Monthly Archives: July 2019

The Shady Rays saga concludes

Somehow, nearly three years after I first wrote it, my review of my Shady Rays sunglasses is still the highest ranked result on Amazon for “shady rays review” that’s not either Shady Rays themselves or their Amazon product listing. I have no idea how my review ended up being picked as The One, but it still gets a crazy amount of traffic.

So y’all deserve to know how everything ended.

In my last update before I dropped off the face of the Earth and stopped blogging, I noted that my Shady Rays broke. So here’s what happened after that.

Shady Rays offers a “lifetime replacement plan.” They’ll send you a new pair, no questions asked, if you break or lose your first pair. I bought two pair of sunglasses originally on a two-for-one plan.

Did I get my replacements?

Yes, and with little trouble. But you do need to read the fine print before you purchase. There are two things in particular you need to know.

  1. You are limited to two replacement pair per original purchased pair.
  2. You have to pay just under $9 in shipping to get your replacement pair.

I knew the first before I purchased, and I suspected the second. But here’s the math:

  • Two pair for $45
  • I paid $6 for expedited shipping. At the time of my original purchase, free shipping was an option.
  • Four replacements available at roughly $9 each = $36
  • Total for six pair: $87 (could be $81 if you opt for free shipping).
  • Cost for a pair of Iron Man sunglasses from Wal-Mart: $15-20 per pair

So here’s the thing. At the end of the day, the Shady Rays sunglasses were essentially a complete wash compared to what I’d been getting. The quality was about the same, the price was about the same.

On the plus side, I had a spare pair around for much of that time. On the down side, the one time I switched from my normal pair to the spare, and then broke the spare, I had to wait a few days to get the replacements, rather than just walking into Wal-Mart to buy a new pair.

In other words, the entire experience was basically a wash.

Do I regret buying them? Not at all – although I would not personally pay $45 for a single pair. If you can get the 2-for-1 deal, then it’s good. If not… well, I personally don’t think they’re $45 sunglasses after 3 years.

Am I going to buy them again?

Maybe?

The honest answer is that it’s such a wash that I can’t decide. My last pair broke a few weeks ago, and right now I’m wearing Wal-Mart sunglasses again. I didn’t want to wait. And I have to admit to being a bit disappointed in how they broke. I literally walked out of a store one day, opened up my sunglasses… and they broke. I wasn’t doing anything rough to them at all.

To be fair, the previous pair had stood up quite a bit better than that. But still, I didn’t love that.

Should you buy them?

If you lose or damage sunglasses less frequently than I do, and if you can get a two for one deal, and if you’re ok with low to mid range sunglasses? Why not? There’s nothing wrong with them compared to other sunglasses in this range.

If you can’t get the two-for-one deal, then no. After three years of use, I can’t recommend them at $45 a pair.

Previous entries in this series:

  1. My initial Shady Rays product review
  2. The first follow-up
  3. When my first pair broke
  4. The finale

LibertyCon 32 After Action Report

Morgon and I spent last weekend at LibertyCon 32 in Chattanooga, Tennesse. LibertyCon is an interesting convention. It’s quite different from any other con I’ve personally ever been to. The founder wanted to keep the small, personal, intimate con feel, so it’s limited by its charter to no more than 750 attendees. This year, it sold out in about four hours.

Photo courtesy of William Joseph Roberts

According to oral history given by John Ringo over the weekend (more details in a bit), the con started out very small, but in its early days it was primarily a bunch of writers and people trying to break into the business hanging out together. Over time, most of those newer people ended up getting published, and the con grew. By Ringo’s count, the con today seems to be about 1/3 published authors, about 1/3 authors who will be published, and about 1/3 readers.

Based on my experiences at the con, that seems about right.

If you’re looking to actually meet your favorite author, and not just sit in a huge panel with 300 other people listening to him, LibertyCon is the place to do it. If you’re a new author looking to make connections in the industry, LibertyCon’s the place for that, too. On the other hand, if you’re an author looking to connect with huge numbers of fans and sell lots of books, it’s not really the place. You’ll sell, for sure – we ran into one fan who’d bought over 50 books at the con – but not like you will at a more reader-focused con.

We go mostly for the networking. As the operators of a small publishing house, we do quite a lot of that there.

I moderated two panels this year. The first was a panel on newsletter marketing aimed at authors. We had solid attendance and rapt attention from the authors. I think it went very well, although we ran out of time. It’s a huge topic, and we only had an hour. But, there you go.

I also moderated the “What’s New at Silver Empire” panel (embedded video below). The short answer: a lot!

Posted by Silver Empire on Friday, June 28, 2019

I also sat on a panel for first time LibertyCon panelists moderated by the John Ringo. I’ve seen Ringo in panels before, and I won’t lie. The man can be a bit intimidating. But he was extremely gracious to the very large number of authors on the panel, and very courteous. I’d also like to give him a tip of the hat for the way he handled the very small number of authors who kept rambling on, not thinking about the other authors on the panel. He was very firm at moving things along, but also gentle about it and somehow managed to not be rude. Very impressive. This is also the panel where he gave his brief oral history of LibertyCon.

Beyond the panels, we sold some books and did some signings. But most of all we caught up with several Silver Empire authors.

Dan Humphreys just finished Come, Seeling Night. He’s currently at work on an anthology of stories set in his Z-Day universe. We don’t publish the existing books in that trilogy, but we will be publishing that anthology. I highly recommend checking that series out. Dan scored a Dragon Award nomination for the first book, and it’s legit. I don’t even like zombie books, but I loved that one (see my review here).

Jon Del Arroz has just finished his Saga of the Nano Templar series, which we’ll be launching later this summer. Wait until you see the covers for those – they’re phenomenally good. This space opera / milSF series is really going to be something.

Declan Finn’s Saint Tommy, NYPD series is almost wrapped up. We’ve got one more book to get out. Kickstarter backers: expect to get the rest of the print books to you in one fell swoop after book 6 is done, so stay tuned. In bigger news: audiobooks for that series are coming! You’ve been asking, we listened. If you want in on that series, now’s a great time. We’ve dropped the price on book 1, Hell Spawn, to $0.99.

We’ve already got drafts on the first three books of Declan’s epic space opera, and we’ll be looking to launch those next after Saint Tommy wraps up.

Other than that, we had a great time hanging out with our friends. This is the only weekend of the year right now that we see many of these guys, and it’s great to catch up.

Until next year!

[Cross posted to the Silver Empire blog.]

Why Spirit Cooking isn’t done yet.

Perhaps the most frequent question I get from my own readers – and even Silver Empire fans – right now is, “When is Spirit Cooking coming?” For those who are new, Spirit Cooking is the sequel to my debut novel War Demons.

I know, it’s been ages.

Currently, Spirit Cooking is very close to half done. It should be further along than that. So what’s happened?

The short answer is that I’ve been way too busy selling other people’s books.

The longer answer: Silver Empire grew 15x in 2018. Not 15%. Not 1.5x. Fifteen fold. That’s borderline on catastrophic growth. And, honestly, it could’ve been catastrophic growth if we hadn’t put a lot of effort into keeping it from becoming that.

2019 growth has been a lot slower than that, so far. Although with that said, the year isn’t out yet. We have 31 books out now. And we’ve got roughly 40 or so left on the docket for 2019. Odds are good we won’t quite get them all out by December 31, although we’re pushing hard for that.

In other words, we won’t get 15x growth this year… but we will still see pretty crazy growth.

The other thing about that growth is that we focused all of our energy internally on infrastructure above and beyond anything else. It was painful in the short term, but will be well worth it in the long term. The result is that although growth in the first half of 2019 has been relatively slow, we’re now positioned to take more and more advantage over new opportunities.

In the past twelve months, we’ve done the following:

  • Switched to a new printer that offers better services, better long-term pricing, and hardcovers!
  • Heavily streamlined internal processes that are helping us to get books out faster.
  • Built out our new online store, which is a pretty solid success. (Don’t miss our 4th of July flash sale on Heroes Unleashed books today only!)
  • We’re building out one last project which will go live soon.

And that’s just the stuff I’m ready to talk about publicly. We’ve got several even bigger projects in the works that aren’t ready for announcement yet. Oh, and we put some books out, too.

But with all of that said, I think I’m finally at a spot where I can devote the time to finish up Spirit Cooking, and it’s moved way up on my priority list. It’s a high priority of mine to finish it by the end of the year at least. I’d prefer to have it finished by DragonCon, but we’ll just have to see.

On the plus side… I also have about a quarter of Unholy Matrimony written. The first book in Peter’s spin-off novel series, it actually takes place between War Demons and Spirit Cooking. It won’t be released, however, until after this trilogy (War Demons, Spirit Cooking, and Sacrifices) is complete.

But rest assured, the book is coming. It’s just been slow.

New from Silver Empire: COME, SEELING NIGHT by Daniel Humphreys

True story: this one time I went to bed at about two in the morning and I didn’t know if I was alive or if I was dead!

I guess I should probably explain that.

Have you read Daniel Humphreys’ Paxton Locke books? If you like The Dresden Files, they’re probably right up your alley. The first time I read Fade, my honest reaction was, “That’s more Dresden than Dresden.” Fantastic books. So I was naturally pretty excited to get the opportunity to publish the books – and even more excited when Dan decided to write me in to the story with book two, Night’s Black Agents.

He asked for permission first, and I thought it was going to be a really tiny part. And it generally was… until I got the early manuscript of Book 3 – Come, Seeling Night. Somehow my character turned out to actually have a pretty decent sized role.

Because Murphy’s Law is always in operation, Dan sent me the pre-release manuscript while I was finalizing my end-of-year accounting for Silver Empire. I made myself wait to read it, and gave myself the reward.

So after waiting almost two weeks to continue one of my absolute favorite series, here I am, roughly halfway through the boook… and my character is caught up in a giant explosion. I finish the chapter, and check the clock…

And it’s 2 AM. And I have to work in the morning (my actual day job, which has real hours and everything). Somehow I summoned the will to put the book down…

BUT I DIDN’T KNOW IF I WAS ALIVE OR DEAD!

I kept sneaking in moments to read – over my lunch break, between classes at the dojo, etc. And finally, I learned that…

Well, that would be spoiling. 😉

If you want to know whether I ultimately lived or died, you’ll have to read the book for yourself – and now you can! Come, Seeling Night is available in ebook, paperback, and hardcover now from Amazon.com. Buy it today or read it FREE with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.


Paxton Locke’s been in some pretty tight spaces before. This one might be the worst.

Come, Seeling Night
by Daniel Humphreys

Drugged and shipped to who-knows-where on an airplane, he’s locked up by men who seem to be Feds. But they haven’t given him his phone call, and Pax isn’t sure if his cell mates are even human.

This is one cell he can’t get out of, but he’s got to find a way to escape. Mother has his girlfriend, and she wants a redo of the night she killed Paxton’s father. But this time she won’t be interrupted. Paxton’s got to find Cassie, and he’s got to stop his mother.

Or the world might end.

Apocalyptic visions from Mother’s grimoire have haunted him for years. Now she’s close to making it happen. And all Paxton can do is wait in his cell for someone to realize he’s not the bad guy.

Can Paxton escape his magical prison and stop Mother? Or will he be too late, and lose Cassie just like he lost his dad?

The third installment of the Paxton Locke series delves deeper into the meaning of love and forgiveness, while providing plenty of action, magic, and Humphreys’ signature subtle horror.

Will Mother bring about a world on fire, or a dead Earth? Can Paxton defeat her? Find out and read Come Seeling Night today!