I can't remember if I mentioned this, but a week or so ago I added all my books to Kindle Unlimited. If you aren't familiar with Unlimited: for $9.99 a month, you can essentially rent books from Amazon's site via pc, table, phone, etc. It's basically the same idea as a library/Netflix, but it is something to consider if you are a fast reader. Personally, if I had the time to read like I did when I was single I would be all over this service. I would read a book a day or every other day. Let's just say it was a tad expensive.
Currently, Unlimited is (heh) limited to the USA. According to Amazon's site they plan to push it internationally, but I think they are using us as the testing grounds.
In any case, they are on amazon and if you have Unlimited, please check the series. Here's a link to make it easier.
For the past several days I've been debating if I should jump ship on Smashwords, and by connection Itunes, kobo, sony, etc, and drop all my books into Kindle Unlimited. If you don't know what that is, Kindle Unlimited is a rental service of sorts for ebooks. $9.99 a month gets you access to every ebook that opts into the program - think of it as Netflix or Hulu for books. I THINK there is a cap on how many books per month you can get, but I honestly am not sure.
As 99% of my overall sales comes directly from amazon, I haven't exactly benefited from having it elsewhere. However, if I do move them to Kindle Unlimited, then I have to give Amazon exclusive rights to the books - 90 days at a time. As the people reading this are mostly readers of the series (or at least avid book readers), I am asking your opinion.
What ebook app do you use? Would you try out Kindle Unlimited, as a reader?
This is a fairly minor update. A few seconds ago I added a link for network blogs to this page. You can find it at the bottom on the right margin. If you're in to that sort of thing add me. Otherwise, you may check it out anyways, it seems to be a good way to find blogs on whatever topic you may be looking for.
My friend, Chris Yarbrough and I have been discussing covers, comics and minecraft a lot lately. Here in the next few weeks, when a couple of his current artist projects come to a close, he is going to start sketching up ideas for "Five Man Midget Death Squad" book cover. To cover his cost I thought I'd try crowdfunding on this. Pretty much everyone has heard of kickstarter on some level, however I may go with Indiegogo. They seem to have a more novice friendly design. Novice as in very few people know who the heck I am! There'll be several stretch goals, spanning the entire CoM series, lots of goodies for everyone who invests, etc. Anyways, below you'll find some of Chris's work. Half of it are just some simply "warm-up" sketches I thought were cool. You can find more of his work under "Radiation day" on this site, or at:
Originally done as a pun on the real holiday, Ash Wednesday was a silly picture I made on facebook with a picture of Ash from Evil Dead/Army of Darkness. If you don't know what this is, I'm surprised you're reading my books. Seriously, how did that even happen? Go watch (at least) Army of Darkness. Don't worry, I'll wait...
Okay? Anyways, one of my friends/fans believes that all Wednesdays should be Ash Wednesday and I'm inclined to agree with him. So, until I either get bored, forget, or run out of bad jokes, I'll be posting a new meme on here for Ash Wednesday. Since I'm a picture behind, today will be a 2-fer. You can also find these posted on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NicholasForristal). Like, follow, and don't worry, I don't spam nonsense on there. It's mostly cheap books I come across, silly pictures and these updates.
There are a great deal of things I'd like to get going and/or finish this year. Let's get to it.
To publish this year:
1. Five Man Midget Death Squad - The history of the Tungri Dwarves: how they were pushed out of Germany and back into Scotland, their on going battle with the greenskins, their alliance with Balor, the forming of Balor's Elites and then following the modern-day exploits of the Elites better known as the Five Man Midget Death Squad. It is a standalone book, but ties directly into the plotline of CoM, beginning at book 4 and heavily into 5. This should be out by Feb/March.
2. Chronicles of M Book 5: The Lord War - picking up directly after #4, M and company face off against the four remaining Lords for dominance over Earth. Now armed with the armies and slayers of the Exiles and the knowledge of how to win, it'll be a non-stop action thrill ride that's been hinted at since the beginning of the series. This should be out by June/July.
3. Chronicles of M Book 6: The Purge (this title may change) - No description as of yet, simply because what I have planned in my head and on paper will probably change after book 5 is finishing up. Let's just say that certain things (like the Purge) are hinted at in books 2,3,4, and 5 man midget death squad. This should be out Oct/Nov
On the Back Burner:
Domitianus - I'd like to do a book entirely on the life and times of Domitianus. He plays a...strange role in book 4 and will show up later on in a more instrumental way. I really don't want to say a lot on this character simply b/c book 4 came out less than a month ago and I'd rather not spoil it just yet. Let's just say he's a very strange, dark man who could use an entire book.
Book 1: Comics - this one is requires time and money. I cannot draw, I can barely handle photoshop at this point, so to make a comic series out of this I'll need help. Unfortunately, help requires money that I do not have. For that, I'll end up doing a kickstarter. I suspect we aren't talking a lot of money, but to do it right I'd like to have several artists working on it, each handling a different character's perspective, so that the art style follows the writing style (if you've read any of the books, you know what I mean by that).
Review Website - This is a project I've only begun to outline. Essentially, I started working on a website for it and a few reviews here and there out of boredom. The site would cover movies, games, books, comics, basically anything I get my hands on. The games would mostly be older titles, playing them now to see if they fare well against modern games. I also thought about having a drunken review as well, since many games are absolutely terrible sober, yet prove to be hilarious drunk. The site would have plenty of videos and audio commentary, all the usual stuff except that the review structure would be different. Personally, when I read a review, I don't want a rundown of what the game is about, I want to know how it plays, if it's buggy and if it was worth the money. That's what I will focus on. This is a rather large undertaking and with CoM and life taking up all my free time, it will probably be a while before I really get this site up and running.
Untitled Grindhouse Horror book - I started on this about six months ago and haven't given it a great deal of thought since. Not because I'm disinterested in it, but because I don't have time for it AND it's grindhouse....you just don't overthink the plotline to such a piece. It's about a group of typical college kids who go to an uncle's abandoned cabin for a summer vacation and s*it happens. Ghosts, midget bikers, a mass murderer, all that weirdness that makes a campy, low budget grindhouse flick worth watching.
That's it for now, but I'm sure something else will come up. Keep in mind that Domitianus, Hitori, nor Five Man Midget Death Squad were planned pieces. They simply happened because I saw an oppurtunity to branch the CoM world out into new genres and new stories. Chances are, there will be more to come of that.
So, there's my 2014 so far. :)
I've been noticing a lot of people saying what they are grateful for, what they are regretting and their resolution(s) for the upcoming year. Personally, I regret nothing. Good, or bad, I try to walk away from a situation with knowledge that I didn't have prior to the event, this way I can either (hopefully) prevent it from happening again, or better my chances of repeating it. That's just me.
I was thinking of simply doing a "here's what I did do" post. I'll keep it book related so there's nothing silly like I GOT NEW SHOES, although I did get new shoes an they are black with yellow across the bottom....nevermind.
This year I had 3 publications:
Chronicles of M 3: A'loc - http://www.chroniclesofm.com/chronicles-of-m-aloc-book-3.html
Chronicles of M 4: Consequences - http://www.chroniclesofm.com/com-consequences-book-4.html
Hitori (A CoM Standalone) - http://www.chroniclesofm.com/hitori.html
Both CoM 3 and Hitori have bounced in an out of the bestseller list on Amazon (US and UK) and so far have been well received, which is nice to see.
I did a couple local events: Free comic book day and Comic book day of the dead via Elite Comics and met a number of fantastic artists (many found here: http://www.chroniclesofm.com/artists-corner.html) whom I will probably work with in the near future to start turning Book 1 into a comic form..providing a kickstarter is successful to pay them first. Damont Jordan is working on making me a cover for Hitori and The Five Man Midget Death Squad.
I was going to do the big comic convention here in KC - Planet Comicon, but through a series of happy accidents I will not be attending. Essentially, I gave the owner a CC that was going to expire next month. As soon as I realized the error, I messaged him about it and never got a reply, a couple weeks later the new cards showed up and my wife activated them (thus deactivating the old cards early). By this time I realized that, it wasn't financially worth the time to do the Con anyways.
Between the cost of the Con and the insane cost of printing books to sell, I'd be lucky to break even after such an event. To me these Cons, big or small, are about two things: getting my name out there and selling books. Every day I talk to people all across the world. Right now there are people reading this that live outside the US, much less this state. So, local exposure isn't that big of a deal with what I do, especially when it is going to cost me money. Because I tend to operate globally, it's much easier and cheaper for me to sell digitally. By keeping my costs down (avoiding costly Cons and printing books) I can concentrate my funds on editing and the occasional book cover.
Strangely, a lot people seem to think writers make fists full of cash off their creations. This is highly untrue. Even bouncing in and out of the bestseller lists I essentially break even on these stories. The biggest reasons for this are that I publish a book every 2-4 months and I haven't done any real advertising. What you see on the net from me on facebook, twitter, the occasional website was by and large free, or dirt cheap. I am not complaining at all about this. I am extremely happy that this glorified hobby generates enough cash to maintain itself. It means someone out there is reading/enjoying this stuff. So, thank you for that. <3
So, there we are: 2013 in a nutshell. Later today I'll probably post something about hopes and goals of 2014, then an update on my current project: Five Man Midget Death Squad.
I thought it would be fun to post a little holiday related piece I did last year. It's technically the epilogue for Book 3, but it's pretty self-contained. Enjoy.
"All right, Thomas. I'm gonna need you to explain this to me one more time."
"The elves are on strike. Their list of grievances is posted online, all very reasonable."
"That I get, no one likes to be treated like garbage. What are they doing here and where the hell is the fat man?"
"I suppose after they destroyed the factory they realized they needed to deal with me next. I'm betting they don't know about you, M."
"You? Why you?"
"I'm Nicholas's only living friend."
"What? How do you know Santa?"
"I helped him build the first factory and set up relations with the elves, back when he was St. Nicholas."
"And now they want out?"
"They don't want out, they want what everyone else wants: hourly pay, vacation time, benefits."
M snorts. "Since when did Santa start turning a profit?"
"Since he started selling the rights to his name and image to everyone and anyone."
"Where is he anyways? This is his problem not ours."
"Vacationing in Florida. The moment the elves came to town, they became our problem."
"What about Mrs. Claus, where is she?"
"Divorced. The last I heard, she was living south of Los Angeles and married to a plastic surgeon."
"Yeah, she goes by Gloria now, looks completely different after the liposuction and facial augmentations."
"Maybe, I don't know. I've known her forever. I introduced her to Nicholas."
"How did you meet him?"
"First counsel of Nicea."
M looks at me blankly and then shrugs. "Okay. So why are we eating here? Shouldn't we hunt the elves down and end this?"
"They wanted to meet."
"To meet? They flew all the way here to talk? That makes no sense. It's not like you have anything to do with their problems."
"Then you think it's an ambush? Is that why all the roads are closed?"
"You got it."
M smiles. "Kill, or capture?"
"Capture if you can. Kill if you must."
M pounds his fist on the table. "Added challenge, awesome. So, what do they look like?"
The ground trembles and I point over M's shoulder. "I'll give you one guess."
In the empty intersection a block away stand two gigantic, metal, domed feet. Dirtied and scratched from use, they have left giant craters in the street where they landed. I follow the feet up the ridged legs and over a blocky, broad chest, to a boxy head and oversized eyes.
"That is a big ass robot. I'd be a lot more concerned if this thing didn't look like it was from the 50s. Where's the guns, lasers, rockets? It's nothing more than a giant toy," M says.
We stand up and start walking towards it. It's here for me, not to destroy town. We don't have to hurry.
He points upward. "What the heck is that and what's up with the hat?"
On top of the robot's head rests a red cone-shaped hat, but where the white ball should be is a long, metal pole.
"Probably an antenna. I bet it's controlled remotely. The hat is the symbol of the Northern Elves."
"Oh, the cowards didn't even show up to fight, they sent in a ringer?"
"Northern Elves are exactly what the stories make them out to be: short little people that are good with their hands, but have little access to technology."
"Fair enough." M cracks his neck. "All right, let's do this."
"You take top, I take bottom."
"I'll see you in the middle."
I take off at a jog, checking the runes on my fingers and loosening each of them like a pianist. From my fingertips, I pop off a couple lightning bolts at the robot’s legs. They connect, but only leave scorch marks behind. Hoping the attack did more than I can see, I send off a couple more in rapid procession. Each one ends with the same result.
The robot steps towards me and I hear a loud boom that has me look up just in time see a very large, metallic hand sail through the air and crash into the building next to me. So much for the elves not destroying the city.
I finish the last dozen feet in a sprint and use the robot's leg to shield me from the building and office debris. The robot makes no indication that it knows I'm here. M is doing a fantastic job of distracting it. Seeing as I have an opportunity to do some real damage, I set my hands in position and torch the robot's leg in fire. Maybe I can melt the damned thing. I watch the skin on my fake hand melt away: there goes that plan.
* * *
"I'll see you in the middle," is all I have time to say before Thomas advances on Santa's Little Slayer.
Waiting for the perfect moment, I watch the combatants with complete focus. Distractions and ambushes are in need of precision, of perfection. Without both, it all ends in failure and for naught. Waiting, waiting, waiting, now. With but a thought, I launch into the clear skies at the head of the metallic monster, like a bolt from William Tell.
The robotic giant takes notice and lifts its arm against me. Boom! The hand explodes through the air, but my speed is misjudged. The five-fingered death shot ends its journey with a three-story explosion of chairs, desks, stone and mortar that rains down on the city street like a bad day.
My partner makes it through unharmed and unnoticed. He goes to work on the legs of this towering toy of terror as I slam into and through its head like a bullet. Electronic innards explode out of its new cranial cavity behind me. I twist, spin and plant myself feet first into the building behind the Meccano-man. Exploding into the air once again, my push shatters the shatterproof office window as I set forth for its back.
* * *
The flames turn the metal leg red-hot and it’s dripping with molten iron. The spell begins to drain me mentally and physically as the heat draws sweat from my head; the stench of burning metal doesn't help either. On the bright side, my new heart is taking the stress without complaint. As M explodes through the robot's head, it teeters slightly from the impact, but remains on its feet. I turn the heat up and begin to melt holes into the robot's hollow leg. Exposed wires begin to liquefy and sever their connections with the foot. I cut off the flames and shoot electricity up the wires of the leg. Maybe I can short it out.
I never find out if it will work. M slams into the back of the robot and sends it face down in the street, barely missing the buildings on either side. The force of its landing bounces a car up in the air.
M lands lightly next to me and grabs the partially melted, partially torn foot and rips it off the rest of the way. Hopping on its back, he bashes it with his bare fists over and over, leaving the robot's body looking more like Swiss cheese and less like a robot. He hops off the back of the robot and smiles.
"Kick it while it's down."
"Nice to see you finally learned that." I look back at what's left of the robot. "Although I think it might have been overkill this time."
"Excuse me!" a voice says.
Running out of a building adjacent to the smoking robot are a reporter and his cameraman. They stop in front of us, catching their breath and facing each other.
"Okay, phew. Let's go, Bart on 3... 2..." The reporter takes a deep breath. "A fantastic battle has ended today here on Troost and Arland between two unknown men and a giant robot." The reporter turns towards me and asks, "Sir, what is your name?" He puts the microphone to my mouth.
The reporter shoves the mic in M's face. M looks at me and back at the reporter. "Um, M."
The reporter looks at us, puzzled, and continues on without missing a step. "Thomas, can you tell us what has happened here? Was the robot going to destroy the city, or was it here for you?"
"It was here for me."
"Why would someone send a robot to murder you?"
"Santa's elves are on strike. They thought I could be a threat."
The reporter stares at us for a moment. "Are you saying that Santa Claus is real?"
He turns to M. "That was a spectacular fight, good work taking down the giant robot."
M scratches the back of his head. "Thanks, I guess."
"How did you learn to fly? Have you always been able to?"
"Um, I just, sorta... jump really well."
"How did you manage to fly through the robot? Are you super strong?"
"Is there anything you would like to tell the public?"
M looks at me and I shrug. "Kids, don't do drugs."
M and I walk away from the reporter and towards our car before the reporter can say anything else. I can't help but laugh.
"What?" M asks.
"Don't do drugs?"
"Isn't that what you're supposed to say?"
I think about it. "I honestly don't know."
"Why did we even talk to that guy?"
"It's time we went public. We're going to need help with what's coming. This seemed like a good time to do it."
"Yeah, shit's about to get real!"
This post is being made simply because I'd like some feedback. I have a few routes to go and, to me either is acceptable. As such, I go to you, the public opinion.
Planet Comicon is the big comic convention here in Kansas City. Thousands of people show up for this and it's a great opportunity to "whore myself out"...as far as books go. Here's the issue: at a convention, series don't sell. I can't say I blame the average consumer. I wouldn't buy the entire series from some unknown author that I spoke to for 10 minutes. Sure, I'd buy the first book, but unless it sounded like the most amazing thing ever, I'd probably save my cash for someone else's wares.
Currently, I have CoM book 1-3 in paperback, ready to go. For obvious reasons, I have about 3 times more copies of book 1 than the others. I figured I could do some sort of buy the set and save money sort of deal. Either way, I only have 1 real seller here and that is book 1.
Hitori, being a standalone, makes for a perfect addition. It's just a matter of getting in paperback and getting some copies. No biggie. So, I have 2 real sellers.
IF I manage to get a kickstarter going and IF an artist and I can push out a first issue of the CoM series before then, I may have that as well. Planet Comicon is in March and the earliest I can hope to have an artist lined up would be Jan, so it's highly unlikely that's going to happen.
Book 4, "Consequences" will be done by Decemeber, might not be published, but it'll be to the point that I can start on the next book, giving me just enough time to finish it, publish it and get it out in paperback, so long as there aren't too many hurdles along the way. "Consequences" begins the next set of books 10 yrs after the previous set, so technically a new reader could pick up this book and use it as a starting point if they really wanted to. That is also a possible seller.
So, after that long explanation, here's the situation: I have 3 options here for the next book I work on. I can either continue on with Book #5 as I originally planned, giving me nothing new for the Con. I also have two, potentially three other ideas for standalone books that I could easily sell at a con, but would force the main story to come to a halt (again).
1. A CoM standalone of what I've been calling the Five Man Midget Death Squad. It's a team of steampunk, Scottish dwarves (fantasy dwarves) who work for a Lord (No spoiler here) in the same sense as Mai/Hitori does for Bishamon - defend the lands, fight off nasty stuff, etc. It would be part historical piece, explaining why the dwarves live in the Scottish mountains and why no one knows about them except in myth, eventually leading up to their introduction in book 4. it would also explain a few other silly ideas to give it a more realistic ring.
2. A CoM standalone about very old, very insane, sociopathic, mass murdering zombie named Dom. He's introduced in book 4 and I won't say anymore than that, other than he is basically the worst case scenario for a evolved zombie, vs Uhler who is probably as good as it gets. So, a first person story about a mass murderer who gives zero f's.
3. Something I started working on, but put to the side a while back. A few of you may remember some blog posts about it. A grindhouse/horro sort of story with dumb college kids, ghosts, midget bikers and a whole slew of crazy characters that end like any good grindhouse movie should. With a big ass, ridiculous battle.
There we are, 4 options to choose from. Personally, it's all the same to me. I'll eventually write each of them regardless of this decision. I just felt that it should be up to the people following the books, or whoever cares to voice an opinion. On one hand, I feel kind of bad leaving the main series for a seperate book when I just came back from that with Hitori. On the other hand, doing so might garner some new readers at this convention. Either way, there will be new content to read. So....what do you think? Drop a comment below and thanks in advance.
As the book itself is a standalone, set in the past and strangely placed on Amazon (vs the rest of the series) I felt I should write something on the piece. I'm hoping this will reach enough eyes that people will begin to see the book as they should. At the present, it is categorized, among other things, as Asian mythology. This is not entirely incorrect, no more so than a lot manga can be. So, please, retweet and share the hell out of this. :)
Hitori is a story about a woman who is sold to Bishamon, by her idiot father, in order to win an upcoming battle that he ends up losing anyways. Bishamon, the god of war, trains the young woman, preparing her to be his Slayer. In the 8th century, roughly 80 years later, Bishamon sends his ward back to Japan to defend the lands from the evils that normal humans cannot handle themselves. This is where the story begins.
Hitori isn't her name, she gave up her name when her father disowned her. Hitori is a name given to her by the first decent person she meets. In the main series, 1300ish years later, she's known as Mai. What does the book compare to? That's a question I've been asking myself for days now and coming up short, but I will do my best.
It's full of action, like most manga/anime/comics. It's designed around a series of adventures that are tied together with a central idea, like a television series. It's full of mythological baddies, like any good fairy tale should. The best I can come up with is that "Hitori" is a cross of Lone Wolf and Cub and The Forbidden Kingdom with a dash of historical accuracy. I'm not saying it's super-duper historically accurate, but I tried. The 8th century is when Japan decided to start writing down their history. So, there's only so much accuracy I can give you.
It's a book wrapped in mythology, embracing history and filled with action, magic and the supernatural. A lot of times, like the CoM series, I'll take an exising idea and develop the idea so that the strange descriptive changes that are found in existing lit make a more cohesive, single idea. I'll use the Tengu for example, as it is not a spoiler to the story.
The Tengu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tengu) are an interesting, mythological species. I spent several months reading the lore on them and thought it seemed odd that they varied from being these birdlike creatures to something far more humanoid with long noses. So, I decided that the children would be the more bird-like variety, with arms for wings, and as they grow into adulthood more and more of those characteristics would fall away, leaving long nosed humanoids with wings on their backs.
Do you need to read the Chronicles of M to understand this? Absolutely not. Will this book help you to understand Mai in the CoM series, of course. It's a standalone book that is meant to expand the world the series lives in. So, do what the California Raisins say and check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyIHOTx7zxM