Monday, January 30, 2012

A Conversation with Benjamin X. Wretlind

Today I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite independent authors, Benjamin X. Wretlind. He writes in a style that could best be described as literary magic realism. One of the most impressive aspects of his writing is his ability to so casually--yet so completely--bring his characters to life. They live and breathe, the reader feels their joys and sorrows fully and profoundly. I had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with him. I hope you enjoy reading his answers as much as I did.

Why do you write?

I believe I write to get the seeds of ideas which populate my head out in the sun, to let them germinate, water them and see what grows. Sometimes what grows is a big bushy novel, full of berries and leaves and prickly sticks where insects can thrive. Other times, I find only a tiny blade of grass or a dandelion that needs just a little nudging to bloom. Basically, I write because I have seeds to sow.

How long have you been sowing your seeds?

The first story I remember writing--about a Banyan tree that didn't want to be axed to death--was in 2nd grade. (At least it's the first story my mother saved for me.) I've always considered myself a writer, learning as I go and determined to be the best. I didn't get really serious about it all until the mid-1990s, after I'd read a thousand books and decided I could be just like everyone else who wrote. At that time, I plotted my first novel and gave it a go. That novel is currently under the microscope, with rewrites and modifications galore to be done, but I hope to have it out later this year.

I'd like to read that banyan tree story! Let's talk a bit about your current project, Sketches from the Spanish Mustang. My impression of the work so far is that there is an almost Proustian focus on memory throughout the novellas. In The Rebirth of Veronica Draper there's that wonderful image of the train set capturing a specific moment in time that lived in Veronica's father's memory; in Cpl. Thomas Tweed's War, it is his inability to remember that is the focus of the story; in Mighty Chief Chappose Picks Berries there is this idea of ancestral memory that Dan must confront; in the latest novella in the series, The Five Fortunes of Fulano, his entire journey to Cripple Creek is dominated by his memories of his family and the encounter he had in the desert. In contrast to the focus on memory that your protagonists seem to possess, the other characters in the stories, those who can be seen as adversarial to the main characters, have present, immediate foci. Betty wants to only think about hitting it big on the slots or having another smoke; Tweed's family is concerned with where he is right now, not, like Thomas, how he got there; the young boy in Mighty Chief Chappose..., despite being a relic of the past, is very much concerned with what are, to him, immediate concerns; and the coyote definitely has a very immediate desire concerning Fulano. Was this an intentional theme for the series?

Actually, yes, which makes me think either you have scary mind-reading capabilities or I managed to instill the theme in such a way that it's obvious. My version of the theme--which I've always held in my personal life--is that there is a story to every person, but if we simply view them with our selfish eyes, we will only see what is present: the bum on the street corner, the addict in the alley, the alcoholic who just lost a job, etc. If we look at a person with the understanding that they are products of their history, then we will, in essence, see the soul. It's what the central artist will accomplish through her sketches once the whole novel is pieced together.

I feel that this laying bare of the soul that you talk about is one of the most important and profound aspects of literature. How much of you--how much of your soul--is present in your writing?

(Chuckles) Probably more than I anticipate when I sit down to write a story. In most literature, there's an infusion of the self, something subconscious that leaks out onto the page. Think of Stephen King's Misery or Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. Are they soulless creations, or is there so much more the story tells about the writer? The first novel I completed, A Difficult Mirror (which will be entirely rewritten this year), is one that uses the idea of memory as both antagonist and protagonist. Are those memories the characters face in their journey directly linked with my own or did I just make it up as I went along? I feel there is both; after all, the writer writes what he or she knows. The writer's soul is inevitably linked to the page.

You mention that the writer writes what he or she knows. This is, of course, one of the oft-repeated mantras in writing. As writers we do, of course, draw on our experiences to bring our characters and scenes to life. But there are some things one does not want to have to experience to be able to communicate them effectively: being an alcoholic, for example, or spending three days alone in the Sonoran Desert. The question is, how successful are you at using your imagination to describe these experiences? And, is there anything you've done just so you could use that experience in your writing?

Actually, I do a lot of research into characters, both written and personal. For Fulano, as an example, I drew a lot of the experiences from interviews conducted with migrants who have crossed the Mexican-American border. The "new shoes" section as well as the bandito attack are actually recreations of an actual migrant's experience. Thomas Tweed's traumatic brain injury is similar to several documented reports of patients at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. These things we never see unless we go beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone and actually look at what happens with naked eyes.

Besides written research, however, I do quite a bit of--for lack of a better term--personalization. For each story, I visit a section of Cripple Creek, take pictures, and pretend I am the character in that setting. It's been a different experience for me, and I think the time I've spent doing this is preparing me for more such "personal" research down the line. I will also be the first to admit that I've had experiences in my life that help define a character's motivation. Like Dan Chappose, I struggled with alcohol for a long time, and it's not something I find difficult to talk about. I was able to break free, however, and use my battle as a template for his own. I don't think we, as writers, should hold back on some of the things we've been through. It can be liberating, and if it helps someone else going through a similar situation, then our writing becomes more than simply words on a page.

You've mentioned elsewhere that you read quite a bit. How quickly do you go through an average-length book? Do you ever re-read books you enjoy?

I read approximately 50 to 60 books a year, but I wouldn't call myself a "fast" reader. On average, I will finish a 350-400 page book in about two weeks. If you do the math, though, that doesn't seem to add up. Actually, I took a hint from Stephen King who said he loves audio books (unabridged, of course). I have an hour and a half commute to that day job thing every day, so that's three hours on the road. Depending on the length of the book and the speed of the voice over artist, I can usually get through one book in about a week and a half or so. So I'm actually going through two books at a time normally. I have reread books, but they are usually those that have inspired me in the past. For example, I've read Michael Ende's The Neverending Story more times than I can count. Bradbury's Martian Chronicles is another along with Clive Barker's Imagica. These novels and more have been inspirational in my writing, and--especially with Bradbury--a reminder of how powerful words can be.

In closing, I'd like to revisit Sketches from the Spanish Mustang for a moment, because I have been quite moved and impressed by the project so far. I even wrote in a review that "Benjamin X. Wretlind is a unique American voice and--I do not exaggerate here--a Pulitzer-caliber writer who deserves more recognition." So, I am obviously biased when I say that everyone should go out and read these novellas but my question is this: you have chosen to release each chapter of Sketches... as an individual story before tying them all together with a story line about an artist sketching each of these characters. Why have you chosen to do that? Also, without revealing anything, are there elements in each story that inform each of the others that will only become apparent when they are all tied together? I thought I caught a glimpse of Betty sitting next to Fulano at a slot machine, but I could be wrong.

I chose to release each novella as it was written for two reasons. The first is apparent only to me: I'm not a fast writer, and with all the research and personalization I put into a novel, things tend to go slower than, say, Nora Roberts, Douglas Preston or even Stephen King. That's not saying they don't put their own research into a novel, just that I think I get wrapped up in my research quite a bit. I wanted to make sure something new came out periodically, while working on other projects. I guess it was my way of ensuring my work doesn't become "stale."

Second, the release of each novella as they are finished has proved very good at garnering feedback. That feedback I intend to use when I stitch it together into one novel. While I could wait for feedback (reviews) at the very end, it's nice to see the reaction for each element and not just as a whole.

You are correct in seeing Betty next to Fulano in one scene and there are other characters that make appearances in the background in other novellas. For example, Nathan James actually sees the Artist as she's drawing his picture. However, I have yet to reveal the single thread that binds each story, and to tell you the truth, it may not be very obvious until the entire novel is digested.

We've focused on your current project but you also have a novel out called Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors. Is there anything you'd like to say about it?

Castles is a view into the mind of a woman who, throughout her life, is abused in more ways than one. It's an emotional rollercoaster, told through the main character's voice, about what she sees, what she knows, and what she's been told. There is violence and there is love, and there is violent love. I like to think of Castles as a question: is madness really mad and is reality really real?

Castles is told in the voice of the main character, Maggie, and it's that voice that really allows the reader to question madness. I've told a few people that Castles wasn't written by me; it was dictated to me by a voice in my head. That voice, Maggie, wouldn't shut up for seven years--the length of time it took to write the novel.

The original short story was written in 2003 when I was part of a writing group. The subject was "weather" and, as a meteorologist at the time, I thought I had an edge. I picked dust storms and desert weather as the backdrop of the story because I grew up in Phoenix and love the weather during the monsoon season. However, when I got my comments back from the group, there was one which stuck in my head: "what you've written is the outline of a great novel." It took a few months for me to really start working on Castles, and then there was a long break (several years, actually), when Maggie wouldn't talk to me. It was almost as if she felt I wasn't ready to hear her story. When she did speak to me, I frantically wrote it all down and felt just as sick as most of my readers. I also felt I had to let the story loose, to let others hear what Maggie had to say.

Thank you so much for this interview! It's been a real pleasure. Are there any links you'd like to provide to your website or Amazon author page, or anything else you'd like to mention before we wrap things up?

I definitely encourage everyone to give any of the Sketches from the Spanish Mustang a chance. I think people will find the project very worth their time. All of them are available from my author page at Also, I'd like to say that Castles has been called many things, but not once has someone hated reading it. It disturbs people and it makes them think. It makes them question. It makes them wonder. Maggie's story wants to get out, and the more people read it, the closer I will get to owning a llama farm.

As a final plug, I do post a few thoughts every now and again on my blog: Not all of the thoughts have to do with llamas.

And as a final, FINAL note: I can always be visited on Facebook at There are no pictures of llamas on that site. There may be in the future, though. You can still "like" the page.

Even without pictures of llamas, I hope many of my blog readers do decide to check out your Facebook page and pick up a few of your eBooks. Thank you again, Benjamin!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Excerpt from Sullivan's War: Book I

Following is an excerpt from Sullivan's War: Book I - All Good Men Serve the Devil. This is the beginning of a trilogy that follows Rick Sullivan as he struggles to free his home planet from tyranny. If it piques your interest, more information, including quotes from 5-star reviews and links to the Amazon and Barnes & Noble stores, can be found here:

    The Cairo Bar wasn’t an establishment Zednik cared for but it was the go-to meeting place for Abilene’s criminal class.  The planet’s security forces stayed well clear and the bar’s owner, a man named North, had a brigade of bouncers who strictly enforced the neutrality of the bar.  All weapons were to be checked upon entering and any disagreements were to be taken outside.  It was said that the sidewalk in front of the Cairo was the bloodiest spot in all of Abilene.
     Zednik had changed into a dark grey suit with a blood red shirt and a red and a yellow tie.  A canary yellow silk handkerchief inhabited his breast pocket, arranged with practiced indifference.  Zednik stepped into the Cairo and made his way to the back room of the bar, past the bouncer, who held open the door.  He was let through unchallenged.  Everyone knew Zednik never carried a gun and even if he did, he was much too important a man to insult with a weapon scan.
     The back room was only for Abilene’s most powerful players.  Zednik crossed to the corner booth which was, by order of North, cleaned twice daily and reserved at all times for Zednik.  He brought so much business into the bar that North was happy to give Zednik this indulgence.
     The girl in the short skirt didn’t pass by Zednik’s table to offer him a drink.  Zednik never ate or drank outside of his own home.  After a moment he saw Younger enter the back room.  Zednik raised an arm and motioned him over.
     Younger sat.  He knew better than to try and shake Zednik’s hand.  “You have a job for me?”
     “Yes.”  Zednik took out a printout of a photo of Sullivan that he’d gotten off of the news wires.  “His name is Richard Sullivan.”
     “Right,” said Younger.  “He killed some assemblymen on Earth.”
     “That’s right.”
     “I heard about Wilson.  Was it him?”
     “And I heard something about a girl.  A particular blonde-haired girl.”
     “What you heard isn’t important, Younger.  But if, when you find Sullivan, he is accompanied by any young women, I would like you to bring them to me.”
     “I understand.  Of course, that will make this more complex than a simple lights out operation.  It’ll cost you.”
     “Whatever fee you think is fair, I will pay.”
     Younger looked at the photo.  “He’s military, isn’t he?”
     “Ex-military.  Edaline special forces, from what I was able to find out.  And there’s another complication.  The Bureau is here looking for him.  I need you to find him first.”
     Younger rapped his fingers against the table.  “It’ll be a hundred for this one.”
     Zednik smiled.  The girl was worth half a million to him.  He could afford to pay a hundred thousand for her return and the death of Sullivan.  “I agree to that price,” he said.  “You know how to get in touch with me.”
     “Yes,” said Younger.  He stood and turned to leave.
     “Oh, Mr. Younger,” said Zednik.  “Be careful with this one.”
     “I’m always careful, Mr. Zednik.”  Younger left the table, shoving the picture of Sullivan into his pocket as he went.

Read more in Sullivan's War: Book I - All Good Men Serve the Devil, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Morning in the Life of a Writer

...because writing out the full day would be too depressing!

7:00 - Alright, up early. I'm going to have a full morning of writing!
7:04 - Well, maybe just a few more minutes.
7:48 - Damn it!
8:30 - Showered, breakfast eaten, have my cup of tea at my elbow, time to get to business!
8:32 - Oh, look. Some emails. Some are Twitter updates. Better go "network" with those people.
8:36 - I wonder what Nathan Fillion is Tweeting about today.
8:40 - Alright, definitely need to get to writing!
8:41 - What's this? A story that I began a year and a half ago but then abandoned? I wonder if it's any good.
8:53 - I need to write an outline to develop this story into a novel!
9:12 - Ok, now that that's done, I can get to my work in progress. Just check Twitter once more before I do. And I suppose I should see how many books I sold overnight.
9:13 - Two sales! Alright! Now I'm pumped, time to get back to writing. Better re-read the last chapter or so, first.
9:19 - Ok, I'm up to speed. Let's see... Sullivan glanced to his right and... hey, did I clean my pipe after smoking it yesterday? Better do that. Well, as long as I'm at it I think I'll sweeten all my pipes. Better get some more tea, first.
10:01 - What's up on Twitter?
10:06 - Hmm... I really should do some laundry today.
10:12 - Can get some writing done while that load is in. Am I out of tea again?
10:17 - Sullivan glanced to his right and... wait, was the layout of this room with the door on the right or the left? Better go back to chapter seven where the first scene in the room takes place.
10: 34 - I'll bet that load of laundry is done.
10: 39 - Have I sold any more books today?
10:40 - Nope. What's up on Twitter? Hey, that looks like an interesting blog post.
10:46 - That totally gave me an idea for my own blog post!
11:28 - Blog post done. Now just to Tweet about it. Hmm... I'm getting kind of hungry. I wonder what's in the 'fridge.
12:00 - Alright, time to get back to this book! What a productive morning!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Story Behind Sullivan's War

UPDATE: Sullivan's War: Book II is now available!

On January 20, I released Sullivan's War: Book I - All Good Men Serve the Devil. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to give you the story behind the development of this series.

It all began with a single scene, all dialogue, between one Sergeant Leonard Riley and Colonel Geary. It wasn't really meant to be a story at all but rather a vignette. It was, I suppose, nothing more than a writing exercise. But at some point, around two years ago, I went back to that vignette, which I had entitled Sergeant Riley's Account, and added narrative to the dialogue. Now it was a character study. But there was still a story there that needed telling. What happens to Riley after his debriefing with Geary? What is the outcome of this lie that he's being asked to tell?

By the time it was finished, Segeant Riley's Account was a novelette and came in at around 10,000 words. It was the longest complete story that I had ever written. I felt pretty good about it and planned to submit it to some of the science fiction magazines. But then I went to see a movie. That movie was called Avatar. Alien planet? Check. Technologically primitive yet intelligent species? Check. Soldier who defies command to try and protect that species? Check.

I was upset. No, I was angry. I knew that I couldn’t submit this story for publication on the heels of the massive success of that movie. Never mind that the story and theme are completely different, but the idea, I felt, would be seen as too similar. Anyone who read it would think, I know where he got that. It would be rejected on the basis of that alone.

So it sat. It underwent revision. It sat some more. I wrote several other short stories that made the rounds of the scifi mags. But my work, for whatever reason, did not attract the attention of publishers. Was I simply a lousy writer? Was it just a result of circumstance? I wasn't sure. But I had received very encouraging responses from some editors so I decided that my work at least deserved a chance to be seen by the public. I decided to try my hand at self-publishing.

By this time, summer of 2011, I'd had a novel I’d been working on for a couple of years called Chrysopteron. I was--and still am--in love with that project and am intentionally taking my time with it. But I went back to Sergeant Riley’s Account and had another look. This Edaline rebellion still captured my interest. Maybe, for the first major work I would publish, I could write about that. I decided to publish a few short stories first so I could understand the process and those stories, one collection called Inner Lives and a stand-alone short called Sleep, were well-received and have earned all 4- and 5-star reviews. I decided that this self-publishing business was something that I'd like to have a serious go at.

By this time I had written several stories (most of them as of yet unpublished) that took place in a universe I called the Myriad Spheres Universe, hence the name of this blog. These stories take place about 500 years in the future and humanity has discovered hyperspace travel. Hyperspace, however, is not instantaneous. It can take anywhere from three weeks to over five months to travel from one planet to another. A governing body, called the Stellar Assembly, rules over many of these planets.

One of these Myriad Spheres stories was about a high-profile politician who is murdered on Earth. Somehow, that tied in to this idea of Edaline trying to get into the Stellar Assembly. Then I wrote about a bounty hunter after a wanted criminal. Was he the same man who had murdered the assemblyman? (Note: the bounty hunter story line will be introduced in Sullivan's War: Book II)

All these different stories began to weave themselves together and I began to see the tale they were all leading me to. I would not write a story about the Edaline rebellion, or even the events that take place around the time of the rebellion. The novel (now trilogy) would be set about 12 years after the rebellion and would be the story of a man from Edaline who is trying to prevent the planet from entering the Stellar Assembly and, further, wants to begin a new rebellion against that planet’s oppressive government.

I wrote an outline and looked at Sergeant Riley’s Account again. Could I incorporate this story into it, to somehow give my protagonist, now named Rick Sullivan, further motivation? No. Sergeant Riley’s… was too fully formed; it had its own story to tell and was too long to be an in-book prologue. But with this wonderful ebook platform there was no reason it could not be released on its own and still serve as a prologue.

Sergeant Riley's Account does not directly impact the Sullivan’s War trilogy but it will, I think, enrich a reader’s understanding of the universe in which Sullivan’s War takes place. The short story Sleep also takes place in this Myriad Spheres universe. I hope it is a world that readers find engaging, as I have a few other stories planned that also take place within it.

So, Sullivan's War will be my first major undertaking as a writer. I hope you all decide to follow along with Frank Allen and Rick Sullivan on this journey they have begun in All Good Men Serve the Devil.

Please click the following links for more information:

Sullivan's War: Book I - All Good Men Serve the Devil
Sullivan's War: Book II - A City without Walls
Sullivan's War: Prologue - Sergeant Riley's Account
Sleep - A scifi/psychological horror short story that takes place in the Myriad Spheres Universe
Inner Lives: Three Short Stories - Three tales of literary speculative fiction

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Prime or Not to Prime

As anyone who knows me knows, Sullivan's War: Book I - All Good Men Serve the Devil is being released Friday, January 20. So, do I enter it in the Amazon prime program?

My answer, at least for now, is "no." Why not?

I have entered my other ebooks in the Amazon Prime Program and I am, for the most part, happy with the results. But I do wonder about something. Do Kindle owners peruse the list of ebooks and mentally take note of the Prime books they're interested in with the idea of waiting until the author makes them free? I simply don't know. And I don't want sales of Book I to suffer if this is the case. I know there is an argument that making the first book of a series free increases sales on the other books but since I do not yet have the others released, I will not benefit from this for another couple of months.

I do, however, have Sullivan's War: Prologue - Sergeant Riley's Account in the Prime program. I hope that I can use the free promo days for this book to increase the visibility of the series and entice readers to purchase Book I. I also want to make Book I available on B&N and give that another go. Perhaps having a longer work will help sales at that store (I understand short stories just don't sell as well as longer works.)

When I have Book II ready for publication I will reevaluate this decision but for now I think it is the right move. Does anyone who's released series have any other tips? I'd like to do everything I can to make Sullivan's War a success!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Future of Books

Claude Bouchard wrote a blog entry pointing out that in his household the unread print books are piling up because he and his wife prefer to read on their ereaders. However, this preference has had an additional consequence besides just the move from print books to ebooks: he is reading fewer mainstream authors. The reason is simple. If it costs the same, or nearly the same, to buy an ebook from the big publishers as it does to buy one of their print books, a reader will find that purchase difficult to justify. There are, however, many indie authors who are charging a fraction of that price for their ebooks.

I think that, eventually, this discrepancy will right itself. As ereaders become more and more mainstream and print sales drop off, the publishers will have no choice other than to lower the prices of their ebooks. I think a price around $5 is fair and will become standard. So what will this mean for printed books? Will they become obsolete?

For practical considerations, yes. I believe that in 15 to 20 years very few print books will be read. By that time anyone born now or within the last decade will have grown up with the technology and anyone born before that will have adopted it. Especially as those readers age they will find the ease with which an ereader can be held in arthritic hands and with which the font size can be increased to be very attractive. So yes, books will become obsolete. But they will not disappear.

I think that physical books will always hold an appeal for humans. Just as candles and fireplaces have not become obsolete with the advent of electric lights and home heating systems, we will not want to abandon them altogether. There is something about a book that is a part of our cultural DNA. Ever since the invention of the alphabet, the book (or scroll or clay tablet) has been a symbol. It has been a symbol of knowledge. And the look, the feel, the smell of a book, simply cannot be replicated by ereaders. Books will become not less valuable with the ereader revolution, but more. Books will no longer be thought of as cheap commodities to be sold by the thousands, but rather as collectibles. A $5.99 paperback will no longer be produced. For that price, the ebook will be preferred. But writers and publishers will continue to produce attractive, hard backed editions for an author's biggest fans, a treasure to display on the shelf and admire the way one does a cherished objet d'art. It will be something a reader can have signed, not with electronic pixels but with the author's own hand.

I think that if you consider how we already treat books you will agree. There is a reason those great faux leather-bound tomes of Dickens and Austen and Twain still make an appearance each Christmas, their gold-trimmed pages hinting at the literary treasure inside. We like them. We like to have those books on our shelves, we like to look at them, to show them off. Paperbacks, not so much. Those are designed to be read, then passed on to a friend, a used book store, a bus station bench. The ereader will not replace books, but rather just the disposable commodity aspect of books. Read it, lend the file to a friend, delete it when you're done. But if you love that book, if you find yourself thinking about it once it is finished and seeking out other work by that author, then perhaps you might consider owning a handsome print copy. And they will always exist. Books are a part of human culture and that will not change, at least not for a very, very long time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sullivan's War - A Reorganization

I'm currently working on A City without Walls, the second "part" of Sullivan's War. I ran into a problem, however. There are four sections which take place some time apart. I wanted to indicate this separation of time without doing the "Two Months Later" thing so I decided that each section would be separated by its own subtitle. For example, the first section of A City without Walls will be called "Promises."

Now, the natural thing would be to call these things parts. "Part I - Promises," for example. However, I've already used the word "part" to describe each book of Sullivan's War. I couldn't have Sullivan's War: Part II - A City without Walls with a "Part I - Promises" in it. That would just be too damn confusing.

So what I am doing is changing the title of each "part" of Sullivan's War to "Book." Each book will have four parts and each part, four or five chapters. This will require me to redo the covers of all the books but it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

So the new titles of the books in Sullivan's War are as follows:

Sullivan's War: Prologue - Sergeant Riley's Account
Sullivan's War: Book I - All Good Men Serve the Devil
Sullivan's War: Book II - A City without Walls
Sullivan's War: Book III - Edaline's Dawn

I apologize if this causes any confusion for my readers. I am only glad I decided on this change before Book I was released. All mentions of Sullivan's War will follow this format from now on.


Monday, January 2, 2012

January Writing Update: Sullivan's War Begins!

Sergeant Riley's Account has been out a little over two weeks now. I think sales are decent and unless they completely drop off I think it will remain on the Amazon Science Fiction Series Bestsellers List, increasing exposure. It is a Prologue to the series Sullivan's War and as such is independent of the main story line. It is a complete story in and of itself and both Sergeant Riley's Account and Sullivan's War can be read independent of one another. However, reading Sergeant Riley's Account beforehand will help flesh out the universe in which Sullivan's War takes place.

Regarding Sullivan's War, Part I of the series, All Good Men Serve the Devil, will be out on January 20. This is when I hope sales will really take off. A work called a "Prologue," after all, does not sound as engaging to a reader as a "Part I." It is currently in the hands of my wonderful beta readers and I have already received a very encouraging response from one of them. Part I ended up coming in at around 33,000 words, which translates into about 130 printed pages. Yes, this is short, but I am looking at the entire series as a novel-length endeavor. My goal for the Prologue along with Parts I-III is 80-90,000 words, or 320-360 pages. Hardly epic, I know, but this is partially intentional. I want the series to be fast-paced and exciting; I want the reader left wanting more and actively looking for the release of the next part in the series. I also want it to have a serial feel and the goal is for Parts II and III to be released in March and May. You will not have to wait too long to find out what happens next!

On January 1 I began working on Sullivan's War: Part II - A City Without Walls. This will wrap up several storylines begun in Part I and will prepare you for the exciting conclusion to the series, Edaline's Dawn.

On another topic, I have decided--after writing out my goals for 2012--to bring my novel Chrysopteron to completion this year. Look for it after Part III of Sullivan's War. There is also the possibility for a new series at the end of the year and running through the beginning of 2013. This is still unformed but I have a general idea of where I want that series to go.

In closing, I would like to refer you to my special offer. If you read Sergeant Riley's Account and leave a review on Amazon I will send you Part I of Sullivan's War for free. I hope many of you choose to take advantage of this offer.

Please go here to read about and purchase Sergeant Riley's Account. Watch this page for Sullivan's War: Part I - All Good Men Serve the Devil.

Thank you again to all my friends and fans! Together I hope we can make 2012 an exciting year for science fiction!