Literate Liquors Episode 12 – Tonia Brown

Somewhere in the digital archives of my life there’s a video Literate Liquors with Tonia Brown from last ConCarolinas. That translates into “John shot it but doesn’t know where the file is and hats editing video anyway.”

But she kindly agreed to come on the show again, so we set up in my mobile studio and hung out for a little while, talking about farts, butthole bronzing, being funny horror writers, and all sorts of other shit.

So without further ado, here’s Tonia!

 

She’s got a new book out, called Hauling Ash, and here’s a link for that –

 

And another new re-release of a book called Skin Trade, so check that one out too!

It’s coming back!

I promised y’all another edition of The Big Bad, and while it took all of 2014 and a little piece of 2015 to deliver, it’s coming now! The Big Bad II will release on February 24th from Dark Oak Press and Media, and here’s the awesome cover!

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Volume 2 includes more stories of evil and monsters like:

Mercy’s Armistice – J. T. Glover
A Family Affair – Selah Janel
Old Nonna – Gail Z. Martin
Letters to Logroth – Jason Corner
Skippin’ Stones – S. H. Roddey
The Sea Witch – Kasidy Manisco
A Day in the Life – James R. Tuck
Overkill – Sara Taylor Woods
Voodooesque – Eden Royce
A Fitter Subject for Study – Sarah Joy Adams
Ghosts and Sands – Jay Requard
Teacher of the Year – Riley Miller
Feels Like Justice to Me – Edmund R. Schubert
Portrait of the Artist as a Psychopathic Man – Stuart Jaffe
The House on Cherry Hill – Emily Lavin Leverett
Sticks and Stones – Bobby Nash
Sweet Tooth – Nicole Givens Kurtz
Just Pretending – Linden Flynn
Phone Home – E. D. Guy
I Think of Snow – J. Matthew Saunders
Little Gods – Neal F. Litherland
Drawing Flame – Misty Massey
The Witch Hunter – M. B. Weston
The Cully – D. B. Jackson

 

You might notice that there is a name missing from that list – mine. I don’t have a story on this year’s anthology, sorry to say. With everything that went on in my life in late 2014, I couldn’t pull my crap together enough to write a good one, and anything I had working wasn’t of a quality to stand beside the stories we had, so I decided not to include a story. I also stepped away from a lot of the editing, leaving the lion’s share of the work to Emily Leverett, who stepped up and made the whole thing happen. We still have a book that we’re both proud of, with some incredible stories by new and established writers, and a couple of tie-ins to existing story or novel series that I can’t wait for y’all to read. This is an incredible collection, and I’m thrilled for y’all to get it in your hot little hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Literate Liquors Episode 11 is Live!

Y’all can check it out here or somewheres else, whatever you wanna do.

 

 

Damn, but I am a good-looking fella, ain’t I?

In other news, the Weird Wild West Kickstarter that I’ve been flogging near to death for a couple weeks has ended, and it funded enough to make a couple of the stretch goals and guarantee that the book would be published, so that’s really cool. I’m pretty excited about being in this anthology with some awesome folks, and who knows, I might even make a little money off it.

Raising Hell debuted this week, and I couldn’t be happier about the love it’s getting. The book has received some very positive reviews, and we’ve moved over 200 copies in the first week alone! That’s pretty good numbers for a self-published novella, so I’m really grateful for all the folks who have taken a flyer on this new character with me. I think it’s the best thing I’ve produced so far, but I think that whenever I release a book. And let’s face it, I’m supposed to think that – because if I’m not growing as a writer, I’m dying as a writer. So I want to think everything I write is the best thing I’ve ever written. If you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting for? It’s exclusive to Amazon for the first 90 days, so buy it here! 

I’ve also reached a milestone on my Patreon page – $100 pledged per month. That means I’ll be doing another reading of a Bubba the Monster Hunter short story on a future episode of Literate Liquors. Thanks again to everyone who has pledged, I really appreciate you all!

Literate Liquors Episode 10 is live!

My dear friend Misty Massey returns to Literate Liquors and we talk about the Weird Wild West anthology Kickstarter she’s putting together, publishing, Kickstarter backlash, the Charlie Hedbob attacks and anything else that crosses our silly little minds. Give us a listen!

Here’s the Kickstarter we were talking about –

Here’s the video from the last time Misty was on Literate Liquors, a couple of years ago!

 

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Literate Liquors Links Episode 9

Literate Liquors Episode 9 is live! Y’all can download it from wherever you get podcasts, or you can listen over at Magical Words starting Friday, or you can listen right here!

Here are the links I promised on the podcast, like the link to my Patreon Page.

Darin Kennedy’s new release The Mussorgsky Riddle – Releases on 1/12

Jim Bernheimer’s Secrets of a D-List Supervillian

And the Weird Wild West Kickstarter!

A New Day

At least one. There’s been no secret to anyone that reads here that 2014 sucked. I lost my mom, quit one job, lost another, lost more friends to cancer than I care to think about, and write almost nothing until November. But as the year wound down I got involved with a bunch of exciting new projects, a new day job that I enjoy, and managed to pull myself out of the depression that dragged me down for much of 2014. I’m not much for resolutions, because I break those way too quickly, but I do have some goals for 2015 that I’m willing to share.

1) Cut down on sodas. I’ve gained a bunch of weight this year, and I was no little dude to start with. That’s got to change. I don’t feel very good much of the time, and it’s because I’m carrying around the equivalent of two big bags of dog food everywhere. The first step for me is to cut down and hopefully eventually cut out, sodas and sugary drinks. If I can cut down to one can of soda per day from the 4 or more I normally drink, that cuts 500 empty calories out of my diet. It’s not easy, and it won’t be easy, but I’ve got to do something for my health, and that’s one place to start.

2) Write more. I’ve been pretty good about writing consistently since November, and I’m getting back in the groove. I can tell I’m in a good writing place when I can’t watch a whole movie on Netflix without thinking about writing. That leads to more publishing, which leads to more sales, which leads to more money to do fun things with my wife.

3) Be more consistent with my publishing. I plan to publish a Bubba short story every month, and to write at least one Harker novella per quarter. I plan to turn in Book 6 of The Black Knight Chronicles this year, hopefully by June, and publish another novel on my own. I also have several anthology projects I’m committed to, some have been announced and some have not. But there should be a LOT of new material for folks in 2015. I think if all goes well we’re looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 new releases from me this year, if not more.

That’s really it as far as goals for the year. I’ve been pretty slack the past couple of years as far as producing new work, and that’s gotta change.

So far I’m doing pretty good keeping up with doing Literate Liquors on a weekly basis. Starting on the 9th of January, you’ll be able to get older episodes and current episodes on Magical Words as well, so go over there and check us out for the best in writing advice and you can listen to Literate Liquors as well!

The Patreon thing is starting to take off as well. Patreon is a way for fans to support artists, and in my case, get all my books for free (kinda) before they hit the street! Here’s how it works – you pledge a monthly donation to an artist that you dig, and they get a little bit of cash each month. Then you get benefits for being a patron, like your name in the acknowledgements of each story, free preview copies of all my ebooks, or even dinner for you and a guest at a convention or a manuscript critique! There are patron levels for every budget, and if you want to learn more, here’s the link to Patreon.

 

 

 

Why I decided to use KDP Select for my new releases

So I’ve been on the fence about KDP Select, the tool Amazon offers by which authors make their titles exclusive to Amazon for a period of 90 days and in exchange they get a few perks like being offered for free in the Kindle Unlimited program (think Netflix for books, or a library with a $10 membership fee), the ability to offer your book for free for a promotional time period (you get 5 days that ou can make your book free in each 90-day period) and the ability for Amazon Prime Members to borrow your book from the Kindle Online Lending Library (authors are paid a fee per borrow, and are paid a fee for every time the book is read past 10% in the Kindle Unlimited program).

I’ve had books in KDP Select before Kindle Unlimited (KU) came along, but nothing since the new program happened. When I was in KDP Select, I made one Bubba story free each week through the 90-day cycle, then repeated. So if you wanted to read every Bubba story for free, you could do that. My hope was that people would read the free story, then immediately run out and buy all the rest of them. I don’t know how often either of those things happened, but my sales were pretty steady while I was in the program. But after a while, and with everything that went on in 2014 (well-documented on other posts here and on Facebook), keeping up with the free days just became more than I could managed, and since I hadn’t seen any significant increase in sales I withdrew.

Now the tinfoil hat crowd would tell you that my sales immediately tanked, and I was being punished for leaving the program and Amazon’s mysterious algorithms were skewed to help authors in the program, etc. etc. While all that may be true, my sales didn’t immediately tank – they held steady at about the same level they were when I was in KDP Select. For several months. Then sales did indeed start to taper off, but I don’t think lack of participation in KDP Select had anything to do with it.

I wasn’t writing and publishing new material. Let’s take a look, shall we?

2010 – 2 Publications

2011 – 11 Publications

2012 – 17 Publications

2013 – 2 Publications (there were other things, but I wasn’t necessarily the one publishing them)

2014 – 5 Publications (not counting the 2 this week)

 

Notice anything about that? Yeah, when I was selling a bunch of books, I was writing a bunch of books. I published more than a book a month in 2012, and not even a book a quarter in the two years following. No wonder my sales declined – my productivity declined. Can’t blame Amazon’s math for that!

So now that I’m writing again, and writing a lot again, why did I enroll the two newest books (Elf Off the Shelf and Raising Hell) in KDP Select? There were a couple of reasons.

1) The Kindle Lending thing and Kindle Unlimited thing suck for novels, but they’re pretty good for short stories. You see, you get paid based on how many things are borrowed, and how much money is in the pool. Lately it’s been a little over a buck. That’s half what I would get from a $2.99 novel if it were sold normally, but it’s TRIPLE what I get from a $.99 short story over it selling normally.

Here’s the math, which most folks already know. If I price a book at $.99-$2.98, I get 35% royalty. If I price it at $2.99-9.99, I get 70%. If I go over $10, it drops back down to 35%. So whenever you buy a Bubba short story, I get $.34. If I get a little over a dollar on the borrows, then I get three times the normal money, and people can read my story for free.

So that’s one reason. The other reason is that I hadn’t tried the program since KU started, and I wanted to see what it was like.

I also wanted to offer Raising Hell for pre-order, and was under the mistaken impression that I had to be in KDP Select to do so. That appears to not be the case, so I was wrong. Oh well, the book is up and available for pre-order and will be released on January 20. I’m pretty excited about this new series, it takes me to a darker place, lets me write in a harder tone, and lets me play with uglier villains. I hope you like it. I was really trying to channel the old Garth Ennis run on Hellblazer, so I hope I did it justice.

Also, if you want more bloggy type things, let me know. I have a bajillion comments to moderate in the queue, but once I get through those I’ll start replying. Until then, you can always find me on Facebook or Twitter. Peace out.

Where the hell have I been?

I know, this year has sucked donkey nuts for blogging. I’m a terrible blogger and a late-ass writer and nobody can find me to buy my shit, yadda yadda yadda.

The truth is, 2014 has sucked ass and I’m ready for it to be over.

As a lot of folks who have followed this blog for a while know, in 2012 I left a job of almost 18 years to write full time. Which worked out fairly well for about a year, then I went back to work.

Which also worked out fairly well for about a year, until it didn’t. Then I left that job at the end of January and started a new one right after Connooga, so the second week in March. And I thought it was going quite well and was just about ready to go into my boss’s office and talk about an end-of-my-first 90 days review and maybe salary bump.

When he fired my ass without any warning. So right before ConCarolinas I was fired, and I spent the next eight week trying to figure out how I was going to live. Because all my savings had been eaten up in that whole “write for a living” year. But I scrabbled through, sold off a bunch of unnecessary shit, dumped a large portion of my Magic card collection, collected on some back pay that had been floating out there, and got another job that started at the end of July.

So that was good. So far the new job is working out well. I enjoy the work, I enjoy the people, and we are beginning to see some results from my labors.

Then I went to DragonCon, knowing that while I was working the con, my mother was dying. I went to see her the day I left for Atlanta. I spent some time in her room, said my goodbyes, talked to the hospice nurse, and spent all weekend in Atlanta waiting for the phone call that she was gone and it was time to come home. She waited until Monday morning, and a part of me will always believe that she knew how important this con was to my career, and she held on for me. I was in the shower Monday morning when she died, and I felt it. I stood there, water running down over my face, and I felt something in my world shift. I got dressed and started packing, and by the time I got my suitcase half loaded, my sister was on the phone.

I expected it to be easier. My mother had dementia, or Alzheimer’s. or whatever. I don’t know the difference, but I know it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I thought I had reconciled myself to her death, because in a way it felt like she was already gone. The part of her that was really my mother hadn’t been there since before last Christmas. Up until then she would have moments of lucidity, flashes of herself. But I didn’t see those at all after Christmas. And I didn’t react very well. I don’t deal well with things I can’t do anything about – helplessness is not a feeling I process well at all. And I knew there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about my mother’s decline, so I stopped going to visit. I couldn’t stand to see her like that, so I stopped seeing her.

So I expected to handle her passing with calm and grace. After all, I had intellectually processed everything and resigned myself to the fact that my mother had really been gone for years. She never really understood that I had written a novel, much less published six of them. The last publication of mine that she really understood was Red Dirt Boy, a collection of poetry I self-published in 2010. I gave her copies of all my novels, but she never read them. I don’t think she read any of the poetry either, but that never bothered me – I swear a lot in my poetry and she wouldn’t have approved. So I had rationalized all that to myself, and I would be able to handle her eventual physical death without any real impact.

I was wrong.

I have been wrong about a lot of things in my life, but I may have never been so classically, spectacularly wrong about anything before. Even right now, writing this, I don’t understand why it hurts so much. I don’t know if there was some part of me that expected her to make an amazing momentary recovery and we could have some Hallmark movie moment right there at the end where she told me she was proud of me and then slipped away peacefully. I don’t know if it’s guilt because I was working at a con while my siblings sat at her bedside. I don’t know what it is, but I miss my mom. And it hurts more than anything has hurt since I got dumped transcontinentally by the girl I thought I was going to marry.

That one worked out really well in the end, because I married Suzy, but it was pretty fucking gut-wrenching at the time.

So all that oversharing is to explain to you, my fans, why you don’t have In the Still of the Knight, which is Boof 5 of the Black Knight Chronicles, yet. It’s also why you don’t have The Big Bad: An Anthology of Evil vol. 2. It’s also why my editors for a couple of anthologies don’t have Bubba stories and why you haven’t seen very many this year, either.

Because 2014 has been pretty well fucked and it’s made it really hard to write. I’m getting better every day. The new job is stable so far, I’m slowly getting over losing my mom, and I’m back in the saddle writing. I had a meeting with Emily this past weekend to go over layout for BB2, and that should drop in the near future. So both books should be out by the end of the year, with Black Knight 6 hopefully making a summer release next year, because Book 5 flows pretty tightly into 6, so I need to just keep writing and making it all happen.

So I’m sorry that I haven’t been more productive. I appreciate you letting me know that you’re still out there. I appreciate you letting me know that you still want the books, and I promise that I’ll get them to you. I know there has been a little oversharing in this post, and that some of you, and some of my family don’t really approve of such a thing. Too bad. This is what you get with me – I live out loud. It’s the only way I know how to be.

So yeah, 2014 has sucked. I’ll be glad to see it go. But I’m still here. I’m glad you’re still here, too.

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Safety and Health Tips for Convention-Going

I’ve probably written this once or twice before, but there’s no telling where that was, or when it was, and with Dragon Con rushing toward us like a runaway freight train, I thought it couldn’t hurt to give some of the better points a repeat.

Let’s start by saying this – I love conventions. I really do. They are hard work for both the organizers and the guests, and certainly for the hotel staff, but if done right they can be great places to get work done, meet new friends, reconnect with old friends, and have incredible, memorable experiences. Dragon Con is an amazing con, run almost totally by volunteers, with attendance in the tens of thousands! For a lot of us, it’s the biggest convention we do each year. And even if we do shows like NY ComiCon or SDCC, Dragon is an animal all its own. So here are some tips for properly enjoying Dragon Con, which may be extrapolated to any other con in the world.

1) Bring food and water. Not necessarily everywhere, and I don’t suggest toting a picnic basket through the Marriott, but I plan on taking a box of Pop-Tarts and some Lance crackers, plus a pair of empty water bottles. Breakfast can get expensive, so if you take your own Pop-Tarts, and some small snacks, you can save a ton on food through the weekend. Plus you never know when you’re going to miss a meal, or be up longer than any food place downtown is serving, so it’s a good idea to have some late-night snacks around. And water is crucial. There are water stations all over the con, USE THEM! Why pay $4.00 for a Coke when you can refill on water for free? I’ll certainly be drinking my fair share of sodas and other unnamed beverages during the weekend, but my backpack has two water bottle pouches on it, and I plan to make use of them.

2) Make a plan. There’s a ton of things to do at a con, especially at one as big as Dragon. So take some time to go over the app and the schedule beforehand, and highlight some things you definitely want to do. I try to do at least one thing each year that I’ve never done before. This year, I’m going to try to make the Saturday night dance, because my friend DJ Spider is spinning. I’ve also triple-booked myself with panels that I want to attend in some time slots, so which one I go to will depend on which hotel I’m in when they are ready to start. And be sure to save time for at least one walk through the Walk of Fame, if just to see famous people for a minute.

3) Stay flexible. I know, this seems to contradict the point above, but some of the best things in life are spontaneous. Even if you really wanted to see the third Supernatural panel, maybe your friend just heard about this awesome room party, and you want to go check that out. Go check out the party! Stay loose, and have fun!

4) Stay together. I’m a big dude. And I look like an extra off Sons of Anarchy. Nobody messes with me. My friend Andrea is less than five feet tall and if she tips the scale at a hundred pounds it’s because she’s soaking wet in combat boots with a heavy backpack on. There are people who look at her and see “target.” Frankly, there are people who look at me and see the same thing, but there are a lot fewer of them. Please don’t go anywhere in downtown Atlanta alone. Especially after dark. I write this for the women out there, but I don’t wander around any metropolitan area alone after dark. There are just too many whack jobs and assholes out there. Remember the buddy system, and text people to let them know where you are, where you’re going, and when you should arrive.

5) Be careful of where that drink came from. I have a friend who got roofied at a con. He (note gender-specific pronoun, men are not immune) took a drink offered to him by someone he didn’t know at a room party. A little while later he realized he was much drunker than one drink should have made him, and he got a friend to help him back to his room. Fortunately nothing bad happened to him, he got to his room safely, but things could have gone very poorly. This goes along with remembering the buddy system, but please don’t accept drinks from strangers.

6) Don’t stand by and allow harassment to happen. Fandom should be a safe environment. Conventions should be the place where we let our freak flag fly. Don’t let somebody ruin someone else’s good time because they are an asshole. If you see someone harassing someone else, get security or step in and stop it. Your choice may depend entirely upon your level of armament and your size.

7) Make a new friend. I do this at a lot of cons. I try to make friends with people I don’t know. It makes my life richer.

8) Give yourself more time to get from place to place than you think you need. I already know that I will be leaving my autograph session early, because I cannot guarantee that I will make it from the bowels of the Marriott to the panel room in the Westing in 30 minutes and not be a sweaty, drippy mess. So I will only do about a 30-40 minute autograph session. I know that I can get from the Marriott to the Hyatt in 30 minutes with plenty of time to spare, but not the Westin or the Sheraton. If I’m lucky I won’t set foot in the Sheraton all weekend. Nothing against the hotel, it’s just in the wrong location for me and none of my panels are there.  Especially from Friday at 5 to Sunday at 10, traveling through the Marriott and the gerbil trails connecting the hotels can be maddening. Allow extra time.

9) Obey Rule 125. No matter if you party all night and sleep all day, or panel all day and sleep human hours, make sure you follow Rule 125 of con attendance. Rule 125 – Each day must contain at least (1) shower, (2) meals and (5) hours of sleep. This will increase your (and everyone else’s) enjoyment of the con.

10) Wash your hands. I do a lot of fist-bumps at cons, because people are gross. And I don’t have time in my life right now for con crud. So don’t be offended if I fist-bump, it just cuts down on germs. I also wash my hands a lot.

11) Have fun! This is a work trip for me, but I’m still going to have a good time. I’ll be in the Westin lobby bar most evenings. If you see me, feel free to come up and say hello. I might not have a ton of time to give you, but I’ll share what I’ve got. And I’ll have books for sale, so you can buy my shit!

Dragon Con Schedule and stuff

First, a public service announcement from the kind folks at Grammarly, because grammar is important (no matter how bad I am at it) and plagiarism sucks. I use grammarly’s plagiarism checker because I’m an original SOB, and every other SOB ought be original, too.

Next week is Dragon*Con, also known as “OMFG what are all these people doing in line at this restaurant in Atlanta on a friggin’ weekend!” Here’s my schedule so far –

I get there Thursday night. I’ll probably head down to the Westin Bar to drink.

Friday 10AM – Setting In Urban Fantasy – me, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson and a bunch of other awesome folks. Westin Chastain.

Friday 1PM – Reading – I have an hour to read. I have no idea what I’m going to read. Probably part of Fair Play, Part of Black Knight 5 in its RAWEST form, and probably some poetry. Hyatt Roswell

Friday 4PM – Faces of Pulp – me, Bobby Nash, James Tuck and the usually suspects – Westin Augusta 3

Saturday 2:30PM – Bell Bridge Books Spotlight – I’ll talk about why my publisher is awesome! Hyatt Embassy D-F.

Saturday 5:30 PM – Autograph Session – Me, Elizabeth Donald and Stuart Jaffe all signing at the same time. Come say hello! Marriott International Hall South

Saturday 7PM – I want to be like you – Everyday Vampires – I will be hauling ass to get from the bowels of the Marriott to the Westin Chastain room for this, but I’ll be there!

Sunday 4PM – Monster Menagerie – This is my big-ass panel in the big-ass ballroom. I have to remember not to say Fuck on Dragon TV. Westin Augusta Ballroom

Sunday 7PM – Whose Point of View – Hyatt Embassy D-F

Sunday 10PM – Humor in Urban Fantasy – Westin Chastain

That’s all I’m technically scheduled for, and I don’t have a booth this year, so I’m likely to be hanging out more, and attending more panels, and I may find myself added to some of those panels I was planning on just attending, so who knows where you might find me. I know the Westin Bar will be my base camp each evening, and I will have books to sell and sign at the bar and after every panel, so please don’t be shy about coming up to me. Unlike some authors who are afraid they’ll cause a huge friggin stampede, I know I’m a little fish and will sign anything you’ve got as long as it’s not too wet to write on. I totally stole that line from a Hayseed Dixie concert.

Hope to see y’all there!