Indie Superstars Storybundle now live

Indie Superstars Storybundle
The books in the Indie Superstars Storybundle

Indie Superstars Storybundle

The Indie Superstars Storybundle puts together a number of books from well-known self-published authors. It includes my ISF-Allion novel Juno Rising.

Crystalline Space – Dark Stars Trilogy Book 1 by A.K. DuBoff

“A refreshing approach to the genre. Crystalline Space sets the bar high as the first book in a series. This is a fun read with intriguing world-building and a compelling storyline. I look forward to where the Dark Stars trilogy takes us next.”– Amy J. Murphy, author of the Allies and Enemies series & Dragon Award Finalist

The Circuit – The Complete Saga by Rhett C. Bruno

“Bruno has crafted a complex, multi-dimensional story that combines the best of his genre with age-old truths—and quandaries—about humanity, politics, religion, family, and, yes, love.”– Portland Book Review

Corpsman – Women of the United Federation Marines by Jonathan P. Brazee

“Bravo Zulu (BZ) is the military code for a job well done. And a resounding Bravo Zulu is what Col. Brazee deserves for his latest Women of the Marine Corps books.”– Amazon Review

Juno Rising by Patty Jansen

“I love her characters, settings, plot twists, and the fact that she can switch from writing stories that are ‘pro’ ISF to stories that are ‘pro’ Allion (ISF and Allion being the two protagonists in these stories), and they are both as believable as can be.”– Amazon Review

Horde’s Challenge – Starbarian Saga Book 1 by Robert Jeschonek

“Robert Jeschonek has a flair for fast-paced, pulse-pounding combat scenes.”– William H. Keith, author of the Grey Death Battlemech novels

Red Team Alpha by Jay Allan

“I started reading this book because I have read every other book Mr. Allan has written and love them all. I don’t normally read prequels because they reference information you already know. Well I have to say, this book is great as a stand alone novel as well as a prequel to the Crimson World series. We find out that Mr. Stark is the same devious person he is in the other books, just younger. It kind of reminds me of the Tom Clancy Op Center series just in the future. If you like Tom Clancy, you will absolutely love this book.”– Amazon Review

Apocalypse Paused – Books 1-4 by Michael Todd

“Truly frightening sci-fi a la Michael Crichton. Believable characters, mind bending situations and monstrous creatures. Do not read this before bed, it’s nightmare inducing. Highly recommended!”– Amazon Review

Janissaries by Chris Kennedy

1.”A great start to a mil sci-fi series that I’m looking forward to diving further into. I definitely recommend it.”– Amazon Review

Element-X by B. V. Larson

Wow! This book felt like I was on one of those County fair rides where there is no control. I dislike those rides, but I LOVED this book. What a rush! The action barely let up for one minute, and I was hanging on by the seat of my britches all the way through.– Amazon Review

Exile by Glynn Stewart

“This fast-paced starfaring adventure succeeds with a thrilling mix of space battles and tender emotions.”– Publishers Weekly Starred Review of Exile

Flagship – A Captain’s Crucible Book 1 by Isaac Hooke

“Flagship by Isaac Hooke is a sci-fi novel that really blew me away. This was awesome! So much action, battle scenes, intrigue, suspense, aliens, and a powerful psychic. Love it!”– Amazon Review

Trevalyn Academy by James David Victor

“Well plotted, exciting read!”– Amazon Review

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Whale Watching off Sydney

May to October is the whale watching season off Sydney. This year has been a good (a whale of a?) year.
We went out on one of the whale watching boats last Sunday. The ocean was alive with whales and dolphins. It was also very choppy, which made for a lot of blurred photos.

I’ve picked out the best ones.

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Top podcasts for authors

It’s been a while since I did a list of podcasts for authors.

A writer’s got to stay healthy, and I go to the gym every weekday.

Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT like gyms and am no exercise junkie. It’s frikken BORING. To relieve the boredom, I listen to podcasts while I walk to the gym, at the gym and on the way back.

I’ve been listening to publishing podcasts for a long time, and have probably outgrown certain shows, so the list below is highly personal.

With that said, these are the podcasts I’ve been listening to recently:

The Creative Penn Podcast

Joanna remains a favourite of mine. Her interviews are extremely varied, covering a huge range of issues of interest to writers. She truly considers that the world is our oyster and does away with the myopic attitude of so many self-publishers where they care solely about sales on Amazon and only Amazon US at that.

Marketing SFF

The true insider show. Selfpublishers interviewing other selfpublishers. I really appreciate the variety of guests doing a wide variety of things. Lindsay and I go back all the way to the SFF-OWW online critique forum.

Writing Excuses

A show about craft, and specifically the craft of plotting. They’re doing lots of discussion about characters at the moment. Selfpublishers don’t like talking about craft. They should. Without good craft, you can’t sell books.

The Smartypants Book Marketing Podcast

There are a good number of marketing podcasts. What sets this one apart is the absence of snake oil or any talk of dollars and cents. Chris has worked in marketing for a long time and gives advice based on the principles of marketing, so the advice is timeless and replicable across many venues. The recent interview with Tammi Lebrecque about email lists was golden. So was Chris’ down-to-earth analysis of online crisis management.

The Writers’ Detective bureau Podcast

Adam is a real live detective. Who better to learn from about police procedure and crime? When a crime happens, who handles what? How do agencies work together? When are certain searches called for? It’s all very uS-centred, but if you take away the names of the agencies, the procedures will be similar elsewhere, including made-up worlds.

Casefile

A treasure trove for authors looking for ideas for crime-related plots. Each episode goes into depth about a past crime, and how the case unfolded, how the culprit was identified.

Science Friction

Discusses different issues in the area where science meets ethics and the public perception. Lots of great potential for story ideas, such as: the market for fake peer reviews and fake research in China, the role of women in early maths research, the gaia theory.

Honourable mentions:

Self-publishing Formula Podcast

The book lab episodes are excellent, and so are a number of interviews. I’m a wee bit critical of episodes that seem too infomercial for my liking.

The History of Rome

Not recent and no longer updated, but this is a huge archive of over 200 shows going through the entire history of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It’s all history so doesn’t really go out of date, right?

Dropping off:

The Author Biz – appears to have stopped. Pity. There were some good interviews.

Sell More Books Show – I quite enjoyed this up until recently. I do not like the new happy-go-lucky direction which makes the podcast little more than a mouthpiece for a certain facebook group, by regurgitating the “I wrote three books in two weeks and made a billion dollars!!!” pieces that are just “congrats fluff”. By its very definition news is usually negative in tone, and it should incite discussion about ethical lines and desirable procedures, not be a cheerleading squad. Forced “positive” news is non-news. We can’t be ostriches putting our heads in the sand about unethical, unfair and predatory practices.

You can’t make a living as an artist

You can’t make a living as an artist.

That was the refrain that we heard, growing up and making decisions about what school to go to and what to study in the 80’s.

Because the starving artist was so engrained in everyone’s mindset.

So we went to study a “real career”, that was unsatisfying, only to find out that yes, you can totally make a living as an artist.

Not only am I doing it as writer, but my son is doing it as classical musician. There are two professional orchestras in Sydney. He has gigs with both of them. And he just got a job teaching students at a private school.

His university (Sydney Conservatorium, attached to Sydney University) is very low-key. Basically, his degree is a four-year excuse to practice lots and to meet lots of people.

My daughter’s degree in Physiotherapy was highly prescriptive. At the end, she got accreditation and there were prescribed jobs she could apply for. Not much creativity required.

My son has had to make his own career. He’s played in almost every amateur band or orchestra in this area, often paying membership fees. He’s helped out for free many times before he started getting paid gigs. He got those gigs only because *he* went out and looked for them, and he went to as many auditions as possible, and learned new things where that was necessary (like, play the oboe). There is NO prescribed career path in his field and *everything* has to come from the student.

The student who succeeds is the one who doesn’t give up. It’s the one who is competent, but who comes on time and does the work. Yo, you may be brilliant, but if you’re a shit to work with and you are often late, forgeddaboutid.

And you know, that’s like writing. And other types of freelancing. All the drive has to come from YOU.

It seems to me that there was a whole generation who took a much more passive approach to employment. You worked for da man, and da man looked after you until you retired. That was the reality they knew. So they told us no, you can’t make a living from art. Because no one is going to pay for it.

Thing is, art is much more than the stuff we see hanging in galleries, and people spend more on art every day. Art in various forms is everywhere–the written word, audio-visual, music, web design, books, leaflets, furniture, street signs, tv, radio, clothing, the list goes on and on.

Of course you can make a living doing art, but you have to go out and find your own career, because no one is going to tell you how to do it.

Dragonspeaker Chronicles Book 1 now available

Dragonspeaker1 tabletThe first book of the new Dragonspeaker Chronicles series is now available on my website.

More info here.

This is part of a new series that follows the Ghostspeaker Chronicles but can be read independently.

For the writers, I’m trying something new with this series. The Dragonspeaker Chronicles books will be available only on my website store until the series is complete at three books, they will then go into Kindle Unlimited for one, possibly two, terms, during which time I will scramble to get print versions and audio done, and then they will go live everywhere and stay there.

The rationale is as follows:

I make by far the most per sale from books sold on my website. Many awesome readers (if this is you, thank you so much!) like to support writers by buying their books at full price. These are the awesome people who receive a free copy and then buy a copy anyway! I cannot stress enough how awesome you are.

I also have readers who don’t have a lot of money and like reading books as part of their Kindle Unlimited subscription. I still get paid, although not by far as much, and everyone is (relatively) happy.

My default of course is to have my books available everywhere on all stores in all countries in all formats so this is where the books are headed and where they will stay indefinitely.

The Kindleboards goes down in flames

Exit Kindleboards.

Those of you who know me or have read my self-publishing books will know that I’ve been a fan of the Kindleboards as a place where new writers find out about news and best practices.

As of this week, I no longer recommend that anyone even goes to the Kindleboards.

The board was started in 2008 or thereabouts by Harvey Chute as a forum for users of the new Kindle device. Very soon after people were allowed to publish on Kindle, the Writer’s Cafe became a very important part of the board and the one that attracted the most traffic.

Payments late? Author Central down? New sales platform? Been scammed? You found soulmates, solace and solutions at the Kindleboards.

Harvey Chute died in 2014 or 2015 (not researching this, just penning a quick announcement) and his daughter carried on for a while.

However, to manage a board with over 60,000 members is no small job, especially if it was not your passion. There is the hosting, the tech support, the ads (and appropriateness thereof), complaints, SSL, everything. And then came the people eager to drag the boards into court. For me, that would have been the drop. I get it. She didn’t want to do it. So she sold the forum. We know nothing about whether she was approached of how the sale happened. “Sold out” is bandied about, but they may simply have posed a solution to a situation that was no longer fun, especially since an idiot on the boards was screaming about talking them to court.

Vertical Scope, the new company changed the TOS. For full detail, see this Passive Voice post.

DON’T GO TO THE KINDLEBOARDS to look. DON’T GIVE THEM THE TRAFFIC.

A number of writers got up in arms about the ridiculous TOS that said the company owned in perpetuity everything we’d ever written there. That’s ridiculous and not to say unenforceable. A lot of even more ridiculous assumptions were made by many Chicken Littles. Like that they also owned our books cover images that we posted. Some people even suggested that our books were owned by them. Yeah, I know, ridiculousness all around.

Fact is, the TOS is stupid. Just a copied boilerplate agreement is my guess, but writers are precious about their words.

Up until that point, I would have taken the wait-and-see approach.

But then two of the VerticalScope staff members “Phillip” and “Helena” came in and proceeded to stonewall and insult the members who asked genuine questions about the possibility to make the TOS more writer-friendly. “Helena” called us trolls, and anyone who has spent any time on the KB will know that the word troll is not allowed there.

The place erupted in a huge ball of flames.

I’ve logged out and don’t intend to go back. Thanks to Ann and Betsy and Becca for moderating.

DON’T GO TO THE KINDLEBOARDS. The new owners have NO respect for the writer community.

Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 16 (final). Joshua Tree National Park

This is going to be the last post in this series.

We went from Indian Canyon to Joshua Tree. Our hotel was in between those two, on the loooooong and very straight road that link the two and crosses the freeway at the ginormous wind farm (windmills still not doing anything). It was quite warm in Palm Springs. Seriously, I don’t get why people live there. The place must be hell in summer. Joshua Tree, being much higher, was quite cool, jumper-worthy.

The park is named after the funky Joshua Trees that grow everywhere and frankly look ridiculous. The iconic site is Skull Rock. It’s actually really hard to get a good picture of it, because people keep standing in front of it.

But more interestingly, the place is full of squirrels! And chipmunks! We also saw a coyote but didn’t get a picture of it.

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We flew our of LA the next day. As I’ve already said elsewhere, I don’t like LA for any reason other than that some friends live there, so we had some coffee at the Griffith Observatory looking down on the disgusting brown soup that passes for air, and then I braved driving over Hollywood Boulevard after which I told Siri to take us to the airport, which she did… through a LOT of back roads and “very interesting” suburbs, because apparently there was some sort of traffic jam on the freeway.

So we made it, over 2500km, four states, without mishaps, accidents, flat tyres or even without once accidentally taking off on the wrong side of the road. Although I did wipe the windscreen when I was meant to indicate a LOT. But then that’s OK, because many Americans never use indicators anyway LOL.

Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 15. Palm Springs, Indian Canyon

The next day it was on to Palm Springs. I have to admit that this is one of the weirdest places I have ever visited, not necessarily in a good way.

There were a number of reasons we stopped there.

In the first place, we were getting close to the end of our trip and I wanted a place from where we could easily drive back to LA airport in one day. I’d already been to LA and seriously, the only good thing about LA is that some of my friends live there. Nup nup nupity nup, I do NOT like LA. It’s big, it’s full of cars and you can’t go anywhere without a car. There seems to be no heart to it.

Secondly, we were getting back to summer in Australia and had experienced some very cold weather and wanted to have some warmer weather.

And importantly: Joshua Tree National Park! More about that later.

As it turned out, Palm Springs is kinda like a suburb of LA, the-same-and-worse in layout. As in, you can’t go anywhere without a car. Everything is dominated by car parks. There is no attractive outdoor seating. If you sit next to the car eating a roll you bought in the supermarket, police and other uniformed monkeys with guns think you’re a druggo. Urgh. Add to that, the average age of (temporary?) residents is about 75.

As I said, weird.

But I discovered this nature park called Indian Canyon which was pretty cool and full of wildlife. Apparently, it’s the largest oasis in the world. The surrounding countryside is certainly very dry and desolate. Kinda depressing, to be honest. Except for the windmill park, that’s cool. Even if every single one of those hundreds upon hundreds of windmills was not moving a single blade. Absolutely frozen. No wind at all.

In the park and Joshua Tree NP, we saw many of the animals that we had not seen in some of the other places. Goats, various birds, a coyote, chipmunks and squirrels. So. Many. Squirrels.

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Patty’s Epic Trip to the US. Part 14. Sedona, Jerome and Prescott

On the move again.

We visited lookout at the chapel on the hill (Chapel of the Holy Cross) in Sedona. Wonder who lives in that crazy house down there.

We came through the creepiest-ever place called Jerome. The building with the red window frames was actually a brothel. I think it was a mining town. It’s very weird, and very creepy.

Then to Prescott. Some pretty pictures of the dam. If that looks like Lindsay Buroker in the bottom picture, you may be right.

We did this podcast live surrounded by dogs.

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