Saturday, May 16, 2015


Of all the many methods of marketing my writing, one I haven't tried is podcasting... Until now.

Now, I've been on podcasts, chatting with some nice folks. But I've heard a lot of people remark that hosting a podcast was a way to get yourself out there. Normally, I'm contented to stay in--it's my books I want out there, not me. But after advertising around the internet, it dawned on me that if I hosted a podcast, I could give myself free advertising. Of course, I'd need to create a podcast people would listen to...

Enter my eldest daughter. At 15, Sam is a typical fangirl, interested in all things internetty. And she wanted to have her own podcast with her friends. When she couldn't recruit any to do that, it got me thinking...

Fast forward several months and this where we're at. A Father-daughter podcast: WEIRDOLOGY101.

Unlike a lot of authors, I won't be babbling on about my books, or writing, etc. etc.. Instead, I'm going back to the beginning: The weird.

There are so many websites today devoted to the strange and unusual. Fervant believers and skeptics verbally duke it out as they debate bigfoot, UFOS, ghosts and many more unusual, unproven subjects.  That's all fine and dandy if you're really into that stuff, but what about the casual reader? What about the person who watches an episode of Supernatural and wonders if the writers created the Wendigo, or if maybe there's some mythology involved.

That's where Sam and I come in. Every week, we're hoping to educate the average listener on the weird. We'll discuss a variety of subjects, maybe interview some folks, give brief news blurbs, and offer up our picks for the Fringe Fiction of the week.

In the meantime, the writing continues, and sponsors this little endeavor. Maybe folks will want to embark on a fictional journey on their ereaders, led by yours truly, or maybe they'll just be content listening to some free content on that daily commute. In either case, this is shaping up to be an interesting adventure and a fun, family project.

Check us out, won't you? Weirdology 101 launches Monday, May 18th, with Episode 1: Paranormal vs Supernatural.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Social Media Experiment

If you have luck like me, you've had to call in to a corporate "support" division and complain. You know, broken product, interrupted service, etc. etc.

In my many years, I have found that not only does this also lead to dangerous blood pressure levels, it seldom accomplishes anything. And if you weren't convinced the corporations don't give a shit, the fact many of them (AT&T, for example) have installed robot services. Apparently, it's become tooexpensive to emply semi-fluent Hindus to robotically answer complaint calls.

So here's my new experiment after blowing a half hour of my time. I'm going to prove social media shaming works for customer support. I mean, I know it works. I've used Facebook pages many times to get somewhere with uncaring corps.

See, when I call in and try and explain my plight to an uncaring Ghanesh worshipper, I get the run aroudn and no one but me and my cardiologist knows it. But when I owl at the moon online, say, Facebook, everyone knows it. And we can't have that. Oh, no, they have people who respond to these kind of public-image-damagign complaints. Often immediately.

I just need to convince the rest of my fellow interneters that THIS is the way to get customer support. Complain online and make a human take action. being put on idenfinite hold or talking to a robot service that mistakes the sound of creaking wood in the background as your answer just won't do.

Here's how the experiment will work.

Step 1, I post a pissed off comment on AT&T's Facebook page.

Seeing as how the people you talk to in person with Uverse are little asholes, and then when you call in, you get robotic, English-as-second-language liars, I'll try raising as much hell as possible here, until AT&T satisfactorily resolves my issue. What is my issue you ask? Well, at about 1:55 PM Eatserntoday, I noticed my Uverse service was out. I noticed this as I was trying to use the internet as I worked on my latest novel. It worked at about 1PM. Lo and behold, turns out that a Uverse installation tech, four foot tall, mustachioed "Justin" was next door installing new service. I walked over and interrupted his chit chat with the resident and informed him he killed my service. Oh, no, not he. Wise Napolean Bonaprick advised all he did was disconnect one wire, then reconnect a wire to give her service. (Her being my new neighbor he was tryign to flirt with). I told Justin that no, my service was down, wasn't down a half hour before, and he needed to walk over and fix it. Oh, no, he can't do that--not without a service ticket. I triedto see hisnametage but it had no name on it and Justin, if that's his real name gave me his name. Then as I told him I'd just call in, he short-manned and rattled off some number. Oh, he's so clever. 

AT&T, I want "JUSTIN" reprimanded. I dont' pay your ridiculously high prices so some little punk with an attitude, hopped up on viagra and hoping to renact the cable guy porno movie he watched last night can be a smart ass to try and impress some woman. I expect a "Sorry, about that. I'll check it out in just a few minutes, sir." 

I also don't expect tocall in to your robo call center, fight my way through to Ghanesh, then get "we'll write you up a ticket for that." 

Nor do I expect to be told that I can talk to a supervisor than get "forgotten" hold. 

I expect an apology. I expect a reprimand for "Justin". And I expect a free moivie or somethign for the hour I've wasted on this and the near-heart atack it's given me as my blood boils to Ultimate Fighting levels. 

You can expect to keep hearing from me until this is resolved. And your competitiors might expect a call a for new service.

Step 2, I await a satisfactory answer.

(Optional) Step 3, I begin posting daily, until that answer comes along. See, it costs money to respond, or erase posted complaints. Eventually, my squeaky wheel gets answered.

Step 4 (or is that 3) I post the results here, and come up with a clever trending tag, like #ForgetGhanesh or something.

We dont' have to play this game folks. There's a reason why was a site and why HP took legal action to get it pulled. Customer service is a fairy tale. Public Relations isn't. One makes money, one costs money. To get the service they charge us so much for, we just have to know which one to use.

Because the customer is always right.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Reader Interview: Reader-Teacher Carolyn

Reader interviews are where readers share how and what they read...

Bio: I am a retired American, living in eastern Romania. I moved here in 2009 to be with my spiritually adopted family and I volunteer teach Conversational American English to children and adults. I haed a grown son and 2 grandchildren in America. My educational background is math, science, and anthropology, and I have a Bachelor of Science degree and I did quite a bit of graduate work. I am passionate about the English language and do some scifi and fantasy writing. I have written professionally for website content, and I edit books for publication. My hobbies are Science Fiction anything of course, Mensa, computers, B-Movies (the stinkier the better), 1930s movies, cooking, hard rock music, and I was a trained cellist. I never stop reading and studying, and my current challenge is learning Romanian.

How often do you read? 

I have been reading science fiction steadily for at least 62 years, and I never stop reading – I have been accused of being a compulsive reader. I started with comics when I could only look at the pictures. I recall lying on my bed at age 5, wilting on a hot Houston summer afternoon, devouring Uncle Scrooge, Superman, Plastic Man, Katie Keen, The Flash. I remember vividly my first adult level scifi, checked out of the library when I was 11 years old – “The Wheels of If” by L. Sprague de Camp. I didn't understand a bit of it, but it cracked my mind open to a whole new world, and I was hooked. 

How fast do you read? 

I am a speed reader. I usually have several books going at the same time. I can complete a fairly good-sized novel in a day.

Favorite authors? 

Number one forever is Ray Bradbury, whom I was blessed to meet, and I took that opportunity to tell him how he formed and changed my life. He was genuinely humble and gracious and we had a delightful conversation, which is a very precious memory. All the authors from the Golden Age of scifi are special loves: Asimov, Larry Niven, Michael Moorcock, Robert Sliverberg, Phillip Jose Farmer, Frederick Pohl, Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Clifford Simak, Harlan Ellison...I could go on extensively. Robert Forward and Greg Bear are favorite newer authors, for their pure hard scifi. 

What are your preferred genres to read for fun? 

I read about 90% science fiction and of that I prefer true hard scifi. I do read some fantasy around vampires. I love huge stories with the Universe as the setting.

What genres will you NOT read, or dislike reading? 

I just don't read non scifi: murder mysteries, political intrigue, politics, court drama, thieves, romance, “literature,” or anything depicting torture and real-life violence.  I was cured of what is termed “literature” in public school by being force fed Dickens, Dostoevsky, Faulkner. Hemingway, you know them...they may be the greats, but they are to me, dull and ponderous. I tried recently to take up Dickens again...all “grown up” as I am now, and I was not able to get past the first chapter of “A Tale of Two Cities.“

What influences your choice of book to read for fun?

Author and the hard scifi genre are where I go first. I will always read a favorite author, and I enjoy re-reading the classics, but I eagerly search for new authors. With Amazon's “Look Inside,” you can get a taste of new writers. I love paperbacks the best, but here in Romania, English language scifi has to be ordered and costs a premium. So I love my Kindle! But I always treasure a big, fat paperback because I know I will have a long time of reading adventure ahead, can scribble in it, and dogear the pages.  I listen to classic scifi audio at Loyal Books on my PC when I am working. 

What's the best book you've ever read?

That's a tough one, because several come to mind. But if I were forced to choose one,  I would say “The Wheels Of If,” not because it's “best,” which is really impossible to judge given the wealth of great novels, but because of the impact it had on the path I chose. 

What's the worst book you've ever read?

“Pet Cemetery” Apologies to Stephen King fans! I admire and bow to his talent and prolific production. But for me, he too often abused his characters, too disturbing after I had come to love them. Children and dogs are sacred and I couldn't abide what happened to those characters

What elements make a good story? 

Big settings populated with credible, rich characters, who have realistic, believable interactions and responses to each other and to events, all set against the huge backdrop of science fiction. 

What makes you roll your eyes or groan in a story? 

Unrealistic characterization, gore, and gratuitous sex.

Ever watch movies based on books, or read a book because it's already been made into a movie? 

Yes, I will always give a movie a chance, based on a book I enjoyed, and vice versa. A great example is the novel “Alien,” written after the movie came out, by Allen Dean Foster.

Where do you like to read the most? 

Curled up on the sofa, or late at night, snug in bed. 

If you'd like to share your reading preferences, email them to Troglodad AT gmail DOT com.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Self-Publishing 101: Fame, Fortune or Art?

Disclaimer: I am not a self-publishing expert, but I have been self-publishing since 2012, with over a dozen novels and short stories available in print, digital and audio formats. Self-publishing 101 is my effort to pass along what I've learned for anyone just starting out or considering self-publishing. Questions are welcome, in the comments below or at Trolodad AT Gmail dot com.

Before you embark on the epic journey of putting your work out there on the market, you really need to think about one thing: why?

Why do you want to self-publish? I don't mean why as in "because no publisher would touch it". I mean, what's your ultimate goal? To see your work in print? To have others see it? To become famous? To become rich?

If you just want to see your work in print, try vanity publishing. There are a variety of printers available online that will make you a copy of your work. Vanity publishers will offer you all sorts of services and charge you an arm and a leg. Printers like Snapfish or even Walmart offer simple print runs, without ridiculous add on fees.

If you want people to just see what you've written, save the trees and blog. The internet is the world's #1 source of information sharing. Nothing compares. It's what the damned thing was made for. Wordpress, Blogger and countless others offer anyone with access to computer and an internet connection. 

If you want to be rich... well, it can be done, but I'll talk more about that next time (It takes Money to Publish for Money). If you want to make a little money...

Here's the thing about self-publising: it's a business. Hard work might make you some money, the same as any entrepeneurial adbenture. Or it might fail miserably. 

Imagine you wanted to open a restaurant. Many factors determine whether you'll suceed. Doubtless you've seen many restaurants come and go in your hometown. They don't all make it. Self-publishing is the same, but that doesn't mean you sholdn't try it.

Yes, there's a lot of hard work involved, but you have no idea if you're going to be good or bad at it. If you want to, you should at least try. Thousands of other authors are. has nearly four million works for sale now. Statistics from last year say something like 34% of them are by independant, self-publishers. Some of them are best sellers, some are unheard of, but they all tried, and doing your best is the most important thing in any endeavor.

Next up... It takes Money to Publish for money?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Reader Interview: Rocking Reader/Podcaster Simon

Reader Profiles are where regular folks share their reading habits...

Today's guest reader is Simon Whistler, of the Rocking Self Publishing podcast. Simon also narrates audio books, putting his smooth British voice to work to entertain, inform and earn some cash.

How often do you read? How fast do you read?

Everyday, both fiction and non-fiction. I read fiction right before going to bed, usually falling asleep while reading! Despite reading every day it takes me a while to get through a book as I usually only make it through a few pages each evening. If I am travelling then that consumption goes up as I will read fiction to pass the time on long journeys.

As for non-fiction, I listen to audiobooks when they are available. As I listen to these whenever I get a moment (during lunch, while running etc), I find that I get through them much quicker. Usually at least two non-fiction books a month, and that doesn't include shorter books that I will pick up to learn about a specific subject.

Favorite authors?

Currently working my way through all of Mark Dawson's series (he's prolific, so that's quite a lot of reading) and enjoying them immensely.

For non-fiction, I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell particularly.

What are your preferred genres to read for fun? What genres will you NOT read, or dislike reading?

Science fiction is my go to, although I need to take regular breaks from the genre. I've come across books I haven't got along with, but I haven't yet written off an entire genre :).

What influences your choice of book to read for fun?

I'd prefer a series over an epic tome (although I loved King's 11/22/63 - that book, even at 600 some pages, was not long enough). In terms of format, I'm a Kindle person, I read in bed, so no longer do I have to hold up the heavy side of the book every other page ;).

What's the best book you've ever read?

The first thing that comes to mind is 11/22/63, probably because it just came up, but when I think about it, certainly one of my favourite books in recent times. I also stumbled across a book called The Unincorporated Man a couple of years back (don't remember how), which has stuck in my mind for years (usually the sign of something good).

What's the worst book you've ever read?

I don't remember the worst one, I'm sure it was fast forgotten. I didn't enjoy some of the literature that I was forced to go through and pick apart in secondary (high) school. Ethan Frome was not written for a 14 year old boy to enjoy.

What elements make a good story?

I like a well constructed world. Whether that is an entirely made up one, or good research into a real locale.

What makes you roll your eyes or groan in a story?

"Why would they do that? That's not in character!"

Ever watch movies based on books, or read a book because it's already been made into a movie?

Sure, I'm a big movie fan, so I've read a bunch of books based on movies. The usual suspects I'm sure.

Where do you like to read the most?

"Reading" audiobooks while running.

If you'd like to share your reading preferences, respond below or send an email to Troglodad AT gmail DOT com.  As the volunteers are running thin, our next reader will be monday, February 16th...

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Self Publishing 101

Disclaimer: I am not a self-publishing expert, but I have been self-publishing since 2012, with over a dozen novels and short stories available in print, digital and audio formats. Self-publishing 101 is my effort to pass along what I've learned for anyone just starting out or considering self-publishing. Questions are welcome, in the comments below or at Trolodad AT Gmail dot com.

Any discussion of self-publishing should start with a definition of what it is. The problem though, is that many people have different ideas and definitions. So the easiest thing to do is to say what self-publishing isn't. And to do that, you have to first look at traditional publishing—that is, the more common, familiar form of publishing.

For the past hundred years, printing books, publishing, has been done by companies and corporations. They didn't do this to spread knowledge like in the arly days of the printing press, but to make money.

That's right, publishing is all about the buck. Or pound, euro, etc.

Books are a product, to be bought by a consumer. Getting a book into a store is an expensive endeavor, employing many people. It costs money, so money is expected back in return.

In the old days, the days before self-publishing, if you wanted to see your work in print you had to go through the gauntlet of traditional publishing... or pay hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to a vanity publisher who would make a run of books for you to do with as you chose—beit selling them at fleamarkets or stacking them up in your garage or basement.

With your finished manuscript in hand, the first step (if you chose not to vanity) was often to send a copy to an agent, hoping they would take it to a publisher they knew. Some publishers might allow you to bypass an agent and submit direct. In either case, your manuscript often ended up in a slushpile, resting atop, under or aside dozens, maybe hundreds of others. It was a literary lottery, where winning meant getting it read by someone who thought it could be sold.

Once you got on the track to being published (printed at someone else's expense), there came contracts, editors, proofers, cover designers, agents and much more. Traditional publishing is a village, raising your young novel from obscurity to a spot on a store shelf. Few made the cut. 

There's no slush pile with self-publishing. There's no company or agent. Just you, the author, putti  your work out there. Instead of a slim picking of agent- and editor-approved books, readers now have a choice of millions of works to choose from, often sold on virtual bookshelves online.

That's not to say self-publishing doesn't employ people other than authors. There are editors in self-publishing, if you choose to use them. There are also book doctors, editors who considerably rewrite your manuscript, making it something worthwhile if you couldn't. There are cover designers, proofreaders, publicists... a whole cottage industry supporting authors as they publish on their own.

In a nutshell, self-publishing is where one person takes on the role of a publishing conpany, hiring whoever they need to get their work out. This lets anyone be a self-publisher, but it also means the well-honed machine of publishing is bypassed. I like to think of this as the same difference between craftsman and mass production. 

Writing is just the tip of the iceberg in self-publishing. If you think it's hard, you might not want to take on all the other jobs involved in getting your work out there. Of course, finding a traditional publisher, be it a huge corporation or a mom and pop indie publisher, might be daunting. 
If you want to give it a try though, there's still a lot of work ahead of you.

Next time: Why Self-publish? Fame, fortune or art?

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Reader Interview: Reader-Dean Deckard

Reader Profiles is where I'll speak to people about their reading habits. Face it, most authors seem only interested in speaking about writing. That's leaving out a huge portion of the publishing industry...

Bio: "Married to the love of my life. Two cats and a dog. Nearing retirement. Currently an associate dean and department chair in a large academic medical center in the southeast. I enjoy reading and doing things with my wife. About 14 years ago my wife bought me a homebrew kit for my birthday and since then I have become an avid homebrewer. I really enjoy brewing my own beer and I am a member of the local homebrew club here in town."

How often do you read? How fast do you read?

I try to read at least an hour every day. Sometimes I don’t get that much time to read but most days I find the time.

I’m not a very fast reader---by choice. I could read faster and, depending on what I am reading, I can read faster than my “normal” reading pace. I find that when I read fast, I don’t enjoy it as much and reading becomes almost a chore.

Favorite authors?

Dickens, Mark Twain, Jack London, Steinbeck. Recent authors are C.J. Sansom, Paul Theroux and Ron Rash. Philip K. Dick took me a while to get into. Once I did, I quite enjoyed his bizarre writings and imagination.

What are your preferred genres to read for fun? What genres will you NOT read, or dislike reading?

Mysteries and thrillers mainly. Lately I have been reading lots of nonfiction, especially biographies.

What influences your choice of book to read for fun?

Primarily, eBooks but the occasional print when the eBook isn’t available.

Many times the choice depends on the mood I am in at the time I start a book. Currently, I am planning a trip to Belgium so I am reading All Quiet on the Western Front and a short book on the history of WW1 to help prepare for the trip.

Recommendations from friends and other readers I trust.

What's the best book you've ever read?

Call of the Wild. No, wait—A Tale of Two Cities. Maybe The Sand Pebbles. Definitely was East of Eden.

Just one!

What's the worst book you've ever read?

The Da Vinci Code. ‘Nuff said!

What elements make a good story?

For fiction, good, believable characters and plot development. If you can’t believe it, tough to get into. Of course, for some things, like fantasy, belief might have to be suspended.

What makes you roll your eyes or groan in a story?

Characters doing something totally out of character or unbelievable.

Ever watch movies based on books, or read a book because it's already been made into a movie?

I do watch movies based on books and, honestly, most of the time I am disappointed. I tend to enjoy the book more often than the movies.

I have a few times read the book after seeing a movie. The Godfather was one. And Jaws. Both these were when I was in high school and since then I have always read the book first.

Where do you like to read the most?

I have a small bedroom in my house that has been converted into my reading room. I have a radio/CD player, chair, gooseneck lamp, and two walls with built in bookshelves. It’s a place I can get away while my wife watches television.

If you'd like to share your reading preferences, email Troglodad AT Gmail DOT COM for a set of questions or make your own based on what you see above.