Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Stephen and George in Albuquerque

Stephen King and George R.R. Martin did a recent talk in Albuquerque, New Mexico. An interesting look on how each writer's thought processes work.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - X-Men: Apocalypse

I'm a die-hard X-Men fan. I have been since the '70's. This is another movie that isn't as bad as fanboys and critics make it out to be, but it's not as great as it could have been either.

And it's pretty bad when DH, who hasn't read any of my massive collection, calls out a play long before it happened.

* * *


* * *

1) It was WONDERFUL to see Storm and Psylocke cut loose with their powers. Especially after the way, Storm was neutered in the first three movies.

2) Once again, Evan Peters' Quicksilver steals the show, this time to Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams".

3) One last, not-so-secret, special team appearance (sort of) by Hugh Jackman before he hangs up his claws for good.

1) I was bored through most of the movie. To me, that's the worst sin any form of entertainment can make.

2) The lack of a character arc for Apocalypse himself. You don't hire an incredible actor like Oscar Isaacs, then give him nothing to work with.

3) Remember my comment above about DH? When Scott approaches Jean after getting his ruby quartz glasses for the first time, DH leans over and whispers to me, "Jean's going to go Red [sic] Phoenix on Apocalypse's ass." When a non-fan can call out a plot point nearly an hour before it happens, then how the hell is the movie team going to surprise the diehards?

So overall, X-Men: Apocalypse didn't suck, but it wasn't the greatest comic book/superhero movie ever either. It's bad when I look more forward to the next episode of the new TV-series Preacher.
I have to give X-Men 6 stars out of 10.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

Another Joan Jett classic that was used in several soundtracks.

Friday, June 24, 2016

What's Coming Down the Pike

It's been a busy June. Some writing is happening, but mainly it's a matter of editing books that are already done.

The proof copy of A Question of Balance is in the mail as we speak. Once I've looked it over, it will go on sale at various online retailers. If you prefer to give your business to a local bookstore, the bookstore can order a copy through Ingrams (they're one of the largest paper book distributors, if not the largest, in the U.S.).

Last night, I sent the files for Justice: The Beginning to my formatter. She's getting hammered by other customers right now, so it might be another week or two before that volume is available. However, my lovely cover artist/designer sent me this gorgeous cover for the anthology!

In the meantime, I'll start working on the edits for Zombie Goddess while I write Ravaged, which is Book 7 of Bloodlines. Though DH is advocating that I write A Modicum of Truth (Justice #2) first.

Decisions, decisions!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I Have the Coolest Readers!

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, cheers me up like getting a note from a reader. No awards, no acknowledgement from some industry giant, not even large numbers in my bank account matches. Whether it's over the multiple social media accounts I possess or a private e-mail, a message from a reader gives me warm fuzzies.

One message I received yesterday was from a fan of Alter Ego's, letting her know he spent his Apple lawsuit settlement money on her books.

(Which by the way, check your ebook accounts. The money would have been deposited as a credit in your account with the retailer, like Amazon. I didn't get any settlement money because I didn't any price-fixed Big 6 books between 2010 and 2012. LOL)

The other message was from a reader who had literally finished A Question of Balance in one day and is, as she put it, waiting patiently for A Modicum of Truth to come out.

That's probably what affected me the most. She'd been reading my blogs and knew the multitude of overlapping life rolls Murphy had been pitching at me for nearly three years.

And she was patiently waiting...

That's the kind of loyalty that hits a writer right in the feels.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Question of Balance Is Live!

It's my first new novel published in nearly three years, and I'm feeling pretty darn good right now.

The e-book version of A Question of Balance will be available only at Amazon for the next three months. I'm testing a couple of their services, like Kindle Unlimited. However, you can read a sample right here by clicking on the preview button below the picture.

The paperback version is coming soon!

From the pages of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress comes Justice Anthea and Brother Luc’s first full-length adventure…

The Reverend Mother’s machinations left Anthea as the chief justice in her home city of Orrin, a post she despises. Even worse, a messenger from Duke Marco interrupts her breakfast. Again. This time, the duke’s retainers found a body in a wine barrel at the duke’s estate. The body of a priestess from the Temple of Love.

In trying to solve the bizarre murder, Anthea and Luc stumble across a massive conspiracy to eliminate the Twelve Temples, the only thing standing between the human race and another demon invasion.

Will swords, magic, and wits be enough to stop the renegades?

Or is a little faith needed?

Novel, approximately 96,000 words or 320 printed pages

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

Nearly every rock fan in Ohio anticipated this move.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Amazon's Nifty New App

If you scroll down this page, on your right you'll find a larger picture of Blood Magick.  You click on the "Buy" button, or you can click "Preview" and read the first four chapters. (If you're on a mobile device, you'll have to view my blog in website mode.)

You don't need the separate Kindle app to read the preview. Amazon lets you read it through the preview app. It's a nifty, quick way to check out my books.

I'm hoping to get the preview apps set up for the rest of my books over the weekend for both my books and Alter Ego's books.

These little things are the reason Amazon is serving customers better. I wish Barnes & Noble and Apple would catch a clue-by-four.

ETA: And I totally forgot to give you the link to the Kindle Instant Book Previewer!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Know Your Audience!

Alter Ego has a large online presence through Facebook and Twitter. (Don't ask me why. She hasn't actively pursued the attention.) As a result, she belongs to a couple of private FB groups involving erotica and its subgenres.

A couple of weeks ago, a writer posted about their new religious thriller in one of these private groups. No sex. This is in a group that regularly discusses the pros and cons of buttplugs and vibrators. This is a place where we post steamy pictures and off color jokes. This is a group that discusses the worldwide legal implications of writing in our favorite genre.

This is not a place that discusses current politics, much less WWIII, the End Times and the Rapture.

I can name a dozen websites and FB groups where this book would be welcomed with open arms. I can also name a dozen where the writer shoots themselves in the foot. This was one of those times.

This is probably the most extreme example I've seen of misdirected marketing efforts.

Writers need to know their potential audience. What is the age? What is the primary gender? What are the audience's secondary interests that can be tied to the writer's book?

Let's stay with Alter Ego. Her audience is primarily female, ages in the twenties to the seventies. A majority of her audience, regardless of age and gender, have been in long-term relationships. By long-term, I mean twenty-plus years. These readers are looking to keep things fresh in their relationships, whether it be new things to try in bed or simply reading to each other.

How do I know all this? They tell AE these things.

However, AE already knew she was shooting for a primarily female audience with an interest in very hot romance. That's why she didn't market at hunting websites or weightlifting FB pages. While some folks at these sites might be interested in her books, the majority of people at these sites would not be. Those subjects are simply not naturals fits to erotic books.

So what am I really trying to say?

1) Don't spam places on the web.
2) Don't spam with books that have no relation to a particular place on the web.
3) If you're hard up for advertising money, check out places that are free and receptive to your pitch.
4) The hard sell doesn't work these days, especially if it's books and more especially if the writer is targeting the wrong audience.

That doesn't mean you can't experiment. But if you can get a Hell's Angels chapter to read a knitting-themed cozy mystery, I REALLY want to know how you did it!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hate Has Taken Over the World

I'm taking a break from the internet for the next couple of days after the events in Orlando on Saturday. No words can convey the horror and senselessness in the actions of one person, much less the vile and spite by others using the tragedy to further their hate-filled agendas.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

Watching Guardians of the Galaxy made my pull out some Joan Jett cassettes. It's amazing how often her music is used in movies.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Writing Isn't a Real Job

It finally happened to me. It's happened to a lot of other writers I know. It comes from well-meaning family members. And some not-so-well-meaning ones. It comes from strangers and from friends.

In my case, it came my sister-in-law Sandy. And this time, I have no problem naming names.

Her mother, my mother-in-law, fell at home last December. No broken bones, thank Goddess, but any time an elderly person falls, weird shit happens. As a result, MIL has been in an assisted living facility while she recovers.

We had a family meeting with the head nurse and the social worker to go over future care when MIL transferred from the rehab section to an apartment. DH insisted I come because I catch things he doesn't.

The head nurse reviewed MIL's upcoming doctors' appointments outside of their facility. Sandy looks at me and says, "You can handle those since you don't have a job."

I coolly replied, "No, I have a business to run."

Now, mind you, I was the one staying with HER MOTHER in the ER and the following week of hospitalization. And I did a lot of other stuff I won't get into here.

Frankly, I'm not sure what I'm more pissed about, Sandy's dismissal of my time being less important than hers (she's a fucking secretary, by the way) or the general attitude of everyone in the U.S. that anyone in the arts should be trampled on.

No one's resources are more or less important than yours. If you're going to demand something from somebody, don't start off by treating them like shit.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Status Update - June 2016

After I got over the Flu from Hell, May turned into an amazing and productive month! Here's the highlights:

- A short story called "Pig-Headed" will appear in Sword and Sorceress 31, which tentatively will be released in early November. This involves brand-new characters.

- The characters of my previous Sword and Sorceress stories now star in their first full-length novel, A Question of Balance. I'm planning on releasing it June 20th.

- Justice Anthea and Brother Luc's first stories are collected in a new volume, Justice: The Beginning. It also contains a brand new story about their first year together. Unless Murphy completely screws me, it should be out around June 30th.

- The first draft of Zombie Goddess is done! I hope to release it next month, depending on my Murphy-cursed life. I'll give everyone a specific date in July.

- For the rest of the summer, I'll hopefully get out the rest of the Bloodlines series with their new covers and in paperback format. If that goes well, the Seasons of Magick series will also get a facelift and a paperback version.

And then?

Well, I'll try to buckle down and finish writing the last three Bloodlines books. Next up will be Ravaged (it's currently sitting at 18,000 words).

Monday, June 6, 2016

Monday Movie Mania - Lucy

This is another movie I'd wanted to see in the theater, but it was released while I organizing the painting and flooring of the house in Houston. Or trying to. The contractor quit in the middle of the project because I knew more than he did about home improvements, and it didn't sit well with his ego.

This was the last of the unseen movies we caught during the HBO free weekend while dealing with the Flu from Hell.

Luc Beeson's writing is pretty eclectic, and Lucy was no exception. It's a weird mix of Asian martial arts flick and what Stanley Kubrick may have intended 2001: A Space Odyssey to be. It's not intended to give you an absolute resolution to the story, but to gets you to ask questions about the nature and intent of what we call life. It's a story you're either going to get, or it's going to drive you insane trying to understand it.

* * *


* * *

1) Scarlet Johansson excels at bringing a certain vulnerability and toughness to a character that make the next jump in evolution. She realizes what CH4, the mind-enhancing drug that was surgically implanted in her, is doing to her and takes full advantage.

2) Beeson uses the comparison of his/Scarlet's character to the Australopithecus afarensis discovery nicknamed "Lucy" to show the next stage of human evolution. In fact, he uses the comparison directly by having the two Lucys meet in a touching scene near the end.

3) Lucy states that she has lost all emotions because of CH4. That's not true. They've been altered to something else entirely. She needs Police Capt. Del Rio to keep her grounded long enough to share what she's learned. Johansson's performance as a human losing what we consider "normal emotions" is suitably creepy and sympathetic at the same time.

4) Amr Waked rocks as the confused, but faithful, sidekick Del Rio, through the second part of the movie.

1) The majority of the flick's science left something to be desired, but the miscues weren't distracting enough to lose interest in the story.

This was one of those rare movies I watched twice. It shows the possibilities inherent in simply being alive. It also asks if we limit ourselves and our opportunities by our own perceptions.

Overall, I give Lucy a 8 out of 10.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

"Cherry Bomb" by the Runaways was also on the Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1 album. It made me pull out my old Joan Jett cassettes. (Yes, I still have them.) Here's Joan and the Blackhearts version:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Data Guy Strikes Back and Other Important Info

I was going to talk about my projects this morning, but Data Guy released the Author Earnings Report for May 2016 yesterday.


If you want or have a career as a writer, you need to read this report. It shows the marked changes in the publishing industry.

Another important blog to read is Kris Rusch's current series on contracts. There's lots of scary (and career ruining) contracts these days, and indie writers aren't immune. She focuses on some problems with the now-defunct Booktrope.

To top off the recent spate of writers not getting paid, Barnes & Noble's NOOKPress managed to fully fuck up payments for the month of May. I've counted nearly 300 indie writers including myself who did not receive payment on May 31st. And these are just the folks who bitched. Goddess only knows how many others are in this boat.

Sadly, it took B&N over forty-eight hours to issue any kind of statement. I'll update this post if/when I receive my payment.

Needless to say, I've pulled all of my books from B&N after this fiasco. I'd previously pulled my books from Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, etc. in preparation for the new book covers and updated back matter. Now, I'm wondering if I should try Kindle Unlimited since I have a fresh slate. I'm already researching some other retailers like All Romance eBooks.

The whole incident really bums me out because the original Nook was a decent product. But no, the short-range thinking of Len Riggio, his board of directors, and B&N executives torpedoed their potential before they even got off the ground. And they wonder why Amazon is crushing them.

After all that, I promise more positive news next week!

UPDATE: My payment from B&N/NOOKPress arrived in my business bank account this morning. I received an answer to my e-mail I sent to them on Tuesday at noon today.

Unfortunately, this fix doesn't alleviate my deep concern over B&N/NOOKPress's professional behavior of late, or their lack thereof in this case. This isn't the first time they've had a problem paying authors who indie publish through them. Therefore, my e-books will remain unavailable through Barnes & Noble's website for the time being.

Which means I need to spend tomorrow updating a zillion links. URGH!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My Former Webmistress Has a Real Life

If you clicked on my main website last week, you were probably surprised by its disappearance.

My webmistress retired. She gave me plenty of warning that she was ready to hang up her keyboard when I paid her invoice last May, but in the midst of the 2015 family crap, I forgot.

Until my calendar dinged that I needed to pay her soon.


So my other blog will act as my temporary website until I can find a new webperson or I figure out how to use one of the many website design tools out there. I'll take a weekend after A Question of Balance is published and polish both blog sites.

Personally, I'd much rather get new books out. *smile*