Category Archives: Publication
Two WILL win free paperbacks of my latest

Hey all.

I’m trying something new, with some help from Amazon.com.

While ebooks are great, some of my fans still prefer print.

That’s fine, but often spendier than eBooks.

Until now… at least two fans will win a free print version of my latest, SPOILED ROTTEN, featuring that spiffy all-new cover design by the one-and-only Victorine E. Leiske.

It works real simple, too: every 21st entrant will automatically win, until we have given away BOTH Free copies. And you don’t need to worry a whit about fulfillment… It’a all being handled by the reliable folks at Amazon.com! Just go here to enter, and do it soon! While there are still copies remaining!

Thanks for your time. My next post will probably be related to my next new title!

Kindle Countdown Deal on The Woodsman!

The WoodsmanIf you live in the US or UK, you can temporarily get The Woodsman at a new, lower price! I’m running a Kindle Countdown Deal in both territories.

Over on the US site, The Woodsman is only $0.99 right now, and then will move in a few days to $1.99 before returning to its regular price of $3.99.

Meanwhile, over on the UK site, for the next week The Woodsman will be only £0.99 until it returns to its regularly-listed price of £2.52.

To the rest of the world: I’d have loved to offer a similar Countdown Deal to you, but currently this is a promotion Amazon only makes available in these two territories. Please continue to consider picking up The Woodsman in your territory! It’s a great, creepy Halloween read, whether it’s still Halloween or not!

The Woodsman is available for pre-order!

The WoodsmanIt’s finally up and available for pre-order on Amazon! The novel previously known as EyeCU when I was just working on it is now known as The Woodsman, and can be obtained for only $3.99 USD on your Kindle.

Right now, the book is exclusive to Amazon. The pre-order will reserve your copy, and enable you to be among the first to receive it on your Kindle on the book’s official release date: Friday, October 17! The Woodsman will also be available in Kindle Unlimited at that time.

Yes, the book will eventually go wide and be available from other retailers. Also, a print edition is coming, which may even be available on or before the book’s official eBook debut! (More details on that as they become available.)

But for now, don’t wait for all that: get your pre-order in now and be among the first to read the book that took me thirty-three months to write, polish, and complete.

New eBook now on Amazon: Spoiled

SpoiledTwo books in one year? From me?

No, the world’s not coming to an end; I’m just focused on becoming more productive.

As I write this, my latest creation has just gone live for accepting pre-orders on Amazon, here. It’s an eight-hour book challenge entry that came in at an honest eleven hours of effort. But I’m still proud of it.

It’s also book one in a planned trilogy called Spoiled Rotten. Spoiled is the tale of young Mike Yourchuck, how at an early age learns that he’ll never have to wait for anything he really wants … not if it costs money.

So, even as he suffers through the tragedies of everyday life, he’s never found wanting for anything important. His mother tries hard, in spite of his circumstances, to teach him values, ethics, and the worth of a dollar and a good day’s work.

But for a kid who can afford anything he wants, will it be enough to save him from himself? Or is he already SPOILED ROTTEN?

Ringing in at just over 10,000 words (around 40-some pages) of story, SPOILED is Book One of the Spoiled Rotten trilogy. It’s a suspense book that involves a dash of romance, a hint of the supernatural, and the potential for a whole lot of tragedy.

Join me for the journey. Pre-order Spoiled now, or buy it live when it is officially released on Friday, September 5!

Nice Girl Like You is released!
Most Likely available in time for holiday season!

Most-Likely-AudioBook-2500x2500

It’s here, people! In time for the winter holidays!

The audiobook version of Most Likely, read by talented voiceover artist Jennifer Harvey, can be found here on Amazon and on Audible.com as well.

I’m told it’s also on iTunes.com, but I don’t know how to link to that, so you’ll have to fire up iTunes and search for me by name and book title there. Get yours now: Jennifer’s performance is outstanding!

New short story released!

The Devohrah Initiative

The cover of The Devohrah Initiative was designed by Craig Hansen. It used an image © Wimpos—Licensed through Shutterstock.com

Hey all.

I’m proud to announce the release of my latest short story, The Devohrah Initiative. It’s a tale that combines elements of high-tech horror with humor, and while the setting and topic are different, the tale is in the same vein as my popular freebie short story, Under Contract.

I wrote this book on a dare. The dare wasn’t personally directed at me, but was a general dare by Joe Konrath (which you can find here) to all independently-published writers to start having more fun with their careers.

The general concept was this: to write a story, edit and proof it by yourself, create your own cover, format the book, and upload it to Amazon.com, all in the space of a single work day. It’s a challenge that’s come to be known as the “eight-hour book challenge.”

Now, due to my odd schedule, I had to split the eight hour time limit over two evenings.

The first evening, I wrote my 3,500-word story, including using Google Earth and other resources to get details somewhat accurate. I also searched out an image I wanted to license for the cover on Shutterstock that night. I hit my four-hour window Saturday night, then waited until Sunday night to finish up.

On Sunday, I almost bit off more than I could chew.

Using the licensed image from Shutterstock, I built the cover in four sizes and my interior title page in just under an hour. Then I went over to Scrivener, compiled the story into an .rtf file, and then copy-pasted it into InDesign, where I could work on the formatting.

I brought in the necessary back matter and front matter elements, got it all squared away, began to export to Kindle … and my PC froze up. Fortunately, I had just saved my work in InDesign, but still, the clock was ticking…

After a hard reboot, I finished the job and uploaded the book to Amazon with only minutes remaining. I wrote the blurb on the fly.

It was a very near thing, and I almost gave up when my PC froze, but it was indeed fun. If you try out the story, which is an Amazon exclusive at this point, I hope you’ll agree. (And it’ll be free on Amazon between August 30 through September 3.)

The Devohrah Initiative is an idea that occurred to me as recent debates about government-controlled drones have been discussed. De-voh-rah, by the way, is a Hebrew word that means “bee.” It can also translate into the feminine name Deborah, since both words are derived from the same Hebrew root, dalet-bet-resh, although that’s largely peripheral to the story I’ve written.

Anyway, using the transliteration for the Hebrew word for “bee” fit into the story and allowed me to give the tale a title a bit less on-the-nose than “Plan Bee” or something like that.

So, there you have it. I’m not sure how often I’ll repeat this sort of eight-hour challenge, but it was nice to inject a sense of fun back into writing. I’ve spent almost a year and a half working on a long horror novel, so coming up with something I could get out on the market in under eight hours was definitely enjoyable.

Hope you find pleasure in the results.

From legit complaint to exaggeration to fiction

I enjoy working as an independent author.

I mean that.

By choosing this path, I don’t have to wait for overworked, underpaid, over-the-transom acquisitions assistants to recognize the value of my writing and convince his superior to at least look at it. Or wait for that process to repeat up the editorial chain of command until someone finally says, “Maybe we should tell the writer this thing doesn’t completely stink. It’s postmarked 2005, so he’s probably wondering.”

Instead, I can come directly to the reading public and present something for their consumption. They might like it; they might not. But it’s out there.

When I first came into the world of eBooks, the most common bit of advice being tossed around was, “Give your story two years to be published the traditional way. If it’s not picked up by that point, then go ahead and ePublish it.”

Less than two years later, the advice given has almost reversed itself. “Put it out there as an eBook. It might draw the attention of an agent or publisher if it does okay.”

Regardless, the publishing world has seen a seismic shift in the past couple years, and not all the rules are the same. Good authors who struggled to get anything in print are now able to draw an audience and make at least a meager income. Better writers can even achieve a semblance of earning a living from their writing.

And is there a lot of junk out there, too? Yes, but that’s what innovations like Look Inside and downloadable previews are for. The bad stuff sticks out like a sore thumb.

I strive to be a writer of quality fiction.

It’s a popular misconception that all independent writers are publishing substandard stuff. In fact, some of the best writers in history were self-published. For example, who do you think told Benjamin Franklin that Poor Richard’s Almanac was “ready for an audience,” hmm? Gentle Ben himself, that’s who.

And what about one of the best-loved stories of all time, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Yup, Sir Charles did that one on his own, too.

It’s not so uncommon as people think, going the indie route. Even in recent times, folks like John Grisham got their start by hawking their own wares, only to get their books in front of the eyes of the right people and catch on with a traditional publisher.

To step outside of pure book analogies, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the long-running Comedy Central animated hit, South Park, got their start by self-producing and self-distributing an animated short entitled The Spirit of Christmas, which eventually evolved and morphed into the cartoon we know today.

The point is, going the independent route has a bad reputation lately, but it is by no means a guarantee of subpar material, nor is it an indicator of a lazy creator willing to put out bad content for a pure ego rush. There may be dross out there, but there are nuggets of gold as well.

Whenever I prepare a book I’ve written for release, I do all I can to ensure my readers are buying a professional-level product. I have professionals handle my book covers and edit my books. I’m just as thorough on revisions and using the tools of the trade to make sure I have a properly-written and developed story, as I would be if I were submitting it to a traditional publisher. More, even. Prior to release, I run my fiction past the eyes of test readers and revise based on their feedback.

What it comes down to is this: Are some independent authors putting out subpar stuff and being lazy? Sure. But that’s true of traditionally-published stuff as well, and the line of demarcation often comes down to personal drive, the desire to create something of quality.

A writer either wants to make a quick buck, or they want to create a lasting and worthwhile piece of entertainment that will attract to them a more sustainable level of success. I count myself among the latter. Whether I should be will ultimately be up to readers to decide.

A few laughs and a shiver

My latest effort at achieving these goals as been unleashed. Under Contract: A Tale of Horror and Satire will offer up some biting satire, a few giggles, and hopefully a shiver or two.

The most common question authors are asked, aside from “Who are you, again?” is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

In this case, my inspiration came from my fellow indie authors as a whole. When this whole subculture developed, some who chose the independent route had never been published before, while others had been. Understandably, some of them had tales to tell about their experiences being published by traditional book publishers.

At first, there were the legit complaints, such as writers whose books were scuttled off shelves without a big push when they failed to sell well immediately; or whose second or third books were not accepted after first breaking through as a published author. Gripes about poor copy-editing, improper covers, and editorial changes became commonplace.

But somewhere along the line, former trad-pubbed authors became a little, shall we say, bitter? Their tales grew alongside their dissatisfaction with their prior experiences being traditionally published.

Some of their complaints grew to the point of exaggerations, such as conspiratorially suggesting that their publisher worked to impede, rather than encourage, their books’ sales figures. Even to outright kill their books off and ruin their career.

Claims that, as they grew in paranoia, became harder and harder to believe.

The point has now been reached where a formerly trad-pubbed author can make their previous experience sound like a country song; as their story progresses, they lose more and more, from their authorial rights to their house to their car to their wife to their dog, until they have nothing left but the blues.

And even though the exaggerations become increasingly transparent, some folks take such claims seriously and offer condolences.

Such is the fodder of good fiction

Being a creative type, and with a mind that sometimes explores the dark side of imagination, the proverbial light bulb went off inside my head. All these stories amounted to an admission of fear; fear of being published by a traditional publisher, fear of one’s work being mishandled, fear of losing one’s career due to machinations beyond their personal control.

We read in the popular news media all the time about the evils of Big Tobacco or Big Fast Food or Big Banking. Basically, if it’s big, it’s bad. Evil. Corrupt.

And so, the idea of Big Publishing as a source of malevolence began to grow in my mind.

What if the evils of Big Publishing were far bigger than even the most paranoid author had ever imagined?

What if all of publishing was a lie, a front, a PR machine that ate talented young writers up and spit them out?

What if most of the writers we know today as “brands” were actually just front-men, while underpaid and maltreated nobodies were actually tasked with the real work of producing the next big blockbusters?

What if?

That very question is the genesis of most good story ideas. Those two words are “where we get our stories.” Ask any author, and if they’ve thought about it at all, “What if?” is the actual source of all creative storytelling.

So, out of the complaints and exaggerations of real writers, my latest tale was born. I have a few others like it percolating in the back of my brain, too, wherein I could further explore this theme.

For now, however, start with Under Contract: A Tale of Horror and Satire. It’s not a long read. You can probably finish it in a half hour or so; a nice little escape that will whet your appetite for something more.

Besides, what’s $0.99 between friends?

A Paranormal Confession

Those of you who are not authors may or may not know this, but one of the most common questions writers get asked is, “Where did you get the idea for this story?” Considering I’ve just launched my newest book, SHADA, the first book in the EMBER COLE series, I expect to hear this question a lot.

Well, let me share with you a secret. At least one of the core episodes in SHADA is based on a personal experience. A paranormal one.

That might shock some people who know me. After all, I’m the author of a Christian fiction book, MOST LIKELY. And furthermore, those who’ve bothered to do any digging know I’m a Messianic Rabbi In Training (MRIT). (Though it’s more like In Waiting these days.) People who read this might say to me, “Hold on! Aren’t you kind of a religious guy? Are you really saying the paranormal is real? You, a guy who believes in God?”

Well, let me tell you my own personal tale. My brush with the paranormal, as it were.

You see, I haven’t always been an MRIT. A few decades ago, I was a kid, like anyone else. Bright for my age, perhaps, but not always wise. We’ve all been there, right?

Now, I loved to read from the my earliest years. And once a topic caught my attention, I’d devour stacks of books until they became repetitive and had nothing new to teach me. That’s how I became almost an expert on old films, TV shows, and radio dramas and comedies that had gone off the air long before I was even born. I studied dinosaurs, the planets, archeology.

And, of course, like most young boys, eventually my fancy turned to monsters and ghosts and the like. Whether it was Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, vampires, werewolves, UFOs or haunted houses, once my attention gravitated there, I had to read everything I possibly could on the topic.

For a period of time, séances fascinated me. Why? Just the very idea of being able to talk to people who lived before you did was tempting. What entranced me about séances was the same tantalizing question that Jeni Taylor poses to her friends at the opening of SHADA:

“If you could talk to a dead person, anyone at all, who would it be?”

Eventually, I became so excited by the possibility that I shared the idea with my sister. We sat down and made up a list of everyone we might possibly want to talk to. My sister was three years younger than me, so she couldn’t think of many people. That’s okay. I’d soon filled up two sides of a sheet of paper with different folks.

I had dead musicians, dead politicians, military leaders and other historical figures. I know Abe Lincoln was on my list. So was Elvis Presley. The problem for an imaginative kid like me wasn’t coming up with names, it was narrowing the list down.

I didn’t prepare as well as Jeni, Ember, Willow and Shada. When it became clear we were going to attempt a séance of our own, we simply waited for a time when our parents were going to be out of the house for a while. My sister wanted to invite two of her friends over, because she knew Elvis was on my list and her friends would want to talk to him, too, if we actually made contact.

This was the late 1970s, mind you. Elvis had died only a couple years prior to my little séance brainstorm. He was still quite popular, and some kids still remembered him and missed him.

I was maybe twelve at the time. It’s hard to remember for sure. That would have put my sister at around age nine. Her friends were ten and seven. I think I agreed to let them come just so we could have a group of four for the séance.

Now, as much as I’d read about séances, I’d never been to one, nor did I have a clue how to properly conduct one. I knew it would be good to have a candle or two lit. I knew the room had to be dark. And I knew, or thought I did, that we needed at least four people. How did one conjure forth a deceased spirit? As far as I knew, you just called them forth.

I figured the worst that could happen was … nothing. I was wrong.

Anyway, one day my parents announced they were going into town to get some groceries. That guaranteed us at least an hour to ourselves. Paulette asked if she could call her friends and have them come over. Mom and Dad agreed, and left before they arrived. We were just beyond the age when we needed a baby sitter for short trips like this; or, at least, I was.

Once my sister’s friends arrived, we gathered the candle and matches and went up to my sister’s room, where we’d decided to hold the grand event. I had my list of names with me. It took some time to calm my sister’s friends down. They were all excited. We argued a bit about who to call forth first, but finally settled on Elvis.

Never once did it enter our minds that those who are dead, even if they could hear us, might have better things to do than come and chat with a bunch of pre-teen kids. Sure, they might have been too busy in life to have time for us, but now? They had eternity, right? It also never entered our minds that there might be, at any given time, dozens of other groups of kids, and maybe even some adults, attempting to call forth the same exact folks at the same exact time.

I think we assumed the omnipresence of God somehow extended to anyone who was dead. Or something. Maybe we were just too young to know any better.

Anyway, after a lot of hassles, we got settled, got the candle lit, and began our little séance. I hadn’t kept track of time very well, but I knew we need to “get the show on the road,” as my parents might say.

So, there in the candle-lit dark of my sister’s bedroom, the four of us joined hands. I began, for some reason, by reciting the Lord’s prayer. Not sure why. Then I cleared my throat and said the following:

“We call to the spirit of Elvis Presley. Elvis, if you are here, please give us a sign. Let us know you’re with us.”

What happened next scared all of us. But to understand it, you have to appreciate a few facts first.

First of all, my parents were not much into rock and roll. They loved country, polkas, ragtime, big band music, gospel, and jazz … but mostly, country. They had never before owned anything by Elvis Presley.

Second, you must understand that we lived in a small enough house that we ought to have heard my parents pull up and come in the house, returning early from their grocery run. But none of us did.

Third, you need to realize that what happened next took place perfectly on cue. As in, within a couple seconds from the moment I finished saying, “Let us know you’re with us.”

Here’s what we heard: The sound of Elvis Presley singing “Blue Hawaii.” And it was coming from downstairs!

We all screamed. My sister’s two friends turned five shade paler than pure white, jumped up, and ran down the stairs, past my confused parents and out the door and all three blocks home. Their mother and father didn’t let them come over for another visit for a month.

My sister screamed, too. I screamed a bit less, but I did scream at first. In the confusion, though, the candle got knocked over onto an old blanket we’d spread out and I had to put out the flame before it really caught on fire. As I was doing that, my sister high-tailed it out of the room and down the stairs.

The next thing I heard was my mother’s stern voice: “Craig Allen Hansen! Get down here right now!”

Being only twelve, and with all the commotion that had been caused, I had no choice but to confess to the whole thing to my parents. Fibbing about what we were up to didn’t even occur to me. I told them all about our séance plans and how, right when I asked Elvis to let us know he was with us, the music had started.

My mom told me their side of the story as my dad silently sipped coffee, his eyes sparkling with mirth.

When they went in to get groceries, there had been a stack of records on sale, most of them only a couple bucks, which was really cheap for album-length music, even back then. So, out of the blue, Mom decided to grab some Elvis records, even though she hadn’t listened to him much when he was alive, except for his gospel stuff.

When they pulled in the drive and carried the groceries in, Mom wanted to hear “how the record sounded,” and the first thing she did, even before hollering, “We’re home,” was put the Elvis record on.

Right as I was asking for a sign of his presence.

It was freaky, weird timing. Pure coincidence.

And it scared both my sister and me enough to know that séances are nothing to mess around with.

There are echos of that personal paranormal experience in SHADA. Whether the girls in my novel learn the same lesson I did, well … that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

But now you know, as Paul Harvey often said, the rest of the story.

My CreateSpace proof-copy of MOST LIKELY has arrived!

Today was a red-letter day.

First, my wife and I secured a lease at our first-choice apartment complex in Oregon, meaning we now have an address, a move-in date, and everything that has been just a tad uncertain is now, sort of, set up. That’s a relief when it comes to my pending move.

However, and more importantly to this blog, my CreateSpace proof copy of MOST LIKELY arrived today. You can see how happy it made me:

That’s a rather sharp-looking image … and the book looks good, too! Heh.

Anyway, I’m sure you want a close-up of the real star of the show, so here goes:

In person, it feels like any other trade paperback. It has high-quality cover stock and a nice shiny finish.

And my cover artist, Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics, did a great job on the spine, and even on the back cover, making the whole affair look professional and sharp.

Now, the flash kind of hurt my shot of the back cover, but here it is for your edification:

And finally, I wanted you to see the interior, to get a feel for that. I designed the interior myself.

Hopefully most people will also think it looks sharp and professional.

Now that it’s all here, I have some final corrections to make and upload to CreateSpace. They’ll love that, I’m sure. And then I’ll go about finalizing it in CreateSpace and, I guess, it takes a few days for the trade paperback to show up on Amazon and elsewhere. But it is coming, folks! If you’re not an eReader fan, the paper version is, at most, maybe a week away!

So be sure to order your copy as soon as it’s out!

Special discount on MOST LIKELY at Smashwords

Hello, all.

To celebrate my MOST LIKELY blog tour this week, I’m announcing a special coupon discount available at Smashwords, redeemable now through June 30, 2011.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying MOST LIKELY, now’s your time to act because this is just a short-term, Smashwords-only sale. All you need to do is go here to find my book on Smashwords.

Put it in your shopping cart. At checkout, enter this coupon code: DU75B

That will discount your copy of MOST LIKELY to only $0.99, a 67% savings off its normal price! But don’t delay! Once June’s over, so is this limited-time special price.

Smashwords is a great outlet because they’ll give you your choice of file format, so it’ll work for you no matter what kind of eReader you use!

And if you have strong feelings on MOST LIKELY, one way or another, feel free to give it a rating and a review at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Shelfari, LibraryThing, Goodreads or wherever you tend to hang out.

Thanks, and enjoy your change to save big on your copy of MOST LIKELY!

On to the next!

It’s been a busy second half of the week. I’ve been contacting book bloggers to solicit reviews of MOST LIKELY, and I’ve been organizing a 12-book giveaway to spread the word (and maybe earn a few reviews). In fact, the giveaway is still going on until just before midnight tonight, Central Daylight Time.

I’m happy to say that I have three confirmed sales on Amazon, as well as one confirmed sale on Barnes and Noble, so far. That’s a total of four books, which isn’t bad. Unfortunately, the first 72 hours the book was up, I got emails and messages from an additional four or five people saying they’d just bought the book on Amazon, but those sales never showed up.

I have KDP looking into whether their system messed up since I was a new author and it was my first book published. Other authors, some with several books, said that KDP was having trouble tracking sales during that three-day period, so it’s possible I’ve sold a few more than four. But at most, it’s probably only like eight or nine. Time will tell.

Anyway, I’m about to jump into two projects at once.

My next fiction project will be my prequel to EMBER, a short novel that takes place during the summer before the novel picks up. It’s becoming a fun concept in my mind, because it’s like a female version of THE BODY in some ways. Also, I’m going to start work on my theological-inspirational Messianic book, DATING THE MESSIAH. It’s a different type of writing so I’m confident I can juggle both projects without too much hassle.

And that’s where I’m at as of today!

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