Monday, October 9, 2017

New Audiobook Release: Mouse's Tale

It is with a great deal of satisfaction that I report the release of the audio verison of Mouse's Tale: An Alpha League Supers Novel.

Mouse has undoubtedly been one of the more interesting characters from the Kid Sensation universe.  Needless to say, it was an absolute blast to finally tell his story, but it was also lots of fun to hear it.  (I know I've said it before, but I really enjoy hearing my characters brought to life this way - many thanks to my narrator, Mikael Naramore.)

Now, of course, it's on the next audiobook, which will probably be Efferus (Fringe Worlds #2).  I plan to release the ebook soon, so hopefully the audio version won't be too far behind.  And now, because I know many people are eagerly awaiting Kid Sensation #6, I go back to my writing.

***If you are interested in receiving information about my audiobooks - including new releases and free copies - please subscribe to my Audibook Newsletter.  (And if you do not have an Audible account, you can get a 30-day free trial and a free copy of the Mouse's Tale audiobook by signing up here.)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Efferus (Fringe Worlds #2) - Done!

Earlier this week, I finally finished Efferus (Fringe Worlds #2). It is currently in the hands of my editor, so I'm hoping to release it soon.

Needless to say, this one took longer than I initially anticipated. That has, of course, impacted the writing schedule with respect to other books - including Kid Sensation #6.  Truth be told, however, I had started writing Efferus even before Kid Sensation #5, so it was long overdue.  (I'm sure fans of the series will echo that sentiment, as they have been asking for the second Fringe Worlds novel for quite some time.) 

That said, I'm excited to get back to the world of Kid Sensation and dive full bore into his next adventure (which - as I probably mentioned before - I've already started).  After that, it's on to the fourth Warden book, and then probably Fringe Worlds #3. (And - if I haven't mentioned it before - Kid Sensation #7 is already in the works.)

In short, I anticipate being busy on the writing front for some time to come. However, that's a good thing. (And if I can pick up the pace of the writing - which is the plan - that's even better.)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Excerpt from Warden (Book 4)

So it's been a while since I posted anything - far longer than I intended (or even realized, to be honest).  Needless to say, the time got away from me, but I promise I haven't been idle.

For those interested, I'm still grinding away, trying to finish the next book (and I'm actually so close I can taste it).  However, someone recently asked if I could post an excerpt from something, so I decided to do so.

Frankly speaking, I actually have a pretty good stockpile that I could post something from, with the bulk of it being new material. However, I thought it better to post from something that readers would be familiar with, so here's an excerpt from the next book in the Warden series:


Errol jerked awake, knowing instinctively that something was wrong but not immediately recognizing what it was. His hand went automatically to his dagger, resting on the hilt as he sat up, trying to get his bearings.

The cabin was still dark, and he innately understood that he hadn’t been asleep for long. Through the porthole, he saw a remarkably clear reflection of the moon on the still surface of the sea. And just like that, he realized what the problem was: the ship – it wasn’t moving. Not heaving up and down, not rolling side to side, not surging forward. It was completely still (which was completely unnatural).

The hairs on the back of his neck rising, Errol raced for the door, the outline of which was framed by light coming from the other side. Yanking it open, he saw the lanterns in the hallway burning uncommonly low, as if their light were diminished by some unseen force. Pulling out his wand, he raced down the passageway towards the stairs, then up and out onto the upper deck.

Once out in the open, Errol saw that his earlier assessment was correct: the ship had come to an utter standstill. Moreover, the water around them was completely calm, the surface lying so flat and motionless that one could almost mistake it for dry land. Eerily, there was no wind, and none of the usual sounds associated with maritime travel – no birds cawing overhead, no waves slapping against the side of the ship, no creak of wood or flap of sail.

Turning his attention back to his immediate environs Errol saw Jaden standing nearby, wand in hand, along with several members of the crew. Jaden cast a quick glance in Errol’s direction, noting his presence, then turned his attention back to the main deck. Following his friend’s gaze, Errol saw a bizarre scene below him.

All of the ship’s wards were flaring, beacons of red light that practically bathed the vessel in crimson. The fact that they were active meant that something malevolent was nearby, and it took Errol almost no time to single out the danger: a hooded figure standing in the middle of the main deck.

It was taller than any man – at least eight feet in height. Its features were hidden by the cowl it wore, but Errol saw two glowing red eyes within the hood and garnered the impression of an elongated, inhuman face. A dark robe – soaked and dripping water onto the deck – covered it down to its feet, but the girth of it gave Errol the impression of a powerful body underneath. Moreover, the robe seemed to bulge and swell ominously in random spots, as if there were a roiling ocean underneath. It was immediately evident that this was some type of creature from the sea.

The air around it was heavy with magic, pulsing with a dark and foreboding power that Errol felt seeping into his bones. More to the point, their visitor gave off an especially sinister vibe; it was singularly dangerous – something Errol would have recognized even if the wards weren’t blazing like bonfires. Apparently the ship’s crew felt the same way, because a large number of them (with weapons drawn) had surrounded the hooded figure, although none dared get too close. In fact, he saw the captain standing directly in front of it, giving the thing his undivided attention. It was at that juncture that Errol realized the creature was speaking, its voice a deep baritone that carried easily – especially since, as Errol had already noted, no wind was blowing.

“–sspass on the sacred domain of the Each-uisge,” the creature said. “Men are not allowed here.”

“How are we supposed to know that?” the captain asked, sounding harried. Errol had to give the man credit; there few people other than wardens who would dare to face some monstrous fiend like this.

“You were warned,” the creature replied.

“Warned how?” 

“A messenger was dispatched. You tried to slay it.” Unexpectedly, a supple limb, like the tentacle of an octopus but seemingly covered in seashells, slid out of the robe and pointed to a dark, blood-stained spot on the deck.

“What, that weird bird?” the captain asked, almost incredulously. “It gave no warning – just let out a bunch of caterwauling that grated on everyone’s nerves.”

The creature seemed to take offense. “There are more tongues in this world than solely that of men. It is only your arrogance that makes you think otherwise. Now it shall be your undoing.” 

The captain’s eyes widened in alarm. “What do you mean?”

“You have encroached where your presence is proscribed, cast your nets where it is forbidden, and willfully attacked a consecrated servant. Each of these alone violates a sacrosanct tenet of the Each-uisge. Combined, your transgressions constitute intolerable heresy – a stain that must be wiped away. Your ship – your very lives – are forfeit.”

“What?!” the captain screeched. 

“Thus I pass sentence,” said the creature, acting as if the captain hadn’t spoken. “Now I execute judgment.” 

The air, already pregnant with supernatural power, somehow became even more gravid as three elongated tentacles, each brandishing a flaming sword, suddenly burst from the creature’s robe. And then it went on the attack.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

New Audiobook Release: Extraction

In keeping with my commitment to make audio versions of all my work, the audiobook of Extraction has just been released.

With this, all of the current Kid Sensation stories have now been released in audio.  (I'm not counting Amped or Mouse's Tale, although the audio versions of those are coming.)

The plan had been to produce one new audiobook per month until I got caught up.  I haven't quite kept pace with that schedule, but I like to think I'm continuing to release audiobooks at a steady tempo.

Needless to say, I'm going to have to crank out books faster or the number of audiobooks will catch up to the number of ebooks even faster than I anticipated. So with that in mind, it's back to the grindstone.

***If you are interested in receiving information about my audiobooks - including new releases and free copies - please subscribe to my Audibook Newsletter.  (And if you do not have an Audible account, you can get a 30-day free trial and a copy of the Extraction audiobook by signing up here.)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Update on Kid Sensation #6, et al

It's been a while since I've posted anything noteworthy about my writing, so I figured now's a good time for an update.

As with so much in life, there's good news and bad news.  The good news is that I'm pretty close to being done with the next book, which is the second Fringe Worlds novel.  After that, I'll probably go to the next Warden book and then Kid Sensation #6 (working title: Replication).  Believe it or not, I've actually got the bulk of the story for those two already worked out in my head.  The problem (and this is the bad news), is that I've been having difficulty finding time to write.

Oddly enough (and I may have mentioned this before), I'm actually a pretty fast writer.  If I ever reach a point where I'm doing this full time, I'll probably be cranking out a book every month. At present, however, without even taking the day job into consideration, the other aspects of the writing business are taking up gobs of time. 

Take audiobooks, for instance.  The audio market has been very good to me since I started releasing audiobooks a year ago.  However, there's a time component involved: for instance, I received almost 70 auditions from narrators for the audio version of Amped (which will hopefully be released in the next week or so), and I listened to every one of them - some more than once.  And, at the very least, you have to listen to the finished product after it's done, and in the case of some of my books that's close to 10 hours. 

Then there's also book promotion.  I was blessed to have achieved a fair amount of success as an author without doing much promotion early on. That said, to maintain longevity in this business you have to remain flexible and openminded, so I've been putting additional effort into marketing.  I've also gotten creative in terms of my offerings.  For example, just this week I created a boxed set that's sort of a "sampler," containing the first book in the Fringe Worlds, Warden, and Kid Sensation series:

I'm calling it Worlds of Wonder: Three Novels of Science Fiction and Fantasy (mostly because I think the name sounds cool).

Of course, authors box their series all the time, but I haven't seen many that have taken this approach.  I don't know how fruitful it will be, but again, you have to stay nimble and think a little outside the box.

But back to the subject at hand: my writing. Frankly speaking, I'm probably at the point where I really need to hire an assistant to do some of the non-writing tasks: booking promotions, listening to the final versions of audibook files, etc.  That would free me up to focus on writing books. In fact, that would increase my writing output significantly even without making writing my full-time gig.  (And to be honest, I actually like the day job.) Of course, I haven't even touched on the things outside of writing that also affect my time, such as being under the weather (I was out of commission for two weeks earlier this year), auto breakdowns (anybody feel like installing a new transmission?), family/social obligations...

As to the books currently on deck, if I can just get in some solid writing time, I believe I can finish the second Fringe Worlds book in short order. Depending on how fast my editor can get to it, I would be hoping for an early- to mid-June release. Then release Warden #4 by the end of July, and Kid Sensation #6 by the end of August.

Anyway, that's a rough estimate of my timetable.  After these next three books are released, I may go ahead and finish one of the other novels that I've started (like my zombie apocalypse story, which is currently trying to claw its way out of my brain).

***If you are interested in receiving information about my audiobooks - including new releases and free copies - please subscribe to my Audibook Newsletter.  (And if you do not have an Audible account, you can get a 30-day free trial and a copy of the audiobook of Sensation by signing up here.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New Audiobook - Warden (Book 1: Wendigo Fever)

Continuing with my plans to produce audio versions of everything, the audiobook of Warden (Book 1: Wendigo Fever) has just been released.

Needless to say, I am still having a wonderful time seeing my work brought to life in this medium. (I'm also forunate to have found an excellent narrator, Mikael Naramore.)  In my own humble opinion, it turned out great.

The next audiobook will probably be Extraction.  On a side note, I'm currently in the process of selecting a narrator for Amped.  It's a very challenging process, as I've had the good fortune to have quite a few people submit auditions and many of them are outstanding. All things considered, it's a good problem to have.  Making a final selection, however, is just incredibly difficult. 

In other news, I'm still working on the next book in the Fringe Worlds series and hope to have it finished soon.

***If you are interested in receiving information about my audiobooks - including new releases and free copies - please subscribe to my Audibook Newsletter.  (And if you do not have an Audible account, you can get a 30-day free trial and a copy of the Warden audiobook by signing up here.)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Whatever Happened to Standing Behind Your Product?

So a few weeks ago I'm grinding away as usual (trying to finish the next book), when Mrs. Wonderful comes to me and says that our printer - an HP Officejet 6600 - isn't working.  Needless to say, she expected me to fix it.  This is actually standard operating procedure in the Hardman household:  if anything isn't working, hubby will know how to get it going again.  Oddly enough, this is a marked departure from her attitude when when first started dating, at which time she admittedly made an unwarranted and unsupported assumption that repairing things was outside my wheelhouse.  (If I remember correctly, she said that I "just didn't seem 'handy'," which is code for saying that I seemed like a smart guy, so there was no way I had any practical skills. In truth, however, I've been taking things apart and repairing them since I was in elementary school.)  It didn't take long to convince her otherwise, so these days when it comes to fixing things, in my wife's mind I'm like:

But back to the printer.  Just to see what was going on, I tried to print a page from the current manuscript I was working on.  I could hear the thing trying to do its job: mechanisms inside of it were apparently moving, gears were turning, etc.  Ultimately though, it just made a whole lot of noise without really doing anything.  (Hmmm... Note to self: try to make use of that last line in an upcoming romance (preferably in a bedroom scene) to be published under a pen name...)

Anyway, I tried to print again, but this time I peeked into the compartment that held the paper to see what was going on. I saw a mechanical arm descend with two rollers on the end.  The rollers touched the printer paper, but then nothing happend (other than the printer making a lot of noise again).  The problem was obviously the rollers, which were supposed to turn, thereby feeding the paper from the tray into the printer.

I reached into the printer and felt around until I got my fingers on the rollers (which I believe are technically known as the "pick rollers").  Guess what? They turned without any issues.  They weren't stuck, clogged up in some way, nothing.  In fact, all the cogs and wheels in that area seemed to turn without issue, so the problem was elsewhere.  (All of this stuff is sorta in what I'd call the undercarriage of the printer, so I had to get a mirror to see what the hell was going on in there.)  

I got online and looked up the problem, and was directed almost immediately to HP's web site. The company actually has a video and lots of instructions about things to do when your printer isn't working. Long story short, I soon found myself with a bowl of distilled water, some Q-tips, and a cloth, all of which I used to gently and lovingly wipe down a bunch of the printer's rollers, which I gained access to after opening up the back and taking some parts out. Nevertheless, after all of that TLC, the damn thing still didn't work. 

At this juncture, my wife got on the phone with the store we'd bought the printer from.  They told her that we needed to buy a new one.

Huh???  F**k that!!!  

I raged that I'd take it apart first, and if I completely screwed it up we'd be no worse off, because - per the experts - we'd still need a new printer!

But before taking a crowbar to the printer's chassis, I went online again to see if other people had had this problem.  (Couldn't just be me, right?)  Sure enough, this was a common issue with this printer model.  Thankfully, however, someone had discovered the source of the problem: apparently there's a little plastic cog that sits on a metal rod on the printer's undercarriage.  The part of the rod where it sits is grooved so that the cog fits onto it, and the cog needs to be in that exact position when the rod spins in order to interact with a daisy chain of other wheels and cogs (see pic below) that ultimately causes the pick rollers to turn.

In our case, the cog had slipped off the grooved area, so that when the rod turned nothing happened. It was the work of about a minute to get the cog back in position, and voila!  The printer was back in top form (and my wife loved me again).  But three days later, the cog had once again slipped off...  This time, I superglued it to the grooved portion of the rod, which was a complete pain because - as mentioned before - all of this crap is on the undercarriage.  (One of the other people who posted online about this issue used epoxy, but whatever will keep the cog is place will apparently do the trick.)  We've had no printer problems since.

Now we come to the part of this entire scenario that really bothers me.  This is obviously a design flaw, as evidenced by the fact that it's a pretty common problem that - as far as I can tell - is completely unrelated to ordinary wear and tear.  HP could probably fix it by doing the same thing I did: just glue the cog in place (or do something to make sure it doesn't move out of position).  Or they could just tell their retailers that if anyone reports this type of problem they'll fix it for free.  Bottom line, though, is this: they need to be willing to stand behind their product.  Instead, I'm supposed to buy a new printer because of a flaw related to a part that probably cost 10 cents!  Seems to me that somebody is making out like a bandit in that sequence of events - and it ain't the Hardmans.

More to the point, I'd think HP would be interested in not losing customers because of these types of incidents.  Frankly speaking, because of this experience, I will probably never buy another HP product as long as I live.  (Not to get on my high horse, but I'm so disgusted that I might even sell the HP stock that I own.)  On the flip side, if they had made even a token gesture it would have been worth noting.  For example, when Tivo cancelled my "Lifetime: service, they at least had the good grace to offer me a $75 gift card. In other words they tried to soften the blow.  HP, on the other hand, just hit me on the back of the head with a sock full of pennies.  Not only that, but they apparently expect me to like it and ask for more, a la Kevin Bacon in Animal House:


Needless to say, that's not likely to happen.  I don't think I'm asking for much, though.  I just want companies to stand their product. (Instead of behind me with a paddle...)

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