Thursday, July 31, 2008

What's Yer Name?

A story on aother blog ( reminded me this morning of a an interesting event that happened to me a while back.

About ten years ago I got a call from the IRS. They informed me that I was to be audited for my taxes and to be sure to bring information for my bank accounts in Florida, the ones with the several hundred thousand dollars in cash deposited in them.

The problem was that I lived in the "Bush" in Alaska, in a house with no drinkable running water, heated by a woodstove. While I had been in Florida twice, once as a kid for Disney World, and once in the military for four days, I had never opened up an account there.

As it turns out, there are six Basil Sands in North America, at least that I could locate information on. My father an myself are in Alaska. Another father/son combo in Alberta. Another one was President of Bank of the Bahamas, and the fourth was a somewhat notorious drug and prostitution king-pin who'd been sent to prison in the early 70's, when I was in kindergarten.

The IRS had confused me and the last two and thought that since I lived in a cabin in the woods of Alaska I must be a run away criminal hiding out from "The Man".

It took while to convince them that I was born on the land I lived on, my grandparents had been pioneers in the area in the 1940's and had never done any drug dealing or bank embezzling. I did ask if I could have the money since it was in my name and had no other identifying factors. They said no.

So, since I have what I think is a pretty cool name for a writer, I have come to understand that there are definite downsides to having such an uncommon moniker. Especially when those who share it choose to live on the dark side.

Basil Sands

Who Dares, Wins

Get my free action packed audio novels at
*Over 100,000 downloads and counting*

Karl's Last Flight
65 Below
In The Shadows
Faithful Warrior - coming late summer 2008

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why am I doing this Writing Stuff anyway?

This is a question many authors, especially unpublished authors ask
themselves often.

Why in the world do I spend my time writing stories that simply get
rejected by agents and publishers?

No one's going to read them, and those few people who do will not pay me.

Well...take heart. There's a reason for your writing.

And that simply is, in my opinion, Because the story had to come out!

Storytelling is the most ancient of arts and the most widely accepted
and enjoyed. From the ancients sitting around a fire and telling
stories of great deeds of their tribe, to families staring at an
electronic box with images of other peoples imagined lives,
storytelling is powerful and natural for us humans.

Frank Delaney treats this topic very well in his literary novel
"Ireland" (one of my all-time favourite books). The story is about an
old man who is among the last of the Irish traditional travelling oral
storytellers. He laments the fact that television and radio have
supplanted his art but vows to continue on regardless because the
story must be told.

If you are writing or storytelling for any other reason than to tell
the story, you're in for some disappointment in this business.

I have been making up stories for my children since they were old
enough to listen. Storytelling is in my make up.

When I started writing several years ago I had no intention of being
published. I was just bored on my job and had a story pop into my
mind so I wrote it down.

That became Karl's Last Flight. After several people read it as a
serialized story on they encouraged me to try and publish.
I tried and got a tonne of rejection form-letters.

When the "big sale" I had hoped for never materialized I discovered
podcasting and put the audio story out in free audio serial format.
That was amazing fun. Storytelling in the manner of the old time Frank Delaney's character.

In the middle of podcasting that another story came into my mind and
commanded to be written. It became 65 Below. As it finished and the
podcast moved forward on that one, a third came to mind and became
Faithful Warrior, which is now in production.

I now have three completed military-thriller novels, and a fourth in
outline and starting to come to paper already. None of them have sold.
Only a handful of agents have read partials and only two have looked
at the whole mss. But in the process,money or not, I have learned

I love story telling.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not the artsy-fartsy type who does art for
the sake of art. I want to make millions, sell movies, become the
next Clancy, Forsythe, and Follet all rolled together. But whether
that ever happens, I write because I love story telling.

The other night I was recording episodes of Faithful Warrior in my
studio (an 8x8 walk-in closet...great acoustic suppresion in there).
As I was recording I heard reactions to the story coming through the
wall. My ten year old was listening to me act out the book.

Suddenly my reading/acting took on a whole new energy. I had a live
audience. I was no longer just reading into a microphone...I was
telling someone a story.

Some day, my books will sell. An agent will come along and see the
value of what I've written and help me get paid for the work. It may
not be until I'm ready to retire in 20 years, but it will happen. I
am sure of it.

In the meantime, I will continue to work, and continue to write.
Because the story wants to be told. The muse won't stop whispering in
my ear, and her urgency pushes me forward.

Write because you love it, and the rewards will come...eventually.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Wanna Be a Podcast Novelist? Here's How.





Well at least it's not likely to happen that way, but it's also not impossible. 

In 2006 I wrote my first novel, "Karl's Last Flight".  I thought it was great.  Who wouldn't want to buy a fast paced action novel about a forty something former Marine turned astronaut who crash lands in Iran, sets off a nuclear confrontation, then saves the world from nuclear suicide bombers?  I shopped it out to scores of agents, who all for the most part remained totally unimpressed.  Two agents did look at the whole manuscript but said it needed a bunch of work so "no thanks".

I was heart broken.  I went over the manuscript a few more times and tried again...nothing but rejections. By spring of 2007 I shelved it and started on the next book which had already popped into my mind, "65 Below" (North Korean Terrorists doing evil stuff in Alaska, but a retired Marine Force Recon NCO gangs up on them). 

While I was working on "65 Below" I stumbled across a newspaper article about a guy named Scott Sigler who writes sci-fi horror novels then records them as audio books and gives them away for free in weekly serialized 30-minute episodes.  This odd practice had garnered him about 40,000 listeners at the time.

"Hmmm" said my brain. 

To which I replied..."Yeah, baby."

Nobody was buying "Karl's Last Flight" anyway, why not record it and give it away.  I'm a pretty decent actor, and have a variety of character voices in my repertoire.  So I downloaded a free audio recording program called Audacity, bought a hundred dollar microphone and stand, set up a studio in my walking closet and gave it a shot.  After editing and cleaning up the MP3's I uploaded to a website called  "Karl's Last Flight" managed to gain about a thousand listeners via that website and a handful of other outlets I pushed the feed to.  I started getting email back from dozens of listeners from around the world. 

"Hey, this is kinda cool" says I. And after a brief inner struggle over podcasting my next novel I picked up the Microphone and did it again. 

Whamo...the bug had bit me.  I finished "65 Below" and it gained thousands of listeners.  My next series, a collection of action short stories titled "In the Shadows", went live in May of 2008 and has been downloaded nearly 10,000 times already.

I like this podcasting stuff so much, that my third full length novel, "Faithful Warrior" is in the studio now and will soon be hitting the web-waves in serial podcast form as well.

Have these podcasts gained me an agent or a publisher?  No.

But they are building a base of loyal listeners, many of whom write and some of whom even donate dollars, pounds, and euro's to the cause.  I have also made some pretty cool friends in the podcasting world and began working on some projects with other podcast authors. 

Some day...eventually...if everything works out and the USA is not invaded by hordes aliens, smashed by asteroids or otherwise comes to an abrupt halt...I will get published and make a tonne of those dollars, pounds, and euros.  In the meantime I will continue podcasting and...

If you are interested in giving it a go yourself...stay tuned to this blog.  Over the next few weeks I will be doing a "How to Podcast Your Novel" series. 

Here We Go!

Basil Sands

Who Dares, Wins

Get my free action packed audio novels at
*Over 100,000 downloads and counting*

Karl's Last Flight
65 Below
In The Shadows
Faithful Warrior - coming late summer 2008

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fishing in Alaska...aka grocery shopping

OK.  I live in Alaska. Salmon is a staple food, like pork or beef in Indiana.  One of the ways we catch salmon is a method called "dipnetting".

Dipnetting works by going to the mouth of the Kenai River (or one of the other authorized rivers) and standing chest deep in 50 degree ocean water then extending a 5 foot tall hoop with a large clear gill net on the end of a twenty foot pole then holding that pole against the in or out going current until tonnes of fish swim into it one at a time and then you drag it to the shore, whack the fish on the head with a club, hammer, rock, or fist and hand it off to your partner for cleaning or stack it on the sand until you can clean it yourself then you go back into the water and do it again one fish a time until you reach your limit of 25 per head of household and 10 for each dependent. 

Now you may be asking yourself, "Why did Basil write that statement in one single run-on sentence for which his high school English teacher would have booted him from class?" 

Answer, because that's what dipnetting it like.  For two days last week I stood in hypothermic water and managed to get a total of 30 fish, one at a time, to shore.  Could have been more, way more even, except that the Anchorage Daily News broadcast this huge run of fish that didn't really exist and half the population of Anchorage showed up Friday night to fight over the mostly non-existent fish.  It was a mad house.  Luckily I caught enough fish ahead of time that when the insane crowd showed I boogied on home with my family.

While it wasn't near my limit of 65 fish for my family, it was pretty good nonetheless.  But now I am tired, and sick to boot.  Was it worth it?   Well, with Salmon at $10 per pound, and my catch bringing in over 300 pounds of fish, I'd say yeah.

But my back is killing me.

Basil Sands

Who Dares, Wins

Get my free action packed audio novels at
*Over 100,000 downloads and counting*

Karl's Last Flight
65 Below
In The Shadows
Faithful Warrior - coming late summer 2008

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Heaven in Alaska

Chena Hot Springs. Heaven in the wilderness 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks. 

If you ever come up to Alaska, especially when it's chilly or rainy...and especially especially in the winter...go to Chena Hot Springs....

One word describes it all....Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Basil Sands

Who Dares, Wins

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