Friday, December 29, 2017

OMG, The Dialogue!

I was reading a book the other day by a new-to-me author.  The premise sounded interesting and the plot was doing a fair job of holding my interest.  Unfortunately, I had to DNF the book.  The dialogue... OMG, the dialogue... It was bad.  Like an example of bad dialogue in a 'how to write' book.  People don't talk to each other that way and after a while, I had to close the book to save my sanity.

Then I was working on the edits for Blink of an I - a novel I initially wrote early in my career.  And OMG, the dialogue!  It was bad.  I could hear the characters talking to each other in my head and realizing people don't talk to each other that way - not even way in the future after the world has fallen apart.  And I swear I must've used every dialogue tag in the Big Book of Dialogue Tags.  'He exclaimed', 'she hissed', 'he sneered', 'she whispered', 'he choked'... And I was all like 'who wrote this crap... oh, it was me'.

So, when I noticed this yesterday morning, I went back and re-edited the 45 pages I had already done.  So bad. So much dreck.  Bleh.  It took me all day, but it's fixed now.  And I'll scour the remaining pages to make sure as I edit along, I fix what seems bad.

Anyway, if you aren't already reading your dialogue out loud, do so.  If it sounds unnatural to you, then it will sound even worse in your readers' heads. 

"But, but, but," you say, "my book is set in Victorian England (or 2351AD or a million years BC or on Tahiti or in Jamaica or wherever/whenever) and they talk different."  Sure, they do.  But you'll find that no matter where or when your characters are, there will be a rhythm to their speech and there will be things they'll say or won't say, or natural ways they'll talk that will fit and feel right to your readers. 

Always work toward dialogue that will feel right to your readers.  The goal is to keep them reading, not to make them DNF a book for any reason.

So, anyway, Blink is on its way to being fixed.  There's a lot of work ahead and I still have life stuff I need to attend to, so I'd better get cracking.  Have an awesome weekend, and don't forget to watch that dialogue.  ;o)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Keeping Track of Sales

It's that time of the year again - time for the creation of new spreadsheets for the New Year.  Every year, I create two new spreadsheets to keep track of the year's sales. 

The first spreadsheet does the day-to-day stuff.  It looks like this:

Of course, you see the layout for Dying Embers at the top, but beneath that is each book with its own data and color - in the order I published the books in.  (So below DE is Accidental Death and then Wish in One Hand, etc.) Each color here corresponds to the color on the next spreadsheet. 

This, of course, is the big 'Totals' spreadsheet.  This one takes all the numbers from the first spreadsheet and spits them into a form where I can see where sales are at across the board in one place.  If you click on it, you can see there are tabs for different things I want to know - Overall Data, Overall by Month, Monthly Chart, Daily (which is units sold by day each month), Daily Pgs (for KU sales), Pages Read (which totals pages by book), Pages Chart, and then the previous years' info.  (You only see the 2017 tab here, but there are tabs for 2016 and 2015 as well.)

Here you only see January and February, but all the months are done.  I've hidden those rows so I don't have to scroll down to see the totals.  If you look, you'll notice a new brown row in February for the new book I'm publishing.  I add rows as I go along.  (Frankly, this is becoming a behemoth, but what's a gal to do.  Stop publishing more books?  As if.)

I think I'm also going to hide some columns this year, because I don't sell books at $3.99 anymore and I don't sell through Createspace's Expanded Distribution.  I might hide the D2D column, too, because I haven't done that in a while. :shrug: I can always unhide any of these when/if I do need them again.

I'm not really sure how much these spreadsheets are actually helping me, but I'm a geek and I like to see the numbers this way.  I like to think it helps me track whether advertising and discounts or freebies are doing what they're supposed to do.  I'll talk more about that after the first of the year when all the 2017 numbers are in.

Well, I hope all y'all weren't too bored with this post, and that it helps someone somewhere.  If you're a writer, how do you keep track of sales?  Do you bother?  If you're a reader, do you have any questions?  Feel free to drop them in the comments.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

From B.E., Hubs, and Kira-cat...

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, joyous and awesome holiday season - whichever holiday you celebrate.  May you all be safe and crime free in the days to come.  (Unless it's fictional crime, then have at it. :wink:)

And if you're looking for ways to fill that new Kindle or to fill the Kindles of your loved ones, all my books will be on sale starting Christmas morning and running through to New Year's Eve. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Clueless and That's Okay

They say 'know your market'. Well, let's admit it right here, folks.  I'm clueless.

I don't know what the market wants.  I never have.  I only know what I want.  And since I'm one of those weird eclectic readers, I want all sorts of stuff.  Thus, I write all sorts of stuff.

I happened to be talking with the manager of my local smoke shop the other day.  I hadn't seen her in a while and she asked how the writing was going.  I, of course, reached into my magic bag of all things and pulled out a bookmark for her.  She was blown away that I had nine books out.  (Last time we talked, it was like three.  Like I said, I hadn't seen her in a while - she's usually in the office in back when I stop to buy cigarettes.)  And as she looked at the bookmark, she's like 'you write all sorts of stuff'.  And I'm all like 'yes. yes, I do'.  She was excited about the suspense, but really excited about the supernatural stuff.  So I gave her my Once Upon a Djinn postcard, and then another bookmark and postcard for her mom. 

Sometimes I give people bookmarks and they're 'ooo, I love mysteries' or 'I'm not into paranormal stuff', though.  :shrug:  I like to be a little bit for every reader, if I can.

So far, I have two suspense novels, two mystery novels, four paranormal novels, and one political/medical thriller.  Now?  Now, I'm putting out a dystopian.  Which pretty much makes me nuts, I guess.

I'm in the process of editing said dystopian novel and I bounce back and forth like a rubber ball between 'I love this' and 'Everyone's going to think this is lame'.  Could be people will love this as much as I do.  Could be it'll languish in obscurity like Blood Flow (which I thought would fly off the shelves and hasn't).  I really have no clue.

And that's okay. 

You see, it's like I said.  I know what I like.  And it's also like I said that I'd like to be able to provide something for every type of reader.  Will every reader buy all my stuff?  Not likely, unless they're an eclectic like me. Will that build me a following?  :shrug:  I guess I have a minor following out there.  As I put more books out and more people discover me, the readership will grow.  Hopefully.

Anyway, it's probably not the smartest marketing plan in the world, but I gotta do my own thing.  I hope you'll come along for the ride, and maybe find something new. 

Speaking of new, my editor is not typically into reading dystopian, but she really enjoyed Blink.  Said it reminded her of her past love for Brave New World.  Yay!  If you were ever into BNW, or Anthem or Fahrenheit 451 or 1984, then look for Blink of an I in February. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Crime and Punishment... Or Lack Thereof

I'm not really sure what's going on in the world lately.  People are committing crimes and not being punished for them. 

The guy who shot that gal in California but was found 'not guilty' because he said the gun went off  - several times into a crowd - accidentally after he'd dropped it and picked it back up again.  He was already a criminal, but hey...

The woman who passed out from being high on drugs and let her child freeze to death on her porch.  No jail time.

The man who raped a 12-year old girl while wearing his monitoring anklet, who - if he'd been punished in the first place - would have been in a cage instead of walking around where he could ruin some poor girl's life.

The numerous people who get off on 'not guilty by reason of disease or mental defect'.  (Personally, I'd prefer they re-word that to 'guilty but insane' and then they still get punished.) 

Plea deals that let murderers walk free after 5 years.

Bleeding hearts who go easy on offenders who then go commit more, and often worse, crimes once they're let go.

People who commit multiple crimes but are only charged with one, and then get off lightly.


Punishment.  Crimes are supposed to include punishment.  Not reform.  Not help.  Pun-ish-ment.   It's supposed to be a deterrent.  Think about what you've done so you are less likely to do it again.  What deters a criminal if they are either never punished at all or are lightly punished for a heavy crime? 

Jus' somethin' to think about this morning. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Addressing Amazon Issues and Myths

If you're an author publishing through Amazon - and let's face it, that's about all of us - there is apparently some issue with the reports.  I've been getting an error message for the past week or so. I did some research last night by going into the community forum at KDP and it's not just me.  Loads of people are getting the same message with a subsequent drop in reported sales.  No need to panic.  I'm sure they're addressing the issue.  Also, some actual sales are showing up as free in the reports, even when your books are not free.  This morning the graph is telling me I gave away three books. None of my books are free right now.  However, the month to date report is showing them as sales, so it's all good. 

It does bring up an interesting quandary, though.  How do writers know whether the actual royalty deposits are correct when the reports are off?  No clue.  But there wasn't really a clue before.  I did see one person claiming this was a way for Amazon to steal from us.  Umm, and they call me paranoid. 

I guess we just have to trust that someone somewhere is keeping an eye on it.  Because, seriously?  There are certain people who are so hot to damn Amazon, you know darn well the company would be in deep shit if they tried to fudge this stuff.  So, it would be stupid of them to do it.  And they don't seem stupid. 

So, anyway, hang in there.  I'm sure this stuff will get cleared up eventually and we'll all get the money that's due us. 

In other Amazon related stuff, I saw a new report that Amazon is screwing us in the reviews.  The person posting this even had a link to Amazons terms for reviewing books, and guess what?  I read them and they don't seem any different than they were the last time some arm-waving fearmonger claimed Amazon was screwing us out of reviews.  Again, no worries here.  Yeah, reviews seem to be down, but it's across the board, not just at Amazon.  I think it has to do with people not wanting to write a review.  How many of us have a boatload of Goodreads ratings without corresponding reviews?  Yeah.  So, again, I don't think this is anything to get excited about. 

Hell, maybe the fearmongers who keep saying 'Amazon won't let you review that' are actually keeping people from trying to review books.  Jus' sayin'. 

Oh, and the whole thing about having to spend $50 at Amazon to be able to write a review?  It's not new and it's not stopping people from reviewing your books.  For one thing, it's cumulative across the entirety of your online purchasing lifespan and includes everything you've ever bought at Amazon (except gift cards, I guess.  :shrug:).  If you've never in your whole life bought more than $50 worth of stuff at Amazon, you can't write a review.  Who hasn't bought $50+ worth of stuff through Amazon??   I see this as a non-issue.  So, if you want to review a book at Amazon, go for it.  If they, for some reason, deny your review - reword it and try again later.  (I had a couple reviews get denied because they had curse words in them, so I fixed it and resubmitted and it worked.) 

Any other Amazon issues out there that need to be addressed?  Anything you've heard/read but haven't had time to confirm/deny yet? 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Crime at the Holidays

Christmas is the season where we're supposed to be all giving and full of the milk of human kindness for our fellow man.  Unfortunately, there are also shitheads who don't care and make this time of year their hunting season.  And then there are the people who use the stress of the holidays and the imbibing of alcohol as an excuse to commit crimes against other people.

So far this week, right here in the back of beyond, we had a murder in a house I pass every time I go to the park to go fishing.  One gentleman stabbed another repeatedly.  Early reports are that they were friends.  And the gas station, where I fill up my vehicle with fuel and myself with coffee, got robbed by an employee who also had a bunch of drugs in his car.  AND someone busted in the front door of the feed store where I pick up grain for the critters.  Assholes didn't get anything, thank goodness, but still, you really don't expect that shit in the middle of freakin' nowhere.

I assume most of you don't live in the middle of nowhere, though.  You're living in more heavily populated areas and thus must be even more vigilant than my fellow Ozarkians.  (I'm vigilant all the damn time because I have lived in big cities and little cities, burgs and towns and villages and rural locales.  It all made me watchful.)

I watched a video this morning of police officers asking whether a woman had locked her car before going into the mall.  She said 'yes, of course' and then another officer went to her car.  The back door opened right up.  Her alarms went off, of course, but by the time anyone would notice (or care... car alarms go off all the time and no one cares anymore), her stuff would've been gone.

They'll steal stuff out of your car.  They'll steal stuff out of your cart - like your purse, if you aren't paying attention.  They'll steal stuff off your porch...

I saw a report a few days ago of a city's police department leaving fake packages on people's porches around town.  The packages were equipped with GPS tracking, so when the assholes stole the packages, the police could catch them in the act.  Smart.

Anyway, be alert out there.  Stay away from drunks.  You know who amongst your friends and family can't handle their booze and become 'instant asshole' (instant asshole, just add alcohol).  Lock everything, all the time.  If you're having packages delivered, be home.  And if you can't be home, have them delivered to someone you know will be home or at your place of work or to a rented PO Box.

Don't let a criminal ruin your holiday season, okay?  And have as merry a little Christmas as you can.  Or a pleasant Hannukah.  Or whatever.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Early Editing

Good Mornin', Everybuddy,

Since I am editing - slowly, but still - I thought I'd drop some edit notes down for you.

This is for Early Grave...

>> Rewrite beginning. Make stronger.
>> If they're in the common area, Tess can't grab the quilt off a chest.
>> Mr. Harpton?  Ah, the groper.  Make these two separate people.
>> paychecks calling to Tess.
     ^ Not. She's living off inheritance.
> what she suffered through  (Tess
> whether he had any  (he would have
>> Add more descriptors to beg. Ch 2
>> the word of one woman
      ^ Nope. One detective, etc.
>> 13 old people @ 3 facilities?
>> His mother raised him to think
   ^ grandmother
   ^^ fix whole 'mom' thing
> Laurel Matthews?  Corey?
>> pissing contest in the first ten
    ^ make stronger
>> Eva Brown?? Seriously?  (Yes, played with it on purpose later.
>> You mention going to the funerals but never show it.  Why?
>> No page break before Ch4

That's most of the first page of notes - with super spoilery ones left out .  I realize it probably looks weird and isn't very understandable, but you get the gist of what my edit notes to myself look like.  Early on, I don't make a whole lot of notes about grammar.  I'm hitting the high spots on the first run through.  Grammar will come later after I tackle the big stuff - since I will probably insert even more typos and mistakes during the big edits.

Any questions?