Monday, January 22, 2018

It's a Juggling Act

Right now, I have two books I'm working on.  Blink of an I and Early Grave.  Two totally different books - different tones, different genres, different ideas.  Most likely, two totally different markets. 

I've said it before - I'm an eclectic reader.  At any given time, I'm as likely to pick up a suspense novel as a dystopian or a mystery or a... whatever... to read.  And that reflects in my writing / publishing.  Just as it would kill me to read one genre in succession, I think it would kill me to write one novel after another in one genre.  I think I'd be bored to tears.

But it's not necessarily the best marketing plan.  To be successful - i.e. to sell loads of books - I probably should've written and published one series all the way through before jumping to the next.  Instead, Dying Embers came out in February of 2015, then Fertile Ground in May of 2016, and Early Grave will be out in May or June of 2018.  Accidental Death came out in May of 2015, Natural Causes in February of 2017, and Untitled #3 might be out at the end of this year.  I didn't do much better with my genie series: Wish in One Hand (August 2015), In Deep Wish (February 2016), Up Wish Creek (August 2016), and finally Wish Hits the Fan arrived in September of 2017.  With other books in between each of the successive series title's drop. 

There was no plan.  Not even a best laid plan worthy of a mouse.  It was more like 'this one looks good, let's do that', lather rinse repeat.  Which is why readers are looking at getting a dystopian, a suspense, a paranormal, and perhaps a mystery from me this year.  And why I'm currently driving myself nuts editing a suspense while I'm waiting for the dystopian to come back from my editor.  (Who is a saint that can edit all those different things without going batshit crazy.  I like to think I'm keeping her on her toes.)  It's definitely a juggling act - the one where the guy is keeping a chainsaw, a bowling ball, and a carton of eggs in the air at the same time. 

Anyway, call me crazy, but that's the way I have to do things.  And on the bright side, I'm never bored.  I hope my readers aren't either.  And I hope my crazypantsness encourages readers to step outside their comfortable reading box. 

Outside the Box... get it?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Jus' Sayin'

The other day I was talking to the assistant manager at the local dollar store. He was bemoaning the fact that they're short-handed. They've been short-handed for months. And it's not that people aren't applying for jobs. It's that none of them can pass the background checks.

Think about that for a second. Having fucked your life up so bad you're unable to pass the background check for a job at a dollar store.  You may say 'but they didn't fuck their whole life up, they just made one mistake, maybe'.  To which I'd say, 'the one mistake fucked their whole life up because now they can't even get a job at a dollar store.'
Here's something I found at an online employment site (company name redacted) that tells what a background check would entail:
All employment offers at :dollar store: are contingent upon passing a background check. :dollar store: uses the background check to look for criminal convictions on your record. They also use it to verify the information that you’ve provided on your application. So don’t try to be sneaky and twist the facts — honesty is the best policy.
Let's think about that for another second.  None of the people in this rural area can pass a background check.  Which means either 1) criminal convictions or 2) lying on their application.  

Sure, the reasons could be people lying.  But why would someone lie on a dollar store application?  They're so shorthanded that you don't need any experience, so you don't have to lie about that.  So, the only reason I can think of for lying on your application would be a criminal background.  And we're back to #1 again.  Crime.
Oh, and you need to pass a drug test.  Which, failing said test, would also mean a crime.  
Back to the one mistake thing.  One mistake can fuck your whole life up.  So, knowing that - and if you don't know that you're either in denial or you live in a hole - why WHY Whyyy would you do something that might potentially fuck up your life?  Jus' askin'.  

I follow the Bangor, Maine Police Department on FB.  They end a lot of their posts with the same advice: "Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people's things alone, and be kind to one another."  Seems pretty simple, eh?  Not a hard set of rules to follow that would lead to you not being unable to work at a dollar store, right?  

Apparently it is a hard set of rules.  Around here anyway.  And I would suspect we aren't the only area experiencing a dearth of background passing applicants.  

Jus' sayin'.

On a side note, it's nice to know I would have a job to fall back on if I needed one.  Bet I could walk in there today and have a job by the end of the month.  I already have a huge leg up on the other applicants.  Because I can pass a freakin' background check.  And that's just sad.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Story Behind the Story: Blink of an I

Years ago, I had this idea.  I wanted to write something similar to Fahrenheit 451, Anthem, Brave New World, 1984, etc.  So I got to thinking...

What would it take to get the world to a point where it becomes the world in Anthem or Fahrenheit 451

That's where Blink of an I started.  A pondering of what steps would lead to those dystopias.  Now, obviously, I couldn't write a book about all the steps.  Good lord, that would take forever and be thousands of pages long.  Whatever book I wrote would have to be way smaller than that. 

But where to begin...

I started with one character.  One simple, unassuming person.  So unassuming, in fact, she needed a totally bland and forgettable name - Mary Jones.  And she needed to be nothing.  Or rather, she needed to think of herself as nothing.  Because she'd been taught to think of herself as nothing. 

In Anthem, the main character doesn't even have a name because individuality has been wiped out.  The blink of the 'I', so to speak.  And there's where I got the title. 

And so it began.  As I said, I'm a sort of pantser.  More so when I started this book initially back in 2006.  I had no idea where I was going.  I just started walking and waited to see where it would lead me.  Thus, I had numerous starts - all of them wrong.  I trashed them and started over.  And over.  And over.  I can't even remember when I had a full, finished first draft of this.  And even then, I worked it over too many times to mention. 

I queried agents with this sucker.  Erm, yah.  Didn't go well.  Then I put it away. 

Last year, when I began a way to fund my publishing empire without having to wait on the book sales to do it, I dusted Blink off and sent it to my editor.  Well, perhaps 'dusted off' isn't quite correct.  I sent it to AWE dust intact.  (And, man, if was WAY dustier than I thought.) 

Anyway, it's in the process of being scrubbed and polished.  It'll finally be available next month sometime.  (Good lord willin' and the creek don't rise.)  This one took me roughly 11.5 years to get out there.  YEARS.  And I hope y'all will enjoy it.

Any questions?  Comments? 

Speaking of Blink, I did promise to announce a winner in the Cover Contest thing.  Since only two people commented, they can both win.  Deb wanted a copy of this, I believe.  (Email me whether you want a PDF ARC or a PDF of the finished version, Deb.)  Stacy didn't say what she wanted.  (Email me your preference, Stacy.  Do you want a copy of this when it's finished or one of my other books (e-copy or paperback)?)

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Ways of Writing

 Everybody has their own way of doing things.  For instance, I like to do dishes in the morning, but my mom shudders at the thought of leaving dishes in the sink overnight.  But I'm usually working after dinner, so the dishes get left until morning.  (Thankfully, Hubs is totally cool with that.)

Just like dishes, there are different ways to write a book (or do anything else, come to think of it). 

There are two basic ways to write in the world and two basic types of writer - the plotter and the pantser.

The plotter plots out the whole book before they write it.  The pantser doesn't plot out a damn thing and writes everything as it comes to them (hence, writing by the seat of one's pants = pantser*).

Of course, there are varying shades of both.  Personally, I consider myself a plansterer.  I have a plan in mind, but I write it all by the seat of my pants as it comes to me, and it changes - sometimes without my wanting or needing it to.  A friend of mind calls herself a puzzler and puts her books together like a sort of big jigsaw puzzle.

Some people outline.  Some people write the last chapter first.  Some people write a bit here and then a bit there.  Some people write straight through.

Personally, I'm a straight through writer.  Start and the beginning and when you get to the end, stop. (Yes, that is the Mad Hatter talking there.)   Totally linear.  I can't do it any other way.

Which, of course, doesn't mean that any other way is wrong.  They're just not right ways for me.  I've also tried outlining.  :shudder:  It didn't go well.  The beginning of that book, before I gave up and pantsed it, is so bleh I could cry.

Anyway, there was a point to this post when I started it.  Right now, I'm working on editing Early Grave.  I wrote it like I write all my books, with one exception.  I started it and then stopped and then wrote some more and then stopped, then I got stuck and didn't write on it for a while, then I unstuck myself and wrote the rest of it in a fury.  So, it's in a line, but it's a severely dotted line - like Morse code done by a madman.  I'm reading along making notes and I'm like 'wait, what', which leads to furious scribbling of notes on how to fix what obviously went very wrong between one spot and the next.  It's the definition of 'hot mess'.  :shudder:

I did it that way because I was trying to write that book between editing several other books.  And I now know that way of doing things makes editing out the other end a pain in the buns.  Unfortunately, I may have to do it again because the publication schedule waits for no man.  I can't just say 'hey, can you pause this for a six weeks so I can get this first draft written?' :shrug:  It is what it is.

What way do you do it?  Have you ever tried another way? 

*Not to be confused with the Panzer, which was a German tank.  Although, there could be a tank-like roll over everything element in there, I guess.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Meandering Post about Forums and the Drug of People Reading my Books.

I've been reading the forum boards at KDP again.  I had this idea that I would jump back in and be social and do some networking.  Then I read the boards and remembered why I stopped going there.

Oh, I'm sure there are many fine people who post on those boards.  I can see them.  I also see the not-so-fine people, though, and they make the experience more of a headache than I am willing to subject myself to.

This time it was a person slamming self-published authors as being particularly stupid because why would anyone spend all that money on editing when you can't possibly hope to recoup it.

Then there was the person slamming anyone who is enrolled in Kindle Select as being particularly stupid because it's so limiting and Amazon is the anti-christ or something.  

Maybe I am particularly stupid.  Wouldn't be the first time.  But then I remember each time I see someone read an entire book's worth of pages on Kindle Unlimited, or the whole damn series one after the other, or my entire backlist.  And my heart soars and I know someone somewhere is reading words I put down.

It's like a drug.  People are reading my words.  And they're enjoying them enough to read the whole book or the whole series or all of the books.  Now, there's a high.  And it's one that doesn't dull my senses or muddle my brain or make me drive like an asshole or make me do stupid things.  (Unless you're among those who count self-publishing as a stupid thing.  In which case, I say to you: Bugger Off.)

Sure, I wish more people were buying and reading my books.  I wish everyone who read one enjoyed it so much they were excited enough to buy more.  Or that they could afford to buy more.  (I get the whole budget thing.  I'm living it.  Which is why my books are as inexpensive as I can make them without screwing myself.) What writer doesn't want more people reading their books? 

Anyway, I'm off of reading the boards again.  So much for being social and networking with the ultimate goal of selling more books.  I don't have the intestinal fortitude for it anymore.  I'd rather spend my time writing books, editing books, and publishing books.  The readers will come somehow or other, and I will revel in them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Things at OTB

First, the contest is still open on my Pick a Cover post.  Thus far, I have two votes for A on the blog, one private vote for C, and one private vote for either C or D.  (Yes, I will take private votes - especially if you're not interested in entering the contest.)  I'll most likely close it up on Friday and announce a winner on Monday. 

Next, I'm 29% done on the read-through, note-making stage of Early Grave.  And I got with my editor, who will take the first round of EG when I'm ready to send it.  I'm hoping to get thru this phase by Saturday and then use the next two weeks to make all the changes, so I can have this to her after she finished up with Blink and the end of the month. 

This year is on track.  So far.  Fingers crossed it stays this way.

My big sales extravaganza at the end of 2017 wrapped up the end of the year nicely.  Surprising since I didn't put any advertising in place for that one and only did some stuff on FB and Twitter.  That blog review really helped, although it wasn't planned or even expected until it happened.  Unfortunately, that's where the sales ended - last year.  I had kinda hoped for some residual stuff.  :sigh: 

Anyway, I'm going to try not to worry about that stuff.  I mean, I'm still going to advertise when I can and junk, but I'm working on not sweating the lack of sales.  My books are out there.  More will be out there this year.  Different stuff, similar stuff.  Blink is definitely different stuff.  Early Grave is the third book in the SCIU series, but with Ned Washington as the main character.  Then I plan on publishing Sleeping Ugly - which is a paranormal but not djinn.  And if I can manage to get some inspiration somewhere and finish it, the third book in the Dennis Haggarty series should round out 2018.  If not, I might go ahead with another dystopian - Unequal.   Time will tell.

Those are about all the things I can think of at the moment.  Any questions? 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Pick a Cover

Sometime a while back, I decided to do a cover for Blink of an I.  At that time I hadn't even decided to go ahead with its publication.  I was just bored - either that or avoiding work I was supposed to be doing - and created a cover.  It took a long time and was a lot of work, but I was generally pleased with the outcome.

Now that Blink is approaching its publication day, I needed to readdress that cover.  And I had another idea for a much simpler cover for Blink.  Then I played around a bit with the original cover.  Thus, I can't decide which one I like best.  (Or rather which one will sell better because it really doesn't matter which one I like best.)  Soooo...  I'm putting it out there in the world.  Help me decide which cover Blink of an I goes live with next month.

Without further ado, here are the selections.  (Click on any one of them to make them larger.  The gray parts are actually static like on an old TV.  And the original cover ones are composed of smaller pictures of things.)

Original Cover, fat font
Original Cover, thinner font

Leave a comment with your choice.  If you have a choice and a suggestion, that would be awesome, too.  I'll tell you which ones I like best later.

Everyone who comments with a choice and/or suggestion will be entered to win something.  I haven't decided what yet.  A book?  An advanced copy of this?  A gift card?  What would you like to win? And no, you don't have to pick the cover I ultimately choose to be eligible.  Especially since I'll be announcing a winner way before I reveal the winning cover.

(Yes, the one has the author name off center.  I don't like it there either.  If I pick it, I'll fix that.)