More Stuff In My Ebook Store, and a mega-deal on Absolutely Everything

You can now get my in-print short stories and novellas (aka “chapbooks”) at The coupon code ZONLESS will get you $1 off each of the short stories. Yes, it works multiple times. Buy 5 shorts, get $5 off. There’s also a bundle with all of them. I’ll have a blog post in a day or two about the economics of this. The math is ugly, but putting them on my store makes it less ugly.

You can also get the Absolutely Everything bundle. It contains Absolutely Everything on the site, for over $50 off. Tech books. Novels. Audiobooks–er, audiobook. Everything.

As a special offer for my previous customers: if you have previously purchased the current editions of items in the Absolutely Everything bundle, or smaller bundles like Total Mastery or All the Novels and Collections, and would like to upgrade to Absolutely Everything, email me at mwl at mwl dot io from the email address used in your account. Use the subject “Absolutely Everything.” I will give you a coupon code for the value of current editions of what you’ve bought from the store, valid for your account, good until the end of May 2023. If you bought the newest SSH Mastery and Sudo Mastery direct from me for $9.99 each, and want the whole thing? I’ll give you a coupon for $19.98.

This offer expires at the end of May 2023. (I would like to offer this permanently, but I need a way to automate it.)

For the record, I would like to be wrong about the Absolutely Everything bundle.

When I first put up the Total Mastery bundle I thought This is stupid. Nobody unfamiliar with my work is going to come in here and buy all my tech books in one lump. People keep suggesting it, so I’ll try it just to shut them up.

I was wrong.

I sell a few each month. Someone comes to my store searching for, say, SSH Mastery, sees the bundle, and decides to splurge/invest/binge.

People also suggested that I put up a bundle of fiction. Fine, the novels are in the store, I’ll bundle those too. I was confident nobody would buy them.

Again, I was wrong. A few each month.

I am confident that nobody will buy Absolutely Everything. Being wrong would delight me.

Free Anthology, including Me

In the late twenty-teens, I sold a story “Hero of Fire Life” to Pulphouse Magazine. They put it in their anthology “Snot-Nosed Aliens.”

And now, they’re giving the anthology away. They’re not asking for an email address or anything, it’s just free.

Don’t ask me why. I have no idea. I don’t know how long this will last. Grab it while you can.

If you’re an audio person, I read this story at Penguicon 2019. We recorded the talk. The whole story is on YouTube.

Or, you know, you can just grab the anthology.

Release Day: “Devotion and Corrosion”

Devotion and Corrosion is now out.

I had this cunning master plan. I was going to set everything up beforehand for Devotion and Corrosion’s release, so that on release day I wouldn’t have to run around like a maniac and hit buttons. Back in March I got Ingram ready so I could fulfill the Kickstarter, and planned to set up the other stores the next day. Instead, I chose to catch covid. (Zero stars, do not recommend.) It put me far enough behind that I completely forgot about releasing the book. Yesterday, I realized that Ingram had released the print book as scheduled. Oops! I ran around like a maniac hitting buttons.

I’m proud of this one. It’s some of my best work of the last decade, distilled into a single volume. ZZ Claybourne‘s delightful introduction does a better job of describing the book than I ever could. I want to declare “I defy anyone to read this foreword and not rush out to buy the book,” but y’all are a bunch of perverse buggers. You would devour the foreword, feel lust overwhelming for the book, and grit your teeth through the pain of denied need, all for the pleasure of proving me wrong.

Anyway, here’s ZZ. And check out the book. It contains a Lovecraftian tween, a brain implant, evil paint, the risk of destroying the universe, spite, and–of course–Sufficient Rat.

Foreword Motion

ZZ Claybourne

“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” From the Kenneth Branaugh movie adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

The insidious thing about love is we define it to suit us. There are people who think they’re so logical that no variety of something so basic as love sways them. A simple whisper or well-placed compliment flips their world. Artists will bring all their craft and time to bear on a project, then, for love of craft, never release it for fear it’s not good enough.

Would most of us do anything for love? In the same way there’s the erroneous envisioning of hope as some soft cloud of dreams, love is too often cast as a diaphanous thing ladling orgasms and picnics upon the world. Love is a Depression-era photo of a mother who’d snap the neck of God to make sure her children survive. Fortunately, humans come into the world slippery, hard to grasp, and weird, and generally stay that way. We’re all children or parents.

Invoking Shelley’s creature requires an understanding of the human condition. Invoking Ozzie Osborne requires honestly declaring how love eventually makes hypocrites of we angels.  We may think we wouldn’t do that for love, but then find ourselves doing it twice. Granted, maybe not the way we think “that” would play out. Maybe we wouldn’t put Bambi on train tracks for love, but we can see ourselves laying a haymaker on a doe if it got too close to a baby. We can see ourselves testifying against our addicted twin if it meant they’d be remanded to medical care. Sacrifice is love. Self-preservation is love. Construction is love. Destruction is love. Truth is love. Lies are love. We’ll burn a hole through the Earth for love of profit. We’ll plant a million trees for love of forests. Devotion. Corrosion.

Shakespeare and balladeers never told us love was the stark Coin Flip of motivations.

When I was a teenager, my suicidal brother went missing during the worst of a Michigan winter. He was a few years older than me. I’d never really liked him, could’ve hated him. He was mean, selfish, and had a putdown for anything anybody held up as an accomplishment. I didn’t know anything about depression then, but I knew his mind. I knew the note he’d left wasn’t for show. So I wrapped my feet in bags, slid them into my threadbare boots, and walked alleys hoping to find him. Not alive. Just hoping to find him. I got home nearly frostbitten. Never found him.

I loved my brother.

Love drills nails into our lobes if we hand it the right power tools.

As an adult, love had me comforting the guy whom the woman I loved cheated on me with, the revelation coming when I knocked on her apartment door and he answered wearing my bathrobe. Weeks later, at 3AM, she called me. Except it was him from her landline. Wondering why she didn’t really love him.

That was an hour conversation.

I’d do it again.

There are so few times in life when we’re not touched by a bit of this glorious insanity. Smart people might postulate glorious insanity as the only thing sticking humanity together; I’m willing to give them that. We might not have had Toni Morrison, Prince, Alice Coltrane, or Johnny Cash otherwise. Wondrous love for a billion lights in the sky drives us to be creative. Creativity drives us to be compassionate. This is why my only mantra is Despite everything, create. Love demands we build, that we bring healing into lives that forever reach for succor like a confused infant in the eye of a storm.

A line I wrote a long time ago: ‘We’re all the ones who know so little, and I’m the one you least need fear.’ Folks reading this foreword know fear is the mind killer. Even when there’s every reason to fear, love factors into everything. My latest books are love letters to perseverance, community, and every mysterious grace that keeps life interesting. The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan is love for adventure. Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe? Love’s in every word of the title.

Sometimes love forces us to create in order to destroy. Devotion and corrosion.

Devotion and Corrosion, the collection: Each story is Hieronymus Bosch writing a love letter to Charlie Brown’s little red-haired girl now grown and so weary she aches. Can you grasp that? Can you grasp an Elmore Leonard Hallmark romance? Or H.P. Lovecraft exorcising his demons as a kid out of love for himself before they calcify his adult heart? Rat familial love amasses in the thousands, and always with ready teeth. What Lucas has done is present the xenomorph from ALIEN going in for a French kiss: burning things to the bone so that the unspoken underpinnings show through. It’d be one thing if our species remained simply insane, but there’s that “glorious” part. That glorious devotion. Love, per Chuck Tingle, is real. Love is also a product of the imagination. We feel what we believe.

The 11 surprising, inventively immersive stories in Devotion & Corrosion know you know that fact. They share a fierce belief at their core, a belief that love can make things—if not right—better. Love will find a way to dig through us to the other, safer side. During times of insane politicians, alternative facts, and people considering putting ultraviolet lights up their butts, that belief might be the only type of love that moves us through our days. Because any time lying, pride in ignorance, or putrescent bigotry feel like love to some? We can do better than that.

We are better than that.

We know love. Somehow, we do.

Otherwise all is corrosion.

“Devotion and Corrosion” Kickstarter wrap-up

Today, I shipped the physical rewards for the Devotion and Corrosion Kickstarter.

The Post Office was kind enough to use a tote to deliver a beat-up package. Today I’m returning it.

These books arrived at my house a couple days after I opened sponsorships on the mail book. Unfortunately, in those intervening days I caught covid. (Zero stars, recommend catching distemper or cercospora leaf rot instead.) I’m recovering, but this is my first effort at working since I fell ill.

Even with that interruption, fulfilling this Kickstarter went much better than fulfilling the Prohibition Orcs one. In the future, I will have fulfillment ready to fire as soon as Kickstarter’s payment hits my account. SO much less stress that way!

By the way:

While “Devotion and Corrosion” won’t be in bookstores for a few days yet, you can grab it today from my ebookstore.

Would I use release windowing to encourage people to buy direct from me instead of from Amazon? Oh, heck yes.

New Short Story: “The Rats’ Man’s Lackey and the Half Gallon of Christmas Miracle”

Me in 2014: “Okay, you’ve published post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels. Stay in that genre, don’t dilute your brand.”

Me in 2015: “Okay, you’ve published post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels and bright future sci-fi. That’s not bad.”

Me in 2016: “Okay, you’ve published post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels, bright future sci-fi, and crime thrillers. They’re all exciting stuff, but focus on the types of things you’ve published. You aren’t Iain M Banks, even if a W looks like an upside-down M.”

Me in 2017: “You do know that cozy mystery bears no resemblance to any of these other genres, right? How are people supposed to know which of your books they should try? You’re gonna add a freaking flowchart to your web site? Oh, that’ll be helpful. #facepalm”

Me in 2018: “Whew. Okay. You’ve stayed in your genres. Settle down there.”

Me in 2022: “Historical fantasy? With orcs? STOP IT.”

Me in 2023: “Urban fantasy? Dude, are you drunk? No? Maybe you should be. It might help.”

Anyway, I have a new short story out. Ebook is at most retailers, including my ebookstore, and a print chapbook should be available soonish.

Comparing Kickstarters

Comparing how two different books sell is foolish. Books are not fungible. Comparing how two different marketing campaigns do is likewise foolish. Neither marketing, nor readers, nor economic conditions are interchangeable.

But bear with me for a moment while I do it anyway.

The Kickstarter campaign for the Prohibition Orcs duology brought in about $11,000. Which, while not Brandon Sanderson’s millions, was way cool.

I intended to use the Devotion and Corrosion campaign to compare “Kickstarter with Twitter” to “Kickstarter without Twitter.” That seemed sensible, right? The videos are comparable, the campaigns are comparable. The story for the orcs is stronger, because “Orcs in Prohibition” is a solid hook, but still, it’d do something, right?

But then Kickstarter did not give D&C the “Projects We Love” button, which meant that they won’t promote it for me. My attempted comparison fails. I suspect this is because D&C has less Big Idea and more gentle philosophical ambiance. We don’t like to think, we want orcish face-punching.

The campaign funded anyway, which is great. But I can’t do even my lame, heavily-caveated comparison. Facebook spreads my posts to a few of people I know and a couple of the folks who follow my fan page. While the Fediverse shares my posts more broadly, it’s definitely a less commercial space.

I had hoped D&C would hit $4,000. My marketing has saturated the people I know, however, and now I’m hoping it breaks $3000.

Disappointing? Not really. Thinking about it in pure financial terms is wrong.

D&C is doing “well enough.” A bunch of people, wonderful people, will get ebooks and paperbacks. A handful of folks (those with disposable income as well as exquisite taste) will get fancy leather-cased books covered in rats and brains and knives. I will cover expenses and most of a mortgage payment.

And I can be confident that my readers who follow me on the fediverse or my mailing lists or my blog or even on Facebook will at least consider at my next project, no matter what any CEO or billionaire has to say about it. Eventually, a fiction book from this no-name nobody will pretty reliably cover a mortgage payment.

I have what Twitter’s owner can never have.


But if you want that fancy leather-cased book, you better grab one quick. Once the campaign is fulfilled, I’m not getting Studio 42 to make any more. In fact, let me post that picture, because it really is spectacular.

Comparing one book to another, or one Kickstarter to another, is foolish, but I can guarantee that you won’t find that many rats on any other leather-cased book.

“Devotion and Corrosion” Kickstarter now live

The Kickstarter for my new collection, Devotion and Corrosion, is live. It funded in twenty minutes and broke the first stretch goal in two hours, which means I get to use ZZ Claybourne’s fantastic foreword.

When I write something, I have no idea if it works as I intended until it bounces off another person. ZZ’s foreword says that not only does the book work, it works as I hoped it would.

If you want signed copies of this book, this is how you get them.

If you’re looking deals on other books, the Fantasy Steampunk bundle is still kicking. Ten books for as little as $20, and a slice goes to AbleGamers.

Ideally I’d be spending today working on the email book, but instead I’m heading out for an apicoectomy. Because as you age, your medical procedures grow harder to spell.

Triple Threat February: Cheap Orcs, Reading, and Kicking

If you’re looking for a deal on my first Prohibition Orcs book, check out the Fantasy Steampunk bundle. You can get ten excellent books for as little as $20, and help out AbleGamers while you’re at it.

I regularly read all of the authors, and they reliably put out top-tier words. I’ve even read several of these books, and they were fantastic. I read Collins’ bundle-exclusive Clockwork Princess before it was published, and immediately demanded the sequel. You will too.

This bundle particularly excites me. Readers come slowly. Eventually some editor might say “Hey, I’m putting a bundle of books together on this theme, do you have anything?” That’s great–someone knows you exist! Someone important! Deal with that well, be professional, do your share of the promotion, and you’ll get asked again. And again.

But this time, I wasn’t asked if I had anything that would suit the bundle.

No, this time Kris Rusch seized the front of my shirt and said Orcs. I want orcs, dammit. Tell me you haven’t already bundled your orcs. It was over email, but Kris can grab you over email. I think this counts as “leveling up.”

On top of that, I have a free public reading this next Sunday. With Sufficient Rat. And another nine excellent authors.

Six days from now, the Devotion and Corrosion Kickstarter launches. I just got a print proof of the paperback and it’s magnificent.

I just finished fulfillment on the Prohibition Orcs Kickstarter, OpenBSD Mastery: Filesystems sponsorships and pre-orders. I guess this is what success looks like?

Anyway, there’s a lot of Lucas this month. Plus, I’m pushing on the last novel of the git commit murder trilogy and the mail server book. (When will that go up for sponsorships? When I have enough text and structure that I’m absolutely certain it will happen.)

Anyway, the bundle is a heck of a deal. Grab it. Come listen to me read. Click to be notified of the Kickstarter. I’m off to write the next books.

Online Public Reading, 9 Big-Name Writers and Me

Sunday, February 5, 7pm-8:30pm EST, I’ll be one of ten authors doing a live online reading. Roaring Back at the Lion of Winter is free, but you need to register beforehand. Why require registration if it’s free? It helps keep the trolls out. The Door Goon will be checking names off the attendee list before admitting folks, just like any other exclusive gathering of cultural elites.

Why is it exclusive? Well, here’s the other authors.

Zig Zag Claybourne, Linda Addison, Charlie Jane Anders, Martha Wells, Patty Templeton, LaShawn Wanak, Maria Dong, Carlos Hernandez, and C. S. E. Cooney! Award winners, best-sellers, cultural icons, and me.

I mean, look at this list. These people wrote freaking Murderbot. Sal & Gabi Break the Universe. All The Birds in the Sky. Saint Death’s Daughter. There Is No Lovely End. How to Recognize a Demon has Become Your Friend. And more, and more. Plus, freaking Murderbot.

My reading will contain Sufficient Rat.

And I’m delighted beyond reason to be on this list.

Between this, the Devotion and Corrosion Kickstarter, and a third event I can’t talk about, February looks like it’s gonna be stuffed with self-promotion. At least it’s the shortest month!

The One Lone Audiobook now exclusive on my store

I started work on the Savaged by Systemd audiobook in the summer of 2019, thinking it was short enough to be affordable, long enough to be a legit audiobook, and the right length to listen to on a commute. As an SbS audiobook is completely ridiculous, I planned to release it on 1 April 2020. I had no idea that commuting would no longer be a thing in 2020. Ah, well. I uploaded it to the various stores and forgot about it.

The audiobook was available in every store I could reach, but the biggest retailer is Audible. I supposedly get 25% of cover price on every sale. This is atrocious. They claim to have sold 48 copies, which should get me about $119.

A quick check shows I’ve received less than half of that, because Audible’s policies make the 25% payment optional.

Most of the other stores pay about 40% of cover price, but their sales are negligible.

I have pulled the audiobook from all retailers, effective today. Some stores might still have copies, but as the databases churn they should disappear. Audible in particular is being difficult, because they can’t imagine anyone deciding to stop doing business with them so they don’t provide an “unpublish” option. (I contacted their helpdesk, which gave me the secret email address to contact, who will send me questing to collect three tokens from the Fallen Angels of… well, you get the idea.)

Instead, it’s now exclusively on my bookstore. You can listen in the BookFunnel app, a browser, or download DRM-free MP3.

It’s not that I expected this audiobook to sell millions. It was an investment in exploring audiobook technology. J Daniel Sawyer charged very reasonable rates to record and produce it. I am pleased with the end product. It would be nice if the audiobook would sell enough to repay that investment. That’s impossible if the main sales channel is Audible.

BookFunnel, my ebook distributor, recently opened an audiobook beta. It’s free while in beta, but will cost $10/month when it enters production. That’s enough time for me to test passive sales through my site. Selling 13 audiobooks in a year will let me start to pay back the investment.

Will I do more audiobooks in the future? Unlikely. I’m a fringe author. My books don’t sell enough to justify audiobooks. I could save a bunch of money by using AI narration, but you might as well use your ereader’s text-to-speech feature. Voice actors, real live humans with emotions and inflection and character, are the whole point of audiobooks.

I’ll post a follow-up in a few months.

Also: 1 April pranks should have meat on them. This one generated so many agonized groans that I heard them echo in from all around the world. Worth it.