Monday, June 9, 2014

Fantastic FREE Children's Book Giveaway: June 9th - June 13th, 2014!

The free titles for this promotion are:
  1. Four Fantastic Bedtime Stories for Children 3-6
  2. Alphabet All-Stars Animal Pack Vol. 1 (beginning 6/11/14)
  3. The Sweetest Stalk (FREE on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, Versent, Inktera, and Lulu!)
Download them all before they return to full price!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fantastic FREE Children's Book Giveaway: April 30th - May 4th, 2014!

This is my biggest children's book giveaway in quite some time, and there's something for everyone. My flagship title My Little Pet Dragon has been upgraded to HD and includes additional bonus material that pushes it to a whole new level, especially the sneak preview of Secret Agent Disco Dancer. I've also included foreign translations of this title just in case you feel more comfortable reading it in another language.

The free titles for this promotion are:
  1. My Little Pet Dragon
  2. Mijn Kleine Huisdraak: Special Bilingual Edition (English & Dutch)
  3. Mi Mascota El Dragoncito (Spanish Edition)
  4. Alphabet All-Stars: Colorful Cards (5/1/14 - 5/5/14)
  5. The Sweetest Stalk (FREE on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, Versent, Inktera, and Lulu!)
Download them all before they return to full price!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Awesome FREE Children's Book Giveaway: April 6th - 10th!

It's been awhile since I've done a free children's book giveaway, so to kick things off, I'm giving away three books from April 6th - 10th. All titles are available on Amazon only unless otherwise specified.

The free titles are:
  1. Alphabet All-Stars
  2. Un Pequeño Libro Sobre Ti
  3. The Sweetest Stalk (FREE on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, Versent, Inktera, and Lulu!)
Download them all before they return to full price!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Alphabet All-Stars: Animal Flashcards is now available on Amazon

Now Available on Amazon!
Check out the flashcards that all of the animals are talking about! 36 colorful illustrations in all.

Intended for children 2-6. Approximately 40 pages. Descriptions of my other popular children's books are included after the main feature (an additional 5 pages).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Eggtastic is now available for just 99 cents!

Exclusively on Amazon!
Spring is just around the corner and it's time to see what the Easter Bunny is up to. This year he's enlisted some help, and it's an odd choice at that. What is that clever rabbit up to and what is he really planning? Find out in this humorous picture book by the author of My Little Pet Dragon and My Crazy Pet Frog.

Intended for children ages 3 and up. Approximately 40 pages in all. Descriptions of my other popular children's books are included after the main feature (an additional 5 pages).

This book is an Amazon exclusive.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Who Wants To Be A Robot?

Now Available Exclusively on Amazon!
The off-world planet of Infinim, which promises a heavenly and eternal existence for its society of robots, is now taking applications. Although one of its applicants is older and not quite as quick as he used to be, does he have what it takes to be accepted? Figure out who he is before the story's end in this clever children's book.

Intended for ages 3 and up. Over 50 pages in all. Descriptions of my other popular children's books are included after the main feature (an additional 5 pages).

Sunday, March 9, 2014

February Eight Hour Challenge Results

February was the first full month of restarting the Eight Hour Fiction Challenge, a call to arms for all able authors that originated on Joe Konrath's blog. A couple of us informally took the challenge in January, and posted the results here.

I hope you'll enjoy what authors came up this month. Hopefully we'll have a better turnout in March

Title: The Most Wonderful Day
Author: Scott Gordon
Genre: Humor
Length: 1,250 words
Completion Time: 4 hours


Martin Freeman finally took the plunge. He quit his day job to become a full time author and isn't looking back. Brimming with confidence, he's concerned how his wife Greta will take the news. Although being your own boss is liberating, it's also quite scary. If things don't work out, there's no one else to blame but him, a point Greta will most certainly remind him.

But he'll make it work. He's sure of it.

It's just a matter of convincing his wife…


“Today is the most wonderful day in the world.” Martin Freeman stepped inside his humble home and kissed his wife Greta.

“And why is that, dear?” She scanned over the Food Section of the Washington Post and turned the page.

“Because I’m free to write whatever I want.” He slung his jacket over a chair and pulled it next to her.

“I thought you were already free to write whatever you want.” Greta did not look up. “That’s why you decided not to waste your time submitting your manuscript to traditional publishers and work independently.”

“That’s true, but it’s so much more than that,” he beamed.

Suspicious, she put down the newspaper and looked him in the eye. “I know that look.” She bit her lip. “What did you do?”

About The Author

Scott Gordon is the author of several children's books, including My Little Pet Dragon, My Crazy Pet Frog, Pigtastic, A Little Book About You, A Pocketful of Dinosaurs, Ninja Robot Repairmen and If I Were A Robot. Currently he is hard at work on multiple projects: Secret Agent Disco Dancer, Braedyn Bunny and the Missing Eggs, Baby Bee, Aveline & the Great Pumpkin Bash and more!

Date(s) Free

March 12-16 on Amazon.

Where To Find It


Title: La Flor Más Hermosa
Author: Scott Gordon (author), Ligia Gordon (translator)
Genre: Children's Book/Girls
Length: 500 words or more (picture book)
Completion Time: 3-4 hours book creation and publication, 5-6 hours translation

Description (Spanish Language)

La búsqueda para encontrar la más bella flor, lleva a una madre a descubrir el bien más preciado de todos. Con obras de arte deslumbrantes en cada página, esta es una lectura obligada para todas las madres e hijas por igual. Aproximadamente 40 páginas.

Descripciones de mis otros libros populares para niños se incluyen al final (un adicional de 5 páginas).

Where to Find It:


Note: This following title was written back in August 2013, but was too late to qualify for Joe Konrath's original challenge. Since February was a light month for entries, I decided to include it here. Enjoy!

Title: Something Under the Sea is Drooling: A Halvin and Cobbs Adventure
Author: Ken Naga
Genre: Science Fiction/Comedy
Length: 6,011 words
Completion time: 7 hours, 56 minutes


Halvin an' Cobbs vs. Cthulhu!

Halvin "Hal" Ferguson spent his childhood day-dreaming, but even in his wildest imaginings, he never thought he would find himself thrust onto the ragged edge of reality.

Hal's fantastic and unrestrained imagination placed him at the head of a motley but mighty band of beings known as the Mindknaves who tirelessly battle against the forces from Beyond.

But now, the Mindknaves are all but gone. They cannot help him. Cthulhu made sure of that.

Cthulhu - a rancorous and insanely-powerful psyche-shredding force from Beyond has captured Hal's Mom and Dad. Hal knows Cthulhu's plan. The monstrous being of ancient evil plans to force Hal to give up the source of his power - his imagos - and Hal knows that Cthulhu will do anything to get it.

So why is Hal, accompanied by his ever-faithful friend and guardian, the talisman-toy lion Cobbs, diving straight into the reality-warping citadel-city of R'lyeth--straight for Cthulhu's home?

Because Hal knows something that Cthulhu doesn't...or at least he hopes he does.

About The Author

I love to write. I try to write everyday, but I sometimes fail. Regardless, every time I write I try to write better than I did the last time. I think that makes me a writer. I hope my writing pleases those who read it.

I am terribly afraid of snakes.

Additional Comments

See my original blog post:

Where You Can Find It


Title: The Crappiest Author
Author: WTF Man
Genre: Humor
Length: 5,400 words
Completion Time: 22 hours


Borges Svelt set a goal; a goal that he has no hope of achieving: writing 100,000 words in one day. At first he takes baby steps, averaging 25,000 words per day before encountering his first obstacle. With a little ingenuity, can the eccentric author conquer his dream? Or is he totally out of his league?

About The Author

Where You Can Find It


Barnes & Noble:



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Eight Hour Fiction Challenge - February 2014

Back in August 2013, bestselling author Joe Konrath issued a challenge to see if his readership could write, edit and publish a work of fiction in under eight hours. This included everything, from the initial concept to cover design. In the end, 140 participants successfully posted their works, myself included, and got recognition in Konrath’s epic blog post.

Afterwards, there was no talk about revisiting the challenge, which disappointed many of us. Sure, classics like Bottling Farts weren't up for any literary awards, but they were fun to produce and entertaining in their own right. The overall quality was better than expected, which made it all the more puzzling why no one was pushing for a second Eight Hour Fiction Challenge.

After lengthy deliberation with members of Kindleboards, the rules were finalized and a target date was set for February 2014.

Here are the official rules:


To write, edit and publish a work of fiction in eight hours or less. The author is responsible for all aspects of the creative process, including cover creation (whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it) and posting it to at least one major e-book vendor (typically Amazon).


1. Everyone is welcome to participate in the challenge.

2. You may take the challenge as often as you like.

3. You are free to write whatever you wish. No work will be excluded because of its subject matter or genre.

4. The hours worked do not have to be consecutive.

5. Although writers are encouraged to attempt the challenge in eight hours or less, they may use up to 24 hours to ensure quality and completion of their work.

6. E-mail me the following details to by 11:59 p.m., February 28th, 2014 (early submissions help tremendously):

  • Book Title
  • Author Name
  • Genre
  • Total Words
  • Completion time (This is used to determine the 8/12/24 hour categories.)
  • Book Cover (Please limit this to 300 pixels in width.)
  • Description
  • Author Bio (No more than a paragraph or two.)
  • Date(s) free
  • Link(s) to your entry on Amazon (If it's not on Amazon, a link to one of the other major vendors will do. Affiliate links are accepted and encouraged.)
  • Comments (Optional. Tell us what you learned from the challenge, obstacles that you had to overcome, etc.)
All of this information will be added to a spreadsheet so that I can easily sort on genre, length, completion time, etc. I may put this information in a database in the future, but for now a spreadsheet will suffice.

Results will be posted on my personal blog the first Saturday following the end of the month. If you're looking to conserve your free days, that Sunday may be your best bet. In the future, I may give the Eight-Hour Fiction Challenge its own blog or website, but let's get through the first challenge first!

Additional blogs are welcome to include the results of the Eight-Hour Fiction Challenge. Just contact me and I'd be happy to share the source code (and most importantly, images) so that it can be easily posted on your website/blog and there isn't a duplication of effort.


Although I was still incorporating feedback for the official rollout in February, a few of us took the challenge anyways. (Once you’ve done it a couple times, it becomes quite addicting.) Here are the two submitted entries:

Title: The Iron Border
Author: Cora Buhlert
Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction
Length: 5,600 words
Completion Time: 11-12 hours


Ana has lived in the shadow of death all her life. For when she was six years old, a TV broadcast announced that an asteroid would hit the Earth twenty-two years later, extinguishing all life as we know it.

As Ana grew up, she put her faith in the worldwide lottery supposed to select the chosen ten thousand, the survivors of humanity who would escape the doomed planet in giant space arks.

But the lottery is not as fair and unbiased as Ana has been led to believe. And even her best efforts to turn herself into someone who would be useful aboard the great space arks do not bring Ana any closer to the gleaming shuttles that are being constructed behind the iron border only a few miles away…

About The Author

Cora Buhlert was born and bred in North Germany, where she still lives today – after time spent in London, Singapore, Rotterdam and Mississippi. Cora holds an MA degree in English from the University of Bremen and is currently working towards her PhD. Cora has been writing, since she was a teenager, and has published stories, articles and poetry in various international magazines. When she is not writing, she works as a translator and teacher. Visit her on the web at:

Read Cora's experience taking the Eight Hour Fiction Challenge.

Where To Get It Free

Use coupon code 8HOUR2 (valid until 02/11/2014).

(Discount expires on 02/11/2014.)

Additional Links


Title: The $500 Question
Author: Donald Rump
Genre: Fart Fiction/Humor
Length: 2,100 words
Completion Time: 6 hours


Perkins Deadwood can't believe his ears. His twelve-year-old son just asked for a pet fart for Christmas. And not just any fart, a Spanish fart. Hay caramba!

Can the used car salesman talk his son out of it? Or is this Christmas really going to stink?

For mature (and not so mature) audiences.

About The Author

When he's not writing about old, crusty farts, Donald Rump writes about actual farts--the stinkier the better. He is also an advocate of the No Fart Left Behind program and marriage equality for all gaseous entities great and small.

Mr. Rump lives in Southern Maryland with his pet fart Floofy.

Where To Get It Free

Use Coupon Code LW73P (valid until 2/22/2014).

Additional Links

Donald Rump Direct:
Barnes & Noble:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Crazy Writing Life - Day 12: The Christmas Spirit

When I don’t start with writing, it gets difficult to squeeze it in during the course of the day. But if I write when I first wake up, even if it’s only a few hundred words, it puts me into the right mindset, and I find myself being drawn back to it time and again. To a certain degree, the writing feels natural, and I don’t have to force myself to put down a few words.

If I don’t get started early, any number of things can happen. It’s easy to get distracted, make excuses, and seek out other forms of entertainment. And the longer that the day progresses, the more of a burden writing becomes. The distance that we put between a task and actually doing it alters our perception of it, making it appear more difficult than it actually is.

Oh, the mind games writers play!

To avoid this pitfall, clear your mind and jump right in. Not only does the act of writing shatter many of the preconceived notions that a writer has (it’s too hard or you don’t enough motivation to do it), you may find that it’s one of your most productive days. Don’t be quick to judge the day before it has unfolded. There’s plenty of time to get back on track and turn things around.

I remember one such day when I was working on my languishing project The Christmas Spirit. I got stuck on a transition where my main character spies a thief at the end of the hall going into an apartment. He follows him inside and, err…ugh! I had established a good rhythm up until this point before grinding to a halt. This was going to be more difficult than the previous 3,000 words and writing description isn’t my strong suit.

But a funny thing happened when I finally sat down and started writing. Although the first few sentences were difficult as expected, once I’d gotten past them, I was able to move the story further along than I imagined. Not only that, the writing was good and didn’t require tons of edits. By showing up to write and taking a shot at it, I was able to break through any mental roadblocks.

Unfortunately, The Christmas Spirit still isn’t done. It’s one of those projects that’s lingered far longer than it should. The original draft was written back in December 2010, during a series of vigorous writing sessions that also produced Literary Dynamite. Although I was pleased with the result, I knew that it needed a lot of work.

A year later, after I’d finally published a few short works, I decided to dust off The Christmas Spirit and do an all-new version. Since the original was 2,000 words, I figured that if I doubled the length or hit 5,000 words I’d be happy. Once I got started, the manuscript kept growing and growing. I surged past 5,000 words in no time and wasn’t close to the finish line. But instead of staying the course, I switched to another project.

When I missed my goal of publishing The Christmas Spirit by December 25, 2011, I was mad at myself. I’d missed the most important holiday of the year and had the perfect product for it! I didn’t get back to it until the following summer, determined not to miss another Christmas. After reading over what I’d written, I decided to edit what I had and push the story forward. But this time, progress was very slow. Every paragraph felt like a mountain, and hours dragged by with getting little done. When I finally admitted that I wasn’t being productive, I switched projects yet again.

It wasn’t until December 2012 that I begin working on it seriously. Despite all of the time and energy that I had invested into the project, it was still moving at a snail’s pace. Finally, I gave up. Too many other projects demanded my attention. If I couldn’t be productive, I’d try my luck on something else.

Then I had a change of heart. In early 2013, I vowed to make one last attempt to get The Christmas Spirit done. I set up a blog and began posting what I’d done, bit-by-bit. This proved to be beneficial since I hadn’t broken up the story yet. By concentrating on each chapter, I zeroed in on what I was trying to accomplish and moved on. I did this for a while until the first ten chapters were up, the last one giving me plenty of trouble.

Then fresh doubt set in. Something was off, I knew it. Not only was it off, I felt that the monster that I had created was mortally wounded. The beginning had been promising, but now it had gone down the tubes. It stunk, in fact. I was no longer laughing at the ridiculous things that my main character was doing. He was annoying, and I was just trying to find the end so that I could put it out of its misery. Rather than pushing forward with a half-hearted effort, again I took a break.

September would be the last time I worked on it in 2013. Afterwards, I didn’t want to see it again. It was going to take a minor miracle to get it done.

But I’m not a quitter, am I? I’ve encouraged many authors not to give up. So why was I? Everyone starts a project for a certain reason. You owe it to yourself to see it through. Don’t throw away your effort. Collect yourself and try again!

Many pulp fiction writers would disagree with this assertion. Georges Simenon famously discarded everything he’d written if he’d stopped writing for more than 48 hours. It didn’t matter if he was nearing the end—once the spell was broken, he couldn’t rekindle the passion to finish it off. Considering that Simenon wrote in excess of 500 books in his lifetime, he certainly knew what he was doing. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to toss a project every now and then that’s causing problems rather than let them pile up like I have.

But there’s a lot that can be gleaned from Simenon’s stance. I stopped too early, thus breaking the spell. Once I got going again, I introduced editing into the process too soon. And once you begin to edit, look out! You’ll always be searching for the perfect turn of phrase before moving on. Don’t be surprised if your pace slows to a crawl.

Lack of discipline is my real problem. If I had worked a little on it each day, The Christmas Spirit would be done. Knowing this, I decided to revisit it two days ago. If I could produce 250 words per day—merely a page—I could finally put The Christmas Spirit to rest.

On Friday I read the first twelve chapters, tweaking here and there (I couldn’t resist). Afterwards, I worked on the thirteenth unpublished chapter, which was better than I had remembered. Surprisingly, I even liked it. With a little work, I polished off chapter 13, posted it, and then decided that was enough for the day.

When Saturday rolled around, I took another stab at The Christmas Spirit. I read chapter 13 again, made a few more tweaks, and then started writing the next chapter. Again I was confronted by the same question, “What should I write next?” You see, just ahead in the same document I have pages of notes that I’m incorporating into the final act of the story. There are some real gems mixed in with horrible writing and none of it’s organized. Rather then bumble my way through another chapter, I took aim at the notes.

It took me a while to get through them, and I found myself adding to them just as much as I was trimming the fat. Although I had added quite a bit of new content, I couldn’t say for sure how much I’d written. All I knew was that I had righted the ship and finally organized the project. That’s not to say the writing is going to be a piece of cake from here on out. If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s not to underestimate a task. At least I couldn’t blame my lack of organization anymore.

By working on the notes, I also got a good idea of how much is left. Originally I thought I could wrap it up in a couple thousand words, but that’s no longer the case. There are three sequences left (this I know for sure), and it will be another 3,000 – 5,000 words before it’s all done. Since I have 9,100 already, that means I have about two thirds of the story.

I’m close. Very close.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how much is left. As long as I make a little progress each day, it’ll get done. That’s all I can ask at this point. There will come a day when everything snaps into place and I sprint towards the end. But I’ll take it slowly for now. It’s given me so many problems, the best way to defeat it is with patience.

It’s too bad that I didn’t write the story in its entirety while it was still hot in my head. Life happens, and it’s easy to get out of sync. It’s not in my best interest to be writing the same thing months or even years later. Six weeks should be enough; otherwise, I’ll start dreaming about writing something else. Anything, even these journals.

Wait a minute. What?!

Day 1: 1,035 words
Day 2: 1,045 words
Day 3: 1,035 words
Day 4: 1,560 words
Day 5: 1,193 words
Day 6: 1,157 words
Day 7: 1,102 words
Day 8: 1,643 words
Day 9: 2,057 words
Day 10: 1,038 words
Day 11: 1,560 words
Day 12: 1,601 words
Total: 16,036 words

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Crazy Writing Life - Day 11: It's the Novel, Stupid!

When I first got serious about writing, the first thing I did was write a 77,000-word draft of my fantasy novel The Key of Neverhence, which still has yet to be published. Afterwards, I made a strong push to write my vampire thriller Enura, but got sick of it after 45,000 words and never returned to it (to be fair, I overdid it with the editing). Then, by a combination of curiosity and circumstance, I began writing shorter works, which were profitable for a brief period of time, but ultimately sank to the current levels today. These days, my children’s books and short stories don’t pull in much—certainly not enough to live on even though I have 118 titles to my credit.

If I continue this way, I might be able to reverse my fortunes, but I suspect that sales will eventually slide back to where they currently are. Without a true novel, sales will falter and never reach the level that I hope to achieve.

For some time I’ve heard that novels are the way to go. Joe Konrath has mentioned this numerous times, and backed it up with sales data. I’m also seeing this bear out with my friends’ numbers, so perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. With shorter works comes short-term success. Perhaps it’s time for the main course. (Besides, when is the last time you’ve heard someone rave about a short story? For novels, this happens all the time.)

That’s not to say that I’m abandoning children’s books or my other short stories. I just won’t expect to make money off of them anymore. The fact that I’ve put all of my effort into short works and none into novels is troublesome. The smartest thing to do (yes, I’m challenged in that area) is to finish one of my incomplete novels or flesh out an idea in my head.

One such idea that I accidentally stumbled across yesterday is a science fiction action adventure called Dunderwhlep. Essentially it’s a comedy, featuring a reluctant superhero that can’t be killed (at least, not easily) and bumbles through life, getting himself into heaps of trouble, and perhaps, the girl in the end. It’s the very definition of pulp fiction and will be written under my new pen name Rockenweiler Gulch.

Why am I reluctant to start such a project? First off, I don’t have a cover and can’t think of a piece of stock imagery that would be suitable for it. I may need to find an artist, and that will cost money. Second, the pen name isn’t established. I don’t have any other works associated with it or a backlist to fall back on. And even though it will be filled to the brim with action, it very comic book-oriented in nature. It’s going to require a huge leap of faith on my part.

There’s no telling who will take it seriously. It’s not a detective novel per se, and although it is set in the future, it could turn off many diehard science fiction fans. What it does have is personality, foul language (which got me in trouble with Netherstream) and humorous situations. “Take a chance on me!” it screams. Would I be a fool not to take a chance?

Remember what I said about just writing and not worrying about the money? If I see it working in my head, I should just write it, right? Eventually I’ll need to establish the Rockenweiler Gulch brand name. It may as well be now.

But it’s different with novels. Unlike short stories, there’s a large investment of time and energy, and I don’t want to choose the wrong project and only earn one sale per month versus 50-100 per day. Some thought has to go into it.

I know, I know. Stop thinking about money!

Let’s take a step back for a moment. How long is your writing career? From today till the day you die, right? So what are you worried about? Regardless if it’s a failure or a success, as long as you give your best effort, you’ll do fine. Have some faith in yourself! If you like what you’re writing, keep going. In the end, there’s no guarantee that any of it will sell, and projects that I thought would sell in the past were total busts. You may as well choose something enjoyable.

And what if it’s successful? Wouldn’t it be fun to write a sequel to Dunderwhelp? There are worse things that you could get stuck writing. Like a cookbook. Or a basket weaving guide. Or a basket weaving cookbook. Don’t get stuck writing something you hate. Are you willing to tell your readership that there won’t be another book in the series if it succeeds? Worse yet, will you have a choice?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve written thus far and would be honored to follow up a successful work. For me, that’s not a problem. On the other hand, I have an acquaintance who writes what’s popular at the moment. He’s willing to write anything and everything, from children’s books to erotica, scruples me damned! There are things he’s written that I wouldn’t dare write in a million years.

Unless it were a comedy.

That’s the one exception I will make. With humor, you can get away with anything and the work is always more enjoyable because of it. Comedic works also tend to be written faster and readers are more forgiving when it comes to mistakes and logical errors.

That doesn’t mean that you can write bad. No, I’m afraid the angry mob of the literary elite will have your head for it. But it does illustrate a point: First, you must entertain. Although your story may be putrid with cardboard characters and clichés galore, if you entertain, you might just convince them that you did it on purpose, further elevating your legendary status. It’s a strange irony that also carries over into other art forms. Entertain them with something that is uniquely you and that they can’t get anywhere else and they will look for you next time they’re in Amazon.

This also takes me back to a previous discussion about editing. If you want to produce something that’s authentic, is it in your best interest to polish it mercilessly? Would it be better if your writing remained rough so that it didn’t sound like everything else out there? I’m not suggesting that you ignore mistakes and write poorly. I’m just wondering if it’s beneficial to scale back the editing a bit.

For this, I’m afraid I don’t have the answer. I’ve always been the type who writes something over and over again until I get it right. I wish I would be one of those writers who writes something once, does a few minor edits, and gets it out the door. I guess I write in a perpetual state of writer’s remorse, so scared that the reader will find an error that I pour over it in an apologetic eye until I convince myself that everything is as it should be. Of course, what I could be doing is making my work more cliché (i.e., it has the same ring to it as something I’ve previously read).

Novel writing is something that should be taken seriously. The majority of an author’s income is generated from it (just not mine yet). While it’s good to be productive, it’s better to produce something that pays the bills. If you’re struggling, try something new. You have no choice!

Also consider the reader’s expectations for a moment. If you were the reader, wouldn’t you prefer a novel to a 2,000-word short story? Sure, there’s nothing wrong with short stories, but it’s hard to justify when you can purchase an entire novel for the same price. Readers want novels, not one of the millions of short stories available today. Focus on novels exclusively and write a short story whenever you need a break.

Of course, if I had all of my free time back, I’d seriously consider writing more than one novel at a time. It’s kind of like writing multiple columns in a newspaper. When your motivation languishes in one, jump to the other. I’m sure if you told yourself to write a thousand words for Novel A and then another thousand for Novel B each day, you could do it. Juggling multiple projects keeps the writing fresh and makes it feel like less of a burden.

Many prolific writers recommend this approach for maximum productivity (oh no, here I go again). If your goal is to write as much as humanly possible, then this technique could be the goose that lays the golden egg. But it isn’t for everybody—just erratic authors who like to take on far more than is wise.

Ok, that’s all fine and dandy. Is there a point to this long-winded post?

Oh yes, it’s all about the novel, stupid!

Write one, then another. Mix in a few short stories to keep readers interested, but make novel-writing your primary focus.

This does not change my focus on children’s books. It just means that I must expand upon my original plans. So why not make Secret Agent Disco Dancer and My Little Pet Dragon full-fledged novels? For once, I might find success that sticks.

Day 1: 1,035 words
Day 2: 1,045 words
Day 3: 1,035 words
Day 4: 1,560 words
Day 5: 1,193 words
Day 6: 1,157 words
Day 7: 1,102 words
Day 8: 1,643 words
Day 9: 2,057 words
Day 10: 1,038 words
Day 11: 1,560 words
Total: 14,425 words

Friday, January 10, 2014

My Crazy Writing Life - Day 10: The First Seeds of Doubt

Ten days. That’s all it took before the doubt began to set in. Should I really be doing this? Am I wasting my time? Look at all of the things that I could be working on right now! Perhaps I should be investing my time in a real project.

I’ve been here before and know better than to listen to these passing thoughts. Yesterday, it took me three hours to edit my 2,000-word entry. When you add that to the hour that I spent on the initial draft, it’s far too much time for a simple journal entry.

Still, it’s no big deal. Life goes on. I’m not stopping, not until I’ve finished out the month. I’ve already written over 12,000 words (including this entry). I don’t want all of that effort to be for nothing. Yes, I should probably limit my posts to a maximum of 1,500 words, but once I get going, it’s hard to stop. There’s so much that I need to get out that an abbreviated version doesn’t always suffice. To my detriment, I must allow these journals to exceed 2,000 words when necessary. The process is cathartic, and helps me get down additional thoughts brewing in my head.

Large amounts of editing always makes an author question themselves. It’s evidence that real projects take work; hard work, unlike text messages that can be typed up and shared in a few minutes, if not seconds.

Should I be more careful with my words? Probably. Should I nail down all of my points beforehand so that I don’t go too far off topic? Perhaps. Let’s not forget this is a journal. Anything goes.

Whenever I doubt myself, I’ll come back to this page. Just because something requires hours of editing doesn’t mean it’s time to abandon ship. It means the stakes are higher and now you have to get serious if you want to see it through.

This happens with most projects, even journals. I remember being overwhelmed by the editing task before me when I wrote the first draft of The Key of Neverhence. It was 77,000 words long and needed major surgery. I only rewrote ten percent of it before I decided that I really should be writing new content instead. When I had the chance, I’d get back to Neverhence. Seven years later, the draft still languishes. If I had done a little bit each day for a year, the novel would be published and earning money.

But that’s what a smart person would do. Please don’t confuse me with one of them.

Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged with the editing process. Break it down and tackle a little bit at a time. Even a couple thousand words can feel daunting, which is how I felt last night. But 500? You can do that in your sleep.

That’s what I started with and then quickly took a break. There, 25% done! I kept chipping away, little by little until it finally got done. Even though it only took three hours to whip it into shape, it felt far longer than that. (Authors are masters at playing mind games, which frequently backfire.)

The reality is that only a few sentences present real problems. Once I broke through those, I was able to go for a while before getting tripped up again. Perhaps I should have skipped over them? That doesn’t work for me. Often the sentence that needs work alters the chemistry of a paragraph and the ones around it. (I’m still getting a handle on the editing process, but eventually I’ll get it.) So if you’re stuck or your enthusiasm has evaporated, just remember that if you can get past one sentence, you’ll be good for a while.

Part of the problem stems from editing at the sentence level. What’s the point of making every sentence pretty if you lose sight of the story? Dean Wesley Smith pointed this out in one of his blog posts (I can’t remember which one but the sentiment is also buried here) and it really got me thinking. Would writers be better off editing at the story level and allowing their work to be rough? Besides, how we write is often how we speak. Are we polishing our voice right out of it by doing extensive edits? In fact, is that what I did last night?

If a writer allows their work to be more in line with how they naturally speak, they’ll produce a lot more. Boatloads more, actually. Editing deters prolific writing; the more perfect an author wants it to be, the less gets published.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all want to sound good and show off our knowledge of the craft. But simple sentences can be just as effective as meticulously crafted prose. You’ve got to hit the right balance, and it’s not always obvious until you’ve written a few books and read many more.

Sometimes turning off the mind is exactly what the doctor ordered. Can you imagine how much Guinness World Record holder Ryoki Inoue would have produced if he had indulged his self-doubt for a nanosecond? Would he have finished a fraction of the 1,100 novels that he wrote in his prime? Or would he have gotten discouraged and thrown in the towel before getting started?

Just to give you an idea of how prolific this guy is, here’s an article by Matt Moffett (The Wall Street Journal, May 2nd, 1996). In it, Mr. Moffett describes how Ryoki started “around 10” and wrote straight through the evening, finishing his 195-page manuscript “at 5:30 a.m., having consumed most of a packet of pipe tobacco and half a pot of coffee.” Assuming 250 words per page, that’s the equivalent of a 48,000-word manuscript in a little less than eight hours.

But that’s nothing. Apparently Mr. Inoue has a system for writing three books in one day. It just boggles the mind!

So why am I complaining about editing 2,000 words? Really, I have much to learn about the writing process.

When in doubt, just keep going. Turn off the negative voices in your head and don’t let anything stand in the way of success, least of all, you.

Day 1: 1,035 words
Day 2: 1,045 words
Day 3: 1,035 words
Day 4: 1,560 words
Day 5: 1,193 words
Day 6: 1,157 words
Day 7: 1,102 words
Day 8: 1,643 words
Day 9: 2,057 words
Day 10: 1,038 words
Total: 12,865 words

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Crazy Writing Life - Day 9: Just Your Ordinary Chaos

So there I was, my day all planned out and motivation in check. I even knew what I was going to be working on. Surely I could finish a draft of The Forgetful Alien after a few hours of hard work, right?

Once I’d read over what I’d written and fixed some errors along the way, I went off track, pushing the story forward only a few hundred words. And after that? Nothing. Ugh!

It wasn’t exactly writer’s block that I was experiencing, and by and large, I knew what I wanted to say. So why was I struggling?

Oddly enough, my mind just needed a break. It wasn’t as if I didn’t want to write. Far from it! I just couldn’t get my mind into the task at hand.

But shouldn’t I keep moving forward, regardless? Isn’t that the right thing to do? Is a forceful approach necessary to get the project off my plate?

In the end, I realized that I wasn’t being productive, and decided to work on something else. I looked over my other half-finished projects and worked a little on each until I decided to transcribe the first page of Emberlake Hollow that I’d written by hand while watching the 49ers game (yes, I write by hand on occasion).

I didn’t transcribe much—less than 200 words—when I felt this sudden urge to write something new; not something half-finished or that had been brewing in my head, but something genuine. I didn’t care what I wrote about. I just needed something fresh and unexplored to keep my fingers moving.

“Here we going again,” I thought to myself. “What’s that ahead? Could that be another half-finished project?”

Remember what I said about starting new projects in lieu of finishing old ones? Now I couldn’t even follow my own advice. I was playing with fire, but what the heck? I hadn’t finished anything to speak off despite working all day. What harm could there be in deviating from my plan?

So I put on my Donald Rump hat (the pen name that I use whenever I want to write adult toilet humor) and went to work. Before I knew it, the first 500 words flew out of me. I had no idea where it was going; it just felt good. As I kept typing, the farts kept coming, and I knew that I was onto something.

After an hour, I had amassed 1,000 words. Then another went by and I had 1,750. Suddenly it was time to tie things up. Because of how this mysterious process works, the solution had been hinted at throughout the story and was now staring me in the face. I put down the last 300 words in a mad dash and finally my latest piece of fart fiction was born.

But what would I call it? Unlike other stories where the title became clear midway through, I still couldn’t decide on a name. While I pondered over the title, I sifted through stock art that I’d set aside for future Donald Rump books and picked out a pair of ridiculous images. Perfect!

Once I began the cover, my hand was forced. “What’s the title? That’s the $500 question!” I said aloud. Surprisingly it stuck. Sure, the title was just as corny as the cover, but this wasn’t Pulitzer Prize-winning material. It was just a series of fart jokes. Besides, it was the only title I could think of that unified all of the ridiculous elements of the story.

After finishing the cover, I added it to the Word document (I use Microsoft Word for everything) and began the slow, painful process of editing.

But this was a different type of “slow and painful.” I was only moving slow because I was tired. Really, really tired. By grinding forward, I knew I’d have something to publish later that evening.

Also, I’d written The $500 Question in a different manner than my other works, blog posts included. I moved from sentence-to-sentence, making sure each was of publishable quality before proceeding on. When I reached the end, I felt that I had something that could be submitted. Sure, there were still holes that needed to be filled and sentences that needed retooling, but for the most part, it looked good.

So for the next couple of hours, I tinkered with The $500 Question, strengthening nouns and verbs, trimming adjectives and adverbs and replacing or omitting sections that weren’t worth saving. Certainly I could have wrapped things up earlier, but I enjoyed the slow, methodical pace.

Eventually the entire book got done and put up on Smashwords. In the past, I used to create the Kindle version first and didn’t worry about the Smashwords version until much, much later. Since Smashwords wasn’t a major source of income, I never was in a rush to publish there.

But that was before I started my new job and was exposed to a different (better) way of doing things. Ironically, the Kindle version is now the last thing I work on.

My publishing process is this: Once I finish the manuscript, I go to Bowker’s website, assign an ISBN to it (unless I want to use a free one from Smashwords), add it to my book, and create the PDF. After a quick check of the PDF, I create a .DOC version for Smashwords, upload it, and jump over to Teachers Pay Teachers (if it’s a children’s book) or my author store (note: Donald Rump has his own store). Since Smashwords has to convert the Word document (and sometimes it’s buried in the queue), this gives me the opportunity to put up my work in a few more venues before creating the EPUB.

Once Smashwords is taken care of, I create the EPUB from one of the templates that I’ve used in the past. This part can be monotonous work at times, especially if I have lots of images. If I do, I create a quick HTML version and open it with Sigil, giving me all of the metadata I need for the OPF, and to a lesser extent, the NCX file.

After filling in the template with my content, I zip it up with a command line tool (I’m on a Mac) and validate it with IDPF’s free service. Once I’ve debugged all of the errors (I always seem to forget something), I open the EPUB with Adobe Digital Editions or Sony’s e-reader app (I forget the name). If everything’s good, I submit it directly to Kobo and then Barnes & Noble.

As you can see, there are a lot of steps before I even arrive at the Kindle version, and that’s where I stopped last night. After I get home from work today, I’ll create the MOBI version (I use MOBI Pocket Creator on my PC) and upload it to Amazon.

Once I have all three versions, I’ll add them to my author store and OmniLit/All Romance eBooks (if appropriate). And if I still want to keep going, I can submit my content to Lulu (I’ve had a few sales there over the years), Tradebit (still waiting for my first sale) or directly to Apple (they’re a pain and sometimes it’s worth giving Smashwords 10% so that I don’t have to deal with them).

The only venue that I will not use is Scribd. I don’t know what it is with these people, but I do not trust them. They’ve proven time and again that they are poor caretakers of my work and enough is enough.

It’s easy to forget the importance of trust in a relationship. A venue needs to earn your trust before being given your entire backlist. In my case, I’d just be asking for it if I continued dealing with them.

Several months ago, many of my settings were reset when Scribd performed a major update. This left several of my books visible in their entirety even though they were listed for sale. To make matters worse, many now had creative commons licenses associated with them, allowing readers to make alternate versions of my copyrighted work. What the heck?

Needless to say, I jumped all over it and fixed everything as quickly as I could. I have no idea how many copies were viewed/downloaded or how long it had been like this, but it really turned my stomach.

Even though I was angry with them, I decided to give them another chance. I hadn’t sold anything there yet, but it appeared that a fair amount of people had been exposed to my content and may have made purchases in other venues. Perhaps. But since Scribd is more of a document-sharing community, most users expect the content to be free. Most likely, my backlist was being advertised to the wrong audience.

Once I fixed everything, I played around with some of the settings and came across a subscription-based model that wasn’t being heavily advertised yet. Out of curiosity, I opted in a few of my books and waited for the results.

Then in December 2013, Smashwords announced a partnership with Scribd and automatically opted in its entire catalog. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted my backlist in their subscription-based plan, so I dragged my feet for a couple of weeks.

It was then I received a nasty, little e-mail from Scribd’s IT department telling me that my book Aveline had been pulled due to plagiarism. What?! There was no advance warning or inquiry to see if I was indeed the copyright owner. The title had been yanked and I was the villain!

Needless to say, this made me very angry, and I suspected it had to do with the content being migrated from Smashwords. But why would they pull an already-established title? Aveline had been on their site for over a year. Didn’t it make more sense to block the content that was coming over from Smashwords? It didn’t make any sense.

Disgusted with how I had been treated, I promptly deleted all of my uploaded documents on Scribd, opted out every single one of them on Smashwords, and wrote a scathing e-mail. The reply back was apologetic, assured me that it wouldn’t happen again, and—get this—they promptly restored my document.

But how could that be? I already deleted my account by the time the e-mail had arrived. When I checked Scribd’s site, sure enough Aveline was available for sale. But by whom? There was no longer an account associated with this product.


It was obvious that Scribd hadn’t put together a basic migration plan for all of the content that was coming over from Smashwords, and they had absolutely no answer for content that existed in both places. No doubt they ticked off a lot more authors!

Even worse, I discovered that they had opted in all of my content into their subscription plan by default. Remember the old setting that enabled you to opt in each title individually? That was superseded by a new global setting.

If there’s a theme to Scribd’s operations it’s this: Even if you’ve done due diligence, anything can and will happen to your content when they upgrade their system. You need to keep a close eye on their website; otherwise, you may find yourself in an undesirable position.

Since I’ve experienced this first hand, it would my own fault if I allowed it to happen again. Sure, I could opt in my titles individually on Smashwords, but I don’t want to worry about them once they’re in Scribd’s system.

Peace of mind and security mean something to me, and if I lose a few bucks because my work isn’t in all of the venues, so be it. It’s not as if Scribd is a major player in the e-book industry, anyways (famous last words).

In spite of this, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with a little known site named Teachers Pay Teachers. Everything has been professional and I never have these types of issues there. If there’s a problem, it’s of my own doing.

I already make enough mistakes as it is, and I don’t need someone (or something) to create work for me. When you’re managing 118 titles, you’ll understand. Even small errors can take hours to correct.

And I’d rather spend that time writing. Wouldn’t you?

Day 1: 1,035 words
Day 2: 1,045 words
Day 3: 1,035 words
Day 4: 1,560 words
Day 5: 1,193 words
Day 6: 1,157 words
Day 7: 1,102 words
Day 8: 1,643 words
Day 9: 2,057 words
Total: 11,827 words

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Crazy Writing Life - Day 8: Giving Back

I realize that I’m not supposed to look at my sales too closely, but it’s easy to get depressed when you read about other authors finding success when you’re struggling, especially when they’re making over $13,000 a month. That’s something I never did. I’d be happy with a quarter of that amount. As long as I can scrape by, I’d be happy writing all day long.

And I mean that with every fiber of my being.

(Oh boy. It’s going to take awhile to complete this paradigm shift. Can I really say that money isn’t that important?)

Before, when the money came easily, I got complacent. I convinced myself that I needed a break and was tired after all of the years working in the hotel industry and web development. Of course, that was utter nonsense. I really needed to be developing as much content as possible, especially since Amazon’s algorithm changes were just around the corner. Sure, I couldn’t have predicted that this would happen but I should never have assumed that the money would continue flowing as it did.

That is my mistake, and I paid the price for it. If I can get back to where I was, I will give it my all and publish frequently, if not every day. I want to be successful and am willing to do whatever it takes to be a full time author again. It’s a dream worth fighting for.

When I see numbers like “$13,000 in December” I no longer see it as a given that an author can repeat those numbers the following month. If she can, great. She deserves it. Things are changing so rapidly I’m surprised that she’s been able to increase her income.

And she’s certainly put in the work. Back in October when Amazon began pulling erotica titles left and right (I believe one of the offending keywords was “Daddy,” which makes me surprised my children’s book My Daddy’s Cool Car Collection wasn’t pulled), she had several profitable titles that got banned. But rather than sit and complain about it (which I would have likely done), she reworked the titles, toned down the content and got them reinstated with correspondence from Amazon.

I doubt I’d have the same reaction. In fact, I’m certain I wouldn’t. I have three titles that have been blocked by Amazon because they were in the Indonesian language and it made me absolutely furious when they were pulled and I was notified afterwards. “They don’t deserve these titles,” I said, and put them up in all the other venues. That’s right, I didn’t bother fixing them (I could have made Bilingual English and Indonesian versions to comply with their policy), and vowed to make a bunch of money with someone who actually wanted them. “I’ll show you Amazon!” I declared, but perhaps it’s time to put aside my anger and get these books back into the #1 e-book store on the planet.

Although there’s no guarantee K. Matthew will break $13,000 next month, her chances are good. Readers tend to stay active during the winter months in spite of work, school, etc. In fact, the shortest month of the year, February, was my most successful month ever, so there’s plenty of opportunity to earn a decent income post Christmas.

Everything she does seems to turn to gold, and lately, everything I’ve been doing has turned to crap. I can’t complain, though. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve published and there have been a few surprises in the international market. I’ve also jumped around a little more than was wise, following up unprofitable works rather than zeroing in on what makes money.

(Are you sure that money doesn’t matter?)

When I was first successful with children’s picture books, I followed up My Little Pet Dragon with My Crazy Pet Frog. It wasn’t exactly a sequel, but it was of the same ilk. Afterwards, I published A Little Book About You (which is free right now if you’d like a copy), Pigtastic, A Pocketful of Dinosaurs, Ninja Robot Repairmen, Happy Healthy Hearts, My Daddy’s Cool Car Collection and If I Were A Robot. In between there was a lull for these similarly themed books (by that I mean the look and feel). Taming Your Pet Monster: An Operational Guide hit a few months later, followed by The Penguin Way a month after that. I would not release another children’s book of this type until a year later with Baby Blue.

Granted, I did work on other children’s books during this time. I wrote 11 volumes of Alphabet All-Stars that has been largely unsuccessful (but personally rewarding for my son), and put out five books in the Adorable Dogs series that sell here and there and were lots of fun to do. I also did a pair of girly books (does that make me a girly man?), Aveline and The Most Beautiful Flower, but it’s obvious from the covers that they are in a different class than my popular children’s books.

Looking at it this way, it’s obvious why I haven’t been successful recently. Even if I published one children’s book per month like I was previously doing, I should see sales improve, especially if I extended the length.

As I’ve said before, I’m in this for the long haul, and I’ll keep working until I get this ship turned around.

But I do admire that I didn’t chase the money, at least not to high degree. Instead, I focused on being an artist and wrote the stories that I was interested in. Sure, I paid for it financially, but I feel good about everything I’ve written. To be quite honest, it was personally fulfilling to come up with an idea and see the finished work materialize in a matter of hours or days. Who doesn’t like to be productive and follow their instincts? It’s very liberating.

But I shouldn’t become a starving artist, especially since I’ve found success in the past. I have profitable franchises; is it too much to follow them up? Will I really be selling out by doing this? All of us need to eat, right? And many of us like to eat well. Would it be worth it to sell out a little (just a little, I promise) and reach $10,000 a month?


Personally, I hate to think of writing as a series of business decisions. Ideally, I should feel free to write what I want whenever I want, regardless of the financial circumstances. Actually, that’s how I became successful in the first place. I took a chance and went for it. And the person that doesn’t see the value in taking risks won’t hit the big payday.

You also shouldn’t shy away from your ideas. Don’t turn off the creative faucet because, even though you like the idea, you’re afraid that your audience will not (i.e., you won’t sell enough copies). That’s why I want to write faster. If I move quickly from project to project, I might just be able to keep up with my feeble brain and take more chances than the average writer.

But success should be followed up. That’s money left on the table. My Little Pet Dragon was a huge hit when it was first released, but I never wrote the extended children’s novel like I intended to. I was too busy chasing the next idea, and many didn’t work out.

I’m glad I took those chances, though. I really, really am. But I would have been better off mixing in sequels with new projects. At very least, it could fund all of my crazy ideas, like those fart books I rattled off.

That’s a change that I need to make this year. It’s worth my time to mix in a few projects that could result in big sales. The first two are My Little Pet Dragon Ness and Secret Agent Disco Dancer. I have the covers for each as well as a good start on the actual stories. If I work on them a little each day along with my journal, they’ll get done. That gives me a real shot at reversing my fortunes.

The relationship that authors have with readers is a fragile one. When we don’t deliver, they tune out and there are many things to distract them these days. The worse case scenario is that they never check back again, and that would be a real shame. I’ve got so much more to show them—fantastic voyages with twists and turns and characters that are out of this world. I owe it to them to finish these projects.

The truth is, you can’t just be an artist who chases the winds of creativity. You must also be a smart artist, and realize when it’s in your best interest to work on something despite your reservations. Working on a project, however commercial in nature, won’t change who you are.

Remember, the art that is produced isn’t just for you. Some consideration must be given to the reader. Do something just for them as a thank you for making you successful.

In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

These sequels are love letters to all of those who gave me a chance and made me (at least briefly) a full time author.

And I’m not going to delay any longer.

Since I’ve done the most work on Secret Agent Disco Dancer, that will be the next project following The Forgetful Alien. I may be delayed while working out the kinks with this daily journal, but it’s at the top of my list—my highest priority—and I will not stop until it is done.

Give back every once in awhile. It will also pay you back in the end.

Or, simply grow a brain a follow up successful books. That works, too.

Day 1: 1,035 words
Day 2: 1,045 words
Day 3: 1,035 words
Day 4: 1,560 words
Day 5: 1,193 words
Day 6: 1,157 words
Day 7: 1,102 words
Day 8: 1,643 words
Total: 9,770 words