Saturday, June 25, 2011

New Review Up

This review is special. It is by Conner, a kid who is in the age group I was going for with Rick Frost & the Alaskan Adventure. His mom, Michelle, runs the That's What She Read book review blog. I want to thank her and Conner for their time and the opportunity to send them my book.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Little Honesty Please

Finally, the impact of self-publishing digitally cannot be ignored. John Locke, the author not the character on "Lost", is eighth on the list of authors who have sold over a million copies of their novels on Kindle. It's official. Don't believe me? It's in the Los Angeles Times, so it has to be true.

I have some problems with the article. Carolyn Kellogg, the writer of the piece, gives you straight facts in the first two paragraphs: Locke is from Kentucky, he's the eighth writer to achieve this milestone and the first to do so without a traditional publisher behind him. All true and all nice to know. But this is where the news ends and the scorn begins.

Observe the slant of the press in action: First sentence of paragraph three is "But at what cost?" Either it was intended as a nice pun, or Kellogg is just sour. The rest of the third paragraph and the fourth are more facts. She discusses Locke setting his price at 99 cents, Kindle Direct Publishing allowing authors to set their own price, the royalty rates of 70% for ebooks between $2.99 and $9.99, as well as the 35% you get for books lower or greater than that range.

Kellogg then writes "Which means Locke receives slightly less than 35 cents per Kindle ebook he sells." This sentence is by itself, in its own little paragraph. Anyone who writes knows that if you do that, you want the reader's eyes drawn to that sentence. She goes on to say, "Locke makes money with his 99 cent gambit than he would selling the same number of books with a traditional publisher."

Hey, Carolyn... sorry, Ms Kellogg, as that's how respected journalists want to be addressed, I have a response to your statement:

So freaking what?!

And yeah, I put that by itself; I want Ms Kellogg's eyes drawn to it. So what if Locke, or Amanda Hocking or I want to sell our books for 99 cents? So what if we don't go the way of the "traditionally published" authors? Why should we do it? Just because you want us to?

Let me get off the rant for just a second to continue the analysis. Don't worry, I'll come back to it. She goes on to say that Lock "puts a downward price pressure on Kindle ebooks in the process." Really? He does? So because he prices his books at 99 cents, that means that everyone who publishes through KDP has to do the same thing right? Apparently, Donovan Creed, Locke's hero in his under-priced books, has a gun to the head of every self-published writer in the world.

According to the logic of Ms Kellogg's column (and yes, it's a column, Carolyn, not a news piece), the only reason a reader buys the Creed books is because Locke prices them at 99 cents. And you won't buy a book priced at $2.99, or $3.99, or $12.99 will you? Oh, damn... wait. There's seven other people who have sold a million copies of their books on Kindle and none of them has a single book priced at 99 cents. Wonder how come readers are buying those books? Maybe Donovan Creed really can't be in more than one place at a time.

And this "downward price pressure" you talk about, Ms Kellogg? Price, as you should have learned in basic economics, isn't "set" by the producer. It is set by the consumer, in this case the reader. If readers didn't buy Locke's books at 99 cents, then he'd change the price. I know that because I'm going to assume he's a smart guy. He did write a few books.

Sorry, Ms Kellogg, I forgot. The only reason Patterson, Connelly, Charlaine Harris, Steig Larsson and the other traditionally published authors got to the hallowed million-sales pedestal is because they have a publisher behind them. Nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they are good writers. Nope, its not that.

Look at this statement: "If he sold a million Kindle e-books at 99 cents, he'd clear $346,500 -- nice work if you can get it. But if he were working with a traditional publisher, that $346,500 might be a lot closer to $1 million." Yes, it would be closer to a million. And the publisher would be raking in about ten to twenty times that million that Locke would be receiving... or the million the other seven on the list are getting. With Locke, he's keeping a larger percentage of the money.

Why the focus on money, Ms Kellogg? If writing were just about money, then everyone would be pumping out vampire novels. Yes, there's a lot of them. But people are devouring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice novels and there's not a vampire or sparkling teenager to be found. What's number one in fiction right now according to traditional sources? Tom Clancy's Against All Enemies. My Lord, Clancy is soooo 80's! Spies and espionage and right-wing crazies trying to destroy the world, right? How could he be number one if the focus is only on money and what sells, Ms Kellogg? Number two is a love story from a thriller writer, David Baldacci. Yeah, that's money-driven isn't it? A guy turning his back on all his fans just to write something from his heart. Give me a break. (Disclosure: I like Clancy, and his spies and espionage and right-wing heroes saving the world.)

To justify her position, Ms Kellogg invokes the name of self-published royalty, none other than Amanda Hocking, she of the instant success that make legends. "not everyone can sell 1 million e-books in five months. "In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books," cautioned one observer. Who? None other than Amanda Hocking, who was the first self-published million-seller to make headlines."

Did Amanda Hocking say that? Yes. Is it true? Yep, it is. But here's a few dirty little secrets for you: 1) not everyone who signs with a traditional publisher will sell more than a few hundred books; 2) those people who don't sell with traditional publishers can turn themselves into successes with hard work in the self-published world; and 3) its okay if you only sell a hundred books, because you are doing something you have wanted to do, not sitting on your tail wishing you had.

That is really what is bothering Ms Kellogg and the rest of the naysayers. We are doing something that has been a dream for a long time. For a lot of us, we have wanted to create a world, spin a yarn and have someone else read it. We are, to paraphrase my buddy Mark Terry, arrogant enough to think that someone might want to read our dreams. But we are doing it ourselves, not relying on someone else.

To Ms Kellogg and those like her, publishers sitting in New York are the ones who should determine what books sell. John Locke, Amanda Hocking and those of us who are self-publishing think that the readers should determine that. They are the ones we write for ultimately, right?

One last thing, and it a glaring case of not only how biased Ms Kellogg is, but also how arrogant she is. I'll quote her again: "not everyone can sell 1 million e-books in five months. "In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self-publishing than will sell 10,000 books," cautioned one observer. Who? None other than Amanda Hocking, who was the first self-published million-seller to make headlines."

I added the bold and italics to emphasize the mistake. If Amanda Hocking is the "first self-published million-seller", then how come there's not nine authors in the hallowed list that sparked this article in the first place. Could it be that with Locke, the media had to reluctantly admit that someone who didn't go the traditional route has done what they thought was impossible? So why isn't Hocking in there?

Because Carolyn Kellogg, the Los Angeles Times and the media do not want self-published authors to be a success.

They want us to fail.

News flash, Ms Kellogg... we've already succeeded.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Whats In A Name

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schitzophrenia.” E.L. Doctorow said that. He was the author of the novel Ragtime, which the famous movie and play are based on, so the dude knows of which he speaks. But I am not sure if he was talking about pen names. However, in today’s world, he might as well be.

Just look at all of us out here. Nora Roberts writes sometimes as JD Robb. Stephen King had Richard Bachman. Joe Konrath (real name) writes under J. A. Konrath, Jack Kilborn, and now Joe Kimball. Heck, even Stan Lee, the creator of some of the greatest comics ever is really named Stanley Martin Leiber. Why do we do it?

Is it because we want to be someone else for a while? Because we want to keep ourselves hidden, even in the midst of putting our deepest dreams and hopes out on a page for the world to see? Or is because we just want to keep things straight in our minds, and perhaps in the minds of our readers?

I write under a pen name. My initial reason was more the last one than either of the other two. First, I wrote a book that was a pure thriller. It involved terrorism, a small town and was a lot of fun to write. But then I had an idea for a set of adventure novels. They would turn into the Rick Frost adventure series, of which two are currently available for purchase here and here (how’s that for a plug?). I still had ideas for more thrillers, some straight mysteries, and even had written a collection of noir short stories. So would they all be released under the same name? I put that question to my team of advisors, also known as my wife and a few close writing friends. Their answers were mixed, some in favor of a pen name, some not.

I decided to do it because I didn’t want the kids who would read my Rick Frost young adult adventures picking up my South Florida noir stories and delving into the dark and seedy side of life. So if one was written by Todd Bush, and the other by my pen name, then the kid wouldn’t know the difference. That is unless they did about five seconds worth of research on the internet and made the connection.

So what pen name would I pick? My name is Todd. But for some reason, people they either don’t know me, or know me and forget my name, always call me Scott. Don’t know why, just happens that way. I don’t have a bother named Scott, don’t even have friends named Scott. It just comes out. Maybe I look like a Scott. But I combined it with a random last name and got my pen name: Scott Chase.

Now I have my noir collection coming out next month. It is all about what happens away from the glitz and glamour of South Florida; how it was before the drug wars, and how it got to be the place it is today. The stories are not happy, not resolved at the end in a nice, neat little bow. But they are fun to write and, I hope, fun to read. They are also written by Scott Chase.

But do we use pen names so that we get to delve into a part of ourselves that doesn’t get to come out and play often? Perhaps that’s the case, because I don’t often get to show my love for the shadows, and curiosity for what’s happening behind the “Employees Only” and “Do Not Enter” signs at clubs and bars. Also, my mom worries about putting writing out that is… how to put it… less than holy might be an interesting way of saying it. So maybe writing under a pen name allows me to hide a little bit, even if I don’t want to. Let’s face it, if writing isn’t honest, then it doesn't have a prayer of being good.

Pen names have been around since the beginning of published writing. Ben Franklin even used one. They will still be around. I know a lot of indie writers who are using them to keep the genres they write in separate. But I am not going to hide that I am Todd Bush and Scott Chase. That wouldn't be honest. And I want to have at least a prayers chance of being good.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I am a man without direction today. Father’s Day, the holiday we set aside to thank those who have taught us how to drive a car, check the oil, stand up for ourselves, and love the women in our lives… and for me, it simply a day I want to be over.

I have a son. He’s two years old. But today, he and my wife are on a trip to visit family and friends. I am happy for them. Most of the people who live up there have not seen my son, so it’s good that they went. But they are not here. I can’t hold him… kiss him… watch the US Open with him… I simply want the day to be over.

I had a father. He was 64. February 3 I received a call that he passed away. It was sudden, quick and still hurts. Today is not only Father’s Day, it is the final round of golf’s second major of the year, the US Open. My father loved golf. He taught me and my brother to play the game. I am decent, but don’t practice; my brother was a teaching pro who still is a scratch golfer. Every major tournament, as it came down to the back nine, when stress levels rose for the players and excitement built in my heart, I called my dad. His voice was also a little higher, a little more animated. He loved the game. We would dissect what was happening. As the tournament ended, I’d call for our own wrap-up show. It was better than anything you’d see on TV because it included talk about my son, my wife, and life in general.

But he is not here. I can’t hug him… shake his hand… listen to his laugh… watch the final round of the US Open with him… get excited as the holes ticked down…

I simply want the day to be over.

Happy Father’s Day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sword of Calibum in Print

RICK FROST & THE SWORD OF CALIBUM is officially available in print!

Also, if you look to the right, you can order an autographed copy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Game of Outcasts

My favorite new TV show is “Game of Thrones” on HBO. The real hook that pulled me in was Sean Bean. He is one of my all-time favorite actors, always has been since I saw him in Patriot Games. Then he nailed all the Sharpe movies and finally, he was Boromir in the Lord of the Rings movies; maybe the best casting job of the whole thing. Bean is the consummate actor, who can play a good guy or a bad guy with enough charisma to make you like, or at least identify with, his character. He is terrific as Lord Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones.

However, a strange thing happened on my way to watching Bean kick some serious Lannister butt up and down the King’s Road. I found a character that I liked better than Bean’s Stark: Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf… the Imp… played wonderfully by Peter Dinklage. He is smart, hysterically funny and more than just the comic relief: he is the most well-rounded character in the whole group.

There is a scene where Tyrion is talking to Stark’s bastard son Jon, who is feeling sorry for himself because he is not recognized as an official son of the Lord of Winterfell. Jon has been seated with the servants during a feast, so he leaves and is outside brooding (good word, huh?). Tyrion, who is no stranger to being alienated, picked on, and looked down upon , literally, gives Jon some advice about being a bastard.

Never forget who you are, for surely the world won’t. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

When I heard it, I wrote it down because I knew it was special. Now a month or so later, I know that Tyrion Lannister was speaking to all of us who have chosen to self-publish. Because as much as we have pumped ourselves up for all that we have accomplished as a group and individually, we have become the bastards of the writing world.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the facts. As Joe Konrath pointed out on his blog, the Mystery Writers of America will not accept self-published authors, no matter how successful they might be. Also, announced on June 9 that best-selling author Michael Connelly had become the seventh member of the “over one million e-books sold for the Kindle” club, with the other six members being Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, and Suzanne Collins… and they left out Amanda Hocking and John Locke, who will soon join that club. Do a search on book bloggers who review books and you’ll find that most of them say absolutely and unequivocally “no!” to self-published books… and these aren’t corporate reviewers attached to magazines with millions of subscribers; these are folks sitting in their homes blogging in their spare time. Then, read the blogs of the most famous literary agents in the country and notice how they refer to the e-book craze as a curiosity, almost like you would describe a really interesting looking shirt hanging on a rack, and they talk about self-publishing like it’s the modern day equivalent of leg warmers and the pet rock.

You don’t have to go to Konrath’s blog or the message boards to see the scorn. Walk up to a friend you haven’t seen in a while and tell them that you are now a published author. You’ll probably get the wide eyes and the “Oh, wow!” look. Then tell them that you self-published. The “Oh, wow!” look just became a “Man, that’s too bad” sympathetic frown. Ever told someone that you won a contest, then that the prize was a fruit cake? Same look.

This is not the way it has to be. I say we learn from Lord Tyrion Lannister. The quote is good enough to say again. We should all frame it. Never forget who you are, for surely the world won’t. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

He is right. The world will never let us forget that we are – GASP! – self-published. Amanda Hocking signed a seven-figure deal with St. Martin’s Press. But the first time she goes to a conference or awards banquet, she’ll get the looks as she walks up, and if not then, definitely as she walks away from any crowd of the glorious, most-esteemed traditionally-published ones. “She started out self-publishing, you know… on the computer. Poor thing, probably had to eat grilled cheese and Spaghetti O’s, too.”

We should revel in the fact that we are doing this our own way. That we had the cajones to do something that others couldn’t bear to do. That is important, but it’s not exactly what Tyrion was talking about. We should do it better than those who are traditionally published. Write better books, craft characters that are so real that readers fall in love with them, take those who buy our work on a path so astonishing, so enjoyable that they will not be the same after they turn off their e-reader or put down their print copy.

As self-published writers, the publishing world’s bastards, we must be extraordinary. Tyrion Lannister, if you have only seen the show and not read the books I won’t ruin anything, but suffice to say he is a highly intelligent survivor who always seems to defy those who think he is too short, too stupid, or too much of a bastard in his own right to ever achieve anything.

He proved them wrong. So should we.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guest Post: Mark Terry

Todd: Mark Terry is an award-winning novelist, creator of the Derek Stillwater series, blogger, and an all-around great guy. He's also an email friend who has been a big help and influence on my writing career so far. His latest novel, The Valley of Shadows, is not only a new Stillwater adventure, it's available in hardcover and as an e-book. By the way, anyone who can start off a blog entry by quoting Crash Davis is alright with me. Here's Mark!

Fear & Arrogance

By Mark Terry

If you remember the movie "Bull Durham," at one point Kevin Costner's character, Crash Davis, tells Tim Robbins' character, Nuke LaLoushe, that "you have to play this game with fear and arrogance."

To which Nuke says, "Fear and ignorance. Got it."

Well, when it comes to the fiction biz, maybe they're both right.

I've often thought it takes a serious kind of arrogance (bordering on megalomania) to think that our daydreams not only would be of interest to other people, but of such interest that they would pay money for the privilege of sharing them. I know I'm supposed to say that there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but I actually suspect in this case that there's a wide gray borderland here littered with the corpses of unfinished and unpublished novel manuscripts, lying alongside abandoned dreams and failed writing careers--this is where the artist resides most of the time, and has to for their own protection. If there's anything that can kill a creative project better than fear, I don't know what it is.

The thing that makes novel writing so difficult is it's absolutely impossible to know if you're doing it right (or well). It's almost impossible to be objective about your own work, especially when you're in the middle of it. You may spend weeks or months or years working on something that you think is wonderful only for it to be a piece of crap. Or you may struggle with something you think is a piece of crap, but when you finish it and read it, find that it's just as good as anything else you've written. I know these feelings all too well.

That's fear.

Most novelists I've talked to who are regularly published also have this fear: I'm not going to be able to do it again, I won't get published and I'm going to have to go get some "real" job that I hate.

When really stressed, I have dreams (nightmares) that the writing didn't work out and I had to go back to work at the hospital.

PJ Parrish commented once to me that when she's stressed, she has nightmares about the writing not working out and having to go back to working at Big Boy.

I believe it.

It's a dream job, but it's not all roses. I'm not whining. I'm just pointing out that Crash Davis (or the scriptwriter, whose name eludes me at the moment) was probably right: we play this game with fear and arrogance.

What do you think? Are you all cocky, sure you’re the best thing since brewed beer? Or do you fear you’re writing garbage?

Todd Adds: Ron Shelton is the name you're looking for, Mark as far as the screenwriter of "Bull Durham" and my answer to your questions is that everyone who thinks they have something that another person not only wants to hear, read, see or experience, but needs to hear, read, see or experience has to have arrogance.

My dad once said that anyone who runs for political office has to be able to go into a room full of people and without knowing any of them, believe in his heart that he has better answers and greater solutions to the country's problems than all of them. A writer almost has to be the same way.

But just like most politicians (and if you don't believe me, check out the news lately), we need validation. We need someone to tell us that what we are doing is just as good as we think it is. And that is where the fear comes in. Great post by Mark. Check out his books, they are a great read!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Can I Have an Autographed Copy?

Do you have many times I've heard that question or different variances of it?

"Can I have an autographed copy?"

"When do I get my autographed copy?"

"I want a free copy, and I want it signed!"

That last one is the one that bothers me as an author. This is a touchy subject, but I have promised a lot of people that I would never hold back from telling the truth on this blog and in my writing. To paraphrase Stephen King, "if you lie in your writing, you are doing a disservice to yourself and your readers."

I would never think to ask one of my author friends who has just published a book that they have slaved over for years, cried over in moments of darkness and despair, and finally bounced with joy as they held it in their hands (or saw it on their e-reader for the new generation) to give me a copy of their book. I want to buy their baby, the book that has been their dream for as long as they can remember. I want to support them, support their career. And the easiest way I can do that? Buy their book, not ask for a free one.

So, I have added a button on my website called "Want an Autograph?" It is a Pay Pal button that will send you to their website where you can purchase an autographed copy of one (or both) of the Rick Frost books. I will autograph the book, then send it to the address associated with your Pay Pal account. If you want, send me an email with the Pay Pal info and your address to so you can double up on the information distribution.

The price is $10.00 for an autographed copy. Normally, the book is $8.99, but this way I can take care of shipping. So, all those who want their copy autographed, now you have a way! I look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Irresistibility Sweet Blog Award

MUCHO thanks to Carolyn Arnold for nominating me for the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award! Now I have to pass on the love, and there's rules.

These are stipulations:
1) Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2) Share 7 random things about yourself.
3) Pass the award on to 15 deserving blog buddies.
4) Contact them to let them know.

So here's my 7 random things about me:

- I have a dog that's named after my favorite book character, Detective Harry Bosch.

- I coach inside linebackers, running backs and special teams at the high school where I work.

- My in-laws just learned out to Skype, and that is hours of free entertainment.

- I graduated from a college that has an official mascot (Statesmen) and an unofficial mascot, the Fighting Okra.

- I love college football, so much so that my family knows not to mess with me on Saturdays.

- I started learning to write on a blog about being in the Air Force overseas.

- My wife is pregnant with our second child!!!

Next, here's my deserving blog buddies that haven't been mentioned by others (I don't have 15):

Once again, a big thanks to Carolyn!!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Win An Autographed Copy

I am going to be giving away an AUTOGRAPHED copy of RICK FROST & THE ALASKAN ADVENTURE June 15th!

To be entered, all you have to do is to send an email to and tell me you want to enter the contest.

It was supposed to be an adventure in the wilds of Alaska, a test of manhood for all the boys signed up on the school trip. Instead it was nothing more than a long hike through some pretty trees. That is until Rick Frost and his friend Ben Nakni see a plane crash into the forest. A real adventure has just found them.

The only survivors of the crash are Robert Blair and his daughter Alexis, who just happens to be the hottest teen actress in Hollywood. She was on her way to make a movie in the Katmai National Forest when the unthinkable happened. Rick and Ben pull them out of the wreckage as a team of assassins arrive to finish the job.

The crash was no accident. Someone wants Alexis Blair dead and that puts Rick Frost in the cross hairs. He wanted an adventure; he got a wild ride through the unforgiving wilderness of America's last frontier.