Finishing Things

I’m working on my third million dollars. Yes, I gave up on the previous two…

Continue reading “Finishing Things”

Forget the Setup, Eddie

What’s the difference between a gorilla and a pound of oranges?

Once, in a galaxy far, far, etc., I had my first novel roll across an editor’s desk at Random House. The editor liked the book, but suggested a small gaggle of changes before they would sign it.

Continue reading “Forget the Setup, Eddie”

Tips from a Marketing Guru


Gosh, that’s a selling title. Sadly, I sort of have the opposite in mind, but you can’t make a headline that says “I Need Tips from a Marketing Guru”, because no non-marketing guru will read your blog. And, although my children believe me to be an ATM, I was sort of hoping to get some advice on the cheap.

Here’s my bass-ackwards marketing plan, which needs serious consideration. WARNING: don’t do as I do, for I don’t know what I’m doing.

In the new world of publishing, the reader chooses the author, not the other way around. One way to build steam for your book is to offer it for free, or at least parts of it, to get it out there in the big old WWW. You build interest, you build potential readership, you build search linkages, yada yada yada.

In the new world of publishing, you must be brave, little Piglet, and put yourself into the market. But you needn’t do it all at once – it might be better to have a little cache of readers behind you. That’s the theory I read somewhere.

In my case, I’m a chicken. In my brave new world, we put chapters out and sort of test the waters. You sort of tentatively do things in tiny fits and starts just in case you’ve done something majorly idiotic. Hey, it could happen.

So, when you have a minute or twenty, if you wouldn’t mind, would you be so kind as to visit my pages and read the first and seventeenth chapters of my recently completed novel? I promise you’ll be entertained. Promise. Pinky-swear.

I also promise to keep you apprised of new happenings in this wacky adventure.

Especially if I hear from a marketing guru!



Stick a Fork in Me


Done like a ton of finished, like a taco casserole in a thousand degree oven I am done, done as the day is long, done. Finito. Wrapped it up. Did the deal, finished across the line with a big ol’ smile across my face. DONE!

72,584 words of pathos, humor, and history all wrapped up in a nice little package featuring my friend Phineas, who gives up, gets angry, blows his top, cries, and finds his father, all the while fighting a running battle with the sea. Phin, my boy, carped at by the ship’s sailing master, driven to near distraction by the French king’s granddaughter, and called every harsh, rude, hurtful name in the book, tries to find his way, figure out how he got thrown into the seagoing gulag that is the Kathryn B.

Not a spoiler alert, not here – you’ll have to read for yourself how this one turns out.

In fact, my next step is to find a reader. Someone who can be honest with me, but someone who knows a thing or two or three about the Young Adult Fiction business, what they’re looking for, what will float, what will sink like a stinking stone.

Really, my next stop is on the publishing wagon. Get this monster read by someone with brains, rework it to their thoughts, and then Wordsmash it or Yahoo it or Amazon it or something.

Really, the next step, which starts tomorrow, is to think about marketing. Building the old platformaroony that will carry this book into the bazillion dollar sales range.

You, my friend, need not worry. I will not try to sell you a book. You are my only reader, and I thank you for sticking with me. Stay with me, sail with me over the horizon of the publishing adventure. I promise to tell you everything. The rewards could be great.

For now, the goal is to simply enjoy 72,584 words of doneness. Finitoness. Ah, sweet victory, thy name is Phineas.


Back on Examiner Again

Back on Examiner!
Back on Examiner!

Writing online for certain publishers is always a great rush. I enjoy watching the number spiral up at whenever there’s a chance to post an exoplanet piece. And getting published at is always a delight.

Examiner does a great job of making you feel like a part of their writing team. You get the job title of “Examiner” for whatever city you live in – I am the Santa Barbara NASA Examiner. At $.12 in earnings, the title hasn’t quite justified the expense of business cards, but it is nice to have one. Here’s the latest of my pieces published by them, the first in three years!:

The world for writers has changed, and will remain so just as long as the Internet stays free. When access to the world wide web is taxed, this wonderful opportunity to share your thoughts with the world will be lost.

On a slightly different note, the folks doing all that exoplanetary research have made an outstanding discovery: an Earth-sized, rocky-core planet orbiting another sun. You can find more about it here:


A New Cover for Phineas


The world of book publishing has changed with the advent of online publishers like Amazon and Smashwords. Those of us reared in the old school of agent/publisher/bookstore have to rethink our method of distribution.

Part of the online distribution involves attracting potential customers with an attractive, alluring book cover. Traditional book publishers have teams of artists that know what will sell, what will appeal to which audience.

When you shift the publishing burden onto your own shoulders, YOU are that team of artists.

A few caveats: first, and most important – I have every intention of getting this book published through traditional means. My sincerest hope is that one of the Big Five will like it and pick it up and one of these days I’ll be in a Barnes and Noble, and, hey, that’s ME!

Another caveat: I am no graphic artist. I’m a pretty good technical illustrator, but fine art and I are distant cousins at best.

Final caveat: this is not the final cover.

All that being said, the reason I’m presenting this cover here is to show you what can be done cheaply and on the slick. The ship is a 1/72 scale model, The Black Swan, by a Russian company called Zvezda. It’s not quite done yet. In fact, she’s the same ship as in the masthead of this site.

I lifted the ocean from a painting of an American frigate – I don’t think it was in the public domain, but I’m using so little of the painting I think the artist, who is probably long dead, would be able to identify his fine, fine artwork.

Phineas, here with longer hair than in the story, is actually my daughter. The image was lifted out of a shot of her and her mom at the Mission San Gabriel two years ago. I thought the pose was right, and, well, at ten years old, she didn’t have a female shape yet, so she could pass for a boy.

The pieces were all assembled in GIMP, a free image manipulation program available at GIMP.Org.  Once I got the image blended to where I liked it, I exported it as a JPG file. Then I opened the JPG with my old Illustrator 2.o, added the titles (which are in a font called Lithos Pro) and exported the completed file as a PNG.  I remember someone telling me that size is important in graphics, so I sized the PNG at 8 inches tall and 6 inches wide.

So, it’s not the final cover art, but it’s a good first shot. I’m hoping I won’t have to use it or its cousins because a major publisher and their team of artists will take over all of that.

Still, it’s amazing what you can do with a few easy graphic pieces, some software, and a couple of hours.