2015 Year Goals

Happy new year! 2014 is behind us and now it’s time to look forward.
I’m excited about 2015 for a number of reasons:
1) New releases
2) New goals
3) New awesome thing I’m not sharing yet (wink)
http://www.amazon.com/Watchers-Jeffrey-Ballard-ebook/dp/B00RASDY0S/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1419207543&sr=8-2&New releases: I released The Watchers a few weeks early before Christmas for the practical reason of people have fresh electronic toys from under the Christmas tree and might be looking to put something on them, but also because The Watchers is hands down one of my favorite stories. It’s a science fiction novella in the space-opera mold that just seemed to write itself and surprise me, the author, along the way. I felt like a reporter recording reality more than a writer pulling things from the ether. I had just come back from the Character and Voice workshop recharged on writing and had just watched in horror a few months before the Sandy Hook tragedy. The first time I sat down to write upon returning from the workshop, The Watchers is what came out. It’s one of those stories the author really loves and wants to share with the world, so I hope it does well.
New goals: While 2014 was the year of Indie Publishing, 2015 will be the year of the Series. I have decided to not write anythingthat isn’t in a series. Broken down the targets for 2015 are:
1) Write 3 novels
     a) 2 in a new steampunk series I’m working on
     b) 1 novel in the Underwater Restorations Universe
2) And that’s really it …
I’m not including cons or workshops or contests or what-not. Novels. That’s it. That’s my entire focus. Those other things may come into place and I may write some short stories set in the steampunk series world or Underwater Restorations, but I’m not specifically planning on them. Readers want novels, they want novels in series, so that’s what I’m going to give them while still having fun (I love Isa and her crew—I can’t wait to write their first novel). It’s going to be a fun year. I’m tempted to gush about the steampunk setting and ideas, but I think I’ll just take that energy and go write right now.
Oh, and New awesome thing: Well … you’re just going to have to wait a few more months.
Until next time …

2014 Year in Review

It’s that time of year of again. The air outside has turned to a chill, while Christmas lights twinkle through the long, dark nights. And that means another year is almost behind us. It’s time to take stock of progress over the past year and turn our eyes forward.
Earlier in the year I set the following goals:

1) 16 new stories (later revised to 8 + 1 novel)
2) Start indie-publishing stories
3) Put out a new story every other month
4) Enter Writers of the Future contest every quarter
5) Enter Jim Baen’s Memorial Writing Contest
6) Attend on craft level workshop
7) Attend the local sci-fi/fantasy con

I’m pleasantly surprised to say I hit all of them with one caveat to  number 4. The novel, The Oracle Algorithm(due out in March 2015), happened by happy accident. It started as a novelette, then a novella, and finally a short novel. So I hit that one unintentionally, but I’ll take it! I also, quite unintentionally (or at least without paying active attention) wrote eight short stories.
I also wrote some flash fiction, which I don’t count here. And that leads to one of the bigger revelations I learned in 2014: I can’t write flash. But more importantly to me as a writer: I don’t liketo write flash. Honestly, that revelation was a bit of relief. I can now happily ignore it.


I started the year saying 2014 would be the year of Indie publishing for me and that has proven true. I started regularly releasing titles in April. It’s been quite the learning curve and journey, and there’s a long way to go. But I’ve started! And I’m really excited about the 2015 lineup. So much good stuff coming down the pipe.
I entered both contests (numbers 4 & 5). The Jim Baen contest is hard sci-fi confined to no more than 60 years in the future, so it was a bit different than I normally write. I tend to go a bit more … speculative and farther into the future when I do sci-fi so I had to reign myself in a bit, which wasn’t as much fun. I think I’ll be skipping that one in the future, but you never know. I entered Writers of the Future 3 out of 4 quarters, but the missed quarter wasn’t for lack of material, but instead was a conscious decision on my part to stop entering. The connection L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology was something I ultimately decided I couldn’t reconcile, and wouldn’t feel comfortable winning. So I’m done trying to win that.
Finally, I hit the craft level workshop when I went out to the Oregon coast to learn about thrillers. And attended the local Austin Con, where the highlight was an amusing hour at a reading of Barbara Ann Wright.

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:

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


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:
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

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.
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).