Free Goodreads Giveaway and Nanowrimo


First off, I am currently running a freeGoodreads giveaway of a signed print copy of The Bear that Painted the Stars. If you’re not familiar with a Goodreads giveaway, all you need to do is have an account with them and then enter click the “enter” button and fill out the information (need a mailing address to send you the prize). The offer runs out on 12/12/2014 at 12 am, less than a week away! You can sign up here (or use the widget to the right—if you’re on my website click the title of the blog post to find the widget):

Nanowrimo this past month was a bust for me. I wrote one short story, but didn’t write the novel like I had been hoping. This was due to deadlines getting pushed back to the right. But now I am currently in full-on development of the novel. The pictures above were from Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts. I got to spend several hours climbing all around a WWII Gato-class submarine and a WWII Battleship (so bad-ass) for some on-site research for the novel.
I love this job.

The Bear that Painted the Stars released!

The Bear that Painted the Stars a science fiction novella is released!
It feels like I’ve been sitting on this one for ages. At the time I write this one, it was the second longest story I had written—the first story (also a novella) was the first thing I had everwritten, and has been properly banished. So I am very happy to finally be able to share it with you all:
http://www.amazon.com/Bear-that-Painted-Stars-ebook/dp/B00PDA4FW6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1415448363&sr=1-1

An impossible discovery: a patch on a Zhg-controlled asteroid throws the delicate human-Zhg balance into peril. The threat of annihilation looms.

Humanity must respond.

In a risky operation. Dallic and his team are sent into mitigate the threat. He soon finds himself in a foreign alien culture, and thrust into a high-stakes, life-and-death struggle where a thousand-year-old secret he has kept threatens to destroy everything—including humanity.


I decided to experiment with Amazon Select for this story, so if you belong to Kindle Unlimited, you can read The Bear that Painted the Stars for free. My apologies to those that don’t read on a Kindle, the story should be released on all platforms in three months.
Thanks for reading!

Almosssst Done


Well, I’m running about a month behind of where I wanted to be at the moment, but I’m not sweating it too much. I had hoped to finish all the publishing tasks for 2015 in September and spend October outlining the  novel series so I could leverage Nanowrimo in November to get started, but alas the publishing tasks took longer than anticipated.
I’m not sweating being behind for two reasons. One, the publishing tasks are almosssst done. And two, the physical proofs arrived and that’s always one of the more satisfying parts for me—getting to hold the books in your hand, feel the pages ruffle under your fingertips. I shared the picture of some of the books on Twitter, but I think they’re so awesome it’s worth sharing again here.
Unfortunately, due to all these nebulous publishing tasks, the release for my novella The Bear that Painted the Stars will be pushed back a week. It’s not too far off from the original intended publication date, but I’m excited to share it with you all, and I’ve been waiting soooo patiently to release it. Ah well, one week my friends, one week.
Until next time!

All the Free Stuff I Got Going


http://www.amazon.com/Cancer-Under-St-Pauls-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B00N7GMWWI/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1413372729&sr=8-1&keywords=The+cancer+under+st.+paul%27shttp://books.noisetrade.com/jeffreyaballard/the-highlight-of-a-life

There are now three separate ways to get three distinct stories of mine for free. So if you’ve ever been curious about my writing, the barrier to scratch that itch has never been lower.
First, The Cancer Under St. Paul’s is free through this Monday, October 20th from Amazon. This is a limited time offer; after Monday it will return to its regular price. The Cancer Under St. Paul’s is a creepy Victorian England story, a perfect read for the lead up to Halloween.
To save his father, a child must stand against an ancient evil. Backed into a corner, without options, Will clings to the suggestions of a simple doll—the one that started this mess in the first place. Innocent, trusting, Will hurtles to confront a foe with no such qualities or compunctions. Will must find a way to save his father, and his innocence.
Second, The Highlight of a Life is now free on NoiseTrade in both .mobi and .epub formats. It’s a short, heartwarming tale of redemption. NoiseTrade works by offering free works of music and literature, and in exchange NoiseTrade provides the artists/writers with your email address for their mailing lists. My newsletter is used to inform my readers about new releases and promotions like these ones; it works out to one email every few weeks (less than 20 a year to give you an idea). Your email is never shared and you can opt-out any time; no harm, no foul.
Thrown into the past, Charlie Pearson must find a way to save what is most precious to him. In this gripping, heartwarming tale of redemption, Charlie learns a lesson he failed to learn twenty-five years ago …
Finally, I offer a free exclusive story only to newsletter recipientsthat has never been published before. All you have to do is click the link above and sign up; see above for details about the newsletter. If you opt-in through the NoiseTrade route, then you will automatically receive this offer (you have to reply to the welcome email, so I know which format to send you).
Life can change in a heartbeat, forever altering two lives. Jessy: thrown 2200 years into the future in a freak accident, must hang onto herself in a foreign society. Ethan: plodding along in life until Jessy’s arrival launches him into an awakening that will change the foundation of society as they know it.
They stand together. Accused. Arrested. Despised.
And Ethan wouldn’t have it any other way.
So there it is! Three separate ways to read three free stories. I hope you enjoy them!

2015 Cover Reveals



Here are the first three titles I will be releasing in 2015 in January, March and May respectively. Snazzy right? I discovered Photoshop!
It’s been a lot of fun, but also a ton of work. I hoping to officially wrap things up on the publishing side here in the next few weeks, and then get some sleep. After that maybe I’ll take a nap. But not yet; the end is so close!
*Dives back into publishing work*

2015 Lineup Started & New Release!


In the excitement of the Fiction River Subscription Drive , I forgot to mention that I had published another short story, The Cancer Under St. Paul’s. It’s set in Victoria London in the chilly fall, and I’ve been told it’s a bit creepy–so it’s a perfect read to curl up by the fire by in the lead up to Halloween. Cover and blurb below:
http://www.amazon.com/Cancer-Under-St-Pauls-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B00N7GMWWI/ref=sr_1_2_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1411172420&sr=8-2&keywords=Jeffrey+A.+Ballard
To save his father, a child must stand against an ancient evil. Backed into a corner, without options, Will clings to the suggestions of a simple doll—the one that started this mess in the first place. Innocent, trusting, Will hurtles to confront a foe with no such qualities or compunctions. Will must find a way to save his father, and his innocence.
At the start of the month, I started working on the 2015 lineup, writing ad-copy, designing covers, making e-books, etc. I’m releasing six new titles, plus one collection in 2015, but because several of those stories are still on submission, I don’t know which ones yet. This complicates matters.
The result is I’m designing covers for *all* my stories. My plan was to spend all of September doing these publishing tasks and then officially pivot October 1stto writing novels in series. Well, that pivot is going to get pushed back. Complicating matters further, there was a very specific effect I was interested in for one cover, but I needed Photoshop to do it.
The result: I *love* Photoshop. This is only going to delay me further, already I’m moving the majority of my cover design over there, but there’s a steep learning curve (Hurray for YouTube and Lynda.com!). My new target is to wrap everything up by the first week of November. We’ll see. I hope to share some covers next time to ooh and aah over.
‘Till next time!

Fiction River Subscription Drive

 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/403649867/fiction-river-subscription-drive
Well, this is going to be a picture-y post, so sorry in advance. Fiction River has started a subscription drive on Kickstarter this past week. For those that don’t know or remember, Fiction River was my first professional sale. So they’re near and dear to my heart.
 http://www.fictionriver.com/volumes/time-streams/http://www.amazon.com/Highlight-Life-Science-Fiction-Short-ebook
My story, “The Highlight of a Life,” debuted in Fiction River: Time Streams in August of 2013. It was my first experience getting a piece ready for publication and working with editors, and what a wonderful experience it was. I’ve grown up a bit since then, and made a lot of writer friends and talking with them I’ve learned how unusually smooth and professional the experience was. So if you ever get the chance to work with Dean or Kris, jump at it.
http://www.amazon.com/Kerephrine-Reaction-Science-Fiction-Novelette-ebookThe Kickstarter has a lot of awesome reward levels and stretch goals, some which are already disappearing. Many of the rewards levels include free e-book or signed print books from authors who have appeared in Fiction River, including yours truly. You can get a free e-book or signed print version of “The Kerephrine Reaction.” All while supporting a great magazine producing great fiction. Personally, I signed up for the $30 electronic subscription, it’s a great value and there looks to be some really exciting volumes in the coming year. I’m particularly excited about Pulse Pounders (Thrillers) and Alchemy and Steam (Steampunk).
Support it if you can! I know I’m looking forward to a year of great fiction (full disclosure: I have no stories in these coming issues, although I wish I did, 😛 ).

Don’t forget the small-in-the-moment stuff


Oh, man. That was a trip down memory lane. I was searching through our external drive of pictures, trying to find one of Watson our basset hound that seemed appropriate and was starting to get nostalgic (and dare I say a little weepy?*), when I stumbled across this gem.

Yes, those were my glasses. And no, I didn’t have a backup pair at the time. I actually had food poisoning that night, and when I was well enough to leave the bedroom, I found Watson still chewing on them. I had forgotten all about that.
Time will do that. Watson has been a good dog for so many years, that I forget the wake of destruction he left as a puppy. Two T.V. remote controls, one pair of glasses, one couch (longer story), ate a part of our wall (really),  my wife’s sweater, countless “indestructible” dog toys, and that’s only with a few minutes thought–we even have a folder on the external drive labeled “destruction.” For years when I went through security at the airport, they would flash the black light over my driver license and see a bunch of puppy teeth marks (my money clip still has them) and I’d kinda grin stupidly at them and shrug.
We tend to forget the small-in-the-moment stuff like that. My writing career (since pursing seriously) is coming up on two years old and already I’m forgetting the small stuff. I’m gearing up for a fundamental pivot in direction on October 1st and have been getting pretty stressed about it, trying to wrap stuff up, determine an optimal plan, divine the future, etc.
But looking through the pictures of Watson reminded me not to get bogged down in the details so much that I miss the small things. So I’m going to exhale, remember where I was two years ago, where I was one year ago, and take small steps into the coming year, making sure I don’t get so bogged down that I miss those special small-in-the-moments stuff.
* Watson was diagnosed with terminal cancer 14 months ago. They gave him 12 months to live at the time. We’re constantly waiting for the shoe to drop, so it’s emotional to look back over all the pictures we have of him (particularly as a puppy), and relive those memories. But for the moment he’s going strong, doing his Watson thing (which now seems to be destroying toddler toys).

Armadillcon 36


I spent last weekend at Armadillocon down in south Austin and had a blast. There were some great panels; I went to a really fun reading of Barbara Ann Wright (who is hilarious); and met and hung out with fellow writers.

That last one is huge for me. Writers, like any professional group, have a shared identity and language specific to their experiences. It’s wonderful to be able to tell someone you got an honorable mention in Writers of the Future without having to explain what that is or that you got a 250 day lower-tier form reject after a bump notice and have them commiserate in earnest with you, having been there themselves.
I also left out some print copies of my stories on the freebie table in front of the dealer’s room. They were all taken within a few hours! I have no idea if anyone will read them or if it will lead to more sales, but I’m honestly relieved they were taken. It was kind of a benchmark test to see if the covers were intriguing enough for people passing by to pick up, and if the ad copy was interesting enough for someone to take it home. And in that respect, they passed!
Because of all that I left Armadillocon on a bit of a writer’s high, which is quite the improvement over last year when I left Worldcon in need of a vacation! Small steps.
Progress made.

A Hodgepodge of Progress


These past two few weeks have seen a potpourri bag of small progress steps for me. Probably the most visible would be that I now have all my titles up on Google Play and iTunes. iTunes took some work—they remind me of that finicky person we all know that (everyone seems to know one) that has to have everything * just so.* Well, it’s done now and their customer service was very helpful too, so enjoy!

I finished an online class call Writing with Depth by Dean Wesley Smith that was extremely helpful. Very early on in my writing career I identified great writing and then tried to understand *why* I liked it so much and how to do what they did. There was one aspect that clearly made those stories stand out, and I didn’t even know what it was called or how to research it. That was three plus years ago. Turns out it’s called depth in writing. I didn’t even know that when I took the class! Pure, dumb, wonderful luck. If you really want to elevate your writing, you should try that class.
I also came to what feels like a large career decision. I feel like I was headed down the wrong path by writing short stories, novelettes and novellas in hodgepodge fashion in whatever striked my fancy. I had an epiphany, much like my dog seems to do every walk (very stubborn that one). Readers read mostly novels, they read series’ even more. I’m no different. Duh. I needed to stop the path I was on and do a course change, a conceptually simple thing to do.
So I’m going to start focusing on writing in multiple series containing novels. I’m finishing up a novelette now that started as an exercise in the Writing with Depth class, but after that I intend to write another short story about Isa, Puo and Winn from Underwater Restorations (Part 1, Part 2). I also have a novel roughly mapped out for that gang. My tentative plan is to start writing a new trilogy (or more) in 2015. Many ideas, we’ll see which one comes out ahead by January.