If you recently received a newsletter from me, disregard it. Something weird happened and a copy of a newsletter from last year was sent by my website all on its own. I did not send it, the server gremlins did. Strange IT stuff.
That being said, its been a long time since my last intentional newsletter, which goes with my promise to not flood anyone's inbox. Even if you decide to skip over the content of this email, make sure you read the end parts so you can enter to win some valuable stuff.
2011 has been a very eventful for me, both personally and professionally.
On the Personal Side:
My family got to enjoy our first ever family vacation outside of Alaska. That was thanks in part to my day job sending me to Florida for a conference of IT types in March. My two younger boys got to enjoy a lot of firsts. First time on a plane. First time out of Alaska. First time swimming in an outdoor pool (something that just doesn't exist in Alaska). First time on a roller coaster (we road every coaster in Busch Gardens, several of them mutliple times...those "fastpass" tickets were worth every penny). First time seeing darkness and summer-like heat at the same time (remember, AK has 24 hr sun in the summer). First time hearing crickets and frogs (AK has none). First time experiencing hot rain (it was 90 degrees and raining, which they thought was so cool that they wanted to play in the torrential downpour). Like I said, lots of firsts that folks in lower latitudes may take for granted.
Speaking of firsts, In July I got to spend a weekend with my teenage son's Boy Scout troop in Prince William Sound kayaking on the ocean. Before going out we took a day long training class that had us dismount our kayaks in the freezing cold sea water several times, you learn quickly how to get back into a kayak as the water was cold enough to have icebergs floating in it. Once we got out to sea proper, saw seals and whales and massive blue ice glaciers that filled us with awe. Our camp was setup on an island on which a pair of eagles was trying to coax their eaglets out of the nest for their first flight. They didn't take the plunge while we were there, but it was cool to watch them try. Part of my job with the Scouts is to do the campfire storytelling. Using the surrounding scenery I made up a story about two ancient kingdoms, a forbidden marriage, and a mountain troll. The kids stared wide eyed and white knuckled as the story pulled them in. The coolest part of that trip was waking to a sound at 1AM and rushing out of the tent to witness two Orcas playing around in the water near our camp. No one else came out of their tents, so I sat on the beach alone listening as they splashed about and spouted great columns of mist into the air, their whale song echoing off the mountains in the stillness of the midnight sun.
In October my oldest son moved out on his own. The wife cried, I felt proud. He's grown up and hopefully being a good example to his brothers. November saw my lovely wife and I celebrate 23 years of marriage. We'd planned to go to Alyeska for a skiing/snowboarding weekend with our two younger boys but an unexpected bill coupled with a freezing rain nixed the trip. So instead we enjoyed a delicious dinner of Filet Mignon and Lobster Tails with our two younger sons and had an overall great time reminiscing about the years we've spent together.
On the Professional side:
In January of last year the ebook versions of both 65 Below and Faithful Warrior made it into the Amazon Top Ten list and stayed there for two whole weeks each. I was more than elated with the results to say the least.
April saw Karl's Last Flight get picked up by Crossroad Press for audio production and is now available on Audible.com and other retailers. It was also nominated for an Audie Award for best work narrated by the author. Aaaand on a side note, the acceptance by Crossroad Press allowed me to switch my membership at the International Thriller Writer's Association from "Associate" to "Author" ... which makes me feel like a big boy. ;-)
In May I got to attend the Atlanta Writer's Conference while in town for another day job trip. I got some seriously uplifting validation from a major agent who, although she didn't take on my books (they aren't her genre) she did give me some good referrals. About that same time I was hired to do my first paid narration directly for Audible.com. The title was Threat Warning by John Gilstrap, a very good, action packed thriller, and a lot of fun to narrate. Following that I got several more narration contracts including the recently completed audiobook "The Wasted Vigil" by Nadeem Aslam. After getting a couple books up there, including a couple of horror stories from Crossroad Press and thrillers from various authors, Audible took a look at my own books, 65 Below and Faithful Warrior, and accepted them into their system to be narrated by me. That was a real trip because they usually do not accept self-published works. 65 Below was completed in September and has been doing very well. Faithful Warrior is slated to be produced in January 2012 and should be online by the end of March.
In addition to book success I became a radio talk show star! ... for a while at least. As many of you know I've been a fill in talk host for a few different AM shows around Anchorage for several years. In July one of the local hosts I fill in for dropped off the radar and the station asked me to fill in until they figured out what he was doing. That ended up being three months of running this particular weekend show and a promise that it would become my own show after the first of the year. Sadly, that part didn't happen because new owners took over the station and changed the schedule around a bunch. But the taste of 'fame' was intriguing nonetheless. Tons of fun.
Hollywood agent Ken Sherman, who I met at the AK Writer's Guild Conference, read a synopsis then requested a full manuscript of 65 Below for consideration for a movie option. At this point I've not received a rejection so that tells me he's checking around to see if it may sell. That's even more exciting than the other stuff that's happened this year.
I've also had the opportunity twice now to give presentations on self-publishing to the Alaska Writer's Guild monthly meeting. Very fun, that. I enjoy being on stage, and doubly so when I can give useful material to the audience.
Well, that's pretty much it for my year in a nutshell...a very big nutshell as it were. And now for some stuff for you!
Want a free eBook? Simply to go www.basilsands.com and click on the link to download GEEKS RULE for free. You will be asked to share the link with your Facebook and/or Twitter account then can get the book for free!
Last spring I gave away my first Kindle eReader. And now I am giving away two more! You can go to www.basilsands.com for details but here's a summary of the two ways to enter:
1. subscribe to this newsletter via the link at www.basilsands.com. At the end of the year I will give away a new Kindle eReader to one subscriber of this newsletter.
2. Leave a comment on any or all of my books at Amazon.com before 12/31/11 and you'll be entered to win another Kindle! Whether you've read the ebook or paperback, listened to the Audible audiobook, or listened to the free podcast versions leave a review of the books at Amazon before Dec 31 and you'll be entered win! One entry per review per book, means you can get up to 5 entries. No purchase is necessary for either entry method. Prize is your choice of the Kindle Keyboard or Kindle Touch ($99 value).
Also! For those who like solving puzzles, here is a riddle for you. Solve it and you will receive a free copy of the MP3 Audiobook version of your choice of 65 Below or Karl's Last Flight ($25 value). Pass it on to your friends as well.
What is the title?
An ancient spectacle with:
A Benchmark Fool
A dead woodsman's two "O"s
Miss Gentle Horse
An Unhappy man of famed fraternal chanson
A bright and radiant pastoral colleen
Send the answer in an email response to this newsletter. First three correct answers win the prize.
Lastly, if you have a paperback copy of one of my books that you'd like to get signed, let me know and I will respond with an address to send it to. Then just pop it in the mail with a self-addressed stamped and postage paid envelop and what you'd like the signature to say and I will do the deed and return it to you asap.
On another similar note: eBooks are hard to sign, given their nature of non-physicality, but for a $5 or greater donation to www.basilsands.com I will send a signed copy of the book cover of your choice. These are printed on high quality glossy photo paper worthy of placing in a nice gilded frame and hanging on the family picture wall next to Uncle Kermit & Aunt Maude or putting on the fireplace mantle. Want more than one signed cover? Just add $2.50 each per extra cover and those will be included as well. Details at www.basilsands.com
Well ladies & gents, that's it for this newsletter from the Far North desk of Basil Sands.
I hope you and your families have a blessed and wonderful holiday season and an amazing new year!