Saturday, April 30, 2011

You Know You Have It Made When . . .

. . .when Weird Al Yanovic does a parody of your Top 40 hit. I can't wait to see what he does for the visuals for this! Weird Al's new album will be out June 21st!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Sound of Silence

Okay, I was up until 1AM, trying to get a formatting glitch fixed.  DH finally said to give it up and start fresh in the morning.  So alas, my plans to upload my novella to Amazon, then post the cover and blurb have been rent asunder by the vageries of tech weirdness.

I told myself it's a learning experience. Then I sucked down a few of bites of Ben & Jerry's brand-new flavor, Clusterfluff.

OMFG!  Peanut butter ice cream with marshmallow and peanut butter swirls and crunchy caramels bits.  Best new flavor B&J's has produced in the last couple of years!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Blog Traffic and Sales Growth

Wow!  You folks blew me away.

Why, you ask?

last night, y'all beat my second place monthly record for visits to my blog.

You see, I started WW&W on September 6, 2009.  Slowly and surely, readership grew, but I had two major spikes in my monthly stats.  The first, and still number one, record was a contest for Christie Craig's book Shut Up and Kiss Me back in April of 2010.  The second was the contest for a quartet of Carly Phillips books in July.

More people visited WW&W this month than July of 2010.  No gimmicks.  No contests.  Just me laying it out and hopefully y'all getting something entertaining and educational out of my ramblings.

What can you take from all this?  If you've gone indie or are planning to, you've got to be patient.  Sales won't happen overnight.  I'm only repeating J.A. Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith's wisdom, but you have to focus on the long tail.

And damn, I'm looking at an eighteen-month tail where only DH and my crit partners looked at that first post.

So, don't get discouraged, folks!  If I can grow this blog's readership, you can grow yours for your books.

Thank you so much for your support!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Coffee's Brewin' well as some other things.  The blog may be quiet for the next few days as I meet deadlines, both editor- and self-imposed.

In the meantime, here's another super-hero movie to look forward to this summer:

I'm a geek. Can you tell?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yog's Law in the New Universe

Jim Macdonald makes an excellent point about Yog's Law at the Making Light blog.  An indie author has to wear two hats, but the money (after legitimate expenses) still needs to go to the author.

In other words, you should have a line item in your business plan for paying yourself.  Otherwise, indie publishing is simply vanity publishing in disguise.

For the record, I don't agree with Jim's 10-15% per book for author share. Personally, I think that if you're paying 85% of each title you sell towards fixed costs, then you're paying way too much.

To break the numbers down further, here's what DH and I did for my business plan.  Let's say I hire Joe Konrath's cover artist, and he charges me $200 for the cover art.  I hire someone to format my e-book for $100.  I hire a freelance editor for $2000 (yes, that IS the going rate for legitimate editors).  I'd have to sell 1150 copies of Blood Magick on Amazon at $2.99 in order to cover my fixed costs.

Like any other business owner, I'm looking at ways to trim those costs and make a profit faster.  What if I hire someone looking to make a name for herself as an artist at half that cost?  What if I trade editing with other writers?  What if I do the formatting myself?  That bring my fixed costs from $2300 down to $150 (i.e. $100 for the cover art and $50 for the alcohol to my writer bud acting as editor).  Now I only have to sell 75 copies of Blood Magick to cover my fixed costs.

By the way, do you have a business plan?  Are you going indie?  Then you need one.  Trust me, it'll help keep you on track.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Big 6 Underreporting E-Sales?

If you haven't read this yet, I strongly suggest you read Kris Rusch's blog post from last Wednesday.

And if you're published with a traditional publisher, and they're selling your e-books, please, PLEASE check your royalty statements carefully.

All I can say is I wish I were surprised by this.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

And If I See Thor. . .

. . .then I have to watch Cap.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Summer's Almost Here

Anyone else making their summer movie list?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Author On Her Own - Tess St. John

By day, Tess St. John is a brilliant, sophisticated accountant whom I've had the pleasure to know for several years.  By night, she writes wonderful prose about dashing lords and provcative ladies in Regency England.

Tess's debut, Second Chances, is now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Lady Emma Easton’s elopement to an elderly earl shields her from an abusive father, until her husband’s death leaves her vulnerable once again. Only one man can protect her—the earl’s trusted friend, Viscount Drake.

After losing his wife, Lord Drake vows never to marry again. But his heart warms to the young widow he’s promised to protect. Emma’s love frees him from the darkness that’s consumed him. But now Drake must protect her from her father’s evil whims, or face losing her forever.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Author On Her Own - Tea Trelawny

I admit I'm just a tad biased here.  Tea Trelawny is one of the my valued critique partners, so I was thrilled when she said she was publishing a few of her tales by her little ole' self.  Like her other erotic romances, you need to be over 18 and have a large glass of ice water by your side (or your significant other) while you read this.

Tea's latest, Exposure, is available from Amazon.

Julie Monroe asks sexy photographer Jason Redner to take a boudoir photo for her, but she secretly plans to use the situation to seduce the timid hunk. His enthusiasm for the project surprises her, and the results of their photography session prove explosive for both of them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Emotional Mopping Up

Currently reading - Eat, Prey, Love by Kerrelyn Sparks (MMPB)

After I blew off steam in yesterday's post and after having a long talk with DH (who firmly believes it's easier to be sick rather than the helpless loved one sitting next to the hospital bed), I cranked out some work.

I finally got a tiny formatting problem fixed on the .MOBI file for Blood Magick.  This is the primary reason you should convert files yourself and review them before uploading them to Amazon, et. al.  Even though there was a space between two words in the .DOC and .HTML files, the conversion to .MOBI kept wanting to cram them into one word.

Then I put together the music playlist for writing Bloodlines Book 5.  The original pages for Book 5 were scrapped in favor of the terrific new plot Jody helped me piece together (for which I will be forever in her debt), and three new pages were written.  And then I edited the first two chapters of a short story that takes place between Books 2 and 3.  (Book 2.5?).

Mandy, my cover artist for Blood Magick, e-mailed a status update.  The delay is totally my fault.  I told her I was shooting for a June 1 release, and we agreed on a late May deadline for her.  The speed in which I got the manuscript (re)edited and formatted surprised me.  I wanted plenty of time because of the learning curve I faced.  But this is one of those things you learn through experience in the Brave New World publishing has become.

All-in-all a productive day once the emotional crap was mopped and dried.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cancer Sucks

I sit here facing a blank screen, and all I can think about is Jay Lake, and shit, this could have been what happened to DH.  And instead of editing my stuff or working on the new wip, which I should be doing, I want to cry and scream and rage.

I've never met Jay in person, just spoken with him online.  He's a cool guy, very generous with the info for newbie writers, and is a hell of an author.  But Jay's been fighting cancer for three years now. Yesterday, his docs discovered yet another tumor, this time on his liver.

The irony for me?  Jay's initial cancer diagnosis was a stage 1 tumor.  DH's was a stage 3.  Jay's looking at his third round of chemo since 2008.  DH only had one back in 1995.  Jay's got a beautiful daughter who's about a year older than GK.  DH was diagnosed three months after we were engaged, and we waited until he had been clean for four years before we even thought about having a kid.

This so isn't fair.  Sometimes I wonder if the universe isn't a giant dodgeball game.  The gods are the jocks, and the humans are the nerds, and if we don't get pummeled, it's only by chance.  And what the fuck do you do about it?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stupid Software

Currently reading - Eat, Prey, Love by Kerrelyn Sparks (MMPB)

Is it just me or does anyone else have issues with MSWord?

1)  Like teaching the effing MSWord spell checker every interesting word in the dictionary. It can spellcheck 'penis' correctly, but had heart attacks over 'unseelie' and 'rictus.'

2)  The grammar checker can't tell the difference between a direct object and an indirect object.

Egads!  GK can do a better job.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Apex Predators and K-T Events

Currently reading - Eat, Prey, Love by Kerrelyn Sparks (MMPB)

If you haven't read Joe Konrath's latest rant, before you do, please put aside ALL beverages until you get past the T. Rex line.  It's in your best interest.

The banner is also worth it!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blood Magick ARC

As I promised, I'm giving out the Blood Magick Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) today.

Here's what you need to do:
-Send me an e-mail to soharden at swbell dot net.  (There's a reason that does not involve me spamming you.)  If you leave your request in comments, you will not be eligible for any of the prizes below.

-I currently have Blood Magick available in .MOBI (Kindle), .ePUB (Nook and Sony), and .LIT (MS Reader).  Please note that if you don't have a handheld reader, all three readers are available in PC versions and Kindle is available in Mac.  In your e-mail, let me know what format you prefer your copy of the ARC.

- I must receive your e-mail by MIDNIGHT tonight (i.e. Sunday, April 17th, at 0:00 AM) to receive the ARC.  Requests will be filled in the order that they are received.

Here's what I'm asking you to do:
- Read Blood Magick.

- Write a review of Blood Magick, mention it on your blog, or tweet about it.

- E-mail  me the link to your review or blog or send me your Twitter handle.

I hereby solemnly swear I will not act like a total psychotic moron if you don't care for Blood Magick.

Here's what I'll do for the fabulous readers who send me their links/Twitter handles!!  (The best part):
- When the official version of Blood Magick comes out (currently schedule for June 1st), I will send you the offical copy in the format you requested the ARC unless you tell me otherwise.  (See?  I told you there was a good reason for your e-mail.)

- I will also send you the official copy of the next Bloodlines book, Zombie Love, when it debuts in July.

- AND I will put everyone's name in the infamous Captain Rex helmet and draw one.  The winner will receive a $25 e-certificate to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  I'll announce the winner on the May 1st post (unless I get a tsunami of requests and I'm still e-mailing out ARCs, in which case a snorkel mask will appear).

I just want to say thank you to you guys for reading Wild, Wicked & Wacky for last year and a half, and I hope you love Blood Magick!

Friday, April 15, 2011

So Much for Shutting Up

Here's one movie I can't wait to see.  Cowboys and Aliens opens July 29th.

P.S. If you're checking in about the ARCs, be here tomorrow morning at 8 AM CDT. I may not be awake, but the info on how to get one will post at that time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Talkin' ta Me?

Currently reading - Poltergeist by Kat Richardson (MMPB)

After yesterday's rants and Angie B.'s responses, DH suggested I change the name of the blog to The Angry Sheep.  (Please vote in the comments.)

Yes, I know there are people who are throwing any ole' book out there on the interwebs.  Books without editing, without proofreading, without any plot.

But not all of us.

On Monday, crit partner Tea Trelawny posted her first independent short Exposure on Amazon, which prompted another partner, Faye Hughes, to ask how things were going with me?

I said I'm taking my time.  Making sure things are as right as possible.   Or as DH pointed out, I'm stalling.

You see, Faye has a pretty frickin' good excuse why her backlist isn't up for sale yet.  She doesn't have digital copies of her Harlequins from the '90's.  The poor woman either has to scan the physical copies and convert them (a major headache) or type them in by hand (can you say premature arthritis?).

I don't have that excuse.  I admit I'm scared shitless right now.

So, the blog's going dark until Saturday to get the edits on Seasons of Magick: Spring DONE!  And on Saturday, I'm giving away ARCs of Blood Magick.  See ya Saturday morning!

The Angry Sheep signing off.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WARNING: Rant Ahead

Currently reading - Poltergeist by Kat Richardson (MMPB)

I thought long and hard about whether or not to write the following diatribe.  I then thought long and hard about how to say it.  I don't believe in trashing people online, but there are things that need to be said.

One thing you learn as an attorney is you can't take someone at their word.  Everything that's said must be analyzed in terms of what the opposing party (or even your own client) wants and what they're afraid of.

And it's becoming very, VERY obvious there are those who are very, VERY scared of the rapid changes in the publishing.  And they have no clue on how to deal with these changes so they lash out.

Over the last few weeks I've seen tweets from an editor who claimed everything would be okay if they could just get the writers under control.  Another tweet from an agent berated writers for using the term "indie" because it made us sound ignorant.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm offended.  Really offended.  As in I had to walk away from the laptop three times over the last two weeks because the urge to use profanity was overwhelming.

To the agents and editors from the publishing houses out there:  I realize it was a buyer's market.  That's changing.  Get over it.  And insulting writers is not the way to keep the old system going.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Tax Man Cometh - Redux

Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians:  The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riodin

Last year, I did a post on keeping receipts and logs as proof of your Schedule C deductions for your writing business.

Well, there's a couple of rumors I've heard lately that definitely need to be addressed.

1) You have to make a profit 2 out of 5 years in business.

NO, you do not!  There was a law to that effect decades ago.  (And I do mean decades.)  It is no longer in effect because studies have shown that new businesses are lucky to break even in their first five years of existence.  All you have to show is an intent to make a profit.  That goes back to keeping receipts, showing progress in your writing, and actively seeking publication.

2) You have to have $600 in income to claim Schedule C business deductions.

Once again, NO, you do not!  The $600 rule applies to whether or not you are required to send a 1099 to your vendor.  Example:  If I pay my cover artist, Sierra, $600 or more in the calendar year of 2011, I will have to send her a 1099 by January 31, 2012.  If I only pay her $599.99 or less in calendar year 2011, I do not.

Now, does this mean you can avoid an audit?  Not if you get an IRS with a burr up his butt.  And guess what?  You may not claim any deductions regarding your writing and STILL GET AUDITED.  So you're only hurting yourself by not taking your allowed business deductions.

As always, please consult with a qualified tax consultant for your individual circumstances.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

One of My Favorite Movies of All Time

It's so worth it just for Mrs. Reiner's scene.  *grin*

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Publishing Cold War

Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olymmpians:  The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan (TPB)

GK and I have been studying the section on post-WWII America and the beginnings of the Cold War.  I can't help but notice the similarities between the situation of the US and the USSR and the current rivalry between the Indies and the Trads.

The fanatics on each side believes their idealogy is the only idealogy.  Accusations of "Defector!" are flying.  Propaganda is so thick you need hip boots to wade through it.

The rest of us just want to do our thing and pray we don't get blown to dust by the nutcases.

There's a lot of vitriol spilled in the internet these days.  Ask yourself before you post or tweet--is this really necessary?

I don't mean roll over when someone attacks you, but realize some trolls are just trying to provoke a reaction.  Don't give in to their bullshit.  Stay classy.  Make your arguments calmly and logically.  And give your readers the best product you can.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Guest Blog by Joan Reeves - Be Smart, Not Dumb: 10 Smart Ebook Practices

Hi, folks!  Please welcome my friend Joan Reeves.  Joan's been around the author block a few times with eight romances, a novella, and a memoir.  We had discussed her experiences with Amazon, and I asked Joan for her take on this brave new world for writers.  So without further ado, here's Joan:

Recently, I was talking to a group of authors about publishing my backlist and even some original fiction as ebooks. Naturally, there were some who wondered why. It was easy to see they questioned the wisdom of my intention.

As Suzan pointed out when she and I were exchanging emails, there's a polarity when it comes to writers and indie publishing, and there are two primary schools of thought: "...the best thing since sliced bread (and) it sucks." I agree that these opposite opinions are pervasive in the blog world.

Boldly Go Where Some Writers Are Now Going

Before you adopt either opinion, judge for yourself. I'm a firm believer in "nothing ventured; nothing gained." When markets are drying up, left and right, it's nice to see something opening up that can directly benefit writers, and that's digital self-publishing. By benefit, I don't just mean making some bucks. I also mean finding an audience for your work.

I've stated that: "I've given up on New York, BUT they gave up on me first." And I'm not the only published author who couldn't fit the square peg of their writing into New York's round hole. (No pun intended but feel free to laugh.) I'm a writer. I want to be read. Many of us are finding readers by becoming indie authors and publishing our own work.

If you want to try the indie route, learn all you can about the process. That's why I'm here today. I want to give you some advice, based on my personal experience as well as that of some friends, in hopes that you may avoid some of our dumb mistakes.

When I published Just One Look, my first ebook on Kindle, I made a doozy of a blunder so I'm particularly qualified to talk about how NOT to be stupid.

10 Smart Ebook Practices

1. Use MSWord or the OpenOffice version. All digital publishing platforms request a .doc file upload or an HTML file that came from a .doc file. Don't try WordPerfect and saving as a .doc file. I heard from several authors who said they never could get the file cleaned up sufficiently to convert cleanly. That may have been a glitch on their part, but potential trouble avoided is often time saved. Even if other software and methods work, why add more steps to the process?

2. Buy Derek Canyon's Kindle book: Format Your eBook for Kindle on One Hour - A Step-by-Step Guide for $2.99. It's a bargain and will save you an enormous amount of time, and it gives a beautifully formatted book. (I just wish he'd come out with one for Nook and epub format.) I did Just One Look for Kindle with it. (Wish I got a commission on this little book because I'm recommending it to everyone.)  [Suzan's Note:  Our buddy, Nina Cordoba has put together instructions for converting your file to Nook format.  It's free and it works.  I've used it.]

3. Do recognize the value of a great cover. Just because your book sold well in print doesn't mean it will sell well in ebook regardless of the cover you slap on it. I've seen popular authors epublish their backlist and use the most mundane artwork as if the cover is less important because the book isn't on the shelf of a brick-and-mortar bookstore. If you're not artistic (be honest!), then hire a good artist.

My daughter is an artist (also teaches art in high school) so she and I work together to create my covers. I know what I want on the cover, and she makes it happen. Warning: daughter brag and promo alert: She freelances for authors. If you're interested, contact her at BlakeCreative at

I've posted a list of freelance artists and other art resources on my "commercial" blog. I'll be reprinting that on SlingWords as soon as I get time.

4. Do make sure you have the right and authority to upload a previously published book as an ebook. That means, look at your old contract if you're publishing your backlist. Chances are, if your print book is more than 5 years old, you never gave away your ebook rights. Read your contract if in doubt.

5. Do name the final manuscript file that you'll use to convert to HTML something you will recognize immediately and not confuse with another file.

You probably think that sounds like a no-brainer, but that's exactly the dumb mistake I made. I still can't believe I did this, but I was so tired and bleary-eyed by the time I got around to converting the Word file to HTML, that I "grabbed" the wrong file.

Then I edited it in HTML to include all the stuff you need in the file. Then I proceeded to zip it and the grayscale image file for upload. What did I end up with? A beautifully-formatted ebook that was an old manuscript version. I cringe just writing this!

6. So, it goes without saying, based on #5, do have your wits about you. Don't try this when you're tired, frazzled, or rushed. Don't get in a hurry.

7. Do write all the "ad copy" before you get to the Publish Page. Give a great deal of thought to these items on the publish page: keywords, Product Description, Author Profile. Write them up and save in a file from which you can cut and paste. That way you can refine all of that before you're confronted with the publish page. Then when you go to the other platforms like PubIt, Smashwords, and XinXii, you've already got the info available.

Quick Tip: PubIt allows very little space for the Product Description and Bio so go ahead and condense those before you get to the Nook page.

8. Be patient. When you upload to Kindle, if the Preview function is slow or won't respond, don't give up. Do NOT publish until you can Preview every single page. That was one of my problems. If I had just Saved and tried later, I'd have seen the errors. However, I was so frustrated with the Preview function, that I gave up and hit Publish because I knew my manuscript was fine. *LOL*

Preview function seems to be very slow at night. I guess all the people who work in the daytime are trying to Preview and Publish ebooks at night. The speed was like the slowest dial-up access you can imagine, and it would freeze then jump ahead or back instead of going page to page.

9. Control the urge to panic or to start wearing a bag over your head for fear someone will recognize you as "that stupid author who published something so bad!" If you find you uploaded a file that has errors, take action immediately.

I posted on my blogs and on my Amazon Author page and profile that I had made a major goof. I stated that I would make their purchase good in some way. I consider myself a professional, and the idea that I had done this just mortified me. I was prepared to personally refund their purchase price if it came down to that or give them a Kindle gift certificate for my next book. Whatever it took to make ME feel that I had made amends.

I emailed Kindle support and notified them that I was uploading the correct file and would they notify purchasers because the book was already selling really well - to my chagrin. Two days later I received an email saying that they would notify buyers, and that the buyer just had to reply YES to the email in order to automatically have the updated file downloaded to them.

10. Accept that sometimes things just don't go as planned despite your best intentions. Do what you can to correct the situation. Learn something from it. Pass the lesson on to others. Then let it go, and move on down the road.

Becoming an indie author has allowed me to rediscover the fun of writing and the excitement of seeing my books reach a receptive audience. If you decide to heed the call of digital self-publishing, I wish you all that same joy as well as ebook sales that will amaze you.

For more of Joan's wisdom, check out her blog, Slingwords.  For more on Joan's books, visit her website.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Movie Mania Wednesday

I FINALLY made it to the theater to see Sucker Punch yesterday.  It's definitely one of those love it or hate it movies because of the radical departure from conventional movie storytelling.  I normally don't talk too much about a movie lest I ruin it for other people, so consider this FAIR WARNING!


Zack Snyder, the co-writer and director, tells you in the title itself that this movie won't have the traditional HEA.  That doesn't mean he won't have you wishing and cheering for it during the course of the film.

Also, ignore the reviews.  Most of them look at only the surface of the film, and trust me, it's much deeper than it appears.  So deep I want to see it again because I'm sure I missed something.

 The inital layer of the story, which I'll call "Reality" for simplicity's sake involves Baby Doll (Emily Browning).  Baby's mother dies leaving her fortune to her two daughters, but also leaves them at the mercy of their stepfather.  After the funeral, Stepdad learns the terms of the will and tries to rape Baby in revenge.  When she fights back, he locks her in her bedroom and goes after Baby's much younger sister.  By the end of the opening sequence, the little sister is dead, and Stepdad has Baby committed to an asylum where he bribes an orderly to make sure Baby is lobotimized.

This fades into "Fantasy 1," which is Baby's way of dealing with the trauma.  In Fantasy 1, Baby is a virgin sold by a priest to a brothel.  She befriends Rocket after she stops the cook from assaulting the other girl.  Baby then makes friends with Rocket's older sister Sweet Pea and their fiends, Blondie and Amber.  The five girls devise a plan to escape from the brothel, but the plans hinge on Baby keeping the club owner Blue distracted with her dancing.

Baby's dance sequences lead to "Fantasy 2," where she and her friends are commandos carrying out missions to retrieve the items they will need to escape in Fantasy 1, which also mirrors the events in Reality.

At the ends, Baby Doll surrenders to her fate in order to allow Sweet Pea, the last survivor of the band, to escape the asylum.  Ironically, without Baby Doll's defiance to prop his ego, Blue the orderly devolves into a weeping mess and is arrested for abusing the girls under his care.

A lot of reviewers mock the anime/computer game style of the movie, but that style adds another layer to the story itself. It is essential a movie about the lengths we will go to escape our realities and ourselves in order to survive.

I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Status Update

[Edit to add: If you'd like to check out a more current status update, click here.]

Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan (TPB)

Since someone keeps searching Google for my latest status update, I thought I'd oblige.*

Blood Magick, the first of the Bloodlines novels, is formatted and almost ready to go live.**  One of my critique partners, Jody Payne, is kind enough to do one last read-thru for me.  Just need the artwork and I'm good to go.

On the other hand, the cover of my novella, Seasons of Magick: Spring is done thanks to the super-efficient Sierra Acy.  (Check out the covers on your right.  I'll give you a hint:  some of them are Sierra's work.)  I, on the other hand, have been slower than molasses getting the edits done.  If I could give up the Day Job, the Second Job, or homeschooling GK to finish this project, I would in a heartbeat, but I can't do any of that for various and sundry reasons.

I'll spend some of this week buckling down on those edits, setting up various accounts of e-distributors and praying I can get my issues with PayPal rectified.

But not today.

When I was on the verge of a serious mental episode last week, DH gently pointed out that I literally had not had a day off in several months.  I said I had several days in February where all I did was lay on the couch.  At which point, DH stroked my hair, looked deep into my eyes and said, "Honey, the flu does not count."

So while you read this, I may be getting my haircut, browsing through a bookstore, eating real Tex-Mex or viewing Sucker Punch at the theater.

Mental health days are totally unnderrated.

* Don't worry, kids. I'm not harvesting your IP addresses or anything personal.  Blogger keeps stats for referring URLs, so I only know your search criteria for me to pop up on Google.  Oh, and your country of origin.

Speaking of which--To My Reader in Japan:  I'm glad to see you're back, and I hope you and your family are safe.

** I have discovered a corrolary to Gaiman's First Law.  Open the recently converted file for the e-book you wrote and randomly select a point to go to.  The randomly selected page will contain at least one formatting error.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Social Media - Twitter

This post is dedicated to Ivy at The Happy Whisk.

Twitter appeared on the social networking scene less than five years ago.  It was quickly made popular by celebrities such as Aston Kutcher and Demi Moore.

Twitter is essentially real-time micro-blogging.  A user sends "tweets," a 140-character message through or by text messaging to a Twitter gateway number.  By default, all tweets are public, but they can be addressed to a particular person or blocked from public view.

Like any social media, Twitter has its proponents and detractors.  The service has received a bad rap for some inane chatter along the lines of "I ate a banana for breakfast" or "My dog pooped on my carpet."  On the other hand, Iranian civilians were able to send out word through Twitter about the 2010 election protests and the subequent government crackdowns.

My $0.02--

Writers can use the service to stay connected to readers, but that goes back to building social relationships.  Tell them something that would be interesting to them, something that makes you human.  If you use Twitter to just sell your books, the high-pressure tactic not only turns off potential readers, but some of your regular followers as well.

Part of my tirade last week concerned someone (and I will not mention names) who started following me on Twitter, so I followed in return.  But then I started getting tweets every two seconds.  I'm not kidding.  And it was the same five tweets over and over again.

Please understand, I don't have a problem with writers tweeting about their books.  That's how I discovered the wonderful Jon F. Merz and his Lawson vampire series.  But don't drown out everyone else in the process.

If you want to play with Twitter a little bit, here's my shortlist of writers with a clue on how to use it:

Jim Butcher
Felicia Day
Neil Gaiman
Amanda Hocking
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Kim Lennox
Wil Wheaton

Like I've said before, if you're not comfortable with a social media format, don't use it.  But as I tell GK when faced with a new food, try it before you make a face and claim it sucks.

(Edit to add:  Ivy had a lot of good questions in her comment, so I'm answering them here.)

Why did you follow them back?

In general, if someone follows me, I'll follow back as a courtesy and out of curiosity.

Have you since stopped following that person?

Oooh, yeah.  Immediately.  And that person unfollowed me less than an hour later, which is fine.

Did that five in row Tweet come directly to your email or did you have to go read it on their page?

All tweets for the people I follow go to my Twitter homepage.  I'm on an ancient cell plan, so I don't use texting.  Once you unfollow someone, their tweets disappear from your page.

The thing you want to remember is tweets need to have a purpose, just like a blog.  Here, my purpose is to inform and entertain, and I try to carry that over to my tweets.

Good luck. I don't think you're going to get people to stop Tweeting about doggy doo or how many cookies they ate for lunch. That's what they like to do.  Why not stop following those kinds of Twitter folks?

You're totally right on that count, Ivy.  I don't plan on trying to stop these people.  I simply don't follow them.

That's part of the reason I posted my shortlist of writers who I think use Twitter effectively.  A writer's goal for his/her Twitter account should be the same at his/her goal for a blog.  In your case, Ivy, I read your blog because anyone who loves Wonder Woman is automatically cool in my book and because I love to cook as well.  You captured my interest, and you've kept me interested for a long time now.  I think that's every writer's ultimate goal.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sundays Are for Lazybones

Move along, folks.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.


A kitty!  Look at the cute kitty.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Neil Gaiman v. Stephen Colbert

If you didn't catch Colbert's interview with Neil Gaiman last year, here's a the clip.  It's worth watching Colbert trying to keep a straight face when Neil rips back after Colbert accuses him of stealing an American award from an American author.

Interesting factoid:  This is the only interview (I know of) where Neil wears a coat and tie, instead of his trademark black t-shirt, black jeans and black leather jacket.  Unfortunately, the poor man was on his way home from his father's funeral in England, and they were the only interview-worthy clothes he had.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Friday Herd

Lots of stuff happened in publishing this week (and I really wish some of it was an April Fools' joke).  I'm not going to bore you with repeating it, but the following links are worth checking out:

Dorchester is allegedly selling books they do not have the rights to and apparently refuse to stop.  Horror author Brian Keene called for a Dorchester boycott last week.  This week, thriller author Stacy Dittrich made a public call for authors screwed over by Dorchester to contact her about a class-action suit she's putting together.

The fabulous Nina Cordoba and her God of Rock and Roll, Software Architecture, and Programming have put together an easy-to-understand guide for formatting your manuscript file for the Amazon Kindle and the B&N Nook.

NWHRWA president and pirate goupie, Jenn Bray-Weber posted her thoughts on public meltdowns and dog piling over at Musetracks.

And author/guru J. A. Konrath is selling his technothriller Origin for $0.99 as a experiment.  Joe plans to donate $500 to First Book, a very worthwhile charity, if fans help him break the Kindle Top 100.


And just one little tidbit I thought was rather poignant.

Remember, kids:  Friends don't let friends respond to reviews in a public forum.  EVAH!