New “Immortal Clay” short story

I’m pushing to get Bones Like Water, or Immortal Clay #3, finished by the end of 2018.

While you’re waiting for that, though, the latest issue of Boundary Shock Quarterly has an Immortal Clay short story. Shoot Through the Heart is about a couple of teenagers “survivors” having a really bad day while trying to make the world better. Get it at Amazon, Kobo, or anywhere else ebooks are sold.

Don’t want to buy a whole magazine for one story? Buy it for all the other stories too. I’m appearing with a bunch of other authors. If you’re not convinced, SttH will appear as bonus content at the end of Bones Like Water.

As it’s halfway through 2018, I should confess that I’m not going to accomplish my 2018 goals. Life simply hasn’t gone as I’d hoped. I’ve pushed too hard on projects I should have given up on, and not worked on projects that my heart is screeching to work on. But, there will be jails. And there will be watery bones.

After that, we’ll see.

Author Discoverability

I’m at BSDCan, so it’s a great time to talk about the discoverability aspect of being a writer. My goal is to make a living as a writer for the rest of my life. My literary craftsmanship affects that, but it’s not the biggest factor.

When you read a book, a couple things can happen. You might get quit reading partway through and forget about it. You might read the book, take what you need, and move on. Or, if the author twiddles your brain just right, you’ll track down everything else the author has written and buy it all.

As a matter of craft, I need to improve my writing so that it’s more likely that people who happen to encounter my books experience that addictive dopamine rush.

But as a business, that’s insufficient. Businesses can grow, stagnate, or wither. I can scrape by on stagnation, but eventually my current readers will die and my business will wither. Yes, yes, dead readers are a tragedy and I’ll mourn each and every one of you, but more importantly, they’ll interfere with paying my mortgage.

So I need to grow my business, which means expanding my readership.

Growth means exposing my work to new readers. Every reader exposed to my text risks experiencing that dopamine rush and suffering addiction. This is called “advertising.”

I appreciate all the folks who tell others about my work. Frankly, a person’s word to a friend is the most powerful advertising you can have. But in some ways, I’ve achieved market saturation. If you run a BSD, you’ve been exposed to my books. If you watch BSDNow, you know who I am. I’m grateful that Allan and Benedict admit that I exist.

Parts of the non-BSD world know I exist. Every time Julia Evans says something nice about me, I get a sales surge. NixCraft supports my work with reviews and public statements. These folks help pay my bills.

So, I know my work can generate appeal beyond my core BSD crowd.

I’m now looking for other podcasts to appear on, for both fiction and nonfiction. I’ll be on IT in the D on 30 July. A couple other podcasts are in discussion.

Ideally, though, a book sells itself. A book generates buzz. One book that “hits” drags in many new readers.

I’ve had a viral hit in the last twelve months. A book brought in more readers than any podcast I’ve been on. That book is, of course, Savaged by Systemd.

When something works? Do it again, but differently. Maybe as a dystopia rather than satire. And with blockchain instead of systemd.

In unrelated news: I’m a bad person, and I should feel bad.

MWL’s 2017 Wrap-Up

It’s that time again. Time to reflect on my myriad personal failures in 2017.

The obvious place to start is my 2016 wrap-up post, where I listed goals for 2017. As usual, these goals were wildly delusional.

The short answer is, my iron was back up to normal. My writing speed wasn’t, though. I’d lost too much general health, and needed hard exercise to recover it. Yes, writing requires physical endurance. Maintaining that level of concentration for several hours a day demands a certain level of blood flow to the brain. I could have faked it in a day job, but when self-employed as an artist? Not so much.

Then there’s travel. I did my usual BSDCan trip, plus two educational trips to Lincoln City, Oregon. The current political mayhem convinced me that if I wanted to hit EuroBSDCon any time in the next few years, I should do it in the very near future. So I went to Paris, where I promptly got pickpocketed. (Thankfully, they didn’t get my passport.) I was actively writing the third edition of Absolute FreeBSD, so I visited BSDCam in Cambridge to get the latest information and a sense of where FreeBSD was going. I also did weekends at Kansas LinuxFest (because they asked and paid for my trip) and Penguicon.

(Because people will ask: why EuroBSDCon and not AsiaBSDCon? A six-hour transatlantic flight requires that I take a substantial dose of heavy-grade tranquilizers. I’m incapable of making intelligent decisions while on those drugs, or for several hours afterward. They don’t last long enough for twelve-hour flight to Japan, so I need to be accompanied by someone qualified to tell me when I need to take the next dose partway through the flight. This isn’t a predetermined time that I can set an alarm for; it depends on how the clonazepam affects me at those altitudes. A drug overdose while flying over the North Pole would be bad. When I can arrange that qualified companion, I’ll make the trip.)

I need most of the preceding week to prepare for long trips. I need the following week to recover from time shifts and general exhaustion. Additionally, I have to hoard people juice for a few weeks beforehand so I can deal with folks during these expeditions. Travel disrupts my dojo time as well, which impacts my health.

Taken as a whole: I didn’t get nearly as much done as I hoped.

Here’s my complete output of big books.

Or, everything I put out: one novel, one tech book, one story, and one novella.

I wrote more stories, but Kris Rusch bludgeoned me into submitting them to trad markets. (The woman is a brute, I tell you. Cross her at your peril.)

Among my 2017 titles, my fiction outsold the tech books. No, not Prohibition Orcs–all four of the people who buy those love them, but the sales tell me I’ve done something wrong with those tales.

My cozy mystery git commit murder outsold Relayd and Httpd Mastery.

But what outdid them both, as well as most of my older books? What title utterly dominated my sales for the last quarter of the year? It was of course, my open source software political satire disguised as porn Savaged by Systemd: an Erotic Unix Encounter.

I can’t believe I just wrote that paragraph.

The good news is, once I recovered from EuroBSDCon, my writing got better.

I finished Absolute FreeBSD, 3rd edition and submitted it to the publisher.

I wrote the second edition of SSH Mastery (no link, because you can’t order it yet.)

I’m plowing through git sync murder, the sequel to git commit murder. I don’t get to see the new Star Wars movie until I finish GSM, so hopefully that’ll be this month.

All in all, I wrote 480,200 words in 2017. Most of that was after September. It’s annoyingly close to breaking half a million, but after 2016’s scandalous 195,700, I’ll take it.

One of the nice things about being an author is that most of your income is passive. You do the work, and the money trickles in for years afterwards. I had money coming in while I was out of commission. The bad news is, that income slowly drops. If I’m to stay an author instead of becoming a wage peasant, I have to schlep some books out PDQ. I can do it, provided I remain focused on production.

That slump is the big reason why I broke down and started a Patreon. It’s why I started taking sponsorships for tech books. You folks carried me through my health problems. I can’t thank you enough.

The fact that AF3e is trad published complicates the financial picture. I won’t see any money from that book until 2019. No, I’m not complaining–that’s just a fact of life, and I knew that going in. But it provides extra motivation for getting my butt in gear right off in 2018.

So 2018 will be my Year Of Making Words. The finest words, of course. Artisinal. Straight from Detroit, a third world city in America’s heartland.

So what’s on tap for 2018? What’s the plan?

  • BSDCan, Penguicon, and two educational trips to Lincoln City, Oregon. That’s it. Under no circumstances will I leave North America, sorry.
  • write 600,000 words, or 50,000 words a month.
  • Complete and release four tech books
    • SSH Mastery 2nd ed
    • FreeBSD Mastery: Jails (I suspect this will turn into two books, it’s a huge topic)
    • either Mastodon Mastery or Ansible for Legacy Systems.
    • #MWLSecretBook, which I can’t talk about until for now, for reasons which will become clear once the book comes out
  • Write the tech book I didn’t complete above, and release it if there’s time
  • Write four novels
    • git sync murder, a sequel to git commit murder
    • Bones Like Water, or Immortal Clay #3
    • Drinking Heavy Water, Montague Portal #5 or Aidan Redding #4
    • To Be Decided From a List of Candidates, All of Which I Really Want to Write
  • Be sufficiently flexible to kick Ray Percival in the head at BSDCan. A front kick will do, but I’m shooting for the high-flexibility side kick as a stretch goal.
  • Exercise enough to drop twenty pounds
  • Stay married while doing all of the above
  • Stay alive

Other than the last two, these are all deliberately fail-forward goals. If I only get three tech books done instead of four–hey, I’m ahead by three tech books! If I only drop ten pounds, that’s better than gaining ten. “Stay married” and “stay alive” aren’t fail-forward goals, but I have a good idea how to achieve them both.

This time next year, come back to see exactly how I failed!

Leveling Up

For those who can’t be bothered with long posts, here’s the short version:

My novel Immortal Clay is now featured as part of Kris Rusch’s Fear Bundle on Storybundle, one of the major book bundling sites. You can grab my novel, as well as thrilling and scary books from authors like Dean Wesley Smith, Leah Cutter, Rebecca Senese, Gary Jonas, Mark Leslie, Sean Costello, J. F. Penn, and Kristine Katherine Rusch.

If this was all that was going on, it’d rate a blog post. Storybundle is a big step up for me. I’m proud to be there. But this tale’s a little more complicated.

Immortal Clay is what writers call “a book of the heart.” Even as a child, pod people fascinated me. The Body Snatchers are Invading? I’m there. Carpenter’s The Thing is a favorite film. Philip K Dick’s tales of things that look human, that think they are human, but aren’t, have been my literary comfort food for decades.

In 1995, I realized that these tales all had one thing in common: they didn’t go far enough. The lightning strikes of implications and possibilities drove me to fill entire notebooks in an effort to get that inspiration to stop ricocheting around inside my skull.

And I lacked the writing skill to do anything with them. I tried, but… no. I just wasn’t good enough. So I wrote other novels, trying to develop the ability to express that manic inspiration.

Time passed.

I kept writing. Kept practicing. I love stories, I love storytelling, and I was going to master this skill.

I wrote in a bunch of different genres, sent out submissions to different short fiction markets, and collected the obligatory ticker tape parade of rejection slips. My favorite genres to read are SF and mystery/thriller, but what initial success I had came in horror.

Apparently I was a horror writer.

I focused my fiction writing time on horror, without much more success. Every day I polished my technique, obsessed with perfecting my storytelling.

Meanwhile, my nonfiction career writing about Internet technology exploded. Internet tech meshes perfectly with horror, by the way.

But then my fiction career stalled. After that initial small success, nothing happened for years.

I kept learning. And seeking teachers.

I’m selective on teachers. I want a mentor who has, say, won multiple awards over a course of multiple books. Or a working writer who’s consistently published many books, over decades, through a variety of channels. And in either case, they need to be a good teacher. Despite the old saying, not everyone who can do can teach.

Kris Rusch is one of the few authors who’s published literally hundreds of books and who teaches the craft of writing.

My first course with her was challenging–not because of the lunatic pace, or the jetlag, or being away from home for ten whole freaking days when I’ve successfully arranged my life so that I only need pants for the grocery store and the dojo. No, the hard part was how she methodically, kindly, and mercilessly blasted down my mental barriers. She has a rare talent of adjusting the lessons to the students. The lesson I needed involved dynamite. The second day, she called for someone to bring a bucket and a mop, because my brain had exploded out the back of my head.

I’m sheepishly proud that I was the last straw that finally drove her to write a book about how writers mess themselves up. (I’m in that book, anonymously. The truth is far uglier than what she wrote.)

During an afternoon break in the middle of the week, she asked me to stay behind. I knew what was coming. Obviously, she didn’t want to flunk me out in front of the class. It would be best for everyone if I just quietly slunk away before anyone came back from the bathroom and the snack table. After all, who wants a big messy scene?

Instead, she told me I could write fiction. That I could do it well. And she said something I never expected to hear: “Do you know you’re a science fiction writer? Has anyone ever told you that?”

No. Nobody ever told me that. I had a stack of rejection letters that said I wasn’t.

But Kris is not a person who sugarcoats the truth. That week, I watched her politely and helpfully feed people all sorts of bitter medicine–always with encouragement, yes, but a bunch of folks got sent back to the basics of the craft.

After that class, I went home and slept for three days. When I woke up, I waded through the wreckage of my mental barriers and started writing Immortal Clay.

Immortal Clay is science fiction, straight from the Pod People Playbook. It’s got a lot of horrific elements in it–it starts with the extinction of the human race, and goes downhill from there. People tell me it’s about hope and what it means to be human, but I’m pretty sure it’s about horrible monsters, small town secrets, and the importance of flamethrowers.

It’s horror by an SF writer–or SF by a horror writer. Something like that.

Starting this series felt I’d finally let out a breath I’d been holding for twenty years.

And of all the books I’ve written, it’s the one that generated the most demands for a sequel. The first pleas for book 3 arrived the morning after Kipuka Blues appeared. (Bones like Water will escape in 2018.)

And now, my teacher curated a Storybundle.

She asked for the book of my heart.

And the Fear Bundle is stuffed full of books written by folks who bled just as much to learn their art, and put just as much of their own hearts on the page. Seriously, I’m just stunned at the names I’ve been packaged with. The authors I haven’t read? I’ll be reading every one of them, just based on the company they’re keeping.

You really want this one.

New story: Savaged by Systemd

Yesterday, I put a short story up as an ebook. This was a wild experiment that I wrote on a whim.

When I say “wild experiment,” I don’t mean I decided to play with tenses and point of view. No, I decided to spend one day writing a lunatic piece, something that I’ve never written before.

Erotica. Sort of.

Computer erotica, to be specific.

Linux sysadmin erotica, to be more specific.

OK, fine. Systemd erotica.

It’s called Savaged by Systemd. And while it certainly contains erotic content, it’s got a bunch of other things in it too.

I try to wait to announce these things until they’re available in both print and ebook. But some weird things happened.

Here’s last night’s Amazon “hot new erotica releases.”

#2? This is madness.

Hot new releases only include titles released in the last little while. It doesn’t mean much compared to the general “books that are best-selling right now” list. So here’s a screenshot of Amazon’s erotica best-sellers from last night.

I’m #15. This, also, is madness.

But this book involves technical topics. It’s also showing up in the Unix category. Here’s a screenshot of Amazon.ca’s Unix Hot New Best-Sellers.

Hitting #1 in the Hot New Unix Books category is no big deal for me.

This morning’s SF Erotica best-seller list?

Strangest of all?

Here’s my Amazon ebook sales dashboard for the last three months, displaying unit sales.

Those little yellow marks all along the bottom? That’s my living. I’m not complaining about it. I get a reasonable middle-class wage compared to non-tech workers. Don’t get me wrong–if you offer me money I’ll take it. Reader donations in the form of book sponsorships have helped me out in desperate times.

And Savaged by Systemd is only $2.99, so I don’t make nearly as much off of one of those as I do a tech book.

But still: that’s a mighty pretty looking set of spikes, over there on the right hand side.

And it’s getting reviews. Goodreads is famous for giving lower reviews than most other book sites. Not only is SbS getting all five-star reviews there, it’s getting long and detailed reviews.

One of those reviews captures what I was trying to do.

Writers are pretty good about hanging on in the face of adversity. We’re accustomed to the larger world pretty much ignoring our feeble efforts.

Success disorients us.

My social media accounts are flooded. My email is worse than ever. Everybody on LinkedIn suddenly wants a piece of me. (I only LinkedIn with people I’ve actually worked with, btw.)

Despite the heady rush of literary success, I need to make some words. The deadline for the new Absolute FreeBSD is pretty inflexible, if I want it in print for BSDCan.

AF3e status, 22 August 2017

Your irregular “Absolute FreeBSD” status report!

It’s at 123,700 words. 12 of 26 chapters exist as first drafts. (Yes, the last report said 7 of 24. I can’t count.) Two more chapters are partially done. One of those partially-done chapters, on “Pre-Install Considerations,” won’t be done until I finish the whole book. I keep going back to add tidbits to it. It’s complete, except when I find something else I have to add to it.

The current status looks like this. Chapter titles subject to change. Again, the ideal chapter length of a No Starch book is about 5000 words. The really long chapters have no obvious breaking point, so I’m kind of stuck.

0 – Introduction (7500 words, sent to NSP)
1 – Getting More Help
2 – Pre-Install Considerations (4900 words)
3 – Installing (write last, because screenshots are evil)
4 – Booting (11,400 words, sent to NSP)
5 – Backups
6 – Kernel
7 – Networking (8800 words, sent to NSP)
8 – Configuring Ethernet (8500 words, sent to NSP)
9 – Security
10 – Partitioning & GEOM (10700 words, sent to NSP)
11 – UFS (9000 words, sent to NSP)
12 – ZFS (8000 words, sent to NSP)
13 – Other Filesystems (11,700 words, out for review)
14 – More Security
15 – /etc
16 – Packages (8600 words, NSP tech review done)
17 – Ports (6800 words, NSP tech review done)
18 – Advanced Software Management (7400 words, in process)
19 – Upgrading
20 – Small System Services
21 – Performance and Monitoring (14,000 words, out for review)
22 – Jails (6100 words, sent to NSP)
23 – Misc Crap
24 – Panics & Bugs
Afterword

See the prior status report on why I’m writing in this order.

Progress is slower than I’d like, thanks to my trip to England for BSDCam. (Jet lag and travel kills tech writing.) But BSDCam changed the content of this book to your benefit. But I have a few more weeks until EuroBSDCon, so I’m grinding out as many chapters as quickly as I can without sacrificing quality.

I suffer for FreeBSD, so you don’t have to.

The real challenge here has been my fiction projects. I’ve been working on a new Beaks novel, but it’s just not working. I tried switching to the third Immortal Clay book, but those words just won’t come.

And by “won’t come,” I mean I’m producing about 700 words an hour. And I’m actually relieved when my 90 minutes of fiction writing time ends. That’s bad. It’s stressing me out.

Both IC and Beaks are kind of dark. And right now, it seems that my brain doesn’t want dark. Part of that is the world, and part of that is my serious effort to get AF3e finished in time for BSDCan 2018.

On a whim, I started working on the next Montague Portal novel. Montague Portal is light and escapist. Yes, there’s murders and stabbings and stuff, but they’re fun murders and stabbings. My subconscious sighed with relief and started spitting out 1200 words an hour from a cold start.

So, it looks like “Drinking Heavy Water” will be my next novel.

More updates as events warrant.

First-ever interview with me, the novelist

I’ve been interviewed as a tech author many times, given numerous talks, and in general made a nuisance of myself in all available media.

For the first time ever, though, I’ve been interviewed as a novelist. It’s because I’m part of the Sci-Fi July bundle, where you can get 11 action/adventure SF novels for $9.99.

So, that’s one milestone passed.

Get My Books Cheap

A novel and a story, at least.

I was recently invited into two different book bundles, where you can get a whole bunch of books by different authors at a cheap price. A bundle is pretty much a sampler pack of similar stuff.

If you’ve read my fiction and liked it, here’s your chance to discover a bunch of new authors in my genres.

If you haven’t read my fiction, here’s a chance to inexpensively try it and a bunch of other stuff.

First up is the Sci-Fi July bundle.

Sci-fi July Fever Fun

It’s eleven novels, including my Montague Portal novel Hydrogen Sleets. The heroine, Aidan Redding, is a redshirt who keeps getting stuck in situations that should slaughter redshirts. No matter how I try, though, I just can’t kill that woman. She’s tough, yes, but better still: she’s smart. Smarter than I am, at least.

Second we have the Crimes, Capers, and Rule-Breakers bundle, that includes my story Butterfly Stomp. It’s on pre-order now for only $0.99.

Crimes, Capers, & Rule-Breakers

I love crime. Well, reading about crime. Fictional crime, not Oracle. As a writer, Beaks is one of those characters that wandered in off the street and said “I’m a horrible person. But you can’t help loving me.” Yes, she’ll shoot you in the head if you’re inconvenient, but she’ll feel really bad about it, so that’s okay. And if you like the Butterfly Stomp short, the story continues in the novel Butterfly Stomp Waltz.

Between the two, you’ll have enough fun reading to round out your summer nicely. Enjoy!

Self-Imposed Split Personality

Pardon the long post, but this might both save me some time and help other authors in a similar position. (I’m not aware of any others in my position, but I’m sure they exist.) Also, I try to make data-driven decisions rather than jumping on the Latest Bandwagon, which is notoriously difficult in a business like publishing that provides very little data.

I’ve been writing under the name Michael W Lucas for decades now. I used that name on the very first book that I published. For my first tech book I used Michael Lucas, but changed it immediately afterwards because I couldn’t compete.

A few years ago, I split into Michael W Lucas (tech) and Michael Warren Lucas (fiction). Publishing in two wildly different fields confused both readers and Amazon’s recommendation engine. While my long-term plan involves reducing Amazon’s importance as a sales channel, other sites use similar algorithms. And I doubt I’ll ever eliminate outside sales channels–even James Patterson can’t swing that.

So I have to ride the algorithms.

I’ll use Amazon as an example because the public can easily extract data from them. Amazon says “Hey, enough people who bought X also bought Y, so we’ll point that out and try to sell them more stuff.” Observe Amazon’s algorithms in action by using Yasiv’s Also Bought visualization tool. Here’s my Kindle Also Boughts for my nonfiction. Amazon has also noticed that people who buy books on TLS, PGP, ZFS, and PF have bought SSH Mastery.

When someone looks at the entry for, say, Bulletproof SSL and TLS, Amazon shows them an ad for SSH Mastery.

These ads are critical for expanding my readership. Books with incoming links are my best-sellers. While correlation is not causation, from talking to readers and observing my own behavior I’d say they clearly work.

Yasiv also shows that people who buy one of my books have also bought a bunch more of my books. This shows that my writing appeals to a certain group of people. Folks who try one of my books get hooked. Amazon is validating my writer skills here, in graphical form.

Note that the Also Bought recommendation engine clearly splits books by genre. I’m highly confident that my readership includes a bunch of folks who read, say, Peter F Hamilton, John Scalzi, Heinlein, Asimov, and so on. But the recommendation engine mostly chops those things off. You have to sell a whole bunch of stuff to get the recommendation engine to cross genres. My Kindle nonfiction Yasiv graph shows that folks who bought my DNSSEC and Tarsnap books also bought git commit murder, but it’s very much an outlier. It’s even graphed as an outlier.

Now let’s hit the clutch, and look at fiction. My fiction is gaining popularity. Measured in dollars, the sales each month are usually a little better than those beforehand. I write crime thrillers, science fiction, and mystery.

So let’s consider Amazon’s Kindle Also Boughts for my fiction.

This really isn’t good.

My fiction exists as a little island. My books all connect to each other. People who like my books tend to buy several. Once my audience finds me, they stay. My readers also like Octavia Butler and Charlie Stross, though, so I’m reasonably confident in the writing itself. Those links are one-way, however: people leave my island for Stross, but never return.

(Note that not all of my books are here. If I wanted to be really depressed, I’d check out the Also Boughts for the latest Montague Portal novel… but I don’t want to be really depressed, so I won’t. Plus, reader reaction to that book was excellent, so Amazon’s recommendation engine can go jump off a bridge.)

Without those incoming Also Boughts, there’s no career here.

I’ve been doing a bunch of reading on how Also Boughts work. Amazon divides the Also Boughts by consistency of readership. I write in multiple genres. An author name with fewer sales and fewer titles but greater consistency of readership gets recommended to other readers. An author name with more titles but inconsistent readership… does not.

Some writers have recommended concentrating on one genre. I understand their reasons for that recommendation, but in my case that’s not likely to happen. The stories I want to write do not respect genre. The book I’m writing now deals with today’s human trafficking, and I don’t care to thinly disguise the topic to write it as science fiction. And there’s no way to write my SF as crime novels.

Fiction readers rarely cross genres. A few do–I have a few loyal fans who read damn near everything I write. (Hi, Meg and Kurt!) I love those readers. But they’re the exception.

So it seems I need to split my name again.

I’m not looking forward to self-imposed multiple personality disorder. It’s a bunch of work. There’s a whole mess of covers to redo, not to mention a whole mess of ebook reformatting. I’m equipped to do it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s tedious grunt labor that I’d rather not repeat.

Which means I only want to do it once.

Rather than going with my gut, I’m requesting input from other writers who’ve been here.

The obvious split seems to be mystery & crime thrillers under one name, and the SF under another name.

I can also argue against that, though. The Immortal Clay books have very little cross-readership with the Montague Portal stories. This is not surprising: the Immortal Clay books are post-apocalyptic “Carpenter’s The Thing, but after we lose”, while the Montague Portal tales are comparatively lighthearted “let’s explore the multiverse!” romps. Similarly, git commit murder is a cozy mystery, while Butterfly Stomp Waltz and the forthcoming sequel (Terrapin Sky Tango) are crime thrillers–technically mysteries, yes, but mysteries full of blood and booms and bad language. Decidedly not cozy, if you get my drift.

But splitting into four names? Oh, come on now. Each name imposes overhead. Never mind that if my fiction takes off, I plan to write an urban theological fantasy series. (Working title: you should have learned. A couple of you probably got a funny look right there, so for you few: yes, it means exactly what you think it means.)

So I think it’s two names, plus a possible third later on.

The SF would stay under my name. The biggest reason being that it’s a suitable SF author name, while modern thriller authors who have started writing recently have shorter, punchier names. Yes, James Patterson is a long name–but he’s been around for decades. Today’s perfect thriller author name is something like, say, Brad Thor, Lee Child, Ben Coes, or Dale Brown. Single-syllable names. (Of these, I’d say Brad Thor is the best–a metal rivet and a Norse god? How much tougher do you want?) Slightly longer names like Tom Clancy and Stuart Woods also do pretty well. No, I’m not saying that these authors did well because of their names. But the names of the authors of these kinds of books in the trad published world fit into a type, and if I’m going to switch my name I want it to fit that type as well as possible.

git commit murder is something of an odd duck. The target audience is people who read my nonfiction. It’s probably going to stay under the Michael Warren Lucas brand, simply for the name recognition of “he’s in our tribe.” That book will never appeal to the Traditional Cozy Reader, and that’s okay.

I’d like to continue using https://mwl.io as a generic author landing page that branches out to specific sites for all of my names. Middle initials are not punchy. So let’s go with initials of M and L.

But what name? The first names Mack and Mick appeal to me. A surname, though? I could go for a variant on my name, like Luck. Perhaps something ominous, such as Last?

So, for those author sorts still reading this:

1) Is splitting my name a waste of time?
2) Should I split the names a different way?
3) Suggestions for a good M.L. thriller pseudonym?

Experimental Price Cuts

I spent last weekend at Penguicon, doing a whole bunch of panels and presentations as well as talking with readers and hobnobbing with my fellow ink-stained wretches authors. As a result of those discussions, I’m trying something new (to me). I’m slashing my fiction prices.

Novels are down to $2.99. Yes, even the brand new git commit murder. Immortal Clay is down to $0.99, because it’s the first in a series.

Novellas are down to $1.99.

Short stories are all 99 cents.

US Kindle users can check my Amazon listing, while others can hit my fiction web site.

How long will this last?

I don’t know. It’s an experiment. Overwhelmingly, the authors I spoke with told me I would make it up on volume. I expect this stunt to slash my fiction income. Much as with my initial experiment in self-publishing, I would be delighted to be proven wrong. I’ll give this not less than 30 days.

Am I likely to try this with my nonfiction? No. The maximum potential audience for a book on PAM or a BSD is much, much, MUCH lower than that for a novel, even a novel in a low-selling genre such as SF.