Friday, February 24, 2017

Means of Execution

There's been a lot of hullabaloo about the death penalty and whether the means the state uses to execute criminals is 'cruel'.  I'm confused by this.  Every day in the US, animals are euthanized humanely.  Watch a few episodes of Dr. Pol and you'll see how humanely these animals are put out of their misery.  A shot of something to make them sleep.  Then a shot directly to the heart to end their pain.  (The animal control officer I used to work for did it the same way.)  It's quick.  It's painless, because they're asleep duh.  And it's probably a helluva a lot cheaper than what they do to execute criminals now.

But let's step away from that for a moment.  Every day, thousands of people are knocked out so that surgeons can cut them open and play around with their insides.  No pain at all.  I know, I've been there.  Once, I had a procedure using a local rather than a general.  The operation took longer than they thought it would, so I started to actually feel what the surgeon was doing.  Not pain.  It just felt like he was touching the inside of my leg.  Gross, but not painful.  I told the anesthesiologist what was happening and he put me all the way out before it reached painful.

Why can't the prison system use those drugs?  They're awesome drugs.  You get sleepy and kind of loopy and everything is wonderful, then you fall asleep and don't feel shit until you wake up.  They just wouldn't get to the 'wake up' part. 

Derp.  It all seems really simple to me. 

But let's step away from that, too.  So, they're worried about violating the 'cruel and unusual' part by drawing out the pain before the death.  It seems to me that beheading was probably way quicker.  Hanging, if done right, was pretty quick.  Unless they screwed up the knot and the prisoner suffocated rather than getting their necks broken.  Firing squad?  Nah.  That one seems like it would take too long.  The electric chair was pretty quick, but I don't know about painless.  Drawing and quartering is flat out. 

But let's step back one more time.  I know we have a law against cruel and unusual punishment.  But who determines what's cruel and unusual.  Personally, I would think sitting on death row for decades would be cruel, if not unusual because there are so many people in that situation right now.  The hope that maybe this next appeal will be the one that will save them from their fate, only to have that hope dashed?  To me, that's cruel. 

And when we consider the cruel and unusual thing, the cruelty of having these criminals kept alive for decades to the actual victims never seems to come into play.  But maybe that's me.

Anyway, it all seems pretty simple to me.  Knock 'em out.  Take 'em out.  And way more humane treatment than they ever gave their victims. 

Jus' sayin'.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tips for Sprint Writing

Monday I wrote about sprint writing.  Again, it isn't for everyone.  But if it's something you're interested in doing, I'm going to talk a little bit about how to get 'er done.

As you're writing what they refer to as a 'dirty draft', don't worry about getting things perfect.  The point is to get things on the page.  Which brings me to the most important advice I ever received about writing: Give yourself permission to suck.  That's what first drafts are for.  Sucking. 

Which leads to the second important piece of advice: Don't think about how bad what you've already written sucks.  OMG, this first draft of Wish Hits the Fan is a hot mess of epic proportions.  I know that.  And I'm totally not sweating it.  I can't sweat it, because if I do, I will not be able to write another word in this book until I go back and fix everything I know is wrong with it.  Words do not get on the pages that way. 

Next, don't get bogged down with research.  If it only takes a minute or ten, go for it, but we all know that researching one thing can lead you down a warren of rabbit trails that could take hours to get free from.  If it's crucial to your story, stop writing and do the research, so you can move forward.  If it's not crucial, put a note in your work :research X: and then you'll know for when you edit.  I did a boatload of research back in October when I was first working on WHTF, and damned if I didn't forget to write it down, so now I have no clue what I meant when I wrote what I wrote, but I'm not sweating that right now either.  I'll figure it out and give the nameless being a name.  For right now, it's :research this: followed by :nameless thing:. 

Whatever it takes to forge ahead. 

Lastly, if you really want to do this, do it.  Don't tell yourself you can't do it.  If you tell yourself you can't, you're right.  If you tell yourself you can, you're right and you're getting words out.  Don't let anyone else tell you that it's not the right way to write.  What the hell do they know about your writing process?  Now, set your ass down and write.  Spew those words onto a page in some kind of coherent order.  (At least coherent enough so you can figure out what you meant when you go back to edit later.)  Before you know it, you'll have a chapter and then another and another.  As long as you stick to it, 30-60 days down the road, depending on your goals, you'll have a book from Chapter One to THE END. 

And that's that. 

Oh, and if you're like me, keep the Aspercreme handy.  Sprint writing is hard on the old hands.  My fingers are pudgy sausages of ouch this morning.  ;o)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sprint Writing

I've heard NaNoWriMo, where the goal is to write 50K words in 30 days, compared to a marathon of writing.  Personally, I think it's more like a series of sprints.  Unless you are actually writing all those words in a row without stopping, which I think is damn near impossible. 

A series of sprints that add up to a marathon maybe?  A marathon of sprint writing, perhaps? :shrug:

Anyway, I'm doing something similar this month.  I'm trying to complete the first draft of one book before another book comes back from my editor.   Here's what something like that looks like...
Screenshot from my email where I've mailed the file to myself every night.
So, you can see the progression on WHTF (Wish Hits the Fan).  I started out the month with the 4128 words I'd left off on back in October '16, which I'd started back in September.  I sat down on February 3rd - which was when I'd finally decided what book I was going to work on - and was off to the races. 

I started out slow because I wasn't quite certain where I was going, but as I went along, the word counts jumped.  Almost every night, I sat my ass here and wrote something.  (Missed three days, which ain't bad.  The 5th, the 10th, and the 18th?  I'm claiming those as mental health days. LOL)

Sprint writing over a long period of time isn't for everyone, naturally.  Hell, when I first tried it way back in like November of '06, it was freaking hard.  But you can train yourself to it, I think, if you really want to be a faster writer.  Which is why I did it in the first place.  Training for the day when I would be a published novelist with deadlines and junk.  Once I commit to writing, I can now crank out the words.  And they aren't crap words either.  Better and better with every quick manuscript I write.  (I think.  We'll see how much editing I have to do on this sucker when I'm done.)

Now I have to train myself to do this or something like it every month.  Speed editing followed by speed writing followed by speed editing and so on so on so forth.  As you can see from the above pic, I have the speed writing down, but lollygagging from October to February isn't kosher.  (Okay, so I did finish writing and then editing Natural Causes in there, but I want more.)

Anyway, there's what a month in the life of sprint writing looks like. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Fourth Book

Last night, I rolled over 30K words in Wish Hits the Fan, which should be about halfway through a typical first draft for me.  Except I feel like I'm coming up on the culmination of everything.  Oh, there's still tons left to write ahead of me, but I'm not feeling like there's 30K words worth.

Oh, I'll add some more words back in through the first 30K.  Like always, there are huge chunks of nothing but dialogue.  And huge chunks where I was rushing to get the scene on paper.  When the fingers are flying, there isn't always time to engage the wordsmith part of the brain.  I mean, I cranked out 2700 words in two hours last night. Loads of stuff but I suspect very little depth of feeling in there.  And I think I need to go back and weave in backstory from the other 4 books.  Plus, I think I need to write that scene instead of giving it a short sentence.  And...

Well, Wish Hits the Fan is a sequel, but it's also the culmination of the story arc.  I'm committed to making this the final book in this arc.  (There may be subsequent djinn books, but the story that began in Wish in One Hand will wrap up here.)  And I have a lot to wrap up. 

It is coming together.  I'm really pleased with the way all the loose ends are weaving the tapestry into a cohesive picture here. 

Not sure what the word total will be on this one.  Wish in One Hand was a behemoth in comparison to say In Deep Wish.  This?  We'll see.  All I know right now is that the writing is coming along fast and I'm feeling good about it.  I know the end.  It's written on a sticky-note beside my ashtray with other stuff on top of it so I won't be focused on writing to the finish line. 

Eleven days left until the end of the month.  Fourteen days until my editor has had Natural Causes for a month.  This close.  Can I write all the words I need to write to get to THE END in 2 weeks?  Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Talking Covers

It's getting nigh on time to think about cover art again.  Once more, I'll be doing the art for my next book.  I did Accidental Death's cover, so it's only fitting I do the sequel, Natural Causes.  Right? 

Word on the street from regular folk is that they all seem to be drawn to AD's cover. 

I show them the bookmark with all my covers on it and they invariably point to AD and say 'ooo, that one looks interesting'.  So, I need to try and capture that with the next cover.  I have the background, I think.
Although, I have been playing with finding an old headstone or wooden cross or something.  Or maybe an old cabin in the woods.  :shrug:  It depends on what Morguefile has available. There'll also be a figure standing looking into the scene like with AD, and of course, the title, etc.  They'll have a similar flavor, so it's easy to tell they're from the same series. 

Like these two:
I paid someone to do the cover for Dying Embers, but I did Fertile Ground myself.  I think they have the same flavor.  Dark.  Disturbing.  LOL, maybe that's just me.  (And yes, Dying Embers and Fertile Ground are still on sale.  Thru Saturday.  Snag a copy while you can.)

Anyway, I'll be working on that between now and the middle of next month, so I have something to show when I announce a launch date. 

Speaking of covers, I saw what I think it a horrible one this morning.  All it showed was a man from mid-chest to upper thighs, wearing a business suit, and in the process of unzipping his fly.  I'm like ew.  I know it was supposed to be sexy, but it made me think he was getting ready to take a whiz.  Nothing romantic about that.

What really grabs your attention about a cover?  What turns you off?  Do covers really make that much of a difference for your purchasing choices?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Bookiversary to Me!

Today's the official 2nd anniversary of the publication of my first self-published novel - Dying Embers!  Yay, I made it two years with most of my sanity intact.  (Well, what little of it there was to begin with.)

To celebrate, I've got Dying Embers and Fertile Ground on sale for 99c each in the US and .99p in the UK from now until Saturday.


I'm running contests on my Facebook Page today.  Go over there and Follow the page, if you haven't already, and join in the fun.  The first one up is for a $10 Amazon gift card and all you have to do is comment on the post.  The FB thing?  I cancelled it.  Only one person than me even 'liked' it and no one commented.

Right here, right now?  Well, all you have to do is comment and get in the running for a paperback copy of Dying Embers or Fertile Ground (your choice).

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Tip

Stay away from places you aren't supposed to be.

It seems to me like a large majority of people who get into trouble are somewhere they probably shouldn't have been anyway.  I know, I know... It's a free country, so anyone should be able to go anywhere they want without fear of being accosted.

Should be. But there are a lot of things that should be that don't necessarily jibe with reality.  And don't get me started there.

Ahem.  Back to the original point.

If your instincts say 'don't go there', then you probably shouldn't go there.  Convenience stores late at night, the bad part of town, inside stranger's vehicles, poorly lit parking lots...

When I was younger, I ended up in places doing things that instinct told me was a bad idea.  I got extremely lucky.  Getting into a car with a guy I only just met in one bar to go to another bar, thus leaving the safety of my friends' company and the ride I came in to waltz off with stranger dude.  Lucky for me, he took me home when I asked.  Which brings me to the other stupid thing - I let him take me to my home, so if he had been a psycho, he then knew where I lived.  Or the many times I spent walking city streets alone at night.  Not smart.  Lucky, but still not smart.  (Hindsight is 20/20 after all.)

Listen to the voice that tells you this is a bad idea.  (And it'll talk to you if you haven't drowned it in alcohol.  Jus' sayin'.)

And stay safe out there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Crime in the News - Deadly Duo

Recently, a couple went on a killing spree.  I've seen them referred to as serial killers and I've seen them compared to Bonnie and Clyde.  And, for once, I agree.  They're criminals just like that famous couple.  Period.  Romanticizing thieves and murderers ain't my bag.  Even if they are in their own twisted romantic relationship. 

Anyway, they finally caught the duo.  She came out when the police told them to come out and then everyone heard the single shot of him killing himself.  One less asshole living on the taxpayers' dime, if you ask me. 

Oh, sure, I'd like to see people like that get the justice they deserve at the hands of the courts, but then again, that shit costs a lot of money, so if they choose to take the more cost-effective way out, I can live with it.

Not quite sure what's going to happen with her.  Likely, she'll say he did it all and she was a helpless dupe.  I hope they have evidence to the contrary - if, in fact, she wasn't a dupe.  I've seen too many instances where I thought it was pretty clear the woman was involved, or even the mastermind, but she got off on the 'he made me do it' defense.  Umm, yah.

Despite all the progress we've made in women's equality, there are still a lot of people who think a woman couldn't possibly do all the bad things.  :shrug:  I suggest those people read Kipling.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tax Time

All the 1099s have arrived, so that means it's time to do the taxes again.  Which meant, for me, a hunk of time spent entering receipts into Excel, because I never keep up with that stuff and leave it all to the last minute.

Supplies, Equipment, Services, Postage, Marketing.  Those are my receipt types.  With columns for dates, amounts, vendors, and what the thing was exactly (paper, ink, etc.)  Last year, by my reckoning, I spent about $2K getting three books to market.  More than I made, but less than half of what I spent the year before, so I guess it's all good. 

Yeah, I do my own taxes.  We aren't to the point yet where I can't handle it.  If things change, we'll hire someone.  For now, I slap down the money for Turbotax (Home and Business, I think?) online.  I've been using them so long that they have all my pertinent information going back 10+ years and I'm used to them.

The other day, when I went to print my 1099s off Amazon, I discovered they've streamlined the process.  Previously, they issued a separate 1099 for each Amazon store (i.e. each country plus Createspace).  This year, it's all on one 1099.  Woohoo.  Let me tell ya, entering each of those 1099s last year was a pain in the patootie. 

Then I thought I was off by like $20.  I spent some time wondering where the hell I went wrong only to remember that the last two months of 2016 haven't been paid yet and the last two months of 2015, which were paid in 2016 were about $10 lighter than this year's.  And then I realized I had like $10 on my Draft2Digital 1099.  Eureka!  I love it when the numbers match.

Anyway, I'll be plugging away at that stuff sometime this morning.  After more coffee.  And my Monday call to Mom.  They should be done today, though.  Which is good.  And then I won't have to worry about it anymore.  Get 'em out of the way early, I say. 

What about you?  Are you a do them ASAP kind of person or do you wait until April 14th?  And if you're in another country, how's tax time in your world?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Two Years

The second anniversary of the day my first self-published book went live is fast approaching. 

Two years ago, on February 13th, Dying Embers became available for the world to read.  It didn't take the world by storm, but it was out there and people were enjoying it.  (4.6 stars / 28 reviews - yeah, baby)  And that, my friends, was the point of all this - to get my books into the hands of people who would enjoy it.

To further that mission, Dying Embers will be on sale for 99c from the 12th thru the 18th, so more people can enjoy it.  And, if they like it, they can pick up a copy of the next book, Fertile Ground (which may also be on sale, if I can swing it with the timing.)

If you enjoy them, I'd really appreciate a review.

Anyway, I'll be running some contests and junk that week on my Facebook Page, here, maybe elsewhere.  Keep an eye out. 

And I want to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported me these past two years, and all the years leading up to it.  You guys rock.  :hugs:

Thursday, February 2, 2017

That's Done, What's Next?

This was supposed to post yesterday, but I must've hit 'save' instead of 'publish' or some such thing. And here I was wondering why I wasn't seeing any comments.  Derp. 

Without further ado...

Hi All!

Last night (night before last now), I finished the second round of edits and sent Natural Causes off to the most awesome Janet the Editor.  Fingers crossed she likes this as much as she liked Accidental Death, and that it's as scrubbed as I think it is.  If all goes well, I'm shooting for an early April release.

Which means I need to get the back cover copy done and, of course, create a cover.

But I have two months to do those things, soooo...

What's next?

I have Early Grave (SCIU #3) I could work on.  OR I could get back to working on Wish Hits the Fan (Once Upon a Djinn #3).  ORRR I could pick up something completely different.  Like getting back to making Fear Itself a publishable thing, or going back to that dark urban fantasy thing I started, or that fun urban fantasy thing, or that fun mystery thing...

Decisions, decisions.

Most likely it'll be either serial crimes or the genies.  Depends on what grabs me when I get ready to sit down again.  Which probably won't be today.  I am a crispy writer after the marathon editing thing over the past few days.