The Library of Anukdun is now available for pre-order at Amazon. The book is at the proofreading stage and runs just shy of a hundred thousand words or 350 print pages (based on book size and font). It’s possible I’ll release it before June 27, but I give myself the full three-month window—in case something comes up. I’m pricing the eBook at 2.99 US for the pre-order period and the first week of sale. After that it will likely climb by a dollar. Print on demand paperbacks cost what they cost, plus a buck or two for me.
I’m going to update all the print covers with the newer cover art, so anybody who wants the original manga style covers must order them over the next few weeks. As so few print books have sold (understatement), it seems ridiculous to worry about consistency.
Distressingly, I’ve noticed that the one negative review on amazon.com for Ivy’s Tangle has now moved to the top of the list after months of collecting all the negative votes from visitors to the book’s page. Sadly, plenty of people will forgo trying a short, free book because of that. If you enjoyed the books and have the time, I’d appreciate any positive reviews (if you don’t like my books, why are you wasting your time reading my blog?). If writing a review is more than you have the energy or time for, then please take a second to click the ‘like/helpful’ button on a review you think is valuable and represents something approximating your own opinions, and if you see an absurd, unhelpful, or just plain spammy review, consider hitting the ‘not helpful’ button. It doesn’t make them go away, but at least they move down and become less visible.
Thanks for reading.
The First Puddlegineer is finished, and the paperback is available at CreateSpace and Amazon. The eBook will be available at Amazon on January 29 (I haven’t decided if I’ll publish it elsewhere yet). I’ve just finished the first draft for The Library of Anukdun, but it’s still a long way from finished book. Now, I’ll redraft Book 5, and then let it rest before editing, while I start on Book 6, tentatively titled Bones of Titans’.
The First Puddlegineer is a classic hero’s journey with an improbable hero and quest at its core. Jeremy Buttons is child who loves playing in puddles. The story was inspired by a particularly fine puddle that periodically resided a few doors up the street from my childhood home. It was on my walk to and from school, and I often imagined it was a lake. I wished I could shrink and canoe across it. In the winter months, the same puddle was often covered in a layer of ice, and being the first kid to walk across the pristine ice (and risk falling through three deadly inches of cold water) was a much-coveted position. Jeremy Buttons is a precocious only child, and I had no shortage of brothers or sisters, so there’s nothing else that might be considered autobiographical in the story. Smooth concrete curbs now line that street, and the Great Puddle only exists in the memories of the children who lived on my block… and in The First Puddlegineer.
Thanks for reading.
The First Puddlegineer is down to a final proofread, and the eBook is available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s about the same word count as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (at slightly under 30,000 words). Print length is 151 pages. The book is lightly illustrated, by which I mean it has illustrations, but doesn’t rely on them to tell the story. My original plan was not to illustrate the book at all. It’s more aimed at a reader who is ready to leave pictures behind.
Over the holidays, my youngest niece picked up the first printed proof and immediately flipped through looking for pictures. She’s at the bottom of the intended age range, but I decided I’d add a few. The illustrations are more a bonus and an afterthought.
Since no sample will show on the sales page until the book is available, here's the first chapter for anybody who is curious and wants an idea about what kind of book this is. Spoilers… it’s a silly one.
Chapter 1 – The Hand of Doom
Jeremy Buttons pulled up the hood on his yellow raincoat, stomped his feet into his tight, yellow rubber boots—and stepped out into the damper world.
Wind had come with the day’s rain.
That wind ripped the door handle from Jeremy’s grasp.
The screen door swung all the way open and struck the house, giving him a fright. His hood blew off with a spray of raindrops, and then the finger-pinching spring brought the door back with startling speed. It would have knocked Jeremy down, but a hand reached out above his head and caught the swinging door.
It was the Hand of Doom.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Susie McWeeby asked.
Susie was the last person Jeremy wanted to see. Every hero needs an archenemy, and she was his. Susie was the worst of the worst: a monster who helped herself to cookies from the high cupboards without sharing them, and a tyrannical dictator who enforced bedtimes—even when no one else would know the difference. Worst of all, she was a chameleon, a slippery shapeshifter who his parents called ‘a nice, responsible young woman’. Susie McWeeby might have fooled the rest of the world, but Jeremy knew better.
“I have work to do,” Jeremy said.
He crossed his arms and scowled up at Susie. She shook her head, making her long braid wag like a dog’s tail.
“It’s thundering and lightning out. Get back inside and play with your Lego.”
She lifted her phone to her ear as she dragged him in, off the back porch. Susie mostly used the phone to talk to someone named Jenny. Jeremy assumed that Jenny was a member of the same street gang to which Susie belonged.
“I gotta go,” Susie told the phone. “Problems with the ankle-biter. I’ll call you later, Jen.”
She tucked the phone in her pocket and turned her attention back to Jeremy. Thunder shook the house, and the porchlight flickered.
“You see,” Susie said, “it’s dangerous.”
Jeremy wasn’t fooled by her act. Susie had no heart, but she had demonstrated a diabolical logic on more than one occasion. Maybe he could appeal to her reason.
“I have to go out,” Jeremy said. “I’m a puddlegineer.”
His father had once called him a puddle engineer, and Jeremy had joined the words together to create a new word—and with it—a new profession. The puddlegineer specialized in all things puddle. Obviously, there were overlaps with the field of civil engineering and the science of mudology, but puddlegineering was as much art as science. Jeremy discovered that few people understood puddlegineering—or recognized its value. In his heart, he knew that every pioneer faced similar hurdles, and that nobody would have stood on the surface of the moon without perseverance.
Susie laughed and unzipped his coat. Her long, powerful arms spun him around as she tore it from his back before hanging the coat on its hook.
“There’s no such thing,” she said. “The last time you snuck out in the rain, you tracked mud through the house. It took me an hour to clean it!”
That’s the real reason she stopped me, Jeremy thought.
Susie was no fan of hard work. Often, she’d spend a whole day watching the television. If not for her enormous size and cunning ways, he’d have defeated her long ago. He’d tracked in a little mud, once, but you didn’t find a new pet toad every day. Jeremy scrunched up his face to let Susie know what he thought of her.
“Your face might freeze like that,” she said.
That was just a lie that big people told. He’d once spent hours making a scary face—hoping he could wear it forever. All he’d gotten was a sore face.
“If you behave, I’ll give you a cookie,” Susie said.
Her friendly smile didn’t fool Jeremy, and her offer of a cookie was like a bank robber offering the guards a sack of money to look the other way… while they cleaned out the vault. Still, it would be a while before she returned to ignoring him, and a cookie was a cookie.
“The mud will still be there when the rain stops,” Susie said.
It was pointless explaining that it wasn’t just about the mud.
“I want to go out now.”
“We can’t always get what we want.”
That was true for little kids. Big people did whatever they wanted—whenever they wanted.
“I used to like making sandcastles,” Susie said as she led him into the kitchen.
Jeremy made a farting sound with his mouth.
“You don’t like sandcastles?”
Jeremy had nothing against sandcastles. If you went to a beach with your parents, you’d obviously build sandcastles. Everybody knew that, but amateurs—like the blond giant fetching him a chocolate chip cookie—would call any sloppy mound of sand a ‘castle’. Without towers, walls, and a moat, filled with water—you just had a pile of sand.
The job of sandcastle architect might be a pleasant diversion on a sunny day, but it wasn’t a proper profession
For anyone who didn’t notice, I published Knight’s Haven a few weeks ahead of the intended release date. Thank you to all the nice people who pre-ordered the book. Book 5 in the series, The Library of Anukdun is at about eighty percent of a first draft. It’s already climbing towards ninety thousand words, which isn’t long for an adult fantasy novel, but is (not counting a few very popular outliers), quite long for an upper middle grade or young, young adult novel. My original intent was to write a series that was comparable in size to the Chronicles of Narnia—this one is looking to end up at more of a Lord of the Rings length. I’m not pushing past my seven book limit, so… they’re getting longer. I subscribe to the theory that a book should be as long or as short as it takes to be a good book. For reference: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe weighs in at 36,360 words, Ivy’s Tangle at 37,901, and Knight’s Haven ended up at 63,595. I expect the last three books will, based on what needs to happen in each, be longer.
I’m also working through my backlog of children’s books, whenever I need a break from Jack and Ivy. The First Puddlegineer should be out early in the new year. It’s a silly story about a five-year-old named Jeremy Buttons. This is the blurb as of now:
Puddlegineers straddle the border between the arcane science of mudology and the more widely accepted field of civil engineering.
Jeremy Buttons is looking forward to a fun, relaxing summer vacation, but when he falls asleep beside a puddle, and wakes up as small as an ant, things become complicated.
Armed only with a bright blue shovel, a plastic bucket, and limited determination, Jeremy must stand squarely in the path of progress to save the people of the Puddle Lands from uncertain doom.
A cookie-stealing babysitter, a tiny dog, and an early bedtime conspire against him.
Jeremy will prove that anyone can be hero… even if they sometimes wet the bed.
Knight’s Haven is down to the proofreading and is available for pre-order at Amazon for December 21. I’m considering putting my non-free books exclusively at Amazon for a three month trial period. The number of sales at all other retailers combined, in a three month period, doesn’t add up to a single good day on Amazon. After almost two years, my combined royalties through Smashwords (the book aggregator that sends the books to ibooks, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble) hasn’t quite crested the forty dollar mark. Even in the world of self-publishing that’s terrible. So, for the rare people who did buy my books through one of those venues, I apologise for the inconvenience of having to go through Amazon to get the rest of the series. There’s nothing amazing about my Amazon sales either, or Amazon in general, but doing so will streamline the publishing process at my end. As I said, it will be a three month trial, and if I see no improvement in my numbers at Amazon, I’ll republish those eBooks elsewhere.
I’m about halfway through the first (rough) draft of book 5, for those reading the Legend of the White Sword series. Thanks for reading.
I’ve finished the first draft of Knight’s Haven, the fourth book in the Legend of the White Sword series, and I’ve put the second and third books of the Alien Documentaries and the Arros Chronicles, respectively, on hold for the time being. The interest levels in those series borders on nonexistent. Since people are actually reading the White Sword books, I’m considering finishing that series before going back to the others. That may change if I tire of Jack and Ivy and need a break from them. With all that said, I expect to publish Knight’s Haven before the end of the year, or on Jan 1/17 at the latest. To the people who have reviewed any of my books or otherwise taken the time to let me know you liked them… Thank you.
Depending on when you read this, the cover art for the Legend of the White Sword books may not match. I’m replacing the eBook covers for those books. I seem to be in a minority of people who liked the comic book style cover art. A number of people said that they didn’t know what to expect—based on the covers—and others told me that they liked the books, but wouldn’t have normally clicked on them. Since the only purpose of a cover is to get a potential reader to pick up a book and read the back (or click a thumbnail online), I’m changing them. The paperbacks are the same. Not many people buy the physical books, but those who have, might want a matching set. It may take me another week or two to get the new covers finished, matching, and uploaded.
The third book in the Legend of the White Sword series is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Ivy’s Blossom will publish on the 31st. The paperback may be out sooner (I’m still waiting on the last proof, before I approve it). Ivy’s Tangle is currently free at most retailers. Amazon should price-match that at any time. If you prefer wattpad, the entire book is there too.
Since The Spiders of Halros was featured on Wattpad it’s started getting some reads. The determining factor is unquestionably visibility. You can see from the graph below that prior to January 8th, almost no one was reading the book. Over the past two weeks with no other change—beyond being placed on Wattpad’s Featured Fantasy page—the same book, with the same blurb, and the same cover went from the 89 reads it had garnered in the months prior to some 4600 reads. Note that Wattpad credits you a read for checking your submission, so 37 of the 89 previous reads were me. It’s too soon to say if this trend will continue (or drop off again) and of course putting a book on Wattpad is the same as giving it away, but The Spiders of Halros is already free elsewhere, so why not? The hope is that an author can find new readers and some of them will stick around. Time will tell.
As a guy with a generally unapplied economics degree, I have a lifelong fascination with graphs and statistics. Wattpad provides information about which demographic your readers fall into. It also shows what percentage finish a section, and you can extrapolate even more useful information than is given outright about the response to the writing in question. Call me a nerd, but I think that’s kind of cool and hopefully will be useful. With a large enough sample size you might actually be able to determine if a chapter sucks;) When people download your free book from somewhere else, you never know if they’ve just added it to virtual pile or actually read it. With Wattpad you can tell how many make it through. Right now it’s looking like about 15 percent of the people who curiously click on the book finish it. I’d consider that pretty decent… considering that the cover has neither an angst-filled-girl nor a six-packed-dude (if you don’t get the reference you probably haven’t visited Wattpad).
Ivy’s Tangle is available now. For those of you who are wondering, the Legend of the White Sword is a young young adult fantasy series. I thought middle grade originally, but having read up on age/level categories on the internet—which is never wrong—I discovered it’s young young adult. Who knew? The protagonist, Jack, is fourteen, and it’s told in the first person. That apparently pushes the book up into young adult. The series will contain no sexuality (beyond kissing) and no significant swearing… which knocks it back down to young young adult. The books in the series are short which makes pricing the e-books trickier. There are no hard and fast rules on e-book pricing, and book prices range from free to crazy. Somebody’s blog (I can’t remember whose) suggests selling all e-books at 2.99. That’s as cheap as an author can go with amazon before the royalty rate slips. I’m trying to get new readers, so I priced Ivy’s Tangle at a buck fifty to start. Free hasn’t worked out well with The Spiders of Halros. It seems that people download free books, but rarely read them, placing no value on a free product, or assuming it’s crap (often a fair assumption). If you read the book and enjoy it, please take the time to review it somewhere. I could use some reviews. Thanks.