Sunday, August 26, 2012

First mockup for 'The Nightlife Las Vegas"

Joshua Allen has done a very sharp mockup of a concept for "The Nightlife: Las Vegas" cover--the second in the Nightlife series.  Its a work in progress, but you can see it coming along nicely.  I'll continue to post each subsequent version until we get to the finished product.

Joshua Allen is a professional book illustrator and comic artist:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Looking for Paranormal Romance Beta readers

I need beta readers-critiques for my paranormal-romance-urban-fantasy-erotic novel series 'The Nightlife".  The series spans the globe, starting with New York, where the two main characters begin, and moves on to Las Vegas, Paris, London, and Moscow.  There are definitely plans for Hong Kong or Shanghai in the works as well.

Story elements:  Vampires, strippers, escorts, domestic gangs, Columbian cartels, corrupt cops, pimps, all the classical elements of a shady metropolitan nightlife blended with two vampires (the main two characters).  There are underlying themes of romance throughout, but its not exactly romance--more urban fantasy horror.  No significant world building until very late in the series.  Their world is exactly the same as ours, but seen through the lenses of vampires living in the gritty nightlife of these various metropolitan cities.  Very intense action scenes, graphic violence, very heavy erotica, and a flashback in time to WWII (book 3 Paris) and the murders of the Czar Nicolas II and family in Russia (book 5 Moscow).

In addition to this series I have two stand alone YA paranormal novels that have elements of vampires and violence.

And did I mention the near-future sci-fi novel I'm working on?

Looking for critiques, beta readers, and I'm willing to exchange a beta-read critique in order to get one (as time allows for it)

Feel free to email me at or twitter @TWLuedke.

My website:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Nightlife: New York is on $.99!

Its done, 'The Nightlife: New York' is published on Amazon and

Here's the blurb:

Vampires, strippers, escorts, night clubs, gangbangers, pimps and corrupt cops, the Nightlife of New York is never boring.

Is she a beautiful blond guardian angel as he imagined, or something else entirely?  When Michelle saves Aaron's life she shares the benefits of her blood (after getting him shot accidentally).  He awakes a changed man, living in a purgatory of eternal night, never to see the sunrise again.

Michelle drags Aaron through a hardcore learning curve of vampiric nightlife.  Forced to adapt to servitude, Aaron is subject to her authority and compulsion.  She orders him around like a puppet on a string, a dog on a very short leash.  First things first, he must learn to feed properly without creating bloodslaves (humans addicted to the powerful drug-like effect of their venomous bite).

And then she puts him to work--a male escort in the sex trade--same as Michelle--she's no angel.  Aaron walks a tightrope of strictly controlled feeding regiments and intensely erotic sexual adventures while catering to the neurotic control-freak tendencies of his new master.  It's do or die, Michelle vows to eliminate him if he proves too dangerous or difficult to control.  The real kicker--amidst all these shocking and degrading new adjustments, Aaron finds he's falling in love.

Can he manage all this and retain some scrap of his humanity?  Innocence is a luxury few can afford in the decadent nightlife of New York City.  In a world where sex, blood, and power over women is so readily accessible, Aaron struggles against the predatory instincts deeply rooted in his new psyche.  He must find his way quickly, maintaining rigid self-control, or risk the consequences of Michelle's wrath.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Aspire to become the victim of piracy

I have been told many times over that the ebook industry, much like the music industry, is fraught with Piracy!  How will I ever make any money from my novels with all these pirates on the digital seas, stealing and whatnot!?

And why would pirates be interested in my novel?  Should I really be worried about piracy?

Pirates only highjack novels that are marketable, novels that sell.  Why waste time and effort pirating unsaleable trash novels in the seedy digital black market?  Pirates only steal what's worth stealing.

Whats the real issue I face as an Indie author trying to spread the word about my novels?

Obscurity is my enemy, not piracy.

To be pirated is a complement, I have succeeded in catching the pirate's attention.  He wouldn't steal my ebook if it wasn't valuable.  At least he knows I exist.

Perhaps he even read my novel ... that would make me happy :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Self Editing with the Pro Writing Aid (free software)

I was hunting around google for editors I can't afford to hire and editing software I can't afford to purchase when I found this wonderful little gem of web-based text editing analysis FREE!

I thought to myself, why would this be floating around free in cyberspace?

I still have no answer to that question.  But I haven't tried to figure it out too hard because I've been too busy editing my manuscripts with this awesome text analysis.

It finds all the sticky sentences, all the repetitive word use errors, all the instances of was, had, could, should, would, and that....that need to be reconsidered or removed from your manuscript.

It does not edit for you, but it is teaching me to look at my own material like an editor. 

Does that mean I can get away with using this and not hiring an editor at all?  Probably not.  Will I try it anyway...probably.  I have a tendency to learn things the hard way.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Roller coaster writing inspiration

My two daughters and I were on the Goliath at Six Flags, a ride where the track is above you and virtually impossible to see most of the time.  We were only three riding in a row that holds four, so a single rider joined us at the end of the row.  He was an older guy, in his late forties, a hefty paunch.  He couldn't get the safety belt to latch on his overhead harness, so the ride attendant shoved down hard and crammed the belt in.  It seemed to latch, and so the ride began its ascent to the apex.

As you might have guessed, the guy's belt was not properly latched in place.  As we rode slowly, inexorably up to the point of being dropped down into the initial swoop-loop of the ride, the guy started screaming and freaking out because his belt wasn't latched.  My daughter kept trying to talk to him, telling him it was okay, the harness was locked in place, the belt was just a safety precaution, but she couldn't break through his panic.

Fear of death and that most magical of substances called adrenaline gives people reserves of strength that they never thought possible.  After trying several times and screaming at the top of his lungs "Stop! Stop the ride!", The guy was able to pull down hard enough on his overhead harness to click the safety belt in place.  He got it latched right at the point that the ride began its 80 mile-an-hour descent into face-smashing quadruple g-force thrills.

I spent the entire ride watching this man in macabre fascination, wondering if his safety belt would come loose, wondering if he would be flung from the ride to his death like a teenager in one of those "Final Destination" films.  I didn't want it to happen, but I was unable to look away for the anticipation of it.  It was like watching Jerry Springer, you really don't wanna see it, but once its there on TV, your eye is drawn in with an irresistible magnetic pull (well...thats how it is for me anyway...I can't speak for everyone else).

I vow to myself here and now that I will find a way to work this into a scene in one of my novels, because life truly is stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Six Flags roller coaster hoe-down

We regularly do a marathon run at Six Flags San Antonio, riding every roller coaster as many times as possible in one day.  Its kindofa theme-park cardio workout, racing to each ride in succession, trying to beat the lines of tourists/riders, trying to get in on the front of the ride.

To ride a roller coaster at the very front is a wholly different animal than just coasting along somewhere in the middle or at the end.  Its like there's nothing but you and the track (if you can see it), and the wind in your face as you accelerate through the air to speeds of 80+ miles per hour, G-force slamming you in all different directions.  Its damn near a religious experience.

The funny thing is, I never enjoyed roller coasters as a kid, but now I love them.  Does that mean I'm aging in reverse?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Adventures in ebook cover artistry

I am not an artist.

But I had aspirations as a teenager:  dragons, medieval fantasy stuff, creepy guys with fangs, 80's rocker dudes with battle axes and swords ... Nothing I would ever consider putting on the cover of my self-published ebooks.

Needless to say, I have decided to hire cover artists.  And just how does one go about hiring cover artists?  I began my journey down this road without a clue.

As most business begins in this day and age, I started with Google.  Anything I want to know I just Google it, don't we all?  The trick is asking the right question, its like a backwards game of Jeopardy.

In my searches for cover art/artists, I came across many resources, a few of which I will name here.  Mark Coker of, the largest Indie ebook publishing outfit on the web outside of Amazon, has a list of cover artists he will promptly email upon request. I looked at that list, and I checked out various websites of the cover artists showcasing portfolios of their work.

I don't want to bash too hard on other people's cover art, but I was not very impressed with about 90% of it.  I've been browsing through book covers for several months now, and there are literally about one in a hundred book covers that I thought looked professional or even decent.  I guess its all in the eye of the beholder.  My eye for cover art is jaded.

Later in my searches I found a great source for award winning cover art:
Those are some very good covers, and it stands to reason those artists would produce quality products for me as well .... but at what price?

The one place I found immediately when I searched for freelance artists or artists-for-hire is  Its the best resource for freelance artists I've ever seen.  In minutes I was able to post my Job at the price I was willing to pay, and real live artists began applying for the Job. It is sooo EFFIN awesome to have a whole swarm of artists willing to do the job you want at the price you name.  And there are some extremely talented artists on freelanced.

Like many things in life, I think it follows the 80/20 rule.  About 80% of the artists are mediocre and then there's the 20% that are fantastic.   Some of these artists will do a quick mockup of your concept.  You can have a free demonstration of how your cover ideas come to life with an artist's particular flare.  That is soooo cool.  Its polar ice cap -120° F cool.  Its cooler than a witches tit in a brass bra.

Of course, not all the artists want to give their valuable time for a free mockup.  Some of the very best artists, the ones who have gallery quality art, are the ones who'll tell you their portfolio speaks for itself (and it does).  So either you take a chance on a high quality artist without a mockup, or you work with a good-to-high quality artist who's not above spending a little time convincing you they're the one for the job.

I chose the latter every time.  There's just something about getting a good looking mockup of your desired cover that sinks home the sale.  The guys I hired didn't necessarily have the best portfolio, but they put forward their best efforts to prove they were good enough for my needs.  They also happened to be in the business of doing cover art, they know what's expected.

I have found many cover artists I would like to hire, but so far I could only afford the two:

Diogo Lando from portugal,

Joshua Allen from the good ole USA,

You can see the process as it evolved proof by proof with each cover.  There are numerous samples of cover art proofs and mockups done by artists in my site

The question that should be prominent in your mind by now is how much did I pay for my covers?

Not a penny more than what I posted on freelanced:  $75.00 each ($150 total for the two).  These artists did multiple proofs and changes I asked for.  They both finished the job within two weeks from the date I hired them.

Maybe you think my covers aren't all that.  So what.  I think they look better than 90% of what's out there in the self-publishing arena. If you think my covers look pretty good, then follow these tidbits of advice I have gleaned through experience:

1.  Give the artist some room to work-in their particular flair or style, I tend to like artists with styles that are slightly abstract, it shows me they have a unique way of looking at the world.
2.  Give detailed, clear and concise descriptions of what you have in mind.  The clearer you can paint a picture for the artist, the better they will be able to produce what you want.  Provide any examples you can find from imagery on the web to give the artist something to go on (Google images or stock photos or whatever).
3.  Work only with artists who communicate quickly and effectively,  if it takes them 4-5 days to respond to an email then they don't want your business that badly.
4.  Make sure you're getting the right dimensions for your final product.  Get educated on what cover art pixel requirements are for the various ebook vendors:

I wish you all the best of luck with your cover art.  Don't settle for good enough, go for the best.  If you take a little time and shop around you can find it at a reasonable price.