Wednesday, April 27, 2016

And the Winner is... Not Me.

It's conference and award season in the writerly world again.  And I am kinda meh about it all.  Oh, I love cheering for my friends and favorite authors when they receive an award I respect, but for me?  I have no doubt that I will never win an award of any kind for my writing.

It's not that I don't think my writing is good enough.

It's not that I think I'm not worthy.  Or at least as worthy as the next guy.

It's that in the grand scheme of writerly awards, I don't count.  I don't belong to any organizations.  I don't attend conferences.  I don't schmooze.  Hell, I don't enter contests on a small scale, let alone one for a national award.  And they don't typically hand out awards to self-published authors who don't sell a shit-ton anyway.  :looks at sales data:  Yeah, no shit-tons going out the door anywhere over here.

Now, I won't say anything against awards.  If I did, people would just believe I was being all 'sour grapes' about them anyway.  Still, I'm not that jazzed.

Oh, I've entered a couple contests.  Know what would've been neat about that?  The prize money.  And the increased visibility which would bring me more sales, which would mean more people were reading my books, writing reviews perhaps, and talking to their friends about this award-winning novel they just read.

:shrug:  I don't expect that portion of the writing dream is in the cards for me.  If it did happen, that would be cool, but I also think it would be bikini weather in the fiery pits before that occurred.

I'll be happy if people buy my books, read my books, enjoy my books enough to buy the next one.  That's award enough for me. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

I Am So Over It

Years ago, in another life, I worked for a software training company.  I sold seats in the classes, I scheduled the classes, I loaded the software on all the training computers, and I taught a few of the classes.  I also helped break down an entire room full of hardware so it could be set up on-site at the customer location. 

This was back in the day of bulky monitors and MS Office on a bazillion 3 1/2" diskettes.  (Thankfully, it was also in the day of not needing a code key, so I could take one copy and load it 12 times.  I had an assembly line going with each new version of each piece of software.)  It was fun at the time.  Really it was.  Now?  :shudder:

But that's beside the point I was driving at.  Not that I'm not over loading software and schlepping hardware.  I am.  So.

No, this morning I realized I am totally over learning new software. 

Lemme back up a bit.  Last week, I got a new computer.  Well, a refurbished version of my old computer.  I did that so I wouldn't have to learn Windows 10.  Yuck.  Even that, though, didn't bring the realization to the forefront.  What did?  Well, it started when I couldn't find the installation CD for my image manipulation software.  And in my desperate need to have a copy of that, I even almost loaded a free copy of it from one of those virus-laden venereal sites.  (Yes, I applied internet penicillin almost immediately after I unzipped what looked like but wasn't MS Image Composer.)  Then I got the bright idea to go look for the damn CD online.  Surely someone has a copy they aren't using.  Yep.  Thank goodness for eBay.

This morning, Hubs asked when it was going to arrive.  Poor guy.  I gave him the answer and then launched into a diatribe about learning new software, which was when I realized that I am SO over learning new software. 

So.  Over it.

And I traced it back to the those couple of years at the training company.  In the course of two years, I learned:

Lotus 123 version 2.4 and 3.1 for DOS, and whatever Windows version was out then.
Wordperfect for DOS and Windows

Windows 3.1 and 95
(there were others, I'm sure, but this was 20 years ago)

And I beta tested countless others.  YOU try learning 3 different spreadsheet programs in varying versions and see if you don't end up a little tetched. 

So, why am I talking about this on Outside the Box?  Because I use that antiquated software to create book covers.  Sure, it has limited functionality on Windows 7, but I can get around some of that and I've learned to work with it.  And that's the point - I already learned it.  I spent the past decade plus learning everything about it.  And I ain't got time to learn the new software - which, btw, doesn't let me do what I can do with the old stuff.  (Not that I've figured out anyway.  Don't talk to me about GIMP.  Ugh.)  And I do not have the inclination.

Anyway, the software is ordered and will be on its way shortly.  (Fingers crossed they ship today.)  Luckily, I already finished the ebook cover for Fertile Ground.  If you want to see that, sign up for my newsletter and you'll be one of the first people to lay eyes on that - otherwise, you'll have to wait a week for the worldwide reveal. 

What's something that you are so over?  And feel free to rant about learning software or the constant 'new version addiction' that the programmers seem to foist upon us.  Misery loves company.  ;o)

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Tool of the Trade

My computer is dying.  Or, at least, it's making me concerned that it's going to up and die in the middle of my doing something important*.  Which is why I bit the bullet and ordered a new computer yesterday - even though it wasn't really in the budget and it might mean I do without a couple things this month.

Okay, so it's not new new.  It's a refurb.  At about a third of the cost of new.  And loaded with Windows7, so I don't have to worry about trying to learn new software while I'm also trying to work.

I also went with a very similar model to the one I already have.  A Lenovo ThinkCentre - desktop. No tower.  No learning curve there either.  I figured this one endured my abuse for six years.  If I get half that with the refurb, I'll be happy.

This is the tool of my trade.  Sure, I can write with pen and paper - and often do - but everything has to be digital in order for me to actually bring words to the readers.  (Even if later you can also get it in paper form.)  It's an investment.  This allows me to publish books, interact with readers, market, etc.  And I'd be a sad little writer if I didn't have one.

If it's so important, why did I go with a refurbished computer instead of a new one?  Well, I did the research.  Refurbished doesn't mean someone used the computer for years, beating the hell out of it until they no longer needed it.  It means that for one reason or other it can't be sold as new or it was one of a big lot that didn't sell out in the first place.  Or something.  Anyway, it's guaranteed.  (If you're going refurbished, make sure you get one that still has a warranty and that the seller has a return policy - so if something does go wrong, you're covered.)  It has a 30 day total return policy and a 1 year warranty.  Works for me.

And there's the price thing.  And the Windows thing.

Of course, this could bite me in the ass.  If it does, you'll hear about it.  Loudly and with much arm waving.

But it's the best I can do right now.  And it'll work - because it has to.

Anyway, I spent the better part of yesterday backing up files in case of disaster and so they'll be ready to transfer to the new workhorse.  Keep your fingers crossed.

*It's being a good girl this morning, or I wouldn't have written this post.  If you see less of me around the internets this week, it's because I'm trying to baby this until the other is good to go.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Rant. Profanity Warning. Yada Yada.

I was going to type out an open letter to book pirates and the thieves who frequent them, but then it occurred to me that none of them really care.  Oh, there may be a super small percentage who would feel guilty.  An even smaller percentage may even stop reading books they didn't pay for.  ROFL... lol... heh, yeah...

What else should any of us expect in a world where people expect free shit? And if the stuff isn't offered it for free, they're perfectly happy taking it. 

They don't care if someone had to work to provide it for them.

They don't care if someone else has to do without to provide it for them.

They only care that they don't have to provide it for themselves with their dollars or their effort.

Watch First 48.  You'll see dozens of people killing over their belief that they have every right to what you own - including your life.

Or watch the Presidential campaign. 

Hell, watch the news. 

So many people want free stuff.  I wonder if any of them even consider where their 'free' stuff actually comes from.  That commercial with the scooter sums it up pretty good.  You can get a motorized scooter 'at no cost TO YOU'.  Someone's paying for it.  We're all paying for it, actually - including the person who's supposedly getting it 'for free'. 

I've heard the rationalization that people only pirate books because they can't get the books in their own country.  Wah.  I've heard the rationalization that they read pirated books because they can't afford to buy books, so stealing them is the only way they'd be able to read new books.  Double Wah. 

Know what I did when I didn't have money to buy books?  I read the same ones over and over.  I went to the fuckin' library.  I went to thrift stores and bought ten books for a dollar (4 for a dollar now, with inflation). 

Know what you do when you can't get books in the country you live in?  You work to change the shitass country you live in so that you do have access to books. 

You don't steal. 

Oh, that's right.  Other cultures don't put the same value on personal property and individual rights as I do.  (Almost said 'as we do', but then I remembered that America is on the toboggan ride to that fresh hell already.  Bernie Sanders, anyone?)

What this means, for me, is that sooner or later, I'm going to have to stop.  I can't afford to keep funneling my time, money, effort, sweat, etc., into their thieving machines.  Free books for everyone = fewer authors willing to write quality books.  Free medicine for everyone = fewer competent doctors.  Free education = fewer quality teachers.  You get the idea.  No one wants to bust their asses and have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. 

Or maybe you don't get the idea.  Which is why all of this shit is not only occurring, but becoming more widespread every day.

Fuckers totally harshed my day.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Release Day Interview with A.A. Chamberlynn!

I'd like you all to give a warm welcome to my friend, Alexia - A.A. Chamberlynn - and help us celebrate the release of Martinis with the Devil!

First, a little about the book... 

When offered a job on the Holy Representative’s special security team, bounty hunter Zyan Star couldn’t be less interested – until she finds out it’s her most hated of exes that they’re trying to track down. He broke her heart and dumped her, which in turn led to the loss of her soul at the hands of an immortal soul thief. Now she too exists on a diet of souls, with the occasional martini thrown in for good measure, and she’s had over two hundred years to fantasize about revenge. She just didn’t quite imagine it playing out alongside the emissaries of Heaven.

Working with Eli, the uptight angel that heads up the HR’s security, is just about as much fun as Zy expects. He of course wants her vampire ex brought to justice through legal avenues, which is very inconvenient and incredibly boring. As she dives into the case, however, she realizes there’s more at stake than her plot for payback. Like, the free will of mankind, and preventing the minions of hell from taking over the sovereign dimensions.

This job is going to push her to the limits of her abilities, and there’s just a slight problem with that: the powers she’s suppressed for centuries after losing control of them are exactly the powers she’s going to need to save the HR, end her millennia-old ex and stop Lucifer’s little plot to join the party and invade Earth.

Savior of humanity? Not so much. Or so she thought.

Now, on to the interview questions: 

When did you start writing?

I started writing stories when I was about five and never stopped. At around ten I submitted my first story to a magazine (Ranger Rick!) and got my first rejection. At twelve I attempted my first novel, which was about horses.

What is your favorite genre?
Fantasy, specifically contemporary or urban fantasy. It’s my favorite thing to read and write, because I absolutely love magic and the fantastical. I like to be taken on an adventure outside the usual realms of possibility. 

What is the best thing about writing?
Being struck with inspiration for a new story, and then entering that raw, creative stage of the first draft. Anything is possible, and it’s just the best feeling ever. Some people are scared of the blank page, but I love it. Writing is magic.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I have a horse, and I train with him (he’s still young). I also do yoga, and I like to walk, and occasionally jog. Also a big foodie, so trying new recipes is fun (and drinking wine while I’m cooking!). Traveling is also a big love of mine. And reading, of course.

Who are your favorite authors?
Neil Gaiman is my current favorite. I also love Maggie Stiefvater, Erin Morgenstern and Laini Taylor. My early inspirations were Tolkien, Tad Williams, Tamora Pierce, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, and then a bit later Laurell K. Hamilton and Tanya Huff.

What inspired you to start writing?
I didn’t have that one defining moment that writers talk about. I’ve just always loved books and written my own stories. As I mentioned above, it was young, around when I was five. The first thing I remember writing was a story about a girl getting a pony for Christmas, which I wrote to manipulate my parents :)
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere. My mind is constantly churning. Without meaning to, I’m always asking “What if?” Something will pop into my head, perhaps something very minor, a single thought, and then a full blown plot, character or setting comes out of it. Also, dreams occasionally, though more often than not once I wake up I realize it’s not that cool of an idea, or big enough to carry a whole book.

Do you work from an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I need a very light outline to avoid writer’s block. Just a page or two so I know the general idea of where the story is headed. But I deviate from the outline often once I get started, and I love it when that happens! I like my muse to surprise me.

Tell us about your main character, ZYAN STAR.
Zyan eats souls to survive, she is an eternally damned soul thief. When I tell people this, their eyes widen and they’re always like, “and she’s your heroine?” She’s definitely a very flawed character. However, she chooses to prey on scumbags and criminals and stays away from innocents, though their souls are of course much cleaner and more pleasant to eat She’s a bit over two hundred years old, so she’s definitely become jaded and sarcastic about her existence, and has some major trust issues. She doesn’t take much seriously – she bartends most of the time, and is a supernatural bounty hunter on the side. Zyan cusses and drinks cocktails and runs around with a katana. She’s a super fun character to write – I absolutely adore her. Her voice comes to me more strongly than anything I’ve ever written. Hmmm, what would Freud say??

If you want to know more about A.A. Chamberlynn, here's her bio: 

Alexia lives in Florida. When she's not writing or reading, she can be found playing with horses, drinking wine, traveling to the next place on her global wish list, or maybe doing yoga. She is represented by Sandy Lu of the L. Perkins Agency.

And if you want to snag a copy of her book, Martinis with the Devil, click away:

Martinis with the Devil, Part One purchase links

Thanks for stopping by Outside the Box today, Alexia! 

Any questions for Alexia?  Drop a comment. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Interesting Stuff

Okay, time for an update... if you think those are interesting.  I know I do, but that's me. 

Here's how 2016 is playing out for me so far.

Books sold total: 143.41
Books free total: 3317

Umm, yeah.  That's lopsided, but believe me when I say that without those free books, I probably wouldn't have sold as many as I did.

Dying Embers is still my most sold title, but not the most sold this year.  That goes to Wish in One Hand - because I dropped the price and advertised.  Amazing how that works.  DE is still the leader in dollars earned, though.  With Accidental Death coming in a close second.  Blood Flow is my least sold this year - both in numbers and in dollars.  :wah wah: 

In Deep Wish is doing okay out of the gate, but not as well as I would've expected.  I mean, if I sold x-number of Wish in One Hand, it should follow that I would sell the sequel to at least a fraction of those buyers.  :shrug: 

I haven't done much in the way of advertising.  Which shows in the data.  I don't have anything planned.  I should.  I do know that.  I just don't.  I'll think on that some when I pull my head out of my manuscript this weekend.

Any questions?  Comments?  How's the year going for you?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I'm a Little Off

I'm a little off in more ways than one, but today I'm referring to the time-space continuum. 

Yeah, it's Tuesday.  Yeah, I forgot yesterday was Monday.  In my defense, I'm under deadline and I really have to get this edit pass of Fertile Ground done by the end of the day Saturday.  So that's pretty much all I have on my mind.  Editing.  And cover art.  It's almost exactly right on both fronts. 

Anyway, sorry for the dearth of posts here this week.  But you want the book, right?  Well, I assume you want the book and you want witty posts, too, but that ain't happenin' this week. 

I'll try to do something interesting tomorrow.  Well, today so that it's scheduled for tomorrow.  Maybe. 

I have about 80 pages worth of line edits left and then I have to go back and fix some things A.W.E. suggested in her edit letter.  By Saturday.  Totally doable, if I keep my head down.  Then she gets the manuscript again for 3 weeks so she can nitpick and find all the little things.  Then a couple weeks for me to fix that stuff, do another read-through, get it formatted, and get it uploaded for pre-order. 

If I set the release date for May 26th, I have to have it ready for pre-order by the 16th.  Totally doable. I think. 

Gah.  I still have to do a blurb for this sucker.  :adds that to the to-do list:

Question: Would you rather have a pre-order and then a firm release date, or would you rather I just loose it into the world and have it go live whenever Amazon gets around to it?  (I think they give like a 48 hour window without pre-release.)