The Mysterious Manuscript – Excerpt

This is an excerpt from Chapter 6, from my novel The Mysterious Manuscript. Enjoy!

———

“The desk was cluttered with papers and there was an overflowing bookshelf to the right. The room had two small windows, but they brought in enough light that electricity wasn’t needed in the mornings. There was a computer sitting on the desk and a shelf behind it, which was filled with ancient relics and artifacts. Not much different than his home office, Jim thought. Since no one had touched anything, it seemed that Frank had just stepped out for lunch, but Jim knew this was not true. His father had been missing for a long time now.

On one wall, hung a reproduction of the painting The Marriage Feast at Cana, by Hyeronimus Bosch, which commemorates the miracle of Jesus turning water in to wine. Hanging on the opposite wall, there was a replica of the most famous triptych by Hieronymous Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights. The painting is so bizarre that there is no universally accepted interpretation. Religious and alchemical symbols are fused together with images of torture and torment.

“That painting always gave me the creeps,” Alexandra said.

Jim nodded, understanding her reaction, but like his father, he happened to like it.

“Jim,” John called. “Here’s what I really wanted to show you.”

He then handed Jim a familiar object. It was a canister, similar to the one where his note had been. This one also had a combination wheel of six letters.

“Now, I’m going to be honest with you,” John said. “Ever since I discovered this contraption I have tried to open it. I’ve tried all the logical terms and words that occurred to me, but nothing. But then again, there are millions of six letter word combinations, especially for a man like your father who spoke five languages.”

“Did you give it the old college try and tried to break it open?” Jim asked.

John laughed. “Oh believe me, I have thought about it. But on closer inspection I discovered that this mechanism is wired in such a way that if it experiences any sort of trauma, a corrosive agent will destroy its contents. Could be vinegar, or acid”

“Very clever,” Alexandra said. Then she turned to Jim. “Do you think you can open it?”

Jim studied the device. He held it up to the light and noticed the small vial with the corrosive liquid. His eyes then scanned the combination wheel. Six letters. He thought about the note. Could it be? There was only one way to find out. He carefully lined up the letters that in a way got him started on this journey. These letters formed the word that most closely described him.

S-E-E-K-E-R

All four of them stood silently for a very long second. There was a click. It had worked. The container was open. Another message from Frank Davis, another message that was apparently only intended for his son to receive.

“Well, what does it say?” John asked.

“I’m not really sure,” Jim responded. He then showed them the message.

3433442315311143442134312434

4323243315113124222344113314

4423151133435215424352243131

12154215511511311514

Out of all the things the note could have said, they were not expecting to find an assortment of seemingly random numbers. But if there ever was a group capable of deciphering this message, they were right in this room. Quickly, Jim and Alexandra grabbed pen and paper from the desk, while Boris took out a smartphone form his pocket to do his calculations.

Whatever this message said, it was important enough for Frank Davis to hide it inside of a canister and then encipher it. One thing was for sure though, no one was leaving the office until the message was decoded.”

———–

You can get the book on Amazon! If you own a Nook, Kobo or another reader, then please comment and let me know.

Great Advice for Parents Who Are Artists

Austin Kleon wrote a phenomenal blog post a couple of years ago about people who basically tell new parents that childhood equals the death of creativity. While it’s true that those first couple of months you barely have any time to even shower, things do get better and you have to make the time.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Don’t listen to these parents. They are using the precedent of their failures to predict your own. 

For every tired, overworked, bitter parent who tells you how much you won’t get done when you have kids, there’s a parent like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, who talks about cradling his son in one arm, and picking out melodies on the piano with the other. Or George Saunders, who stole time from his office job for seven years to write the stories that would become CivilWarLand In Bad Decline. Or any number of moms and dads who make it work and make the work. They are out there. Find them. Hang out with them. Ask them how they do it. Let them be your role models.

Jung said, “Nothing has a stronger influence…on their children than the unlived life of the parents.”

You owe your kid food, safety, and love, but you also owe him your example. You give up on The Thing, and then when the kid grows up, he might give up on His Thing, too.

So don’t give up on The Thing.”

3 Marketing Lessons for Indie Authors

I’m still learning a lot, so I what I’m going to share is just the beginning of what I hope will be a series of blog posts. I recently released my adventure novel, The Mysterious Manuscript. While I’ve definitely sold some books, it is not doing nearly as well as I hope it would.

But why is that? Well, there are several things that I didn’t do before launching my book.

1-Build an Email List

This is probably the most important thing for an author. Platforms like Amazon and Kobo one day may fail, but if you have a list of fans who subscribed to your emails, then no one can take that from you.

2-Use that List to Establish a Relationship (and then sell)

You don’t want to start selling right away. No one likes those annoying people who send a bunch of emails asking for people to buy their product. Don’t be that guy. Offer your subscribers valuable content, like free items and contests, as well as telling them about bargain books by other writers. When appropriate, sell, don’t be afraid to do so.

3-Ask For Reviews

One of the most important things before you launch your book is to have at least 25-30 reviewers lined up. Go through your email list and ASK people if they would like a copy of your book in exchange for their honest review. If they say yes, then they will be more likely to follow through. If you want 25 reviews, email at list 75 people. This is something that I failed to do. My book has no reviews currently, but I’m hoping to change that.

I will go into detail in future posts about these three items, as well as other valuable marketing tips for indie authors.

The Robots Are Not That Bad

Recently, I wrote about what I thought was a scam perpetrated by a group of people on Amazon. For an in depth explanation, take a look at this post. Basically, someone was listing a paperback version of my newly released book hours after I had self-published it. The odd thing is that their price was about 40-50 cents lower than mine.

After my investigation and rant, I reached out to a couple of well-known indie authors who champion indie rights and causes. One of those authors did reply. David Gaughran took some time to explain the whole thing to me.

It really isn’t a scam, per say. These are actually automated bots that are setup by third-party marketplace sellers to scour Amazon for items to sale. These bots compete with each other all the time, but sometimes their programming goes unchecked, which is why you see books listed at $1,000 or something crazy like that. When someone orders my book from Amazon, even if they choose a bot as a seller, the bot still buys their copy from Amazon to fulfill their order. So, in the case of my book, these bots will lose 40 cents. But, since they probably sell items by the hundreds, if not thousands, they probably end up making money in the long run. The important thing is that I’ll still get my royalties.

Anyway, David pointed me to this link, Amazon’s $23,698,655.93 book about flies, which is an amusing and interesting read. Have bots listed one of your books or products?

Get My New Novel for Free!

Hey, everyone. My new novel, “The Mysterious Manuscript” is free today until this Thursday (4/09/15), so grab your copy. Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can still grab a copy and read it through Amazon’s cloud reader, or you can download a free Kindle app for your phone.

Grab your copy now before it goes back to its regular price!

The Mysterious Manuscript