Monday, December 29, 2014

Get your Netflix fix: Criminal Minds (preview of all 9 seasons so far)

At the time of this post, the TV show Criminal Minds is on Netflix.  I am currently in season 7.  There are 9 seasons on Netflix so far.

I have binge-watched Criminal Minds ever since it came on Netflix a few months ago.  I love watching how each character grows from one season to the next.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to delve into each season, to dissect what works and how Criminal Minds can be set apart from several of the other similar shows--oh, who am I kidding, there really isn't anything else like it (and don't get me started on the one season off-shoot).

I will try be as spoiler free as possible, but I must warn you.  It may be hard.  In fact, I may have to divulge plot points, however I will try keep them across an entire season instead of individual episodes.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Getting ready for 2015 / Happenings In The Outhouse 26-Dec-2014

2014 is fast approaching the memory banks.  2015 is looking to be a good year.

I hope.

No, I know it will.

As I've mentioned before, I've narrowed down my list of goals to accomplish.  They involve two things: publishing and weight loss.

For publishing, Straight Razor is past the 42,000 word mark (out of an estimated 70K).  I also have two more nonfiction ebooks in the wings, in the Mr. Shoestring series, I'm planning.  Those two are still in the infancy stage and I probably won't talk about it until they're ready.

I'm also planning on using some of indie author Nick Stephenson's advice in how to increase the number of e-mail subscribers.  It involves offering a free short ebook to those who subscribe.  Don't worry, I won't forget the early adopters and will make sure you get a copy of it as well.

What are your 2015 goals looking like?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Give yourself permission to take a break

You've worked hard all year.  You're exhausted and just need a break.

Give yourself one.

In fact, periodically give yourself a break from your work.  Play a game.  Read a fun book.  Watch a movie or TV show--or binge watch a season on Netflix.

As long as it doesn't consume your life, it's okay to give yourself a break.

But I must caution you, don't mistake taking a break for being lazy and not doing a thing.  Do the work.  Finish something.

Then take a brief break.

Hence the word brief.

Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Straight Razor officially a novel / Happenings In The Outhouse 19-Dec-2014

Today, the upcoming novel Straight Razor is officially a novel.

But wait?  Wasn't it going to be?

Of course, fellow reader.  But now I can say with certainty, the first draft has surpassed the 40K mark SFWA has outlined as an official novel.

The first draft has been going much better now.  I'm still plugging away on the additional scenes.  They're going beautifully.  I can't wait to share them.

I oh so badly want to put Straight Razor up for pre-order . . . and Amazon will allow it, as long as it can be out in 90 days.  I'm almost certain it can.


But I don't quite dare pull the trigger yet.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Simplistic 2015 Goals / Happenings In The Outhouse

A few months into 2014, I realized I had WAY too many goals.  I won't embarass myself by listing how many, but quickly into the new year I decided to simplify my goals.  I may have still done a dreadful job of completing very many of them, I still published three ebooks, got my website Mark S. R. up and running, paid off our car (we have no car loans whatsoever!), signed up for the Goodreads Author Program, and submitted at least twice to the Writers Of The Future contest.

My three published works this year were:

Killzone: Book 1 of the Shadowkill Trilogy

The Things They Collected (free short story)

If Walls Could Talk: A Terrifying Short Story Collection

I am also not exclusive with any online publishing platform.  My ebooks are found everywhere--and right now, Guest Of Honor, my free novelette, is selling like crazy on the iBooks store.

2014 has been good to me.

And I believe 2015 will be even better.  I have also simplified my goals even more.  For starters, I have two focuses: publishing and weight loss.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

The news that shocked me about Madonna / Happenings In The Outhouse 05-Dec-2014

I was sitting at work yesterday, editing some pages, when I noticed one of the daily advertisement flyers the local radio station delivers for free everywhere.  In the flyer are snippets of news and local events.  One shocked me.

It said that the singer Madonna was the highest grossing singer last year, with over $800 million, and Paul McCartney was behind her at $660 million. (if you don't believe me, here's a link to the article.)

Now, I'm old enough to remember when Madonna first came on the scene, with songs "Like a Virgin" and "Vogue" and so many others.  I will admit though, her music isn't necessarily to my liking--I love hard rock, mostly from the 80's and early 90's.  But when I read her biography on Wikipedia, I was most than impressed.

What does this mean to you and I?

Take a lesson from her (or any of the others on the list) and take control of your destiny.  Do things your way.  Because the more you control, and the more you branch out into your field, the more success you'll achieve.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Chapter excerpt from "Straight Razor" thriller novel

Here is an excerpt of the first chapter of Straight Razor, the second novel in the Central Division Series.


Simon Templeton snaps off his gloves, tosses them in a red medical waste bag set up just outside the door, and says to the Forensics team, “Two bodies in the second floor bedroom.  Top of the stairs, first door on the left.  Murder weapon is in the male’s right hand.  Beretta 9mm, from the looks of it.  Female has two rounds in the chest and the male one, also in the chest.”
His investigations partner, Kolin Raynes, follows him outside.  “Why would he do that?  Kill her, then kill himself.  And why a chest shot?  Why not in the head?  Yeah, I know, I know, I heard the divorce was getting pretty nasty, but it seems to me he was the one making it nasty.  God, I’ll miss hearing her at MECC.  I heard once that she was in line for Eva Rosen’s job when she retires.”
MECC is the Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center, responsible for coordinating emergency calls throughout all of the suburbs in the Twin Cities area.  Eva has been working as a 9-1-1 dispatcher for over forty years, half of that time in a mentor capacity for all trainees.
Grinning, Simon says, “I don’t believe Eva will ever give up her post.  Even when she’s ninety, she’ll still be taking 9-1-1 calls.”  His cell rings.  “Great.  The boss.”  He brings the cell up, plugging the other ear with his thumb.  “Yes, sir.  Yes, murder-suicide, just like we thought.  What was that, sir?  Gary worked for Dope?”
“You’re kidding,” says Kolin.
Dope is the nickname for the Minneapolis PD’s Narcotic Enforcement Unit, housed in the same building as their department: Violent Crime Unit.  Kolin had the unpleasant experience of working with an infamous Dope sergeant Jim Brandt—AKA Dope Jim—six months back when his daughter Claudia was kidnapped by the serial killer Marie Holter.
AKA The Video Slayer.
Simon nods.  “Yes, sir, we’ll contact them.  Not sure how much they’ll tell us.  I’ll keep you informed.”  He disconnects, then rubs his ears.
“Is your hearing ever going to be back to normal?  I mean, I’ve been to a few rock concerts in my day, and I still have near-perfect hearing.”
During Claudia’s rescue, Simon was forced to shoot his way out of his car which had plunged into a river, causing much damage to his hearing.  He’s currently doctoring at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester—the result of a second opinion when the first doctor he consulted said nothing could be done and wanted to fit him for a hearing aid—and has seen tremendous improvement.
They walk out to the car.  “Captain said Gary worked for Dope,” says Simon.  “Been working for them at least a year.”
“Why would the PD promote a drunk like that?”
“Kolin, Gary was good at his job.  You know that.”
“Of course, but after his seventh or eighth DUI, you’d think the department would strip his license.”
Simon sighs.  “Gary was two years away from putting in his twenty.  He’s not the first cop to get arrested for drinking and driving.  Nor the last.  Certain cops just have skills that aren’t easily replaced.  And when that’s the case, the higher-ups have a tendency to look the other way.  It’s not right, but that’s just the way it is.”
“Now what?”
“We talk with someone from Dope.  Just in case this isn’t a murder-suicide.”
“You and I both know this is a murder-suicide.  Hell, the world knows it is.”
“Just need to cover the bases,” says Simon.  “Boss’s orders.”

In the upcoming weeks, leading up to this novel's release, I will be offering exclusive content for my newsletter subscribers.  Click here to join this growing list.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The mentality of the first novel

I'm very proud of completing my first novel back in November 1994.  It was a crowning achievement, of which I celebrated by going out to the movie Interview with the Vampire, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt--honestly I saw the movie four times in the theater; something I had never done with any other movie before or after.  Not even any of the Star Wars movies (although I have probably seen Star Wars: A New Hope close to a hundred times on video).

The day before I completed my first novel, I achieved a total of 1,000 pages (these were Brother word processor pages, where the word count is much less when compared with that of today's Microsoft Word).  I celebrated that by going out to the bar, Bottom's Up, in Bemidji.

I came back early that night, just a little buzzed.  I was alone.  Well, not really.  I had the characters in my head who just wanted me to finish the damn story.  Which I did the following morning.  Then I saw the movie.


Looking back on it now, I couldn't believe how much stuff I put into my first novel--a deer hunting horror story, an homage to my second favorite author, Stephen King (my favorite author is yours truly).

When I calculate the approximate word count nowadays, I come up with between 175,000 to 200,000 words.  *Gulp!*  If it was a fantasy novel, that would be about right.  But this was a horror story.  It was complex.

But a bit too complex.

I threw everything, inlcuding the kitchen sink, into it.

Why?  Because the mentality of the first novel is that everything needs to go into it.  Throughout history, there are authors who have struck gold with one novel.  Harper Lee, J. D. Salinger, and William Peter Blatty come to mind, in that regard.

The best advice on first novels is NOT to throw everything into it.  Hold back.  Only put in what it necessary for the story, and that's all.

Because there are always other books to write.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Missing scenes / Happenings In The Outhouse 28-Nov-2014

A few weeks ago, I got to the halfway point in Straight Razor, the second novel in the Central Division Series franchise.  When I later examined my current word count at that point, I was around the 25,000 word mark.

And the goal for this book was between 70-75,000.

Not quite halfway, in my book--and I was fairly good in math, in my late high school years.

I then realized I introduced a lot of leads (AKA red herrings) that would lead the investigative team of Simon Templeton and Kolin Raynes, of the Minneapolis PD Violent Crime Unit (VCU), but forgot to add them into the story.

*insert head slap*

My progress has slowed some, as I examined what should be written in and where.  I truly believe the story will be stronger because of it.

And a hell of a lot more interesting.

Monday, November 24, 2014

What "Stand by Me" taught me about storytelling (go deep and wide with your story)

In 1986, I saw the movie Stand by Me in the theaters.

In those days, I didn't remember seeing any movie trailers or hyped reviews about the movie, but in the small town where I grew up in (strangely enough, it resembled that of the fictional Castle Rock depicted in both the movie and in Stephen King's stories), there wasn't much else to do.

I was fascinated by the story.  Not only was it a tale about four boys who went out into the woods, in search for a dead kid their age, there were subplots upon subplots that not only kept the story interesting, it made for a more richer tale.

Each character in the story had a tale or two to tell.

In the end, when the credits started rolling, the packed theater was shocked when it was revealed that the movie was based on a novella by Stephen King.  I could hear his name being said repeatedly across the entire theater.  It was amazing.

When telling your tale, use some of the lessons that King has used.  Go deep and wide in your storytelling.  Let people know more about your characters.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

New cover for Guest Of Honor / Happenings In The Outhouse 21-Nov-2014

My novelette, Guest of Honor, just got a face-lift.

Here it is:

Pretty cool, huh?

Yesterday morning, I hit the 30K mark on Straight Razor.  My publication goal of January 2015 is looking grim, but never fear, miracles could still happen.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Keep track of all sales (even if they're small)

I've been self-publishing since April 2012, and I've recently been going back through my Amazon sales reports (as well as Kobo's and Smashword's), and putting them all together.

"Mark, how many copies of Guest of Honor have you sold?"

A friend of mine asked me this a few weeks ago, and I honestly couldn't provide an answer.  I could only guess.

If you're going to treat your writing as a business, then you need to keep track of your sales.  Even if you only sell a handful, you still need to know what sells and where.

I've been putting together the data, tweaking the spreadsheet here and there when I think of what's being left out.  Each one will put one together differently.  There is no right or wrong way to do so, as long as you understand it.

Speaking of Guest of Honor, this novelette is currently free on all platforms.  One reviewer even called it "Hitchcock"-like (which I think is way cool!).  Click on this link for a list of retailers where Guest of Honor can be found.  And did I tell you it's free?

Yes, yes it is.  Pick it up today.

Shortly, I will be putting together some exclusive content for all newsletter subscribers.  Click on this link to subscribe to my newsletter, if you already haven't done so.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Beholder's Eye available on all platforms / Happenings In The Outhouse 14-Nov-2014

"Minneapolis PD Investigator Kolin Raynes may be new to the job, but that doesn't stop a serial killer from targeting him."

That's the tagline for my thriller novel Beholder's Eye.  And, just this week, it is no longer available only on the Amazon Kindle store.  It's available on all platforms.

In the Barnes and Noble Nook store?  Yes.

How about the iBooks store?  You betcha.

Kobo?  You better believe it.

Smashwords?  Most definitely.

And still on Amazon?  Of course.

Click on this link to take you all of the available platforms.

Speaking of Beholder's Eye, I am around the 28,000 word mark on the first draft to Straight Razor.  This is the second book in the Central Division Series.  This past weekend, I put together a rough mental draft of the third book--this one I will right as soon as the second one is complete.

I am planning some exciting exclusive content for all newsletter subscribers.  If you haven't subscribed ot my newsletter yet, click on this link, enter your e-mail and first name, and you'll be signed up.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Be Nice / Happenings In The Outhouse 07-Nov-2014

Are you serious?  You haven't subscribed to my newsletter?  Well, now's your chance to do so.  Click on this link, to take you to my newsletter page on my website.  It's real simple.  Just enter your e-mail address and first name, and . . . well, that's it.  Click on here to do so.

Patrick Swayze, in the 1989 movie Road House, had some great advice when training bar bouncers on how to deal with unruly customers.

"Be nice."

This week, millions of Americans participated in the 2014 Election.  What always strikes me as odd is how mean some people get when their party or their candidate didn't win.  I always sigh relief when the elections are done because the political ads are now over.  All of the mudslinging (from both sides of the aisle) is over.  For the time being.

In life, whether you're a writer or an actor or a factor worker or a fast food cook or whatever you are, one of the best pieces of advice you can do is to be nice towards others.  It's funny how "turning the frown upside down" can change someone's mood.

So remember: be nice.

Thanks, Mr. Swayze.

I finally obtained the cover for the second book in the Central Division Series: Straight Razor.  Here it is.

Also, be sure to stay tuned, as I will be posting a chapter or so from the new novel shortly.  I am currently around the 25,000-page mark.  Or, better yet, subscribe to my newsletter and you won't miss a thing.  (Hint: I might even give some exclusive access to even more chapters, so what are you waiting for?  Click here to subscribe.)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween and helping others / Happenings In The Outhouse 31-Oct-2014

Happy Halloween, to all of those who celebrate said holiday.  For others . . . well, it's Friday.

Last week, my family and I got back from a short trip to Walt Disney World.  We had a blast, and it was great just getting away.  Of course, there is always work to come back to.  Work does go on.  But we must work in order to play.

This week, I also helped out a dear friend who has finally decided to put the first of many ebooks up on the Kindle store.  I have to admit, for many people, the process of putting an ebook together can be daunting.  It was for me at first.  Over time, and after seven ebooks so far, I have a lot of the process down to a science.  I'm far from an expert though.  But for some simple formatting, I can handle it.  I helped my friend out, and all she has to do now is have a cover designed.

And when it's up and for sale, I'll share the details.

I am also in the 19th chapter on the second book in the Central Division Series.  It's titled Straight Razor.  I have over 22,000 words written so far.  Not sure if it'll get done by the end of the year.  Stay tuned.

Speaking of staying tuned, did you know I have a newsletter.  I have only a handful of subscribers right now, so if you like this blog, please be sure to sign up.

Friday, October 24, 2014

On Hiatus / Happenings In The Outhouse 24-Oct-2014

I have been on vacation most of this week.

Even though little new words have been written, stories still swirl around in my head.

Hiatus doesn't mean lack of activity.  Hiatus, in my case, means I am taking a brief vacation, I am recharging my mental batteries, and will continue my work (my craft) upon arrival back home.

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter too. That way you'll get updates on upcoming publications.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Stay out of debt / Happenings In The Outhouse 17-Oct-2014

There are tons of writing advice out there:

Butt in chair, hands on keyboard.

Write everyday.

Think of your writing as a business.

And so on . . . and so forth . . .

Now, all of this is fine, great, and dandy.  However, I am going in a different direction when it comes to writing, especially when you're thinking of self-publishing (indie publishing).  Here it is:

Stay out of debt
When I examine what I'd love my publishing empire to look like, one major factor hinders it.  Debt.  The dreaded d-word.  Debt has hindered much of what I've been able to accomplish.  I've had to do everything on a shoestring budget.  From covers to editing and everything in between, our major debt load has handcuffed me.
But has it stopped me?  No.  I just keep trucking, working a full-time job and diligently working at reducing our debt.
So, although the sit-butt-in-chair-and-write-everyday writing advice is worthy noting, one very few talk about is debt.
Stay out of debt.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Don't throw in the towel yet / Happenings In The Outhouse 10-Oct-2014

You feel like everyone is out to stop you from achieving what you want to achieve.

Your spouse, who has supported you for years, is now doubting the time you spend on your craft.

Your friends slowly peel away the time you have allotted to your craft, to do mindless, chemical-induced tasks.

Your family--none of which have ever really supported you anyway and told you just to "be like everyone else"--keeps nagging at you to do this and that, that and this.

The dedications to your books were once the list of those proud supporting souls.  Now, you feel like eliminating the dedications altogether.

The time you had dedicated is limited more and more like a knife whittling on a piece of wood.

And, of course, there are those who tell you they follow your blog, yet fail to ask you about the book you just published last month or the new cover you just commissioned or the latest promotion--hint, they're not really reading your blog.

There are times when you think Ernest Hemingway or Robin Williams had a good idea when they decided to end their careers on their terms.

Sound familiar?

If it does, do this.  Don't throw in the towel.  Don't do it for me or for your friends or even for your family (your kids, if you've been blessed to have them, seem to be immune to the poisonous drama of the other family members and may be your biggest cheerleaders).

Do it for the fan who has yet to find you.

Also, do it for yourself.

Don't throw in the towel.  Yes, life can suck at times, but focus on your craft.

The world depends on it.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

The makeover of Beholder's Eye

Beholder's Eye has recently undergone a transformation.  Well, not a very major one.  But I did add something to the beginning.

I added a prologue.

(insert wave around the stadium here)

For those who already purchased it, the new edition should be automatically updated.  For those who haven't, I feel it's a nice addition.  It adds a little more flavor to the story, and has more of a typical thriller feel to it as well.

Hope you like it.

Here's the Amazon link to purchase the book or acquire it through the Kindle Unlimited program.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

How is your year so far? / Happenings In The Outhouse 03-Oct-2014

With this being the first week of October, this is the final three months of the year.  How are your 2014 goals coming along?

Earlier in the year, I made an effort to whittle down the list from over eighteen down to a more manageable twelve.  I have finished six so far--half, for those mathematically-challenged.

Not bad.

For 2015, my focus will be on two things: publishing more and losing weight.

That's it.  Of course, my goals aren't that simple.  They are specific, like lose 10 pounds by this date or to publish X amount of novels.

How are your 2014 goals?

Have you started thinking about 2015 goals?

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter too. That way you'll get updates on upcoming publications.

Oh, BTW, I'm putting the finishing touches on the "new and improved" Beholder's Eye.  Stay tuned.  Next week, I'll share what it is.

Monday, September 29, 2014

My interview on Ognian Georgiev's blog

I was recently featured on Ognian Georgiev's blog, interviewing me in regards to my latest novel Killzone: Book 1 of the Shadowkill Trilogy.

The link can be found here:

Check it out, and be sure to also check out Ognian's fascinating book The White Prisoner

Friday, September 26, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 26-Sept-2014 / The silent approach

Aside from the authors who publish one book and, when they do not see any grand success from it and quit, authors can be (somewhat) divided into two camps:

1) publish one book and promote the hell out of it

2) publish one book, then another, then another, then another . . . leaving the marketing promotion machine to simply function as a funnel from one story to the next

It irrirates me when I see authors go gangbusters on a first novel, ranking in the top ten in several categories, only to have nothing else to follow it up with.

I am in the second camp.  I call it the silent approach.  I don't suggest publishing the way I have been, stories in several genres with no clear funnel from one to the next.  But I am changing it, and am in the process of creating several products to do just that: to lead readers from one to the next.

Also, I have a surprise for you.  I am adding something to Beholder's Eye.  I'll share what that is shortly.

I am around the 15,000 word count in the sequel to Beholder's Eye.  It's coming along great.

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter too. That way you'll get updates on upcoming publications.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 19-Sept-2014 / Do not try this (with your writing)

Let me warn you.  Do not try this with your writing, unless you are prepared and see no other way.  Well, first of all, if you see no other way, you haven't thought enough about the problem.  I have.  I am experimenting with something.

Industry experts (i.e. successful authors) warn newbies (i.e. unpublished writers or newly-published authors) not to do this.

But I'm going to give it a shot.

Wish me luck.

I have realized lately that I spend an awful lot of time editing.  Editing and not writing more new material.  This is not good.  Especially when I have so many stories to tell.

Here's my experiment: I will be writing new material in the mornings, when I typically work best, and during the way (at the day job) I will be editing.  Right now, I am several chapters into the new novel, so I'm not editing the pages I just wrote.  One day soon I hope to be.

That's what the experts say not to do.

But I'm going to do it.  I'll make a good run at it.  I'll keep you in the loop as to how it's working.

I am currently around the 14,000 word mark of the new novel, book two of the Central Division Series.  I also concluded an e-mail interview with a gentleman who has a website/blog where he features other authors.  My interview will be up soon, and I'll share the link with everyone when it goes live.

Also, don't forget to please subscribe to my newsletter for the latest updates.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

8 ways to get into the mood (to write)

Artists, especially writers, talk about "finding the muse" which means finding the inspiration or motivation to create something from nothing.

Someone recently told me they were having troubles starting their daily writing, like for the first 10 minutes or so.  They wanted some advice.  Now, I gave it to them, and I want to expand on that notion here.

Here is a list of things you can do to help get the juices flowing:

1) just write - even if it's crap, sitting down to write anything is better than nothing

2) go for a walk

3) go for a drive

4) read the last few pages you had written the previous day, to get a feel for where the story is going

5) drink a cup of coffee (or tea)

6) meditate

7) take a cold shower

8) exercise

This list is by no means complete--lists typically never are.  This is just what I could come up with off the top of my head.

Feel free to comment on how you get the creative juice flowing.

Also, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter, for the latest updates on future publications.

Monday, September 15, 2014

If Walls Could Talk: A Terrifying Short Story Collection is published today!

If Walls Could Talk: A Terrifying Short Story Collection is published today!  (And for those who pre-ordered it, a huge thank you!)

"An epidemic in the Minnesota northwoods breeds an unspeakable horror. A golfer’s nasty slice uncovers the mysteries surrounding a childhood terror. A mother, fed up with an abusive, controlling marriage, gives her child the one gift she’s been asking for—and frees herself in the process.

From the barren Mars landscape to the northwoods of America.

Seven terrifying tales.

One collection."

It's currently listed for $1.99 at several ebook markets: Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble Nook store, Apple iBooks store, and Kobo Books, just to name a few.

Here's a link that will take you to my site, where it lists BUY buttons for several ebook retailers.

Also, don't forget to please subscribe to my newsletter for the latest updates.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 12-Sept-2014 / Getting children to read ebooks

A few nights ago, I asked my youngest daughter (she's eight), "Have you ever read a book on the Kindle?"

She looked up at me and shook her head.

Now, she plays games and watches Netflix on the Kindle all the time.  So why not read ebooks?  We have a number of children's ebooks from Bookbub, so I opened one up for her.

It didn't take long before she read an entire ebook.  She had some troubles swiping to turn the pages, but once she was halfway through the ebook, she was turning it with a bit more finesse.

Children can read ebooks.  We just have to open up the world for them and let them give it a shot.

I'm currently at the 10,000 word count on the next novel in the Central Division Series.  Straight Razor is coming along nicely, even after a brief hiatus to publish Killzone and my short story collection If Walls Could Talk.  I'm shooting for publication by the end of the year--a bold, ambitious move, but one I have to make nonetheless.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

New short story collection, If Walls Could Talk, is available for pre-order

On September 15th, my new short story collection If Walls Could Talk: A Terrifying Short Story Collection, will be published.

And right now it is available for pre-order.

Here is a link to the book page on my website, which has links to where it's available.

What it's about: "An epidemic in the Minnesota northwoods breeds an unspeakable horror. A golfer’s nasty slice uncovers the mysteries surrounding a childhood terror. A mother, fed up with an abusive, controlling marriage, gives her child the one gift she’s been asking for—and frees herself in the process.

From the barren Mars landscape to the northwoods of America. Seven terrifying tales. One collection."

Click here to subscribe to my newsletter, for the latest updates

Friday, September 5, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 05-Sept-2014 / testing the pre-order waters

Beholder's Eye is currently in a $0.99 Kindle Countdown deal - if you haven't picked it up yet, now is your chance.

My latest short story collection is complete.  Early next week, I'll share links to where it can be purchased for pre-order.

The publication date is set for September 15th.

I'll be publishing on all platforms, from Amazon to Smashwords to Kobo.  Through Smashwords, I'll get into the iBooks store, etc.

Here's a sneak preview of the cover for the short story collection If Walls Could Talk:

I had to go through a few artists to get the cover I wanted.

Which brings me to a point when it comes to cover artists.  It's a good idea to have more than one.  Unless your cover artist is a complete rock star at what he or she does, it's wise to juggle between a few.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Laboring on Labor Day

That's right.  I'm laboring on Labor Day.

As an artist setting the course of our own destiny, we need to take each day as it comes and make the best of it.

Even if it is a holiday.

Stephen King writes 365 days a year, including on Christmas and his birthday.

You should too.

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 . . .

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 25-July-2014 / my next "short" project

I took a slight detour with the sequel to Beholder's Eye, as I am working on a "short" project.

Over the years I have a number of short stories in my arsenal, and I decided at this point to publish a collection of them.

Now, what I've decided to experiment with is the whole "first free" thing.  So, with this short story colleciton, I've published one of the stories and have put it up for free on other publishing sites, like Kobo and Smashwords.  Here's the cover:

The Things They Collected, short story, in the Amazon Kindle store.

Now, here's the kicker.  I don't want you to buy it.  Seriously.  It's only $.99 (because I can't list it as free on Amazon), but in all other places it's free.  If you really, really want to buy it and give me money, I don't complain.  However, what I'd like you to do is tell Amazon about the free price elsewhere.

In the next week or so, I hope to have the short story collection finalized and formatted.  In the meantime, I have a link to sign up on my website in the short story--I also have a previous post, so please take the time to sign up if you are so inclined.

Once this is complete, I'll head back to Straight Razor.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Take a break

I recently concluded a six-month long edit to Killzone.  For the weeks and months prior to its publication, I've been wondering what I should work on next.

Whenever I complete a project, it's my natural inclination to start on the next project right away.  Instead, I take a day or two off.  In fact, even when I'm in the middle of a project, I still take the time to sit back and do something non-writing related (i.e. watch something on Netflix or play Tiny Death Star).

My next project--or two--I may start out slow, but I built up speed rather quickly.  My weekends, however, I usually sleep in a little instead of rolling out of bed at the crack of six.

Remember to take a break once in a while.

How do you spend your free time?  How do you commit to taking a break from your projects?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 18-July-2014 / Experimenting with free

I know, I know, a few months ago I discredited the whole "have a book free" or "have your first book in a series free" thing . . . and now I'm experimenting with it.

Call me a hypocrite if you want--okay I will then.

Actually, I want to see if it really works.

Currently, my novelette Guest Of Honor is available for free in the Amazon Kindle Store.  It's available on other platforms too, like Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, the iBooks store, and Kobo, also for free.

So far, as of today's date, I've sold over 100 free ebooks of Guest of Honor.  I'll let you know how well it translates into sales of the non-free books.

I'm working diligently on the sequel to Beholder's Eye.  I currently have over 8,000 words written.

I'm also putting together a short story collection, which will hopefully be ready to go by the end of the month.  My plan is to also have a "free" short story as a teaser, which will lead to the collection.

Lots of free stuff in the works.

Yes, I'm a hypocrite.

If you have any successes with offering "free" works, please share it in the comments.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 11-July-2014 / The year is half over - how are your goals?

It's July.  Six months of the year are over, never for you to get back.

How are your 2014 goals coming along?

What can you cross off the list?

Better yet, now that your priorities may have changed or with new ideas, what can you eliminate and add to your goals list?

One of the goals I added at the end--in late January, I believe--was to get my personal website updated.  Well, I can cross that one off my list.  My website is Mark S. R.

It's a simple Wordpress site, but it does the trick for now.  I will enhance and update it later.

After my 2014 goals list was created, I started prioritizing what I should be focusing on.  And that is writing and publishing.  Simply, writing and publishing new stories for my readers.  I had named a few contests to enter as part of my 2014 goals.  I have since decided not to at this time.

Another one I added was exercise.  I am in desperate need of doing something.  I need to lose a considerable amount of weight.  I'm tackling it bits and pieces at a time, but I am seeing a little progress.

And, of course, I recently published Killzone in the Amazon Kindle store.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Oldboy by Spike Lee - one of the best movies you've never heard of

Oldboy, a 2013 remake by director Spike Lee, was just released on Netflix this past weekend.

It stars Josh Brolin as a self-centered alcoholic advertising salesman named Joe Doucett, who is married and has a young daughter.  In a drunken stupor, he finds himself kidnapped and locked away in an apartment for 20 years.  All he knows is that his wife was murdered and he's the prime suspect.  At the end of twenty years, in which time he does clean himself up and even tries to escape, he finds himself free and is hell bent on discovering the secret to his twenty-year captivity.

Now, this is all I'm going to say at this point, because, if you have Netflix and love a great action movie, this one should be the next one on your list.  Here's the Wikipedia link to Oldboy (2013 remake), but skip the critical reception.  I'm saddened that it did so poorly at the box offices.

There are a number of action scenes in this movie that completely blew me away.  I'm not sure if Spike Lee used the power of computer-generated enhancements, but the majority--if not all--of the action scenes are lengthy, masterfully crafted, complex, and appears to be done all in one shot.  Well done!  There was even a scene where a certain father figure (you'll have to watch the movie to see this) goes around the house with a double-barrelled shotgun, and blows his family away.  It's tragic and the end to that scene--also appears to be done in one shot (no pun intended)--is mind blowing (or, rather, head blowing).

If you love a good action flick, be sure to check it out.  It's one of the better movies you've never heard of.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Killzone: Book 1 of the Shadowkill Trilogy is now a published novel

Yes, you heard correctly.  I spent my 4th of July holiday working diligently on the final edits to Killzone, and it is now on the Amazon Kindle store.  Here's a link to the ebook.

"These are the events the government doesn't want you to know about in the war on terror."

Ramadi, Iraq, 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 Androis 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 membershas 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 team members of Shadow Team strong enough to stop him?

Please be sure to pick up Killzone: Book 1 of the Shadowkill Trilogy from the Amazon Kindle store.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 04-July-2014 / What do you say no to? (And what do you say yes to?)

What do you say no to?

How do you prioritize your life, so that you can get your work (or art) done?

Are there commitments people spring on you, obligations you wish you hadn't said yes to?

Managing one's time is something I've struggled with, and for the most part I can do well--most of the time.  Things do get in the way, whether it's a sick child or a dentist appointment or the lawn needs mowing, but knowing how to deal with it can mean all the difference between success and failure.

Well, not really failure, per se.  I'd say it's the difference between finishing something and not finishing something.

Prioritize your life.  Learn to say no.

Then, you can find the things to say yes to.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What I Listen To - The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast

A fair number of people who interview authors seem to take their task with an aura of "this is just a job" and exhibit no sense of interest at all in the author or their work.

That is not the case with Simon with the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast.

Simon interviews authors on his weekly podcast from all aspects of self-publishing.  From online comics to book marketing to the big names in self-publishing today, his interviews go in-depth as authors share the nuts and bolts of their craft and business.

His interviews run roughly an hour in length.  Simon's skillful interview style is professional and thought-provoking.

The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast is a new podcast I've picked up these past few months, and with a little more than 50 podcasts so far, they are well worth going back and listening to them all.  Simon always digs up the nuggets of gold in the self-publishing world and hand-delivers them right to you.

So check out Simon and the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast.  You'll thank yourself for doing so.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Why Amazon is like the farmers' market for indie authors

During the summer months, I frequent a local farmers' market most Saturday mornings.  Certainly, I can buy jams, vegetables, breads, and sweets much cheaper at the supermarket.  However, the foods I get at the farmers' market are, by and large, natural and not loaded down with a shitpile of preservatives.

This isn't why I do it though.  I do it because when I hand over my dollars, I'm giving it right to the person who produced it.

(okay, and they make some amazing goods too)

Amazon is the same way--by the large, minus a small percentage when you sell something.  So are Kobobooks, Barnes and Nobles, Smashwords, and other e-tailers.  Indie authors have a fair shake when it comes to readers.  They are able to bypass whatever middlemen or gatekeepers there are and go directly to the readers.

Instead of farmers having to send their goods to the local elevator or with the grandmother who bakes amazing donuts and breads, they can go directly to the people and sell their goods.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 27-Jun-2014 / The final stretch for Killzone

Killzone: Book 1 of the Shadowkill Trilogy is nearing completion.

I have one final editing to do and then . . . it's on to publish.

And just because I already finished editing it, doesn't mean there wasn't anything to do.  Wrong!  In fact, I changed a lot of the way the story was told.  Much of the book is in present tense.  Yet, the bulk of the book was set in 2006, along with the prologue and epilogue were set in either 2009 or 2010.  When I went through the final edits by reading it out loud, I was struck by how confusing it was.

So I changed it.  The bulk of the book is in past tense.

Personally, I think it sounds a lot better.

I'm also striking out complete chapters too--well, one in particular.  It doesn't seem to fit and there's no clear point of view.

My plan is to have this book finished in 2-3 weeks.

What's next, you might ask . . . ?

I have a few things in the works.

As an aside, I got my official website,, up and running.  Okay, not quite, but it's now an official Wordpress site, and in the upcoming weeks, I'll learn more on how to make it better.  It's just a starter, sample page right now.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 20-Jun-2014 / No agents need apply

It isn't a secret for anyone reading this blog that I'm publishing my next novel soon.  Very soon.  I've had a few people ask me if I'm going to submit this to any agents or publishers.

No way!

I already spent decades of my life going down that rabbit hole.  And for absolutely nothing to show for it except loads of experience, rejection letters that are probably as tall as the Empire State Building (okay, not really, but it's quite a stack), and a handful of false hopes that, of course, went no where.

Why would I waste months and months of my time when I can start earning money from it right away?

Hence, that's the reason I have a sign on my door that says:

While I was going through Killzone I ran into a problem.  Most of the book was in present tense.  Yet, the prologue and epilogue were several years ahead of the time spent in the bulk of the book.  I then thought of the only solution: change the tense from present to past.
It worked.  So far.  I'm hoping by the middle of July to have this book ready to go.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What I Listen To - The Sell More Books Show

Thanks to Joanna Penn from The Creative, one of my new favorite podcasts is the Sell More Books Show.

At the time I write this, they are on their 10th episode, and trust me when I say if you haven't listened to this show before, go back and listen to them all.  I listen to them on the Stitcher app on my Android phone.

Roughly a year ago, I cut back on the number of podcasts I listen to, and have only added two lately (see next week's post for that one).  The Sell More Books Show is one of them.

The two hosts, Bryan Cohen and Jim Kukral, are energetic and brilliant.  They've been out in the field and have done great work in author marketing and entrepreneurship.  Both are authors as well.  They typically pick a few top tips at the beginning of their show, and after a quick pros and cons, pick which one they feel is the best.  Then, they go onto the top five news item in the world of indie publishing for the week.

Now, here's one of the big pluses for the show: its length.  Most shows run a little more than 30 minutes, and there isn't a whole lot of time wasted with mindless conversation you hear in so many other podcasts.  The Sell More Books Show is so concise and packed with useful information, it shouldn't even be free--but it is!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 13-Jun-2014 / Yes, it's Friday the 13th!

I didn't realize until I started writing this post that today is . . . well, Friday the 13th.

I also have two bits of news to share--okay, three!

First, I finally sold an ebook on Kobo!  Okay, to the vast majority of you, you probably could give three shits about that.  But I've had two ebooks (now three, as of last week) on Kobo since April and I haven't had a single sale.  Honestly, it doesn't discourage me at all, for I'm in this for the long haul, but it was exciting to see that sale number go up by 1.  Thanks to whoever in Canada bought it.

Second, I finished the editing to Killzone.  At least this round anyway.  This was a major rewrite.  Now, I'll go back through it another time, putting on a final polish, and then I'll publish it on Amazon KDP.

Speaking of Killzone, my third bit of news is the cover to the book.  Here it is:

Pretty cool, huh?

What have you been up to this week?  Please feel free to share in the comments.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 06-Jun-2014 / The Cancer Chronicles

On the morning of June 1st, an award-winning author passed away--one completely overshadowed by the passing of Maya Angelou.

Jay Lake, science ficiton author of more than ten novels and three hundred short stories, passed away after a long battle with cancer.  What's interesting about Jay's cancer fight is that he's chronicled it all the way--from his first diagnosis to his passing.  He never pulled back and always told it like it is.  His obituary can be found here. 

On the Killzone novel, book one of the Shadowkill trilogy, I currently have four chapters left to edit.  Once I'm done, I will make one more editing pass before uploading it to Amazon.

(And, of course, I'm sure you've heard all about the Amazon/Hachette debate going on.  Frankly, my friend, head on out to thriller author J. A. Konrath's blog for his insight onto it in terms of the indie publishing community.  In fact, if you're an indie author you should be following his blog anyway).

Also, this week, my novella Guest of Honor has now been uploaded into Smashwords and Kobo's book stores.  I already have two of my other shorter works on other sites besides Amazon.  Frankly, they haven't sold much at all--but I'm thinking long-term, so this doesn't bother me.  I'm just going to keep writing.  When I have links to these other sites, I'll share them.

Monday, June 2, 2014

What motivates you? (Guess what, we're not all motivated by the same thing)

What motivates you?  What drives you to do what you love to do--assuming you already know what that is.

Let's take an athelete.  Is it to win a high school tournament, whether it's regionals or the state title?  Is it to go on to college and continue to play for the sport?  Is it to be a pro?

I grew up in a town in northern Minnesota that lives and breathes hockey.  There are a few professional players who have come from this town, and stories of one such player (who was on the 1980 Miracle team) who woke up in the wee-hours of the morning to go down to the ice rink and practice.  Most mornings he was down there by himself.

Nowadays, this same town has practices very early in the morning.  I'm sure if you asked the kids, they wouldn't mind sleeping in.  But the parents remember the story of the Miracle hockey player and want their children to skate in his same steps.  Nevermind that hardly none of them will ever be able to skate on a professional team.  What motivates the kids isn't the same thing that motivates the parents.

Why not just let them play for the fun of it?

Now let's take writers.  What drives them?

Is it to be published by a traditional, Big 5 Publisher?  Is it to have their story made into a movie?  Is it to win an award (like the Hugo)?

It could even be to have a stack of papers sitting on your desk, just as a conversation piece.

Why are you doing what you love to do?

Here's a hint: it's not all about money.  If it was, I'm sure we'd all be stock brokers or major in economics.

What motivates police officers to deal with the shit the public deals with them, day-in and day-out?

What motivates teachers to do what they love to do, even under tight government restrictions?

What motivates a med student to keep studying, counting the days until they too can wear a white jacket and be called "Doctor"?

Search for it.  It's in yourself.  Then, once you find it, go forth and conquer.

The world needs you.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 30-May-2014 / Closing in

My goal for book 1 of the Shadowkill trilogy was to finish editing by May 30th.  That's today.  Guess what?

I didn't finish it.

I have 7 chapters to go.  In all, I am closing in on the finish line.  Better late than never.

If I could, I'd like to share a Maya Angelou quote: "I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music."  Those who create art can certainly agree.

And you should never be ashamed by it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lessons learned from Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I watched two related movies on Netflix: The Buddy Holly Story, starring Gary Busey and La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Phillips.

I do understand both movies are theatrical embellishments of Buddy Holly's and Ritchie Valen's true life--what movie isn't?  But underlying both are similar themes: each achieved stardom by working hard at what they loved to do--create music--as well as not compromising the visions of what they wanted to create.

Any artist should admire these young singers for what they accomplished in a short period of time.  They saw rock and roll as a new medium of music, and embraced it.  Despite what others said about them.

In other words, work hard.  Don't compromise.  Keep creating.  Expand your horizons.  Try different mediums or genres.  Continuously improve your skills.

Do it now.  Today.

The world is waiting.

(Buddy and Ritchie will be proud that you did.)

**BTW, let's not forget the Kindle Countdown for my thriller BEHOLDER'S EYE.  Still discounted, so be sure to pick it up if you haven't.**

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Starting today, BEHOLDER'S EYE, is discounted!

My first thriller BEHOLDER'S EYE is on sale right now, starting today.

Minneapolis PD investigator Kolin Raynes may be new to the job, but that doesn't stop a serial killer from targeting him.

If you ever wondered about the mysteries of mental illness, about what if those visions they're seeing are real, then check out BEHOLDER'S EYE.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 23-May-2014 / Deadlines are important, even for indies

W. Axl Rose might've said it best when it came to patience.  You need it.  We all need it.  So many times we want to rush projects to market.  Now, I don't mean working on a single novel for four or five years.  That's way too long.

Set a deadline.

Set a realistic one--writing a 75K novel in a week when you've never done it before is completely out of the realm of possibility.  Yet, at the same time, set one that will push you to do something every single day.  Or, at the very least, on a consistent basis--I work best during the week and my weekends, by in large, are set aside for other household duties.

My goal to complete the first Shadowkill novel was slated for the 31st of May.  That is a little more than a week away.

I'm not going to make it.  I'm currently editing chapter 42 and there are 52 chapters in the novel.  At the rate I'm going, I will probably have five left by the end of May.  I'm okay with that.  Besides, I'm going to do one more editing pass--this time much quicker than the first one--to clean things up and then I should be ready to go by late June or early July.

**crossing my fingers**

I'm also planning what to write next.  I have a few shorter projects I might tackle first before the sequel to Beholder's Eye.

Speaking of Beholder's Eye, I have the novel slated for another Kindle Countdown, starting Saturday May 24th.  So, if you haven't picked up a copy of it--shame on you!--now is your chance to do it at a discount.

Here is the link to BEHOLDER'S EYE on the Amazon Kindle store.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 16-May-2014 / Another author's path is not the same as yours

Earlier this month, Seth Godin wrote a post in regards to the origin stories of successful people/companies.  It really struck home for me.  I love to read the biographies of successful people like Stephen King or J. K. Rowling, and how their humble beginnings fueled the fire that launched their careers.

But no one would be able to duplicate their success by following in their exact footsteps.  It's ridiculous.  Create your own success.  Create your own origin story.

And then yesterday, I was listening to the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast when the host Simon interviewed bestselling author Mark Dawson, about how he can write to prolifically while maintaining a full-time job and raising small children.  It struck me that he could've been interviewing me--not only do I have a full-time job, I'm raising three children and being a caregiver for my wife who is recovering from beginning ill three years ago with leukemia.

It's good to know what steps an author--or anyone else who's successful--to become a success.  But choose your own path.  Don't make the same mistakes they made.  Make your own mistakes.

And one day, far down the road, someone will hear about your origin story and will be inspired to pursue their own dreams.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5-Star review of "Day of the Vikings" by J.F. Penn

Right off the bat, in the opening chapter, I thought I was reading a Clive Cussler novel by the way Penn beautifully took us into the past, into the ancient Vikings era.

Then, we are thrust into the modern era and take an interesting tour of the British Museum by Blake Daniel and Dr. Morgan Sierra (heroine of the other ARKANE series).  In a short period of time, there's an explosion, followed by a battle of good vs. evil that is reminiscent of Dan Brown, and Blake also reveals his unique psychic ability.

I highly recommend this book.  It's a quick, fast-paced read that will have you screaming for more--and there is more!  The way Penn skillfully describes the British Museum, it's like you're walking through it yourself, examining this exhibit here and that exhibit there.  Also, I've read many books with psychic powers at the center, and I must say, the power Blake possesses is very unique.  You will not be disappointed.

Be sure to check out J. F. Penn's "Day Of The Vikings"

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 09-May-2014 / Shadowkill becomes a trilogy! And gets a new name!

I've been hashing this around for a few weeks, and I decided that Shadowkill will no longer be a stand-alone novel.  It will, in fact, be a trilogy.

That being said, I spent several days brainstorming on what the title of the trilogy could be.

And here it is: Shadowkill is now Killzone: Book 1 in the Shadowkill Trilogy.

Ironically enough, Killzone was the original title of this book and I changed it when I discovered there was already a video game called Killzone.  Now, Killzone is back with a vengence.

Book 1 is set in the summer of 2006, the bloodiest summer in the Iraq War.  Tentatively, the second book will be more modern times and the third will be set a bit in the future.

As we speak, I'm currently editing chapter thirty-eight and there are fifty-one chapters in the novel.  It's running close to 71,000 words, which is a little shy for a full novel.  Either in the final chapters or in my next pass-through, I'll look for areas to beef up.  I already know how I'll enhance the first chapter.

Then, I need to grow the love interest early on--yes, I'm adding a touch of romance to this as well.

Monday, May 5, 2014

How writing is like preparing for a marathon

"Write everyday, including weekends and holidays.."

"Get those 2000 words written."

Both of these bits of writing tips have always annoyed me.  I understand the meaning of getting the words out of my head and down onto the digital paper, but it can be overwhelming.

My sister-in-law is preparing to run a marathon--she's already run a few last year, and will continue to do so.  I recently read how one prepares to run a marathon.  There are some days you run, others you walk, others you do both, and then there are days you do nothing but rest.

The same goes with writing.  Everyone's writing process is different.  For me, I put in an hour or so in the morning, I write (or edit) on my breaks and lunches at work, and if I have time I do maybe another 30-45 minutes once the kiddies are in bed.

On the weekends, I sometimes sleep in and don't do any writing.  But just because I don't edit something or write the first draft of something doesn't mean I'm not writing.  Even if I'm thinking of a story, that's still writing--in my opinion, that is, and you may certainly disagree with me.

Write at your own pace.

And if you're editing, I believe that's still writing.

But don't forget to rest too.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 02-May-2014 / Editing one chapter at a time

I've been making tremendous progress on my technothriller lately.  Although the process is slow, it's steady enough for me to chunk out 4-5 chapters a week.

My editing process has evolved over the years, and over the past month it has evolved once again.  Before, I used to edit 3-4 chapters at once--chapters that had a similar scene.  I then decided to start editing one chapter at a time.

It has worked.  With my full-time job and caring for my family, this has worked out the best.  I have been able to do a chapter every 1-2 days.  I know for some this may sound slow.  It is.  But it works.

For me.

(I'm keeping this short today.  I do have some news regarding the future of this book.  I gave a hint on this a few weeks ago.  Stay tuned.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 25-Apr-2014 / A free alternative

I've seen Brandon Sanderson do it.

I've also seen James Patterson do it.

And they aren't the only ones.

In my last post, I ripped pretty hard on the whole "free book" marketing technique.  However, there is an alternative I could get behind--besides sampling, that is.  And it is this: offer a larger sample (say 15-20 chapters) for free.  It gives readers a little bigger bite of your story to chew, and at the end, for your call to action, you can direct them to your website, your blog, your author page, or a link to sign up to be on your mailing list.

And, of course, don't forget to have a link so they can purchase the entire book.

I know you still run the risk of readers still not reading the book--I have a pile of free sample chapters by Mr. Patterson I haven't read yet.

Once again, it depends on your marketing plan and writing goals.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Free isn't all it's cracked up to be

You participate in two seminars: one is free and the other you pay $100 (or $250 or $500 or $2000) to attend. Both are weekend-long seminars. Once they’re over and when it’s time to reflect on what you’ve learned, which one do you either go over first in your notes? The one you paid for. Why? Because you have a financial investment in it.

The same goes with ebooks. Some authors—and many of these are bestselling, mind you—will tote that you need to have the first book in your series for free and then, if the reader likes it, they will buy more in your series. While all this seems fine, great, and dandy—and I want to add it is with this strategy that those same bestselling authors will propagandize how they sold those truckloads of ebooks—I think there is an element missing and all one had to do is look at your own ebook collection to figure out what that is.
There are three authors who, collectively, put out a weekly podcast that is not only entertaining, it is very informative when it comes to indie publishing. They have a dozen or so series of books, where in all of them they have the first book set at permanent free status. I’ve “bought” all of these free ebooks because, quite frankly, I used to be a whore for the free. Nowadays, I’m not so much. A perfect example is when I go looking for a book to read—and my Amazon cloud has several hundred ebooks to choose from—do I pick the free book or do I pick something I paid a little coin for, even if it’s $.99? I go with the one I paid money for. Why? Investment, my friend. There is no investment when you get it for free.
I am a devoted fan of the “Writing Excuses” podcast (no, this is not the podcast I mentioned earlier) and in one of their recent episodes they had a guest: Mette Ivie Harrison. I had never read anything by her and when I’ve listened to her on this podcast before, I thought she was one smart cookie and wanted to know what she had written. When I reviewed herAmazon author page I found that her least expensive ebook was $2.99. That’s smart. If there is a book I’m thinking of investing in and I’m unfamiliar with the author, I may get a sample of the ebook first. You can always go that route, but it is marked as SAMPLE on the ebook. That way, I know it’s not the entire ebook and I may still read it sooner than others.
I currently have four ebooks, with three listed at $.99 and my full-length thrillerBeholder’s Eye at $2.99. Oddly enough, guess which one I sell more of? It’sBeholder’s Eye.
Now, I’ve said I’m not a fan of the free, but that doesn’t mean I won’t buy something at a discount. I’m currently reading in the second book of the five-book collection of George R. R. Martin’sSong of Ice and Fire series that I purchased this past holiday season for $9.99. That is WHY too much I want to pay for a single book, but when I saw that I could get all five for that, I bought it. I’ve also purchased ebooks by Brandon Sanderson, Brian McClellan, Bradley Beaulieu, David Farland, and Alan Baxter (to name a few of my favorites) when they’ve ran discounts on their ebooks.
But somehow those “free” books keep sliding further and further down my list.
Having ebooks permanently free, to get readers interested in your series, may still be a viable way to go, but it’s not the only way. It all depends on your marketing strategy and what your goals are as a writer.