“Battle at the Pit” in Frost Fire Worlds

I forgot to announce that my story “Battle at the Pit” sold to Frost Fire Worlds and appears in their May 2015 issue. You can read a sample of the story below and order this and previous issues of the magazine from the Alban Lake store. The contents of the May 2015 issue are:

Stories
Cog by JD DeHart
The Harper of Stone by Sandra Unerman
The Next Step in the Dance by Maureen Bowden
Battle at the Pit by Karl El-Koura
Making Up by Caroline Cutting

Serial
The Adventures of Colo Collins & Tama Toledo in Space and Time by Tyree Campbell – Episode 1: Let’s Find Out

Flash Fiction
A Pet Picnic by Nick Thomas
Merlin’s Sword by Matthew Wilson

Poems
What’s Hot and What’s Not by John Grey
Dragontalk by Richard H. Durisen
Dragon by Richard H. Durisen
The Exiled Tyrant by Matthew Wilson
That’s My Boy by John Grey
Battle of Marlowe’s Field by Matthew Wilson
The Farmer’s Task by Matthew Wilson

Features
The Lauren McBride Page
The Sandy DeLuca Page

Battle at the Pit (sample)

Sebastien didn’t hear Sophie yelling at first. But out of the corner of his eye he saw her waving her arms and, reluctantly, he landed the lawnmower.

“—that thing off already!”

“Okay, it’s off—what’s up, Soph?”

“Steven!” she said in her eight-year-old whine, almost stamping the ground in her agitation. “He’s in trouble. He’s—”

Sebastien sighed, then turned the mower back on. He still had another acre to mow before he could call it a day for chores and get back to his own projects.

Loud as it was, though, the mower’s engines couldn’t drown out Sophie’s screams now that he was attuned to her voice. He retracted the blades and flew towards his little sister, which wasn’t nice because the mower scared her. But this time she stood her ground.

He landed again.

“You don’t understand!” she said, and now he could see that she was on the verge of crying.

“Okay.” Sebastien hopped off the vehicle. “I’m sorry. What’s going on?”

Her blue eyes filmed over with tears. “Steven took your bot! He’s—”

“Soph, where is he?” He grabbed her shoulders. “Tell me!”

“The Pit. He’s at the Pit.”

“Go back inside, Soph. Don’t tell Mom and Dad. Deal?”

Buy the May 2015 issue of Frost Fire Worlds

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Released! Bishop John VS the Antichrist

March 25 is here already, and my new novel Bishop John VS the Antichrist is available just about everywhere ebooks are sold.

Bishop John Cover Art

You can order your copy now:

Newsletter subscribers (you can enter your email below to join) have received a coupon code on the release date (valid for one month) to purchase their copy of the ebook at 50% off from Smashwords.com. Join the newsletter now so you don’t miss out on the next release.

The paperback is in the works and should be available soon.

 

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Upcoming Release: Bishop John VS the Antichrist

I’m pleased to announce the upcoming release of my new novel, Bishop John VS the Antichrist. Bishop John is the sequel to my debut novel, Father John VS the Zombies, and picks up where that book ended.

Bishop John Cover ArtThe ebook release date is set for March 25, 2015, though you can pre-order your copy at the links below and it will be delivered to you on that date.

I’m expecting the paperback to be released later this spring/summer.

Newsletter subscribers (you can enter your email below to join) receive a coupon code on the release date (valid for one month) to purchase their copy of the ebook at 50% off from Smashwords.com.

 

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Sneak Peek: Sequel to Father John VS the Zombies

I’m very excited to reveal the cover and title of the sequel to my debut novel Father John VS the Zombies:

Reveal of Bishop John VS the Antichrist

Here’s the ebook cover:

Cover for Bishop John VS the Antichrist

Bishop John VS the Antichrist is in editing right now, and I’m expecting it to be available for purchase in late December this year.

I’ll reveal more information about the sequel in the coming weeks.

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Cover Art Refresh

This summer, I decided to take stock* of the cover art for my published books and see if I wanted to make any changes. Turns out I did feel I could improve on some of my books’ covers.

The first change I made, for my short story “The Redeyes,” was quite drastic:

The Redeyes (eBook)

Cover for "The Redeyes"

Old

Cover for "The Redeyes"

New


Next I turned my attention to my novella The Last Adventure of Garrius Arilius. I scrapped almost the entire design and started over:

The Last Adventure of Garrius Arilius (eBook)

The Last Adventure of Garrius Arilius (ebook cover)

Old

The Last Adventure of Garrius Arilius (ebook cover)

New


The Last Adventure of Garrius Arilius (Paperback)

The Last Adventure of Garrius Arilius Paperback Cover

Old

The Last Adventure of Garrius Arilius (paperback cover)

New


For my collection of short stories The Lost Stories: A Series of Cosmic Adventures, I made a few tiny tweaks. Actually, the very first version used a beautiful Hubble telescope image as the background, but I didn’t think it accurately reflected the book (especially its comic element). So I redid the cover almost immediately, and apparently I liked it enough that during this summer refresh, I kept it pretty much the same.

The Lost Stories: A Series of Cosmic Adventures (eBook)

The Lost Stories (Old Cover Art)

Really Old

The Lost Stories: A Series of Cosmic Adventures Cover Art

Old

The Lost Stories (eBook Cover)

New


The Lost Stories: A Series of Cosmic Adventures (Paperback)

LostStoriesPBCover-ForWebsite

Old

The Lost Stories (Paperback Cover)

New

That left two books—my short story collection Ooter’s Place and Other Stories of Fear, Faith, and Love and my novel Father John VS the Zombiesand my short story The Man Who Mistook Himself for a Superhero. I like all three covers enough to leave them alone for now, and especially Father John since I’ll update the cover anyway when I release the sequel.

So that’s it for this edition of the summer cover refresh. Let me know if you think the new covers are an improvement over the old, if you like them, hate them, or have any suggestions to make them better.

* Pun intended if you thought that was funny. Otherwise, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

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C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

My latest recommendation is one of my favourite novels: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, a book that has managed to retain a great deal of its freshness and power in the almost seventy-five years since it was first published.

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Message from Spalmfred (aka, “Message from Alfred Petrick”)

I get spam messages all the time, but the one below is the first I’ve received through Goodreads (I flagged it, so presumably this account will be taken down). Interesting that unlike most spam I receive, this message seems like it was written by someone familiar with the English language—I guess Goodreads attracts more literate spammers.

I don’t imagine many writers would fall for this, but I’m adding it to this site just in case someone has doubts and does a search.

The text:

Hello, Karl El-Koura. I just want to say hi and introduce myself – I’m a huge fan of your books! Your dialogue is snappy and it’s like I could physically hear every word. Thank you so much for sharing your talent.

As an aspiring author myself, I thought I’d send you a quick message to share a recently discovered website specifically designed for authors to increase the sales of our books. I’ve personally tried what’s offered on that website for the last month and honestly, I was blown away with the results I got!

I’ve managed to increase my fiction book sales from an average of 150 per week to more than 550 per week as a result of using only these techniques. I love your work and admire you as an author, I want more people to experience your books! Everyone deserves to hear your stories so I’m excited to share this website as friendly act of kindness.

You can find it here: [link removed]. This website features only the absolute best products for independent authors and publishers.

I want quality work to receive the audience it deserves – nowadays it’s so hard to increase sales. P.S. I assure you – I’m not affiliated with this website in any way. Good luck, Karl El-Koura!

And a screenshot:

Message from Spalmfred

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“Luna City, At Night” at Daily Science Fiction

My story “Luna City, At Night” is now available at Daily Science Fiction. Here’s a preview:

Every night before I hit the bars, I push the mattress off my bed and pick out one of the expensive watches. In my house, under the mattress is the safest hiding spot. I select a watch, like I do every Friday night, and put it on. Real leather wallets keep the watches company; I choose one of those and shove money inside. Without the mattress, my bed looks like a snake-lover’s garden: silvery serpentine watches crawl over brown rock-like wallets. I replace the mattress.

Every time I head out, I think: Luna City is beautiful at night. It’s the same every night, but it’s beautiful.

Daytime is a recurring nightmare filled with unceasing sameness. I get up at the same time each day and take my shower at the exact same time because the water supply is tightly controlled. I wait for a crowded floater to stop in front of my dome and for the driver to throw open the dome’s latch. I get on the floater and stand between the same sweaty people and I never get a seat and I get off at the dome stop linked up to my work complex. The floater keeps going, bumping along on a jet of pushed air, a giant farting machine. As precise as clockwork, the floater comes around at the same time each day, and farts along at the same speed, traveling every day along the same dome-dotted path.

At work, every day is the exact same. I work with the same people, and take my breaks in the same cafeteria. I come in to work every day at the same time and I eat lunch at the same time and the boss yells, every day at the same time.

But nighttime is a different story.

Read “Luna City, At Night” >>

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Is Publishing a Zero-Sum Game? A Response to Lynn Shepherd, an Anonymous Bestseller, and Like-Minded Writers

This past week I read two posts that made me shake my head in disbelief—the infamous Lynn Shepherd piece where she asked J.K. Rowling to stop writing books in the adult market (she graciously allowed Ms. Rowling to keep writing children’s books and books “for [her] personal pleasure”—she would never deny anyone that) so that Ms. Shepherd’s novels would have a better chance of attracting attention, and an anonymous bestselling writer who responded to the claims that publishing books isn’t a zero-sum game: “If you express those ideas as numbers, you’re describing the lower slopes of an exponential curve that has to—can do nothing other than—explode upward until every cent of global GDP is spent on e-books, and every second of every human’s day is spent reading them.”

Sure, Anonymous Bestseller, in theory publishing books is zero-sum: people’s money and time is limited, so, theoretically, more books available to people means more competition, which means less time and money that can be spent on your or my books. (Set aside for the moment that there are already way more books available than any one person can read in a normal lifetime).

In the real world, though, the competition isn’t among writers for readers, the competition is between writers of prose fiction and producers of every other form of entertainment (movies, TV shows, music, computer games, even YouTube cat videos). I adore reading, but I spend a lot more time in any given week watching movies and TV shows and listening to music than I spend reading for pleasure. Why? In part because after a long day or long week at work, I sometimes just want to veg in front of a big screen (while still being social—it’s awkward to invite your friends over on a Friday night to quietly read a good book together). But part of it is also that movies and TV shows are really good these days—my wife and I watched Her in theatres a few weeks ago and loved it; that movie was some of the most satisfying science fiction I’ve encountered over the last year, in film or in print. A few weeks ago, I finished watching Breaking Bad, which is as satisfying a thriller as I’ve encountered in a long time.

We writers are not at war with one another, battling over precious resources, with each writer individually trying to conquer a limited portion of the Land of Readers for themselves. Ours is a war to capture hearts and minds, where collectively we writers are trying to convert non-readers into readers and sometime-readers into frequent readers (and, why not, frequent readers into obsessive readers). Most people spend most of their leisure time doing non-reading activities, and spend most of their entertainment budget on movies and games and music and other non-book things. But every captivating and entertaining novel encourages us to spend more time reading—to seek out more great and entertaining novels rather than click play on the next movie in our Netflix queue or look up what’s playing at the local movie theatre.

There’s no doubt that J.K. Rowling converted a generation of kids into readers, teaching them how wonderful and satisfying reading a novel could be. We need more J.K. Rowlings, and more books by Ms. Rowling herself, to keep up the good fight. If the day ever comes where almost everyone is reading almost every minute of their free time, then we can start worrying about zero-sum in publishing books. Until then, rather than see ourselves desperately fighting over scraps, let’s encourage one another to keep writing, and keep writing great books that can capture people’s hearts and minds, and convert more of them into readers.

Because it seems to me from the types of posts and comments I quoted above that some of us are seeing a tiny tree and wondering how that little tree’s fruits can possibly sustain us all. But behind that tree there are entire forests with more fruit than any one of us can ever harvest in a lifetime—if only we’re clever and engaging and entertaining enough, as a group of prose fiction writers, to conquer those lands.

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Half-a-Fish Theology Episode One: “Does God send people to Hell?”

In the first of a new series of short videos looking at questions of theology from an ancient, Orthodox Christian perspective, I take a very brief look at the question, “Does God send people to Hell?”

Can’t watch video? You can read the show notes for this episode.

 

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Featured Book

Cover for Bishop John VS the Antichrist

In this epic sequel to Father John VS the Zombies, the story of the end of the world continues…

Read more >>