What if Star Wars was your Ex-girlfriend?

Star Wars (Episode IV): The 1st Date

OMG. She's amazing. She like drives super fast spaceships, she wields swords made of light, she's adventurous and yeah, she whines a bit about her farm background and "getting off this boring" planet, but everything she says and does is so new and exciting. I love her wild hair! She's the type who shoots first. She even makes getting her trash compactor fixed sound sooo interesting. And at the end of the meal: Wow! Wow! Wow! Everything just explodes and she gives me a "First Date" medal. I am totally going to see her again.

The Empire Strikes Back (Episode VI): The 2nd Date

All the potential of the first date is realized and then some! She is deeper and more interesting than I thought. She likes snow vacations, but would dive into a swamp for adventure (heck she even once scooped out the innards of a large animal to survive the cold--now that's hard core). She knows even more groovy zen things and martial arts. Yeah, she has some father issues, but that just makes her sooo much more interesting. When the date ends it feels unfinished. She just leaves me wanting more. I HAVE to see her again. We are SO going to go steady. We might even get married.

The Return of the Jedi (Episode VII): The 3rd Date

It starts off like the first date all over again. Excitement! Action! She rescues the conversation when some rather sizeable fellow stumbles into our table. Then things get a little weird. Her friend who she almost dated is really her brother. She spends the last twenty minutes of the date talking about her cute stuffed pets and concocts an unbelievable story about how they could take on an army and win. Yeah right! But then things explode with excitement (again) at the end of the date--alas it's not as cool as last time. She still looks great though. I'm sure that was just a lull. I'm gonna move in with her.

The Phantom Menace (Episode 1): Going Steady

Okay. We're living together. Finally! It's been a long wait. But then she starts talking about politics and trade taxation and everyone she mentions has a hard to remember name. And she buys about ten thousand of those robot vacuum cleaners and makes them fight each other. Boring! Then her cousin, JJB, keeps hanging out at our apartment. I can't understand a word he says. Like who invited him? She gets a little spacey at times and talks more Taoist philosophy and about the virgin birth of her father. Huh? I tell myself be patient. Every relationship has its rough patch.

Attack of the Clones (Episode 2): The What? Moment

It's really hard to remember that first date now. We just sit at home in our apartment in our sweats. She's still talking and talking about politics and voting and clones and plots against her life ...you know I can't pay attention. The robot vacuums fight each other again. At least her cousin isn't hanging around. She just can't stop talking about her dad having to marry her mom in secret. It would be interesting if I wasn't already so bored. I'm starting to look at other women...there's a cute one with pointed ears who catches my eye. I don't do anything about it, though.

Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3): The Breakup

I am so tired of hearing about her past. It's completely, mind-numbingly boring. I think she's joining a republic. Apparently her dad didn't get some promotion he wanted and he went all wacko. What a suck! I look at her and think: can't we just go on one more high speed chase in space? Please? Or swing across a chasm with stormtroopers shooting at us? But no, she is so full of angst and hatred. I guess her mom died giving birth to her. Sad. She starts wearing black armour. At first, I thought, "kinky." But now it just freaks me out...plus she has a bit of a skin condition and all her hair falls out. And she rasps everything she says. Everything. I move out. I'm never coming back. Ever. I don't see her for years and years.

Then I hear that she changed her hairstylist and she wants to get back in touch with me. Yeah, sure. Maybe I'll see you again, darling--just don't bring your cousin.

Arthur Slade is the author of seventeen bestselling novels for young adults and the soon-to-be released graphic novel Modo: Ember's End

The "Modo: Ember's End" Rockin' Referral Contest

Okay, it's hard to put "referral" in the title of a blog and make it exciting.

How about this: whoever refers the most people to our Modo: Ember's End page on indiegogo.com will receive a page of original art from the comic book. A collector's item that is only available at the $150.00 "perk" level. You could win it shipped directly to your door by steampunk storks.

All you have to do is sign up at indiegogo.com and click on our campaign page.  You'll see something like the image below:

From there you just hit the "tweet" or "like" or any of the other "share" buttons. Indiegogo will do the rest (alas you do have to sign up with indiegogo before you share the campaign because that's the only way we can track who has done the referring...but hey, you don't have to buy anything). The more people you refer to our campaign the better your chance of winning (at this point the highest referrer is at 12 people referred).

It goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway--Chris Steininger and I are really thankful for all the word of mouth that is going on with this campaign. And this is a concrete way to reward one of you for that help.



Whoa! Two Years of Selling Ebooks!

What? Where did those two years go? Back in February 5th of 2011 I launched my novel DUST as an ebook (for sale in the US and UK, because those are the countries where I owned the rights myself).

Those were heady days! But I've blogged about them on previous occasions, so I won't retread that ground. Just start reading from the  beginning or skip ahead to the amazing 1 1/2 year report.

Well not much has changed in the last six months. Overall I've sold 8406 copies of my ebooks. Last year that grossed me  around $6000. That's like sixty iPods! I could wear them as an iPod suit. Anyway, I expect my ebook income to drop this year. Why? Because as I've noted before there has been a downward trend in my sales since my last report. Here's an amazing graphic to show that...

Hey, that number in the bottom keeps going down each month. 249 copies seven months ago. 53 copies sold last month. I do think there is much more competition out there now and that there was a big blitz on sales while everyone and their pet got an eReader then filled it up. And the drop in sales is also because of the algorithmic changes Amazon made to how they weight the price of books on the sales chart (if you sell a 9.99 book, it'll jump higher up the sales chart than a .99 cent book). It became harder for my books to climb the charts and get noticed by buyers.

Yet, I'm happy with the sales.  It's still passive income for me that will go on as long as there are eReaders in the world. I really don't do much extra work to earn that income. And I'm very much a less work for more money kind of guy!  Art As a public service I'll attach these clickable links to my books, including the two "grown up" books I've published under the name Stephen Shea. If a book isn't available in your area as an ebook, it's because I'm still negotiating the erights for that book. So sorry for any confusion.

Let the Reader Finish the Painting

Mona Lisa There is a relationship that develops between the reader and the writer, or more specifically, the reader and the writer's words. How you treat the reader and this relationship is one of the most important decisions you can make as a writer. Do you trust in your own work? In how it will be received and interpreted? Or do you feel that you have to lay out every single detail. Often if you don't trust in your words you'll end up writing dialogue like this:

He gently ran his fingers across the marble tabletop. "That's a gorgeous table," he said, happily.

What this sort of adverbial description shows is that you don't quite trust the reader to receive the message so you tell them exactly what is happening. But it's important to remember that this is a give and take relationship and that the reader is paying very close attention to what you're writing. So instead you could create the scene this way:

He gently ran his fingers across the marble tabletop. "That's a gorgeous table," he said.

Only the word happily has been dropped from the scene. But because of that, the reader does the work. They assume that the "gorgeous" statement is made in a positive manner. They know this because he gently ran his fingers across the table. It indicates what his feelings are about the table.

As the writer one aspect of your job is to get the reader to do much of the work. It's the perfect relationship that way. Yeah, you might have some heavy lifting to do, but they should be lifting along with you. Or, for that matter, if you're painting a beautiful portrait of a scene with words, let them finish the painting. Don't give them every single detail, slowing down the story. Pick the pertinent details. They will automatically create the rest of the scene.

Everyone was gone, but Robert sensed a presence. At the landing he peered around the corner, saw nothing but the kitchen table, the tall, red vase by the window, and a cloth flour bag on the counter.  The De Laval cream separator, with all its bowls and pipes, loomed on the cupboard like a Martian instrument of torture.

Notice that this doesn't describe the floor. But you likely pictured it because...well...kitchens have floors. Nor is the colour of the cupboard mentioned. Though you likely filled that little detail in. And by reading about a cloth flour bag on the counter your brain may have been twigged to the fact that this is written in the past.

This could have easily been:

Everyone was gone, but Robert sensed a presence. At the landing he peered around the corner, saw nothing but the old, tired-looking kitchen table with its four spindly legs, the wooden floor,  the tall, red vase by the dirty window, and a grey and torn cloth flour bag on the green counter. The massive De Laval cream separator, with its three bowls and seven pipes, loomed on the cupboard like a giant and frightening Martian instrument of torture.

The reader doesn't need all that extra info. Our job is to get ride of the distractions in the scene. And then we let the reader finish the painting. It's their job, really.