Tag Archives: novellas

New title coming out…

I finished up my final editing pass over the weekend, and I think it’s time to post the cover for what will be my most recent and my longest published work to date:  THE INN.

THE INN is about a high school band who takes a school trip to a music festival in Alabama, and focuses on their student-teacher, a 22-year-old college senior named Kimberly Bouton.  But this inn has some strange goings-on, and both the teacher and the kids experience that strangeness first hand.

I haven’t written the blurb yet, but I’m working on it.  This is a serial-killer-horror type of novel (or is it still a novella at around 37000 words?  Probably…) with the standard trappings of horror novels of this type.  I wouldn’t call it “extreme horror” — there are no graphic descriptions of — well, anything, really.  But it’s full of mature and disturbing occurrences, like most horror novels.

I’ve alway been a fan of horror movies, even the slasher-type of movies (though I think it’s been really overdone and I haven’t seen many in the last several years), and I recently read some novels by indie horror writer William Malmborg , especially one called TEXT MESSAGE and one called NIKKI’S SECRET.  After I read them, I thought that I could probably write something like those stories, and this is my attempt.  I’d like to think that it has my usual level of character development (for better or worse) but I don’t think it is for every reader.  If you don’t care for this sort of horror novel, take a pass on this one.  OTOH, if you liked RED DRAGON or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, you might not be totally put off by this one.

THE INN, a horror thriller which clocks in at about 37000 words and contains a sample chapter of THE CAVE as well.  Here’s the cover:

The Inn Book CoverI’ll be posting links to it on Amazon in a day or so…

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Kindle Unlimited – how’s that workin’ for you?

I really don’t know yet.  I enrolled all my books in KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited about a month ago — maybe it’s two months, I don’t know.  But I did notice that, after day after day after day of zero pages read for Kindle, my novella THE CAVE (see it over there to your right?) all of a sudden had 318 pages read over the course of a couple of days.  And my short story DEAD OR ALIVE (it’s not over there on the right, but it is part of THE STRIKER FILES, which is) had 50 pages read.

I looked, and THE CAVE has a KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count) of 166, as opposed to its stated length of 88 pages.  DEAD OR ALIVE has a KENPC of 56.

Now, that doesn’t sound like much, but basically it’s two full reads of the novella and one full read of the short story.  For me, that’s fine.  Those sales would have earned me 35% of $0.99, which is little over a buck.  The KU reads paid me more than that; a bit less than two bucks.

(Yeah, that’s the sort of life-changing money I’m earning right now from my writing.  🙂  )

Couple that with a few purchases of THE CAVE, one of DIE 6, and one of my non-fiction DOING DISNEY quasi-guidebook, I’ll have done okay.  Maybe I’ll sell a couple of copies of my new one, THE INN, when it comes out.  Crossing fingers.  (Watch this space for announcements.)

The way I see it, the more people who grab my stories and read them, the better chance I have of actually getting noticed.

And that’s the state of the state right now.

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Going all-in on KDP Select…

Yesterday I was reading blog entries on The Passive Voice, on Joe Konrath’s blog and some Hugh Howey thoughts, and I thought, “Wow!  Why am I not in KDP Select?”

So why wasn’t I?

I put my short stories in KDP Select when I wanted to give some of them away several months ago.  But I never put my longer collections and my novella into it.  My reasoning was that I was going to move to publish the works with other platforms, like B&N, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords.  I was thinking that maybe Draft2Digital was the way to go, but I wasn’t sure.

I never did any of that.  Honestly, I can’t see myself putting in the work to do so at this time.  Maybe if I was seeing income worth talking about, I could justify putting in the time.  But right now, I can’t.

So, I placed everything into KDP Select.  My novella, THE CAVE, costs $0.99 to buy, but can be borrowed in Kindle Unlimited or through Prime.  My short story collections, DIE 6, 14 DARK WINDOWS, and THE STRIKER FILES, are all currently priced at $0.99, and all can be borrowed via KU or through Prime.  And my four short stories (all of which are found in 14 DARK WINDOWS as well), are also priced at $0.99, and all are part of KU and Prime.

Here’s what one reviewer said about my short story ODD MAN OUT:

A pair of creepy tales, well written if on the short side. Worth a read, especially via Kindle Unlimited. I’ll be checking out the collection that includes these.   EC, Amazon review.

Another review about the same says:

The book is two short word pictures of atmospheric horror. They both nicely evoke a feeling of creepy dread, and in the case of the House At the Bend In the Road, mystery. Worth a read!  Scott R. Turner, Amazon review.

(ODD MAN OUT is available as a standalone short story or as part of the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.)

Anyway, there it is.  I’m all in on KDP Select for now.  Grab ’em or borrow them.  They’re not pricey.  I think they’re good reads, but of course I would think that, since I wrote them.  But a few others think the same.  Don’t let others do your thinking for you; check them out yourself…

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Subscription services for ebooks – some thoughts

When I started practicing dentistry almost 30 years ago, I became involved in a reimbursement plan called “Capitation.” It was “insurance” where families or individuals paid a set fee every month, then the company took a percentage of that fee and passed the rest on to me. Their advertising to patients stated that they ‘covered’ 100% of every dental procedure known to man.

When I first started with them, I was actually getting checks for a little more than what I would have billed for services on capitation patients that month. But very soon that corrected itself and I was getting less than what I would have billed, by about 20%. Then another provider quit and I got a large influx of new patients. I started making more money, but very soon I was doing way more work than I was getting paid for. It got to the point where I was getting only 40-50% of the work I was doing.

So I quit.

The future of bookselling, says Joe Konrath among others, is in subscription services.  No one says that books will not still be purchased, but what Joe says, if I’m understanding him correctly, is that for many readers, especially avid readers, there will be a significant economic incentive to borrow books via a service like Scribd or Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited rather than purchasing the titles.

I can certainly see how he comes up with that view.  It’s exactly what happened with my capitation participation.  As the subscribers to the plan figured out that they could get an unlimited amount of dentistry done for one set monthly fee, and perhaps just as importantly, that there was a new young dentist out there who would do the dentistry they needed (and do a good job of it), they flocked in to use their “insurance.”  Very few of them understood what they were paying for.  As far as they knew, they were paying an insurance premium and I was getting paid by the insurance company for work done as I did it.  (That IS the situation with fee-for-service insurance, which is capped at one to two thousand dollars per year but pays me for the services I perform on patients.)  Capitation was a great plan for the patients – as long as there was a provider willing to do dentistry for the amount of money he was receiving.

So, there are three distinct entities involved in systems like this.  One is the reader.  She is analogous to the patient in my capitation situation.  She wants stories to read, and a subscription service would seem to give them to her.  How many stories she reads in a month?  It’s limited only by her speed of reading and the time she has available for reading.

The second is the author.  She would be analogous to the provider, who, in my case, is the dentist.  She produces stories for the reader to read.  How many stories can the author provide?  Well, again, it depends on the speed of the author (ie, how fast she can write) and the amount of time she has to actually write stories.  It’s limited by both of those two things, just as in a dental practice.  In my case, I was limited by the number of appointments I had available for everyone, not just the capitation patients.  I was also limited by how long I took to perform a specific procedure.  Root canals took longer than fillings and cleanings.  Dentures took more appointments.  I was also limited by my own costs.  I suppose an author is limited by the costs of editing, proofreading, cover, formatting, etc etc.  In other words, in both situations there would seem to be a floor as to reimbursement.  Reimbursement needs to cover the costs of doing business.

The third is the “Company.”  In my case the company was one that provided capitation-style “insurance” to various employers so they could provide reasonably priced dental plans to their employees.  In an author’s case, the companies are Scribd and Oyster and Amazon.  The company has to balance the amount of money coming in with the amount of money going out in such a way that it covers its cost of administering the plan (in the dental example) or delivering, storing and providing some promotion for the ebooks in the lending service (Scribd, Oyster and Amazon).  Oh, and it needs to make a little profit.  (Costs would include the salaries of everyone involved in the process of acting as the middleman.)

In the case of Scribd, it seems that they were paying authors for borrows as if the books were purchased.  Voracious readers were reading a LOT, apparently, and Scribd was responsible for paying the authors as if those readers were purchasing every book.  (Almost sounds like a fee-for-service dental plan.)  Authors were paid per unit read, full price for the book.  Readers were paying a flat fee (something like $8.99 a month?) to access as many books as they wanted to.

In Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, Amazon collects a flat fee ($9.99 a month) from subscribers, and allows them to borrow ten books simultaneously.  It then takes their subscription fees and puts them into a pool (minus whatever costs they feel they need to withhold to cover their operating costs and whatever profit they want to make), and from that pool it reimburses the authors whose books were borrowed.  (I think I understand this correctly.)  Amazon was paying authors if a reader read 10% of their book, which was great for short stories (my own shorts were in there, but I think I only had one or two Kindle borrows), not quite as good for authors of novels and such.  Now they have switched it so that writers will be paid by the actual pages read of their works.  I take this to mean that if someone writes a ten page short story and a reader finishes it, that writer is paid the same as an author who writes a 300 page novel and a reader only reads the first ten pages of it.  (Seems relatively fair on the face of it.)

So, if everything is golden, why did Scribd remove a bunch of romance novels from their service?  Apparently they did this because romance readers are reading them right into the poor house.  They’re reimbursing every author full price for the books borrowed.  If a reader is paying $8.99 for a month’s subscription, it’s easy math to see that they can read three books priced at $2.99 before the company starts taking it on the chin.  Not just no profit, but real financial losses.

I think this is illustrative of the pitfalls of this sort of model.  Because when you look at Scribd’s options, you see that there aren’t too many.  First, they could raise subscription fees.  Mark Coker suggested that perhaps there should be a tiered plan, with a basic level that allows a certain number of borrows per month, and maybe an unlimited plan for more money that allows as many borrows as the reader can read.  Any increase in costs up front to the reader will likely lead to less subscribers.  For some it would be a good deal at a much higher fee, but for others it would perhaps tip the scales in the other direction.

Second, they could pay authors less.  This is sort of what Amazon’s KU does.  There is a fixed pool of money, funded (I assume) in large part by subscription fees.  The pool is divided by the total number of pages read by subscribers, and the authors are paid by pages read.  In general, this model will reimburse authors by some amount that is probably less than the amount they would receive had all the borrowed books been purchased by readers.  I can’t say this with 100% certainty, but the math seems to make sense, especially if we’re talking about books that are reimbursed at 70%.  (At 35%, the math tips in the other direction.  All of my books are currently priced at $0.99, so I don’t make much per purchase.)  But they run the risk of having authors pull their books out of the program if they aren’t making enough money for their efforts.

Third, the company could simply take losses and hope that the subscription dollars grow as more people subscribe, and hope that not all of them are voracious readers who consume many more books than they are realistically paying for.  They run the risk of losing money and putting themselves right out of business, unless they’re a company like Amazon.

In my capitation case, the company who administered the plan had very little, if any, risk.  Their biggest concern was in getting a provider who would adequately care for their subscribers.  I know that one of the problems when I was doing it was that when I got that influx of patients due to another provider dropping out of the system, I found that they all needed a bunch of dental work.  The other dentist wasn’t doing much of anything.  Cleanings, a few fillings, and not much more.  He was coasting – sitting back, collecting checks and not doing the work because he wasn’t treatment planning it.  Many of them needed crowns and partial dentures, and I was doing them, one after another.  I had to ration out the care, because I simply couldn’t afford to do it all in one month.  I wasn’t being paid for it.  Also, I had to ration out chair time.  I couldn’t allow more than a certain number of patients with that plan per week, because I had other, paying patients who I needed to work on in order to keep the business running at that time.  The theory was that once I got a patient or a family completed, they would not need much work in the future, and I could collect their capitation fee without providing much value in the way of services.  In practice, many of the patients dropped the coverage once they got their crowns and partials, and there was no way to force them to continue to pay for it.

Some of this has implications for subscription services, some of it is unique to dentistry.  The thing with ebooks is that there are tons of providers (authors) and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of books out there.  It isn’t a single author being forced to write stories for the masses for virtually nothing.  But in another sense, that just means that the pot (the subscriber fees) has to be divided in a lot more parts before being distributed to the providers.

There is a delicate balance here that is going to be very difficult for a company to negotiate successfully.  Amazon is experimenting with the way they reimburse authors, and they have the size and the ability to spend money in an attempt to figure out a way to do this right, to find that perfect balancing spot.

There’s more to be said on this issue, but this has gone on long enough today.  If anyone reads this and has any thoughts, please jot them down in the comments!  Thanks!

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THE CAVE is live!

My 25,000 word novella, THE CAVE, is live on Amazon! (Click on the image to link to the file on Amazon…)

The Cave Novella

The Cave Novella

Here is the description:

WHEN IS A CAVE NOT A CAVE?

While exploring the woods near their bike trails, four soon-to-be eighth grade boys make an exciting discovery: a real cave! Of course they decide to explore it, and they make a pact to keep it as their very own secret.

But Steve breaks the pact in order to win the attention of the neighborhood girl that they all dream about: Gina Lawson. To their surprise, Gina wants in on their adventure. As the five of them explore further and deeper, they begin to realize that their cave is not simply a cave – but does the strange pocket of darknesss merely pose serious danger, or does true evil lurk within?

A 25,000 word horror novella mixing teenage exuberance with a touch of the macabre. (Contains adult themes and some adult language.)

It only costs $0.99!  For 25 THOUSAND words!  (maybe a few more, actually.)  Grab it today!

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Cover Reveal!

My latest work, THE CAVE, is finished.  I had hoped to have it available by this weekend for Kindle, but I didn’t have enough time to get all the finishing touches done on the file.

But happily, the cover IS done!  And here’s a look at it:

The Cave JPEG 3-5

The photo credit goes to my wife; it’s a photo she took at a cave in Wisconsin called “Cave of the Mounds.” The cover composition was done by my son Kevin.

When I have more news, like the links to the ebook, I’ll post it here and on Facebook!

Have a great day!

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Something new coming out – THE CAVE

I am finally ready to publish something new!  I’ve finished up a 25,000 word novella called THE CAVE and we are putting the finishing touches on the cover.  When the cover is done, I will be publishing it as an ebook for Kindle.  This is probably the first book that I’m going to try for a wider release.  I’m also planning on publishing it (not immediately but as soon as I have time to do the extra work) to the other ebook platforms, either through Smashwords or Draft-2-Digital.  I hope to have it eventually available for Nook, iBooks, and Kobo.

The story has been through my personal editing wringer (for what it’s worth) and a first reader (Tom McAlister) who gave me some very good input.  To me (and to Tom), it reads nicely.  But then today I had my confidence shaken as I looked at the notes that one of the editors of QUANTUM ZOO sent me on my story.  Most were copy-edit types of corrections, like repetition of a word too close together or wrong use of an m-dash.  But some were just clarity edits, and when I read them, I realized that her suggestions (the copy-editor was J.M. Ney-Grimm) did clarify the writing in those areas.

But then I remembered Dean Wesley Smith suggesting that you can be paralyzed by such doubts, and I don’t intend to allow it to paralyze me.  So here it comes.  Maybe by the weekend, more likely sometime next week.

I’m working on the blurb right now, but here’s a bit about what the novella is about.  Four boys discover a cave in a forest preserve/park near their homes.  They decide that they are going to explore it by themselves, because they know that if they let the authorities know about it, no one will let them go into it.  So they start to excavate the entrance out, and are joined by the cutest girl in the neighborhood, who, to their surprise, is very interested in caves.  But the cave has dangers — not all from the physical challenges presented by their exploration.

It’s a story about young love, about trust, about learning to care for others, and about friendships.  It’s also a story about something strange that has it in for them and wants something from them that they’re not really prepared to give.

While I’ll classify the tale as horror, I don’t know if it is strictly horror.  There isn’t a fright around every corner.  Mostly it’s just a story about kids discovering the world around them, and discovering themselves.

It was inspired, in part at least, by Richard Laymon’s THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW, and I tried to create the feel of the kids’ experience with something very strange that I found in that novel.

I’m thinking that I’m going to make some pricing moves with all of my works.  The short fiction can’t go any lower, but I think I’ll probably lower the price of all my collections to $0.99 for a while.  See if I can lure any new readers in.

As soon as this one is out there, I’ll move on to working on my band trip horror novella, a 35,000+ word story with the working title THE INN.  And a second, short novel called RECIPROCAL EVIL, clocks in at about 45,000 words and is currently being read by a first reader.  I would like to get them all out before fall.  Hopefully my dental mystery, tentatively called DEATH BY APPOINTMENT, will get finished up and I can look into editing it and polishing it.

More information to follow.  Watch this space (and Facebook) for release notes…

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Works in Progress

And then there were four.

Most of what I’ve published so far is short fiction.  The longest is a three story series, coming in at about 24K words.  The stories are roughly 7K, 8K and 9K, and they’re all about the same story but told from different points.  The longest short story I’ve put out there so far is THE GHOST TRAIN, part of the DIE 6 collection.  It comes in at something over 10K words.

But I’ve been working on longer stories.  And I finished my fourth over the weekend.  This is not to say it’s ready to publish.  It isn’t.  None of the four are.  But the story is complete.

Here are the four:

  • THE CAVE – a horror story about five eighth graders who find a cave in a forest preserve and the cave is something more than just a hole in the ground…  (around 23K words)
  • THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT – when the sun fails to come up for several days in a row, a girl’s familiar street becomes a frightening place to be.  (Around 27K words)
  • DEATH BY APPOINTMENT – a who-dun-it featuring a young dentist as the sleuth.  (around 45K words)
  • COLLEGE EVIL – a college kid researches the nature of good and evil, and starts seeing assaults which are happening on his campus in a very graphic way.  How is that possible?  And they are getting more and more personal… (about 45K words)

Those are all just working titles, obviously.  I’m not great with my titles.  But 45K is short-novel length, right?  I’m thinking of combining THE CAVE and THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT into one novella-collection, then putting the other two out individually.

Look for them sometime after I get them edited…

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Some wordage done today!

Hey, I actually feel like I got somewhere with my WIP, a horror novel or novella about an inn in the south.  I stood at something like 20,800 words before today.  Right this minute I am at about 24,150 words.  That’s 3,350 words today!

The story was flying off my fingers as I got past a part that was giving me trouble.  But I think I’m coming up to another part that is going to give me some trouble.  I know where “we” are in the story, and I know who’s going to win, but I have to figure out how it’s gonna happen.  And some of what I wrote will need some extensive editing and rewriting.  But some is pretty good.

Look for an excerpt here, once I finish up.

Take care!

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What’s coming…

I have a plan. It’s taking me some time to execute it, but certain things are starting to come together. Like this website, for example. And Deadlock Press, which should be up and running by next weekend. Then comes the publishing.

I plan on starting with short stories. I am going to publish four short stories as soon as I get the publishing company’s business stuff done. They are:

  • Sole Occupant
  • Odd Man Out
  • Jack’o’lantern
  • The Gateway

All are short stories, between 2000 and 3000 words, I believe, which is a little short. So each will come with a bonus short story as well. And more short stories are on the way.

After I get the short stories done, I will be releasing a collection of all of them. I plan on doing a paper version of the collection as well.

Then come the longer works. There are three finished at this point; the shortest is about 27000 words, and the longest is about 45000 words.

Look for the cover art of the short stories here soon. Maybe even later today on a couple of them.

Thanks for looking in!

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