Jennifer Blake Returns, and a Cover Reveal!

Jennifer Blake returns in SINS OF THE FATHERS, the sixth novel in the series.  Blake and her team must solve a decades-old crime in order to prevent present-day murders.

SINS OF THE FATHERS is scheduled to release on Halloween 2016.

Pre-orders will begin September 15th.

 

Without further ado, may I present the cover of SINS OF THE FATHERS

Sins of the Fathers

 

If you haven’t caught up on the many adventures and utter chaos that is Jennifer Blake’s life, you can find the previous five volumes here:

 

Where have all the standalones gone?

No one is writing stand-alone novels any more.  Go stroll through Amazon’s ebooks, and you’ll see that virtually everything you see is “book one in the Fartknocker series.”

Now obviously, that’s not true, and probably never will be.  People will always write stand-alone stories with no sequels or long-range plans, and publishers will more than likely always buy them–but lord, don’t they love them a series.

That’s where it comes from, you know.  People see publishers putting all their marketing and effort into this or that series, and assume–almost certainly incorrectly–that they are only interested in the next big series.  Therefore, everything has to be stretched into a series, whether or not it has the potential for it.  So, sadly, many great characters and stories are forced to keep shuffling across the stage long after they should have been allowed to take a bow and fade into the background for the next act.

I’m about to propose something radical.  I preface this by saying that I do, in fact, have a moderately successful series of my own, although my favorite of my works remains a single, stand-alone novel.  But I think this merits saying.

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FORGET ABOUT THE SEQUELS AND WRITE THE BOOK.

Don’t worry about it.  If the story doesn’t merit a return, then don’t go back.  Finish the story, and let it shine on its own.  If it has the potential to be a series, it’ll let you know.  Don’t force it.

After all, imagine how lame a sequel to Dracula would have been.  (Actually, you don’t have to imagine–there are countless lame novels vaguely based on what happened after the good Count lost his head.)

Tell the story.  If it’s done, it’s done; don’t try to reanimate a dead story line to stretch it out.

AUDIO ALL THE BOOKS!

So basically I’ve been incredibly busy with the audiobook project.  You know, that insane idea I had a few months ago to convert ALL my books into audiobooks?  Yeah, I wonder if I’ve gone crazy, too.

source: giphy.com

source: giphy.com

At any rate, I thought I’d give you guys an update on where all of that stands.  As of right now, these are the titles that are currently in production.

BAD GIRLS

BLOOD EAGLE

HUNTED

SMILING JACK

CHARACTER ISSUES

SISTERS

At this point it’s a toss-up to see which will be done first, so I won’t even hazard a guess.  For those of you who’ve asked, yes, I do plan to do both the complete Blood Lines series and the Jennifer Blake series as well.

Be sure to check back here regularly, and I’ll update you as I know anything.  You can also check out my Facebook author page and my Twitter feed for more updates and general announcements.

 

Best wishes,

Michael

It’s here! It’s here!

source: giphy.com

source: giphy.com

ASYLUM, my first novella, is now available as an audiobook!

ASYLUM is sort of my love letter to old school horror.  No sparkling vampires or angst-ridden villains here; just non-stop action and gore aplenty.  Check it out here:

Audible: http://adbl.co/2btqlpa
iTunes: http://apple.co/2bvhhil
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bqfeLi

It’s narrated by the awesome Kay Webster, who gave Quiet Charlie the absolute perfect voice.  Go grab your copy today, and watch for more audiobooks coming soon!

 

On Publishing

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source: giphy.com

A few people have asked me about publishing independently. While scores of books have been written on the subject, by people much more qualified than I am, I thought I’d share my two cents’ worth, and a little about my process.

First, and although you’d think it goes without saying, it still needs to be said, you must finish the book. And by finish, it must be completed, edited, revised, and polished. Until you have a manuscript ready to go, don’t even worry about the rest of the process.

Once you have a completed, polished manuscript in hand, it’s time to look at formatting. Again, there are loads of books on the subject available on Kindle, many of them free or low-cost. Amazon actually puts out one themselves, and if you haven’t read this one cover to cover, you’re not ready. It’s very helpful to either download a pre-made template, or create your own using Kindle’s formatting guidelines. The two most common word processor programs, Microsoft Word and OpenOffice Writer, both allow you to save templates. Take your time here and do it right; you can have the best book in the world, and if the formatting is screwy enough to confuse the reader, you’re doomed.

Now that we’re all formatted, it’s time to think about a cover. The importance of a quality cover cannot be overstated. It is your book’s first impression, and is responsible for most of the decision to buy or not from readers. If you’re going to put out money on your book, this is arguably one of the two most important areas, the other being editing.

A note about images: It can be very tempting to simply snag a picture off Google images to use in your cover. I can’t say this enough: don’t do it. Really, just don’t. Stock images can be had for $3-20, which is a lot cheaper than a lawsuit for copyright violation. Don’t cheap out. Buy your images, and attribute them accordingly.
Don’t be afraid to jump in and give it a shot, but it never hurts to do your homework. Study other covers in your genre. Read everything you can on designing ebook covers, and graphics design in general.

Now that you’ve got the book and the cover, you need a blurb. FAIR WARNING: This can, and usually is, harder to write than the book itself. Take your time and get it right.

source: giphy.com

source: giphy.com

An author bio is a must. Yes, writing your own bio can be almost as much fun as doing your own dental work, but you really do need one. Again, take your time and get it right.

So you’ve written the book, edited and revised it, and polished it until it shines. You’ve formatted it properly for the medium (in this case, ebook) and you’ve got a killer cover, a catchy blurb, and an intriguing author bio. Now it’s time to consider some business decisions.

The two main outlets for indie ebooks are Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords. I prefer Amazon, but both have their pros and cons. Do your research and decide which is best for you.

Once you’ve selected your venue Or venues (you can publish on both) follow the step-by-step instructions both have on their websites. Both put your book through a cursory quality control check, but once that’s done, your book will be live on your selected sales channels.

A few helpful tidbits:

I write in OpenOffice.org, mostly because I love open source software, but either OO or Word are your best bet. There exists almost as many “writing programs” as there are aspiring writers. Most will charge you an arm and a leg, and will often require further instruction (for a price, naturally) to get the most out of them. For me, this is a great example of the Keep It Simple, Stupid rule. Stick to a good quality word processor program, and focus on writing, not learning new software.

For graphics editing, Photoshop is the gold standard, but by no means the only option available. GIMP and paint.net are both perfectly viable options. Just about any graphics program that lets you do multiple layers and transparencies will work. Use what works for you. I personally like paint.net.

Stock images are a wonderful way to create killer covers. There are hundreds of stock image sites available, easily found with a simple Google search. I prefer Canstock, but the key is to find the right image, so once you have the idea in mind, search as many as you have to until you find the right one. Then BUY IT. For the love of all things holy, DON’T STEAL IMAGES. The most expensive stock images in the world won’t come close to what a copyright lawsuit will cost you.

Editing may be the most crucial element of publishing. Fresh eyes are NOT OPTIONAL. By the time you’re ready to publish, at least one other objective, sometimes brutally honest person must have read through your manuscript. For me, that’s my wife. For you, it can be anyone you trust to be honest about what they see.

I hope this was at least somewhat helpful, but the truth is it’s a learning process that never really ends.  Do your homework, and you’ll find your way.

I’m Baaaack!

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I’ve decided to revive this blog.

I’ll try to post at least semi-regularly, mostly on writing and my newest releases.  Random posts on other topics such as woodcarving and other interests will probably appear from time to time.  Those of you who know me won’t be surprised to find there may be the odd rant now and then, but I’ll try to keep that to a minimum.

So, everyone have a great weekend, and I hope you’ll join me here.

Best Regards,

Michael

 

I’m Moving!

Well, this blog is, anyway.  This will be the last post on this blog, although I intend to leave it up rather than try and move everything to the new blog at my website.

Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to read my ramblings, and I hope you’ll join me in my new digs.

Seriously, come by.  I’ll get lonely if you don’t.

Regards,

Michael