Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Discounts When They’re Not

I just had a long talk with an exceedingly helpful person at CreateSpace. They’re the arm of Amazon that prints my books. I spoke to another helpful person at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) conference last week, who suggested I email my questions to her and she would get them answered ASAP—I sent the mail on Monday. This is Wednesday. That’s pretty fast turnaround for a large company. Well done.

So, their answers to my questions will bore you for the most part, but a few might enlighten others who deal with CreateSpace or buy my print books.

1) The discount codes that I’ve been passing around to everyone who shows even a passing interest in my book (like the poor guy trapped in the elevator with me the other day) aren’t of much use. It seems they only work if you buy from the CreateSpace site directly. This means if you go to Amazon to buy my book (in print), you can’t use the code. It also means that Kindle purchases won’t accept the code. Sigh. The kind lady on the phone did indicate that this is a common concern for authors/publishers and might be addressed in the future. So if you want to use the discount code, you’ll have to click on the link shown above. Sorry. De’ms da rules.

2) The pricing for my book with color illustrations is far too high at $62.68. Apparently, because I asked for “Expanded Distribution” (which includes bookstores and libraries), the price jumps considerably due to the increased cost of distribution. As it is, I get no (as in zero) royalties at this level. I expect that will have to change now that I understand that the retail price is out of my control. And no, I don’t expect to sell many at this price—not even to my mother-in-law in Leavenworth, Kansas. Perhaps I should buy these in bulk and sell them myself. After all, that’s how I got started back in the early ‘90s with Hitchhiker’s Guide to VBSQL.

All in all, I was very pleased with the extra effort taken by the CreateSpace team. They seem to be very open to suggestions to make my and my reader’s experience better. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

     I jumped at the chance to get out of the house when my spouse suggested we take in a movie. We had seen a trailer for Moonrise Kingdom a few weeks ago—I was intrigued. To begin with, Bruce Willis in a movie with Bill Murray and Frances McDormand was quite a combination. We arrived at the AMC theater and tried (repeatedly) to buy tickets. It was senior night, but the young man (apparently his first day), was unable to charge us less than a dinner for two at the Capital Grill. After a brief conversation with the manager, we finally got in and were in time for the trailers for an upcoming movie Hyde Park on Hudson starring no other than Bill Murray as President Roosevelt. It looks great.

     Moonrise Kingdom is the charming story of a pair of kids (about Romeo and Juliet’s age) that fall in love and make elaborate plans to run away—sort of. They live on an island off the coast of New England so they can’t go very far in a miniature canoe. As the story unraveled, I was pleasantly surprised by the writing, wit and jabs at the establishment. One nameless character “Social Services” stuck out as especially stereotypical, but that furthered the plot. 

    Sam (played by Jared Gilman), while purportedly an out-of-control orphaned youth, was one of the least troubled kids in the movie. Suzy (played by Kara Hayward) was just as troubled, confused as any thirteen-year-old girl. The fact that she carried a good-sized suitcase of her favorite books the whole way (and read to the lost boys at night) was especially touching—and funny. I also enjoyed the seemingly endless supply of children dressed in felt animal costumes standing two-by-two in the wings for the church play about Noah.

     As to the rating: It’s PG-13. There was brief nudity (we saw Frances McDormand’s breast from the side for about 6 frames (OMG). While there was kissing and light petting, the love scenes were sweet and innocent. There was implied violence and a number of bloody shirts and noses. And a dog (the dog from The Artist) was killed by an errant arrow. I would wait until my granddaughters are 13 before I would take them, but I expect more mature kids would thoroughly enjoy it.

     I wish I had written down the titles of all the books Suzy read. Can anyone fill me in? As a young-adult writer, I would love to be able to capture the innocence of this lovely story. Go see it. You’ll come out smiling.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Who is William Vaughn?

I’m not a new author—far from it. I’ve written over a dozen books and contributed chapters to a handful of others. I’ve written more magazine and Internet articles than Justin Bieber’s hair stylists, and I’m not counting the documentation I pumped out for Microsoft. Except for my two novels, these were all ‘technical fiction’. You know, books written about Microsoft software for developers. One has to be pretty imaginative to write an easy-to-read book on the data access interfaces SQL Server and still keep the reader awake.

Apparently, none of this experience helps get one recognized as a competent writer in the young adult world. That’s understandable—very few teens read Hitchhiker’s Guide to Visual Studio and SQL Server (7th Edition), and they wouldn’t get the jokes anyway. That’s fine. I know how to restart my career on a new path. I’ve had to do it many, many times over the last forty years. Anyone who’s worked in the personal computer industry also knows how to file for unemployment.

So I had an idea for a novel that would to weave a story about our turbulent times. And, of course, I wanted to wade into taboo topics of politics, religion and bigotry.  I saw (and still see) political corruption, corporations buying their own laws and media spigots dumping their propaganda on the naive public. I saw many social problems ignored or glossed over by the popular books impressionable teens were reading. I was convinced that our future leaders needed another 1984, Animal Farm or Alice In Wonderland. Ambitious? Of course. I expect that Don Quixote and I are cut from the same cloth.

The Owl Wrangler POD Cover (just front)I spent about three years and a bunch of money on classes, books, editors and illustrators to create The Owl Wrangler. On the surface, it’s a young adult story about tiny forest elves no taller than a pinecone. The Seldith live in the forests around the Northwest, perhaps behind that blackberry bush behind your fence line. They have parents, teachers and village elders that expect and demand quite a bit from them. Seldith teens are faced with most of the same hormonal and social pressures that my own kids faced when they were in their teens. But these elven teens are special. Many of them have fledgling magical powers that they’re just learning to wield. Check out for a prĂ©cis.

I published The Owl Wrangler April 1, 2011 on Kindle, Nook (1 sale) and through CreateSpace. 90% of the print copies were sold by hand to people that came to my book signings and through consignment placements. These have sold very well, but only in the local area. I’m a good salesman.  

The result? Despite tepid sales, the book got 99% 5-star reviews—but too few of them. I thought it was time to start marketing in earnest. While I found a publisher that was “very interested”, communicating with them is like standing in the back of a busy bar trying to get a drink on a Friday night. I’m still looking for a sincerely interested publisher. Sure, I’ve been racking up rejection letters, but my ego can only take so much rejection. I’m not as frail as George McFly; no experienced author is, but given the state of the publishing industry, does it make sense to keep prodding publishers that only want best sellers? One of the blog articles that clog up my browser like malware pop-ups, suggested that the only key to success for a new author was to write—and keep writing. So I did.

Copy of Front Cover Cats EyesThe story continued with Guardians of the Sacred Seven. This took another fifteen months, more classes, editors, copyeditors, conference fees and thousands of hours on Facebook, Twitter and countless blogs and reading similar fantasies. July 1st (2012), volume two of The Owl Wrangler trilogy was done. I’m happy with it. Taking my own advice, I started writing the third immediately. Frankly, the characters are calling me now to come back and listen to their stories.

Sure, I keep getting the occasional request to consult on SQL Server or Reporting Services projects, but I’m having too much fun listening to the Seldith tell me their stories.

Follow me on @vaughnwilliam or on Facebook

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Revised Website

I spent the day (between writing sprints) revising my book’s website. I created a new header, incorporating the Ink’s Eyes cover. Take a look and let me know what you think. Look for


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mata is at it Again—A Craigslist Scam or a Poor Churchmouse?

I got another message from “Mata” today. She says that she’s a poor church mouse living in Nevada City… but I’ll let her tell the story:

Hi! I am a single mom who works as a teacher's assistant in church at
Nevada City. I want to give your item to our pastor as a gift.Do you
have a PayPal account? Invoice me using the same e-mail.

If you do not have a PayPal account, Kindly provide me with your
Fullname and Address to enable me send you a cash delivery money

i will be adding an extra funds during payment for shipment cost
because you will be required to ship the item. I prefer USPS Shipping

Have a Bless Day.”

So, the first time I got this message I hesitated a moment. It seemed strange that a “teacher’s assistant in church” would have the money to buy a $1500 professional camera. And as a teaching assistant, you would think her English would be a bit better. So I checked. “Mata” has been sending this same message to folks for quite some time—word-for-word. I don’t know how her scam works, but I expect she forges money orders. I guess she forgot that she and I already had an exchange about fraud—she sent me another message this morning.

What I don’t understand is why no one has put a stop to her nefarious deeds? Are there no police in “Nevada City” if that’s where she’s from? I expect that the “pastor” is on a mission in Nigeria and she would want to have the camera sent directly to him so folks don’t have Mata’s real address. Right.

Just watch yourselves folks. There are all kinds of fictional stories out there that more than stretch the truth.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guardians of the Sacred Seven has Arrived
After two years of writing, editing and rinse and repeat, I'm proud to announce that the second book in The Owl Wrangler trilogy has been published with brilliant illustrations by Sarah Livingston.

In Guardians, Hisbil finds that only a few of the clan believe his impossible story about uman giants, riding awakened beasts and transmogrifying his father back from an eagle. Who would believe it? Even his friends are skeptical. Alred convinces him to take an accounting of his exploits to the Summit at Glencairnon where it will be accepted into The Book of Truth--then they'll have to believe him. Unfortunately, the council members he got thrown in jail are plotting their revenge and a way to get back in power including writing their own account of Hisbil's evil ways. 
Hisbil's friend Weiger pays a heavy price to learn that Neychen and his cohorts will stop at nothing to put things back the way they were. While Hisbil has inherited his father's magical powers, it does not take long before he realizes the deadly burden he bears each time a spell is cast. Will he be able to overcome the treachery, lies and deceit or will he sacrifice everything to save Kassie, his sister and his clan?

Guardians of the Sacred Seven is currently available on Kindle and soon to appear in the Amazon listings for paper copies. Until Amazon catches up, you can find the print version on CreateSpace.  I've done something different this time--I've included color illustrations. This should enhance the reading experience for the Kindle Fire and other color Kindle eBook readers. There's also a special color print version available that includes these color illustrations.

A new beginning...

A new start. Sometimes that's what it takes. I've been fighting my MovableType blog for over three years--the six months or so with paid help from SixApart but it still does not work correctly. I have better things to do with my life than debug Perl scripts, so I thought I would try BlogSpot.
Let's see how it goes...