Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas! Here's a Present!

Since my writing is really the only gift I have to give, starting today the book that started it all, DYING EMBERS, is free.  (And the other two SCIU books - FERTILE GROUND and EARLY GRAVE - are only 99c.)

DE is free through Saturday.  FG and EG are on sale through Monday night.  Grab one or grab them all.  Send them as gifts to friends and family.  If you already have them, thank you so much.  Your support means the world to me.  I wish I had a prezzie to give you, too.  :hugs:

Merry Christmas to you and all of your loved ones.  Here's to a Happy New Year for us all.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Whatever You Do, Make it New

I've seen three different books marketed as 'retellings' of Beauty and the Beast on FB and/or book newsletters this past week.  Which is kind of sad for the authors who put all that work into their books only to have them all marketed around the same time. 

It's possible they were all published at different times and just ended up being marketed at the same time.  Maybe when each of them came out there weren't that many retellings of that tale...  Except people have been retelling that tale in one way or another since the tale came out.

So, how does one differentiate oneself in the marketplace when the stories are all so similar? 

Perhaps the answer there is to NOT market your book as a retelling of BatB.  It doesn't change the story, but perhaps it changes the readers' perceptions of the story.  Tell readers what your story is about instead of falling back on the 'this is a retelling' thing.

John is a beast of a man--rude, belligerent, and definitely in need of a shave--who has learned to stay the hell away from other people.  Mary's a beauty whose looks could launch a thousand selfies.  During a hike in the Rockies, Mary gets lost and winds up on John's property.  She'd leave, but he's holding her until the cops arrive to arrest her for trespassing.  A snowstorm forces them together and love ensues...

That sort of thing.  Yeah, the blurb sucks, but it ain't my story to tell.  Still, you get the drift.  It's BatB retelling, but it doesn't wave a big banner in your face telling you, it shows it to you.

Show vs tell... just as important in your blurbs as it is in your writing.  Imagine that.

I mean, look at You've Got Mail.  It's a retelling.  It's Shop Around the Corner for the 1990s. (By the way, SatC was also retold as In the Good Old Summertime.)  And all of it was apparently a retelling of a Hungarian play, which makes sense if you've seen SatC because it's set in Hungary.  Imagine if YGM was marketed as a retelling instead of a whole new story.  It probably wouldn't have done as well as it did.  No one is as excited about a regurgitation as they are about a new thing.

Imagine if West Side Story had been marketed as a retelling of Romeo and Juliet.  The common moviegoer would've been all "Shakespeare?  :yawn:"

Whatever you do, make it new.  Find something to set it apart.  Maybe then, readers will be encouraged to buy your book instead of yawning and passing on yet another retelling. 

Just a thought.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Rest of 2019 is a Wash

In case you missed it on yesterday's post at The Writing Spectacle, I talked about giving up on writing for the rest of the year.  And giving up on talking about writing.  And how it will probably mean a loss of posts here at Outside the Box.    If you stop by here on regularly scheduled posting days and there isn't anything new, I hope you'll stop over at The Writing Spectacle.  The posts there won't necessarily be writerly, of course.  I talk about all sorts of stuff over there.

I'm doing this because, right now, I'm not writing and everything I have to say about writing is depressing.  Plus, I think that talking about writing, or lack thereof, is actually not doing me any good as far as writing goes. 

Don't worry.  I am not quitting writing or this blog.  I'm merely taking a break.  Or as Hubs is fond of saying, "When you're lost in the woods, just stop."  It's a time to get my bearings without further thrashing around getting more lost.

Maybe it's like trying to coax a rabbit out of hiding.  The more noise you make and the more you try, the more it will shrink away from you.  But, if you sit very still, it may come out of its hole.  :shrug:  It's a theory.

Anyway, thanks for following this blog.  I hope you'll continue to do so in the coming year.  I'm not entirely sure there won't be any posts here between now and then, but I wanted to give you a heads-up that the regular schedule won't be regular.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Not Here Today

Since I don't have anything writerly to talk about today, I decided to post over at The Writing Spectacle.  Head on over there if you want to read about us tromping around in the woods trying to determine our property line.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Time Again for Spreadsheets

I said something yesterday about doing a post about spreadsheets over here today.  Then it occurred to me that I've probably done a similar post in years past.  So, basically, if you've heard it all before, you can skip this post.

If you've been around here long enough, you know that I'm kind of a spreadsheet geek.  (Okay, I'm a geek in other ways, too.)  I make spreadsheets for all sorts of stuff - books I acquire, weight loss, word counts, expenses...  I also do spreadsheets for work, but that's another story. 

I like being able to see the data, track the data, research the data.  Look for patterns, compare  numbers, check for errors, etc.  Whether any of this does me any good is anyone's guess.  It keeps me out of trouble.  Right now, it's the time to start working on the spreadsheets for 2020.

My two main writerly spreadsheets are for tracking book sales.  There's a small one and there's a big one.  The small one - Book Sales Data - feeds the big one - Sales Totals.

Any time I see any sales activity, I plug it into Book Sales Data.  That one has tabs for each month and on each tab, it has each book and each book has a column of dates.  It also has columns for the price it sold at and where (country-wise), pages read, etc.  So, if I sell a book today, I'd type a one in say the Dying Embers section in the $3.99 column.  Or if someone in the UK read 100 pages of Wish in One Hand, I'd put 100 in the KU UK section (which could then feed a formula in another column to give me the percent of book read).

It's all very geeky. 

Anyway, the numbers go into Book Sales Data, which then feeds the behemoth Sales Totals spreadsheet to give me yearly totals and allow me to analyze things like how many books I've sold in any given month, how much money I've made, etc.  And then compares it against previous years, etc. With things color coded by book, so I don't get lost in the data forest.
It's a rainbow! Yep, geeky.

I'm not sure I like all the colors I chose for the books, but it's there now and after all this time, changing colors would totally harsh my groove.  BOAI is brown, dammit, and it will always be brown.

I suppose this all comes from my sales/management/computer tech/data entry background.  The sales force (me) needs to know what's selling and what's not and the management (me) needs to be able to see it all at a glance, so the computer tech (me) need to put it all in a useable format so data entry (me) can input everything easily.  Umm...

I can also take all of this and be able to provide the CFO (Hubs) with answers to any questions he might ask pertaining to book sales.  He doesn't ask, but it's there if he does.  Sometimes, I just blurt out stuff like 'hey, I reached 3000 books sold this morning'.* Or I show him the graphs when compare sales by month or by year.  Because they're pretty.
Oh, to have a sales spike like May of 2015 again...

I have another spreadsheet that tracks expenses pertaining to each book, but let's not talk about that one.  It depresses me and I haven't updated it in months. I should probably do that before year end, though.  Blerg.

Now, I started doing this when I first started selling books in 2015, so it made adding to it each year relatively easy.  If you were going to do one, that's the time to do it.  If you're already years into your book sales, it can still be done, but it would be a bear to recapture all that old data if you haven't already got it.  You could start from here.  You know, if you want to be geeky like me.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I just had a geeky spreadsheet idea to fix a problem I've been having with something I do for the office.

Any questions?  Comments? 

*happened last week, but I forgot to add it to the Sunday Update.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Notice of Error in Wish Hits the Fan

If you didn't see this on Facebook, yesterday I was notified of a problem with WISH HITS THE FAN.  (If you already saw it, here it is again.)

This is the verbiage I posted to FB pasted here so I didn't have to type it again... 

I was just contacted by a reader who informed me of a major error in WISH HITS THE FAN. It has been corrected with Amazon and will be live within 72 hrs, but if you downloaded the book recently, you may still have the crap version on your Kindle. (Not sure how that works.)

I am truly embarrassed and extremely sorry. If you have experienced this error, please PM me and I can send you a PDF copy of the book free of charge. (To protect myself, you must be able to tell me specifically what the error is in order to claim a PDF file.)

Again, all apologies. The error is totally on me and I have no excuses. I hope you'll forgive me for any irritation this may have caused and continue to read my books.

On the upside, he was very nice about it and said he was enjoying the series.
If you're seeing this here for the first time, you don't have to FB private message me to get your PDF.  Email me instead.  Protection still applies.  If you can tell me exactly what was wrong, then I'll email you a PDF copy for your troubles.   
Not exactly the way I wanted to start Thanksgiving, but thanks to the one conscientious reader who took the time and had the courage to contact me, it should be fixed shortly. 

All my other books appear to be fine.  I checked.

Always, if you have any issues with any of my books, please contact me.  I'm pretty approachable.

Thanks again for your support and your understanding.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Writing Shuffle

There's a little dance we do here in the writing world.  Stop me if you've heard the tune. 

Two steps forward, experience paralyzing self-doubt, two steps sideways, dodge falling book sales, two steps back, run into a wall.  Lather, rinse, repeat. 

The order of the steps changes from time to time, but however you go through them, they're all there.  Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get to do step one repeatedly and skip all the others.

I'm stuck in the 'paralyzing self doubt' and 'dodge falling book sales' loop.  No steps forward or sideways.  Thankfully, also no steps back and no wall. 

It looks like this:  "Why bother writing when it's all been done before and no one is buying your books anyway?" 

It sounds like this bit of Cabin Fever from Muppet Treasure Island. "Allemande left, allemande right, it's time to sail or sink.  Swing your partner over the side.  Drop him in the drink."

Yep, it's nuts.

Why any of us put ourselves through this escapes me sometimes.  Then I remember that I have stories inside my head that need to come out.  Getting it from inside my head through all the screaming meemees there onto virtual paper?  Ah, there's the niggle.

I'll get through this.  I always do.  I simply have to tell all those meemees to get the hell out of my way and to shut the hell up.  Or try to dance around them. 

The Writing Shuffle.  It's got a bad beat and you can't dance to it.

Have you done the dance?  Can you think of a better name for it?  Because The Writing Shuffle is kinda lame.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Best Laid Plans

If you're in the Kindle Select program (the Amazon exclusive thing), you know that you have 90 day windows in which to use their prezzies to market your stuff (i.e. free days or Kindle Countdown Deals).  Each book has a start date and an end date to show you your window.  It's all cool.

Except when you have a series and all of their dates are staggered around. 

My Once Upon a Djinn series is staggered because I wasn't planning anything when I did my releases, so there's no cohesion within the series for Kindle Select purposes.  WIOH, IDW, and WHTF are all kind of close together.  Poor UWC is hanging out there alone.  Which makes marketing a little sketchy sometimes. 

So, I figured I'd take it out of the program until it got closer to the others.  And that's where the issue came up.

Right after I set UWC to not be in the program - a program you have to be in to garner page reads through Kindle Unlimited - someone in the UK started reading the series in KU.  They went through WIOH in a couple days and started IDW, which meant that they'd be getting to UWC shortly.  Except UWC wasn't in the KU program anymore.


So, despite my idea to have the books be together as a series in the program, I had to put UWC back in right after I took it out.  Don't want to disappoint the reader.  Lucky for me, the whole thing is automatic.  Once you click that you want it in Kindle Select, it's available for KU subscribers to read.

I guess there are worse problems to have than the one where someone is reading my series so I can't be all anal about dates and junk.  I'd still like to have them be uniform, but c'est la vie.  Wishing for the ability to do so is like wishing for no page reads.  And that's just silly.

Do you get anal about stuff?  Or is it just me?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

I Haz the Dumb

I cannot brain today.  I haz the dumb.  If you came here looking for something to semi-intelligent, go visit yesterday's The Writing Spectacle, wherein I talk about not having discipline and looking for balance between life and writing.

If you've already seen that...

Well, I could do a sale wrap-up, but that's depressing.  Or a NaNo update... but I'll leave that for Sunday. 

Tell you what.  Why don't you tell me what's going on with you and your writing? 

Monday, November 18, 2019

No Pushing or Kicking

Well, we're past the halfway point on NaNo.  And I am nowhere near halfway through the 50K I'm supposed to be writing this month. 


I've written every day except two and those days I was having back issues which meant prolonged time in this chair was not going to happen. 

The book, which lay forgotten for 6 years, will be written all the way to THE END - if not during this month, then before the end of the year.

I'm feeling more like a writer than I have for the majority of this year.

Now, I could be kicking myself mightily for the failure up to this point.  I mean, if you look at the word count thingie on The Writing Spectacle you'll see more red days than black days.  But kicking myself is unproductive.  Instead, I'd rather celebrate the days where there's a number higher than zero and call all of them wins.

If this keeps up, which I'm going to try hard to make sure it does, then I might actually have some stuff to publish in 2020.  Like this fantasy I'm writing.  And the other two books in the Sleeping Ugly series.  I could actually write SCIU #4 and Dennis Haggarty #3.  You know, stuffs like that.

But I'm not pushing myself there either.  It's nice to look ahead, as long as it doesn't hold you back.  Right now, I'm just happy to be writing again.

Friday, November 15, 2019

It's Sale Time Again!

Wednesday, the entire Once Upon a Djinn series went on sale - 99c US/99p (UK) each.  That's a $12 savings there, folks. (Always free with Kindle Unlimited, of course.)
Advertising will go out Sunday, but the sale is going on until Tuesday night.  Shop early, shop often.  And they're all available in paperback, so if you want to hold them in your hands and see them on your shelves, there they are.

If you're not familiar with the series, it follow genie Jo Mayweather - who has made it her mission to rescue her fellow genies from the slavery of being tied to a Master - as she tries to figure out who is killing genies and then finds out there's a whole weird plot to ruin her life.  Or so she thinks.  There's action, adventure, suspense, mystery, and whole lot of magical goings-on.  Plus a little divine intervention and a host of otherworldy beings.  Jo's got issues and snark and a backbone. 

All in all, a fun series to read.  And it was a fun series to write.  I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Author Pics

Part of marketing, I guess, is putting yourself out there.  So, in an effort to improve my business image, I had a set of author photos done over the weekend.

Okay, I had Hubs take a bunch of pics with my old Nikon, which I then sorted through, cropped, and tweaked for optimum jazziness.  Cost = $0.

I picked out the best two.  They're now splashed up everywhere I could think of that had my old author pic - which Hubs also took - from 2017.

This one...
... against the siding of our home... is on my personal FB page.

This one...
... in the front yard next to the cedars... is on my business FB page, at Amazon (US and UK), on Goodreads, MeWe, Pinterest, the NaNo site, and here on my Blogger profile.  (I feel like I'm forgetting somewhere.  If you see the old pic of me in a blue t-shirt anywhere, let me know.)

I set aside these:
in front of one of fiction bookcases in the office
Passed on that because it feels slightly blurry and this one because I look a little confused.  Plus there's the guy wire in the background.
next to one of our big cedars
I tossed all the pics that made me look fat.  Or the ones where I had a weird look on my face.  And the one where I was basically stinking my tongue out.  (I must've stuck the tip out to wet my lips right when he snapped the pic.  Blerg.)  Which stunk because otherwise that one was good.

Anyway, Hubs and I had fun with it.  With him saying, "Work it, baby." and me making goofy faces and taking one 'bathroom selfie' with the two of us in the bathroom mirror.

So, you see, taking author pics doesn't have to be expensive, or a trial, or 'professional'.  Of course, you need someone who can take pics and a good camera (these days it seems like everyone's phones take pretty good pics, so no need to shell out for an expensive digital) and something to edit photos with.  I used MS Office Picture Manager for the tweaking and cropping.  But I think it's worth it.

And I'm glad we did it.  These are much better pics than the old one I was using.  Mainly because I actually put some effort into it.  Got cleaned up, made my hair behave, tried on several outfits until I found one I thought looked professional and that I also felt comfortable in.  No makeup, of course.  I'm not even sure I have makeup in the house anywhere anymore.  Hubs was a champ and very patient.

Do you like your author pics?  Do you get them professionally done or wing it the way I do?  And the big question, do you like having your picture taken at all? 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Crime and Punishment

I've noticed a disturbing trend in criminal defense lately - if a criminal has children, they're using the children as a reason why the criminal should be released from custody.  And get a lighter sentence.  Now, it seems to me that once upon a time, it was opposite.  If you were a criminal, you got your children taken away from you, so you could no longer influence them with your bad behavior.

One would think that having children would be a very good reason to not commit crimes.  One would further think that, even if you weren't concerned how your criminal activities would influence your children, you would care that committing crimes might get your children taken away.

Why does the opposite seem to be happening?

This post actually came about because a woman who was pulled over on suspicion of shoplifting tried to escape by dragging the officer down the road with her car.  And her defense attorney put forth the idea that because she has 4 children, she should be let off.  :blinkblink:

Makes absolutely no sense.  Feel sorry for the kids without their mom because she did something to get herself locked up?  More like feel sorry for kids with a mom like that.  She obviously doesn't give a rat's ass about her kids or she wouldn't be risking her freedom - freedom she needs so she can be with those kids.  She doesn't care about raising her children to be upstanding members of society.  She only cares about what she can get without having to pay for it.

And before anyone suggests that maybe she was shoplifting to provide for her children, her car looked pretty nice and she seemed to be able to pay for an attorney to represent her because when she finally turned herself in, she had an attorney with her.  Not a public defender, who would've been assigned after her arrest.  If she couldn't afford clothes, how is she affording an attorney? 

Oh, and her rap sheet was already littered with other crimes.  Not an upstanding, mother of the year type.  With a role model like that, those four kids will be joining her behind bars eventually.  I know the foster care system has problems, but at least there, they might have a chance. 

Of course, I'm the horrible one for suggesting that perhaps her children would be better served away from her. 

Sometimes I wonder who the hell is running our criminal justice system when the defense for a woman like this is to trot her kids out and say she needs to be with them so let her free.

Jus' Sayin'.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Pondering the Rankings

Amazon rankings...  There's a love/hate relationship going on there.  But what does it even mean?

If I sell one book, that book's ranking jumps from somewhere in the millions to somewhere in the hundred thousands.  The higher the ranking obviously means better exposure and thus better sales, but only when you get in the top 100 on the narrower genre listings.  Does it really make a difference to readers if the book is in the overall 6 digits rather than 7? 

For that matter, does a higher ranking mean a better book?  I've read some highly ranked books that were total dogs and some lowly ranked books I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Is it a matter of following the herd?  Oh, look how many people bought this book, it must be a good one? 

I can get my books to jump by offering them at a steep discount and advertising the hell out of them, but that only means people were looking for a deal and something about my ad sparked their interest.  Whether the jump in ranking equals a jump in sales?  No clue.  Generally, once the ad gets shuffled to the back of everyone's inboxes and the new ads for the day come out, my sales tank. 

How often does anyone really look at the lists?  I mean if you manage to get on one of the Top 100 lists, that is.  Beyond that, you can't look at anything. Wonder what #102 is?  Too bad.

Last month, I actually took the time to find new books on the Top 100 lists in political thriller and suspense.  I found two books I actually wanted to read.  (New to me, and underappreciated, of course.)  One of them was a dog.  I haven't started the other yet, because I got burned on the last one.  If the other one sucks, too, I'm done trying to find books on those lists.  I ain't got time for that shit.

So, how does the book buying public make heads or tails out of any of this ranking stuff?


Just pondering.

Do you look at rankings when you're trying to find a new book?  Can you make any sense of this stuff?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

On Being Social

Recently a writer I follow on FB has been doing a series of posts on how being more social online is helping with book sales.  According to him, interacting with other human beings is actually gaining him sales.

Yeah, it sounds kind of obvious, but I admit that it's the last thing I think of when I'm thinking about marketing.

You know me.  I am not social.  I'm a hermit.  Oh, I used to be more social online.  I commented on blogs and belonged to forums and interacted on FB.  Lately?  I've been crawling into my hole.  My safe, warm, cozy, comfortable hole. 

And that ain't good.  At least not when it comes to getting my face out there and people buying my books.

When I first published Dying Embers, I was out there - online and in person (to a certain extent).  I was schmoozing and stuff like the dickens.  Okay, not as much as I could've been even then, but loads more than I am now.

So, I'm trying to be more social.  Not in a 'in your face, buy my book' sort of way, but more natural like.  Commenting on FB statuses again when I feel like I have something to say about the topic, contributing to the NaNo local forum by being a cheerleader...  I need to start going back and commenting on blogs again.  I read a lot of them, but I don't comment much. (As I suspect readers here are doing, so I'm not getting after any of you.) 

The problem now is how does one restart being social after having been silent for so long?  "Oh, hey, remember me?  I used to comment here, but I stopped and now I'm back" seems weird.  As does "You don't know me, but I'd like to talk, too" in writing forums.  It's all very daunting.  It's not like you can just jump in anywhere and not have people looking at you like you're the foreign exchange student from Greater Dorkistan. 

Anyway, I'm going to try to be more social.  And if it fails miserably, I can always crawl back into my hole.

How about you?  Are you a social animal? 

Monday, November 4, 2019

Another Sale and NaNo Updates

First off, Blink of an I and Unequal are on sale this week.  I'm calling it The Semi-Spectacular Dystopian Sale, because I'm a dork like that.  Here's the ad image I posted to FB yesterday:

No sales yet, but I'm not really expecting any.  The last sale I had where I only used FB Groups to market was a dud.  I think it has to do with FB's new rules and algorithms.  :shrug:

Anyway, if you're into dystopian or future suspense or speculative fiction (or whatever people are calling it these days), give it a whirl.

On another note, I'm chugging along with NaNo.  I'm behind about 1200 words, but I'm totally cool with that.  The point here is for me to light a fire under my ass and get writing again.  So far, so good.  Three days in a row.  Woohoo!

Okay, prepare to groan... I made a spreadsheet for this year's NaNo.  I kinda had to because I'm not writing a new book and I'm not necessarily adding words in a linear fashion.  Anyway, it looks like this:
As you can see, if you blow it up, I started with 55876 words, so the end goal would be 106K.  It's a fantasy, so not outside the realm of possibility.  If it ends up being shorter, I won't 'win' NaNo officially, but as long as I write every day, I'll win for me.

And maybe this will lead to other goals being met and stuff and junk.  I'm not making any promises, but there's hope.  =o)

Friday, November 1, 2019

And So It Begins

Welcome to All Saints Day or, if you're into this sort of thing, the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  Today is the day thousands of writers will begin the task of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.  Some will succeed, some will fail.  Hopefully, all will learn something from the experience.  I suspect, typically, the lesson is 'yes, I can do this' or 'nope, not for me'.

Which is fine.  Not everyone is cut out to write fast, dirty drafts.  Hell, this year I have been one of them.  The editor gets in the way, or the self-doubt, or whatever. 

If you haven't tried NaNo, I recommend you give it a whirl - if for no other reason than to give writing editot-free a chance.  I did it originally just to prove to myself I could write to deadline.  Which has helped tremendously when I actually had deadlines and junk.

Last night, I finished reading the forgotten fantasy I started during NaNo 2013.  55K words worth.  And you know what?  It ain't half bad.  If I remember right, the first time I tried NaNo (unofficially, of course) the book eventually turned into Wish In One Hand.  I think Blink of an I was an unofficial NaNo novel, too.  My one official NaNo novel that turned into a book is Fertile Ground.  So, you see, NaNo novels can become real books down the road a piece.

Anyway, like I said, I finished read the fantasy last night, and I'm finding myself pretty jazzed about finishing the book.  All sorts of ideas were floating in my head during the read and I think I can make this into a whole book.  Whether that will take another 50K words remains to be seen.  It is a fantasy after all.

I still don't have a title, but it's about paternal teenage twins Aryl and Lyra and their allies -  their training to be mages and the interruption of their training to go fight the evils coming out of the mists before the mists fall entirely and evil covers the land.   There's magic and monsters and love and death and all sorts of stuffs.

So, today it begins.  I pick up where I left off, with the hero in a quandary and a decision to be made.  In fact, the last words I wrote on that manuscript were 'What is Aryl's decision?'  Apparently, I didn't know the answer then because I never got back to the manuscript, but I think I know the answer now and I will be forging ahead. 

Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


I'm totally torn on what to do for NaNo.

You see, I've been reading that forgotten fantasy I wrote.  It's like reading a new book, but I can see where I can make it better.  A new beginning.  Some added scenes.  And of course, finishing it.  My brain is playing with the idea of expanding this one book into several books, but we'll see.

But I'm also entertaining the idea of writing another Dennis Haggarty.  Series sell better when there are at least three books.  And I already have the basic premise.

And I could also write the next SCIU novel.  That one would be book 4.  I started a book 4 in this series already, but I'm not sure if I want it to be the 4th book or if another book should come next. 

After my creativity being a veritable wasteland this year, I'm getting inundated with new ideas.  Not a bad thing, but definitely not a good thing considering NaNo approacheth.  I'm like a dog that's just had a handful of balls thrown into the yard.  Not sure which one to chase and left dashing all higgledy-piggledy.  Picking this one up and dropping it in favor of the next and the next and the...


Most likely, I'll ignore the NaNo rules and work on Untitled Fantasy.  (Drop the MG part, because I'm not sure this meets the requirements for MG.  It's a bit too dark.  If you want to see a snippet of it, drop by Silver's blog and see my comment there.)

Or maybe I'll set the fantasy aside and work on one of the other two.  Argh.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Sleeping Ugly Sale

Time for another sale.  Actually, this one started Friday and runs through Halloween night.  But right now, Sleeping Ugly is on sale for only 99c (or 99p if you're buying in the UK). 

Sleeping Ugly is the first in a trilogy - if I ever get the other two finished and published - but there's really not a cliffhanger ending there.  You can read this without wanting to stick a knife in my forehead.  Honest.

Right now, the series is in a bit of a circular limbo state, though.  It's hard to get motivated to work on the other two when the first isn't selling so well.  On the other hand, the first might sell better if I published the other two.  At this point, I'm looking at next year.  Book Two (Ugly and the Beast) is written all the way through.  Book Three (Cinder Ugly) is in the early stages of a first draft. 

Anyway, SU is fun and snarky.  The people who have read it have loved it.  So, now's the time to give it a whirl. 


Friday, October 25, 2019

Well, Derp

So, I went to the NaNoWriMo site.  Of course, I'd forgotten my password and had to reset it.  I couldn't even remember the last time I did NaNo.


According to the NaNo site, I wrote a YA Fantasy in 2013.  I don't even remember writing a YA fantasy, but according to them, I won with over 51K words.  For a moment, I wondered if someone had hacked my NaNo and written a book under my name.  Seriously.  But that's not bloody likely, so I checked the keeper of all things - my blog.  Sure enough, back in 2013, there I am talking about this YA fantasy I was working on in November of that year. 

I had no clue.  I eventually found it in a file marked Untitled YA Fantasy.  Derp.  Naturally.  I opened the file and started to read it.  I only vaguely remember it, but more like a book I once read than a book I freakin' wrote. 

I jumped to the end.  Sure enough, never finished it.  I left myself with a note to figure out what the MC's decision is. 

Needless to say, I'm mortified.  I can't believe I wrote 55K words on a book and I don't even remember doing it.  Couldn't tell you what the plot is.  Don't remember the characters.  Don't remember the world.  I'm searching my memory banks and it's just not there. 

Brain damage.  That's all I can throw out in my defense. 

Of course, 2013 was the year I moved and a lot of crap was going on - most of which I don't remember either. 

It's like forgetting one of your children.  Lucky for me, I only have one.  Kind of hard to forget one.  Books?  I've published 13 and written at least a half-dozen I haven't published.  So, this one apparently fell into the black hole of my brain.  And right now, I do not have time to think about it or look at it.  I'm supposed to be getting myself in a place where I can write a new book.

Hopefully, this new one will be memorable.  Derp.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Up to my armpits in spreadsheets this morning. Talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Writing Was Easier Before

I made a comment on a friend's blog the other day - Writing was so much easier before I started worrying about publishing. 

And the more I thought about it, the truer it seemed.  Before I started publishing, I just wrote.  I mean, publishing was always the end goal, but there was so much between writing and publishing - landing an agent, finding a publisher, editing, hoop jumping, etc. - that I never really let the idea of publication get in my way.  It would either happen or it wouldn't.

Now?  It feels like I have to worry whether every word I write is publishable.  If this is something anyone will want to buy.  If I'm going to hit the market with the right thing at the right time.  And then, I have to think about getting on my editor's schedule and whether I can pay her.  And I have to think about whether my artist will have room for me in her schedule and paying her.  (Last I knew, she was booking cover art for the middle of next year.)   Formatting.  Marketing.  Reviews.  Business stuff instead of creative stuff.

The stuffs are all very heavy.  And I feel like the weight of it all might've crushed me flat.  Flat words, flat prose, flat descriptions... flat books filled with flat stories.

The other day I might've mentioned I was working on a short story.  Kind of a Christmas thing set in the genie world.  Oh, it's a great idea and I was tapping out words again.  Then it occurred to me that even if I get this finished, I would still need a cover, and like I said, my cover artist for that series is booking for next year.  And the word tapping died.  Literally just withered up and died.  The ideas are still there, but the will to write them dried up.

I used to write scads of words.  On a good day, I am capable of cranking out like 1500 words an hour.  This year?  Even the crickets don't want to talk to me. 

So, there's NaNo, or some form of it, fast approaching.  It would be good for me.  To just write with wild abandon like I used to.  Write without worrying whether any of it will be publishable.  Write without caring whether anyone will buy it or read it, love it or hate it.  Write without thinking whether the book will be in one of my current series.  Without having to think whether the characters are behaving the way they've always behaved in earlier books.  No researching.  No flipping back through series bibles to maintain continuity.  Just words on paper building a totally new story.

I'm still not sure whether I'm going to do it, but it's getting more attractive by the day.  It's like the idea of jumping on the back of a fast horse and just letting her run to wherever she wants to go - no saddle, no reins.  Clutching her mane and squealing in delight (or sheer terror) as she flies over the ground.

Now, I just have to keep myself from thinking about it too much or worrying about it at all.  If I'm going to do it, I need to wipe my brain clear of all the publishing stuff and just write.

Won't that be grand?

Friday, October 18, 2019

To NaNo or Not NaNo, That is the Question

That time is fast approaching, when thousands of people all over the nation... world?... sit down and attempt to tap out 50K words in 30 days.  Yes, I'm talking about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Yes, yes, I know, I know.  Fifty thousand words does not a novel make.  But it's a damn good start.  Or it's a first draft that will be fleshed into a novel-sized book eventually.  The point isn't to have a completed book in month.  Not to me, anyway.

For me, the point of NaNoWriMo (NaNo for short) was to see if I could do it.  Could I train myself to write 1666 words a day for 30 days straight?  Could I write to a deadline, even if it was self-imposed?  Was this writing thing more than just a lark?

My first NaNo wasn't 'official'.  I didn't sign up for the site.  I wasn't accountable to anyone but myself - which was kind of the point for me.  But I did it.  I sat down and banged out a book.  The next year, I signed up and did it for reals.  And the next year.  Somewhere along the way, I was too busy to do it in November, so I did it December and called it HoHoWriMo.  I've done it in other months, too.  Because there are times when I needed to sit my ass down and write a damn book, so I took the skills I'd taught myself during November and applied them. 

Now, with the way my writing has gone this year, I'm wondering if I don't need to relearn that old discipline.  Commit myself to writing a book in November, whether I feel like it or not.  Just do it already and quit my bitchin'. 

I have two weeks from today to decide.  Two weeks from today will be November 1st.  Gah, where did the year go??  :shudder:

Other people have already decided to take it on.  They've already got a book in mind.  They're already plotting, so that when the starter pistol is fired, they'll be banging out words.  Umm, yeah, that never worked for me.  So, sometime between now and Halloween, I'll decide whether to do this and when All Saints Day arrives, I will or I won't be sitting down and seeing what falls out of my head. 

I'll let you know.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, are you thinking about doing NaNo this year?  Have you done it in the past?  How'd it go for you?  Do you plan ahead or do you just let it fly when 11/1 arrives?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A Dennis Haggarty Mystery Sale

Good morning!

Starting today, both books in A Dennis Haggarty Mystery series are on sale for 99c/99p each.

Here's the FB ad copy for today:
Big city cop. Small town murders. Starting today, get both books in A DENNIS HAGGARTY MYSTERY series for only 99c/99p each.


#mystery #murder #notcozy #ebooks #99c #99p
I didn't pay for any advertising this time, so we'll see how it goes.  
The sale last through Tuesday of next week, so if you haven't read them yet, now would be the time.  Or if you've only read Accidental Death, now's the time to get Natural Causes.  

Monday, October 14, 2019

Writing Advice is Everywhere

Lately, it seems like everyone has advice on writing.  Or maybe it's just me because I'm on Pinterest and there's an awful lot of writing quotes on there.  In fact, I have a board devoted to writerly quotes*.  Anyway, like I said, it seems like everyone is giving advice.

Many times, I find advice from people I never heard of.  Some of it seems kind of logical and on point, some of it is like 'WTF?'.  I have a tough time following the advice of someone I've never heard of.  It's like 'who the hell is that to be telling anyone anything about writing?'  I guess, for most people, I would fall into that category.

As I've said before, take only the advice that seems pertinent to you.  If I sound rational and sane, and my advice seems good to you, by all means, take it.  If not, toss it into the circular file**.   These days, I feel like I shouldn't be giving anyone advice about anything, but occasionally, I might toss out a kernel of wisdom. 

Sometimes I run across advice that seems okay, but it's from a person I don't respect as a writer or as a human being.  Oh, they're quite successful at what they do, but I can't bring myself to consider what they're saying.  I mean, there are certain people who are continually on the best seller list, but I wouldn't spit on them if they were on fire, so it seems kind of hypocritical to look toward them for advice. :shrug:

Besides, there's every chance someone I do respect said the same or almost the same damn thing.  I can follow that and still feel good about myself.

Anyway, as always, keep the good stuff, chuck out the bad stuff.  Write what you write your own way.  And if something someone says inspires you, go with it.  


* not everyone on there is necessarily someone I respect or have even heard of.  Sometimes I just click Save without thinking about it.  Gut reaction clicking.  You know how it goes.
** circular file = garbage can.  Also known as File 13.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Not Dead, Just Quiet

I'm not dead.  I just don't have much writerly stuff to talk about this week.  And what writerly things I do have, I'm not talking about yet. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Hopefully, I'll have something interesting to put here eventually.

For non-business stuffs, I hope you'll visit my other blog The Writing Spectacle.  I'm there Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Free Book Numbers

Since I had Project Hermes listed for free this week, I got a little curious about the numbers.  Oddly enough, I'd never actually looked at the numbers for my freebies before.

Let's hop into the wayback machine...

2015:  I listed Dying Embers as free in March and moved 356 copies.  I also sold 26 copies of it that month.  Since there were no other books published at that point, that was all DE.

2016:  I did quite a few freebies in 2016.  The biggest one was for DE, during which I moved 2431 copies.  That was February.  I also had a freebie for PH (then BloodFlow) during February and moved 127 copies.  In March, I listed AD for free and moved 759 copies.  FG was free in August - 100 copies.  WIOH was free in both September and October - I assume for one day each month - and 321 copies went out the door.  All told, I gave away 3738 copies in 2016.

2017:  I held two freebies for WIOH only.  I moved 858 copies and then sold 75 copies of the next three genie books - on sale during the freebies for WIOH.

2018: In March, I put AD for free and moved 118 copies - after which I sold 4 copies of NC.  Then in April, I listed DE as free again and 1007 went out the door.  Residual series sales for FG and EG ended up being about 40 books.

2019:  In February, I put Unequal for sale for a day.  Moved 22 copies.  Afterward, I sold one copy of UEQ and one copy of Blink of an I.  This week, Project Hermes was free for three days.  161 copies went out the door.  Since there isn't any book that relates directly to PH, I don't expect a lot of movement, but there's always a chance for KU reads and other sales.  :fingers crossed:

All told, I've given away 6260 books since 2015.

Sometimes, I see an uptick in sales of the book I made free.  Sometimes I get sales for other books in the same series.  Every rare once in a while, other unrelated books get sold because of a freebie promo I've run.  It's hit and miss.

Personally, I hate giving anything away.  But I understand that sometimes giving books away helps sell books.  And I have to remind myself that the people who get my books for free might not have slapped money down to buy them because I am an unknown author to them.  Once they give me a try, they may go on to buy my stuff. 

As a reader, I rely on free books to feed my reading addiction.  The budget's so slim right now I can't afford to try new authors, so I pick them up during freebie promos.  And if they're good, I try to find space in the budget to buy their subsequent books.  That's kind of how the freebie promo is supposed to work.

What about you?  Have you tried freebie promos for your books?  How did they work out for you?  If you haven't tried them as a writer, do you use them as a reader to find new authors? 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Month Ahead and Then Some

First off, today is the last day to get Project Hermes for free.

Next up, the A Dennis Haggarty Mystery books will be on sale for 99c/99p October 16th - 22nd.

Then, Sleeping Ugly will be on sale for 99c/99p from October 25th through Halloween night.

And finally I've set up a sale wherein both Blink of an I and Unequal will be 99c simultaneously from November 3rd - 9th. 

I also would like to so something for the Once Upon a Djinn books in November and something for the Serial Crimes Investigation Unit series in December. 

I wish I had news on future publications, but that's not in the cards right now.  Even if I sent Ugly and the Beast to my editor tomorrow, we both would really have to push for it to be ready for a 2019 release.  And it is so not ready to be sent to her.  Sorry about that, people.  At the beginning of the year, I had hopes and those didn't pan out.  Stuff happens.  That's life.

Thank you all so much for your support.  Here's hoping for a better 2020.

Do you have anything going on in the months ahead you'd like to talk about?  Let me know in the comments.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Project Hermes is FREE

Early Saturday morning, I got tickled by a wild hair and decided to run a free promo for Project Hermes.  To the best of my knowledge, I've never done a freebie promo for PH, so now's your chance to snag a copy without having to slap down $4.99.

So, yeah, it's free worldwide through Amazon today through Wednesday. 

No cost to you, unless you want to be really nice and pay for it by leaving a review.  That would be awesome and I would be so appreciative. 

If you're not familiar with PH, it's my political/medical/techno suspense.  (Previously published as Blood Flow.)  Here's the blurb...

It's the little things that kill

The highest levels of the government believe Project Hermes is the best way to control America’s immigration problem. A simple microchip carrying a citizen’s information will allow officials to sort out who belongs—and who doesn’t. Harmless.

Unless the chip carries more than just information.

Agent Miranda Kruz of the Terrorism Task Force has reason to believe something is very wrong with Project Hermes. People are dying and the clues all point to a microchip implant. But Randi’s superiors don’t want anything or anyone interfering with their pet project. They’re threatening her job, her loved ones, and her life to keep her from revealing their secret. With the help of medical examiner, Vic Hammond, and electronics engineer, Jack Davis, Randi has to uncover the truth and make it public before anyone else is targeted for death.

Locating the madmen behind these executions will be hard enough—stopping them might just be impossible.

Anyway, I hope people will pick up some copies while it's free and maybe read some pages through the Kindle Unlimited program.   That's about all a writer can ask for.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Sales and Kindle Unlimited

Here is a look at my Amazon 30-day sales graph as of yesterday
If you haven't seen one of these, the top graph is the quantity of whole books sold and the bottom is pages read through the Kindle Unlimited program. 

The spikes you see in the first graph directly correlate to paid advertising.  There's a little residual sale activity after the ad, but beyond that, crickets in the whole book sales area. 

What's notable is the continued page reads after the sale is over.  Two weeks after the ad went live for Dying Embers, I'm still seeing people in the KU program reading books even if nobody is buying the whole thing all at once. 

Sure, these numbers aren't going to wow anyone and I'm nowhere near making the list of top sellers in KU, but to see residual pages reads at all is always welcome.

This is why I keep my books in KU.  As I've said before, the times I've taken my books to a wider distribution, I do not see enough sales to make up for the page reads I've lost.  Of course, your mileage may vary.  We all have to do things that work best for us.  I just don't have a wide enough reach to bother having my books available everywhere.  And I don't have a large group of people out there telling me they'd buy my books if only they were available for Nook or Kobo or whatever.  (I used to have a couple people who asked, but one sale here or there wasn't making it worth my while.  If you don't have a Kindle and want to read my books, Amazon has an app for that.)  My stay in Kindle Select could change, but for now, this is working for me. 

Any questions? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday's Post: A Gripping Read

I don't actually expect that any of you will find this post gripping in the least, but I wanted to see if using the word gripping in the title actually does attract readers. 

You see, I've been noticing lately that a lot of authors/publicists are referring to books as 'gripping' these days.  In the title, no less.  And basically what I've found is that when I read a book that refers to itself as gripping, it usually isn't.  Or at least not as gripping as the name implies.  Which, in my opinion, is a total letdown.

It's like roadside diners with a sign that says 'Good Food' out front.  In my experience, the restaurants that feel the need to say they have good food inside rarely do. 

So, what is it about the word gripping that seems to draw people in?  I mean, it must work or it wouldn't be such a noticeable trend.  (Maybe I'm the only one noticing it.)

Another, similar word I've seen, albeit not as much, is riveting.  Alas, I am rarely riveted by these books. 

If your book is truly gripping or riveting, you shouldn't need to say it.  Your reviewers will say it for you.  One hopes your blurb will hint at how the reader will be gripped or riveted and then they'll buy your book and find out. 

Or, to use an old maxim from the writing world, Show Don't Tell.  Show me that your book is gripping, don't tell me that it is. 

Jus' sayin'.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Do As I Say Not As I Do

There's a line in Alice in Wonderland (the old Disney animated one, if not also the book) about giving very good advice but seldom ever following it that I think applies to me.

I'm awesome at giving advice.  And from the comments I've gotten, it seems like it's very good advice.  I am, however, horrible at following my own advice.  I'm also good at giving pep talks to inspire others, but not so much good at pepping myself up. 

Not for any length of time anyway.

And you might be thinking I'm a hypocrite.  Well, I'm thinking it, too.  But I don't want my apparent hypocrisy to stop anyone else from succeeding where I am failing.

If you happen to find good advice here, follow it.  Pay no attention to the gal behind the curtain.  And as much as it's been drummed into my head to hate the phrase... 'Do as I say, not as I do.'

If something you read here inspires you to write by, do it.

If you found a piece of encouragement here, use it.

It doesn't matter if I'm following my own advice, if the advice helps you.  Who knows, you could be the next breakout indie writer who ends up read by millions - like Andy Weir

And I'll keep giving advice and pep talks and waving my pompoms in your face, and maybe someday all that will filter through into my own brain. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

SCIU Sale Wrap-Up

As the year progresses with no new books to show for it, the sales get weaker and weaker, so I probably shouldn't expect much.  You need to be constantly putting forth new material.

Anyway, I said I'd share the results of the latest sale, so here we are.

First, an update on last month's OUAD sale.  It finally made enough money to pay for the ad I placed.  And with page reads still coming in, I'm ahead a little.

Now, the SCIU sale.  It ran from the 10th through the night of the 16th.  Dying Embers was 99c, Fertile Ground and Early Grave were $1.99.  I placed an ad with Bargain Booksy that ran on the 12th for DE ($55).

As of this morning, I sold just under 36 copies of DE, 5 copies of FG and 5 copies of EG.  I'm still seeing page reads, but the hope of actually paying off the ad is slim.  Which kind of blows but like I said, not unexpected. 

Overall, I'm still ahead on ad revenue, showing a 8.91% profit.  $271 spent on ads.  $297.50 earned off ads.  That'll change a little as the month progresses and page reads continue to come in, but not in any major way.

I didn't keep track of rankings this time.  At one point, DE made it into the 300s in its genre specification and into the teen-thousands in overall books.  Not quite enough to effect sales greatly. 

Prior to the ad, I had no sales this time around.  I fell down on the job of pushing on FB.  That may account for lower sales from the ad because the rankings of all three books were so poor when the ad came out.  I made a pretty, new graphic that seemed to get a lot of Likes on FB, but didn't really equate to more sales. 

Could be that because one of my pre-ad push days was Sept 11th the pre-sales fell apart.  It wasn't really a great day for book buying or looking at ads.  But when I set my sale dates, it wasn't even on my radar.  My mistake. 

Anyway, live and learn. 

Not sure what lies ahead for marketing this year.  I have sales penciled in for October, November, and December.  Whether I'll be able to advertise remains to be seen.  Gotta make money to spend money to make money... Ad infinitum.

As for overall sales for the year, I just passed the 400 books/$400 mark.  Not sure if I'll pass last year at this rate, but I've already passed 2017, so this won't be my worst year ever.  That's gotta count for something.

And that's it.  Any questions?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

Friday slipped away from me entirely and that's okay because I've decided to stop being so hard on myself. 

So what if I didn't get a blog post written.  Nobody died.  My regular blog visitors didn't say 'well, no Friday post, so I'm never going back there'.  Life proceeded as normal.

And so what if I didn't write every day last week.  It's not a crushing blow. 

And so what if when I did write, I didn't always get a lot of words down.  Sure, when the words are hot, I can do about 1000 words an hour.  A couple days there, I didn't get more than a few hundred down.  Oh, well.  I'm still writing and the book's still progressing.

That's the point there, isn't it?  I'm writing and the book is progressing.  It's more than I can say for the majority of this year. 

Ditch the negatives.  Focus on the positives.

Sure, it ain't always easy.  I have to keep reminding myself.  Negative thoughts creep in and I find myself falling back into the gloom.  Then I have to remember to kick those thoughts back into their box where they belong.  And to stop being so hard on myself.

It's a one day at a time thing. 

Oh, there are definitely times when I need to be hard on myself.  Things need to get done and I'm the only one to do them.  I'll kick my own ass when I have to.  But I don't have to right now.  What I have to do is write.  Plenty of time for ass-kicking later.  Right now I'm still bruised from the extensive ass-kicking I was doing with nothing to show for it. 

So, last night I wrote like 500 words.  Yay! 

Now it's your turn.  Tell me something positive.  It's the first step toward not being so hard on yourself.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Shut the Voices Up and Write the Damn Book

I'm writing again.  Three days in a row now.  I'm not burning up the keyboard or anything, but it's progress.  And I had a major plot point jump into my head yesterday, so I'm feeling pretty good about what lies ahead.

As you all know, it's been a rough year writing-wise.  And it seemed like the longer I went without writing, the less I felt like I could write.  Sunday broke that all apart.  Here's what I did...

I told myself to stop listening to the negative voices.  And there were a lot of them.

- the reviewer who thought Jo was too whiny in In Deep Wish... can't have whiny... is Jeni too whiny?  SHUT UP
- the reviewer who hated all the characters in Accidental Death... can't have people hating my characters... is Jeni too hateable?  SHUT UP
- the editor* telling me I have too much backstory in the beginning and a character did this in chapter one but did something the opposite in chapter two... gotta have continuity... SHUT UP
- the editor telling me I am using too many thats or justs or evens.  SHUT UP
- the marketing whiz whispering to me Sleeping Ugly isn't selling so why am I writing a third book?  SHUT UP
- the agents rejecting me for whatever reasons... (yes, it goes back that far).  SHUT UP
- the little voice reminding me that I haven't finished editing Ugly and the Beast, so what the hell am I doing writing the next book?  I have to finish editing before I start new words.  SHUT UP
- the accountant shouting that I don't have the money to publish anything right now.  SHUT UP

Once I got them all to shut the hell up, I went through what I had already written on CU and then started writing where I left off.

Is it any good?  Who the hell cares?  If the beginning sucks, I'll rewrite it.  LATER.  Right now, I'm writing new words.  Editing is for later.  Is Jeni whiny?  Hell, yeah, but who cares?  Will people hate her?  Probably, but who cares?

All those voices are doing is stopping me from doing my job.  My job is writing.  I get weird when I don't write.  (Well, weirder.)  So, I need to stop worrying about every little freakin' thing and write the damn book.  Any worries that might actually be legitimate can be dealt with after I finish the damn book.

So, that's where I am right now.  Writing the damn book.  I'm at 6500 words.  Like I said, not burning up the keyboard, but it's progress and I haven't really made any progress in months.

*No offense to my editor, but I do not need her in my head when I'm writing a first draft.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

SCIU Sale Starts Today

I was so focused on potentially having jury duty tomorrow*, I almost forgot...

Starting today, the books of the Serial Crimes Investigation Unit are on sale.  Read them all, or just pick up the ones you missed.

Dying Embers - 99c US and 99p UK
Fertile Ground - $1.99 US and £1.99 UK
Early Grave - $1.99 US and £1.99 UK


* The trial was cancelled, so I do not have jury duty.

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Long and Wandering Post

I wrote this post and Tuesday's posts on Sunday morning, and then I DID something.  Starting with boxing up the negative voices and shoving them in a corner.  Still, I thought I should leave this post as a reminder to others not to give up.

It's early Sunday morning and the house is quiet, other than the cat snoring and my computer humming.  Hubs went back to bed a while ago.  Me?  I'm just sitting here in front of the computer, trying to convince myself to write something.  Or edit something.  Or DO something.  Anything.

Earlier, I saw on Facebook what I think was the breakdown of a human being.  When I first got on, I saw a long post that basically amounted to 'I hate myself and everything I've ever done and I'm so so sorry to anyone I may have hurt'. Then as I scrolled through my feed, I saw he'd made post after post of really depressing-ass songs.  Not a writer.  Just a dude who had sent me a friend request a month or so ago, who has until now seemed like a really cool and stable individual.  At first, I thought he'd been hacked, but the songs...  Well, after a bit, I decided that perhaps it was him after all.  Which is really depressing.

But I get it.  Been there, done that.  Listened to the same songs.

Anyway, it all got me to thinking.  And sitting here staring at my computer trying to force myself to DO something, lest I write a similar post of my own and thrown down a cavalcade of similarly depressing-ass songs.

You know, I think the songs actually make things worse.  Scratch that.  I know they make things worse.  For godsakes, do not listen to Counting Crows.  If you aren't depressed when you start, you will be by the time you're done.  Suck the joy right out of you, they will.  I used to wrap myself up in them, thinking they knew how I was feeling, but in the end, it turned out they were actually feeding my depression rather than empathizing with it.  And once I realized that, I got those damn CDs right the hell out of my life.

Now, when I'm feeling blue, I put on my HAPPY mix and try to use that to lift myself out of it.  Or I listen to Rachmaninoff.  Hard to feel down listening to that.

My problem right now isn't so much that life is getting me down, it's that I don't feel like a writer.  I don't feel like I even know how to write anymore.  Not fiction anyway.  I feel like when I sit down and start typing, all I'll produce is crap.  I feel like the whole beginning of Cinder Ugly needs to be scrapped and I don't have the first idea on how to start it over.  And I have no clue how to start anything else.  It's all "'Crap?  We love crap.  Crap crap crap.  Crap crap.  Crap.  Crap"*.

Yeah, I know... I'm the first one to tell you 'give yourself permission to write crap'.  'It's all fixable.'  'You can't fix a blank page.'  Somehow that advice isn't helping today... err, for the past few months.  The caveat to that advice, one I didn't realize was there until now, is that it's okay to write crap as long as you have some hope it'll be fixable later.  And I don't have any faith this crap will be fixable.  It's not fertilizer from which a rose will grow.  It's toxic sludge from which nothing will ever grow.

Yes, I know what I have already written is not crap.  It's what's coming out of my hands now that's crap.  Or, at least, that's the thinking that's got me stuck.

Not sure how I'll muddle through this.  I will.  I think the first thing I need to do is kick all the negative voices out of my head.  Or at least shove them all into a big box and then shove the box into a corner where I can ignore it.  I'm working on it at least.  I haven't given up.  Nor will I.

The FB guy?  I hope his outpouring of depression yesterday helps get his mind right.  Sometimes you've got to pour it all out so you can fill up with something better.  And sometimes, if you let it, it just fills up with more of the same.  I really hope he finds some good and positive things to fill up on. 

And now, finally, there's the first glimmerings of sunrise.  A new day.  Let's make this a good one, eh?  Let's DO something. 

* Norman Fell in the movie 'Transylvania 6-5000'. 

Friday, September 6, 2019

A Little Inspiration

(In case the embed doesn't work, watch it here:

I love this song.  Hadn't seen the video until this morning, but it's pretty cool.  (I wouldn't share it if it wasn't.)

Just a snip of the lyrics:

Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Shooting for the stars when I couldn't make a killing
Didn't have a dime but I always had a vision
Always had high, high hopes
Had to have high, high hopes for a living
Didn't know how but I always had a feeling
I was gonna be that one in a million
Always had high, high hopes

Some days, it feels like all we have are high hopes for a livin', but we'll get there.  And we'll climb over whatever gets in our way to do it.  ;o)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Cranky Stuffs

Be warned.  I'm cranky.

If I see one more motivational poster about writing, I'm going to poke someone in the eye.  With a stick.

PS.  If I see the quote from a wildly popular author where he talks about it not being about the money one more time, I'm going to scream.  Yeah, Mr. Commercial-Fiction Millionaire Dude, it ain't about the money.  Right.  Blow smoke up someone else's ass.  Back when he was struggling to pay the bills, I bet it was a little bit about the money.  In fact, if it isn't about the money, why aren't his books free?  Hmm?

The other day I saw a bestselling author, who only a couple days before announced she'd sent her nth book to her publisher, write that she wanted to quit.  Umm, yah.  I get that even bestsellers get the blues, but come on.  If I had her sales and critical acclaim, I'd be back to cranking out 4 books a year.

Another other day, I got to the end of a book and found a note from the author.  Instead of asking for reviews, they were asking people who enjoyed the book to buy the paperback version of it.  For $30.  Not sure whether I admire the balls or am annoyed by the chutzpah.

You ever get to the end of a book you couldn't put down and enjoyed the hell out of and can't explain why you liked it or why it sucked you in so hard?  I wish I could harness that power.  I mean, I want people to be able to say why they liked my books, but I'd settle for them being sucked in hard and staying. 

I know this isn't an easy path I've chosen, but couldn't it be a little easy just for a little while?  I'd appreciate a chance to float instead of having to swim against the current all the time.  It's tiring.

:shrug:  I chose this.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Sales and Advertising Update

It's Labor Day.  I'd like to say I wrote this post as a nod to that - because like it shows the fruits of my labors - but in reality, I forgot it was going to be Labor Day today.  

At the beginning of the year, I made a goal to have paid advertising at least once a month this year.  So far, with the exception of March, I have stuck to that goal.

Here's how the paid advertising has broken down so far this year...

January - ad for SU.  Spent $6, made $8.53.
February - ads for WIOH and OUAD.  Spent $50, made $57.14.
March - Derp.
April - ad for AD.  Spent $15, made $29.30.
May - ad for WIOH.  Spent $40, made $53.71.
June - ad for DE.  Spent $15, made $21.96
July - ad for AD.  Spent $55, made $46.04.
August - ad for WIOH.  Spent $35, made $32.66 so far.

That's a total of $216 spent and $248.34 made, so I'm ahead overall.  By like $33.  And I've made like $100 on books where I can't directly attribute the purchases to any paid advertising.

I set up an ad for DE for next month.  DE will be 99c.  FG and EG will be $1.99.  Fingers crossed it doesn't go the way of my July ad.  That would suck.  I like to think it was July's fault.  July always sucked back when I was selling electronic components.  Maybe July is just a sucky month for sales of anything.  (Although, when I hop into the wayback, July of 2015 was my 2nd best month ever, so who knows?)

Anyway, I'm still chugging along.

A while back, I wondered whether I should save my advertising money and put it toward editing.  Umm, no.  Like I said, I've spent $216.  That wouldn't even pay for half an edit.  Even if you add in the $55 I spent for next month's ad, it wouldn't pay for a whole edit.  And imagine how bad sales would be if I didn't pay for any ads.  :shudder:  So, I'll keep advertising and keep my fingers crossed something else breaks so I can set up editing again.

As always, this is just an informational post and your mileage may vary.  What works for me, may not work for you... or it may work way better than it did for me.

Any questions?

Friday, August 30, 2019

Wasted Time, Wasted Effort

The other day I needed to clean out a Pendaflex folder so I could sort my spreadsheet work into it.  (Why buy a new one when you have old ones you aren't using?)  In the folder were query materials.  Pages and pages of printouts from back when I was querying that I'd stuff into a folder to try and keep track of it all. 

Queries sent, responses... err, rejections, agents to query, publishers to submit to and the results of those efforts.  In that folder alone were probably 150-200 pieces of paper.  And that's only one small portion of the things I submitted.  I can't even begin to imagine how many pages would be there if I kept everything and stacked it all in one pile.  Reams worth.

None of which did me any damn good.  Ten years worth of effort.  Ten... years.  2004-2014.

All the hours I spent researching agents to make sure they were what I wanted and I had what they wanted and that I was meeting all their various requirements for submission.  The various versions of query letters typed and edited and worried over.  So much time. 

I don't even want to try to do the math on how much time I spent just on the querying/submitting stuff.  Thinking about it makes me want to weep because all of it was wasted.  (Let's not even talk about the money wasted on stamps, envelopes and paper for outgoing hardcopy queries and for SASEs which always contained rejection letters.)

Ten years and countless dollars wasted. 

But I need to remember it.  Every time I get down about the lack of sales, I need to remember the ten years of no sales and no chance at any sales because the door to traditional publishing was being slammed in my face.  Every morning when I don't feel like posting another damn marketing thing to one more FB group, I need to remember that I am getting sales from those efforts as opposed to the monumental wasted effort I was putting out before to gain no sales whatsoever. 

So, maybe I shouldn't shred this pile of queries and rejections. 

ROFL... right.  Those suckers are toast.  It'll be another wasted effort, but it'll be one I'll enjoy.  ;o)

Never again. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Little Marketing 101

Okay, so FB has this thing now where you can use bold and italics in group posts.  Which is cool.  (Wish they'd let us use them for personal and page posts, too.)   But I've noticed certain people going a little BOLD crazy out there.  (And this holds true for non-FB marketing, too, btw.)

Just because you can put stuff in bold, doesn't mean you should put everything in bold.  Bold is for emphasis.  So having your entire marketing verbiage in bold means you're emphasizing everything.  And therefore nothing sticks out.  Same with italicsBold and italics together should be used very sparingly. 

Now, look at the above paragraph.  Which words do you see first?  You want to pick certain words to draw your audience's eyes to.  Those emphasized words are the ones that will stick in a consumer's head. 

verbiage TITLE verbiage verbiage verbiage.  On sale now!  more verbiage.  Only 99c.  links and junk and hashtags.

verbiage TITLE verbiage verbiage verbiage.  On sale now!  more verbiage.  Only 99c.  links and junk and hashtags.


Your brain picks up on the bolded words better in the second example because those words stick out.  'Oh, look,' it says, 'Title is on sale for only 99c'.  And you'll be more likely to go back and read the verbiage if the bolded words are interesting to you.

Plus, I look at entirely bolded posts as input overload.  EVERYTHING IS SO EMPHASIZED that my brain skips past it.  (I do the same thing with all caps, so sorry about that.)

When I see an entire marketing post in bold, it makes me sad.  I'm not sure what the thought is there.  Perhaps they're thinking that their whole post in bold will make them stick out from other posts.  I don't think it works that way.   As you scroll along reading stuffs, each post is an individual thing, not part of a whole.  If it was part of the whole, then I guess emphasizing all of your message would make it stand out from the rest.  Like if I bolded this entire paragraph, it would stick out from the rest of the post.  But when you're in the middle of a bunch of individual posts?  :shrug:

Think of emphasizing elements like seasoning on your food - sometimes a little goes a long way.  Choose your emphasis wisely and you might just get more attention.  Jus' sayin'.

Lord knows, I am not the goddess of all things marketing.  This is my opinion.  Take it for what it's worth.

By the way, Once Upon a Djinn is still on sale.  And I'll talk about the success or failure of that sometime next week.