Something a little different today. I know a young lady named Arika, and it seems her class has a fun project.
They are trying to get postcards from all over the world. Could I ask you to consider helping a 5th Grade class out?
It doesn’t take much. Simply address the postcard from your area to “Arika Polen’s Class,” then pen a sentence or two about where you live. Stick a stamp on it, and then send it to the following address:
Miss Falls 5th Grade Class,
1004 Third Street
Brilliant, Ohio, 43913
That’s all! I’m curious what cards come in- I know from my stats page that a lot of different countries are represented in my viewership.
3,887 edits is a lot of edits. True, most of them are dumb stuff like comma placement. But for a lot of them, you really have to think. In some cases you have to ignore the AI, and that’s where it gets tricky. You do so at your peril, but in dialogue especially it is often necessary.
Well, Grammarly did one hell of a job with my last MS, and I don’t expect this to be any different. The program only made one howler, and it was my fault. It changed “herd” into “heard” and a sharp-eyed reader pointed this out to me. I must have clicked the “change” box without thinking about it, and it bit me.
So far, though, that’s been the only mistake that people have pointed out. Grammarly rocks.
Note the 3,887 block once more. This is a MS that has been beta-read by a few very good readers, and I’ve made a ton of changes to the original copy in Dropbox. And still, nearly FOUR THOUSAND edits to perform! This number is not a mistake, the AI is right about approximately 95% of them.
This will take me about a week of solid effort to do. However, this step is utterly necessary.
It’s simply a question of getting it done.
I have a series of time hacks and NLT dates by which certain steps must take place. A completed cover, an edited MS, a dunk into Vellum at the end, etc.
All of this is to provide you, my readers, with suitable entertainment.
I currently have four complete and unreleased novels in the stack, so I’ll be going through this process a lot over the coming year.
Keep an eye out! If you are new to this page, click here for my published works.
Today a little about one of my most successful projects ever, Old Twist the mountain fiddle.
For a little background and to see where this fiddle started from, see my earlier posts “The Mountain Fiddle” and “The Coffin Case.”
A quick recap. Several months ago, I found the violin and case illustrated above at a flea market. It was in sorry shape and needed a ton of TLC. When I bought it for forty dollars, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. Well, this violin became quite the quest. First, everything needed cleaning. Then the assembly and required refurbishing. There was a quick stop by my luthier, followed by adjustments and settling-in (the violin probably hadn’t been played since the fifties).
By mid-summer, it was finally ready to be used on a regular basis.
Note the oddly twisted scroll and strangely angled pegs. This is why this violin is named “Old Twist.” Also, it is not quite full-sized. It isn’t a three-quarter, either. It’s in a league of its own. But I digress.
I love this darn violin. It has a rich, dark sound that is perfect for mountain music and is my most comfortable violin to play. When I settle this fiddle against my cheek, it feels like I’m relaxing on the couch. Yes, it is an odd comparison, but it’s the best metaphor I can think of. This fiddle just feels right. Composed. Worn. Easy.
My instructor pointed out that Old Twist had probably been played in the past without a chinrest, and the fiddler would feel the music through their cheek. I believe it. Several people played the hell out of this violin for a century or so, and it shows. In my admittedly limited experience, I’ve never, ever seen a violin with this degree of wear.
But that’s the wonder of an old fiddle. Its age is immaterial as long as it is properly maintained and stored.
For the millionth time, I wish I had this violin’s story. Who played it, and what songs. Judging from where I bought it, I’d say the violin was manufactured and used in the Tri-State area (OH, PA, WV), more specifically in the upper Ohio River Valley. It’s a real Appalachian fiddle with a history. Just a shame I can only guess at it.
Was it played in a church? The county fair? On someone’s porch? A village band? Bonfires and wild parties, with the firewater jug passed hand to hand? I’ll never know, and this adds to my interest in this oddly constructed instrument.
All I can do is attempt to do it justice by playing the old songs as well as I can. Give it a good home. Extend its life as far as it will go.
My best guess on its age is 1800-1850, and it wasn’t factory-made. After that period, violins were readily available through mail order (Sears and Roebuck, etc.) and a village carpenter wouldn’t have bothered, as the mail order fiddles were three dollars. He wouldn’t have been able to make any money.
So, there you have it. Old Twist, the ancient mystery fiddle. It still astounds me that something so old and worn works as well as new with just a little work. This is not a concert violin by any means, but it is perfect for the sort music I like to play.
Hands down, the best forty dollars I have ever spent.
As you may know, I’m between projects at the moment and I’ve been tossing some ideas around. One thing I’ve thought about is book pricing and readership. My reader base is important to me, so one idea, in particular, occurred to me.
I decided to permanently lower the price of “In the Valley,” the first book of my original trilogy, to USD 99 cents. This lowers the barrier to people who may be interested in my books, but can’t get over the standard 2.99 USD speed bump.
Well, this morning I instituted the change. The going rate for Valley has been changed worldwide, and hopefully it pulls people along into my original universe, and then to my latest release “The Storyteller’s Heaven.”
A few words about “In the Valley.”
First, it was my initial novel, and I think it shows. There are problems with its structure, and I dislike the cover. It has the look of crime fiction, not military sci-fi, which is what it actually is.
Second, Valley was a pretty raw book in terms of content. How it came into being was that someone, perhaps my shrink, told me I needed to write a book. At the time I was going through the US Army Medical Board and I was bored out of my skull, as well as being really, really sick of being poked and prodded by the docs. So I sat and wrote my tale, using science fiction as a touchstone.
Finally, Valley wasn’t meant to be a trilogy; that just happened. Although I intended it to be a one-off and catharsis, I did leave a hook at the end in case I wanted to continue the tale of my protagonist, Paul Thompson. When the process was completed, and the book was published, I walked away from it for a while. I never seriously considered myself to be an author.
So, I did nothing. I had no website, no FB page, nothing. Just a random book hanging out on Amazon. I maybe sold seventy copies or so, at best. And then, something strange happened.
Out of the blue, a gentleman contacted me from Wisconsin and asked a simple question.
“When is the next book coming out?”
I was retired from the Army by then, and I was touched by his interest. I began to seriously consider the next work, and this time I made a study of what worked, and what didn’t. Also, in this period I made contact with the author John Birmingham, and I read his book “How to Be a Writer.” As a consequence, I decided to take the whole writer thing a bit more seriously.
I started this website, among other things. I also planned and produced the second book in the original trilogy, “The Captain’s Cauldron.” Yes, I planned the second book, and I think it shows. I was still dissatisfied with the cover, however, but it was better than “Valley.” It sold pretty well, so I moved on to the capstone for the trilogy, “Immolation.” IMO this was the best book of the three, and I actually liked its cover.
I’ve moved on since, of course. Yes, there was a five-year publishing gap, but I was not idle during this time. I did a lot of short stories and wrote a couple of unpublished series. Part of the problem was that I had gone separate ways from my original publisher, and I couldn’t crack the code of indie publishing on a budget.
Finally, with a big assist from JB, I produced my first true indie. “The Storyteller’s Heaven,” the first book in the “Promised Land” trilogy, is the result. Oddly enough, it is the most recent thing I’ve written, the two other series, one a series of disaster novellas, and the other an alternate history, remain unpublished.
Unpublished for now. Of course, I have put out “The King’s Ohio Rifles,” the first book in the Ohio Rifles alternate history trilogy, over on patreon.com/jasonlambright. It is in rough draft serial form because that’s how I do things over on Patreon. However, I plan on releasing the ebook in November 2022 on Amazon.
Long story short, “In the Valley” is now available worldwide for 99 USD cents, and it’s going to stay that way.
It is a file full of completed rough draft chapters of my latest book, the second of “The Promised Land” series, the follow-on to “The Storyteller’s Heaven.”
The manuscript is done, God be praised. It took an unprecedented thirteen months of labor and thought, at times I believed I would never get it finished. But here we are, and here I am, with a capped-off RD MS of 76,730 words.
I completed it this morning at 0603 hours, US EST. When I typed the last words, it felt like bliss. Pure heaven, to have this monster in the bag.
I’m looking at having this latest novel completed and launched by the middle of March.
The work doesn’t end, it just takes different forms.
Yeah, that image above is ‘Oumuamua, a mysterious interstellar object seen a few years back.
It only relates tangentially to my newest idea, a series about an alien invasion. Guys, it came to me yesterday during a long, boring drive in the middle of nowhere.
This is frequently how ideas come to me. My mind in neutral, cruising along. I tell myself stories as I drive. Sometimes they are stupid. Sometimes crazy. Usually implausible. But always entertaining, at least to me for a short while. Maybe I get these stories because I can’t stand to listen to the radio and my mind fills in the gaps.
Whatever. All I know is that the creative engine is cranking while I drive along. Yesterday was one of those days.
Suddenly, I had the premise for a pretty cool book, and I bounced the title off of my passenger. She and I tossed it back and forth, and I had a working title by the time I reached my destination.
No, I won’t reveal it. I won’t even reveal it over on my paywall page for my hard-core fans. Not yet, anyway.
This idea is so new it’s glistening like a newborn foal.
But it’s one of those concepts that simply must happen. I’ve seen a fair bit of enthusiasm over on Patreon, and I’ve decided that this is going to be my latest series.
Everyone loves an alien invasion, and I am no different.
This is going to happen, amongst all my other projects.
I wanted to let you know that two books of mine are discounted right now on Amazon, and they will remain so until Saturday the 20th of August, 2022, at midnight PST. Later today and tomorrow another two books will drop to 99 cents as well.
That’s right. My latest release, The Storyteller’s Heaven, is set to .99 USD cents. The original book of my first trilogy, In the Valley, is set to 0.00. Also, for a limited time, The Captain’s Cauldron and Immolation will be set to 99 cents as well, although the price on those won’t change until 0800 PST on the 16th (Captain’s Cauldron) and 0800 PST on the 17th (Immolation). Don’t ask me why these are staggered, I’m sure Amazon had its reasons.
This means that for less than the full-whack price of The Storyteller’s Heaven, you can get all four of my books this week. It’s a pretty good deal.
By all means, go over and score some copies on Amazon.
This deal was meant to reward you, my fans and readers.
This past weekend, I met an intelligent and articulate author, Shannon Eichorn, at the Confluence convention in Pittsburgh, PA. She had released a debut novel “Rights of Use,” which involved alien abductions, a secret and underfunded Air Force unit, and alien/human symbiotic relationships. I’ll say right up front that the alien abduction sub-genre usually isn’t my thing, but something about her premise intrigued me.
My reading preferences are eclectic, and it’s difficult to say which books I’ll select for my library. I chose this author’s book for a reason I can’t put a finger on. Maybe it was the whole underfunded Air Force unit thing; I can easily picture the scenario she described. One scene early on in the novel sold me on her work and kept me flipping pages.
I don’t think I’m putting any spoilers out there by describing the atmosphere at the remote Air Force base where a distraught father and politician landed to be read-in to the project.
The oh-so-secret base was in the middle of nowhere, as one would expect, but it was a picture of disrepair and neglect. It was a dead-end for careers, complete with a seedy dayroom filled with taped-together furniture, cheesy decorations, and Hollywood posters depicting aliens.
Anyone who has worked for Uncle Sam would recognize such a space. Lack of funding, penny-pinching, and careless use by government employees permeated her description. I thought it was authentic to a tee, and curiously enough, the dayroom setting in this “secret and powerful” base shot me ahead into the narrative.
The only things missing in her description were the scent of Pine-Sol, a bored enlisted trooper watching some crappy movie on an old TV, and a pot of vile coffee brewing in a stinky corner.
I thought this scene was wonderful.
It took me a little while to get into her world-building; at first, there was some confusion. It was OK, though, because she resolved my questions as I plowed through the narrative. This is as it should be.
Something I noticed as I read was that I kept skipping over words to SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. This is always a good sign for me; the author has engaged me in the given work.
Another thing I’d like to point out.
Ms. Eichorn’s debut novel is a far better effort than my own. Why do I say this?
Well, I regard “In the Valley” as a flawed work in a few regards. One of its problems is a simple lack of planning, and “Rights of Use” does not suffer from this. There is a clear structure, character development, midpoint, and acceleration to the finish. “In the Valley,” as many of you are aware, lacked some of these critical story beats.
My first book was a study in “hold onto my beer and watch this,” it was written on a whim while I proceeded through the US Army Medical Board. Later books in the series had an outline and a structure, but the damage was done with Number One. Readers who made it through “In the Valley” to continue to the rest of the series have my appreciation and respect. Debut novels are NOT easy.
This author’s book shows the signs of careful planning and execution, which I appreciate.
I have some minor quibbles, but they are just that, minor. At first, her “alien” words took some getting used to, but this is a standard tactic in sci-fi novels, and she didn’t overdo it. Some of the military bits weren’t entirely as I would have written them, but hey, my background and hers are wildly different. Also, a few sections required a bit of suspension of disbelief, but this is also standard sci-fi. If everything has to be hyper-realistic, I suggest you read a different book.
Me? I was content to sit back and enjoy an entertaining yarn, well-told.
Also, it turned out that some of the too-lucky escapes and surprising discoveries were… by design. I will say nothing further, as I don’t do spoilers.
If you are interested in Shannon Eichorn’s debut novel, I’d say it’s definitely worth a read. This goes doubly so with a first book and series kick-off. Very impressive.
A detail from the header on my Patreon page over at patreon.com/jasonlambright. The artwork is by my daughter, a graphic arts major at the university.
Alright, I thought to re-visit a theme. I choose to do so because of some correspondence I’ve had of late with a few peeps; I have the idea that I haven’t made it exactly clear what’s hanging out over behind my paywall site.
In short, a ton of my content is posted over there.
For those who would like a free sample, I have included this link to the “FREE STUFF” tab, which I believe is insufficiently visible at the top of my page. It’s there, but I’m not happy with the Patreon format for accessing it.
Here’s what’s available to whoever would like to hang out and be one of my super-betas.
For three bucks a month, you get the free ARC of “The Storyteller’s Heaven,” which I made available to my guys shortly before the official launch. In addition, two complete rough draft manuscripts are posted, STORY1 and RIFLES1, which is the as-yet unpublished alternate history due out in November. The official title is “The King’s Ohio Rifles,” and I’ll let you guess its premise.
There’s more, of course. I am busy with the weekly serial release of chapters of the bridge novel in the Promised Land trilogy, “The Storyteller’s World.” About half of it has been posted to date. Also, about half of book two of the Ohio Rifles trilogy has been posted, “The Hidden Sun.” So, that’s two rough draft novels in progress to read as well.
If that’s not enough, the three-dollar tier also has access to my RANTS, stuff involving the writing process, and my life that I only post behind the paywall. I like the crowd on interstellar, don’t get me wrong, but I put out the nitty-gritty in a non-public forum to my dedicated peeps.
Finally, at the three-dollar level, you can chime in on all of the posts- your words impact the developing works. I said super-beta reader, and I meant it. My books are a team effort, and I’d like to have you aboard.
I must mention the five-dollar level, which has all the benefits of the three-dollar level, plus you get analysis pieces covering most chapters. This is where I explain my method as I write. I let you see the machinery behind the books; I explain my thought processes. For new or fellow authors, hang out here. Interact, and bounce ideas around. It’s great fun.
Finally, a few ten-dollar slots are still available to those who want skin in the game. You become part of my books at this level. What am I talking about? Well, you can choose naming rights on a character. I’ll put you into a book series of your choice. You can also knock up some fan-fic, and I’ll slide it into an ongoing project.
I believe in teamwork and getting my fans into the game. You may want to consider my site for those who want to take things to the next level. Also, all tiers get to communicate with me through IM; I check and answer these at least daily.
There are no caveats. No gimmicks. No infomercials. No timeshares in Florida. Just raw access to my work and a seat at the table.
Today is kind of a big day. It is the launch of my first published work since 2017, The Storyteller’s Heaven. It’s about a future where we start exploring interstellar space, where we push the boundaries between life, love, and death.
I am even more pleased to say that I have set up a promotion for the launch; the book is set to zero dollars for this weekend only. This means that all of you can cruise over and pick up a copy for absolutely nothing.
This has been timed to coincide with a convention I’m attending this weekend, my first since the rotten plague descended upon us.
Guys, this was a real hump to climb this past year. No, years. I lost my publisher, wrote a ton with no idea how to set it free, endured the plague, witnessed the undoing of my work in Afghanistan, and descended into madness in Ukraine.
Somehow I managed, with a big assist from John Birmingham, to produce this book.
Now it’s out there, waiting for a good home. The five-year drought has ended. I have the tools in the box to produce more novels; at least five unpublished bits are waiting for release. Of course, my Patreon crowd has the first crack, but I haven’t forgotten my crew of lurkers over here, either.
So here you go. The Storyteller’s Heaven; available right now. It is set to free until Sunday, the last day of the ‘con.
As always, I welcome your feedback here and at other sites. If you like the book, it would also be cool to leave a review on Amazon.
Thanks for tuning in. This should be a pretty productive year!