Wednesday, December 7, 2016

That Dream is Dead... Long Live the Dream

Coming up on thirteen years ago, I started writing with the dream of being published... Well, actually it was the dream of being traditionally published.  And the dream probably started when I was a teenager and subscribed to Writers Digest.  But that last part is neither here nor there. 

I had a dream of being published and back in 2004, it was only a dream of being published by one of the traditional houses.  Which meant getting an agent.  Which meant learning how to do query letters and synopses.  It also meant learning how to accept rejection and defeat and heartache. 

Meh.

Over the years, the dream slowly died.  I think it starved to death.  And that's okay.  In its place a new dream grew - the dream of getting published.

Yeah, they sound like the same dream, don't they?  The dream of being published vs the dream of getting published.  To me, though, one is passive* and the other is active.  The dream of someone else publishing me vs the dream of getting myself published.  'Pick me pick me' vs 'get up off your ass and do it your own damn self'. 

Two years into the 'get up off your ass' dream, the old dream is dead.  I killed it and then I ate it.  Nowadays when I see someone suggesting 'the best way to write a query letter' or offering 'a new list of agents who are seeking submissions', I shudder.  I can't imagine resurrecting the old dream. 

The dream is dead... long live the dream. 

*Yes, yes, I know that going after publication by traditional means is in no way passive.  Think passive voice and active voice.

Monday, December 5, 2016

STUPIDFUL

Not too far from here, there's a thrift store.  It works in conjunction with a local charity and there's usually something or other I can find to buy there.  Usually, it's used books.  I'm a sucker for used books.  Natch.

Anyway, the last time I went there, I noticed I hadn't seen the manager in a while, so I asked about him.  Well, he's moved on to a new mission in life.  Good for him.  The new manager, I was told, had all these great ideas on things.  Okee.  Whatever.  Cool for you if you get more sales for your charity. 

So, I went in there last week.  Everything looks about the same.  :shrug: 

I wandered through to the books.  I immediately found two paperbacks I needed.  Then I found another two.  Then I remembered that I'd heard they were changing the pricing on books from 4/$1 (used to be 5/$1) paperbacks.  I scanned around for the new sign.  PAPERBACKS 50c EACH. 

Well, that kind of put a crimp in my crinolines.  But whatever.  I found two more I wanted and then walked over to the 'vintage' shelves.  Big sign: VINTAGE $5 EACH.  Oh, holy crap.  Those used to be $1.50 ea.  I was almost afraid to look at the hardcover section.  Those only doubled in price from 50c to $1. 

No hardcovers or vintage books for me that day.  Time to check out.  With only 6 paperbacks when I'd usually take home a bag of books.  :shrug: 

I made casual mention of the price change in books to the cashier.  She must've been hearing it a lot because she got kind of defensive and a little snotty when she's usually quite nice.  She told me how they're having trouble moving books.  So much trouble that they're no longer accepting book donations.  Which is why they raised the price. 

No offense to her, but that's about the most stupidful thing I've ever heard.  (Yes, so stupid, it deserved its own word - STUPIDFUL.)  I didn't tell her she was stupidful.  She doesn't set the prices or the policy for the store.  This is one of the new manager's brilliant ideas. 

As I was relaying this story to Hubs and then on Facebook, something occurred to me.  This thinking seems to be what the traditional publishers are using.  Book sales are down... supposedly... so jack the prices up.  The last time I looked at buying a hardcover, it was $27.99.  And I didn't buy it.  I can't afford that.  Just like I can't afford to buy 12-15 books from the thrift store like I used to.  Not at 50c ea.  $3.  I had three dollars to spend.  Period.  It's called a budget, and I have to stick to it.

Oh, that store manager and those big publishers might comfort themselves with the idea that they made more money per book.  But they're selling fewer books.  For the thrift store, that means a backlog of excess inventory.  For the publishers?  I don't know how all that works.  I would think it would mean the same.  At the very least, it would mean their sales numbers are down.  Thus, book sales are down.  And I think it's showing in the pocketbooks of writers. 

Jus' sayin'.

The cashier did invite me, in an oh-so-snotty tone, that I was welcome to come volunteer at the store, if I had a better idea.  Oh, I do.  I have a ton of awesome sales ideas that might benefit that place.  And the idea of going in there and sorting through boxes of old books is tempting.  Problem is, I don't think they'd really welcome my ideas.  And I really don't have the energy or the will to stand in that place for more than an hour at a time a couple times a month. 

So, I'll do what most self-respecting customers do.  I'll bitch about it here and at home, and I'll find other places to spend my money.  Cuz that's how the free market works. 

There's another thrift store a little out of my way that benefits a different charity.  Maybe I'll drop in there and see what they have to offer. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Done... With That Anyway

Last night, I finished the first draft of Natural Causes (Dennis Haggarty #2).  It weighs in at just under 60K words. 

I started this book in May of 2015 and then stalled amidst the whirlwind of trying to get Wish in One Hand published.  So, I started back into it last month with around 14K words and went from there.  Between October 16th and November 27th, I did about 46K. 

Not quite up to the speed of NaNoWriMo, but since this is the first time I've written anything new with any real commitment since godonlyknowswhen, I'll take it.

As I told someone earlier today, this is an ugly SOB.  If you read it now, you'd want to take a baseball bat to me.  Things happen at the beginning that make no sense by the end.  Things happen at the end that I need to weave through the previous pages.  It's pretty awful.  But I dropped notes for myself in the story so I'd remember to fix some things here and there.  And hey, that's what editing is for, right?

Still don't have a firm timeline for the release of this.  Or even if this will be released next.  :shrug: 

But it's done.  And that's the important part.  You can't fix what ain't written. 

How's your work going for you?

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Job or a Hobby?

I've been thinking again.  Actually, I've been thinking for a while now.  Even before I got the email from a friend telling me about a funny conversation they had with their spouse and how the spouse thought what I'm doing over here is a hobby.  They defended me, of course, which was nice, but the whole relay set me thinking again.

Is this writing thing a job or is it a hobby?

On the one hand, I don't work normal hours.  And I don't just mean I don't work 8-5 with an hour for lunch.  I mean I don't work 40 hours a week.  Hell, some weeks, I don't work 20 hours.  I also don't work Monday thru Friday.  I work whatever days Sunday thru Saturday that I need to work.  When I'm deep in the working, that might mean I work 7 days straight and anywhere from a couple hours to five or six hours in one day.  Hell, I pulled a 14 hour work day that one time when I was rushing to put together a very specific submission of a time-sensitive nature.  When I'm not deep in, though, I could go days without opening a manuscript to work on.

No one pays me.  No one provides for my health insurance.  No one gives me benefits or vacation days or sick days.  I don't have a retirement plan.  I don't have co-workers.  My office is a desk set up in the corner of the library.  My computer is used both for frittering away time and doing productive things. (Well, that's kind of like a real job, I guess. LOL)  I don't wear a business suit or skirts or even shoes.  (Or even a bra, if you get right down to it.)

On the other hand, hobbies are supposed to be ways for a person to relax.  They're supposed to be fun pursuits to take your mind off the ol' day job.  Some people turn their hobbies into money-making enterprises - they sell quilts or knickknacks, they enter contests where they might win prizes, etc. - but they don't expect to ever live off the money they make.  And when they do, the hobby turns into a job. 

This isn't relaxing.  It isn't a fun pursuit.  Oh, sure, I love writing.  But it's also a stress-inducing pursuit that I need a hobby to get away from sometimes (like fishing).  And, sure, sometimes I can drain away stress by writing.  Give me a good action scene where I get to kill people and that can be super cathartic.  But for the most part, no relaxation in the writing biz. 

I am writer, publisher, editor-in-chief, marketing, art department, mailroom, public relations, IT, human resources, etc.  I don't know of a single hobby where one person takes on all of that - not and still pursues it as a hobby.

I have a feeling sometimes that I'm not very good at those jobs, but that doesn't necessarily turn it into a hobby.  It just means I'm not the best businessman in the world.  Good thing I'm not looking for investors.  Marcus Lemonis would kick my ass. And rightfully so.

Still, as I sit here, not writing and not really accomplishing the business goals I set for myself when I started this self-publishing endeavor, the thinking goes 'what if this really is a hobby and I'm just fooling myself?' and 'what if that person was right after all?' and then I begin to wonder why I'm putting myself through this for a freakin' hobby.  When a hobby begins to become more trouble than it's worth, I stop doing it.  As my big tub of crocheting materials can easily attest to.

So, I guess that means this isn't a hobby after all.  Lord knows, in terms of actual finances, this is way more trouble than it's been worth.  And I haven't quit yet.  Slowed down a little, maybe.  Went fishing instead of working, when the idea of spending more time on something that isn't paying off gets to be too much, perhaps.  :shrug:  In terms of actually having my books available for other people to read, this has been worth more than I can say. 

Who knows if this is a job or a hobby.  I guess that's only for me to say... for each of us to say about our own situations in our own ways.  And I guess I need to stop whining about it all and get back to work.

'Nuff said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Jury Duty

If you're reading this, I am at jury duty today.  I had to call last night and find out if it was still on.

I got a call yesterday afternoon telling me that jury duty had been cancelled.  One of the perks of living in the back of beyond is that they call you, I guess.  Works for me.  Anyway, here's the post I wrote in the event I did have jury duty...

In MO, you get a notice that you're in the jury pool from x-month to y-month, and as trials come up, they pull from that pool.  I was in the pool from July 18th to November 20th this time, and sure enough, I got pulled for November 16th.  Four more days and I would've been home free.  Dang it.

Oh, I'm not that cheesed off about it.  I look forward to doing my part in the judicial process.  I don't look forward to the hilly drive up to the county seat first thing in the morning during Deer Hunting Season.  Fingers crossed that all the deer stay off the road for my trips there and back.

I'm also not looking forward to be jammed into a space with however many people until they get us all down to the final 12.  I have visions of being crammed between a redneck and a socialite.  Nightmares, really.

:shrug:  We'll see how it goes.

I know there were two murders in the area last year.  One of them was pleaded out a couple weeks go, so I could be on the jury for the other one (if the timing is the same for those things).  Most likely, it'll be a meth bust or some domestic thing.

Anyway, if I do sit a jury, I'll do as much of a write up on it as I can once I'm allowed to do so. (And I would've.  Seriously.)

Have you ever been on a jury?  How'd that go for you?

(Oh, and if I am sitting a jury, comments won't appear here until I get home at night.  Comment away and I'll get to them as soon as I can.)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Crime in the Media - The Long Island Serial Killer

Recently, Investigation Discovery has been airing a show called PEOPLE Magazine Investigates: The Long Island Serial Killer.  We're two episodes in (of I don't know how many installments) and I'm riveted. 

I remember hearing about this a while back when the body count had risen sufficiently for it to make national news.  There's a stretch of highway out there that someone or someones has made a perfect dumping ground.  It's horrific.  And my opinion is that there is more than one killer using that area to dump bodies.

My main point: There are two different sets with different MOs.  Yes, all of the bodies seem to have been involved in 'escort' work (with the exception of one that I'll come to in a moment).  But some of the bodies were strangled, wrapped in burlap, and buried, while others were dismembered and scattered.  The newer bodies seem to have been the ones wrapped in burlap.  There was some talk that the killer had evolved to the burlap and the burial, but that seems like a de-evolution to me.  Then they added in a third set of bodies down by Atlantic City, which seems to me to be a third killer.  Killed and lined up precisely above ground. 

Oh, it could be one killer, but that seems improbable.

Another thing they said was that the killer had broken with his MO because he killed a child.  This is where my theory gets a little unpalatable.  The mother of the toddler was an escort.  The little girl and her mother were both wearing similar jewelry.  My theory is that the mother took the kid with her on her appointment... gross, but not outside the realm of possibility. 

They also said the killer had broken with his MO because one of the victims was a male who had been beaten to death.  BUT, said male was a young Asian man whose body was found dressed in women's clothing.  My theory is that the killer picked up his escort thinking that he had a date with a woman, and when he discovered the truth, he beat the young man to death in a a rage.

Of course, the authorities probably already thought of all this, but they didn't put it into the series.  (They tend to leave a lot out of these shows.)  Still, my mind gets whirring and things start falling into place for me. 

They still haven't caught any of the perpetrators.  I suspect they've moved on.  If it is only one killer, perhaps he died some other way - a car accident, a heart attack, a stroke, etc.  Or perhaps he's incarcerated for some other crime. 

What do you think?  Have you watched that show? 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Oh Well.

I had this great idea to put my political suspense, Blood Flow, for sale on Election Day.  I mean, it seemed like a natural thing.  The problem was that, in this particular election cycle, a lot of people were avoiding social media yesterday - including myself.

Oh, I had an ad go out yesterday.  It did okay, but not great. 

Unfortunately, all I really had to prop me up on my big sale day was that ad.  I wasn't around to really push the sale.  I went fishing.  I avoided FB and Twitter. 

It's still on sale for about 8 hours.  I'm trying to pick sales up on the back end of this. 

You see, I didn't think.  I mean, I did think of this great idea.  I didn't think of the repercussions surrounding the most divisive political cycle in my lifetime.  (Okay, I vaguely remember the whole Reagan/Carter thing in '79 and from what I remember, there was a lot of hand-waving there, too. "OMG, an actor? in the white hours? :panic:" I mean, there had to be if I remember it from being a 9-yr old girl.  But then again, my memory of back then is iffy, so...) 

Anyway, what I'm saying is maybe the sale right now wasn't the best idea.  People are freaking out all over the place and it all has to do with politics.  Perhaps not the best time to pimp a book the has politics at its center - especially one that might be scary for some people.  :shrug: 

Picking the right spot for a sale is a big part of the battle. 

Then again, maybe this isn't the right book for a lot of people.  I know I've had some feedback from people who've read my other books that they won't read this one - because it is kind of scary in a way.  Hard to tell what will click with readers and what won't. 

Oh well.  Onward.