Hello, World (REDUX)!

Last time I did this, a whole lot less of the world was colored in.  But now? 

BOOYAH!!  Check that out:

ImprobableAuthorHitsApr14

You could almost circumnavigate off that map.  The Improbable Author has now had over 10,000 views, which I realize are merely a single afternoon’s numbers for John Scalzi, but I’m geeking out about it pretty hard nonetheless.  Most of my readership (and most of my ASID sales) are in the ol’ USA, naturally, followed in a distant second by the UK, then Canada, Australia, and Germany.  Sweden is next, which is a bit of a surprise, but then you’ve got Brazil, which is a HUGE surprise.  My wife is Portuguese-American, but not the South/Brazil brand of either of those ethnicities, and I’m a northern European – Native American mutt.  No ties there other than a love of kick-ass science fiction and pithy blogging, one supposes.  Either way, I’ve got a strong and loyal worldwide following, so THANK YOU to all the multitude of countries too long to list that have become devotees of my blog and, one hopes, readers and fans of A Sword Into Darkness.

Regarding ASID readers, my Kindle Daily Deal was . . . somewhat successful, in that I gained 3200 new ones in a single day!  That is satisfying both financially and in terms of milestones.  I’ve now sold over 15,000 copies of the book worldwide in three months, which makes me an Amazon bestseller at the very least (in the short term) and an honest mid-list professional (where I’m likely to settle out).  I was briefly ranked on the bestselling author list right behind Jim Butcher and Orson Scott Card (awesome), found myself in a George R. R. Martin sandwich (a weird way to express how ASID got stuck in the rankings between various compilations and editions of A Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire), and have begun to realize I REALLY need to talk to a tax accountant (bad).

Also, the excerpt reviews from the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards are finally in.  Mine were quite short, but positive (obviously, since I’ve moved on to the quarter-finals).  There’s a lot of stiff, well-written competition on the road to the semi-finals, though.  Everyone should check out Morgan Richter’s competing novel Lonely Satellite and John L. Monk’s Kick.  Both are very different works than ASID, but equally enjoyable companions under the umbrella of Sci-Fi Fantasy and Horror.  Between those two writers and 97 others, my chances look slim for proceeding to the next round, but if I have to lose to writers of their caliber, I won’t feel so bad.  Either way, I get a free Publisher’s Weekly review.  Here’s hoping it’s as positive as these Amazon Vine reviews of the excerpt:

“The science of this fiction was well done even though some of the terms I read I had no idea if they were real or not. The frustration of Gordon was well written as well as his interaction with Lydia. How it ties in to chapter 2 would keep me reading into chapter 3, although chapter 2 was a bit weaker than the first.” –Vine Reviewer

“Generally, the excerpt is well-structured and flows well. The writing is characterized by some excellent descriptions: “You’re an idle-rich tech wizard with an over-funded amateur astronomy bug, so some eccentricity has to be expected, I guess. In the dusking skies of evening above USS Rivero , the sharp boundary of the eastern horizon had already merged with the night, while to the west a wash of orange and red still set the water afire. These descriptions are not only well-written, they enable the reader to visualize the scene or setting more clearly. Another strength of the excerpt is the pacing. The story flows well and smoothly at a steady pace. I expect the story to be action-packed based on these preliminary chapters, which should make for an engaging read.” –Vine Reviewer

And, lastly, the keen-eyed blog reader may note a new panel at the top of the sidebar.  That is my button for REMO which will be here very, very soon.  I love the cover done by Peter Schuller of ARMS Design, Budapest.  Check out the full cover by clicking the link and stay tuned for updates on when the anthology launches!

Happy Easter!

 

A Sword Into Darkness – Kindle Daily Deal for 17Apr!

Retweet! Forward! Share! A Sword Into Darkness is only 99 ¢ in the good ol’ US of A today!!!  Go there now, buy it for yourself, buy it for a friend, buy it as a hedge against inflation, buy it for someone you don’t even know and Pay It Forward! Then after you’ve bought it for that reason, BUY IT FOR ALL THE OTHER REASONS AGAIN.

I’m basically not gonna stop until Amazon’s servers are all tied up, everyone has the book, and I have all the money.  Simple enough goals, I think.

Kindle Daily Deal

Projects Update!

Or, “Tom’s Not Just a One Trick Pony”.  I am, in fact, a pony of many tricks, not to mention exquisite breeding.  I have nothing to prove!

A Sword Into Darkness — Keeping with the pony metaphor, this is not yet a dead horse.  Though my newness on Amazon has faded like the ardor of young love, I’m on the verge of a bunch of stuff.  In May, you shall see ASID going wide, releasing on ePub at Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, Apple, Sony, etc.  Many folks don’t ever use Amazon, so there’s a whole demographic out there still to reach.  Additionally, there’s the Audible.com audiobook version (which still awaits my approval, grumble, grumble).  Plus there’s the long shot of me winning the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

REMO – The cover is approved!  I’m making my last edits, awaiting those cover files, and then its KDP Select and Amazon exclusivity til August.  I hope you’ll each check it out!

“The Rememberists” — My short story heading to Daily Science Fiction.  Awaiting the contract and final proof now.  I have no idea when it will get emailed out or post on their site, but I’ll keep you updated.

Echomancer — My young adult urban fantasy.  Still stuck at 1/3 completion.  I got to a great scene, upheaval in life happened, and I lost the thread.  I STILL wanna finish it, and I think it’s good, but I’m just not in that mode right now.

Lancers Into The Light and A Shield Before Shadows – My two planned sequels for ASID, these are still in the outlining phase, LITL more so than ASBS, which is just a twinkle in my eye at this point.  The clamoring continues for an ASID sequel, now I just gotta get it done.

“ASID – The Game” — The app-based tabletop tactical RPG I’m doing with my friend and game designer Nathaniel Torson.  I’m 2/3 through my contribution to the game guide.  He’s formulating mechanics based upon that guide, and once it is playable, will still have to build the app that will handle all the calculations, vectors, and dice-rolling.  It’s the next generation of geekery!  Stay tuned for Kickstarter-type info.

My SEEKRIT PROJEKT — Kind of a way to blow off steam between self-assigned writing assignments, this is another indeterminate young adult book, this time from a sci-fi perspective.  Working title is Co-Pilot.  Back copy is:  Cassie Briggs is NOT the Chosen One.  She’s closer to being the Random One, and that doesn’t bode well for the human race.  Stumbling across a power men would kill to obtain, poor, naive, troubled Cassie must discover its capabilities and limits on her own.  And whether this force is angelic, demonic, both, or neither, her choices could very well redefine existence for us all.

Aaaaaand other stuff.  My friends always yell at me for having too many projects running at once, which along with the Day Job and Family, means I often don’t finish them.  Well, I am a re-invigorated man and I vow to complete one and all (eventually)!

We’ll just pray that sticks.

Today Was A Good Day to Kick Ass

First of all, I need help picking the winning cover for REMO from all the outstanding final entries.  So click on the picture below, VOTE, and then come back here, because you ain’t gonna want to miss this.

REMO Winner

Don’t you just LOVE proportional voting?  Now, to task!

Today was a pretty awesome day.  It started off with an e-mail at the crack of dawn, from the editors of Daily Science Fiction, who told me that they’re buying my flash (under 1000 words) soft-SF short story “The Rememberists.”  It’s a weird little tale, but thought provoking, and they’re buying first serial rights to it!  While the money off a 1000 word tale isn’t life-changing, even at professional rates, it does mark my third sale to a paying, professional science fiction market.  That — technically — makes me a pro-science fiction author, at least according to the Science Fiction Writers’ Association, the SFWA, our professional guild.  Folks have a lot of mixed feelings about the SFWA, which is currently undergoing an ideological purge of sorts, but I like writers on both sides of the divide.  Will I join?  I dunno.  But its still damn nice to be able to.

Matter two, which was why I had been thinking about the SFWA and professionalism, is the fact that I now have sold over 10,000 copies of A Sword Into Darkness (and at a royalty rate that does NOT suck).  Though it is self/indie published, selling 10,000 copies allows you to classify yourself as a pro, and as a new pro, begins your two-year countdown clock for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction.  It would be AMAZING to get a Campbell nod, like one of my favorites, Larry Correia.  Of course, there’s a few hiccups to getting that nomination and attending the Hugo Awards:  namely, the Best New Writers get nominated by the attendees of the past and current WorldCon, where the awards are handed out.  Thing is, I don’t know any WorldCon attendees, and i really doubt they just happened to be browsing Amazon, saw my cover, and said THAT is my next read!  And then there’s the matter that I may be ineligible.  “Dreams for Sale — Two Bits!” was published in Jim Baen’s Universe, a pro-level magazine, in 2009.  Since you have only two years in which to be eligible, I could sell 1,000,000 sales, and not be eligible as the Best New Writer (though I think I could handle the pain).  JBU is now defunct, and I’m not sure if the records will support there being sufficient subscribers to hit the size necessary to start my two-year clock.  Am I eligible?  I dunno.  But I’d really like to be afforded the opportunity to turn down the nomination.

And finally, after working in the yard all day, putting in a stone firepit and landscaping, I got another e-mail.  This one was from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, or ABNA 2014, announcing that A Sword Into Darkness had made it through the second round and is now a quarter-finalist.  In the first two rounds, they start off reading a 300 word pitch, choosing 2000 out of 10,000 entries on that alone.  Then in the third round, 2000 are whittled down to 500, 100 of which are Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, by reading a 3000 word excerpt from the beginning.  In the fourth round, the editors of Publisher’s Weekly write an actual reveiw of your entire manuscript, and then pick 25 books out of 500 to go to the semi-finals, and so on.  Why?  Well, in the offering is a $ 50,000 publishing contract through Amazon Publishing, and five $10,000 contracts, putting real books in real physical bookstores.  What are my chances of winning?  About 1 in 500 against, but as contests go, it’s one of the best out there.  I’m amazed to still be in competition!

So, very, very cool.  And to close out the day in an appropriately badass way, we christened the fire pit by burning our Christmas tree, which has been drying outside since January, and is thus — essentially — explosive.  And semi explode it did! I stacked paper and bone-dry, needle-filled branches high (too high). When I lit it, people inside the house could actually hear it as it sucked in all the available oxygen and shot up with 30 foot flames. My neighbors were un-pleased. Thank goodness I hadn’t just lit the entire tree at once like the Pyro within me wanted to. I then ripped off my clothes and danced around my fire spirit while I fed in the rest of the tree (it made for some very awkward smores with the kids afterward). Now the stones of my firepit are fused together and I truly understand why natural trees end up burning down homes.

Goooooooodnight, loyal readers! . . .

REMO Crowd-Sourced Editing

Ooooor, what do you think of the following goodies.  First is my proposed back/sale page copy for REMO.  Then are my finalists for the cover.  Lemme know whatcha think in the comments below, or on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, or by email.  Looking forward to your suggestions!

Back Copy Draft:

Man and Machine. Soldier and Drone. Where does One end and the Other begin? 

With the advent of reliable AI, the UAVs of today will only become more ubiquitous, more autonomous . . . but would Man ever allow himself to be totally removed from the equation? Enter the world of the REMO, Remote Operators leading squads of autonomous, intelligent combat units in the air . . . on the ground . . . beneath the waves . . . and to the furthest reaches of outer space.

War is hell, even if you’re not pulling the trigger directly . . . .

From the acclaimed author of  A Sword Into Darkness  comes five tales of military and AI science fiction that will remain on your mind long after the pages are done. Includes:

“Tinker Bell Unbound”
“Strategic Deployment”
“Dogcatcher Blues”
“Identity Crash”
and “ILYAMY”

REMO Finalists

The Art World vs. Tom Mays – PART DEUX

It turns out I am not the graphic artist bad-ass I thought I were.  Talent, it is out there, and READILY available for the low, low price of $299.  Now I have TONS of designs coming in (my original has been relegated to my false cover page) and I need YOUR HELP choosing one before the contest ends.

Go here, at 99Designs, and vote NOW for your favorite cover.  I’m judging primarily on the front cover, but have asked for a book spine and back cover as well.

99Designs

The Art World vs. Tom Mays

Damn you, Jeff Edwards, you insidious voice of reason, you.

So, if you’ve been following, you know I’m launching an ebook anthology with a bunch of my military AI short stories, called REMO.  And since the last cover I did was 96-ish % successful, I started off doing my own for this one as well.  And I’ve got a cover I like, but Jeff reasoned that hey, it turns out you are NOT a graphic designer, so you MIGHT just wanna get some options rather than commit to something developed on the fly, with a kind of art you’re unfamiliar with, and which is not necessarily evocative of a military SF anthology.

Damn correct bastard . . . .

So, on advice, I’m opening up the cover design for REMO to some actual graphic artists via the 99Designs website.  I’ve offered up a $200 bounty to the designer that can beat what I already have:

REMO Cover 1

We’re looking for a cover that is more immediately recognizable as military SF, and which looks more compelling as a thumbnail image.  All the subtle sci-fi-isms of my design seem to vanish at that size.

If you’re a graphic artist and want to compete for the bounty, go HERE.  You’ve got four days to present a proposal, so no dawdling!