Sunday, July 31, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Deadlines Are Coming! The Deadlines Are Coming!

Yeah, between GK's birthday this week and deadlines looming like the sword of Damocles, I'm late to the blogging party. I leave you with this adorably different take on the trailer to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lessons Learned Part 8 - Refusing to Learn

Currently reading - Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (HC)

Over the last couple of months, I've run into an interesting phenomenon.  People want to indie publish (I'm talking about some great stories seeing the light of day, which is terrific), but they don't want to take the time to learn HOW.

There's an old saying:  Give a man a fish, he eats one meal. Teach a man to fish, he eats for life.

I don't mind helping folks and getting paid for my time, but I'm also not going to screw people over.  There's LOTS of little fly-by-night operations who'd LOVE to take you and your wallet for a ride.

Which is why I truly believe you need to LEARN and UNDERSTAND some basics like cover art and formatting so you'll know if you're being screwed over.

I'm not against sub-contracting work if it cuts into your writing time.  I have a cover artist who does a hell of better job than me for a reasonable price. But know what the fuck you're actually purchasing.  Learn what needs to be done so you can ask the right questions of your sub-contractor.

Both your wallet and the person who has to clean up the mess later will thank you.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

RIP Borders

Currently reading - Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey

Today begins Borders' Going-Out-Of-Business Sale.

The reader in me says, "Yahoo! Books on sale!"

The writer in me says, "Well, shit.  There goes more shelf space into the ether for all of us."

The former BGI employee in me knew this day was coming seven years ago, just shakes her head sadly and keeps her fingers crossed that the employees can find something else soon in this freaking' economy.

There're others who've analyzed the Borders'demise to death.

I can add very little, except to honestly say, "They're all right and all wrong at the same time."  Everybody in this publishing business has started turning on each other.  It's been ugly.  It'll get uglier.  Few will come out unscathed.

All we can hope for is to survive the blood bath and become better writers, and business people, in the new world order.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Status Update - July 2011, Plus More Real Numbers

Currently reading - Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey (MMPB)

Since so many people are looking for my status updates, I added the month and year to the post title to make them easier to find.

July? Yeesh! I'm so far behind I can see my own backbone.

I hate to say this, but Seasons of Magick: Summer will not be out on July 25th. One of the great things about indie publishing is I can change a deadline when necessary. For those of you who are asking about it (and thank so, SO much for your interest), I promise it will be out ASAP. I don't want to be one of those writers who throws any old thing on the internet.  I want to make sure that you feel your money is well spent when you read it.

For those writers who want some real data on sales, here's the numbers (total sales) for me from April through June:

April (only last 2 days of month)
Amazon - 6
Barnes and Noble - n/a
Smashwords - n/a
XinXii - n/a

Amazon - 19
Barnes and Noble - 4
Smashwords - 5
XinXii - 0

Amazon - 16
Barnes and Noble - 5
Smashwords - 0
XinXii - 0

Total books sold in second quarter of 2011: 55

First of all, I so cannot complain about these numbers.  I'm a new fiction writer doing this solely on my own.  My reader base must be built from the ground up. 55 books in 63 days is effing marvelous!

The only thing I see as a potential problem was the Big 6's little pricing experiment the week of June 12th.  They cut the prices on a lot of their books to more reasonable levels.  I sold absolutely no books that week.  In fact, I originally chalked it up the post-school craziness most families experience as you switch from one schedule to another.  Or I did until a lot of other indie writers reported seeing a similar slow-down that week, and I started some investigating on my own.

My initial trepidation was not ameliorated when Bob Mayer reported that big publishers are starting to get a clue.

But if the big publishers start dropping their e-book prices, will they adjust their "25% of net" royalty rates for authors?

Maybe I won't have to really worry until they do.

Now I must go work on a few things so y'all have something new to look at soon!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Golden Rule for Cover Artists

Currently reading - Kitty's Big Trouble by Carrie Vaughn

If you didn't see it last week, my buddy Joan Reeves wrote an excellent article on how to properly deal with work with your cover artist.  She writes the important points far more eloquently than I.

I've been lucky to have an excellent rapport with my cover artist.  She's strong enough to tell me what's doable and what's not.  Doesn't always mean I listen (like when she said one cherub on the cover of Zombie Love was plenty), but I'm learning.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Burning Up on Re-Entry and Other News

Nope, I'm not talking about Atlantis on her last voyage (and I pray for the safety of the entire shuttle crew just like I have for the 134 previous missions).

But I realized I haven't posted a good links-you-must-read post for a while after I saw Jason Pinter's 9PM tweet with a link to the Wall Street Journal.

WSJ announced late yesterday afternoon that investorJahm Najafi's deal to buy Border Group Inc. collapsed.  Depending on how the hearing with the federal bankruptcy judge goes this morning, the loss of the deal may mean the end of Borders.  Wish I could say I was surprised.  [Edit to add: Judge Martin seemed peeved with the maneuverings during this morning's hearing, according to witnesses.  He postponed ruling on the current issues and extended the deadline for objections to the creditors committee's request for liquidation until 4PM on Monday, July 18th.]

If you haven't read Bob Mayer and Jenni Holbrook-Talty's summary of this year's Thrillerfest, go read Write It Forward.  Now. After hearing friends' opinions after returning from Romance Writers of America's national conference two weeks ago, it seems to me that some of the big publishers are trying to adapt, some are refusing to.  If you're intent on securing that NY contract, please pay attention to which ones are which.

Last month, Passive Guy addressed his thought on the enforcibility of Harlequin's attempt to alter writers' contracts by e-mail. Since a large portion of Harlequin authors are also RWA members, RWA's legal council sent a letter on behalf of the members basically saying "bad publisher." (Sorry, I can't link to it.  You must be an RWA member to access the page.)  It'll be interesting to see how that shakes out in the coming months. [Edit to add: The ever-resourceful Passive Guy has both a copy of RWA's response and an analysis.  Go read.]

And people wonder why I'm indie-publishing.  *shakes head*

To end on a good note, Mark Williams tells the tale of indie writing team Louise Voss and Mark Edwards signing a six-figure deal after indie-pubbing books that their respective agents gave up on years ago!

Don't you just love Happy Endings?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Official Website (And Other News . . .)

I love my baby vampire bat!

For those who haven't heard (or searched me out already), my official author website is now live!  It was created by Amanda Church of Nytshadow Designs.
(If that name sounds familiar, that's because she moonlights at A.J. Church, author of Being John Bland.)

In the meantime, I've also started another blog, Blood Lines.  You can access it directly or read it from the feed at my website.  This blog is for the readers who may not necessarily be writers, to discuss characters and plots, both mine and occasionally other UF writers.

But don't worry, my lovelies!  I am not abandoning you!  WWW will continue to provide my experience (and screw-ups) in the indie publishing biz, news from the publishing world and videos of hot actors swinging their lightsabres!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hitting Those Emotional Notes

As a writer, you want your reader to have an emotional investment in your story.  Without that emotionl investment, the greatest prose in the world means nothing.  SFF writer Dave Farland said something in his newsletter recently that really resonated with me.

I can show you how to fake it, I think. I could show you how to create false surprises, or try to move a reader to tears, but rarely can a writer learn to do this very effectively.

Instead, dig deep into your own heart. Find the right emotion. Let it suffuse you, and then try to figure out how to word your story in such a way that you convey that emotion perfectly.
Dave's right.  The reader usually knows when you're faking it, and they feel gypped.  And when the reader feels cheated, she's unlikely to pick up your next book.

This is what I love about beta readers.  If everyone's pissed and grieving when I kill a beloved secondary character, if they're turned on by a sex scene, hell, even if my male betas get man-crushes on my heroes, then I've done my job.

And the key is, I need to feel these things when I write these scenes, or they don't ring true.

For more of Dave's wisdom, go to his website and sign up for his newsletter.  It's well worth the read.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Susan Helene Gottfried Rocks Again!

My good buddy Susan Helene Gottfried has a new book out about our favorite fictional band!  Shapeshifter: The Demo Tapes: Year 3 is now available at Smashwords.  Even better, it's 50% off for the entire month on July!  So go get your Trevor fix while the gettin's good!

Now if you REALLY want to pay full price, Year 3 is also available for Kindle or trade paperback.

The popular Demo Tapes series continues with The Demo Tapes: Year 3. It's the same format you've come to know and love: short fiction previously posted on The Meet and Greet at West of Mars, and intros to each that let you, the reader, look into the mind of the author and creator of the indomitable Trevor Wolff.
Trevor and his best friend Mitchell Voss are in fine form in these stories, first published online between March 2008 and April 2009. From Thanksgiving to Halloween and a few new characters who help round out The Musical Hanukkah Celebration, we once again get to watch the guys go from kids into the men who ride the wave of being rock's biggest band: ShapeShifter.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Obsession and Social Media

Currently reading - Kitty's Big Touble by Carrie Vaughn (MMPB)

When I first started writing, I'd google my name.  There would a zillion mentions of my ancient office address.  Several entries for Suzan Harden, the guidence counselor who's definitely not me.  And here and there a mention of a contest I finaled.

All the pundits say that to succeed as an indie writer you need to grow your social networking skills and web presence.  So I'm blogging and tweeting and (oh Goddess, I can't believe I'm saying this) I'm now on effing Facebook.

(I can honestly say the Facebook thing is DH's fault.  Nina Cordoba was on my case about setting up a FB page.  I said I didn't have time and that I'd have to bribe DH. Umm, the conversation went way downhill from there, and next thing I know I'm getting home from the Night Job and DH says "Your Facebook page is almost done." So maybe it's both Nina's and DH's fault.)

Anyway, I've been interacting on the various social media.  Meeting new people. Expanding my horizons.  Heck, I'm even doing a summer blog tour.  More mentions of me the writer when I google, fewer of me the lawyer.  And still there's still Suzan the guidance counselor.

Slowly, I'm growing my online presence.  Commenting on more folks blogs.  Putting my books up for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and XinXii.  Now the first couple of pages on a google search shows just me the writer.

Except . . .

Yes, there's still two mentions of Suzan the guidance counselor.


I need to let it go.  I need to let it go.  I need to let it go.  I need . . .

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I think Ewan McGregor had way too much fun on the sets of the Star Wars films.  And I didn't know you could play cricket with a lightsabre.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tess St. John Strikes Again

Tess St. John dishes out another fabulous read, Don't Let It Show.  It's a contemporary romantic suspense that'll leave you shivering under that hot summer sun.

Attorney Gail Martin's life can't get any worse. Her client has been convicted, her law license suspended, and her inbox inundated with a strange riddle. But things start looking up when a handsome cop saves her from the press.

Undercover FBI agent Sam Newton is in Houston to catch drug dealing cops while pretending to be one. His identity must be kept top secret, but his attraction to Gail can't be concealed or ignored. He's tried, repeatedly.

As their love deepens, Gail confides she doesn’t believe the man in jail for her mother's murder is guilty. She and Sam investigate her mother's case, hitting nothing but dead ends. When tragedy strikes, Gail is left with only the email riddle, which leads her on a deadly quest for the truth about her mother’s life and death—if she can stay alive long enough to solve it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Summer Blog Tour Rolls On . . .

Hey, folks!

Today, I'm visiting Diane Holmes over at Pitch University.  I know some of you are asking, "But Suzan, that's a website dedicated to pitching to traditional publishers and agents."

Yep, it sure is.  And guess what?  Even as an indie writer, you still need pitch skills for your new audience, AKA your readers.  So grab your Earl Grey and stop on by!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Zombie Love Lives!

It's July 1st, which means new release day!

Zombie Love is officially out and available on Amazon, Barnes and NobleSmashwords and XinXii.  (Yeah, I know B&N is ridiculously slow in putting pages up for e-books, even though I uploaded ZL within the same hour as the rest of the sites yesterday.  I'll add the link as soon as I have it.)

[Edit to add:  It took B&N six days before they allowed Zombie Love to go live on their site.]


For tabloid reporter Samantha “Sam” Ridgeway, chasing down the mysterious Duncan St. James, who saved a pregnant actress from an apocalyptic cult, should have been an easy story. Until her editor nixes the piece without a reason. Until her LAPD contact is murdered in front of her. Until she’s kidnapped by a bunch of crazy scientists to be the guinea pig in their bizarro experiment. And Sam knows what happens to guinea pigs when the experiment’s done.


But when Sam wakes up, she’s got super-strength, super-speed, and an appetite that won’t quit. She escapes from the mad scientists with the help of St. James, but he’s got more secrets than she thought. Like glowing eyes and fangs. Could things get any worse than getting turned into the living dead and having the hots for a vampire? Yeah, they can . . .