Thieves & Wizards now available!

Today is the day! My new high fantasy Thieves & Wizards is available from Amazon. It’s had a great two week run on pre-order, and it’s been fun watching it rise in the ranks.


Thieves and Wizards is Available for Pre-order!

I’m happy to announce that my new epic fantasy, Thieves and Wizards, is available for pre-order!

Forged from the ore of a fallen star, the Forlorn Dagger absorbs all magic. Ideal for assassinating wizards, it’s been missing for centuries until it shows up in the library of a mysterious collector. Now an exceptional thief has stolen it.

A young princess endures harsh training to become the ultimate weapon of war: a battlemaiden. And a crown prince snatched from a bloody palace coup is raised in secrecy while a wizard grooms him for the day he reclaims the throne. When a rogue wizard sends an army to recover the Forlorn Dagger, they unite in an attempt to thwart evil, defeat dark magic, and save the realm.

An epic fantasy, Thieves and Wizards is the first novel in The Forlorn Dagger series.

As a special bonus, you can download Thieves and Wizards today for a special pre-order price of 99 cents. After the book goes live on Amazon Tuesday, Sept. 27, the price will increase.


Hashtags for Authors


Collectively, hashtags make a classification system that group tweets together. Twitter users can click on a hashtag, or type it in the search box, and all tweets including the hashtag will show up.

Twitter accounts provide an easy way to connect with readers and other authors. So, how do hashtags work in the publishing world? We’ll look at some examples, and then I’ll offer a list of some hashtags that may be useful to authors.

Sometimes, especially during conferences, people will add the conference hashtag to their tweets. Others attending, or those who aren’t but want to keep up with what’s happening, can simply do a search on the conference hashtag and see all related tweets.

For instance, attendees to ThrillerFest, the annual conference of International Thriller Writers, may use the #thrillerfest hashtag. Since this year’s ThrillerFest was ThrillerFest XI, they may use #thrillerfestxi to discuss this year’s conference. Next year will be ThrillerFest XII, so they may use #thrillerfestxii next year, and so on (note capitalization doesn’t really matter on Twitter with hashtags).

Another use involves genre categorization, so those looking for titles in your genre can find related posts. Thus, authors may use #romance, #sciencefiction, etc.

Groups of authors may share a common hashtag. Rave Review Book Club members use the hashtag #RRBC. Authors published by Amazon’s digital imprint, Kindle Press, use the #kpauthors hashtag.

Through the use of third parties, Twitter accounts can be set up to automatically retweet messages with specific hashtags. Other times, some people voluntarily retweet items with certain hashtags. Thus we see hashtags like #IARTG (Indie Author Retweet Group) and #ASMSG (Author Social Media Support Group).

Are some hashtags better at reaching your intended audience than others? To help answer that question, you can look at sites like RiteTag which give real time stats on different hashtags and help you decide whether or not one is worth using in your tweet. For instance, RiteTag’s stats on #BYNR (Be Your Next Read) consistently show it’s a good one to have your tweet seen over time (as opposed to other hashtags which may be better for being seen immediately).

You can pay for a tweet to be promoted. I’ve recommended here that you do this at least once because when you are a paying customer, Twitter will let you see stats on every tweet you put out. That way you can see how many people clicked on a link you tweeted, how many people clicked on a hashtag in your post, etc.

You don’t necessarily have to have a huge following to make an impact on Twitter. It’s true that sending out a single tweet can be akin to spitting in the ocean, but there are ways to make your tweets stand out, and hashtags are one of those ways.

Don’t expect the world to beat a path to your book just because you’ve tweeted about it. But, do expect some people to browse the hashtags you include, and maybe see your tweet.

Below I’ve included a list of popular hashtags used by authors on Twitter. This is not an all inclusive list, but it does have many of my favorites. If you have one that’s not on here, feel free to email me.





#sf – science fiction
#sff – science fiction and fantasy


#CR4U – Clean Reads For You (G and PG books)
#SFRTG – Science Fiction Retweet Group
#IndieSFF – Indie Science Fiction & Fantasy
#SupportIA – Support Indie Authors
#IARTG – Indie Authors Retweet Group
#ASMSG – Author Social Media Support Group
#RRBC – Rave Reviews Book Club
#BYNR – Be Your Next Reed
#FARG – Fiction Authors Resource Group




Experiences with Kindle Scout: Perspectives from Several Authors


When I first investigated Kindle Scout, I wanted to read what others had experienced. I wanted to see what authors who had been through the process thought about it. The purpose of this article is to provide several links in one place for those who are likewise interested.

Teresa Roman has an excellent introductory article about what Kindle Scout is and how it works at Her book Back To Us was published by Kindle Press in summer 2015.

Lincoln Cole is the author of the Kindle Scout winning novel Raven’s Peak. He devotes a significant portion of his website to discussion of Kindle Scout, offering sections on how the system works, running a campaign, the ins and outs of Hot & Trending, etc.

Donna White Glaser, author of A Scrying Shame, has a very interesting discussion about Kindle Scout on the Self Publishing Roundtable Podcast.

New Zealand author Katherine Hayton has a Kindle Scout case study over on She discusses the success she experienced in publishing her fourth novel through Kindle Scout, The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton.

Some cautionary tales emerged after Kindle Scout debuted, mainly by people who did not go through the Kindle Scout process. Romance author Victoria Pinder shared her experiences with Scout after reading the cautionary tales and then basking in success when her novel Winter Peril was accepted.

Publishers Weekly had a nice little article on author T.L. Zalecki’s Scout experience. She details her promotional efforts during the scout campaign, and the resulting success with her novel Rising Tide.

James M. Jackson has written extensively about his Kindle Scout experience. On the WritersWhoKill blog, he discussed the inner workings of the Scout program and the campaign for his book Ant Farm as it occurred. On his own blog, he discusses the pros and cons of Scout for other authors, and details the financial aspects of Kindle Scout for Amazon and authors.

British author Lexi Revellian has blogged extensively about her Kindle Scout experiences from across the pond. In this article, she discusses earning out the advance for her book The Trouble with Time (Time Rats Book 1).

Another British author, Jacqueline Ward, wrote a series of weekly blog entries discussing steps she took during the nomination process to earn votes. This is her final entry. Her book Random Acts of Unkindness was selected for publication shortly after.

Another author who blogged extensively throughout the Kindle Scout process is Jim Nelson. You can find each article he wrote, newest first, here. His book Bridge Daughter came out summer, 2016.

R.J. Vickers posted quite a few articles about her experiences with Kindle Scout and her title Beauty’s Songbook on You can begin reading them here.

Alan Orloff wrote on the 7CriminalMinds blog about his experience with the manuscript for Running From the Past, a kidnapping suspense thriller published through Kindle Scout in early 2015.

Steve Vernon has been extraordinarily helpful to authors investigating Kindle Scout. He has put in considerable time helping others on the Kboard discussion topic, and has an excellent blog writeup of his personal experience and tips for others here. His book, Kelpie Dreams, was published through Scout in early summer 2016.

Courtney Hunt has a neat article detailing statistics from her Kindle Scout campaign. It gives an “Inside Baseball” look at the numbers. Her book, The Lost of Art of Second Chances was published by Kindle Press in November, 2015.

Jina Bacarr wrote about her experiences with Kindle Scout for the Orange County Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Part 5 is here, with links to the previous articles. Her time travel romance Love Me Forever debuted through the program summer, 2015.

Jada Ryker has a fascinating four part series on how she won her Kindle Press contract, starting here. Her mystery novel “with a chick lit twist,” Take the Body and Run was released by Kindle Press.

Jane Castel’s historical romance Dawn of Wolves was selected by Kindle Press for publication during a Scout campaign in summer, 2016. She describes the process surrounding her campaign. The book did not receive as many nominations as some others, but won a publishing contract anyway.

Jasmine Silvera writes how she had a most excellent manuscript, but did not know where to go with it. Submitting it to mainstream publishers would take years, and she had little to no experience with self publishing. Then along came Kindle Scout, a hybrid option. Her experiences leading to the choice to launch a Scout campaign are somewhat typical. Her book Death Dancer was recently accepted for publication by Kindle Press.

Finally lest we tilt completely toward Kindle Scout winners, here is an interesting article by Cindy Marsch on about how to run a Kindle Scout campaign. Her book Rosette: A Novel of Pioneer Michigan was not selected, but the experience proved useful and the book has sold well since its debut in January, 2016.

So, there you have a broad swath of first hand accounts about engaging in the Kindle Scout process. Early articles on Kindle Scout were often written by people who did not go through the program. Now there are multiple accounts by authors who did go through the program, and prospective authors have a much better set of experiences from which to draw their conclusions.

Update: R.J. Vickers has an excellent article entitled An Insider’s Guide to Kindle Scout on

Update: Read the new perspectives on Kindle Scout for 2018 here.

Thrilled to be listed with NewInBooks

I was thrilled, pun intended, to have The Empathic Detective listed with NewInBooks’ post The Best Summer Reads: Heart Stopping Thrillers by Sarah Pannenberg. Head over there to read up on five other thrillers, including the newest titles by Daniel Judson and Brad Thor.

Three Great Books for Aspiring Writers


In a literate society, most everybody can read and write. Inevitably, when word gets out that someone is an author, someone else will inquire about how to go about doing what an author does.

I have found three books that make for a great recommendation list for any aspiring author. Combined, these three will guide the would-be scribe all the way from idea to finished product to marketing on Amazon.

First, the aspiring writer should learn how to write. The classic for this pursuit is Stephen King’s On Writing. Part autobiography, part “how-to” manual, King walks the reader through everything a good writer needs to know. If a college kid asks about writing for a living, this is the first book I point them toward.

Next comes the question of publication. These days, a new writer can make far more money as an independent than trying to spend years finding an agent and getting a contract with a traditional New York publishing house.

But, being an indie author who actually makes some money beyond enough to buy a six pack of soda each month takes planning and work. Lots of work. The best “how-to” book I’ve come across for this line of work is Write. Publish. Repeat. The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success by Platt, Truant, and Wright. These guys run the Self Publishing Podcast, among other things, and the book is full of practical information for indie authors. (Find current episodes on iTunes.)

Finally, a great book to fine tune your product is Chris Fox’s Write to Market: Deliver a Book that Sells. If you enjoy writing, and you want people to pay you money for what you write, then you have to write to market. You should approach novels with a plan, and Fox details what is needed for success.

There’s tons of other books out there to help people learn to write, write better, and sell what they’ve written. But these three are the essentials, in my opinion, to do well as an independent author.

Kindle Press Authors benefits

I’ve been blessed to have The Empathic Detective selected as a Kindle Scout title and published through Amazon’s Kindle Press. But one of the other big blessings in belonging to the Kindle Scout family is the ongoing companionship with other KP authors.

We stay in touch via Facebook, including a public group here, and every Friday we tweet about our books on Twitter. (Look up the hashtag #kpauthors). Finally, we have an official website featuring our books and other materials here.

It’s encouraging to know each Kindle Scout book is carefully selected by the Kindle Press team for publication. Any KP title you purchase (or read through Kindle Unlimited) has been thoroughly vetted, and most tend to maintain high four or five star reader reviews on Amazon.

So download a Kindle Press book today, and don’t forget to nominate new titles over at Kindle Scout for the opportunity to receive free copies selected for publication.

Phasers in the Wild West

I still get hits to an article I wrote a while back, Lasers vs. Lead in Science Fiction: Pew-Pew or Pow-Pow?

In it I explored the use of gunpowder weapons in science fiction, notably in the movie Aliens but also on occasion even in places like the original Star Trek (where admittedly, they were described as antiques).

These thoughts were running through my head while writing the first Redwood book, which takes place on the second-farthest planet from Earth. At that distance, technology has to be super reliable, because fixing things that break becomes problematic. Consequently, a lot of the technology in that book is relatively simple.

I’m reminded of the whole discussion again thanks to my new work in progress, which is an alternative history where technology is about 200 years or so farther along than in our timeline, but most of the key events remain the same. The American Revolution was televised. Drones and AI played a role in the American Civil War, etc.

So yes, in this book, cowboys on the plains get to shoot “pew-pew” weapons at each other.

If you’d like a sneak peek at a rough draft of the first couple of chapters, jump on my mailing list and I’ll send it your way.


photo credit: DAKKAR via photopin (license)

Advertising for Indie Authors Part 4: Facebook

Facebook has been successful for me, and from what I have read many other authors enjoy the benefits of advertising there, too. It’s got at least two things going for it, in my opinion. First, it can be relatively cheap. You can set up a daily budget of $5 or $10, and get clicks to your books for a few cents each. Second, Facebook provides a wealth of options when setting up ads, offering to send them to users in very detailed demographics then showing the results from those demographics.

Besides running ads, Facebook also offers options to boost specific posts, making sure more people read it and achieve different objectives such as clicking on your book’s page or your webpage, gaining more “likes” for your Facebook page, etc. Here’s the list of ad campaign objectives available:

  • Boost your posts
  • Promote your Page
  • Send people to your website
  • Increase conversions on your website
  • Get installs of your app
  • Increase engagement in your app
  • Reach people near your business
  • Raise attendance at your event
  • Get people to claim your offer
  • Get video views
  • Collect leads for your business

All told, ads on Facebook are well worth looking into. There are several tutorials online that go into much better details about how to be effective with Facebook ads, and quite a few blog posts like this one that are worth your time.

One of the most well known set of tutorials is by Mark Dawson. At the very least, check out his free offerings.

The Empathic Detective is published!

It’s out! The Empathic Detective: A Mystery Thriller is up for sale on Amazon, at $2.99.

Click the cover!

Click the cover!