My Books Now On KDP Select

Beginning today, I made an executive decision and moved all my books to KDP Select, meaning they are only available from Amazon for the foreseeable future.

I gave D2D a try for a couple months, hoping a wider distribution would result in greater sales – it didn’t. Plus, it prevented me from offering my books for FREE as a promotion option, which is something I really didn’t like.

The loss of Kindle Unlimited income was also a factor in switching back to Select. Right now, sales are slower than I would like and I need the additional KU income to pay for promotions.

I realize some of my readers prefer a different format or don’t like shopping on Amazon – so I offer my apologies for the inconvenience. If I had unlimited time and funds, I would have the freedom to do things differently. I appreciate your understanding, and hope you continue to enjoy my work.

 

NEW RELEASE! Expectant Moon

My latest book, Expectant Moon, is now available for purchase! Order from Amazon

 

Take a look at what others are saying:

“Expectant Moon is everything a great shifter romance novel should be. Steamy scenes, fantastic drama and some very surprising new ideas. I loved this book and look forward to the second installment. This is a series I already know I will be rereading multiple times.”

“Wonderful! Elliott introduces new ideas to the shifter genre and does it quite successfully, and I would love to meet some of the characters in person. It was a joy to read and I am anxious to get my hands on the next one!”

“Love, love, love it!!! Hurry up and write the next one!”

“Once again Alexander Elliott has created a world full of people I want to know, and a story I don’t ever want to end. The premise is completely plausible, the characters are robust and real, and the story line will grab you from the start.”

 

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Tolerated. Ignored. Threatened. Modern gay shifters struggle for equality, but history paints a different picture. When Alpha Ben Blair challenges the status quo, he unintentionally ignites a controversy which divides the community.

While Gladstone soon becomes the focus of competing forces, Ben gains new allies who change everything: Evan Reid, a misunderstood Arctic wolf possessing unique gifts, and Jack Eby, an ancient shifter holding the key to their future.

Join the Gladstone shifters as they find love, acceptance and purpose in a time of monumental change. Expect the unexpected. Expectant Moon.

Notice: Contains male/male romance and sexuality. Recommended for readers 18+.

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The Odious Apostrophe

The Odious Apostrophe

 

Apostrophe, Apostrophe,

or should I say catastrophe?

You make me nervous, angry, mean,

You’re Satan’s punctuation scheme.

I put you in and take you out,

Confusion reigns, along with doubt.

Unlike the period or comma,

You thrive on messiness and drama.

English would be much less rotten,

If you could only be forgotten.

 

Alexander Elliott

 

How Many Misteaks Can You Find?

Put on your spectacles and see if you can find all the errors in this ridiculous story! I have been keeping track of boo-boos as I read, and these were found in various eBooks and news reports. Some are garden variety errors, while others are truly cringe worthy. One thing is certain – if we don’t catch them our readers will. Have Fun!

It Never Seizes to Amaze Me

Darlene was passed indigent, woken up by the careless made careering around her room. The smelt of her breakfast tray repealed her, and she was weary of what the new cook might have sent up from the dinning room. The variating menu made her shutter as she took a cautious peak under the domed plate. She was conscience of the made watching her, champing at the bit to return to the safety of the kitchen. Trying a different tact, Darlene ignored the oppressing meal, righting it off as a lost cause.

“You may buddle up this mess ay ess ay pee and throw it in the wooden stove! If this is the cook’s idea of an aspirational meal, she is the hugest dumbie I have ever known.”

The abstracted made span around and left the room, closing the door. Her absents gave Darlene a chance to distress and consider her boaring life. Yes, her boardem grew huger every day, scaring her sole. She got up and glanced out the window at the rot iron fence around there small front yard. The eradicate heartbeat which kept her in this room made it difficult for her to gleam slithers of information about the outside world.

The few tit-bits she heard edged her on to escape the homely atmosphere, and she shunned upon the selfness of her family as they left her alone day after day. Her room was filled with interesting bobbles, but she dreamed of a latter to climb down from her perch or ascend through the crowds. But it was no use, as her feet were made of led and she was entirely too plaint. She would never be able to sew her wild oats in Silicone Valley, hunt a wildebeest, buy a cumber bun, or order something eatable from a resterant. What an opressing life!

(Hint – there at least 56 misspellings, incorrect usages, or non-existent words. How many did you find?)

Personal ethics in a Fiction story

I have written previously regarding my book, Second Chance Earth, but let me summarize quickly.

A ruined Earth is taken over by an alien presence who desires to cleanse and repopulate the planet. The people involved have no control over what the entity has already done or intends to do, yet try to make the best of the new life they have been given.

A recent 1-star reviewer has very insistently stated:

“…this is a horrifying tale of humanity giving up its freedom to become happy puppets for vastly superior aliens” and one which “tells of the utter brainwashing and destruction of the human spirit”.

The reviewer goes on to say “I am not sure if the author of this novel understands what he actually wrote” and that I “do not have a grasp of the ethical and psychological meaning of my novel”.

As discerning readers know, most post-apocalyptic literature is dark and disturbing by its very nature, so there should be no surprise when reading a book of this genre. I would also point out that this book is:

1. A NOVEL – “A long written story about imaginary people and events.”  Merriam-Webster

2. A work of FICTION – “Literature created from the imagination and not presented as fact.”  Britannica.com

3. A form of ENTERTAINMENT – “Something which holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight.” Wikipedia

There isn’t a work of fiction anywhere which remains untainted by the author’s own value system, interests, beliefs or imagination, but no reasonable reader would expect everything presented on the page to be an actual statement of the author’s personal beliefs. If this were true, many writers of horror or murder mysteries, for instance, would need to be locked away to protect society!

I love my book, and believe it is a creative and interesting tale in which the survivors are controlled, but given the means to live pleasant and  productive lives. I doubt there are very many post-apocalyptic stories out there with the happy ending mine provides! Based on written reviews so far, the vast majority of my readers also love the book and do not believe the author is ethically or psychologically deficient.

Now – would I want to live in the world I described, under the control of such a powerful alien being – NO, I would not. In this, I agree with my ardent critic that the story could be seen as a “horrifying tale”. On the other hand, if aliens really were to take over the world, it is extremely unlikely they would have the slightest concern for our freedom or well-being. In such an encounter, we would be fortunate to survive at all, let alone do so in a pleasant manner.

At the end of the day, my book provides a bit of short-lived entertainment, not a treatise on morals or ethics, and certainly not a statement of my personal views. I am grateful most of my readers understand this and will continue to enjoy novels which appeal to their own imaginations. Long live fiction!

 

 

Manuscript Editing for Self-published Authors

I am not the only self-published author who has to edit his own manuscripts, but it’s one of those absolutely necessary tasks if I want my work to be taken seriously. It’s time consuming (meaning less time to write) and almost as interesting as watching paint dry. With the correct mind-set, which I will mention later, the task becomes much less onerous

One of the blessings/curses of doing it myself is not incurring the expense of a professional editor. I addition, I never have to spend time explaining or justifying my word choices to a stranger. So, since the buck stops with me, I need to produce the cleanest manuscript possible. How do I do that?

I have learned some tricks in the last few months to make the task a bit easier and take less time:

  • I use MS Word, and turn on the spell check and grammar check. I make corrections as I go while the text is fresh in my mind. I may not agree with all the suggested changes, so I override the ones I wish to keep.
  • After finishing each chapter, I use the “search” function in Word to look for all my crutch words, and eliminate as many of them as possible. For me, this includes the blasted apostrophe – there are many mistakes caused by the misuse of the darn thing!
  • I  remind my beta readers to look for ANY flaws, no matter how minor.
  • When I have made all the beta reader corrections, I set the manuscript aside for a day or two.
  • The last step is a final read-through, from start to finish. It’s amazing how many more errors I find! Thankfully, I also discover better word choices and phrases which improve the readability of the book.

The hard truth is this – it is almost impossible to catch every single spelling or grammatical error. The goal is to release my book with as few as possible, and then continue making corrections as they are brought to my attention. (Yes, I read my reviews, and I recommend every self-published author do the same. They often contain valuable feedback I would not learn any other way.)

After the book is released, I purchase a copy and read the book again on my kindle. Inevitably, I find things which need to be changed. This is a good thing because it gives me the opportunity for continuous improvement (obviously, this works best for eBooks).

I had to learn that I am not simply selling a book, but I am promoting my brand – ME! It’s my job to make sure the product is polished and ready for the public to enjoy. This is where the mind-set I mentioned earlier comes in. I want my readers to have the best experience possible every time they read one of my books. Even if they don’t happen to like the story for some reason, I should never knowingly sell them an inferior product. Another term for this is CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Readers are generally not interested in how many hours of work are involved in producing a great book, but they certainly DO care if they pay for one riddled with errors. Bad reviews are difficult to overcome, so it’s better to prevent them in the first place.

I only have one chance to make a good impression (which of course includes the cover image and description), so I want to avoid disappointing my readers. I cannot force them to enjoy the story, but I can certainly package it correctly. After that, it’s up to the individual reader, and unless you have  working crystal ball, there’s no way to predict how people will respond. Maybe I will talk about that in a future post!

 

The Writing of Odyssey

In some ways Odyssey was easier to write than Expedition, but I discovered unexpected challenges as things progressed. The first, and most obvious, was the location of the action, which was almost totally on the planet’s surface. I didn’t have all the cool space-based technologies, ship movements, interesting discoveries, and other goodies to play with as I did in Expedition. Somehow, I had to make this planet-bound story interesting to the reader while explaining what happened to them on their quest for a new home.

The last presidential election cycle was in full swing as I wrote the book, so inevitably politics found a prominent spot in the story. Creating a nasty politician was not difficult (sorry to say), and I wanted the readers to realize that if human colonies ever do make it into space, they will be bringing some of the same problems with them. Time and distance will not necessarily change human nature, though imagining so may cause us to feel better about future generations.

Another really fun element in the book involved the scary looking aliens, who turned out to be intelligent, gentle telepaths. The Rxyl are based on an actual critter called the Australian Thorny Devil (click HERE to find out more). In real life they measure about 4-5 inches, but in my story are 5-6 feet. I found it more interesting to make something so formidable looking be the good guys for a change. That they ended up turning everything in the colony on its head was simply sauce for the goose. Throwing telepathy into the mix was interesting in itself, but I had to carefully consider how such a thing would affect humanity. Let’s just say I’m glad our thoughts are not being broadcast for all to hear!

The book was a joy to write, and some of the characters you met in Expedition make an appearance in this tale. Each book in the Galactic Neighborhood series stands alone, but reading them in sequence provides a richer backstory. Happy reading!

 

 

Inadvertent Plagiarism

Most writers are avid readers, or so I have always assumed. Perhaps there are statistics out there somewhere to prove it one way or another, but I know it is true for me. Though I love to read and write in the same genres, I sometimes fear I will inadvertently use the ideas of other authors, unaware they were not original to me. I can’t always remember where and when I was exposed to a great idea or concept, so I end up including them in my own writing, all the while patting myself on the back for my creativity.

So what is the solution? Cut back or stop reading the genres in which I write? Keep detailed records of cool ideas from other authors so I don’t accidentally use them in my own work later on? Leave a disclaimer in every book such as: “This story may include ideas from other authors. If they are yours, please excuse the borrowed content”?

One of my favorite authors said it this way, “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun.” Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:9) In other words, the wonderful concepts and ideas found in another writer’s work cannot be said to be 100% unique – it’s all been seen and heard before in one way or another.

Don’t misunderstand – plagiarism is always wrong! I would never knowingly claim someone else’s work as my own, but the content of my writing draws directly from the sum total of all my life – everything I have seen, heard, thought, experienced and read. Hopefully, though, I can bring a fresh twist to old ideas and create something which is not entirely new, but newer under the sun.

Authors – what do you think? Are you concerned your reading material may unduly influence your writing?

The writing of Expedition

This book began a decade ago, but never got past the first chapter. When I decided to start writing seriously, I dusted off the manuscript to see what could be salvaged. In the end, only a small portion of the original was retained, along with the main idea.

As initially envisioned, the book was intended as a stand alone short story. After I finished it, my beta readers (bless their hearts) were interested in more back story concerning the villains of the piece, and I was compelled to add a significant amount of new material. This moved my “short story” clearly into the novella category and I was quite pleased with the final product.

A late afterthought as I was writing included the information of two other colony ships sent out from Earth long after Expedition was launched. My intention here was to goose up the story with an interesting tidbit, but instead it led to the perfect opening for a trilogy. Though each book may be read as stand alone, they all tie together and come full circle by the end of the third installment. When you finish with Expedition, you won’t be able to resist Odyssey and Exploration. Enjoy!

 

Second Chance Earth

As my first book, Second Chance Earth will always hold a special place in my heart. Strangely enough, I never thought it would become a novel, and generally speaking, am not a fan of post-apocalyptic stories. Allow me to explain.

In the year prior to starting this book, I was reading a lot of gay romance/gay shifter stories. Most of these were free (perfect for my limited budget), but many were poorly written and it was driving me crazy! I was convinced I could do a better job myself, but had never attempted such a thing, and didn’t see any pressing need to try. Several of these stories centered around MPRG (male pregnancy), a new concept for me at the time, and one I found rather silly and unbelievable. Eventually, I was forced to acknowledge the idea of male pregnancy was intriguing, but it needed to be presented in a way which sounded more plausible.

The general ideas for Second Chance Earth began to coalesce into an idea for a story I really wanted to write. The final motivating factor came when my work hours were cut back for several months, and I had extra time on my hands. I finally took the plunge and started writing, absolutely certain it would only end up being a short story. As it has been with all my books, the story unfolded as I wrote, surprising me time after time! Several weeks passed, and I crossed over the word threshold of a novel and kept on going. The book turned out to be even more than I hoped, and I was inordinately pleased at having written a novel length work on my first attempt.

If you happened to read my post from yesterday, you may wonder how I ended up writing a book about the end of the world. Dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels are not usually known for being on the cheerful side or including a happy ever after ending! Well, it was the vehicle I needed to tell the story in a believable way, and still allow me to paint a pleasant, rather than depressing, picture. I was able to introduce a number of cool ideas, and had a blast writing it. I hope readers enjoy the book, of course, but I will always be the #1 fan of Second Chance Earth.