Click on the pic to go to Amazon

Click on the pic to go to Amazon

It’s Day 1 of the Big Sands of the Solar Empire giveaway on Amazon. Sands is beginning of the Belmont Saga and takes off in a new direction with a fresh cast of characters: Same LoE Universe, different folks!

Monday, April 8th and Tuesday, April 9th the Sands ebook is totally free. Click on the Sands cover picture to go direct to Amazon.

Here’s the Blurb for the Book:


That’s all Paymaster Stenstrom, the Lord of Belmont-South Tyrol, has to do and the old warbird Seeker is his. He has dreamed of captaining a Fleet ship his entire life.

Little does Paymaster Stenstrom realize that he is in the grip of an old Vendetta and the short trip to Bazz might very well be his last.
Faced with a dead ship and a lost crew, Paymaster Stenstrom finds help in the strangest places: the thief Marine and the milquetoast young man from the Admiral’s office, and, though he just became acquainted with these two strangers, he discovers they have been influencing each other’s lives for a very long time.

Something sinister hovers over Paymaster Stenstrom and his two new friends, something they are only now becoming aware of. The SANDS OF THE SOLAR EMPIRE stretch out before them in an endless gulf brimming with the unknown. Can a masked Paymaster, a thief, a coward and a once great warbird face what awaits them?

Click on the pic to go to Amazon

Click on the pic to go to Amazon

Also, don’t forget that Book VII, Against the Druries is also available on ebook. Book VII is the exciting conclusion of the Belmont Saga.

Here the blurb:

THERE’S A WHOLE LOT OF BAD BETWEEN KANA AND BAZZ . . . That’s what they say on Bazz, that the “Deep Sea”, the open space between the two planets, is cursed and full of bad dreams—but nobody ever listens to people from Bazz, do they? Paymaster Stenstrom, Private Taara and Lord A-Ram struggle to navigate the Seeker, an old warbird, through the shipping lanes to Bazz. If the Paymaster can’t get to Bazz with his cargo of brandy, he loses the ship and will probably end up in jail as well. Jail? If only . . . The three adventurers are about to discover the old farfetched mariner stories are very real and that the Devil himself waits for the unwary in dark places where there is no help. The Circle closes in on Stenstrom, Taara and A-Ram, and its judgment for them is far worse than any jail cell. The Seeker is about of become just another ship that set sail from safe shores and was never heard from again, unless . . . The Belmont Saga concludes in this heartbreaking and action-packed tale of friendship and dedication, of vile evil and hopeless terror, and that sometimes help for those gone astray comes from the most unlikely of places.

See you there!!

copyright 2013, Ren Garcia


Time to come up with the back cover Blurb for LoE Book VII: Against the Druries. Blurbing is without a doubt the thing I dislike most during the cover creation process–I’m not very good at being brief, I guess. Anyway, here it is. I added the text to the amazing painting of Lady Alesta by Kayla Woodside because I currently don’t have a paint wash of the Book VII cover yet. Carol Phillips is going to start painting it this weekend, she said.

Sorry if the text is a little small–just expand the pic and it reads just fine.

Copyright 2012, Ren Garcia and Kayla Woodside.

Still trying to collect my thoughts from my furious weekend at Gencon in Indianapolis, Indiana.

First of all, what an amazing convention. It was huge, stocked full of cool stuff and interesting characters. I met amazing people, like artist Kayla Woodside, whom I plan on giving a lot of commissions to, and fellow Seventh-Star Saint Georgia L. Jones . I also sold more books there than I ever have at any one convention. Sounds great, right, but … before we get carried away and proclaim the Gencon experience the ultimate an author could ask for, let’s compare it to another fair I recently attended, the affable Stillwater Arts and Crafts Jamboree in Dayton, Ohio (basically, a Catholic bake sale).

Outperformed by 30%

First, the hard numbers. Over four days at Gencon, I sold a total of 64 books. I was able to sell all books in the LOE series, including the usually difficult to sell Book II and the Temple Trilogy which made me very happy. Meanwhile, at Stillwater, I sold 22 books in one afternoon. Comparing the two events, the Catholic bake sale actually out-performed Gencon by 30%–I didn’t sell as many books of course, but I was only there one day for four hours, while I averaged only 16 books a day over four days at Gencon. Just looking at the cold, hard numbers, the Bake Sale took Gencon down, it stands to reason–Gencon was a bewildering kaleidoscope of books, artwork, games, shirts, monsters, costumes and dice. Many people in a daze, walked past my table, smiled, and said “Just looking”. Some, who might have wanted to buy a few of my books, said they couldn’t find me again. There’s also the novelty factor. At Gencon, I was surrounded by artists and other authors while at the Bake Sale I was the only bookseller there amid a sea of oven mitts, aprons, cookies, cakes, doilies and other homemade treasures, the novelty of being an author of a book series was pronounced and a key selling point, while at Gencon it really wasn’t a big deal. One final note–my expenses for Stillwater were virtually nil, amounting to a $25 table fee and a tank of gas to get there, while Gencon carried significant expense.

The Portal to Hell

My depleted rack at Gencon as the show concluded

You would think that Gencon would be a den of vice and pagan idol worship, which it probably is, however, I’ve never seen all Seven Deadly Sins as vividly on-display than at the Catholic Bake Sale at Stillwater, especially the sins of Sloth, Greed, Pride, Envy, and, in some cases, Wrath as each home cook and artesian tried desperately to out-do the other. Money flew and I was the beneficiary with people buying merely to spend money. It was quite amazing to behold.

So, next year, I look forward to another outing at Gencon, and I also look forward to another go at Stillwater where vice and all that goes with it makes for great sales.

Bowl Naked

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia

LoE Book VI, The Sands of the Solar Empire, is finally just around the corner in time for the summer convention season. I should have it in my hand in time for Gencon in August. We will also be doing a few free giveaways on Kindle Select, something I’ve not tried before.

Now that the Book is nearly ready, the hard part comes: Marketing. Writing a book is easy, marketing it is hard, and it never ends.We’re going to try a few new avenue this time to get the word out. Most of my past sales are direct POS–conventions, shows, flea markets and other such places where I can set my table up and place my fanny. Of course, we’re going to do the standard Facebook/twitter rounds, and I might even try diving into avenues such as Smashwords. One avenue, though a little expensive, is Publisher’s Weekly. We’re thinking about doing a mass ad from Loconeal advertising a number of upcoming titles.

Oh …. this is so complicated and tiring. I just wanna’ write the books, somebody else do this!!

Sands of the Solar Empire from be out August 2012 from Loconeal Publishing.

Bowl Naked

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia

The time I live in fear of has come again: time to create the back cover marketing for Book VI The Sands of the Solar Empire.

I find the whole process bewildering, like trying to select a protein bar at GNC: so many choices, so many ways to put two feet wrong. Sometimes I wish I had a line of editors to do this stuff for me, but then I come to my senses and thank the Lord I don’t.

So, I stumble and flail about, trying how best to summarize a 115,000 word book in 200 or less.

All things considered, this book wasn’t as hard to summarize as, say, Book II, The Hazards of the One Ones which caused me no end of pain and suffering. Book VI is a little less complicated than Book II. I think it flows well enough, but what do I know??

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia

Book V, “The Temple of the Exploding Head” to finally out and ready to go.
I remember putting the final dot on this series back in 2009. It does seem a long time ago. The trilogy changed several times as I did and re-did certain aspects of the story. This story is full of surprises–even to me, the author. You’d think as I created this situation that I’d be in full control. It never quite works out that way. The story comes from somewhere deep within and manifests itself as images and flashes of color that demand to unfold in a certain way despite what you as the suthor may or may not want.

So, after a fair amount of change and turmoil, I’m very pleased with the final product and here it is out in the world for the first time. It’s sort of like putting your kids on the bus and sending them off to school. You watch it drive off and you wonder … you wonder.

The Temple of the Exploding Head is now available for purchase at Click Here!!

copyright 2012, Ren Garcia

I’m a small author. I have no illusions. I have my small but loyal fan base, and every day I add a few more, but it’s a lot of work. Keeping your brand moving is like a hamster running on the wheel–as long as the hamster is moving, the wheel turns, but, the moment he gets tired, goes for lunch or–God forbid–takes a day off, the wheel refuses to turn any further. It really would be nice if the wheel turned by itself. Keep on turning, you wheel you.

A key component of spreading the plague that is my brand is showing my smiling face: craft shows, bake shows, car shows, any place I can set up a table is fair game. And, truth be told, those lowly roadside shows can be a virgin goldmine: “You wrote this??” they cry. “Really?” An author standing proud amid fresh fruits and salted meats is a real novelty, and out comes the wallet and off goes the book sitting merry in its bag. Everybody wins.

A convention, on the other hand, is a whole different sort of cat. You got mind-scanned people coming and going in droll waves, you’ve got costumes and flashing lights and buffets of questionable foods … and you’ve got authors left and right, coming out of the baseboards, reading, speaking, standing in front of their tables, hucking and shucking. Wow! At a convention, being an author isn’t really a big deal. It’s pretty normal.

And then, you’ve got the handful of “Name Brand” folks moving about, the authors who are rather Big and have an Established Following, messiah-like amid the eager faithful. Just like in Lankhmar on the Street of the Gods, the bigger gods take their place at the end of the street and all the little gods and ragged priests line up nearby, hoping to snag a wayward or drunken worshipper or two. In such an environment, being shy and coy simply will not do. You cannot simply wait for the fish to jump into your boat, you’ve got to trawl for them.

My good friend Pete Grondin, author of the McKinney Brothers murder-mystery series, is a master at it. People pass by and Pete fearlessly casts his line: “Hey, lady! You like murder?” he asks to astonished stares and quickening paces. But, occasionally, people stop: “Yes, I do like murder,” they reply and the sale is transacted. So I sigh and give it a go: Hey! You like Science Fiction?? No? You like Fantasy? How about Romance … I got `em all!”

Oh is it tiring…

For me, the greatest value of attending a convention is the contacts and genuine friendships I make. I walk around and talk to the authors and show genuine interest in their work. I listen to them. I support them either with a pledge to mention them at future events or with my money. I speak on panels, and occasionally people remember that. I’ve met some great people. I met the incredible Shandahars–Tracy Chowdery and Ted Crim, and Denise Verrico. I got to know Nic and Fiona Brown of “Werewolf for Hire” fame, I met the sweet and misunderstood Elizadeth Hetherington (is she ever tall) and, of course the amazing and also upbeat Stephen Zimmer. I come out of these conventions exhausted, a little soiled, but enriched–people who didn’t know I existed before know me afterward and that is worth it all.

I sometimes wonder what it might be like to be the Brand Name, the Big God sitting at the end of the street entertaining throngs of followers. Does the Big God know the names of his followers, can he recall their faces?? Certainly, it can’t be as fun and fulfilling as snagging that select person or two and making a real connection. Now that’s a happy ending.

Bowl Naked


"The Machine" by Carol Phillips

Finally, part two of the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy is done. We’ve got all 27 interior pics and the cover. All it needs is a last bit of proofing and it’ll be ready for its July release.

Unlike Book III interior art which had a number of thumbnail sketches, Book IV’s art is mostly composed of full page compositions done by Carol Phillips. These scenes have been simmering in my thoughts for so long that finally seeing them come to life is a real treat.

The previous three covers in the League of Elder series have all had a distinct fantasy look to them. For Book IV, I wanted more of a science fiction theme. I love everything about the cover, the colors, the city of Waam all around, the giant-size Princess Marilith vending machine, the flying Bondarunga statue in the background–you name it.

Waam is one of my favorite places in the LoE universe. I always loved the Fritz Leiber books of Lankhmar. A great city full of mystery and adventure, a cobbled maze of mist-filled streets leading to the unknown. I always wanted to write about such a place. The cities in the League are too demure and civilized to allow me to really cut loose and use my imagination, so I took advantage of the much-less prim and proper Xaphans and created Waam, an advanced, rather racy and highly evolved city where literally anything can happen. Fritz Leiber had his Gods of Lankhmar lurking in the city, and I’ve got my Black Hats festering in their temples.

Carol is going to take a few weeks off and recoop a bit. Then she’s going to begin work on Book V, The Temple of the Exploding Head. Oh, such fun …

Bowl Naked

copyright 2011, Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

In attempting to grow my readership, I take the Carnie approach–I hit the road and mingle with the people. It’s exhausting, sometimes it’s dirty and unpleasant, but it’s also effective and, when successful, is quite fun. I’ve learned a lot in the past year or so and have refined both my setup and my personal technique, and I thought I’d share some of those revelations. Most of this is probably Basic Marketing 8:00am Day 1, but hey, each nugget of information presented here is hard won and battle-tested, and is therefore gold.

YOUR BASIC LAYOUT First thing. You need to present the idea to a customer that you’ve got something to sell–Seems simple, right, but for a beginning author with usually one solitary thing to offer, creating the impression to the buyer that you’ve got something they might want to buy can be difficult. An unknown authors sitting behind a drab table with naught but one thing to offer is, nine times of out ten, going to get passed by. You can attempt to cloud the issue with lots of marketing–you know, standups, banners, balloons–anything colorful and eye-catching that fills up the empty space around your table, but, when you get right down to it–people like seeing a lot of stuff in front of them. Seeing a lack of product is depressing.

In my case, I’ve got a six foot table, so I try to fill up that space as best I can. I push everything out front, creating the illusion that the table is bursting with product. I then organize the table with sellable items on my right and Swag, or free stuff on my left with advertisements (specials, combos, Coming Soons, etc) in the middle.

THE SELLABLES: Here’s my sellable marketing rack. First of all, notice how full it looks. I only have three titles to sell (Books I, II and III), however I create the convincing illusion that I have many many more titles to choose from. I accomplish this with (A) vertical striping that pulls the eye from top to bottom, and (C) I space the books out so that they fully encompass the entire rack–having empty spots is a downer. I also further enhance the illusion by having the same titles only in different covers (Notice B–Book One. Same book, just different look). I also fill out the rack by offering titles from other authors–in this case from my friends Chantal Boudreau’s Fervor and Justine Marie Hedman’s Kailey’s Bugs. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Also, notice (B)–All of the titles are at eye-level. That’s the main thing. The customer doesn’t have to do much work to locate the product for sale, such as look down to the table-top–it’s all right there in front of them. For an unknown author expecting a passerby to look around for your stuff is an investment in time and effort many folks are not willing to make, it’s an unfortunate truth. Make it easy for them by getting everything up and off the table.

SWAG: People just love free stuff and having lots of swag around is always a must. I’ve got a smaller rack just for oversized cards with art, I’ve also got pens, pins, posters, shirts, bookmarks and magnets. For cards, I’ve found people really like the oversized cards, which was a surprise to me. I usually charge one or two bucks per piece of swag, but, if someone buys a book, they can have all the swag they want for free and that sometimes makes a deal.

So that’s my deal on book marketing. Of course no amount of marketing or swag will help without your critical input. You’ve got to stand up, be vocal, look people in the eye and be prepared to have to work hard for every single sale. Do that, and you can’t lose.

Bowl Naked