I write like
Jack London

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Just Another New Year's Eve

This blog post is repeated every year on this day.

Here's what I'll be listening to when the clock strikes midnight, my own little tradition over the decades. Happy New Year to everyone.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Zombie Wedding

Zombie Wedding has been uploaded with retailers and went live first on Smashwords at 12:35 AM this morning.  Literally, at 12:36 AM, someone downloaded the first sample.  LOL  You gotta love real time stats.

[Edit to add: Zombie Wedding is now live on Amazon.]

[Edit on 1/3 to add: Zombie Wedding is finally live on Barnes & Noble]

Needless to say, the rest of my Versatile Blogger List will be posted Monday.  And I'll post 'BUY' links as soon as they're available.

I had a blast writing this novel. Hope y'all enjoy it!

Blurb
Samantha Ridgeway thought being turned into the walking dead by a freaky lab experiment was the worst thing that could happen to her. She was wrong.

Not only did her creation cause an uproar in the paranormal community—the fairies want her dead permanently—but her vampire boyfriend is pushing for an eternal commitment, she’s a bridesmaid in her brother’s shotgun wedding, and now a necromancer has emerged, wanting revenge on her for something she did when she was still alive. The hungry corpses he raises from the dead are relentless killers. Can Sam protect her brother’s wedding guests from becoming appetizers for the flesh-crazed zombie army? And how can she keep herself from ending up as the main course?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Recommended Blogs, Part 1

As a nominated Versatile Blogger, I must nominate fifteen other blogs in turn.

Today's list is solely for those of you pursuing a writing career. Tomorrow, I'll list the fun blogs.

Here's my must-read list if you're a writer:

The Business Rusch by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kris has been in this crazy business for over thirty years, as a journalist, a publisher, an editor and a fiction writer in multiple genres. She probably has more knowledge in her pinky finger than the lot of NY publishers combined.

The Writings and Opinions of Dean Wesley Smith by Dean Wesley Smith
Like his Significant Other, Kris Rusch, Dean's been in this business a very long time. He's seen it. He's done it. And he's willing to share.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing by J.A. Konrath
Yes, Joe can be a pill on his blog (and other people's). However, I admire the man for being on the cutting edge of the industry.

The Passive Voice by the Passive Guy
Passive Guy is the pseudonym of a long-time California contracts attorney. He posts terrific insights in the world of publishing contracts with a dry wit that will leave you in stitches.

Write It Forward by Bob Mayer
Bob takes his Special Ops training and applies it to the world of publishing. I highly recommend his book by the same title.

The Official Website of Jon F. Merz by Jon F. Merz
Jon is a writer/producer who really gets the concept of transmedia. He's turned his Lawson Vampire novels into a web series and is shopping the pilot for TV.

The Self-Pubber's Pub by Gerard de Marigny
Like me, G started self-publishing this year. The man has some wickedly funny observations on the business. Also, DH gave G's book, The Watchman of Ephraim a thumbs-up (which, if you knew DH, is nearly impossible to get).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award



Three weeks ago, my friend and regular reader Pat O'Dea Rosen of Reading, Writing & Rambling nominated WW&W for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks, Pat! *waves*

[Edit to add: I also should never write a blog before the first caffeine hit of the day. All misspellings of 'versatile' have been corrected.]

The rules are pretty simple:

Thank the blogger who nominated you.
Add the award pic to your blog.
Nominate fifteen fellow bloggers and let them know about it.
Share seven random things about yourself.

I'm going to start with the seven random things. Then I'll split my blog nominations over the next two days.

1)  I collect Barbie dolls. I SERIOUSLY collect Barbie dolls. As in I have a storage unit for them. I've started giving them to nieces and friends' daughter for holidays, mainly to keep from having to rent another storage unit.

2)  My birthday is the day before Halloween. DH was literally born on a Friday the 13th. We tell people we're a match made . . . somewhere.  *grin*

3)  Dax is the first dog I've owned that I can't get to sit still for a photo.  I've got plenty of pictures of my other (now deceased) pets. But Dax? I just have lots of black, tan and white blurs.

4)  Some people think I'm one of those moms when I refer to my son as Genius Kid. I'm not. He officially tested at 136, but the child psychologist is sure the score should be between 150-160 because GK deliberately tanked a couple of the tests. I totally understand the character of Mary Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.

5)  I'm a bitchin' amateur cook.  Not in the league of Ivy from The Happy Whisk (who is a professional), but I make a mean chicken-spinach phyllo with alfredo sauce.

6)  I have no sense of direction. The GPS only makes it worse.

7)  Hi, my name is Suzan, and I'm a chocoholic.  My last piece was last night around 10 PM . . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is It Starting?

Okay, I did lie a little bit yesterday. One prediction I did make was that all the folks who received new e-readers and pads for the holidays would start filling them.

What I've seen so far over the last month in sales:

1) A little bump over Thanksgiving weekend

2) Sporadic sales across all platforms over the next three weeks (i.e. one or two a week)

3) A nice bump just before Christmas

My guess is some folks were loading up stuff to read for the trip to Grandma's house. Even better than the sales was the lovely thirteen and a half hours of sleep last night.

So if you're not seeing bumps in sales just yet, be patient. I'm one of those people who got Amazon and Barnes & Noble gift cards, and I haven't had two seconds to shop yet.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Is It Over Yet?

I mean the freakin' winter holidays, not the indie revolution.

The management at the mall where I work thought it was a brilliant idea to open at 7:00 am. Which meant the boss and I had to be there at 6:30 am. Which meant I had to go to bed early last night and set the alarm for 5:30 am. Which means after all the festivities I didn't have time to write and schedule a blog.

No, that's not true. I forgot.

Goddess, I'm tired.

I see everyone else listing writing goals or publishing predictions for 2012. You won't see me gazing at tea leaves or a crystal ball. No one really knows what will happen in the industry between digital and print formats. The only writing goals I have are to get Zombie Wedding and Amish, Vamps & Thieves uploaded and the rest of the Seasons of Magick series written. Everything else is gravy.

I just need to get some sleep first.  Maybe for a week.

Or more.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Songs I Listen to Because . . .

For all my Christian friends, Merry Christmas. . .

Friday, December 23, 2011

Latest Industry News

Well, it's official. Stick a fork in Borders; it's done. The bankruptcy judge has signed off on the final liquidation of assets. This means the Kobo stock owned by the former bookstore chain can be sold and the remaining cash distributed among the creditors. Depending on the creditors' status, they are looking at 4-10 cents on the dollar.

Meanwhile, Amazon is claiming it's selling over a million units of the Kindle Fire per week for the month of December. If this is true (and Amazon is very reticent about letting anyone look at its books), writers are looking at some serious sales when these buyers/gift recipients start loading them in January.

Jeff Kinney, author of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, has sued Antartic Press for their parody "Diary of a Zombie Kid." Um, Jeff, even Madonna understood that mockery by Weird Al Yankovic means you've hit the big time. It'll be interesting how this shakes out.

Speaking of lawsuits, still no word on any settlement between author Christie Craig and the bozos who comprise the Texas Department of Transportation.  You remember TxDOT? The folks who have issues with a heterosexual couple practicing safe sex in a committed relationship? The trial is currently scheduled for early 2013.  (And yes, this is how backed up the courts are over frivolous lawsuits by idiot politicians.) Hopefully, Santa brings an end to the stupidity to Christie for Christmas!

I know lots of you are traveling today and tomorrow. Please stay safe. Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rankin and Bass Rule!

DH and I have a mixed marriage. A long time ago, we agreed that we'd respect each other's beliefs and that we'd give GK the freedom to decide which spiritual path he wished to follow.

But one thing I do sincerely confounds DH. For a non-Christian, I watch the holiday specials produced by Rankin-Bass Productions, Inc. with a fervor bordering on religious.

You see Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass were commissioned in 1964 to create a Christmas show built around the Johnny Marks' song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  That show has taken on a life of its own and has been shown on broadcast TV for nearly fifty years.

Actually, the character of Rudolph was created in 1939 by Marks' brother-in-law Robert L. May for a Montgomery Ward Christmas coloring book giveaway. They added the characters of Yukon Cornelius, the Abominable Snowman, and my favorite Hermie, the elf who desperately wants to be a dentist, not a toymaker.

Anyway, every year DH points out that it's a Christmas special. But if the show is about the Christian religion, why doesn't Santa (aka St. Nicolas of Myra) exhibit any Christian ideals? He rejects Rudolph outright for being 'different'.  Yet, it's Rudolph, after repeated isolation and verbal abuse, who saves Santa's ass. My counter-argument is Rudolph is the representation of the Horned God. Maybe, both Christians and Pagans should take the real message to heart--that we all need to work together to make the world a wonderful place.



[On a side note: By the time I got to college, the show had evolved into a drinking game involving downing shots everytime the reindeer's nose lights up. I don't recommend using anything stronger than wine because you really DO NOT KNOW how much that freakin' nose glows in the course of an hour until you play this game.]

With the success of Rudolph, Rankin-Bass produced more holiday specials. Except for Aaron in The Little Drummer Boy, the Christian heroes in Rankin-Bass usually can't succeed without a little pagan help.

Kris Kingle needed the Winter Warlock's magic corn to give his reindeer the power of flight in Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. In the Rankin-Bass version of L. Frank Baum's The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, the producers stick with Baum's explanation that Claus was given the Mantle of Immortality by the Spirits of Nature. After a fierce debate, the spirits grant Claus, a lowly human, this amazing gift due to his kind and giving nature so he may continue his service to children.

But the best Rankin-Bass special ever is The Year Without a Santa Clause.  C'mon, the Miser Brothers, the avatars of winter and summer? How can you not sing along with them? And even better is when Mrs. Claus has a little woman-to-woman chat with Mother Nature to get the boys to cooperate.





Yes, Messrs. Rankin and Bass are too much! (And not a little pagan as well!  *grin*)

Happy Yule, Everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Book (Not Mine)

My non-lesbian partner, Nina Cordoba (her words, not mine) has a new book up on Amazon. Mia Like Crazy is not her usual romantic comedy.  While Mia has a few of Nina's trademark quips, the story is a gut-wrenching look at the aftermath of child abuse and its effect on two people's adult lives. Please be assured that the story does have a heartfelt HEA.

I hope you'll take a look.

P.S. Nina has some extras on her website.  The extras contain major spoilers, so don't peek until you've read the book.  You've been warned!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Marketing Experiment

In all the holiday/life brouhaha lately, I totally forgot that I didn't talk about the new cover and title for what was Seasons of Magick: Summer until Friday's blog. I went to link to a post I thought I wrote. Except I never had written it.

Oops!

Not only that, but I accidentally left the old cover up on the 'My Books' slot on the right. LOL Sometimes, I swear, I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached.

So anyway, as I said on Friday's post, my marketing person thought my cover and title were too plain. She also thought the title wasn't indicative of the storyline: a summer affair between two long-time friends interrupted by her zombie ex.

On the other hand, Seasons of Magick: Spring is my best-selling title even with its equally plain green cover and equally misleading title. My second best selling title is Creating a Business Plan for the Indie Writer also has a relatively plain cover, though the title does tell the reader exactly what they are getting.

So seriously, I don't get it when it comes to attracting readers. I follow the folks who've tried various things. I've watched what works and what doesn't. I'm confused about why some books with not very professional covers attract lots of readers, but others with equally good writing and marvelous covers do not.

Maybe it's taste. Maybe I'm just that visually clueless. Maybe readers approach enticing cover art the same way U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart approached porn--they know it when they see it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Status Update - December 2011

It's that most crazy time of year where we're all so busy with family and holidays that we barely have time to breathe, much less read. Those facts have been reflected in indie book sales, lots of of other folks' sales according to the gossip, not just mine.

On the plus side, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are reporting 400% increase in e-reader sales over the same period last year. Anecdotally, I was wrapping 1.5 iPads per shift at the Day Job (there's an Apple store down the hall from us) until the boss had to nix gift wrapping because we are just too busy this year. And from my experience this Christmas, customers are definitely wanting more bang for less moola, which is a plus for indies since the NY publishers don't appear to be lowering their e-book prices any time soon.

Personal opinion - we indies should see sales sky-rocket in January and February as folks redeem their gift cards and have more time to read.

Anyway, on to the actual numbers for November:

Fiction
Blood Magick -1
Zombie Love -2

Seasons of Magick: Spring - 3
Die for Me (formerly Seasons of Magick: Summer) - 7

Non-fiction
Creating a Business Plan for the Indie Writer - 1

Total - 14

Final note: My marketing guru suggested a change in cover and title for SUMMER. She thought the cover was too plain, the title unimaginative. Sales dropped after the new cover/title went live, but I'm not sure if it's relective of the overall e-book drop, the fact that it's not really linked with SPRING any more, or if the plainer cover did attract more readers. I'm going to leave Die for Me alone until the end of January or when AUTUMN is ready to be uploaded (which ever comes first). Hopefully, I'll have some more data for y'all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Lovin'

Today's holiday blog is brought to you by NWHRWA president emeritus and pirate wench, Jennifer Bray-Weber.

Some believe Valentine’s Day is the holiday of love. According to my husband, Valentine’s Day should be renamed Commercialism Day, meant to test men’s adequacy at expressing their feelings while draining their wallets. But I digress, and this post isn’t about the February holiday. It’s Christmas, and Christmas is the holiday of love.


Sure, Christmas is the season of giving, celebrations, and good will towards men. It’s a time of magic, twinkling lights, and the much anticipated 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon. Did I mention it’s a time for love? Not the kind of love shared with family and friends. The other kind.

Let me explain.

On Christmas Day waaaay back in ’88, I met a boy and before the day was over, fell in love. Stupid, head-over heels in monkey love. We were starry-eyed eighteen-year olds and soon, we were engaged. I didn’t marry the boy, but that didn’t diminish the special memory of him and that Christmas Day.

A couple of years later, my heart played tug-of-war between two mischievous guys on the naughty list. That was the Christmas my stocking was filled with professions of love. My open sleigh runneth over, and like any spooked female filly, I ran the other way—far, far away, with bells on bob-tail ringing.

Fast forward a hand full of years to a Christmas party. Picture if you will a rowdy office shin-dig. And as all rowdy, butt-Xeroxing, drunken office parties go, things got a little out of hand. Most especially when the man I was dating got on bended knee and asked for my hand in marriage. See the trend? There was definitely something in the eggnog. I had to put a stop to this madness. So I married him.

Now factor in a couple of children into the equation, both born in the month of September. What does late summer babies have to do with Christmas? If you do the math you’ll know that both children were conceived during the season of giving. Boy, was he giving. Because child #2 was a complete holiday gift (a.k.a. surprise!), my husband has decided to become a religious man during Christmas, specifically a celibate monk, not even breathing in my general direction for fear of getting me pregnant.

Now you see why I call Christmas the holiday of love. It’s also the season for traffic tickets. But that’s a topic for another blog.

Jennifer's latest Romancing the Pirate Adventure BLOOD AND TREASURE is available at Amazon and other find e-book retailers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ooh, Shiny!

Please welcome today's guest blogger: writer, editor and rock'n'roll goddess Susan Helene Gottfried.

"Ooh, shiny!"

It's become a catch-phrase in today's Internet culture. Back in the Disconnected Ages, I had a shiny of my own: Rock and roll shows.

You know: concerts. Pyro. Lighting. Men sitting behind drum sets and with guitars slung over chests. Live music, baby. There's nothing else like it.

Then comes the ultimate in shiny: one splash of light in a dark arena, even if that puddle is the stage or if it's the singer bathed in a narrow spotlight. There's magic in those lights. There really is.

It stands to reason that I'd love Christmas, right? It's the same spectacle: lights cutting through a dark night.

I do love Christmas lights, don't get me wrong. I may not be the world's biggest fan of those trendy synchronized light shows, but I simply adore the sight of a tree in someone's front yard that's been well strung with a set of white lights, a trunk whose beauty has been emphasized by what looks like blankets of bulbs.

The problem here is that, unlike when I was intending to work in the music business and be part of that onstage shiny magic, I can't be part of Christmas. Not really. Not without feeling like I've betrayed something essential within myself -- and that's before I consider how fast my parents would disinherit me if I strung up lights in the spirit of the season.

So I stare at the gorgeous yards of my neighbors. And the neighbors who live two, three, four neighborhoods over. After all, why limit yourself to an annual treat you truly love to gaze upon?

I come home from that light-gazing to a menorah, which I'll light for eight specific days. Candles, not electric lights. They burn down in an hour or three; they seep in around curtains and blinds and blaze all night long. They may flicker and dance and fill me with a sense of peace that Christmas lights never can, but ...

They're not Christmas lights. They're Hanukkah candles. They're a shiny of their own, they probably save my electric bill hundreds of dollars every year (Maybe it's only ten bucks. What do I know? I've never done it, remember?), and they set me apart.

But at the same time, they remind me that even if I buy blue and white lights and tell everyone they're for Hanukkah, I still won't fit in. This time of year, I'm an outsider, driving past, imagining the time spent decorating, the good-natured arguments between spouses, the mad dash to buy presents, the happy faces on Christmas morning.

Yes, it's an idealized version of how it probably unfolds. And yes, every year at this time, I'm glad I don't have to face the mad rush of grumpy shoppers or fight with my family over whose house we'll be going to, when and for how long. There are a pittance of benefits to being an outsider this time of year. I'll take them.

To all you who decorate for Christmas, thank you on behalf of us whose beliefs don't allow it. Thank you for your shiny, shiny lights.

Susan's latest short story, Mannequin is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.  If you're an indie writer in need of a quality, affordable editor, contact Susan through her website West of Mars.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Songs I Listen to Despite . . . Things

I remember when this first aired (my mother is a Crosby fan). There's so much subtext in this duet, much of which I didn't understand at the time. I'll let y'all puzzle it out.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Amazon Introduces KDP Select

If you self-publish through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, you should have the e-mail from them by now.

If you don't, here's the scoop: Amazon is extending to self-published authors an offer to be included in the Amazon Prime Lending Library ("APLL").  Payment will be made from a pool of money based on the total number of self-published books borrowed from the APLL versus the number of times your particular book was borrowed.

In other words, if no one borrows your book regardless of total borrows, you make nothing. The pool for December is $500,000. If there are a million total downloads in December and your book is borrowed once, then you'll make $0.50.

The other side of this little offer is the exclusivity clause. Your book can only be available for sale only on Amazon, no other retailers, while it is part of the APLL.

For those of you who have jamming sales on Smashwords, the iBookstore, or Barnes & Noble, it doesn't make much sense to jump on this offer.

Something else to consider is that you may have 100 borrows from the APLL, but no sales.  You'll be gambling that your ratio in the pool is high enough to offset the lack of sales.

On the other hand, if you're simply looking for visibility, this might be the program for you.  If anyone tries it, I'd love to hear how it worked for you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

De-stress the Holiday Madness

Today's December mental health post is brought to you by romantic suspense author Melissa Ohnoutka.

Brrrr….

As I sit and write this, it is finally feeling like the Christmas season here in my little part of Texas. The highs for this week are forecasted to stay below 60! After the blistering hot summer months and drought we had this year, it’s a really nice change. Shoot, even the cold rain didn’t bother me all that much. We even ventured out on Sunday when the rain slowed to a chilling sprinkle to cut down our Christmas tree. And what a tree it is. It sure didn’t look that tall or wide out there in the open field with the others. I think we may be having an ornament shortage this year. LOL

Ah, Christmas time. The time for compassion and sharing. The time to get together with friends and family to make those precious memories and play catch up with what everyone’s been doing. The time to reflect over the past year and be thankful for all the blessings.

So what the heck happens to my plans for a peaceful joyous season?

I love this time of year. It’s my favorite holiday. All the hustle and bustle that comes along with it, not so much.

Every year I tell myself I’m going to get better prepared. Make lists, shop early, get those Christmas cards printed and sent out before the 15th. And every year, it never fails. I’m always shocked at how fast the season sneaks up on me. Organization plays a key role in everything we do. I don’t know why I can’t get this through my thick skull. LOL It sure would make my life a lot easier.

I think it has a lot to do with procrastination. In my head, I’ve got plenty of time to run out and buy those gifts—-tomorrow. Or decorate that Christmas tree, or address those envelopes. Laundry, house work, writing. You name it and I’ll procrastinate before doing it. Time is just not on my side that’s all.  What’s a frazzled mom to do?

Tips I’ve found to be helpful over the years to de-stress during this time and still get stuff done:

1. Call a family meeting before December hits. And then delegate, delegate, delegate. Especially with the chores and normal daily routine activities. (I like this one a lot!)

2. Make those lists the night before. Keep that list close while you sleep. I always remember something I forgot around 1:00 a.m. And when I wake up the next morning, I have no idea what it was. Drives me crazy!

3. To tackle those things that need to be done at home, get out your handy dandy kitchen timer. Pick one thing. (Yes, just one!) Set the timer for 30 minutes and don’t stop till it goes off. You’ll be amazed at how much you actually get done in those 30 minutes of uninterrupted focus.

4. For those Christmas gifts, plan out your shopping trip a few days ahead. Draw maps, add stickers, smiley faces, etc. to your list to indicate priority, get those coupons organized and be sure to schedule a much needed break for coffee, tea or my favorite, one Route 66 Sonic Dr. Pepper. (Oh, you might put in a potty break as well.)

5. Finally, don’t forget to breath. Have fun. It will all get done. The main thing I try to remember each year is to not let all the chaos steal the true meaning of Christmas. Enjoy each and every moment and know that the most priceless gift of all was given out of love and didn’t cost a single penny.

Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year filled with lots of love and laughter!

Melissa's latest release, Target of Betrayal, is available on Amazon as well as other fine online retailers this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Mind Got Boogled

I'm sorry I'm late with today's blog. I should have written it last night, but I made the mistake of . . . wait for it . . . checking my Amazon numbers. Yeah, I know. Bad Suzan.

Except I found that Creating a Business Plan for the Indie Writer was listed at #55 on Amazon's Top 100 New Business Enterprise List for Kindle books.

I was shocked. Flabbergasted. Totally amazed!

I turned to DH and said, "Would you look at my screen?"

He groaned and rolled his eyes. "Don't tell me it's acting up again." He came over to the loveseat and looked at the screen. Then he tried to give me a high five. I was too stunned to lift my arm.

I tried to be good today. I went to the coffee shop and cranked out a few pages on the current wip as well as going over the edits for the first fifty pages of Zombie Wedding.

When I got home, I check Amazon again, figuring last night was a dream. (Because I've been having some freaking weird ones lately.)

Only to discover, not only was last night NOT my imagination, but Creating a Business Plan for the Indie Writer was now #85 in Amazon's Top 100 for ALL New Enterpise books (that's the list that includes hardcovers, paperbacks and e-books). It's currently #19 in the Kindle New Enterprise category.

This just blows my mind.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to my readers for all your support!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Penguin Has Entered the Vanity Arena

I voiced my concerns back in September when I questioned Is Traditional Publishing the New Vanity Publishing?

Penguin has answered with a resounding "Yes!" Apparently they learned nothing from the Harlequin Horizons fiasco two years ago.

Book Country is their entry into the vanity publishing field. $549 to ONLY FORMAT your book plus 30% fucking per cent of each book sold?

People, do me and yourselves a favor--just say "NO!"

Remember Yog's Law--Money flows to the writer!

The ONLY exception is if You the Writer is also You the Publisher!!

If you don't know how to format, then learn. There's lot of free advice among the indie gurus. If you really feel the need to pay someone, go read the how-to books by David Gaughran, Scott Nicholson, Jon F. Merz, etc., and spend the effing $5 these guys charge. Hire J.A. Konrath's formatter who's a hell of a lot cheaper.

But for the love of Murphy, don't pay Penguin for life for something you can do yourself!

Just don't!

Angry Sheep
Who Just Broke Her Fucking Soapbox

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Latest Industry News

Don't know if you heard about this?  Three weeks ago, execs for Kobo inked a deal with Rakuten, a Japanese internet company, to take over the e-book seller.  Indigo Books and Music out of Canada holds the majority of stock, but now-defunct book giant Borders Group Inc. still has their shares tied up in bankruptcy court.

For now, it doesn't look like the judge or the trustee in the Borders case will sabotage the proceedings. The Borders crditors are only getting seven to ten cents on the dollar, so they need this sale to through. The sale should boost Kobo's stock price so the trustee can sell the Borders shares and get the creditors a few cents more.

It sounds like Rakuten plans to reach into the West, just like Amazon is shooting for the East.

And yes, another publisher is "restructuring." Houghton Mifflin Harcourt plans to eliminate the Emerging Markets division and close their D.C. offices. Remember, kids. Everytime a corporation uses the word 'restructure', people lose their jobs. Merry Christmas, ex-employees.

And if you read this blog, then you know why I support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Movies for GUYS . . .

Since the All Hallow's Read Week was such a hit, I invited my writer friends back to tell us about their favorite December holiday stories. I told them the format doesn't matter. Pick a Rankin-Bass special, a movie, a book. The holiday doesn't matter either. Hannukah, Christmas, Saturnalia, Yule, Kwanzaa.To start us off is thriller author Will Graham!

As long time readers know, we take a great deal of pride here in being different from the rest of the world. None of this "It's a Wonderful Life" or "White Christmas" for us, and "A Christmas Carol" is for eighth grade English classes, pallies. The offbeat, the avant-garde, the unusual, that's what we're all about; conformity is for the rest of the world. Therefore, whereas, and because of all that, below is the Official Will Graham Guide to Holiday Movies for Guys:

LETHAL WEAPON (1)

The heartwarming story of two police officers, one white and one black, who come to brotherhood over the holidays while solving a series of vicious murders and simultaneously shutting down an international drug smuggling network. Lots of clever dialogue, tons of guns and explosions, including a shootout and chase down Hollywood Boulevard on Christmas Eve, plus a highly unusual use of the Family Christmas Tree to defeat the villains. The flagship of action movies in the 1980's, it's still more fun than it should be today.

DIE HARD (1) AND (2)

This is one for the ages: a lone cop single-handedly foils the plans of not one but TWO groups of Serious Bad Guys on Christmas Eve, both times to save his wife’s life; is that Love or what?!? Single Best Line of the series: in DH2: “How can the same shit happen to the same guy TWICE?” Excellent question, but ultimately who cares? (I always liked the DH series more than most other series, and yes, I saw the last one, LIVE FREE OR.... My reaction when asked was "I want that computer room; hell the FBI wants that computer room!") Take 'em for what they are, kick back, and just enjoy the ride. Here is a wickedly funny spoof from Ben Stiller: DIE HARD XII




ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE

James Bond saves the world on Christmas Eve. So what if it’s got George Lazenby in his one shot at the role? (Frankly, he wasn't all that bad, and I firmly believe had he given it a chance, he'd have grown into the role quite well.) It’s Bond, it’s Christmas, it’s Diana Rigg in mini-skirts and…… whoops, sorry about that one, ladies. But still, the former Mrs. Peel in a mini, well……… (One has to wonder if it would preferable to find Ms. Rigg in one's stocking Christmas Morn, or find her IN stockings Christmas Morn.... but I digress....) There were rumors floating around at one time that of all of the previous 007 stories, this was the one Pierce Brosnan wanted to re-make. Had Jane Seymour been cast as Tracy, well....

CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR

Just because. Tom Hanks stars as Charlie Wilson (D-Texas (of course!)), a swingin', singin', Rat Pack type of Congressman who actually made some things happen. There's a brief shot of a Christmas Tree in it, which makes it close enough to be included. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as he usually does, almost steals the show. Favorite scene? "That's why you're the Press Secretary, Boo-Boo!" Everyone needs to see this one on general principles.

A CHRISTMAS STORY

The Ultimate. The Gold Standard. The Big One. The All-Time Classic. Given the above four movies mentioned, this one is particularly ironic as it concerns a young man, a BB gun, and the running imprecation, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Any guy of a certain age can relate to Ralphie, nodding and smiling all through the movie. Darren McGavin was proudest of his role as "The Old Man" in this, of all his career, and he should have been. Melinda Dillon was Everyone's Mom, and Ralphie even had a Kid Brother to deal with. A wonderful story about being a kid and trying to figure out how Life really works. An annual tradition here (the Widescreen Collector's Platinum Edition,of course) but a staple of TNT/TBS networks, with TNT running it for 24 hours straight starting Christmas Eve. The A-Number One Hall of Famer for Guy Holiday movies.

Will Graham is the pseudonym of a licensed private investigator specializing in computer forensics. His latest book is Spider's Dance.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Holiday E-Book News

Barnes & Noble is advertising a free copy of the new James Patterson novella Merry Christmas, Alex Cross with the purchase of Patterson's latest novel Kill Alex Cross and one other Patterson novel IN ANY FORMAT from any B&N store.  Yes, you guessed it. The kicker is that customer can buy the harcover and an e-book from the physical store AT THE SAME time!

Plus, the customer has a choice of getting the free novella in the paper version or the e-version.

Maybe the execs at B&N do have a clue or two.  I don't have more details yet (another thing to pump the kids at the local B&N about).

This is an interesting development if B&N has developed their internal software systems to trigger a download to your NOOK or NOOK app from their stores' registers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Now Is an Excellent Time to Be a Children's Picture Book Author

First of all, a disclaimer--I'm not advocating any particular brand of pad.

Unless it's a ST:TNG style Data Padd (Reg. tradmark by Paramount Studios).

Anyway, I figure that the only way I'll get my Kindle back from DH is to lure him with a cooler toy.  On that note, I dragged him and GK to Barnes & Noble the Sunday before Thanksgiving so he could play with the new NOOK Pad.

(And before any execs from other campanies get their panties in a wad, I'll drag him to Target and Best Buy next weekend to play with yours.)

By now, y'all are thinking, For the love of Murphy, Harden, get to the point.

The point is I played with the new NOOK Pad as well. In fact, I flipped through the e-version of A Charlie Brown Christmas.  All I can say is "Holy Crap!"

The colors on the screen were so vibrant.  There were cool little Easter eggs for the kids to click on. It snowed, it jingled, and played cute animation when you correctly identified a character. This is exactly what J.A. Konrath is thinking when he talks about enhanced e-books.

Interaction keeps a kid's attention. So if you're children's picture book author, get your books illustrated and enhanced and up for sale now before my niece gets too old for them.

Please.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guest Blog by J. D. Faver

Need a hot read after a busy day of making Christmas cookies? Please welcome romantic suspense author J. D. Faver!

Hi Suzan!

Thanks so much for inviting me to be your guest today. I wanted to share an excerpt from my latest release, Bad Girl!

Bad Girl! is my sixth novel to be published and is the forth romantic suspense, although this one is the darkest yet.

My heroine is a very damaged dominatrix and the hero is a detective. Needless to say, they both have control issues. The subject is kinky, but it’s a mystery/suspense with a bizarre romance twisted in. The episodes of CSI featuring Lady Heather were the best ever and drew the most viewers. The theme of my website is Bad Girls Need Love Too…so my dominatrix is just another of my bad girl heroines.


Please visit my website/blog, follow me on Twitter and “like” my Facebook.

Blurb
The cell phone kept ringing. Kris refused to answer it, burrowing under her down comforter as the phone went to message. Tinker jumped off the bed just as the phone rang again.


“Damn!” Kris threw the covers back and slid out of bed. Her silk pajamas made a swishing sound against the sheets. She grabbed the phone and growled, “What?”

“Not a morning person, are you?” Nick’s voice was obnoxiously cheery.

“No, I’m fucking not!” Slamming the receiver against the nightstand repeatedly gave her some small measure of satisfaction. “What do you want?”

“Geez! I need to see you now. It’s important.”

“Get over that. I’m turning off the phone and I’m going back to bed.”

As soon as she turned off the ring tone, the doorbell chimed. “What now?” Kris growled.

Tinker ran to the door and delivered a volley of throaty barks.

Kris looked out the peephole to see Nick waving at her. An explosion of rage went off inside her chest. He’s stalking me. Throwing open the door, she grabbed him by his jacket and rolled back onto the floor, carrying him with her. Lifting both feet as she rolled propelled him over her and onto his back. He landed hard, his heels thudding on the floor. Leaping to her feet, she squatted astride him, clenching her fingers around his throat.

“You know,” she said, “if I crush your trachea not even God can save you.”

His chest rumbled with deep laughter. Heaving her off, Nick turned her onto her back, restraining her hands over her head. “Yeah, but I’ve got a good seventy pounds on you and that trumps your crushed trachea.”

Enraged, she glared up at his grinning insufferable face.

Nick straightened, releasing her wrists, but remained kneeling astride her hips, his smirk went viral.

Kris clapped both of her cupped palms against his ears, enjoying his howl of pain. She punched his throat with her fist, propelling him backwards. Springing to her feet, she kicked him in the face as he struggled to get up.

He fell back, striking his head on the corner of her kitchen counter. He gazed at her in disbelief, his mouth open. “Do you realize that you just assaulted a police officer?”

“Duh! You are one totally obnoxious cop. Arrest me if you want to. I am officially resisting.” She stood over him, dancing a little on her toes.

Nick exploded with laughter. “If you were as big as you think you are, you’d be dangerous.” He grinned as he pulled himself to his feet. “Am I being punished?”

“Shut up!”

A thin line of blood trickled from his lip. “Let me take off my clothes and you can spank me.”

“Don’t mock me.” She pointed to the door. “Get out.”

His expression changed as his brows drew together in a frown. He jabbed a finger at her. “You opened the door and you dragged me in here. I’m not leaving until you calm down and talk to me.”

Kris blinked to keep the tears at bay. “You can’t keep doing this. I am not available to you.”

He shrugged and headed for the door, but swerved suddenly. Grabbing her from behind, he lifted her off her feet, gripping her wrists.

She growled in protest, butting her head against his chest and kicking her heels against him.

“I didn’t want to have to do this but...” He handcuffed her wrist and fastened it to its mate behind her back.

Terror seized her in its cold grasp. A sense of helplessness mingled with the rage building in her gut.

He eased her down onto the sofa and stepped away, pointing a finger at her again. “Don’t kick me anymore.” He wiped at the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand.

Tinker barked and jumped furiously.

“I hope your dog doesn’t bite.” Nick rested his hand lightly on the holstered gun on his belt. “I’d hate to have to shoot him.” He rubbed his chin with his fingertips, massaging the spot where she’d kicked him.

“No!” Panic rose in her throat and her heart pounded. “Don’t you dare even think about shooting my dog!”

He quirked his head to one side, raising his brows. “I was kidding. You don’t have any sense of humor in the morning, do you?” His grin was only slightly more loathsome than the twinkle in his green eyes.

“I haven’t encountered anything funny yet,” she snarled through clenched teeth. Glowering at him as he looked around the room, Kris felt vulnerable and exposed.

Nick gave a little snort. “Well, you’re not standing where I am. This whole thing is pretty funny.” His eyes flicked over her body, the pastel silk pajamas clinging to her flesh. “I came here to question you, but you attacked me. I was forced to subdue you, so just chill out.”

He made a circle, touching the bare cream colored marble mantle and running his hand along the back of the pale micro suede sofa. He squatted down to scratch Tinker’s head. “You’re not so ferocious, are you, boy?”

He was in her place, touching her things, violating her sanctuary.

“Take these cuffs off me,” she demanded.

“I think I’ll just wait until you’ve cooled down a while. I kind of like this.” He sat down heavily on the sofa, his weight jostling her. “Have you been a bad girl? Do you need to be punished?” He pulled her across his lap and put his hand on her buttocks, gently caressing her.

She screamed, angry with Nick and angry with herself for getting into this position.

He swatted her twice. “I can see why you like this so much.” He turned her around to face him, holding her on his lap. His hand rested casually on her thigh. “What a firm body you have, Kristen, and so limber. Is that what you like to be called?”

She gritted her teeth together. This wasn’t supposed to happen. “Kris,” she hissed. She gave him a cold glare. “How did you find me?”

“I told you, I’m a cop. I have access to all kinds of cop information. I followed you from the time you left the diner Thursday afternoon. I went every place you went. I know the names of every man you were with, except the big guy you picked up in your car. What’s the deal with him?”

“He’s my martial arts instructor,” she said.

Nick grinned and shook his head. “You need to practice. Are you going to be a good girl now?”

Kris took a breath and nodded curtly.

He removed the cuffs.

Kris rubbed her wrists and moved to a chair across from him. They regarded each other silently for some minutes.

“You know,” he said, “You are beautiful, but you’re the worst tempered woman I’ve ever met.”

He moved the cream and lime green hand blown glass bowl Marla had given her for Christmas. Kris kept it precisely in the middle of her square coffee table.

“There’s a solution for that. Just stay the hell away from me.” Kris spoke to Nick but her gaze was riveted on the glass bowl, now displaced from its perfect symmetry.

“Can’t do that,” he said. “There’s been another homicide and the victim was wearing one of those cute little doggie collars of yours. His appointment calendar had your number in it. So you’re sitting right in the middle of my investigation. This is an official inquiry.”

His casually spoken words twisted her guts. She pressed her lips together and took a deep breath. “Are you going to make me ask his name?”

“Yes.” He was grinning openly.

“Just tell me his name,” she snapped, “and don’t be an ass.”

“Eddleman. Melvin Eddleman,” he said. “You don’t deny knowing him, do you?”

She was silent for a moment, struggling with her gag reflex. “No. He was a client.”

Nick regarded her solemnly. “I have to ask you if you killed Mister Eddleman. I wouldn’t have thought so until your earlier demonstration of strength and agility.”

She glared daggers at him. “I did not. When was Melvin killed?”

“Sometime between midnight and four Thursday morning. He didn’t go in to work or answer his phone so someone from the bank went to his place around noon to see if he was okay. He wasn’t.”

She tried to speak without emotion. “What happened to him?”

“Someone choked him to death and wrapped him up like a mummy in his pissy sheets.”

A strangled whimper escaped her throat. “That’s horrible! I can’t believe it.” A wave of nausea washed over her. “Melvin was a pathetic man. He wouldn’t harm anyone.”

“Shows what you know,” Nick leaned forward. “His employees made a long list of people who’d like to see him dead. Seems like your friend Melvin was a real son-of-a-bitch.”

“He wasn’t my friend.” Unable to restrain herself any longer, she nudged the glass bowl back to the center of the table.

Nick followed her movements intently. He lowered his voice almost to a whisper. “That’s right. You don’t have any friends, do you, Miss ‘I don’t need anybody’?”

“I have friends.”

“Who? I’ve tailed you for days and you haven’t had contact with anyone personally. No lunch with the girls. No date with someone special.”

“I like my life this way. I’m the one in control.”

Nick leaned back against the sofa, regarding her stonily. “From where I sit, it looks like you’ve controlled yourself into a big old box of empty.”

“And what do you have that’s better?” she countered.

He spread his hands. “Nothing. Not a damned thing, but at least I’m willing to put myself out there and be available in case something good comes along.” He stood up and took a few steps toward the door. “If you decide you can be available, come to my place Tuesday night. I won’t pay you. I’ll rent a movie and order pizza. I’ll hold your hand and you can get to know enough about me to decide if you want me as your friend.”

Kris followed behind Nick, anxious for him to be gone. “Just get out!”

Nick turned and cupped her chin in his hand. “You don’t have to wear spandex and you don’t have to bring your bag of tricks. I’ll take you just the way you are.”

He lowered his head slowly and kissed her like he was taking a bite out of her, capturing her mouth with his. His tongue invaded, stroking hers and eliciting a spontaneous reaction. He kissed her hard and deep before he turned and slammed the door behind himself.

Kris swayed slightly, rocked by the sensual impact of Nick’s mouth. Securing both locks, she slid down to the floor with Tinker. She ran her tongue over her lips, tasting Nick’s rough kiss. Closing her eyes, she laughed as an angry tear rolled down her cheek.

What a total ass!

Except that she had kissed him back.


For more information on Bad Girl! and my other books, please visit my author pages on Barnes & Noble
and Amazon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Songs I've Been Listening to a Lot Lately

I indie-publish because I'm Too Sexy to legacy publish.

(Sorry, guys.  I couldn't resist! LOL)

Friday, November 25, 2011

3, 2, 1 . . .E-Reader Lift OFF!

I knew the e-reader/pad wars would start in earnest today, but WOW!

Barnes & Noble had a commerical for the new NOOK pad during every break of last night's A Very Gaga Thanksgiving. (Yes, I forced the boys to watch Gaga. Since most of the songs were acoustic, ex-musician DH was suitably impressed with her vocal range, but I digress.)

For Black Friday, B&N has dropped the price of the basic NOOK to match Amazon's basic Kindle--$79. It's supposed to be 'today only while supplies last'. I'd lay money that this sale will crop up again before C-Day.

Overseas, Kobo has a new e-reader for the U.K. market. Bookseller Kyobo launched its own reader in Korea. And Amazon continues its fight for world domination with the soon-to-open Amazon India.

B&N, Amazon and Kobo, among other e-reader/pad dealers, are making their products available at big box stores like Best Buy, Wal-mart and Target. With all these device sales, personally I cannot wait for January because these new users will want content for their new toys.

Why do I say that? My sales have been a little blah through October and the first half of November, and I've been hearing something similar from other indies. But I've seen an uptick in just the last couple of days, so the fingers are crossed.

While the e-reader/pad battles for Christmas supremacy were expected, the content cold war is turning hot as well. Last week, both Penguin and Random House withdrew their e-books from library lending to patrons with Kindles (that's LIBRARY lending, not Amazon lending) because of the whole Amazon Prime book lending kerfluffle. Penguin relented earlier this week, but Random House is digging their Manolo Blahniks into the dirt on this issue.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, Amazon is reaching out to indie published authors with massive sales and asking them to allow their books to be part of the Amazon Prime lending service--for a price. It'll be interesting to see how many indies jump on this band wagon.

In the meantime, is Macmillan in deep trouble? Rumors of another "reorganization" (that's corporate code for kicking employees to the curb) by the end of the year are drifting through the air like snowflakes in October's nor'easter.

Can things get any crazier in the publishing industry this Christmas? The Magic 8 Ball says--Definitely!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Memorium

Today's industry news post is pre-empted.

I got home from the day job last night to learn Anne McCaffrey passed away late yesterday.

To me, Anne was the forerunner of mixed genres. She took dragons, the fabled enemy of mankind, and not only turned them into good guys but gave them a genetically engineered background. Her stories mixed romance and adventure decades before it was acceptable for a writer to do such a thing.

I first read Dragonflight nearly thirty-five years ago. To say Ms, McCaffrey influenced my writing would be akin to saying the sun affects a daisy. And I know I'm not the only writer who holds her in such regard.

May you fly with your dragons, Anne.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The True Meaning of Grace

For the last several months, I've been following Alice's Bucket List. This is the blog of a young woman named Alice who lives in Ulverston, England.

Alice has terminal cancer. She may survive past the end of this year. She may not. But in the meantime, she and her family are trying to live life to the fullest.

With Alice's sixteenth birthday coming up, I'm adding my request to hers. Please consider registering as a bone marrow donor. Yes, the procedure has risks to the donor, but your registration may be the one that saves a life.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Songs I've Been Listening to a Lot Lately

We indie-publish because We're Not Gonna Take It!

(Gotta love that audience participation!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The State of the Bookstore Address

Today was my day off, and I went to the local Barnes & Noble Cafe to crank out a few hundred words.

Roughly a third of the bookstore had actual books. There's now a huge toy section where movies and music section used to be. The cafe, gifts and calendars make up the rest of the store. I still go for inspiration when I write, to look at copies of so many books I've read, so many I want to read, and so many I'll never have time to read in the probable fifty years I have left on this planet.

I know this is a big box store, but frankly, there's only a Half-Priced Books and a little used bookstore left in our neighborhood.  Even Target and Wal-mart are cutting down their book sections. When I stopped at CVS to pick up prescriptions on the way home, their book rack, which was halved at the beginnng of the year, is being eliminated. The handful of books left were on clearance at 50% off.

Several folks have accused me of being anti-print. That's hardly the case. Looking at the loss of volumes on store shelves saddens me.

Logically, I know current publishing business practices cannot be sustained, and things must change. But paper books were my first friends, and I mourn their loss.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Plot Device

This is just so effing wacky and warped that I had to post this.  Thanks to Stacey Purcell for the link!

Plot Device from Red Giant on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Flash Mob - Dubai Airport

Something a little different for Saturday night 'cause this brought a smile to my face. Wait until the little kids join in for 'Proud Mary.'

(And thanks to Angie Benedetti for the link!)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Recent Indie/Trad Brouhaha

I'll leave my comment to the late, great George Bernard Shaw:

"I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it."

Actually that insults pigs. I'm going to check out the new holiday scents at Bath and Body Works now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Status Update - October and November 2011

Okay, okay!  Quit nagging me through Google searches, people!

Yes, I forgot to post September's numbers last month.  I've been working my butt off getting Seasons of Magick: Summer up and Zombie Wedding to my editor and proof reader.  (Yes, real writers, even indies, have their work double-checked.  Doesn't mean things don't slip through, but I try.)

Here's the breakdown by title for the month of September:

Creating a Business Plan for the Indie Writer (only available on Smashwords) - 27 (all copies were free using the coupon code from Indie University)
Blood Magick - 3
Zombie Love - 3
Seasons of Magick: Spring - 9

Here's the breakdown by title for the month of October:

Creating a Business Plan for the Indie Writer - 0
Blood Magick - 4
Zombie Love - 4
Seasons of Magick: Spring - 4
Seasons of Magick: Summer - 13

Only eight sales were on Barnes and Noble.  Twenth-seven were on Smashwords thanks to the Indie U promotional coupon. Thirty-two were on Amazon.

Summary for 2011: 5 titles available, 189 books sold

Are these numbers low? Yep, but it's my own damn fault for dropping the ball on production and promotion during July and August. I'm so not in a position where I can coast on my sales without any effort yet. This was my first big mistake of the year.

In the meantime, I'm stepping up production.

The next two novels of the Bloodlines series are written. As I said, Zombie Wedding is currently with my editor and proofreader.  Why is it already with the proofreader?  Because my editor said in an e-mail that all she was finding was typos. (Yes! *fist pump*)

Over Thanksgiving Break, I hope to have the first draft done on a short story featuring Sam, my zombie heroine. This will be my holiday present to my fans.

After that will be edits on Amish, Vamps & Thieves, then finish the first draft of Seasons of Magick: Autumn.

It's a crazy schedule for last two months of the year, but I'm determined to get it done!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Latest Industry News

I haven't done a news round-up for a while, so here are some tidbits and links to kill time with as you drink your morning java:

This morning we should have confirmation of the new NOOK Tablet.  Leaks say the new NOOK will have twice the RAM and storage as the Kindle Fire, along with a faster processor, for $249. Also, Barnes and Noble will offer the basic NOOK for $99 without the ads that plague the cheapest Kindle. I'll add the links once I can find offical word. [Editor's note: It's official.]

Yes, Virginia, the Pad Wars have started just in time for Christmas.

Remember how Publishers Weekly rubbed their hands with glee when Joe Konrath announced his hiatus from blogging and I said Joe wouldn't stay quiet for long? Well, Joe's been running guest posts be several of his friends with concise summaries by the man himself.

Amazon launched the Kindle Owner's Lending Library last week as part of their Prime package. I'm sorry, but $79 a year to only borrow one book a month? ONE? I don't think so Amazon. Sorry, guys, but I read more than that even on my current crazy-ass schedule.

Speaking of Amazon, the Threat to Holy Literature has expanded into Japan, on the heels of Amazon France, just in time for the Christmas holidays. (Do you think Jeff Bezos realizes that Christians are a minority in Japan?)

And in a reaction to Amazon, more of the Big 6 have decided to give their authors real-time numbers. What a fucking concept guys! My guess is only the Amazon sales numbers will be remotely accurate on these author portals. Let's just say I had a private conversation with a popular author. She was told she'd sold no e-books for the first six months of 2011, even though she's been ranked in the top 20% of sales on Amazon the entire time.

E-book sales are jumping despite the naysayers. Harlequin reported its digital sales rose to 7.1% of total sales through the third quarter of 2011. Bloomsbury reported similar increases.

Kobo keeps saying they will offer a self-publishing option like KDP or PubIt.  But it looks like Kobo plans to be very picky about who they accept from the looks of their website. This annoys me because Kobo's perfectly happy to accept my book if it's sent through Smashwords, but they don't want it from me directly. *sigh*

Instead, Kobo is imitating Amazon by opening their own publishing arm and going after already established writers. No wonder the Big 6 are sending out those draconian contracts.

Speaking of draconian contracts, I'd love to see the one Kiana Davenport signed with Penguin. I'm hoping they have the stupidity to sue her so it becomes a public document. The NYTimes had a piece sympathetic to Ms. Davenport's position of trying to make a living on crappy NY contracts. Publishers Weekly snarked that NYT was "justifiying her breach." (Believe me, I wish I could link to THAT one for you!) Um, excuse me PW, but what happened to innocent until proven guilty? Not to mention that Penguin REJECTED the same book 15 years ago!

And if you thought Snooki's books were a very bad idea (yes, two more are coming out and I won't make you gag on your coffee by showing you the disgusting book trailer), then you don't want to know that Lindsey Lohan's mom is shopping her own tome.  And no, I WON'T give you that link either. Not on a Monday morning.

Have a great week and get those word counts in!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Amazon, James Crawford and the Rise of the 'Bot Overlords

For once, I'm wearing my programmer and ex-lawyer hats as well as the writer/publisher hats.

On Tuesday, Galley Cat ran a story on indie writer James Crawford. It seems Mr. Crawford's book Blood Soaked & Contagious was priced at $0.00 by Amazon without his knowledge or approval. Dianna Dilworth's article at GC strongly insinuates that Amazon deliberately screwed Mr. Crawford out of the royalties of the 5,104 books that were downloaded during the free period.

The following is merely speculation on my part on how this happened:

Mr. Crawford states in the comments over at The Passive Voice that he'd distributed the free sample of his novel through Smashwords.  Even though he'd unpublished the sample, it remained on Barnes & Noble for some time.

So let's say the free sample of BS&C was still on Barnes & Noble's website when an Amazon 'bot strolled by.  The 'bot pulls out his master list. Ooo, same title and same author. 'Bot starts comparing the first X words of found book against his list. Perfect match. 'Bot runs back to Amazon's Master Computer, screaming "I've got one!" The Amazon Master Computer matches the price of the Amazon version with the version the 'bot found.

Now from a programmer's POV, I wouldn't program the 'bot to check every single word of the document.  Why? It's inefficient and slow.  If the first, let's say, twenty percent of the document matches, odds are high that it's the same document.  Mr. Crawford's free sample chapters fell within that X% sampling that the 'bot took. The 'bot's programming said, "If X = Y, then I go narc."

Now, I'm not blaming Mr. Crawford for the snafu either. It made sense to put out free sample chapters prior to releasing a book UNDER THE OLD SYSTEM of marketing to create buzz. Sample chapters with the same title because you WANT people to find your book.

The problem is that old system of marketing doesn't exactly work under the new paradigm.  When an e-book is uploaded to a retailer like Amazon or a distributor like Smashwords, they AUTOMATICALLY create a FREE SAMPLE.  The writer/publisher doesn't need to do that anymore.

Now I'm not saying an indie writer SHOULDN'T create pre-release buzz.  But he/she needs to look at alternatives under the new paradigm than posting a sampler on a retail site where confusion can happen.  Personally, I post the first chapter on my readers blog.  But there's lots of other methods.

On the legal side:

Smashwords's contract specifically states you're not supposed to post unfinished works to their site.  Both Amazon's KDP contract and Barnes & Noble's PubIt contract state that the retailer is allowed to price match if they learn that you're selling the e-book for less elsewhere. So the 'bot, based on its programming, assumed Mr. Crawford had posted Blood Soaked & Contagious at a lower price.

So neither side is entirely blameless. But I don't believe either side intentionally tried to do anything wrong either.  Should Amazon be liable for the royalties on the 5,104 books accidentally given away for free?  Regardless of intent of the parties, Mr. Crawford would have to prove he could have sold those books without the price drop.  That's going to be very hard to do.

The biggest problems here are:

1) Amazon's handling of the situation.  They should have handled communication with Mr. Crawford better after the snafu occured.

2) Programming of the 'bots.  Can the programming be modified to prevent such problems in the future?

3) Should Amazon remove Mr. Crawford's books from people's Kindles? Let's see. One pissed off writer versus 5,104 pissed-off customers. Nope, I can't see that happening. And if I were in Mr. Crawford's shoes, I wouldn't want it to.  5,104 one-star reviews from irate readers who had their supposedly free book taken away is not going to help my sales.  Not one little bit.

4) Galley Cat's handling of the story leaves something to be desired.  Kris Rusch wrote a pretty thorough essay on the yellow journalistic aspects of the initial story.  Look, I know everyone in trad-publishing looks at Amazon as the Evil Empire, but take a page from the LAPD manual.  Don't make the mistake of having racist cops try to frame a guilty black man.  It doesn't work.

Angry Sheep now stepping off her soapbox.  Have a terrific weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Survey Says . . .

Last week, the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood posted the results of a survey on reader habits they did. They had 311 responses to the survey. Despite some particularly snarky remarks in the comments, nowhere did they claim this survey was a scientific sampling.

Go read it.  I'll wait.

What I found interesting is that the No. 1 marketing technique matches my own research--word-of-mouth makes the difference in a writer's sales.  But how do we generate this buzz?

WRITE A FREAKIN' GREAT BOOK!

Okay, beyond the obvious, I think it's a delicate balance between promotion and engagement with others. I've seen several writers send out desperate tweets of "Buy my book" every two seconds. I've seen writers spend too much time on social sites to the detriment of their craft.

Jon F. Merz is a good example of balance. He started following me on Twitter. My little pecadillo is you'd better have an interesting website for me to check out. If you don't, I won't follow you back.

Jon had a cool website. His first tweet had the tagline for his Lawson series--"James Bond with fangs." I love Ian Fleming and vampires, so I had to check the first book out. Plus, Jon is gracious enough to respond when someone tweets him. Also, his tweets find a happy medium between his promotions and other life stuff.

I read Jon's book, loved it, and STARTED RECOMMENDING IT to friends and family, especially males who like the action hero genre.

Word-of-mouth--it's the best way to advertise.  Oh, and being nice works too.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Year. New Ways.

It's Samhain. Halloween. The Celtic New Year. And here's a New Year's resolution that needs to be heard and repeated. It's already happening in publishing. It needs to spread.



Video link courtesy of Pam Noles.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stephen is the King of Fear

Yep, it's my turn to talk about scary books for All Hallows Read.

Frankly, I'd never viewed books as truly scary when I was a kid. Washington Irving's Headless Horseman and Charles Dickens' Ghosts of Christmas were delightfully creepy but still enjoyable. In fact, I never met a book I couldn't finish. Not until high school. Not until my sister insisted I read a book she loved called Firestarter.

I got about a quarter of the way through the book before the nightmares started. Don't ask me why I had nightmares over a sci-fi thriller. I gave the book back to my sister. "Didn't you just love it?" I told her what happened. She shook her head in disbelief.

A few months, she handed me a book she'd borrowed from the library. "With all that weird stuff you read, you might like this one better." This time the book was Stephen King's Carrie. The nightmares were even worse than with Firestarter. It probably didn't help that I was going through similar issues in high school as the title character did. Once again, I stopped reading and returned the book to my sister.

She shook her head in disgust. "You watch zombie and vampire movies, and you can't handle this?"

I don't care what anyone says about Stephen King's writing. In me, he hit that gut-level response, the one you get when faced with the real possibility of pain and death. The one I've only felt a couple of times in my life, like when my car started sliding on ice and headed straight for a telephone pole. And in most of King's works, the real danger in not external, but internal. Literally, his characters are often their own worst enemy.

Maybe that's part of the reason I write urban fantasy. The monsters are an external force to fight.

On the other hand, I did manage to finish one of King's books. The title? On Writing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting Your Money Back on a Haunted House with Guest Blogger Robin Badillo

Considering Robin's fabulous vampire books, I figured she say Stoker or Rice were influences. Boy, was I wrong! Demon pig, anyone? 

FULL DISCLOSURE WORKS FOR ME!!!

To this day, I can’t say why I pulled it from the shelf of my high school library. Perhaps it was the title, maybe even the ominous glow of that attic with the spooky window panes. It may have even been the forked tail dangling from the H in Horror that forced the little voice inside my head, which should have been yelling NO!, to tuck tail and run, taking its warning with it.

Then again, the devil may have made me do it. Bwuahaha!

Who knows, I may not have noticed anything in particular about it at all.

What I do know is that it scared the bajeezers out of me. (FYI: bajeezers is a word my fourteen-year-old daughter made up for when there aren’t proper words to describe how you really feel without swearing)

To be quite honest, the story began rather slow, maybe even a bit boring so it must have been the promise of what I had heard was between the remaining pages that kept me reading.

The book, written by Jay Anson, was released in 1977, just a couple of years after the events depicted in the book supposedly occurred. The legitimacy of the facts are still controversial. Anson was said to have met with the actual couple, The Lutzes, and although did not officially collaborate with them for the book, did listen to around forty-five hours of tape recordings made by the couple explaining their experience in the actual house.

The first movie, staring none other than James Brolin, hit theatres in 1979. I read the book in the mid-eighties, at the age of 16 or so. I do remember seeing it on television a few years later, though I must say that the book left a deeper impression than any of the movies ever did.

If I had to take a stab at the reason why, I would say it was because I had to piece the scenes together with my imagination as I read, and that burned profound images into my brain that remain today.

I had nightmares for weeks after reading the book and always the same thing… flies gathered on the window outside my bedroom… buzzing…watching…waiting….

I decided way back then, that there were a few things I would consider when I grew up and bought a home of my own and these tips are why FULL DISCLOSURE works for me!! Now I’m passing these tips onto you:

1) If a realtor tells you someone died violently in a home you’ve considered buying and you elect to purchase it anyway and have it blessed, please listen to whoever you bring in to bless it, especially if they are blinded soon after, claim to have heard voices telling them to ‘Get out’, develop “stigmata” type blisters on their palms or all of the above.

2) If after moving in, you discover ANY room in the house that the family dog refuses to enter or if he/she cowers and/or whimpers when near said room, please take into consideration that the animal is called “man’s best friend” for a reason and… MOVE!

3) If you find hidden rooms, too small for occupancy that happen to be completely painted RED for no reason and the dog looks at you like you’re crazy for venturing in, please refer to tip #2 again.

4) If you find yourself waking every night at 3:15 a.m. with an inexplicable desire to walk down to the boatshed, rethink your options… this is a good time for a family meeting.

5) If your child claims to have an imaginary friend named Jodie, in the form of a demonic pig with glowing eyes, skip the psychotherapy and MOVE… immediately. DO NOT wait for said pig to float outside the bedroom window in the middle of the night, terrorizing your family.

6) If your spouse claims someone other than you is hugging her in the middle of the night and you both know for a fact she was ALONE in the room, don’t seek marriage counseling, she isn’t cheating… MOVE, before the entity snuggling up with her decides to move past first base.

7) If unexplained welts appear on you or your spouse while you’re in bed and this wasn’t from some kinky foreplay you’re just too embarrassed to admit to… MOVE… demons are one thing… demon Dom’s are quite another!

8) If flies gather outside your windows by the thousands, in the middle of winter… MOVE!

This isn’t a typical infestation, even if you’re in Texas. Yes, we have flies, but they don’t come in droves and cling to windows unless it’s slathered in honey and if it is… you’re weird and just asking for trouble.

9) If your husband spends an unusual amount of time sharpening his axe and even more time chopping wood without speaking or perhaps behaving stranger than normal… MOVE, the wood chopping is just a prequel to what is coming next … and it won’t be wood he plans to split in two.

And finally # 10) If your husband is shirtless and looks like Ryan Reynolds while he’s chopping wood….um, call me, I’ll take the problem off your hands right away and you can keep the damn house!!

***

Personally, I prefer sexy vampires and muscle-bound shape shifters any day, though I find all things paranormal intriguing and quite entertaining.

I hope you agree on November 15th when my latest novel, Midnight Beckoning releases right on the heels of Halloween!!

This novel has it all…incubi, damphyrs, vampires and even winged demons straight from the pits if hell. It’s a bit of a reach from my regular vampire novels, but still filled with romance, action and maybe even a couple of twists to keep you busy.

Happy Halloween!!

Want to keep up with Robin Badillo and her books?

Find her at any of the sites below:

Blog: http://www.robinbadillo.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robin.badillo

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Robin_Badillo

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/3zp5x2q

Publisher, eXtasy Books: http://tinyurl.com/3vmszta