Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Rogue Bargain for the Kindle

In my continuing efforts to encourage new readers to sample my material, I have dropped the price of The Rogue Investigations (Kindle Edition) to an all new low of 99 Cents.  This is as low as it can go according to Amazon's pricing formula for independent authors such as myself.  If you've been holding back for whatever reason, now is the time to buy.  It'll never be cheaper than this, and after you read it, the bargain will be obvious.

Don't wait.  Get The Rogue Investigations on Kindle today!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Entering the Fray Once More

It's that time of year again.  The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest is back in full swing, and is accepting novel entries in both General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction (with various sub-categories including Science Fiction).  As many of you may know, The Guns of Mars was a semi-finalist in 2009, and this year I'm hoping to get at least that far once more, with an all new novel.

I know you'd probably love for me to tell you about my entry, and extoll its high points and exciting storyline.  However, that will have to wait.  As I advance in the contest, I'll share more information about the book I've entered, but until we're through the initial "pitch" phase, I'd rather not share too much information about this entry.  Content is supposed to be anonymous at these stages, to prevent any bias in the judging, so there's no sense giving myself away (you never know who might be reading your blog).

In 2010, I didn't advance beyond the pitch phase, and in hindsight I can see why.  The pitch I had written, while not horrible, didn't meet the high standards needed to rise above the competition.  This year, I have made sure to have a very clear and entertaining pitch, which should get through, but there's no way to tell how the initial judges will receive it.  A lot of it is chance.  If the right reader likes what they see in the pitch, then the entry will advance.  If, however, I catch someone in a bad mood, or someone who just doesn't like the sound of my story for whatever reason, I'll get summarily dismissed.  Let's hope whoever reads my pitch likes a good science fiction adventure, and isn't looking for some touchy-feely yawn-fest.

I invite my fellow authors to submit their own manuscripts for the contest.  Get all the information here, and lets get this contest rolling!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Searching For Family

I know I've been pretty silent for the last 3 weeks, as I've found myself tied up with various projects. Yes, I have been doing some writing on the Fantasy Western, though most of my time has actually been focused on an entirely new line of research. I've been digging into my heritage, seeking to build a family tree and uncover more about my extended family, as scattered as it seems to be.

It all started with a bunch of old photographs my mother left me before she died. Among them were notes and notations, which allowed me to piece together much of her side of the family, into the mid-1800's. Shortly thereafter, I was able to find a few online trees other people had made, which let me go well beyond that on some fronts.

On my father's side, I knew enough to get me to his mother's father, George Sylvester Counts. From there, it was pretty easy to find several other family trees which took me far into the past. I've only scratched the surface on how far back I can trace certain branches of the family tree, and there is still a lot of data I've yet to confirm, but from the looks of it, there are some lines that lead back to the middle ages.

Quite a bit of the core tree I'm building is based on other people's research, however I'm piecing together quite a bit on my own. The Ingham line, in particular, was virtually untraced, so I had to build it from scratch, using census data, marriage certificates, birth certificates, death certificates, and other vital statistics posted online. I have thus far been able to link back to Albert Ingham, born circa 1830, though that seems to be as far as I can reach at the moment. His wife's name was Cynthia, and I suspect her maiden name may have been Van Wie. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to confirm that, or get further back on this line of my heritage, but I'll keep trying.

I'm not sure why I've suddenly become so obsessed with uncovering my roots, but it's always bothered me to be so isolated from family. I've had virtually no contact with any of them on either side for various reasons, so I'm naturally curious to see who's out there. Who knows, maybe this is a big mistake, and I'd be better off to remain cut off from my various cousins, though I might as well find out. If I don't at least try, I'll be stuck wondering if I'm missing something.

Known Relations:
Here's a short list of some of my closer relatives. If you are related to any of these people (or know anyone who is), let me know:

Father's Side:
George Sylvester Counts (Great Grandfather; Son of James Wilson Counts and Mertie Gamble)
Lois Hazel Bailey (Great Grandmother; Wife of George S. Counts, daughter of Charles W. Bailey and Mary Stark)
Raymond W. Ingham (Grandfather; Son of Edward "Ned" Ingham & Effie K. Robinson)

Mother's Side:
William E. Forthman (Great Grandfather; Father of Ethel, Anabell, Ruth, Kathryn, William Jr., and Mary Nadine).
Anna Littlefield (Great Grandmother; Wife of William Forthman, daughter of Anne Carney Littlefield)
Julius John Kirton (Great Grandfather; Son of Newton Kirton)
Mary Alice Nelson (Great Grandmother; Wife of Julius Kirton, daughter of I.R. Nelson and Ada Urech)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Crusoe: The Complete Series (Review)

The Monday after Christmas, a package arrived from Amazon. It was a DVD set I had ordered a few weeks prior, which I had gotten for a serious bargain price. I paid less than $9 with my Goldbox deal of the day, so it was a low-risk entertainment investment.

The set was Crusoe: The Complete Series on DVD, a short-lived television show which ran for only 11 episodes. It was filmed primarily in South Africa, with some bits done in the UK, and overall it was a very fun production, with a lot of swashbuckling, pirates, cannibals, and other exciting island adventure. The writers were very creative, inventing new scenarios each week to keep the stories fun and entertaining. While the storyline did not follow the original book, it was a very well done series, and I'm sorry it didn't run longer. The DVD set has no extras, but the episodes themselves more than make up for it. There is nothing really offensive about this show (no nudity or swearing) so it's suitable for the whole family.

I've seen big budget movies that weren't as good as this series. I can think of a lot of modern blockbuster movies about pirates and the carribean that look like pathetic garbage compared to this intelligent work of cinema. Why this show didn't take off is anyone's guess, but I'd personally wager that an executive at some network didn't like it. Maybe I'm just feeling a little mean spirited today with the conspiracy theory angle, but that's the way a lot of good tv series seem to die. The infamous "powers that be" decide a show isn't "right" for some reason, so they manipulate things to assure its quick demise.

I put this series up there with "Firefly" in the pantheon of slaughtered television shows that should have run a lot longer, but for whatever reason weren't given a fair chance. Unlike that brilliant sci-fi show, however, I don't think they'll be making a movie to conclude Crusoe. At least they left it in a decent place, and not with some cliffhanger.

I would certainly recommend this show for everyday viewing. 4 out of 5 stars.