Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Infamous Murder Case

Last night, Hubs and I were looking for something to watch when I hit an episode of A Crime to Remember on ID (Investigation Discovery) that we hadn't seen yet.  I don't remember the title, but it detailed a killing spree in Lincoln, NE back in 1957. 

The details seemed familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  So during a commercial break, I did some googling.  Turns out it was the Starkweather murders.

Not familiar with the Starkweather murders?  Billy Joel mentioned them in his song "We Didn't Start the Fire" - 'Starkweather homicides, children of Thalidomide".  Or if you've ever seen the movie The Frighteners, the bad guy in that says something to the effect of 'got me one more than Starkweather'. Oh, and I guess there was a movie based on the killing spree - Badlands, starring Cissy Spacek and Martin Sheen, in 1973. 

You see, 19 year old Charlie Starkweather decided he was going to do some killing one day.  No one quite knows the reason.  And he took his 14 year old girlfriend, Caril Ann, along for the ride.  They started out with a gas station attendant and ended with the murder of a traveling salesman.  Eleven people dead by the time they were through - including her mother, her stepfather, and her 2 year old baby sister.

Starkweather got the chair in June of 1959.  His girlfriend got life in prison, but got out in 1976 - perhaps because she was only 14 at the time of the murders and some bleeding heart decided she'd served enough time.  I dunno. 

She maintains she had nothing to do with the killings, but I'm not buying it.  Some of the details seemed... off... somehow.  In one case, he shot two teenagers - a boy and a girl.  The girl was mutilated with a knife afterwards.  Later, he shoots a husband and ties up the wife and the maid.  The wife and the maid were stabbed to death, but he claims they were alive when he left them.  A rifle was his weapon of choice.  Stabbing seems more her thing. 

She claims that he was holding her captive.  Of course, the fact that they spent 6 days in the house with her dead family and she did nothing to alert the authorities makes me think she wasn't quite the victim she wanted people to believe she was. 

The world will never know for certain. 

What do you think?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Business Stuff

It's the 26th of December.  By this time next week, it will be next year.  And you know what that means?  New spreadsheets for 2017! 

Yeah, I'm guessing you're not nearly as excited.  Neither am I.  It's a necessary thing, though.  So, this morning I created a new 2017 Sales Totals spreadsheet and a new 2017 Book Sales Data spreadsheet.

Last year, I totally screwed something up and ended up with a mess of both.  This year I'm hoping to avoid the mess because I made a template instead of creating a copy of the Book Sales Data sheet.  (Creating a copy somehow made all the formulas in the Sales Total Spreadsheet point to the new copy instead of the original, so when I wiped out the 2015 data, it blanked out my original Sales Total sheet.  It was awful.)  Fingers crossed this all goes super smooth this year. 

So, the new spreadsheets are there.  I still have work to do, of course, but they exist - waiting patiently for new sales to fill them up.  (Fingers crossed there, too.)

That's just a screen capture of the top of the sheet.  When I scroll down, all of my books are there in order of publication.  And each has it's own color, which then translates over to pretty lines on the Sales Totals spreadsheet.  It's like a rainbow.  And each month gets its own page in the workbook.  I've only created January and February so far, but I'll get to the others.  I have time.

It's just my totally anal way of keeping track of sales.  The Sales Totals spreadsheet has pretty graphs, too.  I'll probably show a few of those when I do a 2016 wrap up post next week.

If you're a writer, how to you keep track of sales?  If you're not a writer, do you use spreadsheets for other stuff in your life or work? 

Friday, December 23, 2016

All My Books Are on Sale!

Hey, Everyone!

Just in time for Christmas, and extended for a little after-Christmas Kindle filling, all of my books are priced at 99c in the US and .99p in the UK.  Now through Tuesday night! 

Like crime?  Try Dying Embers, Fertile Ground, or Accidental Death

Like political thrillers?  Give Blood Flow a whirl.

Into paranormal fun?  Check out the Once Upon a Djinn books: Wish in One Hand, In Deep Wish, and Up Wish Creek

Something for pretty much everyone on your list, I think.  And some fun things for you, too. 

I hope you all have the happiest of holidays! 



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Opening a Can of Whoop-Ass on Myself

Okay, so I posted that Stalled thing on Monday.  Then I gave myself a good, ol' fashioned ass-whoopin'.  There was much internal swearing going on.  It lasted about thirty seconds - which, in the scheme of an inter-brainial war, was pretty long.  And after I said 'yes, ma'am' to myself and got my butt to work.

Some people would call this 'negative self-talk'.  I probably called myself every name in the book.  Told myself I was being stupid.  Mentally shouted at myself.  And it worked.

Would I ever talk to someone else that way?  Probably not.  I'd get punched in the mouth.  But this is me.  I can't punch myself in the mouth.  (Well, I could, but it would hurt and I'm not into pain.)  I can also take it.  It's not like I was saying anything that wasn't true at the time.  I was being a whiny baby.  I did need to get off my ass and get to work.  I needed a little drill sergeant tactics to motivate me.  General Patton stuff.  I mentally slapped my own face.

I might need to do this again.  And again.  And again.  Until it sticks.  I did get like 4 chapters worth of edit notes down for Natural Causes and did 21 pages more on the read-through for Early Grave on Monday, so that's something.  But I didn't do anything again yesterday.  I went fishing instead.

:lifts booted foot threateningly aimed at own ass:

Yes, ma'am.

I will get some more work done today.  Before I go fishing because, if I wait until after, the chances of working drop precipitously.

Have you ever had to kick your own ass?  How'd that turn out for you?

Monday, December 19, 2016


I've been trying to work.  Really, I have. 

I open the file for Early Grave and I go to where I last stopped reading.  (I'm reading the 130 pages I already have written so I can get a sense of where to pick up the writing again.)  I read through for a while until my brain hurts from all the flaws (it's very first drafty) and then I wander off.  I'm on pg70 now, but I started doing this like two weeks ago, so you see how that's going.

About a week ago, I sent Natural Causes to my Kindle so I could start editing that.  And there my Kindle sat on the table where it charges.  Yesterday, I took my Kindle and a notebook into the living room to maybe prod me into getting my ass to work.  Cuz, like, it's taking up half my end table and I have to keep moving it to access the Kleenex.  Nope. 

At the beginning of the month, I read through what I have written on Wish Hits the Fan, got to the end of that, and realized I have no idea where I'm supposed to go next.  I think about it when I'm driving, and sometimes when I'm trying to sleep, but I still can't see my way through.

Sometime in mid-Autumn, I thought it might be a good idea to work on rewriting Fear Itself.  I'm 66 pgs in on that.  But I haven't been able to muster the urge to sit my ass down and work through this.

So, I began pondering the idea of going back to something completely different.  I have that modern day Arthurian thing I was working on.  I was really excited about that.  Or Sleeping Ugly.  That was a lot of fun.  But I can't get excited about those either.  Nothing's blowing my skirt up*.

Not sure what the answer is here.  Not sure what the problem is either, so that's probably why I can't find the answer.  I don't feel burned out.  Maybe it's a combination of things that I won't bring up here because who needs to listen to me piss and moan.  (As if this whole post isn't akin to a PAM session.)

Anyhoo...  I hope this explains a little why I haven't published anything since September and I don't have anything on a publication schedule and why you haven't seen a newsletter in forever.  I'm stalled.  I'd like to be writing.  I'd love to have something to offer you that isn't a half-formed blob of primordial goo.  But I don't. 

Maybe 2017 will bring me some gumption.  But like I said in my Sunday Update, wishing for 2017 to be better only works if you're willing to do something to make it better.  When I figure out what that something is, I'll let you know.

* My great-grandmother was fond of saying 'Whatever blows your skirt up' instead of 'whatever floats your boat.'

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Writing Ideas File

"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any." - Orson Scott Card

I don't know if I'd agree with the idea that seeing five or six story ideas a day means you're a good writer.  Or if not seeing that many means you're ordinary.  But, yeah, there are a myriad of story ideas out there in the world and we walk by them every day.  Sometimes they're a passing fancy that comes to nothing.  Other times they light a fire in a writer's heart and the only thing to do is sit down and start typing.  Most times, they just stick long enough to put them into a file for later use.

My 'Writing Ideas' file is at 8 pages long - single spaced and set as bullet points, so I can separate one from another. 

Some of them are just a kernel of an idea, like: Medical examiner w/ pet cadaver dog.

Some of them are fully fleshed.  (No example because I don't want anyone to write my idea.  Silly, but that's how I roll, baby.)  A few of the fully-fleshed ones are now books - Fertile Ground, for one.  Others are totally written, but haven't made it to book yet.  Some are partially written stories that I really need to get back to.

Reading through the list the other day - when I stopped to put a new idea at the bottom - I realized I still want to write most of these ideas.  Of course, I'd have to live to be 150. 

And I get new ideas to add to the list, so I may never finish - even if I do live to be 150.

Of course, it would help if I was actually writing right now.  Maybe reading through the ideas file will light a fire under my ass.  We'll see.

Do you have an ideas file?

Monday, December 12, 2016

What Do You Think?

Yesterday, Hubs and I decided to drive to a few spots and check out the lake levels.  It was dreary and had started to mist heavily, but we were determined to get out of the house while the temperatures were still above ass-freezing levels.

In one spot, we park the car and notice two other cars roaring up behind us.  They pull over to the other side of the area, next to each other, and sit there with their cars idling.  We get out to walk the 'beach' and notice another car pulled off into an impromptu 'road' in the weeds, sitting there idling.  We get out and walk down to the water.  As we turn to go back to our car, one of the first two cars zooms off. The other remains with his car idling and his window rolled down.

Point one:  This is not an area with the nicest of homes.  It's a local park in a little pocket of rundown trailers.

Point two: The occupants of all three vehicles were men in their late teens to mid twenties. 

Point three: None of the cars were nice.  One was a black low-end sports model with glass packs on the muffler.  Another was a green late model luxury car - like an old Lincoln town car or Cadillac.  The third was a black beater pickup.

Point four:  None of them left their vehicles while we were there.

They weren't there for the view and they didn't strike me as fishermen.  I'm guessing drug deal.  What do you think they were up to? 

Btw, we went elsewhere.  No sense getting in the middle of something when all we were wanted was to look at lake levels.

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. 


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


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.

Monday, November 7, 2016

WIP Reveal

Okay, so I said yesterday over on The Writing Spectacle that I would finally talk about what I'm working on.  I wasn't trying to tease, really I wasn't.  It was just such a depressing past couple of months and the only thing that finally shook me out of it was NOT talking about what I was working on.

So, without further ado, I'm back to working on writing Natural Causes (Dennis Haggarty 2), which takes place about a year and a half after Accidental Death.  Dennis has a new job as the chief of police in the mountain town of Last Ditch, CO.  He is enjoying his more laid-back existence when some hikers discover what appear to be the aftermath of a cougar attack.  Or is it? 

I had started this ages ago, but then I got distracted, and then I got depressed.  I'm over all that now.  I'm committed to finishing this first draft by the end of the month.  Not sure when it'll be ready for public consumption.  Fingers crossed that I can have it ready sometime next year.  I'm not giving a firm date because I learned that pressure strangles my creativity.  I know... I'm such a prima donna.  Who knew? 

Anyway, you definitely won't have to wait George R.R. Martin time-frames on this.  I'll get it done by the end of the month, let it simmer a bit while I work on something else, then edit it, then set up something with my editor so she can edit it.

By the way, appropos of something complete different, Blood Flow is on sale today thru Wednesday.  It's a Kindle Countdown Deal and it'll be 99c for the duration - both here and in the UK.  There'll be an ad in Bargain Booksy for this. 

That's it in the exciting news category today.  I hope you were excited.  Any questions?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Writing to 'Expec'.

You know, I really admire people who can write to spec.  (i.e. Writing to a publisher's specifications.)  They sign a contract and then write what they've promised to write.  I couldn't do it.  I can't even write when I think the readers are expecting certain things from me.  Or, rather, I can write, but it turns out crap and then I hate myself. 

I've known this 'can't write to spec' thing for years, but I didn't really think about it because I didn't have anyone expecting anything of me.  I learned it when I tried to write my second book keeping everyone else's writing advice in mind.  OMG, that was a horrible experience.  I mean, I fixed it for the most part when I stopped writing to expectations and started writing how I write again.  It ended up being a much better book and the crappy parts got fixed during editing.  (Still not ready to rework that one so it'll be publishable, though.) 

Problem is, I forgot.  Here I was, happily zooming along publishing books I'd written while I was still sans expectations.  Then I needed to write more books and everything I was writing turned into big piles of stinking manure.  Which made me hate myself.  And my writing. 

So I stopped.

I stopped writing, that is.  I didn't stop worrying about what other people were expecting.  In fact, the more I didn't write, the worse it got.  I made promises and I was breaking them all.  I had an editor who was expecting to edit another book this year.  I had a cover artist who was expecting to design another cover this year.  I had readers who were expecting more books... 

Arrggh.  Just typing that gave me the sweats.

Anyway, I stopped.  But this time I stopped worrying about writing to what I perceive are the expectations of others - writing to expec, so to speak.  Part of doing that meant I needed to stop talking about what I was writing, so no one would have an expectations and then I wouldn't have to live up to them. 

And I started.

I started writing again.  Right now, only one person knows what I'm writing and I told her last night.  Even Hubs doesn't know because I don't want to disappoint him if this all turns to crap again. He just knows I'm writing again and he's happy for me.

So, the plan for now is to just write.  Write this book.  Write the next book.  And the next.  Edit and publish them as I find the funds to do so.  I'm hoping next year will be a good 3-4 book year, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, I hope you readers stick around.  I know in this business you're only as memorable as your last book and the time between books makes readers forgetful.  I can't help that right now.  I can only do what I do, and hope it all works out. 

What about you?  Do expectations freak you out, or are you totally up to that challenge?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Going International

Last week, Elizabeth Spann Craig had an awesome post on Considering Our International Audience.  (Naturally.  She has many many awesome posts.  If you're a writer and not following her, you probably should.  She also writes some wonderful mysteries, so if you're a reader, you should check that out, too.) 

Anyway, her international post got me thinking about my international audience.  I know there aren't that many of you.  :waves:  But I do appreciate that you're out there.  Over the weekend, I got to watch as someone in the UK read pages in Kindle Unlimited.  They seemed to be slowly reading Wish in One Hand, and then they gobbled down In Deep Wish and Up Wish Creek.  (I assume it was one person.  Thanks! whoever you are.) 

Occasionally, I'll see sales in Australia and Canada.  Once I got some sales in Italy and in India. 

For the most part, though, I still haven't broken into the international scene.  I expect that's mostly because all of my books are in English.  I can't afford to have them translated.  I keep hoping that English-speaking folks in other countries will be looking for reading material in their native tongue and find me on those Amazon sites.  I know there are also military personnel and their families who are abroad in foreign lands who might want to read something from home.  I also hope that people out there who speak other languages but who also know English or are learning it might take an interest in books, too.

Not sure how to reach those people, though. 

Anyway, all of my books are available worldwide through whatever Amazon site you call your own.  I hope if you're out there in the world somewhere, you'll give my books a chance. 

If you're an international reader, give a shout out to your country.  If you're a writer here in the States, what do you do to try and bring your books to an international audience?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An Untrusting Sort

I grew up in a pretty safe area, out in the country where there was little traffic and no real reason for people to go there (unless the highway was closed and then they would detour past my house).  And, still, our house was broken into several times.  The first time was in 1976.  They ransacked the place.  And then the police came through and covered everything in fingerprinting dust. 

Then we got a dog and it didn't happen again until after that dog had passed away. 

I guess what I'm headed toward with that story is it's probably why I'm not exactly a trusting sort, even out here in the back of beyond. 

A couple years ago, a young man I didn't recognize in a car that had seen better days drove past the house.  It happened, at that time, that Hubs was out in the yard.  The young man stopped, and I could see them talking from my spot by the big picture window.  Something didn't seem right, so I grabbed my camera and snapped photos of the man, his car, his license plate...

Turns out he was WAY lost, but he couldn't also been scouting out locations to rob.  So, I filed it away for future reference if any of the neighbors should suddenly arrive at their weekend homes to find themselves short of their belongings.

A similar thing happened a couple days ago.  A beat up car, with two young people who I'd never seen before and who probably weren't here visiting, drove slowly past the house, then turned around in the neighbor's driveway and sped back out of the neighborhood.  Something about them tickled my sensors.  I didn't have time to grab the camera, but I did write down a complete description of them and the car and as much of the license plate as I saw.  Just in case. 

I've always done this.  Over the years, I've had probably hundreds of little scraps of paper with license plates numbers and descriptions written on them.  Most of the time my suspicions turn out to be nothing, but occasionally they turn out to be something.

When I lived in Utah, I began to notice a lot of late-night activity outside the apartment whose garage was directly beneath my bedroom.  So, I started taking down license plates and descriptions of cars.  I thought the two women who lived in that apartment were hooking.  (And I don't mean making rugs.)  I took my info to the complex office.  They followed up and took the information to the police.  Who then set up cameras.  Those women weren't prostitutes.  They were drug dealers.  Oh, yay.  The night they raided the place was scary and exciting and I sat on my bed watching the drama - because they woke me up and no way could I sleep through all that noise.

I guess this all helps with my writing.  The untrusting brain thinks of all sorts of bad things that COULD happen and weaves it into stories. 

What about you?  Trusting or untrusting?  Have you ever made note of things just in case they turned into something important later?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Where the Magic Occurs

So, I was sitting around Saturday morning looking at stuff and junk, when I realized that I didn't like my Twitter header anymore.  Which led to the bright idea to take a picture of my actual workspace.  Which led to this post. 

This is where I work - exactly as it is.  No retouching.  No cleaning.  Just my spot.  As is.  Kinda like me.  ;o)

So, there I am - laid out in workspace style.  You see my coffee mug.  You see my pack of smokes and my ashtray.  You see the myriad of writing utensils - one cup for pens and pencils, one for markers, and the last for highlighters.  Two calendars - the plain one on the wall for keeping track of things and my bird of the day calendar in the corner. (Today's bird is the White Tern.) There's also a photo of my mom and dad.  The remote goes to my little stereo, but I rarely listen to that. If you look closely, you'll find my headphones hanging from the drawer knob. Better to listen to tunes without disturbing the Hubs. The two books under my monitor are old Funk & Wagnalls dictionaries (A-L and M-Z).  The corner of the frame you can see in the upper right is a copy of The Declaration of Independence. 

For the record, those drapes are never opened.  And the window behind them leads to another room.  (I didn't design this place, so no clue why there's a window looking out on the sun room, but no windows looking outside.) 

Looking at this closely, you can also tell I need to dust.  Yikes, my keyboard.  Don't let the dust fool you.  If you could zoom in, you'd see there's no dust on the keys I actually use.  In fact, there are hardly any letters left on the keys I use most frequently.  Again.  I can't keep keyboard letters intact for more than a few months.

So, anyway, there I am.  Pretty much everything you need to know about me can be found in that picture.  (Okay, so you can't tell what's on the monitor.  It's a manuscript.  Naturally.)  All it needs is food and a little sculpture of a fish.

If you designed a workspace* that told your story, what would be on your desk?

*I didn't design it that way.  It just ended up being that way.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Crime in the News - Accidental Shooting?

A news story developed here in Missouri over the weekend.  An 18-yr old man was shot and killed by another 18-yr old man. 

Around here that's not usually a story worth following.  It seems to happen more and more around any city of more than x-number of people.  Even in the little outlying towns.


Initial reports claimed this was an accidental shooting.  The dead man was supposedly the shooter's best friend.  And it's all so very tragic.  He says he wasn't expecting the friends he had invited over to arrive from that direction, so he was afraid and fired a weapon.


One particular witness says that when the car pulled up, he heard the shooter call the deceased by name.

It still could be an accident.  The same witness says he heard "Oh expletive" either right before or right after he heard the shot. 


Why did he have a gun in his hand when walking out to greet friends?  Why would he have a gun in his hand when walking out to greet strangers for that matter?  Paranoia?


The shooter was the one to call 911, and he was standing there crying while the EMTs tried to save the other guy's life.  Could be he was genuinely sorry because he had accidentally killed his friend.

Could also be that he was fake crying to try and smooth the way for a lesser charge. 

He's been charged with 1st degree murder and armed criminal action.  Whether those charges stick or they plead it down to a lesser charge or the evidence bears out that it was actually an accident, time will tell.

What do you think?

(As always, I don't have all the details, but I've given you what I do have - minus the names and locations so this doesn't blow up all over the internet with for/against people stopping by here to bitch at me.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Crime in the News

Okay, so here's another crime news item for your consideration...

Recently, there was a shooting and an assault in the parking lot of a major retail chain.  Man shot.  Woman injured.  Man in custody.

My first though was 'domestic issue', and I was right.  The shooter was the woman's ex-boyfriend and baby daddy.  The shootee was the woman's current boyfriend.  And the woman was severely beaten by the shooter.

They found the dude.  A little while later, they found the gun.  Easy peasy, right?  One would hope.  But...

In a later interview with the shooter's ex-wife, we learn that this particular dude has a mean streak a mile long and a penchant for putting the blame on someone else.  And getting away with it.  "She was flirting with someone else" was apparently sufficient in one instance to get charges reduced after he beat his wife.  As if, even if it were true, her behavior was worthy of a beating.  Or the idea that because he had a single scratch on his face, she was also culpable in the 4-hour beating that she endured.

Now, don't get me wrong.  There are plenty of times when both parties are culpable.  And the above is only her side of the story.  But when you add in the various restraining orders against the dude, and his subsequent behavior against this other woman, it's easier to guess who's the aggressor in this case.

The ex-wife said she knew it was only a matter of time before he tried to kill someone.  She had been afraid it would be her.  Now, she's afraid he'll get out and come after her again, but she felt like she had to say something.

I haven't seen any more follow-up news stories on this yet, but I'll be interested to find out what happens.  And whether he tries to lay blame elsewhere again. 

Oh, and coincidentally, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Remember, people who love you should NEVER hurt you.  Get out.  Get help.

Your turn.  Thoughts?  Opinions?  Would you speak up if it were you?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Just the Facts

Hubs and I were watching a true crime show on Friday night.  I think it was 48 Hours.  Might've been Dateline.  Anyway, the evidence seemed pretty clear cut to me.  (Hubs, too.)  Even though it was circumstantial.  Neither of us wanted to stay up for the end, so I googled the case.  And discovered that the first trial had ended in a hung jury...

Let me back up a little.  This particular case was 30 years old.  A woman was found by the side of the road, barely hanging onto life.  She couldn't tell anyone what happened and she never would.  Her head was caved in.  There wasn't a great deal of physical evidence.  There were no witnesses.  There was only the man who found her.  Or rather, the man who said at the time that he'd been driving down the road and had seen what he thought might be a body, so he whipped a u-turn, and when he realized the woman was still alive, went down the street knocking on doors, looking for help. 

Then, after some further investigation, the man who 'found' her said that actually she'd been in his car with him, but she'd fallen out of his car on a turn.  Except the body was 200 feet from the nearest curve.  Except the woman only had the head injuries - no road rash, no messed up clothing.  Even her shoes were with her and she was wearing clogs.

But they had no real evidence, so the case went cold... 

Flash forward thirty years.  Her daughter, who was only a baby when she died, had badgered the local authorities into opening the case again.  Interviews of whoever was still around ensued.  Evidence - what little there was left of it (a lot of the case file had disappeared) - was reviewed.  It all boiled back around to the man who 'found' her.  Turns out he was a bouncer in the bar where she was last seen.  Turns out he had a new story that still didn't match the evidence - this time she'd fallen out of his car and hit her head on a mailbox pole.  (There was no mailbox anywhere near where she was found.)  It was all just a horrible accident.

Now, I've probably left out a bunch of stuff.  The guy, for instance, had been a model human being for the past thirty years.  The woman's boyfriend had been in and out of jail for the past thirty years.  A butterfly was probably flapping its wings off the coast of Chili.  None of that really mattered when you looked at the facts.

The facts were that the last person this woman was with had lied.  Repeatedly.  The evidence showed that her head was bashed in.  There was no evidence of anything that would resemble a fall from a moving vehicle.  And there was only one person in the vicinity who could've ended this woman's life - however you put together the pieces. 

If you strip away all the unnecessaries, the equation is simple. 

But, the first jury was hung.  The defense introduced theories to cloud up the simple equation.  The prosecution introduced theories which clouded up the simple equation.  2 + 2 = 4 turned into (6 divided by 2 -1) + (the square root of 4 plus 0) equals X. 

The next jury got it right.  Guilty.  15 to life.  (Which is apparently the most you can get in the state where this occurred.) 

My theory?  He offered her a ride home and tried something.  She said no.  She tried to get away and he whacked her in the back of the head, knocking her down, then he hit her a couple more times in the side and the front of her head.  Then he panicked.  He got in the car to drive away, but realized she wasn't dead, so he went back and tried to make it look like he was a concerned citizen, in case she woke up and identified him as the one who beat her.  I don't know for sure.  It's just a theory. 

No way, in any theory I could think of - and I thought about this a lot as I was trying to fall asleep that night - did 'accidental' come into the equation. 

Something to think about if you're ever sitting a jury, I guess.  Try to boil out all the unnecessaries and look only at the facts.  Make a decision based on those.  I'll probably never get to sit on a jury - not if the attorneys ask me any questions during jury selection. Which reminds me... I'm still on the jury pool here in MO until next month.  I wonder if they'll call me up. 

Have you ever been on a jury? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Value of Time - Part 2

I've been thinking about the whole 'value of time' thing and the hard numbers. 

For me, here's an estimate of how it works out...

My first drafts work out to be approximately 70,000 words.  I type an average of 1000 words an hour.  So, that's 70 hours.  Add another conservative estimate of 40 hours for editing it to the point where I can have my editor look at it.  Another 25 hours of inputting her initial edits.  Another 15 hours of inputting her proofreading edits.  Another 5 hours of final read-through to catch anything I might've missed.  2 hours of formatting. 

70+40+25+15+5+2 = 157 hours.  And that's if I don't make my own cover.  And it doesn't count research or networking or any one of a sundry other things I do to make a book happen.

157 hours.

At federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, that means a book would cost $1138.25 in labor.  Of course, the last time I had a job, I was earning roughly $19 an hour, so that's $2983 for a book.  And if I wanted to get freaky, when I was doing computer consulting, the company billed my time at $60 an hour, so that would be $9420, but they only gave me like $20 of that, so we're back to around $3000.

$3000 per book in labor alone. 

If I priced it that way, I'd only need to sell one. LOL.  But, like I said before, the market doesn't give a rat's hairy butt what it costs me to produce a book.  They only care about what they are willing to pay for said book.  Oh, I could charge $9.99.   I'd need to sell about 300 books to break even.  But when I raise my price, I get no sales.  Zero times anything is still always zero, and breaking even point moves farther away instead of closer.  True, I haven't tried raising the price to traditional publishing levels.  That's laughable to me.  I did try once to make one of my books $5.99.  Crickets.  Drop the price to $3.99, I get some sales.  Drop it to $2.99, more sales. 

Now, here's where it gets sticky.  I get even more sales when I go below $2.99, but then I also drop from a 70% royalty structure to 35%.  More sales, less money. 

For the same amount of work.  But, again, readers don't care about my level of effort. Well, unless my level of effort is low and the book is crap.  Then they care.  And I'm okay with that.  That's how it should be. 

I don't tell you any of this to make you feel bad that I'm doing all this work and only making like $2 a book.  That's life.  I'm pretty okay with that $2.  Sell a hundred books, get two hundred dollars.  Sounds good to me.  I'd get it all in cash and roll around in it naked, but that seems silly.  And if I wasn't doing this writing thing for whatever my hourly wage would actually work out to, I'd have to get a job working for someone else.  I could make $9.50 an hour at the Tyson plant, where it either smells like yummy chicken nuggets all day or it smells like rotten meat bad enough to make me gag when I drove past.  (I used to drive by the place to get to Walmart, so yeah, it's either yum or barf.)

Personally, I'd rather be doing this. 

Anyway, that's how it plays out here at the Sanderson Ranch.  Any questions?

Oh, and if your comment doesn't show up right away, it means I went fishing.  ;o)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Let's Talk Numbers Again

It's been a while since I talked numbers here on the blog.  But since I passed a milestone this past month, now is as good a time as any. 

This month, I rolled over $2K in gross earnings.  Yeah, it doesn't sound like much.  But I know there are authors out there struggling worse than I am, so I'm going to be content with that for now. 

Here's how that shakes out. 

First a look back at 2015:

Books sold: 1016.77
Dying Embers: 514.25
Accidental Death: 421.24
Wish in One Hand: 63.52
Blood Flow: 17.75

Now a look at this year so far:

Books sold: 556.57
Dying Embers: 297.23
Accidental Death: 45.28
Wish in One Hand: 98.73
Blood Flow: 7.04
In Deep Wish: 37.46
Fertile Ground: 62.28
Up Wish Creek: 8.55

Yeah, not quite the banner year I was hoping for, but I haven't really done much in the way of advertising this year.  Of course, it's hard to obtain advertising without reviews.  It's also hard to spend money on advertising when you don't have money, but that's my problem.  To make $2K since I started this whole endeavor, I spent around $7K.  The larger portion of that was spent in the first year, so I'm not as deep in the hole this year as I was last year.  So I got that going for me.

Lastly, if you're interested in review numbers, here they are:

Amazon: 27 reviews (4.7 stars)
Goodreads: 53 ratings / 17 reviews (4.13 stars)

Amazon: 7 reviews (4.9 stars)
Goodreads: 24 ratings/ 6 reviews (4.29 stars)

Amazon: 7 reviews (5 stars)
Goodreads: 13 ratings / 7 reviews (4.46 stars)

Amazon: 3 reviews (5 stars)
Goodreads: 4 / 2 (4.75 stars)

Amazon: 4 reviews (4.25 stars)
Goodreads: 6 / 4 (4.17 stars)

Amazon: 1 review (5 stars)
Goodreads: 2 / 2 (5 stars)

Amazon: 2 reviews (5 stars)
Goodreads: 4 / 3 (4.75 stars)

This is only for Amazon US.  I have additional reviews at Amazon UK that shake out about the same way.  No reviews on any other Amazon country site as far as I know.  I had a few reviews at B&N when I sold there.  And I know I have reviews at some of the pirate sites.  (yay, reviews... boo, book piracy)

Anyway, my books are well-received for the most part, so that's good.

Not sure where I was going with all this.  I hope it helps other writers see what's possible (although my numbers my not be indicative of anyone else's success or failure).  I hope it helps readers better understand the self-publishing thing.   

Any questions?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Breaking the Rules

You may have discerned that I don't appreciate people telling me what I can and cannot do with regards to my writing.  (Not without some actual basis in fact, and even then, I'm skeptical until I do my own research.).  When I was a new writer, I railed against all the 'rules' regarding querying, etc.  I followed them, but it grated my butt.  I followed them because the gatekeepers* wouldn't have given me the time of day if I hadn't. 

Now?  Eh.  I do what I want.  I threw out the notion of going through a gate and climbed over the damn wall. 

I'm not sure readers really give a rat's ass about the rules writers are supposed to follow anyway.  Unless they've been listening to the traditional publishing machine.  For me, as a reader, anything goes as long as it's done well.  Want to start a book with a character waking up?  Go for it, but do it well.  Want to start with a dream?  Works for me, as long as it works.  Breaking the rules of grammar?  Fine by me, provided you do it in such a way that makes sense.  (Dialogue is awesome for breaking the rules, because people don't talk proper in most cases.)

Oh, I'm still bound by rules.  They're in the back of my head with everything I read and everything I write, and every time I find myself facing one, I stop and try to figure out whether the rule makes sense or whether I'm just following it because it's accepted by a bunch of people I don't know.  If it's the latter, I throw the damn thing out.  Or at least set it aside and look at it later. 

What are some books you think might've broken some unwritten rule, but that you enjoyed anyway?  I keep going back to a short story I read years ago, by Bradbury I think, that was written entirely in 2nd person.  It totally worked for me and I enjoyed it.  And that's really all that matters, right?

*Yeah, there are gatekeepers in traditional publishing.  But I don't think you're supposed to talk about them.  I'm such a rebel.  LOL

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Value of Time

There's a meme going around that talks about writing as if it was some lofty, sacrosanct thing - giving readers a piece of our souls.  Bleh.  This.  This is part of the crux of the whole 'value of my time' thing.

The other day, I posted about my reasoning for pricing my books low.  A commenter there said something about writers devaluing their time by pricing books low.  Not just that person thinks that way, it's all across the range of authors. But I think they're wrong.

Lemme 'splain.  No, that would take too long.  Lemme sum up.

We don't get to choose how valuable our time is.  The market chooses that.

If I spend 100 hours writing a book, that's on me.  If I spend 200 hours or 400 hours, it's still on me.  It doesn't change the worth of my book to the people who buy it.  (If that was the case, the Game of Thrones books would be astronomically priced. I've heard he takes forever to write one of those.  I wouldn't know. I can't afford to read him anyway.)  If my book is awesome, people will buy it.  If it's gold-plated awesome with sprinkles, they might even be willing to pay more for it.  But that depends on how much they can afford.  Right now, with taxes through the roof and health care costs skyrocketing and grocery prices soaring, people can afford less and less.  Especially for sundry items - like books.

I'd really love to buy all my friends' and beloved authors' traditionally published books.  It makes me sad that I can't.  But thems the breaks.

You know, I would also love to eat nothing but Magnum Gold ice cream bars.  They look awesome.  Gold-plated awesome.  But my budget tells me to walk past them and snag the store-brand ice cream sandwiches instead.  Are Magnum Gold worth the higher price?  I guess so.  I've never tried them.  They're priced out of my range. And they're not a necessity to my existence.  They're sundry.

When choosing reading material, I have to watch my budget like a hawk.  If I only have $10, do I spend it all on one ebook?  Or do I buy 3 ebooks at $2.99?  Or 10 ebooks at 99 cents ea.?  You can guess which way I usually go - a mix of $2.99 and $.99 depending on what looks interesting.  (And when I don't have $10 to blow on books, I hit the thrift store and buy books 4/$1.)

I know not every reader is in the same straits I am.  But I'd be willing to bet there are more on my end of the budgetary scale than on the other end.  I price my books for those people. I want as many people as possible to read my books. And I can price them that way because I am self-published, and no one is standing behind me telling me I have to price them higher.  (Well, maybe there's a whole crowd of people back there, but I don't have to listen to them.)  The only person who has any say besides myself in the pricing is Hubs, and he agrees with me. 

Of course, we also joked early on that all I should price Dying Embers at $1000 and all I need to sell is one copy.  We both had a good laugh about that.

This, of course, is strictly my pricing strategy and my opinion.  Like I said, I have the luxury of being able to price my own books - something no traditional author has.   They might hate people like me.  I can live with that if the readers appreciate what I'm doing.  Then again, those TP authors might wish they could set their own prices, too.  :shrug:

I'm sure somewhere in the industry, people are suggesting that all authors band together and set an across the board minimum price.  Shame on them.  That's called 'price fixing' and it's illegal.  Also, it's a bully tactic and it's force.  Not a big fan of force over here.  And bullies should always get what they deserve - a swift kick in the pants. 

So, that's my two cents.  Disagree if you want to, but understand that no one is going to tell me what my books should or shouldn't be priced at - except the market.  And if you feel like you should've paid more for my books, feel free to send me money. LOL

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why My Books are Inexpensive

I'm not a wealthy woman.  I'm not even close.  Never have been.  Even when my husband was making good money, we were penny-pinchers because we knew that saving every penny we could would get us out there that much sooner.  Back then, I sold used books online to fund my book-buying addiction, but now, I live too far from the post office to make that a reasonable way to earn extra cash.  I keep the reins on my current book budget tight.  I have to. 

And I expect that the majority of readers out there are feeling the pinch, too.

Every once in a while, I'll see an impromptu survey on FB asking how much people are willing to spend on an ebook.  The results are usually around $3.99 with the occasional dip into high priced ebooks if it's an author or a series the reader really loves. 

My books are all $2.99.  Why?  Since I'm self-published, I can set whatever price I want to.  I could set them at what I think they're worth.  I could set them at what it costs me to put them out.  But who wants to pay that exorbitant amount?  LOL

I set them all at $2.99 because I don't want to feel like a hypocrite.  If I can't afford to buy a book higher than $2.99, how could I possibly expect readers to pay more for my books? 

Sure, if I sold them for more, I might be able to afford to buy higher priced books...  But it doesn't work that way. Since $2.99 also seems to be what the market will bear, setting the price higher will actually net me less money in the long run.  (Ask traditional publishing how that whole $9.99+ ebook strategy is working out for them.  Last I heard, they were crying that sales were down across the board.)

I read something the other day where a writer was basically damning Amazon for creating the push for cheap books.  And for sales sucking.  And indie authors are the culprits, too, because we're willing to make beans and driving the prices down...  Yeah, yeah.  Again, the market pretty much tells businesses what they are willing to pay.  And my market is telling me they want inexpensive reading material.

Of course, some of the same people who are demanding cheaper books are also damning cheaper books as being of lower quality, but that's a rant for another day. 

My point is, I set the price for all my books where I think people will be able to afford to buy them.  If you bought every one of my ebooks right now, you'd pay $20.93 for SEVEN books.  As opposed to the traditional publishing low-low price of $9.99 x 7 = $69.93.  You could buy all my books and take your spouse out to dinner for that amount.  Or pay part of the electric bill.  Or get your kids some new shoes.  (At Payless, but still.)

Jus' sayin'.

And, yes, the above only applies to ebooks.  I have to charge more for print because it costs more to produce them.  (Funny how that works, ain't it?)  And I have to be above a certain amount or I would end up owing Createspace money instead of making a little.  (Especially on their 'extended distribution'... but don't get me started on that.) 

So, there it is in a fruit cup.  I still hope to make money selling low-priced novels.  Volume is the key there.  Sell loads of books and then I won't have to worry if I'm making beans on each one.  I still won't be rich, but I'd like for this self-publishing venture to someday fund itself.  That'd be awesome.

What's the average amount you pay for books?  What's the most you'll pay for a book? Why?

Monday, September 12, 2016


This morning, I got to thinkin'.  Does anyone read the Acknowledgements anymore?  Did they ever? 

I mean, I know sometimes other writers read that section, if they're looking for an agent or a cover artist or an editor.  I know people close to the author read them to see if they're mentioned.  Sometimes, I'll read the ones in my friend's books to see who they thanked.  But, for the most part, as a general reader, I don't read them.

And I do it even less than I used to because with ebooks, the book opens up at the first line of the book (Chapter One or Prologue or whatever), and it takes actual forethought to scroll back and read them.  I usually just dive right in.  I'm more likely to read them in hardcopy.  They're right there as I turn pages to get to the story, so why not glance at them?  Right?

If you pick up a copy of Up Wish Creek and read the Acknowledgements, you might notice something.  Well, you might notice if you've already read In Deep Wish's Acknowledgements.  They're almost identical.  I read the previous Acknowledgements and all of it was still true, so I left it.  It's not that I'm not grateful to the people who help me, but since I'm a hermit, there aren't that many people to thank individually. 

I've started putting a Special Note right after the Acknowledgements, pointing people to other books in the series, but that's something a reader would have to scroll back for, too.  :shrug:

So, your turn to chime in.  Do you read the Acknowledgements?  Do you read the other front matter of a book?  What about the back matter - About the Author, or Other Books By? 

Friday, September 9, 2016

It's LIVE.

Up Wish Creek is live now. 

I said that I would have it published on or before the 14th, and I did it.  Five days ahead of schedule.  Okay, four and a half. 

Here are the links...

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU

If I missed your country, do a search at your Amazon.  It should be there.

And through this weekend, all of the Once Upon a Djinn books are only 99 cents ea (US) and whatever corresponding price at your chosen country.  All inexpensive.  But only through Monday.  I'll reset the pricing Sunday night and then Amazon will change it within 12 hours.  So, don't wait until the last minute.

Again, thank you for following this blog, for being awesome friends, and faithful readers.  I truly appreciate you all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Crutch Words


As I said yesterday on The Writing Spectacle, I have crutch words.  To most, these are words writers use on a regular basis in place of better, richer words, ostensibly because they are lazy.  Or in my case, have a boatload of bad habits that I am disinclined to worry about during the drafting phases. 

Also, in yesterday's post, I said I'd talk about those words here today.  Yah, I'm airing my dirty laundry.  :shrug:  Shtuff happens.

Anyway, here are some of the words my editor came up with this time around...

just - 152/56
even - 155/39
like - 290/110
then - 221/43
know - 135/45
again - 159/60

The first number is how many instance of that word I found when I highlighted them all.  The second number is how many I found AFTER I'd finished tweaking.  It took me about 6 hours over 2 days of finding and rewording. 

She did point out some words that I didn't bother with.  When I did a search of 'took', for instance, I only found 39 of those.  Compared to 'like', 39 was a non-issue.  Plus, I'm tired and a little cranky.  I apologize if the word irritates you. 

I also apologize to anyone who isn't overly fond of the word 'like'.  (Which, btw, includes child-like, likeable, etc.)  But there were places I just couldn't bring myself to change.  And the sentence "I like him, but I don't like him like him' chalked up 3 all by itself.

I really do try to make these books the best they can be.  But, as I say in my front matter, "Any flaws or fiascos in grammar, punctuation, spelling, research, etc. are entirely the fault of the author.  My editor probably pointed them out, and the author was too stubborn to change them."  I am kinda stubborn sometimes, as AWE will attest to.  

Anyway, I hope that gives you a little insight into the pre-publication process.  Authors really are out there working to make your reading experience as awesome as you hope it will be.  Thanks for reading.

And for an update... Once I read through this one more time, checking to make sure I didn't insert errors while I was fixing errors, I will be able to upload this for sale.  Check back throughout the week to see where that process is at.  When I know it's live on Amazon, you'll know it. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

News and Stuff

AWE (Awesome Wonderful Editor) got my edits back to me yesterday morning.  I hit them hard last night and I'm already through chapter 3, so I'm ahead of schedule to meet my self-imposed deadline of September 14th.  If I get it done sooner, you'll get a chance to buy it sooner.  Yay!

If you want an Advance Review Copy - one without all of the final edits, but still pretty much done - let me know and I'll shoot you a PDF.  I give you a copy, you give me an honest review.  K?

Oh, and since I didn't mention it, it's the ARC for Up Wish Creek (Once Upon a Djinn #3).  Here's the blurb I came up with:

For Jo Mayweather, genie life is far from perfect, but it was finally beginning to settle down after the incident where she accidentally glassed over part of the Florida Panhandle.  Her enemies have been quiet.  The Djinn Council has left her alone.  Her traitorous ex-lover has disappeared.  Finally, she has time to figure out who’s behind the conspiracy to ruin her life.  But setting her feet on that trail means discovering things from her past she’d rather not know, facing her parents in their newest incarnations, and getting a mission from the gods that she’s not sure she can complete.  All in a day’s work, right?  Sometimes Jo wishes she had a different occupation.  Too bad wishes don’t work that way.

It's up at Goodreads, if you want to add it to your 'Want to Read' list.

Right now, the other two books in the series - Wish in One Hand and In Deep Wish - are still 99 cents each.  I'll be making Up Wish Creek 99 cents, too, but only for a limited time.  Shop early, shop often.  Of course, when I raise prices again, they'll only be $2.99 each, so if you miss the sale, you won't be killing yourself.

I will be putting a newsletter out.  Eventually.  It'll have stuff in it.  If you want to see what kinds of stuff, click the newsletter button up there near the top, fill out the form, submit.  Easy peasy. 

And just for reading all the way to here, I'll give you a chance to win a paperback copy of one of my books.  Just comment and I'll draw a name next week.