Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Writing in Spring and Unexpected Happenings

My mower of choice

My writing—both blogging and short story/novel writing—always slows down in the Spring. The weather is nicer, the grass needs mowing, trees and shrubs need trimming, farmer's markets are opening for business (my wife and I try to shop local and for organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible), and our two dogs plead for walks more often than usual. These are just some of the usual things which come up annually to distract me from writing.

Don't get me wrong, though!

I enjoy most of these activities. Even mowing the lawn! Life's too short to do nothing but work (and writing is most definitely work, though of the enjoyable variety). Besides, these things are expected and manageable. It's the unexpected events which lately have thrown a major wrench in my usual routine. The biggest of these is that my wife broke her leg during a mountain bike race. She's on the mend and all is well considering she had surgery and has been in a variety of splints, casts, and a boot for over two months now. Of course I've had to play caregiver for the duration, helping her with a variety of activities she couldn't easily do herself. This wound up taking away a lot of my time right when it was already at a minimum because, again, Spring is here and the grass grows like you wouldn't believe here in Texas.

But, we're getting back to a more normal schedule now as my wife likely heads back to work full-time next week. That means I'll get back to more writing.

Here's a few tidbits going on now or coming up along those lines.

Blogging

I've been working up a post on negative energy that I'm pretty excited about. Negative energy is a theme which fits into both The Alchemancer series and my Assassin Without a Name series. The latter has been building up to some bigger things involving this phenomenon. It's been fun writing about the different organizations each attempting to harness it for their own use. It plays a fairly large role in the next Alchemancer book as well, so hopefully this post when it's published will provide some nice background info and maybe some hints on where the next book is going.

The Nullification Engine (The Alchemancer: Book Two) On Sale Right Now!

The Nullification Engine is on sale as a Kindle Countdown Deal for 99 cents for the next day or so. Then the price goes up to $1.99 and then again to $2.99 before returning to its usual $3.99 price point. Kindle Countdown Deals are limited-time promotions where the price of a book starts at a deep discount and works its way back up to its usual, full price in increments. Readers get a good price on a book, maybe discover a new author at minimal risk, while authors gain new readers, sell some books, and make a little money. It's a win-win all around.

The next Assassin Without a Name story is almost here

The next short story in my Assassin Without a Name series goes to editing in a week, then it should make it out to retailers the week after that. If you're signed up to my email list, you'll get The Goddard Affair for free. This story is about 25% longer than the previous story, Night of Zealotry, putting it at around 19,000 words (76 pages). Based on some measures, this puts it in the category of a novella, which should affect pricing. That's something I'm still debating. Of course, price becomes a moot point if you're signed up for my email list since you'll get it and every Assassin story after that for free. Click-through for more details.

Cover Reveal: The Goddard Affair

The next book in the Assassin Without a Name series has a title and a cover.

Fresh off his harrowing adventure in Night of Zealotry, the Assassin Without a Name is on the hunt, looking for the secret organizations which tried to kill him before they can try again. But the work of his trade doesn't stop just because he's involved in personal business, so when a new client named Walter Goddard comes around wishing to have a rival eliminated, the Assassin Without a Name takes the job.

Only after the task is complete does he learn that Walter Goddard is a member of the Society for the Progression of Science and Technology, one of the very same organizations the Assassin Without a Name has been seeking. At one of the society’s premiere technology galas, the Assassin Without a Name meets Gwendolyn Morgan, a beautiful widow who has run into problems of her own with the society. Not only does she believe the organization hired an assassin to murder her husband, but she’s certain she’s next. Convincing himself he’s only helping Gwendolyn in exchange for the society’s darkest secrets and not because of his part in making the woman into a widow, the Assassin Without a Name finds himself in the unusual role of protector as the society dispatches their Black Guard watchdogs to kill them both.

The Goddard Affair is scheduled for release in May 2014.

On Goodreads? Why not add The Goddard Affair to your reading list?

Why Book Reviews Are Oh So Very Important

8774134-important-rubber-stampBook reviews are, first and foremost, for readers. But they're also for authors…and advertisers.

As a reader, I use book reviews to help make buying decisions. I write them because I want to help others make that same decision.

As an author, I sometimes read reviews because I want to know what I'm doing right or wrong. There are different camps on this one. Some authors never read reviews because they feel very strongly that reviews are for readers. Also, they don't want to become upset or distracted by a negative review. On the other side of this are authors who read every single review, good or bad. They use this knowledge to (hopefully) make themselves better storytellers.

Which brings me to the last group that uses reviews: advertisers. Before I get into that, though, let me talk briefly about why advertisers are important to authors.

As a relatively unknown author, I rely on advertising to help get my books in front of people. Sounds simple enough. But the field of effective advertisers has narrowed considerably in the past 1-2 years, and so has the competition to get listed. It used to be that advertisers took anyone and everyone. Pay them the money and they'd feature your book. But readers soon grew wary of these sorts of 'email blasts' because there was no guarantee of quality. So along came a new style of advertising where advertisers started curating the books sent their way. No longer was it acceptable to have poorly designed covers, content riddled with grammar and other errors, or, getting back to the point of this post, poor ratings and reviews.

Not only that, but advertisers began to require a minimum level of stats before they'd even consider a book for listing. Many of them now require a minimum of 4 stars for a rating and 10 reviews. Further, they look at the content of those reviews, weeding out any books with 'too many typos' or those that 'need editing.'

I can only deal with one of those criteria: the last one. The quality of the work is entirely on the author.

But the reviews are entirely on the reader. Sure, I can help it along with review copies, which I have done, but you still reach a point where you need the reader who you didn't contact or don't know to step up and leave a rating or review.

So, the next time you finish a book, think about taking a few minutes to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or elsewhere. Reviews don't need to be long or in-depth. A sentence or two is sometimes enough. A review doesn't have to be positive, either. Sometimes a negative one is just as beneficial as a positive one.

And if you've read one of my books, why not leave a review now? I'd really appreciate your honest opinion. I'm pretty sure other readers will, too.

Release Announcement: Night of Zealotry

Night of Zealotry, the 3rd story in the Assassin Without a Name series, was officially released to Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Google Play, and the iBookstore today.

Fresh off his adventure in Killing the Dead, the Assassin Without a Name finds himself mixed up with a mysterious group of religious zealots whose interest in technology is anything but well-intentioned. Here's the full blurb:

Take out the mark, retrieve the scroll, and avoid getting killed by his protection detail of Black Guard mercenaries. That was the job. Simple enough, or so the Assassin Without a Name thought, until he finds himself smack in the middle of three organizations all vying for possession of the item he just stole.

Of the three, the worst is the Jakaree, a group of fanatical priests willing to kill to fulfill their mysterious goals. But by making the Assassin Without a Name a target, they're about to get a lesson in death themselves from one of the best.

If you're on Goodreads, you can add Night of Zealotry to your TBR list here.

Stay tuned for more info on subsequent releases in the series.