Saturday, January 31, 2015

A proud parent!

I've been watching the numbers over the past few months for Guest of Honor trickle upward.  Of course, it's free, but ever since I changed the cover, free sales of Guest of Honor has skyrocketed.
Now, if you want some raw numbers to go along with it, as of this morning, I've had 1,245 downloads in the US market, 300 in the UK, and 21 in the India market.  The numbers below are only for the US Kindle store.  The numbers in the UK and India market rank even better.

  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,587 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
      No, I'm not going to go around declaring myself a bestselling author as I am ranked fairly well on the Kindle Short Reads categories, but I do want to share what company I'm in the space with.

      Under Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense:
      Free Fall: A Prelude to Hidden Order...
      Kindle Edition
      Virtually Scared To Death (Julia Blak...
      Kindle Edition
      Guest Of Honor: A Novelette
      Kindle Edition
      I am a proud parent, indeed!

      Friday, January 30, 2015

      Let the edits begin / Happenings In The Outhouse 30-Jan-2015

      As of Tuesday morning this week, Straight Razor is complete.  The first draft, anyway.  It is just shy of 60,000 words.

      Now, let the editing begin.

      I don't, however, have to start at the beginning.  In the process of writing the first draft, I'm nearly halfway done with the first round of edits already.  To recap: as I have a full-time job and unable to bring my laptop with me at work--it's a bit immobile at the moment, which is a long story in and of itself.  The Cliff's Notes version can be summed up as I'm too cheap to buy a new one.  Anyway, in the mornings, I write the new stuff.  New words to the first draft.  At work, I work on past chapters, editing them.  Now, with the first draft done, I can on the edits fully.

      So far, it seems to have worked out well.  For me, at least.  It may not work for you.

      Changes.  The world is full of changes.  As the world changes, as our lives change, we must adapt and overcome.

      Wednesday, January 28, 2015

      Get your Netflix fix: Criminal Minds - why we love it vs. the "other show"



      Honestly, the truth is in the numbers on this one.  The original show Criminal Minds seems to be far superior to the Suspect Behavior spin-off.

      Why, you might ask?  For crying out loud, it's even got Forest Whitaker in it.  Sorry, my friends, not even he can pull this one out of the primal ooze.

      I think it can be summed up by what Janeane Garofalo said near the end of episode seven, titled "Jane."  In the episode, a number of women went missing.  Women no one seemed to care about.  Janeane's character told Whitaker's character (see, I can't even remember their names) that the In Case Of Emergency contact on her employment records is blank, and if she ever went missing who would miss her.

      Bingo!  From minute one, we did not care of any of the characters in Suspect Behavior.  In the original series, we loved them all.  They were like family.  In the other show, they were distant and it was too plot-driven.  There was no human interest in their personal lives.

      And that, my friends, is why Criminal Minds wins with a TKO!  We care about Morgan and Reid, Prentiss and Penelope, Hotch and Gideon, and even the lovely J.J.  We know about their personal lives and they work as a team.

      So, be sure to catch all 9 season of Criminal Minds on Netflix.  The one and only season of Suspect Behavior is on Netflix too.  If you care to comment, please do so below.

      Friday, January 23, 2015

      The fallacy of ebook pricing / Happenings In The Outhouse 23-Jan-2015

      Over the past few months, I have been conducting a . . . well, unofficial survey.  I've spoken with a number of ebook readers (mainly Kindle with a few Nook sprinkled in) and inquired how they go about finding books to read.  Many said the covers, the descriptions, and even if it's an author they've read before.

      There are several articles over the past year or more concerning ebook pricing.  "Ebooks are too high."  "Cheap ebooks are the way of the future."  "If a book isn't free, it's not worth it."  And so on.

      Here's what I found with my survey.

      Not a single person I met was concerned about the price.  Not one.  They're readers.  One even commented that because of their reading habit, it equalled the amount they paid in cigarettes in a month and quickly decided one had to go.

      (Goodbye cigarettes)

      For all the fellow indie authors out there, here's a simple message: ebook pricing may not be a big a deal as you think.  These people I talked with didn't care if an ebook was free or $.99 or even $12.99.  They loved reading and would pay to do so.

      So let's entertain them.  Sure, we do have to factor in some thoughts on pricing.  I won't argue there.  In late November, I looked at the various wedding planning ebooks that were in the same category as my first ebook Debt-Free I Do: 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.  Many of them were priced $2.99 and above.  Mine was $.99.  It sold a few a month.

      Then I rose the price to $2.99.  It still sells about the same, but with a much higher royalty.  Go figure.

      Now, for me personally as a reader, I do focus on price.  I love free, of course.  And $2.99 is really all I can do because of my budget.  Occasionally, if it's an author I really like, I will pay a little more.  But not very often.

      I am so close to the end of Straight Razor I can taste it.  I am around the 56,000 word mark.  Editing will add more to it to raise the word count closer to 70,000, but right now I only have a few thousand more words to write on the first draft.  I told myself at the beginning of this month that I'd love to finish by the end.

      It seems that goal is coming true.

      What's next, you might ask?

      As Paul Sheldon, the fictional author in Stephen King's Misery would say, "You'll have to wait."

      But not too long, my friends.

      Wednesday, January 21, 2015

      "Garcia, you're on speaker." Get your Netflix fix for Criminal Mind's Penelope Garcia.

      I like practically all of the characters on "Criminal Minds", however one of my favorite two is the quirky, electronics-saavy Penelope Garcia--played by Kirsten Vangsness.

      Garcia is like the Wizard of Oz, in her own special way.  She's the woman behind the curtain, with her fingers flying across the keyboard and a ton of information to be had at her fingertips.

      Early on in the series, whenever anyone would call her--she was typically back at the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) headquarters while the team was out in the field--it was usually Special Agent Derek Morgan and she would say something odd and unprofessional if you didn't quite know her.  Morgan, when he did call her, would call her nicknames like Sweetness or Baby Girl, which she completely ate up.

      Over time, whenever they would call and put her on speaker for other agencies to hear, they would say, "Garcia, you're on speaker."  This was her clue to speak more professionally.

      Throughout the seasons, she has fallen in love, been asked for her hand in marriage, been shot, and has had friends pass out of her life.  She loves anything that has to do with technology and was even recruited by the FBI due to her "hacking" abilities.

      So get your Netflix fix by watching "Criminal Mind" and Penelope Garcia.  Her loving wit will make your smile and laugh every time.

      Saturday, January 17, 2015

      Beginning The Day With God by E. I. Glass

      A friend of mine--also a fellow member of our local writers' group--has just published a book.

      Beginning The Day With God, is a new 30-day devotional ebook available now on Amazon's Kindle Store by E. I. Glass.

      This devotional ebook contains 30 days of inspirational tales from her life along with a Biblical Scripture. Each devotion is designed to be read in just a few minutes, starting each day out on the right foot with God.

      If you crave devotionals, be sure to pick up Beginning The Day With God, by E. I. Glass.

      I highly recommend it.

      Friday, January 16, 2015

      Nearing the finish line / Happenings In The Outhouse 16-Jan-2015

      Yesterday morning, Straight Razor, the second novel in the Central Division Series, crossed the 50K word mark.

      Story-wise, it is nearing the end.  I still have the climactic finale to write, then tie up some loose ends.  Then what will I do?

      Edit, of course.  I don't dare upload it for pre-orders just yet, because the furthest I can do that is 90 days.  It's possible it could be completed by then, but just in case . . .

      I got some news this past week that a friend of mine, who has also served as one of my faithful beta readers, has been cancer free for a year.  The friend also requested some more stories to read, so I will be sending off my latest--the ones they had not read yet.

      Another friend of mine, a member of my writers' group, has also published her first ebook on the Kindle.  Her name is E. I. Glass.  Her daily devotional guide is called Beginning the Day With God.  All she needs to do, at this point, is upload the new cover and I will provide a link to it.  It's an incredible ebook, with a lot of thoughtful stories from her life along with a Biblical Scripture passage.  This is the first of many in this series of devotionals, so be sure to pick this first one up.

      This also brings up another point.  Writing may be hard, and for many who have reasonable technical skills, the publishing part on Amazon's Kindle Store (or on Smashwords, KoboBooks, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and even on Google Play) can be daunting.  I assisted E. I. Glass with the upload process, which she stated repeatedly was overwhelming.  I agree.  It is.  But I will bet that before too long, she'll be a pro and will navigate the indie publishing world with ease.

      Monday, January 12, 2015

      Get your Netflix fix: Tom Clancy and Jack Ryan (review of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit)

      I grew up knowing one man as the face of Jack Ryan: Harrison Ford.  Yeah, I know Alec Baldwin was in The Hunt For Red October, but it was only one movie and, even though he did a good job, Harrison Ford is the one I think of.

      I was a little taken aback at the opening scene of the 2014 movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, for he started down the path towards becoming a CIA analyst based on the attacks of 9/11.  However, I then looked at it through the lens of a new generation (in much cases, it's like James Bond--Roger Moore is the one I think about for that cinematic character, even though several more have played the role), and came to accept the concept.

      Chris Pine did a fantastic job of playing the lead role, and both Kevin Costner and Kenneth Brannagh filled the rest of the cast nicely--oh, and Keira Knightly, as Jack Ryan's future bride-to-be, was superb.  Their courtship and her discovery of what he really was made for a fantastic plot thread.

      The movie had a great blend of rapid action, sinister suspense, and slower scenes that allowed one to take a breather.  I certainly hope they continue on with sequels.

      Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit isn't the only Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan movie currently on Netflix.  Of course, Netflix is known for taking movies in and out of their streaming movie list, so currently there are:

      The Hunt for Red October

      The Sum of All Fears

      Clear and Present Danger

      Friday, January 9, 2015

      Happenings In The Outhouse 09-Jan-2015 / On the home stretch for "Straight Razor"

      2015 is looking to be a good year so far.

      I am currently around the 47,000 word mark for Straight Razor, the second novel in the Central Division Series.  This one focuses more on Simon Templeton, an investigator with the Minneapolis PD's Violent Crime Unit and best friend to the protagonist in Beholder's Eye, VCU Investigator Kolin Raynes.

      Straight Razor has been a bit more difficult to write, as I am combining two sets of murder investigations in one novel.  It's going well, and I am in the final stretch.  I hope to crank out another 20,000-25,000 words before the middle of next month.

      Then, it's off to the editing board.

      It's not all roses and chocolate though.  I've been having troubles with the MyBookTable plugin on my Wordpress site: Mark S. R.  I've had a new cover for Guest of Honor, and for some reason it's not letting me update it.  If you have any ideas, please feel free to contact me at

      If it's successful, I will send you a copy of any of my ebooks for free, as a token of appreciation.

      Speaking of Guest of Honor, I have been very pleased with its sales lately--albeit it is still listed as free.  I have sold a ton on Amazon, Amazon-India, iBooks, and Kobo.  I'm crossing my fingers that it translates into sales of my other ebooks as well as increased numbers of subscriptions.

      Monday, January 5, 2015

      Get your Netflix fix: serial killers, as far as the eye can see

      I must say, if you love serial killer TV shows, movies, and documentaries, Netflix has got your fix on the serial killer bug.

      Of course, we have to start with TV shows, and with that: Criminal Minds, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, Bones, Dexter, The Killing, and The Following.  Then, we have a variety of documentaries: Carl Panzram, The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, Serial Killer Culture, CNN's Crimes of the Century, Catching Killers, and Forensic Files Collection.

      Then, of course, there are movies.  Silence of the Lambs, Along Came a Spider, Zodiac, and Se7en.

      My personal favorites have been the documentaries by John Borowski: Carl Panzram and H. H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer.  The movies listed above are also favorites, along with the TV shows Criminal Minds (the original series, not the spin-off--that's an entire blog post where I'll dedicate for that) Dexter, and The Killing.

      There are also various movies on individual serial killers Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer, Henry Lee Lucas, Richard Ramirez, the Hillside Stranglers, Richard Speck, Ted Bundy, David "The Son of Sam" Berkowitz, and Aileen Wuornos.  Just to name a few.

      So, as you can see, there is much to choose from if you have an itch for serial killers and you have Netflix.

      Friday, January 2, 2015

      Outlining really does work (honestly) / Happenings In The Outhouse

      If you've read my blog at any length, you know I'm not a real fan of outlining.  I am what is called a pantser--AKA writing off the seat of my pants.

      Now, I can't say I never outline.  In fact, even the most die-hard of pantser writers outline some, even if it's brief drabs in their mind.  When I get an idea for a story, I describe it as Morse Code.  The dots are places where I feel the story is going and the dashes are scenes I've thought about.  Put them together and ta-da!


      A story is born . . .

      Earlier this week, at work, I decided to outline the rest of Straight Razor, the second novel in the Central Division Series.  I'm currently 45,000 words into it and going strong.  I figure another 25,000 words should about do it.

      I spent both breaks and lunch outlining the rest of the story.  Now, all I have to do is sit down and write.