Do Authors Really Need an ISBN?

The short answer is, it depends.

ISBN numbers are thirteen-digit unique number that identifies your book. It actually stands for International Standard Book Number. This unique code captures information regarding the book’s publisher, title, language, edition, and version.

Prior to 2007, ISBNs were ten digits. With the boom in the book publishing industry, ISBNs have been extended to thirteen digits. One example of an ISBN is from my cookbook, titled, Cooking with Author-Chef (Not Iron-Chef) Brian K. Larson along with the category.

Published in the United States of America

ISBN: 979-8481865867

Non-Fiction/Cookbooks/Cooking/

These numbers can be purchased at Bowker Identifier Services at myidentifiers.com and come in blocks of ten for $295 bucks or a single number for $125. There are also bundles of one-hundred for $575 bucks and a mega package of 1000 ISBNs for $1500 bucks that they claim can be used for 200 books (or editions of books). This is really the best deal if you have the cash upfront. Most independent authors don’t have these kinds of funds readily available, especially if you’re just starting out.

An ISBN is unique to one edition, so you can rack up a lot of numbers for eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions. You can’t use the same number for each edition, so it can become very costly. I’ve purchased blocks of ten and discovered that I need more in short order.

However, do authors really need this expense? Again, it all depends on your needs. Amazon offers free ISBN for paperbacks and hardcovers. However, not for eBooks. I no longer buy my own numbers since eBooks at Amazon have ASIN numbers that are unique for their platform.

If you plan on publishing exclusively in book stores or outside of Amazon, you may want to invest in a block of ISBNs. If you are only on Amazon, it may not be necessary since you can get them for free.

Another outlet that offers free ISBNs is Smashwords. They provide numbers that are unique to their platforms and are required for their distribution channels such as iBooks (Apple), Barns & Noble, Kobo, and other retail outlets.

Keep in mind that once you publish your book with an ISBN and republish a second edition, you’ll need to use a new ISBN.

Here’s a breakdown of some marketing strategies to determine if you need to buy ISBNs.

If you want to save money or if most of your business is based online, you may not need to purchase an ISBN. However, if you have an aggressive branding strategy for your name or publishing company or most of your publishing will be based in physical book stores, you may want to purchase them.

Another important note to know is that this unique number is not a Copywrite for your book. Copywrite is completely different from an ISBN.

There are a few disadvantages of not using an ISBN. It can be difficult to track eBook sales, your book won’t be available to readers who prefer print books and your book won’t be included in the books in the print database.

As I said earlier, Amazon and Smashwords do offer free ISBNs, so the disadvantages are minimal. With eBooks distribution, most companies don’t require one. However, there is a place to add the number when you are creating the publication.

To wrap up, ISBNs can be confusing at first, when in actuality, they are pretty straightforward. Plan on using one for your print editions, whether using a free one from Amazon or you purchase your own. For your eBooks, you don’t need one, but you certainly can obtain one if you wish.

Thank you for joining me this week.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

To Republish or not to Republish…

That is the question you should of thee. Being a self-published author has many advantages. One of them is having full control over your work. This means you can upload revised copies of your book as often as you need.

Those pesky errors in your manuscript can be quite distracting to many readers. They’ll be looking for your grammar, punctuation, spelling and the correct use of your words. I call these folks the ‘grammar police’ and they’re relentless and some can be darn right mean and hurtful. Keep in mind, Amazon does have a review policy and if they are attacking you on a personal level, you can ask Amazon to remove those.

Being able to upload fixed copies of your book will erase those issues

If you’ve made mistakes and republish, those low star ratings and reviews can still plague authors. There is a trick you can use at Amazon KDP to erase all those negative reviews. There are pros and cons to this and in this article, I’ll be explaining what those are.

First off, it’s important to get your manuscript as cleanly edited as you can before publishing the book. I know from personal experience that with even the best editing service, there can be mistakes missed. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a cashe of beta readers to read your work after it’s gone through your editing phase. Even doing this, there are still risks of missing glaring errors. So, when it’s time to upload a new copy of your book after making those corrections, you have to do something that will erase those reviews.

That’s called creating a second edition. When you’re in the Amazon KDP book publishing page, all you simply have to do is change the edition field to ‘2’ and then continue with the normal process.

This does two things at Amazon. First, it publishes your book as a second edition which erases all the reviews and star ratings. The second thing is Amazon treats your published book as a new release and gives it preferential treatment over other books for a time. This can boost sales of your book, gaining new interest with prospective readers.

There are some downsides to this, that is, all your positive ratings and reviews vanish as well. It’s like starting over, but maybe that’s not a bad idea if the negative ratings are many, which will hurt you with new readers looking for a great read.

There is a way to publish a second, third or forth edition and keep all of your reviews. You would want to do this if you have a great number of positive ratings. This is something that the author must decide for themselves. How many positives over the negatives? How bad are the reviews? How many positive ratings are there and are there reviews you simply cannot ignore and face losing forever?

Once you decide you really need to republish a new edition, they all vanish. However, there is a way to try and recover them. It’s not a hundred percent full-proof and it’s up to Amazon to decide to bring them all back.

You do this by submitting a support ticket to Amazon. You have to provide them with the new ASIN along with the old number and if there are any changes to your ISBN. Amazon doesn’t require an ISBN number, but they assign new ASIN numbers which you have no control over.

After requestion via Amazon’s help desk, there is a good chance that those reviews will get moved to your new edition. Again, there is a risk that Amazon will not do it and there isn’t anything you can say or do, more than the support ticket, to make them.

So, this is why it’s very important to understand the republishing of your work. You must carefully choose making a new edition.

With Amazon, you can upload new copies of your book and not make changes to the editions. Leaving it blank or if you used the number ‘1’ when submitting it, it will not erase your reviews and ratings. However, as I mentioned above, if you have glaring negativity, if will be a huge benefit to creating that second edition.

Perhaps there are no errors or negative reviews, but you make a significant change to your manuscript that changes the outcome of the book or it changes the plot. Maybe you decided to add a twist that wasn’t included in the original publication.

For this type of upgrade to your book, you really should discard all those reviews anyway and publish it a new edition. In fact, Amazon requires a new edition if there were changes to the story and you can be in hot water with them if they discover you haven’t created a second or third edition.

One last thing to discuss on this topic, is once you’ve decided to republish a new edition or simply upload corrected copy of your manuscript, you can ask Amazon to make available a new download for anyone who’s purchased or ordered your eBook in the past. Again, you have to explain to Amazon why there were changes made and they will decide to send a push notification of your readers. They will scold you in their reply, stating that you should have ensured your manuscript was fully edited prior to publishing.

To republish or not to republish, that is the question that you must ask of yourself.

Thanks for joining me this week.

Until next time, this is Author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

Pirates Trilogy Goes Free Starting Saturday

That’s right, Pirates of the Galactic Empire: the Trilogy, will be free starting Saturday morning and will run through 23:59 Sunday night. I must be crazy to offer all three book in this single volume for free. Well, I’m doing this to celebrate my new narrator, voice actor, James Michael Shetler. James brings a great voice as well as special sound effects that really brings this epic masterpiece to life.

Stay tuned for sound bites as they become available…

The keys to keywords

Welcome back to my weekly blog. This week, I’m discussing more marketing tips. In particular, Keywords. We’ve discussed how important it is for a great cover and the book blurb or teaser to draw in your prospective audience. There’s one more piece to all of this and that’s being found in the first place. You do that with keywords. 

Keywords play an important part in book marketing. You have to be discovered and to do this, you need to structure keywords so prospective readers will find you. Your awesome cover and cleverly written teaser won’t do you any good if you’re not being found in the first place.

If you self-publish on Amazon, there are seven slots on the book configuration page, that are given for your keywords. These slots are not only just for one word. You can use phrases and word groups to help you in Amazon’s search engine. You have to figure out what words or phrases customers are searching for. To do this, there are a few tools out there. The first one is free. It’s actually integrated right into the Amazon search field. When you choose Kindle Store on Amazon, you can begin by typing your first keyword. Amazon will tell you what customers are searching for. Then, you can pick those words and phrases and plug them into your keyword slots for your book.

I’ll use an example to give you an idea. If you’ve written a science fiction book, you could try typing science fiction in the search field and see what Amazon comes up with.

As you can see in my example, Amazon fills in some ideas for you. Science fiction kindle books, books, romance, fantasy, short stories, and megapack are just a few of the ideas for keywords. But, will these actual keywords work for you?

The answer to that question is complicated. Sure, customers are actually typing those search terms.

However, how much competition is there for that particular keyword phrase? There’s another tool out there that will tell you how popular the phrase is and how easy or hard it will be for your book to show up on the top pages, or will your book get buried below hundreds or even thousands of other books.

This tool is called KDPRocket and it costs about a hundred bucks. The good news is, that’s a one-time fee to unlock the secrets of keywords. You also get free updates and access to new tools as they are developed.

What this tool does is rank the keyword phrase by how often it’s searched for as well as how likely your book will appear with the number of competitors there are.

Here’s how this tool looks. I used ‘science fiction military’ in my search and this is a sample of what the KDPRocket tool returns. For the first search, you can see less than a hundred searches in a month are done with a competitive score of 45, meaning is moderately difficult for your book to show. However, as you can see just adding ‘books’ to the end of the keyword phrase, bumps up the searches per month to over sixteen hundred with the same competitive score. You’ll have a better chance of being discovered. This tool also shows you the average monthly earnings, the average price of the books and how many competitors there are.

It can take a ton of time researching keywords and phrases that will actually work, but then if you own this tool, it literally saves you hours of time. 

You can find this tool at kindlepreneur.com. Dave Chesson has been called the kindlepreneur of Amazon and has been recognized by Forbes, Entrepreneur, and The Huffington Post. This site is a tremendous source of tools available as well as a web course that you can watch to help with all your marketing needs.

As a self-published author, we’re really a jack of all trades. Aside from writing an amazing book, you need to learn how to format your book as well as marketing, have it edited, get book cover design, and learn how to write a successful book teaser. All these things will help you get your book in front of your prospective audience.

Keywords are just as important if not the most important item you need to understand. However, you also must understand that once you find the right keywords and phrases to use, prospective customers, change how they search for things all the time. This means, your keywords can go stale. So, having this keyword tool will help you discover what’s working currently. Changing up your keywords is a must. I find that if these aren’t updated, your books will fall to the bottom of the search engines. Bring them up to the top by refreshing and using new words every few months. If you find the right words, you’ll know when it’s time to change it up by gauging your sales and free downloads. If your sales begin to trend downward, then it’s time to dedicate some time to finding fresh keywords, because keywords are your keys to becoming a successful self-published author.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

Book teaser tips and tricks

Book teasers are another intragyral part of marketing your work. Just like last week’s blog on book covers, your book teaser is just as important. Your teaser or book blurb, tells the prospective reader what to expect inside. However, there are a few tips and tricks that will help the reader choose you, over your competition.

Let’s not confuse your book blurb with a book synopsis. They are two completely different, yet similar things. A teaser draws your audience in. You introduce your character, their traits, and the problem they must solve. A synopsis is a complete overview of your book, including your plot twists and turns. The synopsis also includes how the novel ends and is used to market your book to agents and publishers. The teaser is used for marketing to your prospective audience and should not include too much detail.

There are certain elements to a book blurb that you must include. But there are certain elements that you should not, such as any spoilers. The blurb shouldn’t be too lengthy, either. Keep it down to a couple of hundred words. If you’re too wordy, you’ll lose prospective readers.

Whether you’re writing a blurb for science fiction and fantasy or a self-help book, they must contain similar elements. In a non-fiction or self-help book, the main character is the reader and it’s the problem they are looking to solve and what that solution is.

In fiction, you tell them who and what the problem and goals are.

Here’s an example of a book teaser that I wrote for ‘Pirates of the Galactic Empire.’

It’s the year 3245. Earth’s Republic evolved into the Galactic Empire. After the outpost wars, the Galactic Space Force became the peacekeepers. Up from the ashes rose rogue pilots. These pilots became the Pirates of the Galactic Empire.

This is a story of one of these, not so lucrative, pirates, Sean Finnigan. The only thing going for him, and the reason his crew follow him. Well, except for Petra, her unhealthy infatuation, as Finnigan called it, was her reason for following him. No, he owns one of the ancient card treasures, the fifth card. Pirates rumored, that if you were in possession of all five, you could open a gateway to paradise.

Join this, Ruthless Pirate Extraordinaire, or so he wants everyone to think, on this first installment, ‘Roadmap to Paradise.’

Scroll up and grab your copy today

Right away, you know the year, what’s happened and what’s taking place now, all under forty words. In the next paragraph, you find out who the main character is and what goes on between him and his co-prognosticator, Petra. Then, I start building about a mystery and their search for and how many treasures there are to reach their goal: finding the roadmap to paradise.

It’s clear, short, and contains a small bit of humor. Using this in the teaser shows the reader that there will be more of the same inside. By relaying to the reader that Sean wants nothing to do with Petra, yet Petra wants everything to do with him tells the reader there will be interesting dialogue and sexual tension between the two. Another important detail I wanted the reader to know, is that our main character already has one of the mystery cards. 

You’ll notice a few key details outside of the normally written teaser. There is a key feature not well known by authors that Amazon supports. Those are the ability to use hypertext code within your blurb. This allows you to highlight certain words, phrases, and aspects that draw the reader in. It allows you to stand out above your competitors.

By using this code <b>turns bold text on</b>, while using this code, turns off bold. You can also use <i>and</i> for italics and<H1>and</H1> for header text. They can also be used together as in <b><i>for bold italics and again</b></i>, to turn that feature off. 

At the bottom of my teaser, I use this header with bold text to invite the prospective reader to take an action. You can use numerous combinations in your teaser that Amazon supports. Those codes show up in my example above. I suggest searching Google for hypertext codes that are available. Keep in mind, that they can be overdone, just like a lengthy teaser.

There are a ton of writers out there that write exceptional masterpiece novels, but one area I see, over and over, is a failed book blurb. Not interesting, having spoilers, or just too wordy will instantly turn off a prospective reader. Keep it simple, short, and to the point. Make it interesting by adding emotion where appropriate. The reader wants to know key things; what is this book about?  It’s our job as writers to tell them all about it in only a couple hundred words.

Tune in next week as I discuss another key aspect of self-publishing, mastering keywords.

Until then, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

A book cover is worth a thousand words

Book covers are extremely important aside from the contents that you labored and toiled over for months. If you want people to read your awesome writing, you have to entice them to get it and you do that with the book cover.

Book covers tell your story before the reader even turns one page. There are several elements that are needed in order to compel readers to pick your book over the thousands of others in the competition. Those elements are focusing on the big picture, a clear focal point, book title and subtitle along with your name. Seems fairly simple, but I’ve seen authors leave out important details or choose cover art that is confusing and cluttered.

 Let’s take a look at one that I designed recently. This is actually a new cover for a book already published. As you can see, I am drawing the audience to the focal point on the cover. The dragon head coming at you demands your attention. Next, the title of the book is fixed at the top with the subtitle below. Since this is an anthology or collection in a bundle, I added the titles in smaller font near the bottom. This tells the reader what books are included in this title. Finally, my name, with a slightly larger font than the text above, yet smaller than the title.

The first thing the reader sees is that dragon head. That conveys a clear message that there are dragons within. Dragons are a key part of this work, so it makes sense to display one in all its glory. Next, the title ‘Warlords’ communicates that there are wars and battles inside those pages and the subtitle of ‘Saga’ tells the reader this is a lengthy story. Readers love long reads and there’s a clear picture painted for the prospective reader by telling them what books are included. This one has four volumes; Warlords of Antares, Empress of Antares, Blood Scroll of Antares, and Rise of the Warlords.

Your name as author is just as important as the title. Some authors choose to display their names at the top in a much larger font. This works if you’ve built a successful reader base that is looking for your work. I chose to put my name at the bottom since my main focus is the title and its contents.

There is a familiar term that is widely known and that’s, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Well, that is absolutely false when it comes to choosing your cover. In fact, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Covers are extremely critical in catching the reader’s eye. Pictures are really worth a thousand words. It has to get the reader interested in what’s inside. Once they open the cover and start turning pages, your writing prowess will keep them interested and turning pages.

You can hire a book design artist and spend hundreds of dollars on your cover, but truthfully, if you have a good imagination and a few basic editing skills, you can do it well under a hundred. I use Shutterstock royalty-free images. This means when you purchase an image, it’s yours to build and use. There are a few restrictions, one of which is the limitation of how many downloads if you are buying the standard licensing. However, you can by the extended license, that comes with a commercial usage that covers any media. I typically buy a package of five downloads for under fifty bucks.

Next is using some software to place your text. Again, you can spend hundreds, even thousands, on software. You don’t have to break the bank to design your own. I use two software packages; both are free to use and are called iPhotoDraw and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). Using this free software is extremely versatile. With iPhotoDraw, I can choose any font, size and placement. You can add special effects, such as shadowed text or glowing and radiant. Remember, you don’t want the cover to be too cluttered; keeping is simple is always best. With GIMP, I can manipulate images, and add to or take away elements. I can also change the image resolution, which is very important when printing. I set all my covers to a resolution of four hundred. The industry standard is a resolution of three hundred.

With book covers, if you’re not getting a good response from your readers, it’s okay to change them out once in a while. I’ve done that a few times and I always seem to get a bump in sales. If you’re not getting a lot of action on a book, try changing out the cover.

To recap, it’s very important to choose a book cover that will call the prospective reader to open it up and look inside. Keep the covers simple, yet informative by ensuring your title, subtitle and name are oriented appropriately. Choose an image that will pop and bring attention to a key element in your book. It’s more cost-effective to make your own if you have the skill set. However, you can find reputable book cover designers. If you go that route, take your time and work closely with the designer so they will capture the necessary elements.

Next week, I’m going to talk about the book synopsis and teasers.

Until next time, this is author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

What’s your groove?

Often times when I sit down to write, I need a bit of inspiration. So, music is where I go to boost the current mood of the scene. Once I get into my groove, there’s no stopping me. What exactly do I mean by groove?

First, let’s turn to Webster’s. This definition tells us it’s a long narrow channel or depression. However, the second definition listed is defined as a fixed routine while the third one is a situation suited to one’s abilities or interests.

Okay, that’s very interesting, but what does all this have to do with writing? The answer is found in several ways. First, music a few decades ago turned flat vinal disks at a certain speed where a needle road in a groove on the vinal disk that was then amplified into sound. The grooves in the vinal record held the code to the music. Back in the sixties and seventies, the term ‘groovy baby’ actually was referring to these grooves on vinal records. If something was groovy, it meant they liked it, as in the grooves on the record that played their favorite songs. Actually, the term groovy first started showing up in the twenties. The word originated in the jazz culture which is referred to the ‘groove’ of a piece of music that was key to the music’s rhythm and feel.

Nowadays, music is mostly digital. However, recently, vinal records are beginning to make a comeback. New high-tech players with re-engineered speaker systems really make the music sound astounding.

I’ve said all this to paint a picture of what I do to get into my groove when I sit down to write a particular scene. I put on my headphones and choose an appropriate piece of music that will enhance my feeling. There are many types of music that you can play that get me going and it depends entirely on my mood of the day and the type of scene I’m writing. If it’s a high-velocity action scene, I choose something like Rush’s ‘Vapor Trails.’ The first song, ‘One Little Victory’ starts off quick and intense which gets me pumped for the action. If I’m writing something in a fantasy land where the characters are questing and adventuring, I’ll put on some Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here album. It’s much slower and euphoric-feeling and perfect for those types of scenes.

Led Zeppelin is another of my favorites. I can play ‘The Rain Song’ on the Houses of the Holy album for a dark and gloomy scene or pump it up with ‘A Whole Lotta Love’ off Led Zeppelin II.

Space battles can be difficult to write, so you have to be in the right frame of mind. At least that’s how it is for me. Oftentimes, I turn to a soundtrack mix from Battle Star Galactica from the rebooted series. There’s a ton of music from this soundtrack that fits many different moods in my books.

Some say that listening to classical music boosts creativity. According to entrepreneur.com, “Researchers have long claimed that listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently. This theory, which has been dubbed “the Mozart Effect,” suggests that listening to classical composers can enhance brain activity and act as a catalyst for improving health and well-being.”

So having some Bach or Mozart in your music collection is a benefit for sure. I currently don’t have any classical music other than some of the movie and TV show music scores, but I definitely can attest to improved creative juices when I’m listening to some of that music, which often times, is classical in nature.

Some days start out hard for me, but all I have to do is plunk my headphones on and play some music. Doesn’t matter what I start out with, but the music improves my attitude and outlook in just a few bars. I can get into my writing groove fairly quickly and before you know it, I’ve knocked out a chapter and listened to one or two whole albums.

So, no matter what music you like, treat yourself to those grooves to get into your groove. Trust me, this does work wonders. Add some music to enhance your mood. Find a mix that works best for you. Whether It’s fast-paced and intense music for high-octane scenes or mystical works for fantasy and emotional scenes, you’re the boss.

I’d love to hear from you on what your groove is.

Until next time, this is Author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

How To Deal With One-Star Reviews – Be a Duck…

It happens. It’s a fact of this business. You may not get a one-star review for some time, but it can happen. Your book is selling and it’s getting a few four and five stars and then the unthinkable happens. That glaring one-star review appear one morning. It shows up like a sore thumb. It bums you out and you feel defeated. It hurts seeing that lowly one-star, staring back at you from the screen.

Your mind goes into overtime, thinking everyone hates my book! How could I write such a horrible book? I’m a terrible writer! I guess I should just quit since nobody likes it anyway. Maybe I should just unpublish the book and toss it in the trashcan.

The feelings are real. The pain is real. Someone just crapped all over your precious work. A book that took you months to write and edit finally gets published. You treated it like your own child. You feel like your child has been murdered or a knife stabbed into your back. That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach, you think, ‘How could they possibly hate it that badly to click just one star?’

You need to do what I do. Become a duck. What exactly do I mean?  Ducks have this ability to keep dry, even in the water. When a duck dunks its head under and comes back to the surface, the water flows off their backs.

That one-star review is like water on the duck’s back. Let it do no harm to you or your attitude. Let’s face facts: you aren’t going to please everyone all the time. There will be those among us that have nothing better to do than troll us on Amazon. Some people are jealous of what you are able to do. It takes a special type of person to write. It takes long hours of isolated laborious work. We nurture our work, but not everyone is going to like it.

Unfortunately, in today’s society, the ones that really love your work, don’t take the time to give you a high rating. It seems only a handful of readers review anymore and now that Amazon has made it easier to just click a star rating, you don’t even have to write a review of a book. If only more readers would provide feedback. Sure, those four and five-star ratings are awesome to see, but a written review provides valuable insights; a gauge into what the reader thinks of your work. Use this as a learning opportunity.

I get those one-star reviews. Even the biggest authors like Stephen King get bad reviews. They don’t let bad reviews stop them. Neither should you.

There isn’t anything you can do to prevent those ratings unless they are attacking you personally. However, if you get a one-star with a written review, read what the reviewer is saying. It can give you clues as to why they didn’t like it. Perhaps, it was just not their cup of tea. Or they might give you some constructive critique on grammar. There are grammar police on the internet who would like nothing better than to cut you down by telling you there are grammar issues or you used the wrong word someplace.

Take those to heart and investigate what information is being revealed by your reader. I oftentimes find what they are saying to be true. I go back and fix those issues. Then, I respond to them thanking them for their honest review and that those issues have been addressed. 

If the reader just didn’t care for the story, there isn’t anything you can do to stop that from happening. But if you have someone telling you they didn’t like it, I respond to them, thanking them, again, for their honest review. I apologize that they didn’t care for it and politely ask what exactly they didn’t like? This is valuable interaction with your reader base.

I am being totally honest about that last statement. There have been a few times that the reviewer goes in and changes that star rating. I’ve seen a one-star change to three. I’ve seen a two-star review move to four. I’ve even had one reader totally change their opinion saying it was a great story but still needed some editing. I took what was being provided to me and made the book better by fixing those small issues.

To wrap up, just know most people will like your work. Those who really loved it will leave high marks. There are some people that troll the internet. They are out there to bully you. They’re out there to make fun of you and fill your mind with negative energy. Keep in mind that if you do get an unfavorable written review, there isn’t anything you can do about it. unless the review is attacking you personally. I’ve had that happen a time or two and Amazon will remove hurtful and attacking remarks. That reviewer will receive a warning, reminding them of the review policy. If they continue to leave hurtful remarks to anyone, they are banded for future reviews.

Until next time, this is Author Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

Sneak peek into Realm of Revein’sev (Book 6 in Warlords)

Many ask how my writing process is going. I want to share a sample from my current work. This is from book 6 in the Warlords series titled Return to Revein’sev. In this sequence, Major Race Jennings meets with Gor’con in the spirit realm called Revein’sev. Ruki Grey’con, the Empress of Antares accompanies Race along with the little squirrel-like creature named, Chipper. After consuming Antarian blood in the last book, Realm of Revein’sev, he is now changing into an Antarian, who actually are Sasquatch from Earth. Race is delivering Gor’con’s staff, after his death, and meets him at the Mountains of Ramari.

Race watched as the spirit being, Gor’con, held the glowing staff. Shimmering in the light, Gor’con’s body solidified. Ruki’s eye’s widened and her brow rose at the sight.

Gor’con opened his eyes after taking in the feeling of his new body, then, shot Race a piercing glare and shouted, “Let your training begin!”

Swinging the glowing staff, Gor’con aimed his strike at Race, who instinctively deflected this first blow. Chipper leaped from Race’s shoulder, hit the ground, and rolled three times.

The staff swung up and around Gor’con’s head before flying down towards the top of Race’s head. Crossing his arms over his head, he successfully defected the second blow.

“RACE!” Ruki shouted as she attempted to step in front of Gor’con.

Chipper stood back near the looking-glass exit and watched as Race defended every blow.

Whisps of fog swirled around Ruki. As the mist wrapped around the glowing staff, another Antarian took form. Then, the staff continued to move through the air as Gor’con spun around. Extending the staff out, he aimed at Race’s ribs, but he moved swiftly and blocked the incoming strike with a sidekick with his foot. 

The forming Antarian wrapped around Ruki, taking her to the ground in a tackle. Then, the Antarian changed back to the whisps of white fog and swirled around in the air, close by.

Chipper chattered her approval at Race’s performance as Gor’con continued swing after swing, and Race glanced each hit away. Then all at once, Gor’con stopped swinging and planted the base of his staff on the ground before him. Chipper ceased chattering as Race paused in a defensive stance. Then Ruki joined Race, holding position at his backside.

“Well done, Race,” Gor’con praised through a wide smile.

“What the heck was that all about?!” Race protested, refusing to lower his guard.

“You came to deliver my staff and to seek my help, did you not?”

“Yeah, I kinda did—but why the attack?”

Chipper added her protest by scolding Gor’con with her small voice and twitching tail.

“And who was with you to prevent my interference?” Ruki asked.

The wisps of misting fog flowed back to the glowing staff and wrapped around it above Gor’con’s hands. The mystery Antarian began to take shape. First, the hands formed. The large fingers and hair-covered knuckles solidified. Then, the arms appeared, and then the body. Finally, the misting fog changed to large hairy muscular legs and the torso grew up to the neck before the Antarian’s head revealed who he was.

“Ma’Ruuk!” exclaimed the two.

Chipper jumped up and down, clapping her front paws together.

“Why did you do this?” Ruki exclaimed.

“The help Race sought is training. We are in the mountains of Ramari. The place of training, it is,” Ma’Ruuk answered. “It is where I trained Danielle and it is where Gor’con will train you, for what lies ahead.”

“What lies ahead, anyway?”

“Still an inquisitive human,” Gor’con laughed. “You must put aside those human traits and do this, more as Antarian!”

Ma’Ruuk removed his hand from the glowing staff and changed back into the wisps of fog, leaving Gor’con swinging his staff at Race once more.

Chipper chattered at Race as a warning of the attack.

Race, remaining on the defensive, kicked with his foot, deflecting the staff. Then, jumping to the side, he dove at the ground and rolled away from the next striking blow.

“I’ll give you more Antarian, alright!” Race shouted with rage, then leaped at Gor’con’s feet, missing his next attack. Connecting with his feet, Race knocked Gor’con off balance and to the ground. Grabbing the staff, Race pulled it from Gor’con, causing him to vanish along with Ma’Ruuk. The wisps flowed and swirled all around them as Race continued to hold the staff.   

 “Ha! Is that Antarian enough?” boasted Race. “Yeah, huh-huh. Is that all ya’ got, big guy?” Race paced back and forth, reading Gor’con and being ready for any move.

“That’s enough, my Race,” Ruki advised. “You got him on this round.”

“Whattya mean this round?”

One wisp of fog flew up to the staff and swirled around Race’s hand. Steam issued from under his grip. Letting out a yelp, Race let go of the staff, “Hey, OW! What the hell?!”

Chipper again chattered her protests as Ruki said, “The vapor burned your hand, Race! Are you okay?”

“No, I’m not okay, that really hurts!”

The staff rose from the ground with Gor’con’s apparition forming once again.

This caused Race to forget about his burning hand and leaped at the staff. His grip pulled the staff with Gor’con’s form solidifying. The two struggled for the staff’s ownership.

“I’m beginning to understand what’s happening, my Race,” Ruki shouted, “This staff is allowing them to manifest as corporeal beings, once more.”

Gor’con held the staff with one hand and held a palm up with his other,” You did very well, Race,” he praised, “You have come a very long way. You are nearly ready.”

Chipper squeaked her approval and jumped vigorously, again. Her face seemingly smiling all the while.

Another set of hands swirled around the staff, forming Ma’Ruuk. His eyes looked deep into Race. Race relaxed his stance and listened to what this ancient Antarian had to say.

Then, Ma’Ruuk began, “This training is, indeed, very necessary. The thing that you must do, is nearly before you.”

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek. 

Until next time, this is Author, Brian K. Larson, sparking imaginations, one book at a time.

How did I write over 30 books in 10 years?

I’ll be sleeping and all of a sudden, my eyes pop open and I begin to see the book. It happens not only at night as well at any time of the day. Whether you believe in a deity, higher power, or cosmic forces, that’s how it works for me. The characters, their unique features, and how they interact with each other. The entire plot is laid out. I know how it starts, everything in-between, and how it ends. It’s like a movie playing inside my head. It’s like I’m tapping into a higher power or the akashic record, which is defined as a compendium of pictorial records, or “memories,” of all events, actions, thoughts, and feelings that have occurred since the beginning of time (Britannica. com). It’s like I’ve already written them. Whatever your belief system may or may not be, it’s my gift.

Growing up, I loved reading. As I noted in a previous blog post, I was named ‘Bookworm’ in high school because I always had my nose in a book. I loved reading. I actually majored in Library Science. I would read books like Arthur C. Clark’s ‘The City Under the Stars’ and ‘2001 a Space Odyssey’, books by Ray Bradbury; ‘The Martian Chronicles’ and ‘Fahrenheit 451.’ Among my favorites was Robert A. Heinlein; ‘Have Space Suit Will Travel’ and ‘Citizen of the Galaxy.’ So, it was only natural that I wanted to write science fiction and fantasy. In 2012, I decided it was time to finally do it; I began writing my first book, ‘Secret of the Crystal.’ It took me fifteen months to write it, but once I started, I caught the writing bug. After two years, I had my first five books written.

One example of these stories came to me back in 2014. I was recently laid off. That was a godsend as I was managing over a hundred direct reports. The stress was so great that it was slowly killing me. All that stress left me on the fourth of that month. It was like a ton of bricks fell from my shoulders. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and worry, I turned it around and told my boss, “Well, that just means I’m now a full-time author.”

I was putting the finishing touches on my fifth book when the final piece of the puzzle came to me. The book would be titled; ‘Salvage-5′ and the main character was a no-nonsense, whiskey-drinking, cigar smoking hero named, Colonel Tucker Petersen. The mission was to discover what happened to the CSMO (Complete Self-contained Mining Operation) at asteroid 15-Enomia (which is a real asteroid, by the way,) But what they find will change their lives forever. That was the premise of the book. I saw what the crew had to go through and what the aliens they encountered were like, all the way to how it ended by returning to Earth.

Salvage-5 was written in one month. Then, another came to me which sparked an entire spinoff series titled, ‘AMP – Amplified Mental Projection; Phase 1: The Gamma Project. Doctor Rhodes, one of the Salvage-5 crew, joins the Gamma Project Team and develops technology that was brought back from the Salvage-5 crew. Everything seems harmless at first. Then things begin to change, as it appears that there is something behind the technology—something sinister that the Gamma Project team must discover.

These two book ideas that came to me now span thirteen books across three different spin-off series, with two more books planned.

When the book comes to me, I begin taking notes and writing all the details down. Every writer should have the ability to take down some notes when ideas hit you. If you get an idea, small though it may be, you better write it down,  as memories can be short-lived. But it is different when I tap into that cosmic energy and I’m given a book. I don’t forget it. It’s always right there. However, some of the cool details or things I put my characters through, I may not. It’s all part of that creative phase. I know, I just said I get the entire book, but when you’re writing, it forms into its own beast that needs to be tamed and leached. It’s more like the idea is there, but I still have to put it down in words.

At one point, I was putting out five books a year. The ideas keep flowing. Today, I’ve written and published thirty-one books, including a cookbook. I’m working on number thirty-two, which is book 6 in my Warlords series. I also have outlines for books 5 & 6 in my TIME series, outlines for book 2 & 3 which follows in one of the ‘Salvage-5: Awakenings’ spin-offs that will be titled, ‘Revelations’ and ‘Discoveries’. Yet another book that came to me a few weeks ago will be titled, ‘Recon’ where Aliens from a distant world are fighting a war. Using Human hosts, they collect intel in search of their enemies that are living among us. When that host is killed or dies, they wake up back on their home world where they’re again dispatched back to a new host using their recon tech. The ideas never stop flowing.

Be it a gift, or tapping the Akashic record that’s already been written, I continue to get ideas. I do know one thing; it’s my gift to you that supports my catchphrase, that I’m sparking imaginations, one book at a time. My passion for writing along with the support of my wife, Diana, as well as the reemergence of the great podcast and writing site EatSleepWrite.org I keep on writing and loving it.

Until next time, this is Author Brian K. Larson, Sparking Imaginations, One book at a time.