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?