Rise of the Draman – Now available in paperback!

Get it HERE!

For those who miss reading “real” books, the wait is over. Rise of the Draman is now available for purchase as a paperback! Draft2Digital is distributing the book through the following channels: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo (including Kobo Plus), Tolino, OverDrive, Bibliotheca, Scribd, Baker & Taylor, Hoopla, Vivlio, and BorrowBox.

I’ve been working on this since last December, but the pandemic has been wreaking havoc with the printing industry and things are moving very slowly. At some point I will add most of my other books, but can’t say when. It’s an involved process to make the needed alterations to the book before I can even upload it to the printer, plus the time they need to set it up and make the title available for purchase.

Allow me to say something here about the price. By the time you figure the actual cost of printing, and then add in everybody’s cut, (plus shipping) the book is much more costly than I like. Alas, I have little control over the process, and my royalty on each one is miniscule. The truth is that print on demand books, even paperbacks, are expensive. Double thanks to those die-hard fans who purchase copies anyway!

Here are some reasons why readers still love traditional paper books:

  1. Better Sensory Experience — The feel of paper matters when reading a book. There is a real human experience to holding a book in hand, smelling the paper, hearing the crackle of the binding and flipping through the pages. Observing the number of pages you’ve read and the number you have left to read also plays a part in the psychological experience of reading.
  2. Better for children — Studies have shown that babies and children learn better with paper books. The more interaction a child has with an object, the better he or she learns. Parents and children also talk and interact less when using e-readers, compared with reading paper books.
  3. Better for your health — According to a Harvard Medical School study, reading a light-emitting e-book before bed hinders your ability to sleep, decreases your alertness the next morning and negatively affects your overall health. Paper books don’t create the same adverse effects. They also bring a wealth of benefits, including increased language skills, enhanced mental development and improved memory (and, no batteries required!)
  4. Better at conveying information — A study reported in the Guardian concluded that people using e-readers were less likely to recall events in a short story than people who read the same story in print. The research suggests that the tactile experience of using an e-reader doesn’t offer the same benefit.

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Addendum – just a few days before the paperback went live, I received emails from two different readers. Both had read the eBook and wanted to know if it was available in print form. I was delighted to write back and inform them that , yes, a paper and ink version was now available. Below are snippets of the correspondence, both timely and incredibly encouraging.

Lesley – I read this book on my Kindle and want to buy a print copy for my great-nephew, but Amazon only sells the e-book. Are there any hardcover or paperback books to be found?

Alexander – UPDATE – a paperback version of Rise of the Draman is now available from multiple retailers, including Amazon!

Michael – This book should be published in print. It is perfect for upper elementary or middle school readers.

Alexander – I would love to see Rise of the Draman in the hands of young readers. A paperback version of the book is now live. Let your local library or school library know that it is available, and thanks for spreading the word!

Michael – I’ve ordered one for a Media Specialist to read and endorse, then I will encourage other media people to get it too.

Choosing Your Words Carefully

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Take a look at this recent news clip headline:

“Uranus has started leaking gas, NASA scientists confirm”

You can stop laughing now. It’s likely the writer worded it this way on purpose to call attention to the article. I certainly noticed! It’s also possible the idiot wasn’t thinking clearly and ended up with a humorous reference to odiferous body functions. I’ll let you decide.

More important than a good chuckle, it reminded me of a lesson I’m still learning – choosing my words carefully. I’m not referring to my books per se, but public communications such as my website, emails, and blog posts. Sometimes there’s a fine line between honesty and polite discourse, and given the permanent nature of e-communications I must be judicious in what I reveal or how I respond.

Take emails from readers for instance. While Sally just loved my most recent book, would I please consider writing a story about flying pink unicorns? Ahem…well now my first instinct might be to say something rude or dismissive – but I can’t do that. This is where those carefully chosen words come in. It takes more time to craft a polite and appreciative response without telling the person to check their medication or go get a life and leave me alone!

This kind of thing happens all the time with rude or uninformed blog post comments, unreasonable reviews, or things with which you strongly disagree. Some folks don’t know how to express themselves or are convinced they have the right to tell you what to do/think. Sometimes the only response is none at all, or a non-committal “thanks for stopping by!”.

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I’ve never been shy about sharing my opinions freely, so learning to throttle my first instinct has been challenging at times. Honestly, I’ve learned a lot about watching my words from other writers and bloggers and appreciate their example.

Has this been a struggle for you? I’d love to hear how you have dealt with it.

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Book update – Rise of the Draman is almost ready to launch! Look for an announcement with the next week or so.

Virus check – How are you holding up in these crazy days? I hope you are healthy and weathering the storm. Since my employer is considered “essential”, I continue to work as usual and am grateful for a consistent income. It’s still difficult though, as I pick up on everybody else’s stress! People are afraid of each other and no one makes eye contact. The streets are devoid of traffic, businesses are closed everywhere you look, and nothing seems “right”. Checking the news is depressing and scary as things get worse, and it’s all people can talk about. I can’t help but wonder how this pandemic will change our world once it passes.

If you are able, I encourage you to donate to your local food bank or homeless shelter. The need is great for so many and we can only get through this together. Peace.

Who said that?!

Warning – this post is an attempt to distract you from current events. Read at your own risk.

I love collecting quotes. Whenever I run across something worthwhile I jot it down (because heaven knows my memory is an untrustworthy stinker). The following mashup comes from a variety of sources. Citation is provided when known.

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“Imagination is wasted without a creative outlet.”

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.” Charles Dickens

“Rip was so straight you could level a picture frame with him.”

“The feeling flitted across my mind like the shadow of a bird, but it never stayed to sing.” Neenah Ellis

“The best way to a man’s heart is through his mother.”

“Right…Stun the bitches tits off and apologize later.” James Gardner

“The room looked as if it were channeling its inner museum.”

Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.” Christopher Hitchens

“Just like a zit, she kept popping up – unwanted and refusing to disappear.”

“You’re not old as long as there’s a little bit of whipper left in your snapper!” Hallmark

“It was a wet, burbly sound, like a fart with attitude. The equivalent of a rectal raspberry.”

“I wouldn’t trust them to organize a drinking party in a distillery.” David Weber

“Nothing like a a little judicious levity.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Author update – The upheaval caused by Covid-19 affects all of us, even if we remain healthy. I am still working, despite the stay at home order now in effect, and, so far, my immediate family is weathering the storm just fine. A friend recently lamented that the world will be forever changed, and I must agree. We have an opportunity to learn, grow, and change for the better, but will we?

My current project is keeping me busy, and providing a blessed distraction! Rise of the Draman is undergoing a final beta read and I am closing in on a publication date. As usual, I’m struggling with the book description and having an awful time of it. So much to say with so little space! A dozen different ways to approach it, yet which one will hook the potential reader?

I didn’t write this book with any specific purpose in mind. Somehow, it turned out to be chock full of timely lessons for what is happening right now, including adversity, sacrifice, love, unity, and the greater good. Getting it out there ASAP is my goal, and I hope it proves to be both entertaining and helpful. Book launch is tentatively set for the middle of April.

Wishing you peace and safety, my friends.

Author Update

The last few weeks have been brutal! Pre-move, move, post-move. It’s all been very moving, but at last I’m settled in my new place and can stop for a breath. Obviously, my writing has taken a back seat and I’m eager to get caught up.

Story five of Rise of the Draman is almost complete. The last of the story threads are being carefully tied, and then it’s off to my beta readers. When that’s done, it will appear on my blog in serialized format, and your anxious wait will be over! Leaving readers dangling from a cliff this long was never my intention, though be prepared for a much longer installment this time.

I received a wonderful note from a reader recently regarding my Gladstone Shifters books. The poor soul is hooked (yeah for me!) and wants to get her hands on the next in series – only it hasn’t been written yet and I have no idea when it will be. I have three new series begging to be written, and am still deciding what to do. Given my crazy work schedule and limited writing time, any novel-length project I choose to tackle means at least a nine month commitment. My tendency is to get bored and antsy to move on to something else long before I’m done!

Winter made a rude and unwelcome early start here and I’m faced with unfamiliar routes for shopping and work. I don’t mind the change of seasons, but driving on snowy/icy roads makes me tense. In 2014, I hit some black ice and found myself upside down in a snow-filled ditch. The car was totaled, and neither my back nor my nerves have fully recovered. Maybe I’ll work that into a book someday…

 

Photo Prompt – GREETINGS EARTHLING

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Twenty years of scavenging the galaxy, and I’d finally found the mother lode. Not just a piece of space junk this time, but an intact vessel. Seemingly powerless and drifting, but whole, beautiful, and utterly alien. I nudged the Galileo, my scout ship, alongside the perfect silver-gray sphere, looking for an entry point. Closer inspection revealed only one possibility – a circular seam at the apex of the sphere, perhaps ten feet in diameter. Without an airlock or other obvious opening it would be impossible to get inside, but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

“Thor, initiate contact.”

My trusty AI and companion responded immediately.

“Acknowledged. Beginning sequence.”

Thor began cycling through a standard range of protocols, but there was no response.

“Extend the grappler, Thor. I’m going to take a closer look.”

While I suited up, Thor positioned Galileo above the circular seam and extended the grappler. When it made contact, a warning claxon sounded.

“Response from the alien vessel. Ship now under power. Change in configuration. Caution is advised.”

Sensors showed the area within the circular seam rising like a pillar from within the vessel. The shaft contained an oval aperture, large enough for a human to pass through, and lit with a blueish glow. With the welcome mat out, I wasn’t about to refuse the invitation.

After further warnings from Thor, I slipped out the airlock and towed myself over. Magnetic boots kept me from drifting off into space as I made my way to the portal and stepped inside. The light intensified as the shaft descended into the vessel and came to a stop. Before me was a brightly lit V-shaped cavern, unlike anything I’d seen before. It thrummed with power, extending over my head and deep into the vessel below. I took a cautious step forward and startled when the ship spoke.

“Acquisition complete. Dilation in three, two, one…”

With alarms blaring aboard the Galileo, Thor disengaged the grappler as the alien sphere began to undulate, shrink to a tiny dot, and disappear.

Photo Prompt – FOLLOW ME

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The letter arrived shortly before the one year anniversary of my grandfather’s disappearance. We’d always been very close and his sudden absence from my life left me bewildered and lonely. He vanished like a fart in the wind, as he used to say, and no one could explain what happened. No body, no note, nothing.

I discovered the plain white envelope mixed in with my usual mail, no stamp or return address, and handwritten with a familiar script. If this was a joke, it wasn’t funny, and my hands trembled as I carefully sliced it open. For a fleeting moment I imagined him getting word to me he’d run off with a rich widow to some foreign country and was having the time of his life. What was in the enclosed letter was more fanciful by far and I had to sit down to keep from falling over. 

My dear James,

 Forgive me for leaving you so abruptly, but it could not be helped. In a few days time you will have a chance to see me again, but it will require you to leave everything behind and start anew. Despite what you are about to read, this is not the babblings of a crazy old man!

Remember the grand sundial I was so fond of in Centennial park? Quite by accident, I discovered it is actually a portal to another place and time. When the dial reads between noon and one o’clock, you have only to slip into the shadow behind it and you will be transported. There are wonders you cannot imagine, and I long to share them with you.

I cannot be certain there will be another opportunity like this, so if you decide to come, be there Saturday without fail. I beg you, set your affairs in order and come to me, James! Destroy this letter and tell no one what you intend to do.

 If you choose to remain, know that I love you with all my heart. Be happy, my boy, and remember me.

 Pops

 I read the letter through several times before putting it down. Even as I acknowledged the far-fetched madness of it all, my mind was busy. If anyone could have found a way to leave this crazy world in such an unconventional fashion, it was my grandfather! He certainly sounded happier than I’d ever know him, yet he wanted me with him. How could I disappoint the old man?

Saturday turned out to be a lovely day for an adventure…

Weekly Roundup – What a Summer!

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

I cannot express, in polite words, how relieved I am to see the end of summer. Hot weather, work hassles, financial woes, writing issues – yikes! It’s time to put it all behind me and focus on what promises to be an interesting fall. I welcome the cooler weather, despite being hay-fever season, as my personal life and writing enter a different phase.

I’m moving again. Yes, you heard me correctly. In about five weeks I’m relocating to another part of the metro area. I was able to secure an apartment which not only offers more amenities for less, but is closer to my jobs and my son. This move will be well worth the hassle, as it should improve my living situation, reduce commute times, and make it easier to see my grandson.

I got a second job. What? Yep, I’ve taken on a Saturday job cleaning offices to help sort out my finances. Last weekend was my first solo appearance and it just about killed me! Cleaning sounds easy, but my body reminded me of all the muscles I hadn’t been using. Aside from aching head to foot and being bone tired, I slept poorly two nights in a row. Reporting for work on Monday looked iffy at best, but thanks to pain medication I made it. Hopefully I’ll get used to the new routine quickly and be able to enjoy at least a little of my weekends in the future. More important, the extra money will relieve some financial pressure and provide much-needed breathing room.

Given the above, it’s no surprise my writing has taken a hit. I don’t expect much to change until after the move, but a lot depends on how much overtime is required at my full time job. It will be a challenge just to produce a weekly post, let alone anything else. I’m going to focus on completing the Rise of the Draman series, including a very thorough edit & polish. The tentative goal is to have it finished by December, and if I have the funds, publish the stories as one volume. Anything else I might have time for is simply gravy.

Things are a bit crazy right now, and certainly not what I wanted, but I know the sacrifices will be worth it in the end. Margo Channing knew what she was talking about when she said, “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Photo Prompt – CAT’S EYE

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I watched my adopted human leave in a primitive conveyance, abandoned once more in her box-like dwelling. In just a few more days my observations would be complete and I could escape this torture, returning to the comfort of the ship. I was certain no one would believe my report, for how could things have changed so drastically in only a few thousand years? Had it not been for the crisis on Whiska, requiring a hasty retreat, we would never have left in the first place.

In Egypt, the humans worshipped and pampered us as we ruled alongside the great Pharaohs. They built statues and created great works of art in our honor, fed us sumptuous meals, and included us in their religious ceremonies. Now, there was no trace of our ancestors and the humans regarded “cats” as mere pets! Our distant cousins are locked up inside, fed canned food, amused with cheap toys, and know nothing of the universe except for this tiny backward planet.

Earth will have to be abandoned permanently, as it is too late to repair the damage and return to our former glory. Perhaps on another world, with other beings, we will find partners worthy of our greatness.

PHOTO PROMPT – Assumptions

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11:52 – I’m always early, so it doesn’t surprise me he isn’t here yet. We both enjoy walking outdoors, so I’d suggested a park near my house with some lovely trails. Except for the clouds, it was a perfect fall day and I was looking forward to our first official date.

11:55 – Damn! Rain began to fall steadily, soaking me and the bench I’d been sitting on. My jacket helped, but the umbrella was in the car and I didn’t want to risk missing him by going back for it. I probably looked like a drowned rat by now, and wasn’t that going to make a good impression?

11:58 – Where was he? I was careful to give him good directions so what’s the problem? Maybe he got into an accident on the way or had a flat tire. Did he forget? Was he sick and couldn’t make it? Was he standing me up?

12:04 – This was a stupid idea! Why did I ever agree to meet him anyway? My fool head tricked me into thinking I was still desirable and look where it got me. Waiting in the park, alone, for someone who apparently wasn’t coming. I’m such an idiot!

12:10 – The ten minute rule has always served me well. With no one in sight I turned and started walking back towards the car: humiliated, angry, disappointed. Serves me right, I suppose, for thinking somebody would want me. It was fun while it lasted, but never again. My heart just can’t take it.

12:11 – The sound of shoes on wet pavement barely registered as I hurried to reach the car and get home. Up ahead, someone with a large polka dot umbrella ran towards me from the parking lot, calling my name. It was him!

“Sorry I’m late! My umbrella was broken and I had to stop on the way to get another. It’s kind of ugly, but big enough for two. I was hoping…do you still want to walk with me?”

My heart pounded as his free arm slipped around my shoulders, pulling me in for a soft, gentle kiss. Shivering with cold, I walked, warm on the inside.

PHOTO PROMPT – Just One Kiss

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With a quick shove, Prince Hadrian landed on the road in crumpled heap, still woozy from a long night of drinking and debauchery. His companions threw a fearful glance at the nearby cottage and rode away quickly, leaving him alone in the dust to nurse an aching head. A quick glance told him he had not been taken back to the palace by soldiers as he’d first thought. Instead, he found himself outside a simple peasant cottage at the edge of an oozy pond.

Hadrian stood on shaky legs just as the door opened, revealing a dark-haired woman he did not know but looked familiar. Simply dressed and unremarkable, she approached him slowly muttering under her breath. Though his brain warned him to move away, he found he could not. With a gasp, he looked down to find his feet and lower legs encased in swirling tendrils of yellow-green fog, holding him fast.

The woman came closer, circled once, and stopped to face him. Her black eyes were hard as flint: challenging, angry, determined. Normally confident and brash, Hadrian heard the unfamiliar temerity in his own shaky voice.

“Who are you? Why have I been brought here?”

The woman’s glassy orbs widened; a small triumphant smile gracing her ruby lips.

“Your indiscretions have become well-known, O Prince, and while your father looks the other way, I will not. How many maidens have been soiled in your bed? Who will love them now? The girl you ravaged last night was my only daughter. What you have taken can never be replaced, and now you must pay!”

Hadrian almost laughed. Yet another peasant family looking for a bit of gold to keep them quiet. This was easily fixed.

“Release me, woman, and name your price.”

She responded instead with unintelligible whispers, long fingers gesturing strangely in the air. The serpentine fog at his feet began to wind its way higher, powerful tendrils stealing his breath and replacing it with fear. Now encircled completely, the terrified prince could barely see through the greenish haze. Finally, she spoke and sealed his fate.

“A loathsome creature you shall be. A kiss of love shall set you free.”

She watched with satisfaction as his body shrank, changed color, and lost all semblance of humanity. The arrogant prince was scooped up and taken to the slimy pond behind her cottage. There she released him to preside over a watery kingdom, and there he remained – ever watchful, waiting for just one kiss.