Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Do Not Pay For Publishing Services!

Today was the last straw. Another future independent author has emailed me asking; "wut company do u pay to publish you?" Further into the email he asks; "how much does mobi charge to keep ur books so high?" [I didn't edit or change the language he used to ask the questions, those are direct quotes].

Here's the skinny on how much publishing online costs me. NOTHING.

My books are in the top 10 in the Science Fiction category on Mobipocket because the readers enjoy them, rate them, spread the word and people continue to purchase and enjoy them. I'm very fortunate.

I do not pay Amazon a fee to get my books registered with their Kindle reader or in print on their site. I use Createspace's free service for print and Mobipocket's distribution network to list my eBooks. I do order print copies for myself, but that's the same as anyone ordering a copy from Amazon (except for my massive discount), they don't charge a dime for publishing. offers all their services for free, and they're very happy to have me.

Any place you see my books you can rest assured that they didn't charge me anything to put them there, in fact, they listed them because they see that they're selling elsewhere, mostly on Mobipocket. They want to bring that success to their retail outlets as well.

I don't pay for marketing services either. I use Twitter, my Blogs, Facebook, and most of all people who I have a connection with to to get the word out. I also frequent other blogs, comment on them as often as I can, participate in online events and put a lot of hours into guerrilla Internet marketing. Oh, and don't email me with a "get 15,000 followers in one month" or another "make sure you're heard!" marketing scheme. I don't care about reaching 15,000 random people, I'm interested in reaching people who are interested in what I do specifically. I also enjoy connecting with people who are interesting, which doesn't happen often with mass join scams.

I also don't pay for advertising. Effective Internet advertising is an art form and to be honest, I'd rather use online social networking. There's more feedback and it's a lot more fun.

For everyone whose ever asked me how it's done; I don't have any magic trick. I don't pay someone to do the work for me, and vanity presses are expensive money pits. I work about 10 hours a day between writing and marketing.

I've received many calls from these vanity presses that call themselves publishers, they all start the conversation with; "We'd like to publish your book." The first thing I ask them is; "how much will it cost me?" If they answer with a dollar amount I hang up.

I'll never, ever pay someone else to publish me. In fact, I won't take any offer on the rights to my work from a publisher that comes with an advance under four figures. I'm fortunate enough to have a number of readers who enjoy my work. I do my best to entertain them and in return they buy my work in the format that is most convenient for them. I should never have to pay anyone to publish my work because those retailers and publishers are going to make money from selling my books. It's bad enough that I only recieve a 30%-35% royalty on most titles as an independent. That sounds like a lot to some of you, but you have to consider that I don't sell the volume that published authors do, no where near. (Less than 5% of what a non-best selling author sells).

That brings up another point. I can't afford to pay for publishing or marketing services! Being a successful self published author to me means making enough money to keep writing, to keep entertaining readers. I live a happy, simple life where I get to work the trade I prefer without frills.

I'd like to end this post on a positive note by thanking the readers, who have been very supportive. I've said it before and I'll say it again; they keep a roof over my head, the lights (and Internet connection) on, and food on the table. I thank you and hope that you continue to enjoy my work enough to remain a reader and spread the word.


[Where do you want my books to appear next? Leave a comment!]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reading Mobipocket DRM Books On Your iPhone: Here's How

[EDIT: If you're looking for a place to purchase my work for the iPhone or iPod touch, use your Stanza Reader app to browse to the Smashwords Store or follow the Smashwords store link to the right. Everything I write will be available there. This development took place after this blog entry was posted.]

Over ninety percent of my readers are Mobipocket users so you can imagine my irritation at hearing that they won't be getting an iPhone app.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however!

While I was scouring the web for an easy and quick way to create quality ePub files, I ran across something in the Stanza / LexCycle forums that I knew would help my readers and many others who have been Mobipocket customers for years: The instructions to legally use your Mobipocket books on the iPhone using the Kindle app.

I'll be honest: I don't own an iPhone. They're expensive and I can't afford one or the plan that comes with it. I know many, many people who do, however. I'm also seeing very slow progress with the vendors who have been tasked with offering my work on their iPhone compatible readers so alternative vendors aren't working out very well at this point. Mobipocket has been a fantastic partner, however and I've been looking for a way for my readers to use their Mobipocket books on their iPhones. Here it is.

(1) Install Kindle on your iPhone.
(2) Get the Kindle PID (it won't tell you, you have to run a script).
(3) Go back to where you obtained your eBooks and get new versions containing DRM for the PID of your iPhone.
(4) Run the new PRC files through a script which will make them readable by Kindle.
(6) Copy the files across to your iPhone and start reading. Here are the scripts.

You can thank the folks at Stanza / LexCycle for these valuable directions. I wish I could offer support and help for this method, but I don't expect to have an iPhone for a while. I'm just happy there's a solution for everyone who has a Mobipocket library full of books and an iPhone.

If you're a new reader I suggest you purchase my work through Amazon for the Kindle App. All my work is available in Kindle format here. My books will always be available from the Kindle and Mobipocket stores.

Thank you for sticking with me through this ridiculous format war (which is pretty much being orchestrated by Amazon at this point as they own Mobipocket as well as Stanza / LexCycle). I hope we all come out with everything we need.

[EDIT] A concern has come up with step 6 of this post. LexCycle has no more information to add on the process outlined here so if anyone can shed some extra light on this, go ahead post it in the comments, I'll ammend this post.


If you're a Mobipocket customer and already have most of my books but have switched to an iPhone / iPod Touch , don't fret, there's an event coming up that will help.

[EDIT: If you're looking for a place to purchase my work for the iPhone or iPod touch, use your Stanza Reader app to browse to the Smashwords Store or follow the Smashwords store link to the right. Everything I write will be available there. This development took place after this blog entry was posted.]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Spinward Fringe Frontline: Readers Are Reporting

Spinward Fringe Frontline has sold 200 copies so far. That's a disastrous number if you talk to any publisher but where I'm concerned it means that I can pay rent, bills and buy groceries for a month.

It also means that there are 200 readers who wanted to follow me at least that far on this journey. They're talking about the books too. The First Light Chronicles Omnibus is still selling, meaning that more people are joining the crew every day.

How does this effect the future of Spinward Fringe?

Well, Spinward Fringe Rogue Element has undergone some creative alterations that aren't the result of good or bad sales numbers. The whole series has become a creative exercise again whereas Frontline felt more like marathon brain surgery. Frontline was built as a fully outlined, balanced novel and even though I enjoyed writing it, I didn't like having such a strict plan in place from the first to the last word.

I had a storyboard for Spinward Fringe Frontline that flowed past the edges of a three by three meter square. The planning involved in that book, with its multiple parallel storylines and deeper character development, was nothing short of meticulous. Every chapter had a full outline, notebooks were filled, trees were killed. I wanted to see if I could write a book that was so well planned from the beginning and I did.

As it so happens, I've read the final product since and was surprised. I made an effort to keep it fast paced but the story moves faster than I could have anticipated. Some of the characters do take serious strides and many of the points brought up by readers (thanks guys!), are proven to be valid and helpful. I enjoyed writing Frontline despite the careful planning and design. I have to admit I enjoyed reading it and I hope everyone who bought it did too.

I found room for improvement like any writer who reviews his own work would. That's not to say that Frontline isn't the best book in the series, to many readers it is. I learned a lot by reading Frontline again and I'm carrying those lessons with me as I write Spinward Fringe Rogue Element.

Rogue Element is a very different project. I'm taking an entirely different approach with only a basic outline. I'm focusing on character goals and bringing a sense of wonder back into the scenery. There are other things going on with Rogue Element, including a couple of experiments you'll see evidence of before the novel comes out.

I'll talk about Spinward Fringe Rogue Element more later. I'm so excited about it that it's difficult not to.

The point of this blog post is to say thank you and to tell everyone that people seem quite happy with Spinward Fringe Frontline, so the future of the Spinward Fringe series is quite secure. The work and the journey goes on and I couldn't be happier.


[What did you think of Spinward Fringe Frontline? Leave a comment!]

Monday, July 27, 2009

Review: The Secret Life of the American Teenager

I've been trying to make a change in the television shows and films I review. I've become known for attacking television shows and certain films so I wanted to make an effort to find things to write positive reviews for. Then I watched The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

I'll try to keep this short and non-preachy.

This show is about a young woman who has a baby at the age of 15, keeps it and dwells within a group of friends who are focused on sex, God, blind faith, gossip, death, pregnancy and sex. This is a teen / preteen drama with comedy mixed in to make things seem a little lighter. Keep in mind that this series is viewed as a positive, enriching form of entertainment by the religious right TV Networks.

I won't profile the characters here. They're not worth the effort. The characters are shallow, single minded, emotionally parasitic simpletons. I'm not just talking about the 'ensemble' of teenagers, but the adults as well. If I were reading it in screenplay format I'd need to keep cast notes close at hand to continually remind myself which characters are adults and which are teens. There's little difference for the most part. There are few adults who display any social intelligence or seem to have evolved past high school. Another big problem with this show is that the characters don't have hobbies, many talents or traits that help them stand out. They're all cardboard cutout archetypes with no depth.

I've seen school plays and short stories from the desks of nine year olds that manage to cram more craft into their work. The dialogue is flat. The lines focus on a topic and repeat the core word over and over again. Example:

Adult 1: “What's your real reason for moving out? Is it so you can have sex anytime you want?”
Ricky: “Well I would like some privacy for those times when I want to have sex. You know I have sex.”
Adult 1: “I know and I don't like it.”
Adult 2: “But we know it's a fact of life and we can't ignore it.”
Adult 1: “Why don't you give up having sex for a while and see how that goes. That is an option. A cheaper option that moving out of the house so you can have sex.”
Ricky: “It's not just to have sex, I swear! I want some time alone for myself too. It's healthy to be alone sometimes. I'm never alone! I love you both and I love that you take care of all the kids who ussually are all around here. But I have no time alone. Not here, not at school, not at work, not at Amy's (His baby mamma), it's never just me. Or just me and Amy and John! And it's just going to get worse. Her mom's having a baby.”

For clarity, Amy is the Teen's baby momma, John is his newborn son. The show resolves this plot line with his boss (his baby momma's boyfriend's dad), giving him a one room apartment above his place of work for “a few dollars towards utilities.” Oh, and I'm sure you guessed it, the focus word here is sex.

Entire conversations go on like this.
I understand the motivation behind this kind of writing. There are a lot of names for it, but let's call it 'keyword writing' for the purpose of this review. They drop keywords (like sex), to ensure that their audience always knows what the topic is and so those keywords keep hitting certain psychological triggers. They used to do this for material written for developmentally challenged children (in the 60's to the late 80's), but most educational writers don't anymore because it becomes a barrier to reading normal material. Developmental children need to be challenged a little so they can eventually read at a grade nine or higher level. This show is written at a grade four language level.

The major plotlines include; A girl whose father dies on the same night she loses her virginity. She believed that God punished her out of wedlock activities by killing her father for several episodes until a cardboard cutout of a Priest / Reverend told her everything was fine. Another major plotline focuses on a woman becoming pregnant after sleeping with her soon to be ex-husband, who lied about getting a vasectomy. She's engaged to another man. My third example involves the star of the show telling one adult after another that she and her newborn son is going to Italy for the summer with her boyfriend (not the father), and that no one can stop her. No one seems to realize that this girl needs a reality check, it happens so often that it's a running theme.

The direction in this show is actually very good. They make good use of the sets, props and of subtle background motion to establish a scene fast and show all the performers in the appropriate light for the scene. I hope the directors and the rest of the background crew are just padding their resumes so they can move on to a much better show. I've seen work from most of the directors who have signed up to do episodes of this series and the performances on the other series are much, much better. That leads me to conclude that the script and lack of acting talent is exactly what's killing every single scene, not the directing. To quote Harrison Ford; “You can write this shit but you can't say it!”

Most performances on this show are equal. They're beneath amateur. I've seen better puppet shows. I could do better wearing a hockey mask while being water boarded and I'm not known for my acting for good reason. A few of the better performers include: Ken Bauman, Jorge Pallo, Steve Schirripa, John Schneider (who left the show), and a couple of others. They don't get enough screen time to enrich the quality of the show. In fact they only get enough time to give you a momentary relief from the exasperatingly bad performances rendered by the other actors.

Soap Box Statement:
Okay, so I said I'd keep this review un-preachy. Not bloody possible. If the average North American teenager is as breathtakingly stupid as the characters in this show the western world is utterly, hopelessly lost. Doomed. North America will look and feel like one great big trailer park in twenty to thirty years thanks to television shows like this that make teenage pregnancy look like it's not a big deal, dresses up thirteen year olds like prostitutes, and takes the art of conversation to a low unlike I've ever seen.

Thankfully, I know that this show isn't a reflection of teenage life in America. There are a lot of teens who are very energetic, intelligent and adventurous. They enjoy texting, reading, interaction with people of all ages and socializing intelligently while engaging in a wide variety of hobbies.

The most frightening thing about this series is that there are teens and pre-teens whose parents are so absent or incompetent that they aspire to be like the teens in this show. They're out there, teenage pregnancy is on the rise, high school completion is in decline and yet more of this sort of television is being produced every year because the most desperate, unchallenged teens tune in like the little lost people they are.

In my opinion, there are no redeeming points to this television show. If archeologists find a copy in the rubble three thousand years from now and they use it as a record of our cultural behavior they'd conclude that we were a bunch of gossiping, single minded, selfish, rutting idiots who were doomed from the start.


I hope they find Gilligan's Island instead. They might come to appreciate our sense of humor.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Big Bang Theory: The most anticipated Sitcom of 2009?

Nerd-dom can be funny. Does this mean nerds all across the globe are being reintegrated into society? Are nerds dating supermodels? Are home decorating shows recommending sealed action figure collections? No, we still like to stick to our own. Supermodels and nerds are generally so different that it's like Gumby trying to talk to Darth Maul. And sadly, massive displays of packaged action figures are still only cool to about 2% of the population, maybe less.

That doesn't mean that nerds can't be funny. Toss a lovely, well socialized blonde into a group of four nerds and they can be uproariously hilarious. Thanks to brilliant writing, fantastic acting and comic timing this show has risen above all other situation comedy shows as far as I'm concerned. Each character comes with different quirks; Raj can't speak to women unless he's drunk, Howard is a nerdy Jewish stereotype, Shedon is, well, Sheldon, Leonord is almost normal but awkward and Penny is well socialized and easy going.

The combined characters provide a great deal of hilarity while bringing up an encyclopedia's worth of nerd culture references which, I must admit, are right up my alley. The show has made it to mass popularity status, becoming the highest rated situation comedy last year. It's actually quite rare that my favourite shows reach that kind of mass appeal. I loved My Name Is Earl, Reaper as well as the American version of Eleventh Hour and they're all canceled.

CBS has ordered a full season of the Big Bang Theory thanks to its high ratings, so thankfully we can all look forward to another year of nerd comedy that appeals to a general audience. It's like they're building a bridge between nerds and everyone else!

The season premiere for the next season of The Big Bang Theory is on Monday, September 21.


[So, which Big Bang Theory personality fits you the best? Leonard, Raj, Sheldon, Howard or Penny?]

Friday, July 24, 2009

Somacow: I review it.

The guys at Somacow (Geoff, J, Mickey and arguably Ross), have improved their show. I'm not talking about production quality, extra webcams, or other bells and whistles that most of the audience doesn't really care about. I'm talking about talk.

Their segments are more interesting, the conversation is a little more wall to wall, and the rants are more pointed. Don't like rants? Don't knock it until you've heard Geoff go off on stupid parents, bad politics, fast food restaurants, customer retention or any of a variety of people who had it coming. Sometimes Geoff goes off in another direction (at his co-hosts), but I can't hold him speaking his mind -if a little harshly- without reservation. I'm not always on his side, but there's nothing wrong with that either. Besides, it's live baby, and it wouldn't be real, live, unscripted radio without a little fecal flinging in the studio.

The audience is listening. They're getting more calls, and most of them are unplanned. Feedback isn't ignored. Geoff and the guys pay attention to the chat room and bring up highlights during the show. They read their audience mail and the comments. When the Heard (their affectionate nickname for the listeners), likes something they look into getting more, such as guest hosts. The Heard responded very well to a couple of the hosts they've had to mix things up on the show and as I understand it they'll be keeping their eyes and ears open for someone worthy of inviting to the studio. Ross, the producer, is responsible for most of the guests and many other aspects of the show. He does a great job despite the comical abuse he's constantly subjected to.

Now, as someone who loved odd comedy radio growing up (Radio Free Vestibule being my all time favourite), and a Canadian, I'm no expert on talk radio. CBC Radio was the main venue for talk Radio and my memories of those long winded, sedate announcers would read like a flatline on an EKG.

The Somacow guys are experts on talk radio, however. They've been around the talk radio, local entertainment and trivia scene in Florida for a long time and learned from the mistakes of others just as much as their own. They were around at the scene's height in the 80's and 90's and have watched its steady decline and normalization thanks to heavy corporate influence. It shows. They maintain their independence and don't censor themselves so they can get noticed and moved into a big, tightly controlled studio setting. Whether that's on purpose or thanks to the announcer's general celebration of the freedom of speech is uncertain, but it's a very good thing. What they do may look or sound easy at times but trust me, it isn't. Every week they put a three hour show on and they've been steadily improving since I started listening about a year ago. They have an extensive back catalog and haven't missed a day.

Somacow also doesn't dumb their conversations down nor do they step out of the human experience. For a media culture that seems obsessed with being politically correct and pandering to the sub-70 IQ portion of their audience, or to "Joe Yokel" as I like to call him, (hi Joe, hope you finally learned to program your alarm clock and make cereal), it's good to find a place where they're not afraid to criticise the Kings of the day then turn around and toss some fecal humour in for good measure. People take themselves too seriously and Somacow isn't afraid to point that out with a good jab while not patronizing their audience.

Their shows are loosely organized around a few segments. The News Bomb, by J is a fan favourite where he pokes fun at the news of the day with short comments or general fabrication. Life Coaching with Mickey is a platform for disseminating practical advice that's shined with some a little humour. That sounds sort of dry in description, but it isn't, esepecially since Mickey will sometimes break into a short but entertaining rant using examples to reinforce his point.
Geoff's segment, the Book Review, is generally kept short and to the point, where he offers his opinion on recent reads often chosen from outside the top 100 list. He's very well read and isn't afraid to point out high and low points or to diversify ouside conventional literature. I particularly enjoy his unique ranking system.
The newest segment is the Man segment, where Geoff, Mickey, J and Ross celebrate manly acts with additional examples provided by the Heard. Women aren't excluded from the conversation either and some of the examples provided by the female following can be difficult to top, bringing another level of comedy to the segment. The rest of the show is loosely planned, focusing on talking points that allow for some latitude so Geoff, J and Mickey can be free to take the conversation elsewhere if it feels right.

It's hard to make low and medium brow humour fit in the same hour but they do it and their audience reaps the rewards. If you've ever enjoyed a talk television show (The Tonight Show, David Letterman, or even the View), and want to hear some talk radio that doesn't take itself too seriously, limit itself or adhere to a code of practices created by a bunch of stuffed suits, then you'll benefit from giving Somacow a listen.

If you'd like to listen and watch live you can check them out on UStream on Fridays between 7-10pm. If you miss it on Friday they release episodes throughout the week at

I'll be there, in the chatroom, moo'ing with the Heard.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First Light Chronicles Omnibus: At Amazon for $0.80 for a limited time.

As a part of the Spinward Fringe Seven Book Celebration the First Light Chronicles Omnibus is available on Amazon's Kindle Reader for $0.80 US for a limited time. It will never be on sale at this price again.

The First Light Chronicles
is the precursor to the entire Spinward Fringe series. It contains the three novellas in that series and the afterword that discusses why and how it was written. It also addresses the Spinward Fringe series and why the story had to go on. Even though I believe I've written better fiction since, I can't help but be proud of the enthusiasm, creativity and style of this short series.

Here's the synopsis for anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about.

In the middle of the darkest region of explored space sits one bright beacon; Freeground Station. Serving as a supply and trading post it is home to a select number of human beings that will take an unlikely chance to make a difference in their end of the galaxy.

Jonas and his friends spent their spare time in tactical simulations and drew the attention of Freeground Fleet Command when they hacked into restricted combat scenarios for elite trainees and defeated all comers.

Instead of punishing Jonas and his friends they offered them an opportunity to undertake a dangerous and exciting mission. They were to go out into the Galaxy and acquire any advantages that would improve life for Freegrounders.

This series is about their first voyage together, the challenges they face, and the relationships they forge with each other and the beings they meet along the way.

The First Light Chronicles Omnibus contains the entire First Light Chronicles Trilogy. Freeground, Limbo and Starfree Port.

The Spinward Fringe Series follows this collection in the following order: Spinward Fringe Resurrection, Awakening, Triton and Frontline.

- End Synopsis -

If you know someone who enjoys first person perspective storytelling, fantasy, science fiction or fiction in general it's a great time to recommend this to them. The entire Spinward Fringe series is also available on Amazon Kindle Reader and in print.


A special thanks to Geoff for announcing the effort to spread the First Light Chronicles far and wide on Somacow!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Spinward Fringe Rogue Element: Answering Questions

I've been getting questions from a few readers like: how long until we see Spinward Fringe Rogue Element? I've heard you say this book will be different, how? What kind of book is this going to be?

They're all legitimate questions and I'm glad you're asking. I'll answer them as best I can, promise.

How long until we see Spinward Fringe Rogue Element?

Writing is going very well. I'm a third of the way through it and the plot points have been nailed down. I've been working on this book for three weeks and I've noticed a trend, it's getting easier to write as I go. The work is going faster and faster. I'm hoping to have a draft completed in three to four weeks. If all is well and I've done my job to my editor's satisfaction it'll take another one to two weeks to edit. It'll be launched on Mobipocket and Lulu the day it's ready. Remember that the creative process requires latitude and there's no guarantee that this book will be available in the time frame I've quoted. I'm also not going to dismiss the possibility that I'll finish my draft early.

It's true, this book will be different from everything that's come before. I approach each book differently and this one is certainly no exception. Spinward Fringe Rogue Element is being written like a high budget Space Opera film. It's really that simple. I have the setting, the characters, and the plot foundation.

There's also a preamble at the beginning that fills new readers in on all the essentials with regard to the story so far. Don't get me wrong, someone who starts with Spinward Fringe Rogue Element will miss all the details and more interesting bits of the series before it, the preamble doesn't go into a lot of detail. It just ensures that anyone can just pick up a copy and start there while reminding long time readers of a few pertinent details. There are other not-so-subtle differences and plot risks in this book but I won't go into it just now. Spoilers are generally wrong.

Now on to the question; 'what kind of book is this going to be?'

Rogue Element brings the Spinward Fringe series back to its science fiction adventure roots. The First Light Chronicles (the precursor to the Spinward Fringe series), was very enthusiastic overall and I admit the pacing and development could have been a little better in some places. I'm bringing that enthusiasm back into the series in Rogue Element along with the sense of wonder and discovery that was so prevalent inThe First Light Chronicles. What I'm keeping from the Spinward Fringe series is the character and story development that people enjoyed so much in Triton and Frontline.

I'm really enjoying crafting this book. I wake up every morning, and I mean every morning looking forward to writing another chapter. I could go on about how excited this project makes me but I'd rather get back to work on Spinward Fringe Rogue Element.

Thank you very much for staying on this journey with me and spreading the word about the series. Right now the precursor to the Spinward Fringe Series, The First Light Chronicles is still on sale for $1.00 at Mobipocket and Lulu, so keep telling your friends about it. If they're not into eBooks this is a good opportunity to get them interested.



If you absolutely must kill trees, you can order your copy of the First Light Chronicles Omnibus or any of the Spinward Fringe books from I won't judge you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The First Light Chronicles Omnibus - Celebration Sale

In the spirit of celebrating seven science fiction novellas and novels in the Spinward Fringe series, the First Light Chronicles Omnibus, which contains the Freeground, Limbo, and Starfree Port novellas, is on sale for $1.00 on Mobipocket and Lulu. It'll remain at that price until July 24, 2009 and will never again be marked down.

There are other reasons why this is happening. A lot of my readers have friends with smart phones who refuse to try Mobipocket and one of the initial hurtles to getting them on board is price. Well, here's your opportunity to tell them to give it a try with one of the top 3 science fiction books on the site (the other two books in the top are from the same series).

Fans spreading the word have been a massive help to me and this sale is a way for me to make it easier for all my mobipocket and lulu non-DRM PDF readers to do just that. This week they can share the First Light Chronicles and Spinward Fringe series' with friends. I know I enjoy a series more when I can talk to someone else whose read it. That could be just a writer's thing, but I doubt it.

So, for better or worse, the book is on sale for one week! Tell your fellow fiction fans!


A special thanks to Somacow for mentioning this event on their radio show, which happens to be the greatest Internet radio show, ever. Check them out: SOMACOW

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spinward Fringe: Celebrating Seven Books

The other day I was thinking over the whole of the First Light Chronicles and Spinward Fringe Series all the way up to Frontline and couldn't help but smile.

A number of things have happened since the first copy of the First Light Chronicles Omnibus sold from Mobipocket. My writing has gotten better (though I'm told Omnibus is still a fantastic read), and thanks to the support shown for this series the depth of storytelling in the Spinward Fringe Series has improved a great deal.

Out here in the real world Mobipocket and other science fiction fans have been kind and appreciative enough to support me by buying the books and sending donations the help out with necessities. Others, like the Somacow crew, have been there when I needed help online with everything from spreading the word to saving my Wiki entry.

It's not easy being an independent author full time. When sales slumps hit the concern that my run as a full time writer could come to a quick end becomes very real. Many people assume an independent author is self publishing because a publisher won't pick up his work and I can tell you, that's not always true. I've turned down three bad offers from publishers who assume I'm so desperate to get my stuff on the shelves that I'm willing to sell the whole series and all rights (print, ebook, TV, film, international and merchandising), along with a future book for a handfull of magic beans. The last offer was for an advance of $1.00 and the terms only got worse from there, for example. They obviously consider the series worthy of publication, I'm just not willing to sell it all for a publishing credit only to find myself making so little on each sale that I have to go find another full time job, taking most of my time away from writing. It sort of defeats the purpose...

I enjoy being connected to my readers and fully accountable for my work. You good readers determine whether I can keep doing this full time by buying the books, spreading the word and bringing new readers into the fold if I've entertained them well. You guys also send me emails, post your opinions in this and other blogs and get others hooked on the series. Without you I wouldn't be doing this full time and I'm very greatful. Having said that, if a publisher makes me a reasonable offer on the printed rights in any country I'd be glad to accept and see copies on the shelves. After all, printed copies of my work are still difficult to obtain outside of the US and very few have been sold, less than fifty.

Story wise, much of what began with The First Light Chronicles Omnibus has come full circle. By the end of Spinward Fringe Frontline so many things have resolved. I couldn't be happier with the way things have turned out with the storyline.

Spinward Fringe Rogue Element is one of those very special books wherin I get to write a story I've been looking forward to since Spinward Fringe Resurrection was completed. The whole series has what I consider a solid foundation and vast potential and Rogue Element is where I start to take full advantage of the characters, their individual struggles, the micro storyline and the macro storyline. This is a faster work, it's taking a lot less time to pen. I'm also trying a different approach to novel writing that's working out exceptionally well.

People around the world have been simply amazing. I have to admit that part of this post was prompted by an email I received recently that asked if I was giving up Science Fiction for writing Horror. I can answer that in a word: no. The Dark Arts Horror Novella (which is being posted in serialized format right now), is something I completed over a space of four days. It resulted from a bunch of developmental writing I worked through to improve my writing skills, give my imagination a general workout and to clear my head after working on Frontline for six months solid. I've been working on Spinward Fringe Rogue element for almost three weeks now and am focusing all my writing efforts on science fiction. Will I cross over into other genres in the future? Sure!

However, as of this moment I have many stories left to tell in the Spinward Fringe Saga, and since readers are demanding more (Frontline has sold 150 copies so far depsite a brutal sales slump that's taking place right now), it looks like they want me to keep going. Science Fiction is a constant challenge, beyond any other I've faced. I'm heavily engaged in the characters and love the universe I'm building, so when I leave it's not for long.

There is SO MUCH going on with my work right now. For the next five weeks parts of the Dark Arts series will be posted. Add an upcoming event with The First Light Chronicles Omnibus and work on Spinward Fringe Rogue Element and you could say I'm very busy these days. Still, thinking over the past seven books (including the novellas in the First Light Chronicles Series), leaves me amazed. How far this has come and the support of the 300 or so readers who have jonied me is fantastic.

For anyone who isn't familiar, here's a list of the books I'm talking about:

First Light Chronicles Freeground
First Light Chronicles Limbo
First Light Chronicles Starfree Port
First Light Chronicles Omnibus (Contains all of the above)

Spinward Fringe Resurrection
Spinward Fringe Awakening
Spinward Fringe Triton
Spinward Fringe Frontline

I consider the First Light Chronicles books a part of the Spinward Fringe series simply because the storylines ended up being intertwined. Anyone who is looking at reading the Spinward Fringe series should begin with the First Light Chronicles Omnibus.

Look for frequent updates right here on what's happening in my little microcosm.


On Friday I'll explain what the First Light Chronicles Omnibus Banner is all about. See you then!

Part 2 of the Dark Arts Rising Series Online!

Spinward Fringe Rogue Element is going extremely well but I won't be finished for some time, at least a few weeks.

In the meantime I'm releasing a short horror novella on the Dark Arts Blog one chapter at a time as a serial. The first part arrived on July 7 and can be seen here.

The second part is now available and is available right here. Things get a little darker and dawn is no where in sight.

The Dark Arts series is about the weakening of the barrier between the spirit and material worlds and the diminished secret society of guardians that were tasked to combat the darkness. It's written by Randolph Lalonde under the name L.S. Randolph and is free to read.

Go have a read and leave a comment! I'm looking forward to hearing more first impressions.


A status update on Spinward Fringe Rogue Element is forthcoming, stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Part 1 of the Dark Arts Rising Series Posted!

While I'm busy writing Spinward Fringe Rogue Element I'm releasing the first story in the Dark Arts series one chapter a week for free. You can view the first chapter on the Dark Arts blog or on Shortcovers.

The Dark Arts series is about the weakening of the barrier between the spirit and material worlds and the diminished secret society of guardians that were tasked to combat the darkness. It's written by Randolph Lalonde under the name L.S. Randolph and is free to read.

Go have a read and leave a comment or rating! I'll be over here working on Spinward Fringe Rogue Element...


Monday, July 6, 2009

Virtuality - Some of the worst science fiction I've ever seen.

Again, I'm throwing bricks in a glass house, but I just can't keep quiet.

It seems everyone is worshiping the ground Ronald D Moore and his cohorts walk on. Sadly, I'm not drinking the kool-aid.

Jonestown references aside, the "two hour movie" Virtuality is really a television pilot. Critics loved it, which surprised me. I couldn't have disliked it more.

The actors are fine, there are several who I've seen before and they're good performers. The performances are par for the most part with some impressive moments scattered throughout, so I have no complaints there. It's just too bad their considerable talents are wasted on this bit.

The technology the crew uses in this "feature" does not surpass what is available right now. I'm not talking about the unimaginative virtual reality trip the characters go on, but the control systems and gadgets that are used on screen. I can order better than what they have from Hong Kong today. I realize this isn't set in some super-future, but even ten years on we'll have better gadgetry than what we see them interacting with in Virtuality. It was unconvincing.

The pacing and flat direction of this snore fest reminded me distinctly of a film called Silent Running, a hit science fiction film that came out before Star Wars (1972). Silent Running is a film from an era of science fiction we generally do not miss because it was typically drawn out, under featured, under funded and bland. For its time Silent Running was a great film and should be considered a pre-George Lucas classic, but no one's rushing to remake it simply because the film's message is one we hear every day and the pacing isn't something that would keep audiences interested.

That brings me to my next point; the interiors. They were flat, bland, had padded panels everywhere which don't make sense since they'd hamper any efforts to make repairs or take quick measures in an emergency. They also looked like they were designed in the 70's, and I'm not talking the outrageously colourful Austin Powers 70's design, but the 'everything is clean, shiny and perfect' boring 70's design. The garden they show during this pilot is nothing short of pathetic. Even the most advanced genetically modified plant life on earth cannot provide any significant amount of food, medicine, oxygen or anything else in the quantity that they display. I've seen bigger planters in public buildings, frankly.

Now we go on to the general concept of the show. Virtuality is about a vessel that is seeking a new home for us earthlings because we've ruined our planet. It's a ten year voyage so they have an artificial intelligence and a virtual reality system to keep them entertained. The artificial intelligence and virtual reality system is damaged or corrupt causing injury and death. I have a few things to say about how they handled these concepts.

First of all, the flat, emotionless artificial intelligence makes HAL look like an Robin Williams by comparison. Secondly, their idea behind virtual reality is nothing new at all, in fact Star Trek has managed to explore most of the ideas that you'll see in this show (if it gets picked up as a regular series), already. Artificial intelligence is also a factor in Caprica, the upcoming Battlestar Galactical Prequel prime time soap opera from Ronald D Moore and it is handled exactly the same. It's like Ronald D Moore just realized that virtual reality is a solid Science Fiction concept and he's "pressing at the boundaries" of the idea. I have news for him; virtual reality has been around for a very, very long time as a concept as has been demonstrated quite well in films such as The Matrix. He does nothing new in Virtuality, in fact his version of virtual reality is pedestrian and boring for the most part.

The most interesting virtual reality scenario included is a direct rip off of several old anime concepts that isn't adequately explored probably because the writers knew they were ripping off countless anime classics based on the idea of a crime fighting rock star / secret agent rock star. Oh, and the music? Fun the first time it was on screen, but irritating when they revisited the band scene.

Virtuality was also predictable and at times even irritating. The whole thing is sort of packaged as a reality TV show like Big Brother. They do a half assed job of it, making it look a little more like a scripted television series rather than creating an atmosphere for the viewer that is similar enough to a reality TV show to draw them in, to make it more immersive. I didn't feel that I was rooting for one character or another, in fact they gave the most interesting characters the least screen time. This is a problem that plagued Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space Nine, two series that Ronald D Moore worked on extensively.

After seriously blundering with the whole last season of Battlestar Galactica it shouldn't surprise me that Ronald D Moore and others from that show have managed to thorougly cock up Virtuality right from the start. Why does this matter? I'll tell you. If this show performs poorly it makes all the network execs think twice about other science fiction shows. If it performs really well and continues to be this bland and terrible, then network execs will actually ask; "is it like Virtuality?" whenever someone else comes along with a good science fiction show pitch.

In all honesty I hope this show turns into something decent when it gets picked up as a regular series. Many space science fiction shows without a big franchise behind them fail, it would be nice to see this show turn around so well that I end up eating my words (that happened with the Sarah Conner Chronicles), but I don't see it happening. I'll watch the show if it gets picked up as a series in hopes that they somehow take this very thin concept and develop it into something worthwhile regardless of the terrible pilot and I suggest any science fiction fan does the same. If anything it's good to support science fiction TV, at least for a few episodes. I guess the biggest reason for my disappointment is because I know Ronald D Moore can do better, much better.

Well, that's my rant, I'm finished throwing stones in this glass house for a little while. Now back to work on Spinward Fringe Rogue Element. I'll try not to pull a Ronald D.


[What did you think of Virtuality? Speak amongst yourselves in the comment section!]

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Sci-Fi Channel Becomes The SyFy Channel

I write in the science fiction genre, so the following is sort of like throwing bricks in a glass house, but I couldn't help but weigh in on this topic.

In a monumentally pathetic move to re-brand the Sci-Fi channel so they can register the logo as a trademark and "reinvent" itself, the genre representing channel has renamed itself as the SyFy channel.

This move follows after GE (the owner of the SyFy Channel) attempted to register Sci-Fi as a trademark and claim ownership of the logo and failed. Now they can register the new name as a trademark but will suffer for it since, historically, people who refer to Science Fiction as SyFy typically don't enjoy, respect or understand the genre or the fans. This is absolutely perfect considering the SyFy channel started falling out of grace with Science Fiction fans as they started piling on bad reality television shows, wrestling, and other unrelated television shows such as Ghost Hunters. Add the fact that they use the channel as a dumping ground for long dead series that play right next to more impressive reruns. I've also heard many, many science fiction fans complain that they show the same movies over and over again, this is true. Pile atop that the straight to DVD B-Movie and worse quality "Sci-Fi Original" films that they use as filler or feature during prime time the station has turned some die hard Science Fiction fans away for good.

On a more positive note I have enjoyed some original programming (the Stargate Franchise, Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, Eureka and others), but I find those shows are making up for the rest of the poor programming less and less. I shouldn't expect integrity and quality from a channel GE sees as a secondary concern compared to other stations such as MSNBC but there was a time when the Sci-Fi channel was pretty good, good enough so our Canadian version couldn't measure up. Those days are gone, sometimes the Canadian Sci-Fi channel (simply named: SPACE), is actually better.

It's sad to see a genre channel increase its rate of deterioration. We can only hope that science fiction content continues to invade main stream television so we don't have to channel surf to SyFy.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Who Is L.S. Randolph?

Who is L.S. Randolph?

The short answer is, he's Randolph Lalonde, an independent author who lives in Ontario. Canada. He's also the best selling science fiction author on the owned EBook website (for seven months and counting). That sounds impressive, sure, but in truth he's still a new author and Mobipocket isn't a very big site.

Randolph Lalonde writes full time, focusing much of his efforts on the Spinward Fringe space opera series of books. For more information and a quick bio you can check out the Wikipedia page.

Why take a pseudonym if you're only going to go public with it?

Many authors take a pseudonym for many reasons. In this case the name Randolph Lalonde is starting to become known for Science Fiction that's suitable for young adults up to adult readers. It's all rated PG-14 and thankfully many readers enjoy it a great deal. It's also important to mention that publishers and agents find it awkward when one author's name is attached to more than one genre. There are a lot of reasons behind that and I won't bore you with them.

A pseudonym can afford some creative freedom and that's the most important reason behind it in this case. I'd rather write horror unfettered by expectations set in my other work. Let's face it, horror is nothing without the terrible things that the genre tends to visit upon the characters trapped in the genre.

What kind of horror does L.S. Randolph write?

The first project is Dark Arts Rising. It's a supernatural / horror tale that begins with a series of terrible events. There's bloodshed in the first dozen or so words and the whole tale begins with a victim. Not typically what you'd see in the science fiction from Randolph Lalonde.

The second project may be RAGE³ (Rage Cubed), which follows the story of a serial killer from a unique perspective. It's looking like this novel will take a very, very long time to write and is well divorced from the Dark Arts Rising project. No hocus, no pocus, no supernatural aspects at all, just good old torture, murder, human evil and the chase involved in finding a way to stop it. Again, not exactly the kind of story you'd expect under the name of Randolph Lalonde.

Will there be other horror/supernatural projects? I have no idea. With enough support Dark Arts could be an ongoing series and considering someone's already donated a small but respectable amount in good faith that could be likely. I'm still writing Spinward Fringe full time, but there's nothing saying that another book or short story idea won't come along and you'll find yet another title attached to the name; L.S. Randolph (which is really Randolph S Lalonde lightly scrambled).


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Paul asks: "When is the last Spinward Fringe book coming out?"

In an EMail I received the other day from a fellow named Paul, his last name will be withheld for his protection, he asked; "When is the last Spinward Fringe book coming out? Most series has a set number in them. How many did u plan for this?"

I understand your concern Paul. There are a few series out there that were never properly finished. The Wheel of Time comes to mind. I have a fantasy series that I've been meaning to finish myself, actually and I promise, I will. Especially since about one person a week buys one. At that rate I might have an angry mob by 2011. Fire bad!

All humor and obscure references to Young Frankenstein aside, there's something different about the Spinward Fringe series. Okay, there are several things that make it different from other series. Let me start at the beginning.

In early 2008 I finished the First Light Chronicles. It had a real ending because there was a specific plot cycle for the main character and the story was told in the first person. The plot outgrew the series and I wanted to take things in a new direction. I also wanted to write science fiction that read like a high budget television series, a bona fide space opera. I planned the Spinward Fringe series just like a television series is traditionally planned; to be open ended.

Spinward Fringe is an unlimited series in which I work to provide a soft ending in every second book so the series can satisfy readers who don't wish to read on while giving everyone else something to look forward to. I love the Spinward Fringe universe, it's very flexible and open. I also enjoy writing the characters immensely so I don't plan on stopping any time soon. So who decides when it all comes to an end? Well, considering the fact that I'm writing the Spinward Fringe series full time thanks to the support of a few hundred readers (about 350 people have purchased everything up to Triton at this point), it's really up to them.

I just released Spinward Fringe Frontline and sold about 100 copies in three weeks through That in itself tells me that people are still interested. I'm also selling a few copies of the First Light Chronicles Omnibus per week and that tells me that people are spreading the word, more readers are coming aboard. As long as Omnibus is spreading I know Spinward Fringe's following is going to grow, making the future look a little better every time someone enjoys the experience of reading it. It's almost like selling DVD's of previous seasons. Whenever someone starts enjoying the story from the beginning it helps assure the future of the series.

Let's consider the worst case scenario. If the series died I'd have to focus my attention elsewhere. Would I keep revisiting the Fringe? Sure! but instead of 2-4 books a year I might only have time for 1 every 2 years. Eventually I might find new characters in a new universe to love and then you'd probably see a book every 5 years, if that.

Sorry Paul and everyone else who was looking for an final book and hard, conclusive ending. The readers have spoken and they don't want to see Spinward Fringe canceled any time soon.


I know I might lose readers over this, but what can I say? I'd rather tell the truth and say I hope it never ends.