Feb 282018
 

Yep.  Another project.  A few weeks ago I was invited to write a story for an upcoming anthology.  I don’t know whether or not I’m at liberty to talk about it publicly, so I guess I’ll have to speak in general terms here. When they made me the offer and told me the subject matter, I was at first reluctant.  Short stories and anthologies historically haven’t done me a lot of good.  At least, not financially.  If you’re an indie, you still have to pay for editing, formatting, and cover design.  Then, since it’s a shorter work, you can’t charge as much for it.  And if you don’t charge at least $2.99, Amazon cuts your royalty from 70% to 35%, even further cutting into what you can make from it.  So yeah, I usually view shorter works as time and effort spent on creating something that takes forever to make your return – time that could be better spent on writing something of longer length that has a better chance of helping to pay some bills.

On the other hand, it’s also excellent practice for learning to write in a shorter, more concise, format… a skill that ultimately pays off in producing better novels down the road.

Still, there’s that money thing…

Wait. What’s that?  This anthology is a paying market?  And the publisher will be handling the cost for editing, formatting, and cover, so no out-of-pocket expenses.  And it’s tied into something I’ve already done?

Well that certainly changes things.  Where do I sign?  

So with an idea for a story already in mind, I replied back that I would love to write for their anthology.  I went to work on the story the next day, getting about a thousand words into it.  I sent them an email, letting them know in general terms what I had in mind, in order to make sure it fit the antho well enough for them to be comfortable.  I was fairly comfortable that it would, but better to be sure, right?

Unfortunately, it didn’t.  Since my story tied into the novel that had garnered me the invitation, I had figured it would be a shoe-in.  I figured wrong.  They wanted something that was more of a stand-alone nature.

Well crap. Back to the drawing board. 

And since I had jumped in feet first with the first story, I was now at a complete loss about what to write.  So I tossed a few ideas around.  I wrote a few hundred words on a second idea, then abandoned it… another thousand or so on a third idea (one that I really liked, actually), but found a problem with the world building for it… as in, there’s no freaking way the world I’m writing in could ever exist.  Then I wrote a couple of paragraphs on a fourth story line that also didn’t work.  I was beginning to think I was going to have to pass on the offer.

Then I finally had my eureka moment a few days ago.  I realized that, while the world I had envisioned in the third story might not ever happen the way I originally envisioned it, it could happen in a more localized environment.  And wouldn’t it be interesting to tell the story of how that disaster began?

So you’ll notice a new progress meter entitled Terrorists in the sidebar to the right.  It’s just getting started, but I think I finally found its feet and it should really start moving now. 

 

Other news –

MBH is doing much better now.  She’s still not 100%, but the illness has gone from killer plague back to uncomfortable flu.  Vestiges of it are still hanging on for both of us, but we’re no longer contagious, and we’re no longer up all night hacking up our internal organs,  So yay for us, right?

Writing news – 

Chucklers – Evidently, CV1 was on sale for a day back on February 17.  I would have made an announcement, but unfortunately, I didn’t know about the sale until February 25.  Not being in control of things like this is one of the trade-offs for being published through a press.  You don’t have to worry about the up-front expenses of publishing, but you also relinquish control of the work.  It’s a fair arrangement, but it makes it harder to track things until after the fact.

Pangaea: Exiles – This one continues to surprise me with how well it’s doing.  Reviews are still coming in, and they’re overwhelmingly positive.  PE currently has a 4.5 rating, and the only negative review is from some poor soul who was upset because the book had humans living in a time when they “didn’t belong”, and killing “the animals that lived there” (dinosaurs).  I supposed that’s a viable view.  I just have to wonder what he thought the book was going to be about, based on the cover and book description.  

And there’s really no other writing news to report this week.  Payne and Suffering is pretty much on hold while I concentrate on this antho story, and I’ve got nothing new to report on the Y12 audiobook, or Crazy Larry.  So, in sticking with my “keep it short” blogging policy, I think I’m just going to end it here.

You guys stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :bye:

Feb 142018
 

In a continuation of the saga of the great epidemic of 2018, I would like to report that I’m completely over the flu.  I would like to… really.  But it just isn’t true.  I’m mostly over it, but the last vestiges keep lingering.  Worse though, is the fact that MBH now has it.

Not my fault, I swear!  We were diligent in making sure I didn’t spread my foul cloud of pestilence to my better half.  Unfortunately, she hurt her back.

What? You don’t get it?  She hurt her back… and so had to go to the doctor.  And the waiting room was filled with people who were waiting to see the doctor for help with the flu.  

To make matters worse, they never even called in her prescription for the muscle relaxers for her back.  It was mid-day last Friday when she went in, and she went back to work after her appointment.  After work, she went by the pharmacy and found out that they had never called in the meds, but by then it was too late.  The doctor’s office was closed, and they didn’t keep weekend hours.  So she rested up over the weekend, and by Monday, her back was much better.  Without the meds.

Unfortunately, she had already been exposed, and on Tuesday, she was pretty sure she was coming down with the flu.  Today is Wednesday, and there is no longer any doubt.  MBH is home sick.

So let’s see, she went to the doctor for help with her back… paid for the appointment… didn’t get the meds she needed… but instead was exposed to the flu that we had been so careful not to spread over the course of the last two weeks.  (sigh)

In writing news…

Half Past MidnightHPM was featured last week in an Audible “Mysteries and Thrillers” BOGO sale. Dates of the sale were February 4th through February 11th.  It was a members only sale, so only folks who actually have a paid membership on Audible were able to take part in it.  They sent me a link, but since I don’t actually have a paid membership on Audible, it really did me no good.  I passed it on to a few friends who did have one, but they reported that the link didn’t seem to be working. When I reported this to ACX (responsible for the content on Audible) they checked, said it was working, and that was that.  I honestly didn’t think much was going to come of it after that.

Then I checked my sales dashboard on ACX.  It most certainly WAS working!  I watched day after day as my sales numbers grew.  In the end, I sold 384 copies of the HPM audiobook.  Now, since it was a BOGO sale, I imagine I’ll only get credit for half of those sales. But still, 162 sales in a single week on an audiobook that came out four years ago?  Yeah, I’ll definitely take that.  

Payne and Suffering – Current writing schedule is way off.  The flu just sapped my strength, and I was lucky to get a few hundred words on any given day since I was sick.  Today, I’m doing better, and have already knocked out about 1200 words.  Head’s starting to hurt a bit, and I find myself getting tired easier, but I hope to at least knock out another thousand or so before the end of the day.  We’ll see.

Year 12 – I’ve been pretty quiet on this one lately.  Last I mentioned, I had Corey Snow doing the audio work on Y12.  Unfortunately, Corey ran into some setbacks, and the project still isn’t done.  I got word from him last week that he is trying to get back on track, and that I should expect to get more chapters in the near future.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

And that’s about it.  Time to get back to work.  So take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :bye:

Feb 012018
 

Today is February 1st, the “oneth of the month.” This is the day that we do our monthly maintenance chores like feeding the dog her monthly Heartguard, adding bleach to the septic system, etc.  This year, it’s also the day after the rare “super blue blood moon”.  It was “super” because the moon was at perigee, “blue” because it was the second full moon of the month, and a “blood” moon because it also marks the occurrence of a lunar eclipse.

It was also the 32nd anniversary of the day MBH and I got married.  Yep, I’m a lucky man.  

You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything last Wednesday.  That’s because MBH and I took a quick road trip to visit some folks in Texas.  Ever notice how birthdays and celebrations seem to come in waves?  Well, the end of January and beginning of February is just such a wave for our family.  There is our son’s birthday, our granddaughter’s birthday, my mother’s birthday, my brother-in-law’s birthday, our anniversary, and a very close friend’s birthday… all within a matter of a week.  We also had some personal business we had to take care of.

We all managed to cram a lot of life into those few days.  It was a whirlwind trip that left us pretty much exhausted by the time we made it back.  And as you can see, we weren’t the only ones exhausted. 

Now, on to the writing front –

Not a lot to report this week.

Payne and SufferingP&S is moving along.  I had a nice revelation over the weekend that revealed a bit of a plot flaw, as well as its solution.  That has meant some rewrites, which in turn means not as much improvement on the actual word count.  It also means that the story is pulling together better though, so no complaints here.  The book is currently sitting at a bit over 32k words.  Once I finish the rewrites, I expect to be back on track to finish the first draft by the end of March.

Now, I do seem to recall that I promised myself that I wasn’t going to spend too much time on this blog post each week, since  my time should be spent on writing my actual titles, so I’m going to make this one a very short post this week. So take care of yourselves, and stay safe.  :bye:

 

Jan 172018
 

Paxton Lee Frombaugh

About a two and a half years ago, I reconnected with Paxton Frombaugh, an old high school friend.  As often happens, he and I had fallen out of touch after school, each going our separate ways in pursuit of our lives.  We found one another again in August of 2015 through Facebook when some mutual friends reintroduced us and we began catching up again.

I won’t pretend that we struck up our old friendship like nothing had ever happened, or that we were just as close as we had once been.  Like I said, we had both pursued other lives, and there was about a thirty year gap since we had last spent any time together.  But the occasional chat session would remind me of how much fun he was back in the day, and he always brought a smile to my face.  There was even a certain amount of nostalgia involved as I recalled our old weekend D&D sessions. (Yes, we were some of those people.) 

And yes, this is the same Paxton that I named the leader of the Guard team after, in Pangaea: Exiles.  Paxton, Pax, Peaceful… if you remember that character from Pangaea, that was him.  He even chatted with me at one point about how much he loved that he finally got to be the “badass” that he’d never been in real life.  If you knew how kind he really was, the idea of him ever being a badass might make you chuckle.  

But I also knew he’d had some pretty serious health problems.  He spoke of them publicly, so I’m not betraying any confidence when I mention that he had kidney disease.  In November, he posted that he had some necrosis in the heel of his foot, but also mentioned that the doctors had assured him that it was under control, and that amputation wouldn’t be necessary.

Then the holidays came around, and he stopped posting.  I never thought anything about it, assuming that he, like many of us, was just busy with the holidays and family.  Then a friend of ours posted that she’d just heard Paxton was back in the hospital, and that they had been forced to amputate his leg, after all.  Apparently the necrosis had spread, despite what he’d first been told.  Worse, it had gotten all the way into his abdomen, and they didn’t expect him to live much longer than a few weeks.  I was shocked, to say the least.

That was January 7th.  A few hours later I went back to that same post to check his status.  As I was reading, a new comment popped up letting everyone know that Paxton had just passed away at about three o’clock.

Rest well, Peaceful.

 

Justin Macumber

Then, just a few days ago, on January 15th, I found that one of the people who inspired me to get serious with my writing passed away unexpectedly.  Justin Macumber also had kidney issues.  He’d just recently gotten a kidney transplant, and most of us assumed that was good news.  Unfortunately, his body rejected the transplant and he passed away.

Justin was the founder of the writing podcast, The Dead Robots’ Society.  This podcast was what caused me to revisit my old love of writing, and get off my butt to actually do something with it.  If you run a search through my blog here, you’ll see that Justin and the Dead Robots’ Society are mentioned pretty often.

And while he and I weren’t terribly close, I can indirectly attribute much of what little success I’ve had to him. For without Justin, there would have been no DRS Podcast.  I wouldn’t have learned about the ins and outs of indie publishing… wouldn’t have received encouragement from him and the other “robots” back in the days when DRS had its own online forum… wouldn’t have enjoyed the friendship of even more fans when they closed the old forum in favor of a Facebook page that allowed them to reach an even larger audience.

When I think back on the online writing community I’ve come to embrace, there is so much of it that ties back to Justin.  He inspired me, and so many others in the writing world.  I know I told him a few times, and I saw occasional posts where others told him.  I can only hope he truly understood it.

Goodbye, Justin.  We’ll miss you.

 Posted by at 3:16 pm
Jan 102018
 

Sure, it’s ten days late. But it’s the first post of 2018, so Happy New Year.  

I going to try to be short and sweet with this one because one of my personal resolutions is to buckle down more with the writing.

I don’t have a lot of time to read these days. If I have time to read, then I have time to write.  That means I feel guilty for reading and not putting more content out there.  But I do still listen to audiobooks, since I can do this when I’m walking the dog, or working in the house.

And there is something I’ve noticed.

Some of the more successful writers I’ve listened to just really aren’t all that good.  Or rather, they aren’t as good as I would expect, based on their financial success as authors.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic indie authors out there.  But there are also some pretty mediocre writers that are still extremely successful.

I know, I know, that sounds like the epitome of vanity for me to say something like that.  And it’s not that they’re actually bad writers.  They just aren’t where I would expect them to be as full-time writers who are making a good living at their craft.

And that got me to thinking… what are they doing that I’m not?

Answer –

  1. They produce more titles than I do.  A LOT more.  Sure, they’re usually shorter books, but there are a lot more of them.
  2. They market better than I do. They keep their name and titles out there so that they always have something in the new releases.  And the more the public sees your name, the more they buy your books.
  3. For better or worse, they don’t worry (obsess?) over the quality of the writing as much as I do. The quality of the prose is secondary to the quantity.  
  4. For the most part, they concentrate on a single series until there are several titles under its umbrella before they ever move on to another series.

In short, they’re better businessmen and businesswomen than I am. Now, I can’t do much about the last two items on my list.  It’s in my nature to worry over the quality of my writing and I’ve made myself a promise that I’ll never intentionally let my quality slide.  That’s not to say that I’ll be producing literary masterpieces, but it’s just not in me to do less than I can reasonably be expected to do.

As for the series, I’m already committed to the four series that I have going.  Two are under contract, and the other two make me more money and have established fan-bases, however small they may be.

But I can address the first two items.  I can get better organized and increase my word production.  I’ve already gotten better since the beginning of the year, simply by employing some of the techniques I’ve read about and heard about in various writing podcasts.  In the last few weeks, I’ve almost doubled my average daily word count.  Not only that, but I think I can see ways to do even more.  Fingers crossed here. 

And I can learn more about the marketing side of things.  The problem here is that the marketing aspect of the business is constantly changing.  What worked in 2012 won’t work in 2018.  The marketing tips and tricks I learned back when I started just won’t cut it.  And I haven’t taken the time to keep up with current trends.  I need to address that.

But part of that whole “produce more content” thing also means I need to spend less time on my blog posts.  I need to stop trying to think about something clever to write about, and put my effort into increasing my catalog.  So from now on, I’m going to limit myself on this blog.  It will be a sort of New Year’s resolution… posts will be either shorter than 1000 words, or I will limit myself to half an hour’s time in which to get them written.  On thousand words or half an hour, whichever comes first.

So moving on to other writing news:

Pangaea: Exiles – Severed Press sent me word last week that PE1 has been selected by their audio partner, Beacon, to produce as an audiobook.  Estimated time to release is about three months.

Payne and Suffering – After a few derailments, P&S is really moving along now.  I had a few plotting issues earlier in the week that forced me to slow down and open up some mind mapping software, but it only took a few hours to get things back on track.

Crazy Larry – I had dropped CL into the virtual file cabinet several months ago when the story went stale for me.  When MBH asked me how it was progressing, I had to admit I was stumped.  She brainstormed with me, and helped me see a way out of the bog.  So I made a bit of progress on it, too.  Man, I love that woman.  

And with that, I’m beginning to approach my self-imposed 1000 word limit, so that’s it for today. Stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time.  :bye: