promise, you can spend thousands on marketing, tracking impressions, printed products or views.  Those metrics are pointless if you don’t know who you’re trying to reach.  I know because I wasted thousands doing just that.  Don’t make my mistake.

Lately, I’m much more careful about how I market and what I invest in.  I make sure that what I’m paying for has some quantifiable way to measure success.  When I invest, I ask, What do I want to do, and how will I track it’s effectiveness?  That doesn’t always have to mean sales, but it’s nice when it does.

What am I looking for other than sales?

Active Followers.  Followers who read my blogs, post comments or click likes.  The more regularly they work with me, the more encouraged I am they’ll want to or have read my book.  This applies to all social media platforms.

pc-mouse-625152_960_720Clicks to my buy page.  When I invest in online marketing, I want to see what effectively gets people to click on the link where they can buy my book.  So I measure this by tracking link clicks.  I can use this same formula to gain more followers as well.

Other Blogs.  First off, other bloggers are awesome.  I meet a lot of very smart people who in turn make me smarter.  Next, I remember a rising tide floats all boats.  The more you work with others, the more they’ll work with you.

To date, more than half of my sales have come from conventions.  They’re demanding and draining, but they work.  When Caught is released, I’m going to focus the great majority of my efforts on those conventions.  It’s where I found my readers.

Have you earned sales in other ways?  Do you have a trick that’s worked?  I’d love to hear it.  Until then, see you next time.

Thanks for reading,