Sunday, August 13, 2017

Snowflakery

A few days ago, while reading According To Hoyt, I came across something that literally left me slack jawed.  Being as cynical as I sometimes am, it's hard to shock me.  Very Hard.  However, the total and abject stupidity of the world of hysterics managed to do so.

I'd never heard of The Black Witch before.  It's a YA thriller about a woman whose grandmother saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War(whatever that is).  This story follows young Elloren as she attends Verpax University to become an apothecary.  However, being sheltered as she was, Elloren has some shaky views about the people Verpax lets in its doors.  It seems she was raised by folks who think such folks are lesser people, and she, naturally, has adopted these attitudes.  But, confronted with the reality of those in her midst instead of the caricatures she grew up with, she's forced to reevaluate her misguided beliefs and come to terms with the way she once viewed the world with the way the world really is.  Sounds like a great story about overcoming prejudice and growing up, right?

Wrong.

A blogger named Shauna Sinyard, who goes by the handle Bookstore Babe, wrote a 9,000 word review that starts out with "Normally, I start these reviews with a photo of the book and a star rating. Today, I am not going to do that. The Black Witch is the most dangerous, offensive, book I've ever read. It's racist, ableist, homophobic, and is written with no marginalized people in mind."  Her review started a firestorm where people began trashing the book and the writer based on the views the main character holds for a good portion of the book(which is kind of important in order to establish the story where she can overcome these things).  Reviewers began giving one-star ratings on Goodreads and other sites in the hopes of not just persuading people to not read it, but to get removed from stores altogether.  What's worse is that many of those parsing out one-star reviews freely admit they've never even read it.

What.  The.  Fuck.

Look, if you want to give a book a one-star review because you think it's a shitty book, go right ahead.  We've all read horrible stuff in our time.  However, at least understand the story,  The blogger in question, and many who came out as part of the mob she stirred up, made their reviews because the main character doesn't fit into their neat little world where no racism should ever exist.  There is apparently no room for the growth of a character, or if so, then they don't care to read about that character's journey.  I mean...pfft, who would want to understand a character in order to better figure out how that person overcame bigotry and oppression in the first place?  Who do the folks who do this think they are, writers with a story to tell or something?

Shauna goes on to spout every cliché ever produced to caricature the American Left.  She labels the protagonist as a stand in for white people who marginalizes every minority stand in throughout the story.  She then tries to connect Elloren's journey with racist white people giving themselves a pat on the back for getting past it.  I guess in Shauna's world, there is no personal journey, no overcoming of bigotry, and once a racist means always a racist.  Let's hope she never picks up something like To Kill A Mockingbird or Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

As bad as Shauna's lack of understanding regarding this made-up story is, those trashing the book based solely on her review are even worse.  Do these people allow others to make up their minds for them?  Are they so sheep-like that they will follow whatever someone in the "woke" crowd says?  And most absurdly, do they think their entire world will collapse...over a friggin' book?!?!

This stuff harkens back to old timey book burnings and should scare the shit out of all of us.  I know that I've said not to wade into politics, but the attempt at censorship here should make all of us - left, right, or center - mad as hell.  I was going to say scared, but scared isn't the emotion I'm feeling - I'm feeling anger.  Anger at those who think words are dangerous.  Anger at those who couldn't be bothered to judge for themselves but would rather another like-minded person tell them what to think.  Anger over trying to suppress a book(and let's be honest - that's exactly what's going on here.  If these people were granted authority over what others could read, do you have any doubt, any doubt at all, that they'd yank this book off the shelves so you couldn't make a decision they disagreed with?)

I'm not so much upset with the book getting a one-star review.  Like I said, if you dislike a book, then by all means, give it the worst review you can think of.  Where I get agitated is with people like Shauna completely misreading a novel and chastising the author, Laurie Forest, for not getting over racism on the timeline the reviewer wants.  Or, what appears to be worse, daring to not be woke to this stuff from the beginning.  I wonder strongly at the kind of bland characters she likes, for they must be so milquetoast that there is no internal conflict whatsoever.  And then she and others have the gall to tell us it's a dangerous book(news flash - books are not dangerous - actions are dangerous; books are words compiled into a story, and if you think they can create evil, then you need serious therapy).  Shauna, get over yourself.  Your adherence to your "woke" ideology has blinded you to the threat to freedom you represent, not Forest.

Ideas must flourish in the light of day where they can be scrutinized.  Bad ideas must be countered with good ideas rather than shut down because those ideas make you feel icky.  And folks should actually read for themselves before they comment on whether or not something is hateful.  It would also help if they got the premise of the book rather than letting it go completely over their head because it didn't resolve in the manner in which the reader wanted it to.

I have no desire to be timid on this.  If my stance on this issue offends you, then unfollow me.  I do not want to associate with people who question whether a book should even be in print.  And yes, I mean any book.  Those who believe a book is too dangerous would feel right at home in puritanical societies where no unapproved ideas come out to make others uncomfortable.  Sounds so nice...and so shallow.  I weep for those narrow-minded fools who cannot countenance a book being out that doesn't meet their strict social standards.  How pathetic.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Intimidated?

I ran across this post from WriteToDone a couple of days ago, and it caught me off guard.  In a nutshell, it talks about how to not be intimidated by other writers.  Nelu Mbingu, the post's author, makes laudable points in trying to get folks over being intimidated, but the entire post brought me to one simple question - is this really a problem?

Maybe I'm naïve.  Maybe I'm an arrogant asshole.  However, I have trouble wrapping my mind around being intimidated by anyone, especially in a field I enjoy.  Do we not publish because we feel we can tell a story better than someone else?  And if we need to get better at telling that story, don't we just do it instead of brooding on it?

But maybe this is a bigger issue for most than it is for me.  In my personal interactions with other writers - I mean real writers, not the folks who keep saying they're going to write a novel but never actually do it - I've found that so many have egos of crystal, as if a single harsh word about the work or artist will shatter their view of themselves.  So many spend so much time trying to impress others that I wonder if there's any time left to actually...you know...write.

Yes, many of us feel insecure.  After all, we're putting our work out there for everyone to see.  However, feeling intimidated?  Why would we ever allow our own insecurities to make us feel that others are better than we are?  True, we can always improve, but so can that person you feel may be so much better.  I think we all need to take a deep breath and realize that everyone else has the same insecurity we do.

I'm not saying to tout ourselves as the Next Great Thing.  Humility can always serve us well.  That doesn't mean we should ever believe our writing doesn't measure up to someone else's.  Be proud of what you've written, and be confident in the way you wrote it.  If someone doesn't like it, figure out why and move on.  That's part of getting better.  But never - never - let yourself feel inferior to another writer.  We're all in this together, and simply putting our work out there for others is an act of courage.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Salvation Day Release Date!

My next novel, Salvation Day, has a release date!  It is currently scheduled for release on November 2, 2017.  I've very excited about this release, for although I've enjoyed writing all of my books, Salvation Day is, in my opinion, my best novel.  I look forward over the coming weeks to the cover reveal and promotion for my most engaging novel yet.

If you haven't joined my mailing list yet, send me an email and do so as soon as possible to keep up with everything scheduled in this release.  See you in November!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Never Stop Reading

Stephen King put it right when he said that if you don't have time to read, then you don't have time to write.  This axiom should be obvious to anyone who wants to write, but I've found, surprisingly, that this isn't always the case.  A large number of writers I know tell me they don't have the time to read, and their time is better spent writing.

Most of us got into this business due to our love of books, so where did that love go?  I know that reading can be time consuming, but it's important to see what styles out there grab your attention.  What do you think about the description of events in books?  How well are characters developed?  You know your imagination and what you want to say, so it's real easy to take your imagination for granted and think that everyone has an insight into your soul.  However, this is a quick road to mediocrity.

There are many writers I love - Stephen King, JK Rowling, Timothy Zahn, Alan Dean Foster, William Forstchen, Tad Williams, and so on.  Their styles have inspired a great deal in my own writing, but I would have never known how they do what they do if I didn't read them(and continue to read them).  My next novel, Salvation Day, found so much inspiration from Stephen King's The Shining that it would've had an entirely different feel without the help.  I'd tried previously to build tension, but it was sloppy at best.  After reading The Shining, I finally got it.  I knew how to build subtly and not all at once.  Although not necessarily on the level of King, it's a much better book as a result.

So you have to read as diligently as you write.  Some folks write a little bit each day, whether it be 500 words or 5,000 words, but we write so we can stay sharp.  We must do the same when by reading.  Read a chapter or a few pages.  It doesn't have to be extensive, but it has to happen.  Without it, you'll end up with a crappily written tale that deserves little but the garbage heap.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Critical Mass

One of the hardest things about making a living as a professional writer is selling enough books.  And to do that, people need to know about your book.  A lot of people.

Once enough people know who you are and trust that you will tell them a good story, reputation can carry you to new heights.  There was no massive marketing campaign that started the clamor for Fifty Shades Of Grey.  William Paul Young didn't take out ads for The Shack.  Even the initial sales of Twilight weren't at the stratospheric levels they finally reached.  What happened was that a few folks picked up the books and liked them, so they passed them on to friends.  Those friends then liked the books and passed them on to still more friends.  And so on and so forth.

Obviously the first piece is to have a story that appeals to a mass audience and is told in a way that audience will appreciate.  Those in that audience then need to be enthusiastic enough about the book to not only recommend it to others, but to follow up and try to get as many people as they can to read it.  That happens when your appeal translates into zealous obsession with fans.

With enough recommendations and pass-alongs, the novel will eventually reach a critical mass of readers.  That means that its sales and promotion will take on a life of its own.  Although the same amount of enthusiasm may not exist in everybody, momentum becomes strong enough that people begin to read it out of a sense of wanting to be in on the "hip" thing.  They'll see their friends reading it - and not just one, but several - and they'll want to read it if for no other reason than to not be left out.  Marketing becomes self-sustaining at that point.

Okay, explaining that was easy, but how do you do it?  Beats me.

Of course you need to produce a story that lots of people will like.  Notice that I didn't say you need to have written a good story - it's no secret that I take a perverse pleasure in ripping apart Twilight and Fifty Shades Of Grey.  I personally think that both novels are putrid works that are poorly written, but both Stephanie Meyer and EL James found an audience for their crap, and that audience loves the books.  I know how elitist it appears for me to rip on these best sellers, but I similarly can't deny that they found a niche.

Once you've found your niche, you need to find enthusiastic readers.  That's  the most challenging part.  Finding someone to like your book is hard enough, but finding someone willing to go out and shill for your book for free, merely out of a sense of liking what you wrote is like picking the winning Powerball numbers...twice.

That doesn't mean you don't promote.  In fact, it means quite the opposite.  You need to promote because you need to locate the core of that critical mass.  Find a few readers who will zealously promote your work to others, and see if those they promote to are just as enthusiastic.  If you reach that critical mass, then the readers will do most of the work for you.  Remember, it only has to happen once.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Clutching Of Pearls

I know that only a few days ago I told everyone to stay away from politics.  However, and maybe I'm naïve on this subject, I don't consider this a post on politics - I consider it a post on how we've become a society of sniveling wimps who not only go and hide when something we find offensive comes along, but that we're so afraid of other things that we don't think those things should even be seen.

A couple of days ago, I came across an article for a new show on HBO entitled Confederate.  It's set in an alternate reality where the southern states successfully seceded from the Union.  I can imagine all kinds of cool plotlines coming from such a concept - the Underground Railroad still active, northern abolitionists encouraging rebellions in the Confederacy, international tensions over those who interfere in the affairs of another nation(even if that nation is a pariah), and so on.

Unfortunately, there are all kinds of folks who are pissed about the show even being countenanced.  The creators - the same folks who are bringing us Game of Thrones - are involved and facing a backlash(to say the least).  It's as if the very presence of a fictional show will make people think, "You know, that whole slavery thing was really a great idea."  Re-read that sentence and tell me just how stupid it sounds when said out loud.

I will not be "unopinionated" on this - the folks feel this way about a show being made are morons.  It's a goddamn TV show.  It's entertainment.  And does anyone think that the shows creators, in today's TV world, will even dare suggest that the Confederacy are the good guys here?!?!  Or are they mad that we might use the show to both entertain and wonder about the horrors of what could've been?  Alternate history and reality are a BIG part of stories.  Are these same snowflakes mad about Fatherland, the series about a Nazi victory in World War Two and the dystopian world it produced?  Or the acclaimed miniseries The Man in the High Castle?  What about Bring the Jubilee or Guns of the South?

To all the gasping and whiny little weenies who would let their own sensitivities prevent the rest of us from daring to watch, much less enjoy, a show like this, I say "go fuck yourself."  I mean that sincerely.  Grow the hell up and remember that book burnings - which is what this is in a preemptive sense - are the hallmarks of backwards and primitive cultures that are afraid of ideas.  That's right - IDEAS!  For some reason, they think the position of racial equality and being opposed to slavery are so weak that a show set in an alternate but almost-happened reality will drag it down.  Or they're so mad that folks could take enjoyment from it and not separate it from real life and current history.

I'm all for true social justice and the equality of opportunity that should be a hallmark of our society, but there's no way I will ever condone this kind of overblown sensitivity and political correctness.  Those of you who are mad about the premise of this show need to get over yourselves.  If it bothers you that much, then don't watch the damn thing.

I'm ashamed our society has gotten so wimpified that we cannot take TV show ideas on the value they are(entertainment) rather than having to turn it into a personal political screed and tantrum.  I now hope this new show takes off out of sheer spite.  The silliness of this whole episode makes me wonder how we got to the point of attempted censorship(and let's be honest - that's what this is).  We have to fight back against these self-righteous and arrogant puritans of thought or they'll win by apathy.  We need to sit them down and tell them just how dumb they're being and that we're tired of being bullied because they get upset about things they dislike.  They are mental children, and it's high time we called them on that and stopped giving into the lunatic rantings.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I've Got Reviews!

Akeldama has been doing decent since its release, even if I haven't yet "hit the big time."  However, one thing I wanted to share was the reviews the book has been getting.  Akeldama is rated at about 4.6 stars right now, and I'm thrilled about that.  I wish there were more, but that'll come in time.  And I know I've told y'all not to engage with reviewers, but I don't think I'm doing that - I'm simply passing along what others have said; I'm not critiquing the reviews and getting huffy when I don't get five stars "OH MY GOD YOU'RE SOOOOO AMAZING" reviews.

Vegan Tour Guide said, "I am glad this book was recommended to me and I will be recommending it to others in return. Until now, this wasn't my genre of reading, however I love the action and story and so I'm IN and looking forward to more!"

CC Case said, "Imagine if Tom Clancy were running your Vampire: The Masquerade Campaign.  If you wonder what types of political machinations come about from over a millennia of conflict between cursed immortals and the organizations who sought to oppress them, you will also appreciate this book. Even then, you may not see the plot twist coming at the end. Good stuff."

Shopper Lady said, "As summer begins, I'm definitely itching for books a bit outside my comfort zone and RD Meyer's book Akeldama was definitely the book for that.  This book was definitely intense and not what I would say is a "beach read.""

Dolores Stewart said, "Now, this is a vampire book. You won't be disappointed....it's action packed!"

But don't take their word for it - read it yourself and decide.  And if you do, please leave a review to let everyone, including myself, know what you thought.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Facebook Is A Tool Of Satan

I was originally going to do a different post today, but I decided that one will hold until Thursday morning.  Instead, I've decided to use this space to discuss one of the most distracting things known to man - Facebook.

I got online this evening in order to make a blog post about something to do with my writing career, and I thought, "I'll just check Facebook real quick to see what's going on.  Five to ten minutes tops!"

Fifty minutes later...

I like to talk on Facebook.  I think most people do.  I use it to keep up with friends, act silly, and yes, talk about serious stuff like science and politics.  I know I've warned y'all not to discuss politics, but that's a public setting I was talking about, not a private one among friends and family.  And since I tend to be verbose, these things can go on for a loooooooong time.  In fact, I tend to be on social media more than an hour each day.  Just imagine what I could be doing instead!

Facebook isn't a drug, but it is like an itch you need to scratch.  Whether that itch subsides, and how much it itches, depends on you.  A guy I know named Joe Peacock gave up social media back in January.  He explained the withdrawal symptoms(no other way to describe the itch).  He got back on only to promote his new novel because that's where the people are, but he has limited himself only to promotion and not to engaging on mindless topics that do little more than outrage each of us.  In honesty, he's stronger than I am on this.

What's so damn important about what I have to say?  Why do I feel the urge to be so involved?  If it wasn't for seeing what friends are doing(I mean close ones, not the "okay-I-know-you-so-I'll-follow-you" kind), talking about the latest outrage is about all I use it for.  It's not like I have a special need to see what everybody had for dinner last night, or their kid's latest baseball game.

I've got to find a way to cut this thing off.  I think deep down I know I need to cut it completely, for I'm not one for doing anything in moderation, and I know Facebook will suck me back in.  I'm not ready yet, and don't know if I ever will be, but I recognize the problem.  At least that's a start(even if only a pathetic one).  I keep going back to what I could get accomplished if I stopped entirely, but I also know I get bored easily and will want to find some way to fill that empty space when I have time between stuff.  If life was easy, I'd figure this out and do it really quick, but if life was easy, I'd also be sculpted like a Greek god and already be on the NY Times Bestseller List - sometimes it's the hard of life that helps us grow.  Now I just need to try to grow...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Polarization

We live in a more polarized political world than I've seen in my short time on the planet.  Although the 80s seemed tranquil, there were some folks who didn't care for it.  The 90s featured a blow job and an impeachment.  The 2000 election was the most contentious I'd yet seen, and it probably kick-started the levels of hyperpartisanship we see today.  And while President Obama won by pretty comfortable margins, it's not like he enjoyed a dissension free tenure either.

However, the level of vitriol never reached the same levels of absurdity as I've seen these last few months.  Love him or hate him, Donald Trump brings passionate feelings on every side.  Intimating that you like and support him can ruin friendships and family relationships.  Saying you oppose him will bring out every defender that ever walked the face of the Earth, even if President Trump does something they opposed just a year ago.  Mention support for a conservative position or a liberal position and you'll find yourself the target of venom you never imagined from folks who are normally civilized.  It's as if our political positions and parties are so tied to our own identities that we are incapable of using any level of objectivity regarding those who think differently.

That's why it baffles me that I see so many writers now getting political.  The only times I've done so on this blog were when I tried writing from various perspectives to see if I could pull it off, and I never gave away which way I lean.  Today, people boycott writers, actors, and comedians who piss them off, even if the person normally enjoys that entertainer's substance.  Maybe when people get to be multi-millionaires, they figure there's no damage when they do or say something both really stupid and really partisan.  However, this is infecting even startup writers and actors who don't have the cache to maybe be an idiot and keep readers or viewers.

Is it because we feel so strongly that we just have to put out our personal views no matter how much that might piss off others?  Is our shouting at the wind really going to change things?  In other words, is it worth alienating half our potential audience so we can "be heard?"  Maybe some feel it is, but don't count me among them.

Folks, stick to writing.  If you want to share your views, do so with your family and friends(if you still have any), but keep it out of the public spotlight.  We need people to buy our stuff.  It may make us feel righteous to say all of this, but even those who agree with us won't necessarily buy our work.  Political views and entertainment tastes rarely coincide.  Just ask The Dixie Chicks.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Back To Work

Yes, the blog went dark for two weeks.  It has been a crazy time around the Meyer household, and I let things slip.  I wish I had a more compelling story than "I got overwhelmed," but that's the crux of why I went two weeks since my last post.

I also let some other stuff slip on the business side.  Sales for Akeldama have been going well, but I haven't had the time to do much on the business side of the house, including more marketing.  In short, I'm caught in that loop where I need to devote more time to become successful, but I don't have the time because I'm not yet successful.  I have a day job that I need if I want to do silly things like eat and sleep under a constructed roof, so I've been unable to devote 100% of my time to being a professional writer.  I have also been spending what free time I have with my family, and no offense, but if it's a choice between this and my family, my family will win.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Some of that will change shortly.  I have an author's page on Amazon that needs to come online, and I have another book to get ready for publication.  I may even have an announcement ready for Salvation Day in the coming weeks.  On top of that, I will try my best to get back on my Twitter page and Goodreads account.

So, does all of this come down to whining?  Perhaps.  However, I've used the time to come up with a boatload of topics(for the record, a boatload is 2.5 times greater than a shitload), so I shouldn't have to scramble for a while.  I should also be able to stay more in track with blogging on a regular basis.

Finally, I owe a huge bow of thanks to both Nicole Pyles and Sarah Hoyt for featuring my debut novel on their sites.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Signing Event


So today was my first book signing event.  First, I want to thank Park Road Books for their support in this event.  They gave me a venue and helped me immensely.  I'm grateful.

Second, the event was a little different than I envisioned.  I thought I'd start right at 2pm, give an overview of the event, read a passage or two, and then sign some of my work.  Maybe that will work someday when I have a bigger following, but it wasn't in the cards today.
(My front door display at Park Road Books)
There wasn't exactly a crowd at the event, which wasn't unexpected.  Instead, there were a few subscribers, most of whom I've gotten to know real well over the last few years.  So instead of going all formal, we devolved into an informal discussion of both my novel and my other works and their release schedule.  People came and went throughout the event, some staying for only a few minutes, while others stayed for more than an hour.  And during that time, of course, I signed some books.
(I've been writing my name since I was five)
I managed to sell 90% of what I brought and what the bookstore already had on the shelves, which constituted success in my mind.  The store also still has a signed copy to sell(they requested I leave a signed copy for them).  Not an earth shattering event, but still a fun one.

As I pick up more folks, and maybe stray outside of my old hometown, these will gain more structure, but for now, it was great to just bullshit with the folks who came and sign some novels.  I wouldn't mind all these events being this low stress.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spinning Out Of Control

Stories can be a strange thing.  As a writer, I think I know how a story is going to unfold, but it sometimes takes a surprising turn and goes off in an entirely different direction.  I know how artsy-fartsy it sounds to say that we're not creating the story, that we really just sit back and write what we see(like it's a TV show), but it's the truth.  Sometimes we exert control, but mostly we're just along for the ride...like everybody else.

However, that can sometimes lead to strange stuff.  This happened to a novel I wrote called The Onyx Cluster.  The book was supposed to detail an arrogant scientist alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland after a time travel experiment gone wrong.  He would eventually find a group of mutated telepaths who'd manipulated the time stream to cause the very apocalypse that created them.  It was to be a tale of loneliness and introspection that detailed that our best efforts sometimes go astray.  What I wrote instead was an overly complicated story about a guy who became a resistance leader in the future and brought back a psychic child that led authorities on a high speed interstate pursuit.  I'm not sure how I got there.

By the time I got halfway into the book, I had no idea how to untangle the mess I'd created.  I should've done the right thing and scrapped the whole thing before starting over, but we all know how hard it is to just abandon material we've spent months on.  So, God help me, I let that crap-a-thon go to the end.

That doesn't mean I learned no lessons from the fiasco.  The biggest takeaway was that I needed to exert more control over my stories.  Previously, I just wrote down what I saw.  I now tend to grab the wheel a little more strongly.  Reading some great authors, they do the same thing after similar tales of woe.  The most famous one I can think of is Stephen King, who said that The Stand was just going out of control with no direction until he blew up the Boulder Free Zone.  Yes, he was writing down the story he saw, but it was going nowhere, so, as the God of that universe, he introduced some wrath.  It's an important thing to remember.

Get into your story and take charge when you see it going awry.  Yes, it's fun to be as surprised as everyone else as to how a story progresses, but that can lead to silly garbage.  God may not publicly interfere much, but when He does, it can be dramatic.  Always remember that when it comes to the universes you create, you are God, and you must sometimes intervene.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

No Post Today

Sorry for the short post today, but I'm spending some much needed quality time with the family.  That doesn't mean I'm not still mapping out my next novel(which I am) or reading for both enjoyment and to stay on top of how to write(which I also am).  However, I needed a breather, and my family needed my time(which I gladly give).  I'll return on Thursday morning with a new post.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Signing Event!



I wanted to announce that I'll be doing a book signing event for Akeldama at Park Road Books in Charlotte on June 25th at 2pm.  I'll be answering questions about the novel, and I'll sign copies of Akeldama for anyone who would like one.  Park Road Books will also be carrying copies for those who haven't yet purchased one.  I hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Lessons Learned So Far

I'm nearly a month into this book release thing, so I thought I'd share what I've learned so far.  The list may seem a bit negative, even though I don't really mean it that way.  It's just that we learn the greatest lessons from the things we need to fix.

1.  You'll never catch every mistake.  I went over Akeldama with a fine tooth comb.  It has been written for nearly six years, and I spent most of the last six months pouring over it to make sure it was perfect.  It wasn't.  I was no more than a day past release when I found my first typo.  I've found three so far, and it irks me.  I'm going to put in a correction, but I somehow doubt even then that the 10th go around will find everything.  Copyediting would be great, but it's expensive.

2.  Not every subscriber will buy a copy.  I've spent the last few years building a subscriber list of several hundred.  Each time I convinced someone to join my list, or they asked me to of their own accord, I got excited.  Well, it turns out that not everyone is as enthusiastic about your project as you are.  So far, barely a third of those on my list have bought a copy.  That makes me wonder how many were just humoring me.  Yes, build your list, but don't bank on it providing the bulk of your sales.

3.  Whatever you project as costs...double it.  Costs pile up.  You may think you're straight with a cover, ebook format, and print format, but there are so many more costs that you can soon find yourself overcome by them.  I needed proof copies, second proofs after the first resubmission, a business license, a (very small) advertising budget, book promotion copies, etc.  Costs I never considered came up.  Be generous with what you think you'll spend when you estimate cost.

4.  No one will be as enthusiastic about your work as you.  Many think that simply getting a book out there is enough.  It isn't.  If you want to do promotional events,. you need to really go after those slots.  If you want reviews, you need to ask, and possibly re-ask.  When someone says your book sounds interesting, try to close the sale at that moment.  Waiting allows them to cool off, and you're much easier to say no to if you're not there to make a face to face call.  People don't just run to Amazon and buy it just because you're the one who's excited about it.

5.  There are always surprises.  Some folks will come through in ways you never imagined.  Sales will come from unexpected quarters.  Always seek the opportunities that come, and that means being on the lookout for them, no matter how subtle they may be.  And then move past those opportunities you miss.  They may sting, but you'll waste time and emotion on that which you cannot change.

Overall, it's been a great start, and one to keep going.  Hopefully these lessons will help me continue to sell and make my next project even better.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Yeah, I Missed One

Seems like I missed a post today.  My bad.  I got caught up in stuff.  Mostly, missing it was a reminder to plan ahead by a few posts.  I'll resume regularly scheduled blogging on Monday morning with some exciting news about an event for Akeldama.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Copyediting And Cost

I've spoken in the past about the benefits of copyediting.  I've talked about how a good copyeditor will make your manuscript so much better, and how it's foolhardy not to get one.  That's why I feel like such a hypocrite.

No, I didn't get a copyeditor for Akeldama.  I wanted to, but I couldn't afford it.  A book the size of Akeldama, I found out, would've cost me over $3,000...and that's just for the first pass.  Another pass would've been another couple thousand dollars, and my entire company's budget, for everything I intend to publish, was $6,000.  So I scrimped, and some people noticed.

I still feel that some issues with my grammatical "errors" is writing style.  Put two grammarians in the same room, and they'll edit the same piece of writing differently.  One will say you need the Oxford comma, one will poo poo it away.  One will say to never end a sentence with a preposition, while the other will say that's not a hard and fast rule.

So I got some people I know to proofread my work, and they missed some stuff.  Not much, but enough for the pickier among us to notice.  I plan to submit a couple of corrections, but that'll have to wait for now, for expense is an issue.

Some say you shouldn't publish unless you have the money to do it all.  I say that's bullshit since it would stymie so many of us.  That means accepting risk.  Most of us aren't rich, so copyediting may be out of our reach until we're successful.  Unfortunately, we may not be successful if we don't meet all the gates, so it becomes a self-licking ice cream cone.

I'd like to find a good proofer or copyeditor for Salvation Day, but I'd be lying if I didn't say price was an issue.  Everything takes money.  Am I whining?  Maybe a little bit, but I'm also pointing out that we have to put our resources, limited as they are, first into getting published.  Beyond that, we prioritize, and sometimes the price of copyediting puts that touch out of reach.  I wish it wasn't, but as long as we're wishing, I'd kind of like to have a pony...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Catholics & Mormons

Now that some folks have actually been able to read Akeldama, I'm starting to get questions about it.  The most common one so far has been, "Why did you include so much about the Catholic Church?  Are you Catholic?"  A corollary to this has been, "Man, you sure talk a lot about the Mormon Church.  Are you a Mormon?"

I'm not sure why my religious affiliation plays into any of this, but I'll play along - no, I'm neither Catholic nor Mormon.  Why then did I decide to use those particular religious sects as centerpieces in my novel?  It's really quite simple - I needed a religious structure that was highly organized, and those were the two largest I could find.  I needed a vehicle through which to tell the story, and the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church fit the bill.

I had no desire for my main character to be an agent of the government.  I thought that if I did that, it'd limit his the extent of his power.  I'm all about USA, USA!, but no amount of chest thumping would've given Seth Gendrickson global reach.  Although the US government gets into lots of places, if it could get into everywhere, there wouldn't be any terrorism, for they'd have uncovered it all.  Seth needed to be able to get into dark and shadowy places that most folks couldn't, and the Catholic Church, with over a billion members and churches in every corner of the world, provided that.

So what was up with using the Mormon Church?  I needed another organization that fought the other main vampire sect, as well as a partial foil for my Hunter.  I wanted to introduce a level of doubt, and even a certain amount of human prejudice, into the equation.  Right or wrong, there's a degree of suspicion from most other parts of Christianity towards Mormons.  And since The Church of Latter Day Saints was already headquartered out west in Utah, they were perfectly positioned to already be involved in the fight.  Plus, their highly organized structure provided a counterpart to the Catholic Church that couldn't be readily dismissed.

Since I'm neither Catholic nor Mormon, I had to do a good bit of research into each in order to sound credible.  There are nearly 15 million Mormons, and over a billion Catholics.  If I didn't know how each was properly structured, or the various tenets of each set of beliefs, the entire book would come across as phony.  Although the basics of Christianity are constant - one God, sent His Son to Earth to die for our sins, believe in both an afterlife and an adversary - the nuances of each are distinct.  How many non-Catholics even know what the Roman Curia is?  Or that the claim about Jesus and Lucifer being brothers is rooted more in the doctrine of differing views of salvation that each held rather than as some setting of each on equal footing?  Things such as The Institute For The Works Of Religion may not come up much in Akeldama, but getting wrong what they actually are would make the reader dismiss the story as unconvincing.

The next time you read a story and wonder why certain things are in there, try to view it through the author's eyes.  Could the writer have accomplished the same story through another vehicle?  Or, like in my case, were the various nodes of the story simply the easiest way to say what the author wanted to say.  Not everything is an insight into the writer's life; sometimes they're merely tools that best allow for the expression of imagination.

Monday, May 29, 2017

God, Country, Golf


Everyone has a hero.  Some people worship Thor, some people are awestruck by Mickey Mantle, and others idolize Neil Armstrong.  There's something about these brave souls that calls to us and urges us to be better than we are.  We know they're not perfect - no one is - but the hero represents an ideal we strive for, an image that we hope we can one day become.

For me, one of my heroes was(and still is) Larry Bauguess.

I met Larry in the Fall of 1991 as a raw ROTC cadet at Appalachian State University.  I had no idea how to be a Soldier, or even what that meant, but here was this individual who seemed to embody everything that should be.  He wasn't some Hollywood action star towering above the rest of us.  Truth is that he wasn't any bigger than I was.  Yet I knew instinctively that this was a leader who represented the best, and that if I could be half the Soldier he was, I'd turn out pretty good.

That's why it was such a shock to me a day or so after Mother's Day in 2007 when I found out that he had been killed in Afghanistan.  General Dan K. McNeill called it an "assassination."  I was numb for a few days as I contemplated the impossible, that the man I most admired in the Army was dead.

I've known his widow, Wesley Hobbs Bauguess, for as long as I knew Larry.  I met her the same semester at ASU(she was a year ahead of me, while Larry was two years ahead of me).  She was also one of the most squared away cadets I'd ever encountered.  When she and Larry got together, and later married, it was a shock to no one.  They seemed made for each other, like different parts of the same machine, fitting together like they were meant to be.  That was one of the things that made his loss so hard to bear.

Wesley is also among the strongest women I know, and, on the tenth anniversary of Larry's death, she has published a book called God, Country, Golf, Reflections of an Army Widow.  In this book, she recounts her journey through this difficult time, as well as what has helped her get through it(not surprisingly, the facets are in the title).  She talks first about the day three uniformed Soldiers came to her door at Fort Bragg to deliver the news, and I admit that I teared up as I read it.

She then talks about her history with Larry, before transitioning into life without him and what she has done since.  Wesley has not sat around wallowing in despair - she has sought out those who need help and served as an inspiration for others.  Yes, there have been plenty of moments of grief, a grief I can only imagine, but she has also persevered and gone on to give comfort to our wounded veterans, as well as work with Folds of Honor, an organization that helps provide scholarships to the children of those we've lost.

During the course of the novel, Wesley talks about her family(she has two beautiful daughters), and how her faith in God and her love of country has helped them through this difficult time.  She also reveals her love of golf and how that both helped her at school and helped her continue to give to the community.  She has met Presidents, written articles for major news organizations, and cared for those wounded on the field of battle.  She has kept Larry's spirit and zest for life alive with her compassion and drive to help others.

Be warned - this book will grab onto you emotionally.  You'll laugh at some of the exploits she recounts(like how she "died" in training when one of her cadet comrades threw a training grenade in the wrong place and it landed in the middle of her team), and you'll cry as she talks about the journey her family has gone through(such as her drive into the North Carolina mountains with her daughters to tell them exactly what happened to their father, and why his actions saved the lives of others).  Mostly, you'll feel pride at sharing the nation with this tremendous woman.  I cannot recommend her book strongly enough.

If you're interested, please go to Amazon and buy it here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Akeldama Update

Not much of a post today.  Truth be told, I wrote another long post that I originally intended to publish, but I then realized it was better suited to Monday.  Trust me, when you read it, you'll understand.

The release of Akeldama, even with the bumps along the way, has gone pretty well.  Sales are ticking up, and I can't express my gratitude enough for those that have purchased a copy.  I plan on doing an event in Charlotte in June, and I'm trying to schedule events in Kansas for the near future.  For all those who've bought one, I am always available to sign them.  Approach me wherever you are - I will never turn away a reader.  You can also send it to me to sign and return, but you'll have to include return postage since my budget won't allow for me to pay its way back(I'll rapidly go broke if that was the case).

I've also started working/re-working the next novel in the Akeldama series, and I'll have an interesting request regarding it shortly.  Until then, thanks for sticking with me, and please purchase a copy of Akeldama if you can.  The paperback is on sale until June 1st for $13.56, and the ebook is available on Nook, Kindle, and Smashwords(still working on Apple iBooks) for $3.99.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bumps In The Road

As readers of this blog know by now, I released Akeldama last week.  This has been the culmination of years of anticipation, and it is far from the end.  Most folks I know think that the release of a novel is the end point, the place where writers become rich and famous, and all is right with the world.  For me, the release of Akeldama was the beginning of a career, not the end of a movement.  I plan to release at least four novels over the next two years, and possibly as many as six over the next three years(five are written).  I planned and plotted and worked hard to start a business, not create a hobby.

That doesn't mean all has gone smoothly.

For all the planning, things get missed, things that create frustration and have made me wonder if I'm just another schmuck on a lark.  To start with, I promised those who joined my distro list prior to Akeldama's release that they'd get a 15% discount on the novel.  I thought I had everything set up for that, even acquiring a discount code from CreateSpace.  However, on the morning of release, several people emailed me to tell me that the code was invalid.  I dug into it and found that the code only works for CreateSpace's e-store, which I'm not using.  I was pissed!

So, after whining and feeling sorry for myself for an hour or so, I went back and figured out what I could do to give my customers the price I promised.  To make good on my word, I reduced the price of Akeldama from $15.95 to $13.56(the price at 15% off) and made it available for a limited period of time(in this case, until June 1st).  Yes, it means that others who weren't on my early subscribers' list also have access to that price, but at least those who wanted the discount can get it, and my word is still somewhat intact.
(On a side note, many people decided to purchase at full price anyway to support this struggling writer's career start, and I'm grateful for their help)

And then there was the reader who pointed out to me a typo.  Yes, a typo.  After months of pouring over it and having several people look it over, there was still a typo.  It's not a big one, and it's one that, honestly, many people will miss.  You have to really understand things to even notice, but it's still there, and it grates on me.  I pride myself on being a perfectionist, and, sheepishly, I'm even quite arrogant about it.  After all, don't most writers know - not believe, but know - that we're better grammarians and spellers than the average person?  Don't we possess that conceit?  When I heard about the typo at first, my initial reaction was, "Pfft, that person has it wrong.  They've got no idea what they're talking about."

Then I looked at it.

Yup, it was there.  Subtle but obvious to me.  Proof positive that you need editors who know what they're doing, as well as proof positive that no amount of proofreading catches everything.  I felt sick about it, and, honestly, I still do.  Every time I think about it, I feel a twisting at the back of my neck, like someone has grabbed my brainstem and yanked.  Perhaps I'm beating myself up too much over it, but no one feels this sting more than I.  The ironic part is that nearly everyone who doesn't know this part in depth won't even notice.

Finally, I had a reader on my list ask to be taken off.  I dutifully complied, but it still hurt.  I don't want anyone who doesn't want my work to be bothered, but I spent years meticulously piecing together my subscriber list, and it's a body blow when people no longer want to be a part.  Yes, everyone else has lives and things that they're into, but while my mind can understand that, my ego has trouble with it.
(Yet another side note - not everyone on my list has yet bought a copy of either the ebook or paperback.  It'll be interesting to see how that plays out.  After all, it's only been three days)

So stuff doesn't go perfectly.  That's life, but it's also hard for a control freak like me to take.  I don't like chaos, so I try to eliminate variables.  Yet they stubbornly persist.

Oh, who am I kidding about just being a control freak?  I'm their king!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Release!

It's finally here!  Akeldama is now available on all platforms(or will be by this weekend...Nook and Apple iBooks are still awaiting final validation by those sites).  It has been a little more arduous than I thought it would be setting up, but my debut novel is finally on sale.  As a reminder on the plot...


Seth Gendrickson has worked for the Catholic Church's Order of Mount Sion since his initial encounter with a vampire during seminary years ago.  Finally working his way up to the rank of Hunter, Seth's first assignment is to investigate a spike in vampire activity in Kansas, an area previously quiet.  The region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River had been a kind of neutral zone for the two main factions - The Assembly of Cairo and Los Muertos.  The Assembly hails from Europe, and although few in numbers, is the older of the sects and far more powerful.  Los Muertos saw opportunity in the New World, so they established themselves in the Americas and began to multiply.  They are young, aggressive, and passionate.

And they're moving east.

Seth is under orders to figure out what's going on before an all out vampire civil war brings knowledge of such supernatural creatures into the open and causes societal panic, a situation the Church is keen to avoid.  During his mission, Seth captures one of the enemy and interrogates it, but he soon finds that the movement east is less an invasion than it is an influx of refugees fleeing a greater threat.  Something is hunting the vampires out west, something more terrifying than the risk of conflict.  Seth tracks this threat from California to Japan and across Europe to discover the heart of a conspiracy that stretches back 2,000 years and threatens the future of the world.


This may be my first novel, but it certainly won't be the last I publish.  My plan is to bring out a new novel every six months for at least the first three years, and I'll be deciding on a release date for Salvation Day by the end of June.  Wrongful Death will follow, and then we'll see where the publication schedule goes from there.

If you buy a copy of Akeldama, I ask only one favor - please do a review of it on your favorite reader's site, be that Amazon, Goodreads, or whatever you enjoy.  No, I'm not asking for a specific star rating or write-up, just an honest review.  For one, I want to know what people think.  Second, honestly, more reviews means more exposure which means more potential sales, so anybody that could help out with a review would be greatly appreciated.

If you're interested, you can buy the paperback on Amazon here, or the ebook for Kindle here.  And you can get it on Smashwords here.  I'll add links for Apple iBooks and Nook as soon as they become active in the next couple of days.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Other Outlets

As I ramp up towards the release of Akeldama this week, I've expanded into other media outlets for exposure, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.  That doesn't mean that my computer illiteracy has been solved.

Twitter has been the biggest example.  I know most of you will laugh at me by the end of the next couple of paragraphs, and that's okay.  I laugh at my own ineptitude sometimes too.  To start with, I can't get my picture uploaded to Twitter, and I have no idea why.  I've got a picture the right size, I click on the "upload a picture" button, and I follow the steps.  Yet, stubbornly, nothing happens.  And then there's my phone...

I'm a dinosaur.  I still have an iPhone4 that I only got because my flip phone died in 2013.  I'm trying to get the Twitter App, but my operating system is outdated, and it's taking forever to download the new iOS.  I should probably take it to an Apple Store, or just breakdown and get a newer phone, but I live out in the sticks, and even a trip out for fast food becomes a version of Oregon Trail.  I'll load up the wagons sometime soon and head on to the big city, but a family and other commitments make such a trek a bit daunting right now.

I'm looking at the Facebook boosting of my author page, but I'm also still a small time operation with a low budget, so ad promotion isn't a top priority right now.  Mostly, I gain exposure through word of mouth, so I have to straddle the line between nudging those I know to mention me to others, and pestering them to the point where they ignore me.  It's a hard line, and I'm still figuring out that part.

Still, even with limited exposure, Akeldama, my debut novel, comes out this week, and I'm excited.  If I can convince a few others to get a little excited too, that'd be a great bonus...and a wonderful start.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One Week To Go!


There's only a week left until the official release date of Akeldama!  As of now, the ebook is available for pre-order on Smashwords, and it will soon be available on Nook and Apple.  By this time next week, it'll be available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.

If you're not a subscriber to my email list, there's still time to join in order to get the 15% discount off of the paperback - just email me or leave a message in the comments with your personal email address.

It's almost here.  I can hardly wait.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Life Gets In The Way

So yeah, I missed my post last Thursday morning.  I was both sick and out of town, and I didn't plan ahead.  I think this was the first time I missed a post without at least telling people I'd miss it since the blog began.  However, the world didn't end, and I'm back in the saddle.

On another life note, a few people have asked why it has taken so long to get my debut novel out.  Yes, I could've easily just uploaded it(and several more) before now, but that's just not the kind of person I am.  I'm cautious by nature, and I've always said I wanted to treat this like a business rather than a lark.  Several factors kept me from devoting the time I wanted to towards the business side of this(being out of the country for a year, a new birth, the location and its impact on marketing, etc), so I waited.  Does that mean I missed the boat?  I have no idea, but we'll soon find out.

Akeldama is 11 days from publication.  I'm in the home stretch, and all that needs to be done now is final approval and ebook uploading.  So why not just go ahead and make it available?  Because I told my early subscribers that it'd be out May 18th, and I take my word pretty seriously.  Yes, it may be a minor shift that few would notice or care about, but it means something to me.  As with this blog and its predictability over the years, I want people to be able to count on something in our usually unpredictable world.  It may be anal retentive, but it's the only small level of control I have.

And I freely admit that some minor glitch could still come up that could alter things.  That'd be part of the learning process for when I release my second book sometime later this year.  I suppose we'll all find out together.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

No, Being A Writer Doesn't Make You Rich

I think the biggest misconception about writers is that since we've published a book, we're rich.  I can't tell you how many people think I have money to burn since my first novel will be out shortly.  That's right - I haven't even officially published yet, but a lot of folks think I'll soon buy my own private island.

I spoke a little while back about trying to reach the exalted status of those at the very top.  I don't think there's anything wrong with shooting for the stars.  However, the stars are all most people ever know about.  Yes, they've heard of Rowling, King, and Patterson, but how many know the plethora of other authors who struggle to keep their heads above water?

I think this is due to many thinking that if you're on your own, it must be because you're supremely successful.  I know a few business owners, from those who own restaurants to those who have cleaning businesses to those who run mortgage refinancing businesses, and none of them are rich monetarily.  Most are month to month, and sometimes they get a month or two ahead, but they can't take a year off to explore Europe or hitch a ride on the Virgin Atlantic spaceship.  Writers are the same way.

I too once held this misconception, and I think it comes from both seeing the very successful, as well as not daring to go out on their own themselves.  Going out on your own is scary - your chances of success are enormous, and you could be out big bucks if that happens.  Since most people are risk-averse, they assume that the only reason someone would write full time id because they've "made it."

Don't get me wrong - I measure success as a writer in far more than monetary terms.  I can set my own hours, I have freedom to decide my topics, and I get to do something I'm passionate about.  And I hope one day to become super-successful like Hugh Howey or JA Konrath(or Dan Brown, if you think that's even larger), but I'm happy trying to make a living at my passion.  It doesn't mean I can fly first class to Hawaii or that I'm front row at a Rolling Stones concert, but maybe I can put food on my table and have my house heated in the winter.

I just smile and nod when people imagine my wealth.  It's fun, and people don't like their fantasy balloons popped, but it does get annoying.  I guess I'll just have to get that way eventually in order to justify their imagination.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Careful On What You Promise

Books cannot just come out in a vacuum.  Well, they can...but you then face the prospect of no sales because no one knows a new and potentially interesting book is out.  Like it or not, you have to be a businessperson too, and that means marketing your work.


I've been doing this for a while, and I've got a fairly robust email distro list to show for it.  My readers get regular updates about Akeldama and other things, so they know I'm still around.  As a bonus for signing up, I also promise them a discount on the book(in hardcover format).  However, as production has demonstrated, one needs to be careful when promising things.


I originally started out by thinking that a discount of around 25% would be fair.  When I first did my numbers, a 25% discount would still leave a couple of buck as a profit margin, so it didn't seem like a big deal.  Then inflation happened, as well as my own inability to get things out in the current price market.


You see, the list price of $15.95 was originally compared to a print price of around $7 or $8 per book, so three bucks or so off wasn't going to do me in.  However, once prices went up in production, not only did the after-discount profit margin decrease, it went past the point of profitability at all.  In that vein, the POD wouldn't even let me offer this discount since it would mean selling at a loss.


Yes, I could raise the price to around $17.95 and still offer the discount at 25%, but that seemed stupid to me - why raise the price just to lower it to what you originally were going to make?  So I decided to keep the original $15.95 print price and reduce the discount to 15%.  I will still make a little off each book sold to my subscribers, and they'll still be able to get it at a lower price than the general public.


This could cost me some customers.  I recognize that.  However, I said at first the discount would be 25-ish%, so I never locked in on a hard number due to the unknowns in terms of capital production.  And while I hope everyone will still stick with me, the right to buy or not to buy still rests with the customer.  I think that most will still be thrilled with getting it at a lower price, but some may get upset enough to go elsewhere, and that's their prerogative.


The lesson has been to better evaluate promises before making them.  I want to serve my audience, but I need to be more in tune with the numbers before I say something.  If nothing else, I've definitely learned this for the next time.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Story Exhaustion?

As most of you know, I've been reviewing Akeldama for a while now in order to get it ready for my May 18th publication date.  I've been going over(and over, and over, and over) the formatting, text, and general layout of the story for a few months, and it's beginning to get a bit tedious.

Don't get me wrong - I'm still very excited to be nearing my debut novel's release date, but I'm growing so familiar with the story that I don't even need to look at the text to understand it.  I realize this makes little sense to those who don't write - after all, I write the story, so I should obviously know it inside and out - but it has become repetitive.

I'm a big fan of putting a story away after you write it and before you edit it so that you can look at it with fresh eyes.  However, the work necessary to bring Akeldama to fruition won't let me put it down right now.  Yes, this is a bit like complaining I have too many bills for my wallet, or that I can't decide which sports car to buy, but that doesn't make it any less real to me.

Do other writers have this issue with their stories?  After so many revisions and edits and rewordings and reviews, does it get more chore-like after a time?  Or am I whining over a non-issue?  I find myself wishing the release date will get here just so that I can move on to a new tale.  I'll always love this story, but even a person eating his or her favorite food every day will likely long for some variety.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Unicorns

I recently ran across a post that compared writers like JK Rowling and Stephen King to unicorns - very beautiful but incredibly rare.  Their level of success is something most people dream of but will never even come close to, so why bother to fantasize about it?

Yes, I've previously written that you shouldn't make a career plan based on being Dan Brown of Stephenie Meyer, for most will inevitably fall short.  However, I don't think that harmless daydreaming is necessarily a bad thing all by itself.  Sometimes the fantasy keeps us going in those dark times when we feel like no one will ever read our work.  I believe that as long as we don't make that fantasy the bedrock of our career plan, then it's perfectly okay to occasionally wonder what hitting the literary lottery would be like.

Besides, someone has to be the next unicorn.  It's no secret that I loathe the writing of Stephenie Meyer, for I consider it to be trite and simplistic, but that doesn't mean she didn't find an audience looking for the vision she was selling.  Had you shown any halfway competent and successful author Twilight before it was released, the person would've laughed at it before running down any chance of success Meyer had.  However, most experts have more conceit than powers of prognostication, and Meyer hit a nerve with an audience most couldn't tap, so she went on to grow that horn from her forehead and pranced in as the next unicorn.  Such unexpected success could strike anywhere, and maybe it could strike you.

I think it's such tales that keep many of us going when we feel inadequate.  So yes, keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, working hard and doing what you can to build a viable career, but don't let that stop you from wondering what your own shiny unicorn horn would look like on those starry nights when you're by yourself.  Maybe that spark you feel will turn out to be the next bolt of lightning to open your career up to stratospheric heights.  I mean, we can all dream, right?  And aren't dreams what start a writer writing to begin with?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Not As Good As You Think

I pride myself on being a better writer than most people.  This is a conceit I believe most writers hold, even if they won't cop to it openly.  There's a part of us that sighs when we run across a piece of writing that's out of sorts, for we just know we would've written it better.  Whether it be spelling, or grammar, or just the way the sentence is worded, we're all so certain that it would've been perfect if we'd written it rather than the poor soul who just doesn't have our knack for stringing words together.

However, there's often a difference between this conceit and reality.  And sometimes it smacks us in the face pretty hard.

I've been reviewing the proof for Akeldama, confident that this was merely a formality.  After all, I've edited the hell out of this thing, so this was just to help me bask in the glow of my brilliance, right?  This was the culmination of a project several years in the making, and I needed merely to sit back and revel that I finally had a physical copy of my work.

Wrong!

Much to my dismay, I've managed to find over a dozen mistakes in the work.  I was already annoyed previously when I found mistakes I was certain didn't exist, so this came as an even bigger blow to my ego.  Yes, the majority of what I've found is minor, like writing "rocks" instead of "rock" or "screeching" instead of "screeched," but there was one sentence that had to be totally re-done because I wrote it as a statement instead of as the question it was meant to be.  I found myself growing angrier as I continued to review the book, upset with myself that I somehow missed these points during the previous gazillion rounds of editing.

Needless to say, the process has helped shock me back into humility.  Sure, I could probably let it go since there are so few errors in the 340 pages, and most people wouldn't even notice, but I'd know they were there.  Further, leaving in such stuff would show a lack of professionalism and could get Akeldama written off as yet another sloppy indie job.  And pretending people wouldn't notice may just be another point of arrogance since I tend to notice these kinds of things when I read.  For example, I love Williams Forstchen's novel One Second After.  However, whether because he didn't know any better or because he was just stupid, Forstchen consistently wrote the contraction "could've" as "could of," and it drove me bananas every time I read it, so what kind of hypocrite, not to mention hack, would I be if I just let the stuff I wrote contain such errors?

The process has been effective in reminding me that I'm not as good as I think I am.  It seems like every time my arrogance starts to ride up, something comes along to knock it back down, and this has surely done it.  Akeldama is now in the process of (what I hope to be) the final revisions before my release date.  I wonder what else will come along to remind me to try and stay humble...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Proof Of Life!

Not a long post tonight.  I'm busy...reviewing the proof for Akeldama!  I'll have a more extensive write-up after I finish going over it.  Still, as one guy once said, there's nothing quite like holding a copy of your very own book in your hands.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Popularity

I've been going over my post list here at the blog, and I'm struggling to understand what makes a post popular and what makes a post barely get noticed.  I thought of it when I saw that my most recent post last week got six views.  C'mon, folks...six?  I know I can't rock the universe every time, but six?!?!

The average for most of my posts is somewhere around 30 unique views.  A few get more, and a couple get hundreds of unique page views, but figuring out what will go viral(at least viral in my world) is tricky.  Some are predictable - my cover reveal got around 80 individual page views, and since I've touted Akeldama for quite some time, that came as no surprise.  I reference Salvation Day quite a bit, so that isn't a huge surprise either, although the total number of unique page views for it certainly is.  But my take on going indie versus traditional went waaaaayyyyyyyyy beyond what I thought it would.  And somehow, this post on imagination - a post I found a little dry - is far and away my most popular, with over 1500 unique page views.

I guess I could try and be "edgy" with some posts, spewing venom at the world and acting all cool, but I'm not cool, and edgy can be dangerous if you piss off half(or more) of your audience.  Yes, sometimes something gets up under my rear and makes me go on a tear, but that doesn't happen very often.  Further, it shouldn't happen very often, for if it does, then such "edginess" merely becomes background noise.

(As a side note, being edgy all the time can be exhausting - I get worn out sometimes getting mad over whether or not my favorite team will draft the right player)

I cross post my blog to my Facebook page, so some of my views come from friends there.  I used to post on a writers' forum, so that could've driven some of my early traffic.  However, some posts just go off for reasons unknown to me.  Others, like last week's, wallow in obscurity, like even clicking on the link will cause leprosy or something.

There's not really a point to this post - it's merely a mental exercise in a vain attempt to satisfy my curiosity.  I wish I could figure it out so that I could get more "viral" posts, but as long as I'm wishing, I'd kind of like to have a pony too...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lots Of Learning

Every time I think I have everything figured out, life throws me a new curve.  This time, it was in the form of not understanding as much about the POD business as I thought.

I made the decision to go with Ingram Spark a while back based on the recommendations of several people.  Everyone said that the books would be 100% top-notch professional, and that they could be distributed through every channel imaginable.  And that turns out to be true...but incomplete.

First of all, the process at Ingram Spark is lots more complicated than using CreateSpace.  CreateSpace will walk you through the process step by step, pointing out along the way just what exactly you need to do.  Ingram Spark believes you already know what to do, even if this is your first time.  I had little difficulty until it came time to order the proof copy - I accidentally approved the full proof without getting one because I clicked the wrong button.  I'm working hard to get that fixed, but it has led to lots of frustration.

Another issue with Ingram Spark is that although they distribute through Amazon, Jeff Bezos is apparently not very happy about you not using CreateSpace, so he puts a delay on some of the stuff from Ingram Spark ordered through Amazon.  This has the potential to discourage the customer base when they realize that their order will take a bit longer than usual.

Fortunately, there appears to be a solution - use both.  Based on articles I've read, I can use Ingram Spark to sell to bookstores and other outlets, and I can use CreateSpace to publish through Amazon.  The catch is that I have to only use the Amazon distribution option with CreateSpace or else I'll have to pull everything else from Ingram Spark.  Why not just use CreateSpace then?  Well, because most bookstores view Amazon - and CreateSpace through them - as a competitor, and they're less likely to order your work.  There's also a feeling that CreateSpace is less quality, but I'm not sure that's really the case.

So I'm learning how to use both systems, and it really is a pain in the ass.  I'm sure it'll get easier as I get more used to the actual selling of my work, but the learning curve is steep.  That's why this indie thing isn't for the weak of heart.  As I've said before, it's a business, so treat it like one.  I am, and although it makes it more challenging, it also means it'll be more successful than just being a hobby(I hope).