Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Caught Between Worlds

I'm trapped and really wish I could ditch the feeling.

Part of it's the fact that I write blended genres. I'm one of those people who will read just about anything. I literally have just about anything on my shelves. From Playboy to the Holy Bible. From the Uncanny X-Men to The Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Writers from ages past. Homer. Sun Tzu. The Brothers Grimm. Anais Nin.

Writers from today. Robert Heinlein. Scott Turow. Neil Gaiman. Nora Roberts.

They all influence me. Yet, if I don't write within other people's proscribed rules then there's something wrong with me.

Let me correct that. If I don't write within other writers' proscribed rules...

A few years ago, I wrote an urban fantasy novel with bits of romance, adventure and horror. When I sent it to my critique group at the time, I said, "This is urban fantasy."

The first critique I got back started with, "This isn't a romance. This is an urban fantasy."


Yeah, I get that I met y'all through Romance Writers of America. That doesn't mean I have to write ONLY contemporary romance between an unattached male and an unattached female twenty-four/seven!

Yet, if I do write within the proscribed rules, my prose can be correctly compared to watching paint dry.

Then other days, I'm pretty sure it's not me. It's them. The other writers. The ones who (heaven-forbid!) dont' read outside their proscribed narrow circle of what's correct.

So what's a writer like me to do?

Fuck all the other writers! (Not literaly, folks.) The only ones that matter in this equation are the readers. As long as my readers are happy, I'm happy. And when I'm happy, I don't feel quite so stuck anymore.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Movie Mania

I'm having issues with the current wip, ba-a-ad issues, so DH "encouraged" me to go to the movies yesterday. We went to see Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Seriously, Jeremy Renner can always perk up a girl!

This is an R-rated splatter fest with a token Jeremy butt shot. If you go expecting anything deep and meaningful, you're going to be sorely disappointed. If you go expecting a fairytale version of Lethal Weapon with a lot more one-liners that are so fucking bad that they're funny as hell, then by all means, sit back and enjoy the ride.

The movie starts with the original Grimm fairytale. Mom tells Dad to dump the kids in the woods. Kids stumble across gingerbread house. Blah, blah, blah...

The credits roll showing H&G growing up to become the most famous witch hunters in Europe. They have some kick-ass, steam-punk weaponry they've developed. They run around in tight leather. And they have a freaking fan club!

But the side effects from their original ordeal left scars. The emotional ones, like the siblings trusting no one but each other. Physical ones, like Hansel's diabetes.

The mayor of Augsberg hires the siblings to track down and kill the witches responsible for a rash of missing children. The sheriff is more than a little pissy about H&G intruding on his territory. Gretel and the sheriff literally butt heads when he tries to drown an innocent woman for being a witch.

The siblings stumble upon the evil witches' real plan, but their efforts are hampered by the sheriff. When he and his men try to rape Gretel in the woods, she's rescued by a supernatural hero named Edward.

Yep, there's a lot of sly pokes at several other movies and some cultural references that make you laugh and then cringe because you laughed. (Namely, the missing children pictures on milk bottles.)

I can't say much more except secrets are discovered, H&G's parents are redeemed, and the movie climaxes at the very same gingerbread house where it all started.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

These Are Not the Droids You're Looking For

How about Princess Leia dancing to a little Kei$ha? Warning: This one's a little warped, even by my standards.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Very Special Friday Movie Mania

GK and I attended a special advance screening of Warm Bodies last night.

The rough concept is Romeo and Juliet. But then so is Underworld. The difference here being the film makers turn R+J into a slick mix between apocalyptic horror and teen romance comedy with a happy ending.

There's no big suprises for me, though I give Nicholas Hoult high marks for making R. a very sympathetic character. Everyone in the theater laughed at the right parts. GK pronounced it "pretty good" and "we should take Dad to see it when it comes out," which for a preteen is high praise.

Even though Warm Bodies is rated PG-13, an f-bomb gets dropped close to the climax. That kind of stuff doesn't bother me; GK's heard me say worse and fined me for it. But just a warning in case you're ultra-sensitive (which means you probably shouldn't be reading my blog either).

Overall, Warm Bodies makes for a good date movie. It hits general release on February 1.

The sneak peek on YouTube is literally the first four minutes of the movie, minus the titles and special effects that flash back to the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Want an Instructor You Know You'll Keep Your Eyes On?

Seriously though, even if you're a het male, you might want to check out RWA Northwest Houston Chapter's all day program featuring Jimmy Thomas and his talk on Marketing, Branding and Self-Promotion.

What: Jimmy Thomas on Marketing, Branding and Self-Promotion
When: Saturday, February2, 2013
Where: Spring Creek Oaks Clubhouse, 6002 Bur Oak, Spring, Texas 77379
Time: Door open at 8:30 a.m.
Cost: $25

You can pre-register at the Northwest Houston RWA website!

Jimmy has literally been on thousands of romance covers, but he's not just a pretty face and a hot body. This is someone who's got his pulse on the book market (remember Konrath's #2 Rule - you need a great cover), and he's a great supporter of indie writers.

In addition to starting Romance Novel Covers (where you can buy stock photos, or for a few bucks more, you can get pre-made or custom covers), Jimmy is also sponsoring the Romance Novel Convention this August!

I've added two covers, featuring Jimmy, by two different firends.

R.M. Brand's Specter is a fabulous, FABULOUS gothic read. Then there's Onne Andrews's Taken By Passion, an BDSM romance.

So if you need help promoting your books and you'll be in the Houston area the first weekend of February, I highly recommend attending this great event!

Monday, January 21, 2013

How Exclusivity Affected Hugh Howey

For those of you who may not of heard of him, Hugh Howey is the amazingly successful author of Wool, a dystopian short story that has captured the attention of millions of readers.  So much so, that they demanded Howey write more of the saga. (You can download Part 1 from Amazon for free. I, Zombie is pretty good, too, though it's $3.99.)

In a recent article on Digital Book World, Howey spoke of the reasons he and his agent Kristin Nelson refused to give up his e-rights to the publishers who came courting in the beginning of 2012. (A six figure income had a lot to do with it.) By the end of the year, Simon & Schuster was willing to cough up a seven figure advance for the print only rights.

Howey attributes part of the success of Wool to using Amazon's Kindle Select program, where the book is sold exclusively on Amazon in return for it being placed in the Kindle Lending Library and having five days where Howey can set the price to free.

Here's the thing: Amazon promotes their exclusive books because it's in THEIR best interest to do so. This is something a lot of indie writers don't seem to understand.

But in Howey's case, he began getting complaints from readers because they couldn't purchase his book on other platforms. In May of 2012, he took Wool out of the Select program in order to pubish it on Barnes & Noble's PubIt! and other retailers.

Howey was disappointed at first. But a couple of weeks later, he noticed that sales were picking up on B&N and Apple.

So is exclusivity worth pissing off your readers? Does it pay off in the long run?

It really depends on who you talk to. Some folks, like Howey, found it very useful to get his story off the ground. For some others I know, it's done nothing.

I've considered playing with it, but if I do, I plan on having two books: one exclusive on Amazon and one that's exclusive on the other retail websites. It might be an interesting experiment to try.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Star Wars That I Used to Know

I first saw Star Wars on the big screen (a drive-in theater too, Goddess, I miss those days) when I was thirteen. I keep that thirteen-year-old's feelings in mind when I have the urge to "fix" something in the Bloodlines series.

And, George, no matter how much you want to change history, HAN SHOT FIRST!

Friday, January 18, 2013

What "Publishing Industry"?

Sometimes, I read other people's insights on this strange new world we fiction writers find ourselves in and the LED bulb goes on:

The mental model we share of this thing we call the publishing industry is no longer useful. Most of us think of the publishing industry’s product as “books”. That’s like thinking that Amazon sells two products, bits and cardboard boxes. Amazon ships stuff in cardboard boxes. It’s what’s inside the box that you are buying. Likewise, it’s the information contained in the bits that you are buying when you buy a digital product from Amazon.

You can read the rest of fellow Houstonian John Cavnar-Johnson's article at Digital Book World.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fear, Guns and Mental Health

I often get ranty, but mainly about rampant stupidity in the publishing industry, and I rarely get political. This time is the exception.

Like pretty much everyone else in this country, I was horrified by what happened at Sandy Hook. I'm a parent who took my kid out of public school. One of the reasons? He was getting beat up on a weekly basis for being the wrong skin color. I was terrified that things would escalate.

Before I start, I'll tell you right now--I don't have the answers. But I think we need to be asking ourselves some pretty serious questions.

There's been a lot of talk about teachers carrying weapons in schools. Yesterday, I posted the photo above on my Facebook page for two reasons:

1) My cousin Marie is a retired police officer. I roomed with her in D.C. back in the '80's when it was the murder capital of the U.S. She taught me a hell of a lot about self-protection and being aware of your surroundings. She also worked undercover for both of Reagan's inaugural balls. We've had several talks about the difference in attitude of the Secret Service between the 1981 and the 1985 balls, not to mention how you can't buy an off-the-rack ballgown with easy access to a sidearm.

2) The picture points out how many trained men with weapons surrounded Reagan. Yet, a lone nutcase managed to shoot four people with explosive bullets before an unarmed civilian wrestled him to the ground.

My comment on the picture I posted on Facebook: All I'm saying is after meeting some of Genius Kid's public school teachers I wouldn't trust them with a butter knife.

Needless to say, I had a troll leave a comment less than an hour and a half later, making factually inaccurate statements about the Reagan assassination attempt. When I pointed out that it wasn't an armed person who stopped Hinckley, but an unarmed one, the troll got really nasty.

I don't mind spirited debate. I usually learn something. But this wasn't a debate. The troll didn't even offer an alternate solution to the actual conversation I and another follower were having--arming public school teachers. He simply wanted to argue.

Which brings me to my real concerns:

A) The culture of fear deliberately generated in this country.

The reasons for it are many and varied, but it comes down to power. By generating the fear, the person manipulates you into giving them your power. It's not much different than being in a psychologically abusive relationship. These types say that everyone is out to get you but him, and only he can protect/save you.

Are there dangers in our society? Yes. I'm not naive enough to think there aren't. Hell, I had two assholes try to either rob or kidnap me and GK on fucking Easter Sunday of all times. I had a date try to rape me in college. I'm cautious, but I'm not living my life in fear.

B) The gun culture.

I grew up with guns. Everyone I knew had guns. When I was in high school, it wasn't unusual for classmates to have hunting rifles in their pick-ups during deer season so they could hit the fields and woods as soon as classes let out.

We had a new principal my senior year of high school who was from Cleveland. He freaked about unloaded rifles in the kids' trucks. But as the school superintendent explained to him, we were farmers, not gangbangers. We were taught to respect firearms.

And we did. We never pointed a gun at a person. If one of the parents caught us doing something stupid, all they'd have to say was, "Do you want to end up like Mike. B.?" Yes, Mike B. actually managed to shoot himself in the eye when we were in grade school.

Needless to say, most of my family are avid hunters, too. Deer, ducks, bear, you name it. The first time DH came to my parents' farm, he reached into the freezer for ice cream, but pulled out a Ziploc baggie with one of my brother's rabbit carcasses and said, "What the hell is this?"

Marie wasn't the only one who carried a handgun. Uncle Ray, her father, was a police officer, too, after he served in Germany during WWII. Another great-uncle served in the Pacific theater. Both my FIL and two other uncles fought in Korea. Marie's brother was drafted for the Vietnam War. Another cousin was a lifer in the Air Force. Only sheer luck kept him in Hawaii when Desert Shield was launched, but he saw other things that I'm not supposed to know about. A third cousin has done three tours in Iraq with the Marines.

Again, gun safety was paramount. None of them took a weapon lightly. They'd seen the results first hand.

But I've also seen the dark side. A close friend of my dad's swallowed a bullet. He'd had problems with depression for years. The same with the dad of my Air Force cousin. That uncle borrowed a target pistol from a friend, saying he needed to kill a ground hog that was tearing up his garden. He took the gun down to his basement, and well, you can guess the rest. According to my mom, the really sad part is this uncle rarely hunted with the rest of the male family members because he said he was afraid of guns.

Which brings me to...

C) The abyssmal state of mental health care in the United States.

The Reagan assassination attempt, Sandy Hook, the Aurora theater, Virginia Tech. In nearly every mass shooting incident, the perpetrator has been mentally ill.

Many people who need mental health care fail to seek it because of the stigma in our society. Because of that same stigma, research into its causes and medications is a drop in the bucket compared to physical illnesses. And those people that find the courage to get help often cannot pay for it, either because they're uninsured or if they are, they insurance carrier won't cover the full cost of treatment.

So what's the answer?

Maybe we start by supporting more research into mental illness. Maybe we start by mandating background checks on ALL prospective gun buyers, including health records. Maybe we need to support our family members in seeking help if we suspect there's a serious problem. Maybe we stop listening to pundits who only want to cause problems and panic instead of seeking solutions.

Maybe we need to stop taking life and death so lightly. I wonder if some of these commenters on the internet have ever seen the light go out in a living creature's eyes. I wonder if they're hurting inside and don't know how to find help. I wonder at times how the human race has survived this long with the hate I see spewing from all sides.

I don't think there's any one answer to this problem because there's not any one cause. But if we don't start looking for real solutions now, I fear things are only going to get worse.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Clash of the Expectations

I've joked about new writers having a "thar's gold in them thar hills" mentality when it comes to self-publishing. And yes, some of writer are guilty of spamming message boards, their Facebook pages and their Twitter feeds with "Buy my one and only book!" But most indie writers I know are well aware of the uphill slog they face, and they're willing to put the time and money to create a career.

Now, mid-list traditional-published writers are realizing the gold is in their backlist. On agent Rachelle Gardner's blog, Jennie Nash talks about what she sees as the pluses and minuses of self-publishing now that she self-published her seventh novel.

In some ways, experienced authors like Jennie are suprised by the amount of work that goes into producing your own book. Then they are surprised by what they believe is little return.

On the same day, Dean Wesley Smith had a blog post about numbers. Most of you reading this are going to roll your eyes and think, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know all about the long-tail."

A writer should aim for making a typical advance of $10,000 off their self-published title in the ten years a traditional publisher would have the title tied up. He then goes on about pricing to hit this goal. Here's something to chew on though:

If you think selling 20 books average per month of all your titles across all sites is bad and your average price is $5.99, you really need to have an attitude adjustment. Get a friend to tap you gently on the top of the head until wake you up and realize your sales are just fine and you need to keep writing and get more books out.

That paragraph made me check my numbers for 2012. As of October, I had fourteen titles for sale. For January through October, I averaged 20 book per month FOR EVERY SINGLE TITLE EXCEPT ONE!

I know a lot of people have argued with Dean and his wife Kris Rusch about their methodology of controlled, steady growth in a writer's business. So the question you need to answer for yourself is what are your expectations and are they realistic.

Personally, I think Aesop's turtle was right.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Songs I've Been Listening to Lately

Tonight's selection is Wiz Khalifa's ode to his hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. (Not because I'm a Steelers fan or anything.)

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Jay Lake Saga - Round Two

Thank you to everyone who donated to Waterloo's Kickstarter to complete LAKESIDE, their documentary of SFF writer Jay Lake's battle with cancer. Waterloo reached their goal early yesterday afternoon!

And a special thank you to Jay for mentioning yesterday's WWW post on his Link Salad!

Also, HELLO to everyone who stopped by from Jay's blog. {Big Wave}

So what's next?

Another fund raiser had been started called Sequence a Science Fiction Writer. There's a genetic sequncing test that can compare the fucking cancer with healthy Jay cells in order to figure out why the last three rounds of chemotherapy have not worked. Needles to say, the test is expensive as hell and the fuckng insurance company won't cover it.

The purpose of this new fundraiser is to cover the costs of the test and analysis. Amazingly, when I went to grab the link for WWW, the inital goal of $20,000 for the genetic testing had been reached!

Unlike Kickstarter's rules though, YouCaring will allow any extra funds to be used by Jay himself. In this case, funding above the actual costs of the test and analysis will be used for Jay to take a medical leave of absence from his job to deal with his health.

Yes, that's right, folks. Jay has had to work his Day Job through four surgeries and three rounds of chemotherapy in order to keep his insurance. That doesn't even count meeting his writing deadlines with his publisher!

Frankly, DH and I have been there, done that, and don't wish the t-shirt on anybody. We understand what Jay's going through medically and financially. When I told DH about the Kickstarter yesterday, I hadn't even finished when he said, "Do it."

Now, we scraping together a little more to give someone else a much needed break. We hope you'll do the same.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Kickstarter Project That Needs to Be Seen

I've followed SFF author Jay Lake for some time. I think it was Tobias Buckell who first recommended his books. But it wasn't just his writing that intrigued me. Both DH and I are regular readers of his blog because in some ways, his journey mirrors ours.

DH is a cancer survivor. I won't get into the awful details here and now. It's not important. What is important is Jay's struggle with the same disease. A disease that a year ago everyone thought Jay had licked.

Last June, Waterloo Productions started a documentary, following Jay for a year as a cancer survivor. Then the bad news came. The cancer was back with a vengence. Three new tumors had appeared. Jay's third round of chemo started last fall with a plan for surgery on January 22. Last week, a PET scan in preparation for the surgery showed a fourth tumor.

The odds of Jay survivng to see his daughter Bronwyn graduate from high school is down to 8%. She's a freshman.

The folks of Waterloo met with Jay to make some hard decisions. They decided to continue the project even though in all likelihood, Waterloo may be filming Jay's death. The decision to continue comes with literal costs. Waterloo has overrun its original budget.

This is a movie that needs to be seen. A story that needs to be heard. Too many people die silently, in agony, from cancer every day. People need to understand the human cost of this horrible disease.

So I'm asking you to please donate to Waterloo Productions' Lakeside, even if it's just a dollar. Here's some preliminary film from the project. Please understand, there is some NSFW language.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why Angry Sheep Won't Publish Your Book

Over the last couple of months, several searches for "Angry Sheep Publishing" have shown up on my stats. One thing I've learned over the decades I've been writing is that most readers don't give a shit who the publisher is.

Unless you're Harlequin. Or Marvel Comics. But that's another can of wax for another day.

How many of you read Carrie Vaughn's Kitty the Werewolf series? Did you notice when she went from Grand Central to Tor? Did you notice when Christie Craig went from Dorchester to Grand Central? What about when Janet Evanovich left St. Martin's for Random House?

Now, if you did know about any of these switches, how many of you are writers? C'mon, raise your hands.

You see, writers are the only ones who give a crap about the publishers. (Publishers don't want to believe this, but again, that's a can of wax of another day.)

So what does that have to do with Angry Sheep?

I figure some noobie writer is trying to research small publishing houses in the vain hope of attracting a contract. Why do I think this? Because my readers only care when the next book is coming out. (If you happen to be one of my readers, I swear to Selket I'm working on it!)

Which brings me to my point. Folks, if you're one of the people searching the interwebz for Angry Sheep Publishing, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're not getting a contract, an advance or anything else from Angry Sheep.

Me choosing your book will not make you a real writer. Any other publisher choosing your book will not make you a real writer. The only thing that makes you a real writer is hauling your ass of of bed, plunking it down in front of your keyboard and typing until you hit "The End."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I'm Not Here Right Now. . .

Today, I'm hanging out over at my pal Christie Craig's blog. After eight years, I'm still trying to convince her zombies are cool.

I don't think she's buying it.

But we do talk about junk food and Chippendales dancers in addition to zombies.

Please don't leave me hanging like a vegan zombie! Comment if you want a chance at a free copy of Zombie Wedding. (Though if you win and you already have it, I'll slip you a copy of Blood Sacrifice when it's available. Shhhh...don't tell Christie!)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mathematical Proof of the Long Tail

Back when I was in college, my econ professor was trying to demonstrate the value of interest and the psychology of long-term investing. To give you perspective, it was during Reagan's second term, and many of my classmates were paying ten percent or more even with government loans.

His example assumed you got a job right after school. It's the crappiest job on the planet, and you are only paid a penny on your first. But each day, your salary doubled from the day before. You could quit any time. It went something like this:

Day 1 - $0.01
Day 2 - $0.02
Day 3 - $0.04
Day 4 - $0.08
Day 10 - $5.12
Day 30 - $10,737,418.24

Add each days income together, and you'll have $21,474,836.47.

Yep, that's right. You'd have over TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS IN A MONTH if you could stick out the the world's crappiest job. If you couldn't handle it, you could quit and get a normal Day Job.

Now, imagine that you're working the greatest job ever, a job you absolute love, and you only get paid a penny for the first year. Each year your income would double. Would you still do the job you absolutely loved?

Sound familiar?

I uploaded three novels, two novellas, and one non-fiction guide in 2011. My total self-publishing income for 2011 was $131.40.

In addition to last year's stories, I uploaded one novel, six novellas, and two short stories in 2012. My total self-publishing income was $4,058.12.

I've already got a novel, a novella and a short story in the pipeline for publishing in the next two months. More stories will be written this year.

Do you think this is unusual? It's not. The only question you have to ask yourself--how long can you stick to the job you love in order to be rewarded?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Music to Check Out

Prince has always been my go-to guy when I need a little inspiration for a love scene. After swearing the internet was over, he's broken down and released a new video. And he hasn't banned it from YouTube yet!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Buddy the Elf Dog Is Home!

On the evening of December 13th, GK went out to bring in the trash cans and found a full-bred Yorkie sitting in our driveway. We nicknamed him Buddy the Elf Dog. We contacted our neighborhood's pet hotline, posted pictures, and drove around our subdivision, hoping to find his owner.

We had a major debate about what to do. We couldn't take him to a shelter. We knew how crowded they became this time of year with unwanted "Christmas presents." And Buddy was so sweet and good-natured we feared what might happen if he managed to get adopted.

We know all-to-well that some people think dogs are things to be kicked around, not living beings. Our last two dogs were rescue dogs that had been horribly abused. It had taken a lot of patience and a lot of love for them to trust humans again.

Tuesday morning, January 1st, DH and I planned one more round of posting pictures of Buddy this week. We decided if that didn't work, we would keep him. He'd already claimed me as his human. Sleeping with me. Snuggling on my legs while I wrote.

Then, amazingly, we got a call from Christie, the Lost Pet coordinator, on Tuesday afternoon. Did we still have the Yorkie? She feared we had found another home for Buddy or had taken him to one of the local shelters.

Nope, he was still here. A few minutes later, DH spoke with the owner who was on the verge of crying over the phone.

Turns out Buddy's name is Toby. He's the companion of an older, disabled gentlemen named Enrique who feared he'd never see his beloved dog again. Unfortunately, Enrique and his wife were out of town for the holidays when they got the call from Christie. Within a couple of hours though, Mrs. Enrique was at our door, and Buddy/Toby's excitement at seeing her confirmed we had the right people.

All's well that ends well, right? Except I missed the little ball fluff who curled up and slept next to my chest for the last three weeks.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Why Plans Are Much Better Than Resolutions

2013. A whole new year. People around the world are making resolutions. You know how it goes. I'm going to lose twenty pounds. I'll stop drinking. I'll write that novel I've always dreamed of.

How many of these people will make it past the first week, much less the first month, before they give up?

Twenty years ago, I stopped making resolutions. Over the next couple of weeks, friends and acquaintances' jaws dropped when I said, "Nope, no resolutions for me this year. I'm making plans instead."

In 1993, I hit a plateau in my computer career. The next logical step would be to get a master's degree in computer science or an MBA, but the more I looked into it, I realized I'd be bored out of my mind.

So instead of making a resolution to find a more challenging career, I made a plan. I decided a law degree would keep me intellectualy interested. I investigated full-time versus part-time programs. The University of Toledo offered an part-time evening program. I could try it out for a semester or two and decide if this is what I really wanted to do with my life.

I spent the rest of 1993 saving money for tuition and studying for the LSAT, the law school entrance exam. In December, I found out I passed the LSAT and sent my application to UT.

This change in mindset has served me very well over the last twenty years. I've done so many things on my bucket it blows even my mind.

Plans work. Figure out your goal and map out what it takes to get there.

Do I still make plans? Sure do! But with the rapid changes in the publishing industry, I make a six-month plan and a year-long plan.

Here's the six-month plan:
January - Finish and publish Alter Ego's second short story in Series #2. Finish and submit new zombie short story to Mitzi Szereto. Finish and publish Blood Sacrifice. Review and send e-copies of Bloodlines novels to Harris County Publisc Library.

February - Write and publish Alter Ego's fourth novella in Series #1.

March - Start writing Zombie Goddess.

April - Write and publish Alter Ego's third short story in Series #2. Work on Zombie Goddess.

May - If I can afford it, go to Dean Wesley Smith's POD class. If I can't, work on Zombie Goddess.

June - Finish and publish Zombie Goddess.

I'm still working on the yearly plan, but the bulk of it is formatting the Bloodlines series for print and write Alter Ego's first novel.

Like I said, plans work as long as they're realistic and you stick to your plan. It's real easy to say, "Screw the writing. I'd rather go to the beach."

It all comes down to you. How bad do you want your goal?