Your Christmas gift, Under a Midnight Clear, will be in an email immediately following this one. It’s a 5.9Mb Zip file with the story in .pdf, .epub, and .mobi formats. That should cover most, if not all of you, but if you need it in another format, let me know. My e-book creation software can let me do just about anything.
Also, if you have any issues receiving that email, including not getting it at all, problems with a file that large, or anything else. Let me know, and I’ll make sure to help you. I’ll assume, by the way, that you’ve checked your Spam directory, which it might shunt to for a variety of reasons, of course.
My sweetie and I opened our presents last night and snuggled on the couch watching Youtube videos of Rowan Atkinson, Monty Python, and Victor Borge. We also tried the gluten-free low-carb pork rind panko breading on Buffalo strips. Delicious.
Today we’ll be doing some Zoom calls, like I suspect many will do. I’ll do some more re-editing on A Lake Most Deep as well. Then we’ll have steak and a fixings for dinner. Yeah, it’s not traditional, but even a small turkey and ham and all the rest is too much for me. At least now. There were days in the past, though…
This was not my most productive week, but I did stuff I needed to do. Stuff that consolidated and organized a bunch of things. I cleaned up my file structure on my computers, which needed straightening up. This has the benefit of double-checking all my backups. I did, of course, finish Under a Midnight Clear and get it ready to deliver.
Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastic day and holiday season.
What I’m Listening To
Wizards in Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I’m really a fan of Christmas music, especially hard rock and metal versions. TSO is the best of this, having made a living melding genres into something spectacular.
Quote of the Week
This seems like an appropriate quote after 2020. I think we all need a little extra, and that means we all need to try and do a little extra for each other.
“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”
― Charles M. Schulz
News and Works in Progress
The Ravening of Wolves (29,784)
Rick Blaine (8,845)
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions
I spent the week cleaning up a few mistakes on the wiki. I did add one new page, though. Interestingly, research for that one page gave me a bunch of new ideas because I stumbled across a fable sunken city. Heck, yeah, I’m gonna use that someday.
This week’s spotlight is on Nick Steverson, who has jumped in with both feet. This week, he releases his second novel in the Salvage Title universe, Action. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08R7T6DP5.
Today’s Weight: 348.6 (Not a typo)
Updated Word Count: I’ve decided I need to keep track of wiki entries better. My new backup process allows me to track how many words I use on the wiki, but that is someone misleading because that includes a variety of things like “BOX(width=”250px” align=”left” float=”right” bg=”#1f2e52″ style=padding: 10px” which shouldn’t really count.
However, given some of the feedback I’ve gotten, the wiki *is* contributing to Shijuren’s readership so it should count for something, especially since part of the reason I keep these word counts is to reward myself when I do work. Hence, I’m going to start counting the Wiki word count at 1/4th. I did over 100k words, or a full novel of exposition that isn’t dragging down the stories.
Anyway, here’s the updated total: 293,605
Shijuren Wiki: 724 entries
Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.
Doug Dandridge is one of the great independent writers out there. He’s done really well in part because he puts out a ton of good material. My personal favor is his Exodus: Empires at War series, but he has over thirty published titles, including two other series, Refuge techno-fantasy and The Deep Dark Well trilogy. Now he’s started Kinship Wars, a traditionally published series. Let’s just say I’ve visited his Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Doug-Dandridge/e/B006S69CTU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1522973584&sr=1-2-ent a number of times to get his books.
And I’m not the only one. According to his bio, “(h)e has amassed over 5,000 reviews across his books on Amazon, with a 4.6 star average. 5,000 reviews! And about that same number on Goodreads. I am learning just how hard it is to get a single review out of readers, so that’s even more amazing to me than the hundreds of thousands of books he’s sold.
Clearly, he knows both how to write and how to market online, so I was excited when he agreed to answer my questions.
What is your quest? I like to craft technically sound science fiction (and fantasy as well) in an interesting and well thought out setting, with strong characters. Sometimes I actually succeed. I like the physics, chemistry, biology to stay as close to accurate as possible. Which doesn’t mean I don’t make up whimsical of utterly fantastic elements, but I see no need to step on real world principles when not necessary. My major influences include Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, David Weber, Robert E Howard, Jim Butcher, R A Salvatore and Larry Niven. I get a little bit from each one and possibly blend them together into something of my own. It seems to work, as I was able to not only quit my day job, but make a very good living at it.
What is your favorite color? Like Jim Butcher I start off with a map most of the time. I do a lot of research. Even in fantasy, I look up a lot of information, put a lot of it on paper. I world build to an extreme, probably more than I need to, but then, when I have a series, I just need to add onto the already detailed world. And I draw a lot of things out on graph paper, which allows even a poor artist like myself to visualize my settings. Spaceships, star systems, castles, even the look of dragons. All goes down on paper. And when I’m creating a star system I like to use programs to look over the configurations of planets and make sure it all works (wouldn’t do to have your inhabited planet go spiraling into the star). Probably more than I need to, but I read the horror stories of people finding fault with the science in other works. I even use Nukemap to make sure my things that go boom have an accurate damage radius.
What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush? I wrote a series called Refuge, which actually started off really well. Both of the first books sold over 5,000 copies. They mixed modern technology with magic, with people from Earth crossing over to another dimension against their will and having to fight wizards, dragons and things that go smack in the night. With tanks, attack helicopters and a couple of tactical nukes. Due to the physical and magical laws of the planet, the technology would only last for a short period of time, and the humans had to use it or lose it. So by book three they had lost it, and I had lost my readership. Turned out that the majority of people who bought the first two books loved the idea of technology versus magic, so book three sold just over two thousand copies, while four barely made it over a thousand. I’ve tried to salvage the series with book five, resorting to magic imbued steam tech. But I’m afraid once you lose readers you’ve lost them for good, at least for that series. The lesson? When something is working, don’t make radical changes.
What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? I am really proud of the Exodus: Empires at War series and the spinoff, Exodus: Machine War. This is the universe that turned me into an independent success. Of the 240,000 odd books I have sold, over 200,000 of them are in these series. They have been well received, and I have collected a lot of fans from all over the world from these books. I feel that I write battle scenes really well (see R A Salvatore and Jim Butcher above), and I’m also good at putting in technical details without overwhelming people with info dumps. The Exodus series is nearing its end, but I will start another side series, going back in time to the origins of my human Empire.
Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy.
Favorite Sports Team? Florida State University, because I went there and I live in Tallahassee. Any of the teams, not just football. I go to women’s soccer, both basketballs, softball, volleyball, even sometimes baseball.
Cake or Pie? Pie, because cake is too rich.
Lime or Lemon? Lime, because lemon is just too sour.
Favorite Chip Dip? Home-made French Onion dip. None of that weak store made stuff. The Lipton’s Onion Soup with sour cream.
Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? A German Jazz guitarist named Vogel Kreigel. He played in a little hotel in North Germany back in the late 1970s. One of the best jazz guitarists in the world at that time.
Whisky or Whiskey? I used to love Wild Turkey 101. Haven’t had a drink, for health reasons, in fourteen years.
Favorite Superhero? Spiderman. I’ve been a Spidey freak since I was five years old, and I bought the issue of Amazing Stories that featured the webhead.
Steak Temperature? Medium rare.
Favorite 1970s TV show? Man, go back to the sixties and I might have something. The seventies did nothing for me, and I spent half of them in the Army.
Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall, love the crispy temps. Best time for going to football and soccer.
Favorite Pet? (provide pictures if you want) I had a ginger cat years ago named Beau who was the smartest pet I have ever had (and I’ve had an Australian Shepard). He died way too young at age nine.
Best Game Ever? Video Game? Fallout New Vegas, with lots of mods. Best gaming world, best story, a lot of fun to play in VR.
Coffee or Tea? I’m a big coffee drinking. Buy the beans and grind them myself before brewing them.
Sci-Fi or Fantasy? I love them both. I would actually like to write more fantasy, but somehow I slid into the scifi niche, so there I am.
What question(s) would you like to ask me? How do you come up with these questions?
My Answer: I think the first time I asked questions like this happened because I got tired of internet question memes, so oddly that made me make my own. The ones out there were just bland and boring, and so I made a whimsical one to have fun with my friends.
I used the idea again when I got married to my second wife. We wanted to make it fun, so I asked a larger series of questions to everyone involved in the ceremony. Then, we had a friend who is great at such things introduce us all as if we were wrestlers coming into a WWE event or something like that. We had a fantastic wedding.
As everyone who answers the interview questions realizes, I want to get some idea of your methods. Hopefully, this will help me and my readers find things that might improve our writing and publishing skills. However, I didn’t want it to be bland and boring, hence the Monty Python way of asking the questions.
But I also wanted to give each of you a chance to be something more than a name on an e-book. For example, I think it’s awesome that I now know you’re a Florida State fan. Plus, given how much I like to host people, it’s always a good thing to know how to cook their steak should the opportunity arise.
Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? How did you ever decide to get into this crazy business?
I was out of work and pissed off at the employer that had just fired me, and decided to write a book exposing the corruption of mental health organizations. I sat down and wrote that book in two weeks, then started on an alternate history. When that was done, I went to work on a 260K word fantasy.
I wrote on an off for over a decade, collecting over three hundred rejection slips, but trying to do it the old way, through a publisher. Finally, in 2010, I was really sick of my job and wanted to become a full time writer. I wrote the equivalent of 7 novels that years, including the books that were turned into the first two volumes of Exodus: Empires at War and Refuge: The Arrival. I didn’t actually put anything online until December 31, 2011, and nothing much sold for the first eight months. I did a giveaway for a book called
The Deep Dark Well, and 4,100 went off the Amazon hard drive. When Exodus came out in November (I had put out Refuge first, thinking it would be the breakout novel), I started selling 100 books a day. In January of 2013 I sold 8,900 books and the sales continued into February with 5,400. I kept getting good sale the first couple days of March, and I turned in my two week notice and never looked back.
What’s Your Upcoming Event Schedule? I will also have books coming out later this year from Arc Manor Publishing (Kinship War) and Chris Kennedy Publishing (When Eagles Dare).
Doug’s Book Biography:
Doug Dandridge is the author of over thirty self-published books on Amazon, including the very successful, Exodus: Empires at War series, the Refuge techno-fantasy series, The Deep Dark Well Trilogy, as well as numerous standalone science fiction and fantasy novels. In a five year period as a self-published author, Doug has sold well over two hundred thousand eBooks, paperbacks and audio books. He has amassed over 5,000 reviews across his books on Amazon, with a 4.6 star average, and a similar number of ratings on Goodreads with a 4.12 star average. He has also written his first traditionally published novel, the first of a series, Kinship Wars. He served in the US Army as an infantryman, as well as several years in the Florida National Guard in the same MOS. Doug, who holds degrees from Florida State University and the University of Alabama, lives with his five cats in Tallahassee Florida. He is a sports enthusiast and a self-proclaimed amateur military historian.
Thanks to Doug for taking the time to answer my questions.
If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.
Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: https://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at email@example.com.
Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.
First, I’m an idiot. Dad was born in 1940, not 1941 as I typed in my earlier post. I’ve changed the title, but it’s one of those silly things where I typed it, stared at it because something seemed wrong, but could never figure out just what it was. Anyway, it’s now on Facebook and Twitter as both 1941 and 1940. 31 July 1940 is his correct birthdate. Sheesh. You’d think I’d know.
Anyway, I’m fascinated to read these two obituaries, one from Larksfield Place where he and mom have lived the past couple of years: http://kotn.org/John-Obit-Larksfield.pdf. It includes the official obituary in the newspaper. Hit me up sometime if you want to know the whole story just how Harry Bear’s logic class helped introduce mom and dad. At least the whole story as they have told me 🙂
The other was written by people at the Kansas State Library: http://kslib.info/Blog.aspx?IID=357#item. This one is especially interesting because it’s a view from people I don’t really know about my dad. Also, I knew my parents got various awards, but it was never something they talked about so I had no idea about these awards that are listed.
I knew about his precedent-shattering time working between Boeing and the State Library. Not only was he the first they extended for a second year, but clearly the first they extended for a third year. Not too shabby.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about my dad’s life is that not long after ending that collaboration between Boeing and the State Library, he suffered a stroke and lost much of his short-term memory. Basically, he never got to really appreciate his retirement. Never got to travel much more after that. Never got to try all the chicken fried steaks and coconut cream pies. Never got to finally rate restaurants by shirt stains.
He never stopped smiling, though, in part because his dad had been such a grump about losing some of his mental faculties, and in part because he was a good guy. Despite that, it was frustrating, because he’d ask the same question over and over because he could never remember the answer. Wasn’t his fault, but my mom had the patience of a saint to answer over and over.
And I never really got to argue with him after he retired. When I grew up, we’d argue over all sorts of things. In this case, argue like Monty Python’s Argument Clinic, where we’d have to defend a point, even if we didn’t really believe it.
It’s still a little surreal, in part because I’ve been out of the house for 30+ years. He’s not really been in my day-to-day life, so as I’m on this trip to ChattaCon and Birka, I hardly miss him as he wouldn’t have been involved anyway. However, as the times come where he would have been around, I suspect it’ll hit even harder. We’ll see.