Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday WIP Words

Well, it's Wednesday.  (Really? Wednesday already? Crap.)  I thought I'd give you all a little glimpse into my next book - BloodFlow (due out in November, good lord willin' and the creek don't rise).  This is all before my editor works her magic, so don't expect perfection.  K?

Without a specific location, Randi pulled an internet map up on her phone and once she got her bearings, she headed toward the warehouse district in Anacostia. Her better judgment told her to call the body in and let local law enforcement handle it, but as Tweeg always happily pointed out, she was better suited to women’s intuition than rational judgment. As she drove down the freeway, she went over what little she knew of the situation ahead of her. The more she replayed the events of the past twenty-four hours, the more her instincts screamed at her that this was no job for locals.
She wasn’t sure it was the right job for her fellow agents.
You should’ve called in backup, Tweeg’s snotty voice echoed in her head. She had to admit, as much as she hated the annoying ass, he’d probably be right. A dozen agents in full gear should be swarming the warehouse now, instead of one agent in a smart pantsuit. Giving herself a wry grin in the rearview, she said, “I’m guessing this is what they mean when they call a book’s heroine ‘too stupid to live’.”
But look at it this way. If this is a trap, I’ll fall into it and once I’m out of the picture, Vic will be safe. On the other hand, if this is really related to the case, I’ll be a hero and whether I look stupid won’t make a damn bit of difference.
The eyes looking back at her told her she wasn’t fooling anyone. She knew the real reason behind her traipsing into unfamiliar territory with only her service weapon as backup. This whole business had been too politically charged from the onset for her to be able to trust anyone who worked for the government. For all she knew, her own boss had ordered the attack on Dr. Hammond to keep the true nature of Mrs. Reynolds’ death a secret. Stranger things had happened, after all.
If this is a trap of some kind, I’m already committed to it. Whatever happens is on me. The thought buoyed her up. For the first time since the fiasco with Payton, she was trusting her own judgment on a real case. Maybe she could use this case to prove she hadn’t gained anything because of her relationship with the director—that she really was worthy of being an agent with the TTF.
When she finally reached Pine Street, she hit a smidgen of luck. The street seemed to be one of the shorter ones in the area. It held five warehouses and only one of them appeared to be unoccupied. If her luck held, the body would be inside. If not, she would have to eat crow and call in the police to sweep the area. If her luck had really given out, the tip had been fake and she’d be eating more than crow before the day was out.
Pulling her sedan into a weed-ridden parking area, she regarded the empty structure. From the looks of it, sooner or later someone would call in the building inspectors to condemn the place.
 As she stood on the pavement outside, the only obvious entrance was the front door, but she couldn’t be lucky enough to find it unlocked. Instead, she had to leave the front and try the loading docks in back. If those proved unhelpful, she’d have to call this in.

Luck came back for her before she walked all the way to the back.  A side door stood open along the way. She didn’t need to step inside to know the caller had told her the truth. The smell of decomposition wafting through to her proved it.
With a handkerchief covering her nose and mouth, she stepped into the cavernous metal building. So help me god, if this is a dog or a deer, I’m going to find whoever called me and shoot him in the kneecaps. The smell of her own detergent did little to cover the growing scent as she ventured further into the building. She barely made it deep enough inside to see the shadowy outline of a man.
As the caller had said, the warehouse housed a dead guy. The body lay face down in the middle of what used to be a shipping area. When she got close enough, she could see the gaping hole in the back of his head. A wide circle of dark, brownish-red blossomed from where his nose should’ve been pressed against the concrete. She didn’t need to roll him over to know she wouldn’t be making a visual identification of this victim. No one would.
The mental image of what a bullet could do as it exited a man’s face undid her resolve. She turned and walked quickly from the crime scene before she contaminated it with a mess of her own making. Whoever this guy had been, someone wanted him dead in a very bad way.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Chicken Little Effect

Okay, so the Author Earnings report came out.  From what I read, it's good news on the indie author side and bad news on the traditional published side.  Which, of course, led to arm-waving, and snottiness, and misinformation being bandied about.  Which led, of course, to my posting the following on FB:

Ebook sales are falling! Ebook sales are falling! - Chicken Little 2015

:shrug: It amused me. Think about it.  One chicken getting hit on the head by a falling acorn does not mean we're all going to die.  In fact, 1200 chickens getting hit by a semi-load of acorns still doesn't mean we're all going to die.  It basically means those chickens should probably stop standing under oak trees.

As far as I can tell, ebook sales overall are increasing - not declining.  Please pay special attention to the word 'overall'.  It's the word that really matters.  Because, yeah, ebook sales are falling at the traditional publishing houses.  When they price their ebooks so freaking high even the secondary characters are getting nosebleeds, it really isn't any wonder sales are falling.

People are being careful with their dollars and, as such, they're being incredibly choosy about what books get to make it onto their shelves (or ereaders as the case may be nowadays).  And sales of high-dollar books are taking a hit because of it.  It's the market, man.  A reader is offered a choice - an ebook for $13.99 or an ebook for $3.99.  They both have nice covers.  They both have interesting blurbs.  They both have good reviews.  You do the 'look inside' and see both are edited well and either would hold your interest.  Unless you're already in love with the writings of the $13.99 author, which one are you going to buy?

For September, my sales were off.  And I still don't think that bit of information means the industry as a whole is crapping out.  It means I haven't done much in the way of advertising recently, maybe people aren't grooving on Wish in One Hand the way I expected them to, and perhaps I'm reaching a saturation point with the readers I have managed to connect with.  What's to do about all that?  Write the next book.  Reach into my tightwad wallet and spend some more advertising dollars, and continue to be my sporadically witty self on social media.

The thing to do is not to run around shouting about the sky falling.  It just gets others whipped into an unnecessary frenzy and none of us needs extra frenzy right now.

And if Chicken Little staggers by, hyperventilating over prophecies of gloom and doom?  Consider the source, look at the facts, and settle back with your ereader and a cup of joe.  It's all good, baby.

(To underscore my point - after I'd already written this, I saw this article from Forbes yesterday.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Jo Talks Genies - Part Two

Sanderson here asked me an interesting question the other day. It's one I've been asked time and again over the years. 

"What's this whole 'freeing genies' thing about? I mean, why do you do it?"

First off, think about it.  A whole species of intelligent beings starts their existence out as slaves.  Who wants that shit?

Now, some have argued - the Council, for instance - that slavery is decreed by the gods and it's a way to keep being with incredible power from taking over and ruining things for the rest of the sentient life on the planet.  I figure if we're so damn incredible, we should be able to put a rein on our own damn selves.  All it takes is a little knowledge and a good moral compass.

Okay, so not everyone has that.  And lord knows, it's not like the best and the brightest of the lot get chosen somehow to become a genie.  Look at me.  I was an airhead without the common sense frogs are endowed with.  But I learned.  And the big Rules keep us from doing anything really stupid - like unmaking the universe.  What I started with the Network was a way to take the genies who might not have the knowledge or the good moral compass, and train them to be productive members of society.  So far, it's worked pretty well. 

I also admit there's a good amount of guilt behind my mission.  I got my freedom because my Master died, and then I spent it playing hedonist.  What a waste of forever.  Now I spent time trying to free other genies without someone having to die.  All it takes is a little wish and POOF they're free.  Or to use a phrase Basil likes to toss around - easy peasy.  If the Council or the Efreet or the gods don't like it, they can lump it.  (Or they can try to stop me - which is the more likely scenario.) 

If you're interested in learning more about genies, or my escapades of trying to do my job when not everyone wants me to do it, grab a copy of Wish in One Hand.  Right now, I have genies to wrangle and Efreet to chase.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Trying Stuff and a CONTEST!

Hubs and I were talking the other day about ways to sell more books.  I've hit a slump, you see, and we were brainstorming different ways to boost things without breaking the bank.  What I learned from that discussion is that there are things I am unwilling to do and things we are unwilling to do to accomplish the goal of selling more books.

For instance, I have mentioned before my fear in crowds. So that flat cuts out writing conferences, book signings, etc.  I mean, it would be kind of hard to accomplish anything if I went to those things and spent the entire time hiding in a corner, trying not to barf.

I read the other day that one way to boost sales is to put in an ad or get an interview with the local paper.  Here we run afoul of our overriding need for anonymity.  Sure, it would be easy enough to locate me should someone have a sufficient motivation, but I really don't want to make it any easier.  We moved out to the back of beyond so we could be out of the public eye.  :shrug:

So, what's a hermit to do?

Basically, I'm doing it.  I'm writing books, I'm getting my name out there online where I can without being too annoying, and I'm placing the ads I can afford to place.  (When they let me.  ENT turned me down this time around.  I'll try again next month.)

One thing that would help are reviews.  Of course, I said something about reviews on Twitter and got my first one-star*.  Might've just been coincidence.  Correlation is not causation.  :shrug: 

Another thing I thought might help is I changed the cover for Wish in One Hand.  Something about the image of Jo was driving me nuts, but I wasn't sure if I could fix it and I did not want to go back to the original artist.  Then as I was trying to take a nap, I figured out how to do fix her.  I'm still waiting for Amazon to put the new image on the sales page, but here it is:

 And here's the old cover:
You can't see the lamp anymore, but you also can't see the weird way she's standing.  :shrug:  Maybe that's just me.  I also think this is more in line with other covers in the genre.  Again, might be just me. 

Anyway, I'm doing what I can.  I think.  I always feel like I could be doing more.

Now, because I have it on good authority that giving books away helps with sales and reviews, I'm putting this out there for all of you.  Leave a comment here, on the FB status update with this post, or retweet the tweet from this status update, and get entered to receive a copy of the limited print run of Wish in One Hand with the original cover.  I'll be changing the print cover today sometime, but I have stock of the first print run here.   I'll even sign it and put in some swag.  Pass it around.

The entries will be tabulated next Monday.  I'll draw one winner from them and announce the winner on Wednesday the 30th.

*My first one star review was for Dying Embers and she says the book just wasn't for her. She didn't like the writing, she hated Jace, and she didn't finish the book.  Okee doke.  I knew going in not everyone would like what I write, and I'm totally cool with it.  So, I guess this means I've 'made it' and I'm a real boy now.  Err, girl.  Err, writer person. ;o)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Jo Talks Genies

I'm probably going to get my ass kicked for doing this, but I'm pretty sure the Council doesn't check the blogosphere, so I should be fine.

Let's begin at the beginning...

Genies, or as they prefer to be called 'djinn', are a creation of the gods -  probably as some form of entertainment.  I mean, what could be more entertaining for super-powerful beings than making a race of beings, endowing them with the ability to do pretty much anything, and then giving them a set of unbreakable Rules to live under?  Oh, and tying their hands behind their back with their power being contingent on a few syllables spoken by people who can't figure out how to program a VCR.

I don't know when the first genie crawled out of its primordial soup.  The oldest genie I know is Zeke and he isn't exactly all that interested in talking about his DOB.  Something about being around to watch Atlantis sink beneath the waves - whatever that means.

Anyway, genies.  You've probably already heard the stories, watched the movies, read the books.  Phenomenal power, tied to a lamp or a bottle (or whatever we choose for our sanctuary - mine's a cameo brooch), and leashed to a Master. We mostly become genies because of our own stupidity.  Personally, I made the mistake of wishing for unlimited wishes - which set up a chain reaction wherein I traded places with the genie granting the wish.  I had unlimited wishes I would then have to dole out three at a time to whoever held my sanctuary, and he had his freedom.  Not quite a fair trade, in my opinion, but I was young and stupid at the time.

Every rare once in a while, a genie becomes free.  We can be wished free by a Master, or we can trade places with a foolish human like that genie did to me, or we can have a Master who dies without making all his wishes - which is how I gained my emancipation.  Like I said, though, genies have a set of Rules they have to live under whether they're free or not.  And free genies still have to get their juice from someone somewhere making a wish.  Free floating wish energy - wishes made every day by every human on the planet whether they're granted or not - helps build up the stores, but nothing sparks a genie like a good old fashioned wish.  


Oh, where was I?

Yeah, genies... djinn... You've only heard about us in fiction because we'd really rather the general populous not now we really exist.  We'd be hunted like animals - either to become slaves or to be killed or to be captured and studied.  Who wants that?  We just want to be free to do our own thing.  Problem is when we're out there in the world doing our own thing and messing with the general balance of things.  And that's where the Council comes in.  As much as I hate their petty prying, they do serve a purpose - keeping mankind from knowing about us, keeping rogue genies in line, enforcing the rules.  My problem is I never know what they'll think of as a 'rule' rather than just a guideline for behavior.  You know how it goes - is the speed limit 25 through here or is it 55?  It's not like there are signs.

But that's just me.

I can't think of anything else you might want to know this morning, so if you have a question, ask it.  I'll answer to the best of my ability.  And here's a question for you:  What was something that happened to you because of something stupid you did?  How'd that work out for you?

Oh, and if you're interested in learning more about genies, snag a copy of B.E.'s book, Wish in One Hand.  If you like it, leave a review, tell your friends, etc.  If all goes well, she might let me star in another book or two or a dozen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Debunking Erroneous Ideas

Okay, so I've been hearing about this article that some chick wrote for the HuffPo.  Now, I didn't read it in its entirety.  Frankly, the only parts of it I did read were in a post by another author who took time out of his busy schedule to fisk her. 

Apparently, this person got her undies in a wad over people who write fast or publish lots or whatever.  According to her, writing a book should take years and should be labored over like Hercules cleaning stables or some such rot.  And if you write in quantity, your books will obviously be of lesser quality.  (She should take a look at Asimov.  I've heard he averaged 8-9 books a year. But then again, he wrote... science fiction... :gasp: which should never be confused with literature. Right?  :smirk:)

Specifically, her bad number was four books a year.  Heh.  Just so happens, my plan is to put out four books a year.  What a coinkydink.  She says writers should maybe MAYBE put out one book a year.  To truly savor the experience and give the readers something drawn from our souls with a pen-shaped hypodermic.


She also totally shits on self-publishing and calls us all hacks.  (Even though she, in fact, is a self-published author.  Self-hatred is such a sad thing.)  :shrug:  I've been called worse by better people.

Yeah, thanks for the advice, chicky-poo, but I'll let the market tell me whether I'm a hack.  So far, sales are telling me I write well and the reviews ain't bad neither.  And readers are telling me - in person, in FB message, in reviews - they want sequels to the books I already have out, and they want them NOW.  They're willing to wait 6 months, maybe, but they don't have to like it.  And there's plenty to distract them while I'm dragging my feet, so I'd better get cracking.

In other news, I read an article recently that talked about how ebook sales are falling and so is the sky.  I reserved judgment until the real facts came out over at Author Earnings.  Turns out ebook sales overall are hunky-dory - when you add in indie books, of course.  Traditionally published ebook sales are off.  Natch.  And since the same companies that own the big dogs own the media outlets reporting the 'news', they're going to spin it their own way. 

Again, the market pretty much tells you what you need to know, if you're willing to listen.  Readers are still reading.  They're just reading less-expensive, but still quality, independent books rather than shell out double or triple for a traditionally published book.  I can live with that.

One thing that particularly tickled me about the AE report is they refer to people like me as being in the "Shadow Industry". Makes me feel all mysterious and stealthy. 

Only The Shadow knows how satisfying self-publishing is.  ;o)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Freebies, Goodies, and Giveaways - Do They Work?

As you know, I've been working on some different marketing ideas this year to see what works and what doesn't.  I've read advice and opinions.  I've considered it from several angles.  And I'm still pretty much lost. 

For instance, there's the opinion that giving books away translates to sales.  Sounds pretty anti-intuitive, I know, but from what I've read, it's supposed to work.  I tried a free day with Dying Embers.  356 people downloaded a copy.  Sales did not increase afterwards. What I did get was a boatload of sites pirating Dying Embers. I do Goodreads giveaways - where you can enter to win a copy of a paperback of one of my books along with some swag.  (I have one going on right now for Wish in One Hand, as a matter of fact.)  Not sure any of those entries turned into sales after the contest ended.  I did get a review from the winner of Accidental Death, though, so that was good.

I have goodies I give away whenever I get a chance.  Right now, it's bookmarks and postcards.  They're small enough to keep a stock of them in my purse and then handy enough for people to accept even when they're working the cash register at the store.  I like to think those do get me new sales every now and then.  Plus, I like giving them to people.  So win-win.

Occasionally, I'll give a paperback copy of my books to someone locally - the library, the local bookstore, etc.  Since the library system still hasn't cataloged the first two books I gave them back in... June, was it? I know I'm not seeing any sales from that.  The local bookstore gal passes out my books as loaners to people she think will enjoy reading them and maybe will tell others about them.  :shrug:  I enjoy giving her books, so I'm okay with not getting a return on that.

I know other writers have better swag - pens, kitschy items, bookbags, mousepads, etc.  But I'm not sure how that's translating to sales for them.  I'm sure it's promoting good will.  Right now, I can't afford to promote good will without seeing a return on investment. 

What kinds of givies do you like?  Which ones are more likely to encourage you to buy a book in the future? 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Remember and Live Your Life

I don't need to tell you what day it is.  But I won't admonish you to spend a single second in silence, remembering what those butchers and assholes did fourteen years ago.

Remember, certainly.  How could one ever forget?

But do not bow your heads.  Honor the fallen by holding your head up.  Take up arms in your own way by living your life to the fullest.  Walk around with your face uncovered and your soul free from guilt.  Play music.  Look at art.  Draw. Sculpt.  Write books.  Dance.  Have sex.  Drink, if you have a mind to - alcohol, coffee, rainwater... Do whatever it is that they say you can't do without breaking one of their asinine rules.

Be free and celebrate your freedom.

Don't let them have even one inch of your life.

A moment of silence?  Fuck that shit.  Live your life and be free.

Shout it from the rooftops.

"Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?"  I see it.  Do you?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

BloodFlow Cover Copy Tease

Hi All!

I said on Monday that I would share the cover copy I've been working on for BloodFlow.  It occurs to me that showing it now would make me a tease, since the book isn't due out until November.  But not showing it would make me a welcher.  So here it is:

Disgraced by rumor and her career in shambles, Agent Miranda Kruz knows she wasn’t assigned to investigate the high-profile death of a senator’s wife because she’s the best person for the job.  Her superiors want this to go away.  But when the autopsy uncovers a perfectly healthy but very dead woman, Randi can’t let her superiors push her toward shutting it all up.  Even if her only suspect is a microchip her bosses have been banking on to take care of the nation’s ‘immigrant problem’.  Project Hermes is their golden opportunity and they’ll be damned if they let anyone stop it.  They may be damned either way.  Something about Hermes stinks, and Randi intends to uncover its secrets whether the government wants her to or not. 

As more bodies fall to suspicious heart attacks, all Randi has to go on is a voice and the sinking suspicion that maybe the man who started this cascade of death isn’t the only one intent on dropping corpses all over the nation’s capitol.

It's rough yet, but it gives you the general idea of what's ahead. 

I also have a very rough draft of the cover, but I'm not sharing that yet.  It needs work to look professional and that's what I want to show the world - a professional cover. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Back to Work

Yeah, I know the 'holiday' weekend isn't over yet.  I've always been a bit confused about taking a day off to celebrate working, but that's a post for an alternate universe.  Anyway, writers don't work like other people, so weekends and holidays are often still work days.

So, of course, I'm working.  Not as hard as I have at other times this year, and not as diligently as I should be working, but I am working.  Right now, I'm reading through the beginning I already wrote for the next book in the SCIU series - a sort of unattached sequel to Dying Embers.  It's called Fertile Ground.  And it stars Agent Teri Buchanan - a rape victim assigned to catch a serial rapist.  (See a pattern?  Pyrophobic agent goes after serial arsonist/murder.)  It's a hard book to write and it's one the mainstream would probably toss me out on my ass for, but I think it's one that needs to be written, so I'm writing it.  Look for this one to release in maybe May 2016.

To the end of getting this book right, I watched an interesting show about serial rapist/murderer Dusty Rhodes last night.  A forensic psychologist interviewed him.  It was gratifying to know I'm already on the right track with my own villain. 

Also, I sent Bloodflow off to the editor this past week.  She already sent me a note saying she dove right in when she was supposed to be doing something else and loves it so far, which is always good.  I've been working on the cover copy for that, too.  Busy busy.  This book will release in November - good lord willin' and the creek don't rise.  I'll share the copy later.  I read it to Hubs, and he said 'Ooo, good one!', so I got that going for me.

What were you up to over the weekend?  What's on the schedule for this week?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Character Profile: Meet Ezekiel ben Aron

Ezekiel ben Aron

born: before Atlantis sunk beneath the waves, an original Israelite

Hair: curly black
Eyes: brown
Height: 6'
Weight: slim

Year of changing: I'm not sure they had calendars back then
Creator: Unknown

Marital status: currently unmarried
Djinn status: Free
Reason for status: He's says 'it's a long story', but I think he'd just prefer not to say.

Current residence: Mansion, south of Denver, CO
Current employment: Owner and proprietor, B.A. Security

Known associates: Hans and Frank (his bodyguards), Mary Killigrew, Jo Mayweather

Pets: After what he's seen and what he knows, he prefers not to have pets.