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).

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Read, Read, Read

If you want to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader.  I can't stress this enough.  I was reminded of this point recently with the number of people I've run into who've declared they have the next great American novel in their head and need only the time to bring it out.  They've all, without exception, asked me how to do that, so as I've gone over my process, I've asked them how often they read as well.

The most common response has been, "I don't have the time to do that."

"Then you don't have the time to be a good writer," I reply.

You can't just delve in and think you learned enough in a college writing course to make something folks will want to read.  Good writing takes time to hone, and you need examples.  There is no go-to for who to read - it all depends on how you like to write.  Beyond that, you should read more than your favorite authors so you can see how others get a point across.  Maybe you'll find some of what not to do as well.

But you must read.  You need to know how others tell a story others want to hear.  You cannot just start writing and think you'll produce anything more than what your family will look at(and even then, they're only being nice).  You're just not that good.  None of us is.  We need to learn, and reading is the only way to do that.

So read.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

On Being A Pest

This will come as a newsflash to almost no one who knows me, but I can be a complete pain in the ass.  I get anxious.  I get jittery.  When I see something that needs to be done, I want it done NOW NOW NOW!


This hasn't done me any favors in getting the last few things I need in order to publish Akeldama.  The two remaining issues that have yet to be resolved are 1) getting the final cover for the print version, and 2) getting the ebook version completed.  These are somewhat small items, but not having them ready to go is wearing on me.


The cover is mostly complete.  I even got the spine and back part of it back from the cover artist.  The problem is that, like a dumbass, I failed to be completely satisfied with the blurb I wrote and sent off to Extended Imagery.  I thought it sounded great when I looked at it in a word document, but seeing it on the actual full-blown cover made me realize that there's some word repetition in it that needed to be cleaned up.  So I had to send off a corrected version to the artist, and I'm anxiously awaiting it coming back.  Each day for the past couple, I've checked my email in the hope that the new version would come back so I could go ahead and order my proof copy.  That the artist needs a few days to finish(since I'm not his only customer) rarely crosses my mind.  After all, I'm important, dammit!


I've heard back from the formatters for the book, but there are a couple of issues, the main one being that I've incorporated a few different fonts in Akeldama to lend to the mood, and not all of those fonts translate well to the ebook format.  I'm waiting to hear back from them, but each day that passes - admittedly, it has only been a couple - is killing me.  I'm very much a "let's-do-it-now-and-get-it-over-with" kind of guy, so I feel helpless when I don't get to do something immediately.


Maybe all of this will be good for my patience.  I need patience, and I have no choice but to wait for them to get back to me, so perhaps patience will emerge out of having no other choice.  I certainly hope so, or else this whole exercise does nothing but make life miserable for those I'm around.  I'll try to stop pestering the folks who are doing this great work for me, mostly because I don't want to come across as a male version of Glenn Close.  I hope they understand my emails are nervousness and not stalker-ish.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Problems With Epic

I like to write grandiose stories that affect the big picture.  Whether it's a vampire story about the fate of civilization, or a political and military thriller about the schism in the United States, or a story about a guy trying to kill God Himself, my stories tend to be about the overall fate of the world.  They're throwbacks to the movies I've always enjoyed, where the hero has to overcome incredible odds or everyone is DOOMED DOOMED DOOMED!

There are a couple of problems with doing this, though.  The first, and most obvious, is that such stories rarely leave room for future novels in that universe.  When you have an epic, the-entire-fate-of-the-human-race story, it gets hard to top it in such a way that the audience wants to stick around.  After all, who's really interested in climbing Pike's Peak after you've scaled Mount Everest.  Don't get me wrong - I've found a few ways to keep them going, but the paths are limited.  It reminds me of comic books where the villains have to keep getting more and more sinister so that the heroes still have something to do, even after beating the bid-bad world ender.  Authors, of course, hope that the audience doesn't collectively yawn in response.

The second is that there are only so many ways for a world to be in jeopardy.  There are countless ways to tell a monster story or a princess rescue story, but how many ways can truly affect everything?  It's one thing to strive to overthrow a military despot, but it's quite another to confront God and change the fate of Creation.  One of my worries is that I'll eventually run out of ways to do this.

Sure, that's not a problem at the moment, and I could always devolve back into more narrow stories, but how would the audience react(see problem #1)?  Stephen King has found ways to slip back and forth(going from The Shining to Salem's Lot, and then back to 11/22/63 are examples), so maybe there's hope.  And I know that running out of epic stories to tell is a bit like saying there aren't enough $100 bills for my wallet, but it still presents challenge.  Let's just hope that challenge is...well...epic.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cool Or Real?

Reading a few books recently, I've found myself in the crux of a dilemma - should the characters I write be more on the "God I wish I was that cool!" side, or the "That is so me!" side?  In other words, should the main character be super-cool, or should the main character be more relatable?


There's nothing wrong with either.  We've read about both.  Harry Dresden and Jack Reacher are both guys' guys who are always able to come up with the right solution and react with little to no emotion beyond, "Eh, no big deal."  Even  alcoholic Bobby Dollar from The Dirty Streets of Heaven always has the right weapon, is rarely afflicted with self-doubt beyond being cool enough for everyone, and always gets the gorgeous girl in the end.  Most people aspire to be this happy-go-lucky, even with all of the problems associated with it.  As an aside, my go-to for cool characters is Dean Winchester from Supernatural - I freely admit to having a man-crush on him, as he is every bit of cool that I've always wanted to be.


But here's my problem with writing guys like that - I'm not cool.


No, this isn't a humble-brag.  I've done some cool stuff(jumping out of airplanes, leading troops in combat, rappelling out of a helicopter), but I'm not personally cool.  I love to watch the news and sci-fi shows.  I like to read about zombies, vampires, and werewolves.  I play online games like Warcraft.  I played chess in high school, and I still know enough to beat the average person.  I didn't date much until college, and even then not until my senior year.  I wear t-shirts that were made in the 1990s.  I'm the guy who doesn't talk much around folks I don't know because I don't want to come across as either stupid or lame.  All of that makes it hard for me to write about "cool" and have the audience believe it.


However, I think us uncool people, with all our geekery and self-doubt, are the ones in the majority.  Sure, most of us like to read about the cool guy, but we know we're not him, which I believe makes it hard to relate to a character that's so cool.  I think that a character can do cool things while being uncool, like the characters I've written in Akeldama and Salvation Day.  The main character in each does cool things - like killing vampires of leading an assault that could determine the fate of humanity - but they're not cool per se.  They doubt.  They're angry.  They hold grudges.  They're horrible with women.  But they're good at heart an strive to overcome the world in spite of their own uncoolness.


Call it a weakness of mine - I write uncool characters doing some cool things because that's who I am, so that's what I can write.  I liken it to the character I tried writing for Wrongful DeathI originally wanted Christian Gettis to be a teenage girl, but I couldn't make her believable, no matter how hard I tried, because I've never understood the minds of teenage girls(especially when I was a teenage boy).  However, I've been a teenage boy about to graduate high school, so it was much easier to write a character like that.


But what does the audience want?  In the end, that's who needs to care the most, since those are the folks who buy our books.  Do they want slick perfection and someone who didn't know the Friday night lineup on ABC?  Do they want the guy who drops the mic, kisses the supermodel, and then shrugs it all off as no big deal?  They might.  Surely we all want to know folks like that, if for no other reason than to pretend we might one day be that cool.  Or will they better relate to someone more like them, the geek who is a bit awkward at times but who rises to the challenge presented to them?  While I like the cool guys mentioned above, I want to know my heroes have flaws, for when they do, it lets me know that perhaps I can accomplish the same kinds of things if I just put in the effort.  To me, the best heroes, the ones who get an empathetic reaction out of me, are the ones who I can envision being.  The cool guy may strive, but it doesn't seem like a big deal when he wins.  However, the real guy who wins is exhausted and allows us to revel in the triumph with him.


Don't get me wrong - either way works.  I just have a hard time writing the first way(cool guys).  Maybe readers don't want the uncool.  I guess I'll find out starting in May.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Humility

We writers aren't very good with humility.  Sure, we talk a good game, and we're good at being self-deprecating so that everyone thinks we don't fully believe in ourselves, but let's be honest - most of that is an act.  Yes, we may be insecure when it comes to hoping others like our stories, but in the end, we all believe we're so much smarter than the rest of the world.  We're creative!  We write in ways that can make our readers cry!  And deep?  Hoo boy, we're so friggin' deep.

At least this is the conceited world in which most of us live.

However, every so often, something comes along that reminds us that we're not as good as we think we are.  For me, that point came this week while having folks look at Akeldama.  I was riding high - my cover looked great, the book had been formatted just right, and I was ready to move to getting a proof copy.  Yet I still had a proofreader out, but I just knew that that was a formality.

So this person approached me on Friday with a few things he noticed.  I shrugged, confident that he just didn't get one of the ways I was using to give voice to the story...right up until he pointed out a minor spelling mistake that occurred in multiple places.  Damn! I thought.  I guess I'll have to send that back to the formatter.

Much to my dismay, that wasn't the only one.

Several of my sentences that were questions ended in periods.  And one of ellipses had only two dots instead of three.  And I'd misspelled "methemoglobin"(which this asshole found with a simple spell check).  Plus I'd pluralized one of the character's names instead of making it possessive as it needed to be.

Fuck me, I thought.  This is humiliating.

So I prepared yet another correction sheet and sent it off to my exceptional formatter, Cheryl Perez.  She has been very understanding throughout this process as I meander my way through my first publication.  And although she has been very professional and assured me that this is nothing out of the ordinary, I can't help but feel like a dunce.

This whole episode has reminded me of a lesson you'd have thought I learned after 43 years of looking like an idiot when I get too confident - just when you think you're at the top, something will remind you you're not as good as you thought you were.  And you know what?  We need that lesson.  We need to be reminded that while confidence is great, arrogance can come back to bite you.  Imagine if I'd gone to press with what I thought was a finished work and people came up to me with their copy and pointed out the mistakes.  Not only would it have been both embarrassing and amateurish, it would have been expensive as I recalled those crap bags and re-done them.  Or I could've just gone with what was out there and been shown up for not being the professional I've aspired to be.  You know...just to be a conceited prick.

Yup, this lesson will be with me for a long time.  Hopefully I won't have to keep repeating it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dashing Around

One of my favorite punctuation marks is the em dash.  Although I know that most people are now thinking WTF is an em dash, I cannot express how much this tiny line has had an impact on the style of my writing.

The Punctuation Guide says an em dash is one of the most versatile marks in writing, as it can be substituted for parenthesis, commas, or colons.  In other words, em dashes are used to signify breaks in action.

Even though I'd used them for years, I had no idea what this small line was called.  Then, this past summer, I submitted a piece of writing to someone for review, and they asked about the use of it.  They knew the proper term - em dash - but rarely saw it in action(just to brag, the person in question said that I used it to great effect).

Em dashes can be a great tool.  I usually use it to create a flow of action or dialogue when I think there needs to be a break in the flow of thought but believe the colon is too formal in that spot(confession - I often think the colon is too formal...it reminds me of my 9th grade English class).  I use it as an extension of thought that helps the reader feel the action at the pace I want the action felt.

Of course, this particular mark can be used too frequently.  If used every paragraph, or multiple times in a single paragraph, it becomes visually distracting.  Although we often think of writing as little more than a medium to transmit description, good writing can evoke emotions based on visual effect as well(think of the single use sentence in the middle of a page for shock factor).  The eye gets drawn towards anything out of the ordinary, and the em dash is certainly that.  However, when the unusual becomes the norm, it loses effect.

There are other times to use it, such as in place of commas and parenthesis(as mentioned above), but, once again, do so sparingly.  I recommend no more than twice on a single page, and even then I wouldn't do it every page.  Em dashes can create order and flow, but too many make the reader think you're a cheap carnival barker.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mind Numbing Fantasies

I have a confession - now that Akeldama is nearing release, I've begun indulging in fantasies about what life would be like if it exploded into massive commercial success.  Yes, in the past I've told people to not worry about fame and fortune, for those things are so rare that you'll never feel successful if that's all you seek, but I'm now fantasizing about just those very things.

I believe most writers have those same fantasies, even if few will admit them.  We all want to be the lead panelist at some fan convention, or able to write whatever we want from the comfort of our plush office in our new Beverly Hills Mansion.  However, we also know that such fantasies are both unrealistic and a little self-aggrandizing.  Many say it's arrogant to spend(waste?) time fantasizing about what hasn't happened(and probably never will).  I disagree...to a point.

Don't let such fantasies become obsessive.  Don't spend all your time on them.  But if you're out on your front porch for a few minutes late in the afternoon with no other pressing matters, I see nothing wrong with letting your mind wander.  It can be a fun way to keep from being bored, the same way many fantasize about winning the lottery after buying a $1 ticket at the local convenience store.  As long as you don't sit in your bedroom all day thinking about it, it's harmless.

Sometimes these things help us smile in the moments when it feels like all we do is prepare but never seem to actually get to our destination.  I don't believe for a minute that I'm alone in these fantasies; in fact, I'm certain I'm not even in the minority in this. 

Maybe it'll happen.  Maybe it won't.  For now, I'll just let myself dream.  After all, I may get a few good stories from it.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Building Up, Paying Off

As writers, we all want to craft a great story.  I don't think there's a single writer who hasn't said that he or she would like to create a piece of work that transcends the ages and is quoted by others as part of the societal narrative.  Part of that is ego, and part of that is the little kid in each of us looking for approval.  It's what lends itself to our toiling to make stories that are larger than life.

Unfortunately, while many of us can build a terrific story, we struggle with an ending that is worthy of what we just wrote.  Johnny Carson once said something along the lines of how the longer a joke, the funnier the payoff has to be, and the same applies to books - the greater the buildup, the better the payoff has to be.

We've seen plenty of this failing to come to pass in modern entertainment.  Twin Peaks was notorious for building up tension and never providing resolution until the very end.  Star Wars had great hype for its new movie, only to have it seem kind of blasé when it finally arrived.  These things built up expectations so high in the minds of the audience that almost nothing could've satisfied the rabidity with which they were greeted.

It's a trap we need to be careful of as writers.  I tend to think that stories are easy but endings are hard.  We spend so much time building the perfect narrative that the ending rarely matches.  No, I'm not telling you to not build a great story - I'm telling you to spend at least as much, if not more, time on crafting the ending so the audience doesn't walk away deflated.

This also comes down to knowing your audience.  If your audience is the kind that likes shocks and turns where the good guy doesn't always win, then find a way to surprise them with an ending that'll keep them thinking.  For me, I Am Legend by Richard Matherson did this.  We were all expecting Neville to be the good guy, but it turned out he was the monster and the vampires were creating a new society that I certainly didn't see coming.  However, if your audience is lighter and looking for happy endings, doing something like this would piss them off(imagine if JRR Tolkien had Sauron take the ring and rule Middle Earth at the end of the novels).  Or if in The Shining, Stephen King had the family just walk out of The Overlook and traipse merrily down the mountain rather than the boiler blowing up and Jack Torrence saving his son.  The story itself would've been meaningless.

Be aware of the buildup you've created and spend that kind of time on your ending.  Make sure it's worthy of your story.  Otherwise, you risk pissing off your audience, and pissed off audience members rarely return to get pissed off again.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Acknowledgements

As I finish up the process to publish Akeldama, there are other things creeping up that aren't related to the story.  One of those things is the acknowledgements page.

We've all seen them in our books, pages where the author thanks the myriad of folks who've been instrumental in bringing the book to the public.  Most writers thank their agents, their families, and sometimes a few other random people that are important to them but who mean little to the vast majority of those who read the story.

There are, of course, several landmines possible in this kind of thing, the biggest being if you leave someone out.  In Akeldama, I've thanked by name those most directly responsible for helping me put it together(the cover artist, the ebook and print formatters), as well as my family.  I made passing mention of those who've inspired or encouraged me, but there are so many that mentioning all of them by name could've been a book unto itself.

What I don't want is for someone to be pissed because they didn't get a mention.  There's my best friend who has seen me toil since 6th grade and who has read nearly everything I've ever written, including the puke inducing stuff I once thought was good.  His encouragement has never wavered.  There have been those whose advice I've taken, whether they knew it or not(mostly because it was general advice on their blogs or in their lectures), like Joe Peacock, JA Konrath, Sarah Hoyt, and Hugh Howey.  These exceptional writers have provided insight on both writing and publishing that I've used to make things come to fruition, and the only thing they may know about me is my name.  There are even villains that have inspired me - mostly agents and publishers, but a few naysayers as well - who've either ignored me or told me I never stood a chance.  I don't know if these turds have any idea just how much motivation they gave me to prove them wrong.

Inevitably, someone will get left out, but will it matter?  I'm not an ungrateful person, and I cherish everyone who had a hand in helping me along.  Still, I can't mention everyone, and I'm hoping that no one's feelings get butt hurt over it.  Further, does anyone but the writer and his family even read the acknowledgements?  The only time I've ever skimmed them was when I used to think about traditional publishing and I was scanning for agent names.  Let's be honest - most readers don't give two shits.  The acknowledgements page is something to skip past so they can get into the story itself.

So is there a point to this whole pile of steaming lamentation?  Not really.  It came up as I moved towards publication, and I wondered just how many other authors struggle with it.  Anyone else have any thoughts?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

By Any Other Name...

A friend of mine and I were talking recently about pseudonyms.  This buddy recently finished writing a small book on freedom and responsibility in society entitled Common Sense For The Modern Age.  I know I don't normally discuss politics on this blog, and I'm not saying the book in question is pro or anti what I believe, but since my friend wrote it and it's now available in the Kindle Store, with his print version coming out around March 20th, please do me a favor and at least check it out.


Anyway, he wrote it under the pseudonym "Publius II."  For those who don't know, Publius was the pseudonym that Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote under when they published The Federalist Papers.  He envisioned this tome as an update to their version, and while a bit pretentious(even he admits that), he thinks his pseudonym captures the spirit he's striving for.

I asked him why he decided to write under a pseudonym(other than the obviously conceited reason of trying to emulate the guys who wrote the friggin' Constitution), and he said he did it for two reasons.  The first was to generate buzz for sales.  The second was to protect himself.

Like me, he knows the hazards of getting too political in today's world.  If he got on the wrong side of someone influential within his company, it could spell disaster, so he wrote it anonymously in the hopes that it couldn't be traced back to him.  He felt he went out of his way to avoid getting too controversial in the book, but everything in today's polarized world seems controversial to someone, so he hid it.

That got me thinking of the use of pseudonyms and their usefulness.  Stephen King wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman during a time when publishing houses were convinced that writers couldn't publish more than one book a year without oversaturating the public(a line of reasoning I've always found stupid).  His son wrote under the pseudonym Joe Hill(and still does, I think) out of a desire to succeed on his own rather than on the coattails of his father.  JK Rowling has written under Robert Galbraith out of a desire to see if she could capture lightning in a bottle again based solely on her work rather than on her original brand.

It made me remember that even RD Meyer is sort of a pseudonym.  Yes, my name is Russell Dean Meyer, but my namesake is known for work I'd rather not be associated with(go on...Google Russ Meyer and see what comes up - just don't do it at work).  It makes me personally very hard to Google, so I needed some way to stand apart.

What's the point of all of this?  I'm not sure there is one, other than to say that even authors want to create something special aside from their work.  It's a new way to make it in the world and pretend to be someone else(like writing fantastical stories isn't enough).  At first, I scorned my friend for what I perceived as his cowardice, but once I really thought about it, it made sense.  He wanted anonymity in a polarized world, so he made up a new persona.  In a way, I've done something similar, and so have many other authors.  I guess only time will tell if we made the right decision.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Cover Reveal!

When I contacted Carl Graves from Extended Imagery, I wasn't sure what I was getting into.  I'd never gone to a cover artist before, and I had some very specific ideas in what I was looking for in Akeldama.  I gave Carl the laydown, and he started working on my cover.  When it came back, it wasn't quite what I envisioned.

It was better.

As a result, here is the cover for Akeldama, due out May 18th.  Those on my distro list already got this via email, so if you didn't and would like to be on my list(those on it will get a discount on the first release), let me know by either email or comment.  Otherwise, enjoy - I hope you like it as much as I do.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Just Die Already!

Story clichés bother me.  When I read, I want to be taken off the track that I could personally see coming a mile away.  I want surprises, new characters, and a story that goes in ways I didn't expect.  As such, there's a phenomenon present in writing that I despise - bringing characters back from the dead.

To be fair, it isn't like this is a new phenomenon.  Writers have been doing this for ages, and it has annoyed me just as long.  I find it to be a lazy way to keep a story going, and its value as SHOCK has been so overdone that it's no shock at all when it happens.  It seems that whenever a story reaches a point where it starts grasping at things, the author will bring back an old character to shake things up.

I believe that what's dead should stay dead.  I know I'm an effete snob, but I'm this way for two main reasons.  First, it's just not realistic for folks to keep rising from the dead.  This doesn't happen in real life, and having already suspended my disbelief to read a tome, this trite technique shakes me out of that wonderful escape.  The reason a harrowing escape is so compelling in real life is that it's so rare(c'mon - how many times do people really survive a boat capsizing in the middle of the ocean?)Second, it doesn't allow the story to deal with the new reality of a character's death.  When a dead character returns, it constricts the story and makes any future tension unbelievable.  Why should I care about the characters and their well being if they're going to keep coming back no matter what's done to them?  I'm actually angry that I spent time in mourning, only to have to factor them back into my life.  It gets confusing.

I get that readers and even writers become attached to our favorite characters.  They provide us comfort and familiarity in a world that rarely possesses either.  But it's the uncertainty of a story that gets us going and makes us want to know what will happen next.  There may be the rare time when someone can and should be brought back to advance the plot, but the writer needs to make it clear very quickly that the character's death was part of the plot all along, and not some device reached for at the last minute to extend a story that should've ended.

It's hard to kill a character we write about.  If it's so hard, then don't put it in at all.  You can still give the reader the illusion of tension, even though you know said character is safe.  But if you kill off a character, have the courage to keep that character dead.  Yes, some readers will implore you to bring them back, but resist these calls.  In the end, it'll make a better book and keep readers turning the page rather than rolling their eyes.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Culturally Sensitive?

Okay, perhaps I'm wading into rough waters here, but this article from The Chicago Tribune caught my eye(h/t to The Passive Voice).  As writers, we often do lots of research for our books in addition to the hiring of editors, the use of beta-readers, and the countless hours we ourselves spend pouring over our work to make sure we got each nuance just right.  However, some authors and a number of publishers are going to a new set of eyes, based in large part on the potential(mostly through social media) to edit their stuff.

Sensitivity readers.

If you're anything like me, you just did a double take at that phrase.  Yes, it's exactly as it sounds - you or your publisher pay someone to comb through your book looking for signs that you've been culturally insensitive to this group or that one.  Sensitivity readers supposedly provide you tips on your portrayals for characters that are part of a group you aren't a part of(or maybe even one you are a part of if you're not sufficiently "woke" to your own group's travails).

I've touched previously on topics of "cultural appropriation," and this seems to fall in the same overly sensitive, politically correct strain of "let's not hurt anyone's feelings."  To start with, I find it offensive that any one person thinks they have enough expertise on an entire group of individuals that they feel qualified to tell you how they think or act.  This will sound kooky, but people have a tendency to be different, even with shared cultural experiences.  Harvey Fierstein and Milo Yiannopoulos couldn't possibly be any more different in terms of outlook or activism, despite both being gay men.  Ben Carson and Al Sharpton may both be black, but does anyone here have any doubt that their portrayals in books(or characters based on them) would and should be completely polar opposite?  How does one look at anyone based on an immutable characteristic and say they are sufficiently read in that they know just how a character should act, especially when it's your character?

Next, this should insult any writer with half a brain.  The implication here is that we don't do our own research.  I can tell you from experience that research is one of the biggest ways I spend my time...and I write fiction!  Akeldama will come out in May, and since a large part of it is based on the Catholic Church - a church to which I don't personally belong - I had to do a ton of research on how it works.  I didn't leave it up to some "sensitivity reader" to tell me where I went wrong - I spent countless hours combing over each nuance and talking to Catholics(and Mormons) to find out what I didn't know.

Further, and I hate to break this to the culturally sensitive among us, but not everyone is going to like your book.  I promise that someone somewhere will find something offensive about what you have to say.  Just look at our polarized world today.  You can't shake a stick without finding someone saying something you dislike, or without seeing mass protests over a perceived slight.  Each person being different, with a different outlook, will read your work in a different way, and you can't cater to everyone.  Not only will you drive yourself nuts, but you'll never accomplish that task.  On the off chance that you get close, your work will be so boring that no one will buy it.

I wonder if the gatekeepers of such political correctness have given thought to which works wouldn't stand a chance at being published today.  Does anyone really think that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn would even be given a look under these conditions? Or To Kill A Mockingbird?  Given his writings about poverty, despite his relatively well off status in English society, I doubt much that Charles Dickens wrote would make it past these folks.

What happened to letting the reader decide our work?  The market is pretty responsive, and if you've gone over the line, it'll usually let you know by not buying your stuff.  While I want everyone to enjoy my stories, I write for me, and I hope others come along.  But I find out by giving it to all of them in my style, not by culling out the offensive parts that might upset people(and believe me, I've got some stuff that many people simply will not like).

If you feel the need for a "sensitivity reader" to check your stuff, go ahead.  That's your right.  But don't tell me I need one before I publish(yet another reason to avoid traditional publishing).  If someone wants to raise a ruckus, they can do so, but they'll find me about as responsive as a statue.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Offset Releases

A friend of mine is struggling with the release of his first book.  As he and I are just beginning this journey, I found his dilemma relevant to my path.

He has finished his book and has both the ebook for Kindle and the hardcover formatted.  However, that means that the ebook is ready to be uploaded while the hardcover still has to go through production.  His struggle is over whether or not to go ahead and release the ebook or wait for both to be ready for a simultaneous release.

I see the advantages and disadvantages of both.  By releasing his ebook now, he can go ahead and generate buzz that might lead to greater sales.  Plus, I imagine that there's no feeling quite like the one of having your work out in the public square.  At the same time, what if the ebook bombs or finds all of its audience online?  Could that hurt the hardcover sales and make his effort tank?

There's not a right or wrong answer here, as I see it, nor an easy one.  I think it's a matter of figuring out the marketing scheme and how your target audience gets its information.  An ebook reviewed by someone from the right site could help get things started, but what if that person likes to hold a physical book(like I do)?  That could create an offset in how audiences hear about the work, and you need as much momentum as you can get right out of the gate.

What are your thoughts?  Should my friend release in Kindle first and wait to release hardcovers, or should he wait until both are ready?  I promised him an answer on my thoughts by next week, and as of now, I have no thoughts - I need yours.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lots Of Learning

As you may have read, I'm off and running towards my first release later this year.  As such, there's a whole lotta learnin' going on around here.  Even as prepared as I thought I was, I've found that there's so much I just didn't anticipate.

The biggest thing I needed to understand was time.  Despite the long lead time I have, getting with a good cover artist has been eye-opening.  A few I contacted were booked several months out, and although I'm sure they'd have done great work, all were beyond my release date.  I finally found a great cover artist who was able to help me realize the vision of the book I was striving for.  As an aside, I plan to do a cover reveal by the end of the month - one of the first physical indicators I have that this is real.

With time as a lesson, I've also learned that you can't just do a few point and clicks and expect a book to magically pop out.  There's formatting, ISBNs, legal agreements, applying for status, applying for copyright, and so many more things that I understood on a surface level but never really put in the context of time.  Quite daunting.

So, what's the purpose of this post?  Is it just to play a song for sympathy and ask you to feel sorry for me?  Nope - it's to help any other indie authors understand the process isn't an easy one, and there's a steep learning curve.  Know what you're getting into.  I don't want to discourage anyone, for one of the greatest feelings on this journey I've had was when I got to see my cover for the first time, but context is important.

I'm still looking through Ingram's Lightning Source and Create Space for final distribution, and I'll make that decision by March 1st.  It may come down to ease versus quality, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

On Book Timing

As most of you know, I almost never stray into the areas of politics and religion.  The only time I've done so was as a writing exercise to see if I could pull off viewpoints that make me sound credible but that I don't necessarily hold.  I'm still not sure the readers of this blog could figure out which sides of the aisle(religious or political) I fall on.

None of this is to say that I don't pay attention to politics.  With the saturation of political coverage nowadays, you'd have to be obtuse not to see what's going on.  There are sweeping policy changes, new directions, protests, riots, and each side screaming so hard at the other that I'm surprised anyone has any vocal cords lefts.  Which brings me to book releases and how to properly time them.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a novel called Schism about a second American civil war.  It still requires some tweaking(I need to expand the final act, probably splitting it into two parts), and I initially planned its release for October of 2018.  That might still hold, but I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't find a way to release it sooner.

Our level of political discourse is insane.  I don't think I've ever found it to be more hateful and shrill.  I've watched people who've known each other for decades cut each other off over a political viewpoint or support for some policy or candidate.  I personally find that to be petty, but it's still reality.  So would a book about such a split do well right now?  It's certainly timely.  I think people of both sides would find something to nod at and something to froth over in Schism.

While I find the climate to be disturbing, that doesn't mean an author and business person shouldn't look to take advantage of the moods that exist.  Timing is such an enormous part of the success of any work that people will often write books for the moment in the hopes that current passions will ignite a firestorm.  If only Schism were complete now, I'd likely do the same.

It saddens me to say that I don't think political tensions will subside over the next couple of years, so my October 2018 release date is still probably viable.  In some ways, I'd like for the window to close, for that would mean people are able to calm down and discuss things rationally.  However, I just don't see that happening anytime soon...do you?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Two Times A Week?

As you know, I shrank this blog back in October from its three times a week format to one time a week.  My new job and the demands of life made staying on top of that requirement almost impossible.  There was also a dearth of topics, since I felt I'd said most of what needed to be said.

However, I think life has slowed down enough, and I have more topics(such as moving towards my May 18th publication date), that I'm going to try and post twice a week.  This will open up the blog and give readers a bit more while not yet making it so hectic that I get overwhelmed.  We'll try this for a while and see how it goes.

So in addition to the Monday morning post(I know I post it late in the evening on Sunday, but most folks don't see it until Monday morning), I'll also have a Thursday morning post so that y'all will have something to read over the weekend.  Anyone have any thoughts on that?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Off And Running

Not much to talk about today other than the fact that I'm off and running.  I've contacted a print designer, two cover artists, and have an account now with CreateSpace(my application to Lightning Source is being reviewed).  I also have a business account and line of credit for Rushamra Publishing LLC.

So what does all this mean?  It means I'm jumping headlong into a very intimidating process.  I've written nine novels, four of which are ready to go, and another that should require only mild editing(the other four will need some work before they're ready).  I also have a degree in business, both in undergraduate and graduate level work.  Therefore, I'm all ready...right?

On the surface, sure, I'm ready.  I've been putting this together for a long time.  Under the surface, it's pretty intimidating.  I've never leapt this far off the pier before, and my launch is something I want to go right, even though I know there will be bumps along the way.  The best way to describe it is the Gene Hackman line from The Replacements - "Like a duck on a pond.  On the surface everything looks calm, but beneath the water those little feet are churning a mile a minute."

As soon as I have a cover to reveal, I'll post it(the only folks who'll see it sooner are those on my distro list).  All in all, very exciting and very nerve-wracking.  Full speed ahead!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Current Reading List

I sometimes get asked what I've been reading.  After all, a big part of being a decent writer is being a prolific reader.  So here's what's on my current list:

Sleeping Late On Judgment Day - I discovered Tad Williams a little later than many people.  However, a year or so ago I picked up Happy Hour In Hell on a whim, not getting that it was the second book in Williams' series.  The story is narrated by Bobbly Dollar, an angelic advocate for the recently deceased, who has no memory of his life on Earth and is a foul mouthed heavy drinking hero.  Oh, and his girlfriend is a demon, which apparently is a big no-no.  There's a plot by some higher ranking angels, in a pact with a major demon lord, to create a "Third Way" that goes beyond Heaven or Hell.  Dollar is basically a man, with all the faults that implies, who has access to supernatural realms.  A pretty engaging story, and one that makes our images of the afterlife appear a bit more...complicated.

One Year After - I've grown to like William Fortschen from his Lost Regiment Series.  One Year after follows One Second After, a story about an EMP that devastated the United States by shutting down power across the nation...and keeping it shut off.  Few of us think about how much life would really be affected(we all have silly fantasies about being as tough as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead).  However, lots of people would be dead in the first couple of months from just not having basic medical needs met(think about it - how many diabetics would die from no insulin?  Or how many Cystic Fibrosis or Sickle Cell Anemia patients who have no access to treatment?).  One Year After picks up with the story of rugged survival in the NC mountains by former Army officer and current professor James Matherson.  Government has begun to re-emerge, and there's a new threat, this one more tyrannical, coming down on the community.  I'm about a quarter of the way into this one, and once finished, I'll move on to The Final Day.

The Prometheus Bomb - This is the only non-fiction on my list right now.  It's about how The Manhattan Project brought together a motley collection of scientists, politicians, and military leaders to create the most powerful weapon in the world.  The project started out inefficiently due to disorganization and a lack of urgency, despite the priority given to it by Franklin Roosevelt.  In one example, the scientists created a uranium pile on the campus of the University of Chicago.  Think about that - they had no idea what would happen had the pile gone beyond critical mass and could've destroyed the city.  But in those days, the project had so little real direction that they did things willy-nilly and could've done a great deal of damage.  This is the story of how it was organized, prioritized, and produced the atomic bomb.

World War Z - I've read this one a few times, and it always fascinates me.  First off, ignore the movie.  It sucks.  The only thing it and the book have in common are the title and the fact that there are zombies.  Beyond that, the movie is terrible.  The book, on the other hand, is a great "historical" novel of how mankind might deal with a threat it doesn't understand.  It shows a great failure of adaptation in the beginning, and humanity has to adjust in order to survive.  It's told as a series of interviews with survivors of the war, and it can be surprisingly realistic.  This is one of my all-time favorites, and I strongly recommend reading it if you get the chance.

I'm sure I'll get to more this year, but this is the list right now.  What are you reading?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Being A Twit

Okay, so the title of the post is a bit misleading since this is about both Twitter and Facebook, but I couldn't find a pun to make about Facebook.  Anyhoo...

Social media continues to pervade our lives.  It's everywhere and nearly impossible to escape.  As writers, it can be a useful tool for marketing.  We get to describe our work in order to gage interest, build an audience, and let that audience know when we're coming out with new stuff.  That said, it can also be a dangerous trap of our own devising.

I've previously described that we, as writers, need to keep our personal views on controversial subjects out of our work.  In light of this past election, it's even more vital we do so.  Most of us have strong opinions about recent events, but as the vote totals show, we're roughly a 50/50 nation, and each side feels steadfast in their views...to the point of cutting people out of our lives if they don't support our side.  I may think that's petty, regardless of who you support, but that's still a fact of life in this polarized age.  By injecting our personal views about this candidate or that, we risk alienating half of our potential audience - not the best way for a new writer to build followers.  Yes, rare people like Stephen King and JK Rowling can give out what they think without repercussion, most writers simply don't have that luxury.

Prior to around 2000, that wasn't really an issue.  Blogging was fairly new, and social media was non-existent.  Now, however, we all feel like we can put anything out from the comfort of our keyboard.  Problem is that it isn't only the side we agree with that sees it.  People on every side love to troll through the internet looking for outrage.  It takes only one poorly worded tweet or a viral Facebook post to irreparably tarnish what half of people think.

I have strongly held opinions myself, and I voice them a great deal on Facebook.  However, my feed is private and not visible to those I don't know.  I promise that at least half of you would turn me off forever if you knew what I wrote on there(probably more than half...I can be quite annoying).  We've all heard stories of one ill-advised tweet, even made in jest, ruining people's lives.  Remember, Twitter and Facebook don't provide body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc, so people will read it in whatever voice they want to, and these days it seems like that voice is a super-serious one.

In this perpetually offended age, remember your audience is more diverse than you think.  Michael Jordan recognized this in 1990 when he was asked why he wouldn't endorse Harvey Gantt against Jesse Helms, and he responded with, "Republicans buy shoes too."  If ideological purity is what you want, then by all means, piss off half of the audience, but just know that you won't have as wide a reach.  Also, you'll eventually piss off those on "your side" too.  Is that worth your own self-righteousness?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Officially Incorporated!

I am now officially a business owner!  Late last week, I finally established Rushamra Publishing, LLC, the company for the publication of my novels.  I'm still on target for a May 18th publication date, so I thought I'd fill everyone in on a few details.

To start with, why the name Rushamra?  No, it's not some reference to the ancient Middle East, or a nod to some obscure source material that few would know and makes me sound either clever or snobbish.  Quite simply, it's the first two letters of me and my immediate family(RUss, SHerry, AMelia, and RAchel).  My family has been extremely supportive every step of the way, and I wanted to recognize them for that.

Next, why did I choose to be an LLC(Limited Liability Corporation).  Honestly, due to the protection coupled with ease of setup and operation.  Sole Proprietorships leave the owner vulnerable to all kinds of nasty consequences in the event some asshat gets the silly idea to sue me for some odd reason.  All the big-time authors, like Stephen King and JK Rowling, have been sued by folks who were eager to cash in on their fame by claiming that they'd written the same basic novel and that it was stolen.  Although I know that I'm not on that level, it would be silly to not be prepared.  Cases like this are usually dismissed, but they're costly to defend, especially in the US, where you're still responsible for all your own legal costs, even if you win.  By forming an LLC, and ensuring I keep my business fund separate from my personal accounts, I am able to protect my family's assets from seizure.

Also, some have asked why I waited till after the New Year.  I just wanted to wait until In could start under a new tax season, even though my tax accountant said this wasn't as necessary as I once thought, for filing as an LLC isn't terribly complicated(it's complicated, but that's a result of the tax system being complicated, and filing a schedule C doesn't add much more burden, especially to pursue my dream).

So, what does all this mean?  It means I can move forward with all the nuances I need to meet the May 18th publication date.  I'll contact the cover artist I've found shortly, have the books properly formatted, get the ISBNs, etc.  As that ramps up, my update posts will include the cover, blog tours, in person appearances, giveaways, and all that jazz.

I know this step may be small, but I'm excited.  It's the first real sign that this is real that doesn't have to do with just writing the book.  I hope y'all's interest remains with me, and I'm grateful for the continued support.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Resolutions

It's a new year, so I thought I'd lay out what I hope to accomplish in 2017.  Perhaps it's better to call these "Goals for 2017" rather than "New Year's Resolutions" since I'm not normally a fan of resolutions(I think you should be moved to something by your own internal motivation rather than an arbitrary calendar flip).  However, since it's January 2nd...

1.  Complete blog posts on time.  Granted, I'm only a few hours late, but you'll note that this post didn't come out on the schedule it usually does.  To be honest, I was tired and lazy this past weekend, so I sat on my ass and didn't feel like posting.  Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that has happened.  I need to get back to writing my posts in the middle of the week so I don't hit a time crunch in writing them.  That's more trying to get back into good blogging habits rather than any major change.

2.  Get back to three posts a week.  Speaking of changes, I will try to get back to posting three times a week.  I went to a single weekly posting due to two things - lack of time(caused by a variety of factors), and not having much new to say.  Topics began to repeat, and my job made doing three a week a bit daunting.  However, as I move forward to May 18th, I need to get back to my old ways.  I'll have plenty to say as my debut novel gets published, so topic diversity should increase.  I don't know when this will happen, but I'll target April to get back to three times a week.  I know y'all have been eagerly awaiting that.

3.  Publish my first two novels.  May 18th is the publication date for AkeldamaThis will be my first published novel, and there's LOTS of work to do to get started.  However, I put off publishing it last year due to some out-of-country job pressures, and I now have no excuse.  Still gotta get a cover and self-incorporate, but May 18th is the date.  I would like to publish Salvation Day about six months after that.  In short, the dream has arrived, and it should be a busy year.

4.  Get back to writing.  I haven't written anything substantial since April of 2017, and even that needs serious work.  I took time off to recuperate(my last two novels showed major signs of burnout), and getting into my new job has been challenging.  I'm also concentrating on my first release, so that doesn't allow me to write like I want to.  All the same, a writer writes, and I wonder how much my skills have atrophied.  Just like going to the gym, you need rest so you don't overwork muscles(in this case, the brain), but "resting" for too long means starting over once you finally get back to it.  We'll see which stage I'm at.

5.  Do a book tour.  This doesn't mean going to bookstores all over the country and sleeping in sleazy motel so that I can read my work to a crowd of four.  It means getting on others' blogs, going to some bookstores and local libraries, and giving away free copies to strategically placed people.  The key is publicity so that more people will be aware of, and hopefully buy, my brand.  Still working on the details, but it's a must - I can't just publish and hope people find me by some strange cosmic karma.  There are too many out there, so I've got to find ways to break through the noise.

Okay, that's it for now.  Five "resolutions" is a good goal, and I want those resolutions to be achievable rather than overwhelming.  I think that's part of our problem in our goals - too many make is seem to be too much.  Keep it simple, and do what's achievable.  What are your resloutions?