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 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?