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.