Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Brutus III

Below is a picture of Brutus III, the third beta I've had in my classroom over the years.

Previously, I had a tank with filter, heater and light, which enabled me to keep guppies. My school district's new rules have eliminated the use of electronic equipment, except those purchased through the school and required for classroom instruction. That meant the end of the guppy-filled tank.

My newer room, after the school's remodeling, now has a skylight which enables light through the weekends. So I returned my old self contained tank to service and supplied it with a resident.

The students enjoy Brutus well enough as a distraction. Betas are not as messy as goldfish, and equally hardy, so he's an obvious choice. Plus, he seems happy enough in his tank. Far better than the little cup he was in until recently.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Doing it Old School: An Index Card

Don't get me wrong, I have more files and bits of information saved in electronic files tucked within folders within folders than I ever expected (and backed up multiple times and places), and I've learned the clicking pathway to some files so well that I can do it without thinking.

But for me, some thought processes and organizational tasks just work better with a spiral notebook or, better yet, an index card or two. Jotting notes, making changes, solidifying facts and ideas, and the directions that will take my novels--and the characters along with them.

And sometimes, actually most of the time, the refined bits of information get transferred from the index card to an electronic file, as a note or a chart or attached to something previously saved. Often, until it does get transferred, and usually for some time after, relevant index cards are carried around in a pocket, for a reminder, or to be annotated, or to be reflected upon. They also sit next to my computer for quick visual reference as I type.

Just the way I go about it. Maybe not the most efficient method ever devised, but it works for me.

Notes on Condensed Space Travel for
an Exploration Shuttle and a Modified Patrol Gunboat
Based on Previous Research and Information (saved in an electronic chart)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Soul Forge Now Available in Audiobook

Soul Forge is now available in Audiobook via Audible!  Availability through iTunes and Amazon will soon follow.

Follow the link below to listen to a sample.

If you're not a member of Audible, it's free to join with no obligation to remain a member. Plus, the first book downloaded is free. No reason it couldn't be Soul Forge, or any of my other titles available (Flank Hawk, Blood Sword or Relic Tech).

Link: Soul Forge at Audible

Monday, September 15, 2014

Interview with Mike Wilkinson of Around About Books

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Mike. Could you tell us a little about yourself and about Around About Books?

Around About Books Storefront
Just off the Square in Troy, Ohio
Thanks a lot for asking, Terry. Some of my earliest memories are of my father reading to me. They're also most of my favorite memories from my childhood. My dad had a way of reading up to an exciting point then he'd stop and say, "What do you think is going to happen next?" Well, for a small child, that is all it took to start my imagination flying. It was only natural that I'd love all things printed after that. When the other kids wanted to be firemen and policemen I told the teacher I wanted to own a library. After learning that I couldn't own a library I went the next logical route...I bought a bookstore.

There are three of us, all together, who own Around About Books. Myself, Sue Cantrell and Dave Crouse. We purchased the store, I guess it's been ten years now. No regrets. It has been a dream to introduce folks to their new best friends (not to mention that you get first crack at a lot of the books that come through -- there is a lot "Dibs Calling", to be sure).

You’ve mentioned two positives about working at a books store, Mike. Can you make it three? And are there any drawbacks, especially one that those who are readers might not expect?

I could make it one hundred positive things easily, Terry! It is simply the best. Owning a bookstore often feels like offering a public service, lol. Expanding on that -- I love the feeling of getting to know customers. People tend to talk to me the same way I imagine they'd talk to their bartender. You start simply enough, talking about a book they love or why they love an author -- pretty soon they are taking you through their lives and why they have the passions they do. It's got to be one of the greatest feelings in the world. I feel connected in a way that I don't think folks who do a lot of other things get the chance to do very often.

The biggest drawback? I'd have to say there are really only a few. The biggest is folks who wander into the store that have no desire to read (which is alright -- we offer a lot of other things for them to stumble onto while in the store). I've NEVER been able to comprehend the mentality that allows them to believe that NOT reading is an advantage. Like they, somehow, made it to wherever they find themselves without ever reading -- and we should, for some reason, look up to them for it. I feel protective of my other customers on those occasions.

One question many of the readers of Up Around the Corner might have is how Around About Books has managed to compete with online bookstores, and the rise of ebooks, and do you feel continuing to compete could become an increasingly uphill struggle?

Local Authors Section
Great question! Honestly, not a lot of folks seem to be aware of the trouble that many "Mom & Pop" bookstores face from all the new technologies available. I'm all for the amazing tech gadgets out there. I'm a huge fan of science in general. However, those same wonders have taken such a HUGE bite out of the pie it leaves so little for the regular person.

As I said, a bookstore was a dream for me so there really is no option but to never give up. We are really just starting to dip our collective toe into the online sales market. We have a few books listed on ABEbooks.com and we get a little business from that. Though, I confess, none of us are very good at that part so we are learning as we go.

As for the eBooks, it was a much worse problem for us in the beginning. We have all noticed a trend that the same folks who showed up in the beginning selling us their books saying they are switching to eBooks are starting to come back looking to re-buy their collections. Even the folks who really love eBooks are deciding they want to actually own the book and have it on their shelves as well as on their reading devices. My father used to say, "You can learn a lot about a person by what you find on their bookshelves." I think many folks now have to look at a lot of empty spaces where their favorite books once sat and they miss it. I think eBooks will certainly continue but I also think that the "newness" of them is already starting to fade.

Real books will never be a fad and even the kids who were being raised on eBooks are starting to come in and discover the wonder of turning an actual paper page. I don't really see trying to compete with eReaders as an uphill struggle anymore. I think it is starting to level off now.

There is room for everyone at the party and, as long as the love of reading or the need to learn exists, bookstores may suffer through hard times but the diehards will fight and will survive. We are the keepers of knowledge -- that's a pretty important job.

What trends are you noticing in your customer? For example: More interest in nonfiction or romance, or preference of hard cover over mass market paperbacks?

The most die hard sections of our store tend to be History for nonfiction and the Young Adult novels are the hot item(s) in fiction. Sales tend to be divided -- nonfiction sales are almost exclusively hardback and fiction is either trade sized or paperback.

What three people, living or deceased, would you find to be absolutely awesome if they walked into Around About Books to browse and maybe strike up a conversation. What would you hope to discuss with them, and if they asked you to suggest a book for them to read, what might it be?

Wow, that would be a HUGE list. I have a list of just authors I'd love to speak with and give them a tour of the store. I have a list of personal heroes and "important" people. I have never thought of trying to cut the list down to just three. No matter what angle I take this is tough. I guess Richard Laymon, Dr. Creep, and Abraham Lincoln. I'd give Richard Laymon a book on how to turn your books into movies (one of my favorite authors who seems to have always been overlooked in his short lifetime), Dr. Creep a book about how to take care of yourself and President Lincoln would get a copy of "Our American Cousin" so he wouldn't have to see the play!

Can you think of any unusual or especially challenging customer questions that came your way in the past few years?

One of my favorites has always been the time I had a very nice lady come in and ask if I had any red books. At first I thought she meant the magazine. I told her maybe in a collection of some sort. I told her I had never read any and asked her the subject matter. She looked me in the eye and said, "It doesn't really matter." I thought on this and must have looked totally lost. She leaned in and said, "You know, just red books." She said it in such a way that I felt like I was missing something. Suddenly, it occurred to me. I leaned back in close to her and whispered, "You mean Communist?" This young lady looked at me like I grew a third eye. Of course it turned out that she was looking for a certain shade of red to go with her decorating scheme. I had never dealt with that particular customer problem before but we figured it all out and found her what she was looking for and I ended up with my own Abbott and Costello memory.

Abbot and Costello, who doesn’t like them? Good story.

As we’re closing in on the end of the interview, Mike, is there anything you like to add or share with the readers of Up Around the Corner?

Around About Books Co-owner
Mike Wilkinson
It's been a LOT of fun, Terry! I really enjoyed this. It isn't often that a guy who sells books to folks gets to feel all important like.

Thank you so much for thinking of us at Around About Books and including us.

We'd love your readers to come on out to the store. Hang out with us and chat for a bit. If you like a book, try it out and see if you've found a soul mate. The one thing we are always needing is more friends.

If you get the chance, please check us out on Facebook, just search for "Around About Books" and, if you like what you see, give us a "LIKE".

It's coming up on the Halloween season and that is probably the best time to drop by because we are huge Halloween fans so the store and its windows are all made up. You never know what might jump out at you.

We have a lot going on and we are always looking for suggestions so please, we'd love to see you.

You’re welcome, Mike. I’ll second that if readers get the chance they should stop in at Around About Books. I don’t get there often enough, but always enjoy chatting and checking out the shelves (you have two floors packed with books).

Readers can find out more about Around About Books by following these links:


Friday, September 12, 2014

Sales Stats Update Through July 2014

After doing some totaling,  here is what I'm looking at for overall sales:

Print: 20.4% of sales
Ebook: 71.7% of sales
Audiobook: 7.9% of sales

Comparing those to statistics listed in April 2014 based on Sales through the 1st Quarter of 2014:

Print: 21.4% of sales
Ebook: 73.5% of sales
Audiobook: 5.1% of sales

Trends I see:
The uptick in audio is due to the having the books available in audio. In general, my publisher releases my novels in ebook, followed shortly thereafter in print. Audiobooks become available a little further down the road (the delay due to finding and screening narrators, and then the production process which follows).

They (audiobooks) are currently doing a little better than print editions. Relic Tech's sales in audio have outpaced those of Flank Hawk and Blood Sword. The same is true for ebooks as Relic Tech sells a vastly higher percentage of ebooks as compared to print: (3.5% Print, 76.7% Ebook, 9.8% Audio). I would attribute that to the audience preference for Science Fiction.

Genre Shotgun, the short story collection, is largely reverse when compared to Relic Tech: (11.8% Ebook, 88.2% print). The audiobook version of Genre Shotgun is in production and not yet released. It should be interesting to observe what happens there, as well as the release of Soul Forge in audio, which may kickstart sales of the previous novels in the First Civilization's Legacy Series in audiobook format such that they close in on those of Relic Tech.

One upcoming addition to the sales observation will be the foreign release version of Flank Hawk (in Spanish). It will be released in ebook, and depending on how that goes, print and possibly audio might follow.

My publisher (Gryphonwood Press) is planning some marketing efforts focused on Relic Tech and Flank Hawk, which may alter future sales and trends.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Update: All Places Sci-Fi Six Pack is available (for 99 cents)

Gryphonwood Press has listed all places the Sci-Fi Six Pack is available (for a limited time).

Follow the link below to Gryphonwood Press's website for the direct hyperlinks and additional information.

Link: Gryphonwood Press/Sci-Fi Six Pack

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

6 Great SF Reads including Relic Tech for 99¢


For a limited time Gryphonwood Press has put together a Sci Fi Six-Pack, which includes:

3 Novels

2 Novellas

1 Short Story

  • Humans fight off an alien invasion
  • A race of super-soldiers turn on their creators
  • A specialist undergoes a dangerous procedure in order to access a secret locked in his mind
  • Futuristic submarine warfare on alien worlds
  • A telepath and spice dealer battles gangs and madmen
  • A futuristic bounty hunter pursues a madman across the galaxy

A dirty half-dozen science fiction thrills, three novels, two novellas, and a short story, by six fantastic authors!

This box set will only be available for a short time!

Check it out:  Sci-Fi Six-Pack: Six Thrilling Tales from Six Top-Notch Authors!

At only 99¢ you can't beat the price.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review of Soul Forge at Dragons, Magic and Other Fantastical Reads


If  you have a moment, please check out the review of Soul Forge, and see what reviewer Kira Tregoning had to say, with Soul Forge earning 4.5 Stars.

Link: Review: ‘Soul Forge’ by Terry W. Ervin II


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Applefest in Sidney, Ohio this Saturday (Sept. 6th)

I'll be signing copies of my books at the Applefest in Sidney, Ohio this Saturday (Sept. 6th).

I and about a dozen other authors will be in the Courthouse's bottom floor from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm, meeting readers and signing copies of our novels. Signs will be posted to help if you're unsure exactly where we're located.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review of Soul Forge at Two Ends of the Pen

If you have a moment click on over to see what Two Ends of the Pen had to say about Soul Forge.

Link: Review: Soul Forge

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Explore Humanity's Twilight combined with a Quote from Winston Churchill

Yesterday I was proofing a story "Seconds of Eternity" for the audiobook version of my short story collection, Genre Shotgun.

The story starts with a quote from Winston Churchill:

"If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case...You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

It's followed by a question: If it was true in the past, why should the future be any different?

"Seconds of Eternity" tells the story of Major Mac 'Race' Parson, aboard his outdated Starfury IV as the pilot plays his part in a final desperate bid as humanity struggles through its final throes battling the invading Truhl-Ghats. The twilight of the human race, coming to an end.

Consider checking out "Seconds of Eternity" and other stories in my short story collection: Genre Shotgun. (Yes, a little direct self promotion, but also something I think might be of interest, especially as it may have some relevance to readers today).

You can find out where Genre Shotgun is available by following this linkWhere Available


Monday, September 1, 2014

Guest Post (Julian Saheed): Popular Culture and the Rise of Fantasy

Firstly, assume for the purpose of this discussion that I will be touching on the broader category of speculative fiction, including works that encompass science fiction, horror and the medievalist or urban/paranormal work that dominates fantasy. Now let us look at the rapid growth in the genre over the last century, in particular since the 1950’s.

Much of the fiction which was released in the latter half of the century built on the pioneers. Those who published early science fiction as well as classic children’s stories or folk tales. As well as the authors whose stories were published in pulp magazines, comics and penny dreadfuls. They were the ones who sparked the fire which would later grow into a massive popular culture following.

The growth in media, rise in incomes and reduction in publication costs enhanced the ability to reach wider markets. Popularity steadily grew, especially amongst teenagers and children. Then swords and sorcery and high/epic fantasy hit the market and works such as the Lord of the Rings revolutionised the genre.

Stigmas which had once been attached to escapist stories began to fall away and the common acceptance of speculative fiction spread. Fast forward to the 80’s and 90’s where more fantasy authors achieved worldwide success and film and television effects opened up the possibility of creating movies with much more believable fantasy elements. The genre’s fan base increased and began to draw in readers and viewers who would have never considered fantasy in the past.

This brings us to today, a time where the success of works such as George R R Martin’s ASOIF series and J K Rowling’s Harry Potter novels has spawned film adaptations which have only served to create more fans of the genre. Modern manufacturing has led to mass production of collectables and the money generated from increased book sales has led to ancillary products. You can now buy games, guide books, posters, statues, drinks, cards and every other item one could think of from your favourite fantasy series. Ultra-loyal fans fill their rooms with every imaginable item to further show their passion. Comic-cons have grown, showcasing the popularity of speculative fiction in every medium of entertainment.

So have we come to it? Is this the best time there has ever been for the Fantasy genre?

I say yes. Movie studios are snatching up options for the most popular of fantasy and science fiction series as quickly as they can. Much of this is driven by the growing attractiveness of paranormal/urban fantasy amongst teens and young adults. Add to this the growth of adults reading novels targeted towards teenagers. One need only look to the Hunger Games and Twilight which have dominated the fiction bestseller lists. Studios are drawing in large profits from these franchises.

Fantasy video games have become big studio productions. These have resulted in big bucks for developers. The increasing support for series such as the Witcher, Dragon Age and the Elder Scrolls has made epic, open world fantasy games a possibility. The worldwide success of Skyrim has shown that people are hungry for large fantasy games.

We could argue that there has never been a better time to be a fan of speculative fiction. We have access to an insurmountable range of terrific books, shows and movies. You can continue to enjoy your favourite franchise through board games, toys, comics or even fan fiction. The future is looking brighter than ever with superhero and big sci-fi movies dominating the release schedule from major studios in the next ten years. And all the while the increasing success of young adult speculative fiction, Peter Jackson’s movies and HBO’s Game of Thrones mean that we can look forward to other publishers and studios following in their footsteps and creating more entertainment for us to devour.

Will there be a peak. Surely there must be. There will come a time where people will have had their fill and move to something new. The loyal fans will remain and continue to support fantasy. And eventually we will see another resurgence. But, as it stands now, I believe we are still climbing the mountain in this current life cycle. It is a good time to be a fantasy fan.

About the author: Julian Saheed is a Fantasy author who lives in Melbourne, Australia. The Tyrant’s Onslaught is the second novel in his Valerious Chronicles series and is now available for purchase at the following retailers.

The Tyrant's Onslaught at AmazoniTunes and Barnes & Noble

You can see more of Julian's work and follow his blog at: juliansaheed.com.