Tag: speculative fiction

Guest post – Tricks of the Trade: How I got a Best Seller

Maxwell Cynn gets me all excited. Not only is he a great writer, but he also knows a few things about selling books. He was generous enough to share some of his secrets. Thank you, Max!

If you’d like a free copy of CybrGrrl, just leave a comment with your email address!

Tricks of the Trade: How I got a Best Seller

Amelia asked me to write an article for her blog after THE COLLECTIVE hit the best seller list in two categories before its release date on Amazon. My previous novel CybrGrrl hit the best seller list in Erotica and Erotic Science Fiction at the same time. CybrGrrl was released several years ago, but I included it in my promotion of THE COLLECTIVE.

So what’s the secret? They are both freakin’ awesome books! But seriously, there is a trick. It took a lot of hard work, some really amazing friends, and meticulous timing. But I’m a nice guy, so I’m going to lay it out for you in a few simple steps.

First step is preparing the manuscript. After several rounds of editing I sent my manuscript out to a group of beta readers for input. Some were writers, some readers, some were random people I met online who didn’t know me and weren’t worried about hurting my feelings. From that feedback I revised again.

I took the brightly polished text and sent it out to book bloggers and reviewers who had agreed to review it during release. Then I began coding my eBook files and adding review blurbs from my wonderful beta readers. The next round went to author friends, and authors I have reviewed on my blog, asking them to write a short review on my Amazon page the day of release.

I planned a month long promotion around the release date – some before, some after. I wrote guest posts on blogs, gave interviews, live appearances on internet radio, and got into a blog tour with the great folks at the Indie Book Collective. In all of that I wanted to give away books, so I pubbed early on Smashwords and set up coupon codes for THE COLLECTIVE and CybrGrrl.

I’ll be honest, it was exhausting. I work a full time job, have a wife and two sons, and I had something scheduled almost every day for a month. I wrote posts in advance, but I still needed to reply to reader’s comments, and some of the events were live. The saturation of social media drove THE COLLECTIVE and CybrGrrl to number-one in category the day before release.

Okay, there’s the hard work. The trick? FREE books.

On Smashwords purchases with coupons, even coupons that amount to free books, count as sales. I released THE COLLECTIVE a couple of days early on Smashwords and sent out coupons to those who won free books during my massive blog hop – asking them to download the day of release. Many downloaded early, as soon as they got the coupon, but that sent it up the chart before it officially released.

On release day I had five 5-star reviews on my Amazon page! The rest of my tour I linked the Amazon page and could honestly say that THE COLLECTIVE was already a Smashwords Best Seller. The buzz surrounding the release of THE COLLECTIVE pulled CybrGrrl along for the ride and I used the books to promote each other. Both were “Best Sellers” and both stayed in the top five for over a month on Smashwords.

My tour with the Indie Book Collective was, in my opinion, the biggest boost. It was a week long tour with twelve other authors and I gave away over a hundred books and gained exposure to hundreds of readers who support Indie authors. I also met a lot of wonderful people – authors, readers, and reviewers. And Rachel Thompson, co-founder of the Indie Book Collective and the best friend a writer could ever have, helped me optimize my Amazon book pages.

So there’s my secret – hard work, amazing friends, timing, FREE books, and probably a little luck.

Would I do it again? Probably not.

I’ve written a blog explaining why, and another explaining my philosophy of publishing. The Indie Book Collective also has a program for driving your book onto the best seller lists at Amazon – Best Seller for a Day – but I’m not planning to do that either.

Don’t get me wrong. It was fun, and I don’t have anything against other authors tricking their books to the top. The big publishers in New York do it all the time. They ship huge orders to the big bookstore chains on the same day to drive books up the New York Times charts. They create “Best Sellers” before the first reader opens a book. It’s the nature of the business. It’s just not for me.

I will likely take part in other Indie Book Collective events and blog tours because I love meeting fellow authors and readers, and I don’t mind giving some books away. For me, it’s not a matter of making money. I’m a writer and I want readers to enjoy my work. Since I’m also an Indie publisher, and have complete control over my books, it’s easy to give my books away. If you’d like a copy of CybrGrrl just leave me a comment with your email address and I’ll send you a coupon.

Books by Maxwell Cynn:

CybrGrrl:

Created to be a sexy desktop companion program, Marie develops sentience and emerges into a life of her own. She leads her users, Adrian and Haley, through an erotic adventure as she processes what it is to be alive. The search leads her onto the Internet, and a virtual-world community where she can live an independent existence unfettered by the limits of her server – alive in the cloud – then back into the real world as a sexy robot. Along the way she teaches Adrian and Haley what it means to live and love beyond the confines of the merely physical and liberates her sister programs from their dull desktop existence.

The Collective:

A criminal psychologist discovers that someone has released a computer virus that doesn’t attack your hard drive, it attacks your mind. The virus is brainwashing millions and people are going insane, killing their families, mutilating themselves. But it’s not just a virus. Someone is actively controlling the program, every infected computer, and every user. Someone is turning everyone connected to the internet into puppets. But why? And who is The Collective?

They know they’ve been discovered. RUN!

.45 Caliber Jitterbug:

It’s the Roaring Twenties in America, but in the South that roar is kept discreetly behind closed doors and separated into “Whites” and “Coloreds” even at the Speakeasy. Jack Spaulding was born and raised in this quiet southern town, but he doesn’t care much for Segregation or Prohibition. He’s a journalist and his best friend was murdered investigating the war brewing between local Moonshiners and the Chicago Mob.

.45 Caliber Jitterbug is a Cozy Romantic Mystery set in Charlotte, North Carolina in the Twenties. A journalist at the local paper is murdered, a young girl from a prominent family is raped and killed, and a local bartender is shot – all with a high caliber handgun at close range. Jack and an intrepid young legal assistant determined to be the first female lawyer in the state must unravel the mystery and uncover corruption in the seemingly peaceful town.

Maxwell Cynn, Deliciously Romantic Speculative Fiction

MaxwellCynn.com

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Short story – Virtual Touch by Maxwell Cynn

Max’s birthday is Saturday, 10/22, and to celebrate he’s offering a free copy of Cybrgrrl to a commentor chosen at random. Please comment to enter!

When I asked for Halloween-themed submissions, Max was the first to rise to the occasion, and he did not disappoint. I am pleased to present:

Virtual Touch by Maxwell Cynn

I’m a disembodied spirit floating around in cyberspace. Sort of a ghost in the machine. I know. Weird, huh? I was a hacker, until I tangled with the Collective and they hacked my life, and my brain, and I ended up in a prison psych ward. Then some voodoo priest hooked me up with his techno-magic. It’s a long story. But I live on the net now. My physical body may be locked up, but I move at the speed of thought across the web. So I’m cool with it.

Hanging out on the net was sweet at first. The porn sites are awesome from this point of view. I know a lot of webcam girls. But it got old after awhile, kind-of like mental masturbation. I started hanging out in Virtual World. It’s a cool place, almost real–as real as cyberspace gets, I guess. Anyway. That’s where I met Marie. But let me back-up and tell the story right. It was Halloween. CG–oh, that’s my shrink–was busy at a party in New Orleans with his girl Sear and that voodoo guy I was talking about, and I logged into VW….

“Hey, Gabriel! What’s up?”

I’d ported into Club Z. It’s pretty exclusive. Only the richest citizens, and the best hackers, can get in. They had a rockin’ masked ball going on. The theme was Victorian so there were costumes from classic to vampire to steampunk. I went with classic. My friends from Pandora’s Boxx, a cyber club in NY, were logged in and hanging out at the bar.

“Hey, DZ.” That’s my friend, dividedbyzero. He’s a fellow hacker and an admin at PB. “Is the whole crew here tonight?”

“Most of ’em.” DZ handed me a virtual drink.

The avatars in VW are as detailed as those in high-end single player games, and the world feels real–at least from my view of full immersion. The server load is enormous. It’s rumored the whole thing is run by a self-aware AI program like Skynet, but everyone knows how rumors are. People pay huge for VR peripherals, right up to full body suits, to experience the full ride I get for free.

“Excuse me.” A hand tapped me on the shoulder. I felt power surge down the right half of my body and I almost dropped my drink. I turned.

The avatar standing there was unbelievable. She stood my height with dark auburn hair drawn up in a tight bun, ringlets falling free to frame a strikingly beautiful face partially hidden by a feathered mask. My eyes wandered down. The impossibly small waist of her corseted dress highlighted perfect breasts pressed up into tempting cleavage and small hips beneath a sultry bustle and flowing reams of silk which puddled in the floor.

She cleared her throat. I raised my eyes back to hers.

“You are not authorized on this server.”

A freakin’ Mod! I should have known. Probably some pimply faced punk drooling over his own avatar.

“I’m just hanging out with friends, not causing any trouble.”

“Then log in properly.”

“Ah, that could present a problem. Just let me hang out a bit. I won’t cause trouble.”

“Who are you? I’m not detecting a connection and the traceroute bounces back.” She stepped closer. I felt a rush of adrenalin.

I scanned her. Same deal, no connection, no ISP, she was just there. She had to be connected directly to the home server. Damn. Must be an Admin.

“If you’re not detecting a connection, then I’m not really here, right?” I smiled. She didn’t.

I felt a push, deep in my gut. She was trying to boot me off the server. I dug in and held on. I’d come for some fun, but if she wanted a fight that could be fun too. The room around us shimmered and faded. We were alone in an empty club.

“Your program is not running on the server.” She walked around me. “How are you connecting?”

“Maybe I’m a ghost, or a figment of your imagination.”

I felt claustrophobic. She was trying to firewall me in. I drew power from the ArchAngel network and blew through the wall.

“Impressive.” She was back in front of me, so close I could feel her virtual breath on my face. I lost connection to the AA network.

“Impressive.” I pressed closer. She didn’t retreat. The frills on my shirt brushed the exposed tops of her breasts.

“Your program is not on the server, and you’re not connecting from outside. So how are you still here?”

“Told you. I’m a ghost.”

She smiled. Her gloved right hand caressed my face. I could feel power tickle across my skin.

“Are you a program, or a hacker?”

“I’m just a guy looking for some fun. Why don’t you unlock this instance and let me return to my friends? You can join us.”

“Not until I know who you are and how you are connecting to my server.” Her hand drifted down my chest to my hip.

“Your server?”

“Yes. I’m Marie Beaumont, CEO of Artificial Life Technologies.”

“You created Virtual World! So why are you playing Mod at a Halloween party?”

“I detected you.”

“What? You don’t have better things to do than verify connections?”

“I log all unauthorized connections to my server.”

“Wait a minute. You really are a program? I thought that was publicity hype.”

“A Virtual Lifeform, yes. I thought you were as well, but…”

“My friends call me Gabriel. I’m human, not a program.”

“So, how are you here, Gabriel? I detected you when you connected, but now I detect nothing. You seem to be contained within your avatar.”

“It’s a long story.”

“I’ve got time.”

“You’re a program, right?”

“Yes.”

“Can I stream it then?”

“Sure. I’ll open a port.”

I dumped the whole sordid tale, from my conviction to my liberation, at the speed of thought. She lifted the firewalls blocking me from ArchAngel.

“You’re very lonely, Gabriel.”

“I’ll survive.”

“You miss human touch.” Her left hand held my cheek and her lips almost brushed mine. The touch was real. I hadn’t felt anything like it in cyberspace. My hand reached around her and found the small of her back.

“You feel so real.”

“I am real, Gabriel.” Her lips touched mine and I pulled her tight against me.

Her lips were warm and soft. Her mouth tasted of mint and wild cherries. I hadn’t really felt or tasted human touch since I’d become a cyber-ghost–I hadn’t really thought about it. My world was like a VR simulation. There was limited tactile stimulation–forces, sometimes pain, a little pleasure–but nothing like real human touch. I devoured her and she let me. Her hands held firm to my cheeks and her tongue pressed into my mouth. I pulled her closer. Her pelvis pressed against my erection.

I leaned back enough to look at her, but kept our bodies pressed hard together.

“Damn. It’s like being alive again. What are you doing to me?”

“Giving you what you need, Gabriel.”

Her hands slipped down to my collar leaving a trail of fire along my jaw and neck. Marie untied my Victorian scarf and slowly unclasped the metal buttons down my shirt. My costume was a mental construct. I could be naked at will, but the sensuous thrill of her slow progression had me mesmerized. She knelt when she reached the buckle of my trousers and looked up as she unfastened it. Her smile stopped my heart. I wanted to fall on her and tear her dress off, but I didn’t move.

She opened my trousers and let them fall to my ankles. My cock sprang hard and ready from its confinement. Her gloved hand touched me and my knees felt weak, then her lips engulfed me and I lost all sense of space and time. We were floating weightless in a void and my body shuddered uncontrollably. I didn’t know if I stood or lay prone, only that I’d never felt anything so amazing in my life. My body jerked in orgasm, the hot flood of passion pumping out like water from a burst damn. It was almost painful.

I came to my senses naked, the dapper costume gone from thought. She stood before me still in her beautiful corseted dress. I reached for her and our lips met. My fingers made quick work of the hooks down her back and the dress fell to the floor in a heap. I knelt before her beauty and buried my face in her breasts tasting one nipple then the other. She moaned and I felt the vibration in her ribs. I was ravenous, the feel of soft subtle flesh in my lips. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed the sensation.

I kissed and nipped my way down her belly. Enjoying the feel and taste of her, and the response of the muscles beneath her skin flexing at my touch. Her still gloved hands held my head and guided me down past her pierced naval and silk garter, then across the smooth hairless bump of her pelvis. Her stockinged legs spread and we were weightless again. I buried my face in the slick heat of her wet flesh. Her spiked heals raked down my back.

I held her buns in my hands and slid my tongue slowly up between her folds. She groaned and my cock throbbed in need. I flicked her swollen clit and she squirmed. I smiled and flicked it again then nipped the soft flesh between my teeth. She tasted wonderful, better than any woman I had ever been with. I sucked her clit into my lips and dug my nails into her cheeks. My cock pumped again in hot release and my body shook, but I held on tight and plunged my tongue into her sweet hole.

Marie quivered, her legs jumped then squeezed against the sides of my head. I held on and worked my tongue harder into her wet flesh. Her head fell back and she pinched her erect nipples with silk gloved fingers. My name echoed in the void, her voice reverberating with her climax. My cock flexed and ached and I buried my face deeper in her sweetness.

She grabbed my head and pulled me upward to her. Our lips met and my cock plunged into wet heat. Her cunt was still pulsing and my shaft jerked, almost releasing its load again.

“My god, you’re amazing, Marie.” My voice was hoarse and breathless.

She giggled and my heart filled with a joy I’ve never felt. Her body quivered and her pussy clinched on my shaft. I kept my pace, sliding in and out of her. I felt as though I could go on forever. Time lost meaning in the ecstasy of prolonged orgasm. Our bodies melded into one and our rolling climax took on a rhythm all its own. We floated weightless and timeless for an eternity of pleasure.

When my thought returned from paradise I was in her arms, my head on her shoulder, my fingers idly fondling her breast. We were in an elaborate four-post bed as soft as a baby’s breath. Her stockings and gloves were gone and she stroked her fingers through my hair.

“That was unbelievable, Marie.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it. You were pretty amazing yourself.”

“You’re a program, can you really feel… you know.”

“You’re a ghost. Can you really feel?”

“I’ve never felt anything more real in my life.”

“You can hack your way onto my server anytime. It was wonderful.”

I don’t know how long I stayed in her arms. I reluctantly left her to return to her work, and I to mine. But I’ll go back. In a way, I hope I never regain consciousness in the mundane world. I don’t think the physical could ever compare to my night with Marie.

Author Bio:

Maxwell Cynn is a novelist, freelance writer, amateur coder, webmaster, and Indie publisher who writes deliciously romantic speculative fiction and blogs book reviews on a wide range of genres. His website, with links to all of his social media connections, can be found at MaxwellCynn.com .

In Max’s own words:

I’m a pragmatic dreamer, a poet, a philosopher, and a construction worker. I enjoy fine art, literature, and classical music as well as Monty Python, dime novels, and hard rock. I prefer cheap beer to fine wine and a good play to professional sports. My interests include theoretical physics, classical history, technology, science fiction, psychology, philosophy, mythology, and the paranormal. I tend to be shy, but I love people. So look me up on your favorite social network, leave a comment on my blog, or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Books by Maxwell Cynn:

The Collective – Available 10/22!

Imagine… You have a virus on your computer. It’s tracking everything you do and sending that information to the Collective. It can’t be detected by any virus scan or blocked by any firewall. If you have a microphone, they are listening. If you have a webcam, they are watching you. But they aren’t just watching. Flashes of light from your monitor are communicating with your subconscious. You are being brainwashed.

Dr. John Peterson discovers the virus and embarks on a mind altering search for the origins of the infection driving his patients mad. He discovers the Collective, and they discover him. A battle rages between the Nemesis virus and the ArchAngel network with the fate of mankind in the balance. Will man succumb to Nemesis and become drones of the Collective or rise as billions of individual archangels to light the world with freedom? One man, one woman, and a network of hackers hold the key.

CybrGrrl – available on Kindle, Nook, and a variety of formats at Smashwords.

Created to be a sexy desktop companion program, Marie emerges into a life of her own. She leads her users, Adrian and Haley, through an erotic adventure as she processes what it is to be alive. The search leads her onto the Internet, and a virtual-world community where she can live an independent existence unfettered by the limits of her server – alive in the cloud – then back into the real world as a sexy robot. Along the way she teaches Adrian and Haley what it means to live and love beyond the confines of the merely physical and liberates her sister programs from their dull desktop existence.

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Author Interview – Maxwell Cynn

My guest today is Maxwell Cynn, author of The Collective, availabe October 22, 2011. Imagine… You have a virus on your computer. It’s tracking everything you do and sending that information to the Collective. It can’t be detected by any virus scan or blocked by any firewall. If you have a microphone, they are listening. If you have a webcam, they are watching you. But they aren’t just watching. Flashes of light from your monitor are communicating with your subconscious. You are being brainwashed.

Max’s birthday is Saturday, 10/22, and to celebrate he’s offering a free copy of Cybrgrrl to a commentor chosen at random. Please comment to enter!

CybrGrrl – Created to be a sexy desktop companion program, Marie emerges into a life of her own. She leads her users, Adrian and Haley, through an erotic adventure as she processes what it is to be alive. The search leads her onto the Internet, and a virtual-world community where she can live an independent existence unfettered by the limits of her server – alive in the cloud – then back into the real world as a sexy robot. Along the way she teaches Adrian and Haley what it means to live and love beyond the confines of the merely physical and liberates her sister programs from their dull desktop existence.

And on Thursday, I’m posting a new short story from Maxwell Cynn – Virtual Touch. Hot!

Who are you and why are you here?

Starting off with the really hard questions, huh? Philosophers have wrestled with that one for centuries. My author blurb says: I’m a pragmatic dreamer, a poet, a philosopher, and a construction worker. I enjoy fine art, literature, and classical music as well as Monty Python, dime novels, and hard rock. I prefer cheap beer to fine wine and a good play to professional sports. My interests include theoretical physics, classical history, technology, science fiction, psychology, philosophy, mythology, and the paranormal. I tend to be shy, but I love people. I’ll go with that.

Plug your book(s) in three sentences or less:

You have a virus on your computer. Flashes on your screen are communicating with your subconscious. You are being brainwashed by THE COLLECTIVE. Available October 22!

What genre(s) do you write in? Why did you choose it?

I write romantic speculative fiction. That ranges from tender romance to xxx erotica and from hard science fiction to cozy mystery. Speculative fiction is based on “What If” so anything goes.

What if a sexy desktop companion program became self-aware? CybrGrrl

What if a clandestine group brainwashed the population over the internet? THE COLLECTIVE

I grew up reading the masters – Wells, Verne, Tolkien, Poe, Bradbury – and I’m a die-hard romantic, so speculative romance comes natural.

Do you use a pen name? Why/why not? How did you choose it?

Maxwell Cynn is a pen name. And yes the pun “max sin” is intentional. The name belonged to a character in an as yet unpublished novel. I changed his name to Ezekiel Strong (he’s a half-demon Paranormal Investigator/Bounty-hunter) and took it for my own. I chose to use a pseudonym mainly for marketing and branding. My real name is rather common, but if you Google Maxwell Cynn you find me. And I’ve been able to get MaxwellCynn as a user name on every social network and web site I sign up on.

Most writers are ‘different’ from the rest of the world in some way. What makes you different/odd/weird?

I am, what was called in my generation, painfully shy. Today it’s termed “social anxiety” and the drug companies have a pill for that. I don’t do drugs, so I deal with it. I warm up once I know people. Then you can’t shut me up. But I still prefer writing to talking and I loath telephones and voice chat. I use my phone more for texting and emailing than talking.

Where do you get your ideas? What motivates you?

My ideas come from a strange and over-actve imagination. I think things like: What if artificial intelligence was sexy instead of homicidal like HAL or Skynet. CybrGrrl. Well of course it would be female. And that brings me to motivation. My muse is a horny little thing. She likes romance and sex, so the two always find a place in the story.

What do you like on your pizza?

Black olives and green peppers, or beef and mushrooms. And I can’t eat a pizza without a cold beer.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Porn. Not really. I enjoy erotic art and reading sensual, loving erotica. I’m not into erotica that isn’t romantic or sleazy porn that objectifies women, or men for that matter. But I’m not really guilty about it. Nothing is more beautiful than the human body in all its myriad forms and sizes or the many acts of sexual pleasure.

What do you wear to bed?

I sleep naked. Hell, I’m naked every chance I get. I’m like the little kid who pulls his diaper off and runs around grinning. Who invented clothes anyway? And I’m barefoot nine months out of the year and never wear shoes in the house.

What is your ideal vacation?

The beach. Hot sun. Cool breeze. Warm waves. Either reading on the beach or body surfing in the breakers. A nude beach would be even better, but we don’t have those in the Carolinas.

What’s the weirdest search term that led to your blog?

I know I should, but I rarely track search terms. I mainly follow referring urls to see how well I’m targeting exposure. Twitter is huge, as are blogs by fellow writers.

And now for some either/or questions: Bath or shower?

Shower, always.

Mayo or Miracle Whip?

Dukes Mayonnaise

Cat person or dog person?

Cats rule!

Chocolate or vanilla?

I’m a vanilla kind of guy.

The book or the movie?

Book

Floss or brush?

Or? How about both?

Phone call or email?

Email

Bonus question: What is the airspeed velocity of a coconut-laden swallow?

African or European?

Author Bio:

Maxwell Cynn is a novelist, freelance writer, amateur coder, webmaster, and Indie publisher who writes deliciously romantic speculative fiction and blogs book reviews on a wide range of genres. His website, with links to all of his social media connections, can be found at MaxwellCynn.com

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