by Todd

Missing in a maze of Monochrome.

July 30, 2014 in Blog by Todd

TLM

For the first time in a great while, I’m going to write about the Monochrome Trilogy for a few minutes. Some of you probably think I’ve forgotten about it, foregoing its story in favor of the shorter, bloody bite-sized chunks that the ULT series has to offer. If you’ve thought that, you’d be half-right. I have been focused on ULT lately—but I haven’t forgotten about the Monochrome.

I wish I could forget about the Monochrome. That won’t happen, though, because these days it’s haunting me. It hangs over my head like a cloud, and any time I get an idea for something else—like the next ULT story, for example—that cloud bears down a little bit, and I feel guilty for thinking about working on something other than the Monochrome.

TLM’s two-year anniversary is coming up. Two years! Can you believe it? It’s been two years since I left Donovan Candle standing at the top of the WBS network building, and in that time, my vision of what would follow has changed dramatically. For better or worse, I can’t say. All I know is that it’s changed, and while I have a much clearer picture of what NONENTITY will be, there are still so many pieces that remain hidden from me.

I find myself going back and reading through old entries and emails and notes just to see where I was in the months leading up to the beginning of TLM. Although I began TLM in January ’09, I spent most of that year meandering through the first third of the story. I had no idea where it was going, and it wasn’t until I re-thought everything at the end of that year that it all came into focus. Truth be told, TLM’s first draft may have taken 19 months to complete, but the bulk of it was written in seven. I needed the other twelve months to figure it all out.

I’m in a better place this time around—I’m a better writer, for starters. I have a better grasp on the story and its characters.

And yet I keep hitting a wall whenever I work on it. I have a very small portion of it written—those of you who’ve pre-ordered ULT: Volume One will have the pleasure of reading it soon—and I also have a great deal of notes written as well. I have chapter titles, I have themes, I have the makings of a playlist, and I have a chronological history starting with Dullington’s orgins and leading all the way up to the events of ALT. All the pieces are in place. So why am I hitting a wall?

I honestly don’t know. Right now that wall is my biggest obstacle. Maybe it’s pressure? Maybe it’s fear? Who knows.

I just keep thinking about those early days of TLM and how difficult they were, trying to figure out what it was that led to that moment when everything fell into place and the book took off.

Maybe I’m just over-thinking this too much?

Probably. In any case, thanks for listening. I just needed to vent.

Before I go: There are 17 days left to pre-order UGLY LITTLE THINGS: VOLUME ONE. If you’re planning on doing so, but you’re waiting for whatever reason, please let me know so I can plan accordingly.

Cheers,

TK

by Todd

Anthony Rapino’s Freakin’ Magnets: How do they work?

July 28, 2014 in Blog by Todd

My pal Tony Rapino isn’t just a kickass writer; he’s also a bit of an artist. Lately he’s been playing around with sculpting magnets. Like so:

Fuckin' Magnets

As you can see, he’s pretty good at it. You can buy yourself a set of these Trick ‘r Treat-themed magnets right here. They’re $12 for a single magnet, or you can snag both for $20. Supplies are limited, so act fast!

TK

by Todd

That Awkward Moment . . .

July 27, 2014 in Video Blogs by Todd

. . . when you realize you forgot to post a follow-up link to an amazing broadcast. In case you couldn’t tune in last Monday night, here’s what you missed:

Side note: I watched “Jug Face” this weekend per Eryk’s enthusiastic recommendation. It’s a bizarre film, but I enjoyed it. Check it out on Netflix.

TK

by Todd

[BLOG TOUR] Introducing Jonathan Winn’s MARTUK … THE HOLY: PROSEUCHE

July 25, 2014 in Blog, Interviews by Todd

Author and screenwriter Jonathan Winn asked if he could stop by for his blog tour in support of his latest novel, MARTUK … THE HOLY: PROSEUCHE. I said, “Of course, Jonathan! For only $49.95!” Now that his check has cleared, I’m happy to share some information about the man and his creation, the immortal Martuk.

Proseuche

First, here’s the synopsis for his latest release, MARTUK … THE HOLY: PROSEUCHE:

And cradled in her kindness, I dove back into the blood soaked memories of this, my life.

With those words, the immortal Maruk’s tale continues.

From modern Paris, he speaks of his life in the religious chaos and pagan magic of 3rd century Antioch. Of his friends, a man haunted by grief and regret, and a woman with secrets as thick as the woolen of her constant cloak. Of days marked by the greed of Rome and the ambitions of those driven by dangerous delusion.

He remembers wandering souls who returned with their own stories to tell. Who shared their own memories of blazing deserts and a darkness with teeth. Of being imprisoned in a myth built by the lies of others. And then Martuk recalls a magic so dark it summons demons from a cloudless sky and rips the sleeping dead from their slumber.

The past revisited, Martuk ends his tale with a confession. A modern-day betrayal so cruel, the rest of his life everlasting threatens to be one of searing regret and never-ending shame.

This sequel to Jonathan Winn’s Martuk … the Holy is a tale of stumbling humanity and shocking brutality. Forgiveness and release. Death. Immortality. And the tenuous hope for blessed redemption.

This is Martuk … the Holy … Proseuche.

And now for some questions to get you acquainted with Mr. Winn:

TK: Who is Jonathan Winn?

JW: Let’s just go ahead and get the blah blah blah stuff out of the way. Born in Seattle, grew up in a very small town in WA State along I-5 smack dab in the middle between Portland, OR, and Seattle. Moved to Los Angeles after graduating high school and then, a decade later, to NYC. Now to the good stuff. I’m a writer. Books, short fiction, film scripts, teleplays, plays. Have some film and TV projects working their way slowly to production in LA. More books in the pipeline. A new one — Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche, the sequel to my debut novel Martuk … the Holy — out right now with the third, Martuk … the Holy: Shayateen, scheduled for Spring 2015. Plus some contemporary horror planned as well.

TK: What inspired your “Martuk” series?

JW: It was less being inspired — you know, where I watch a sunset and go ‘Oh, I should write about a guy who’s watched nineteen hundred bazillion of these’ — and more having this idea just drop in my lap. I mean, I was happily writing screenplays and plays at the time and the last thing I needed was something else, something new, on my plate. So when Martuk showed up, sat himself down, and basically took over, I had little choice but to A) figure out what his story actually was, and B) figure out how to transition from a very rules-oriented, the-briefer-the-better world of screenwriting to the more … how shall I say this … verbose land of fiction. Actually, the dishonestly verbose land of fiction. You think you have the whole dictionary to play with, but, really, you don’t. That was Lesson One. Anyway, once all of that was sorted, I kind of let Martuk take over and do what he wanted to do.

TK: Why should people read your work?

JW: Several reasons. First of all, the series centers around a complicated, vicious, altogether too human immortal in a genre that is still awash in sparkly vampires and stumbling zombies. Secondly, there aren’t many around today — at least that I’m aware of — who are writing the kind of evocative prose I write. Evocative, but still sparse. If I can cold clock a reader with three words instead of seven, I’ll do it. Actually, that’s what I aim to do. And third, Martuk’s story spans millennia yet still feels immediate and very much Here and Now. The problems, the issues, Martuk faces in 3rd century Antioch or wherever he is at the time are very much the same issues we, here today, find ourselves dealing with. The world changes, but stays the same. Always. But one of the best things about my work, in my opinion, is that although it’s rooted very strongly in Horror and Dark Fiction, it isn’t gory. It’s brutal, it’s evocative, it’s sometimes upsetting and disgusting, but it’s not gory. For some reason, that’s the thing people appreciate most about what I do. They disagree strongly with how vicious Martuk can be, and how cruel he is, but when it comes to the specifics of his brutality, I trust my readers’ imaginations to fill in the blanks more effectively than I could.

TK: Where can readers find more of your work?

JW: Well, of course I’m on Facebook and Twitter and have a blog they’re welcome to visit for news and excerpts and whatnot — mainly whatnot. But the new release I mentioned above — Proseuche — can be found on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords

Thanks for stopping by, Jonathan! For more information, check out any of the links mentioned above. MARTUK…THE HOLY: PROSEUCHE is available now!

TK

by Todd

Why I’m leaving Amazon’s KDP Select program.

July 22, 2014 in Blog, For Writers by Todd

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On Friday, Amazon launched a new service called “Kindle Unlimited.” It’s a subscription service where, for $9.99 a month, a consumer can have access to over 600k Kindle titles, as well as their audio equivalents. You can get up to 10 books at a time. Authors who have titles enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select program (which allows for free promotions, inclusion in the lending library, countdown deals, and matchbook prices) had their titles automatically enrolled in the program on Friday.

I am not a publishing guru or pundit by any stretch of the imagination. I only know what works for me, so if you are looking for guidance on this new program, allow me to point you toward Chuck Wendig or Dave Gaughran.

That said, I’m writing this post to voice my opinion on the matter, as well as to outline a direction I’ve decided to take going forward.

Simply put: I opted out of KDP exclusivity on Saturday. After August 15th, A LIFE TRANSPARENT will no longer be a part of the program. THE LIMINAL MAN will follow in mid-September.

What does this mean for you?

It means that if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you will not be able to borrow those books for free. It also means that if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you will not be able to download my books for free.

Why?

Back in 2012, I enrolled my first novel in KDP Select because it wasn’t selling anywhere else. Upon re-release, ALT was initially available on Amazon and Smashwords—which also distributed to B&N, Sony, iTunes, Kobo, Diesel, etc. However, sales through all of those other channels were surpassed by Amazon. At the time, going exclusive with Amazon made sense.

The free promotions were working for other authors, so I gave them a try. I gave them a lot of tries. While they were successful in getting my novels into the hands of a LOT of readers, they were not successful in converting into new sales. For all the times ALT was downloaded, almost no one bought TLM despite significant hype, promotion, award nomination, and price experimentation.

This leads me to one of two conclusions: either all of those people read ALT and hated it, or they simply didn’t read it at all. Knowing how vocal people can be when they don’t like a book, and considering how few negative reviews of ALT there are on Amazon, I’m inclined to believe the latter: no one read it.

Other benefits of KDP Select (lending library, matchbook pricing, and countdown deals) have not yielded much better results. Although I haven’t compiled the metrics, I’m inclined to say that my two novels have been borrowed fewer than 20 times over the last two years.

Meanwhile, since the release of my second novel and the ULT series, I’ve heard from readers asking if they can get my work on the Nook. This is the risk of exclusivity with any retailer. Two years ago it made sense, because I had a year of sales data to show that my book wasn’t selling anywhere but Amazon.

Now things have changed.

Amazon’s free promotions are far less effective now, for starters. The way their algorithms have changed in the last two years has, in my opinion, completely negated the point of doing a free promotion. The other features never really had any bearing on my sales in the first place. In all honesty, I’ve been questioning the point of KDP Select for a while now, and this new service they’re offering has left a bad taste in my mouth.

As a consumer, it’s a great idea—all the eBooks and audio books I could ever want for $10 a month? Sign me up. But as an author/publisher/content creator, it worries me.

The way authors/publishers who opt into the program are compensated for downloads is similar to how things have worked with the KDP Lending program. With KDP Lending, Amazon sets aside a pool of cash every month, and every author is compensated from that fund each time their books are borrowed. So far it’s worked out to be about $2 a download. That’s great if you’re selling a 99 cent eBook, and it has parity with the royalty for a $2.99 sale. But what if you’re selling a book that’s more? Yeah. You lose money. I mean, on one hand, it’s better than nothing at all, right? Sure it is.

Kindle Unlimited works sort of the same way. Amazon added an additional $800k to their fund for the month, topping it off at an even $2 million. If someone downloads a book through that program and reads more than 10% of it, the author will be compensated from the fund.

Here’s what worries me about that: The KDP Lending program was only available to Amazon Prime members. Kindle Unlimited is available to anyone with $10, month to month. Consider the potential influx of new subscribers downloading books—and look at the hit that fund is going to take. More readers and downloads will diminish the fund and reduce the amount paid per download. Suddenly authors are losing more than a couple of dollars per download on their eBooks.

Is there an argument to be made about volume? Absolutely. There’s a possibility that the number of downloads will make up for the lost revenue, but I think the authors who are already struggling to maintain consistency with their sales will have an even harder time trying to bridge that gap.

I know this is all conjecture, and that there’s really no true way of knowing how this is going to shake out until it actually does shake out. However, based on my previous experiences with KDP Select and the potential losses that could result from this new program, I think it’s time I part ways with the program for a while, get my books onto the shelves of other retailers again, and test the waters. Being able to re-launch these stories in new markets may garner a whole new crowd of readers. Who knows?

What I do know is that, for me, the benefits do not outweigh the cost right now. And if it doesn’t work out, I can always re-enroll. No harm, no foul.

So that’s why.

It doesn’t make sense to me anymore, and this new direction scares me a little. That being said, if I’ve missed something, or if there’s an alternative I haven’t considered, please speak up. Civil discourse is always welcome.

TK

P.S. Yes, this means my novels—as well as the ULT series—will be released on the Nook platform in the near future.

by Todd

[EVENT] Join the Geeky Writer Gang Tonight!

July 21, 2014 in Blog, Video Blogs by Todd

Geeky Writers

I bet you thought we weren’t going to do another one of these, didn’t you? You were wrong. The Geeky Writer Gang™ is getting together one more time to talk about their work, publications past and present, and any other inappropriate topics that come up during the conversation (and yes, folks, there will be plenty).

What? This one’s on a Monday night? Yeah, you read that correctly, folks. We’re mixing things up a bit by kicking things off at 9 PM on a weeknight. We’re calling it the “Late Night Edition” because it’s catchy and sounds better than “Monday @ 9 PM Edition.”

As with past iterations, we’re going to broadcast live via Google Hangouts and stream to YouTube. Links will be posted to the FB event page & social media a few minutes before we go live. You can tune in to YouTube to catch our antics, and ask any questions you might have on the event page. We’ll do our best to respond to them.

We hope you’ll consider joining us!

TK

by Todd

Addressing Misconceptions + Announcements

July 15, 2014 in Blog by Todd

header_tag

Hey folks. I received some messages from folks recently on my FB author page, asking questions about what’s in the ULT hardcover package. Considering this information is already available elsewhere, I’m just going to copy & paste it for you here:

Each copy of ULT LE will be signed, numbered, and personalized. The book is 296 pages and contains the following:

  • A foreword written by Anthony J. Rapino, author of Reality Engineers and Welcome to Moon Hill.
  • The four original ULT stories.
  • A separate section titled “Skeletons in my Closet,” which contains an additional twelve stories from Keisling’s archives. These are stories that have been out of print, or in some cases, have never been published before, including Keisling’s award-winning novella, “Migration of the Butterfly.”
  • An entire section titled “Story Notes,” in which Keisling discusses the origins behind every story in this volume—even the old stuff.
  • “For the Fans,” a special surprise for readers of the Monochrome Trilogy. If you’re following Donovan Candle, you do not want to miss this.

Each book will come with an ULT-themed bookmark and a 4 x 6 print of an ULT Kindle cover design, signed by the author’s wife and designer, Erica Keisling.

Oh, and one more thing: In each book will be a second 4 x 6 card with instructions. What sort of instructions? We’re glad you asked . . .

Each instruction card (lavender-scented, just like Maggie Eloquence from The Harbinger) comes with a password and address to a website set up exclusively for those of you who pre-order this book. On this website you’ll find a ton of extras, including:

  • “The Harbinger” in audio book format (and free to download).

  • Scans of the editor’s notes.

  • Early and unfinished story drafts.

  • Concept & design sketches for the covers.

  • Early access to the next release in the ULT series–available to you free of charge before it hits Amazon.

Remember, the deadline for preorders is August 16th, which leaves you just a little over a month to place your order. This edition is NOT going to be available anywhere else, so if you don’t preorder, you will not be able to get a copy later on. It’s an exclusive one-time thing.

In other news . . .

I had two stories accepted for publication last Friday. Yeah, two in one day. Insane.

The second ULT story, WHEN KAREN MET HER MOUNTAIN, will appear in WIDOWMAKERS, an anthology being put together to help out author James Newman who suffered severe injuries earlier this year when a tree branch fell on him. All proceeds will go to helping cover his medical bills. Other authors in this anthology include Brian Keene, Paul Anderson, Tim Marquitz, Mercedes M. Yardley, and many more. Here’s the full TOC.

My new story HOUSE OF NETTLE & THORN (yeah, the one that gave me so much trouble last year) will appear in DEAD HARVEST, a new anthology by Scarlet Galleon Publications. I don’t have a full TOC for that one yet. I know Mark over at Scarlet Galleon is still sorting out everything since the anthology will be released in two volumes. I’ll post more info on that when I have it.

Geeky Writers

The Geeky Writer gang is getting together again next Monday, July 21st @ 9 PM EST. I’ll post details for that in a separate entry, but you can get a head start by joining the FB event.

Work slowly stumbles forward with NONENTITY. ULT is taking up most of my time right now, but I’m chipping away at the book when I can. I hit a road block yesterday, and I may have to jump to a different place in the storyline for a while so I can overcome it. Which is fine, I guess, considering I’ve never written these novels chronologically anyway. Not really.

That’s all I’ve got for now. More soon.

TK

by Todd

ULT Trailer!

July 6, 2014 in Blog by Todd

by Todd

Keep calm . . .

July 4, 2014 in Blog by Todd

keepcalm

by Todd

Pre-order UGLY LITTLE THINGS: VOLUME ONE right now!

July 2, 2014 in Blog by Todd

header_tag

The window for pre-orders of UGLY LITTLE THINGS: VOLUME ONE has opened! Click here for details! Remember, the window will only remain open until August 16th. After that, no more orders will be taken. This is a one-time opportunity, so act fast!

RELEASE THE HOUNDS!

TK