Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Staying Engaged

I need to try and stay engaged on writers’ forums and other folks’ blogs.  Time is in short supply, but that doesn’t excuse my lack of engagement over the last year.  Maybe I need to block time the way I block it for outlining or writing.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Spam Is Nasty

I don’t get too many comments here(c’mon people – step up!), and I get even fewer emails.  So when that happens, I tend to get excited about it.  I logged into my email yesterday to see that I had a message entitled “RD Meyer’s Website.”  I excitedly opened it, wondering who it was and what they wanted to engage me about.  Imagine my dismay as it was basically a spam advertisement offering to upgrade my site.

I despise spam, to the place where I make a point of never, ever buying something from a spam-bot, even outside of the message.  It’s annoying, and I tend to react to being annoyed like that with spite.

If you want to sell me something, at least give me some foreplay of pretending to interact at first.  Otherwise, all you’re going to get from me is a nasty scowl and a promise to never engage with you.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Inter-Related

I like stories that are exciting and unpredictable.  Figuring out how things fit together is one of the great joys of following along.  Unfortunately, some of that fun gets sucked out when it turns out that everything and everyone has to fit together because of shared connections in previous stories.

It was fun in the beginning.  When we first found out that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, it was a jaw-dropping moment.  No one saw it coming because it was new.  No one had done that before.  However, everyone seems intent on doing that now, and it’s really annoying.

Not everyone has to be related or have a past with the story.  One of my favorite shows is CobraKai, and while good, folks are braying for Terry Silver or John Kreese to be related to Tori, or for Julie Pierce to show up(maybe she’s Tori’s mom, or MikeBarnes is Miguel’s dad?).  Why?  Is it not enough for there to be tension with new characters?  Star Wars did this by having Rey be Palpatine’s granddaughter.  Can’t we just find force sensitive people whose names are not Skywalker or Palpatine?  It insulates the story by shutting out all outsiders, making the story an exclusive club and preventing people from envisioning themselves as part of it.

Besides which, all this inter-related nonsense is just plain lazy.  It lets writers not have to worry about much beyond that which they’ve already created.  They don’t have to stretch themselves and apply it to real life(where most folks aren’t inter-related).  It may make the moment feel wonderous, but it’s quickly fleeting and leaves the reader feeling empty.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Catching Repetition

One of the toughest things to keep straight as a writer is to remember what you’ve already talked about.  We often get so eager to tell the reader what is going on that we sometimes forget we already told them.  Remember, none of us sit down and write the entire book, or usually even an entire chapter, in one sitting.  Because of that, I often have to sit down for a few minutes and re-read what I’d written the previous day to get back into the flow.

I noticed this while reading A Call To Arms.  It’s a fun book about a galactic war in which humanity is pulled due to its ferocity.  However, the plot is not what I want to go over here – it’s the fact that as I read certain parts of it, I noticed that there were some parts that rehashed something the author already went into, sometimes word for word.

It gets a little jarring when that happens as I think, didn’t he already tell me all of that?  I have to push through it and get back into new material.  Yet it also made me smile as I recognized myself in such errors, for I’ve done that a few times and had to go back and fix it.  What it tells me is that a) he didn’t re-read it after writing it, and b) the editor was likely a lowly intern editor, or maybe that there were several editors who only looked at certain parts, and they didn’t catch it.  It speaks of laziness, even if the story was cool.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Earning Out

One of the biggest pitfalls of indie publishing is the expense.  Since there’s no publisher shouldering the expense, and therefore grabbing most of the profit, everything produced has to be funded in some other way.  Some folks crowdsource or get individual investors, but I fund everything I do myself.  That means every profit or loss belongs to me.

What I’d like is to earn out one book, and it looks like Schism is doing that.  It costs almost $900 to bring out a book to publication once you factor in cover design, print format conversion, ebook conversion, ISBN purchase, and so on.  Although my previous works have done okay, none fully earned out the money I put into them.  Schism, however, has.  It hasn’t made me self-sufficient, but it feels good that I can cover the cost of my next novel with what I made from its sales.

Some of you may ask why I publish if I don’t earn out what I invest, and it’s twofold.  First, I love to write.  It’s a passion of mine, and everyone who writes wants to see a real-life book with their name on it.  Second, I have to build a base to generate interest if I ever want to make this a doable career.  JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer aside, most authors don’t earn out their first time or two out.  You have to build an audience who recommends your work and keeps buying it.

Here's hoping Homecoming is at least as successful in earning out so that I can continue to write and publish.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Backlist Publishing

As Homecoming nears official release, I’m pretty much finished publishing off of what I call my “backlist.”  Some authors have this for published work, but it has a different meaning for me.  You see, I first started truly writing in 2008 while deployed overseas, and the five novels that resulted – Akeldama, Salvation Day, WrongfulDeath, Schism, and Homecoming – were all novels that I completed during my military service(or at least the main draft…editing always remains).  What lies ahead is a bit more unknown.

Yes, there are four other novels I’ve written, but all four need extensive re-writes.  None will be published in anything close to what they are now…if at all.  That basically means they’ll be new novels.  The sequel to Akeldama is the closest, but even that’ll be at least 75% rewritten before seeing the light of day.

And then there are new novels.  I am currently writing a sci-fi/fantasy mashup about a group of explorers from Earth who find a world where magic is real, but I’ve only done three chapters so far.  I have the sequel to Salvation Day in my head, but I have yet to sit down in any serious way with that one.  So how to proceed from here.

Admittedly, it is a bit scary.  I haven’t written a novel from scratch in a long time, so I need to get back into the process.  For example, while I’ve finished chapter three in my new novel, I haven’t outlined beyond that.  I know generally what’s going to happen next, but I haven’t fleshed that out, and I have to resist the urge to just start writing, because I know that if I do, I’ll hit that wall and have to re-write over the top of a bunch of garbage.

The best thing I have going for me is that my livelihood, so far, isn’t dependent on my writing, so I can have fun and move at my own pace.  Lack of dependence on financial success as an author means less stress.  That doesn’t mean I want to poop out crappy writing, only that I can enjoy it because I know where my next meal is coming from.  Hopefully I can get there sooner than I think.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Copyright - Yes Or No?

Simple question – is it worth it to copyright your work?  I really don’t know one way or the other.  I copyrighted Akeldama, but was that necessary.  It cost money, and my work was already protected the moment I wrote it down.  Does the copyright add anything inherently valuable?  Do any other writers out there have any insights?

Sunday, February 7, 2021

It's Not Over Till It's Posted

I think I’ve mentioned previously that I try to write all of my posts about a month in advance so I don’t run up against the month and end up posting shit just to get stuff out.  Of course I allow exceptions in case breaking news comes up, but writing the posts a month out takes stress off of my shoulders.

However, that means little if the posts I write don’t get scheduled.  I ran into that bit of drama last month when I had all of my posts done before the end of the first week.  I exhaled, sat back…and did nothing during the rest of December.  Then, lo and behold, I came up to the last week(in between Christmas and New Year’s), only to remember I hadn’t actually scheduled the posts to show up on my site.

Scheduling posts takes me about half an hour to get the month’s posts finished.  I do a final proofread, pick the date and time(am I grouping by like topic, etc), and I add any hyperlinks that may enhance the post, so it’s not a fire and forget type of job.  And while not long to do, it does require setting aside time for the effort, and if I forget, then the posts don’t go up on schedule.

The lesson here?  Posting isn’t done until it’s scheduled/posted.  It doesn’t matter if I’m ahead if I don’t make it so the audience can see them.  Gotta remember that.  :-P

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Fighting With Editors

One of the biggest benefits to being an indie author is that I have total control over my own work.  I get to decide the cover, the content, and when to publish.  That doesn’t, however, mean there is no conflict, and a lot of that conflict comes in the form of an editor.

Now when I say editor, I more mean someone who proofs my works and makes sure it makes sense.  I don’t believe in a dedicated content editor – I use beta-readers to see what works and what doesn’t.  Like I said, it’s my work, so I’ll do what I think is best for the work.  That doesn’t mean I’m not prone to human pride and wouldn’t simply like my editor to return my work untouched, telling me it was flawless and ready to go.

So it’s hard not to revert back to student-mode when someone critiques what I’ve written.  Homecoming was full of red ink marks and notations when I got it back.  I looked through it with a touch of wounded pride, and I even found myself arguing with my (not present) editor as I went over what she said.  Conversations would go something like this:

“I capitalized that on purpose!  It’s a proper title, and I want the audience to know the person is important!”
No response from person who isn’t in the room.

“Yes, I know there’s a difference between ‘man’ and ‘men,’ and I was using it to talk about humanity as a whole rather than the plural form!”
Again, no response from person not in the room.

“Of course it’s passive voice, but that works better there and is in line with that person’s personality!”
Still nothing from the walls at whom I am yelling while the editor is 500 miles away.

This went on and on as I wore myself into exhaustion arguing with a person who isn’t there.  Then I remembered that it’s my work, and I can accept or ignore the edits as I see fit.  I also remembered that I asked the person to edit my work, and everything was done out of a) a desire to be helpful, and b) from the perspective of an objective reader who isn’t as intimately familiar with my work as I am.  Once I realized that – or kept realizing, as it happened more than once – I was able to take the edits in stride.

That doesn’t, of course, mean I accepted every edit(again – my work).  What it gave me was the perspective to see what might require revision and what I wanted to keep in there intentionally.  With the knowledge of an outside and objective look, I could decide more consciously whether or not the piece needed adjustment(and a lot did, believe me).  I accepted some edits and I discarded some edits.  Sometimes I revised in accordance with the suggested edit.  And although sometimes a correction was warranted, it was different than what either of us saw, so I created something new.

Still, it reiterated that every bit of my work requires someone to look it over, and that someone needs to be a person who isn’t me.  I tend to think my work is just fine, but an outside look finds things I miss, and even if I don’t take every suggested edit, having the choice versus being ignorant helps make anything written better.  Despite the acrimony, isn’t that the point?

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Homecoming Release Date!

I am thrilled to announce that Homecoming will be officially released on March 1st!  This is the last novel I wrote prior to retiring from the Army and getting a “regular” job, so we’ll see how hard it is to push ahead in the future, but for now, please enjoy the book.  Here’s the back cover blurb:

Earth.  The mere name has had an almost talisman-like pull on the human race since we were driven from our homeworld over 6,000 years ago.  Mankind’s ancestors ran from the genocidal threat engulfing them, fleeing like intergalactic refugees towards a new home that would allow us to flourish once again.

 And flourish we did.  From a ragtag group of just over 12,000 survivors, humanity has grown to create a proper empire of nearly 900 billion spanning two galaxies.  But we never forgot our home, so we waited and we planned.  Now the time was finally right to return to Earth and take back what we once had no choice but to abandon.

 Although the military campaign, as well as the alien races between humanity and our birthplace, were the primary concern, they turned out to not be the only ones.  You see, Earth itself, despite crawling with the vermin that nearly eradicated us, was far from free of surprises, both physical and historical.  Unanticipated challenges waited for the people of the Terran Confederation, including notions that would shake the very foundations of what it meant to be human.  Our legends had defined us, but could those legends withstand scrutiny?  What if everything we’d come to believe about ourselves and our world had been carefully crafted to cocoon us for our own good?

 A story meant to be about our return to Earth expands to cover our journey both across and within the realms of known space, from long lost colony worlds where mankind has morphed into something else, to the edges of an intergalactic war between implacable enemies…enemies that now had the incentive to turn their attention towards humanity…