Friday, January 29, 2016

News and Junk and Stuff

The first bit of news is that I have finished this editing round for In Deep Wish!  I did twelve hours worth of editing on Wednesday and then a couple more yesterday, and shot that sucker off to my editor for her final pass.  Afterwards, I was a total spazz.  Euphoria hit me and I now can be fairly certain the neighbors think I'm insane, but hey, who doesn't sing bad opera off their decks when they're happy?  Just me, eh?  Oh well.  This place - with the woods and the hills - is an awesome amphitheater.

The next bit is that starting next week, I'll be trying to do some fun things to get everyone excited about the launch of In Deep Wish in March.  I'm dying to show all y'all the pretty pretty cover, but I think I'll reveal that in the next newsletter.  (If you haven't signed up for it yet, get thee to the top of this page and click the Newsletter Sign Up Form tab.  Easy peasy.)  Here's a little tease for it, though. 

If you want to see the rest, sign up for the newsletter.  Seriously.  Or wait about week after the newsletter goes out to see the whole thing splashed everywhere.  Of course, the newsletter will also have other awesome morsels, so why not sign up?  It don't cost nothin'.

The stuff: I thought about having a few contests next month, but the turnout for my contests has been super-pathetic.  If you want a contest, say so in the comments and if I get more than a few people interested, I'll put something out there.  Maybe a free book or some swag or an electronic ARC of In Deep Wish.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

The junk?  If you've been waiting for the right time to snag one of my books, they're all on sale for 99 cents until tomorrow night.  So grab a copy now.  I won't necessarily be raising the prices on all four books, but I haven't decided which ones will stay inexpensive and which will go back to being more profitable for me.  Get 'em while the gettin' is good.

In other news, now that I have three weeks free from In Deep Wish, I can get back to working on Fertile Ground (SCIU #2).  I have pages of edit notes already done there, so all I have to do it enter them.  Then I'll also be doing a read-through of Up Wish Creek, in order to come up with some ideas for the cover artist and so that I can start the editing process on that.  It's on the schedule for August.  (Or earlier if I can swing it.)

I had something else to say, but then I got up to refill my coffee and lost it between here and the kitchen.  Any news or stuff or junk to share?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Writing is a Strange Thing

Writing is a strange thing.  It's drudge and depression.  It's glee and exhilaration.  It's doldrums and waiting and excruciating boredom.  It's not a profession I would encourage anyone to take up and it's one I would encourage everyone who has a story in their head to at least attempt.

It's weeks on end of staring at the same words over and over, moving them here and there, deleting them in one draft only to replace them in another.  Or it's staring at a blank page until the white imprints on your eyes and makes you snowblind.  Or it's hours slumped over the keyboard typing until your hands ache because the story is putting pressure on your brain and you have to get it out before permanent damage occurs.

It's weeping because you haven't seen a sale in days and then giggling because someone you never met said something kind about your work.

It's bipolar disorder and ADHD, phobia and neuroses whipped into a fine meringue.

Some days I want to chuck it all into the circular file and run screaming through the woods, frightening the deer and the neighbors. Some days I can't imagine ever stopping. 

Not quite sure which day today is.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ideas. Where do they come from?

A while back I had a reader ask via Goodreads where I get my ideas.  Well, it's a funny thing.  Part of me wants to give the old speech about 'the stork brings them' or 'they come from under cabbage leaves'... Oh wait, that's babies. 

I really don't have an answer for where ideas come from.  Not mine anyway.

Sometimes, I'll see something on the news and it'll spark an idea.  I have pages and pages of those in a file on my hard drive.

Sometimes, I'll see something on a fictional program or in a movie, and riff off that.  My first book was sparked by the movies Armageddon and Deep Impact.  I didn't like seeing Bruce Willis die and I sure as hell didn't like seeing the eastern seaboard destroyed.  So, I fixed it.  My second book came from something I saw about The Year Without a Summer (the year the supervolcano wiped out Tambora and threw so much ash into the atmosphere, they really didn't have a summer in places that ought to.)

A few times I asked myself a question and the story idea comes out of the answer.  For instance, Wish in One Hand is the result of my asking myself what kind of urban fantasy I could write that would be different from what's already out there.  Genies!  Of course, by the time I actually finished the book, Sonya Bateman was out there with her genie books.  And now there are others.  But I still think mine's pretty different. 

Then I asked myself what I could do with the genies to make the story more.  Genies are, by their nature, slaves.  What if my heroine is a freed genie who helps other genies get free, too?  And then I upped the stakes.  "What if there are people who don't like her running around freeing other genies?" "What if something is killing genies to prove a point?" 

I guess there's the real answer to the question - where do my ideas come from?  They come from 'What if?'  My brain is always running through possibilities and scenarios of how things could be different with a simple twist here and a zig there.  LOL, probably why I have a tough time sleeping.  My brain needs to shut the hell up long enough for rest.  But as they say, there's no rest for the wicked. 

I hope that helps answer the eternal question - at least about me.  Not sure what other authors would give as their source of ideas.  What do you think?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Snap Decisions

Okay, so last night I made the decision to take Wish in One Hand out of expanded distribution channels so I can slide it back into the Kindle Select program.  Yeah, I was going to wait until the end of the month, but since I've only sold 1 book through other distributors in the time I've had WIOH listed with those other channels (thanks for that, Stacy), I figured what the hell was I waiting for. 

I admit it.  I was tired when I made the decision.  And a little frustrated. 

First thing this morning, I remembered I have advertising going live on Friday that includes links to those other distribution channels.  I contacted the newsletter manager to see if she can change the ad to nix those links.

Later this morning, I remembered I have In Deep Wish going live in March and I was kinda planning on having both books available for wide distribution, and if I put WIOH back in the KDP Select program, I can't put it into wide distribution for 90 days. 

:eyeroll: :facepalm: :headdesk:

I'm usually pretty good at making decisions on the fly.  This week? Not so much.  I could blame edit brain, but really, that's no excuse.  I mean, I do have a lot on my mind, but I know that and I should've remembered NOT to make snap decisions right now.

So, anyway, I'll be going back and relisting WIOH, and take my lumps when it comes to the advertising.  Just don't click on any links for B&N, Kobo, or Apple until it's live at those places again.  Probably end of the week. 

How are you at making snap decisions?  Do they usually work out for you or do you have a couple horror stories to share so I don't feel so stupid?

Monday, January 11, 2016

The 50-word Blurb

Hey all.  It's marketing time again.  Still.  Ad infinitum.  And I want to talk about an intriguing concept I read about yesterday that kind of made me rethink my back cover copy, or blurb, if you will.

I've been tossing this around for a while now, but I haven't really implemented it until I read this post over at The Mad Genius Club - Blurbs: Short and Sweet.

The idea I've been tossing around is this - take everything that was hammered into you about writing a query letter and chuck that shit out.  In a query letter, you have 250 words to capture the attention of an agent who may or may not think your idea is interesting enough to work with you on getting it published.  With a blurb, you have seconds for a reader to decide whether they want to shell out their hard-earned money on your book. 

It needs to be faster.  Zippier.  Attention grabbing.

Think about it.  A reader scrolls through wherever, sees your cover, and clicks the link to see two things - 1) How many stars do you have? and 2) what is your book about?

We'll set aside the star thing for now.  But that's the progression - See the cover, see how many stars a book has, read the blurb.  If any of those fall down, you're screwed. I assume you've already got a neat cover.  The review thing will come or it won't.  So, that leaves you with the next thing you have control over - that blurb.

Chances are if the first few sentences of your 'product description' don't attract their attention, they aren't going to click 'Read More' to see how awesome your blurby prose is.  They aren't going to scroll down and read what awesome things your readers had to say.  They're going to move on to one of the other millions of reading material available.

Now, admittedly, I totally suck at this.  But I'm trying.  I spent a good portion of yesterday morning attempting to write what the author of the Mad Genius article suggested - a 50 word blurb.  50 words.  a 100K word manuscript with all its twists and turns and character intricacies boiled into 50 freakin' words.  Ain't an easy thing.

Here's where to start.  Stop thinking of it as a 100,000 word manuscript.  Don't worry about the intricacies.  I know you worked REALLY hard on all that.  I know the urge is there to weave it all into a glittering block of text to entice readers.  You can't.  Sorry.  It's impossible.  Sure, all that will be necessary to hold your readers' interest, but they really aren't to a point where they give a rat's ass about any of it.  They're at the 'I wonder if I should spend money on THIS book rather than THAT book' point.

"Should I eat at Olive Garden or Red Lobster today?"  That point.  They've already made up their mind that they're going out to eat. Which do they choose?  Well, Olive Garden's got this commercial where everything is cheesy and gooey, and there are those unlimited breadsticks.  Red Lobster's got steaming hot shrimp on skewers and appetizers that make my brain water.  Or they could eat at Joe Nobody's Family Diner.  No one's ever heard of it, but the way they describe their homemade meatloaf is mindblowing.  And they might be a little less expensive.

And if they're doing a good job, their meatloaf lives up to the expectations.  If you love it, you'll be back for another helping.

That meatloaf is your book.  The point is, you have to get them in the door.  You have to encourage them to buy a meal and stick around for dessert.  They eat good, they'll be back, but they can never come back if they were never there in the first place.

Draw the customers in.

I don't have it all figure out yet.  I do feel like I'm on the right course, though.  And if I fall down on this short and sweet blurb thing, I can always go back to the long and descriptive blurb.  That's the great thing about self-publishing.  If something doesn't work, you can change it without having to jump through a building full of other people.

So, here's the test blurb for BloodFlow. 

Agent Randi Kruz knows Project Hermes is killing people. But the government won’t allow anything to hamper their plans for microchipping the populace. Despite numerous threats against her, she has to uncover the truth before anyone else dies. Locating the madmen responsible will be difficult. Stopping them might be impossible.

What do you think?  And look at it with a reader's eye, not a writer's.  Like you're just someone looking for something to read and not looking to snag an agent. Would a blurb like that entice you to buy or to investigate further?  Maybe check out the Preview pages?  Perhaps read the reviews?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Tantalizing Teaser - BloodFlow

Good morning!

Today I'm gonna try something new and give you a tantalizing teaser.  This one is for my most recent release - BloodFlow.  I hope you enjoy it. 

“I remember my first autopsy,” Vic said as she grabbed the folder she’d been searching for. “I threw up on a fellow student and then passed out. It was not a pretty picture.”
“You or the deceased?” Randi joked.
“It was a floater. She’d been in Chesapeake Bay for a week or more. Bloated and little nibbled. She was absolutely disgusting.” Vic laughed. “But there are worse things.”
Randi could only hope she wasn’t about to encounter one of them.
“What thirty thousand pounds of metal moving at eighty miles an hour can do to the human body…” The woman’s dramatic shudder hit Randi like an earthquake.
“I only received the report from the first responders, but from that, I could tell it was pretty nasty.”
“Needless to say, skipping the coffee and Danish was probably a good idea.”
The doctor didn’t know how right she was. The very concept of food combined with what she’d probably witness this morning had her insides churning. Swallowing hard, she tried to get a grip on her weak stomach.
Following Vic down the hall, they went through a set of steel doors. There the medical examiner donned her gear and helped Randi do the same. She started the voice recorder to document every step of the procedure. The morgue’s staff had already prepared the subject for the doctor and she strode directly to a body that had been laid out like a Halloween buffet.
Randi had to stifle her gag reflex when the corpse was unveiled. Lila Reynolds was hardly recognizable as a human being, let alone the smiling woman on the YouTube videos.
“Well, I can tell you one thing straight off,” Vic said as she bent over the table. “She was deceased before the accident occurred.” She pointed to damage along what had to have once been Lila’s face. “This is post-mortem.”
“So it was a heart attack?”
She tilted her head to one side. “You know better than that. I’m not paid to guess.” Randi mumbled an apology and changed her ‘baking cookies’ opinion to ‘headmistress at a school for wayward girls’. “I should be able to have some close approximation after I open her up.”
Inch by agonizing inch, the examiner inspected the exterior of what used to be a human being. Every few seconds, she stopped to note a particular cut or scrape. Every mole or old scar got its share of attention, too. When Vic reached the woman’s neck, she stopped. “Take a look at this for me, if you would.”
Not exactly something she wanted to do, but it was the job. The examiner used an instrument to hold back the deceased’s hair. In an instant, Randi knew what she was looking at. “She’s been chipped.”
“Pardon me?”
“Sorry. Implanted. My superiors would prefer people not call it ‘getting chipped’.”
“No, I was asking ‘what are you talking about?’ not trying to correct you.”
“Oh. You haven’t heard about this yet?” Randi didn’t think it was possible, considering how often the news had been cheerleading for the project. Then again, Vic didn’t pay a lot of attention to the news. She claimed she saw enough tragedy at work without needing to see it at home. The woman’s tastes ran more toward The Food Network and BBC America.
“Project Hermes. It’s supposedly the latest and greatest answer to illegal immigration.”
“Tracking through electronic implant?”
“The chips are only supposed to be accessed in case of arrest and potential deportation. Basically, if you have one, you’re a citizen and get to stay. They’re very careful to point out that people can’t be tracked with these things.” Which, for Randi, meant they probably did exactly that.
“So they’re like the kind used for pets?”
A grin played under Randi’s surgical mask. She’d thought the same thing when she first heard about Project Hermes. Honey had been chipped by the rescue agency she’d adopted him from. “Exactly. They started the program a few weeks ago, but it’s all the rage with politicians and their families. Get chipped for your country or some such nonsense. It’s all supposed to be very patriotic.”
“I don’t like it.” Vic’s ideas mirrored her own.
“It’s not mandatory,” she added, suddenly feeling guilty. Her own employer said this program was essential to national security. “According to Secretary Dougherty, they’re implementing the plan as a precaution to protect citizens from being mistaken for immigrants.” The whole idea seemed unrealistic, but Homeland Security hadn’t put her on the list of people who got to voice their opinions.
“Doesn’t make much sense if you ask me.”
Of course, Vic wouldn’t be on that list either. In fact, Randi wasn’t sure who would be on any such fictitious list. The project was simply one of those things that politicians voted on while their constituents watched Wheel of Fortune.
“Although apparently, it made enough sense for someone to float the idea and then a whole bunch of someones to throw money at.” Vic looked from the minute scar to Randi and back again. “And they’re saying it’s perfectly safe?”
“That’s the idea.”
The doctor selected a scalpel from the tools on a nearby cart. One quick incision and she was holding the tiny device on the tip of her finger. “All the same, I’d like to run some tests on this little beauty. If someone wants to put one in the back of my head, I’d like to verify for myself it didn’t have anything to do with this poor woman’s death.”

If you're tantalized and want to read more, BloodFlow is available for purchase at Amazon (in every country where you can buy Kindle books) and at Createspace.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Business AND a Person

I'm a writer which means I am a self-employed business person. Or looking at it another way, I'm a business AND a person.  Everything I do computer-wise for either is done right here, sitting in my desk chair in front of my cluttered desk. 

I don't get dressed, get into my car, and drive to the office.  I get out of bed, use the bathroom, make a pot of coffee, and wander into the office. 

Which means that when I open my email first thing in the morning, I might get a note from a friend or a notification of a new chat message from my daughter, and an email from my mom, alongside pressing business stuff like a letter from my cover artist asking for approval of changes or a note that my marketing has been approved or rejected, and a notice from Paypal that someone has tried to suck money out of my account (only happened once and that was last year). 

Unfortunately, I'm not the kind of person who can usually put things off.  Which means dealing with issues before I am properly caffeinated.  I put off sending sensitive emails until I can word stuff without coming off like a total bitch, though, so at least I got that going for me.  I'm doing that right now, in fact.  I'll have to deal with it sometime this morning, but not until I've had a few more cups of coffee and at least one more cigarette.

It also means that shortly after checking my mail, I'm looking at my sales stats and updating my spreadsheets. 

Oh, I suppose I could be more business-like and not do work stuff first thing.  Set a time and not do anything work related until the start of my 'office hours'.  But that's just not me.  All the business things and all the personal things are rolled up into one entity.  Me.  Sanderson Enterprises - writing, publishing, veterinary services, catering, housekeeping, landscaping, marketing, secretarial services, tech support, grooming. 

Heh, I'm like a one-man Kelly Temps.  Which is kinda funny because I used to work for them.

Anyway, my business cards (if I ever had any printed) would say 'writer', but that one word encompasses so many things.  And I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go be a dishwasher.  Then I have to compose a reply to a marketing venue I'm dealing with.  Then I should probably exercise.  After which, I'll shower and then get back to work on editing.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Looking Back at 2015

Friday, I said I'd do a 'looking back' post here today.  Then it occurred to me I already did something sorta like that back in November when it had been a year since I started this self-publishing journey. 

Not a whole lot has changed since that post.  I have sold over 1000 books, which became my year-end goal, I guess. 

I know one thing for sure. I learned a LOT in 2015.  For instance:

1) Research everything.
2) Research everyone who's going to touch any part of your book as thoroughly as you would research the backgrounds of anyone who might watch your children or your pets. 
3) Friends are awesome.
4) Readers are awesome.  Even better when readers become friends.
5) Scary things are hardly ever as dire as they seem. After you conquer them, they're downright fluffy.
6) It's better to admit when something isn't working than to stick it out to the end. Even if it means pissing people off.  (Learned that one the hard way.)
7) There's no shame in asking for help. (Already knew this, but this year has been a big reminder.)

And I have a lot left to learn. 

I'm still in this for the long haul.  The budget might be a little tighter this year unless sales pick up, but I've trimmed some fat, so everything should still be okay.  In case you missed it, here's what's ahead for 2016.

What did you learn in 2015?  Ready to take 2016 by storm? 

Cool. Let's go kick some ass.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

First things first, we have a couple winners to announce here.  Deb Salisbury won a paperback of whichever one of my books she wants.  Fran won a postcard and a PDF copy of whichever one of my present or future releases she wants.  Both Deb and Fran need to contact me via email at besanderson at gmail dot com and let me know what their preference is.

The Goodreads giveaway for BloodFlow ended last night and I'm just waiting for the winner's info to arrive in my inbox.  The Goodreads giveaway for Wish in One Hand is through the end of today, so click the link and enter for a chance to win one paperback copy of that with the new and improved cover.  Plus I'm chucking in a bookmark and a postcard, cuz that's how I roll.

Okay, so with that out of the way, I suppose I should look back or look forward or something.  New Years Day is for stuff like that, right?  Except thinking about it last night, I realized that other than swapping out a new calendar and spreadsheet, not much will change.  Last year, I made the big change to self-publishing.  This year will be more of the same.  Fingers crossed that it's even better than it was.

And that's really what New Years means to me.  A hope for better things.  Even after a year that was pretty darned good - all things considered - I would hope for a 'continuing better things'.  Otherwise, it's backsliding or stagnation.  And who wants that?

So, my hope for you all is a wonderful New Year filled with special surprises - happy things and things that make you glow.  A year overflowing with better things.

And I'll be doing a look-back kind of post on Sunday over at The Writing Spectacle for more personal things and Monday at Outside the Box for professional things.  I hope you'll stop by.