Friday, March 30, 2018

Why Should People Read Fiction?

I see things all the time about the questions we ought to be asking ourselves as writers.  Questions we ought to know the answers to.

For instance, who's your target market?

I'm all like "I don't know... people who read?"

The other night, the question "Why should people read fiction?" was presented on FB. 

I'm all like "No clue." If someone came up to me tomorrow and asked me why they should read fiction, I'd probably be like 'if you don't already read it, I can't help you'. 

Or if they asked me why they should read my books in particular, I'd begin by asking them questions instead of giving them a straight answer.  "Do you read fiction?" Check.  "What kinds of books do you like to read?" If they name any of the genres I write, I'll give them a bookmark, point out which books meet their specifications, and let them decide.  If they still asked why they should read MY books instead of someone else's, I'd probably stare at them blankly.  Or maybe blurt out the answer, "because they're fun".  Which isn't really an answer when you think about it. 

The answer to why I read fiction changes with the time of day, my mood, current events, life, etc.  It's an escape, it's a stress reducer, it's research, there's nothing on TV, something pissed me off and I want to forget about it for a while, I'm procrastinating... 

Maybe that's why I can't come with an answer for someone else. 


Do you have an answer?  What would it be?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Morning Vent: A Concern for Us All

I'm not sure if all y'all read this over the weekend, but apparently Microsoft is making a change to their terms of service in which it bans users from using 'offensive language' on its software.  And if you get caught, they could take away your license and your ability to use the software you've paid for.  In some places, I read that Office 365 - and therefore the version of Word therein - is part of the plan.  In others, there was no mention of that only software I don't care about.

Now, I don't have Office 365.  I'm still running Office 7 (I think).  It's old enough that MS no longer supports it, along with my version of Windows, so I don't exactly get updates anymore.  I doubt this will touch me even if it does effect Word at all. 

But it does kind of touch me, in the ways it should touch us all.  You know, in the free speech arena.  Free speech is something we all should be concerned with, especially the writers among us.  We should be able to say and write whatever we damn well please, whether it offends someone or not*.  That's kind of why the Founding Fathers put that amendment in there.  And made it first.  It was that important. 

But... MS is not the government.  As a private business, it can prohibit whatever it damn well pleases.  And as a consumer, I have the right to stop using their software should their prohibition screw up my use of it. 

But... yeah, another one... this private business prohibition of free speech leads us all onto a slippery slope.  One company does it and then another and another until the government gets the idea that's what the people want and they vote to repeal the Amendment and take our rights away.  Which is pretty much what they're talking about with the Second Amendment right now.  It's bad stuff, folks. 

So yeah, the MS thing may not be touching me personally right at this moment, but it's touching me and you and you and you... You get the idea.  The problem is I'm not enough of a force to make any of it matter to MS.  I could boycott them, but I haven't actually spent money with them in years, and what I've spent has been such a pittance it would be like a mosquito biting an elephant out of spite.  And the spite would come around and slap the crap out of me instead of even annoying the elephant. 

I would need to buy a whole new computer - one that didn't have a MS operating system - and fill it with non-MS software.  (What is that now?  Do Wordperfect and Lotus even exist anymore?)  Convert every file I own to the new software... learn the new software...  get others I work with to convert...  Argh.

It would be better if people just stopped messing with the rights of others.  Know what I mean?

Anyway, I'm not really worried about it right now - other than on the grander scale.  I'll still be able to write the way I've always written and to the spreadsheet things and compute like I've computed for years.  Until they make me stop because I've offended someone, that is.

FYI - the villain in Early Grave (and others of my books) uses offensive language and terms.  She's a villain, for petesakes, not a little old church lady.

*With the exception of sedition, which is justifiably blocked.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Scanning the Scanners

A while back I started following a Facebook page for the people who monitor the scanners in Genesee County, MI.  Not sure of the reason, but I've been following it for a while.  Probably started to keep tabs on the crime in the area where my mother still resides.  Anyway, the other day she was telling me about something and I went to the scanner page to see if they had more info. Nope.  So I searched for related pages and found the one for Flint, MI.  I followed it.

It's an educational experience, lemme tell ya.  Not that it's telling me anything I didn't already suspect.  Crime in Flint is rampant and as out of control as it was in the '80s.

I looked for a similar page here, but no.  I guess we're too rural or something.  I searched Greene County, MO - which is Springfield.  Springfield is crimey enough that it's now a regular contributor to Live PD.  Hell, when I still watched the local news, it seemed crimey enough for me to think it was trying to compete against Flint for most crime-ridden smallish city in the US.  :shrug:  But no scanner page.  It would've been interesting to see.

Anyway, whoever contributes to these scanner pages on FB apparently listens to the local police scanner and then types up whatever it is they hear.  (Sometimes with horribly atrocious spelling errors, but I guess that can't be helped.)  For instance, Friday night there was a person with a gun in the lobby of a hospital located in the downtown Flint area.  There was also 'unknown trouble' at a local strip club, two calls to area bars, numerous domestic disturbances, several overdoses, lots of 'shots fired', and a fight involving 25+ people.  Makes me want to kidnap Mom and move her somewhere safe - if such a place even exists anymore.  (For the record, she does not live in Flint.  Just a suburb of it.  Which is bad enough, lemme tell ya.)

Personally, I don't have a scanner.  Like I said, rural.  It would have to have a really huge range to get me any kind of anything interesting.  I might maybe catch an accident call on the highway near here, but I can read about those in the paper later.    It might've been interesting to listen to when we had those two murders we've had near here.

Still, I'm finding it all interesting.  And who knows, I might find some story ideas in there somewhere.  ;o)

Edited to add:  Sometimes reading the scanners pages leads to trouble when the scanner doesn't give complete information and you read about an event near someone you know, but you can't figure out if it's them or someone else until it gets later in the morning so you can contact them.  It's Mondaying all over me this morning.  (It was not the person I know and love, but I had twenty interesting minutes trying to figure that out.   20 minutes, 3 cigarettes, a concerned email (too early to call and said person would be en route to work anyway), and a cup of coffee later I found an article with witness statements that told me for sure it wasn't my person. Ugh.)

Do you listen to the scanner or follow any scanner pages on FB? 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Blurb and Cover for Early Grave

Okay, with around a month or so until the publication of Early Grave, I figured it was about time to write a blurb (or back cover copy, if you will). 

Here's what I've got...

You’re never too old to die.

Nurse’s aide, Tess Harper finds great joy in helping the elderly. If helping them into their graves a tad early is any sort of help at all.  But she’s not doing it out of the kindness of her heart.  There’s no angel here, only death.  And she’s got the perfect prey.  Old people die all the time.

When the SCIU gets a request for assistance, Agent Ned Washington is on the case.  The local PD aren’t even sure they have a serial killer in their midst, but Ned will soon learn the truth. Dozens of old people have died throughout the city’s network of nursing homes, and there’s nothing natural about any of their deaths  The hunt is on and Ned’s got a killer to stop before she sends more innocent victims to an early grave.  

Grabby?  Not grabby?   Misplaced commas anywhere?  

And in case you missed it, here's the cover...

I'm shooting for a release on April 20th, but no later than the 25th.  So, about a month from now.  I can't wait to have this one out there for y'all to read.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Book Two Blues

First off, I didn't intend for any of my stories to turn into series books when I first wrote them.  Not the initial ones anyway.  Dying Embers?  Nope.  Wish in One Hand?  Nope.  Definitely not Accidental Death.  But I had such a wonderful reaction to all three of those that I found a way to make a series out of them. 

And without fail, the second book's sales tanked.  The 'Once Upon a Djinn' series as a whole did better once I finished the series, but In Deep Wish still runs behind.  Fertile Ground (SCIU) has only sold in the double digits.  And in the year since it's publication, Natural Causes (A Dennis Haggarty Mystery) has sold exactly 14.65 copies.  And that includes the one I sold during this sale I have going on. 

Not sure what the dealie-bob is.  Part of it is marketing, I guess.  I have no clue how to market a second book.  Do I pay for ads for the second book when I have no way of knowing whether any of those ads will have touched the people who bought the first book?  And I really have no clue how to get the second book out there in front of all the people who bought the first book, so they'll buy it, too. 

Part of it, also, is probably that these are the second books with no third book out there.  For the SCIU series, the wait for a third book will be over shortly when Early Grave hits the market.  The Dennis Haggarty series?  I have to write the third book before I can give anyone a firm date on when it'll be released. 

Thinking about it now, it's probably mostly the fact that I didn't intend for any of those initial stories to becomes series.  The people who read book 1 didn't have a clue I'd be putting out subsequent books, so they don't know to look for them.  Maybe if I'd been more on the ball back then, I'd have a better reception now. 

Oh, hell, it could be any number of things.  I have no clue.  But that doesn't stop me from running on the hamster wheel trying to figure out the answer.  The Book Two Blues... It's a thing.

And now, back to book three.  Early Grave only needs one last crutch word scoured out - JUST - and then I can send it to AWE.  Today.  Good lord willin' and the crick don't rise.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Shaking Things Up A Bit

I'm in the process of making a couple changes.  Yeah, yeah, I don't like change either, but sometimes we have to change things or they die.  In order to keep that from happening, I am doing two things:

1)  I changed the cover for Blink of an I again.  And this time it's more than just a color change.  I redid the whole damn thing, in hopes it will be more 'dystopian novel' than 'non-fiction, possibly textbook'.  It's still indigo.  It's just... well... here, you look at it...

I'm pretty proud of it, so if you don't like it, keep it to yourself, eh?  Still not sure if it's right, per se, but it's closer to right than the last one.  Anyway, that's Mary and in the background, the steps to Russell's shop.  I was gonna do a bridge, but I couldn't make it work right.  :shrug:

2)  I'm renaming Blood Flow.  When everything is said and done, it will be Project Hermes.  Just a new name.  The text inside, the cover (for the most part)... everything else will be the same.  The change should be pretty easy with Amazon.  With Createspace?  Well, I've read that it's a pain in the buns, but I think the re-titling is necessary to shift readers' minds to thinking this is what it is - a political / medical suspense, so there ya are. 

I've been dragging my feet on the renaming thing for like two years now.  Seriously.  I had the name picked out when I shifted the original cover to it's current incarnation, I just didn't have the cajones to make the switch.  I grew a set and got over it.

Fingers crossed both of these changes will lead to better sales.  Can't hurt, eh?

Speaking of sales, Accidental Death and Natural Causes.   Since AD is free and NC is 99c, you could get both.  Jus' sayin'.

Friday, March 16, 2018


The other day I saw a post to one of the FB groups I follow that went sorta like this: "Hi.  My name is... And I just got a deal with a big publisher.  My problem is I don't have the money they're asking for, so I was hoping you'd help out.  Here's a link to my GoFundMe page."  I went to the page, just for shits and giggles, and he'd already raised $250. 

Now, we can look at this two ways and neither of them are good. 

One:  He's an honest dude who is about to get screwed royally by his 'big publisher', because real publishers don't require you to pay them.  And he's already gotten $250 for the scam publisher. 

Two:  He's a scam artist who doesn't need any money for any big publisher, but he's gotten people to give him money already.

Either way, we need to be smarter about all this.  Now, I know my regular visitors and commenters are already too wise to fall for this.  Those of you just stopping by, don't get taken by this stuff. 

I know writers who've been in the query machine for too long might be reaching a level of desperation akin to being the awkward girl at the dance.  She'll dance with ANYONE who asks her, whether they smell or step on her feet or might possibly slip her a Mickey Finn and make off with her in the night.  Desperation is a killer.  Just say no.

Then I see another post to another group tonight and it's some dude with only one friend hinting that he might be a publisher who might be looking for new authors to publish.  Except he fucked up and used the wrong tense in his pimpage post.  Red flag alert for me.  And for one commenter.  But there were at least three other authors who commented, acting like that awkward girl looking for a dance.  :heavy sigh:

Before you get screwed, evaluate your own writing.  If it's better than what you are buying from the bookstores, start looking into self-publishing.  If people who aren't your besties or your family are telling you your work is awesome and wondering why no one's snapped you up yet, look into self-publishing.  SELF-publishing.  Not 'give some guy a bunch of money to publish your book for you'.  Find a reputable editor.  Get an honest and reasonable cover artist (or do it yourself, if you're so inclined).  Get the book formatted.  And upload it into the world.  Do your homework.  (The optimum word being 'work'.)  Do it right and do it yourself.  It'll cost some money, but all of that money will be going to actually getting your book out there in the world so readers can buy it.  It won't be going into some asshole's pocket.

DO NOT fall for these scamalamdingdongs. 

And for petesakes, don't donate money to anyone's publishing journey until and unless you know for sure whether they're getting scammed or they're scamming you. 

'Nuff said.  Any questions?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Be vewwy vewwy quiet.  I'm hunting gumption.  Heh heh heh heh.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Facing Rejection and Running Away

One would think that because I don't have to query anymore, I'd be past that whole rejection thing.  Umm, right.  I still have to submit my books, but not to get them published anymore.  Now I have to submit them to get them noticed. 

I'm talking about advertising.  You don't just get to send these people money and they'll put your books in their marketing whatevers (newsletters, FB posts, tweets, websites, etc.)  Nope, you submit your book and then wait for them to tell you whether your book is good enough to appear under their logo. 

So, sitting here over the weekend, thinking about the sale I'll be having on the Dennis Haggarty books, I went through the list of advertising venues I have.  This one already rejected Accidental Death twice.  So did that one.  That one would probably accept AD, but they're really expensive for free books.  This one might accept AD, but they wouldn't accept NC because NC has too few reviews.  That one might accept both, but previous ads with them have been lackluster.  And then there are the ones who make you pay up front and then reject you - returning your money afterwards, of course, but that's always a pain in the buns.

I ended up not making the jump to advertising with any of them.  I ran away.  I'm rejection averse. I'm also averse to spending money that doesn't give me an equal or better return.  Without ads, though, sales are non-existent. 

Anyway, I pretty much did the same things when I was querying.  I'd send out a bunch of queries, get rejected across the board, and then not want to query anymore.  Then, when I finally got the courage up again, I'd avoided certain agents who were particularly reject-y-ful.  Run away, run away. 


Damned if I do, damned if I don't.  I'm not sure what the answer is.  I'll probably blitz the FB groups, tweet a bit, and hope for the best.  At least I won't be spending money that way.

Friday, March 9, 2018


First off, you heard it here first - Accidental Death will be free worldwide from the 19th thru the 23rd and Natural Causes will be on sale for 99c or .99p (US / UK) from the 19th thru the 15th.  If you haven't read them yet, wait until then, pick up both, and save almost $5 off the usual cover price.  The links are over there ----------->

I'm still dragging my feet on Early Grave's edits.  It's not them.  They're fine.  It's me.  When I have the time, I can't muster the will.  And when I muster the will, I can't seem to do more than one chapter before I'm just tired of it.  This will pass.  And I'm not ready to thrown in the towel yet and move my deadline.  I suspect it's just the winter blahs hitting me late in the season this year.  Perhaps it's a bit of everything else going on in my life and my brain is toast.  Or maybe I'm just making excuses for my lazy ass. 

I'm stuck in the loop of pondering how much pimping of my own books on social media is too much.  I know I get annoyed when I see the same author constantly linking to their book in my newsfeed.  Six, seven, eight status updates in the same day?  And I know it's because they're posting to their own pages, plus to all of the groups I belong to, but come on.  It's overloading my nerves.  Then again, if you don't post to all the groups, you might miss a potential sale.  It's a balancing act.  And I suck at those.

Cover doubt is currently assailing me, too.  I loved Blink's cover.  Now I'm kind of hating it.  Bleh.  And I suspect it's making me hate some of my other covers now, too.  Bastard.  I just need to chill the hell out.

I really need to go fishing and blow air through my gaskets.  I'm mentally clogged.  Maybe tomorrow.  Until then, one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

All on Me.

Just so you don't think self-publishing is all happy faces and balloons, because it's not, let's talk about a less than stellar aspect of it...

It's all on you.

There's no one else to motivate your butt.  If you get up in the morning feeling like something someone scraped off their shoe, you can take the day off, but the work still needs to be done.  If other commitments crop up, the deadlines are still there.  Sure, they're self-imposed deadlines, but once you mention them out loud and in public, they're set in stone deadlines.  Mostly readers don't give two hoots in hell whether you had a rough time of it.  They care that you moved your publication date and now they'll have to wait however long to get the book you promised would be available to them on X date.

If your editing is poor, you can't point to a publisher and say 'they did this to me'.  (Same goes with cover art.)  You did it.  Or didn't do it, as the case may be.  All of the shit is, and should be, heaped upon your shoulders.

With all the control comes all the responsibilities of making sure all of this works.  And sometimes it sucks.

Way back in 2015, I had a craptastic cover.  I was kind of backed into a corner because I'd paid all that money and I had already promised the book would be out on a certain day so no time to put together a new cover.  (I really would've been better off with a brown paper bag than what I had.)  But as much as I am wont to whine about it, I chose the artist, I chose to pay him upfront, and I chose not to delay the book's release until I could give it a cover that didn't suck.  All on me.

Sometimes I wish I could hand all this off to someone else and say 'here, you be responsible for it', but that's only when I'm really tired*.  And there are days when I feel like a charcoal briquet I'm so burned out.

But there really isn't time for that either.  It's all on me - success or failure, hitting a deadline or missing a deadline, thrilling readers or disappointing them.  Personally, I prefer the former to all of those, so I quit whining and keep working.

*I am not really tired right now.  I wrote this post this morning as a balance to Monday's post. Okay, so I'm a little tired.  But there's always coffee.  I will hit this deadline if I have to stay up nights doing it.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Another Good Thing About Self-Publishing

There are loads of good things about self-publishing.  Sure, I'll admit it probably isn't for everyone.  And if it's for you, you're probably already aware of the good things.  If you're on the fence, though, here's another thing to sway you to the Dark Side.  (Yes, we have cookies.  We just have to make them ourselves.)

What am I talking about today?  The joy of updating your own books in pretty-much real time. 

Find a typo after the book is already published?  Worse yet, a reader finds one and emails you?  Egads.  If you're traditionally published, I'm guessing you're screwed.  (I wouldn't know for certain.  Maybe a traditionally published author will stop by and confirm or deny my assertion.)  I can't imagine the hoops you'd have to jump through to get the publisher to fix a typo - if they even bother for such a minor mistake.  If you're self-published, you can root out the flaw, fix it, and upload your book again.  It might take twelve hours.  (Amazon says up to 72 hours, but it's never taken that long for me.)  Usually, the corrected version is available for readers by the next morning at the latest. 

Now, over the weekend, I was updating back matter in my other books to reflect the addition of Blink of an I to my stable of novels.  Every time I uploaded one of my backlist to Amazon, it found a few errors.  Sure, some of them weren't really misspellings - for instance, in the phrase 'tox screen', tox is not spelled wrong.  And meth is meth is meth... unless you want to spell out methamphetamine which is a pain and characters rarely use the whole word when speaking anyway.  But it did find a couple boo-boos worth fixing and re-uploading.  Like for some reason I have a brainfart when it comes to spelling disdain.  I want it to be distain.  Derp.  (I have distain on my shirt that won't come out.  LOL)  (Yes, JC, we missed one.)

In this case, Amazon is providing an extra set of eyes.  My editor and I catch most everything, but we're not infallible.   In a 65,000 to 100,000+ word manuscript, stuff happens.  The big 'Zon caught, at most 16 errors in one book.  (Again, most of which weren't really errors, but it let me choose to ignore the issue on those things I verified weren't actual errors.)  Everything in every book got fixed or ignored and life is good.  And the experience is better for the readers.  Yay!

And yes, there's another other good thing about self-publishing.  You can update your back matter at the drop of a tissue.  (I haven't done them all yet, but I CAN, which is something you have to beg the gods of traditional publishing for on your backlist and hope they grant your prayer.  AD, NC, and BF are done.  I'll get the others today.)  Publish a new book?  Put a link to it in all your other books.  On several occasions, I've had people read one book after the other - I assume because I made it easy for them to find all my other books at the back.  It takes a few minutes for each book, but it's so worth it.

So, there's my thought for the day.  Still on the fence?  That's okay.  You can still make your own cookies.  ;o)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Early Grave Cover Reveal

Because I'm short of things to say today without ranting like a crazyperson, I thought I'd share what I have for the cover of Early Grave.  Not looking for suggestions here, just sharing.
And here's the series all together.
 I think they look good as a set.  And I think I did a good job keeping series continuity, considering I did not do the first cover.  But that's me.

Anyway, still shooting for late April.  In fact, if I keep to previous timeframes it might be more like mid-April.  Wouldn't that be super?