September 30, 2013

The uniform goes back on, but not for the reason you might think.

You may recall that a year ago, I stopped executing any duties I had as an Assistant Scout Master. While I continue to think the scouting program has an amazing list of incredibly great things to offer youth and their parents, I cannot represent the organization in an official capacity as long as BSA professes a policy of discrimination.

Turns out, there's one exception to that. Tonight I'll put the uniform back on for one final duty. No, actually, it's not a duty--it's a privilege.

Most people experience Boy Scouts through media and popular culture. To many people, scouting looks like a playground for bigoted, chauvinistic, he-men to parade their sons around in manly fashion. In my experience, it's exactly the opposite. In my experience, scouting has been about regular little boys being given an opportunity to learn responsibility and leadership as they grow through their teen years. It's been about families supporting each other through incredibly difficult times. It's been about personal responsibility, community involvement, and life skills.

One of the boys in our troop has completed all his requirements to reach the Eagle rank. You should see this kid's school course load--smartest kid I've known, probably. To have accomplished what he has, self-directed with only mild coaching from the adults around him, is a great achievement. And tonight I get the privilege of meeting with him as his Assistant Scout Master before he takes the final steps toward the Eagle rank.

I know it seems I'm being inconsistent. But it doesn't feel inconsistent to me. I'm not putting on the uniform to show how great I think Boy Scouts is, or how great I think I am for being a trained BSA leader. I'll be wearing it to show respect for this young man and his achievement and dedication. I'm not the authority figure; I'm the witness.

And when our meeting is over, the uniform goes back on its hangar. I don't expect to wear it again, though I suppose it's possible.

September 27, 2013

How I write my books, FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY, and what's is all about anyway?

I'll always remember my firsts with my first book. The first free download period (it's free today, too), my first sale, my first Amazon review, my first Amazon review from someone I didn't already know who lived in a different country, my first signed copy sale, my first author reading, the first high school book report about my book, my first one-star Goodreads rating, my first book blogger review (with the old cover!).

Today, another first: My first online author interview.

Michael was kind enough to download Semper during its most recent free run at Amazon, and to ask me to answer a few questions to be posted to his site. Questions about Semper, my writing process, etc. Questions I haven't really answered online before.

I'd be honored if you'd hop over to the interview, give it a quick read, and drop a comment.

While you're there, enter the rafflecopter for a free, signed copy of Semper.

September 16, 2013

Free kindle downloads this week - YA scifi and adventure, and why they're free

Free September 17-18
Get it here!
I don't promote my books much even though they are, in fact, awesome. I don't write for a living. I make my living raising hundreds of millions of dollars for charity. (Hey, it pays the bills. Don't judge me.)

So when I give my books away for free, it's not because I'm hoping to leverage some discoverability bump into a higher sales ranking. It's because I genuinely want people to read and enjoy them.

Why charge anything at all, you ask? Why not just post a PDF on my web site and make it always free for everyone all the time? Great question. I have two reasons, though others exist:

First, I have costs to recoup. Cover design was the biggest. Factor in my Starbucks and whiskey bills, and all the red pens I emptied in revisions, and pretty soon you're talking real money. (Especially the whiskey.) My day job pays me well, but not so well that budget be damned.

Free September 19-20
Get it here!
Second, I insist that my work has value. Even though I don't care much about the money, I do care deeply about the value. So I assign a price that I think reflects that value from the consumer's perspective. People then buy the book, or they don't. And, from time to time, I give it away without asking for any payment.

Some people and publishers think of free downloads as lost sales, or as a cost of marketing. Me? I look at them as donations to people who like to read good stories. I hope you will download these books and read them. And I really, really hope you enjoy them.

If you do, consider the value you received without needing to pay anything. And if you feel so inclined, head back to Amazon and/or Goodreads and give the book an honest rating. Because really, that's my secret reason for giving these away. Nothing makes me happier than a new rating.

September 14, 2013

I'm not one for rules, but...

Here is a new rule for the blog. Please pay attention and get to know all the rules.

If you visit my wife's blog, you will see a similar but slightly different rule. On her blog, the rule is "Unnecessary conversation gladly given, but safety requires avoiding the giving of information."