Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Hey everyone. Been fairly quiet around here so I was just wondering where everyone was up to with their writing and other projects.

I'm currently writing the fifth episode in my Tommy Thunder series so I'm chewing through the words at a decent clip. The last three episodes were part of the one big story so it's taking a while to get it finished but the end is in sight which is encouraging.

Also been doing some reading. Finished reading Doc Voodoo by Dale Lucas, a pulpy dark avenger tale set in Harlem in the 1920s and full of action, voodoo and a really authentic feeling setting. Not really my kind of story but a decent read if you like your pulp to have thick lashings of the dark supernatural.

Also half way through the Adventures of Fortune McCall collection by Derrick Fergusson. It's a series of fedora-clad pulp adventures with plenty of gangsters and action scenes. Good fun.

 

So what's everyone else been up to?

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I am currently working on another story in my "Adventures of the Danforthe" series, which I am hoping to complete (the series, that is) before the end of the year. It is a blend of Steampunk and Faerie-story with lots of occult and adventure. 

I am also working on an adventure novel to be published en tandem with the new Pure Steam RPG (www.puresteamrpg.com) due in November.

Sounds like you're staying busy. I just checked out the Adventures of Fortune McCall, hadn't run across that before.

I've been working on promoting the Lost DMB Files, particularly on www.kobobooks.com to see if I can get anything going over there. This next week I'll start the first draft of the near future series that will investigate the cover up of the 1920's-based Lost Files. That will keep me busy until Thanksgiving at least.

Oh, and I briefly met the author of http://www.amazon.com/Liahona-City-Saints-ebook/dp/B008EPGDWC/ the other day at a local con. D.J. Butler has written lots of stuff, but this series is a steampunk serial based in the west. I've just started the first one, but so far it's pretty dang good.

JB: Steampunk fae. Why not :)

Do you have your series up online yet because I can't seem to find it.

David: I have a Kobo and am surprised people don't put the effort in to go beyond Amazon.

By the way, I didn't think your stuff was on Kobo. When you type in 'David Brown' your books don't show up in the Kobo desktop gui. I've just found them typing in 'David Mark Brown'. Seems to be a very strict search formula.

Also, how have you found writing a series of books? I'd be interested to hear your experience as someone who has actually managed to get beyond a half dozen books. Has it been successful?

Also, who did the Twitch and Die cover? It looks fantastic.

Very kind of you to ask. I have much of it on BookCountry.com here: http://bookcountry.com/Members/Profile.aspx?id={032f7b85-49f6-40c6-... under the title "Empress of Danforthe." It's still in progress so do keep that in mind if you're reading it.



Grant Gardiner said:

David: I have a Kobo and am surprised people don't put the effort in to go beyond Amazon.

By the way, I didn't think your stuff was on Kobo. When you type in 'David Brown' your books don't show up in the Kobo desktop gui. I've just found them typing in 'David Mark Brown'. Seems to be a very strict search formula.

Also, how have you found writing a series of books? I'd be interested to hear your experience as someone who has actually managed to get beyond a half dozen books. Has it been successful?

Grant, I've just recently started a push on Kobo. And yes, my intent is to figure out if Kobo can indeed be as valuable (or close) as Amazon for indie authors. I like their Writing Life publishing platform. But as you have discovered their search abilities are lagging. Without any sort of key words or tags the only way you can find a book is if you type in a pretty close match to it. If you search for "zombie" you only get books that have the word in the title.

As for the series, well, to be perfectly clear I only have three novels and seven shorts in the Lost DMB File series at this point. With the first novel in the "DMB Files" coming out this fall/winter. The shorts come in at around 35 to 55 pages so added together they make up another lengthy novel's worth.

That said I feel like I might just be nearing the hump. I made some serious marketing flaws to start out with and just renamed the series this past spring. (They used to be called "Reeferpunk.") In a brainstorming session with a small indie publisher we landed on the idea of setting all of the "Lost DMB Files" within a near-future thriller series (The DMB Files) as artifacts.

In the near future series the main protag. discovers that the lost files are actually based on a truth David Mark Brown was trying to convey to the outside world by hiding it in his pulp stories (The DMB author of the Lost Files disappeared in the 30's). A secret society that is hinted at continually within the Lost Files is still searching for a secret that will allow them to rule the earth as demi-gods. My protag in the near future doesn't realize his work as a paleobotanist is about to uncover that very secret.

Anywho, the protag has to help uncover all of the lost files while learning as much about the evil "benefactors" as possible and not get dead. So readers can pursue lost files in order to find critical clues as well. I'll continue to release lost files and maybe even stash some around the internet for people to find on their own (from old library archives in Texas). The first near future novel will focus around the actions that happen in The Austin Job (my second Lost File novel). Hopefully all of that makes sense.

(How did I get off on all that?) Back to series...

It's been two years since I started working on the first novel in earnest. A little over one year since publishing it. I'm hoping that by summer 2013 I will see some real growth in sales. So, it hasn't been a success yet. It might not be. But I'm clawing away at it. My efforts over the last few months and my direction with the new series will be efforts to appeal commercially to a much larger audience (while still being able to write the pulp stuff I would like to).

If everything works as it is supposed to I just might be able to scrape together a living by the end of next year, or at least enough to keep living the dream for a few months more! It's a tough go, but the shifting eBook landscape opens up vents and fissures from time to time. The market is completely saturated, so being able to stand out and shout at people is critical. I focused on craft for the first two years. Now I'm focusing on marketing savvy. Asking questions from people who know more than me and doing my best to apply their advice even when it hurts me artistically.

What are your goals and aspirations with your writing? I don't believe I've seen any of your Tommy Thunder stuff, but it sounds like a serial...? along the lines of dieselpunk/noir adventures?

Oh, all the covers were done by Erin Mehlos (web comic designer of "The Next Town Over"). She is really great.

I just spotted a copy of Reefer Ranger in my stats over at Kobo for the great country of Australia...

I'm guessing I might have you to thank for that.

Let me know if you are interested, I've been offering free gifted copies of "McCutchen's Bones" from the Kobo store during the month of August. It follows McCutchen's storyline more.


Grant Gardiner said:

Also, who did the Twitch and Die cover? It looks fantastic.

JB: No worries. Love to have a look but at the moment the whole website appears to be down so I'll have a sticky beak later.

David: I wasn't actually aware that the search function was so dodgy. Makes me wonder what else I've missed.

Your idea for embedding your short stories within the novels is pretty fascinating. Very meta. Good upselling too ;) My impression has been that internet selling with any digital product is often a 'long tail' thing - ie you're only selling a few of each product (the 'tail') but if you have a lot of products (thanks to the infinite inventory of ebooks e-publishing provides) then a few of a lot adds up over time. Back catalogue is the key which is why most writers fail, because they don't have enough good books on hand to capitalise on the readers they do attract. The fact you have ten stories almost completed means you're well on the way I'd think.

And yeah, that Australian sale was me :) I've got a few books in the queue but I'll try to get it read and reviewed for you as soon as I can.

As far as Tommy Thunder is concerned I haven't published anything yet, mostly because I want that back catalogue ready. I figure that when I do get round to pushing the publish button I'll be too busy trying to work out blogs or facebook accounts or whatever goes into promotion to worry about trying to maintain a high word count so I want to get a few bullets in the chamber first. Ideally i'd like to be writing one story a month and publishing them two at a time (ie every two months). Not quite there yet, more like two every three months at the moment at about 25,000 words each.

As for the stories: it's a pulp adventure ongoing series. Every 'episode' is a full story with beginning middle and end and a familiar cast of characters but there's also an overarching story that continues to develop, much like a tv series. It's all set in an alternative 1920s America where the United States has collapsed in on itself and zeppelins are the main form of transportation for cargo. And hence all the skypirates that hunt them. Tommy is a young pilot who has signed up with a squadron that hunts these pirates and gets into all sorts of trouble around the Carribean and beyond.

The aim is to make them the most adventurous stories possible so I'm trying to crank the pulp up to eleven but there's also a lot of dieselpunk stuff in there as well - I can't resist the chance to throw in characters with attitudes a bit too modern or retrofuturistic for a true period setting. There's just too much fun to be had 'punking everything.

And if you need anything reviewed or whatever I'm happy to help. Just have to work my way through the book queue :)

I think you are on the right track with Tommy Thunder. I spent a long while working through the larger story world before I published Fistful of Reefer and I have still made considerable changes along the way. I knew from the beginning that Fistful would end up being a prequel of sorts, so I didn't sweat it too much. Since publishing it in July 2011 I've gone back and rewritten and published a considerably different version just this last June.

So I think there is a trade-off. Fistful was not as good as it could have been when I stuck it out there, but it helped to push me onward and started developing some attention for me. If it would have been less professional it would have been a negative strike against me, but since I think it was good enough, it helped.

I did write three short stories before publishing Fistful. I use my shorts to develop characters and backstory. So before embarking on a new novel with a handful of new characters I will pick out the couple I need to develop the most and try to fish out the key moments in their past. After basing short stories on those moments I find myself ready to rock and roll with the longer story.

I love your idea for "episodes." I've been thinking along the very same lines. The beauty of eBooks is that length no longer matters at all. A story can be 30 pages or 120 pages or 500. I've been discovering that many of my readers are Joss Whedon fans. And one of the things he has mastered is this very sort of character based episodes (Firefly and Buffy and Angel).

I have plans for a spin-off series from within my same Texicas alternate history that would involve a small Texas town that is hiding a main piece of the larger puzzle. It would basically be a sort of redneck Eureka series with each story structured much like you are thinking with Tommy Thunder. I'm planning on landing around 100 pages (25,000 words) for each episode.

The last thing I'll throw out is that you can never start your "platform" development too early. Stuff like Facebook and twitter are easier to develop slowly over time than all at once after publication. They can be a time drain though. If they are not the type of thing you naturally enjoy (which I do not) then they can be annoying. That being said, I am not totally convinced that social media building is the only means to selling eBooks. I think that stuff like cover design, market research and understanding the sales platforms (kindle store, etc.) can give just as much of a boost as social media.

Lately people have been discussing the possibility that social media has lost all effectiveness for selling anything. Mostly I use it for mobilizing my friends and family and fans that I've found through other means into a spear head for certain critical releases and events. But even just using it for that takes time. Developing a genuine email list of people who are actually behind what you are doing takes time.

Enough from me. I ramble! But I love what you are doing with Tommy Thunder. You should check out Yesterday's Gone in the kindle store. Those guys started doing serial release a couple years ago. They release a new episode every month or so. They are building a pretty good fan base.

As for me. As many Lost DMB Files as you are up for reading and reviewing would be awesome. I'm trying to drive attention toward Kobo too. I'm still figuring out how to use their built in commenting feature, but it looks like it could have potential to form a social bond between kobo users. Do you use it much?

Let me know when you want BETA readers and I will give Thunder a look.


Grant Gardiner said:

David: I wasn't actually aware that the search function was so dodgy. Makes me wonder what else I've missed.

Your idea for embedding your short stories within the novels is pretty fascinating. Very meta. Good upselling too ;) My impression has been that internet selling with any digital product is often a 'long tail' thing - ie you're only selling a few of each product (the 'tail') but if you have a lot of products (thanks to the infinite inventory of ebooks e-publishing provides) then a few of a lot adds up over time. Back catalogue is the key which is why most writers fail, because they don't have enough good books on hand to capitalise on the readers they do attract. The fact you have ten stories almost completed means you're well on the way I'd think.

And yeah, that Australian sale was me :) I've got a few books in the queue but I'll try to get it read and reviewed for you as soon as I can.

As far as Tommy Thunder is concerned I haven't published anything yet, mostly because I want that back catalogue ready. I figure that when I do get round to pushing the publish button I'll be too busy trying to work out blogs or facebook accounts or whatever goes into promotion to worry about trying to maintain a high word count so I want to get a few bullets in the chamber first. Ideally i'd like to be writing one story a month and publishing them two at a time (ie every two months). Not quite there yet, more like two every three months at the moment at about 25,000 words each.

'Redneck Eureka series'. LOL. I'll read that :D

My thinking on using tv structures for stories came from considering that the original pulp writing was the original form of serial story telling. When tv came along it pretty much killed the pulps, taking the mantle of 'premier serial story telling medium'. So that's where serial story telling has been developing for the 60 years hence. So I figured I might as well take advantage of those developments in my prose writing.

Sounds like you have a lot of stuff to expand your series with, which is great. Your ideas have a lot of potential for expansion which is a good sign for the future. That should help you capitalise on any success you have.

And yeah, the online platform stuff is a bit intimidating. I was thinking about running a blog with regular articles - eg song of the week, movie review of the week, etc in genres that are relevent to the Tommy Thunder world - but having visited a few facebook pages I'm wondering if I should just use that as my blogging platform. It's essentially a blog with twitter feed anyway.

Please, no more recommendations. I have too many things to read already :) The irony of a writer's life - there's not enough time to read. Especially if I've just started reading your series :)

Don't use much of the Kobo social stuff. There's a few things I'm still to work out, like how it synchs to facebook etc but there's just been a major gui update I'm still getting used to. I highlight quotes and things like that but ahven't come across any comments. I'll have to check it out and get back to you.

And Beta reading would be apreciated. I've got my 'pilot episode' posted up here on the forum via googledocs, linked in a topic a little further down the forum (Heading is 'Tommy Thunder, Scourge of the Skypirates' or something). I'd like to know if it's good enough to get readers interested in reading more and would apreciate any feedback.

I'm working on the sequel to Blightcross. No idea if anyone will be interested, guess it depends on how well the first ends up doing, but the reviews are encouraging.

Still in the outlining stage though. In my shitstorm of nonsensical notes, I have the phrase "makes awesome tractors" emphasized. Somehow that'll make sense later on.

Hopefully I'll start writing soon . . . I'm getting anxious. When I wrote the first, it was deliberate yet since back then nobody was talking about the genre much, was kind of an experiment. Now it'll be more focused and awesome.

Grant, I tried the link to thunder, but it told me I needed a password...

C.A. I have blightcross on my reading list. I'll get to it eventually!

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