Wednesday, December 27, 2006


As one year closes out and another begins, reflection comes naturally. I’ve met some interesting folks and done some new things, so I am glad for all that in ’06. Regarding publishing, visits with readers and science fiction fans have been fun. Meeting new authors is especially fun, and the number of other writers I’ve met has at least doubled.

Regarding the internet, I have learned that web page design isn’t always fun, and that trying to promote via the web is more of a challenge than books and articles on the subject would have one believe. However, I did set up a Yahoo group, learn a bit about YouTube, and quite a bit about podcasting. My daughter has really enjoyed listening to some of the Indie stuff on the “podsafe” audio sites. I’m still working on the “book trailer” so with any luck, I’ll be posting a link to that soon.

My goals in writing seem to be changing, primarily due to marketing woes, and I am uncertain about the ultimate fate of the novel length fiction which is lurking in my “current manuscripts” folder. I could be sending out queries, but I’ve had trouble getting motivated to do so. While Trinity on Tylos is quite a good book, garnering a “Recommended Read” from FAR and really favorable reviews at several other sites, it hasn’t sold well enough to make a getting another contract feasible.

Oh, I’ll still write, but I’m uncertain about seeking publication for my fiction. I may work on other genres, including some non-fiction, which might be easier to market, either online or via more traditional means.

There will be many predictions by modern sages for ’07, but I think it is a safe bet for me to experience a continued joy in the written word, whether on the printed page or generated via pixels on a screen. I’m certain to enjoy reading other writer’s efforts, and perhaps I’ll be reading some of my own as well.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Google Ad Words is an interesting way to advertise online. Signing up is fairly easy, and then short, targeted ads, which the advertiser writes, based on an interactive form, direct internet users to a designated website. Of course, at that point it is up to the site owner to develop a compelling “Let’s buy!” message. Aye, there’s the rub. (My apologies to Mr. Shakespeare.)

After a week, I realized that ten people had clicked on one of my ads and been directed toward my website. Perhaps more interesting, the number of impressions, or ad listings, had zoomed past one thousand. During a roughly two month long campaign, 269 people have “clicked through” and my ads have run more than a million times. I’ve seen several “Google Alerts” as well, so the ad campaign has gotten people checking me out.

Will this increase my sales at all? Neither of my publishers have shown a single sale via their sites, but it can take months for third party sales to show up. My budget for this endeavor was to spend less than a con visit, and having spent the same amount as one night at the Chattanooga Wingate, it is time to cancel the campaign. I rather doubt that I will earn as much as I spent, so this is yet another failure if “Return on Investment” is the only measure of success.

However, being a writer is all about sharing stories, and doing the Google campaign is much like seeking a berth as a sci fi con guest, or like making a speech at a library or a civic club event. Quite simply, I’m trying all reasonable avenues to get my books into the hands of readers, so they can enjoy my stories, and perhaps they’ll recommend one of my tales to other readers as well.

When the new year rolls in, I’ll be exploring one or two other ways to market the two books I have published. Anyone out there seen a “book trailer?”

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Monday, December 11, 2006

A “different” idea for holiday gift giving...

If you’re like me, finding a gift that the adults on your list haven’t already purchased for themselves can be quite a challenge. For me this task can best be described as giving someone the thing they would have bought, had they known about it.

I’ve noticed a resurgent interest in audio of late. Audio books have been around for a while, but iPods and podcasting have made them even more popular. Also, folks who didn’t know what a podcast was a couple of years ago are now regular listeners.

With that in mind, let me share a link and a gift idea with you. Since 1984, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company has been performing, recording, and broadcasting dramatic audio — fully dramatized, fully sound-scaped audio drama, far beyond the readings and “audio books” you can find in every bookstore. According to their website, “We like to think that what we do is classic ‘old-time radio’, as it would sound with today's technology and dramatic techniques.” I’ve heard them perform, and it is quite a treat.

So, for those on your list who have a computer, an audio player, or an iPod, and who enjoy a good story, you can give the gift of premium audio drama— courtesy of the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. There’s a link to their podcast on their site, as well as ways to purchase their recordings, in either CD or cassette format.

Sure beats trying to figure out size and color preferences, doesn’t it?

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Humanity must colonize to survive

Recently, cosmologist Stephen Hawking won The Copley medal, which was previously awarded to such accomplished folks as Darwin and Einstein. In his remarks Hawking stated that as long as it inhabits a single planet, humanity is at great risk for annihilation. An asteroid collision or a nuclear war could wipe out the entire population.

Hawking further stated that chemical rockets are too slow for colonization ventures. Inter stellar travel to a suitable solar system could take 50,000 years with current technology, but matter/antimatter reactions might be harnessed to move spacecraft at speeds close to that of light. Star Trek might be poor sci fi in some respects, but the energy source used by the Enterprise is inline with the physicist’s analysis of the problem.

Although Hawking’s remarks were made last week, they remind me of a similar statement made quite a few years ago by author Robert A. Heinlein, who also believed that humanity would have to leave this planet and colonize to preserve itself. Indeed, regarding the landing of astronauts on our moon, he stated, “The door they opened leads to the hope that h. sapiens will survive indefinitely long, even longer than this solid planet on which we stand tonight.” This sci fi grand master believed in mankind and longed for a secure future for all of us.

I’ve heard all of the arguments in favor of abandoning our space program, and while some of them are valid, I believe, as Hawking does, as Heinlein did, that humanity must reach out and explore space. I doubt that I’ll live to see science solve this issue, but I do think that when great minds choose to work on it, that there will be a solution to the propulsion problem.

In past centuries, some thought mankind would run into trouble because there wouldn’t be enough wood. However, most of the human population made the transition to fossil fuel, with trees to spare. Nowadays, people worry that we’ll run out of dead dinosaurs, but there will some new technology to take the place of oil. I’m betting on hydrogen, not because it is the best, but because nuclear power has too much political baggage at the present time. More folks remember Chernobyl than the Hindenburg.

Further along in the human time line, mankind will see technologies with the power to propel spaceships beyond this solar system. I won’t see it, but I certainly believe that it will happen. Science fiction today often predicts tomorrow’s science facts. The details may differ, but the gist of that story is being written today, and I’m glad to made a small contribution to forward thinking literature.

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