Saturday, August 31, 2013

Relic Tech accepted for Publication!

A short while back Gryphonwood Press accepted my science fiction novel, Relic Tech.

If all goes well, it will be released in November of 2013. ARCs (Advance Review Copies) for blurbs are out, and the cover art is underway, as is editing and a host of other tasks.

More news will follow as it becomes available.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Amazon Glitch or Just Toying with Me?

About a week ago I was checking sales rankings on Amazon (are there any authors that don't do it at least occasionally?) Genre Shotgun showed this pretty awesome rank:

I was pretty suspicious of the ranking. Genre Shotgun, my collection of previously published short stories that Gryphonwood Press released when all of the short story rights had reverted back to me, usually hovers between 20,000 and a million+, dropping with a sale or two and then slowly climbing until another sale or two. So ranking #1064 was pretty out of the ordinary.

While it would've been cool, when I checked back a few hours later, it was back up around 800,000, so I knew it had been a glitch.

Oh, well, maybe someday :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stores Where my Books are Currently on the Shelf

Every now and then I am asked where my novels are available.

Of course they're available through the regular sources online in print and book (and audiobook for Flank Hawk only--with Blood Sword on the way). Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Audible, etc. (Check the my blog's links down a bit on the left).

But what the questioner usually means is what bookstores stock them. To be sure, any bookstore can
order copies for a customer, but not a lot stock them regularly.

Even so, here's a short list of where my works can be obtained right off the shelf...

All of my Titles:
Around About Books (Troy, Ohio)
Readmore's Hallmark (Piqua, Ohio)
Dark Star Books (Yellow Springs, Ohio)

Some of my Titles:
Peach Tree Books and Co. (Bellefountain, Ohio)
Jay and Mary's Book Center (Troy, Ohio)

While there may be more, these are the only one's I've recently verified. Do let me know if you've seen them elsewhere on the shelf.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Quote: Something to Ponder by George Carlin

It's been a while since I've posted a quote on my blog, but I came across this one and saw a lot of truth in it.


The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

George Carlin


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Handwritten Drafts

Normally, when writing the first draft of a novel, I outline in a spiral notebook and keep notes on index cards as I write to remind me of things I need to take care of or pay special attention to later on in the novel's first or later drafts.

Sometimes, when a computer isn't handy, I'll write a scene or two by hand. Then, when I get the chance, I type (okay, word process) it into the most recent version/file.

Now, anyone who's seen my handwriting knows it's pretty difficult to read. Not impossible. My wife and my students (after a little practice reading my notes jotted down on their graded assignments) can manage it.

In any case, if you're interested, here's what a handwritten draft looks like.

Handwritten page from
Chapter 32 of Soul Forge

Monday, August 12, 2013

Indie Book Blog's Review of Flank Hawk (Audiobook)


The Indie Book Blog posted a review of Flank Hawk, the audiobook version narrated by Michael Slusser.

Click on over and see what was said.

Link: Review - Flank Hawk by Terry Ervin audiobook

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fandom Fest Photos: Me with Adrian Paul and Jewel Staite

While I spent most of my time at FandomFest 2013 at my table in the vendor's hall or on the various literary panels, I did slip out to briefly meet and get a photos with several of the guest celebrities.

Adrian Paul signing a Katana
for the Stan Lee Foundation
I briefly got to meet Adrian Paul (Highlander the Series) and also watch him interact with others getting photos with him and also in one of the dealer areas, where he made his way to the table representing the Stan Lee Foundation. There he signed a wooden katana for them.

Now, I've not met a lot of television celebrities, but compared to most, he was friendly, at ease, and appreciative of his fans, addressing them and making them feel at ease.

Unfortunately I missed the Q&A panel with Adrian Paul. Folks told me it was a great panel.

Adrian Paul and Me

I also got the chance to briefly meet Jewel Staite (Firefly)and get a photo.

Jewel Staite and Me
She too was friendly and appreciative of the fans that wanted to meet and get a photo with her. Jewel Staite was a little quieter than Adrian Paul but I could tell from her smile that she really was happy to meet and talk with people.

Okay, some folks might say, "Hey, their actors. They could've been faking it." Maybe, but their smiles lingered even when the fan(s) they were intereacting with had turned away.

My complaint was that people were rushed through. Unless you made a point to say a thing or two, and engage, you were ushered in and ushered out by the photo op people. Even then it was more like a pressing assembly line than anything else. Other conventions I've attended, it wasn't like that.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Taste Test: Old Twinkies vs. New Twinkies

As many of you may know, Hostess, the maker of many snacks treats, including Twinkies went bankrupt and closed up shop. Fortunately, portions of Hostess were sold off during the bankruptcy proceedings and some of Hostess's former products have returned...including Twinkies.

New Twinkies on the Left vs. Original Twinkies on the Right

In theory, the formula for making them (ingredients and baking) were supposed to remain the same. Now, to be sure, the Ervin household doesn't devour a lot of Twinkies or other snack cakes, as evidenced that the box of Twinkies purchased before they went bankrupt survived half full in the cupboard until after the release of the new Twinkies.

I thought it would be interesting to have a taste test to compare the old Twinkies vs. the new Twinkies. Now, most folks who've known me long enough have have come to realize that my sense of taste isn't all that discerning. Subtle differences are pretty much beyond my recognition for most things. So, I recruited the rest of the family for the experiment, and a friend to the family (Kyle) to taste and compare.

The opinion or results all agreed:
  1. The old Twinkies taste just a bit sweeter than the new Twinkies.
  2. The new Twinkies are a little less dense or solid, being more cake-like than the old Twinkies.
  3. Other than that, the overall taste is largely the same.
If you have the opportunity--if you have any of the old (original) Twinkies sitting in a box behind the Ritz Crackers, Pop Tarts and Hamburger Helper, get a new box to compare and see if your taste test results agree.

Finally, while the point of eating Twinkies has little to do with nutrition, I've included that below--for those who might be interested.

New Twinkie Nutrition Info
Original Twinkie Nutrition Info

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sales Observations at Book Events Since November 2012

Now that I have three works available, and a few years of signing events in a variety of venues, I've begun to notice some trends. I'll focus on events since Genre Shotgun has been available.


Overall Sales (rounded off to nearest 5%):
Flank Hawk: 45%
Blood Sword: 15%
Genre Shotgun: 40%

At SF/Fantasy Conventions, Flank Hawk outpaces the other two works.

At venues where it's a repeat appearance for me, Blood Sword's sales rise, most of those sales are people picking up the second novel in the series after obtaining a copy of Flank Hawk the previous year.

When it's a new event for me/first time attending, I get very few Blood Sword sales, even though it's written as a standalone novel in the series, compared both to Flank Hawk and Genre Shotgun. On occasion a reader will pick up a copy of both Flank Hawk and Blood Sword, usually when the reader is very interested in the concept of the First Civilization's Legacy Series.

Even if potential readers seem a little bit more interested in Blood Sword's storyline, readers usually select Flank Hawk, since it's the first novel in the series.

If I am attending an event that attracts a more general audience (festivals, group author events and the like), Genre Shotgun sells better than Flank Hawk, and far better than Blood Sword, of course. At such events, the reader usually picks up Genre Shotgun for his or her reading. When they pick up a copy of Flank Hawk and/or Blood Sword, it's intended as a gift for someone else--son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter (either accompanying them at the event or to be given later).

This has affected my writing of Soul Forge, the third novel in the First Civilization's Legacy Series. It takes a lot of effort to get theplanning and tricky structure just right to make a novel in a series stand alone, complementing the first two for readers of the series up to that point while, at the same time, being novel a reader new to the series can pick up and read first.

Soul Forge will be a standalone work, but not as clearly and cleanly as Blood Sword. Why? I would expect that sales of the third novel will be similar to sales of the second, but to an even greater extent. This sales trend between Flank Hawk and Blood Sword has been consistent since Blood Sword's release.

Online sales, which include the ebook and audiobook versions, and the few brick and mortar sales, are somewhat more murky but seem to largely follow the pattern discussed above. The main difference is that Blood Sword sells much better than Genre Shotgun as an ebook, but not as well as Flank Hawk.

It's difficult to know why because, unless a reader posts a review of more than one of my works, or emails me about my writing, I have no idea who selected the novel and why. It's a situation far different than when I meet customers/readers face to face. Then I have the opportunity to describe my works and discuss their interests and reasons for deciding to obtain a copy (or copies) of my work(s).

This is my observation. Trends for other authors may vary greatly. It'll be interesting to see how Soul Forge and hopefully my science fiction novel, Relic Tech  (if/when it gets published) affect sales trends.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Roundup: Fandom Fest 2013

Death Latches onto a Con-Attendee
My wife, Kathy, and I attended Fandom Fest 2013 (July 26th to 28th). It was our second time attending the event and this year was far larger than last year, including the number of special media guests which definitely drew in larger crowds of fans. While the convention's planning and organization showed some growing pains, it has to be remembered that everyone on the staff and organizing team was a volunteer, giving up unnumbered hours of their time preparing for Fandom Fest 2013 and showing up to do their best to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible.

As Fandom Fest is largely a Television/Movie Media driven event, the focus wasn't on the Literary Track and authors--far from it. That doesn't mean we were invisible, but it was difficult for those con-goers interested to learn about and discover where the various literary/writing panels were held. That said, it was an improvement over last year, and I expect the Literary Track to take another step forward next year.

My Wife (Kathy) with three of the Firefly Crew

Adrian Paul (Highlander Series)
signing a wooden katana for
the Stan Lee Foundation
With Stan Lee as a primary Guest of Honor, many of the readers attending were interested in comics, art, and graphic novels. That doesn't mean that science fiction, horror, paranormal (romance) and fantasy novels were ignored. They were just a tougher sell.

Even so, I met a lot of neat people, some new readers interested in my novels and short stories, and learned a few things about writing and promotion.

Me at the Table in the Dealers Hall

Friday, August 2, 2013

Roundup: Piqua Farmers Market

I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in the Authors Day at the Piqua Farmers Market on July 25th.

I was one of four authors attending, two of them local authors I'd never met before. That's aways fun.

While a Farmers Market isn't the typical venue for books, both avid and casual readers do visit such markets and it was an opportunity to cross paths with some I might not have otherwise.

Mainstreet Piqua, which invited me and the other authors, provided the tent to shelter us from the sun overhead and promoted the event in the local news paper and through internet notifications.

In the two and a half hours there I met a lot of readers and sold a few books. Can't complain about that!
Set up at Piqua's Farmers Market