Celebration Week Marches On

Freebooks

Today (6/1) and tomorrow (6/1 + 1) will be the last days of the celebration week, celebrating this week by giving away free ebooks on Amazon. I had intended to have the Complete Saxton free, too, but due to some error or another on Amazon’s end, that will have to wait for another time.

Still, you’ve got some time to get the latest and greatest in the Henchmen series: Transmute for the cost of absolutely nothing. You don’t even have to leave a review (but it would be nice if you did).

All he wants is a dinner date with his girlfriend, but there are jerks everywhere.
As if Steven doesn’t already have enough problems dealing with the Dreaming Lands actively rebelling against his rule, the freshly minted God of Dreams has to learn how to be a god, deal with overzealous followers, and generally get his head in the game. To make things worse, a powerful enemy has set its sights on Steven and Jessica, and the entire world could be at stake.
New god. New powers. New problems. At least he’s still got friends.

transmutecomiccovercs2

Get your copy here

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Celebration Week

It’s gonna be a free week to celebrate, uh, this week. 5/28 & 5/29: Henchmen will be 100% free. Arise will be free 5/30 & 5/31. Transmute will be free 6/1 & 6/2. As an added bonus, from 5/29 to 6/2, the Complete Saxton will be 100%free. Quantities are limited so get ’em while they’re hot. Click the links on the sidebar and get ready to dance with your wild side, or you can grab Henchmen right here.

Join a small organization of lovable bad guys: a super villain and her henchmen. Eve, the seven-foot-tall, bulletproof blonde is their leader. Frank and Jean are a couple that can get into any computer or building unseen. Jacob is a rough-around-the-edges biker type that has a deep and abiding love of guns and explosives. And Steven? Well, he’s really good at manipulating people and pretty handy to have around in a fight. As supervillainy goes, they’re just starting out. They don’t have much of a secret base. They don’t have matching uniforms. Not a one of them owns a single pair of tights.

A chance encounter at a sushi bar has led them to a young woman with a terrifying secret she doesn’t even know she possesses. The Yakuza wants to use her to put pressure on a missing father. No one’s entirely certain exactly what the secret is, but it smells like a weapon and it might be just the sort of thing to help topple a nation.

They’re done pulling small jobs. Now they’re aiming for the top – because why bother robbing jewelry stores when you can topple governments?
Yakuza gang fights.
Incursions into high-security, top-secret government buildings.
Picking fake fights with losers in bars.
A psycho ex-coworker who has some strange friends.
And a well-dressed older gentleman who haunts dreams.
It’s all in a day’s work for Steven…one of the world’s most dedicated and dangerous…
HENCHMEN

Pleased To Announce…

If you’ve been waiting for the chance to get a good look at Wilford Saxton on his own, the Complete Saxton is now available. The stories have been available for a while, but I know some folk prefer to read a series once it’s complete. Think of it as binge reading rather than binge watching.

The Saxton spin-offs filled a void between the events of Arise and Transmute, and covered the adventures of the on-again-off-again antagonist of the Henchmen series. Simply put, he became too interesting to let go of.

This short series compiles the four complete Saxton stand-alone novellas into one epic collection that reads like a shot of whisky and a punch in the gut. At the end of Arise we find Wilford running from Eve after she threatens to pull his spine out through his nose. He’s been shot with a serum made by neo-Nazis that makes him nearly invulnerable to everything and is packing a weapon stolen from one of the otherworldly minions of Fear.

How he goes from wanting to hunt down and kill every monster to focusing on going after The Brotherhood of the Sane takes him down dark paths where bogeymen stalk him, a poof of smoke teaches a young woman to kill, werewolves stalk the Navajo reservation, and he promises a favor to the spirit of the land. In the end, he comes face-to-face with his own monstrosities and learns to accept who he is.

This collection contains the following novelette and three novellas:

  • The Hunt
  • Uneasy Allies
  • Yee Naaldlooshii
  • The Brotherhood

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A unique blend of horror and adventure, the Saxton series follows the adventures of Wilford Saxton and his talking gun. He started out as a simple DHS agent, but found himself caught up in the events of the Henchmen series. After confronting gods, Nazis, and Valkyries, Saxton finds himself mutated beyond belief. Struggling to understand a world that’s not as simple as he expected, Saxton soon finds himself hunting monsters and wondering what he’s gotten himself into.
As if the monsters weren’t enough, Saxton has attracted the attention of the people that made him like he is and they’re willing to kill his only friends if he doesn’t accede to their demands.
This collection includes The Hunt, Uneasy Allies, Yee Naaldlooshii, and The Brotherhood. If you’ve ever wondered what Wilford Saxton was up to between the events of Arise and Transmute, here’s your chance to experience adventure with a new kind of hero.

Get your copy on Amazon or read it on Kindle Unlimited

Book Release: Transmute

I started Transmute a little over a year ago. It’s been a long ride to get it to the final point, but I’m pleased to announce it’s now available. If you’re looking for an amazing ride, this is your book. It’s got a new god trying to come to grips with his role, an engine who can make dreams real, a Valkyrie, and some seriously bad guys gunning for them.

It also has the best food you can find in a bowling alley anywhere.

All he wants is a dinner date with his girlfriend, but there are jerks everywhere.
As if Steven doesn’t already have enough problems dealing with the Dreaming Lands actively rebelling against his rule, the freshly minted God of Dreams has to learn how to be a god, deal with overzealous followers, and generally get his head in the game. To make things worse, a powerful enemy has set its sights on Steven and Jessica, and the entire world could be at stake.
New god. New powers. New problems. At least he’s still got friends.

 Get your copy on Amazon now

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The Blurbery Revisited – Writing A Book Blurb

Show me an author that claims to enjoy writing book blurbs and I’ll show you a liar. There’s a fundamental difference between writing a book with 70k+ words and writing a blurb that needs to clock in at a few hundred. And you know what makes things even worse? You’re not even supposed to use “In a world…” to start off the blurb? How are you supposed to hook a reader without using “In a world…”?

Madness, I tells ya. Madness.

It's a Beautiful Day Now Watch Some Jerk Mess it  up Patch | Embroidered Patches

There’s always some jerk messing things up.

I’ve written a couple posts on writing blurbs in the past, but now I’m staring down the barrel of needing to write one for Transmute and decided it’s probably time to give my skills a little brush up. Just like in Kenpo where we regularly practice punching and kicking, it never hurts to shore up the basic skills of writing.

The first thing to think about is what a blurb is supposed to do. In its simplest form, a blurb is the second mechanism for getting a reader’s attention. The first mechanism is the cover. If your cover blows, no one will even take a look at the blurb. The third thing potential readers will look at is the preview – although this is optional. Of course, the final bit of attracting a reader is those precious first few lines of the book that set up the story.

I’ll hit on covers in another post and it’s really up to the author to make the book good and hook the reader with the first lines. Since I’ve got Transmute’s cover done and the first chapter kicks all kinds of mad ass, I’m going to focus on the blurb.

Transmute cover ©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover
©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

To start off, a few rules for writing your blurb, taken from various places on the Interwebs (see the notes at the bottom if you want to read the original posts).

  • Use a formula
  • Figure out how best to link to your genre
  • Show the conflict
  • Pick the best kinds of words to use. (I have the best words, trust me)
  • Use hyperbole

Things to not use

Most of the don’ts are pretty obvious and easy to follow pointers. The dos, likewise, are fairly straightforward. One thing to note is the word choice by genre. A romance blurb isn’t going to hook many readers if it emphasizes the action in the story. Unless it’s that kind of action. You know what I’m talking about. Likewise, a blurb for an action/adventure story probably won’t focus on the interpersonal relationships between the main characters. The choice of word use can have a huge impact on that. Action words like explosive, rapid, terrifying, exhilirating don’t look as good on romance blurbs unless you’re using a phrase like “She experienced rapid-fire, explosive orgasms.” And even that doesn’t sound too good. Choose words that fit the story and the genre. A book about The Cure, for instance, could use words like morose, ennui, and soul-crushing.

That leaves us with implementing a formula and using it as well as possible.

Start it all out by looking at the book and applying it to the formula. Formulaic writing is bad. Formulaic blurbs are good. A reader expects a certain amount of information in the blurb and if they don’t get it your book gets ignored.

stoppedreading

What a bad blurb might look like.

A book blurb should consist of four things: a setting, a problem, a twist, and something that establishes the mood. Depending on the book, the setting might be a single place or a multitude of places, but it should refer to the place that the action starts. For instance, in Transmute, Steven suddenly finds himself in the middle of nowhere overlooking a small farm where every animal has been slaughtered and a woman is buried up to her neck in the sand.

The problem is the component that shifts the narrative from normal into the events of the story. It’s the part that kick starts the story and it doesn’t have to be complex. In the setting sentence above, the problem is hinted at; namely Steven suddenly finds himself somewhere else. It’s a bit worse for poor Steven, though. He’s a god now, and gods aren’t supposed to have to do anything they don’t want to do, but the rules of the universe seem stacked against him.

To make matters worse, as he tries to figure out how he got transported and why, an old enemy makes a fresh appearance. The twist isn’t so much how he got transported, but why and to what end. That’s the meat of the story.

The final thing to consider in writing a blurb is to give the reader a sense of the mood of the story. Does it have action and adventure? Is it a romance? Are there Nazis and giant snakes? Is it funny or deadly serious?

Transmute follows on to Henchmen and Arise, both of which have plenty of jaw-dropping action and witty dialogue, and is written in the same style. Most books have good guys and bad guys, but Henchmen started out with the bad guys and Arise added the worse guys. Transmute gives the bad guys a worse enemy than they imagined and sets up for the final exciting book in the series.

That’s the formula and a basic summation of the plot to Transmute. The rest of the do list needs to be kept firmly in mind while writing the blurb and the don’t definitely need to be avoided. So, here’s a first crack:

Steven and Jessica find themselves outside small farm in the middle of nowhere. One moment they were sharing dinner, the next they’re surrounded by dead animals and staring at a woman buried up to her neck in the sand. Steven’s a god now and gods aren’t supposed to get teleported all over creation against their will, let alone get called out to save damsels in distress.

As if he doesn’t already have enough problems dealing with the Dreaming Lands actively rebelling against his rule, now the freshly minted God of Dreams has to learn how to be a god, deal with overzealous followers, and generally get his head in the game. To make things worse, a powerful enemy has set its sights on Steven and Jessica and the entire world could be at stake.

An epic tale full of jaw-dropping action, powerful magic, and a cast of memorable misfits, Transmute will take you from New Mexico to the Dreaming Lands and back again. With a quick stop in the best bowling alley eatery in the world.

New god. New powers. New problems.

At least he’s still got friends.

What do you think?

Links for further reading

So Close I Can Almost Touch It

The first cut of Transmute – the 3rd book in the Henchmen series – is almost done. I guess I’m kind of unique in that my revisions and edits usually add more text, most people remove words when they edit. I add them. This is probably because I have this nasty habit of writing all over the place. I get bored with one section and move to another one, then I find the stuff I did in the new section needs some more explanation in earlier sections. So, it’s sitting at about 70k and will likely tip the scales at 80k before it’s finally done.

Coming to the end of a book is never exactly easy. When I finished Henchmen, I kind of wandered around for a while wondering what to do with myself and where my adventurous friends got off to. Turns out they were still there, lurking in my subconscious like a bunch of muggers.

To tell the truth, I didn’t exactly have any further plans for Eve and the gang when I was done with Henchmen. Spoiler alert: they won. Of course, I couldn’t let that go and knew there had to be something else going on. That something else turned into Arise and it was in Arise that I finally introduced the main enemy of the series. Transmute leaves the gang in a bad space and the final book will ultimately end the saga. I still haven’t decided how it will end, but the pieces are finally in place for that last book to go a bunch of different directions.

There will also be one last Saxton story before Transmute hits. The Saxton stories give us a look at the bad guy of Henchmen and Arise and how he comes to grips with the world. They also add hints about the main antagonist of Transmute and whatever follows it, so if you haven’t read them, give ’em a shot. At the very least a lot of stuff gets blowed up real good and there are a couple awesome car chases.

All that said, I’ve never been big on cover reveals, so here’s the tentative cover for Transmute. If that image of Eve looking like a bad ass doesn’t get you interested, you might want to check your pulse and make sure you’re still alive.

Transmute cover ©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover
©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

But wait! There’s more! Here’s a couple other ideas I’d been experimenting with, but ultimately discarded.

Transmute cover ©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover
©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover ©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Transmute cover
©2016, Eric Lahti. Illustration by sababa66

Drop me a line, let me know what you think.

Kindle Unlimited and Serials – An Experiment In Exposure

Ask a handful of authors what they think of Kindle Unlimited and you’ll get a handful of different answers. Some love it, some hate it, most seem somewhat ambivalent about. We’ll never admit that, though .We’re writers, we’re supposed to be cantankerous.

So, for those who are uncertain what Kindle Unlimited is and why it’s important think of KU (as the cool kids call it) as a kind of Spotify for ebooks. Pay a small fee each month and you can read all the books you want. You can only have ten or so on your device at a time, but once you’re done you can get more. If you’re really into reading KU is a great thing. I’m a really slow reader so it makes more sense for me to buy a couple books a month and call it good.

Authors get paid for the people who read their works through KU, but it’s not as much as if someone bought a full copy. The Clock Man, for instance, is $2.99. For each sale I get 70% of the total cost which comes out to about $2.09 per sale. For each page read under KU I get about half a cent, or about $1.59-ish for the 318 page Clock Man. A little less, but at least people are reading it, so it’s all good. Henchmen and Arise, which clock in at 200-ish pages and about 270-ish pages respectively, pay less for a full read. Again, all good, people are reading and that’s a good thing.

A couple years ago I wrote a post about digital printing and binding – the kind of stuff Create Space uses to put together a book. It’s pretty revolutionary technology, easily on par with the movable type printing press. KU isn’t a new tech per-se, but it is a new distribution method. And I am going to try to take advantage of it.

In a recent book review I discussed Felipe Adan’s Lerma’s idea for a serial novel. It’s a good idea. It used to be short stories and the like were the exclusive purview of anthologies and literary magazines. KU is a game-changer, though, and new games require new exploits. Now it’s possible to put together a novelette-length story of around 15k-20k words, enough to tell a full story without delving into short-story territory but still staying away from full-length novel territory.

I’m picturing a kind of Television show level story, where each story is a complete unit, but each unit builds on the total story arc. Something that would be ideal for KU subscribers because it would be easy enough to produce a monthly installment and the shorter time to read would allow readers to cover more stories per month. It wouldn’t pay much, but it might be good exposure and it’s certainly a good writing exercise.

Now this plays right into the Henchmen universe because of everyone’s favorite go-to guy. No, not Steven. Wilford Saxton has a story that’s separate from the main Henchmen story arc but will still intersect at a later point. In the interim, he’s out building a small army and hunting monsters. I’m still working out the long-term story arc and figuring out the first tale which will take place immediately after the events of The Hunt (one of the stories in The Clock Man).

So, without further ado, let me warn you that a new hunter is coming and all the monsters of the world had best tremble.

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BTW, I will never advertise this as Free on Kindle Unlimited. Nothing on KU is really free; the readers pay for it. But I am hoping to leverage KU to achieve my goals of world domination. By which I mean, selling more books. Saxton’s adventures will also be available for purchase at $0.99 and I might even compile them all into a “box set” at some point.

Expect the first one in about a month.