My Writing Story (2013)


Astrid Maxxim and her Undersea Dome

After writing the first Astrid Maxxim book, I made a list of about twenty possible titles.  Just like the Tom Swift books that had inspired them, each book would be Astrid Maxxim and her (Insert Invention Here).  The second Tom Swift book was Tom Swift and his Submarine and number seven was Tom Swift and his Diving Seacopter—one of my favorites.  So, I wanted to do an undersea adventure.  All of Astrid’s inventions grow out of the others, so the idea of an undersea dome fit perfectly.

I had hired Matthew Riggenback at Shaed Studios to design the first Astrid Maxxim cover and so I wanted him to do any others to maintain the feel of a series.  I was even more jazzed about his second cover than I had been about the first, and that’s saying something.  In the end, everything came together and I’m really proud of the books.  I’ve given a lot of the Astrid Maxxim books away to students and other youngsters, and I offer the ebooks free to libraries.

His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue

Sales of His Robot Wife had slowed, even though it was still, by far, my best seller.  I decided that I would write another book in the series.  This time though, I would put more effort into it—make it a longer, better book.  I wrote an outline and worked on it extensively before starting. About halfway into the book though, I had a change of heart about what I wanted to focus on.  I decided that the book should reflect much more of Patience’s point of view than Mike’s.  This ended up making His Robot Wife: Patience is a Virtue more difficult than it otherwise would have been.  I think the book turned out pretty good though, and it is my second-best selling book.

As a side note, I used the same model for the cover art of all three books, and purchased the rights to several other poses, for possible use in future books.  This model is extremely popular in royalty free art, and I see her on bulletin boards, web sites, and once on a huge poster in front of the spa at Circus Circus hotel in Vegas.

My Writing Story (2012)


The Young Sorceress

The Young Sorceress was the only book in the Senta and the Steel Dragon series that was difficult to write.  I came up with an overly complicated plot, again fitting it between two already written books.  This was more difficult than before because of the momentous events that happened in books three and five of the series.  Instead of following the characters and switching viewpoint with each chapter, I decided to follow the format in Brechalon and switch from character to character several times during a chapter. The result was that I really love parts of this book and don’t care too much for others.  One of the main goals was to tell the back story of Isaak Wissinger, who would appear in book five.  I really love that storyline.  Another was to set up Kieran Baxter’s return in book six.  I don’t think this worked out nearly as well, though I love the character as he appears in the later book.  The Senta story sections quickly became very unwieldy to write, though I think the reader can follow them.  I ended up cutting a lot of things that seemed cool when I thought them up but sounded silly once I wrote them. After editing, this was the shortest Senta book.

The Two Dragons

I was finally ready to publish The Two Dragons, over five years after I had written it.  It required much more revision than the two other parts of the original Steel Dragon manuscript had, because of the additional stories.  One of the biggest changes was the elimination of a long epilog that told the stories of every character for the rest of their lives.  I had decided now to continue the series on, so it wasn’t needed or wanted.  Instead, I wrote a new ending that jumped a bit into the future and set up the next book.  I had written this months earlier for fun, not really expecting to use it, but there you go.

The Many Adventures of Eaglethorpe Buxton

I was really tired of serious material after writing The Young Sorceress and revising The Two Dragons.  I decided before I was done that I would return to Eaglethorpe Buxton. I had gotten a lot of feedback on the previous stories and quite a few good reviews, so I thought I should continue Eaglethorpe’s adventures.  Rather than write a long story, I plotted out three stories, each as long as Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess.  Adding the three of them together with the two previous stories resulted in a pretty long book.  The first of the new stories: Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Queen of Aerithraine had been in my mind for some time.  It was a natural continuation of the story in Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceress.  Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Amazons, I plotted out while writing the previous story.  I was completely done with both before I plotted out Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Day of the Night of the Werewolf, though I had already come up with the title.  I had as much fun writing the new Eaglethorpe stories as I had written the early ones.  I’m pretty happy with the book, but sadly it is one of my poorest sellers.

My Writing Story (2011)


His Robot Wife

By the end of 2010, I had five books for sale, none of which were lighting up the best-sellers list.  Meanwhile His Robot Girlfriend continued to be downloaded thousands of times per week.  I decided I would write a sequel.  However, unlike just about every other book I’ve written, I didn’t have a strong story before I started.  I crafted an outline, but I was never as invested in the plot as I was with other books.  I did like writing the characters again though, and it became His Robot Wife.  By its third month, it had sold more than all my other books had ever sold all put together.  Each month saw more and more sales, and for a moment, I thought it would just keep going.  However, after about six months the sales began to quickly drop.

Women of Power

I had published my free books on, and one of the features of that site is that many people write fan fiction of superheroes, publishing them in serial form.  I love comics, so I thought this was a way cool idea.  I wanted to be in control of my stories though and not have them belong to someone else because I used their characters.  So, I created my own superheroes and setting, writing the first two chapters and publishing them in serial form.

I stopped writing after two chapters because I was busy with His Robot Wife.  When I was done, I decided to stop messing around and turn this story into a novel, which I did.  I had a lot of fun with Women of Power and am pretty pleased with the story.  The title comes from a play on the phrase “women of color.”

Blood Trade

While I was writing, I had joined a writers’ group called Shared Words.  We met biweekly at Borders Bookstore, usually at a table in a back corner.  One week we were seated in a different location, right between two entire counters of vampire romance novels.  One of my fellow writers suggested I write my own vampire book.  I replied that my book wouldn’t be at all popular, because my vampires would be horrible and not at all sexy.

That exchange became an idea that blossomed into a plot in my head.  I did renege on my idea that my vampires wouldn’t be sexy, though my vampire, Novelyne, never actually romances anyone in the book.  I wrote half the book, the chapters getting darker and darker as I went.  I finally realized that I liked where it was going, and went back to the beginning, rewriting the whole thing to be really dark.  Blood Trade seemed like a great title because the plot involved the exploitation of runaway children and also fits with vampires.  I also did a Google search and found no other books with that title.  Since then, about a dozen have been published.

Astrid Maxxim and her Amazing Hoverbike

I was talking to a friend about the sources of my inspiration for writing.  I pointed out that my first book was an homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs and the books I loved as a teen.  I then remembered that I had an earlier love—Tom Swift Jr.  I pulled a few of my old Tom Swift Jr. books out of the bookcase and expounded on how much I had loved them.  “I should write my own books like these,” I said aloud.

I sat down and planned out what I would write to create books like those I remembered from my youth.  I had loved the stories of the boy inventor and his best friend, the 1950’s innocence and enthusiasm for the future, the naïve belief that science and technology would fix everything, so I wanted those things too.  I was always bothered by the fact that Tom Swift never aged and no matter how many cool inventions he created, the world wasn’t changed much.  I would fix those things in my book.  Finally, my story would be multi-ethnic, because the Tom Swift books were really, really white.

I created my characters—the intrepid girl inventor, her best friends (one Hispanic and the other the child of a gay couple), her heroic boyfriend, his best friend (an African American genius who didn’t play basketball), and their bumbling buddy.  I created her home base, a kind of cross between Tom Swift’s Swift Enterprises and Disney World, and her hometown.  Finally, I gave her a name—Astrid Maxxim—Astrid meaning star, and Maxxim meaning utmost, literally a super star.  I don’t even remember how I came up with a hoverbike as the main invention, but I had more fun writing Astrid than I had writing in a long time.

My Writing Story (2010)



I was still sending out The Steel Dragon to publishers, though by this time I had decided it should be three books instead of one.  I entered the first part, The Voyage of the Minotaur, into the Amazon Novel Contest and it made it to the second round.  In the meantime, I thought I would write a little story to promote the characters and setting.  By the time I was done with Brechalon, I had put so much work into the story that it seemed a shame to give it away rather than sell it.  I put it up for sale as a 99-cent ebook, but there was very little interest in it, so in the end, I went back to my original idea to offer it for free.

The Voyage of the Minotaur

By the time I was done with Brechalon, I had received quite a few rejection letters for The Voyage of the Minotaur.  I realized that even if the story was great (and I thought it was pretty good) it had too small an audience for any publisher to be interested.  At the same time, I was selling a few ebooks of Princess of Amathar.  I decided I would publish the manuscript myself as an ebook, but by that time I had fallen in love with the characters and setting and decided that I wanted to write more.  So only the first part of the original Steel Dragon manuscript was published. The other two parts would become books three and five of a series.

Tesla’s Stepdaughters

While trying to get The Voyage of the Minotaur published, and writing Brechalon, I had been playing Rock Band with my kids on the Wii.  In Rock Band, you can create your own characters, which I did—four hot female rock stars—and you can unlock different outfits for them.  As I was playing, I unlocked some steampunk goggles, and a story started forming in my head.  By the time I started writing, the story was essentially complete in my brain. The only change really was that Tesla’s Stepdaughters was originally the name of the group.  I’ve always been a huge Beatles fan and based much of my fictional band’s career on them, so they became The Ladybugs.  I had never really attempted a detective story before.  They aren’t my usual read, though I have enjoyed a few. I was happy with how it came off.

The Dark and Forbidding Land

After finishing Tesla’s Stepdaughters, I jumped into writing book two of Senta and the Steel Dragon (which I had decided was the name of the series).  It was challenging because I was writing a new story set between two already written ones.  For some series, this might not have been a problem, but in Senta books, lots of characters die.

As I wrote, I kept combining things from the outline and throwing some things out because they would mess with the later, already written, stories.  In the end, the book was about 2/3 as long as originally planned, but I liked it.  The Dark and Forbidding Land became my fourth book published in 2010.

The Drache Girl

By the time I got ready to publish book three of Senta and the Steel Dragon, it had been finished for almost three years.  I went through a quick revision pass, changing very little before publishing it.  Like all of the books in the series, I had a hard time with the title.  I had settled on The Sorceress’s Apprentice for years, but some of my friends didn’t like it.  They thought it could be confused with Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. So, it became The Drache Girl.

My Writing Story (2007-2009)


Publishing Princess of Amathar, even if only for myself, inspired me to write again.  Over the next fourteen months, I crafted an 800-page steampunk fantasy that I called The Steel Dragon. I printed up a dozen copies (in 5” binders) and friends read and edited them over the summer.

His Robot Girlfriend

That summer, I discovered Smashwords, where one could self-publish ebooks.  It was a brand-new thing, and I thought that it would be a good idea to get my name out there as an author.  I decided to piece together my earlier flash fiction, seven or eight small vignettes, into an actual story, by smoothing it out and adding an ending.  That summer, while teaching summer school, that’s what I did.  His Robot Girlfriend was the 1,864th book published through Smashwords (now there are over 330,000).  I also uploaded it to Feedbooks, Manybooks, and a few other sites.  I offered it for free, expecting only to get my name out there.  Well, it worked.  His Robot Girlfriend was huge, mostly because I was entering epublishing on the ground floor, though I didn’t know that at the time.  His Robot Girlfriend was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, and when iBooks started, it was at the top of their free books list for a long time.

Eaglethorpe Buxton

His Robot Girlfriend was very popular online, and I was done editing The Steel Dragon, so I began sending it off to publishers, but I needed something else to write. I had recently read Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, and I really liked the idea of an unreliable narrator, but I had also read Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, so I was feeling like something silly might be in order.  I decided to set my story in the world I had created years earlier for a Dungeons and Dragons game I played with my kids. I had placed stories there before.  In 1996, I had written a play for our school drama club set in the same world.  The play was called The Ideal Magic.

So Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Elven Princess was born.  Eaglethorpe himself was a new creation, as was Jholiera the elven princess, but the places, Ellwood Cyrene, and the Queen of Aerithraine were all pulled right out of our D&D game.  I finished in less than a month and was still in the mood, so I wrote another one.  Eaglethorpe Buxton and the Sorceressuses the play I had written earlier as the main plot point, and I made Eaglethorpe the author.

I published both stories as ebooks and then decided that I would publish Princess of Amathar as an ebook and see if anyone would actually pay for one of my stories.  It was Smashwords book number 2,287

My Writing Story (1975-2006)


I started writing in Junior High.  I wrote a series of science fiction stories in comic book form. My cousin wrote his own science fiction comics and over the summer, we would get together and write crossovers.  I also started writing poetry in Junior High and all through my high school years, I considered myself a poet.  The only school activity I was involved in, besides a very brief foray into JV football, was on the staff of the Student Arts Magazine.  Part of that was because I worked full time all through my high school years.  After High School, I went to college and dropped out after a year and a half.

In my twenties, I began writing novels, though I never finished them.  They were mostly fan fiction.  I imagined that I had taken over the duties of Edgar Rice Burroughs, so I wrote sequels to John Carter, Tarzan, Pellucidar, and Carson of Venus.  I also crafted two new stories. I reasoned that if ERB were still alive, he’d come up with something new too.  The first was a fantasy about a reality just beyond our world reached through random doorways—kind of an edgier The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  The other was Amathar—a story about a man transported to another world, with all the Burroughsian elements modernized.

Princess of Amathar

I met and married my wife, and soon, had a baby on the way and I realized I needed to do something with my life. I had a baby daughter, bought a house, and started back to college all in the same week.  After graduating, I became a teacher, and that and two children occupied all my time, though I wrote a few bits of flash fiction here and there—notably some little stories about a robot girlfriend.  After several years, I decided to get back to writing for real, so I dusted off Amathar and began working on it.  Over about five years, writing off and on, I finally finished the draft and went through many revisions.  I printed up four copies for fellow teachers to help revise and edit.  When I was done, I sent Princess of Amathar off to publishers.  After many, many rejection letters, I put it in a drawer and never thought about it.

One day, I was talking with a colleague and mentioned my story.  He suggested I publish it through Lulu, just for myself and friends.  So, in 2006, that’s exactly what I did.