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Friday, January 23, 2015

Preview "The Anniversary"

John and Maria Santiago have never had much, but they've always had each other. Saving money to escape the increasingly-violent city they've long resided in, they are on the eve of departure and their twentieth anniversary when tragedy strikes.

When her inoperable brain tumor enters its terminal stage, Maria suggests a radical procedure; her memories and personality be imprinted on a Twen; an incredibly life-like android, fully licensed and designed to take the place of the original. Though John is resistant to the idea, Maria wins him over and the procedure occurs.

Simultaneously dealing with the inevitable loss of his lover and the new arrival of an uncanny doppelganger, John weighs the value of true love against his own happiness, Maria's illness, and the promise of a continued life that just may be too good to be true.

The Anniversary is a short story completely unrelated to the Universal Warrior franchise. This is a story about love versus science and dealing with the loss of someone we cherish. I wanted to ask the question all of us who've lost someone have asked; what if we didn't have to say goodbye?

The Anniversary will be available sometime in February for .99 for all e-readers. All newsletter subscribers will be getting a free copy. If you'd like one, email me through the web form.

TIDBIT: John was one of MMA's top prospects until a devastating injury brought his career to aa premature end. Maria was the daughter of his financial manager, which was how the two of them met.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Promoting Fiction: Sales Vs. Exposure (An Anecdote)

When I released my short story Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra late last year, I had modest ambitions. I only wanted to sell a certain amount of copies. Day one sales weren't what I was hoping for, so I adjusted the price and sales blossomed. I steadily sell about one copy per day.

So yesterday, I was checking my Amazon Sales Dashboard and the numbers weren't adding up. A fellow writer warned me that something like this might happen, but there's nothing that can prepare for the idea of being ripped off.

So I call in my girlfriend, who's far better at math than I am. After going over the dashboard, she shrugs and says something that resonates;

"Who cares? This is your first book. It was never going to make you rich or even much money at all. Right now, we want people reading your story. It doesn't matter how they're getting it. Every person that reads it and enjoys it spreads your name. That's what we want right now. Free marketing."

She then promptly dropped the mic and left the room.

It got me thinking; the Ring of Asarra is my first work for the paid market in my own name. Its exceeded sales goals and continues to sell. Amazon made it a recommended read and I have two positive reviews.

My experiences with the Ring of Asarra reinforce the truth about first-time authors. Chances are you won't make it big on your first title, or even your fifth. The idea is to build something that people will love and then continue building to keep them hooked.

Walk before you run.
Hard, hard work before exposure and then hopefully sales.

We all have a long road ahead.

Thanks for reading.

Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra is a short story available for $1.79 at the following links;


Barnes & Noble



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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Three Ways To Stand Out On Churn Sites

Image Courtesy of

Freelancing. Arguably one of the most difficult and lucrative sources of income available, if you've got the guts and the time. Choosing the freelance route means you are solely responsible for your own income, which means you'll spend a good amount of time networking and building relationships. You'll also spend a lot of time on the net mining for clients.

Sites like Guru, Elance, and Freelancer are known as "Churn Sites" because you are literally competing with thousands of people for the same contract. Many people burn out after being rejected time and again and to be fair, raising your voice above the others is a tremendous challenge.

However, if you can stick it out and see the process through, churn sites can become one of your most viable streams of income. Here are three tricks I use to make myself stand out.

3). Make Sure Your Profile Is Up To Date.

If your prospective client is interested in your pitch, the first thing they're going to do is check out your profile. They'll want to verify you've done the work before. Consider it a surprise visit to your home. Make sure all of your contact information is up to date, as well as your work history and references. Make sure your reviews are front and center. This is your first impression. Make it a good one.

2). Have Work Samples Available.

After reading your bid and examining your profile, chances are that your prospect is going to ask for work samples. You need to have samples on demand. You won't be given time to write something on the fly (DON'T write something on the fly if your prospect asks you too, more on that later). If you don't have something available, expect to be left behind.
Keep a portfolio of between three and five work samples available. This will keep you in the running for that contract.

3). Know Your Niche!

This is the most important aspect of standing out. Unless you're paying for them, churn sites give you a limited amount of bids per month. Use those bids wisely and lock down the assignments you believe matches your skill set (and profile).
If ghostwriting fiction is your thing, then go for that. If research and non-fiction is your thing, then go for that. Whatever you do, don't waste precious bids on jobs simply to win them, because working on a job you really don't want, or can't do, is a recipe for disaster.
This can be especially hard to stick to when your preferred sort of work becomes scarce, and you're afraid of falling into obscurity because there doesn't seem to be anything available. This is where patience--and having a steady client list--pays off.

These are three ways to remain employed on churn sites. Best of luck to you and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 In Review

There are a few things I learned this year.

1). The First Time Your Significant Other Pulls A Knife Out On You, You Should Probably Get Out.

Not the second time, not the third, fourth, or fifth. Seriously, the first time the knife comes out, you get the hell out. Yes, I actually had to learn that on my own. Yes, it's okay to laugh. Go ahead. I'm laughing.

2). You Can Actually Escape A Residence With Ninety Percent Of Your Things If You Plan Ahead.

I've pulled some getaways in my time, but to escape my ex's household with as much as I did was nothing short of a miracle. It was a plan executed to Mission Impossible standards, complete with the running timer on my phone and a plot to snatch things I couldn't live without and debating what had to be left behind. In the end, I got all of my clothes, games, movies, a good deal of my books, my X-Box, and even my TV, which I foolishly gave back to her on the condition that she would finalize our divorce. That didn't happen..

Yes, it's still okay to laugh.

But despite all of that, know what the biggest lesson of the year was? The penultimate instruction gleaned in 2014?


I can't tell you what a nightmare Ring of Asarra turned out to be after its release, and I'm lucky that its done as well as it had. When it was going through it's edits, my editor and I were going between Scrivener, Microsoft Word and Kingsoft Office. Some of the revisions just flat-out would not take in translation, and I won't even go into the details of the punctuation horror show that only just got resolved today.

As of today, it continues to sell and became a recommended read on Amazon.
So I write this blog from my own office with no fear of what imagined deed I might have to answer for when my girlfriend gets home. My son is coming to stay with us--maybe for good--in a few days, and I speak, in a friendly manner, with my parents on a regular basis.

Plus the Ravens are in the playoffs! :-)

Thanks for reading. See you all next year.

Current owners should be able to sync up the new copy of the Ring of Asarra within about twelve hours. Interested? You can pick up a Kindle copy here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Defeated My Abuser.

I won't forget where I was when I got the call. I wasn't aimlessly walking around the city, hoping my wife had calmed down enough for me to go home. I wasn't cowering in the corner of our bedroom, ever wary of those wide, glassy eyes and the knife she leveled at my chest. I wasn't worried that it was the end of the week, which meant for certain that there would be another fight.

No, I was in the upstairs bedroom of my new home, watching reruns of Criminal Minds with my girlfriend when the call came in.

It was the call from my victim's advocate. She wanted to inform me that my soon-to-be-ex-wife had plead guilty to charges of domestic violence and cyberstalking against me, She was sentenced to two years of probation, a battery of psychological exams and most importantly, she is not allowed to have any contact with me for the next two years.

I didn't know what to think. I'd been fighting this battle for so long that I had begun to think there would never be an end, and then, just like's over.

It still hasn't sunk in.

What I remember most is a destroyed kitchen and a five-year-old girl trying to clean up the mess, wondering what was wrong with mommy. Mommy, who had lost her temper because she couldn't find a can of baked beans. I remember this same five-year-old girl asking her mother "what did you do to Avery" when mommy emerged from the room brandishing a knife. I remember knots in my stomach as Thursday would inevitably roll around, hearkening another fight over something she'd conjured. I remember telling her that I would no longer physically defend myself, and then hunkering down and doing my best to protect my face as blow after blow rains down.

I remember the night I thought I was going to die, when she threatened me over social media, warned me not to sleep, cut off any communication with the outside world and waited for me to nod off. That was the night I seized an opportunity and ran for my life. The same night a couple of friends connected through social media to alert the authorities.

I'd always believed that due to the absolutely abhorrent things I'd done when I was homeless, I wasn't worthy of anything more than my ex-wife. I learned that night I was wrong.

It took eighteen months, my name was utterly dragged through the mud and I endured more this past year and a half than I thought I was capable of, but in the end, she was convicted.

I write this to stress to anyone who believes they may be a victim of domestic abuse; you can get out, you don't deserve it, and you can have a happy ending. It will take work, and you will be dragged over the coals, but if you truly want out, if you want a better life than what you have, you cannot wait for it to come to you. You have to go get it.

I beat it.

You can too.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Reviewed (Spoiler Free)

Martin Freeman appears as Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

A Long Way To, and From, Return Of The King

At long last, we are met with the conclusion of Peter Jackson's sweeping epic fantasy inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Arguably the darkest entry of the series, Peter Jackson trades lengthy scenes of dialogue and tension-building for two hours of flat-out action. This may or may not be for you.

It's as though Peter Jackson couldn't wait to unleash all he had built up in the first two films. More than two-thirds of the movie is spent on the battlefield. Very little time is spent on character development; it is assumed that we've seen the first two films, we know who's involved and what they're after. Virtually nothing new is introduced to keep the movie's rapid-fire pace moving. To provide an example, this is the only one of the six films that actually opens in an action sequence.

This sequel could almost be a standalone; the events of the last film are pretty much wrapped up within the first ten minutes. A new antagonist reveals itself, and the only way to resolve new issues is to have every army in Middle Earth wage war against each other. While fun, very little thinking is involved while watching. You strap in and hold on.

Martin Freeman brings Bilbo Baggins full circle in this outing. He turns a sheltered, timid Hobbit into a fledgling warrior no longer afraid to fight beside--or stand against--his allies. His is easily the best performance of the film.

The action sequences are breathless and harrowing. Peter Jackson has come a long way from the battles of Return of the King; he uses less cuts, thus leaving you squarely in the center of the calamity. These are not battles of triumphant heroes and the light outfighting the darkness; this is the darkness encroaching, the protagonists desperate and consistently on the verge of being overrun, leaving you gripping the arms of your chair as you wait to see who will and will not survive.

Beyond a ham-handed segue way into the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, a feeble attempt at a morality tale at the end and Orlando Bloom appearing far too old to be in a prequel role, very little is wrong with this movie.

I enjoyed this film from its fiery, violent opening to its righteous, bittersweet conclusion. Battle of the Five Armies wraps up the Hobbit in good fashion and leaves you feeling as though the story is, at last, complete.

Monday, December 8, 2014

UW: The Ring of Asarra Is Now Available For All E-Readers!

Cover art provided by Graham Roberts, @IAmSaulHudson

Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra, is now available in all formats.

Part one of the four-part short story Era of the Scourge, the Ring of Asarra tells the origin story of Death. As one of the four sent to the Third World to usher in its destruction, he faces a terrible crisis of conscience that causes him to do the unthinkable. He is rescued from damnation by the elven goddess Asarra, who presents him with a choice; to forsake his identity and live his life as a mortal, and attempt to be with the woman he loves, or to accept his destiny and restore balance to the universe, at the expense of his own happiness. 
And if Sephtis, the mortal form of Death Incarnate, chooses to forsake his path, there are those far more malicious eager to wrest power from him...

Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra is now available at the following links;

If you enjoy the story, please feel free to leave a review; it's how I can keep going. Thanks for reading and your support.