Friday, September 13, 2019

A heartfelt thanks for the amazing support



Another Kickstarter is in the history books. Robin and I want to thank all the people who helped make the Age of Death project such a huge success. With that out of the way, the final production begins. The manuscript has gone to the copyeditors and we expect to have their changes back in early October. For those that backed the Kickstarter, that means you'll get your ebooks next month. Robin has started doing the layout for the book so we can get cost estimates and schedule the print runs. Once all that is done, we'll know better about the shipping date for physical copies, but you'll certainly get them before the Feb 4, 2020 release date.

So, how did the Kickstarter go? Really well!

  • Our most successful Kickstarter to date.
  • 3,120 backers  - 567 more than Age of Legend.
  • $119,337 raised - $8,471 more than Age of Legend.
  • 2nd most-backed and 4th most-funded fiction Kickstarters of all time.
Here's some data about the past Kickstarters.



People are already asking when the Age of Empyre Kickstarter will launch, and normally I would have said 3 months. But that would land it right in the middle of the holiday season, and I'm not sure that would be a good time. So, Robin's current thought is early in January. We'll keep you posted.


Lately, Robin has been talking to a number of authors who are considering Kickstarters. We think this is great as the one-on-one interaction and special perks that Kickstarters provide make it a great experience for readers and writers. Hopefully, we'll see some other authors bumping us out of the top ranks.

Oh, and if you missed the Kickstarter, no worries. You can still participate via the BackerKit pre-order store. Robin is still setting it up, but it should be ready soon. We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Montemorcey Tote Bag added to Kickstarter


Well, it's been a fun ride, but we are getting near the end. There are 55 hours and change left for The Age of Death Kickstarter.



We've had a good run, and if we raise another $2,667, we'll surpass the Age of Legend project and become the 5th most-funded fiction Kickstarter of all time! (We've already surpassed Legend in terms of number of people supporting it, and it's currently the 2nd most-backed). Even if we don't reach that last stretch goal, we can be proud of having 2 of the 6 projects that exceeded $100,000 in funding. Thanks, so much for all the continued support of my work.

Oh, and I should mention that one of the things we added to the Kickstarter, is a Montemorcey tote bag.

This was a popular item from a Riyria Kickstarter, and we are happy to bring it back. If you are already a current Age of Death backer, just add $25 to your pledge (includes US shipping). When the Kickstarter is over, you'll be able to attribute that "excess money" to purchase the bag.

If you aren't a backer and want the tote, you can pledge $25 without a reward, and you'll be able to attribute that amount to the bag from BackerKit after the campaign is over. Or, if you'd rather, you can pledge $30, and select the SOUND ADVICE level, which will make you an official backer. Doing so will grant you other rewards like screensavers, having your name included in the acknowledgments, and free short stories.

One last thing. If we do meet that final stretch goal, Robin and I will be making a 30 - 60 minute video where we discuss the making of Age of Legend. It'll be a little behind the scenes peek at the creative process, and it'll be available to all backers. If you have any questions, please be sure to let me know.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Tracking the Kickstarter


There is a site called Kicktraq, which Robin uses to track how the Kickstarter is going. The widget shown below will be updated in realtime. So, if you've been watching the Age of Death project and anxious to see when new levels are reached, check back here. I suspect things will be calming down for a while, but hopefully, we'll get another burst toward the project's end. That's what generally happens.

Fantasy Novel: Age of Death by Michael J. Sullivan -- Kicktraq Mini

Saturday, August 24, 2019

3 of the Top 5 of all time


We are less than 48 hours into the Age of Death Kickstarter, but already it's moved up to the 5th most-backed Fiction Kickstarter of all time!


What's more, my Kickstarters have 3 of those top 5 spots. Isn't that amazing? It's only 168 backers away from overtaking The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter for spot #4.  Will it eventually overtake #2? It will need another 646 bakers to do that, and I think we'll be able to reach that goal in the next 17 days. But what about #1? Well, that would REALLY take some work because it would need more than 2,762 more backers, and currently, it only has 1,907. Still, strange things have happened, so I'm not going to rule anything out.

So, if you've read Age of Legend and are itching for the next book.  Or haven't started Legends of the First Empire and are looking to find a good excuse to start, please stop by the Kickstarter and consider backing it.

And for the more than 1,900 people who already have, Robin and I thank you for your support.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Age of Death Kickstarter Launching on Thursday


At 12:00 noon EDT on Thursday, Aug 22nd, I'll be pushing the Age of Death Kickstarter live. To find it you can go to the page posted at this link, and press the graphic. Doing that right now does nothing but on Thursday it will take you to the Kickstarter page.

HINT: You can also find the page by going to Kickstarter and searching for Age of Death or by looking for projects created by Michael J. Sullivan ;-).


So what are we offering through this project?

Well, for the most part, it will mirror the Age of Legends crowdfunding, with a few notable exceptions.

  • First, we have doubled the number of early-bird specials (100 rewards will be 20% off), but I still expect them to go fast.
     
  • Second, we won't have any "Nights in Avryln." There are still too many people who haven't yet had their visits, and until we get those knocked out, I don't want to add to that backlog.
     
  • Third, we've significantly reduced overseas shipping. Basically, we've taken a big cut out of our profit margin for those who live outside the United States: $20 (for 1-book rewards) and $46 (for those who buy all 5 books). We have applied these discounts to reduce the shipping costs charged to backers. Now, if we get enough overseas orders, we can do shipping locally from overseas fulfillment companies, and we might be able to recoup some of that sacrificed profit. We won't know if that is possible until after the Kickstarter is over and we know the number, weight, and volume of all the packages.
     
  • We are using BackerKit for fulfillment. This will provide an easier way for us to distribute electronic content, and it will also aid the process if people want to "trade up" to other reward levels after the Kickstarter has ended. This will also allow us to take pre-orders for people who miss the Kickstarter.
     
  • By popular demand, we'll be bringing back Robin's Tip Jar. So, if you want to help get her a little something special for the work she puts in, consider backing at a slightly higher amount then your reward level, and you'll be able to tip her in BackerKit when the project is over. She'll use the tips to get "something special" and she'll share with you what that is.
     
  • Unfortunately, we can't offer the audiobooks as those rights were sold to Audible Studios, and only they can distribute those files, but we have made a low-cost pledge ($5 - SOUND ADVICE) so people can get their names in the printed books and receive digital rewards such as the screensavers and any other electronic files that become available through stretch goals.
     
  • We are also discounting the hardcovers ($25 rather than $27-$28) and allowing you to get 1, 2, 3, 4, or all 5 of the existing titles. If you want to ensure a full hardcover set, I highly encourage you to get these copies through the Kickstarter. Age of Swords is already out of print (although we have a large shipment in our warehouse), and both Age of Myth and Age of War was on their way to an "out of print" status when I convinced Del Rey to do one more small press run for the Kickstarters. My guess is once those are gone, there won't be anymore.
Okay, so that's what is new, but what's the same?
  • Have you ever wanted to see your name in print? Do you want to show off to your friends (and the rest of the world) that you helped to make the hardcover edition possible? Well, all backers (unless they opt-out) will have their names listed in the acknowledgments of both the print and ebook.
  • The ebook is still offered at retail price, so you'll be paying the same whether you are preordering through the Kickstarter or buy it through online retail sites. The difference? You'll have an actual electronic copy (which can't be erased from your device), it'll be DRM-free, and you'll put a higher % of your money into our pocket by cutting out the middlemen. In addition, you'll get to read the story months before the retail release.
     
  • All reward levels that have a physical book will be signed.
     
  • All reward levels (except SOUND ADVICE)  will get the ebook in late October (a full three-months) before the retail release. So, if you are chomping at the bit to see what happens next (and I know many of you are), then you'll want to be a backer.
     
  • The hardcovers will match the existing books, and once more we are using Marc Simonetti for the amazing artwork.
If you are wondering why we are doing a Kickstarter, it's a subject I've talked about in the past, but maybe you missed it. You see, we sold the audio rights for the entire series long, long, ago. When Del Rey purchased the rights to the first three books, that wasn't a problem and they licensed just the ebook and print rights.  A few years later, when it came time to negotiate for books #4 - #6, we found out that there had been a corporate policy change with Penguin Random House and they no longer let Del Rey sign any contract that doesn't contain audiobook rights. Well, with those rights already gone, that meant Del Rey couldn't sign the rest of the books.

For a while, we worked on getting another publisher to do the books, but we weren't happy with the release schedule they wanted, nor certain clauses in the contract. So we decided to self-publish the book. That said, we know how important it is for readers to have all their books in a series be consistent so we use the same printer, paper, size, and even the same font, for our versions so the last three books will match the first three. But doing a print run is expensive, and by using the Kickstarter we hope to fund half of the production costs.

There is a lot more information about the Kickstarter, too much to go into here, so here is preview link, that will let you see all the details before it goes live.

We're pretty excited about this Kickstarter, and we hope you will be as well. It's always a fun and hectic time when we have one going on, and it's so great seeing everyone's excitement toward the project. I hope you'll join us!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Goodreads Featured New Releases in Fantasy


It's been a good launch for Age of Legend, not only did it make several of the top bestseller lists (New York Times and USA Today), but it is also being featured in Goodread's New Fantasy releases.  Here are some of the other top titles that have recently come out!


So far 18,527 Goodreads members have shelved the book, and I'm cautiously optimistic that it'll be nominated for a Choice Award in a few months. Part of the criteria that wins a book its nomination is the number of shelvings, so thank you to everyone who has added it to their shelves!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists - again!


I was floored when Age of War hit the New York Times bestseller list. To be honest, I never thought I would ever make this amazing distinction. So, imagine my surprise when Age of Legend did so as well!


Now, that's an indication that the audiobooks sold well, but how about the print and ebooks? Well, I'm proud to say that we also made the USA Today Bestseller list (which doesn't take into account the audio sales).


Of course, this really isn't my accomplishment, it's all of you who showed so much support for the book and bought them as soon as you could get your hands on them. Robin and I greatly appreciate your support!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

It's a wrap!


We have now officially finished with the Age of Legend Kickstarter, and boy did Robin and I have a good time! And based on the messages and emails we've received, it looks like others did, as well. This project was hugely successful (#2 most-backed & #5 most-funded fiction projects of all time).

Pre-ordering direct through the Kickstarter has a lot of advantages. The price is the same (or lower) than the retail copies, the physical books are signed, people get to read the story 3 months before the official release,  and they receive bonus materials such as bookmarks, short stories, screensavers, and much, much more. For us, we earn a great deal more money per purchase (retailer middlemen take 30% - 60% of the price the reader pays), and the backers make hardcover copies possible.

Here's some data on the Age of Legend project:

  • 2,406 people received the ebook 3 months early (April rather than July)
  • 2,748 signed hardcover copies of Legends of the First Empire books were sold
  • 1,453 people received a set of 4 custom-designed bookmarks (one of which was signed)
  • 2,553 people received a free full-length bonus novel
  • 2,553 people received bonus material such as short stories (3), screen savers (6 designs), t-shirt graphics (3), music (10 files), graphics for posters and puzzles (12 files), video Q&A recordings (5)
  • $9,100 of savings was passed onto readers (books sold at $25 or less rather than $27 - $28)
And, yes, the Age of Death Kickstarter is coming soon! Robin is working hard to get it set up, and we hope to launch next week (the week after that at the latest). The only remaining issue relates to shipping non-US packages. She's in discussions with fulfillment partners in Europe and Canada. 

And yes, people will get the story more than 3 months early (end of October rather than early February). So, if you can't wait for the next installment, please consider joining us for our next Kickstarter! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Riyria Revelations Box Set


No, this isn't about the limited edition hardcovers, and yes those are still in the works. This post is related to Orbit's paperback boxset of the Riyria Revelations, which is coming out on September 24th. Now, I love boxsets, but I like them even more when they are signed.  So, I've ordered a bunch, and I'm taking preorders at this link, and offering more than a 20% discount. That comes out to $31 which means just $10.33 a book which is much less than the individual prices of $16 - $17 each. Once I have stock in hand, I'll be adding it to my store, but for now, the above link is the only way to get signed copies. Plus, Robin is going to make a custom-designed bookmark that I'll sign. We'll add that to the buy direct orders. Now how much would you pay! ;-)


I know it's still summer, and people are focused on back to school rather than Christmas, but for just a little more than a $28 hardcover, you can introduce a loved one to ALL of the Riyria Revelations books, and since they'll be signed, that'll make them an even more special gift. I hope you'll pick up a set! And as always, Robin and I thank you for your support.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Audio preorders are up, reserve yours now!


Has the ending of Age of Legend left you wanting to know the rest of the story?  I'm sure it has because even though I hadn't mentioned it before, the next two books are #2 and #3 in the Bestselling Epic Fantasy category for books that are coming soon. If you've already pre-ordered, thanks for the support! If you haven't, well here is a friendly reminder, and maybe we'll hit #1 sometime soon ;-)

Here is a link for Age of Death, and another for Age of EmpyreAnd while it doesn't say, Tim is (and has been for months) booked for the gig, so, no worries. He'll be recording them. Originally, we had planned on recording the two books back to back, but scheduling conflicts with one of our copyeditors meant they couldn't get to Age of Empyre in time. We didn't want to lose her, so we asked Tim for his next available slot. It was a long way off, February, in fact, but that still gives the post-production people enough time to work their magic without changing the release date.

The train and our hotel are booked, so we'll be heading to New York in the middle of October. We'll both be "sitting in" with Tim during the recording and take him out for a nice dinner.

And for the non-audio listeners, we haven't forgotten about you. The Kickstarter for Age of Death will launch this month (hopefully next week).  And just like Age of Legend, those that pre-order through it will get the story before the retail release.  We'll be sending ebook copies as soon as we get out of the studio because we sometimes make minor adjustments as Tim reads.   That means you can get the book in October, more than 3 months ahead of the official retail release.

Robin has been reading my implemented changes from her comments, and deemed them "really good." So we are hoping to get the book into beta reading next week.  If you've signed up but not heard, no worries, Robin hasn't made her selections yet, but I'm sure she will be soon.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A seat at the big kids' tables


For those who have been "with me" over the years, you know that when I started out I considered myself "the little engine that might." Well, more than a decade goes by, fifteen books are released, and soon you are counting the sales in millions of copies sold rather than a few thousand. It's all quite surreal, and I have to grudgingly admit that the "might" has to change to "did."

I'll admit that when I hit the New York Times Bestsellers List, I thought that would be the peak. But there is one thing that still alluded me.  You see, even though I realize I've achieved so much, I still know that few people have heard of me or my books. Which is fine. I've reached heights that I never thought possible, and I have nothing to complain about.

But someone recently told me that my Riyria Revelation books have appeared on the 50 Best Fantasy Books of All Time List (compiled by the folks at the NerdMuch? site). I'll admit, every time one of these lists comes out I look (just to see) but year after year, list after list, there is no mention of my work. This is one of the reasons I know I'm still working my way up the ladder. But seeing my books there (especially in the company it has been added next to) makes me feel like I'm making it to the "big kids" table. I still probably won't sit down, but at least I won't feel self-conscious about standing with my tray in the same room as the others.

As always, I know this type of success is not just because of what I did, but it's due to all you generous readers who have supported me over the years. So please consider this accomplishment as a joint project, because it's by buying the books, and telling others how much you enjoyed them, that the series has such staying power. So take the time to congratulate yourself as well. Together we keep doing great things.

Monday, July 29, 2019

$5 Crown Tower Audiobook - now through Aug 4



Have you read the Riyria Revelations but not Chronicles? Or maybe you are into the Legends of the First Empire series, but haven't yet tried a Riyria tale? Well, if you are an audio-listener, now is a great time to dive into the Riyria Chronicles as The Crown Tower (Book #1 of the Riyria Chronicles is on sale for just $5)!

I hope you pick up a copy, and if you like the read, please let us know!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Top 10 Audiobooks - 6 for 6

We are so honored that audiobook listeners flock to our new releases in droves. Since 2015, every single release of my books has hit Audible's Top 10 bestseller list in its debut week, including last week's Age of Legend. That's amazing, especially when you consider there are 61,000+ fiction titles on the site. How can I not be happy with that! So, thank you, audio listeners, for bringing us to the top of the charts so many times.
  • #9 The Death of Dulgath  (Dec 15, 2015)
  • #6 Age of Myth (May 9, 2016)
  • #1 Age of Swords (July 28, 2017)
  • #8 The Disappearance of Winter's Daughter (Dec 8, 2017)
  • #3 Age of War (July 8, 2018)
  • #6 Age of Legend (July 12, 2019)
Here is the full set of books that hit the bestseller list:

*One of July's Free Audible Originals

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Ask Me Anything!


Today on /r/fantasy I'll be doing an "Ask Me Anything," which if you've never been to one before it's a kind of Q&A where I'll talk about my books, publishing, or anything you want to chat about.  So please stop by and say hello, or better yet...ask me something!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Today's the day! Age of Legend Officially released



If you've not picked up a copy you can get yours from any of these fine retailers:
Also I'll be doing an "Ask Me Anything" on reddit's /r/book site. So drop by and say hello, or ask me a question!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

2 days until Age of Legend Releases, how are things going?



I can't believe the date for Age of Legend is finally so close. While it seems as if it has taken forever, it also seems as if it's already been out for ages (because so many people have read it as part of the Kickstarter campaign). I'm so thrilled people have been enjoying the read and are looking forward to Age of Death (Feb 4, 2020) and Age of Empyre (May 5, 2020).

So, how has it gone so far?  Well, in some respects it's hard to tell because getting preliminary numbers isn't easy, but we do know some things such as:

My Riyria printed returns are 6% - 8%, and we've seen about 10% - 12% on the Del Rey hardcovers. If we take a really conservative estimate and assume 22% returns that would mean we've already sold 15,679 copies across all formats! And that doesn't even count all the other sites that I have zero data for at the moment.

Here's the breakdown for those that like graphs:


I'm thrilled with this kind of early support for the books, and Robin and I thank you all. And if you haven't picked up your copy, maybe you could use the links above to grab one. Also a reminder that hardcovers bought from our site are signed, and ebooks bought from our site or DRM-free and can never "disappear" if the retailer later removes them from the store.

Thanks again!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

No, I'm not trying to cheat on Robin, nor am I any of these other things.


I've had a few emails recently asking "what's up" with my match.com profile where I mention being divorced and looking for love. The people writing to me have pointed out that (based on this site and other conversations) I "seem" happily married, but they question if I'm trying to have a relationship on the side. Well, I can assure you there is no trouble in paradise in the love department of Team Sullivan.

In this particular case, it is a different author named Michael Sullivan, and you might be surprised to know there are quite a few of us. There are, in fact, so many authors named Michael Sullivan, that when I first started publishing, I considered using a pen name, and over the years a few more have popped up.

In some ways, it'd be really cool if all these Michael Sullivan's were me, because not only would I be a fantasy author but I'd also be...
  • The author of more than a hundred advanced math textbooks
  • An expert on Chinese art
  • A sports expert
  • A wine and beer expert
  • Savy when it comes to international politics
  • I'd know a lot more than I do about elections, social welfare, and public policy
  • A history buff with knowledge of everything from the secret love affairs of presidents to Orville and Wilber Wright.
  • I'd also have a few more novels under my belt.
So, exactly how many authors are there with the name of Michael Sullivan? To be honest, I don't know for sure because not all of the books have been "gathered" under individual profiles on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. But based on some recent research done by Robin...it's A LOT!

I think the one that I'm confused with the most often is Michael John Sullivan (for the record my middle name is James). He writes Christian-based novels and is probably best known for Necessary Heartbreak although some of his other books include An Angel Comes Home, Everybody's Daughter, and the Greatest Gift. I think I've earned him a bit of cash over the years because if you look at the "Also boughts" of Necessary Heartbreak you'll see all my books listed, which is likely a result of people reading one of my books, going to look for more by me, and finding his. If you're "that" Michael J. Sullivan and you are reading this...you're welcome.

Michael John, isn't the only novelist that shares my name. Here are some other novels which I'm pretty sure were all written by different Michael Sullivans, and their only books released so far.
  • Fort Drake Island
  • Runner's Dawn
  • Forgotten Flowers
  • In This Living Body
  • Indianersommer
  • The Girl in the Second World
  • Fulfillment - It's All about Power 
Unlike Necessary Heartbreak, it doesn't appear that any of these books are being mistaken as books I've written.

The one who has probably sold the most books (maybe even more than I have) is the author of a huge number of textbooks on mathematics including Trigonometry, Calculus, Algebra, and Statistics. Seriously there are hundreds of these books, and if they are required reading at a number of Universities, that Michael Sullivan has done very well. For the record, I can't multiply 8 by 7. Seriously, I don't know the answer. I'd need a calculator.

The Michael Sullivan I'd like to meet the most is the one who has written so many books on Chinese Art. It's a topic I know nothing about, but he obviously does and I'm sure I would be riveted as he poured out his passion for the subject over a glass of wine. Some of his titles include

  • The Arts of China
  • Modern Chinese Art
  • The Three Perfections: Chinese Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy
  • The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art
  • Symbols of Eternity: The Art of Landscape Painting in China
  • Wang Huaiqing
  • A Short History Of Chinese Art
  • Modern Chinese Artists: A Biographical Dictionary
  • Chinese Art; Recent Discoveries
  • Chinese Landscape Painting: In the Sui and Tang Dynasties
  • The Night Entertainments of Han Xizai: A Scroll by Gu Hongzhong
  • Studies in the Art of China and South-East Asia (Volume I and II)
  • Chinese Ceramics, Bronzes, and Jades in the Collection of Sir Alan and Lady Barlow
  • Art and Artists of Twentieth-Century China.
There are a few more art books by Michael Sullivan(s) but I don't think these two titles came from the guy I just mentioned: Windows Into the Light: A Lenten Journey of Stories and Art and Windows Into the Soul: Art as Spiritual Expression.

Going back to wine...there is another Michael Sullivan who has written a few books on wine and beer including The 30 minute Wine Expert and The 30 Minute Beer Expert: A Concise Guide for Beer Lovers. He also seems to be a bit of a "foodie" as he's also written The 30 Minute French Cuisine Expert, 30 Minute Paleo Diet Expert: Become Healthy by Eating Naturally, Lose Fat, Gain Muscle, Sleep Like a Baby (and also 5 Minutes To Paleo Heaven and 20 Minutes To Paleo Heaven for those who think 30 minutes is too much time). He's also written The 30 Minute Atkins Diet Expert, The 30 Minute hCG Diet Expert, The 30 Minute Intermittent Fasting Expert, and Crock Pot Magic. To work off all that booze and food he's also written 30 Minute Kettlebell Expert to get some exercise. Maybe he can prepare a meal for me and the Chinese Art Michael and pick all three of us out a good wine.

Then there is the sports expert Michael Sullivan. He has written Sports Great Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Mullin: Star Forward, Sports Great Barry Bonds, Sports Great Darryl Strawberry, Mark Messier: Star Center, Top 10 Baseball Pitchers, and The New York Rangers Hockey Team.

Another Michael Sullivan has been spending his life trying to get kids to read more, especially boys. His books include Fundamentals of Children's ServicesServing Boys Through Readers' Advisory, Raising Boy Readers, Connecting Boys with Books: What Libraries can do, Connecting Boys with Books: Closing the Reading Gap, Connecting Boys with Books: Volume 6 (I'm going to assume there is a volume 3, 4, and 5 to go with those other 3). I "think" he is also the author that has written a number of children stories including The Sapphire Knight, Escapade Johnson and Mayhem at Mount Moosilauke, Escapade Johnson and the Coffee Shop of the Living Dead, Escapade Johnson and the Witches of Belknap County, Escapade Johnson and the Phantom of the Science Fair. 

Another Michael Sullivan who is a children's author wrote The SockKids Say NO to Bullying, The SockKids Help Ben Franklin, The SockKids Go Dancing, The SockKids Meet Lincoln, The SockKids STOP A Bully!, and Nick Knitley and The SockKids: Surviving The Oddly Strange Town of Millbottom.

I'm pretty sure there is another children's author named Michael Sullivan who wrote Skipper's Busy Day, Oliver's Happy Day, and Kitty's Outdoor Day.

There is a book called The Alliance by Michael Sullivan which is about kids with unnatural powers at a school called Rosemond School for the Gifted. I'm not sure if this is a book by the other four children authors I found or not.

I've never written a book about my mom, but a pair of brothers (Michael and Larry) have, and it's called Raising Mama: A Memoir. 

A lawyer named Michael Sullivan wrote a book called Adopt the Baby You Want. He may or may not be the same lawyer who contributed with a few others in writing the International Human Rights Law Sourcebook. 

Oh, and another Michael wrote a biography. It's called The Fairhaven folktales of Dirty Dan Harris and it's about the storyteller Daniel Jefferson Harris of the Puget Sound area of Washington State, USA, who lived from 1826 to 1890. I'm pretty sure Of Gentle Thought is an autobiography of a poet named Michael Sullivan.

I'm not a technology expert but one (or more) Michael Sullivans is/are because he/they released books such as Detour: The Truth about the Information Superhighway, Make Your Scanner A Great Design And Production Tool, Webmaster Strategies, and Netscape Suitespot Bible.

I'm not a particularly religious person (spiritual yes, religion, not so much) but this Michael Sullivan obviously is. He wrote four books: My Little Book Of Prayers: Female Saints, My Little Book Of Prayers: Male Saints, My Little Book of Prayers: Mary, and My Book of Catholic Prayers. There is another Michael Sullivan (or maybe it's the same one) who wrote What He said, about Christ and His disciples.

I've never lived in New York (only visited) but I'm sure the Michael Sullivan who wrote So You Think You're a New Yorker: What Every Knowledgeable New Yorker Should Know probably lives there.

There is a philosophically minded Michael O'Sullivan (close enough) that studied Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and wrote a book on it.

Likewise, Vernacular Sonnets of Giuseppe Gioachino Belli was penned by an expert on this satirical poet from the late 1700's to middle 1800's, which was definitely not me ;-)

There is a Michael Sullivan who has studied immigration and the political challenges facing the United States because he wrote a book called Earned Citizenship on that subject.

At least one, and maybe more, Michael Sullivan's is very interested in social policy, society, and the law. Here are several books I found on the subject (I have no idea if they were all written by one or multiple people: Sociology And Social Welfare, Modern Social Policy, The Politics Of Social Policy, Introducing Social Policy, Power In Contemporary International Politics, and Legal Pragmatism: Community, Rights, and Democracy

Then we go into some "deep dives" on "very specific" subjects. I have no idea how many Michael Sullivans penned these titles:
  • A Comparative Analysis Of Drop Outs And Non Drop Outs In Ontario Secondary Schools
  • Cambodia Votes: Democracy, Authority and International Support for Elections 1993-201
  • Relativization in Ojibwe 
  • The Development of the British Welfare State and Democracy
  • The Physiology of the Digestive Tract of Elasmobranchs 
  • The Trees of San Francisco
  • Fish of Alberta 
  • Studies in Soil Catalysis
  • A Beneficial Organic Constituent of Soils 
  • 101 Easy Ways To Increase Business With Boomerplus Clients 
  • How to Win and Know It: An Effects-Based Approach to Irregular Warfare
  • American Adventurism Abroad: Invasions, Interventions, and Regime Changes since World War II
  • Writing the Dead: Death and Writing Strategies in the Western Tradition 
  • Building Saugerties: Understanding a Historic Success in Economic Development
  •  Sexual Minorities: Discrimination, Challenges and Development in America
  • Measuring Global Values: The Ranking of 162 Countries 
  • Cutting Through the Red Tape: Top Ten Things All Florida Disability Applicants Should Know
  • The State of Florida v. You: the Accused's Guide to Defending a Florida DUI Charge 
  • Cyberquake: How the Internet Will Erase Profits, Topple Market Leaders, and Shatter Business Models
  • Pain Management: Practical Applications of the Biopsychosocial Perspective in Clinical and Occupational Settings 
  • Pauley's Guide - A Dictionary of Japanese Martial Arts and Culture 
  • House Divided: Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology - A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be 
  • In Search of a Perfect World: A Historical Perspective on the Phenomenon of Millennialism and Dissatisfaction with the World as It Is 
  • Rapid Acquisition of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles 
  • Security Force Assistance: Building Foreign Security Forces and Joint Doctrine for the Future of U.S. Regional Security
  • Defense Acquisitions: Measuring the Value of DoDżs Weapon Programs Requires Starting with Realistic Baselines
  • Defense Acquisitions: DoD Must Prioritize Its Weapon System Acquisitions and Balance Them with Available Resources 
  • Defense Acquisitions: DoD Could Achieve Greater Commonality and Efficiencies Among Its Unmanned Aircraft Systems 
  • Joint Strike Fighter: Strong Risk Management Essential as Program Enters Most Challenging Phase 
  • Countering Terrorism and WMD 
  • Selling Your PR Firm MasterClass & Workbook: A Step-by-Step Owner's Guide From Decision to Closing 
There seem to be one (or some) psychiatrists or psychologist who share my name based on these titles:
  • Relationships in Chronic Illness and Disability 
  • Dual Diagnosis: Counseling the Mentally Ill Substance Abuser
  • Understanding Depression and Addiction
  • Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Addiction 
  • Treating Addicted Survivors of Trauma
While I enjoy history, there are other Michael Sullivans that are better experts on certain subjects than I am. Some examples:
  • A Fatal Passion: The Story of the Uncrowned Last Empress of Russia
  • Cavalry In The Shenandoah Valley Campaign Of 1862: Effective, But Inefficient
  • The Vietnam War: A Study in the Making of American Policy,
  • Presidential Passions: The Love Affairs of America's Presidents: From Washington and Jefferson to Kennedy and Johnson
  • Affairs of state: The true, untold stories of the illicit love lives of the presidents of the United States
  • Orville and Wilbur at the Airport
I don't know much about international politics, but at least one Michael Sullivan does because he wrote: International Relations: Theories and Evidence.

There is a Michael Sullivan that works in the Federal Emergency Management Agency who wrote, Your Thrift Savings Plan. 

And at least one is an expert on teeth because he penned the 2013 edition of Illustrated Handbook of Clinical Dentistry.

Poetry isn't something I specialize in, but at least one Michael Sullivan fancies that medium. I found two books of poems: A Lyrical Salute to a Mentally Wounded, Disabled American Veteran: A Lifetime of Lyrics and Poetry and the other one is Think of the Day We Saw the Centipede Castle: A Love Story in Poems

I'm not a Hollywood mover or shaker be. He wrote There's no people like show people: confessions of a showbiz agent.

I think at least one Michael Sullivan is an archeologist, based on The Cave Temples Of Maichishan, House of Sun, and The Desert is Green

Not Our Day to Die: Testimony from the Guatemalan Jungle was a book written by a Michael Sullivan who has experience with ferrying people and transporting medicine, crops, and supplies in South America. Definitely not me.

So how many Michael Sullivans are authors? As you can see, it's hard to tell. And I'm sure there are some that Robin failed to uncover. But wouldn't it be cool if I DID write all those books? I'd certainly be more well-rounded than I am. I think I'm going to pick up a copy of The Physiology of the Digestive Tract of Elasmobranchs and put it on my shelf just so people who visit will think I wrote it.

Oh, and in case you are wondering WHICH of these Michael's is looking for love on match.com? It's the children's author who writes the SockKids books. He lives in the New York City area and went to St. John's University.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

So exciting to see this!


Just look at the joy in those faces!  This is just one of the many messages (and images) we've been receiving from people whose Age of Legend books have arrived.

Many of these were received because of Kickstarter pre-orders. And if you want to be notified when the Age of Death Kickstarter starts up, you can sign up here.

But we have also opened up orders directly from our website (which provides us with a higher income because we get to keep the retailer's cut.  You can receive either hardcovers (which match the Age of Myth, Age of Swords, and Age of War versions from Del Rey), or DRM-free ebooks (including formats for all devices, tablets, and computers) by going to our online store.

Thanks all for the amazing support. We still have another 3 weeks before the official release, and I'm thrilled people are so pleased with getting early copies.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

4-book Giveaway for Age of Legends



Grim Oak Press (the distributor for Age of Legend) is running a giveaway for signed copies of all 4 books of the Legends of the First empire series. You can enter to win here.

Even if you have all the books, this would be a great opportunity to introduce the series to a loved one. Plus, there's another reason to enter. Shawn and Jeff (who run Grim Oak) are also going to be giving away 3 copies of Terry Brook's Street Freaks and one copy of the exclusive Emerald City Comic Con edition of Unfettered III.


Oh, and while we are speaking of giveaways...don't forget we still have two other giveaways for Age of Legend.  

Good luck on the drawings!!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Did you miss the Kickstarter but want Age of Legend Early?



Many people have reached out to me indicating they were sad to miss the Age of Legend Kickstarter, and they wanted to get their hands on the book as soon as possible.  Well, I'm here to say there is a way to get it right now!

The books have come off the presses, the warehouse has signed copies, and I've updated my online store to offer ebooks and signed hardcovers.  So, if you missed the Kickstarter you can buy the book directly from me and get the book right now -- a month early.

Buying direct has a number of advantages:
  • More of your money goes directly to me since I get to keep the retailer's cut.
  • You get signed printed editions.
  • You get the books early - the retail chain copies start shipping 7/9/19.
  • ebooks are DRM free, and you get multiple formats so you can read the book on whatever device you desire.
  • You help rural Virginias earn a living - we use a fulfillment company that is in a part of the country where jobs are hard to come by and the more books we send through there, the more people they can hire.
I hope you'll consider picking up an early copy...and no matter how you get the book - I hope you enjoy the read!


Friday, June 7, 2019

Today Only: Kindle Daily Deal (Theft of Swords)


What a surprise to get my Amazon Daily Deals email and find that Theft of Swords is on sale!  Today, and today only you can get it for $2.99 and save 70% off the $9.99 regular price. And since this is an omnibus edition (with two full-length novels inside including The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha) it's an even better deal.

Pick up a copy for yourself or a friend today!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Audible's Biggest Titles of the Summer



First, it was Goodreads, and now Audible is featuring Age of Legend as one of this summer's biggest releases. Here is a full list of some of the other fantasy picks:


I see some great titles coming out, and I'm especially excited for Evan Winter's release, Anthony Ryan's Wolf Call, and Duncan Hamilton's Dragonslayer. All of these books are available for pre-ordering, so pick up your copies now!

TitleAuthorNarrator Series  Release Date 
Age of Legend  Michael J. Sullivan  Tim Gerard Reynolds  Legends of the First Empire 07/09/19 
Way of GodsRhett C. Bruno &
Jaime Castle
Luke Daniels Buried Goddess Saga 07/30/19
The Rage of DragonsEvan WinterTBA The Burning07/16/19
Take a ThiefMercedes LackeyPaul Woodson Heralds of Valdemar  06/12/19
The Final Days of MagicJ. D. HornSophie Amoss Witches of New Orleans  6/18/19
The Wolf's CallAnthony RyanSteven Brand Raven's Blade 07/23/19
Empire of GrassTad WilliamsAndrew Wincott Last King of
Osten Ard
 
07/02/19 
DragonslayerDuncan M. HamiltonSimon Vance Dragonslayer 07/02/19
Knife ChildrenLois McMaster BujoldTim CampbellSharing Knife06/25/19
Elven QueenBernhard Hennen & Edwin MilesMichael PageSaga of the Elven 06/11/19
Spine of the DragonKevin J. AndersonFleet Cooper Wake the Dragon  06/04/19 
Hateful ThingsTerry GoodkindTBA Children of D’Hara  08/08/19
The Spirit RingLois McMaster BujoldGrover Gardner N/A  07/16/19 
Turning Darkness into LightMarie BrennanBarrie Kreinik & Raphael Corkhill Series  08/20/19
The Silver GryphonMercedes Lackey & Larry DixonGary Furlong Mage Wars 06/04/19

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Age of Legend Giveaways


Age of Legend
books will be coming off the presses any day now, so it's time to do some giveaways!  We'll have three ways for you to win.
  • Goodreads (only open to US and Canada residents). I'm not sure why Goodreads limited the giveaway to just these two countries, but they did, which is one of the reasons why I've got two other ways to enter. There are 3 books being drawn on June 30th at 11:59 PM EDT.
  • Reddit's /r/Fantasy sub (open to all countries). Reddit can be a divisive site filled with people with very strong opinions from all facets of the spectrum, but the fantasy sub is an oasis of civility among the chaos. If you've not visited it before, this would be a good time to check it out. I'm sure you'll find reasons to stay.  To enter, you just have to add a comment to the thread and I'll send you a message via the Reddit site. I'll be drawing 2 books on June 5th at 11:59 PM EDT. This drawing is open to people from all countries.
  • Private giveaway (open to all countries). In today's publishing environment, there is always some "big entity" between the author and the reader (Amazon, Barnes and Noble or the publishers). I like having a direct relationship with readers such that if these other people ever get "wonky." I can still reach out to my readers and tell them about sales, giveaways, and Kickstarters. Entering here will require an email address (so I can notify the winner), but you can opt out of being added to my email list. I don't use it often (I think 6 times in the last 3 years), so don't worry about being bombarded. But I like having the safety net of being able to reach people if the "big boys" are getting in the way. There are 2 books being drawn on June 30th at 11:59 PM EDT.
All books will be signed (and can be dedicated if you wish). If you haven't read the other three books there are spoiler-filled recaps available on this site.
I hope you are as excited about the next release as I am, and good luck on the drawings!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Goodread's Hottest Books of the Summer



So, with all that's going on, I'm terribly late about this post (which was originally announced on May 5th), but I couldn't be happier that Age of Legend was picked by Goodreads as one of the Hottest Fantasy Books of the summer!

Here are all five of their picks:


I'm thrilled that so many people are anxiously awaiting the release. I'm also pleased to see Evan Winter's book make the list...I know Evan just a bit, and I'm anxiously awaiting his re-release of a previously self-published book.  I've heard that whole self-publishing thing works out well for authors...and I have my finger's crossed for huge success for him.
Here are links (and data from Goodreads if you want to check out the full list of titles.

TitleAuthorSeries Rating  # Ratings  Shelved by 
Magic for LiarsSarah GaileyN/A4.0525420,337
Age of LegendMichael J. SullivanLegend of the First Empire #44.4238910,705
Rage of DragonsEvan WinterThe Burning #14.432,43012,964
Gods of Jade and ShadowSilvia Moreno-Garcia N/A4.2112513,384
Dragon RepublicR.F. KuangThe Poppy War #24.3018714,929

Goodreads also did a post on various fantasy author's picks for summer reading, and I was included!  I'll post on that soon.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Gullywasher & Merritt Island (Part Four)


Here at the Sullivan household, we are still embroiled in the fallout from my mom's passing last month, but this is a blog post I wrote many moons ago, and I just haven't had the time to post. It's the final installment in the trip Robin and I took to Florida in February -- oh how the time flies!! I hope you enjoy it.  If you missed any of the prior posts, you can find them here.


  • The Great Bird Trip of 2019 - Part Three (The Everglades Adventure)
  • The Great Bird Trip of 2019 - Part Two (The Old Man and the Sea)
  • The Great Bird Trip of 2019 - Part One (Yes, this is another birding post)

  • Yellow-Breasted Birder

    That night I dreamed Robin had purchased a stroller for Josh and it rolled with a squeak, squeak! “I’m just not comfortable leaving him in the car, and those big trees, well, they intimidate him. He’s just a little tree.” I heard her saying.

    When I awoke, the blue sky had turned dark and clouds blanketed the world. It started raining before I got my first cup of coffee, and when it came, it came hard. All hopes of a day spent like Clint Howard and Dennis Weaver flying through the grass of the Everglades on a fan boat were drowned in an all-day rainstorm. Consulting a weather app’s satellite map, we spotted a short break in the cloud pattern.

    “We should go for it,” Robin declared. She took out a pen and grabbed a napkin to diagram the approach. “We'll make a surgical strike. Here, here, and here. If we time this right and nail the window, we can be in and out with photos of Wood Storks and Spoonbills.”

    “How?” I asked.

    She held up a park map. “I know where they nest!”

    We plowed through the cats and dogs (yes, that's a rain reference - there were no actual pets falling from the sky), and arrived at the park gate early in the morning. Interesting side note, Everglades is open 24/7, and if you get there before the gate guard, there’s no one to pay the entry fee to. And they’re okay with that. We’d bought a three-day pass on the prior day, so it didn’t matter, but still.

    At that time in the morning, in the middle of February, and in a driving downpour forecast to last all day, you’d be surprised how few tourists you’ll find on the back roads in a 1.5 million acre wetland wilderness—or maybe not. I think there were four cars in the whole park.

    Then it happened. The rain stopped. The window had arrived, the only problem was we still weren’t at the nesting site. I did manage to shoot a red-shouldered hawk on the side of the road, but I already had one of those. By the time we arrived, sprinkles began to hit the windshield once more.

    “We’re running out of time!”

    We reached the little pond with signs that warned: Nesting site, do not disturb birds!

    Pulling out a plastic bag from the backseat (that we received when purchasing Starburst and Reeses' Peanut Butter Cups for the road), I covered my camera and we crept up on the pond. Sure enough. Wood Storks and Spoonbills! They were far away, and the sky was so cloudy I hardly had any light, but I ripped off the plastic (thankfully I have a big hood to protect the lens) took aim, focused, held my breath and…click.

    Normally, if this were a western, or a thriller, pulling the trigger and hearing a click would be a bad thing, but with a camera the sound was perfect. I actually had the camera on Sport/Action mode making it into an automatic rapid fire: click, click, click.

    Spoonbills and Wood Storks
    “Work it, baby, work it,” I whispered to the spoonbill. I suppose, standing in the rain taking pictures of oblivious birds across a swampy pond in an empty park pull-off while my wife, and quest side-kick, babysat our insecure lime tree just brings out the Annie Leibovitz in me.  Although now that I think of it, I doubt Annie ever uttered those words in her life!

    But I digress, the bottom line is I got them, and none too soon. The rain came back angry as ever, perhaps displeased that it hadn't foiled us.  The great eye of Sauron had found us.

    We tried to escape, but that’s when the Prowler went lame.  The car began to scream. Honestly, that’s the best way to describe the shrieking sound—okay shrieking is also a pretty good way. A horrible metal on metal noise emitted from the rear driver-side tire that made our skins crawl. Imagine a child raking their teeth across a microphone hooked to a stadium-size band-amplified speaker system, and you’d—okay so now there are at least three ways to describe this.

    We pulled over, into another pull-off where—believe it or not—two other cars of tourists were parked and trying to quietly coax a look at a bird. Dirty looks greeted us as we shrieked our way in.

    What the hell was making that racket? Their scowls asked.

    To help describe why this was so odd, you have to understand how ridiculously simple the Tesla is. There is no engine, drive train, timing belt, pistons, camshafts, radiator, exhaust system, axles, or transmission. Like a health snob, it doesn’t drink oil or needs transmission fluid. Heck for all I know,  the only liquid the Prowler has is windshield wiper wash. When we first visited the Tesla showroom we saw a stripped-down display of the car. It consisted of four wheels, four little electric motors attached to them and the bed of the car. I assumed this was done so potential buyers could see the wheels or something. What it actually showed was the whole working car minus the irrelevant interior and exterior body—you know, the seats,  doors, roof and such. In other words, the whole car is just four little electric motors, four wheels, and a battery that looks like the bed of the car. With so few parts to the thing, what could possibly go wrong?

    “Back up,” I told Robin, who was at the wheel.

    Slipping it into reverse we rolled silently backward. And I do mean silently—electric cars make no sound except the tires on the road.

    Pleased to hear nothing, I said. “Forward?”

    Robin went ahead and once more the screaming resumed, and plastic hooded heads standing in the rain near the water turned and scowled once more.

    “What now?” Robin asked. “This sounds serious.”

    We were, at that moment, deep in the Everglades. So far in the wilderness, in fact, that I couldn’t recall the last time I had spotted a Starbucks. And it was raining. At the moment it was just a pleasant sprinkle, but we knew from the satellite recon images that the vicious gullywasher was going to be returning at any moment.

    Complicating all this, it’s not like a Tesla can simply be towed. You can’t even jack it to change a tire because the bottom of the car is one huge battery. For that reason, there’s no spare tire. If you get a flat you’re supposed to call Tesla, and they will come out and take care of you…no matter where you are.

    Okay. Let's try that.

    I called Tesla.  I described the situation, then held the phone to the wheel as Robin rolled forward, once more testing the patience of the tourists near us.

    “Yes, yes!” the voice on the phone yelled. “I can hear it. That sounds really horrible.”

    I explained where we were and how hopeless it all seemed.

    It was obvious we were screwed.

    “So, what do we do?”

    “Is it raining, or has it recently rained where you are?” the voice from my phone asked cryptically. 

    “Ahh, yeah.”

    “Okay. This is going to sound…well…odd.”

    “At the moment I’m open to odd.” We really didn’t have a lot of options besides waiting all day for a flatbed tow truck to be sent from Miami.

    “Right. If you are in a safe place and feel comfortable doing it…floor your car, then slam on the breaks.”

    One more thing about Teslas. They are ridiculously quick. There’s even something called the Ludicrous Feature that helps the car accelerate at, well, ludicrous speed. Anyway, a Tesla doesn't pull on a mechanical linkage, pump gas into a carburetor, and create explosions under pressure to push pistons that crank a shaft to get it moving. When you press the accelerator on a Tesla, the car goes that speed, period. If you "punch it," you’d better have your head against the headrest. And this will happen even at high speeds. Flooring a Tesla isn’t something you do lightly—although it is something you do quite often for fun.

    “What has happened,” the voice in my hand told me, “is that debris has gotten caught in the wheel case. I know the sound it creates is monstrous and scary, but it isn’t at all harmful. Nothing bad will happen to you or the car as a result. To stop the sound all you need do it jar it loose. If you were near a car wash or a hose, you could spray it out. Given your situation, just a good slam of the brakes should do.”

    I looked at Robin. We both looked at the tourists. We both smiled.

    “Hang on, Josh, we going for a ride.” (Okay not the best quote from the worst Indiana Jones movie ever, but it was fitting).

    I can’t tell you if our roadside neighbors were shocked or upset because the moment Robin pressed the pedal to the floor we were gone. I regretted not having a car safety-seat for Josh as she then hammered the brake. At this point, I was certain the other park visitors figured we were insane or screwing with them. We never looked back because the Screaming Eagle was back to the Silent Prowler once more.

    With my stork and spoonbill adequately bagged, I was up to 72 birds. Time to head north.  We still had a few more days before we needed to catch the return train, and we had two options.

    On my very first birding expedition to Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge on the Potomac, I met a genuine birder. Birders are without exception very nice and friendly people. The man’s name was Scott and he took me under his…um…wing.

    Besides explaining all sorts of things, (and upon hearing we would soon be going to Florida) he told me I should go to a place called Merritt Island, which was halfway down the Florida Peninsula on the Atlantic side. This birding Mecca was only an hour away from the train station, which made it appealing. Also, close to the train station: Disney World.

    Having had three children, Robin and I have visited the Magic Kingdom many times. First as teenagers, then as parents, but we haven’t seen Mickey and Minnie in years. The real draw was the new Harry Potter World at Universal. We’d been birding for six straight days. Tomorrow was Valentine’s Day. Robin deserved to have some fun on this trip, too.

    “Nope,” she replied when the idea alternative location was raised. “Let’s go to Merritt.”

    “You sure?”

    She nodded, then got quiet.

    “What?”

    She shrugged. “I used to love Disney and Universal. The fact that I don’t want to go makes me feel old.”

    I wanted to say something poetic like, “You're not old, you're like a fine wine and get better with age.” Instead, I nodded sympathetically and replied. “Me too, but that's not such a big deal.”

    That night in the hotel room, we worked on a few minor changes to Age of Legend so Robin could send out the ARC. We ended up working until nine-thirty and at that hour were forced to grab an awful dinner at the hotel restaurant. We were the last seated table. We might be too old to jump at the chance to visit Disney World/Universal Studios, but Florida was used to serving an even older crowd who were asleep after Jeopardy.

    The next morning we were up at dawn. We checked out of the hotel and hit the local Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee and a half-dozen pastries, and drove past the Kennedy Space Center and on up onto Merritt Island.

    Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge shares the Atlantic coast of Florida's largest barrier island with NASA's Kennedy Space Center and visitor complex. The refuge consists of 140,000 acres containing over 1,000 species of plants, 117 fish, 68 amphibians and reptiles, 330 birds, and 31 mammals. Merritt Island provides hiking and driving trails for the public, and it's a 'gateway site' for the Great Florida Birding Trail. Birders, we were told, travel from all over the world to visit the refuge, and in particular one specific road.

    “Black Point Wildlife Drive,” a wonderful, elderly lady and volunteer behind the counter at the Refuge’s headquarters said. “They come for all over—all over the world to go on this road. You should take the bus. Our guide is the best! He’s just the very best!”

    Robin and I stood in the little building that was part wildlife museum, part admissions center, part souvenir store (which hadn’t opened for business yet). The bus tour guide was waiting for his customers to arrive. The tour was full up, but if we wanted to stick around we were assured there were always empty seats.

    “Folks wake up at dawn,” the wildlife guide explained. “and they look out the window. After remembering they’re on vacation, they reconsider going out so early.”

    Robin and I aren't one for "group tours," so we thanked them, paid our admission fee, and started what would be the closest thing to an African Safari we're likely to go on.

    Black Point Wildlife Drive is a seven-mile, one-way gravel road that winds through the coastal refuge. Cars roll at a crawl and stop frequently with people climbing out to peer with binoculars or take photos. If the cars were khaki-colored land cruisers instead of Hondas and Ford SUVs, we could have been in Kenya.

    We spotted ducks on the water and stopped. I don’t have many ducks yet, so these were likely to be new birds. We stopped and I got out to shoot every time we saw a bird, which in hindsight reminded me of the opening scene in Ghostbusters where Ray Stantz describes with rapture his excitement of witnessing the undersea mass sponge migration to Peter Venkman, then the three professors walk into the stacks of the New York Public library and are blown away by the full-torso apparition.

    Robin and I were about to enter the stacks.  Merritt Island is full of birds.  Around every curve were ibis, herons, teals, terns, osprey, willets, shovelers, pelicans, egrets and more—not one or two, but flocks of them. Groups of cars would converge, and occupants stepped out to talk in hushed tones, identifying the various groups.

    One person we met was a science writer who happened to come to the island and turned on that road with no idea what she was getting into. “This is great, but I don’t know anything about birding. I should have brought binoculars!”

    Others were longtime birders who helped me I.D. several of the harder to recognize waders.

    The bus eventually came through and deposited its brood. The guide pointed out the roseate spoonbill. “Yes, yes everyone look at the brilliant pink spoonbill. Go head, get it out of your system. When you’re done I’ll tell you about the Blue-wing Teals and Northern Shovelers.”

    I shot coots and tons of glossy Ibis, and another gallinule, this one a commoner.



    Afterward, we went to town, had a wonderful lunch, then returned and took another jungle-like trail followed by a Savannah-like path searching for the infamous Florida Scrub Jay. We failed to see it on either path. Neither did anyone else we ran across, and it became a running joke, especially since the trail we were on was called the Scrub Jay Trail!

    At the end of the day, as we were passing out through a gate, and there it was! I spotted a Scrub Jay. We pulled over and caught the bird on a branch to the applause of our fellow hunters. At the end of the day, I had a full camera and we packed up for the return trip.

    I spent most of the train ride home going through photos that I downloaded to my iPad, identifying them with the use of my books and the Merlin App, and adding each to my journal. When the numbers were finally tallied, Robin said, "You might want to lie when you get home. You don't want to crush Sarah's spirit."

    Of course, the first thing Sarah said when we returned was, “How many?” No inquiries about how our trip was, did we have fun, or why was there a small potted tree in the living room. She was only interested in one thing.

    My wife cringed.“How many would be too many, do you think?” Robin asked.

     “Did you get over a hundred? A hundred and forty would be a lot.”

    Robin and I relaxed.  “Didn’t break a hundred,” I admitted. 

    “How many then?”

    “I more than doubled my list. Total is now 92.”

    Sarah nodded. “I expected well over a hundred. That’s doable. But now I have to get serious and go to High Island for the spring migration.”

    “Why don’t you both go to High Island?” Robin suggested.

    “You know a father-daughter thing.”

    “Don’t you mean a Gamora-Thanos thing?”

    “Okay, I’ll come too,” Robin said.

    “If I go to High Island,” I said. “I might as well go ahead and get the big lens. So many of the birds were just out of range for a clear shot.”

    “Then it’s settled,” Robin flipped open her computer. “I’ll book it.”

    “On one condition,” I said. “ Josh stays here.”

    Robin nodded. “I’ll get a sitter.”

    Blue-winged Teal

    Common Gallinule

    Glossy Ibis

    Great Egret

    Roseate Spoonbill

    Sanderling

    Non-Breeding Tri-colored Heron

    White Pelicans