Writing, blogging, and other Fun Stuff

I’ve been neglecting this blog lately. I have an excuse, I suppose; I really am a full-time professional writer, which takes up most of my time. I also coach new writers, a freebie pay-it-forward exercise. When I have some free time, I play music.

To update: since the Ship (published December 2015), I’ve published the second book in that series, NFI: New Frontiers, Inc (March 2016) and The Return (May 15th, 2016). That qualifies as full-time in anyone’s book! Plus all those Facebook posts…

But I’ll try to make a real effort to keep this more up-to-date. Meantime, I write at least weekly in my Facebook Author’s Page (https://www.facebook.com/Jack-L-Knapp-456875297748593/).

My latest book is The Return, the fourth in the Darwin’s World Series. I think you’ll like it. It went live last night. https://www.amazon.com/Return-Book-Four-Darwins-World-ebook/dp/B01FQ5T8DS?ie=UTF8&keywords=Jack%20L%20Knapp&qid=1463402069&ref_=sr_1_10&sr=8-10

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Controversy, updated

That ‘controversial book’, the Ship, sold well enough to take on a life of its own. The sales continue, although not at the same pace as last month. But it was enough for me to put aside my other book, half finished at that point, and finish writing the sequel to The Ship. This one is called NFI: New Frontiers, Inc. The main characters are still there, most of them, but the company itself plays a large part in the story.
What happens when a company becomes so successful that even nations perceive it to be a threat? When massive transfers of wealth upset the status quo?
That’s the backdrop for the story. Meanwhile, the characters behave like people as best I could write them, they have human emotions, human failings, good guys aren’t exclusively good, bad guys aren’t always bad, triumph and tragedy happen in no discernible order, much as happens in real life. And since the book is ‘hard science’ fiction, there will be a lot of science (most of it as real as I could make it) and engineering.
http://www.amazon.com/NFI-New-Frontiers-Incorporated-Book-ebook/dp/B01CTLTSMS

NFI.jpg

 

Controversy

I wrote a controversial book. I didn’t intend it that way, but that’s what happened.
I made a number of choices when writing the book. I chose to include science and engineering, as well as references to math. But no equations, just discussions. The book isn’t space opera, it was never intended to be.
I also chose to omit  descriptions of several scenes. There’s a rape, there’s sex, there’s a sudden disruption in a relationship. None of these are explicitly described; the reader must supply details from his/her imagination.
I also used considerable dialogue. Some felt that slowed down the action.
As a result, reviews are all over the place. One felt I left out a chapter and told me to go back and put it in. I didn’t; that was the way I wrote the book, some things inferred, not explicit. I tried to make it like real life. Real people aren’t omniscient, and often violence happens in boardrooms. Homes are foreclosed on, workers are laid off, healthcare denied, things like that. Disaster happens, and finding out who to blame is often impossible.
After some twenty reviews, all of them honest, those who like more science and less action love the book. Those who want more action, less science, are ambivalent at best. One said the book didn’t hold his interest, so he quit. And gave it a one star rating, despite not having read the book. Go figure. I’ve abandoned hundreds of books, including the Harry Potter series and the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series. Both were bestsellers, but I didn’t care for them. I didn’t feel it necessary to give them a bad review, however.
To each his own. If you like Science with your Science Fiction, you might like The Ship. If you want blood and mayhem, you’d be better off with The Trek.

Busy: the life of an Indie author and publisher

I published my latest book, The Ship, in December. It started slow, but soon it was on a wild ride that’s only slowed down this week. It was my first attempt at a long hard-science novel, and I’m sure I made mistakes.
As a result, ratings have ranged from five star to one star, two of them. Most have been four star, but it only takes a couple of bad ratings to hut a book’s average.I take bad reviews seriously; as a result, I’ve gone back to see whether I had indeed been too wordy, employed too much dialogue, used too many details.
I’ve gone back to review the chapters of my new book, NFI: New Frontiers, Inc very carefully.
Not everyone feels that the one star reviews (the only two I’ve ever gotten, BTW) were justified. A gentleman made his opinion known, and I’m grateful. I won’t repeat it here, but you can find it if you look at The Ship’s ratings. I’m glad to see someone defending my book, but the greatest defense is that last month, readers read more than 776,000 borrowed pages.
I learn from bad reviews, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy getting them. Nor does any other author.

Neglect

I’ve been neglecting my blogs for a couple of months, and there’s a reason.
On July 15th, I had knee replacement surgery. The surgery went well, the recovery less so. I ended up staying more than a week in the hospital and the rehabilitation hospital; as it happened, when I tried to exercise and use my new knee (painful!), my blood pressure dropped. But eventually I got out, then went through a rehab process that got me walking and climbing stairs. There’s still quite a bit of pain, but as long as I don’t overdo it, I can deal with the pain. And that without drugs, which is a major accomplishment.
I’m only now beginning to write, and the first thing I did was decide my work-in-progress needed reworking. I can eventually use most of the 50 000 words I had written by then, but it’s going slow.
Still, if I can just write a little something, maybe half a chapter a day, I’ll soon be back in the groove.

Summer Sales, or the Lack Thereof

Is this the dreaded Summer Slump? Soon to be followed by the Back-to-School Blues?
No idea yet, but sales have shrunk to a trickle. Even my count of books borrowed and read is way down.That, by the way, is going fairly well. So far, I’ve recorded 25,862 pages read via Amazon’s subscription services. Near as I can tell, that puts me above most. It’s keeping my Author Rank on Amazon from dropping through the cellar.
Meantime, the solution to all ills is to write more books and hopefully keep quality up. I’m starting Chapter 15 of The Ship and it’s going well, not very fast but well. I’ve had too many recent distractions to write fast, but I write as time permits. The Ship will be my 8th novel, first in a third series, and I’ve also begun work on Siberian Wizard, the fifth in the Wizards-ESP series.
If you’re interested, all my books are available free through Amazon’s KU program, among others, and $3.99 or less if purchased.
http://www.amazon.com/Jack-L-Knapp/e/B00K35MWNA/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1429376991&sr=1-1

Data; Books, and Readers

I’ve been watching Amazon’s new program with great interest. So have a lot of authors.
The KU/KOLL program allows subscribers to borrow books. Amazon gets a monthly payment from those enrolled, authors get paid for borrows but at a rate that’s less than we would earn from royalties on sales. It gives Amazon a regular income stream and since readers aren’t charged by the book, they’re more willing to borrow a book by an unknown author. For those of us who don’t have a following, we get readers.
At first, authors were paid a set amount for each book borrowed. That created dissatisfaction, because the length of the borrowed work wasn’t taken into account. Writers got the same amount for a borrowed short story that they did for a full-length novel. Amazon’s new system intends to change that; authors are now being paid for each page read. Granted it’s not much, about $0.005, but that can add up.
Meanwhile, it’s giving writers information we’ve never had. How many people read our book all the way to the end? How many read a page and abandoned it? Or perhaps read ten percent (the trigger for Amazon paying an author for a borrow) and then gave up?
But counting the number of pages read let’s the writer know. So far, I’m quite happy. Readers read 10,700 pages in the first two days. Today’s count looks to be about the same, although it’s early. Actual sales of books aren’t great, but borrowing looks likely to pick up the slack. I’m cautiously optimistic.