Strange dreams are made of Burger King

Alright, so this is random, but I had to jot it down somewhere because it was just so vivid. Had a long day yesterday and, on our drive home, we stopped at the rest area on the Turnpike and grabbed a bite to eat. I chose a bacon double cheeseburger because I am weak. Anyway, my dream/nightmare this morning consisted of an amalgam of three things in my life: my gym, my job, and the house I grew up in.

The dream began with me looking out of the window (of the house I grew up in) and seeing that my gym (which was never there) across the street had been completely renovated overnight into a gym equipment sales floor. Now, when I went to go check it out there also happened to be a pizza delivery guy in the driveway who I didn’t have enough cash for. Anyway, I became even more upset when I realized that this gym/neighborhood monstrosity was also my current place of employment (because advertising and gym equipment really go hand-in-hand). It was all very confusing, but I was more concerned with just keeping my job and my past (way past) years of retail experience might come in handy while selling gym equipment (hey, I never said this dream was rational).

Then it occurred to me that this had all been done without my knowledge and that the guys who were now on the show floor were the folks they had decided to keep on. I wasn’t good enough to be a gym equipment salesperson. Luckily, I woke up before it got much more upsetting.


Late night plus cheeseburger equals creepy dreams (The Temptation of St. Anthony, 1946, Dali)

So, yeah…if you choose to have your late-night snack with the King, just be prepared for what he’ll dig out of your subconscious and toss together.  Some dreams can lead to books. This was not one of those dreams. 😉

Check out Jason Gurley’s Eleanor

Not only is Jason Gurley an exceptional artist (which is why I commissioned my Danny Dirks covers from him), he also wields a pretty wicked pen! Check out his art and his books, especially his newly released novel, Eleanor. Anything 13 years in the making has to be special, right?

Eleanor by Jason Gurley

Part I of Liquid Blue is Available at Amazon

You’ve seen the cover reveal, now you can read the book (at least Part I). Click on over to Amazon and pick up this quick read (~17,000 words or 1/3 of a novel) for just $0.99. While the book will eventually be available for Nook, iPad, and the like, if you’re impatient you can head over to Smashwords and pick up the appropriate book file there.

While I’m at it, I’ll give you a peek at the cover for Part II, which should be ready for publication in July. Enjoy!


Liquid Blue Cover 2

Cover reveal: Liquid Blue – Book 1, Part I

Liquid Blue Cover 1

While I’ve been waiting for the next round of revisions to Danny Dirks from my editor, I’ve knocked the dust off an older sci-fi project that I’m going to release in smaller parts. Above, you’ll find the cover for the first part, I’ll be releasing shortly. I’ll have part II ready by August and part III will wrap up book 1 in the fall.

Below is a brief description:

The year is 2074. It’s been 60 years since first contact. Sixty years since the creature entered Dr. Nigel Llewellyn’s office and handed him the device that would spark man’s venture into interstellar travel. His great-great grandson, Caeden Llewellyn lives in a mining colony on Jupiter’s moon, Callisto. It is on the giant gas planet that man mines the mysterious element that makes instantaneous travel and their technological advances possible; Llewellium, better known as Liquid Blue.

Part I finds Caeden on a school field trip that goes terribly wrong.

The first part is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

The book cover was created at I purchased the rights to use the artwork for all 3 parts for $3. While it’s not exclusive, I think it’s pretty nice for pretty cheap.

Writing on the fly

While I like to outline my novels, I almost never write in a truly linear fashion. Inevitably, my mind wanders to the “good” parts of the story and I hear snippets of dialogue in my head, or get a sense of what’s happening between the characters. Some folks are afraid of jumping around in the story, but if the mood strikes, why ignore the muse? Write it down! I’m sure I’ve lost more good lines than I’ve remembered to jot down in the past, so I make it a point to put pen to paper whenever I think of something.


Whether you’re inking it out the old-fashioned way like I do, or use a handy app like EverNote or even send yourself a text, don’t let the moment slip by. Trust me, you won’t remember it later… or you won’t remember it as well. You should always be ready to write something down. With a nod to the old saying, if you wait till you sit down for inspiration, you’re a waiter and not a writer. 😉

I think it comes back to the fact that, as a serious writer (or one who writes with the intention of publishing, whether it’s traditional or self), you should always be thinking about your stories. You never know what will inspire you and you should always be ready and willing to capture your musings.

Why YA? Why the heck not?

So, by now you might have heard about the whole Slate article kerfuffle over shaming adults for reading YA (ie, young adult) books (I won’t link to it. It doesn’t deserve the added traffic). In response, everyone and their brother has come to the defense of some of the most popular writing of the day. And why not? Just because writing is targeted to a particular audience, doesn’t make it any less poignant if done properly. YA novels are entertaining and typically focus on a time in our lives when we felt most vulnerable.

To be honest, I never read the article. Why? Because I saw through the title for what it was: link bait. I’m going to denounce one of the most popular reading trends of the day. Watch how quickly the hate mail and comments come flooding in. It’ll be our most “popular” article ever! So, I ignored it. Apparently, I was the only one. Sigh! And, I guess I’m not surprised. Should I be more offended about an article that belittles my chosen audience? Perhaps. But, honestly, has that article changed anyone’s mind? Do you now feel shame when reading your YA novel? No, and you shouldn’t. Do you know why? Because the argument fails at its core.

The simple fact is, if you’re reading, you have already won. Reading is good for you. It’s proven. Reading can prevent Alzheimer’s, make you smarter, make you less stressed, and improve your memory, among other things. Read what makes you feel alive. Read what touches your heart and motivates you to be a better you. Read whatever makes you want to keep reading! Whatever you do, don’t ever fall into the trap of believing that reading and shame should ever go hand in hand. Read on.


Social media is trying to take your money

Let’s face it, social media needs to make money somehow, right? Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest can’t just run for free, can they. Ah, the good ol’ days. But, when the board of directors (or, in Pinterest’s case, board of investors) says you’ve got to make money, it’s time to monetize your product.


Facebook took this to heart and has essentially made it impossible for businesses to interact with the people who follow them without paying for it. That’s right. We’re not even talking about getting new followers or likes. This is only about interacting with the folks who have already liked your page. Organic interaction has been reduced to 1% to 2% on Facebook. That means that even if you have several hundred followers, your post may only reach a handful of people unless  you “boo$t” your post. Essentially, it’s pay to play.


Twitter’s methods don’t seem so Machiavellian… yet. As far as I can tell, Twitter’s monetization simply puts your posts or your account in front of more folks who are outside your normal feed. This makes sense to me. As a business, I want to reach more than my followers with some announcements. Ok, then I have to pay for that reach. Seems fair. Makes sense. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this. If they start limiting my reach, it’ll be time to cry foul.


Recently, Pinterest has begun exploring monetization. Businesses will have the ability to pay to recommend their pin to users who pin similar content.  Though not open to all users yet, I’ve already seen these pins in my feed. And, let me tell you… I wasn’t too happy. The recommended pins are based on other things I’ve pinned, but not on boards I’ve followed. Here’s the problem with that. I don’t follow clothing boards. I don’t want to follow clothing boards. Yes, I have a board with clothing on it. Every once in a while, I like to browse men’s fashion and pin a few things to that board. I don’t want to see clothing in my feed though. So, I was pretty surprised when I saw clothing in my feed (on my phone) for the first time. Then I saw at the base of the pin, “Recommended pin.” Now, whether or not these are recommended because someone paid for them to be so, or not, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just an algorithm that looks at what you’ve liked in the past and throws a mixture of random and paid at you. I was very surprised at just how many posts were recommended though. I would almost say it was a ratio of 2:5 (recommended pins:organic pins). It seemed like a lot. And, for someone who’s suddenly seeing clothes where he primarily only wanted to see books and book-related pins, it’s distracting and disturbing. I’m not quite ready to pass negative judgement on this, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on it.

I’ve used both Facebook and Twitter’s pay-for-performance systems. Facebook is, unfortunately, populated with people whose job it is to click on links (seach the term “click farms” and you’ll learn something new), which devalues almost every paid interaction on the site. I had so many bogus followers the last time I paid for something that I’ve decided to never use paid advertising on the site again. Twitter was a much different story. I had decent followers who actually had common interests, and my links got clicks that appeared to at least generate some feedback/sales. I’ll be curious to give Pinterest a shot once they open up to small businesses. I don’t see a lot of action on book links now, but maybe if it’s something that’s focused, the results would be different.

My last comment is that social media is making it easier and easier to pour money into their hungry mouths. Be careful the beast you feed. As a small business, your advertising dollars should be focused where you see the most return. Nothing is guaranteed. Do your research and get multiple opinions before putting your hard-earned money in the social media money-eating monster.

Want to make a cover for your ebook?

But maybe don’t have the skill set to work in InDesign or Illustrator? And don’t have the funds to have a pro do it for you? Check out Canva. This handy online tool lets you build covers (and other visuals such as social media headers and infographics) using clipart that may be free. While the better looking images aren’t free, the $1 surcharge to use them is what I would call very reasonable. This may be especially useful if you’re planning on doing a series of shorts, where the cost for multiple covers, that may be very similar in nature, would exceed returns. Mind you, there are limitations on republishing stock photos, so be sure to read the fine print. This is standard with any book cover designers who use stock footage. Essentially, they can only have the rights for up to a certain number of reproductions. In this case, if I’m not mistaken, the one-time use clause only allows for 2000 print versions, but if you’re only planning on making an ebook, then you might be ok; that number is a bit higher (480,000). Below you can see a watermarked example of something I created. Shhh… it’s for my super secret alter ego. That’s a joke. It’s the worst-kept secret ever. Anyway, this took me about an hour to slap together and the majority of that time was spent looking for the background image (the watermark would be gone if I purchased this image. Seems like a handy little tool. Let me know if you check it out and feel free to post a link to your results in the comments below.