Story updates

A couple of updates.

First, the narrator for Bad Penny contacted me today, told me how much he enjoyed narrating the book, that it’s in post production and the audio should be done next week. I can’t wait.

Next, I’m progressing on The Drovers. Next scene up is a night time battle with a korrog. It’s going to be a blast.

Finally, I just got out of my ankle boot for a surgery I had a few weeks ago. It’s time to go back to lifting weights. I’ve also read an interesting book called The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. I’ve been testing it out, and the results so far are positive. More on that later.

Good Stuff: Poldark, Monk, and the cure for dragon feet

For all of you longing for just one more season of Downton Abbey, I’ve found a new series from the BBC I think you’ll enjoy (thank you Duane Robinson for the recommendation).

It’s called Poldark and is set in the late 1700s in Cornwall, that little southwestern leg of England that juts out into the Atlantic. The dark-haired and handsome Ross Poldark returns to England after having fought in the American War of Independence and finds that his father has died, and he’s inherited the estate. Except the estate is in ruins.

The house, which is a long way from being anything grand, is a mess and being inhabited by the deceased father’s last two servants. A man and a wife who are equal parts louts and lushes. The land isn’t producing. The mine is closed. And Poldark has very little money.

By the way, when we think of British aristocracy, we most often think of dances and fine clothing and large tracts of lands. We seldom think of mines. But Cornwall has been mining tin for a very long time, and so were its lords. In fact, Cornwall was known outside of the Isles anciently, and some historians suggest that Cornwall was probably selling tin to the seafaring Greeks and Phoenicians many hundreds of years B.C.

So our young and handsome lord has come home to a mess and very little money. But he immediately sets about trying to repair things. And what unfolds is a wonderful story with love, action, humor, injustice, and villains plotting Poldark’s downfall.

We loved Downton in part for the refinement and high society (and Lady Grantham’s hilarious one-liners). However, Poldark isn’t about the top of the aristocracy. It’s about a man almost at the bottom. And many of those of the lower class who are his friends. There’s a refreshing earthiness about it even while you still have scenes of the high society and all that goes with it.

We just finished the first season and are hooked. In fact, I stood up and cheered at the end of the last episode we watched. So if you love English historicals, you’re going to enjoy Polkdark.


The humorous detective series Monk debuted in 2002 and ran for eight seasons. It was a huge hit. But because I’m a cave dweller I didn’t get to it until now. But, boy, I’m happy I did.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for a treat. Monk is one of those brilliant detectives like Patrick Jane in The Mentalist or Sherlock Holmes who sees all sorts of details that so many others miss. But unlike those guys, Monk has obsessive-compulsive disorder plus a number of phobias.

And so he can’t just walk in and stun everyone with his brilliance because at any moment he might get sidetracked straightening pictures or moving lamps or trying to avoid germs. In one funny scene he’s being chased on foot by someone intent on killing him, and he can’t help but touch the poles as he runs by. However, he’s not all helpless because he’s hired a female nurse, Sharona Fleming, to help him. And the interaction between the two of them adds another enjoyable dimension.

And so you get to experience all the awe of watching someone like Sherlock solve crimes plus laugh along the way. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud during a number of episodes.

If you like The Mentalist, Elementary, or Psych, I think you’ll really enjoy Monk.


This last review is for all of you who have dragon feet.

That’s what I had until two months ago. Dry dragon feet. So dry and with such sharp and jagged calluses that I regularly wore the area on my sheets around my feet to shreds. Nellie’s side of the sheets were nice and smooth. My side, after a year or two, looked like the dog had attacked it.

The calluses were so bad I periodically sanded them off with 400 grit sandpaper.

I also got stress cracks in the winter, which I tried to heal with band-aides and Neosporin. And that worked a decade ago. But the stress cracks were just getting more frequent and longer-lasting. This last winter I had three that stayed for weeks and weeks.

And so when I went into my dermatologist for my annual skin cancer check, I asked him if there was anything to be done. He said, “Get CeraVe cream with SA, salicylic acid. It has to have SA.”

After the appointment, I promptly drove to Walmart and walked down to the cosmetic aisle and purchased a little tub of CeraVe Renewing SA Cream. And I began to use it that night, putting socks on after I applied it. I applied it every morning and night.

And, miracle of miracles, a few weeks later my feet were normal human feet again. The calluses were gone. The stress cracks gone. The pain gone. My sheets love me. My wife loves me. I’m saving money on sand paper.

Folks, if you have dragon feet and want to be human again, let me suggest CeraVe with SA.

LDStorymakers Presentation

I’m at LDStorymakers this weekend. Had a wonderful time yesterday facilitating idea generation for the magic systems of eight writers who all had some really cool stuff.  Today I will be giving my presentation on banishing writer’s doubt, fear, and block using cognitive therapy.

For those who want the slides, here they are.

Banish writers fear doubt and block with cognitive therapy (PDF)


Announcing a collaboration with NY Time bestselling author Larry Correia

So I signed the contracts and put them in the mail today–I’m officially doing a collaboration with Larry Correia.

This is an extension of the novel that we sketched for the 2015 LTUE presentation we did together called “How to Build an Action Plot.”

Basically we took pirates and smugglers, put them in space, added in a nice helping of giant robots, huge aliens, space ships, nasty warlords, organized crime, and a government you don’t want to mess with, then stirred.

It’s going to rock.

You can see the materials for the presentation here. And read more about the collaboration in Larry’s post.

Please note that we started our novel sketch by asking Larry’s ten-year-old son, “Hey, what’s awesome?”

He replied without hesitation, “Giant robots, bandits, and murderers.”

And we took it from there.

I’m done being Amazon’s fool

Do you see this picture? This is Jeff Bezos laughing at John Brown. Because John Brown was a fool.

Let me explain.

When I sell my ebooks on Amazon for $2.99 to $9.99, Amazon charges me 30% of the price. I keep 70%. That’s a decent deal. I’m happy to do business with them as a partner with my ebooks.

But Amazon’s got some alter ego going when dealing with folks selling used books. When I sell used books, Amazon somehow thinks it’s a swell deal for all of us little guys if they take a huge chunk of the pie. Look at the numbers below.

Order date: 04/08/2017
Price: $3.98
Shipping: $3.99
Amazon fees: -$3.99 (100% of sale price)
Your earnings: $3.98

Order date: 04/05/2017
Price: $5.50
Shipping: $3.99
Amazon fees: -$4.21 (77% of sale price)
Your earnings: $5.28

Order date: 03/23/2017
Price: $3.50
Shipping: $3.99
Amazon fees: -$3.91 (112% of sale price)
Your earnings: $3.58

Order date: 03/15/2017
Price: $1.49
Shipping: $3.99
Amazon fees: -$3.61 (242% of sale price)
Your earnings: $1.87

You might think, hey, John, you’re making a few bucks on each. But no, what you see above is what I get from Amazon. I still have to ship the product. And if I purchased the book somewhere, I have to cover those costs as well.

For example, look at the last one. Amazon feels that not only do they need to charge me the total sale price of the book, they also need more than half of the shipping costs. That book cost over three dollars to ship plus a little for a bubble mailer because I actually care that the book is in great shape when the buyer opens the package. So I lost money. But Amazon did just fine.

And Bezos was laughing because John Brown, the fool, was paying Amazon for the pleasure of taking time to list the book, shelve the book at his house, package it, and then post it. It was as good as going to Disneyland!

The fees used to be lower.

Order date: 06/26/2014
Price: $3.59
Amazon fees: -$2.88 (a mere 80% of the sale price)
Shipping: $3.99
Your earnings: $4.70

I hated the fees they were charging then, but after postage, we could still make a buck or so on books priced at this level. Not anymore.

So adios Amazon. I’m done being your fool. And shame on me for taking so long to recognize it. I’m moving all my used book stock to because they actually have a good thing going. Look at what they charge for their services.

$0.75 – $50.00: 25.0%
$50.01 – $100.00: 22.5%
$100.01 – $250.00: 20.0%
$250.01 – $500.00: 17.5%
> $500.00: 15.0%

That means on that $1.49 book, they would have charged me a whopping 37 cents.

Hey, profit for them AND me. And a great price for the buyer. Win-win-win.

How nice.