Sunday, December 14, 2014

Launching a #TomSwifty Meme

I grew up on Tom Swift. The Jr. Adventures. Great stuff.

And I've enjoyed word play from an early age. Puns, one-liners, riddles.

Then when my older brother pointed out a few Tom Swifties when I was a kid, it was pure fun!

So I'd like to reunite my two great passions and launch a #TomSwifty meme - if one can actually launch such a thing! But instead of rehashing all those corny old jokes (he quipped!) this meme has a bit of a twist.

These Tom Swifties are intended to provide a bit of humor for the literary crowd, sort of like a series of tips in disguise for readers and writers. May not work. Probably won't. Will likely fall flat.

But at least I'll have some fun putting together a few jokes for my friends.

Plus I get to revisit my Tom Swift collection as I look for cool illustrations. I have #1-29, so I'm only missing the last four books. Hmm, will have to complete the series some time!

At any rate, hope you enjoy these first efforts. Feel free to share. In fact, I wish you would. ;)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Another Children's Book

Couple of weeks ago I mentioned a children's book by missionary friends of ours in Uganda. Check it out, proceeds from sales help support the school in Africa the Kreutters work with.  

This week I want to share another find. My friend Scott Beard - local musician, fellow teacher - has written three amusing tales featuring "The Adventures of Rufus the Wal-Pup."

As a fellow self-published writer, Scott's main purpose in this is to have some fun. But you know, sometimes these things just take off! If you have young kids, why not check out the adventures of Rufus!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Speaking of Collaborations...

It started as a Sic! tweet, an advertisement that was a bit...Off. ;)

Bug spray guaranteed to kill ants...up to 14 days!

My friend Will Swardstrom ruminated on that and wrote a tale about what might happen on the 15th day! The result? A slow-burning horror story titled, Ant Apocalypse. Fun stuff.

Rick and his wife, Jennifer have just moved to a house in Kentucky.The only problem is - the previous occupants never left. Ants. Regular, everyday ants are one thing. But what do you do when they develop a taste for flesh? How do you kill ants that are already dead? Ant Apocalypse is a short story about one man's struggle with the bane of the Midwest - ants.

He then wrote a science fiction story called Contact Window (which is free today, btw!!). I read that and it inspired me to write a story in his world. It's titled, The Return - A Contact Window Story.

And it just went live!

Basically, I surprised Will by sending him a sequel of sorts. He tweaked it, made some suggestions, and we agreed to co-publish it. (The original characters, premise, and setting are his, after all!)

Here are the two blurbs.

Contact Window: The inhabitants of Yeitr Prime use what they call a Contact Window to reach new worlds and civilizations. Gatr and his young lieutenant are sent on a mission to make first contact, but face a narrow chance at success. When disaster strikes, will they abort the mission or continue on in the face of danger? This is a short story, just over 6,000 words.

The Return: Yeitr Prime’s mission is to share their advanced technology with the universe. Thanks to a stable wormhole they call a Contact Window, they visit planet after planet with their Diplomatic Corps. Their first visit to Earth ended in disaster, but Senior Ambassador Defl has a chance to correct his predecessor’s mistakes, and in fact to correct the mistakes of an entire planet. This is a short story, about 6500 words (30 pages).

So there you have it. Full circle. And another collaboration!

If you wish to purchase The Return, it's only 99 cents at Amazon. Or, if you sign up for my occasional newsletter, I'll send it to you for free. Just let me know. (See info, top right.)

As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Creative Collaboration – Some Whys and Ways

Co-Writers Anonymous? Not Anymore!
  • Women’s Murder Club Series by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  • The Numa Files Series by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown, also Paul Kemprecos
  • Badge of Honor Series by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Mr. Patterson, for instance, has released over 15 books this year (earning a reported $90 million!) with such co-writers as Mark Sullivan, Emily Haystond, Marshall Karp, Julia Bergen, David Ellis, Chris Tebbetts, Lisa Papademetriou, Chris Grabenstein, Michael Ledwidge, Emily Raymond, and Ashwin Sanghi.

Clive Cussler has a cadre of writers he taps as well. Bill O’Reilly works with Martin Dugard on his growing list of “Killing” biographies. Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg have projects together. These authors are not alone. Literally.

What in the world are all these writers up to? They’re collaborating! Big time.

Let’s start with a working definition. Collaborative writing is when two or more people work together to create a textual piece. The partners share in the creative process and completion of a story or article. The writing project could be fiction or non-fiction, academic or commercial, serial in nature or stand-alone.

Why We’re Here Today...

Obviously, creative collaboration is a broad topic. So let’s narrow the field. My focus for this post is on co-writing fiction for the purpose of publication. I want to address, first, why one might want to collaborate, and second, some ways to go about it. I’ll also share some thoughts on a few potential problems and how to avoid them.

But why am I writing this blog post? Quite simply, my friend Milo James Fowler asked! So if you're still interested in this topic, please read the rest of this post at his blog. Thanks!

(BTW, if you have any questions or additions or rebuttals, comment below. I'll respond here since Milo's series at this blog doesn't have a comment section. Be sure to check out his other guests' topics, however. Just scroll down from here for posts on serialization, science in fiction, historical fantasy, shared worlds, and some great interviews.)

Saturday, November 01, 2014

African Children's Tale from Uganda

Friends of mine who assist with agricultural, business, and leadership development in Uganda wrote a children's tale, the proceeds from which go to underwrite the school fees for students in the academy they helped found. Here's the info:

I Know An Old Mzee Who Swallowed A Fly (by Cathy Kreutter) is a classic folk poem, retold in Uganda. The repetition and rhythm of the story makes this book a great read-aloud for children; furthermore, the striking illustration (by Johnmary Mukiza) and collage style design of the book takes readers through a variety of landscapes and encounters with animals found in Uganda. It is an interesting way to introduce children to the geography and culture of this country in the heart of Africa. More in-depth maps at the back of the book give further insight on one of Uganda's most prominent features, the Nile River, as its begins its journey north to Egypt.

This book is part of a greater effort to promote contextualized reading for East African young people, as well as for others around the world to enjoy more positive and lighthearted literature from the region.

For more information on this profoundly positive humanitarian effort, visit Cornerstone Development on the web.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Short Fiction Sale - Free Promos and Countdown Deals

This is your lucky half week!

Congrats, you stumbled upon this blog at just the right time. I've got promos galore starting today. Check out these deals - more importantly, download these deals. :)

Wed, Sept 17 - Accidents - A Tremble Town Episode, free for one day! (UK link)

Thurs, Sept 18 - 7 Day Countdown deals for the following ebooks - starting at 99 cents! Get them before they go back up to regular price!
+ Christ of the Abyss - a science fiction tale of hope and tragedy (UK link)
+ Last Cry - a collection of sorrowful fables (UK link)
+ Last Gasp - a collection of cozy thrillers (UK link)
+ Last Chance - a collection of timely tales (UK link)
+ Last Laugh - a collection of humorous stories (UK link)

Fri, Sept 19 - Ulemet and the Jaguar God - a mesoamerican fantasy, free for one day! (UK link)

Sat, Sept 20 - The Last Prayer - a Silo Story, free for one day! (UK link)

Sun, Sept 21 - Two religious meditations, free for five days!
+ Journey to the Cross: Faith (also in the UK)
+ Journey to the Cross: Service (also in the UK)

Also, please note: If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can borrow these titles any time! Those borrows really help an indie writer. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ma Tutt Paperbacks Are In!

Had a good "countdown sale" for the ebook of Ma Tutt's Donut Hut on Amazon this past week (I guess I should have told you about it last Sunday!). And now I'm happy to announce that the paperback is available as well! You can get it on sale at Amazon, of course (free shipping if you have Prime), and CreateSpace.

But the best deal, I think, is to order an autographed copy from me directly. It's $12, which includes shipping. Just email me and let me know. In the mean time, here's a vid of my box opening. (I hope the opening clip doesn't show the back of my head like it does right now as I write this! lol)

Thank for putting up with all this hoopla surrounding my first novel. :) As always, I appreciate your interest!

PS Don't be shy about contacting me. Plenty of books left! ;)

Friday, August 08, 2014

Free Fiction Friday - One More Book Before I Die

To celebrate the end of my first week back to school, I'm posting a free short story below. I teach reading, writing, and grammar, so this curious story is about books, naturally.

In One More Book Before I Die, Oliver Bettington, a senior at a nursing home, believes he has a set number of books to read before he dies. He's coming up on the end of his list...and is saving the best for last.

This story is part of a four-pack collection called Last Chance - Four Timely Tales. It's available for free in the Kindle Unlimited program. That is, if you pay a monthly subscription to Amazon, you can access close to a million books for free each month, including most of my books.

More of my story collections are listed here; along with other books you can see along the sidebar. Of course, you can simply purchase the ebook if you aren't part of Kindle Unlimited. Either way, here's the story. Hope you enjoy it!

One More Book Before I Die

Nearly four thousand books lined the walls of the old man’s room. It made for cramped living at the nursing home, but as he had no other interests it suited Mr. Oliver Bettington, Sr. just fine. The television left the day it arrived, a rejected gift from his only son.
“Don’t need anything to occupy my time! I’ve got my books. Just bring me another Agatha Christie next week.”
That was almost ten years ago. The old man had eventually grown tired of mysteries and had moved on to histories, biographies, memoirs, and then back to fiction – science fiction of all things.
Mr. Oliver Bettington, Jr. entered his father’s room, frowning at the sight of all the books. “Dad, you need another hobby,” he said by way of greeting. “Something to occupy your…”
“Son, it’s no use. I’m not interested in anything but finishing these last five books. After that I’ll be done and it’ll be time to go.” Oliver, Sr. patted the stack next to him.
Junior looked at his father sitting in his raggedy, thirty year old recliner. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, I’ve done some figurin’,” Bettington said, settling back in his chair. “Always been interested in books – kept every one I’ve read.” The old man chuckled and smiled as if he remembered each title.
“You had to finish every one you started, too,” Junior said with disdain. It was no secret there were unresolved father-son issues at play. Oliver, Jr. resented his father’s book fetish, Oliver, Sr. resented his son’s resentment. That, and a few other mutual misunderstandings, was probably what got the old man hauled to the retirement center at eighty – and what had kept him there the past ten years.
“Well,” he repeated, “that’s what’s kept me alive so long. And now I’m almost done reading for good.” The elderly gentleman sighed and folded his hands.
“Again, dad, what are you talking about?” The middle-aged son took a perch on the edge of his father’s bed, there being no other place to sit in the undersized room.
“If you wouldn’t keep interruptin’ I’d tell ya! Like I said – always been interested in books and now I know why. I just read a story that says we all have a certain number of books we gotta read before we die…”
Junior glanced at the stack on his father’s nightstand. The top volume – an anthology of science fiction stories by authors he could care less about – was bookmarked half way through.
“…and that got me realizin’ that I’ve about reached my quota.”
“Dad, I swear, you’ve been reading too much fantasy.”
“Not fantasy, science fiction – based on fact and things that could happen. And don’t roll your eyes at me.” Junior stopped mid-roll and stared at some ambiguous spot over his father’s head.
“Okay, then, let’s hear it,” he said, bringing his gaze back down to his dad. “What makes you think you’ve…reached your quota?”
The old man’s face shone at the prospect of explaining the mystery he’d just unraveled. “I figure it starts on your tenth birthday. You’ve either got the bug by then or you don’t.”
“What bug?”
“The reading bug and quit interruptin’.” Junior simply shook his head. “The next ten years determines the number of books you gotta read before you can die.”
“Wait,” Junior interrupted, despite the warning look he got in return. “You have to read a certain amount of books – like a school assignment? – or once you read all your books you…get to die?”
Oliver Senior thought about that a moment. “Well, doesn’t seem to make any difference, does it? Once you’re done you’re done.”
Oliver Junior thought about that a moment and determined his father was nuts. But he kept his opinion quiet. “Okay. So from age ten to twenty you set your quota. How does that happen?”
The old man sat up in his chair and rubbed his hands. “It’s based on the average number of books you read a year during your teens. I must have read a book a week all through junior and senior high school. I wish I would have kept track exactly. I didn’t start writing them down until I was twenty-one.”
Oliver Bettington’s nearly seventy-year-old list was as quirky an oddity to his family as his four thousand volumes. He’d catalogued every title, author, genre, number of pages, beginning date, and ending date of every book he’d read. Whenever he left his room he took his list, probably because he couldn’t take his library.
“So that means from age ten to nineteen I probably read five hundred books – fifty or so a year. Now you have to multiply that by seven…”
“Dad, you lost me. What does seven have to do with anything?”
“Don’t you read your Bible? ‘The days of our years are threescore and ten.’ Scientifically proven to be a biological fact, by the way. Seven’s a special number, the Bible says.”
Junior was about to point out that his father was almost fourscore and ten, but he let it go. And in fact, he had read his Bible, unlike his dad, and knew it did not contain some secret numerical code, but he let that go as well.
The older Bettington continued. “So you take the average number of books you read a year as a youngster, multiply it by seven, add that to the number you actually did read as a youngster and you’ve got your quota.”
“So you get to count what you’ve already read as a youth as part of your assignment?” The younger Bettington chuckled at the silliness of it all.
“Didn’t I just say that?” The old man was not laughing.
Junior could see so many holes in this bit of craziness he didn’t know where to start. But the old man wasn’t finished.
Bettington said, “Do you know how many books I’ve read?”
His son said, “Three thousand nine hundred and ninety-five.”
“Congratulations, you can pay attention. So yep, five more books and I’ll be done.” Oliver Senior sat back and smiled. “Now you see why I don’t need another hobby to pass the time? I only have time for just this stack.” He patted the books on his nightstand once again.
Exasperated, Oliver Junior blurted out, “Now that’s just silly, dad. If that were true you could stop reading right now and live forever. Or wait and finish your list when you’re a hundred and twenty or something.”
Oliver Senior just shook his head and muttered, “Dummy.” He said louder, “You never got the bug, did you?”
The old man’s son sighed and ran his fingers through his slightly graying hair. “No, dad, I never did.” He wasn’t sure where to steer the conversation from there so he said, resigned, “Whatever makes you happy, dad. I’ll be back on Sunday and take you to lunch. Send the girls up to see you tomorrow?” Junior got up from the bed and headed for the door, looking back at his father.
“Sure, sure,” Oliver replied already reaching for the anthology. “But tell them not to bring me any more books. I’m almost done.”