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Other formats: Vlad, Merlinsky & Virgins.
Amazon Best Sellers in Kindle Store (currently #1, #2 & #4): Top 100 Free Best Sellers in Performing Arts
A Christmas Miracle (minor, but WTH).
[Warning: humblebrag ahead] Amazon breaks down its Best Sellers rankings into many, many different categories. And those categories are broken down into many, many subcategories. And those subcategories are broken down into eBooks and Dead-Tree books, Paid and Free books, etc. When it comes right down to it, a good chunk of the authors with titles listed on Amazon have a decent shot at getting onto a Best Sellers list. But I'm still delighted that 3 of my free eBooks are currently #1, #2 and #6 on the following list. Merry Christmas!
You Shouldn't Have To Pay $0.99 For Sex.
Some of you may already know that I've been experimenting with publishing free eBooks. Smashwords was an excellent place to start, and they automatically distributed my eBooks to the Barnes & Noble (Nook) and Apple (iBook) stores, among several others. That was extremely helpful, because I wanted to reach as many readers as possible. However, Amazon (which controls approximately 74% of the eBook market) is really picky, so I had to create my own Kindle listings. And Amazon won't let you list your eBook for free ($0.99 minimum), unless you enroll in their KDP Select program:
which pays some money to a few hundred of their top authors, while the millions of other eBook authors earn nothing. Nada. Bupkes.
However, your eBook is not really free to potential readers, unless they subscribe to the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program:
for $9.99 a month. As you can see, this is an amazing deal - for Amazon. They pay out some of their profits to a minuscule percentage of their elite "KDP Select" authors, and let the rest of the unwashed author masses starve. Meanwhile Amazon collects... what?... millions of dollars in KU subscription fees?
I hated this idea. I wanted ALL my readers to have free access to my eBooks, and I finally found a way to get around Amazon's KDP-Select-KU scam:
When Smashwords finally gets my eBook listed at a price of $0.00 at 3 or 4 of the top eBook stores, I report the URLs to Amazon, and challenge them to match prices. They usually lower the price within a day or two - but only at the US Amazon store, not at the 12 other country-specific Amazon stores. Readers who shop at Amazon Japan or Amazon India, for example, have to pay the full 99 cents (or the equivalent in yen, or rupees).
My latest eBook was listed at Smashwords immediately:
, but it contains sexual situations and language, so the Smashwords team has to vet it, before they feel comfortable sending it out to other eBook stores. (BTW, the Smashwords site also offers Kindle, Nook and iBook versions of my eBooks.) So I decided to see if the Smashwords URL was enough to get Amazon to match prices, and received the following reply:
"From time to time, we may match prices elsewhere online, including free promotions. However, we retain discretion over our retail prices and cannot offer a price match in this case."
I thought the wording was pretty high-handed, considering that the AUTHOR sets the price of his/her eBook (as long as it's above the magic $0.99 figure).
So I guess we'll have to wait until the Smashwords team plows their way through my purple prose, and distributes the latest eBook to other stores, so I can club Amazon over the head with several $0.00 URLs. Meanwhile, please don't hesitate to pick up a FREE copy for your Kindle, Nook, iPad or iPhone at Smashwords!
12/24 Update: Amazon finally caved, although they seemed a bit grumpy about it: "While we retain discretion over our retail prices, I've passed your feedback on for consideration."
And yet another free eBook just released!
Download Eleven Thousand Virgins: Hildegard von Bingen's Last Chants for your Kindle, Nook, computer, tablet, phone, iBook, iPad, iPod, iWatch, microwave or toaster.
Did I mention that it's free?
Description: "Field of Dreams" with medieval chant music in place of baseball.
Synopsis: Alex Barnett has a comfortable life in Los Angeles and San Francisco; it's probably too comfortable, although he can't quite admit to himself that an extended separation from his wife Nicole eats at his soul. An unusual set of seemingly unrelated circumstances impels him to seek out a centuries-abandoned monastery in southwest Germany, where he confronts the animate image of Hildegard von Bingen, the legendary twelfth-century mystic, prophet, and composer of ravishing liturgical chants. Although his friend Lars believes it's a bona-fide vision, much like the visions that fueled Hildegard's own creativity, Alex cynically distrusts his deepest instincts and drives himself to search for a more acceptable answer. His quest guides him on the path toward self-awareness, through experiences both sacred and profane. One man's inner and outer pilgrimages take him to the depths of uncertainty, and, almost inexorably, to the peak of actualization.
Background: Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179 AD) composed many chants in honor of Saint Ursula (?-383 AD). According to legend, Ursula was a Romano-British princess who, at the request of her father, King Donaut of Dumnonia (SW England), set sail across the English Channel with 11,000 virginal handmaidens to join her future husband, the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica (Brittany). Before the princess could arrive, all the virgins were beheaded in a massacre, and Ursula was shot dead. Modern research suggests the phrase "XI. M. V." was misinterpreted as "eleven thousand (in Roman numerals) virgins" rather than "eleven martyred virgins."
Genre: Spiritual drama. Warning: sexual situations and language.
Semifinalist in: Writers Network competition.
Later: ISBN 9781522731795 or 1522731792. ASIN B019LWAW2I. EAN 2940152534696.
Star Wars Lasik.
Pic snapped by Doc Vader and his surgical team, in the middle of my double-eye Lasik procedure:
Re: Adding a Star Wars lightsaber to your Facebook profile (Time)
'Nother free eBook just released!
Download Merlinsky: The Sorcerer's Apprentice for your Kindle, Nook, computer, tablet, phone, iBook, iPad, iPod, iWatch, microwave or toaster.
Rated PG: suitable for kids, teens, young adults, midlife crisis adults, and senior coupon clippers.
Did I mention that it's free?
Description: Imagine the Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter and they go back to the future. Based on the Arthurian legend and the ancient folklore myth of the sorcerer's apprentice.
Synopsis: The endless hordes of Hollywood tourists in the late 1940's are easy marks for a con-man magician like Harry Merlinsky. He knows how to sucker the rubes and flash the ol' hamster-outta-the-fedora every now and then, to baffle 'em and dazzle 'em. But he didn't expect a naive fan like Jake, who wants to learn Harry's Old Knowledge - "real" magic. Harry's archenemy obliterates Jake's girlfriend, forcing Jake to become a wizard, just to stay alive. Will Jake use his newfound powers for vengeance? The timeless myth of the Sorcerer's Apprentice unfolds against the backdrop of the Magic Castle and the Hollywoodland sign.
Lineage: 12th-century folklore myths begat The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which begat a tone poem by composer Paul Dukás, which begat Disney's Fantasia, which inspired Merlinsky, a magical action-adventure. [Completed before the Nicolas Cage film was released.]
Quarterfinalist in these competitions: American Zoetrope, Writers Network.
December 18 Update - Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#14 Top 100 Free in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Arts & Photography > Performing Arts
#59 Top 100 Free in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Time Travel
Smashwords, Amazon (US/UK/DE/AT/FR/ES/IT/NL/JP/BR/CA/MX/AU/IN), Barnes & Noble, Apple. Kobo, Scribd, Inktera, OverDrive, Oyster, Goodreads reviews.
ISBN 9781522731801 or 1522731806. ASIN B019AWDV3Q. EAN 2940152520880.
"We have met the enemy and he is us."
In June of 2013, my wife and I moved into a house on Lago Del Sol (Lake Of The Sun):
Or so we thought. The signs around the lake led us to believe that was true. The lake to the east featured signs which labeled it Lago Pogo (Lake Of Pogo). But, after a couple of years, I began to look at Leisure World maps, which said that we lived on Lago Pogo, and the lake to the east was unnamed.
So I wrote to The Powers That Be. Just because that's the way I roll. I enjoy irritating authority figures.
It's in my blood. I'm a sh*t-stirrer, as was my father before me. My father's father was, too, and I'm sure the line of sh*t-stirrers extends way back into the mists of time. Generations of proud sh*t-stirrers, if you will.
In the best-case scenario, The Powers That Be might re-label the maps, and my wife and I could happily live our lives on the Lake Of The Sun, instead of Swamp-Rat Lake. But I figured that was a long shot, and TPTB would probably ignore me.
Boy, was I wrong.
[TPTB had to move 4 signs. And on their maps, the lake to the east is still unnamed.]