More EMPIRE OF THE PEAKS is on its way!

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Start the adventure by purchasing PEAK CROSSER right now!

I've got exciting news for fans of my first book, PEAK CROSSER: there's more coming from THE EMPIRE OF THE PEAKS.

As of right now, I should have three more stories from this world coming out before fall. That's right: three more stories.

The first, REBELS & ASSASSINS, is a 16,000-word novelette that's set just before the events in PEAK CROSSER. It follows accused traitor Lascrill and the two people hunting him: an assassin named Tha'Strukra and an Investigator named Crisdan. (All these names will be familiar to readers of the first book.) The best news? As subscribers to my newsletter, you are going to get this story completely free as soon as it's ready to be published! The story will be a great way for folks to get into the world or as a fun prequel for those who've read PEAK CROSSER.

Beyond that story, as I was editing what I thought was the sequel to PEAK CROSSER, I decided, with the help of an editor, to break it into two books. So, two sequels will be coming this summer: WAYWARD FLIGHT and CRUMBLING EMPIRE. 

So, look for news soon about release dates for books 2 and 3 of THE EMPIRE OF THE PEAKS and for more information regarding REBELS & ASSASSINS. 

THE SYCORAX SERIES is out there!

As of today, all three books in THE SYCORAX SERIES are available on Amazon. CLARIBEL & CALIBAN, the third and final book in this story arc, is out today. In this third story, all three of the main characters (Caliban, Member Five and Claribel) come together to stop one man's revenge plot from plunging the galaxy into war.

Caliban is a genetically created soldier, a failed prototype. The three books follow him as he struggles to understand his place in the universe. He's been made to kill, but can he be more than that? Better than that? At first, he just wants to please his creator. But over time, he just wants to find friends. But is a purposeful creation like him even capable of what he craves?

Five is an alien intelligence, a member of a race of explorers called the Whole. When Five is trapped by the devious warmongering scientist Sycorax, Five is used as a slave, first by Sycorax and then later by an exiled politician. Five strives to free and protect their people, but they might just lose everything that makes them what they are in the process.

Claribel has been raised to follow her mother as the leader of the planet Lanopi. But as she discovers other philosophies outside of her mother's dogma, her growing compassion might disqualify her to lead her world or get her killed.

Their stories are available as three ebooks (CALIBAN'S WORLD; SEEDS & MASTERS; and CLARIBEL & CALIBAN). In July 2017, the three stories will be combined into one paperback, SEED OF SYCORAX. 

What's Next: SYCORAX for pre-order, EOTP 2, and something new

THE SYCORAX SERIES is about to published and can be pre-ordered on Amazon right now! Go check it out with the links below:

I'm really excited about it and I hope readers will love it as much as I do. The series is a space opera set in a fictional universe. Here's the description of the first book, CALIBAN'S WORLD:

What does a prototype soldier do when the next version comes along? Become the better killer. 

Scientist and warmonger Sycorax created Caliban as a prototype genetically manufactured soldier. But his creation was a failure, and his creator has moved on. A new prototype, smarter and stronger than Caliban, threatens to destroy Caliban's predictable world. Caliban becomes friends with his new brother, but in order to ensure his own survival and earn the praise he craves, he may need to kill him. 

Member Five is an alien intelligence trapped by Sycorax, another pawn in an intergalactic power play. Member Five strives to escape and free their people without becoming too human. 

Inspired by Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST, CALIBAN'S WORLD is the first in a new series of space opera books. Buy your copy today and start a new adventure in an exciting new universe.

Here's the rest of the stuff I'm working on.

Empire of the Peaks Book 2
Status: Draft 3.0
Estimated publication date: Fall 2017

I'm on the the third draft of the second book in the Empire of the Peaks series, the sequel to my debut novel, PEAK CROSSER. The book is currently titled PEAKS FALLING, though that is subject to change. I'm incorporating feedback from beta readers and then doing another draft before I send it to my editor. I'm hoping to have it ready for the editor in May. 

Sycorax Series, books 4-5
Status: Outlines complete
Estimated publication date: Spring 2018

The fourth and fifth books of the series will be a divergence from the first three books -- Claribel, Caliban and Member Five, the main characters of books 1-3, are not in books 4 and 5. It tells the story of a teenage girl on a isolated moon who's father works for Sycorax. I've outlined these books and will begin writing them this summer.

Empire of the Peaks Book 3
Status: Outline complete
Estimated publication date: Summer 2018

I've finished the outline for the third book in the series, tentatively titled PEAKS ASCENDING. This will complete the Empire of the Peaks trilogy and mostly finish off the stories of its main characters Zornan, Calla, Mizcarnon, Crisdan, Zandia and Jayzca. I'm planning on changing the end of EOTP2, so this outline is likely to change. I will begin writing this summer.

Strange Lake Book 1
Status: Outline complete
Estimated publication date: TBD

The other day while sitting in a boring meeting, I outlined a new book. Strange Lake Book 1 is a middle grade science fiction book, WRINKLE IN TIME meets DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. It's a story that's been bouncing around in my head for a while. I'll do a first draft this summer. I have no idea when I will publish this; my plan is to try and get it traditionally published because the middle grade market is exceptionally difficult to penetrate through independent publishing. The book is tentatively titled THE EGGPLANT EMPEROR IN MY BROTHER'S CLOSET. 

My Immortal, a short story
Status: Draft 2.0 complete
Estimated publication date: No idea. 

I did a second draft of this story last year and I haven't touched it since, as I've been focusing on the EOTP and THE SYCORAX SERIES. Set in a world much like our own, my main character is a woman psychiatrist and the host of a popular, syndicated self-help TV show. Through potential guests she's hoping to exploit for ratings, she uncovers that death is not what we think it is, and that a supernatural world lays beneath everything she thought she knew.

A young adult sci-fi thriller tentatively entitled Moments Before
Status: New rewrite outline complete after deciding to rework the manuscript.
Estimated publication date: No idea

I believe I'm going to scrap this one. The first version was not good, and I did a new outline, but I don't like that either. Someday I may return to this and maybe write a very different story. As of today, it's firmly in the mental filling cabinet. 

Disney Live Action: A bad idea that turned out good

From now until March 6, you can participate in the launch of my new science fiction books, THE SYCORAX SERIES, by supporting my Kickstarter campaign. Go check it out!

Support THE SYCORAX SERIES on Kickstarter

In 2010 after the box office success of the live action ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Disney announced a live-action adaptation of their version of CINDERELLA. I thought it was a terrible idea.

Sure, ALICE AND WONDERLAND had been fun, but did we really need a live action version of every Disney animated movie? What was next? BEAUTY AND BEAST? (Yes.)

Fast forward to March 2015, and we took our three girls to CINDERELLA. And something magical happened. Not only did our girls love it, my wife and I did too. I actually prefer it to the original, and I'm often extremely critical of remakes. My wife even has the phrase, "Have courage and be kind" on our wall, advice Ella's mom gives her daughter.

Why was this seemingly terrible idea a success? I think there are three reasons: the story, the actors and the magic.

First off, the story. They stayed true to the original Disney version but without remaining rigidly attached to it. For example, it's not a musical. Secondly, Cinderella's creature friends are an important, but they don't talk. The path was the same, but the scenery was different.

This story also doesn't work if you don't adore Cinderella. And while writing and directing are key, so's the performance. And Lily James is absolutely perfect as Cinderella. And so's everyone else. Cate Blanchett is always great, and Ben Chaplin and Haley Atwell bring her parents to life in a way that makes us really feel Ella's loneliness.  

The casting I was most nervous about was Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother. It's not that I don't like her, it's just I thought it was a bad fit. I was as wrong about that as I was about the entire idea.

The last part was the magic. I don't mean the magic system of the Fairy Godmother, I mean the magic of watching it all come together. In this movie in particular, you really needed the scene where Ella is transformed from poor girl into a woman fit to be princess, needed to be magical. And it was. 

Since then, Disney has adapted THE JUNGLE BOOK and PETE'S DRAGON for modern audiences, and they are 4-for-4 (I'm ignoring the WONDERLAND sequel no one saw). And my feared reboot of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is coming.

I really thought Disney was going to ruin some classics. Instead, they've built excellent modern versions.

Many moviegoers lament all the remakes and reboots in Hollywood. But maybe a remake, in and of itself, is not a bad idea. Maybe all these ideas are neutral. Instead, the good or bad isn't in the idea, but in its execution.   

Finishing the EMPIRE OF THE PEAKS Book 2

The first draft of the second book of the Empire of the Peaks series is done. It took 126 days to write it, split over three different working periods between now and last December. It comes in at 150,000 words, which is 40,000 more words than PEAK CROSSER is (thought the first draft of PEAK CROSSER was 130,000). 

So what's next? A short break, and then my Beta editing pass. That will probably take a month or more as a refine the first version, create chapter breaks, and then fix any major problems I find. 

More about this book (tentatively titled PEAKS FALLING): Three years after the events of PEAK CROSSER, the story follows Zornan, Calla, Zandia and Crisdan. Dueling rebel factions strive to bring down the Empire. Zornan would like nothing better than to fly free of Imperial political storms, but is pulled in again when his family and friends are threatened. Calla fights her own battle, coming to grips with magical abilities coming to life inside her. Zandia works to protect Zornan's family and struggles to regain her humanity. Crisdan finds himself deep in the muck of his master's plots, his only light coming from a woman he loves that he knows he shouldn't. All four of them must deal with the ripples of an Empire falling apart. 

I'm not sure when the book will be published -- editing, artwork, more editing, crowdfunding, more editing stand between me and a published book. I'd give a date of September 2017, though I've yet to hit an initial publishing date yet. Independent publishing is hard, especially when one had a day job and a family.

I'm really excited to have book 2 finisheD, and I'll be looking for beta readers in the next few months. 

Using Facebook ads to sell my book

At the beginning of this month (August 2016), I decided to experiment by running a Facebook Ad to sell my debut novel, PEAK CROSSER (EMPIRE OF THE PEAKS BOOK 1). I'd heard a few things about doing that, and I was intrigued by the possibility. So I decided to run an ad for 15 days and see how I did.

First, here's the ad as it appeared on Facebook:

The screenshot is a little blury, so here's the copy. At the top it read: "For fans of Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan, check out a new epic fantasy adventure."

Below the picture it reads: "Discover a New Epic Fantasy Adventure: In an ancient empire covered by a nearly impassable mountain range, factions within and without threaten to topple a thousand-year-old peace. The Empire's survival depends on the unknowing and unwitting. Zornan is a simple man..."

That text is pulled directly from my product description on Amazon. The ad linked to my Amazon product page where users could buy my book in either paperback or on Kindle. Using Facebook's Ad Manager, I targeted fans of Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss and Robert Jordan. 

So here are the results from the 15 days:
$ Spent: $69.99
People who saw the ad: 4444
People who clicked on the ad: 141
Cost per click: $0.50
Conversion rate (people who clicked divided by the total): 3.17%
Book sales during the ad period: 6 (all Kindle sales)
Sales conversion rate (people who bought divided by people who clicked): 4.26%
New Facebook likes of my author Facebook page: 6

So how would I judge the success? Using pure math, it's not great. I get about $3 per Kindle sales. so that's $70 to make $18. To use technical marketing lingo, that stinks. 

But some of the metrics are positive. A 3.17% conversion rate is about industry average, so the ad did a decent job of getting clicks. That number is even more impressive when you consider that I'm a completely unknown author. I'm taking that number to mean that the image and text of the ad were above average. If I were to do this again, I would likely use a similar image and similar copy; it did its job. 

I think I converted decently once they clicked on Amazon, getting 4.26% of those people to buy the book. This figure could be higher, but again, I'm an unknown author and with only 6 Amazon reviews. My guess is that I could have converted those a little better if they'd come to the Amazon page and saw a bigger number of reviews. 

I also got 6 new Facebook likes for my author page, which is has some value, but certainly not $70 worth of value, at least not in the short term. 

I don't plan on doing any other campaigns like this until my next book. The payoff just wasn't there. But it could be worth it if my sales conversion were higher. Facebook offers very precise targeting, and many authors have used it to generate more sign-ups for their lists and for sales. I'm just not at the point in my author journey where it makes sense for me.