Steampunk Trilogy for sale Cheap!

BeyondTheRails

Beyond the Rails is a story with a strange beginning.  I had one of those friends who is present in your life like a comfortable old sweater, always there for the good times, and taking an immeasurable part in creating them.  He and I were both boardgamers, though he was much more hardcore than I was.  He regaled me on several occasions about a game called Dystopian Wars, a steampunk-themed war game that began as a portfolio of fleet actions between navies, and has since grown into something beyond the control of its originators.

The game came packed with extensive backstories on the various countries involved, and the first words in the Britannia section are, “After the conquest of Ireland…”  Well, my friend, being a good and proper Irishman, wasn’t going to let that pass unanswered, and he approached me with the germ of a writing project about a British journalist, one Mr. Shackleford Banks, who was hot on the trail of the real story behind the Irish campaign, and working to expose the dirty politicians who had directed it.  Banks would be having a rough time of it as he tried to track down clues while evading the attentions of the various British security services, foreign and domestic.

Then he got a promotion to a position that required a great deal of travel, off-hours work, and a number of other extracurricular activities, and for the next few years, we were barely able to work in a game every couple of months.  His project went by the wayside, but I was hooked on the punk.  Rather than commandeer his project, I moved it forty years in time and four thousand miles in space, and Beyond the Rails was born.  I didn’t set out to copy anything, though a number of readers and reviewers have noted its similarity to Firefly.  It is undeniable, and given my love of that particular series, hardly surprising, but they missed its connection to a much more obscure vehicle, Howard Hawks’ 1962 feature film, Hatari!  I was a child of a broken home, with absentee parents and bitter adults constantly at each others’ necks and mine, and at the age of 13 I saw in Hatari the family I never had.  I saw it fourteen times the week it was in my local theater, and to this day I own it and watch it a couple of times a year.

And the point of all this is that it was that world I was unconsciously trying to recreate in Beyond the Rails, a group of misfits and outcasts from the various worlds they should have occupied, coming together and forming a functional family in a backwater colony.  Facing the dangers, misfortunes, the greedy, the ignorant, and the just plain evil as they try to make their way in a harsh land, they are the family that the child I was always wanted.  It isn’t their adventures that make them special, nor the airship they live on, nor the country where they live.  It is the family they have created voluntarily and without intent that carries them through their trials.

Beyond the Rails carries a cumulative rating of 4.8 on Amazon and 4.6 on Goodreads; there are some readers out there who think I did a pretty fair job.  Now you can live the whole adventure so far for the total price of $2.97.  All three books are available now on Kindle for 99¢ each.  Get ’em while they’re hot!

View from the Blimp

… Or you can wait for them to be available free here on the website.  Regular readers will have observed a running conversation with friends over the last three installments about giving my books away, and I am I would say about 90% certain that that’s what I’m going to do.  Interestingly enough, the good folks who tried so hard to talk me out of it wound up talking me into it.  Every time someone offered a very good reason for me not to do it, I had to ponder their reasoning and try to refute it in order to assure myself that my own reasons were valid, and the more I thought about it, the more valid my reasons appeared.

To recap, I’m not making any great amount of money selling books (although I did sell two books on the third; thank you, someone!), so it seems I should at least have some readers.  I post to this blog every three days, and when I do, I link to it on my Facebook page plus several groups and websites, and that publicity brings in 15 – 40 visits per day, which I’m sure is more than my Amazon listings get in a month.  I will still publish through CreateSpace, which may generate the odd sale here and there, but more importantly will give me access to physical books that I can buy for the grandkids and give as gifts to friends, and in the meantime, anyone who pops in to my blog will be able to read my portfolio in its entirety.  I can’t find a single problem with that.

I’m not going to rush in headlong, but once I’m sure this is what I want to do, I will begin posting ALL of my work, all of it, to the tabs at the top of the page.  That won’t be done overnight, but will be an ongoing process, and eventually you’ll be able to read my thoughts and plans down here, and all my books and stories up there .  What do you think?

In Other News . . .

Cannon Publishing has put out a call for submissions in six different anthologies.  This link will take you to their flyer.  They are asking for military-themed stories, sci-fi military, and fantasy.  They don’t specify length in the flyer, but they do ask you to e-mail them your ideas and interests, so if you have a story in you that’s looking for an outlet, this could be a big opportunity.  Don’t let it pass you by!

This month, the e-book retailer Smashwords is running their annual Summer/Winter sale, which runs from July 1 through July 31.  Why summer/winter?  That’s because it’s summer here in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere!  All of Hadrosaur Productions’ titles published at Smashwords will be on sale for 50% off their retail price.  All you have to do is enter the code SSW50 at checkout.  Smashwords presents their ebooks in a variety of formats including mobi (which work on Kindles), epub (which work on Nooks), and PDF (which work on just about anything).  https://www.smashwords.com/books

Interesting Reads . . .

IVillain

I Villain by Marcus V. Calvert.  “My current alias is Benjamin Cly.  Just over 10 years ago, I retired from my life of violence and became a fixer – a middleman of sorts.  Clients brought me their problems.  My talented contractors ‘resolved’ them.  As long as the money was right, I worked every side of the law and didn’t think twice about it.  Until one of my biggest clients tried to set me up.  Then things went sideways.  I lost my growing criminal empire at the drop of a hat.  A lot of people started trying to kill me.  I should’ve run away and hid in some distant corner of the world.  But that’s not my style.  I don’t run.  I thrive.  And in a corrupt metropolis like Pillar City, I’ll just start a new empire.  But I can’t be a fixer again.  Nor do I want to be a mobster – this town has plenty of those.  No, I’m going to do the last thing anyone would ever expect a ‘harmless’ guy like me to do:  Become a crimefighter.  Seeing as I can steal super powers with a touch, it might be fun . . .  $3.00 on Kindle.

DarkVoyage

Dark Voyage by Helen Susan Swift.  In 1914, fear and paranoia rule the high seas.  Iain Cosgrove is newly married to Jennifer Manson, daughter of a wealthy Scottish merchant.  But when Iain leaves for a research trip aboard the Lady Balgay, last of Dundee’s once-grand sealing fleet, a mysterious chain of events is set in motion.  Fueled by rum and the eerie tales of the crew, they obsess over ancient superstitions, which Iain dismisses as simple lore…  until they reach the frigid Arctic seas.  After a string of tragic accidents, Iain begins to question his beliefs.  Then, the ship discovers two castaways – one of them a mysterious woman – and events take a sinister turn.  $3.99 on Kindle.

MoonIRevolt

Moon, I Revolt by Brian Barr.  July 1969, we watched the Apollo 11 blast off into space and land on the moon… but what if there was a second ship?  This is the classified story of the Freedom 8, and two of its passengers — siblings Jimmy and Hannah Wallace and their otherworldly experiences that have remained a mystery to this day.  99¢ on Kindle.

And that’s 30 for today.  Visit again next Wednesday when I’ll be featuring another talented friend.  Until then, read well, and write better!

The Quest for Original Fantasy

And what might “Original Fantasy” be, you ask?  Quite simply, fantastic stories of swordsmen and sorcerers, of mighty quests, of everyman heroes in search of the impossible without a hint of Tolkien.  Without a mention of dwarves, elves, or orcs to be seen anywhere, with no rhyming prophecies or anonymous kings living in exile as rough-edged woodsmen.  Just people, some ordinary, some perhaps a cut above, standing in stoic defiance of forces beyond their mortal ken.

Don’t in any way misunderstand me.  I yield to no one in my love of Tolkien and his epic Ring odyssey.  My future wife came equipped with a set of hardbound second editions back in 1975.  That was my first encounter, and I fell in love for life with the incredible world he created.  I read them cover-to-cover, then read them aloud to her, then read them again to our children.  I sat enthralled through every treatment, from the Rankin-Bass television specials through Ralph Bakshi’s bizarre vision to Peter Jackson’s instant classic trilogy, and have never disliked any version.  I actually have an incomplete novel (no current plans to revisit it) resplendent with dwarves, elves, and though not orcs, villainous versions of all three of the others.  But in this case, we’re talking about the alternative.

StoneSeekersFront

Alternatives exist, to be sure, and I’m here to offer one.  The Stone Seekers is the story of a colony of outcasts in a hostile land who are robbed of an artifact that literally allows them to live around the bay they precariously cling to.  They know who took it and they know where to find them, but if every man, woman, and child took up arms and marched on the thieves, they haven’t the power to overcome them.  So they select two champions, a man and a woman with very complementary skills, to venture into the very jaws of evil and recover by stealth what cannot be taken by force.

This is my longest work to date, 369 pages of action-packed adventure, and like all of my work, it is for sale on Kindle for 99¢.

View from the Blimp

Well, last Friday I somewhat prematurely suggested that I might consider ending my writing career.  The comments section went insane, generating a number of responses unlikely to be approached again until I’m on a best-seller list somewhere, and I feel another word or two might be in order.  If I hang up my quill, and that is a big if, it won’t be until months after The Darklighters is completed, and only then if certain very precise conditions are met.  I am flattered by the show of support, but it’s far too early to worry about this now.  If it looks like it may be coming to pass, I’ll invite commentary probably after Christmas, but there’s far too much track between here and there to be worrying about that particular switch at this point.

But now that I think about it, here’s a little idea that just came to me.  I clearly stated in Friday’s post that it isn’t about the money, I just want to be read, and that is absolutely true.  How would it play if I just forget about all this publishing and marketing nonsense, and put all my work up on this site for free?  Find a title you like, click the tab, and read.  I could continue to blog, and promote my writing friends, and all that stress and hassle would evaporate into thin air.  This would become your one-stop shop for all things Tyler.  What do you think?

Finally, I’ve read a most interesting novella over the last couple of days.  It’s called Being Joe, and with a title like that, you might get the idea that it’s akin to Angela’s Ashes and the like.  If you’ve been riding the blimp long enough to know me, though, you know that that’s as far from my reading style as it gets.  I posted a review on my other blog, Jack’s Hideout, and some material about its author as well.  Slip on over and take a different kind of ride!

In Other News…

KarenSecretProject

Karen J. Carlisle, the talented author responsible for the Viola Stewart series, the Department of Curiosities, and Aunt Enid has announced an upcoming Secret Project.  This is the clue, and the release is imminent, so check in at Karen J. Carlisle and get ready to party!  While you’re there you can sign up for her newsletter, Tea and Tidings, and don’t miss N.O.A. Rawle’s review of Aunt Enid, either; it’s really worth a read… the book and the blog!

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A new anthology has been announced for the fantasy genre.  Short stories are being accepted at horrortree.com.  Don’t let the name throw you off, they aren’t after horror in this one, but fantasy works of 3- to 6,000 words with a generally uplifting theme.  The submission deadline is November 1st, and the pay for accepted stories is $300 plus royalties.  All the particulars are available at the link above, so sharpen your pencils and put on your wizard hats!

unlocking-the-magic

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Over at the website Peak Story Reviews, our friend B.K. Bass is running a monthly feature in which he explains a sub-genre or niche style, then offers up an original story written in that style.  This month he looks at Magepunk, a style combining technology and magic, and thrills readers with Crimson Storm, a tale of pirates and airships and things…

Magepunk

Interesting Reads

WarsEnd

War’s End: The Storm by Christine Shuck.  “What was left in the wreckage of the world that was?  We were.  And this is our story, my story, and the story of us all.” – Jess’s Journal.  In the day after tomorrow, after the socioeconomic collapse of the United States, one young girl fights for survival.  Violently ripped from her family, abused and now pregnant, Jess must somehow survive while fleeing those who pursue her.  Jess must come to peace with the life growing inside her as she struggles to return home.  $3.99 on Kindle.

HauntingOfSwamp

The Haunting of the Hockomock Swamp by H.E. Kline.  “Radiating from the ground, she sensed the Indians’ spirits and great suffering.”  Against the beautiful backdrop of the largest swamp in Southeastern Massachusetts, a captivating tale of mystery, magic, and murder that will keep you on the edge of your seat – heart pounding and looking over your shoulder – as you read The Haunting of Hockomock Swamp!  Based on local legend, this tale is not for the faint of heart, but scared or not, you’ll love the thrills and chills that accompany this paranormal romance.  Hordes of young children suffering the unthinkable.  A bewildering investigation.  Janie Williams is living her dream as a newbie investigative reporter until she finds herself intrigued by a three-century old Native American shapeshifter who is a terror to behold and is wreaking havoc.  As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, she falls head over heels with her crazy sexy hot heart-of-gold mentor Alan Needle.  But what Janie could never imagine is that her efforts to solve this mystery will uncover the deepest betrayal, blood, and tragedy America has ever seen.  99¢ on Kindle.

AuntNorasCleaning

Aunt Nora’s Cleaning Service by Linda M. Scott.  Aunt Nora had a beautiful teenage daughter, full of life, who was raped and murdered.  After the death of her daughter she tried to find closure by joining support groups, but nothing seemed to fill that void or ease the pain that she was feeling.  One day she decided to orchestrate her own support group, one that had nothing to do with standing up and sharing feelings.  Instead her group of like-minded individuals believed in one result for rapist and pedophiles and one result only: DEATH.  $2.99 on Kindle.

And that’s 30 for this issue.  Join me Thursday for the promised look at using spreadsheets to track your plots.  Until then, read well, and write better!

Come Fly with Me!

Today it is my pleasure to make the official announcement that the Kindle versions of my entire catalog are now, and will permanently remain on sale for 99¢ each.  This will include all future works, of which several are under consideration, and one is making good headway.  The Beyond the Rails trilogy (so far; more is planned!) is a series of steampunk novellas set in colonial Kenya in the 1880s.  One reviewer described it as “Jules Verne meets Firefly.”  The Stone Seekers is a cozy sword and sorcery story that hasn’t received much attention yet, but has been praised by those who have read it as being “epic fantasy without a hint of Tolkien.”  All are available now and forever on Amazon for 99¢ each.  I also have a short story in Den of Antiquity, a wonderful anthology of steampunk goodness that still sells for $2.99.  I recommend it as a primer for readers curious about steampunk, as it contains a dozen stories from the far-ranging pens of innovative writers in the genre.  My contribution, Brass & Coal, is offered as a free sample among the tabs above; the rest you’ll have to pay for, and I highly recommend it!

And what is the philosophy behind this price reduction?  It’s simple.  I don’t have many sales, and that’s a shame, because I’m good.  Immodest, you say?  Maybe, but it’s true, and so are most of my writing acquaintances.  I once harbored that nebulous dream of all writers, that I would become rich and famous while working in the middle of the night in my robe and slippers.  I gave that up years ago, decades!  We now live in a world where everything becomes more expensive by the day, and I want to say to you, “Here is a product where you can spend a dollar, and get many times that dollar’s worth of entertainment value.”  I’m not getting rich from writing books, and I’ve long-since come to terms with the notion that I never will.  Let me see if I can at least become widely-read.  Free samples of all my works are in the tabs above, so check out one or two, and see whether you think that dollar might buy you an enjoyable ride.

Allow me to continue this train of though by commenting on a trend I’ve observed.  This was first placed on my radar by fellow indie C.W. Hawes, who tends to be deep around the insights, and is very much worth adding to your reading list.  The subject is the creeping up of book prices on Kindle.  As C.W. points out, e-books used to range from 99¢ to $2.99, which is reasonable.  As a Kindle author, I know that $2.99 pays a reasonable royalty to the author, and 99¢, while the royalty is lower, will generally sell  more books.  I also know that there are no truckloads of paper to buy, no 55-gallon drums of ink.  There is no requirement for enough power to light up Chicago to run printing presses and binding machines.  There is no postage to be paid to deliver heavy books.  The “book” exists as an electronic file.  When a customer orders that book, a copy of that file is sent to a reading device that translates the ones and zeros into a human language on a screen.  That’s it.

So, what’s driving these price increases?  Well, let’s look at the process.  When a Kindle book is sold, Amazon.com keeps a portion of the price to pay workers, maintain infrastructure, and earn a profit, which is completely reasonable.  It’s how business works.  The remainder after those charges goes to the author as a royalty.  As a Kindle author, I post a formatted file which is, in essence, my book.  After I’ve set the cover art, the typeface, and all that, I am shown the pricing screen.  It shows a minimum price, usually 99¢, a recommended price, usually $2.99, and there is a blank where I fill in the price I want to charge.  C.W. pointed out that e-books are often selling for $3.99 or $4.99 these days.  I saw one the other day for $11.00.  There is no inflation in e-books, or if there is, it’s measured in fractions of pennies, so what is the mechanism that keeps these prices rising?

I have no idea.  I am a Kindle author, affected, I assume by the same market forces as all the others, and have observed nothing that warrants a continuum of ever-escalating prices.  What have the others seen that I haven’t?  I have no idea, nor any intention of telling them how to run their business; all I can do is run mine.  What I am going to do is to make two separate but related pledges:

First, as an author, I will never sell an e-book whose price I control for more than 99¢ (or the minimum price, should Kindle raise it).

Second, as a reader, I will never pay more than $3.00 for an e-book.

Furthermore, that’s $3.00 for a full-size book, as I must point out here that, given the nature of e-publishing, it is quite possible to publish a novella or even a short story as a stand-alone work, and put any price you want on it.  Bottom line, if you’re going to price your e-book at $3.99, $4.99, or $11.00, don’t look for me to read it.  I urge you to consider adopting my reader’s pledge in your own life, and to discuss it with your reading friends, because if we continue to reward this behavior, it’s only going to get worse.  ‘Nuff said!  On with the show…

Interesting Reads

SciFiGenres

Author B.K. Bass has begun a series on Sci-Fi Genres, their history and development into all the wonderful and varied styles and formats we enjoy today.  Definitely worth a look!

TalesFromForest

Tales from the Forest by Johanna Sarah Aldridge.  The Forest Realm is a magical world within our own.  You cannot see it, nor can you hear it, and only very few might be able to feel it.  The realm feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, and protects the hunted… so long as their hearts are pure.  Recently orphaned, two heartbroken brothers are at risk of separation by the government…  A black Labrador leads a colony of rabbits away from danger…  A destitute family of rats seek a new life away from the pollution of the big city…  All have been rescued by the realm of magic, and their lives are truly about to change.  Come and join us in The Forest where magic thrives, adventures are rife, and friendships last forever.  £5.99 on Amazon UK.

StoriesLastSafePort

Stories from the Last Safe Port by John and Carine Freeman.  Can you tell much of a story in just 101 words?  Each of the stories in this collection does just that:  We find out why the Elves really left, follow the pranks of a little girl stranded on the last Moonbase, learn why magic mirrors should beware Snow White, and a lot more.  It’s fiction-as-tapas and, yes, there’s a slightly strange seafood dish (Cthulhu gets lonely don’t you know).  There are a hundred of these tiny tales inside, and if you don’t like one… well, hey, it’s cost you less than a minute of your time.  So why not take a look?  Between neurotic angels, giant slugs, drug dealing fairies, and all the rest we’re sure you’ll find something here to entertain you…  99¢ on Kindle.

CherylLawson

Like most authors, Tom Johnson maintains a blog, and his subject on this outing is a promotion of the work of one of his own favorite writers, Canadian Cheryl Lawson [left], author of We Are Mars, which looks to be a hard sci-fi work.  Whether you’re into that or not, be sure to check out his blog, Pulp Den, because he does a lot of this sort of promoting across genres, and there are some excellent reads waiting to be discovered there.

And that’s 30 for today.  I’ll see you Friday with a featured blog headlining another edition of Blimprider Times.  Until then, read well, and write better!