Monday, January 5, 2015

Exciting Times! Saying Goodbye to Kindle Unlimited...For Now

While I will not be renewing Kindle Unlimited when my books come to the end of their current 90 day term on Jan. 13th, I almost wish I was renewing. You see, after a decrease in December, which I now attribute to people just too busy shopping and preparing for the holidays to read very much, I've seen a surge of borrows. I'm really worried about taking a big hit in visibility and income. I will be placing my books in all other outlets, but whether they do well or not is anyone's guess. You might be wondering why I'm pulling out of Select. I will be posting a blog about that in the coming weeks, but it has nothing to do with Kindle Unlimited. It has to do with having to be available on other retail sites. When that commitment is done in about four months or so, I should know if it will be better to stay out of KU, or dive back in. Right now, I'm kind of excited to get into other retailers. I've been hearing good things about iTunes lately, so I'd like to experience that first hand.

Despite some things I think need to be changed and my occasional griping about it, I didn't hate KU, and right now, I'm loving it. If only it would drop the exclusive commitment, and set a borrow amount for our books at the beginning of each month. It's crazy to expect us to speculate all month what we'll be paid. It takes the uncertainty that is always a part of publishing a book and makes it that much more difficult. We never know if our books will sell, but when we get sales, we at least can figure out how much we'll earn. To put this into practical terms--I have a day job that I work part-time. Our schedule comes out a few months in advance. Before if I had a slow month in January, I knew I had to request some extra shifts in March to make up the difference. I don't like working extra as I'd rather be writing, so I don't want to do it routinely. However, now I don't know until two weeks before a new schedule starts if I will need to work extra. That sucks because I get little choice as to what shifts are open. Anyway, that's my personal problem with the payout announcement delay.

Also, it irritates me that that Amazon boasts that they added to the fund just to get us to an amount that is still a lot less than it used to be. Why not set a minimum per borrow with the hope that it could be more if they add a bonus? That would create a lot of goodwill with indie authors. I bet even if they said they were going to only pay a minimum of a $1.25/borrow, but then added a bonus to make it $1.40/borrow, the perception that they gave us that as an incentive to stay in would work a lot better than keeping us guessing for weeks and then finally announcing a borrow amount of $1.40. Same amount, but the perception would be different.

But in spite of those drawbacks, my books haven't had as many readers since 2012--the best year of self-publishing that I have had so far. In fact, KU has made being an indie author fun again--at least for me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The CIA Torture Reports

In light of the recent declassification of the CIA Torture Reports, I've been thinking a lot about the "enhanced interrogation" I depicted in No Good Deed. The more I read of the reports, the more I think I got right. Caveat-- I have not seen anything saying that torture was used against an American citizen as it does in No Good Deed. That part is fiction. Probably. 

However, that picture right over there?
That is a an actual photo of Jose Padilla, one of the three American citizens held as an enemy combatant. He had no trial until something like seven years after he had been held in a brig. I believe that photo was taken when he had to be escorted to see a dentist. The one below is after they put the blackout goggles and sound canceling earphones on his head. To go to the dentist. Anyway...

And as I read the reports, I thought of a review No Good Deed recently received that said: 
"...the post-9/11 enhanced interrogation was old news. Not that it isn't horrific, but it's just not current. Terminology such as 'enemy combatant' is endemic to the vernacular of anyone who reads any news in 2014.
I normally wouldn't call out a less than stellar review, because, really, what author wants to put any spotlight on a review where the reader didn't connect with the story? However, in this case, I'm mentioning it because of the remark that the topic is "old news". Heh. I just was at Google News and here is the sidebar list of Top Stories: 
TortureGolden Globe AwardsRepublican PartyArizona CardinalsCaliforniaEbola virus diseaseAngelina JolieLos Angeles LakersKabulSony Corporation
Um, yeah. I guess it's back in the news now. I have not read all 500 pages of the torture report, but what I did read wasn't much different from what I researched back in 2008 and 2009, when I wrote No Good Deed. 

I also noted somethings that are highlighted now, but didn't seem to be mentioned much before, such as physicians' roles in the interrogation techniques. In a couple of scenes in No Good Deed, a doctor is present and my character, Mark, is pretty freaked out about that. While researching, I had come across info that said a doctor had to be present while using certain methods, so I made that part of the scene. I don't know how often that protocol was actually followed in real life, but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt to the government that a doctor would be there in case anything went wrong.  

For something that is "old news", these snippets from reviews No Good Deed has received read like they came from today's stories: 

No Good Deed: Book One 

...Whatever possessed our country's policy makers to give a green light to the torturing of others? ...

...I will never think of torture in the same light again. ..

...How do you deal with government incarceration, physical torture and mental dismantling? ...

...The author also makes you sit back and think about what is going on in the world of our anti-terrorism policies.... 

... The author's description of waterboarding & other inhuman torture methods is chilling and all too believable. ...

...Fluid writing style with an in-depth look at what its like to be tortured by your own government. ... The torture scenes are not overly graphic and you can easily skip the most gruesome parts. ...

...One thing that I really liked was how the author handled the political question of whether torture is a viable means of getting answers and information from terrorists. ...

 ...regardless of your politics, should get you thinking. Are the responses to 9/11 making the US a better or worse place to live?...

However, I also did try to show the other side to the story, as noted in the review snippet below:

...The character development in this story is superb. Mark is the main character, but McDonald does a great job of showing the point of view of several other characters, including one of the interrogators who is involved with Mark and his situation. I liked the depth of it in showing what Mark was going through, as well as the turmoil and ethical issues the investigators were enduring...

...No Good Deed reveals the good and the bad about our government and the desire to take care of us. ...

...This book is a real eye opener about the Govt. Enhanced Integration program, and the zeal of certain people get when doing their job of torture...


So, here's the thing--I'm not a liberal. I lean conservative and pretty much vote that way, although I'm probably middle of the road on most issues. Some of the worst reviews have come from people accusing me of having a liberal agenda. My real life friends and family would be scratching their heads at that because I don't normally talk very much about politics. I just thought that was an interesting conclusion for some readers to jump to since I never felt that way when writing the book. I can't help that real life evidence points to the fact that what I depicting, minus the magic camera, might actually have happened. And since there was a possibility, I wanted to use that for my plot. Let's also not forget that some of these techniques did happen for many non-citizens. That is not even a question of if, but just how many times and how many of those people weren't even terrorists? (here's my conservative side coming out--I don't have sympathy for the actual terrorists it may have been used on. Sorry! But I do think they all deserve at least a trial to determine their guilt or innocence first.)

So, does anyone else have thoughts on the issue? I'd love to read them in the comments.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Free Today! Sidelines: Life Between Kickoffs

Just a short post for a short book. Sidelines: Life Between Kickoffs, is free today! It is a bit of a sampler since it has a little romance, a touch of humor and a dose of angst. Something for everyone. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My 50th Birthday Freebie!

It's the big Five-O. Yep. Fifty years ago today, I made my appearance in the world. I could get all philosophical and talk about how wisdom I've gained and how age is just a number. But I won't. Instead, I'm going to give away as many copies of Seeking Vengeance as I possibly can! Nothing like a sexy book to keep a person feeling young, right? Those guys on the right agree with me.

Get your copy of Seeking Vengeance for free on 11/25 & 11/26!

Vengeance takes on a whole new meaning in this romantic police thriller. 

Tormented with grief... 

Sam Brennan has one goal--vengeance. He's done playing by the rules imposed as a cop and goes rogue in his quest for blood. 

Scarred and wary... 

Molly Flynn balks when her brother Johnny dumps an injured Sam on her doorstep. As a paramedic, she feels compelled to help the man, and after all, he saved her brother's life, but as soon as he's able to ride his motorcycle, she wants him gone. She knows from the past that bikers only bring pain and shame, and now she has her young daughter Kelsie to protect.

Forced together...

When Molly's brother flees from the same biker gang Sam hunts, Sam is forced to put his own mission on hold as he takes Molly, Kelsie, and Johnny to the one place he feels they'll be safe--his cabin in the Northwoods.

Molly discovers the cabin holds more than safety, it contains all of the memories Sam holds dear. Drawn to the glimpses of the man he was before revenge consumed him, she longs to heal his heart, but will there be time for their love to grow or will he destroy it when he seeks vengeance? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beckoning Souls--New Ghost Suspense by J.R. Tate

I'm thrilled to present the latest release by J.R. Tate, Beckoning Souls.


Nathan Gallagher doesn’t believe in ghosts. As a fireman, he’s seen his share of dead people, but they never spoke to him before—until now. His marriage is great, and his relationship with his son is strong, but Nathan is sure that if he tells them that he’s seeing ghosts, it is a quick ticket to a padded room and a straightjacket. 

When the ghosts become violent and attack Nathan, his secret is revealed—except his wife doesn’t believe his claim about the supernatural. She demands he seek professional help. He knows he’s not crazy, but with no proof that the ghosts are real, he’s committed to a mental hospital against his will. The ghosts follow him, pushing him farther into a terrifying world he can’t find his way out of. 

With his marriage, his sanity, and even his very life at stake, Nathan needs to find out why the ghosts are haunting him before it’s too late. 

Here's a little excerpt from the novel to tease your curiosity:

I toss the bottle on top of the duffel bag and lay back against the pillows. It’s starting to get dark out and what is left of the sun peeks through the blinds. The tree limbs make shadows on the far wall and begin to move with the wind picking up outside. One limb hits the window, scraping against the side of the house. I stare at the tangled shadows on the wall and with each second, it seems it grows wilder, looking like a Halloween painting or decoration.
“Why?” A voice hisses, and for a second, I tell myself it’s just the wind. “Why, Lieutenant Gallagher? Why Mr. Fireman?” The voices change, but all still have a very eerie feel to them. Multiple whispers start to overtake my senses, and I can’t decipher the different voices within the mixture. I roll over on my side, close my eyes and pull a pillow over my head to try to get them to stop, but instead, it grows louder, the creepy shadows become three dimensional, and I feel something tug at my leg.
I try to fight through the fear and come to my senses. Right now is a good time to get down to the bottom of it, but I can’t control my heartbeat. The hand wraps around my ankle a second time and I try to kick it away to no avail. The grip is tight through my pants and whoever or whatever it is tugs so hard that I slide across the bed and onto the floor, hitting with a loud thud. My head collides with the hard wood and for a second, the edges of my vision grow dark and fuzzy.
The voices don’t stop. They continue to ask why over and over. They yell out my name. I feel nails clamp down into my leg again but this time I’m not going to let them get a good grasp. The room is completely dark now and I’m fumbling around on the floor with God knows what. The fingernails clench on so hard that it feels like I’m being stabbed with five knives. I feel liquid drip down. I’mbleeding. Damn it, Rose will accuse me of self-mutilation again.
Again they pull, and this time I slide across the floor. I try hard to grab onto anything to give me an advantage, but there’s nothing available and I’m out of reach to grab onto the bed. As I slip toward the hallway, I know the doorway is coming, and my body slams hard into the frame. It’s enough force to make whatever had hold of me let go. The pain is unbearable and I feel my consciousness waiver. Where are they trying to take me? To hell
I gather up as much energy as I can and try to crawl back into the room, but my body fails me. It’s been through so much in the past few days that it’s about ready to quit for good. I rest my head on the cold floor and close my eyes, hoping –praying- that whatever was here is gone now and will leave me alone.
Tears sting the corners of my eyes and I continue to hold onto the doorframe for safe measure. “What do you want from me?” I yell out, but this time, no voices speak. No hand grabs me. Instead, my vision goes black and stays that way.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spiritwood, by G.J. Wise (Paranormal Horror)

G.J. Wise already has several short stories available on Amazon in various anthologies, and will be launching first novel, Spiritwood, on December 1st. To celebrate and kick off the launch, he is holding a book signing.
(George) will be celebrating the release of his novel Spiritwood. Legend has it that Spiritwood was named after ancient spirits living in the woods around town... The town soon discovers the legend is true.

Now available on Amazon:

Book Launch Open House:
Sunday Dec. 7th, 20142:00-5:00 pm.
 Silver City Suds
409 E. Northwater St. Silver Lake WI 53170.
Come join the fun!!! G.J. Wise will be there to meet all of you and sign your copy of Spiritwood. Books will be available for purchase.This is being held Open House style so stop in anytime between 2:00-5:00. Snacks provided/cash bar.

If you are unable to attend the festivities, please stop by the publisher's site, Damnation Books, or G.J Wise's FB page or Amazon author page to find out more about the book and where you can purchase your copy.

Author page on FB
Amazon author page

Here is a prologue for the book to whet your appetite:

by G. J. Wise

Sammy Harrington, his brother Virgil, Ned Broadski, and the Burleski twins, Wink and Dink, drove out to the Zanto farm for opening day of deer hunting.  Al Zanto expected the boys.  It had been the traditional whitetail spot for the Harringtons since Sammy and Virg were teenagers, when they started helping Al put up hay in the summer.
          It was a frosty morning and they crunched over the frozen grass in the pasture on their way into the woods.
          "Where you setting up, Virg?"  Sammy asked as he loaded rounds into his Winchester.
          "I'm head'n up the cabin way.  I'll pick a spot up that ridge there on the north side."
          "Nedly, where you headed?"  Sammy continued when they reached the top of the hill where the pasture ended and the forest began.  Ned was puffing and had to pause before speaking.
          "I'm gonna head to the north with Virg.  I'll find a spot on the next ridge over from him, dere."
          "Wink -n- Dink, where you boys going?"  Sammy asked, hanging the rifle over his shoulder by its strap.  "I was thinking a heading down to the bottoms here and finding a small knob to make my stand.  Seems all the deer I ever seen in these wood was heading down into the bottoms."
          "Think we'll move towards the south," Wink said, wiping his nose on his sleeve.  "There's that high ridge, with the rock face cliff, where I popped that eight pointer last season."
          "Yep."  Dink grunted.
          "Okay, guys."  Sammy said, pushing the top strand of barbed wire fence down low enough to step over.  "Why'nt you all walk in from either end of the valley around ten o'clock if you don't see nothing.  I'll be set up in there somewhere and maybe you'll push something my way.  I'll have coffee for you."
          "Ahright," Virg said, and started off toward the north along the fence line with Ned in tow.  "Good luck, boys."
          "Yeah, good luck," Wink and Dink said in unison as they turned toward the south.
          "I'll be watching for ya around ten."  Sammy said, as he started down into the valley.
          Sammy worked his way down the slope over the boulders and dead- falls, through the brambles and thick undergrowth, to the bottom of the valley.  He'd been through this part of the woods many times.  Last year during whitetail season he saw a large buck --ten or twelve points-- run down here followed by a herd of does.  The woods opened up at the bottom of the slope, leaving only mature trees with little undergrowth.
          He worked his way south down the valley floor, following a lively brook that churned along the western slope.  It was a beautiful morning, with the sun just cresting the hill, setting the trees ablaze in a halo of golden hoarfrost.
          Sammy saw plenty of deer sign.  He passed two large scrapes and one small one.  The few small trees that struggled for sunlight in the bottoms were rubbed clean of bark, and he saw several heavily used trails that converged into one.  This trail forked at the stream where it meandered around the base of a low hill near the bottom of the western rim.  The trail split to either side of the knob and Sammy saw a flat granite slab on top that would make a great stand.
          He started up the slope and noticed a red fox lying dead near the base of one of the trees that circled the mound.  It sent a shiver down his spine, just looking at the animal.  Its dead eyes, covered with a light film of dust stared up at the brightening sky, but when Sammy nudged it with the toe of his boot, it rolled loosely.  It had been dead only a short time.
          What really gave Sammy the creeps was that the animal had apparently chewed off its own feet.  All four paws were chewed off to the first joint and its mouth was smeared with blood.  Sammy couldn't figure it out and bent down for a closer look.  He rolled it over with his gloved hand --the other eye that had been on the ground was glued with bits of leaves-- searching for any other wound, or something that would help him make sense of this creatures death other than it eating its own feet.  There was nothing.
          He took off his glove and ran his fingers over the soft coat, grimacing slightly.  The carcass was still warm and suddenly he had the impression that those dead eyes came alive with a malign, dead-light.  The bloody muzzle drew back in a snarl and a sighing, fetid gasp, convulsed from its deflated lungs.  The fox appeared to writhe under his hand and snap at his fingers.  Sammy jumped to his feet with a yelp, and took two backward steps before he tripped over a hidden branch and sat down in the stream.
          "Son of a bitch!"  He said, then looked around foolishly to see if anyone had seen him fall.
          He looked to the dead fox and it was just that.  No life shone in its dead eyes, no breath filled its flaccid lungs.  It was just a dead fox.  One that died in some horrible, terrifying madness, but a dead fox nonetheless, and Sammy Harrington wasn't one to question the ways of nature.
          He jumped up from the stream, cursing his foolishness and plucking his wet shorts from the crack of his ass, then started back up toward the slab at the top of the mound.  He passed the fox without looking and headed up the hill.  Sammy noticed an unusual amount of animal bones littered the slope.  Sammy remembered, just before he was overwhelmed with nausea and the madness overtook him, that the bones of animals that die in the woods are consumed by mice and other small rodents and aren’t left lying around for very long.
          At first Sammy was sick.  His stomach did a quick flip-flop and the three eggs, sausage and hash browns he'd had at the diner, came up in a yellow/brown plume before him.  Then he started thinking that he should take his rifle and put the muzzle in his mouth and pull the trigger.  He sat down on the rock and shrugged off his blaze orange coveralls.  He put the muzzle in his mouth, tasting gun oil, and reached down to flip off the safety.  He was overcome with the wonder of it all, imagining the exquisite instant of pain he would feel as the hot chunk of lead first passed through the roof of his mouth, up through his sinus, then on into the soft tissue of his brain, turning the gray matter into gruel.  Seconds passed as he imagined the outcome, and a long string of saliva slipped from the corner of his mouth, landing on his hand.
          Maybe I should wait.  He thought, gagging on the barrel.  Maybe the knife would be better.  He pulled the rifle from his mouth and let it drop to the ground where it barked once, harmlessly splintering a sapling that grew near the slab.  He drew the hunting knife from the sheath at his side and held the blade up before his eyes like he'd seen Father Onefry do on Sundays with the Eucharist.
          "This is my blood," he whispered, and drove the blade of the knife to the hilt into his lower belly, "the blood of the new and everlasting covenant."
          He withdrew the blade and saw his pants darkening.  He brought the knife back down hard into his right thigh where the blade embedded in the bone.  He had to work it back and forth to loosen it.  Sammy didn't scream when he did this but someone standing near him would have heard him making a slight keening noise in the back of his throat.
          He raised the knife one more time and readied himself to drive it into his stomach when something occurred to him.  They'll be coming, he thought, and a crooked grin split his lips.  They heard the shot and they'll be coming to see if I got one.          With this in mind his wild eyes searched the ground for the rifle.  He snatched it up and lay down on the ground behind the rock.
          The next day the papers reported how Samuel J. Harrington killed his brother Virgil and a friend in a hunting accident, then in overwhelming grief took his own life.  What the paper didn't say, but Al Zanto related later that night at the Last Chance saloon, was that Wink and Dink showed up at his door all whey faced and shaking, saying that Sammy had gone bonkers and shot Virg and Nedly.  Al called the cops and then hiked back into the woods, against the advice of Wink and Dink, to see what was about.
          Al didn't get to close, but closer than he should've because he suffered nightmares of the sight up until the night he died at the Silver Cross nursing home. He found the three of them in the bottom of the first valley.  Ned was shot dead quick, once through the head, but Virg had done some suffering.  He had taken eleven rounds, probably all Sammy had on him, and most of them in the arms, legs and belly.  None of them kill shots.  Both of them boys were within thirty yards of where Sammy himself lay on top of the mound, like a bloody sacrifice on top of the stone, the knife protruding from his chest and gray loops of intestines hanging across his legs.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New Audiobook! March Into Madness

Introducing March Into Madness on

I can't believe that I now have all of my novels available as audiobooks!

Here is the description of March Into Madness: Book Four:
After thwarting a disaster in the nation's capital, Mark Taylor captures the attention of the CIA. Mark doesn't trust the agency—not with his history with them—but he agrees to demonstrate the miraculous camera in the hopes of creating a team to help him ward off future catastrophe. 
Mark realizes too late that he should have listened to his gut instincts when he finds himself held in the bowels of DC against his will while agents of the CIA, intent upon learning the secrets of his psychic abilities, use him as a test subject.
Daniel Penz returns to narrate this volume and I couldn't be happier. As usual, he did a fine job on capturing all the emotions and voices of the characters.  (March Into Hell and Deeds of Mercy have a different narrator.) 

So, head on over to Audible and take a listen to the sample. 

In fact, here is the link to all of my books on Audible: My Audiobooks