Short Stories

Do The Dead Dream? Dead Monarch Butterfly Oct 11, 2015

Do The Dead Dream? Dead Monarch Butterfly Oct 11, 2015

I started writing short stories (and some poems) at a single-digit age and have continued to write them throughout my adult life. Since I’ve taken to the long form (novels) short stories have taken a back seat (I’ve really missed writing them!)…but I’ve always wanted to post some of them, since becoming a blogger.

So, I will begin periodically posting some of my better work, here. Eventually, I do plan on compiling them all into a short story collection…but for now…

My first short story will be “Tail Gunner,” which had been published in the 2012 Longmont, Colorado Public Library’s anthology, “The You Belong Collection: Writings and Illustrations from Longmont Area Residents.

Feel free to send the stories out into the world, just please attribute them to me with the copyright dates.

I hope you, too, enjoy some of the weirdness I’ve envisioned!


Sex in Fiction

Out From Between The Sheets. Art by Victor Olson, Beacon Signal Books, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Out From Between The Sheets. Art by Victor Olson, Beacon Signal Books, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I am not a writer of porno…but elements of my latest novel, Voice, might well seem that way to some. Or is it “erotica”? And what’s the difference?

There are sex scenes…and there is little left to the imagination in most of them—but in the same breath the sex scenes (I am betting) are not exactly what I’m thinking you’re expecting.

What is it about sex that embarrasses us?


Can you even look at the word without flinching?

We don’t feel the same way about violence. Sure, we give lip service to how terrible and abhorrent violence is…but our actions speak otherwise. Violence doesn’t embarrass us—it should, but it doesn’t. Look at all the TV shows and movies…the gaming…that is so accepted that even kids are allowed to watch and/or play. You don’t see the same level of acceptance with things-sexual.

And I’m betting many of you are nodding your heads now, thinking, of course not!

Why is that?

So sex is worse than violence?

We can watch graphic prime-time shows with animals-in-the-wild “mating,” but Heaven forbid there’s a prime-time show with humans graphically “mating” (though arguments can be made this already quickly changing…).

And there’s the embarrassment factor.

People all the time talk about violence, lip service or not…but, again, Heaven forbid anyone bring up the topic of sex. This, on a philosophical and metaphysical level intrigues me. Sex is a natural function of the Human race. Arguably, violence is not. Violence is brought on by other factors that I’m not going to even try to get into in a short blog posting—but, to me—it is not a “natural function” of being a human.

I am not writing more apologist posts about my work, but I’d read this article by Noy Holland that discussed sex in writing, and it got me to (again) thinking. We really are far more accepting of violence than we are of sex. This is a flat-out, disturbing truth.

There is nothing redemptive about violence. There is about sex. Sure, one could say that violence can redeem itself by taking out evil, by “righting a wrong,” but there really is nothing good about inflicting pain or death in and of itself (and the old “two wrongs don’t make a right” come to mind). Doesn’t matter if the end result “corrects” a problem or not, one is still employing violence in said scenario. One is still performing heinous activity upon another. And I’ve heard more than once about how those who inflict actual violence on others do not feel good about it. Even in times of war. But so often it is framed within the guise of “a necessary evil.”

Sex, on the other hand, is not about inflicting pain or death…it’s about “inflicting” (if the word be used) pleasure and closeness. Connectivity. About bringing people together. Enjoying each other. Love can even be involved!

Yet talking about it, writing about it, filming it in movies has always been to certain extents taboo.

This is quite “telling” about the Human Race.

And what is “pornography”? Is it “erotica”?

“I can’t define pornography,” one judge once famously said, “but I know it when I see it.” (Justice Stewart in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 US 184 (1964).)

Pornography is defined as anything that is in words or pictures sexually explicit. Another definition is something that is primarily designed to produce sexual arousal in viewers. But there are further refinements of the definition that describe how erotica has the “saving grace” of “intellectual bookending” (I’ll call it)…an actual story surrounding the sex scenes…the employment of skill in storytelling. Erotica is also intellectually stimulating, while pornography is usually just about “getting one’s rocks off”—and usually for a predominantly male audience at the expense of women.

But what I find curious as I look into this whole debate (subtle unintended pun in there…) is that modifiers are applied to the act of sex…modifiers like “violent and degrading” are the usual suspects.

But these are modifiers to the inherent term, not part of the inherent term.


The act of sex is not about degradation and violence…it is about the act of people coming together and experiencing each other on an intimate, physical and emotional level. What we do with that, how we interpret that or “damage” that does not change the inherent neutral and beautiful act that sex is.

Just like farting or breathing or picking one’s nose, there is nothing wrong with sex in and of itself.

Go ahead and debate all the interpretational aspects of society and religions and decorum-what-have-you, but there is nothing wrong with the act of sex.

Yet we continually find fault with it.

In Voice, I depict sexual situations that I feel are important to the story, to the characters. In doing so that makes people feel ill at ease. Uncomfortable. Even I felt more than a little uncomfortable as I wrote and rewrote those scenes (truth be told, I was also uncomfortable writing the violence that unfolded in The Uninvited), and I was embarrassed at myself for having felt that way. No fricking way should I have felt that way! No fricking way should any of us feel that way!

The actions in my novel are between two people. In private. I’m not saying what they did was right…but it was what they did and is critical to the story and the characters’ growth. Without those scenes, there is no story. No impact.

It was just sex.

But it was the story, the emotional impact that bookends “that” activity that elevates the novel beyond the realms of “pornography.”

“Erotica” even?

No. As Noy points out, “All good fiction has an erotic charge.”

I try to write as “real” as possible in all of my work. It doesn’t matter what it is, I give it my all. When I put something out there, I very much intend people to walk away from my work saying something like, “Gee, that really could happen….” I did that for my metaphysical stories, my supernatural stories, my conspiracy theory stories. Of my fifth novel, it happens to have some pretty intense sex scenes in it like The Uninvited had some pretty intense violence in it. Both of these stories were at times difficult to write. And writing—good writing—is supposed to be “difficult” on a metaphysical/philosophical level and to get one to think. Reconsider one’s station, one’s place in life. One’s world. Voice is no different…whether it’s really good writing or dreck…my aim was to get one to reconsider certain aspects of love and life and relationships. Given the subject matter, if there weren’t moments of being uncomfortable then I hadn’t done my job.

Sex in fiction?

It shouldn’t even be an issue.

Related Articles


Incredible Voice Review!

Voice. (© 2015, F. P. Dorchak and Lon Kirschner)

Voice. (© 2015, F. P. Dorchak and Lon Kirschner)

Writer friend Karen Albright Lin, who is a freelance editor, public speaker, screenwriter, and writing instructor—and is very “hard to please”—wrote up the following kick-ass review of Voice.

It floored me.
Thank you, Karen!
on November 13, 2015

Voice was a hard to define book. Amazon asked me to describe the mood and I was hard-pressed to figure out whether I’d categorize it best as suspenseful or dark or thoughtful….Sometimes it was even light-hearted. And sexy isn’t on the list, otherwise I might have checked that box. Mr. Dorchak has gone out on a limb with a quirky, sometimes irritating main character, seemingly cheating on all the beautiful women who come into his life – including the Voice in his head and his own (eh hmmmm) hand.

Voice is heavy on philosophy, challenging the reader to think outside of the worldly box. Like one of his previous books, The Uninvited, Voice explores the paranormal in a fresh way.

The writing voice in this aptly named book had so many shining turns of phrase that I bookmarked many of them to study them and figure out why they worked so well. Among other things, I admired his surprising way of depicting setting in which Ben experiences “the slumber-inducing roar and crash of frothy breakers” and ”the cushioned springiness of the forest floor.”

The women who haunt him are Bo Derek sexy, Winona Rider dangerous, and Kirsten Dunst enigmatic. They “crawl around inside him…” And there isn’t a part of him that they aren’t a part of. In fact there was a powerlessness in Ben when it came to his love objects. Their gazes stripped “away all that he was. Stripped away all the games, pretension. Stripped away all that society considered moral and immoral. Destroyed any sense of decency, valor, or guilt. Sense of right or wrong. Tore away everything down to one thing and one thing only. Desire.” This paragraph tells you much of what you need to know before buying this book.

Protagonist Ben notices in his lusty counterparts things most people wouldn’t. “The pores of her back—the emotion of her back…” one’s stare at the “hairs on one of Ben’s forearms.” Even the “bottleness” of Chardonnay pressed too tightly to his side as one of the temptresses lures him. At the heart of the book is the “Karma-sutric” nature of his desires.

And believe me, there are some crazy lusty scenes that I can’t describe here without censorship. Suffice it to say that the senses are fully engaged, “tangy and sweaty” smells lingering on fingertips after wild sex. R to X rated for sure.

Dip in, if you dare, and look forward to the surprising climax (pun intended). What happens in the end between Ben and the “erogenous tentacles” he’s obsessed over came as a surprise for me. Though looking back, it made perfect sense. I won’t spoil it for you. But if you like visceral sex and confused protagonists, this one is worth buying. For this I give Voice a 5-star rating.

Related Articles

Kirschner Cover Art: Grace, By Howard Owen

Grace, By Howard Owen. Release Date October 2016, from The Permanent Press

Grace, By Howard Owen. Release Date October 2016, from The Permanent Press

Together with Lon Kirschner—who did my cover art for ERO and Voice—I’m launching a new series of posts that will discuss Lon’s cover art. I first ran into his efforts with The Grievers, a novel by Marc Schuster. Marc’s cover just grabbed me. Long story short, Marc put me in touch with Lon and I’d loved his work so much I’d commissioned him to do two of my covers. So, I thought, hey, why not highlight and discuss some of his work? So this marks the first in series of posts that will do just that. These may be bi-monthly…it may be quarterly…or it just may be whenever Lon and I can get-together to githerdone….

Today’s initial post is for Grace, by Howard Owen, which has an October 2016 release from The Permanent Press.

Originally, I was going to start out with another cover (but don’t worry, I’ll still get to it, and one of them is again another Howard Owen cover!), but as I reviewed the images Lon had sent, this one just jumped out at me. Continually. Maybe it was the key…maybe it was the desiccated wood grain behind it…maybe it was just having come off of Voice and the 1880s house I used as its setting…but it was probably all of it. When I looked at this cover over and over it was like I could actually feel that key…the rough, grainy wood. I have a key very similar to the one in the image from the Lake Clear, NY house I grew up in (that abovementioned late 1880s house served as the setting in Voice and ERO), and the wood in the image reminds me of the barn we had behind our house. How many times I’d run my hand over the barn’s weathered boards…caught a splinter or two…sandpapered it…painted it. Threw snowballs and rocks at it.

In short, it brought up all kinds of ancient memories. Memories that are getting ancienter and ancienter the older and older I get.

And isn’t that the point with cover art—or any artwork, for that matter? To illicit some kind of visceral experience? To trigger…a feeling? Any feeling?

To make us think?

Every time I look to this cover it slams me back to that barn. It’s darkened interior. It’s weathered and worn exterior. When I look at that key it takes me back to that house…to its original condition when we moved into it in the mid-to-late sixties before my dad gutted and reworked it’s interior. I am transported to that place and time…a displaced 1880s in my present time’s mind. I think I have wood splinters in my soul….skeleton keys in my heart. I had a great childhood there. Loved where I grew up. Think about it often. I incorporate so much of it into my work…and didn’t quite realize to what degree until I started publishing my novels over the past couple years….

But, that’s what Lon’s cover for Grace did and does to me.

Where it brought me—for good or ill—and whether or not my story has anything to do with Howard’s story behind that artwork…I don’t know—but, does it matter? If I saw this book on a shelf I’d pick it up and thumb through its pages and drink in its cover (in fact, I know I’d rub my hand over its cover, expecting to feel the wood grain, the metal key…).

Lon and I e-mailed back and forth a little about some of this, and here’s some of his responses:

“I had to smile when I read this [FPD: as in picking this cover as the first to discuss]. Grace is probably my favorite cover of the group and coincidentally, the easiest one to design. The manuscript had that Aha moment when I knew exactly what the cover would look like, it was one of those covers that ‘designed itself’ (referring back to my post on The Permanent Press blog).”

To this Lon also added about how the covers in this series of books:

“…organically morphed into a basically black and white design. When I did the first, I didn’t know it was going to be a series so that first cover is color and a bit more in the scary horror genre.”

The funny thing is Grace is not black and white…though Lon thinks of it as if it is!

Another funny thing is that I actually picked up on the above before Lon answered my question (i.e., that I figured he saw the cover as “black and white” even though it wasn’t; I mean, he could have said, “Yeah, I didn’t mean to write that, but…,” but he didn’t):

Me: Lon…but Grace is not black and white.

Lon: You are correct, Grace is in color but for me it functions as black and white. A dark background with a bright highlight. When I think of this cover, in my mind’s eye it is black and white. Maybe this is subliminal. You do raise an interesting point. I designed the cover and even I think of it as black and white. I guess we can persuade our mind to think of things very differently than what they are in reality. It brings to mind the story of police interviewing eyewitnesses to a crime. While all of the witnesses saw the same event, their stories and recollections can be very different. I didn’t even think twice when I referred to it as black and white.

Interesting isn’t it?

His reasoning is kinda “cousin” to my thoughts in the cover image itself. Our minds both went into tangential directions around the same cover….

And that’s a major point of cover art: to make you pick up a book. Purists (like me) will also say the point of cover art is to also give you something relating to the story, something to “hold” onto about the story within…[most traditional] publishers: they just want to get you to buy the damned thing.

Lon also went on to say that:

“Howard, who is usually fairly reserved, made a point of contacting me to tell me how much he loved the cover and thought it was spot on…has written me the most sincere and warm email about it.”

That—from my experience—is rare! We’re talkin’ tartare rare!

Most authors seem to take issue with their covers. Complain that many publishers “slap” on a cover with little to no thought incorporated. At least in the traditional publishing world. Usually a cover artist at a Big Five would get a brief description of what the book is about, maybe an outline, then they’d have to come up with something. Lon…is a different breed….and The Permanent Press is a different breed of publisher that allows Lon this “luxury”: Lon actually reads all of the manuscripts for the covers he does!

From Martin Shepard’s (head of The Permanent Press) June 17, 2015 blog post, Martin tells how he met Lon. Lon is not an employee of The Permanent Press, but is a “consulting creative director/designer.” This is how Martin remembers meeting Lon (and I do have Martin Shepard’s permission to use the following):

“Back in 1989, I received a flyer from Lon Kirschner and was mesmerized by his book cover designs. As I’ve said in a previous blog, I had my own art background. My beloved father, Mac Shepard, was an artist whose subway sketches are always featured on our catalog covers, while I was an art major at the High School of Music & Art in Manhattan during the late forties and early fifties. I was dazzled by his work, and Lon’s been designing covers for us for over 25 years. What a joy it is to both work with him and see what he comes up with. Any publisher, large or small, looking for a master cover designer would do well to get in touch with him by email.”

And that’s how I feel about Lon’s work: I am mesmerized…dazzled by it!

I am in awe of his work…which is why I’m highlighting him in my blogs. It all started with The Grievers, and it continues today (he did all my bookmarks and Voice book signing posters). In fact Lon told me that my review of The Grievers was the first time his cover art had ever been mentioned in a book review. I found that so hard to believe!

And if you haven’t yet read it, read The Grievers! It’s hilarious and had me laughing out loud so damned hard my mouth hurt. C’mon, Marc, write more funny stuff!

As I get to know Lon more and more through our correspondence these past couple of years, I am coming to find out what an absolutely terrific guy he is. We no longer just talk about writing and cover art or bookmarks and posters; our conversations have morphed into topics such as lawn mowing, trips, and movies. The man always tries to “do right” by his clients, and he’s so easy to work with. And, good God, is he talented. Maybe one day we will finally meet!

But for now, we trade e-mail, anecdotes—

And really cool covers!


Lon Kirschner may be contacted at:

Telephone: 518/392-3823



Some Books, Cats, and a Gift

The Bookman Book Signing, Nov 7, 20015

The Bookman Book Signing, Nov 7, 20015

Last weekend I held my first “dedicated” book signing in several years. By that I mean it was “all about me,” not a bunch of us at once, like at MileHiCon. It was weird.

“Hi! Look at me! Buy my books!”

Yeah, a little weird. I’d forgotten about that feeling. So I try to make it about the body of work, not the guy standing around with the stupid grin hoping you’ll come trade some cash for paper….

This was also the first book signing where I’d actively promoted it. Over a month out. All my other book signings had been more off-the-cuff things, maybe one prior one I’d put up a flyer somewhere the week prior…but I’d basically never done much to promote. But as I coordinated with Steffany, The Bookman’s manager, she kept wrestling me to the floor with Facebook. Telling me that she’s had authors do signings without being on Facebook and not selling a thing.

You Drew First Blood! First Customer! The Bookman Signing, Nov 7, 2015.

You Drew First Blood! First Customer! The Bookman Signing, Nov 7, 2015.

So, I had Lon Kirschner do up some really cool posters for me, and we’d put them up all over the West Si-iiide of town. Steffany had a mention or two on local radio. She also had a dedicated clientele…posters put up at all the local library branches.

Facebook, Frank, Facebook.


I caved.

I’d had an account years ago and killed it. I mean did the “kill shot” that involved them totally getting rid of everything about you like you never even existed, where you e-mailed or wrote a letter to them and they “erased” you.

Very CIA.

So…I returned. And it is kinda fun that I’d reconnected with lots of my writer and non-writer friends I haven’t seen in the few years since. I’d quit a function a couple years ago where I’d normally see all these people, so it was nice reconnecting. So, Steffany’s prodding also had positive “unintended consequences”—thanks, Steffany!

Okay, so Facebook it is. I did the “Event” thing and annoyed my friends with “Come and See Me!” notices. I put up the posters. Handed out bookmarks. Mentioned it everywhere. Know what I found out?

The Bookman Signing, Colorado Springs, Nov 7, 2015

Hi, I’m Running For Office. Do You Have A Baby I Could Hold?

The only thing that brought in people…was Facebook. The ONLY thing.

Sorry, Lon.

Not one person showed up because of any poster I put up. Or the library put up. Or the radio spots.


I can safely say that because of everyone that bought books, only three were people I’d not previously known before…one guy was at the store shopping before the signing officially started, had been in Vietnam, and we “talked military.” He gravitated toward Psychic, my remote viewing conspiracy theory novel. Bought it. The other two were a “friend of The Bookman’s” and her friend. Everyone else were people I knew (okay, one friend brought her sister, who I also did not knooow…but I did know of her…)! And they’d heard of it over




The Bookman Signing, Colorado Springs, Nov 7, 2015

Let’s See…That’s R-o-…no, R-q-…no, R-y-…Dang It, I Need Another Book….

Now, that “friend of The Bookman’s” did say that she was going to go grab one of my posters from one of the storefront windows she’d seen it in, because it was such a cool poster and she wanted one! Thanks, Vanessa (and did you end up getting it?)!

But, all that aside…I was so moved by the support of my friends…and their excitement at coming down and being a part of this! I had so many questions thrown at me! One writer friend actually said she wished I’d had a presentation so she could ask more questions! How sweet, thanks, Ataska!

Afterwards (on Facebook) another joked about how she was observing all “my girlfriends”…and I’d joked, well, aren’t you one? She replied “Why, I certainly am!” But she brought up a point I hadn’t even realized at the time, but most of my friends who showed were female! There were only two dudes at the signing, three if you count Mark, who works at The Bookman.

My Books Are Cat Friendly! The Bookman Signing, Colorado Springs, Nov 7, 2015

My Books Are Cat Friendly! The Bookman Signing, Colorado Springs, Nov 7, 2015

The Bookman has a couple of “resident cats” who roam the place like they own it. Well, they do. And I liked that. I love animals. One of them was quite curious, as you can see in this photo! S/he hung out on the table top there for a few minutes. Sniffing around, checking out “the heads.”

So, as moved as I was by the support of my friends, there was another incident that also really touched me. Apparently, one of my “Virtual Friends,” who interacts with me through blog posts and comments, hadn’t been able to make the signing…but had stopped by the previous day…and dropped off a gift for me. As far as I know we’ve never met at a conference or anything, but we have interacted off-and-on over several years through blog posts. She goes by Kattywampus Books. She’s quite witty and intelligent. I never know what she’s gonna say, or how, but it usually grabs and amuses me. Asks probing and thoughtful questions. Anyway, she had left me “a little something” that literally had me speechless. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before.

The Kattywampus Author Survival Kit™! No Author Should Be Without One!

The Kattywampus Author Survival Kit™! No Author Should Be Without One!

She left me the coolestAuthor Appearance Survival Kit.”

I’m just gonna say it: holy shit.

I mean, this took some serious thinking. Took a little out-of-pocket expense…but, more so, it was the thought that went into this. The gesture.

I was really touched by her gift.

That she thought enough of me to do something like that. To go out of her way, create it, then leave it for me. Wow. It still brings a huge smile to my face every time I think about it!

When I opened the case…read the letter…I was, um, verklempt.

I mean (until I finished reading the letter I didn’t know who had left this), who do I know who would do something like this?

Mark and  Steffany must surely have been watching my expressions.

Wow. As much horror and fear that’s instilled in the media about the world…it’s nice and amazing to find that there are people out there who do things like this.

Read Kattywampus’s post…most of that stuff in her post is in my kit. And she’s right! You do need this stuff! As it was, I had brought four pens with me, and with her nifty Fisher Space Pen (and refill!), I effectively had six. She even included a mini-First Aid kit (“Papercuts happen.”)!

But, dang it, now I have to do more book signings just to show this thing off!

So, thank you so much, Kattywampus! That was extremely thoughtful of you! Perhaps one day we shall meet…or if we already know each other and you’re just playing up the whole “mysterious” aspect…well played! I like a little mystery!

Interior of The Kattywampus Author Survival Kit™

Interior of The Kattywampus Author Survival Kit™

So, there it is…my first Only Me book signing in a handful of years…and it was a success. I’d sold the most books I’d ever sold in one sitting (12). Maybe not a lot by other’s standards, but for me, it was awesome! And the important thing for me was that I’d had fun. My accountant might feel otherwise (yes there is that nice little check being deposited), but we’re all happy, even The Bookman—who is now carrying my body of work (Psychic was sold out, but I have ordered more; I’m trying to get more Sleepwalkers, but AuthorHouse is not playing nice). So do feel free to stop on by! I love their bookstore, it’s very cozy and crammed with books. And a couple of cats.

And if you’re an author, and a little lucky…maybe someone will stop by and drop off a really cool Kattywampus Author Survival Kit™ for you!

Related Articles

The Eldredge Not (

Voice Book Signing (

Voice Delivered (


MileHiCon47, a Knot, and a Head

MileHiCon47, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Denver, CO, October 23-25, 2015

MileHiCon47, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Denver, CO, October 23-25, 2015

Well, this past weekend was a blur!

I attended the 47th MileHiCon, in Denver, invited back for a second year—and hope I get the lifetime subscription! This is an absolutely incredible—flat-out fun—event that anyone with a halfway interest in fantasy, science fiction, and the bizarre should attend at least once!

My first time last year I was on a couple of panels, but this year not only was I on panels, but I also moderated:

  • Moderated Exploding Myths of the New World of Publishing
  • Panelist on Military SF Discussion and Readings
  • One of many at Autograph Alley
  • Movie discussion moderator for the 1973 movie, Soylent Green
  • One of several writers on The Reading Game (this was a blast!)
  • Panelist on Closer & Further Than You Think

Exploding Myths of the New World of Publishing

This was an informative panel to have been a part of! We had great discussions about the state of publishing and how it has so changed with the continued flourishing (yes, “flourishing“…) of Independent (Indie) Publishing. Also once known as the highly stigmatic “self publishing.” I Indie published my first novel, Sleepwalkers, in 2001. I caught a lot of grief about that from many writers and agents and editors in the traditional publishing world, if not in word in attitude. So much so that in one panel I had been part of at another conference I’d doubted that I’d ever self publish again.

But today?

Wow, it’s the thing.

People are making a living out of it like never before and no longer is it looked down upon by the masses. I just released my fifth novel, Voice this year.

On this panel were Kristi Helvig, Angie Hodapp, Gary Jonas, and the ubiquitous Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Military SF Discussion and Readings

I’ve only written one military SF novel, and it’s my UFO conspiracy theory book, ERO (though Psychic could be considered a cousin to military SF, since it is also a part of that government conspiracy theory worldview, though no “uniformed services” are involved, like in ERO). Here, I was a panelist (not a moderator) and we discussed what we thought “made” military fiction military fiction, as well as various aspects of military fiction. We read from our works.

On this panel were Kevin Ikenberry (moderator) and Robert Williscroft—two gentlemen I kept running into over the course of the weekend—Sourdough Jackson, and Kal Spriggs. Kevin and I were later on the Closer & Further Than You Think panel. Kevin and Kal are Army and Bob’s Navy. I was Air Force. Sourdough was never military, though is an ardent student of the military, having studied naval history for some 50 years.

Autograph Alley

This is an en masse book signing for authors. As I discussed with my table mate, Angela Roquet, it is interesting to see who gets all the attention at this thing…and how it changes from year to year. This was only my second, so my observations were obviously limited. I didn’t sell any books (sold two later in the weekend as I meandered about the con) but had some fun conversation…especially about my mannequin head—which I’d carried with me all day Friday and Saturday…but more on that in a minute….

Interesting to note that my MileHiCon46 crush AaronMichaelRitchey (his name is to be uttered with great reverence and in one breath, one word…) was still (true to form) talking it up and drawing the crowds. I tried to emulate him this year with chocolate—but no one was having it. Everyone seemed to be on diets. How does AaronMichaelRitchey do it? The man is just magic. And tall. I swear he gained two inches since last year.

Damn, AaronMichaelRitchey.

Soylent Green Movie and Discussion

One of the fun things “they” (being “them”) do at MileHiCon is screen films, and I volunteered to moderate the Soylent Green movie discussion. So from 1 – 2:30 we watched the movie, then from 2:30 (or so) we discussed the film for about an hour. One really cool thing that came out of the discussion was that one lady had told us she had seen the original screening back in 1973 and ever since had wanted to be part of an actual discussion about that movie, because it so moved/scared her when she’d first seen it. So I’d felt quite honored that we had been part of her “bucket list,” so to speak, and had been able to fulfill her wish!

You just never know what you’re going to be a part of when you do things like this.

Point of order, however, but as I searched the Internet for “Soylent Green” for this post I found…it’s real!

Yes—Soylent Green is….

The Reading Game

This was such a cool idea! The premise of The Reading Game is like The Dating Game, but only with books.

It’s to help connect readers and writers! A reader sat on one side of a screen, while three writers sat on the other side. The reader then asked questions of the writers, and based on their answers the reader selected a writer they thought they might like to read. That author would give a book of theirs to the reader—and of course autograph it. I was one of the writers, and I was selected by a reader (most or all of the authors were selected by readers). My reader selected The Uninvited, my supernatural murder mystery and a “whydunnit” (versus a “whodunnit”). We all had a blast, on both sides of the screen. It didn’t have a huge audience, I think, because it was its first time offered and not well understood, so we hope next year it fills the room with roaring attendance! I feel this has huge entertainment potential on many levels! Afterward all readers were asked if they would post reviews of the books they read…and help publicize The Reading Game.

Closer & Further Than You Think

This was a discussion about what hard SF possibilities are actually right around the corner, despite being depicted as far out, and vice versa. Now, admittedly, I felt just a leettle out of my league, here, sitting on panel that sported Big Brain scientist types whose hands are still “in the pie,” as it were, so I went all conspiracy theory (I had to!)—and found a fellow conspiracy theorist in Dr. Tim Slater (knuckle bump!), of the University of Wyoming.

You see, whenever I talk about this kind of stuff it’s hard for me to not go all conspiracy theory! I don’t follow technology all that much anymore, but when I wrote ERO I had done a lot of conspiracy theory research and did try to keep somewhat up on technology…and what a lot of that “keyed” into me was that what we see and what might actually exist are three different things. And one of the books I’d read, whose author and exact title I couldn’t recall during the panel, but which I now present here for the Big Brains to pick apart, discussed about already existing hyperdimensional, anti-gravity (electrogravitics), faster-than-light travel. That book is Secrets of Antigravity Propulsion, by Paul A LaViolette, Ph.D. So, there you go, Kevin, Doug, Tim, and J. L., have at it! Love to hear you thoughts on the [anti]matter, if you’ll pardon the pun….

So, really, who can you trust when you talk about this stuff?

No one. Trust No One.

Other Sessions

I attended other sessions on which I was not a panelist:

Copyright for Authors and Artists

Trends in Publishing

Remember That Thing Called Privacy

The Year in Science (the tail end)

There is so much to say about these and the other panels, but this post is already long enough. All the sessions were quite informative. Except for MileHiCon, I’ve been out of the writer conference circuit for about two years, and I realized that I’ve missed it. There’s only so much an individual can do, and when you throw in trying to get your own writing done that really limits how “up” on things you can be. And of all the above sessions I attended, the Privacy session was perhaps the most unsettling…but I’d expected that…the so-called “eroding” of our personal privacies. There’s the “legal” definitions (a lawyer was on the panel, one who’d “argued” before the Supreme Court on just such issues) and what we think we understand to be our own human privacy rights. It’s a little unsettling. But the more we give away or “don’t care about,” the less we’ll have and the quicker it will all erode away. As long as there’s one guy or gal out there willing to create these kinds of technologies and actually use them…and gee, factor in the science and science fiction of technology, and well…

We’re all screwed.

Some arguments might well be made that it’s all only a matter of returning to where we all started…tribes and clans of everyone knew everyone’s business and there were no secrets so we’re really just coming full circle…but I could also use the argument that why don’t we just return to living in abject poverty and disease-ridden streets? Just “returning to a previous state” doesn’t make it “right.” No, I’m not of the mindset of “it’s just a return how it used to be.” Why are people so uncaring of all this? I enjoy my privacy. I know others who feel the same way. Call us Neo Luddites, we don’t care. I like having a little mystery about a person. I don’t want to know nor care to see how one wipes their ass or masturbates or picks their noses on a YouTube video, and, quite frankly, it disturbs me that others would want to know this about other people. Because—keep this in mind—what you’re seeing about other people…other people will also see about you.

When you continually enable Big Companies and the government by using things like Google (which I avoid—I’m told DuckDuckGo is as good at Google without the tracking) or smartphones without thinking about just what it is you’re doing…that bothers me. We all need our personal space. I don’t need to know your most-intimate of details. Yet we find all people continually posting all manner of minutiae on all manner of social media. I’ve talked to a few of those of other generations, and it is disturbing the “I don’t care” I get from some…”I don’t care if they track me going to the store.” Or “I don’t care if they track what I buy.”

Can’t you look beyond your desire for the latest smartphone to what you’re enabling? Can’t you look past your privacy nonchalance to the far larger picture? Are you really so self-involved you can’t see past your freaking iPhone?!

All kinds of arguments can be made for companies and governments having always been doing this, etc.—but does that make it right?

Think about your actions…their logical conclusions. Think.

Yet…I can also make the case that on a metaphysical level (yes, here I go…) such developments are also the physical manifestation of a kind of metaphysical and spiritual “singularity.” In this case, we are all approaching an “event” where we realize just how intricately connected we really are and how nothing is really hidden from another on an incorporeal level. So, our corporeal existence is more and more mirroring our incorporeal existence.

Transitions can really be a bitch.

Another conversation of note involved a panel I was on about the advancements in technology. In that discussion we touched upon the soul, the spiritual, and I was amused that science (well, one of our panelists) quickly went hands-off, and even went so far as to say that he wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole (or words the effect)…yet “discussions” of physics and technology with an audience member who took issue with some of our panelists assertions were directly and most ardently faced head on.

I get it.

Certain things are more easily and apparently “proven” so “discussions” are considered useful.

But here’s the thing. And I said it in my own closing remarks on this particular panel: I worry about the advancements in technology without the corresponding advancements in ethics. Just because we can do something does not mean we should.

What is happening to our collective moral compass?

We do need to have more spiritual and metaphysical discussions bookending our advancing technologies…we should not shy away from them, ignore them, be unwilling to “touch them with a 10-foot pole”…yet continue to create more and more invasive and frightening advancements in technology that seem to stretch the limits of—hell, ignore—moral and ethical considerations.

MileHiCon48: panel for next year: the ethics of advancing technology.

We need to be more mindful of just what it is we’re allowing into our lives. Yes, the Government and Big Business is going to do what they do behind our backs, but let’s not make it any easier on them. A more aware public, or better informed and “ethically aware” (choose your term) public, is a stronger public that can actually push back on the nano-intrusions into our lives. At least make informed decisions. The unbridled advancements of “bombs and bullets and lasers” and all that involves. We create our reality…technology does not. I’m all for Human advancements…but to create advancing technology just because we can “finally get the numbers right” is not the answer. Is not a right. Let’s get the ethics right, too.

Let’s not destroy ourselves with our own hubris.

A Knot and a Head

Okay, to end on a lighter note!

Table For Two? Hyatt Regency Hotel Restaurant, MileHiCon47

Table For Two? Hyatt Regency Hotel Restaurant, MileHiCon47

Friday and Saturday, much like the Twin PeaksLog Lady,” I wandered about MileHiCon47 with a mannequin head.

Oh, and this insane, Eldredge Knot.

I found it most curious that very few actually asked me about “my friend” (“the head” has a name, you know, had you asked: “Becka”). I’d even brought her into the hotel’s “Root 25 Taphouse and Kitchen” restaurant with me, and none of the server staff said a peep about her. And of all the panels I was on, I surely thought someone in the room—or at the very least on a particular panel itself–that of the Military SF Discussion and Readings—would have asked “Hey, dude—what the hell?

But, nooo!

Becka In The Morning. MileHiCon47

Becka In The Morning. MileHiCon47

A few brave souls did inquire, however, one notable individual was author C. R. Asay. Christauna, which is her given name, came up to me as I hung out by a table in the hallway between Thunderpass and Bristlecone conference rooms, and asked straight out about what was the deal with the head? As we talked, she chuckled and told me she wasn’t sure what kind of response she was going to get from a guy carrying around a mannequin head! But she thought there must have been “something there” [mentally, we’re talking…] since I was dressed up kinda nice (bright, royal blue Kenneth Cole shirt and gold Jacob Alexander tie) and had this rather intricate tie knot (yea, verily, the mythical Eldredge Knot), and I wasn’t smelly, nor looking at all scraggy or disheveled!

This goes down as the coolest introduction EVER.

Sorry, AaronMichaelRitchey.

Well, here’s the deal: a character in my novel, Voice, sports a gold tie in an

A Girl And Her Coffee. MileHiCon47

A Girl And Her Coffee. MileHiCon47

Eldredge Knot, and another character in Voice  (let’s just say) “deals with” a mannequin head. That’s all I’m saying on the latter.

But, by the same token, it was so cool that I didn’t “freak out” anyone at MileHiCon (though a Facebook friend or two felt a little nervous about my sanity/apparent predilections…). Mainly because I wasn‘t the craziest looking thing out there that weekend!

And that was most amusing!

I mean, had I seen someone like me, I would have gone up and asked out of total curiosity! To me, that “presentation” would be a weird “look.” One not in line with a fantasy and science fiction convention (though I’d spotted a cross-dresser or two, here and there, not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’d be compelled to ask. So not being asked was both a pleasure and a curiosity, if you get my reasoning.

A Moment Of Reflection Before All The Crazy. MileHiCon47

A Moment Of Reflection Before All The Crazy. MileHiCon47

I’d actually fit in into the whole Weltanschauung that is MileHiCon!

And though I did get looks—just like every other costumed attendee—no one steered clear of me. And I did get quit a few smiles!

Originally I’d just intended to use the mannequin as a prop at Autograph Alley (not that that made any difference…), but when I thought about it, I thought, this be the perfect opportunity to well…play. And I so rarely do that. “Cut loose,” and do something weird like this—or even dress up on Hallowe’en anymore (I did it once at work in my entire adult life). I just don’t do that kinda thing. Yeah, go ahead, analyze. So, this was the most perfect place and time to do such a thing, and I decided to “let it all hang out”… and just “own it.” My story, that is. It was all for promotion of Voice, my newest release. I’m pretty sure someone will remember “that guy with the head” and Google/DuckDuckGo me to see what’s up w’dat.

So that, readers, was my Evil Plan. There you go, Robin and Kathleen.

I had a blast meeting up with my writer friends…making new ones. I had a great

Alas, Poor Becka.... MileHiCon47

Alas, Poor Becka…. MileHiCon47

conversation with Laura Deal and Leonore and David Dvorkin (and thanks, again, Leonore, for all of your support! You are so kind and gracious!). Her and David are also doing some book publishing efforts, and one of them sounds quite interesting is Red Eyes. I liked the look and feel of that book (she had a copy with her). A creepy feeling murder mystery. At this Con I met their son, Daniel, who’s been coming to this Con since he was a wee lad, but he’s “wee” no longer and now sat on some of his own panels. It was cool to meet them all.

How nice and sweet and kind were many I met and talked with! I know I’ve said it a lot already, but it really was pure fun!

There are so many to mention, so forgive me if I don’t specifically call you all out, but know I do value our conversations and friendships.

Angie Hodapp–you are so kind and gracious! Thank you for our conversation and for that “introduction” (be nice if it really pans out)! That was “funny” and well-timed, given our conversation only seconds prior!

C. R. Asay—again, I have to mention, yours was simply the coolest introduction EVER–“I wasn’t sure what kind of response I was going to get from a guy walking around carrying a mannequin head, but…!

Ed Bryant and John Stith—so good to see and catch up with the both of you!

The Eldredge Knot et Moi. MileHiCon47, October 23-25, 2015

The Eldredge Knot et Moi. MileHiCon47, October 23-25, 2015

Bob Williscroft…wow, a fascinating life you’ve lived! Was a pleasure making your acquaintance, sitting on panels with you, and running into you multiple times this weekend!

Kevin Ikenberry—wish you well on your upcoming retirement! Also was a pleasure making your acquaintance, sitting on panels with you, and running into you multiple times this weekend! Wish you all the best on your  novel, next year!

Kristi Helvig—I’m sure we’ve met before at another writers conference—you are so familiar (could be a past-life thing…)—but in any case, it was fun talking with you (again)!

And to everyone else I haven’t specifically mentioned (Shannon, the other Aaron, J.T., Mario, Carol, Alicia, Matt, OMG, OMG, vapor lock! Vapor Lock!) thank you for taking time out of your weekend to chat and interact! I wish you all well with all of your efforts!

Thanks to Rose Beetem and ALL the volunteers! Awesome effort!

Man, I’m looking forward to MileHiCon48!


Do try to make my first dedicated book signing for Voice, November 7, from 1 – 3 p.m., at The Bookman, on 3163 W. Colorado Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80904.

Voice is a sexy, emotional thriller about a guy who falls in love with a voice in his head (and there are mannequins…)…but is so much more. It’s about what defines “love”? What defines a “relationship”? How are we all connected? Yeah, I do get metaphysical on your asses, but I also get sexy, uncomfortable, and gritty. Come on, stop by…I can pretty much guarantee you haven’t read anything like this. But it’s not for the easily offended. Just sayin’.

Keep up the great work. Your writing is unlike anything else I’ve read, and I mean that in a good way.” Joseph Reininger, former Book Seller.

Related Article

MileHiCon46…or This Blog is Really All About Aaron Michael Ritchey (

The Eldredge Not

Gold Tie

Gold Tie. Ohhh, You’re SO Smug. Just Lying There.

I bought this gold tie that I plan on “using” at my book signing next month. “Using,” as in “employing” a complicated “Eldredge Knot.” One of the characters, Émile, in my novel, Voice, wore the knot.

Damn him.

This is my journey.

Day 1

Performed unmentionable sacrifice to The Tie Gods. Soul will knot in Hell.

I unwrapped the tie. Bought it special. Amazon dot com.

Researched best Internet video. Watched it twice. Tried knot. Failed miserably. Sprained wrist.

Found other things to do…like Facebook, Twitter…yard work. Took a hike.

Day 2

Surfed the Internet. Checked e-mail. Avoided…The Knot.

Took a walk.

Carbo loaded. Iced sprained wrist.

Day 3

What?! This is really day 3?! Crap.

Better carbo load again….

Days 4 – 12…

Okay, so I finally (again) carbo loaded, hydrated (always, always hydrate!), and manned up.

Set a date.

Pre-dialed 9-1-1. Had first-aid kit handy.

I will do this.


Wife’s gone on a business trip. Must have no witnesses.

I removed the innocuous looking tie from its wrapper. Put on my BRIGHT royal blue shirt (it doesn’t come across in this pictures, but it’s ROYAL blue…like, really, really royal blue). I found that best video out there and began my sojourn.

The Eldredge Knot.

Yes…the famed, complicated, yea mythical knot.

Not for the timid.

I began.

This is the unsuspecting neck.

The Uninitiated, Oh-So-Naïve Neck.

The Uninitiated, Oh-So-Naïve Neck.

I watched the video.

Took the tie in both hands.

My hands trembled. I steadied them.

I began.

I flipped it.

I wrapped it.

I pulled it through.

I tightened that bad boy.

The Eldredge Not.

The Eldredge Not.

Uh, yeaaah. Knot exactly what I was expecting. Great. Now I pulled the other wrist.

I undid everything.

Took a moment (or 15) to get my head together. Shook it off. Iced the wrist.

I went back in.

Okay, I hit the paused selection on the video twice as many times this time…hydrated some more during the action…and

I flipped it.

Wrapped it.

Pulled it through.

Tightened it.

The Eldredge Garlic Press.

The Eldredge Garlic Press.

Dang it!

How th—

Hey, I’d been looking for that garlic press for two years!

Okay, fine.

Take a breath.

I can do this.

It’s just a knot. A knot.

Made of material.

Puts its pants on like everyone else.

The guy on the video says it’s not all the hard (really). If he can do…I can.

I extricated the garlic press from the folds…undid the tie.

Stared at it.

Wrung out my hands…yes, they were still a little sore…the wrists, tender…but I’d have to muscle through the pain. I work out. Focus. Forced reps.

I can do this.

I drank four coffees, five iced teas, and downed three handfuls of acai berries. Dipped in dark chocolate.



I went in.

This was it folks.

There would be no going back.

It was me…or the knot.

There would be no prisoners.

I flipped it.

I wrapped it.

I twisted it.

Pulled it through.

Tightennned it until my hands trembled.

Then I opened my eyes (that really helps, I found).

The Eldredge Knot.

The Eldredge Knot.

I cried!

It wasn’t perfect…but I’d done it.

I’d conquered Everest. I mean Eldredge.

I collapsed.


My wife found me two days later, having returned from her trip. I was dehydrated, delirious, 30-pounds lighter, my neck bruised…but I was none-the-worse-for-wear.

It took several sessions of intense Rolfing before I could recall anything.

The tie.

The…the Eldredge Knot.

I had been there and back.

Lived to talk about it.

And I’m never taking it off.

But, it is October.

Try it…if you dare. You will never be the same.



Bite The Hand That Feeds Ya

Pardon My Bark! (By Don DeBold (Flickr: Chihuahua Guard Dog) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Pardon My Bark! (By Don DeBold [Flickr: Chihuahua Guard Dog] [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons)

Do you really understand what you’re asking for when you force a market value of $0.99 or even $2.99 for ebooks?

I read something the other week that again brought up the whole ebook v. paperbook argument. As a reader, low-cost is great, but as a creator of product (a writer), I can’t stand they way ebooks are priced. It cheapens the artist’s and packager’s (publisher’s) efforts—which, in the Indie world, is usually the same entity.

At a writer’s conference several years ago, this was brought up. In fact, it used to get brought up a fair amount when I was still attending conferences.

“Well, you’re not really creating a book, you know…it’s all electronicit should be cheaper!

Do you know what goes into creating a book? I don’t mean writing it, I mean creating the “package” we call “a book”?

I’m an Indie author, have never been traditional, and just take a look at what I have to go through to release a book! Click here.

Now…translate that to a huge corporation with salaried employees. With other books to release…with hugely talented editors and cover artists and all the other bells and whistles that go with running huge corporations and operations, not to mention all the administrative support—these people have lives to support (well, I do too…), so they damned well wanna get paid and have health care and other “minor” considerations, like a safe and comfortable environment in which to work (which involves other overhead costs, like building/office space rental, HVAC maintenance, insurances, et cetera)!

One editor with whom I last heard this argument discussed had said (words to the effect that) the actual book creation (the physical pages and cover) is almost the least of the “their problems” when it comes to making a book. You still have to commission an artist to do the cover, review the cover, edit the content, edit the cover, create and organize the content and cover, copyedit the content, proofread the content, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, there’s still a shitload of effort that needs to be completed even before a book is “typeset”/digitized and put to actual paper and bound.

So, okay, there’s no massive distribution or warehousing of physical books with ebooks. I get that. So if not $15 a book. $12, fine. But not $3, not 99 cents.

Again, please review what it takes to put out a book. And note that whether I put out an ebook or a physical trade paperback it still costs me the same to format it. The cover is only slightly cheaper because I don’t need the wrap-around (spine and back) cover. Everything else (like my editor friend said) remains the same. I still have to commission a cover artist.

Oh, and let’s not forget a very important part—the years it took some of us to write the thing! Yes, years!

So, really, charging only $0.99 for a book (or anything less than the retail price for the physical version) that took maybe 2-4 or more years from first word to shelf (digital or otherwise) is in my humble opinion a frigging crime. I’m all for $15 an ebook. Marketplace, however, dictates otherwise.

It’s like people with “plastic.”

If money is just “plastic” we tend to not really think of it as “money.” We really only tend to think of money as “money” when we hold the actual dollar bills in our hands…and this is how I think many view the Internet and things that one gets over the Internet: that everything over it is somehow not “real”…that things we get from it should be free.

For some odd reason we feel an indignant sense of entitlement with All-things Internet.

Why is that?

Someone has to manage and oversee The Internet. Someone has to get paid for keeping that electronic highway up and running. Why do some/many feel that anything we get over it should be cheap or free? Why do some/many feel that ebooks should be so cheap…or altogether free (and not to mention: “Hey, I bought the full-price paperback—I should get the ebook free!”)?

Is that maybe because you think that ebooks aren’t real books?

That they’re just weightless little electrons (even electrons [protons and neutrons] have weight)? Like “plastic money”…ebooks aren’t…real.


You’re iPhone and iPad are real. They’re tangible. You can certainly hold those toys in your hands. Nobody seems to have a problem shelling out all the cash that goes with owning a cell phone.

But an ebook?

Nawwww…it’s electronic. It ain’t real.

With a physical book or your iPhone you have to put it somewhere. You can’t just ignore it. It’s something.

You can’t drop an ebook.

If an ebook falls…does it make a sound?


Therefore it’s not real.

If you drop your iPad or Nokia people have to peel you off the ceiling and call in a crash cart.

You’re not worried about the Internet breaking when you drop your toy. It’s ubiquitous. So much Internet content is free. But your handheld toy wasn’t.

So, next time you get indignant over the price of an ebook, keep this in mind: we sweat and toil over our “products” for years…then sweat and toil and spend all kinds of money and effort to create a really cool package—called “a book,” whether it’s an ebook or a “real” book—so you can enjoy something fun to read. Be moved. Informed. Whatever. Taken away from your real life. Writers write so we can realize this crazy, driving force within us into reality…only to have our efforts cheapened and dismissed by “The Internet.” And we writers know that not even the reader’s time is “free.” There are always trade-offs.

One way or the other…somebody always pays.

Voice Book Signing At The Bookman Nov 7, 2015

Voice Book Signing Nov 7 2015, 1 - 3 P.M.

Voice Book Signing Nov 7 2015, 1 – 3 P.M.

Next month I am holding a book signing at The Bookman, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from 1 to 3 p.m., Mountain time. It’ll be my first full-on book signing for Voice, though I’m also going to MileHiCon in Denver this month and I’m included in an en masse book signing of all the MileHiCon authors on Friday, October 23rd. I was there last year.

Next month’s book signing is on the West Side of Colorado Springs, just off and parallel to Highway 24. It’s catty-corner across from the Pizza Hut and within a stone’s throw of Safeway, where there’s plenty of parking.

I will also have some of my other novels on hand, but this signing is primarily about Voice.

Come on by (you, too, Vanessa!)…it’d be nice to see ya!

Voice Links:

Voice Facebook Events Page

The Bookman’s Facebook Voice Events Page

Voice Web Page

Voice Pinterest Board

Voice Reviews

Voice Amazon

Voice Smashwords

What Does it Take To Release A[n Indie] Book?

Besides the actual writing of the novel, there’s the publishing of it. The transformation from a manuscript to a book. Sometimes that can feel like it takes just as long as the creation of the manuscript (ms)! One of my friends and a reader told me she was amazed at what goes on in the background “just” to release a book—she told me she couldn’t believe everything that has to get done!

So, in honor of her (let’s call her “Edie”!)…this post. Below I’ve attached (as gracefully as I can in the ever-changing environment that is WordPress) my publishing checklist…but I’ll step though an overview of the process. For an overview of the overview, take a quick scan of how long this post is. Just sayin’.

In the traditional world, unless you’re releasing a book that begs immediate release for whatever reason (e.g., rich and famous and/or timely issue), it typical takes about a year (or so) to get all your loons in a row to release it. The steps I do are pretty much the same…I just don’t have the bankroll nor staff they (being “them”) have, so I make do with what I can and am lucky enough to have some stellar people who help out. I truly wish I could pay all of them for all their efforts (at the going rate), but that’s the reality of independent publishing: the kindness of friends and writing peers and the “poorness” of Indie authors.

But do be aware: it does cost.

Going Indie is a not a freebie enterprise. Sure, you can put out a cheap-looking, low quality effort, but you’re going to hurt yourself in the long run. And if you do finally gather your wits (and resources) about you and do end up putting out higher quality efforts…you’ll have that one (or three…) crappy effort out there unless you go back and redo what should have been done right in the first place.

Would you buy a poorly created book?

So, throttle back on the excitement and take a breath. Do it right.

Okay, you think you’re done with your ms. So now you need to take a break, right? Yes and no. Even before you’re done, it’s always good to keep your eyes and ears open for those you’ll be needing for the release of your work, and the earlier the better (and contacting those you’ll want to work with to see about fitting into their schedules is a must): you’ll need the following efforts “covered” (pardon the pun):

  • Cover
  • Interior formatting
  • Proofreading/copyediting
  • Blurbs (you don’t really need these)
  • Author photo (you don’t really need this)
  • Book reviews
  • Book creation: paperback/hardback/ebook
  • ISBNs
  • Library of Congress copyright copy
  • Book distribution
  • Promotion. Forever promotion….


For the cover I’ve used two different folks. I’ve used Karen Duvall, of Duvall Design, and Lon Kirschner, of Kirschner Caroff Design Inc. It just depends what kind of budget you have. Karen (and most cover artists, especially in the traditional world) doesn’t read your work and engages you from the very beginning. It’s very give and take from the get-go. I’ve known her for years and she’s a great person. Another great person to work with is Lon Kirschner. Lon reads your entire ms and comes up with the cover on his own. If there’s something about the cover that doesn’t quite work for you or needs tweaking, then he’s also more than willing to work with you until he gets it right. I love working with both these folks, they’re terrific people and do outstanding work! Contact them for their current rates and to get on their schedules. I know Lon’s been recently slammed with work.

Another note about cover: you need to present the most professional, high quality cover you can [afford]. People do judge a book by its cover. It’s usually the first thing anyone sees. The first thing one rejects. Compare what’s on the shelves and what’s professional quality against what you think you want on your cover. The harder it is for another to determine if your work came from a traditional publisher, the better.

Interior Formatting

Through a writing friend, I found Pam Headrick, of A Thirsty Mind Book Design. She formats your content (i.e., file) into the proper format to get it into that trade paperback or ebook. There’s a lot to do there, but it’s dealing with spaces and “code.” She works her internal wizardry so well and is also easy to work with! Sometimes we go back and forth for a couple weeks, depending on what the issues are—and they can be many and varied, especially Microsoft’s “overhead code” issues. On Voice we had a danged coding issue that literally kept rearranging words on a particular page—on its own. Oh, the Humanity! Pam finally had to delete the entire page and manually retype it! You definitely need to contact Pam early (however defined) and see what her schedule is and get on it—you can always shift schedules, but this woman is frigging busy.

Proofreading and Copyediting

Here’s where I rely on “the kindness of strangers.” If I were to pay the going rate of what these people do, it would run upwards of $3-$5K—at least that was the last going rate I’d research a couple years ago. I simply cannot afford that. Fortunately I’ve found people who love doing this kind of thing and wanted to help out. And if they were writers, I’d gladly return the favor. They’re readers and they love helping out “the cause,” and for that I’m eternally grateful! I just can’t thank them enough! So I pay in contributer’s copies: however many they need/want, I’ll send them (well, short of a truckload at at time, I only have so many resources you know…), and give them acknowledgements in my novels’ front matter (the front of a book before the actual story). So use those you find to their expertise: are they good readers? Good with grammar? Continuity and details? Do they read a lot? The important thing is to just get another set of eyes on your words. Some will give you in-depth detail and others will give you an overview. Both are great inputs. Edie is a huge reader and Mandy has written lots of proposals. Edie gives me an overall reader’s point of view, while Mandy gives me hell-on-each-sentence (okay, its not really that bad—but she knows her stuff)—which is as it should be! It’s up to you how you wanna run this part of things, but get others to read your efforts before going public.

Once you parse your work out to your readers, give a timeline…and allow for some slack. People are people and they have their own lives and issues do pop up. You don’t want to cut it so close that the rest of your release process suffers, you don’t want to overburden your proofreaders, and you don’t want to short-change yourself—or the work itself! The good part about all this is that is that you’re running it, so you create your own schedule. I’d say a month is too short, better two, depending on the length. It will probably end up being three. If it’s over 100K words, I’m betting it’ll take about three months for your in-depth redliner to “go deep”…and it gives that person or persons time to actually write this stuff up to send you. Reading is easy…communicating their comments to you takes time (and effort). Let them have it. If they’re helping you out, they want to do this.

One thing I’ve found in the creation process (while you’re still actively writing the story, way before sending it out for review and release) is to get to a point where your ms is in fairly decent shape, then read every word of it aloud. This is way before you think you’re “done.” I do that with all my mss. It’s usually around the third or fourth draft. There is so much you can catch, from pacing errors to misspelled words. You’d be surprised. Try it.

But, you’ll still miss stuff anyway and your readers will find them.


I feel you don’t really need these, but they don’t hurt. I was against them for a while because I’d discovered that many blurbers in the traditional world didn’t actually read the works they blurbed. Yeah, that floored me. I hope that isn’t the case anymore, but somehow I feel it probably hasn’t changed much. So, this is up to you. Those I’ve had blurb my work have actually read it. It doesn’t hurt, but last I read the jury’s out on who feel they’re legit and those who feel (as I did) that they’re B.S.

Author Photo

Do you want to include a photo of yourself on your book? I’m not big on that, but I’ve done it in two instances because it seemed “part” of the novel: on ERO I included a picture of me when I was a captain in the Air Force, because my novel was about an Air Force officer. It wasn’t a current shot, was over 20 years old, but it fit the story. I got the idea from a writer friend of mine who did it on one of his books. And in the ebook copy of Voice, I did it on the interior the back matter of the ebook, again with another near-thirty-year-old modeling shot of me when I was into modeling back in the 80s. It, too, fit the story, which deals with models and photography. I didn’t include it on the paperback hardcopy because I loved the clean look of the cover as Lon designed it. I didn’t want to mess with his simplicity of design. I probably could have included in on the interior back matter pages, but don’t think I thought of it until I was “done” with the paperback production and was into the ebook formatting later.

Book Reviews

This one should typically do some 4-6 months or so out.

Look, I’m just one guy…I simply don’t have the time to do all this stuff smartly. But this time I did manage to get two writers/reviewers to write a review of Voice, but it was only about a month out. I sent them electronic versions of the files. So, if you do find yourself in the position to do this, get someone (like a “Pam”) to do you up an “advance review copy” e-version and send it out to anyone you can find to give you a review. I’m not an expert in this area, so you’ll have to search the Internet for better information on this area of book release.

Book Creation

There are various way so of doing this, but I use CreateSpace for my trade paperbacks. Many “traditional” folk like to rail on against CreateSpace/Amazon…yet still use them for their own book sales. That’s hypocrisy. I like CreateSpace!

For now, I’m using them and I’m quite happy with them. And they had replaced a boxload of books that had been damaged and sent the replacements within days—yes, that same damned week!—and sent two more books that I had originally ordered. I have no beef with them whatsoever, so call them what you will, but I like them.

I use Smashwords for the ebook creation, with the exceptions of Amazon’s KDP (not KDP Select) and B&N’s Nook. I load these last two manually and do not use Smashwords for their distribution. I’ve been told that Smashwords lags behind in providing royalties on these last two distributors, though I do know Smashwords has modified its distro a bit (using Amazon’s KDP is about ebook creation).

It is still recommended that one not go with KDP Select. KDP and KDP Select are two different animals. Be careful when selecting these that you know what you’re selecting. I’m not going to get into all the reasons and have to not go KDP Select, I have to leave that up to you to research. This post is long enough!

I do recommend doing both a trade paperback and an ebook—if you can swing the finances (I’ve recently read that ebooks are beginning to lose traction). For a trade paperback you’ll not only need a front cover—but the entire wraparound cover. Cover rates should be different if you’re just doing a front cover.

Also, Nook requires a cover less than 2 MBs, so keep this in mind when ordering your files.

My checklist below has the steps and things to check out for in creating the actual books, paperback and ebook.

If you’re doing CreateSpace you’ll have the option of printing a “proof” copy. I highly recommend this…a couple copies. You’ll get a version of the book (you’ll have to pay for it, but it’s cheap) sent with “Proof” stamped on the last page, but you’ll actually see your book as it will be once released. You can always change things about your book after it’s published, but do it right the first time and get that proof copy. Review. Flip through it, checking for faded graphics, text placement, weird spacing, cover issues, et cetera, read it, if you haven’t recently or haven’t had others proof/copyedit it.

When you’ve entered all your ebook info, be careful it’s all correct, because once you hit that “Enter” a the end, that baby’s live!


ISBNs are different for ebooks and paperbacks.

At CreateSpace you have the option of different kinds if ISBN creation, and I always opt for the custom (see checklist below). For ebooks, the various ebook outlets have their own ways of doing business, so make sure you read the details and make sure you understand what it being said.

Again, you cannot use the same ISBNs for the paperback for the ebooks, and vice versa.

Library of Congress Copy

Always register the hardcover/paperback versions of your books with the Library of Congress. If you just have an ebook, you can register that, as well. The cost is minimal. Again, I’m letting their website do the talking, but if you get a copy of your book there within 30 days of release, you are afforded extra copyright protection.

Book Distribution

If you do CreateSpace, you don’t do traditional distributors, like Baker and Taylor. Your distro is And though is not technically a distributor, they act like one.  If you do ebooks, like Smashwords, Nook, etc., you do all kinds of distribution. Check out their sites. So, if you want to get your physical books into bookstores, your best bets are indie bookstores or local used-bookstores…some are willing to take on local talent. Some Bigger Box/Indie stores will also take on local talent. I’m finding that the Bigger Box/Indie stores will consign your work, while the used books stores I’m dealing with usually buy your books outright. They’ve always been pretty easy to work with and will add a little to the buying price so you make some money.


You’re never done. Ever.

As I’ve wrapped up everything else in the creation process, I’m now actually trying to actively promote Voice. But this never ends. I suggest creating—at minimum—a Word file and just begin adding and copy-and-pasting ideas and possible avenues in there as you go about your life. Links to newspapers,  reporters, ideas for tweets, bookstores, events, anything and everything you have even the vaguest interest in checking out and/or pursuing. Nothing’s “stupid” at this point. You can weed out later.

I created a whole list of tweets, then, through this Future Tweets site, programmed in all these tweets for Labor Day weekend. There’s also a kinda cool “flip the tweet” function, where the tweet is actually flipped upside down—I love that!

Many of us do have day/night jobs and cannot spend all day on this kind of thing, so all we can do is what we can do. Don’t beat yourself up over it, don’t kill yourself. Sure, there are indignant authors out there who’ll dump on you (if not in words…in tone and attitude—and, yes, I’ve met them) and your seemingly puny efforts because they are writing full time, or have a significant other who supports them so they can write…but if you’re that one who is working and writing…all you can do is what you are doing. Feel good about it and don’t go killing yourself over “having” to do something every second or at the expense of ignoring your family/significant others/your own health. Do remember your quality of life. You’re YOU. You’re not “them.”

BE you.


When agreeing to book signings and the like, do make sure you both totally understand what is being proposed when setting up gigs…as in contacting local media and dates and times! Pay attention to detail and who’s supposed to do what.

And have FUN!

Okay, here is my checklist:

Prepping ms for Pam:

  • Convert to:
    1. TNR.
    2. Only single spaces, no double spaces.
    3. Single-spaced lines, no double spaces.
    4. No more than 4 lines of spaces (returns) at the tops of any e-book pages.
    5. For paperback books, make sure all the line returns to chapter starts are the same.
    6. E-book only: Add a space after all ellipses (3 and 4 dots), except w/in quotes, parens, punctuation (this may no longer be needed).
    7. Make sure abbreviated years are correct—use an apostrophe: “ ’78 .”
    8. Convert all dashes to M-dashes (N-, just be consistent).
    9. Check all sub-section spaces/#/***; standardize, check spacing, and center.
    10. Check all chapter and section numbers (1, 2, 3…) are correctly numbered.
  • Spell check—again!!!
  • Check for these words:
  • Ensure italicized text are properly italicized (including appropriate punctuation within itals).
  • Can’t have text “left/right-justified-at-bottom-of-page” kinda thing for ebooks (see ERO front matter for example).
  • Blurbs from other authors?
  • Add “Also by F. P. Dorchak” to front matter. See below.
  • Add family members to Notes/dedication?
  • Add others to Notes/dedication. Think.
  • Add cover graphic to title page.
  • Check any interior graphics for recto/verso placement.
  • Add websites and social media links to e-books.
  • Keep paperback clean with just “About” and website.
  • Bibliography?
  • When using Pam in formatting, it can take many iterations of PDFs to get formatting correct, because PDF keeps changing things we do not touch! It can take a week or two to iron out all the annoying shit PDF does.

Submitting ms to Smashwords:

Be sure you’re ready to do this, because once you’re done stepping through their upload dialogs, you’re published.

  • Select two categories of fiction.
  • Select all e-book formats.
  • Opt out of Amazon and Nook distribution on Channel Manager!
  • Assign ISBN! Do so before submitting to Smashwords!
    1. Impacts immediately getting into the Premium catalog.
  • Create any free Coupons.

Submitting ms to Amazon

  • Add self as contributor.
  • Try to add cover artist.
  • Try to add Pam for formatting.
  • Select 35% royalty.
  • Select price and set other country prices based on US price.
  • Consider Kindle Direct Publishing “Match Book” selection (readers buy a discounted version of your Kindle book, if they buy the paperback).
  • Consider KDP lending.
  • Keep Amazon description under 120 words so it’s all displayed and not truncated to “Read more” later….
  • Use Key Words:

Submitting ms to Nook

  • Get cover graphic less than 2 MB.
  • Add self as contributor.
  • Try to add cover artist.
  • Try to add Pam for formatting.
  • Nook automatically ties paperback versions to e-versions, but all titling and names, etc., have to be word-for-word, space-for-space perfectly matching. This presents a problem when using CreateSpace (CS), because CS does not like all-capital titles for their book accounts (e.g., ERO). In order to do all caps, you have to add periods between the letters (e.g., E.R.O.). This is not good, because when you release for publication, keeps those damned periods in the title for retail marketing! The actual title on the book remains your “ERO” title, but the displayed online title with your book, and any search engine hits only respond to the broken up title (i.e., E.R.O.), and not the actual title (i.e., ERO). So, effectively, there are two titles out there, and if people don’t know this, or don’t scroll down the Amazon search page, they won’t see the “E.R.O.” version of the book. I have contacted both CS and Nook about this. CS was nice enough to go in and link the two titles to each other, but you might have to actually contact them to get them to do this, but pointing out a loss of sales with the different titles, if people don’t know to scroll down the pages to find the related search of the other title. B&N/Nook also finally link the two formats together, but this took a long time.

When doing a CreateSpace copy:

  • Get paperback ISBN. Once ISBNs are assigned, they cannot be changed (but see “3,” below).
    1. “Custom” ISBNs can have a “fake” imprint name, like “Wailing Loon.”
    2. Custom ISBNs are also pushed to retailers versus libraries.
    3. If pick wrong one, delete entire “book” and restart that book’s account.
  • Choose “glossy” cover.
  • Interior Type: black and white
  • Paper Color: cream.
  • 6×9 format.
  • Interior Type: black and white
  • Paper color: cream.
  • When uploading book file, select that the “bleed” ends before the edge of the page.
  • Proofing:
  • Print proof copy:

If you do this you can’t approve your proofing until after book ships!

  1. Click on the title from the Member Dashboard
  2. Select “Order a Printed Proof” in the Review phase
  3. Update the quantity for the book
  4. Check your order; click “Check Out”
  5. Choose or enter a shipping address; click “Save and Continue”
  6. Select a shipping speed; click “Save and Continue”
  7. Choose or enter a billing address; click “Save and Continue”
  8. Enter the CVV code from the back of your credit card; click “Save and Continue”
  9. Review your order total, including shipping and tax; click “Confirm Order”

Your order is complete when you can see the order number on screen.

Once you approve this copy, it’s immediately available on CS, 3-5 days on Amazon, but usually is on Amazon the next day.

  • Titles: see #5, Submitting to Nook, above.
  • Revisions:
    1. It’s a little unnerving, cause you go back through all your other selections you made. You select either the cover or content, then proceed onward. You can just hit “Next” at the top screens, but you have options to change all your decisions. And now they have matte and glossy covers, so have to make sure you select the right one. Then you go through the same review process, with the review setup, send it back for the human review, and wait–the same process.
  • Add <your imprint, e.g., “Steffany”s Publishing Hut”> to:
    1. copyright page.
    2. spine/cover.
    3. Anywhere else needed.
  • Need any artwork on the interior of the book/front matter?
  • Add books to the front matter:

Also by F. P. Dorchak


Sleepwalkers (2001)

The Uninvited (2013)

ERO (2013)

Psychic (2014)

Voice (2015)


“Tail Gunner”:

The You Belong Collective—Writing and Illustrations by Longmont Area Residents (2012)

  • Add the following (updated) to the very back (check previous books):

About the Author

F. P. (Frank) Dorchak began writing at the age of six. He writes gritty, realistic paranormal fiction that delves into the realms of the supernatural, the unexplained, and the metaphysical to explore who we are and why we exist. Frank is published in the U.S., Canada, and the Czech Republic with short stories, non-fiction articles, five novels, Sleepwalkers, The Uninvited, ERO, Psychic, Voice, and the short story “Tail Gunner,” in The You Belong Collection – Writings And Illustrations By Longmont Area Residents regional anthology.

Related articles

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,138 other followers

Twitter Updates

F. P. Dorchak


If Nothing Else, Remember to Dream

Visionary Fiction Alliance

Read, Write, Awaken

Day Shift Photography

Photos taken on my days off.

Runnin Off at the Mouth....

The personal opinions of a guy just trying to make it through life.

CommuniCATE Resources for Writers

Empowering, Encouraging and Equipping Writers

Tahoma Literary Review

A Northwest Based Literary Journal

Shadow & Substance

Exploring the Works of Rod Serling

The In Between

A unique Grief and Paranormal activity support group

Reality Check

Peeking behind the curtain of Life....

Delve Writers

Writings on the Craft, Business, and Life of Writing

Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc.

The personal opinions of a guy just trying to make it through life.

Black Cat Pratt Chat

The personal opinions of a guy just trying to make it through life.

Kristen Hope Mazzola

Everyone has a story; this is mine

A Side Of Writing

Grabbing a bite to eat while pounding the keys on that novel...


because the only thing constant is change

Chiseled in Rock

The personal opinions of a guy just trying to make it through life.

~ Sisters of the Quill ~

The personal opinions of a guy just trying to make it through life.

The Hairy Housewife

Unshaven Ramblings Of A Stay-At-Home Nerd


Mandy Pratt

Seeker of Truth

Credo in Unum Deum

Vampire Syndrome Blog

Home of the Vampire Syndrome Saga, published by PDMI Publishing LLC

Karen Kubicko

A Journey through Past Lives and other Metaphysical Ideals

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Birthplace of James Madison and Southern Plantation

Cecile's Writers

Where intercultural writers connect.

X Rated

Musings on chick stuff

Small Press Reviews

Sporadically reviewing small press books since 2007 (or thereabouts)...

Paranormal Team

Blogging about the paranormal (and other things...)

Among Ghosts

Come with me as I walk...

HoarseMan of...

Awakened by a rough whisper in the night...

The Soul Survivor Blog

Just another weblog

Becky Clark, Author

A teenager trapped in a middle-aged body is the best place for your personal blog or business site.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,138 other followers

%d bloggers like this: