Oct 142015
 

Critter notes –

Last week I mentioned some of the furry critters we’re learning to share space with.  Some are harmless, like the rabbits, deer, and armadillos.  Others are nuisances, like the opossum from the other night, or the moles that dig in the yard.  And of course, some are downright nasty.  Just ask Bella and Cricket about that skunk.   :pain:

Brown Orb WeaverSomething else that we’ve noticed lately though, doesn’t exactly fall into the furry critter category.  There are some BIG spiders here that seem to be relatively common.  Now, we’re used to the little grass spiders, wolf spiders, etc, that are common in the Houston area, but these suckers are huge by comparison.  I’m pretty sure that they’re Brown Orb Spiders, but since I’m no expert, I could be wrong.  This not-so-little beauty keeps weaving its web just to the side of our front entrance.  I’ve knocked the web down when it gets too close to the walkway, since MBH is considerably less tolerant of our eight-legged neighbors, but he keeps building back up in the same general area.  I generally don’t have much of a problem with them, and I’ve noticed them all around the neighborhood, so I guess they’re simply more common here.

Cricket has a couple of hot spots on her back, and she’s chewed strips into her fur with all the gnawing.  I looked online, and found that a vet recommends treating it with diluted povidone iodine.  So I made the diluted solution, took her on the back patio, and swabbed the affected areas.  (I’m supposed to do this twice a day until the spots clear up.)

Coming back inside though, I saw this little guy on the left. Black Widow-01 And while I don’t mind sharing space with Orb Weavers, a Black Widow is another thing altogether.  First came the bug spray. Black Widow-02 That was quickly followed by my size twelve spider stomper.  I might not mind spiders, but I’m no saint, either.   :shock:  I have several friends who usually mention spiders and flamethrowers in the same breath.  Black Widows are enough to make me think they just might be right.

So, on to writing notes…

Giveaway notes –

Last weekend was the big giveaway.  Okay, maybe not all that big, but it was a giveaway.  Friend and reviewer, Carol Conley from the “I’m a Voracious Reader” book review blog, contacted me a few weeks ago to let me know she had read Ghost Story, and wanted to know if I would consider running some free days to coincide with the release of her review.  Now, I generally don’t like doing free days, since my experience with them has been mostly negative in the last couple of years.  They worked really well for me back in the early days of Amazon’s KDP Select program, and I’ll never forget that first nail-biter when I put HPM up for free shortly after it released.  In a single day, I gave away more than 11k copies of Half Past Midnight.  That giveaway, and the reviews it sparked, shot followup sales through the roof for the better part of the following year.

For a new author, just getting his feet wet in the world of indie publishing, it was nothing short of miraculous!

Of course, shortly after that, Amazon changed their algorithm, as they so often seem to do.  The next time I ran a book for free, it didn’t do nearly as well, but wasn’t a total loss.  So I tried it again later.  The third time I did it was with the release of Streets of Payne.  This time, not only did I not get as big a response, I completely lost all momentum and sales actually went down.  When I checked into it, it seemed that moving from the Top 100 Sold, to the Top 100 Free was a sales killer.  Since “free” was not “sold”, SoP‘s sales rank dropped like a stone.  No visibility, no sales.  It was the exact opposite of the Ouroboros Effect I wrote about in an old post “In answer to Mike’s question…“, and this time instead of boosting my sales, it actually killed them.

So no, I don’t like doing free days any more.  But Carol is a friend, Ghost Story is just a novella, and it’s not like it was really selling all that well anyway.  So what did I really have to lose, right?   :-/   And while I was putting Ghost Story out there for free, why not also throw SoP out again?  It wasn’t selling either, so what could it hurt?

As it turned out, nothing.  It didn’t hurt, and there actually was a slight bump in sales afterwards.  Not huge, but a few extra sales is a few extra sales.  Yay team!   :-)

Year 12 notes

I have problems with what I call “transition scenes” when I’m writing.  I get scene “A” pretty clear in my mind, and I go after it, flying through it like there’s no tomorrow.  I can see in my mind where scene “B” is, and how it should run.  But the transition from “A” to “B” stumps me.  For whatever reason, I get hung up in the minutia of who says what to trigger what, and why did this do that, and… I get stuck.  I just got through one of these transitions yesterday, and I have to say, I get a little frustrated with myself.  I feel like I should be able to knock out three or four thousand words a day.  Instead, I’m lucky if I average over one thousand.

Yeah, I have problems.  But I’m progressing.  Not as quickly as I want, but I’m progressing.

Speaking of writing, I need to get back to doing just that.  So time to stop whining, and get back to work.  Take care of yourselves, and stay safe.  I’ll talk to you later.   :bye:

Oct 072015
 

Bella and CricketWe’re getting our fair share of woodland critters running around lately. If you don’t follow me on FaceBook, you won’t have heard about our little adventure last Saturday. It seems that the girls thought they could run a skunk out of their territory. And while it’s true that there was no skunk out there when I finally checked to see what they had been barking at, they were still able to prove it had been around. :eek: Bella came trotting through the house with an aroma wafting after her that was pungent enough to burn the back of my throat. Luckily, Cricket was still outside and MBH and I were able to get them cleaned up relatively well. Checking online quickly told us that the old tomato juice bath is little more than an old wives’ tale. Most places recommended hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, or various mixtures thereof. I was surprised to find that we didn’t have any hydrogen peroxide (some prepper I am), but MBH made a mixture of warm water, dishwashing soap, and baking soda. It worked well enough to where we could let the poor girls back in the house, though we still couldn’t stand to be too close to them, and we sure weren’t about to let them on the furniture.

The next morning I ran out and got three bottles of hydrogen peroxide and we used some to wash their snouts (where most of the remaining stench seemed to be concentrated). It seemed to mostly do the trick, and now, several days later, the only reminder of the incident is in the back yard near the east gate. The ground out there still reeks of skunk.

Last night, they were barking again, once more announcing an invader to “their” territory. And fearing a repeat, I went out with my trusty flashlight, worried that we might have to go through the whole mess all over again. The thing that kept going through my mind was “at least we have the hydrogen peroxide this time.” Luckily, it wasn’t a skunk. Instead, they had zeroed in on an opossum that looked more than a little angry that his night of foraging was interrupted by all the noise and light. I kicked the fence a few times and he wandered off without any further incident (other than that nasty hissing that they seem so fond of.)

Writing –

I’m back on track with Year 12. After the fiasco of a few weeks back, I’ve managed to regain all the lost ground, and am moving back along. The word count meter on the right is over 58k words, and I’m still moving. I’m shooting for roughly 100k words, but we’ll just have to see where it ends up. It might be 75K, or it might be 125k. Whatever it takes to tell the story, right?

Ghost Story sold well for the first month, though at 99¢ it’s not going to make much money. And if any of you haven’t gotten your copy yet, this weekend will be the time for you to do so. I’ll be running a promotion on October 10th and 11th, letting both Ghost Story and Streets of Payne go for free. I normally don’t like going free any more. It’s been my experience that it kills your sales momentum, and your sales ranking plummets as a result. But at the prompting of a reviewer, I agreed to give it another shot. Besides, sales of SoP have pretty much stagnated anyway, so I figure I don’t have a lot to lose. So if you’re interested in either of those titles, this is your time. And of course if you like them and are inclined to leave a review on Amazon, that definitely wouldn’t hurt my feelings any. J

And that’s it. Time to get back to writing. So stay safe everyone, and I’ll talk to you next week. :bye:

PS – To catch weekly snippets of my works in progress, you can follow my Author Page on FaceBook. Each Friday I post a short bit from one of my WIPs.

Jul 152015
 

Mailchimp signupYay!  I got the visual editor for my website working again (mostly).

Just in time for Wednesday, too.  And I’ve got a lot going on with my writing since the last blog post. First and foremost, you will notice a new signup field on my site. If you’re reading this on the actual site, you will see it over there on the right. The header presently reads “Sign up for new release notifications”. If you’re getting this in a feedburner email, the signup form looks like the picture accompanying this post. At the moment, it’s not much to look at. Maybe I’ll be able to pretty it up later on, but for now, I thought it was more important to get it up and active.

Now that last sentence will likely get a “huh?” out of a lot of you. In other words, why the push to get the mailing list going?

Like I said, I have a lot going on with my writing now. And ironically, a lot of this is due to an inspirational roadblock I hit on Year 12. Without going into a lot of detail, I hit a brick wall with the plot on Y12… lost the flavor. There was a day of panic, hair pulling, and chest beating before I decided my time would be better spent moving on to another project. Not wanting to actually start a whole different book, I instead began a project that I’ve had percolating for quite some time. It will be the story of how the antagonist from Half Past Midnight managed to roll into Rejas at the head of a small army. The story should be another novella, similar in length to The Road to Rejas – possibly a bit shorter. I’ve tentatively titled it Crazy Larry.

Additionally, I have another project that I’ve been slowly working on. It’s going to be a short story collection, and it came about because there are a few particular stories that some of you have asked me to publish, but I’ve not felt right about. Not that I don’t think they’re good, it’s just that I don’t feel right charging a reader 99¢ for a short story that will only keep them occupied for a few minutes. Yet 99¢ is the least amount that epublishers will allow you to charge. And let’s face it, after paying for editors, cover work, and formatting, I at least need to recoup my expenses on the work, right?

But if I put them all into a collection together, along with some that very few people have ever seen before, then I have a single edit, one cover, and can sell it in good conscience, knowing that I’ve given the reader their money’s worth.

And since the story collection is a bit shorter than most of my work, I’ve decided to throw in the beginning of something else a lot of you have been asking for. I’m adding the first chapter for the Streets of Payne sequel (working title Payne and Suffering).

So if you want to receive announcements about these, or any other writing I do as it nears release, please sign up for the mailing list. I’m not going to spam you, or bother you with the day to day miscellany. I figure, if you really want to torture yourself with that stuff, you can just read my blog, right?

And that’s it for now. Back to writing.

Stay safe, folks.  :bye:

Jun 192014
 
Bella and Cricket

“The Girls” – Bella and Cricket

As mentioned in earlier posts, my wife has been out of town for several weeks.  My parents are getting a bit older, and Dad especially is having some health issues.  My better half has been with them for the last couple of months helping them out with the day-to-day, as well as visits to doctors, etc.  She has been in human resources with a few medical facilities over the last several years, and is familiar with medical procedures, insurance, medicare, and just about anything else they need to know to get through this time, so it only made sense for her to go up there to help out.

But in the meantime, I have a job back home that I have to maintain.  As a result, we’ve been apart for longer than we’ve ever been separated before, and I miss her terribly.   :sidefrown:   Bella and Cricket miss her, too. See?   :-)

In addition to all that, since we sold our home a few months ago, my sister and my brother-in-law have been kind enough to let me stay in their home.  So, since my better half is gone, I’ve developed a morning routine.

I get up at 4:45 AM, let the girls outside, and feed them.  Once they’ve been taken care of, we head back upstairs where I shut them up in our bedroom while I shower.  This morning, I went through all that, came back into the bedroom, and found Cricket laying in her bed.  Bella, however, was nowhere to be seen. Where is Bella-1b I wasn’t terribly concerned, not really.  I just figured she had followed me back out of the bedroom when I left to take a shower, and wandered downstairs.

So I opened the bedroom door and called her.  I didn’t want to shout, since my brother-in-law was likely still asleep, so it was more like a loud whisper.  “Bella?”  Nothing.  “Bella!”.  Still nothing.  I watched down the hallway in the darkness for a few minutes, but didn’t hear or see anything.  I still wasn’t really worried, but at that point I was confused.  Bella is usually pretty good about coming to me when I call.  But I mentally shrugged, and turned back into the bedroom to finish getting ready for work.

Where is Bella2bThat’s when I saw her.  A fifty pound prankster, hiding behind my pillow.   :laugh:

 

Other news

Well, my marketing experiment/contest seems to be a big flop.  On Monday I announced that until midnight (central time) on June 20th, for anyone who purchases a copy of my latest novel (Streets of Payne) in any format, I would give codes for the free download of all three of my current audio books from Audible.com.  All they had to do was email proof of purchase to me at jlbDOTauthorATgmailDOTcom.  So far, there have been three responses.

Three.  (sigh)   :-?

Oh well.  Like I said, it was an experiment.

On the personal front, my wife is coming back to town for a few days as I type this,  (I miss you, wife! :inlove:) and I’m really looking forward to holding my lady again.

Writing Chucklers (an apocalyptic/horror collaboration I’m working on with Edward Lorn) is really moving along for me now.  Chucklers face onlyThe main manuscript is sitting at almost 60k words, and there is still so much story to tell.  I’m currently working on the “Charlie” part of the story, and Charlie is a truly despicable character.  Not like a cute, kind-hearted criminal with a heart of gold and minions.  No, this guy is someone I want to meet in real life just so I can punch him in the throat.  :eek:  If I do my job well enough, readers will hopefully hate this guy as much as I do.  Writing someone this foul has been quite an experience for me.  Trying to put myself in that mindset is an exercise that I suppose all writers and/or actors work through at some point.  I think it helps you grow as a story-teller.

But there are times when I feel like I need a shower after being in Charlie’s head for a while.   :eek:

Well, I’d better go for now.  I just got a text from my wife that she is currently driving through Dallas, and should be home in a few hours.  For some reason, I’m grinning like a little kid.   :-D

Stay safe, everyone.  :bye:

Jun 152014
 

Yeah, I’ve been quiet for a while.  Ironically, it’s not because I haven’t been busy.  Quite the opposite.  Life has been pretty “interesting” for the last few months. As in “may you live in interesting times” interesting.   :struggle:

My wife & I sold our house about two months ago. The idea was that we would downsize to a smaller house with more property. But during the interim between selling the old house & buying a new one, we were going to stay with family members. We expected it to be a matter of a few weeks, possibly a month or two.

But right after we moved in with them, life jumped up and smacked us all. We had a few crises that have demonstrated to us that Murphy is alive and well, and apparently has taken a liking to our family. I won’t go into details, because those stories aren’t mine to tell.  But a minor side effect has been that I haven’t been paying much attention to marketing for my writing, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know when this is going to change.  As a result, my numbers have slipped drastically, and I simply don’t have the time or setup to pursue the “traditional” marketing venues.

Streets of Payne 800 Cover reveal and PromotionalSo I’m going to try an experiment here. It may work, and it may not. I just figure this is the perfect opportunity to try something off the wall.

My book with the worst numbers right now is “Streets of Payne”. I don’t know if it’s because the book is cyberpunk, and there simply isn’t the following for the genre that there once was, or if it’s because that’s my newest book, or if I’ve made a mistake with the cover, or blurb, or categorization, or what… All I know for sure is that the thing isn’t selling.

So here’s my experiment. If you think you might be interested in a cyberpunk-ish techno-thriller, check out Streets of Payne. If it looks like something you might be interested in, buy it.  I recently lowered the e-book price to $2.99, so it’s not like it’s going to break the bank.  And for the first three people who purchase the novel in the next 24 hours, and can provide me with electronic proof of purchase, I will give you an Audible.com promo code for the free download of each of my three published works in audio format.

So, buy “Streets of Payne” in print or electronic format within the next 24 hours, email me (jlb DOT author AT gmail DOT com) with your proof of purchase, and I will send you promo codes for the free download of the Audible.com audio book versions of “Streets of Payne“, “Half Past Midnight“, and “The Road to Rejas“.

I will do this for the first three people who contact me with proof of purchase before 10PM central time, Monday night.

And then I’ll do it again for the NEXT 24 hours… and the next… until Friday night, or until I run out of codes, whichever comes first.  Like I said, I don’t know if this little experiment will help, but I figure it probably can’t hurt, either.  Right?   :-?

And that’s it for now.  As always, stay safe.   :bye: