A solicitation for a First Chapter writing contest caused me to restart work on a Ghosts of Ancient Vidura follow-on — now at eight chapters, too sketchy to submit to a competition much less post any of it on my website, although that’s what I’m about to do.

Why? Because feedback is valuable, and one never knows where it’ll lead. As to the contest in question, even if the manuscript was ready-for-reading, terms of service didn’t stipulate sharing of judges’ notes with authors. Feedback is unlikely. I’ll save my twenty dollars for a better offer, but thanks for making me start writing again.

Meanwhile, I was curious enough to read the submissions of prior contest winners and runners-up, a reminder not to care a whole lot about what publishing gatekeepers are looking for in works of fiction. Thematically, not what I’m doing. In terms of voice, the experience left me uncertain about my approach.

I don’t wax lyrical in early chapters. I could. I know how to do it, but I don’t. In my view, and that of many authors, opening lines are best dedicated to arrival at the inciting event. Tell the reader what the grass smells like after you’ve dragged him into the story.

Here's my sketchy first chapter, first draft. The book is yet untitled. What do you think? Should this passage be more evocative? Tell me in the comments.
Continue reading “Contested”

Sci-Fi for those who don’t read Sci-Fi

The eBook edition of my latest novel is free today and tomorrow, February 9 &10 — an opportunity to try something completely different, whether or not you’re a follower of the genre.

Ghosts of Ancient Vidura is literary science fiction — action, adventure, and family drama against an SF landscape, with an underlying theme about what it takes to create a successful life. About the series, readers have said, “There’s nothing like it” and “Something for everybody”.

Helpful hint — If you’re not a fan of SF, the book really shifts gears in Part Two. But don’t skip. You’ll miss something important.

Elevator pitch — The year is 2025, and the aliens have arrived. Officially, not counting twenty-five-thousand years of under-the-table commerce, a secret that can no longer be kept.


On February 2, following the launch of my novel Ghosts of Ancient Vidura, I wallpapered social media and then waited for those signs of acceptance one gets when generating his own publicity.

I sold an eBook the first day, and picked up a customer on Kindle Unlimited the next.

It’s impossible to know from KENP how many readers are engaged. Amazon lists the book at 381 pages, an average based on Kindle’s various presentation formats. I see 401 pages read since yesterday. I’m not famous. Let’s agree it’s one person who read the book in two days. The KU subscription motivates readers to give up on books they don’t enjoy, so I’ll take this one as an endorsement.

And then I received a lovely message from a lady who spotted my announcement on Retalk. She’s now reading Elbert, the first book in the AjJivadi trilogy. She said, “You have an engaging style. The book is intelligent and nuanced while still being easy/fun to read.”

So, that makes three new readers and fan mail in the first week. Woohoo!

The Lonely Scribe

I’ve been brooding over how solitary my journey as a writer has been — and wondering if, among time-consuming activities, I might should have picked something more social to pursue in my later years.

Quite some time ago, I received an invitation to play bass in a praise band. The commitment required learning six songs a week. It’s a job. I retired from a job. I hadn’t planned to get another one.

Civic theater comes to mind, but it’s the same proposition, and the gentleman who volunteers at the museum is clearly bored out of his mind.

Dance classes. I like dancing. I used to disco like crazy, but I’d need to lose thirty-five pounds before signing up. What else is there; pickleball? Either way, let’s factor in the time it takes to recover from knee surgery.

Continue reading “The Lonely Scribe”


There’s a new publishing imprint on the horizon, and although I’ve given up on being recognized by industry gatekeepers, my pitch needed some work. So, I submitted Ghosts of Ancient Vidura with a cover letter, which I’ve been editing ever since.

Yes, it’s too late to make a good impression in that venue, but someday I’ll figure out how to explain what I’m up to. This morning I wrote —

The Anye Universe novels are a nine-book series organized as three trilogies, relating events leading to an interstellar migration, and a twenty-five-thousand-year secret history of alien influence on Earth, revealed in modern times.

The books are literary science fiction, stories for grown-ups — action, adventure, and family drama against an SF landscape, with an underlying theme about what it takes to become a whole person and build a successful life. I’m reaching for ambitious, intelligent, epic. I’ve not forgotten it’s supposed to be entertaining.

Four installments have been published on Amazon KDP — numbers one through three and number sevenGhosts of Ancient Vidura is number eight, currently scheduled for release February 1, 2023. Four more books are under development, at about 200,000 words.

You may have noticed that I published the series out of sequence. If so, good marks for comprehension — and by the way, you’re just the type I’m looking for. These books are not for lazy readers. You’ll find my tent pitched here.

Who knows, I might get a reading out of it, perhaps a few constructive comments. We'll see.

Covered — John Dyer Writes

I suppose, now that I have a final-ish cover design for Ghosts of Ancient Vidura, the book is now officially in beta. In celebration of the event, I ordered proof copies from Amazon. On Sunday, I’ll find out what the print shop makes of it. Thereafter begins the arduous task of arranging pre-publication reviews.

I’m jealous of sword and sorcery authors. First readers line up like they’re getting a free iPhone. My wife says the material demands reading comprehension skills, but I don’t think that’s the issue. She’s a smart lady, and rarely gets past the first thirty pages.

Continue reading “Covered — John Dyer Writes”

Free Book Promotion

My fifth novel, Elbert: AjJivadi – Book 1, launched on October 3.

A customer said, “Definitely a great storyline, you won’t be disappointed. Easily lost track of time when reading.”

On Kindle Unlimited, someone read Elbert and all three previous books in the series, non-stop, in seven days. I’m going to say the book isn’t terrible.

I’m running a one-day free book promotion, starting tomorrow, October 21.

The object of this exercise is to garner verified customer reviews.

Please read a few pages. If it’s not for you, give up, no apologies. If you enjoy it, and I think you will, please leave a review! Free, October 21. Click the 'Buy on Amazon' box, under the cover art or tell your phone to remind you tomorrow. Thanks!

BookTokked — John Dyer Writes

In a few days, after I receive my Logitech Litra Glow Premium LED Streaming Light, I’ll recite the script for my latest video. Those who’ve been following my essays know what this is about — I’m trying to hook an audience for my novels. Come now BookTok, BookTube, and Bookstagram. I sure hope it’s worth the trouble.

And who knows but there might be a more productive outcome if people start sharing these posts. Just mentioning it, in case there’s a button under your finger that could make that happen, and thank you.

Here’s the script. Feedback invited.

Continue reading “BookTokked — John Dyer Writes”

Story Branded — John Dyer Writes

If one is to succeed as an author he must say words that will inspire readers to buy books. If this can be accomplished in one or two sentences, the author will have discovered his story brand.

So, I’ve been pestering everyone who’s read my work to wax eloquent, such that keywords might be extracted. To my surprise, a fellow author said my novel Elbert is sentimental.

I tend to agree. The storyline, set in the late 1920s, is nostalgia-inducing by default. That said, it didn’t feel like an idea I could use to describe the entire catalog.

A review of synonyms ensued. I dithered over ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘homely’. I wrote a ream of ad copy. Nothing clicked. I kept coming back to ‘sentimental’, a longing for the good old days, when everything was better, or at least seemed like it.

Even though most of my books are Science Fiction, I have to admit the word ‘sentimental’ covers a lot of ground. I’ll hold onto it for a while. In other news …

Continue reading “Story Branded — John Dyer Writes”

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