New Book – Empathy for Andrew

by WJ Davies on October 6, 2015

I’ve just released a new ebook called Empathy for Andrew. This is a continuation of a short story i wrote for the Robot Chronicles last year. It’s on sale for $.99 for a limited time, so grab your copy 🙂

Synopses: The Center for Robotic Research takes quality assurance very seriously. Doctor Peter Hawthorne’s newest model, the Empathy 5, may finally have achieved true artificial intelligence–the first machine worthy of being called “alive”. But before these AI units can be certified for mass production, they must undergo intense psychological and emotional trials. After all, when you build a machine, you must try and test it to its very limits. Even to its breaking point.


Click the image for the book’s purchase page. Thanks to Derek Murphy for the beautiful cover!


Anger for Edward – Excerpt

by WJ Davies on January 25, 2015

Here’s a fairly rough sample of the book I’m working on. This scene takes place shortly after the conclusion of part one of Empathy for Andrew. And hey, how about that cover?


Deep in the heart of the Center for Robotic Research building, two technicians sorted through a pile of debris in front of them.
“Ugh, what a mess,” one of them grunted. His name was Bob, and had been working in the parts reclamation department for years.
“Tell me about it,” said his partner Jim. “I heard this one offed itself in less than a week.” He separated the ruined brain casing from the robot’s body and dumped it into a scrap metal bin. “That’s some kinda record, isn’t it?”
“Sure is,” Bob said.
“So, what does it mean?”
Bob leaned in close. “It means they’re close. Really close.”
Jim frowned. “But they invented AI ten years ago. What else is there?”
Bob laughed. “You’re looking at it all wrong, kid. The creation of a computer program that could reason was just the start. It was like inventing the radio. Sure you can broadcast music and voices, but what about pictures? And when they figured out how to send those through the air, it was only in black and white. It took decades before color came along. And then decades more before they had flat-screen and high rez. And another decade to get 3D, and then—”
Jim put up his hand. “In other words, they’re creating the HD of AI.”
Bob smiled. “Now you’re talking. And as the resolution, so to speak, of these robots increases, they become more and more indistinguishable from humans.”
“How far will they take it?”
Bob shrugged. “Who knows? With enough time and money, scientists like Doctor Hawthorne will create a new future.”
Jim suddenly looked worried as he stared at the dismembered parts in his hands. “But what about, you know, the robot apocalypse or whatever they’re calling it?”
Bon’s face went serious. “Ah, yes. Definitely something to worry about. Many of us believe that the robopocalypse is nigh, and that humans have but few precious years left. All this stuff with Beijing is just a prelude, meant to distract us while the robots overtake us from within. All it takes is one of them to infiltrate our security networks and it’s over.” He grabbed Jim’s arm, staring into his eyes. “So don’t forget to lock the doors on your way out.”
Jim looked at him a moment, then saw the hint of a smile on Bob’s face. Both men burst out laughing.
“I knew you were shitting me.”
Bob put up his hands, as if in defeat. “Hey man, anything’s possible. It’s a brave new world.”
Jim’s face became worried again. “But don’t they have some kinda built in fail safe, you know, so they can’t hurt people and all that?”
Bob nodded. “Yeah, all that Asimov shit. But that stuff is just code. Who’s to say a bot can’t get in there and alter its own programing? There’s too many variables if you ask me. Maybe that’s what they’re testing with the next experiment.”
Jim’s eyebrows went up. “What experiment?”
Bob lowered his voice. “I overheard one of the techs. They’re going to see if they can get the next bot to kill someone.”
“Seriously?” Jim whispered.
Bob nodded solemnly.
“Okay, now I know you’re shitting me.”
“Honest,” Bob said. “That’s what I heard, take it or leave it.”
They worked in silence for a few more minutes, and then Jim spoke. “Hey, do you ever feel sorry for them?”
Bob gave a little chuckle. “Seriously, Jim? Put it this way; do I feel sorry for the cows in a field, or the pigs in a pen? Yeah, maybe a little bit somewhere deep down inside. But honestly, it is what it is and there’s not much anybody can do about it. ‘Cept maybe become a vegetarian or some shit.”
A light flashed on the other side of the observation window, the silhouette of a man entering the room, a door opening and closing.
“Maybe there’s another option,” Jim said as they got back to work.
“Yeah, what’s that?”
Jim glanced at the window, where the shadow of Doctor Hawthorne stood watching them. He looked back at Bob. “You could become the farmer.”


Brilliant words from indie-author guru Hugh Howey.

Sky Gazing

January 14th, 2015 | Hugh C. Howey

You may have heard the sky is falling. You may have heard that the self-publishing gold rush is over. There have been a number of forum threads, blogs, and articles about this lately. I’ve been mulling over whether there’s truth to the claims that everything is getting worse for indies. And naturally I have few thoughts:

My first thought is that self-publishing is maturing, which means it’s beginning to share some of the cynicism seen among many traditional writers. There’s a big difference in the subject of this cynicism, however. Forums for authors with traditional publishing aspirations have long been peppered with threads about the query grind, the rejection letters and emails that pile up from agents and publishers, and the desire to quit and give up on the hopes of ever making it as a writer.

For self-published authors, the situation is in some ways better and in some ways worse. It’s better in that their works have made it out to market where they had a chance of being purchased by readers. It’s better in that they probably spent more time writing the next work and less time writing query letters, pitching the last work, or doing endless rewrites according to the whims of some half-interested agent.

But it can be worse, because the self-published author feels that much closer to success. Their works are available in the largest bookstore in the world. Why aren’t they selling? Rewriting blurbs, hiring another editor, changing the cover, playing with the price and promotions, all of these things make the lack of success harder to bear in some ways. These decisions fall on a single set of shoulders.

The recent rise in cynicism and pessimism stems from two sources, I believe. The first is a change in expectations. Five years ago, the thrill was in joining a crowd as it overran the gatekeepers. There were suddenly ways around and ways through. Now, anyone could be published. For the aspiring author, the ability to reach a single reader or just make works available felt like a win. A few years later, getting through the gate no longer has that new-car smell. Now people want and expect to be able to earn a living here.

This is a truth that bears repeating: Making it as a writer is difficult, however you go about it. I contend, however, that it’s far more difficult along the traditional route, as a writer getting started in today’s market. The chances of going from query letter to published work is as abysmal as ever. Over 95% of submitted works never gain representation by an agent. And fewer than half of those that do go on to get a book deal. So the failure rate for a traditionally aspiring author is around 98% right out of the gate.

It gets worse from there. Most books that get published don’t do well. There’s a small window of availability in bookstores before that title is returned and goes out of print. Advances are not large enough or steady enough to live on. And few authors get chance after chance after chance. If the first few books (or first book) underperforms, that might be the only opportunity they get. The dream of making it as a writer vanishes just when it seems like all the obstacles have been cleared.

And here is the second source of cynicism and pessimism bubbling forth from the self-publishing community: The natural failure rate, even if it’s lower for self-publishing, is now being seen for the first time. Traditionally published authors have (at least somewhat) understood the odds for years. The natural waves of rejections, failures, successes, outliers, and mid-listers have been rolling through for a long time. Self-published authors are just now seeing it.

Keep in mind that three sources of pent-up works hit the market all at once: long-queried manuscripts, manuscripts sitting in drawers, and rights that reverted to authors back when this was more likely to happen. After this sudden wave, we should expect to see — several years later — the first of those authors getting frustrated and/or quitting. And we are.

The fact that self-publishing provides better chances doesn’t mean great chances. The fact that self-publishing can be less frustrating than the query-go-round and the delays inherent with traditional publishing doesn’t mean that self-publishing is frustration-free. Again, the joys of being able to storm the gate have been replaced by the expectations of what one would find on the other side. As the two paths to publication become more similar to one another, the new arrivals will have to learn that the market is fickle, that the market is not fair, and that the market is ever-changing.

Which brings me to my last observation: Careers in entertainment are rarely steady. Five or so years into the disruption of the publishing industry, we should be seeing the first wave of authors who are working harder while earning less. This is natural. Those who work in TV, film, and the music industry know how this works. A hit TV show or band continues to produce quality work while the audience moves elsewhere. That’s what happens.

It’s tempting to assign blame, but knowing what or whom to blame is impossible. John Q. Public has ADHD. And we are all part of John Q. Public. Note how you flit from one thing to another, how you abandon TV shows you once loved, how you move to another genre of books, how you give up a film or video game habit or cancel a magazine subscription and get a new one. As content producers, you may find yourself on the other side of an equation you’ve long been a part of.

Some successful indie authors are watching earnings go down, which is always what was going to happen. Others are watching earnings go up, which is always what was going to happen. These things just go up and down. The reason for the new perception is that we practically started from zero just a few years ago. Everyone either stayed flat or saw an increase for several years. There were no heights to descend from. So this is the first time our cadre has had anyone able to report declining sales. We finally had someplace for them to descend from.

A few things that have helped me maintain perspective during my writing career:

1) I always assumed the last copy of a book I sold would be the last copy I would ever sell. I never planned my finances around sales going up or even leveling off. I planned as if every moment, my career was perched on the edge of a cliff. This affected how I handled my personal finances, how I controlled my expenditures, and how I was able to celebrate every small milestone and accomplishment as if it were new and wouldn’t last.

2) I made a conscious effort not to become inured to the things that excited me years ago. I geeked out over hitting “publish” with my twelth novel like it was my first. I want to maintain that fascination with having the freedom to make my works available to a worldwide market at the press of a button. I don’t want to get used to the view up here, at even the smallest of peaks.

3) I remind myself every day that I would write even if I had no audience. I never expected to make a living at this. I wrote because I enjoy reading, and I wanted to create worlds and characters that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I love being able to comment on the world as I see it. Everything that follows is a bonus.

And now here is a separate list of the reasons self-publishing is less brutal than the alternatives for those hoping to make a living from writing:

1) You decide when your career is over, not anyone else. This means you can publish ten novels that don’t perform well, and you can publish that eleventh if you want.

2) You can walk away or take a break and come back at any time. No one is going to hold you to book-a-year deadlines, and no one is going to object if you come back in five or ten years with a new story.

3) All your works stay available forever. This is true for your print books, your ebooks, and your audiobooks. You might give up or lose hope, but your odds of something taking off will remain practically the same. I’ve heard from writers who gave up only to see a work gain traction, and then they dove right back in.

4) The next big opportunity is right around the corner. No one knows what outlets will be available in five or ten years. With self-publishing, you own the rights to your work. Everything you write will be ready for the next big shift in the marketplace or in reader demand.

Which leads me to my final conclusion: The sky isn’t falling. The world is turning.

The sun goes down on one person while it comes up on someone else. This is a profession of cycles, of constant change. Hang around long enough, and the sun will come up on you again. People are freaking out largely because we’re seeing the first real revolution, the first time around. It got dark. That’s scary, but it’s normal. The sky falls, but it’s just as prone to rising.

Read more from his amazing blog here:


The Powers That Be

by WJ Davies on January 6, 2015

I am part of an active, and very special writing group. It is called LOOW, and is a collection of indie authors who started out writing stories set in Hugh’s Howey’s WOOL universe. Since then, we’ve created two charity anthologies, the proceeds of which benefit specific charities/organizations. Our second anthology, The Powers That Be, came out a few days ago, and since then it’s been sneaking its way up the SF charts over at Amazon. We’re very happy with this collection of short stories about superheroes and supernatural powers, and for a limited time, you can grab the ebook version for only $1. Click the cover image below to check out the book’s Amazon page. I’m going to get back to editing E4A now. Happy reading.

Powers That Be



by WJ Davies on December 1, 2014

How is it December already? Seriously.

It feels like this semester just started. Though, looking back, and to my great relief, I have done quite a lot of writing.

I wrote for school: most of a one-act play, ten pages of a feature film, a ten minute short film, half of a spec-scrip episode of the show Continuum, and various odds and ends.

For readers: short story for Powers That Be anthology (Lucky Chance), short story for Alien Chronicles anthology (Remember Valeria), and during NaNoWriMo, I turned Empathy for Andrew into a full length novel (54,000 words).

And yet… This world of self-publishing gives me a weird impression on writing production. I haven’t come out with a book since July (Binary Cycle), which was actually only four months ago. But in ebook author land, that seems like an eternity. How could I be so lazy! Well, good news. My new book comes out December 31st. You can pre-order it here. Also, I believe Alien Chronicles comes out in early January. Oh, and Powers That Be will be out in December sometime! When it rains, it pours, eh?


After Empathy for Andrew comes out, I’m going to hard-core focus on editing the story I wrote LAST NaNoWriMo. This book is called Race of the Commons, and I literally haven’t read it since I finished writing it a year ago. I can’t wait to dig in and take the hedge clippers to that baby. You know me, I’m the worst at predicting my own release dates, so I won’t make any promises here. But I HOPE that book can come out in late winter. Here’s the cover for the first section of the book, created by Derek Murphy. He’s a great guy who I met in Taipei, at Hugh Howey’s Taiwanese DUST launch. Pretty fancy!

Transfer of Order

That’s all for right now. I’ve got to finish up that spec-script for class. I’ll try to check in here a little more often.



E4A: Pt 2

August 20, 2014

I’d like to announce that a sequel for my short story Empathy for Andrew (available in The Robot Chronicles) is forthcoming. This is in no small part due to  suggestions from several readers that this could turn into a longer story, and perhaps one worthy of telling. [EDIT: This is now available for pre-order on […]

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Two New Releases!

July 28, 2014

After almost two years, Binary Cycle is now available in one volume! They escaped a ruined Earth, forsaking the remnants of a dying world. Now, two-hundred years after arriving on the beautiful and bizarre planet of Taran, humanity is thriving once again. But orbital disruptions are becoming frequent, and the native alien “Spindroth” have been […]

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Author Profile: Michael Bunker

June 27, 2014

I’m not sure how much I need to say about Michael. He does enough talking all on his own 😉 No, seriously, Michael is one of those guys that is so in tune with what he is doing that it’s almost scary. I wish I was half as productive as Michael, and people have […]

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Author Profile: A.G. Riddle

June 27, 2014

As soon as I started writing, I also started reading about writing and researching publishing methods. I didn’t even know self-publishing on Amazon was an option for me until I’d already written 10,000 words or so. This knowledge sent me to Amazon to browse the sci-fi bestseller lists, and that’s how I discovered books like […]

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Author Profile: Thomas Robins

June 26, 2014

I absolutely love the author community that exists right now. When I published The Runner, I had no idea that it would lead to me meeting so many interesting people from all over the world. Thomas is one of those people. He first emailed me more than a year ago, letting me know that […]

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