Writing–March Projects

green flowerYou may have noticed the lack of blog posts in the month of February. Or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you didn’t care. Whatever the case, the point is that you can expect random and fewer blog posts to be the norm for a while. My world is in a bit of transition at the moment, sort of like when I had the existential crisis last year, except it’s less crisis, more change.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing writer stuff. My goal to clear out my backlog of projects remains intact.

Last month I finished making notes on (Vampries) Made in America and it has all been put to the side for the moment. I’m sick of looking at it. I also finished revisions on Odd Section of Town and Firebugs and Other Insects. I’m satisfied with how they turned out for the most part and I think the next step for them is beta and minor tweaks/polish. I also wrote “A Ride in the Country”, which was actually less writing and more taking a chunk that didn’t make it into Night of the Nothing Man and revising it into it’s own little stand alone bit that will go into one of the anthologies.

Speaking of…

This month, I’m going to be working revising short stories that I’m going to use for future anthologies. I’ve already finished a revision on “Nadie Has a Dog” just a few days into the new month (productivity, what?). Also going to be revised this month “People Are Terrible”, “Cover Up” (a rough draft that I found that I think will go nicely in one of the anthologies), “The House Down the Road”, and “The Seaweed Man”. Of these four, it’s “The Seaweed Man” that’s going to take the most work. It’s going to be more of a rewrite than a revision.

Slowly, but slowly, the backlog decreases.

Writing–July Projects

Rainbow paperIt’s official. I am burned out on revising.

This revision/rewrite of The Timeless Man has been most successful. I think I’ve fixed most if not all of the major story problems that were plaguing it. It’s not nearly as boring now! Everything in it now has a purpose. The only thing left hanging right now is the ending. It needs to be changed, yet be the same, if that makes any sense at all. Don’t worry if it doesn’t. I’m not exactly sure how to work that either.

But since I’ve had my revising, I’m going to take a step back from that and focus some energy elsewhere.

The read of (Vampires) Made in America continues (I got a late start on it last month and I measure out the reading so I fully digest what I’m I’m dealing with). The ideas I had for fixes going into the reading are sort of not going to happen at all. It seems that the first draft was a better than I remembered it being, so far story-wise. There are some changes that need to be made, but they’re not nearly as big as I thought they’d be.

I’ll be honest with you. When I got to the end of the first chapter, the last line made me laugh out loud. Now that doesn’t mean I’m fucking brilliant or anything, but it did signal to me that maybe this story wouldn’t be so bad after all.

To counteract my revising fatigue, I’m going to write something new. Sure that seems counter-intuitive since I’ve already got a huge list of projects that need revising and duh, stupid, why are you adding to it? But I need to flex my first draft muscles more often than just in November. The idea is for a longer short story, possibly novella, something that I’ve been kicking around in my brain for a while. I think it’ll be nice to just take the month and play in that world for a while.

And finally, I’ve decided to journey back into print, at least for a while. I’m going to put together a special print edition of Yearly featuring Gone Missing. I may throw in the first part of Night of the Nothing Man, just to see if I can’t drum up some interest in it. If this project goes well, I might look into giving other projects the same type of treatment, most notably A Tale of Two Lady Killers, since it is a novel. It’s going to have sell a more than a few more copies before I commit to that, though.

I’m really looking forward to shaking things up in July. My brains need the break.

Writing–I Think I Got a Hit

YearlySo, Yearly has been selling pretty well, much to my surprise.

By selling well, I mean that it sold an average of a copy a day last month (the final count was 33). That’s pitiful if you’re someone else, but that’s fantastic if you’re me. Thirty copies of one title in a month is more that I’ve sold of everything else in over a year. I’ve sold over 60 copies of Yearly since its release in February. And things are already looking good for this month, too. If I could hit 100 total by June, that would be like meeting a goal I didn’t think I could even set. Sad, but that’s just how my writing career has gone so far. Slow build.

And by surprising I mean that I didn’t expect Yearly to do much of anything. It’s a short story anthology. I didn’t expect it to really hit on anyone’s radar. And yet, it seems someone finds it nearly every day. I’m not sure if this is the power of word of mouth or keyword searches or what, but I like it.

I think it also automatically sets me up for disappointment.

My own publishing schedule had me putting out something new next month. There’s almost always a surge of interest right after I publish something (except for Night of the Nothing Man, that’s just hated) because it’s new and people want to see if it’s worth the time and money. Inevitably, after that first week, interest disappears.

At least that’s the norm.

Right now, Yearly is a hit, but it’s also an anomaly. I’m not sure that the next thing I do will do so well. I may be a one-hit wonder instead of a chart topper.

I hope I can handle that.

Writing–Bestseller, Baby

Rainbow paperI am not what you’d call a bestseller in the strictest sense of the word. You wouldn’t even call me that in the very loosest sense of the word. If you add up all of the copies I’ve sold, it wouldn’t come even close to one hundred. It wouldn’t even break fifty.

I am definitely not a bestseller.

But, I feel like one.

See, I published Yearly at the beginning of February. I sold  twelve copies that month. Twelve! It took me months to see that many copies of Gone Missing. I haven’t even come close to that with anything else (Night of the Nothing Man has sold a grand total of three; Cheaters and Chupacabras has sold 8). So, to me, selling twelve of one thing in one month is huge.

And then last month, Yearly sold nineteen. Nineteen! Amazing!

It’s hard to explain to people familiar with the sales of Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, Nicholas Sparks, Nora Roberts, and the like how successful selling less than twenty copies of something can feel. But when you’ve gone your career until this point selling mostly nothing, when selling four copies of all total of every thing you’ve published in one month feels huge, selling nineteen of ONE thing in one month feels like some kind of arrival.

Okay, maybe that sounds overly dramatic, but like I said, it’s hard to explain.

I’m not the best self-promoter. I don’t have a very strong word-of-mouth existence. I’m not exactly clamored for. I usually know everyone who buys my stuff. when I hit the point that I don’t know who bought it, when I hit the point that it’s possible that strangers might be buying my work, I can’t help but get excited. It makes me feel like a real writer. It makes me feel validated.

It makes me want to write more.

Writing–2014 Writing Goals

short story class

Last year my big goals were revising The World (Saving) Series to the point of doneness; submitting seven short stories that were ready and waiting; working on a sooper sekrit project; and turning Night of the Nothing Man into a novella.

Of those goals, I managed to hit most of them. The sooper sekrit project hit several snags and skids and brick walls. It’s still there, but I still don’t know what it is or what I’m going to do with it yet. And I didn’t submit those seven stories. I submitted a few of them, but in the end, they got designated for an anthology. So they will get published, just not submitted.

Of course, the two big goals, World and Nothing Man did happen. Both of them done and one of them published (I’m still sitting on World, not sure what I’m going to do with it yet).

This year, similar things will happen.

Yet another of my novel manuscripts will be revised to the point of doneness. I think it’s going to be Spirited in Spite. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. And if I get it done early enough and I’m feeling adventurous, I think I’ll start working on A Tale of Two Lady Killers in the same fashion.

In novellas, I have three that need to be revised and one that I have an idea for and would like to write. I feel like all of that should happen. Novellas are kind of my thing right now and I feel like I should ride that wave all the way to the shore.

I need to get back on track with the sooper sekrit project, too. Even though it’s just sitting there, I feel like I’ve done too much on it to just shelve it. There has to be something in that mess I produced and I need to find it.

And that, friends, are my 2014 goals. They don’t sound like a lot, but believe me, it’ll be work.

Writing–Cover Me

Gone MissingI think it should be obvious that I create my own covers for my self-published titles. I also think the reason for that should be obvious: I am poor. I don’t have the money to hire someone to create a cover and frankly, I don’t think my penny operation is really worth the effort of hiring someone to do the covers.

So that leaves me and I think I haven’t done too bad of a job of it.

For my first self-titled venture, Rejected, I just used a cover generator type deal and it actually came out pretty close to what I was hoping. Yeah, it’s plain and not exactly creative, but it served the purpose.

For Gone Missing, I actually lucked out a little bit. There’s a bit of my great-aunt’s backyard that looked to me like a spot of woods that might be lining the town of the missing. I took the picture, added the text, and ta da! Cover!

For Night of the Nothing Man I knew what I wanted and I knew I was going to have to draw it myself. I’m no artist, but what I had in mind was simple enough. I wanted a crude shadow of a man standing on a hill set against a white background. Again luck was with me because it only took me one try to get the drawing just as I wanted. Then it was just a matter of adding text and whatnot.

Night of the Nothing ManKnowing that I’m the one doing the covers presents some advantages and disadvantages. While I don’t have to worry about paying someone who delivers substandard work, late work, or no work at all, I do have to accept that my ideas aren’t always workable because the person executing the ideas (Me) has limited abilities.

I also have to accept that I don’t always have ideas.

I’m facing that particular problem right now. I’ve got two projects, a novella and a short story anthology, fit to publish and yet…no covers. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do with either of them. This is kind of a problem because I sort of have this idea for publishing deadlines for them, though I have more time with the anthology than the novella.

I just paused writing this entry for five minutes to think about possible covers.

It’s something that’s going to bother me, always simmering away in the back of my mind until suddenly, the good idea will come to me.

Then I’ll just have to worry about being able to do it.

Writing–Nothing for The Nothing Man

Night of the Nothing ManPlease let it be understood that I never figured on becoming some best-selling author through self-publishing (although I will not deny how nice that would be). However, I figured it might be a way to make a few sales and a little money and at least have something to refer to when people asked me what I write.

However, something perplexing has happened with my latest self-published novella, Night of the Nothing Man. I thought it would go the same way Gone Missing did, with a few sales from friends and/or family after it was first published and then a surprise sale here and there. Maybe the sales would be a little bit better because it was the latest hit on the parade, but still nothing unrealistic.

It turns out reality couldn’t even measure up to my realistic expectations.

I haven’t sold one copy of it. Not. One. Not even a pity sale from friends/family. It’s both baffling and perplexing.

So now I’m stuck trying to figure out what went wrong and why no one wants to read it.

It could be that it’s because I priced it at $1.99 instead of $.99. That whole dollar might make a big difference. Folks might think it’s not worth that extra buck. I think it is, but I’m not the one looking for something to read on the cheap.

It could be that no one is interested in the story. I guess a stalking/chase yarn set in the 70’s may not be very appealing to today’s high-tech crowd.

It could be that I’m not flogging it as well as I shilled the first one.

It could be that I’m working a bit of reverse psychology on folks and people interested in Nothing Man end up getting Gone Missing instead because it’s a cheaper way to try me out because instead of selling the former, I have had a few more sales of the latter.

Whatever it is, I’d like to figure it out so I can avoid the same mistakes, whatever they are, when it comes time for me to self-publish my next venture. I’d like to see progress, getting more and more readers the more I publish, not fewer.

And, no, this isn’t a cry for folks to buy Night of the Nothing Man. I’m not trying to guilt anyone. If you feel so inclined to read the story, you can get it on Amazon and Smashwords. But, please get it because you WANT to read it.

Because in the end, that’s what I really want, too.

Writing–Format This

English: Eslite Bookstore in Taichung Chung-yo...

In my quest to accomplish my goals for this month, I need to publish Gone Missing and Night of the Nothing Man on Amazon.

My biggest obstacle to this is formatting the stories to be published on Amazon.

It’s my least favorite chore when it comes to self-publishing. I can do it, but I don’t like to do it. The act of following the directions so I can properly format my manuscript awakens some sort of perfectionist Kraken in me that makes my life difficult. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t strive to do my best; but that bit of perfectionist in me denies that I’m capable of anything close to best. So when the Perfection-Kraken comes out, the task becomes about six times harder than it needs to be.

And then there’s that tendency I have from childhood that demands I get everything right the first time. I need to be able to know it and do it immediately. The fact that I’ve done this before (even if it was a few years ago) amps up that demand. I shouldn’t have any trouble with this because I’ve done it before and once was enough. For whatever reason, this line of thinking also leads me to believe that there are no do-overs. That it is essential that I get it right the first time because I won’t be allowed to fix anything, which isn’t true.

Finally, there’s my paranoia that if I do mess something up, I won’t be able to fix it and it will break the delicate balance of the Universe and the blood rain will be all my fault.

Okay, what I’m getting at is that just knowing that I have to format a manuscript for self-publishing sets my anxiety choo-choo in motion, pulling cars and cars full of procrastination.

It’s only until I make myself do it that the anxiety abates and by the time I’m finished, I’m kicking myself for not getting to work on it sooner.

It was worse this time around because all I had to do was some minor changes and do a little battle with Night of the Nothing Man‘s table of contents. All told it took me about an hour, maybe an hour and half to get both of them done and uploaded.

Yep. Two weeks of anxiety and procrastination for less than two hours work.

At least they’re done now.

Gone Missing

Night of the Nothing Man

Writing–June Projects

Megachile sp. (Megachilidae)

I actually have things and stuff to do this month!

First of all, I’m going to publish both Gone Missing and Night of the Nothing Man on Amazon. I kind of hoped that Smashwords would be enough, but it’s not. They need a little more exposure. I want people to read my poor, little novellas, dammit.

Speaking of self-publishing, I’ve got the first draft of four short stories done for my possible new anthology, so I’m going to start revising them. I still need one more story to finish out the collection to fit with the idea I have, but I’m not going to push that. It’s a late year thing, if it happens, so I’ve got plenty of time to come up with a final story.

After leaving it along for about a month, I’m going to start polishing The World (Saving) Series. One of my writing goals for the year was to have this thing achieve a state of doneness and if I can get it to happen in the next couple of months, that’d be swell. What happens after that is a completely different goal.

And I’ve always got my sooper sekrit projects to keep me busy and make me feel like I’ve got so many pressing things to accomplish if my ego needs a boost and I need to fill some time.

June won’t be dull.

Writing–Write What You Know


It’s the oldest, most frequently given advice to writers.

“Write what you know.”

Writers have been rebelling against this advice for years now and they usually end up sounding like pretentious twits when they do it (at least that’s what I think they sound like). Their main argument is that if they write what they know, then there will be very boring stories out there. After all, nobody knows about distant planets and alien races, wizards and fairies, and what’s really going through a murderous ghost’s mind. That’s why it’s garbage advice. People HAVE to write what they don’t know.

To which I say, oh bullshit.

I’m embarrassed by the number of writers that seem to think there’s only one way to interpret this advice. I learned in high school that things can have many different interpretations. In fact, you can interpret some things to mean exactly what you want. Sports fans, politicians, and religious members have been doing this sort of thing for years.

So instead of writing off this old bit of advice as obsolete, let me show you how I interpret it. Because I do write what I know.

First of all, I write a story, whatever it is, because I know that story. I might not know certain specifics like Chicago street names or the exact make of a revolver or how long it takes before rigor mortis sets in (that’s a lie; I do know how long that is), but that’s okay. That’s what research is for. But I do know my story. I know my characters and their motivations and their circumstances. Things might change in subsequent drafts, but for that first run, I write what I know.

Secondly, I write what I know in my life, too. I write about small towns in the middle of cornfields because I know that. “Spillway” is set at a lake I went to as a kid. “Another Deadly Weapon” features a car wash in my hometown and the main action takes place in a house across the street from where I live. The tree in “Bigger Than a Squirrel” is the tree across the street, too. The garage in “Game Night” is my garage. The walk home in “Wearing of the Green” is a walk I’ve done dozens and dozens of times. The town in Night of the Nothing Man bears a striking resemblance in places to my hometown. I know all of those things.

But you don’t.

And even if you do, I’m hopefully presenting them in a new way to you. If you think that’s impossible, ask my friend Natalie about that car wash.

“Write what you know” isn’t bad advice. In fact, it’s very good advice.

If you interpret it that way.