Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Facts for Fiction: The Knowledge

As much as I love eBooks, I know they will be a little difficult to access if civilization collapses and we lose electricity and the Internet. Therefore, when I heard about the book The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch, I decided to order it in hardcover.

Lewis Dartnell, the author, sets out a scenario in which most people have perished but all of our things are undamaged. Although food supplies would rot and buildings eventually collapse, there would be a few decades during which survivors could scavenge supplies before they become unusable. During this time, people would have to learn new skills, such as how to grow crops, raise domestic animals, spin fibers and weave cloth, make soap, work with metal, prepare simple chemicals, and much more. Dartnell obviously can't fit detailed instructions for all of these activities into a single book, but he provides a general overview of the principles involved in, for example, turning wood into charcoal or extracting other useful items from it. (There is an associated website at, but it didn't load when I checked it. I therefore don't know if it has more detailed instructions.) Along the way, he discusses how the survivors could progress much faster than civilization did the first time around and come up with greener technologies. The book concludes with discussing the most important invention of all: the scientific method.

I personally don't share Dartnell's view of what would happen to our society; I think once climate change ramps up in a couple of decades and the effects become permanent, society will limp on for a while before the whole situation becomes unsustainable. (It's very scary to think I will probably live to see this start to happen--and that my son and any of his children will have to live through even worse developments.) Although Dartnell says domestic farm animals such as horses and cows will be vital for the survivors, he doesn't talk about how to care for them or use them. I also thought it odd that he didn't have a chapter on building shelters. Still, this book could be useful for anyone interested in writing or learning about post-apoclypatic society.

 Finally, if you want to survive in this new world, here are a few tips I gleamed from the book:

--Stock up on heirloom seeds (both vegetables and cereals), so you can start growing food right away.
--Move out of the cities and into the country. However, feel free to recycle what you can from the city.
--If you are stuck in a city, a typical supermarket would have enough food to feed a single person for about 50 years if the inventory is managed carefully.
--Plastic water bottles can be used to purify water; you put them against a dark background and put them in the sun for several hours to kill germs.
--Stay fit; you'll be providing a lot of the muscle in a world without power.
--Keep clean; when modern medicines are lost, simple cuts can lead to lethal infections.
--Keep track of the calendar so you can plant and harvest at the right time.
--When possible, raid libraries for books and knowledge. Also take spinning wheels, looms, and other old technology from museums when possible.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Letters to Psyche Part of Kindle Unlimited!

As an experiment, I've made my fantasy short story "Letters to Psyche" part of Kindle Unlimted for a few months. This means that if you're part of KU, you can read it for free! Here's the blurb:

When the Greek god Cupid visits Verona, he foresees no problems uniting the Montague and Capulet families. But when Elisabeth Capulet and Giovanni Montague's love ends in tragedy, Elisabeth places a powerful curse not on just the families, but Cupid himself. Unable to visit his wife Psyche, he sends her letters detailing his efforts to undo the curse. Can the two of them save another generation of lovers, or will Cupid and Psyche be forever parted?

Even if you're not part of KU, the story is still only $0.99. I haven't decided yet if I'll run a free promotion of this story when it's in Select, but if I do, I'll post the dates here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Launches

This post was supposed to go live this morning, but accidentally got marked as a draft. I apologize for the delay.

I've ordered the proof copy of Seasons' Beginnings. Once that arrives, I can go through the book one final time, mark and correct any errors, and upload the corrected files to Createspace and KDP. Because of the ten-day delay for pre-orders, the eBook version won't be available right away. I may hold off on making the paper version available until October 21 (the official release date), though if there's interest, I might release it sooner.

With traditional publishing, books normally only get a big push around their release date, since if they don't sell through in six weeks, they're considered sunk. Luckily, as an indie, I can give the book time to find its audience--though it would be nice to have that happen sooner rather than later.

Since I have some breathing space, I'm mulling over potential marketing ideas for SB. Some possibilities include a Goodreads giveaway, seeking reviews through Story Cartel or Net Gallery, and/or a blog tour.  I haven't had much luck with these ideas with my previous books, though since SB is in a different genre, it might fare differently. I know giveaways are popular with readers, but they don't seem to do much for actual sales. (What I do need are reviews, ideally good ones, so I can promote SB in bargain book e-mails. Hopefully, eBookSoda will accept a new release even if it doesn't have a lot of reviews. Other sites may take longer to get into.) Whatever I decide on will be announced here.

Of course, the most important part of the book launch is the celebration. For me, this means taking my family out to dinner. If I develop a local fan base, some day I plan to throw a release party at a local chocolate lounge. Perhaps I'll reserve that for when I finish the Catalyst Chronicles or the Season Avatars series.

Readers, how do you learn about new books, and what makes you decide to try one? Writers, what are your favorite marketing methods? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

More Details About the IWM Flash Fiction Contest

Here's the official announcement for the flash fiction contest I mentioned last week. I will be awarding a copy of either Twinned Universes or Seasons' Beginnings (winner's choice) to my favorite story.

Hey, writers! Want to challenge yourself and win a free book? Indie Writers Monthly is holding a flash fiction contest!

We're going to put out a special issue of horror stories and horror writing just in time for Halloween, and we need YOU to help us, because we do not have enough horror stories to fill out a whole special issue.

So we want your 200-word-or-less horror stories submitted to us by September 30, 2014.  You can submit them via attachment or in the body of the email to litaplaceforstories[at]  Any subject, so long as it's scary -- try to avoid excessive gore or sex, if you can.

The top five stories will each get a free ebook from one of the Indie Writer Monthly authors!  That's a $3.99 value, which is like... how much is that per word?  Where is my calculator?  Somebody get Stephen Hawking on the phone!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Indie Writers Monthly Flash Fiction Challenge

October will arrive before we know it, and with it, the next issue of Indie Writers Monthly. The theme will be horror, and we are thinking of running a flash fiction challenge. Unfortunately, the important details, such as maximum word length and deadline, haven't been decided yet. I'm mentioning it now to let you start thinking about the story. I'll post an update as soon as I have one. The prize will be one (or more; again, this hasn't been determined) of our stories.

Speaking of stories, today's the last day to get Twinned Universes for $0.99. Don't miss the opportunity! You can get it here.

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