Tag Archives: Personal

The Carter Catastrophe and Stephen Baxter

It has been a few years since I finished MANIFOLD: SPACE by Stephen Baxter. This book was a sequel of sorts to his earlier book, MANIFOLD: TIME, and I believe there is a third in the series called MANIFOLD: ORIGIN (which I haven't read). I say "sequel of sorts" because they were two pretty different stories. Both feature the same protagonist, Reid Malenfant, but they tell stories that are actually set in different universes, and there are only a handful of other characters who carry over from the first book to the second. (One is Malenfant's significant other, Emma Stoney, another is a congresswoman whose name I can't come up with off the top of my head, without either book in front of me.) Only Malenfant is important to both stories. Both are broad stories, with far reaching implications, and tons of hard science. In the first, something called the Carter Catastrophe is discussed, which loosely states that the odds of these characters living in the very early stages of humanity's existence are pretty long. The example Baxter has his character Cornelius use in the first book is that there is a box with balls in it. One of those balls has Malenfant's name on it. He says that there are either 10 balls in the box, or 10000. Then he begins decanting out the balls one by one. When Malenfant's ball comes up on the third or fourth ball, Malenfant makes a guess that there are only ten balls in the box, since it would be highly unlikely that his ball would come out third or fourth if there were 10000. And this is the argument of the Carter Catastrophe, if I understand it correctly; that the odds of any of us living this close to the beginning of humanity's ultimate span are pretty long ones. So, goes the argument, there is likely to be a catastrophe which will make this time period closer to the middle, or even more likely, the end of human existence. (Seemed like a logical argument with plenty of holes in it, to me...) Anyway, in this first book, a message is received (through the quirks of quantum mechanics) from the distant future, and it is discovered to be coordinates. So Malenfant's corporation, the Bootstrap Corporation, racing against government intervention, launches a manned probe to the asteroid they've been directed to. Meanwhile, strange children are being identified - kids who seem to have superior mental faculties. And they frighten people. So they are placed in special schools for their own educational needs, and for their protection, but actually mostly to keep control of them. In the second book, Malenfant is on hand on the moon (controlled by Japan's industrial complex) when the discovery of an alien presence in our solar system is discovered. Malenfant ends up being the one chosen to go out to meet the aliens, and when he arrives at their location, he finds a sort of gateway - a teleportation device. He decides to go through it, and meets up with the Gaijin, a robotic race advancing through the solar system. Meanwhile, back in the solar system, the Earth becomes a devastated wasteland because of environmental damage, humans terraform their moon, and they have to repel an attack on the Sun by an alien species called the Crackers (because they crack Suns - exploding them for their own purposes of energy). Pretty broad stories, as I said. In the end these stories are pretty optimistic, and they are loosely connected, as the events of the first book help to create the universe that the stories occur in the second. Baxter doesn't try to describe his aliens too much, leaving most of their characteristics to the readers' imagination. Their motives are, for the most part, not understood or even really attempted to be understood. But in the end, Baxter seems to imply that aliens that we encounter might be more like us than not, simply because the traits needed to expand their horizons are likely to be common between races. I found both of these to be good reads. They took me a lot of time to get through, and I think this is because they are long and detailed. Not many wasted words or storylines. As noted previously, the first book discusses an idea known as "The Carter Catastrophe."  Here is the link to the Wikipedia article that talks about it:  Doomsday Argument Baxter gives one example of the argument in his book. Here's another: You have two urns, one with 10 numbered balls, one with 10000 balls, but you don't know which is which. You remove one ball from one of the urns, and it is numbered 7. You can logically infer that it's from the one with 10 balls, because the likelihood of an early ball coming out of the other is pretty low. Based on that statistical argument, it's argued that since you're here today, it is likely that you are in the last 90% of humans to be born, and less likely that you are in the first 10%. Since humanity's growth is exponential, the last 90% of the people would be born near the "Doomsday" of humanity. To me it doesn't make sense, because SOMEONE'S gotta be among those first early humans, and it just so happens that it's the consciousness that is identified as "me". There's nothing special about "me", "I" could have been born at any time. Someone in an internet discussion I found mentioned that the argument would be able to be made by every single person at almost every single time in "history" (or something like that). Someone else mentions that the sample size in that statistical experiment is exactly 1, and thus is meaningless. If you took out the first 10 balls, and they were 1 through 10, maybe that would mean something...you'd pretty much know with pretty high certainty which urn you were drawing balls from. Conversely, anything higher than 10 on the second draw means with 100% certainty that it's the urn with the much higher number of balls. It's an interesting thought experiment, and Baxter uses it as an argument given by one of his characters, but doesn't necessarily endorse it as true or as good logic. *****

Still here…

I haven't disappeared.  I just haven't had anything much to post on the blog.  But I have been writing a bit, and reading quite a bit.  So I thought that I'd just sort of list some of the things I've been working on, and give a couple of shout-outs to books I've read as well. I finished up a 27K horror novella called NEVER ENDING NIGHT.  Actually, it's been finished for a while, but I finally went back and reread it and formatted it for uploading.  I played with some covers but I'm not sure I like them. I've been writing on a post-apocalyptic tale that started life as a piece being written in Hugh Howey's WOOL universe.  I finished the first part, about a group of college students who get wind of an upcoming "event" and try to build a shelter to wait it out.  Then, as I wrote that part, one of the college kids up and left without explanation, then so did her boyfriend, so I wrote their story as they are invited to a shelter in Texas.  Then I thought, nothing is 100% fatal except nerve gas, and so I made this one, like, 99.8% fatal, and another story I had started a while ago ended up being a story of some of the few survivors of this biological agent.  I've been writing on that one.  It's been fun to tell these stories. Also a while ago, I decided to expand ODD MAN OUT into a longer story, perhaps a novella or a short novel.  So I've been working on that one somewhat diligently.  I'm around 21,500 words now (the original story was something around 1800 words, I think). Then I started something set in the fictional upstate NY community of Addison Falls.  The shared world comes from back in the 1990's when a bunch of us on a Delphi forum called The Horror Discussion Group created a bunch of common characters along with our own original characters in order to write stories set in this world.  Well, the stories (for the most part) died when the forum became inactive after the host (Bookhound) passed away at a very young age.  I have a story in my DIE 6 collection that was written back around that time in Addison Falls (THE GHOST TRAIN), and I thought that it might be fun to write a novel set in that town.  I decided to once again do missing kids, but this time I am going to focus on a math teacher at the high school and his friend/something more(?) newspaper reporter.  I've written about 18K words in that story, and I've been adding to it a little at a time.  No end is in sight. Last, I started a story back in the late 1980's that was also postapocalyptic, set in a small Wisconsin town after a disease claims all the adults.  I decided to expand that one as well, including three more settings, and bouncing back and forth between the four places to tell the story of kids coming together and conflicting in each.  I now call it INHERIT THE EARTH, and I think it's pretty interesting.  (I tossed out all the boring parts and rewrote most of it.)  I think it stands at something around 20K or maybe a bit more.  No end in sight on this one, either. Reading:  I've knocked out some pretty good books.  I read all of Kate Wrath's E series, five books in all.  I finished Orson Scott Card's VISITORS and Paul Draker's NEW YEAR ISLAND (wish I would have tried that one sooner, because it was really good).  I read William Malmborg's Halloween homage, SANTA TOOK THEM, and J. Stirling Robertson's SEPSIS.  Then I finished two or three Robert Crais books, including the non-Pike, non-Cole book SUSPECT.  Lots of good reads in there.  Those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head and skimming the Kindle. I hope to be a bit more active here in the future.  And I hope to have a new book announcement soon. Take care. *****  

Independent Fiction

I was looking at the books I've downloaded on my Kindle and they are probably 95% by indie authors.  That's pretty amazing, really, considering that a few years ago I didn't know anything about the field. I remember how I started downloading books by indie authors.  The first one I did was a book called BONE SHOP by Tim "TA" Pratt.  It is an urban fantasy, the fifth book in a series that had previously been published by a BPH imprint but was dropped after the fourth book.  Why, I don't exactly know.  Was it not selling?  I bought the first four at Barnes and Noble bookstores, where they had exactly one copy on the shelf.  I always looked when I'd go back in to see if they had anything else by Pratt, and once I bought the single copy of whichever they had, well, that was it. I was following a blog of editor Annetta Ribken on Journalscape back in the day, before she was an editor.  She had a very entertaining blog, and she was working on a novel, which was released as ATHENA'S PROMISE.  She decided to release it indie via Kindle and Createspace, and I bought the ebook of that one as well.  Both of those ebooks costed $4.99, which, at the time, I considered a bargain.  Now I consider it a premium that I'm willing to pay for authors I like.  Even then, I think twice about it.  "Just how much do I want to read this book right now?" I started thinking that if Annetta could do it that way, so could I.  Another author-friend who I met at Chicago's Printer's Row Festival, Sean Hayden, was working with a small press, editing and writing his own fiction.  He and his significant other, Jen Wylie, opened their own small press called Untold Press, and began publishing their own fiction as well as a few other authors.  Yeah, it's technically a small press, but it started as a way of indie publishing their own works. Connecting the dots, I found the blogs of Dean Wesley Smith and J.A. Konrath, and then I found Hugh Howey.  WOOL was, for me, a revelation.  It was engrossing -- I couldn't hardly put it down when I purchased it as an ebook.  Howey's story was almost as engrossing.  He put the book out in shorter installments, five of them, at $0.99 each, then compiled them into the single edition at $4.99.  And Hugh was making a killing financially, or so it seems. I found "The Passive Voice" and answered a submissions call for a SF anthology called QUANTUM ZOO, and lo and behold, mine was one of the twelve stories accepted for publication in the volume.  If nothing else, it validated me in my own eyes as a writer. From Konrath's blog, I read a comment by author Steven M. Moore, and somehow realized that he wrote SF and thrillers, and I followed the link to his blog, and now I've read everything he's written save (I think) two books.  (I'll correct that oversight this year.)  I also found horror novels by Bryan Smith and by William Malmborg, which led me again to other horror novelists. Now I'm reading one indie work after another, generally.  (I am trying to get a good run into Robert Crais' third Joe Pike novel, called THE SENTRY, but haven't found the time to get into it much.)  I am in the midst of a series (starting with E) by Kate Wrath.  I'm reading Mit Sandru's novels.  I read Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, John Ellsworth, Bobby Adair, and Edward W. Robertson. I've found tons of the fiction I want to read, and I haven't broken the bank buying all these books. Not to mention, I've become an indie author myself, with a bunch of short stories and collections out as well as two novellas. Buy indie.  Cut out that middle man! *****  

A weekend of writing, playing and Cubs!

I tend to write this blog as conversationally as I can -- like I'm talking to a friend.  So even though I'm probably not talking to too many people (I really don't know how many visitors I get because I've never set up that JetPack thing) I figured I'll continue in this style and drop a quick note about my weekend. Every year a group of friends heads up to northern Wisconsin for a weekend of playing music and enjoying the water (if it's warm) and the colors (if it's late enough and conditions are favorable) and eating and drinking and just relaxing.  This past weekend was that weekend, and I went up there for the first time in about 4 years.  Besides playing (I do keyboards, guitar and a bit of drums) I took some time to write.  Sometimes I even got in a couple of hours of writing in the day. I got in enough writing that I actually finished a YA/MG novel I started with my son a long time ago.  As I reread, I note places that need to be filled in, but I haven't even started with that.  I'm just trying to get a sense of whether the story holds together. It's interesting that two of the projects I've finished are two of my longest projects and both started in my son's imagination -- not in my own imagination.  I honestly think that his imagination is a lot better than mine.  Whenever I hit a snag, I'd ask him where it was going.  He'd sometimes come up with something so out-there and off-course that I'd veto it.  But usually he'd give me a sense of what he saw happening and it would work.  He'll be getting co-writing credits on both of these, though, due to the nature of some of my horror, I may use a different name for this stuff.  It's a complete departure from the horror I write.  Not sure I want any overlap on readership.  I won't keep either a secret.  The pen-name will have a menu header up at the top, I think, and I'll post something every time I add a page to it, but I'll try to keep them as separate as I can. Oh, and we watched a Cubs loss and a Cubs victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.  After two more victories at home, we've vanquished the Cards and we're in the NLCS for the first time since 2003, and that was the first time in history that we'd been in that position.  Can't wait to see if Back To The Future 2 was accurate in its prediction! *****

Nanowrimo — Knock out 50K words in November’s 30 days!

It seems like such a cool challenge:  write a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month.  That's almost 1700 words a day.  Not bad if you're Dean Wesley Smith, who routinely writes a bunch of words every day.  But for me, it isn't going to happen.  I could probably knock out a short story or two, but no way am I going to get 50K words written in a month.  Not the way I write. I get a story idea, and I plow into it.  I have a dozen stories started on my USB drive that I carry around between office and home, and some of them will never get finished because they won't go anywhere.  (And some just flow right out like they were telling themselves.)  A lot of times I loose focus on a story, and don't know where to go with it.  So I do one of two things.  I either go back to the beginning, rereading and rewriting as I go, or I move on to another story.  Either way, I'm taking away from that 1700 word goal. Then there's my schedule.  I simply don't have the time to write every day.  I'm not a morning person in general, and I certainly don't have enough focus to get up early and write.  I wouldn't, even if I didn't have kids going off to school.  (Not that I'm doing much besides offering support services; my wife does the heavy lifting with the morning rituals for them.)  I tend to write best in the later afternoon and evening.  I don't know why; that's when the words will flow.  And so I don't get to do too much with that, either. So Nanowrimo is not a realistic goal when you work full-time and have family obligations.  Especially if you're a pantser, like I am, and not a plotter.  When I don't know what I'm going to write, I probably won't write much.  If I know where I'm going, I can crank out the words, but those days are not that common. Anyway, good luck to those of you actually doing it.  Hope to read a novel or two from the project. *****

My reality…

As you might know if you read the "About Me" section or my bio on Amazon or in any of the ebooks that have it in them, I work full-time as a healthcare professional.  And I am "Dad" to two teenagers, with all the attendant responsibilities.  I also have an older parent who still lives by herself and still drives, but is starting to get a little forgetful. So I'm a little busy. Work is about how it always is.  A little slow in September, as usual, after the kiddies go back to school and the parents take a breather from appointments.  I can always use a few new patients (so if you're in the Crest Hill, IL area and you need a dentist...)  And my mom is about how she always is, also.    Both require a lot of time, but both always have and probably always will. Then there's the kids.  Both are involved, and both keep us plenty busy.  So where do I find the time to devote to my attempt to publish my stories? I have this book, THE INN, ready to go; I had the cover done and had finished a final editing pass of the file.  But when I showed the cover to my wife, she thought we could tweak it a bit.  So I looked for the picture on the site where I thought I got it, a site where you can grab photos for free, for any use you want.  (I think it was Pixabay.)  But it wasn't there.  So I searched the internet, and realized that I hadn't found it there at all, but had seen it on a website and had saved the image to my computer.  I didn't know about the rights to the image I had, and couldn't really find anything, so I thought, it would be easier to find another image and make a new cover. But I just have not had the time to do it.  This weekend is our first big marching band competition, and we'll be gone almost all day for that, so I don't know that I'll get to it anytime soon. Meanwhile, the book sits there, ready to publish. If I get to it over the weekend, I could possibly have it available for purchase next week.  It's a short novel or a novella, about 37,000 words (I think), and I think horror-thriller fans will like it. The next one that is written but needs some rewrites and then editing is something I'm currently calling RECIPROCAL EVIL, but I'm not sure I like that title. I finished Hugh Howey's THE HURRICANE and will try to copy my Amazon review to the blog sometime later. Till then, have a great weekend, readers!  (Am I being optimistic by making that a plural?) *****

Who’s my competition?

Chuck Wendig wrote a blog article called "100 Random Storytelling Thoughts and Tips" in which he lists...you guessed it...one hundred thoughts on how to write a good story, or make the story you are writing better. One struck me as I read it, not because it had anything to do with writing.  Here it is:
35. There’s always something else for the reader to be doing. You are not competing against other writers or other books, but you are competing against the infinity of options open to your audience: games, toys, social media, sex, sex toys, sex games, corn murder, bee wrangling, monkey punching, gambling, sex gambling, exotic drugs created from household cleaners, falcon training, sex falcon training. Treat your reader as exalted. They have given you money and time. Do not punish them for their choice.
Yeah, Chuck's writing style in his blog is a little...silly at times.  Remember, this is written for his audience.  Not mine, or not just anyone.  But his point seems to be one we forget often.  Other books are not our competition.  Choices for entertainment other than reading books ARE our competition.  All of our competition.  If you write, you are in competition with all the things Chuck listed.  (Okay, probably not those things.  But certainly we're in competition with Netflix, with Wii and X-box and PS4, with computer games and websites, with someone's smartphone or iPad, or any number of other things.) The point is that reading good books is something we writers all want to do (or we wouldn't be writing) and something we writers want all of our readers doing.  If today that good book is by me, great!  Better than great!  But if today you're reading something by another writer of horror, or mystery or SF/Fantasy or thrillers, and it's a good story, that's great too!  (Just not as great as if you were reading that good book by ME!) When I read a good book, it triggers something in me...I usually want to read MORE good books, MORE good stories, of the sort I just read, maybe, but maybe something else...the important point, and the relevant point, is that it is a good story and I want MORE!  So I'm thrilled to tell someone about a great book I've read, an interesting and/or thought-provoking story, an inspirational tale.  I find those often in SF stories, in thrillers, and even in horror, which I believe focuses so much on the characters and the settings, which are two things I love to see come alive. No, as a writer, I'm not in competition with other writers.  We all have the same self-interested goal of promoting reading in others, and so much the better if it is in readers who love the kinds of stories that we tell. Why did this hit home with me?  Because I've been sitting at home reading Flashback by Dan Simmons, and my kids are on YouTube watching videos about games that they play.  Meanwhile there are good books just laying there that I thought they wanted to read.  But they aren't.  I'd prefer they read, but they're old enough to take my strong suggestion that they read instead of watching  (and my criticism of the stupidity of watching videos about video games) and chuck it out the window.  They work very hard during their school year (dare I say harder than I work at my job?) and right now they're both working hard, with long days, in band camps.  So they can ultimately do what they want with their limited leisure time, at least to a degree.  But it doesn't stop me from being dismayed. Orson Scott Card, David Price, and and dozens, no, hundreds, of authors are in competition with YouTube for their leisure time.  They're not in competition with me as an indie author, or with each other as traditional published authors. We all need to do what we can to promote reading, and we shouldn't worry about whether we're in competition with each other.  Because we're not.  No way. *****  

Why I write – a flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig

I often read Chuck Wendig's TerribleMinds blog: I find it to be informative and always entertaining, and the comments are often fun as well.  So when I saw a "flash fiction" challenge that didn't involve flash fiction, in his post titled "Today's Flash Fiction Writing Challenge Is Not About Fiction," I thought, why not?  Let me give it a try! It's not really a question I've often asked myself.  The short answer, I suppose, is that I really enjoy it.  Why do I play piano or guitar?  Because I enjoy it.  I'm good enough on both to play in, like, amateur bands and such, with an occasional appearance on a CD or something, but I'm not massively talented on either one.  Plus, I don't put in the work to take full advantage of the talent I do have.  I was, at one point in my life, able to supplement my income by playing music.  Not by much, but still... So I write for the same reason.  I like to write.  I think I do it well.  I'm no Stephen King, but I think I'm as good as a lot of people writing fiction today.  I know what I like when I read, and I try to write those same things, in that same style.  Why do I think I can do it well enough to publish stories?  For the same reason that I was able to take the stage in front of a house full of bar patrons or wedding guests and feel comfortable playing a rip-roaring solo on a rock and roll tune on piano. There's a longer answer.  When I read some of the other entries to Chuck's challenge, I noticed that mostly, they had deeper thoughts on this issue.  So I thought, there must be a deeper reason for me as well.  And I thought about it some more, and came up with some other stuff. I've been writing since I was in grade school.   I watched a Disney episode on some wild animal or another, with the folksy narrator who personified the cute little bugger, and I wrote my own story in the same vain, about a bobcat in New York.  I read some non-fiction about Native Americans and the trains that traveled through the plains with the passengers shooting cows, er, ah, bison who were meandering on the prairies, minding their own business and munching away.  Then I wrote a short story about something like that.  I loved baseball as a kid, and made up my own fictional team (The Joliet Argonauts) and wrote three long-ish stories that detailed their championship run.  (My teacher told me that I might have a future as a sportscaster or a sports journalist.)  My friends and I had a snowball fight and I fictionalized that. I always wanted to describe the world the way I thought it should be, or maybe the way I wanted it to be.  So I wrote.  When I read stories by Heinlein, by Asimov, by Clarke, then later by King, Koontz, McCammon and so many others, I saw worlds that inspired me to think about my own worlds...and it seemed natural to write about those worlds.  Even more, I saw characters that drew me in, that made me feel like I knew them.  And I pictured my own characters, and again, it seemed natural to put them into situations. These situations are called stories, and I write them for the same reason I read a lot – because I want to see what happens to these characters as they explore these worlds. That's my own story, and I'm sticking to it. *****

What scares me?

I started off thinking that I should write a post about why I write what I write.  As anyone who takes a look at my Amazon page can see, I write mostly horror.  My contribution to the anthology QUANTUM ZOO was NOT horror; it was science fiction, in that it was set in a far-off future where people don't really live on Earth anymore, except for those needed to keep the planet running.  Earth is a sort of zoo-planet (hence the link to the zoo theme of the anthology) and without human interference strange and wonderful things happen.  (I'm considering releasing it separately for $0.99 but for now the only way to read it is to get QUANTUM ZOO!)  Also, two of the offerings in my collection DIE 6 are not horror:  one concerns the possibility of uploading a conscience into a computer network, and the other involved time travel. But everything else is horror, or at least contains supernatural elements, even when the story itself isn't horrific.  (SARAH'S PUPPY, THE MOMENT, and GHOST OF LOVE in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS come to mind, as do BLOOD TIES and THE TOOTH FAIRY in DIE 6.)  And the forthcoming novella THE CAVE is horror also.  I also have another work tentatively titled THE INN (but that will change, I hope) and one called RECIPROCAL EVIL, both of which are a bit longer (38K and 45K respectively) and both are straight horror.  Not gross-out horror, or splatterpunk horror, but definitely horror. So I started thinking about why I write in that genre, and what it says about me, and I realized that many of the things I write have a "damsel in distress."  Why?  I don't know.  I think I can't imagine very much that is more frightening than a threat to a woman might be.  Why is it always a woman?  Why not a man?  Again, I don't know.  I don't think of a man being terrorized by a serial killer or something supernatural as being particularly terrifying, though when I read works by other authors, I see that it can be. When I think back on the things that really frightened me in my life, to a point that I lost sleep after seeing or reading such things, I came up with two examples.  And no, it wasn't Jason or Freddy chasing around pretty damsels, which perhaps one might think I would find frightening after reading some of my stuff.  It also wasn't something like JURASSIC PARK, or GODZILLA or any of those types of horror films.  It wasn't SALEM'S LOT or THE SHINING, and it wasn't Richard Laymon's or Ed Lee's work.  I found them to be (mostly) pretty interesting stories that grabbed me and made me keep reading, but I didn't stay awake at night thinking about them. What scared me was HELTER SKELTER.  I think I read it in high school, in the late 1970's, and it really affected me back then, so much so that I still think about it today.  The second thing that scared me was a movie called DRESSED TO KILL, which starred Michael Caine and Angie Dickinson and was directed by Brian DePalma.  I don't know why it creeped me out so much, but it definitely did a number on me.  I had dreams (nightmares?) about it.  And the prosecutor's account of the Manson Family crimes scared me to the point where I couldn't fall asleep, certain that every sound in the house was some nutcases crawling around and preparing to kill my whole family. I don't know if I'd have the same reaction to that movie, or that book, today.  Maybe I'm too jaded, too grown-up now to really be afraid of anything I read or see.  I've seen films and read books that seem on the surface to be far scarier.  But none of them bother me.  My own stories don't bother me either; I hope they're entertaining but they don't scare me any more than Bryan Smith's works, or J.A. Konrath's or Blake Crouch's stories, or Tim Miller's or Matt Shaw's books, or John Everson's tales do. As I think about it, William Malmborg's works have made me think and creeped me out, if not to the point where I lose sleep over them.  And one of the most frightening short stories I've read in a long time was J. Michael Major's "A Letter To My Ex" which was published in a SPLATTERLANDS anthology.  Scary stuff.  All-too-human horror on both counts.  I think I've been influenced a lot by Malmborg's books, especially in writing THE INN. I have two topics to write about this week before the weekend release of THE CAVE:  first is sort of a continuation of this post, a bit more about why I write horror instead of SF or mystery or thriller novels, and second is about how my writing career (such as it is) is going and why I'm lowering all my prices to $0.99.  Probably I'll write and post them on Wednesday and Thursday, right before I formally announce the release of THE CAVE.

Update on Book Pricing

I just thought a quick post updating the book pricing might be interesting.  A couple posts back, I wrote that Amazon's ebook price for DARK CITY by F. Paul Wilson was $8.54, more than my arbitrary max for a fiction ebook for myself. So I waited.  I received a ten-dollar gift card from Barnes and Noble for Christmas, and yesterday I went into their store to browse a bit.  There was DARK CITY, retail price $8.99.  With my 10% member's discount, it was already down to $8.09, less than the ebook price.  Okay, you might say that I already paid for that $0.90 discount with the $25.00 membership fee, and you'd be correct.  But then I also had a 20% coupon that came via email that day.  When I was not a member of B&N's program, I rarely received coupons, and almost never received 20% coupons, except maybe at Christmas.   Plus, the $25.00 is a "sunk cost" whether I buy the book from Amazon as an ebook or from Barnes and Noble as a trade paperback. With my 10% and the additional 20%, the cost of the book dropped to $6.47 (plus an 8.75% sales tax).  (I also bought remaindered editions of Evanovich's 19th Stephanie Plum, a Joe Pickett novel from C.J. Box, a Robert Crais novel and a Jeffrey Deaver novel, each at 10% off their already low price, three at $5.98 and one at $6.98, so I got an additional $2.50 off besides the $0.90 on the Wilson title.  A total of $5.02 off with the coupon.) Now watch:  I'll go to Amazon next week and DARK CITY will be $3.99. ***** UPDATE:  I went to the Amazon page to see what the price was today.  Instead of it being $8.54, it had gone up to $8.99, the exact same cost as the MMPB.  All I can do is shrug... *****