Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Cold Revenge

Today on Drabble Wednesday, I serve up a dish best served cold… Revenge.

Country of Shadows

In the darkness I fume, in the blackness I scheme... mine enemies best beware. Revenge is best served bloody.
I still feel their sharp blades, cutting, cutting, draining my blood, my life. They left me to stain the marble and die. I saw their looming shadows as I took my last breath.
Death did not finish me, though.
I yet exist.
Somewhere between, in this eternal night.
Somewhere in the shadows of what I once called home.
I see them. I will haunt them.
I will ruin them.
Then I will see their blood run free to stain the marble.


Absinthe in the Rain

I stand on a Paris street in the rain.
I can hear the soft strains of happy laughter, and faint music from the Moulin Rouge.
I am waiting.
He will come to me this time.
It has been a year since he abandoned me, abandoned our grand plan. But I did not give up. I succeeded. Now he will be the fool, as he once called me.
He walks up the road. He sees me in under the street light. My men shoot him dead.
I watch his body fall, the bottle of absinthe he held smashing on the cobblestones.


Dollhouse of Death

“Stop squirming.”
But the miniature man keeps wriggling, so I squeeze, just a bit, to make my point. I hear a tiny crack, and a small high pitched scream.
Oh dear, I’ve broken him. No matter, he’ll be dead soon.
I shrug and place him in the doll house, on the small braided rug. He cradles his arm and moans.
The two others stay huddled in the corner. I think they’re still in shock from my spell. And yesterday’s killing. I did a public execution with a working guillotine.
Their own fault, really. They should not have double-crossed a witch.

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Piracy Kills Authors

Book Pirates Suck!

I spent part of today once again taking time (instead of writing) to send out DMCA notices to pirates sites hosting illegal copies of my books. And once again I'm wondering if it is worth continuing to publish my books.

This is what goes through my head every time I find one of my books has been pirated by some arrogant, selfish individual, who has no regard about the consequences of their actions. I wonder why I publish books at all if I inevitably will have to face this total ingratitude and asshole behavior.

Because I don't have to publish books. No writer has to publish their books. We do it because we want to publish. We want to connect with readers.

This is why it is so disheartening when readers use pirate sites. When readers support pirate sites and screw over authors when they do so. And the sad thing is, readers don't have to use pirate sites, not these days. Amazon, Smashwords, author websites, they all offer legal and free or discounted books for readers. Yet piracy persists.

It makes me ask the questions: 

Why am I bothering?

If people think so little of authors why do I publish at all?

And I don't have an answer.

I wish I did. 

I wish I could tell you that it will get better.

But I can't.

I haven't quit yet. Maybe I never will. Or maybe someday I will say, I've had enough. Take your pirated books, I'm done.  If I do, I'm sure my small career will join the sad ranks of dead authors killed by pirates.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Drabble Wednesday: Say Hello to the Dead

Today on Drabble Wednesday I explore what happens when the living meet the dead, or undead…


The woman stood in the middle of the road, blocking the path of the wagon.
Henry pulled on the reins and slowly halted his buckboard. The woman stared at him.
“Are you hurt? Do you need aid?”
She shook her head. “I knew you once, when you were a baby. I held you in my arms. I’ve never forgotten.”
Henry shivered. “You look familiar, do I know you?”
“Not as you should, that was not to be.” She smiled whispering, “Happy Birthday, Henry.”
And she disappeared.
Shocked, Henry gasped, only then realizing he had spoken with his long dead mother.


Not In the Job Description

“I got a notice to report to the basement level.” Cindy spoke out loud, bewildered.
“You mean the secret lab?” Fred, her colleague in the neighbouring cubicle answered her, trying to sound ominous and failing.
“Ha, ha, very funny.” She smirked at him, before frowning. “But still, it’s odd.”
“Nah. They probably lost some paperwork. You know lab geeks.”
“I guess so. See you later Fred.” Cindy smiled, and left.
The department boss walked over and leaned against Fred’s desk. “She went, no problems?”
“Yep. No worries on feeding the zombies tonight, boss. I’ll clean out her desk after work.”


By the Light of the Moon

A woman alone at night is a dangerous thing, I know, but I couldn’t resist a chance to walk along the park trail under a full moon. It’s been ages since I took time to enjoy an evening’s beauty.
And it’s lovely. A big, bright silver moon, surrounded by a cascade of stars, in an indigo and sable sky. The air is crisp, and smells of spring, with the fading hint of fragrant blossoms. Nothing could—oh, dear. Footsteps.
I turn, and sure enough, a man with a knife.
Oh well, I am hungry.
I bare my fangs, and attack.

© A. F. Stewart 2016 All Rights Reserved 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Book Spotlight: Kovu Part Two by Kenneth Fultz Jr

Today I bring a book spotlight for the manga style, fantasy book, Kovu Part Two by Kenneth Fultz Jr.  You can check out the spotlight I did for Kovu: Part One here: Book Spotlight: Kovu: Part One by Kenneth Fultz Jr.

Kovu Part Two by Kenneth Fultz Jr.

A dethroned prince must gather the ten rings of the kings to save his people from the corruption of the rich and powerful. 

The dethroned Prince Kovu and friends continue his quest to become the next king of Eden. Along the way to Zuriel  they discover new secrets about themselves and the true danger they face as enemies show up from all sides to destroy them. Meanwhile Prince Dayo continues his quest to discover the truth about the country as he slowly works to rise into the good graces of his father. 

Kovu Part Two is available on:

An illustration from the book

Book Trailer


Author Bio:

Kenneth E. Fultz Jr. born in Columbus, Ohio. Since a child had a strong interest in both anime and writing. Kenneth's first novella, "Warriors of Matrimony", dealt with gender roles and marriage while his second book "Destruction of Sweet Creation" deals with how relationships shape who we are and the image of age. Kenneth plans to get into turning his stories into graphic novels at a later date.  

Friday, 6 May 2016

The Reality of a Writer’s Life

The Reality of a Writer’s Life

Or the Hard Facts of Why Readers Should Think Twice About Piracy and “Free Books.”

Before I begin with my post, I want to state I am very much against book piracy, but not against free books. I do, however, think offering books for free should be the author’s, or publisher’s, choice, NOT a reader’s prerogative. I also want to say, this is not a condemnation or a taking to task of readers in general. The majority of them are darling angels that authors depend on. This post is merely offering up information and enlightenment for, perhaps, common misconceptions. In addition, all number and figures are based on my experiences (and possibly bad math skills); some other authors may have smaller or larger publishing costs.

Now on with the rant…


When most non-writing people think of “authors” they think of the big boys, the bestsellers raking in the money. They are, though, a minority when it comes to authors. Most writers are lucky if they eke a living from their writing without supplementary income. That is a fact, and one writers deal with or decide not to write for a living. And I’m not asking for sympathy for this fact, it’s just the way the job works. What I am saying is that writing is a job. Yes, it may be “artistic” but it’s still work.
And like all work, we want to get paid for it.
We may love what we do, but we still need cash to pay the expenses.
And writers do have expenses. Especially indie authors.

Let me break it down for you.

It takes me three to five months to write the first draft of a novel (if everything goes smoothly). This writing does not happen as in the movies with a writer frantically tapping on a keyboard for uninterrupted hours at a time. It happens in spurts and fits between doing laundry, dishes, marketing, other work, running errands, the occasional family crisis, and so on and on…

After the first draft it’s weeks more editing and polishing until I have a fully functioning manuscript. At this point I’ve invested several months of hard work and time into one book. So you say, off to the publisher, right? Wrong.
If I decide to try and submit to a publisher, it’s weeks more, months more, even years more rounds of queries and rejections, until hopefully acceptance. All the while I’m writing more books in-between life.

But that’s if I go the route of traditional publishing. If I go indie, here’s what happens.

I find a professional editor. A service I pay for, generally around 500-800 dollars (novellas, which is what I’ve previously published will run 200-300 dollars) depending on the length of the novel, and the editing service. Some services are cheaper, sometimes you can get deals, but by far editing is the most money you’ll shell out to self-publish a book.

Let’s round it up and say I’m now 600 dollars in the hole for my book. That’s the minimum amount I’ll have to make back before I even see a profit. That’s assuming I can design my own book covers and format my own books (which I generally do). Most authors have to shell out more money for either cover design or pre-made covers, and formatting. And of course, after the editing is done, there may (may meaning the probability is high) be a few more hundred dollars for proofreading costs.

So let’s round up again to a nice $800 dollar cost for publishing my book. And this doesn’t include marketing costs, which can tack on another few hundred.

So in one final roundup, let’s go with 1000 dollars in costs, shall we.

So this is what I will pay to publish a novel. But wait, you say, you’ll rake in the dough in royalties, right? That 70% Amazon ebook cut, right?

Well, not quite. If I price my book at 5.99 (and that’s a big if, more likely it will be priced between 2.99 and 3.99) I make about $4.20 per book (if I did the math right there). That means I have to sell 239 books just to break even. If I don’t sell that number, I’m losing money. The more money I lose, the less likely the next book gets published in a timely manner, or at all. And if a book is priced at less than 2.99 you get a 30% royalty share, and an even bigger financial hole to climb out of.

Which brings me to my point. Publishing books isn’t free. Asking authors to publish their books for free isn’t fair. Pirating books, and downloading books from pirate sites, makes it that much harder for indie authors to make a living. It might put some out of business permanently.

However, this does not mean (and I know this is weird, considering what I just said) free books don’t have a place in the publishing business. They do. But authors need to control that place. They need to factor free book offerings into their marketing to boost overall sales, and factor them into their costs.

Free books are not a right, and they are not a privilege. Don’t treat them like one. Free books, like all books, are a product, a commodity, if one born from creative minds. Books are forged from hard work and imagination, an amalgam of invention and art. Be gracious to their authors.

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