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Dustfall selected as Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Awards 2021 Finalist

2021 FAPA Finalist!

What an excellent way to start an otherwise hot and possibly dull Saturday! I just received notice that Dustfall was selected as a finalist for this year in Adult Science Fiction. It remains to be seen which place it will take. But reaching the finals is an accomplishment by itself, given the quality of the competition.

My other two FAPA award winners are Cyberwitch in 2018 and Pirates of the Asteroids in 2020. Both stories are ones that I’m pleased with, and both incorporate unique ideas into their plot. Cyberwitch takes a severely damaged woman through an astounding transformation via AI-enhanced nanobots, and introduces genetic chimeras and AI-bio-mech creatures, leading to a world where technology is indistinguishable from pure magic. Pirates is the story of a somewhat exceptional physics student who arrives in the asteroid belt just in time for a new war for independence. He finds himself suddenly thrust into a leading role with all the benefits and problems anyone could want or hope to avoid.

Dustfall takes a single premise: The Earth has passed into an interstellar dust cloud that drops mRNA-like particles on the surface. Much of Earth’s life has died or mutated into deadly monsters as a result. What can a young man, focused solely on survival and avoiding being eaten, do, but fall in love with the first ‘normal’ girl he has met in years? He wants her enough to risk the unknown. She isn’t immediately sure but makes up her mind when they meet for a second time. Then the mutants show up, and they want both of them. Now, it’s run, fight, or die!

If you read one of my books, please take a moment to provide a review. Marketing is always tricky, and reviews help a lot. Amazon makes it easy, but you could drop me an email at this site if you read it elsewhere.

Thanks greatly!


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The Earth has moved into the path of an interstellar dust cloud. Particles containing biologically active molecules similar to mRNA have covered the world.
Many humans have died from the dust’s effects. Others have mutated into animal-like creatures that hunger for flesh. A very few seem to be immune to the genetic changes.
Society had changed before the dust cloud’s arrival, creating a new elite class. After the dust began to fall, superficial differences between unchanged humans have little meaning.
What happens when a lower-caste boy meets a high-caste girl in the middle of a dustfall, and there is an immediate attraction between them?
Will they survive? Even prosper? Or, will they find that they too have been changed by the dust?
The alien mRNA frees the hidden monsters in Earth’s life. Many are dangerous, but the deadliest creature remains to be determined.

Newly Released! Now available on Kindle.

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New Cover Reveal

I’ve just sent a manuscript to my editor and it should be ready for release next month.

Here’s the cover reveal and story description. I warn you that it’s not for the faint of heart. The story has monsters, sex, violence, monster kiling, more sex, more monster killing, and a final twist that will leave the reader wondering what might happen next.


The Earth has moved into the path of an interstellar dust cloud. Particles containing biologically active molecules similar to mRNA have covered the world. Many humans have died from the dust’s effects. Others have mutated into animal-like creatures that hunger for flesh. A very few seem to be immune to the genetic changes.

Society had changed before the dust cloud’s arrival, creating a new elite class. After the dust began to fall, superficial differences between unchanged humans have little meaning. What happens when a lower-caste boy meets a high-caste girl in the middle of a dustfall, and there is an immediate attraction between them? Will they survive? Even prosper? Or, will they find that they too have been changed by the dust?

The alien mRNA frees the hidden monsters in Earth’s life. The deadliest creature remains to be determined.

Watch for the release — coming soon!



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New Time Equation Novel Just Released

I’ve been pretty busy with the writing thingy lately, but now I’m well into my next apocalyptic story Dustfall. It can be described as Boy meets Girl after most humans are mutated by an interstellar dust cloud that contains mRNA. It’s still evolving, so that’s all I’ll say.

After a slow period (writing doesn’t always flow easily), I finished the 4th Time Equation Novel continuing the story of Kathleen and Cadeyrin. Here’s the list of that series’ stories in sequence with their Amazon ASINs. You can find them all on Kindle with the ASINs, so I’m not providing links here.

B01BW17FM6 Heart of Fire Time of Ice (A Time Equation Novel Book 1)

B01IDRYB9W Paradox: On the Sharp Edge of the Blade – A Time Equation Novel Book 2)

B0718YMV3Z All the Moments in Forever (A Time Equation Novel Book 3)

B08FRT9BCT Time Enough to Live (A Time Equation Novel Book 4)

Time Enough to Live brings back the entire list of characters who now face a new problem. Here’s the description:

Kathleen’s quantum physics research allowed her to develop a mathematical formula that gave her control of time-travel. Her Paleolithic hunter husband was given a primitive herbal formula by an old Sasquatch. After eating some of the red paste, he discovers a sudden feeling of wellbeing, more energy, and his numerous scars have been replaced with new, smooth skin.
Kathleen’s friends realize that the paste contains the secret of a greatly extended healthy lifespan, if not actual immortality. She takes Professor James Wolf back to the future for a physical and finds that the 90-year-old man now has the physique of a 50-year-old.
That information quickly leaks out setting up one of Kathleen’s greatest challenges to-date as a shadowy group along with elements of her own government do everything they can to possess the secret of long life.
They will stop at nothing in their quest, but Kathleen and Cadeyrin are creative in countering most of the threats. The question is, will they be able to withstand the full might of the forces trying to steal their secret.
Only time will tell.

If you like time-travel mixed with romance, adventure, and odd characters – Try Lolita the talking deinonychus or an ancient Sasquatch with the secret of eternal life and the ability to travel in space-time . Plus, Kathleen Whitby, who has become a tour-de-force in her world along with her prehistoric husband, Cadeyrin – you might enjoy this series. A lot of readers have.

A brief warning – for those who are sensitive to violence, inter-tribal war, hunting, etc. These books are written to be as realistic as possible on the character side. The science, of course, is speculative, however I contacted world-renowned physics researcher Fred Alan Wolf for his input on the time-travel aspect. The anthropology aspect is based on the Solutrean hypothesis. It’s been discounted by some academics for various reasons that I’m not sure are compelling, but there are a number of points on which I think it makes perfect sense. On the romance aspect, it’s a slow burn in the first novel. Kathleen’s personality is insecure and she absolutely must feel that she has value to bring to the relationship before she commits.

Note – If you want to find out more about the Pleistocene, the ice-age world of the first story: Heart of Fire Time of Ice, you can find a series of posts on my author blog site describing my background research, animals, climate, language, and rational for the story. I initially included that information in the book, but a number of readers complained, so I moved it.



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Pirates of the Asteroids awarded Silver President’s Medal from FAPA


CONTACT: Pat Stanford, Committee Chairperson

Florida Authors and Publishers Association

President’s Book Awards Program


Local Author Receives National Recognition

Lake Buena Vista, FL (8/1/2020) – The Annual 2020 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s BookAwards recognized Pirates of the Asteroids by Eric Martell, in the category of Adult Science Fiction, as a Silver medal winner. Eric Martell’s Cyber-Witch: The Origins of Magic was awarded the same prize in 2018.

Hosted by the Florida Authors and Publishers Association, this prestigious national award is open to books published between 2018 and 2020. The judges for this national competition are librarians, educators, and publishing professionals.

“The FAPA President’s Book Award exists to promote excellence in the publishing industry by recognizing talented contemporary authors who put both heart and soul into their work. FAPA is proud to be a champion of authors and publishers going the extra mile to produce books of excellence in every aspect,” said Patti Jefferson, Past President of FAPA.

Pirates of the Asteroids is a science fiction story, published by Second Initiative Press, which tells the story of the inception of the asteroid belt community’s move for independence from a corrupt Earth government and sets up their struggle for freedom, detailedi in the follow up story: The Belter Revolution.

Due to CoVID-19, medalists were informed via email and a recorded presentation of the “ceremony”.

“We are proud to announce this year’s winners who truly embody the excellence this award was created to celebrate. Their works are representative of creative storytelling, bold concepts, and innovative ideas which make the President’s Book Awards so well respected by librarians and those in the publishing industry. We salute all of our winners for their fine work.” said FAPA’s President, Pat Standford.

The Florida Authors & Publishers Association is an organization for authors, publishers, illustrators, editors, printers, and other professionals involved in the publishing industry. It focuses on providing the highest quality of information, resources, and professional development to members and others interested in the writing and publishing profession.


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Authors Are Either Good At Self-Motivation (or Crazy)

When you finally finish writing a book, you go through an entire gamut of emotions: Pride, Relief, Fear, Joy, but most of all, the feeling that you accomplished something quite difficult.
The main problem first-time authors encounter is that Pride of Accomplishment quickly morphs into Pride in the Product. What’s that mean? You begin to believe that the book you have written is the best, most well-written, most fascinating story that ever impacted a lucky reader’s imagination.
That feeling is probably the Crazy part. It’s crazy because you can reach a point where you cannot tolerate criticism. That can even extend to close friends and family. That’s the reason why authors are often dreaded guests at parties. They can turn into complete bores, expounding for hours on the beauty of their creation. Yuck!
Sound familiar? If you are an author, I can pretty much guarantee you suffered from this–at least a little. If not, you’re exceptional.
In an ideal world, readers’ responses will confirm the author’s feeling of pride. You know–5-star reviews, lots of sales, speaking tours that sell out, movie offers, lots of money…..Yeah, right:-(
In the real world, sales come slowly. Marketing is difficult, even if you have a great book, there are millions of others all competing for your prospective reader. How do you stand out? You wrote a book, which was hard, but now you have to be a marketer, too? WTH? If you’re like me, you just want to write another book.
I’ve written enough novels to have lost the exhilarating feeling when I type, “The End.” I like good reviews, but when sales come slowly, staying enthusiastic is a challenge.
Sometimes, however, you get another form of confirmation that you are doing a good job. I just got word from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association that my space opera novel, “Pirates of the Asteroids,” is a finalist for the 2020 President’s Award in the adult sci-fi category. Pirates is the first novel in The Belter Series — covering the early settlement of the asteroid belt and the beginning of the Belter society. The Belter Revolution is the follow-up novel that takes the characters farther along their course.
Will there be a third novel? Depends on sales. I like the characters, but I can’t justify writing stories that no one else enjoys. However, I think that anyone who enjoys military-related, dystopian-setting stories set in space, with a little romance, revenge, and great space battles, will enjoy these two.
BTW: They’re for sale on Kindle at $0.99 for the duration of the COVID mess. I lowered the prices of all my books to help self-isolating readers, and that includes my best selling “Heart of Fire Time of Ice” Time Equation Novel.
If you read one of my stories and like it, give me a review — preferably a good one, but be honest and review it as you think it deserves. Remember, you’re fighting author craziness.


Pirates of the Asteroids: The Belter Series Book 1

The Belter Revolution: The Belter Series Book 2

Heart of Fire Time of Ice: A Time Equation Novel Book 1 (1st of a series with the 4th book to be released in July)

Cyber-Witch: Cyber-Magic Series Book 1 – Previous FAPA President’s Award Winner (2017)

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Don’t tell anyone you’re an author. It’s a good way to lose friends…

My 1936 Royal Portable

Somebody asked me what it’s like to be a writer. I thought about it for a bit, then said, “It’s difficult to put it into words.”

Sometimes I get confused about why I keep writing. Between the agonizing labor required to bring forth a fully finished plot and going through all of the multiple steps to format it into a professional-quality book, there’s a lot of unrewarding work. Granted, I do still get a thrill out of typing “The End” when I’m finished with the manuscript, but that’s fleeting and no longer brings tears to my eyes the way it did for the first few books.

The only difference between writing heaven and writing hell is that your books are popular in the former. The pain and labor involved are the same in both locations. I sometimes think that editors, while they are essential, are a form of lesser demon. If an editor was shown a lamp, they’d want to change the lightbulb, even if it was working. They’d replace it, then break the replacement, install an LED bulb, then finally remove that and question why the lamp was necessary in the first place. Seriously, though, I love my editor. She’s excellent and helps make my books far more readable.

The process is more expensive than you might think. Cover art, interior formatting, copyright, ISBN, and editing eats up a considerable amount of money. Unfortunately, sales are more and more challenging to come by, mostly because there is so very much competition. How does a reader find my book or any book he or she wants to read? Some are poorly done with lots of errors, others are poorly written, although a certain percent are quite well done. I aspire to create books in that last category.

It’s said that everyone has a book in them. I wonder if that is meant literally, and if so, where the book is stored. Most of the body doesn’t seem to have any spare space. Getting the book out is a different matter. I was educated to write scientific research and I thought I knew how to write. It’s not all that easy, though. It takes lots of practice. The best way to get better is to keep writing. I keep telling myself that my next book will be perfect. There’s a story in the publishing world about a company that decided to publish a perfect book. It was edited hundreds of times until everyone agreed that it could be no better. Once it was printed and hit the bookstores, someone noticed that the title had a misspelled word. As I said, it’s not that easy.

But, how does a reader find a book out of the millions on Kindle, for example? The key is marketing, and that is the responsibility of the author.

Once the book is finished and uploaded to Kindle for ebook distribution and Ingram for print copies, I belatedly start thinking I should do some of this marketing stuff. I’d much rather be writing another book, of course, but I still make an effort to get the news out.

It got so bad that when I saw an old friend at a party for the first time in several years, I told him I was writing books. When he asked if I’d sold anything, I responded that I’d sold my house, my car, and all of my possessions. I don’t think he got it. He wandered off, and I later saw him pointing at me while talking to the host. I don’t know what was said, but I haven’t been asked back.

I guess whether you’re happy or not in your writing career depends on how you define success. What do I mean by that? I have it on good authority that one of the most successful authors–one who writes things that invariably make people react emotionally, cry, curse, howl, and scream in anger–is the guy who writes error messages for Microsoft.

I like it when readers comment that they loved my characters and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen in one of my books. That’s a thrill, but it doesn’t pay the bills. The fact that some readers do leave reviews helps, though. A series of excellent reviews give a book some credibility so that a potential reader who is searching for a new read might be tempted to pick the one with better reviews.

Then there are the service providers. Those are companies that exist solely to “help” authors sell books. It’s easy to spend far more than the book will ever bring in, so one has to be careful here. Fortunately, I’ve already had a good education along those lines, having taken lots of courses on real estate during my life. Ultimately, you just have to get out there and do things yourself. That’s the most important lesson.

My books do sell, and many readers have left reviews, a few have hated the stories, but most like them, so I feel happy about that. I’m also pleased with my initial decision to publish as an independent. Indie publishing has become mainstream now. There are still traditional publishers, but unless you’re already a success, your chances there are minimal. If Moses were alive now, he’d show up with the Ten Commandments, but he’d spend the next five years trying to get them published. Unless, that is, he did it himself. Then he’d have to go through the entire marketing thing to get people to read them.

At the moment, I’m two chapters from writing “The End” in my latest story, and this little screed has taken some of the time that I should have been using to tie up my work-in-progress. I guess I’ll call this a marketing effort so I can justify my effort.


BTW. I’ve never written a word on the Royal. I keep it to remind myself how hard it used to be in the pre-digital age. Can you imagine? Spell check used to mean paging through a heavy dictionary:-)

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What makes an author grumpy?

poodle & drone

Well, to be precise, lots of things, but I’ve got some specifics that I’d like to discuss.

Cold coffee – this intellectual fuel is best served hot. The major problem is that when I’m “in the flow” and writing as quickly as I can, I forget to drink it and it cools off. Self-made problem, so I can’t blame anyone else, but you’d think someone would come up with a self-heating cup.

Interruptions – This is self-explanatory. What isn’t is why when you’re concentrating on hammering out a particularly difficult section, you somehow become a magnet for interruptions. Everyone in the immediate vicinity seems to suddenly develop a problem or have a question that only you can solve or answer. This goes for text messages also. I’ve just gotten about fifteen-mostly useless. Still, being generous, this is self-made, since I should make it clear beforehand that I was writing and did not want to be disturbed. But, but how was I to know that the urge to figuratively vomit words all over my computer screen was going to hit me? One doesn’t always have the luxury of planning this sort of thing. It seems to just happen.

Guilt – Should be writing, but I’ve got to finish this last game of solitaire. If I could, I’d go back in time and ensure the parents of the person who invented solitaire never met. (Sub-note: Still feeling guilty even as I write this screed. I should be spending this energy on my WIP. I’ve left my hero in lunar orbit, about to be faced with another situation and he’s expecting me to write it.)

Marketing – I’m always grumpy whenever I think of this topic. Point one: I don’t understand it very well. Point two: It takes a lot of time and effort to climb the learning curve. Point three: I feel like I should be creating a story rather than studying audience targeting. Point four: I should be working on it right now, rather than spending time writing about my frustrations. Incidentally, writing this blog post counts as marketing to a certain extent. You know, reader engagement and so on. Plus, it’s keeping me from having to go do yard work:-)

Reviews – Authors want reviews. There’s no substitute. We live in an isolated shell, sending our work out into the void and waiting for some tiny clue that someone appreciates it. I depend on user feedback to determine if I write a sequel. It’s a thin line, too. I wrote a sequel (All the Moments in Forever) to Heart of Fire Time of Ice based on one single review that asked for more of Kathleen’s story. One single review! Readers do make a difference and have more control than they know.

While I’m on the subject of reviews, here’s a couple of points that other authors will appreciate. I recently got a three star review from a confused reader who apparently had read another book. Not one of the rather derogatory things he mentioned was in my story. For example, he stated that the last episode in the book involved time travel. My book Pirates of the Asteroids doesn’t use any form of time travel. He also mentioned some rather clumsy plot devices that I would never use. I asked Amazon to check it out, since I think such a review doesn’t serve potential readers well, but you know Amazon. No action apparently means they are okay with the situation. Take home lesson: Make sure you’re reviewing the right book. (Frankly, I don’t know how you’d make such a mistake, but apparently it can happen.)

Then there are reviews that aren’t. Things like, “I love Kindle books.” or “This story was about prehistoric times.” Yeah. Helpful. My favorite was, “This story wasn’t my style.” Great, pray tell what is your style, and if you know, why did you waste time reading something that has a fairly descriptive blurb and allows previews? If you didn’t like it, let other readers know why. It could help them decide to buy or not to buy. The point of a review is to contribute to the community. Placeholders aren’t particularly useful.

I’ve also received a few bad reviews on different books from people who didn’t take the time to read past chapter three. They then proceeded to discuss the book as if they knew what happened in later chapters. I console myself that no matter what you write, no matter how good or bad it is, some people will absolutely hate it (and by extension, you) and others will love it (though probably not you:-)

The commonly accepted advice is not to comment on reviews, but I violated that in the first example above. I left a comment thanking the reader for his effort in reviewing. Then I stated that I’d love his feedback, but apparently the review was for another book. I was quite nice in my tone. Then I got to thinking about how many times I’ve gone back and reread my own reviews of various products. The number of times is precisely zero, so the chance he gets the message is very low. Don’t know why I bothered, unless some potential reader will see it and be influenced.

As for the bad reviews, if they’re well-intentioned and point out a possible flaw in the story, I see no harm in thanking the reviewer. If they’re vitriol filled and include personal attacks, then that’s nature’s warning not to engage with the reviewer. They have other issues that you’ll never fix.

That’s it. I’ve got an appointment with my writing computer (use a different machine dedicated to that purpose).

By the way, if you’ve read one of my books and have left a review (good, bad, or indifferent), thank you for your effort. I do read them.