Tag Archives: thrillers

Friday Update #12: The Tale of an Entrepreneur: The Beginning

So, here’s the first Friday Update in four months. Are you surprised? Let’s just say news often happens in chunks, not spurts. You can watch the real news to see that that’s true. But you didn’t come here for real news, did you?

With that in mind, let’s begin our semi-occasional Friday Update for this week.

Book Review Blitz

In my previous post, about two months ago (sorry!), I said I was doing a review blitz on books I’ve read in the recent past, and I had planned to launch it soon. Well, I do have reviews queued up, and I think they’re pretty ready for public reading, but I don’t have nearly as many as I’d like for the blitz, so that’s still in progress. Much of the delay is due to distraction mainly, but also to quality of life. I do things based on whether I can do them well, and whether they’ll be worth my time and yours. Even as I write about the books I’ve read, I have to wonder how many of these books you would want to read, and whether the statements I might say about them would resonate in some profound way. When I review something, I want to give more than just my opinion. I want to give feedback, in case the author should ever stumble across my site. So, I’m checking for quality, of course, but I’m also checking for impact. I want to make sure I’m not wasting my time or the time of my readers. So, it’s been going slowly.

Therefore, I want to revise my previous title, “Book Review Blitz Coming” to a new title, “Book Review Blitz Coming Sometime.” Take note.

The Avengers: Infinity War

The new Avengers movie comes out today. I want to see it. I won’t likely get to go today. Probably not tomorrow, either. But, I want to see it. So, don’t spoil it. Seriously, hush on the spoilers, people. The Internet won’t break if you hold your “aw, dang!” tongues for a little while. That is all.

Oh, and if you liked The Avengers: Infinity War, don’t forget that I still have two massive Game of Thrones sized volumes of superhero fiction available at Barnes & Noble for $6.99 each. (I won’t be putting them on Amazon until I rewrite them as individual novels.) They’re also available on Apple iBooks and Kobo.

The first is Cannonball City: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year One.

The second is Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two.

The third, Alpha Red: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Three, won’t be released as an annual unless the first two get enough readers to justify me releasing it. So far, I’m nowhere near the readership that would make that decision reasonable. But that can change! It’s up to you to make that happen.

To be clear, these are e-books only. If you buy them, make sure you have a device you can read them on. Smashwords provides multiple formats if you aren’t sure what will work for you.

Gone from the Happy Place

I’ve resumed production on Gone from the Happy Place by adding a new first chapter, and I’ll keep adding new chapters until I’m satisfied with the story I want to tell. I don’t want to spoil anything at this time, but in the new version, we’ll get to spend more time with Anston and Alice in their respective elements before the explosive moment that their lives converge, giving us more time to appreciate them as individuals, and more time to dread what may follow. If you’re a thriller reader, this should sound like a positive. To all you romance readers who somehow found my site, well, people still kiss, so…

I have no ETA on when the book will be ready for the public, but I will likely release it in this order:

  • E-book (Amazon only)
  • Drinking Café Latte at 1pm (serial)
  • Ebook (Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo)
  • Paperback (through CreateSpace and Ingram Spark)
  • Audiobook (if sales on the other formats are significant enough to warrant it)

Normally I’d want to release the title on all formats at the same time. And, in a future time when I have lots and lots of money to roll around in like Scrooge McDuck, I will. But, in my efforts to rebrand myself with an actual brand, I need to lay some new tracks to give myself the opportunity to have better launches and better IPs, so until I can claim all of the resources I need to do this right, I’ll be staggering the release through specific channels that won’t complicate things for me or the book down the road.

The thing about Amazon’s e-books is that they don’t require an ISBN, so I can upload it without compromising my brand. Later, when I have the packaging the way I want (the cover I release with, shown below, will likely be temporary until I can afford a legit cover artist), I’ll rerelease it, and I’ll do so with the other formats. By that point, I should be able to afford my own ISBNs and not have to rely on the freebies that tie my book to the identity of the distributor rather than me. I want them related to me and my company.

gone from the happy place concept 3

Once I have the means to produce the other elements properly, I’ll do so. When this happens depends on how much and how quickly the money comes in. Again, readers can help speed up this process by voting with their wallets.

Regarding the Drinking Café Latte at 1pm serial, I’ve wanted to try releasing at least one of my books as a weekly serial, to see if I can get new readers, and this will be the book I do that for.

For those who haven’t been keeping up, Gone from the Happy Place is the book that will replace The Computer Nerd as the story I want to tell about a marriage gone wacky, not the story I did tell. When I wrote and released The Computer Nerd in 2015, I was racing a self-imposed deadline, and trying to maintain a book-a-month release cycle, which really isn’t my style, and one I’d ditched by mid-2016. I’d broken rules that I generally keep for myself in order to get it to the public in a timely manner, and even though it was fine, that’s all it was. When my first review came back with one star, I knew I’d made a mistake racing it out the gate. Sometimes you do want to take your time with a project before offering it to the world, which is what I usually do with my projects. It’s the reason you haven’t seen a new release out of me since 2016 and only three updates to stories I’d released back in 2015. All indie artists should take note that patience is worth it, as long as that patience produces results.

Entrepreneur: The Beginning

Okay, so that’s not the only reason you haven’t seen a new release out of me since 2016. As some of you may know, I also have a computer game I’ve been working on, on the side, called Entrepreneur: The Beginning, and I’ve been putting a lot of work into it this past year. I may post a separate article about it soon, but the scope of my work since about this time last year has been to rewrite the handcrafted code I’d been using since 2009 to use templates and machine-thinking instead.

I’ve wanted to make my own games since I was a kid, but because I’d never learned programming properly, I had to find premade engines to help me along. The engine I use for this game, OHRRPGCE, is made by one developer, maintained by two, and in a constant state of catching up with other engines built by larger teams. I use it because the language is simple, and it is something that I, as a writer, can easily understand. However, because it’s written for accessibility, to simplify the coding process for non-programmers like me, much of the scripting language is built from the ground up and doesn’t yet include many of the conventions that proper programmers would use in their programs. This means that some of the shortcuts I’d need to build this game quickly aren’t there, and even if they were, I’d have to learn about them because I’m not a programmer, and good programming practice is something I hadn’t learned until about a year ago, eight years after I’d started the game.

So, I’ve been spending the last year trying to practice good programming etiquette, and that means rewriting all of the mess I’d made in the years before. It’s the programming equivalent of cleaning out or cleaning up a junkyard all by yourself. It takes time, patience, and a little bit of strategy. In a future article, I may talk more about the experience and how it relates to art, writing, etc., and how such practices could be adopted for all elements in life. We’ll see how that goes.

If you want to read more about this game and keep up with its progress, you can check out the series of posts I make about it here at “Entrepreneur Central.” One of these days I’ll give it a proper website with a proper online version of the journal I keep about it. Unlike this blog, I keep up with the journal, writing in it every day that I work on the game.

The Celebration of Johnny’s Yellow Rubber Ducky

The novel-sized update for The Celebration of Johnny’s Yellow Rubber Ducky is coming along well. The new opening sequence that takes place during Johnny’s childhood is nearly finished (or, at least the first draft is). I still have a few scenes to write for his teenage years, but I expect to have the new first act finished soon. In this section, we learn how Johnny gets the duck and why he’s so attached to it. We also get to spend time with his semi-dysfunctional family, and who doesn’t want that?

I’ll be keeping the original novelette online indefinitely, but for those who want the complete story of what happens to Johnny before and after the events in the current version, the novel should satisfy that itch.

I may post a clip from the rewrite soon. Stay tuned.

Snow in Miami

Yep, Snow in Miami is still under construction, four months after Christmas and eight months before next Christmas. It’s nearly finished though. I still expect to have it done and released by September. Did you forget I was writing it?

So, that should cover the latest updates on upcoming events and current delays. I’ll come back soon with more information as it develops. Keep reading, folks. Or start reading. Do whatever’s more relevant.

Please subscribe to my blog if you want to keep hearing stories like these. You might even learn something.

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End-of-the Month Roundup: August 2016

My Friday Updates started off with a bang, and then they tapered off, and most of August has been without. “Why?” you may ask. Well, the simple reason is that I haven’t had much to talk about in August.

But, I suppose that’s not entirely true. I have actually done a lot of work, but not on my writing. I’ve been spending much of August studying, marketing in particular, but also editing. It’s the editing I’ve been learning that’s stalled my free-flow of writing. In short, I want to get my stories right, and to do so, I have to better understand the genres they fit in.

I’ve always had a problem with genre classification. I get the general genres like action and drama. But I’ve never been taught the conventions of these global genres, nor the conventions or obligatory scenes of their more defined parts (like action adventure, for example). Thanks to The Story Grid, I’ve been learning more about the genre types, and to some extent the conventions that make them work. More importantly, I’ve been giving more thought to what defines certain stories within their chosen genres, including my own stories. Especially my own stories.

I’ve been wanting to write an update to The Computer Nerd for a while, but I’ve been holding off because I want to attempt to run it through the grid (as outlined at The Story Grid website), and I want to be sure I fully understand how the grid works, and in turn figure out what I still need to do to make The Computer Nerd work. I also want to pick up Shawn Coyne’s book so that I have some kind of textbook to refer to when I give storygridding (a term Shawn Coyne coined) a try. I think it’ll be easier to graph once I know exactly what I’m supposed to do.

To be clear, I do think the story works based on the genre I’ve established. But now I’m wondering if I’ve picked the right genre. And I also think I can make it better. Even still, I have pictures in my head for improving it.

But, of course, that’s not the only thing I’ve been studying, nor the only thing keeping me up late at night.

When I do put it through a new rewrite, and eventually rerelease it, I also need to consider the cover image. I like what I have, but I don’t know that it’s appropriate for the genre. So much to consider, and I feel like no matter how much I learn about my craft, my awaiting knowledge seems to stack and stack.

There’s also the secondary concern about marketing. Whenever I do reedit and repost the story, I’ll want to do so with a change to the metadata. In short, I want this thing primed for marketing, and that means stripping out much of what’s already in there and replacing it with a more direct (and beneficial) link.

But how do I follow that?

The primary marketing tactic I see and hear all over the Internet is that the mailing list remains king. And guess what. I don’t have one. Nope, no mailing list. My blog subscription option is the best source I have for sending out new information, and most of the people who come here come to read my one comedic post about hoverboards, so they’re not going to subscribe. Clearly, that needs to change. So, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the mailing list and when to start it. But, I don’t want to really push the thing until I have what Nick Stephenson calls a “reader magnet” ready, and I’m starting to think that moving the post-credits scene to a mailing list exclusively is a bad idea. That scene is really part of the book, and should remain with the book. So, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a novella about the bounty hunter who’s searching for our mental institution escapees (spoiler alert if you haven’t read The Computer Nerd) and using that as my subscription incentive.

Would you be interested in reading the story of Mr. Sanders’s pursuit of our escapees?

Of course, getting people to subscribe means giving them something else to buy down the road, and The Computer Nerd is not something I plan to make a sequel or an entire series out of. It’s supposed to be standalone. Assuming they want something in the same genre, what do I give them?

I’ve been giving more thought to other stories I’ve posted or have planned to post by now–Gutter Child and Teenage American Dream specifically–and considered that maybe their stories could fit more into a mystery or thriller convention, and less in the convention they already have. So, among all of my other stray thoughts, I’m wondering if I should expand Gutter Child and turn the current plot into a subplot, and give Teenage American Dream a darker problem. I have some ideas on how I can expand them, but that will undoubtedly hold up my current plans of the other stories I’ve mentioned on this blog. I feel like I’ve been ignoring them long enough.

So, that’s how my month has been. No progress, just a lot of studying.

I also host a biannual game-making contest, which had a deadline this month, so I’ve been giving that a lot of my attention. But you came here to find out about my writing, didn’t you?

Friday Update #3: Book Cover Changes and Smashwords Sale

So, this week I made some changes to my packaging for Gutter Child and The Computer Nerd, including genre classifications, keyword updates, and in the case of Gutter Child, modifications to the cover and description.

gutter child cover alt 10
Cover image for “Gutter Child”

Nice, right?

In both cases, I’ve changed the weaker performing genre categories to Fiction > Mystery > General (with The Computer Nerd no longer classified under Themes & Motifs > Psychological and Gutter Child no longer classified under Literature > Literary on Smashwords or General > Family on Amazon). I hope these minor changes will improve my exposure to potential readers, especially now that my keywords are much more focused than previously.

To give you an example of the kinds of keyword changes I’ve made, here is a list of my old keywords versus my new ones for Gutter Child. Feel free to skip ahead if keywords don’t excite you.

Smashwords Old Keyword List

drama, relationships, family, young adult, college, quirky, writer, teenager, truth and lies

Smashwords New Keyword List

family drama, famous relative, adoption mystery, teen young adult, college life, quirky, writer, teenager, truth and lies, obsession

Amazon Old Keyword List

adoption, college, relationships, family, writer, truth, lies

Amazon New Keyword List

family drama, adoption mystery, college life, quirky, teenage angst, truth and lies, obsession

If any of these changes improve sales or, at the very least, exposure, I’ll be sure to mention so in a future update. One of my current goals for Drinking Café Latte at 1pm is to take you guys on my self-publishing journey, experiences, and pitfalls with me. That way we can all learn what not to do together.

Book Title News:

I was talking about titles with a close friend last night and told her the names of my next three novels. She’s pretty good with labels, and I was paying attention to her reactions and suggestions for improvement regarding each one I mentioned. This conversation started because she’s not the biggest fan of the title The Computer Nerd.

So, even though I am not necessarily changing course at this stage, I am considering updating my future titles based on our conversation. She had some great ideas, and I think they’re worth experimenting with. Here’s what could happen in the coming months:

Teenage American Dream could be renamed something akin to Teenage Dilemma (or something of that nature—she likes the title; I don’t so much).

Sweat of the Nomad we didn’t talk much about, but I’m sure that will be addressed eventually.

Zipwood Studios may eventually become An Invitation to Nowhere. I really do like that title. I also like the original title, but she made a good point that the title is basically the name of a building. Like Walmart. My contention was that a book with the title Adventures in Walmart would sell. She didn’t disagree, but I’m pretty sure she’s right about a title like Zipwood Studios being less likely to sell.

Will I actually make these changes? I don’t know yet. Part of the reason these books even have these titles is because these are the titles I gave to their short story counterparts many years ago, and I like consistency between products and their upgraded versions. But I am considering it.

I’m testing the grounds with The Computer Nerd, which as of July 1st will be called The Computer Nerd Scandal (on Smashwords and its affiliates only, and only for the month of July). On August 1st, I’ll make a decision whether to keep the new title or to revert it back to its original name. It’ll depend on what kind of business the title change gives me.

In Other News:

A few days ago, Smashwords announced its Summer/Winter sale for 2016, to be held from July 1 to July 31, and I’ve decided to enroll my e-books in the promotion. So, even though I’ve already got a number of permafree titles available on my store page to choose from, you can get my other current, usually not-for-free titles either for free or at a fair discount throughout the month of July.

Participating titles include:

Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two (25% off) – $3.74

Zippywings 2015 (50% off) – $2.00

The Computer Nerd (50% off) – $1.50

Gutter Child (100% off) – free

So, if you’ve been waiting for a sale like this to check out any of these titles, now is a good time to get them. Be sure to leave me feedback after you’ve read your copies. As far as I know, the coupon codes for the discounts will be available at checkout.

And that’s it for this week’s updates.

Actually, no it’s not. I’ve spent much of this past week celebrating my 40th birthday. Here’s a picture of me pretending to blow out the candle on a vegan Oreo cupcake (made by my friend April, who’s vegan and good at it) in my new Marty McFly, Back to the Future 2 hat after I blew out the candle for real but my sister was too slow at taking the shot. This photo was taken at my celebration dinner at Mulligan’s Beach House last Saturday.

my 40th birthday
Celebrating my 40th with some 80’s nostalgia.

I’ve also spent part of the week updating a book of interactive fiction that I started about three years ago and then forgot about until recently. It’s called I Like Pigeons, and it’s very much a work-in-progress, but it’s fun to write and a nice distraction from the books I should be working on, like Teenage American Dream, for example.

So, that’s it for this week’s updates.

 

Preview: Superheroes Anonymous (AMDF, Year Two): Chapter 4

May 27, 2016:

The worldwide debut of Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two has officially arrived, and now it’s time to preview the last of the first four chapters. Or, you could just click the link and buy the book now and read the whole thing. That’s probably better, since it’s only $4.95, or the price of a coffee at Starbucks. And I guarantee it’ll last you much longer than that coffee from Starbucks.

Just a reminder:

If you’re unfamiliar with Jimmy Knightly, the island of New Switzerland, and the wackball superheroes known as the Risen Ordinaries, I’d suggest reading the first year volume, Cannonball City: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year One, to get yourself acquainted. But don’t let that stop you from picking up Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two, now available. Get ’em both!

Do be aware, however, that these “Annual Editions” are very long. They are actually multiple books rolled into one seamless volume that covers a year of the overarching story. If you’re intimidated by story density, this may not be right for you. FYI.

That said, enjoy the final preview.

If you need a refresher, read Chapter 1 here.

And Chapter 2 here.

And Chapter 3 here.

And now you can read Chapter 4 here.

And you can read Chapter 5 and beyond here.

Enjoy.

Preview: Superheroes Anonymous (AMDF, Year Two): Chapter 3

May 20, 2016:

The worldwide debut of Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two is coming next week, and to continue the preview from two weeks ago, I’m releasing the third of the first four chapters of the book. I plan to keep releasing them, one every Friday at 1pm EST, until release day on May 27th, so keep checking back.

Just a reminder:

If you’re unfamiliar with Jimmy Knightly, the island of New Switzerland, and the wackball superheroes known as the Risen Ordinaries, I’d suggest reading the first year volume, Cannonball City: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year One, to get yourself acquainted. But don’t let that stop you from checking out this third in the four-chapter preview and picking up Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two on May 27th. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional spoiler!

Do be aware, however, that these “Annual Editions” are very long. They are actually multiple books rolled into one seamless volume that covers a year of the overarching story. If you’re intimidated by story density, this may not be right for you. FYI.

That said, enjoy the preview.

If you need a refresher, read Chapter 1 here.

And Chapter 2 here.

Otherwise, continue the preview with Chapter 3 here.

Enjoy.

Preview: Superheroes Anonymous (AMDF, Year 2): Chapter 2

May 13, 2016:

The worldwide debut of Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two is coming soon, and to continue the trend I started last week, I thought I’d release the second of the first four chapters of the book. I plan to keep releasing them, one every Friday at 1pm EST, until release day on May 27th, so keep checking back.

Just a reminder:

If you’re unfamiliar with Jimmy Knightly, the island of New Switzerland, and the wackball superheroes known as the Risen Ordinaries, I’d suggest reading the first year volume, Cannonball City: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year One, to get yourself acquainted. But don’t let that stop you from checking out this second in the four-chapter preview and picking up Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two on May 27th. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional spoiler!

Do be aware, however, that these “Annual Editions” are very long. They are actually multiple books rolled into one seamless volume that covers a year of the overarching story. If you’re intimidated by story density, this may not be right for you. FYI.

That said, enjoy the preview. Content is still subject to change slightly, but probably not by much.

If you need a refresher, read Chapter 1 here.

Otherwise continue by reading Chapter 2 here.

Enjoy.

Preview: Superheroes Anonymous (AMDF, Year Two): Chapter 1

May 6, 2016:

The worldwide debut of Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two is nigh, and to get the boulder rolling, I thought I’d release the first four chapters of the book, one every Friday at 1pm EST, until release day on May 27th.

If you’re unfamiliar with Jimmy Knightly, the island of New Switzerland, and the wackball superheroes known as the Risen Ordinaries, I’d suggest reading the first year volume, Cannonball City: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year One, to get yourself acquainted. But don’t let that stop you from checking out this four-chapter preview and picking up Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two on May 27th. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional spoiler!

Do be aware, however, that these “Annual Editions” are very long. They are actually multiple books rolled into one seamless volume that covers a year of the overarching story. If you’re intimidated by story density, this may not be right for you. FYI.

That said, enjoy the preview. Content is still subject to change slightly, but probably not by much.

Chapter 1

“Some Unpronounceable Martial Art Involving Spoons”

     It was an honor to learn these special moves from Plummet Man, a member of the superhero elite, and Jimmy knew it, but he still wanted to punch his mentor in the mouth. Ever since the Cannonball City Transport had dumped him in front of the duck pond at Cannonball City Central Park’s main entrance, he was forced into this training mode that he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted, and taking instructions he neither understood nor could put to relevance seemed like an utter waste of time. But the Risen Ordinaries, the small group of men and women who monitored crime in the city and had the skills to counteract them, had pestered him to join their ranks, due to his sudden physiological transformation during a crisis at the Nectarine Institute of Research, and he could only assume their belief in him was sound. But they failed to realize that he was just a tennis star who was better at sports than he was at crime-fighting. A part of that reason, he assumed, was due to him never telling them about his identity as Jimmy Knightly, tennis star in hiding. The other reason, of course, was that they never bothered to ask.

Like a good student, he still resigned himself to listening, to watching, to pretending to follow the mad actions displayed by his teacher before him. But, like a typical student, he dreamed of being anywhere else, doing anything else. Plummet Man’s intentions were certainly noble—giving this security risk a chance at representing a nation of science-built superheroes was the act of a saint—but they were also misguided. Jimmy had a lucky break when he defeated those powerhouse titans of destruction, Cloak Combustion and Bald Hairypit, in the suffocating inferno enveloping city hall. Heroism couldn’t have maintained the same consistency that professional sports had provided him. At some point, he was destined to let someone down, and given the nature of the superhero-sidekick relationship (what the Risen Ordinaries refer to as a crime-fighting apprenticeship), that person was likely Plummet Man.

Punching him in the mouth would be easier. The disappointment would come as less of a surprise, and Jimmy would still have the satisfaction of relieving himself of the stress that his pudgy mentor was inflicting on him.

“Come on, I know you can do this,” Plummet Man said, again, for the tenth time in as many minutes. “I believe in you.”

So misguided. Jimmy had no idea how to respond.

This wasn’t the first time he had learned the basics, but it was the first time he was willing to admit to having no comprehension about what he had learned. Maybe the instructor was so gifted that the art seemed effortless, and maybe some recessive part of his brain tricked him into believing that he had understood all of it. But, as he stared at the three spoons in his left fist, staring at his warped yet handsome reflection in their chrome finishes, he realized he had no clue.

“You’re not clearing your mind,” the instructor said, as he appeared in triplicate over Jimmy’s shoulder in the spoons’ reflections.

“My mind is always clear,” Jimmy said. “I just don’t get the point.”

“You’re not supposed to get the point. The point is that it can save your life.”

His mind actually wasn’t clear, and he had been thinking about it for the last half hour. Staring at utensils was turning him cross-eyed, and he felt the strain in his neck building toward his forehead as he progressively drifted away from the lesson. Learning the tricks of these spoons was supposed to save his life one day, and it was pissing him off that he couldn’t comprehend how. He had spent his life learning how spoons are used for one purpose only: to eat soups and cereals; two if he counted stirring cream and sugar into his coffee. The idea that they had a third purpose, to humiliate evil and save his life, blew his mind, and his mind was not one that could stand getting blown.

“You’re gonna have to explain it to me again like I’m an eight-year-old.”

The man in the purple spandex circled to Jimmy’s front and looked him in the sunglasses. It was equally hard to see his eyes, for they were masked under a translucent piece of plastic film, but there was just enough light penetrating the surface to see the whites staring back. They were familiar, but Jimmy still didn’t know how.

“In the field, you won’t have time to remember the details. In the field, you’ll just have to rely on your muscle memory. There is nothing to get. Clear your mind. Then use the spoons.”

Jimmy closed his eyes, doing his best to think about nothing. A few supermodels entered his thoughts instead, but he let them go quickly. They had all turned him down for dates in his previous life. Not worth the thought. He started thinking about coffee after that—he was in a hurry to leave the house this morning and didn’t have time to make it. Plummet Man, his instructor, had told him they had a lot of work to do and would have to skip the morning diner visit until later. Coffee might’ve stimulated his brain, which he was sure he needed now, but that might’ve been contrary to the actual lesson he needed to follow, which was to clear his mind. It was all so confusing. How anyone could learn this stuff was beyond him.

“Use the spoons,” Plummet Man said.

Without giving it any thought, Jimmy waved the spoons over his head. Then, when nothing happened, he took the middle spoon into his right hand and shoved it into his mouth. When he opened his eyes, he could see the spoon’s stem jutting out past his nose, and a slight frown on Plummet Man’s face—the part of his face that Jimmy could see—beyond that.

“Maybe you need another demonstration?” he asked.

Jimmy pulled the spoon out of his mouth, wiped it off on his sleeve, and placed it back in the group. Then he passed all three back to Plummet Man.

“I’m telling you. None of this makes sense to me, and that’s the problem.”

“When I showed this to you back in November, you said you understood.”

“And you believed me?”

Plummet Man gave no response. He just took the spoons in his right hand and fanned them out in Y-formation.

Jimmy leaned against the trashcan beside the park bench as he watched his mentor slowly go through the steps again. Even as the visual reminder played before him, he couldn’t grasp the fundamental point. Plummet Man was waving the spoons around, almost like spinning fan blades, so effortlessly that Jimmy thought years had gone into this weird spoon art training, but he didn’t know why he was spinning them, and that, Jimmy realized, was the main problem.

“Pretend you’re teaching me calculus,” he said, “though I barely passed algebra.”

Plummet Man halted the improvised propeller and all three spoons stopped in a downward angle like a set of dull claws poised to dig some earth. He snatched his whole hand out of sight, putting it and the spoons behind his back.

“Are you saying you need me to explain the steps?” he asked.

“Making me watch you is doing nothing for me.”

When Plummet Man pulled his hand back into sight, the spoons were missing.

“Why can’t you just mimic what I do?”

Jimmy shrugged.

“Doesn’t work that way for me.”

“But, you want to be a Risen Ordinary, right?”

“Well, not really, but you people keep trying to suck me in, so the best way to shut you up is to agree to your terms. Not sure what point you’re making, though.”

Hero or not, sometimes it was important just to be honest, Jimmy thought.

While Jimmy was talking, he had missed Plummet Man reproducing the spoons in his other hand. It was like witnessing a magician at work, a magician who refused to share his secrets but expected an exact replica of his presentation.

“Sometimes you have to act on your feet. Sometimes the situation does not allow you to draw on experience. Half our job as Risen Ordinaries is to improvise reaction to unique situations. That’s the secret to Ingurumen infantilismoa konbinazioa borroka, or Envirospasticum, as we call it. If you can’t improvise, you risk killing yourself and your team.”

Jimmy considered Plummet Man’s words. Still had no idea what any of them meant. But somewhere in the nonsense, he understood the word improvise.

“So, what you’re saying is, it doesn’t matter what I do with the spoons. What matters is that I do something with the spoons.”

Plummet Man passed the spoons back to Jimmy. Without giving it additional thought, Jimmy tossed one spoon in the air and tried to catch it by clamping the others together as it fell back toward him. The left spoon knocked the falling spoon out of trajectory, launching it over the right spoon as it passed harmlessly over the left. He watched the rogue spoon fly into an ant pile about eight feet away.

He glanced back at Plummet Man and smiled.

“How was that?” he asked.

“Needs work,” said Plummet Man. “Not sure how that move is going to save your life.”

Jimmy grinned, nodded. Then he cocked back his elbow in preparation to strike his mentor in the face. Plummet Man, ever his superior, had already anticipated the move and kicked him in the stomach. Jimmy toppled backward onto the sand, nearly rolling into the duck pond.

“I appreciate your alternative mode of improvisation,” Plummet Man said, “but you must also anticipate defense and counterattacks before you throw a punch. It also helps if you don’t telegraph your moves. Learn to punch without flinching first. Might also save your life.”

Jimmy flipped to his belly and staggered to his feet. Why anyone believed he would make a fine superhero was beyond him. He was terrible at even following directions.

“Not to mention,” said Plummet Man, “it might save my life. So, get this right, pal. Let’s try your spoon technique again.”

***

     It had been an exhausting experience working out with Plummet Man, but Jimmy was never one to back down from exercise, and ever since his ankle had healed from last year’s injury at the Australian Open, he had been gradually trimming down the excess body fat he had acquired from weeks of inactivity and months of burger binging. He still hadn’t reached his target weight—he was hooked on that damn Hamburger Supreme at the restaurant in the Hotel Primex—but he was getting there. The trouble was that his workouts with superheroes had left him too exhausted to resist the urge.

It wasn’t like this whenever he had trained for a Grand Slam match. In those days he had personal trainers who told him what to eat, told him how to exercise, and told him to hold still as they shot him full of the best medicines to overcome the pain. They essentially took the pressure away from him thinking for himself. He didn’t have that now. Here in the lonely nation of New Switzerland, home to the Western Hemisphere’s premiere expatriates, he had to make decisions for himself, and those decisions were the ingredients that determined whether he could keep up with these superhuman crime-fighters. Training to defeat rival tennis stars had never left him with so much performance anxiety, and completing a session (or even a match) had never left him feeling so physically drained at the end of the day.

And it was for that reason that, on this late afternoon at the end of February, Jimmy Knightly, former tennis star and current superhero-in-training, who had decided for himself to crash on his living room couch the moment he had gotten home from his day with Plummet Man, was not ready for the surprise that was waiting at his front door. When he opened it, heart aflutter because he was somehow expecting his neighbor and long-term crush, Julie Alundruss, to be standing on the other side, he felt his heart reverse direction and crash into his sternum because the person standing on the other side was not Julie but a man who should have been playing a police chief role in some ridiculous action film over three thousand miles away.

It was on that visit that Edward Sewaller, Jimmy’s best friend since childhood, had revealed a shocking likelihood that neither had believed was possible: Jimmy’s murderous stalker, the Spotless Cowboy, was still alive and likely heading for New Switzerland to finish the deal he couldn’t close with Jimmy back in Los Angeles.

The Spotless Cowboy was an FBI nightmare, if Jimmy could recall, not just elusive, but decked in trace-eliminating hardware that had no known origin, and thus, no known seller, and thus no known way to track it to a bank account or known identity. Jimmy had known only the basics of this mysterious device that the Spotless Cowboy had used as outerwear, enough certainly to keep him afraid. It had helped him reach an impossible aiming and firing speed that allowed him to mow down an entire police squad in the lobby of the orthopedists’ office where Jimmy had tended to his ankle injury. And for a guy who had to cross off names from his list by killing them with gunfire, the thought of him coming to eliminate Jimmy from the list left him feeling a little jumpy.

“So, the rumors are true?” Jimmy asked. “Special Agent Greenhorn didn’t kill him on my front lawn that day?”

“No one shared the reports on what really happened,” Ed said, as he leaned forward to grab a magazine off of Jimmy’s coffee table. “The buzz around town, if my sources can be trusted, is that he killed a neighborhood haunt and switched his clothes to escape.”

Jimmy shook his head.

“Sometimes I wonder how anyone could elude the FBI using such ridiculous methods. Aren’t they supposed to be one of the most state-of-the-art detective agencies in the world?”

“Yeah, but they’ve been having a lot of problems lately. Clearly you’re not watching CNN.”

Jimmy glanced at his longtime friend as if he were meeting him for the first time.

“Do you not know me?” Jimmy asked.

“Right. Sensitive spot. Not saying it to speculate, just confirming what I know you didn’t see.”

Jimmy had stopped watching any news program a long time ago, thanks to the harassment he had felt from reporters after he had undergone a wardrobe malfunction in France. He had further distrusted them after one of the cycles gave a faulty report that he had been committing adultery with one of his bodyguard’s girlfriends, a woman he couldn’t recall having ever met, a woman he was certain he hadn’t met—though he hadn’t found out about that news story until two years later when he tried hiring that same bodyguard to protect him again. The incidents had left him unknowledgeable about much of the world’s happenings, and incidentally, a happier man. It was the Spotless Cowboy’s disturbance of his personal tranquility that had put him back on edge.

“At any rate, the FBI dropped the ball, and now the bastard’s on his way here. Most likely. So, please don’t die.”

Jimmy stared across the living room, at his stereo, which was currently silent.

“Doesn’t sound like I can make you any promises.”

***

     Jimmy’s training session the next day was more difficult than usual. Plummet Man wanted to keep teaching him Envirospasticum, and he wanted to do so along the beach to help Jimmy focus better on the trickier techniques, as the city was too busy and the art of using spoons in warfare depended a lot on muscle memory. If Jimmy could concentrate on the movements of the spoons, he could begin to see them even with his eyes closed. If he could mimic those movements, then he could form his automatic actions. As Plummet Man pointed a spoon at the ocean and lunged, then asked Jimmy to model his behavior, Jimmy understood his intention immediately. The idea was certainly sound.

But Jimmy couldn’t concentrate. Even with a technique as simple as lunging, Jimmy wasn’t as focused as he was supposed to be. When he took the spoon in hand and lunged forward, his arm flopped to his side. When he straightened his body and glanced at his mentor, Plummet Man was shaking his head at him.

“You told me to teach you like you’re an eight-year-old, and you’re still doing horrible,” he said. “Are you even trying?”

Jimmy shook his head.

“No, I can get this.”

He tried again. This time he kept his arm straight, but his jutted knee was shaking. When he looked down at it, he noticed he was standing in the hollow between a dune and flattened sand. He stepped backward onto higher ground.

“Better?” he asked.

Plummet Man shrugged.

“I’m honestly wondering if I should save this lesson for later,” he said.

He stepped in close and put his hand on the small of Jimmy’s back.

“You need to keep this straight, first of all. Try again. If you feel my hand slip away, you’re doing it wrong.”

Jimmy tried again. He felt Plummet Man’s hand slip away.

“You’re not keeping your back straight. Pretend you’re fencing. You ever watch two fencers square off? They keep it elegant. You need to keep your lunge elegant.”

Jimmy stared at him in disbelief. Even though his mentor had no way of seeing his eyes behind his sunglasses, he was still narrowing them.

“My lunge with spoons? Needs to be elegant?”

“It’s about power. If you can control your body, you can control your spoons.”

Jimmy cracked a smile. His mentor was bonkers.

“You understand that I’m standing in sand, right?”

Plummet Man nodded.

“Yes, you’re increasing your need for control. Try again.”

Jimmy tried again. He was still bending his back too far forward.

“Children can do this,” Plummet Man said. “I can vouch for this because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Surely you can do this.”

Jimmy was about to scream. He knew he could do this, too. He was a sportsman for crying out loud. If anyone could do something so physically easy, he, a professional athlete, could lunge with a spoon on the beach while keeping his freaking back straight.

But when he heard the thunderous crack of a palm trunk snapping about a hundred feet behind him, he pitched too far forward and tumbled into the sand.

Plummet Man reached down and picked him up. Then they both looked in the direction of the noise. A hippie was coming out of a dark cleft in the thick tree line past the highway. He was dragging another hippie out by the hair. The other hippie was grasping at the more dominant hippie’s wrists to pry his hands away, but he was making no progress. By the time the first hippie finally released him, they had reached the highway.

The first guy kicked the other while he was down. Then he returned to the cleft between the trees. The beaten hippie jumped to his feet and chased after the first, but two more hippies were emerging from the darkness, holding the sharp ends of two picket signs at him. The fallen hippie caught the hint and backed off.

Jimmy glanced at Plummet Man.

“What are we watching right now?” he asked.

Plummet Man shook his head.

“No idea. Best we leave it alone. The people around here are known savages. I’d rather not get tangled in their affairs.”

The fallen hippie slinked toward the highway. He was limping along as if someone had stubbed his right big toe before driving a two-by-four to his left shin. Jimmy had a momentary flashback of the burden he had felt walking when he had his ankle injury last year.

“He’s got a long way to walk in that condition,” Jimmy said.

Plummet Man nodded.

“Yes, yes he does.”

Jimmy took a step toward the highway, but Plummet Man grabbed his biceps and stopped him.

“I really don’t think that’s a good idea,” he said.

Jimmy shook off his grip.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I think you shouldn’t worry about that man. Let him be.”

“Aren’t we superheroes or something?” Jimmy asked.

“I am. You’re a sidekick.”

Jimmy wrinkled his nose at the idea of being somebody’s sidekick. He still couldn’t get used to the idea.

“Well, don’t crime-fighters help the downtrodden?”

“When the situation is right, sure. But this isn’t that time. He’s a grown man, and now he’s alone. He can handle himself.”

Jimmy clenched his teeth as he watched the hippie reach the road. The hippie began limping east with his thumb extended. With his other hand, he pried his shirt off his body and waved it around like a tie-dyed flag.

“No one’s gonna actually drive through here, though,” Jimmy said. “Right?”

“Probably not, no.”

Jimmy turned toward his mentor.

“We could give him a hand. There’s no way he can make it all the way to Cannonball City walking like that.”

“Maybe not, but that’s not our problem.”

Jimmy felt his stomach tighten. He had spent the better part of the year recovering from his injuries, his fears, and his chronic string of bad luck. Even though his fears continued to peck at his thoughts, and his bad luck was likely the price for residency on the island of New Switzerland, the injuries he had incurred on the tournament tennis court, and again in the heat of battle against a brutish man with unfathomable armpit hair and a cloaked man who shot fire out of his wrists, were mostly healed. And he couldn’t get there without the support of others. Failing to return the favor didn’t settle well with him. He wanted to help this guy out. The Envirospasticum lesson could wait.

“I think it should be,” he said. “Especially if he needs a hand.”

He glanced at his mentor for validation. Plummet Man’s smile was flat.

“Leave it alone. Stick to your training.”

“I am sticking to my training. This is training. Look, we’re seeing an active situation where someone needs help. So, let’s give the man some help.”

“I appreciate your heart,” Plummet Man said. “But you don’t yet understand the situation.”

“Neither do you. Isn’t that why we should find out?”

“Not necessarily.”

Jimmy couldn’t believe his mentor would just let a man in need fend for himself in this violent wildland without so much as an escort back to town.

“I’m gonna at least ask him if he wants help,” Jimmy said. “At least then we’ll know who’s right here.”

Plummet Man shrugged. Then he gestured Jimmy forward.

Jimmy headed off the dune toward the Coastal Highway, doing his best to ignore his fear of exposure. Hiding his secret terror behind his sense of duty was no easy task, and every shift in shadow among the trees to the north caused him a new shot of anxiety. But he pressed on, keeping his eyes focused on the goal that mattered: reaching the hippie in need and getting him to wherever he was trying to go.

As he trekked across the narrow stretch of beach to the section of road known as the “Highway Fork,” he felt Plummet Man’s presence sticking closely behind him. With every swish in the sand he heard coming from his own feet, he could hear in stereo several feet behind.

Once he reached the road, he glanced over his shoulder to confirm that Plummet Man was right behind him. The expression on his mouth was still flat, somewhere between disapproval and resignation. When Jimmy lifted his hands to question his actions, Plummet Man simply gestured him to continue forward. At this point he was giving Jimmy full control of the scene.

Because the hippie was lumbering along, Jimmy and Plummet Man caught up to him rather quickly. Plummet Man hung back a few feet while Jimmy veered in front of the hippie and stopped him.

“Hi, sir,” Jimmy said. “We notice you could use a little help. If you would like my friend and I to assist your—”

Without warning, the hippie swatted at Jimmy and hissed. Jimmy shrank back on instinct.

“What the hell?”

The hippie lunged at Jimmy, but Jimmy’s reflexes took over, and he sidestepped the man before he could strike. However, for someone who had been beaten just minutes ago, and injured below the knees, the hippie was remarkably fast, and before Jimmy knew what had happened, the hippie sideswiped him and knocked the spoons out of his hand. The hippie fell forward and tackled the spoons before Jimmy could reach down to grab them. Then he snapped at him while Jimmy’s hand was just inches away. Jimmy withdrew his hand to his side before the man could bite it off.

Jimmy took a few steps back. Plummet Man, meanwhile, was standing behind the hippie with his arms folded over his belly. He was indifferent as he watched the skirmish unfold.

“Care to help?” Jimmy asked.

“No, you got this,” Plummet Man said.

The hippie was down on his hands and knees, cradling the spoons as if he were a lion and they were his cubs. Whenever Jimmy took a step forward, the hippie would growl at him and swipe.

“Should I just let him have the spoons?” Jimmy asked.

Plummet Man shrugged.

“Good question. How important are they to you?”

“I don’t know. They’re spoons.”

“What if they were covered in nitrogen powder and he was going to use them to blow up the city?”

Jimmy was trying to listen to Plummet Man’s questions, but his focus was almost entirely on the hippie. It seemed the hippie was inching closer to him with a hot fire in his eyes. He seemed really intent on eating Jimmy’s hand.

“I didn’t know nitrogen powder could do that,” Jimmy said.

“Who knows? I’m not a chemist. Just an example. What if he had the ingredients to destroy the city in his hands right now? What would you do?”

“Call for backup.”

“What if we’re all tied up. What then?”

“I don’t think a hippie is going to tie you up. That’s ridiculous.”

Plummet Man unfolded his arms and pointed at Jimmy.

“Play the scenario, Powerstick Man. You’re training now.”

Jimmy shuffled away from the hippie as he lunged at his feet. Now the hippie was trying to stab him with the spoons.

“Fine. Okay, first I would fight back.”

Jimmy jerked forward in an effort to scare the hippie into backing off, but the hippie threw all three spoons at his face. As Jimmy put up his forearms to block the assault, the hippie jumped to his feet and dashed past him, bumping him in the side, nearly knocking him over. When Jimmy spun around to catch his balance, he watched him running for the city and marveled at how quickly he recovered from his previous injuries.

Jimmy hunched over and caught his breath. In the wake of his burst of adrenaline, he hadn’t realized he was tiring out.

“What just happened?” he said.

“Well, you defused a situation, sort of,” said Plummet Man. “In the messiest way possible.”

“Why was he acting that way?”

“You could chase him down and ask him if you want.”

Jimmy shook his head.

“This has got to be the craziest place in the world.”

He straightened his knees and stretched. With his hands pressed against his lower back, he leaned back and cracked it. Then he clenched his fists and leaned over, trying to pull the kinks out of his spine. Then he shook his hands to loosen up.

When he stood up again, Plummet Man stepped in close and elbowed Jimmy in the side. Jimmy bowled over as he felt the air rushing out of him.

“Ow, why?” he gasped.

“Training,” Plummet Man said. “Always be on your guard. When even the peaceful hippies attack, you know you cannot lower your vigilance.”

Plummet Man reached down and picked up the spoons.

“Also,” he said, “you disobeyed my order. Let’s not forget that you’re the sidekick. I told you to leave that guy alone. He didn’t look right, and you’re not ready to deal with people like him.”

Jimmy wanted to argue that he had singlehandedly defeated two known members of the Order of Pilephile just a few months earlier, but seeing as how that battle had landed him in the hospital for six weeks, he thought it was a bragging right worth keeping to himself.

“So, what now?” he asked, still gasping.

“Now we return to our dune and keep practicing our spoons.”

***

     When Jimmy got home that night, he brewed some tea, grabbed an icepack to deal with the day’s bruises, and thought about how poorly he had handled the situation with the fallen hippie. While he sat on his sofa listening to “Every Breath You Take” on the radio, he started to wonder if he was well-equipped enough to face his old enemy. Sure, he had taken down two members of the Order of Pilephile during the crisis at city hall, and he did so alone, but he dispatched them by what felt like luck. The energy harnesser he had used to blow them out of the third floor window had given him a heart attack. Every medical professional he had seen since convinced him to never use it again. Facing a known mass murderer who wanted to murder him without that portable lightning bolt shooter was probably going to suck.

That night, he saw his orthopedist visit return in a dream. Once again he relived the nightmare of witnessing the aftereffects of half a dozen police officers falling in a spray of blood on the waiting room floor. Once again he awoke in a pool of sweat. Once again he went into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of hot water and attempt to calm himself back to sleep.

The next morning, he and Plummet Man forwent the spoons to train beside a parked car in the Cannonball City Heights District. When Plummet Man noticed his heart wasn’t in it, thanks to Jimmy thinking about the Spotless Cowboy, even though he didn’t mention it, he suggested they go to Smack Burgers for some lunch. It was while they were eating with Cherry Chicklet and Miss Honeysweet, two beautiful ladies who also kept their hands dipped in the crime-fighting pool, that the Pig Rocker, a fellow Risen Ordinary with a hotheaded persistence, busted in with some “big news” about the old fallen ocean liner called the Tropica Hardcore and what life-altering detail had been discovered about it. He told them they needed to go to the Risen Ordinaries’ conference center on Sandy Smack Island to hear more about the situation and the repercussions of the findings. After the reprimand Plummet Man had given him at the beach the day before, Jimmy reluctantly agreed to join them. But his heart wasn’t in that journey, either. He was uncomfortable with the idea of taking a long walk in plain daylight, exposing himself to the hidden crosshair of a sharpshooting maniac who now knew exactly where to find him and could reach New Switzerland at any time. He wasn’t sure if Plummet Man would understand.

May Updates and Freebies

May 2, 2016:

Just a quick announcement regarding the status of things existing and things coming.

  1. The Computer Nerd has been officially updated with a new revision on Smashwords and Amazon (with the adjacent distributors getting theirs any day now). If you haven’t read it yet, this is the perfect time, because, well, it’s always the perfect time for a great book, and I’m particularly happy with the update. Note: Update applies to e-book only. I’ll be adapting my revisions to the paperback version soon. Look for another announcement once that’s up and running.
  2. Until May 25, 2016, The Computer Nerd and Gutter Child will be available for free at Smashwords and its distribution stores (Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc.). If you’ve been hesitating to check either one out, this is the month to do it (if you don’t want to support my efforts with money). You can still purchase them at Amazon for the regular price if you are feeling generous, and as always, I appreciate your support.
  3. Unless something gets in the way, I will be launching the month-long promo for Superheroes Anonymous: A Modern-day Fantasy, Year Two at 1pm EST on May 6, 2016, partly in honor of its upcoming release, but also to honor the release of Captain America: Civil War and the 2016 blockbuster movie season. The party will begin with the full release of Chapter 1 (with other chapters to follow each Friday until the e-book releases on May 27, 2016, or the day that X-Men: Apocalypse opens). If you haven’t caught up yet, get the first year book for free here. Keep in mind that Year One covers the abridged version of three books (so it is quite a long read) and Year Two will cover the abridged version of two books (also a long read).

So, don’t delay. Get these hot items while they’re…er…hot! And leave a review, especially if it’s positive. I don’t have enough of any kind of review, and I’d like more. More reviews!

Thanks.

Cannonball City is Coming!

December 23, 2015:

Coming Christmas Day!

cannonball city cover art version 1p
Cover Image for “Cannonball City: AMDF, Year One”

The massive epic adventure of a tennis star who becomes a superhero and faces his darkest fears amid the unusual landscapes of Los Angeles and the Caribbean will be available for download on Christmas morning. Check its official page for details.

Note: The presale price is temporary. It will be marked free for download on the day of release. Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo may not change the price until after the holidays, but Smashwords will have it available for free.

Free for How Long Now?

October 27, 2015:

So, last week I released my latest e-book, The Computer Nerd, with a modest price tag of $.99. I had set this price thinking it was a great idea. Er, no. Not only was I selling poorly on those first two days (how poorly will be covered in another blog sometime in November), with the few “sales” I was making mostly credited to free coupons I had given to a select group of people, but I had gotten a severe reduction in my normal first-day page views compared to other day-one titles (again, specifics coming in November). I was beginning to think my chances at this self-publishing game was drying up before I’d ever hit my stride. Ouch.

So, I said “screw it,” and last Wednesday night (just under 48 hours after release), I decided to make it free…temporarily.

“Sales” over the next few days spiked in a tremendous way. Let’s just say my readership value multiplied by about 2500% from that move. The Computer Nerd, as of this writing, is now ranked #51,299 at Barnes and Noble, which is not impressive to the big picture, but a personal best, and I know it’s due to my making it free…temporarily.

(As a side note, John Grisham’s The Rogue Lawyer, which I hyped in my blog post from October 19th, is ranked at #5. I’d like to think my hyping of his book has led to its impressive rank, though I’m willing to bet his name brand has had some hand in it. At any rate, it’s obvious that book readers everywhere took my advice and chose to read his book over mine, not due to quality of the read but due, again, to the name recognition. Given the average review it’s getting, that might’ve been a bad call.

Just kidding, of course. I’m not delusional. He doesn’t need my promotional help. I’m assuming.)

Anyway, I had planned on tacking the price back onto The Computer Nerd tonight, with an increase from $.99 to $2.99. But, my 2015 goal is to gain readership, not income, so I’m keeping the price free as long as the momentum continues. Once it dries up, then I’ll put the price tag back on.

What does this mean to you, the reader? It means you should snag your copy at any of the available retailers now, while it’s free without a coupon, and then tell everyone you know to get their copies so that the momentum can continue and the price can stay free. So, how long it stays free will depend on popularity. That means its freedom depends on you!

Shallow, maybe. But regardless of what the price may communicate, I care about my books, and I want people to read them because I think they do speak to people in ways that maybe they can relate. So get yours today. And read it, too, while you’re at it. It’s good. Personal opinion, of course, and you’re welcome to tell me differently if you disagree. It’s a detail I’d probably need to know. But I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

The official page has links to the stores that carry it. If you don’t have anything to read it on, you can read it on your computer. Smashwords has an online reader, and Adobe Editions and Kindle both have PC-friendly apps you can download and install to read .EPUBs and .MOBIs respectively. Kobo also has a nice reader available, if you’re interested in purchasing books from them. They actually have my favorite of the reading apps. But stick to what you love.

If you get your copy, please be kind and leave a review, either at the store you bought it from, or at Goodreads. Thanks. And feel free to comment on it here, or on the official page if you want to discuss it.