Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kindle and Nook Collections

Some folks I know who are self-publishing on Kindle are talking about hundreds of sales for their works a month. (I don’t know any of those folks who are claiming thousands.) I have two self-published titles up on Amazon and Nook, Killing Trail and Days of Beer, and I haven’t come close to that number yet. Sales for Days of Beer have pretty well flatlined, but Killing Trail is still selling a few copies a month.

One thing the folks are saying who are publishing more is that it 1) helps to have more titles available, and 2) it helps if they are all basically in the same genre. I’m never going to be able to pull off the second one. I don’t read in any one genre and I just can’t focus my writing in one. I like stories of all kinds, and I want to write the kinds of stories I like to read. And I don’t want to use three or four different pseudonyms; I’d end up having to tell folks it was me, anyway.

However, I’ve decided that I’m going to put up at least two more ebooks from my own Razored Zen Press in 2012. One of them will not be the erotica collection I was talking about last year. I just decided I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. However, I do have two specific collections in mind that I will try to publish.

The first will be called Whiskey, Guns and Sin. It will be a noir/crime collection. The title story was previously published at Beat to a Pulp, but the ending is completely redone for this collection. The Swampy Jack story, “The Finest Cut” will also be in there. And another story, which I have an idea for but which hasn’t been written yet. I have a cover concept firmly in mind.

The second one will be a “Hauntings” collection. I have one story written for this already, called “Mouth Wet with Rain and Leaves.” There will be at least two more stories but I have to write them first. I have plenty of ideas. I don’t know what the collection title will be yet, but all the stories will deal with hauntings in some way or another. I have a cover idea for this one too, although not as firmly held.

Each of these collections will be shorter in total words than either Killing Trail or Days of Beer, but will contain three stories each and I’ll sell them for .99 cents. I’ll see if this will make any difference in my sales figures on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For those of you who are saying, oh no, not more Gramlich already after Days of Beer in December and In the Language of Scorpions in January, it’s going to be at least a couple of months before “Whiskey” goes up, and quite a bit longer than that before the “Hauntings” collection is ready.

It’s a crazy new world of publishing out there. I haven’t the foggiest what is going to happen. But I'm going to have my stuff in the mix some way or another.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Strange Worlds Contest: The Winner

Well, it took me longer than I'd planned to have my drawing for the copy of Strange Worlds, the illustrated Sword & Planet anthology that I have a story in. But it is now completed, as of about 9:00 this morning.

The winner is: Bernardl, and judging by his comments on Edgar Rice Burroughs I think the book has found a good home.

Sorry to all those who didn't win, and thank you for your patience.

Bernard, I have your email address so I'll email you later today about mailing you the book. Let me know if you want me to sign my story.

If anyone wants to purchase a copy of Strange Worlds, you can order them here. I'm going to order a few more copies myself for sale at some point. This month was not a good 'money' month, though.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on that post, and who faithful visit my blog. I appreciate you folks.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Surprise blog at Novel Spaces

My post at Novel Spaces is still up today, but is the second post down from the top now. It's about "Surprise" in writing. If you haven't visited yet, perhaps you will today.

I haven't forgotten my giveaway. I promise. Someone will win a free copy of Strange Worlds. Soon. I've just been swamped with things coming up.

Thanks to all for reading.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

In the Language of Scorpions

The moonlight settled over the December beach like snow birds coming in to roost on an arctic plain. And the midnight world was brush-stroked in white, the white of sand and shells and stones, the white of bones and ghosts. In the midst of that white was a splatter of black, or what could have been red in brighter hours. It reminded Kyle Dupree of a snowflake in negative, and he thought it was incredibly beautiful until he realized what it represented. Then he dropped the cigarette he'd walked out on the beach to smoke, and reached down with his thumb to unsnap the strap that held his Colt Trooper in its holster.

In the Language of Scorpions is out from Borgo Press. I really love the cover. Maybe my favorite yet from Borgo/Wildside. This is a collection of my horror stories, written across some two decades. Some of the tales have been printed before but there are actually quite a few new ones written (or finished) for this collection.

The sample piece that opens this blog comes from a story called “Splatter of Black,” and it features the main character from my first novel, Cold in the Light. There are a few flash fictions here too, but most are full-length stories. Here are a few other story titles from the collection:

Still Life with Skulls
Razor White
Haunting Place
Wall of Love
Twenty-Four Mile Bridge

Just to let folks know. Most the books that people have seen from me so far, except for Midnight in Rosary, have been heavy on fantasy adventure. “Scorpions” is a horror collection. There are a lot of Twilight Zone type stories and tales inspired by writers like Edgar Allan Poe that any reader might enjoy. But there are also some stories that have graphic gore and explore very intense subject matter. Some folks find that kind of thing uncomfortable.

In the book itself, I inserted author notes in front of some tales to let readers know what they were in for. There are notes about each of the stories a the end of the book, too, which give more information about them. The most graphic tales are “Razor White,” “Splatter of Black,” and “Wall of Love.” These were all written during the heyday of “Splatterpunk.” If you like gore, those should satisfy you. And if you don’t like gore, there are plenty other tales that I think you would enjoy.

The books is available at Amazon at the moment, in both print and ebook. It will be available on Barnes & Noble soon.

Here’s the link for print

And for Kindle

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Writing and Other Fun Things

I've finished two stories in the past few days. One was the "Swampy Jack" story, which ended up under the title "The Finest Cut." Several folks pointed out that the original title, "Swampy Jack's Finest Cut," might either have given too much away or may not have set the right tone. I agreed. I ended up keeping the character name "Swampy Jack," though, because it fits that character and how he portrays himself. The piece is pretty much pure noir.

The other story is a horror piece under the working title right now of: "A Mouth Wet With Rain and Leaves." Some day I'll post about short versus long titles. Personally, I'm a sucker for long titles as long as they have a poetic or humorous element to them. I don't buy books for their covers, but I probably have bought books before just because the title was so cool I figured I'd have to like the writing within.

Unfortunately, the work of the semester has also hit big time. I've got a couple of research proposals on my desk to review, a student paper to edit, a set of tests to grade, a brief note I have to write for a scholarly journal, and a long scholarly book that I've been asked to review. Lana says we need to grocery shop too!

This is not to mention any pleasure reading of the books and stories I have loaded on my Kindle or sitting on my desk from blog friends like Patti, Oscar, Bernard, O'Neil, Sid, Chris, and plenty of others that I'd like to get read.

I never wonder where all the time goes. I know exactly where it goes.

By the way, I am getting ready to close my giveaway for Strange Worlds and will have the drawing this weekend. If you haven't yet entered, all you have to do is leave a comment on This Post

The Drawing will likely be held Sunday so today and Saturday it is still open.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Styx versus The Priest

I was driving the other day when a song came on the radio that I didn’t remember ever having heard before. My first thoughts were, “Wow, this must be a remake of “Suite Madam Blue” by Styx. I punched the info button and the name Judas Priest came up. The song was titled “Beyond the Realm of Death.” There was absolutely no mention of it being a remake, and I couldn’t imagine the Priest doing a remake of Styx!

I did a little more research, and could find no connection between these two songs at all. Yet, they have almost exactly the same basic riff. “Suite Madam Blue” was on Styx’s 1975 album Equinox, while “Beyond the Realm of Death” was on Stained Class, from Judas Priest in 1978. I also read a hint that Judas Priest may have had a guest guitarist on their song, and, rather strangely, the Styx guitarist named John Curulewski, who played on Equinox, left the band right after that. I began to wonder if Curulewski could have been the guest guitarist on “Beyond the Realm of Death” but could find nothing to indicate that.

The mystery remains. How in the world could a Styx riff end up on a Judas Priest album three years later? And lest you think it’s only a passing resemblance, I’ve linked both songs below. Give them a listen, especially the opening sections.

Styx: “Suite Madam Blue”.

Judas Priest: “Beyond the Realm of Death”.

If anyone has any info on this, I’d love to hear it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Life Lesson

I don't often buy new shirts, but I did at the end of 2011. I needed 'em for school. I bought 'one' long-sleeved shirt, because on rare occasion it gets cool enough in southern Louisiana for such. I also bought shirts with pockets so I could carry pens and markers to classes with me. No, I don't have a pocket protector; I'm not that much of a nerd. Though maybe I should be.

I wore my new long-sleeved shirt once. All went well. I decide to wear it again. As I'm getting ready for classes that day I have a variety of pens on my desk to choose from. I pick up one and note that it has ink smears around the bottom. Clearly, this one should not go in the pocket of my new shirt. I pluck up another instead and am off to class.

I come back from class with a giant ink stain in the pocket of my shirt. The pen that looked as if it would not leak...leaked. I am absolutely sure this experience has provided me with a life lesson I need to learn. I'm just not exactly sure what the lesson is.

At first, I thought the lesson was: "No matter what decisions you make in life, you are screwed." Then I thought, maybe, it was: "Don't worry about trying to prevent disasters. You can't." But then, perhaps, the lesson is really: "Give up any illusion you have that you can 'control' things in life."

Right now, I'm leaning toward another interpretation of the event: "Inanimate objects know what you are thinking and will do anything they can to spite you."

I'm wearing my ink stained shirt today. I'm carrying the pen in the pocket that 'looked' as if it would leak. It felt like the thing to do. I hope I'm not throwing a gauntlet into the face of the inanimate world. I'm badly outnumbered, if so.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Genesis of an Idea, at Novel Spaces

I'm over at Novel Spaces today with a post about generating writing ideas. It's related to an idea for a story that occurred to me yesterday on my commute for a noir story I'm calling "Swampy Jack's Final Cut." I hope you'll drop by.


Monday, January 09, 2012


I'm looking forward to what I hope will be a couple of big publications in 2012. I hesitate almost to mention them, having been burned that way in the past, but I don't really have a lot of other stuff to blog about today and not a lot of time to think about what to blog anyway with it being the first day of classes. So let's hope I don't jinx myself.

First, a collection of my horror stories has been sent to the publisher by Borgo Press's editor. I don't know exactly when it will be out, but in past practice it's been within a month or two of getting to the publisher. That collection will be called "In the Language of Scorpions."

Second, Borgo's editor, Rob Reginald, has found a possible match for "Under the Ember Star," my space opera novella. He plans to publish it as a "Double," with "Ember Star" on one side and another novella on the other side. I'm looking forward to seeing how that turns out.

I'm working on two short stories at the moment, one called "Harvest of War," for a Scott Oden anthology, and the other called "Swampy Jack's Finest Cut." I came up with the idea for "Finest Cut" commuting across the 24 mile Bridge this morning.

Hope everyone's day is off to a good start.

Friday, January 06, 2012

A Pub and some Reviews

My last post featured a giveaway and I'm going to let that run a little longer, so if you haven't yet entered the drawing for a copy of Strange Worlds, just leave a comment on the post HERE.

In the meantime, though, I thought I'd go ahead and post a couple of things of interest (at least to me) that have come up. First, an article I wrote about Sword and Planet fiction, and which Steve Servello expanded, is up online at ERBzine, volume 3566. If you'd like to know more about that genre, you can find it here.

I've also gotten some very nice reviews on Amazon for Days of Beer. I thought I might copy them here. Thanks very much to Steve, Randy, Travis, and Kent. I much appreciate it.

5.0 out of 5 stars A Frothy Adventure, January 3, 2012
By Travis D. Erwin "Travis Erwin"
A quick, enjoyable read as tasty as a cold one on a hot summer day. Reading this book is like sitting down and with great friends on a Friday night. The stories will make you smile, reminisce, and forget all about the hangovers that went along with them.

4.0 out of 5 stars great fun, January 2, 2012
By Kent Westmoreland
I love this book. It reminds me of my own mis-spent youth, but in North Carolina. Charles is a great wit; he'll keep you in stitches.

5.0 out of 5 stars How well I remember . . . well maybe not, December 31, 2011
By Pleasure Reader "Steve"
Charles has created a wonderful coming of (drinking) age tale set in rural Arkansas. Growing up in Oklahoma, may of the images and events he describes bring back vague memories for obvious reasons. Charles tells his stories with such self-deprecating humor and a wonderful descriptive voice that pulls you into each successive tale even if they do not always turn out successful for him. Great fun.

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny!, December 31, 2011
By George R. Johnson "Randy Johnson"
Charles' humorous look at his "love affair" with beer, from his first taste to his first drunk to various adventures he went through over the years. Some eerily mirrored things that happened to me. Maybe it's a universal male thing.

Had quite a lot of fun reading this. He mentions not liking Budweiser. Same here and I used to love to infuriate "Weiser drinkers by saying I'd rather have a Blue Ribbon.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

New School Year, a Review, and a Giveaway

My son, Josh, is coming up today so I won't be around the net much. And tomorrow I start back to school so I'm going to be less regular (in blogging that is) than I've been over the Christmas break. In the meantime, I leave you with a review.

With his John Carter of Mars series, Edgar Rice Burroughs ignited a publishing juggernaut that lasted well into the 1980s and drew in writers such as Robert E. Howard, Leigh Brackett, Gardner F. Fox, Lin Carter, Alan Burt Akers (Ken Bulmer), and many others. The John Carter stories formed the prototype of a genre that came to be called Sword and Planet fiction. By the late 1980s, however, the genre had declined to the point that it was no longer being published by the major presses and only the small presses kept it alive. Now, Jeff Doten has created one of the first new pure Sword and Planet anthologies to appear in many years, and he himself did the lavish interior illustrations for the work. Here are my thoughts and notes on the collection.

Strange Worlds, “Collected and Illustrated by Jeff Doten.”
Space Puppet Press, 2011

Soft cover, fully illustrated, 189 pages.

Contains an introduction, eight illustrated stories, and a full color comic book, as well as an expansive list of suggested reading in the genre of Sword & Planet fiction. Each story is introduced with a full color cover set up to look like the fantastic paperback covers of the 1970s and 80s.

Cover: by Jeff Doten. A John Carter type character is caught in a contemplative mood.

Introduction, by Jeff Doten. A very short commentary on the nature of Sword & Planet fiction.

1st story: “God’s Dream,” by Charles A. Gramlich. As a boy, Zarn’s father is murdered by desert nomads and Zarn himself is taken captive. He grows to adulthood and earns the right to wear the title nomad for himself, but he can never be fully a nomad, and the mystery of his father’s death draws him into the badlands and toward a destiny he has never suspected.

2nd story: “When the World Changed,” by Ken St. Andre. Is it death that awaits anyone who opens the Pits of Vrando’harr? Or something much worse?

3rd story: “Metal Rat & the Brand New Jungle,” by Jennifer Rahn. Ivor and Tyla fight the Zernesq, and no matter how strange the world around them becomes they find a way to fight on. This one definitely had one of the strangest and most unpredictable endings I’ve seen in fantasy.

4th story: “Pearls of Uraton,” by Paul R. McNamee. Drak of Dithor knows how to get things done on Uraton. That’s why two Terrans come to him with a dangerous and illegal request. Great hook at the beginning and action all through this one.

5th story: “The Final Gift,” by Liz Coley. It is time for Tarn to seek his spirit guide, and kill it with the last new blade of his people. But what if the beast he meets is more than a beast?

6th story: “The Beasts of the Abyss,” by Lisa V. Tomecek. “Miranda Station. Edge of the empire. No man’s land. A place of little opportunity and even less mercy. For Caliban, it was perfect.” Lisa Tomecek was channeling her inner Leigh Brackett when she wrote this one. The atmosphere and action are very good.

7th story: “The Specimen,” by Adrian Kleinbergen. You open a small doorway into a parallel universe and you get a small sample of the weirdness to be found there. What happens when you open a “big” doorway?

8th story: “Slavers of Trakor,” by Charles R. Rutledge. Connor Blake had what John Carter had, what Dray Prescot had, but then his princess was killed, her flyer shot down by the insect-like Chithlain’s. And now Connor has only emptiness. Until a young man tries to waylay him and instead ends up offering Connor redemption.

Comic book: “Martian Abductations,” by Jeff Doten. A grocery run on old Mars is not for the faint of heart.

Suggested Reading: A pretty comprehensive list of the best known Sword and Planet fiction available. Authors and titles listed.

Now for the giveaway. I have a copy of this book that I'm going to give away to one of the commenters on this blog. I'm going to leave this post up for a few days so if you want to be entered in the drawing for the book just leave a comment. After I have the drawing, I'll post the winner here and indicate how to get in touch with me to claim your prize.

If you can't wait and simply must have your copy shipped now, you can order these: HERE.


Sunday, January 01, 2012

So how was 2011 from a Writing Perspective?

I guess most folks my age or older will agree that the events of a single year kind of run together these days. I remember events but I don’t remember exactly when they occurred. Was it 2011 or 2010, or maybe 2009. I can’t keep ‘em straight. That’s one of the major reasons why I start my new year with a retrospectus on the old one. I’ve always been a guy who likes ‘summing up.” I like making lists. I like seeing lists grow. And these days I need to do that sort of thing regularly to keep up.

Until I sat down this morning to look at my 2011 writing, I had a feeling it had been a slow year for me. Turns out not so much. More good things happened than I recalled. Borgo/Wildside published Midnight in Rosary, my collection of vampire and werewolf stories. Swords of Talera, Wings Over Talera and Witch of Talera were released as ebooks at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A Rip Through Time came out, to which I was a contributor, and it made a bit of a splash. Strange Worlds also came out, one of the first illustrated anthologies of Sword & Planet fiction ever, and I had the lead story in that, called “God’s Dream.” The Dreams in the Fire Cross Plains charity anthology came out, which contains my story “A Gathering of Ravens,” and what might well have been the best short story I read in 2011: “I Am a Martian Galley Slave,” by David Hardy.
I finished a couple of nonfiction essays that paid pretty well, and had stories published in Rick Moore’s White Cat Magazine (“Ruins and Wraiths”) and in Trembles Magazine (“Lily White and Red.”). Gave a couple of nicely attended speaking engagements and got invited to three cons that I much enjoyed, The LA SF and Costuming Fest, The Undead Con, and CONtraflow. Did a couple of online interviews, most notably over at Elaine Ash’s wonderful blog. That was actually more of a feature than an interview, and one I cherished.

For brand new writing, I didn’t do that much. The school year was pretty rough, especially in the fall, and there were health issues for both Lana and I all year long. I did complete two new novella length projects, “Under the Ember Star,” a space opera piece which should be out next year from Borgo Press, and “Days of Beer,” a humorous memoir of my beer drinking days, which I self-published from Kindle and B&N at the very end of the year.
I also blogged a lot, facebooked a lot, read a lot, and in March I bought a new car, a Hyundai Elantra. All in all, not a bad year.