Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas Eve!

Just in time for Christmas...  All of the Once Upon a Djinn book are now available at many of your favorite retailers.  Here are the universal links:

Wish in One Hand
In Deep Wish
Up Wish Creek
Wish Hits the Fan

Some of the retailers aren't quite ready yet, so if you don't see the one you prefer, check back.  I've also added the links for Amazon and Amazon print to make things easier for everyone.

I've also uploaded Rumor Has It, but I'm not seeing any links for that yet.  Soon, I hope.

Anyway, have a Merry Christmas!  See ya Monday.

Monday, December 20, 2021

When Fiction Becomes Fact

Back in 2015, I published a book... Project Hermes.  (First published as Bloodflow.)  

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.

Today, I saw this headline about a Swedish company that's developed a microchip to prove your vaccine passport status.  Umm, not only no, but hell no.  That's some scary shit right there, folks.

Microchipping people.  Not just fiction anymore.  Of course, I couldn't have conceived of this pandemic and the lengths certain people would go to with it six years ago, so the chip I came up with is designed to hold your citizenship status... and so much more... but the idea's the same.  

By the way, Project Hermes will be available in Kindle Unlimited for another month.  After that, it'll go wide.  Read it for free with your KU subscription today.  Or pick up a Kindle copy.  Or, if you're anti-Amazon, keep an eye out for when it goes live everywhere else.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Books 2 Read and D2D

Natural Causes is up at most of the D2D retailers now, too.  

I'm actually managing to snag all of the custom links I want.  Which tells me people aren't using that function at Books 2 Read very much.  I probably shouldn't be talking about this until after all my books are wide, so I don't lose any of my future custom universal links, but that would be kind of a dick move.  So, if you're out there and reading this, set your custom links so they SAY your book's title rather than a series of gibberish.  Like Natural Causes is "".

Don't know how?  If you're at your book's page at Book2Read, there's a little thingy near the bottom right that says "Is this your book?  Add additional stores."  (You have to be logged in, but if you're already logged into Draft 2 Digital, you should be logged in at B2R.)  

Okay, so you click that and then at the new page, on the left side, there are Link Tools.  Right there in the middle is Custom Name Your URL.  Click that.  Then type in what you want your URL to be.  If it's available, it gives you the option to Save.  And voila!  

By the way, while you're on that page, check to make sure they have all the links for your books.  If you're not having D2D submit to Amazon, because your books are already there, you have to add that link.  And at the bottom, there's a place to add your print book links.  Do that, too.  And every rare once in a while, links for stores D2D has submitted to are missing, so make sure those are there, too.  No use having a tool like this and not using it to your full advantage, eh?

To the gal who suggested I do this whole 'Universal Link' thing years ago, I'm sorry I ignored your advice.  But back then, I really only had Amazon to worry about, so I didn't think it mattered.  It does and I should've listened to you. 

So, now if I want to share my books with anyone, especially if I'm out and about, all I have to say is 'you can find it at 'books2read/<book-title>'.  Huzzah.  

OR, I can just tell them to find all my books at the Custom Page URL.  Mine is at  Easy Peasy, eh?

Hope that helps. 

Ahem, and I didn't get the genie books uploaded yet.  Maybe today.  

Monday, December 13, 2021

Updates and Junk

It's been a while since I did an update post, so here goes...

The work on Untitled Fantasy is coming along.  I'm on page 37.  Bad news is there are 310 pages left to go.  The good news is that even though this is going slow, I'm feeling really good about the results.  I still haven't made any progress on giving the dang thing a title, though.  Derp.

In other news, I've been working on getting the rest of my books live through other outlets.  Here are the ones that are complete (with their universal links link) and live through at least 4 other stores:

Accidental Death
Blink of an I
Sleeping Ugly
Ugly and the Beast
Cinder Ugly

Today, I'll be doing Natural Causes.  I'll also be doing all four genie books either today or tomorrow.  I'm trying to remember to update all the links on my blog side panels and the links on my pages up there at the top of the blog.  The verbiage is all over the place, but the thought is the same - get the books wherever you want them by clicking through to Books 2 Read.  

Anyway, it's not really that hard.  It's just tedious.  And when I tried to upload UNEQUAL with the title in all caps, like it is on the cover, it was rejected.  So, I won't be doing THAT again.  Derp.  You'd think they'd have some kind of warning at the beginning when you try to use all caps, but alas, no.  And you can't change the title after you've already sent the books through to the outlets, so I had to delist the book then delete the book and start all over.  Live and learn.  I tell you this so you don't make the same mistake.  So don't do that.  K?

I still haven't seen any additional sales from those outlets, but other than announcing they're not available wide, I haven't really done anything marketing-wise.  So no surprise there.

This year has not been a banner sales year.  In fact, it will be my worst sales year if I don't sell at least one more book.  And considering how bad last year was, that's sayin' somethin'.  

Eh, there's always next year.  May 2022 be better for us all.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Change It Up

Everyone's got their own way of writing, and that's a good thing.  Everyone also has their own way of editing, which is also a good thing.  As long as it actually is a good thing.

See, I have this usual way of editing my books.  I send the first draft to my Kindle, then I sit down with a big notebook and read the book while making notes about things that need changing.  I then input the notes and when I'm done with all of them, I send the next draft to my Kindle.  The second time, I generally input the notes as I go, once I get a page or so I enter them.  Other than that, it's lather, rinse, repeat until the book is as far as I can take it by myself.  At which point, the book goes to my readers so they can make notes however they make them and send them back to me.

It's a pretty good system that worked well for a lot of books.  So, I was working on that system for this book.  I did the first round and everything was fine.  Then I sat down to do the second round and it wasn't working for me at all.  And when things aren't working well, I tend to not want to do them.  I made about five notes and then I didn't want to pick up the book again.  Blerg.  

Then I sat down to input the notes, even though there were so few of them, thinking it might jump start the process.  Took like five minutes.  At which point, the general rule is to get up off my ass and go make more notes.  But the thought of that made me want to go play poker instead.  

So, what's a gal to do?  Change it up.  If doing the way I've done it for years isn't working, do it a different way.  Instead of making edit notes, I sat my ass down here, opened the manuscript, and started over from the beginning, changing anything wrong with the story.  I usually need the middle man, but I cut him right the hell out.  And it seems to be working for me.  Right now, anyway.  

Anyway, doing this goaded me into getting sixteen pages edited last night.  After only doing three pages during the previous session.  And two pages the session before that.  Yes, this deep, line by line editing is going to take longer, but I believe the end result will be closer to finished than the other way.  And if it isn't, well, at least it got me working again.  If it's closer to finished, I may only have to do a proofreading pass, which would cut the time off the end considerably.  We'll see.

The point is, there is no one right way to do any of this.  There isn't one right way from person to person, and there isn't even one right way for the same person from book to book.  Do what works until it doesn't work.  Then change.   If you feel like you're pushing yourself to work instead of being pulled by the work, mix it up a bit.  Do something... anything... a bit differently.  Hell, do it all differently, if you have to.  Put some jumper cables on that dead battery and get the engine to turn over again.  

At least this is working for me.  Your mileage may vary, but what could it hurt to try?

Monday, November 29, 2021

What NOT to Do

Last night, I sat down to watch the remake of the original movie for the series The Waltons.  I do love me some Waltons, doncha know.  I've seen every episode of the series multiple times.  And with the way entertainment is these days, I wasn't so sure I wanted to watch this remake.  But there was nothing else on, so I waded in.

It was bad.  So bad.  I mean, we watched it all (Hubs joined me about halfway through), but it was not good.  The acting was bad.  Most of the time, it was like they were reading the lines instead of acting the characters.  But this blog isn't about acting.  It's about writing.

And the writing was bad.  The dialogue was bad.  Good god, people.  Did you even think about how people talk to one another?  Especially how people talked to each other in 1933?  Some of the slang for today would not have been slang then.  I wish I could remember some of the instances, but I don't.  Trust me, they were there.  Glaring.  Spotlight right to the eyes.  

And it wasn't like writing the script would've been hard.  The movie followed the original plot for the most part.  They could've used the original script for petesakes.  Geez.

And whoever researched the historical period should be slapped.  1933... Virginia.  A black police officer?  Come on.  Really? And considering, it was post-Depression, so why the hell was everyone dressed so nicely?  Oh, sure, they put Mary Ellen in overalls, but they were nice overalls, like they'd been bought recently for her instead of the hand-me-down ones she would've been wearing.  And all the other children were so nicely dressed they looked like they were sporting their go-to-church clothes instead of the cheap, raggedy play clothes the children of a poor mountain family would've been wearing.  Everything should've looked well-worn, like they'd been passing the clothes down for years and making everything else by hand.  Hell, even when the dad was laying in bed in his long-johns, the damn things looked like he bought them online last week.

Did they even bother to watch the original movie???  They could've made it all so much better if they had simply followed the formula that worked so well it spawned a hit TV series that lasted for NINE YEARS.  (Okay, so maybe they should've stopped after Richard Thomas left, but that's just my opinion.)

Anyway, if you're writing a period piece or anything else, pay attention to how people talk to each other.  Pay attention to the period you're writing.  Otherwise, you'll leave your readers like that movie left this viewer... irritated and wanting to write a scathing one-star review.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Making 'The Decision'

To write or not to write, that is The Decision.  Whether it is nobler to suffer the vagaries of banging away at the keys or to make it, and all the stuff that comes with it, stop

This morning a writer friend of mine made the announcement that she's taking a hiatus from writing.  It's totally understandable, but it gives me a sad.  

I'm sad because it means more of her books won't be dropping onto my Kindle any time soon.  But I'm also sad because I know how hard it was for her to make this decision.  Lord knows, I feel like I'm never too far from facing the decision myself.

And I don't even have the health problems she's faced over the past few years.  Sure, it's harder physically to sit here and write for long stretches.  The wrists, doncha know.  And the hips.  And the eyes aren't what they used to be.  I'm getting older and the body has been through some trials in the past 51 years.  

For me, it's mainly the heart that keeps me wondering whether I should just chuck it all and take up throwing tires at the warehouse down the highway.  Not heart as in the thumping, pumping muscle.  That sucker is fine. No. HEART as in the will, the gumption, the driving force.  As in, some days I just don't have the heart.

Of course, it's also the other part of the brain that thinks all of these words suck.  Yeah, I know you don't think they suck.  You can't convince that pissy part of my brain it's wrong.  I've tried.  It's a futile battle.

Right now, I know of two other friends who stopped writing altogether.  (You know who you are.)  I had another acquaintance who stopped writing her own books and went ghost writer, so I'll never again know what books she's written.  Who knows how many others simply disappeared from the blog roll and the shelves?

Many of us make the decision during the whole 'finding an agent' phase.  It's hard to keep going when all you're doing is reading rejection letters.  Man, don't I know it.  If you make it through that intact, then you've got the 'sales suck' phase.  Also known as the 'why the hell am I doing this' phase.

I spend a lot of time in that last phase.  'Sales suck' morphs into 'everything I write sucks' which inevitably leads to 'I suck'.  Ever seen an ant lion trap?  The ant lion is a bug that makes a sort of funnel in soft sand or dirt and sits at the bottom of it under the surface.  When a bug wanders into the funnel, it starts to slide downward toward the waiting predator.  If it tries to get out, the ant lion spits more loose dirt at it until it ends up at the bottom and in the crushing mandibles of the ant lion.  The writing life is sort of like that.  For me, anyway.

Honestly, there's no shame in making The Decision.  At least there shouldn't be.  But there is.  Oh, I don't think other people cast shame on these writers.  I think the shame is all internal.  Each person who's made The Decision probably feels like they've given up.  They've let their dreams down.  They've let the pissy part win.  

Some days, it's the only thing that keeps me going.  Fear of the shame.  :shrug:  I won't let this bastard win.  Dammit.  

Most days I try not to think about it.  Soldier on and all that, doncha know.  

If you need to stop, stop.  Take a break.  Take a hiatus.  Regroup and re-evaluate.  Down the road a piece, you might be ready to forge in again.  Or you may find it freeing and never come back to this masochistic way of life.  But you may also rediscover your love of writing and jot little stories for yourself again, like you did when you were younger and full of hope.  No one can know what the future holds.

For me, I'm still at it.  I may take little unannounced hiatuses here and there, but not for too awfully long.  I'm not ready to make The Decision yet.  

Friday, November 5, 2021


As of this morning, all the A Model Curse books are at the bigger outlets available - B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc.  Plus, they're still at Amazon, of course.  And I have universal links for them all.  

Sleeping Ugly:
Ugly and the Beast:
Cinder Ugly:

Draft 2 Digital starts the whole universal link process, but you can add to it to a certain extent, so even though I didn't use D2D to upload to Amazon (because my books are already there), I was able to give Books2Read the links so all potential readers could buy at Amazon, too.  (Ebook and paperback.)  It's a wonderful thing.

Now, when D2D does the universal links, it ends up being some number in the link, but they give you the ability to customize the link, so you'll note that each of the above links shows the title of the book in the link.  Yay.

I think I already told you that Blink of an I is out and wide, but there's the link, just in case you missed it.

The only other book I have at this time that is out of the Kindle Unlimited program is Accidental Death.  I'll take that wide when its sequel, Natural Causes, drops out of KU next month.  

I'll miss the Page Reads, but they've been so piddlin' lately I couldn't do much worse without them.  

So, yeah, if you're looking for something to read and you've been sort of anti-Amazon all along, now is your chance to pick up these fine books at a retailer you prefer.  Unless you want a paperback, then yeah, you'll still have to go through the 'Zon.  


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Embracing the Old Stuff

 Every Wednesday, my most awesome and wonderful friend, Silver, posts a thing called Wednesday Words, wherein she takes a prompt and posts a snippet with that particular word in it.  And asks others to post their own snippet.  Today's word was 'telescope'.  And it made me trot out my first book.  (Because I don't think any other book I've ever written has that word and I can't seem to write to spec.)  You can read my snippet over there.  Warning: It's pretty bad.

And that's what I want to talk about today.  

Early writing can be awful.  Actually Fear Itself can't have been that bad.  It helped Hubs fall in love with me, after all.  But it's not where I am right now.  And looking back at it makes me want to cringe.  

That snippet alone... ugh.  I used 'breathed' as a dialogue tag for pitysakes.  

It's nearly 18 years since I started writing that book, though, and I've grown a lot.  Thank goodness for that.  Eighteen years.  I don't know how many books I've written in those years, but 16 of them are now published.  One would hope after all that, I'd learned some things.  I don't use 'breathed' as a dialogue tag anymore, that's for damn sure.  LOL

I think every writer should go back and read the early stuff they've written, though.  It helps to see where you've been.  And then you can celebrate how far you've come.  

Even better, go back and try to fix your early stuff.  It helps stretch the editing muscles.  I still love that book, flaws and all, and I have tried, from time to time, to fix the writing.  I may do it yet.  I'm stubborn that way.

One thing you should never do is shitcan your old stuff.  You need it.  Even if you never look at it again, it's part of your journey.  It's your history.  It's like an old movie of you learning to walk.  You'd never destroy that because you walk perfectly now, would you?  No, you embrace it.  

Embrace your early writings.  They may suck.  They may make you cringe.  You may never want to ever show any of it to the world, because, frankly, it can be a little embarrassing.  But they're part of who you are now as a writer.  Don't cringe.  Smile.  The same way you'd smile at uncovered art from Kindergarten.  You've grown, sure, but that burgeoning writer is a part of you.  Embrace her.

Monday, November 1, 2021

The D2D Adventure Begins. Again.

 Yesterday began the not-hard but totally tedious and slightly irritating process of listing my books with Draft2Digital.  I started out with what I figured would be easiest - a single title novel rather than a series.  

Most of the process is pretty simple.  But I knew that from the last time I went with D2D.  Unfortunately, they changed something.  Now, they make you pick one of their pre-set formats.  Which is probably awesome for people who haven't already formatted their books and don't have an idea of how to do it.  For me?  Well, let's just say things didn't go exactly as they'd gone before.  

Oh, the manuscript itself seems fine.  It's the front and back matter that gave me a headache today.  Their theme thingies were giving me weird spacing.  Like the pre-formatted list on my Other Books page suddenly had a BIG LETTER at the beginning of the list and was hard left-aligned while the other books were normal and tabbed over.  You know, like you want for the story part.  And I couldn't find a way to force it to recognize those first and last chunks as NOT BOOK.

Although, now that I think about it, maybe a section break would work.  I'll try that with the next book.

Anyway, I went with the simplest theme I could, unchecked some thingies, and ended up with everything looking pretty much like I want it to look.  And since this is Blink of an I, I don't think anyone's really going to get themselves in a tizzy over the slight differences.  :shrug:  I could be wrong.  Time will tell.

Anyway, it's a learning process I'm happy to get through.  It's just tedious.  And if tedious bothered me, I wouldn't have made it this far in the self-publishing thing. 

Since it's a learning process, I made a spreadsheet.  Shocking, I know.  But this way, I'll be able to keep track of where I'm at in the process with the 15 other books, as they drop.  I have a page with all my books and where they're at in the process, then another page with which outlets they'relisted and when go live.  And of course, a page showing what they're listed at and how much I'll make from each.  And what sold where.  And probably a tab each with links to the outlets themselves.  It's all very tabiful.  Do you hate me yet?  You know me and spreadsheets.  (Or if you're new here, you don't, but you'll learn.)

Someone mentioned that I might be able to get Amazon to let my books free sooner than the end of their contracts, but I'm happy to let them ride along and fall out naturally.  It'll give me time to work with the books as they come out without having all 16 dropped on my head at once.  And I can still utilize the free days and countdown deals until that happens.  Can't hurt, eh?

Okay, so Blink is out to a variety of outlets.  Six of them are already showing published.  Two of them are foreign, so unless you read in German (the link's not ready yet) or French, they're not for you.  Two of them are for borrowing from libraries, so I can't post the links because I don't have the apps for that.  But it's also now at B&N and Kobo, which I can actually see.  I'm waiting on Apple, two services I've never heard of, and Hoopla (another library service).  Hoopla is supposed to take a while, so don't jump right over there.

Today, barring acts of payjob and any minor apocalypses, I'll begin work on getting the A Model Curse series loaded and ready for bear.  SU doesn't drop out of Amazon until Wednesday, so I've got some time to work on the formatting for those.  I'd like them to publish together, if at all possible.  Fingers crossed.

And I'll be adding Universal Links to the Pages here once I get those finalized.  You know, because D2D provides universal links and junk.  Here's the one for Blink, btw, All sorts of interesting things D2D didn't have back in 2016.  Weeee.

Unfortunately, dealing with all this now is distracting me from editing.  Derp.  I'll pull me head out soon.  Promise. What I can't promise is when this next book will be ready for people to read.  :shrug:  If I could split myself into three people, that would help.  Busy busy busy.  Which reminds me I need to do something for the payjob before I forget.

On that note, I'll let you go.  Stay tuned.

Friday, October 29, 2021

So, A Thing Happened

So, a thing happened.  I can't remember if I talked about it here or over at The Writing Spectacle, but this is the gist of it...  Earlier this month, I got a letter from Amazon.  It talked about illegitimate page reads and how they weren't paying for those or some such nonsense. I read it, thought it was a general letter to authors in the KU program, and filed it in the Archives.  Then I dilly-dallied checking out my September numbers until a few days ago.  Imagine my surprise, when the report showed a big fat zero in the place where it should've shown money for my page reads.

Then I remembered the letter.

I went into the Archives and pulled the letter out.  I guess it wasn't for everyone after all.  At the bottom, it said if I had any questions to reply to the letter, so I did.  I got an auto-gram stating it could take up to 5 days to research my case.  This morning, I got a new letter telling me basically nothing.  It did assure me that my account is still in good standing, but reaffirming the fact that illegitimate page reads were not going to get paid for.  But not actually saying my page reads were illegitimate or what have you.

Basically what I took from the reply was that those page reads I had in September are gone and I have no recourse to get my big whopping $3.79 from Amazon.  Sort of a 'so sorry, Charlie, but you're screwed.  Thanks for playing and we appreciate your business.' kind of thing.

Except now I don't feel like I can trust Amazon to give me a definite accounting of what I'm getting paid.  I mean, it's always been a case of trust.  Authors have to trust all of their sales outlets to give them the right numbers and then to put the right amounts into their bank accounts.  We have to trust the booksellers to not screw us royally.  And I can do that.  I have done it for over 6 years now.  Except now I can't.

Amazon wants me to continue to trust them, but they don't trust that my sales are real sales.  As if I somehow got someone to make up page reads somehow and risked my account in order to bilk the big 'Zon out of less than $4.  I'm the chick who found a pricey cell phone at the lake and then did my damndest to find the owner, including waiting around at a safe location for someone to come pick up the thing.  I'm the gal at the Walmart who stops the dude whose dollar just fell out of his pocket.  I couldn't have been in on it.  And since I wasn't in on it, they have got to be somehow thinking there's a Robin Hood character randomly faking page reads so the little guys like me can have pennies out of the big KU pool.  I can't parse it any other way.  

And they want me to remain exclusive with them throughout all this.  Except if I can't trust them to report the right page reads to me, how can I trust them to report actual sales?  How can I trust that tomorrow they won't tell me my book sales are illegitimate and they aren't paying for those either?  =o\

I've been a good little author.  I was on the frontlines defending Amazon when anyone would say anything negative about them.  And they thumbed their nose at me.  

Now, taking my books off Amazon would be stupid.  They're still the biggest fish in town and cancelling my books on there would be like cutting off nose because I ran afoul of a skunk.  Still need my nose, even if sometimes it encounters something that stinks.  But I am taking my books out of KU.  I can't see any other way around the lack of trust there. 

Unfortunately, a whole bunch of my books just re-upped for a 90 day stint.  If you're a subscriber, and you still want to read my books through KU, you'd better get cracking.

I managed to get Ugly and the Beast out just as it was renewing.  And Cinder Ugly a day before it went.  Sleeping Ugly should be out on the 1st.  That's one series.  As for the rest of them, they fall out eventually.  

I had hoped to do some kind of sale thing, but right now, I'm too meh.  I need to start thinking about going wide with all of these, which means changing back matter, etc.

It sucks.  Truly.  And you might think 'All this over $3.79???', but what if it was $379?  Or $3790?  Put it another way... What if it was $4 from me and $4 from you and $4 from every author in the KU program?  Why are we even in this thing if they can do this to any of us with no reason, no explanation, or anything?

They kicked me, who's no bigger than a guppy in the grand scheme of publishing.  I wonder how many other guppies they kicked this month.  

So, I'm out of it.  As soon as I can be out of it.  It was good while it lasted.  Time to dust off my Draft to Digital account and see if I can't pick my sales up off the floor.  A MODEL CURSE will be the first series to launch there.  I'll let you know about that and about the other series and singles as they become available widely.

By the way, don't look for me to do NaNoWriMo this year.  Maybe it'll be a NaNoEdMo if I can get my head out of my as... armpit long enough to get back to work on Untitled Fantasy, but there will be no new words.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Not a Real Writer

I've heard said time and again that if you don't show up and treat this writing thing like a job every day, you're not a real writer.  :shrug:  I guess that means I'm not a 'real' writer.  

Oh, the first year of publishing, I treated it like a job.  I was crankin' and spankin' on some writerly thing every day.  If I wasn't writing, I was editing.  Or marketing.  Or formatting.  Or doing cover stuff.  Or schmoozing.  I published 4 books that year.  For all that work, I sold 1017 copies.  Of course, during that year I spent just under $5000.  

The next year, I was still treating it like a job but treating it like a job was getting harder.  I published three books that year.  I sold 693 copies and spent a little over $2000.

Year three, the 'treat it like a job' thing fell apart.  I published 2 books and the numbers were 262 sold and $1500 spent.

I'd go on, but I think you can see where I'm going with this.  Maybe.  

When you look at the numbers, you might think: the more work I put into it, the better I did.  Or you can look at it the other way: the worse I did, the less likely I was to want to put the work into it.  It's the latter.  

Oh, I do see an uptick in sales when I'm putting more effort (and more money, by the way) into it, but it's rarely enough of an uptick to make it seem worthwhile.  I'm sitting here shelling out funds I don't really have to make sales that don't even come close to covering what I spent.  The reality of that is that I can no longer justify the outgo.  In money or in time spent.

I realize that last part there might make it seem like I'm prepping y'all for an announcement that I'm quitting.  I'm not.  I'm still writing.  I'm still editing.  It's just slower now and I'm more likely now to put time toward other pursuits that might actually give me something to show for my efforts.  If that makes me not a 'real writer' in others' eyes, I guess I'll have to live with that.  :shrug:

But when you get here and see that I still haven't progress toward the publication of another book, you might understand a little better where I'm at.  The last three books I published sold 30 copies.  Not thirty each... thirty combined.  The one book I published this year has sold just over 11 copies.  Numbers like that don't make me jazzed about putting in a full day at the job of writer.  

Add in the other, non-writing stuff that gets me in a bad place, and you can understand a little more.  

Of course, even to me, that all sounds like excuses.  If this was a regular job, I would've been fired years ago.  I'm not putting in the hours and I'm not making any money for the company I work for.  Thankfully, the CFO likes me.  And he sees all the non-writing things I do for the company as a whole.  And he appreciates the writing stuff I do do even if it's not making money, so I'm not in danger of being fired by him.

The CEO isn't so sure.  I may fire myself yet.  But not today.  

So, I'm not a real writer.  Not at the moment anyway.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe next year.  Until then, I'll be plodding along and hoping.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Industry News and Stuff

 A UK publisher of nature guides, etc. is talking about paper shortages over there in Europe.  I tried getting alternate sources for this, but was unable to find anything.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was true, but without additional sources, I can't trust the info.  Wait, I just found an article... which sounds more like a marketing ploy than actual news of a paper shortage.  A 'buy books now in case there's a paper shortage' sort of thing.  

In other writerly news, I saw a thread talking about the price of paperbacks in a mostly UK crime fiction FB group I belong to.  The general consensus was that people weren't willing to pay 15 pounds for a paperback.  Couldn't even conceive of why anyone would price their paperback at more than 15 pounds.  I didn't chime in.  I have at least one above that price point.  I had to or I wouldn't have made any money on that book.  As it is, I make about $1-2 per paperback, which is about 10% of any given book's price.  Considering I make 70% on an ebook, I don't think getting 10% on a paperback is too much to ask.

Oh, hey... Did anyone else get a super fun letter from Amazon earlier in the month about illegitimate ebook page reads?  I archived it because I didn't think it pertained to me.  Ummm... When I went to look at my previous month's sales to resolve the per page price for my spreadsheet, I noted that I'm not getting paid for ANY page reads in September.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  Since I did, in fact, have page reads in September, I un-archived the letter and contacted Amazon.  They're looking into it.  My page reads only amounted to 842 pages, which works out to less than $4, but it's the principle of the thing.  Someone out there in America read books 2-4 in the genie series.  1 person does not a scammer make.  And imagine if they cut $4 from every author in the KU.  Gah.  So, if you got the letter, check your sales for September before that option goes away on 11/1.  Otherwise, you'll probably be screwed.

If you're not keeping track of this stuff, you probably should be.  I know it's a pain in the ass, but better a pain in the ass than in the pocketbook.  And these days, every $4 counts.  That's like 2 loaves of bread and a half gallon of milk here.  Or a tub of Edy's ice cream (minus the tax) at Dollar General.  Two tubs of Great Value ice cream at Wallyworld.  (Heh, maybe I should measure everything in ice cream.)  Or, here in SW MO, a gallon and a quarter of gasoline.  

Anyway, that's the news I've got for you this morning.  Got any news for me?  

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Ideas are Everywhere

 A question writers often get asked is "Where did you come up with your ideas?"

For me, the general answer is 'everywhere'.  If the question starts with a 'how', the answer changes to 'no clue, they're just there'.  Where?  Everywhere.

Orson Scott Card* is attributed with saying: "Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any."  I don't necessarily ascribe to that.  I think I'm a good writer, but I don't get five or six ideas EVERY DAY.  I think I'd go nuts if I did.  I'd be like a puppy with a dozen different toys all thrown at him at once... GAH!

I do get ideas a lot.  The really good ones... the ones that won't leave me alone... they go into a Word file.  Most of the ideas never make it there.  

News stories often make for good ideas.  Especially for crime fiction.  Natural Causes got its kernel from a crime story that made headlines.  Of course, the book totally diverges from the real story, but the kernel is there.  

Sometimes, the ideas just come from my brain noodling through things.  Like with Early Grave.  I started with the idea that I wanted to do another SCIU novel and then I got to thinking about how I could write a suspense novel with a serial killer that's premise hadn't been done to death.  (pardon the pun)  I came up with the idea that someone was killing old people in nursing homes and making it look like the deaths were natural.  But I didn't want to do an Angel of Death thing.  This killer actually hates old people and wants them dead.  Then I remembered I'd sent Ned Washington to Toledo at the beginning of Fertile Ground.  Voila!  Plot, MC, Setting and we're off to the races.

Sometimes something that happens to you will give you ideas.  Accidental Death was an assortment of experiences, people, and events over the course of my life that rolled themselves into a novel.  

Of course, AD actually started with the basic question 'What if...'  The 'What if' is often a valuable source for ideas.  In the case of AD, the question was 'What if a death that they ruled was accidental wasn't?'  And it sort of snowballed from there.  

Every rare once in a while, I'll get a story idea from a dream.  That's where Untitled Fantasy came from.  Of course, the end product isn't much like the dream.  Hell, I can't even really remember what the dream was about.  I know I got out of bed afterwards and wrote down the crux of it and then when I got up, I transferred it into my Ideas file.  And then I started writing the book.  (Which took me a huge amount of time to finish.)  Like I said, for me, the dream ideas are rare.  Mostly because my dreams are too weird to translate into a story people would want to read.

So, really, ideas are everywhere.  If you can't see that, you're probably going to have a hard time as a writer.  Oh, you could still write.  Some writers only ever have one good idea and one good book in them.  Look at Margaret Mitchell.  She only ever wrote one book (even if some of her other scribblings have now been published) and it was BIG.  If that's your course, if you find yourself NEEDING to write that one book, do it.

Me?  I'll be over here fending off new ideas so I can focus on writing and editing the ideas I already have in the works.  Which, right now, means getting off my dead ass and working on this crazy fantasy idea I dreamed up.  

What about you?  If you're not a writer (yet), what ideas do you have that could be made into a story?  If you're already a writer, where do your ideas come from?

*If you're not familiar with Card, he wrote ENDER'S GAME.  Yes, the one they made into a movie.  He wrote a bunch of other stuff, too.  Definitely not a dude who was short of ideas.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Updates and Decisions I'm Not Ready to Make

Well, I finally finished the edit notes for Untitled Fantasy.  And I counted them, finally.  30 pages of notes - college rule, single side - for roughly 97000 words.  Or 1 page of notes per approximately 3200 words worth of story.  

As always, some are as simple as noting that a comma needs to be inserted or removed.  But I really try not to hit the simple stuff on the first draft.  Most of it is bigger stuff - rewriting a line, etc.  Some of it is huge, like rewriting an entire scene.  

All in all, though, this is a solid book.  Nothing that makes me want to scrap a whole chapter or anything.  

Okay, so maybe I'm unsure about whether to leave a large chunk of the end to the next book.  I'll either figure it out myself or let my readers tell me what they think.  But that's down the road a ways.  

I'm also playing with the idea of adding to the beginning because right now, it just sort of throws the reader into the thick of things without a whole lot of set-up.  (Not the main thick, but sort of the beginning thick.)

I had hoped to have this phase finished by the end of October, but somehow it reached the friggin' 18th of the month and finishing this phase in the remaining 13 days seems problematic.  We'll see how it goes.

And I need a title.  I had a list of potential titles, but I just looked at it and they all suck.  I'm not sure what in my head thought 'Time of the Twins' would've been a good idea... There's a Dragonlance book with that title already.  Nope nope nope.  Not riffin' off that series and don't even want a hint it's anything like those books.  Derp.  It's bad enough I've already got my name lending the impression I'm nursing at the Brandon Sanderson teats.  

Speaking of which, I might publish this under my maiden name.  B.E. Meissner worked for me when I was a maiden, so why not now?  

And I'm playing with the idea of trying to get this published through Baen or something.  Gah, the idea of querying makes me want to hurl.  But they have resources I don't have, so going with them would get me a better cover than I can afford.  It would definitely get me better exposure.  The question is whether they'd want an old self-pubber like me.  :shrug:

Decisions, decisions.  On the upside, I have a lot of work to do before I have to make a decision of any kind.  Yay for turtle speed.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Anything Can be a Weapon

 On FB the other day, I saw people arguing about whether or not keys were an effective weapon against assault.  You know the idea, I hope... Hold your keys with the points sticking out between your fingers and if you're assaulted, go for their face.  One dude was totally against it, saying you'd be better off going barehanded than with your keys because the keys could mangle your hands.  P'shaw.  I'd rather chance hurting my hands to inflict maximum damage on my attacker than not.

But the thread got me thinking...  In fiction, and in real life, anything can be a weapon if you're sufficiently motivated.  In the movie Die Hard II, John McClain kills an attacker with an icicle.  In The Presidio, Sean McConnery's character beats a guy up using only his thumb.  In Grosse Pointe Blank, the MC killed a dude with a pen.  

There's a reason jails make people get rid of their keys, pens, belts, etc. before entering.  Hell, prison shanks are made from damn near everything.  Sharpen a toothbrush and there ya go.

My aunt once stabbed her husband with a fork.  Not to kill him, mind you, but to keep him from eating the last piece of pie.

When I'm out alone at the lake, I make note of the various things within reach I could use to defend myself if need be.  I have a nasty fillet knife in my tackle box.  I have another nasty knife in my go-bag that I sometimes transfer to my pocket.  And I trained myself to be able to pull it out and flip it open one-handed.  I also carry pepper-spray.  I might not always be able to reach those, though.  So I look elsewhere.  Any rock or stick will do.  Hell, at the end of the book Red Dragon, the MCs wife hits the killer with a fishing pole - complete with lures at the end.  If you've never accidentally stuck a fish hook in your hand, you don't know what exquisite pain that can be.  In that case, the pain was sufficient to distract the killer and allow time for someone else to kill him.  Yay.

If it's pointy, a person can be stabbed with it.  If it's heavy, a person can be pummeled with it.  If it's sharp, they can be cut.  In Red 2, the Asian assassin kills a guy with origami, for petesakes.  Who says paper can't be a weapon?  LOL

The idea isn't necessarily to kill the other person.  Especially in a self-defense situation.  The idea might be as simple as giving yourself or your characters a chance to get away.  Stab the villain in the face with your nail file and run like hell.  Scratch them with your car keys.  Poke them with your stiletto heel.  Hit them with your purse full of whatever.  (In 101 Dalmations (the live action one with Glen Close), the heroine's purse was filled with stones she was collecting to pave her garden walk.)

Expand your idea of what can be a weapon and use it to enrich your fiction.  Or save your own life.  Whatever works for you.

What are some other unusual weapons you seen or read about?

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Updates... Finally

Sorry that it's been a couple months since I posted here.  If you've been following along over at The Writing Spectacle, you know why.  If not, I was helping a friend prepare to move.  That's done now, so I am trying to get back to my regularly scheduled life.  Which means writing... or rather writerly pursuits.

Yesterday, I picked up Untitled Fantasy again and got back to making edit notes.  I was a little over halfway through.  Now I'm a little bit more over halfway through.

I feared I wouldn't be able to get back into the groove after six weeks away, but I picked up right where I'd left off and it was like I hadn't ever stopped.  Which was totally cool.  Usually my brain is all like 'what the hell is happening here' and then I'm forced to go back and figure out where I left off.  Yay for brain cooperation.  

This is still a behemoth and I still have 42% of the book to make edit notes on, but I'm progressing again.  Now, let's see if the notes I made in July and August make any sense when I circle around and start inputting them into the manuscript.  

I've also been playing with the idea of writing that Christmas short story set in my genie world.  Don't get your hopes up.  I started that thing a few years ago and never got back to it.  But it would be a nice thing to finish and get out there in the world in time for the holidays.  We'll see.

One thing I really need to do is get back to marketing, but I'm not sure where to start and how well any of it will be received after all this time.  I mean, it's been a while since anything sold, so the rankings are in the basement and generally, whether we like it or not, that means people are less likely to want to take a chance on a new-to-them book with craptastic rankings.  It's best to market when you have a reason to market - like a new book out.  Since I don't have a new book out and I'm not going to any time soon, I guess I'll have to make up my own reasons and go for it.  Halloween is always a good reason.  Maybe I'll do a sale on the genie books around Halloween.  Maybe the model books.  We'll see.  Stay tuned.

Also, looking forward, we have a little less than three months to the end of the year.  Yeah, I know you don't want to think about that, but I need to.  Spreadsheets arem't going to make themselves and all that.  

So, what's on your plate these days?  What's up for the rest of the year?  Any plans?  Or are you hiding from the 2022 workload for a bit longer?

Friday, August 20, 2021

Last Day for FREE Genie Awesomeness

Today's the last day to get Wish in One Hand for free.  Well, until the next time it's free.  Which probably won't be until 2022.  So, if you want to read it for free and don't want to wait, I suggest you hie yourself to Amazon and download yourself a copy.  Tomorrow the price goes back to $3.99.  Save yourself four bucks.

Just do it.  You know you want to.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Upcoming Book Birthday!

Lest you think I have, in my total immersion in this fantasy, forgotten my other books...

On Wednesday the 18th, it will be Wish in One Hand's book birthday.  Six years old.  Just a wee babe in the scheme of all written materials but probably, in book years, middle-aged or something.  

To celebrate, starting Monday, this first of my forays into urban fantasy will be free for five days.  If you enjoy it, I hope you'll pick up the other three books in the series.  

As always, all my books are available through the Kindle Unlimited program, so if you're into that, you can get all the Once Upon a Djinn books free with your subscription to KU and read to your heart's content.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Book... Err... Books

 Just so you know, I'm not dead.  And I really am working on the book.  Books.  Whatever.  

Okay, so it was a book.  As in singular.  Now, I think it might be several books.  A trilogy of books.  Each would complete an arc for the characters, with the overall main arc completed in the third book.  And subsequent books will follow the overall arc for these characters and this world.  

If I'm right, it'll go like this: 1) Training at the Academy 2) Hero Stuff 3) Epic Battle Stuff.  

Not sure if I can pull it off as three whole and complete novels, but I'm digging deeper into everyone and everything.  Fleshing it out.  Making it real.  And re-writing the beginning.  As I do this, I know it's going to be a behemoth if I leave it as just one book.  So, the idea now is to make this one book into three books.  We'll see how that goes as I keep making notes and writing new words into the beginning.  

Fantasy... it's a bear, but it's so much fun.

And hey, since I'm not sleeping, I have plenty of time to write.  Right?

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Writing Spectacle

If you've tried to stop by my other main blog - The Writing Spectacle - this morning, you may have gotten a note that the blog has been removed.  I didn't do it.  They did.

Before I'd even finished my first cigarette this morning, I got the following note in my inbox:

Hello, As you may know, our Community Guidelines ( describe the boundaries for what we allow-- and don't allow-- on Blogger. Your blog titled "" was flagged to us for review. We have determined that it violates our guidelines and have made the URL unavailable to blog readers. Why was your blog removed? Your content has violated our PHISHING policy. Please visit our Community Guidelines page linked in this email to learn more. If we feel that a blog's content does not fit within the expectations of our Policy, we no longer allow it to be publicly available. If you think we've made a mistake, you can request a review at :link:, and we'll take another look. Sincerely, -The Blogger Team

So, I go to the link (which I've redacted) and it makes me jump through the anti-spam picture clicking thing to prove I'm not a robot.  Then it says it'll review my request sometime in the next two days.  

By the way, here's the verbiage of their Phishing policy:

Phishing: Do not use this product for phishing. This includes soliciting or collecting sensitive data such as passwords, financial details, and social security numbers.

I NEVER do any of that.  So, this is either a glitch or it's the beginning of the end.  I'll be here at Outside the Box as long as they let me.  I hope it's a glitch because I've had The Writing Spectacle since 2006.  Fifteen years of posts.  And not once have I ever tried to get any information out of any of you.  

Of all the things they could've used to kill my blog, that certainly wasn't the one I would've expected.  If you haven't read the 'Content Policy' lately, it's an interesting read.  For varying definitions of interesting, of course.

Anyway, I'll let ya know if they reinstate my blog.  For now, I'm going to suck down copious amounts of coffee and smoke a lot of cigarettes.  Guess I picked the wrong lifetime to quit drinking.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Writing and Editing a Fantasy is Hard Work

Writing a book is hard.  I mean, if you want to do it right, you have all this stuff you have to do and remember and juggle so it doesn't get lost and so every single thing makes sense.

Writing a fantasy takes hard to a whole new level.

Let's say you write a book filled with normal people set in the present.  You can pull from everyday to populate your book and color their world.  Then you write a book with not-normal people (paranormal) or set in another time (history/dystopian).  You can still pull from everyday for the setting or your experiences as a human interacting with normal stuff.

Fantasy has not-normal people in not-normal places interacting with not-normal things.  That's a lot of stuff you have to make up in your head.  And it all still has to be believable.

There still has to be rules.  You make a critter that lives in the dark, and it can't have attributes of critters that live in the light.  That sort of stuff.  You make a character with loads of power, they still have to get tired.  Eat a muffin.  Sleep.  Your rules can go against normal rules of physics, certainly, but they need to be consistent.  (An all-powerful magic user would get pretty boring, by the way.)

Anyway, I kind of understand why a certain author takes forever to get his books to print.  Although, one might think he'd have his world down by now so he could easily slip into it and crank out whatever book number he's on.  For the record, I don't read this particular author's books, but I hear people complaining about them and how long it takes.  Perhaps someone could suggest a series bible type thing to make the process quicker.  :shrug:

As I sit trying to make progress on the editing of this book... still haven't nailed a title yet... and find myself looking at the percent meter and barely seeing it move from day to day, I'm struck by how much harder this seems than editing my other books.  I built a world.  And as I was building it, things changed between the beginning and the end, so now I need to make the beginning match the end in all the world-building ways.  

I don't know how many pages of notes I have now.  A lot.  Everything from a comma to 'this needs to be moved over there' to rewrite this scene.  And I'm only at 9% as of last night.  That's like 9000 words out of 97000.  Blerg.  So, I guess what I'm saying is... if you're sitting around waiting for this to be done, don't hold your breath.  This shit is hard.  I'm loving it, but that doesn't make it any easier.  Might make it harder because I want this to be the best book it can be and that's going to take a lot of work.  

But I'll do it.  Sometimes I lay in bed at night wondering why I don't just go back to mystery and suspense.  Give myself an easier task.  But I started this and I am going to finish it.  I'm mulish that way sometimes.  And this will be so satisfying when it's done.

What's a task you've completed that you knew was hard going in but had to complete?  

Monday, July 26, 2021

Nothing New Under the Sun

There really is nothing new under the sun.  I was scrolling through my newsfeed this morning and saw a post by a cover artist I follow of a cover for a publisher.  On it was a beastie who looks a lot like the beastie I was just trying to draw.  (His was way better, of course, but then again, he's a pro and I'm a dabbler.)  

I assume his drawing was to the specifications of whatever author the cover was for.  Which means two authors who've never met each other pulled similar beasties out of their heads at nearly the same time.  

I've been thinking about this a bit.  I mean, look at the commercials - specifically the taglines.  Marketing people have to be running out of new things to say about their products, or they're becoming increasingly stupid.  (Here's one that's still new and fresh - with a cat - but most commercials aren't this smart.)  I wish I could remember the worst one I saw the other day.  It went something like 'Dog food  brand... because you have a dog'.  It wasn't dog food, but the gist was the same.  'Eye drops... because you have eyes.'  Maybe it was 'Skin cream... because you have skin.'  Yeah, that sound closer to right.

Anyway, with mankind having written stuff for centuries now, it's hard to come up with something totally new.  

I've talked about this before - a friend wrote a book, got it published, and then got crap about it on the internet because it's similar to another book that had been published a couple years prior.  I had read the previous book and I read my friend's book when it was still pre-published.  There were similarities in the plot and in some of the devices, but that's where the similarities ended.  One's book was lighthearted, the other's was more serious.  

So, my friend dropped her book.  Which was too bad because I thought it was the better book.  I had a major sad that the previous author did nothing to stop her fans from attacking my friend.  A 'hey guys, thanks for your support, but she didn't steal my work, so cut it out' would've been nice. And even sadder is that both books had a particular twist in them that was similar to one in a popular movie, so there really wasn't something NEW to 'steal' anyway.

How do we, as writers, keep this from happening?  How do we write something NEW when it seems like everything out there has been done already?  No clue.  I guess we write our books to the best of our abilities and hope that what we've created isn't too similar to someone else's work.  

You could, of course, read everything that's already been written, so you know for sure.  Heh.  You could research everything and change whatever seems similar, but you run the risk of 1) changing it so that it's now like something else and 2) ruining your own damn book.  

For my part, it's a matter of read what I can and research what I can and hope for the best.  Yes, I will probably change some basic things about the mistmorph.  (Have to research that name so I don't end up having named my critter something someone else has already used.)  Specifically, the quills running along its spine - which is what makes it exceptionally close to what that artist had drawn.  Other than that, I think I'm safe.  His had a wolf head - mine has a panther head with bat eyes and ears.  His was furry and mine is furless with slick gray skin.  Not really that big a deal.  

I really am trying to write this so that it comes off as fresh and original.  I already talked about having a similar name to another fantasy author which gives me a slight stumbler from the get go.  Nothing I can do about that.  People will think what they want to think whether there's a rational basis for it or not.  

And there's a slight plot device that similar to another popular book, but the actual thing and its mythology is, I hope, adequately unusual as to make that a non-issue.  

Is it any wonder fantasy novels take so damn long?  Maybe I'll talk about that next time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Wednesday Words - A Cloudy Snippet

 My friend, Silver, does this thing called Wednesday Words - wherein she takes a prompt and posts a snippet related to the prompt.  Today's prompt was CLOUDS.  Since I'm at a loss for blog material this morning, I thought I'd just share the words I left in her comments.  

To set it up, this is the bad guy... a dark elf intent on destruction... using his magic to control the dragon.

The sun had set by the time Uliph returned to Kingshead.  The snow was lightly falling, covering roads whose earlier layers were decorated sooty-black.  Uliph preferred the black.  It reminded him of the towns after his dragon had done her worst.  Soon, the soot here wouldn’t be from the scores of hearth fires belching their leavings from chimneys, but from fires on the roofs and the walls and the doors.  And the bodies.  Oh, how they burned brightly from the dragonfire.

Licking his lips, he reached out to the beast.  She was already circling over the city, far above the snow and clouds, waiting for his bidding.  At the touch of his mind, a flame jetted through the night.  Not as far above the clouds as I would like. The people might still see her and attempt to flee.  He sent his thoughts up to her.  Rise and hide.  

His mind encountered resistance.  The dragon was hungry and when she was hungry, she became unruly.  Uliph loosed magic in her direction and felt her cringe.  But she did as she had been told and rose above the clouds.  

The attack would come while these favorites of the Lady slept and not a second sooner.  If they saw the dragon now, they would flee.  Or they would try to fight.  The High Lord wanted his victims unsuspecting this night.  Time enough later to taste their fear.  After the shrouds were either destroyed entirely or had been pushed across this land that had once been theirs.  

It's totally first drafty, so be kind.  I'm working on it.  Really, I am.  I started making edits notes, which I will input later.  And I definitely haven't gotten to this point in the story.  

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Sale Starts Tomorrow

Since I'm done with the first draft and letting the words stew a bit before I start editing, I thought this would be as good a time as any to have a sale.  

Starting tomorrow, A Model Curse the trilogy (and complete series) will be available for less than $2.  Sleeping Ugly will be free through Saturday.  Ugly and the Beast and Cinder Ugly will be 99c each through next Monday.  Three books for $1.98.  Woohoo.

When a curse strikes a supermodel, all hell is gonna break loose.

Jeni Braxxon was raised to believe she wasn't good for much of anything but being pretty. Her career in modeling is on the rise until being cursed to turn ugly throws her world into chaos. Now, she has to learn who the culprit is and stop them, if only to get her pretty back. And along the way, she'll discover that what she was raised to believe isn't anywhere near the truth. There's more to Jeni than ever met the camera lens—something her enemies probably should've thought of before they starting messing with her.

They're also available on Kindle Unlimited and in paperback, if you're so inclined.  

They're fun and they're snarky, but they also have a bit of heart and a sniffly place here and there.  

Friday, July 9, 2021

Finished? Yeah, I Guess So

Once again, I wrote this and forgot to post it...  Sorry it's late.


Last night, I finished Untitled Fantasy.  At the time, I wasn't sure I was finished.  In fact, I said something on FB about it being finished unless my brain said otherwise while I was trying to fall asleep.  But my brain was quiet.  Well, other than starting the next book.  That didn't last long, though.  I told my brain to shut up and it did for a change.  Best night's sleep I've had in weeks.

Now I need to let the book marinate for a while.  A week.  Maybe two.  Maybe less.  The story will tell me when it's ready to be edited.  

I guess I really need to find a title for the damn thing.  Everything I think of sounds lame at this point.  No biggie.  Rumor Has It was 'Duke Noble 1' until it was time to make the cover.

From here, I need to wade into the book and decorate.  It needs paint and furniture.  Or frosting and fondant.  Whatever metaphor suits you.  

Anyway, now I can relax a bit.  This story I started in 2011 is finally done.  I'm pleased with it overall.  It ain't perfect, but its imperfections can be sanded away and polished up.  Yay for edits.

Oh, here's another song for you.  This one really speaks to the muse for me.  Bottom of the River by Delta Rae.  Watch the video.  It's totally cool.  I think she's supposed to be a witch being dragged out of her house in the middle of the night and taken to the river.  But she gets them in the end.  Hehe.  Fun.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Music and Words

Recently, I created a station on Jango specifically for this book, which is as close to a playlist as I'll ever get for my books.  I started out with the band Of Monsters and Men then added in The Lumineers and Phillip Phillips and then Delta Rae.  All artists that, for me, say 'fantasy'.

It has totally helped me get in the mood for writing.  Even when I don't feel like writing, once I throw this on, I can sit down and at least knock out a few hundred words.  And this is totally awesome, considering I've had a tough time these past couple years getting the words out.

Last night, I was in the process of knocking out way more than a few words when a song came on that was totally not in line with the mood I was going for.  Oh, it was in line with the general theme of the station, so I wasn't going to give it a thumbs down and have it removed permanently from the playlist.  I was just going to click next and move on.  But by the time I had made the necessary move from Word to browser, I was already hooked on the song.  Then I went to my search engine and looked for the video of it and listened not only to the song, but to the lead-in where the songwriter talks about writing the song and why he wrote it.  (The song was No Piece in Quiet by Delta Rae, btw.  It's pretty and kinda sad.)  

By the time that was finished, I was derailed.  Pretty and sad is fine, but it definitely didn't put me in a place where I could write the next BIG SCENE.  I mean, if the next scene had been a pretty and sad scene it would've been great inspiration, but the next scene is fraught with tension and action.  I need zippier music for that.

In the end, getting derailed was okay because it was after 8 anyway and I did already have over 1700 words.  The song probably derailed me because I was already getting tired.  My writing stamina ain't what it used to be.  I let it atrophy.  Still, I really should've just clicked past this song and kept writing.  Worked on rebuilding the stamina and all that.

What about you?  Does music help or hurt your writing?  If you don't write, does it help or hurt your focus on other things?  Do you ever just get derailed by a song?  

Friday, July 2, 2021


I've been struggling this week, trying to create an awesome climax for this book.  The big battle scene.  What's a gal to do when she's created a baddy so bad that nothing could stop it?  

I knew when I reached the point of actually needing to do something about the baddy that I wouldn't be able to sleep unless I fixed this.  The hamster was running hard on its wheel and not getting anywhere.  And it would continue to run.

So, I stopped.  I got up off my chair and put on my workout clothes.  This is the point where I'd usually go for a walk, but it's so hot and humid right now, I'd probably drop over halfway through.  Instead, I got on the exercise bike.  (Which I've moved into the spare room, positioned so that it looks out a window and I've placed the stereo next to it so I can listen to jams, too.)  Eighteen minutes on that sucker.

I still didn't have the answer, even if I was in a more-receptive place.  

I flopped into my recliner and vegged out while Hubs watch Mountain Men.  (He loves that show.)  And I let my mind wander over the problem.  I was determined to figure this out no matter how late I would have to stay up.  What to do.  What to do.  What to do.


I got right up, grabbed my beverage, and headed into the office where I made magic.  The answer was bloody brilliant, if I do say so myself.  

Plus, I got it all out and finished in time to go to bed at the normal time.  Of course, I was totally hopped up on cold coffee drink and iced tea by then, so while I had hoped to avoid not being able to sleep because my brain was turning over the problem, I still didn't sleep because of the caffeine.  

Time and readers will tell whether my brilliance was actually brilliant, but right now, I'm loving it.  

It looks like I will actually finish this book this time.  The hard part is over.  Now there's the denouement and some additional excitement as there's still a thing or two the characters have to deal with.  (Which actually might be dealt with in edits.)  I'm just over 89K words as of last night.  Maybe another 5K... perhaps 10.  

I do love epiphanies.  I wish they'd happen more often, but then again, they wouldn't be as awesome if they came more frequently, would they?

Monday, June 28, 2021

What's in a Name?

What's in a name?  Would an author by any other name write as sweet?

Years ago, when Wish in One Hand was newly birthed and out in the world, I stumbled across a website that trashes bad book covers.  (Yes, my original cover for WIOH deserved to be there.)  Only problem was one of the people trashing my book's cover went after my name, too.  

They accused me of trying to riff off of Brandon Sanderson.  Like this was some kind of name I made up to lure unsuspecting Brandon fans.  I posted about it on my blog and then went on about my merry way, because it's not like I was doing what they accused me of, we don't even write the same genres, and it wasn't like I was going to change my name.  

I'm kind of proud of my name.  After all, I chose to be a Sanderson when I married Hubs.  I could've easily kept my maiden name.  I chose not to.  I use my initials because it gives me some small measure of anonymity in this weird world.  And while I do like my first name, it doesn't necessarily say AUTHOR.  Some of you know it, most of you don't.  (Yes, it does begin with a B.  No, it doesn't rhyme with witch.)  So, B.E. Sanderson.  Tada!  (For the record, before I got married, I was B.E. Meissner online and in print - LTOE's and whatnot.)  

Five plus years later and I thought this issue was done.  But once something sticks in my head, it's in there.  So, lucky me, when I was laying in bed thinking about this fantasy novel I'm writing, the old criticism jumped out of my memory banks and slapped me across the face.  If you're not familiar with Brandon, he writes fantasy.  If I got tagged for being a Sanderson with an urban fantasy, which he doesn't write, how will people react to seeing my similar name on a fantasy novel?  

Blerg.  And since I have never read anything by him, now I'm wondering if what I'm writing is even a little bit close to what he's already written.  How gauche would that be?

Since I don't want to stop writing this fantasy, I'm debating on whether to switch back to my maiden name for this venture.  But I like my name... :whines:  And writing under a pseudonym is such a pain in the ass.  I'd have to go get a DBA registered and find some way to market that name without linking it to my name and... :collapses:

The really stupid thing about all this is that the need for any of this is so far away I really shouldn't be letting it hamper my writing.  But, sure enough, it derailed me.  Of course, I've already talked about this book using my name and I've posted snippets of it under this name and if I really wanted to divorce the book from the name I should've already started that process so there'd be a clean break.  :shrug:

It is what it is.  

Have any of y'all read Brandon?  He's like a big best-selling author and junk.  I so do not want to ride his coat tails, even a little bit.  I also don't want to get smeared as being someone who's trying to make money off his name, even if it isn't true.  He's got money for lawyers and stuff.  I don't want to get sued, but I don't want to stop writing my fantasy either.

I'm probably worried over nothing.  But on the off chance it's something...  Gah.

Yep, neurotic writer is in residence this morning.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Writing for the Love of Writing

Yesterday, my friend Silver posted about writing for herself.  Which dovetailed nicely into something I've been thinking about this week.

Why am I suddenly writing right now when I hadn't been able to write for a while?  I stopped thinking about what was marketable and started writing what I wanted to write.  If for no other reason than I needed to write again.  

Hell, the whole reason I never finished this fantasy in the first place boiled down to worrying about whether it would be something I could sell.  It's why I couldn't muster the will to finish Duke #2.  It lays beneath every unfinished novel I have on my harddrive.  Including the ones I didn't finish before I started publishing my own books.

Of course, back when I wasn't publishing, I was querying and the thought was more along the lines of 'why finish this is no agent is going to want to look at it?' Which in a circuitous way led back to selling books. Down the road.  Eventually.  

I get to worrying whether anyone will want a book and I lose faith in the book.  Yep.  That shit's a killer.

So, yeah, I picked up this old book I never finished and now I'm working on finishing it.  And still, the demon whispers that I'll never sell it.  I'll never be able to make a cover for it or buy a cover for it.  I'll never be able to pay for marketing.  Why bother finishing it?  

Because it's the book I want to write and I'm going to fucking finish it this time.  Screw the market.  I realized a long time ago that the market - as traditional publishing sees it - doesn't jibe with my set of philosophies anyway.  And no, that isn't sour grapes.  It just is what it is.  

There's a market out there for me somewhere.  It might not be huge.  Or it might be bigger than I think.  It's filled with people who want a good story, well-written and well-organized* and well-edited.  People who want to be entertained and maybe think a little while they're doing it (or not because my some of my books encourage rather than force you to think about issues).  I seek to entertain.  I seek to uplift through heroic actions when I can, but the entertainment is the priority here.

Anyway, you might not see me publish anything else any time soon.  I'm writing.  You also might not see me marketing stuff because putting all that effort into marketing and not seeing sales harshes my groove.  And I certainly don't need that.  

I'm writing for the love of writing again.  And that's all that really matters.

*Typing those words made me remember a particularly heinous reaction to a paper I wrote in college.  The prof said it was well-written and well-organized but he didn't like the topic, so he gave me a D.  (The assignment was to write a paper on some form of aggression.  I chose to write it on 'assertiveness as positive aggression'.  He hated that.  Buttwart that he was.)  Looking back, it was probably my first taste of a bad review of good writing.  He was definitely not my target market.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Floodgates Have Opened

After too long a time not being able to see the story... any story... the floodgates have opened.  My brain is being blitzed with idea bombs.  But do the bombs come when I'm doing nothing and have all the time to sit down at the keyboard?  Nope.  They come when I'm trying to fall asleep.

Last night was a particularly spectacular show.  The hamster-wheel in my head must've been hooked up to some kind of Van de Graaff generator and shit was sparking all over the place.  And I was all like "Doood... I'm trying to sleep here.  Come ON."

I did get up and write some of it down.  The rest?  Well, I can only hope that when it comes time to work on the story, my brain cooperates and shows me once more all the wonderful things it was trying to show me last night.

Unfortunately, when the floodgates opened, they opened wide and hosed me down with ideas for not only this book but the book after this book, wherein our intrepid hero and his merry band move onto the next part of their story.  

I seriously did not want another series like this.  But the story does what the story wants.  I wanted to finish this and then get back to Duke.  Unfortunately, the crime fiction writer hat has been thrown into the wind in favor of the fantasy writer hat... purple velvet with a pointy top gently crumpled over and replete with sparkly stars, comets, and crescent moons.

This probably isn't the best for maintaining a fan base, but... :shrug:  I can't do it any other way.  I can't force the story that my brain doesn't want to write.  Wish I could.  Can't.  

Right now, I'm just happy to be writing again.  Although I do wish I could get some sleep.  Thank goodness there's always coffee.  

Friday, June 18, 2021

Back in the Thick

I finished reading the unfinished manuscript yesterday.  And I started writing on it again.  Only 500 words, but it's a start.  It'll just take me a little while to get back in the swing of it again.

I bet you're wondering which manuscript I restarted.  It's the Untitled Fantasy from several years ago.  (I think I started it in 2011 and then wrote some more on it in 2019.)

I think Aryl and the gang deserve to have their story finished.  It's a good one.  New and fresh... I think.  Admittedly, I haven't read a ton of recent fantasy novels, so how ground-breaking it will be remains to be seen.  :shrug:  It's got some elements y'all will be familiar with - young guy, school for mages, dragons... the battle between good and evil.  There's plenty of new stuff, too, though.  Dark stuffs.  This ain't Harry Potter, folks.

As I said in a previous post, it's a behemoth, but some fantasies are.  I'm still playing with the idea of breaking it into a series.  Once I get it all written, I'll decide.  I'm not promising when that'll happen, though.  There's still quite a bit to be written on the first draft and a lot to be inserted in the second draft.  

But I'm excited to be back in the thick of it again.  Hell, I dreamed about it last night and figured out a plot point, which I got up and wrote down in the dark last night.  (With a dull pencil.  Luckily, I can still make out enough of it to figure out what I meant. LOL)

I still don't have a title for it.  I haven't named the kingdom.  Or many of the monsters.  (I have a lot of :insert bad critter here: littered throughout.)  But I have the magics figured out and how everything fits together.  Sort of.  

It'll be fun figuring it all out.  Or it'll kill me.  One or the other.  We'll see what happens.  Woohoo.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Deciding About Book Length, Etc.

So, yesterday on The Writing Spectacle, I talk a bit about what I'm currently doing.  I've pulled a forgotten manuscript out of the dank corners of my harddrive, shaken the dust off, and am reading it to get back into the swing of the story.  I'm still not ready to say which one, but I'd like to talk about a couple things regarding it.

I'm still not sure if this is one book or several.  It's already at 78K words and it's only 2/3rds of the way through the story.  Plus, I have ideas that need to be inserted throughout what I've already read through to make the story fuller and richer.  (I had an awesome idea last night as I was trying to sleep that I got up and wrote down.  Woohoo!)  That'll swell the story up to upgodly pages for a single title.  

I'm not super afraid of putting a big book out there.  Lord knows I have a few titles over 100K words out there already.  I just want to do what's right for this story.  

There are definite places where the story could be broken into three to make a trilogy.  Without making it too cliffhangery.  I hate stories that leave too much hanging from one book to the next.  

The genre could handle a single title of epic proportions.  It could also handle a trilogy.  

Decisions decisions.  

Any way I slice it, I'm still working toward having the whole story done before I decide.  It'll either be a behemoth or it'll release one after the other as a trilogy.  Which brings me around to another point...

Will the market bear paying for three separate books or would it be better to lay out a single book?  Personally, I like big books.  It's hard to hold them these days, but I manage, and if they're ebooks, even better.  I'd rather read one big book than three little books, especially when I have to pay for them.  But that's me, and I know I'm not the typical reader.

So what say you?

Monday, June 14, 2021

Doing the Job

It seems like I've come around to that time again,  You know the time... when I sit here wondering why I bother to write books and wondering whether my time would be better spent  by getting a job outside the house.  

Of course, who would hire me?  I haven't worked outside my home in 17 years.  

Seventeen years...  I've been writing now for SEVENTEEN YEARS.  God, that's depressing.  

Yes, I know.  I have sixteen books published.  And umpteen others in various states of finished.  It's not like I haven't done anything.  But if I had an employee who was so sporadic in her efforts, I'd have fired her years ago.  Hit the road, you lazy bitch.

So, yeah, I looked at jobs.  Writing, editing, proofing... you need a degree.  Umm...  I don't have one of those.  And I haven't been able to write to spec since I worked for other people (and even then, it was like pulling teeth).  Editing/Proofing other people's work?  Well, that would be fine if it was for other people I like who write the stuff I like.  I'm at the point in my life where I can't stomach reading stuff I don't like written by people I don't like.  

Why yes, I would like some cheese...

Anyway, I'm thinking housekeeping would be an awesome job right now.  Loads of places around here - resorts and things - are hiring housekeepers and the pay isn't too bad.  

Or I could just get up off my lazy ass and get back to writing.  The pay sucks and the benefits are for shit, but it's my job.  Maybe I need to get back to treating it like one.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Time for the Genie Sale

ONCE UPON A DJINN is on sale now. Get the complete fun, snarky, paranormal, 4-book series for less than the regular price of one. And the last book is FREE worldwide for the next 5 days. (They're all always free with Kindle Unlimited.)


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If you haven't read the last book yet, now's the time.