Friday, April 28, 2017

Status Report - April 2017

I'm finally past the SAD that's been plaguing me through the winter. Sun, open windows, and shorts temperatures have definitely helped in the productivity department.

I also took a page from Dean Wesley Smith's book, and I splurged on an 11-inch super lightweight  laptop. I've disabled the browser, the e-mail, and the wi-fi. The change has made a difference in my productivity. In the two weeks since Bali Blue arrived and I set her up, I've written 22K words.

So what's happened since my last release in December?

1) The first draft of Ravaged is done. I'm not going to start edits until the first draft of Sacrificed is done.

2) Sacrificed is approximately 73% done. I was hoping to have it done by the end of April, but it'll be done soon.

3) Resurrected is approximately 30% done.

4) I'm also working on some short stories that will come out between the end of the Bloodlines series and the next Justice novel.

5) Paperbacks for the Bloodlines series should all be out by the end of June.

6) New covers for the Seasons of Magick series are done. The files need to be reviewed before forwarding them to my formatter. Then a bundled edition will be released.

7) Once the first six actions items are done, I'll get back to work on A Modicum of Truth.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm Not the Only One Who Has Given Up On Marvel

After my rambling diatribe on Monday, who should appear in my inbox today but ComicGirl19 bitching about the same goddess-damned issues. Have a listen:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tripping Over Promo Tricks (Like Marvel Comics)

I've talked about how indie writer like to flog their small handful of books, or their only book, with every trick they can come up with. I've talked about how the writing, THE STORY, needs to come first. I talked about how an indie writer can't sell their single title to the same person over and over.

Recently, Marvel Comics' VP of Sales, David Gabriel made some statements in an interview during the Marvel Retailers Summit:

What we heard was that people didn't want any more diversity. They didn't want female characters out there. That's what we heard, whether we believe that or not.  I don't know that that's really true, but that's what we saw in sales.
We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.

Gabriel has since walked back those comments.

And of course, the internet went nuts. Both PC and Anti-PC proponents shot vicious comments back and forth. Personally, I sat back and laughed.

You see, I've been watching Marvel (and DC too, for that matter) making the same mistakes as a lot of indie writers, many of whom have quit the business over the years, and trad publishing have made.

So basically, Marvel has given us what-not-to-do guidelines:

1) Over-pricing product

Trad publishing has been doing this for years, especially by pricing e-books way higher than print books. Marvel upped Spider-man from $3.99 to $9.99. How the hell do they expect little kids to buy comic books when they are priced that high?

2) Giving the reader fewer pages

Indies are especially guilty of this faux pas, but the comic book companies are catching up. Most readers considered a novel to be a couple of hundred pages, but whatever the actual word-count or page-count they do expect a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. When you slice a story in the middle and expect the reader to pay twice as much for half the story, the readers are going to be pissed.

On the other hand, comic books are expected to be a serial format. However, those episodes are getting shorter (40 years ago the standard number of pages was 24, now it's 10) while the price is going up. That leads back to my first point about readers feeling ripped off.

3) Sales Gimmicks

Hey, I'll be the first to admit gimmicks, like perma-free and 99-cent deals, can goose short term sales, but they're not a long-term substitution for decent writing. The comics industry tanked in the '90's thanks to the proliferation of multiple covers for the same issue and reboots out the wazoo to justify the multiple covers. Those crazy die-cut-, gold-embossed covers by whoever was the hottest artist at the moment.

And gimmicks are still used to the detriment of all on both the indie writer and comic book sides. For indies, the latest thing is buying, selling and trading e-mail lists.

NOTE: If you have signed up for my mailing list, or are planning to, my list stays PRIVATE. I WILL NOT buy, sell, or trade your information.

Why do I keep my mailing list private? Because (1) I already know buying the names of people who don't want to hear from me doesn't work, and (2) when other companies do that to me, it makes me pissed as hell.

For the comic books, the latest gimmick is short-term MAJOR changes to characters. I'm not a big Captain America fangirl, but making him a Hydra agent when fascism is on the rise in the world makes my stomach clench.

But to blame low sales on "no one wants diversity" when it's because of shitty storylines and stupid gimmicks?  No. Just no.

And for the record, I was a collector of X-men comics for thirty years, but I stopped ten years ago because of #3. Even when books were under $3, I couldn't afford all the spin-offs and crossovers to get the complete story. Not with a little kid.

And all of this brings us to...

4) Losing the Base Fans

I hate to point this out, but the Golden Age fans are dead or dying. Even those of us who grew up with the Silver Age heroes and stories are becoming grandparents. Where's the new fan base going to come from?

The movies? Really? When the studios are rehashing the same stories from the '30's and '60's over and over again? Even Genius Kid made a smart remark about how times are the movie producers going to make us watch the Waynes and Uncle Ben die on screen.

In the end, it's not diversity, lack of diversity, or whatever other hot-button issue of the day raises its head. We as writers need to be aware of our responsibility to our readers. Don't take advantage of them and deliver the best stories we can. That's all they really ask of us.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Thank You, Nissan Midnight Edition Commercial...

...for finding me the perfect song for my Tiffany Stephens playlist.

(I'm now in love with Gin Wigmore and will be buying all her music.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Frustration Beyond Ken

And as Penny on The Big Bang Theory would say, "Your Ken can kiss my Barbie."

One week ago today, my new laptop arrived.  Three years ago when I needed a new one, Dell had stopped making the 11-inch sizes which was what my 2006 Isabella was. She was also the lightest weight laptop on the market back in the '00's.

So I sucked it up and bought a 15-inch laptop in 2014 after Isabella's screen died for a second time. Then manufacturers realized some of us need something small and light, but with more power than a tablet. Lo and behold! The 11-inch laptops are back!

And I could buy one for less than the new battery I needed for the 15-inch!

So I did though there was a massive debate between a blue one and a purple one. Blue won because it was thirty dollars less for the exact same specs. And it arrived on the 12th. I got everything set up and used my gorgeous new baby over the weekend.

"So what's the problem?" I can hear you asking.

Well, I had to finish our local tax return on Monday. (Yeah, I shouldn't have put it off until the last minute, but our town's return is relatively simple compared to the federal return.) Then yesterday, I had to run a bunch of errands, which culminated with a tetnus shot because I nagged my husband after he cut himself on a saw in his dad's garage, he couldn't remember his last update, and his step-grandfather had died of tetnus because the idiot (step-grandpa, not DH) refused to get treatment until it was too late.

So in an act of spiteful revenge, DH made an appointment for my tetnus booster as well. (Hey, at least I KNEW my last booster was in 2000!)

"What does this have to do with the new laptop?" you ask.

Today, Genius Kid and the rest of the junior class at our high school took the ACT because Ohio can't get their shit together when it comes to standardized tests. I had to pick up GK at 11:30 a.m., then I had the whole rest of the afternoon to myself to write.

So I put my new baby in her matching sleeve, grabbed an extra set of earbuds and my Stormtrooper flashdrive, and drove to the local Panera. I bought my Asiago cheese bagel, cream cheese, and large ice tea. I snagged my favorite booth. I popped open my new baby and booted her up.

And Word decided the copy on Baby Blue was not an authorized copy.


If you're going to be an asshole and make some smartass comment on my blog about how Microsoft sucks, just stop right now. I will not only delete your comment, I will make a voodoo doll in your image and curse you for being a small, nasty person. Because I am in that sort of mood right now. Especially since I've been jamming on Sacrificed.

So I spent three hours trying to figure out what was wrong with my new computer. I think I have it fixed. Maybe. It's pretending to work. We'll find out for sure the next time I go to Panera's.

Because I have a free soufflé coming, and I really love their bacon spinach ones.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Oh, United!

The Sons of Maxwell created this after a disastrous engagement in Nebraska. Now, the notorious airline has moved to breaking people...

Friday, April 14, 2017

What Is Literature?



(1) writings in prose or verse

(2) written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit

Origin - late Middle English (in the sense ‘knowledge of books’): via French from Latin litteratura, from littera (see letter).

For some reason, the difference between literature considered worthwhile and literature not considered worthwhile has been making the social media rounds over the last couple of days.

First, the magazine Bon Appétit made the mistake of posting this tweet on Twitter:

Nothing like insulting all us romance writers and readers who cook. And really, Bon Appétit? Slut shaming? After how many millions of people read Fifty Shades of Gray openly and publicly with the ORIGINAL COVER!

Bon Appétit has since changed the post:

Say it with yet again, ladies and gentlemen: THE INTERNET IS FOREVER!

Hybrid writer Bob Mayer then blogged about an NYT opinion piece that debated whether elitism or populism is more harmful to the arts. After reading the piece, I have to agree with Bob. The initial premise is like asking which smells worse: dog farts or cat farts.

And yesterday morning, Kris Rusch talked about the same issue in her weekly business blog. Ms. Rusch compared the indie revolution with the post-WWII increase in paperback publishers. The question she proposed: was there such a thing as a "good" book or a "bad" book?

To answer Ms. Rusch's  question: no, I don't think there's any such thing as a "good" or "bad" book. Oh, sure, there may be a difference between technically good or bad writing.

For example, look at how Yoda talks in the Star Wars. Standard English generally follows the subject-verb-object rule. Yet, Yoda's speech pattern generally uses object-subject-verb order.

Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.

Now if everyone in Star Wars spoke like Yoda, the writer can be properly castigated for abusing the English language, i.e. bad writing. However, Yoda's speech pattern emphasizes his alien-ness. This isn't a guy who thinks like the rest of us, so it's actually an example of good writing. The writer breaks the rules on purpose to create a specific effect in the consumer.

But when someone breaks down stories, or in this case books, into "good" and "bad" categories, it comes from their desire for power and control.

The actually reasons for desiring this control vary. The Bon Appétit issue stems from "good" girls cook for their men, whereas "bad" girls read smutty books, i.e. the desire to control female sexuality.

Trad publishers have lost a great deal of control in the industry. They are losing a ton of money for three reasons:

1) some writers who were trad published no longer submit manuscripts to them and are making money by going indie,
2) some writers have never submitted to them, and
3) some writers submitting to them haven't reached the technical proficiency need yet.

As a result, trad publishers claim that indie books aren't quality because they haven't been properly vetted.

Since the same corporations that own the big trad publishers also own the newspapers and magazines that do a lot of reviewing, things like the opinion piece in the NYT get published in order to shame readers into reading the "good" books, i.e. the same books our co-workers are publishing.

And then there's the moral police, screaming "Think of the children!"

My feeling is if you really want kids to read, give them something that interests them. I learned to read thanks to Dr. Seuss and Stan Lee. How many of moral police would be screaming about what a bad example the Cat in the Hat would be?

However, I would counter that Spider-man's "With great power comes great responsibility" would trump any bad cat influence I suffered.

Deep down though, the people who want to control what you read really want to control how you think.

Don't let them!

(And I'd be the first one to tell you to read Fifty Shades of Gray as many times as you want. )

Monday, April 10, 2017


No, not me.

But I have been hearing it from a lot of indies lately. So much so I've been avoiding quite a few of the usual social media sites I frequent. It's a bit sad people give up when they don't hit the lottery.

Or even worse they write books they hate. Or game the system only to piss off their readers.

So if I'm not blogging as much over the next couple of months, it's because I'm avoiding the Debbie Downers out there.

I finished the first draft of Ravaged last Monday, so I'm enjoying that high and charging ahead on the first draft of Sacrificed. I refuse to let other people's negativity get me down right now. The only question right now is how fast can I get this bitch done!

P.S. If you're one of the assholes who thinks writing fast is shit writing, you need to go away. NOW! Because the last three books of the Bloodlines series have been done in my head for nearly ten years. It's just a question of getting them down on paper.

Or in my case, a computer screen.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Monday Movie Mania - The Martian

Another movie we recorded during last month's free HBO weekend because we missed it during its general theater release, The Martian gives me a secret thrill. The screenplay is based on the novel of the same name by indie author Andy Weir, who published it in 2011.

As usual since the movie has been out for over a year, I'm not giving a SPOILERS warning.

There must be a universal rule that if you stick Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain in a hard science fiction movie, I will love it.

The Martian follows the plight of stranded astronaut/botanist Mark Watney, who is accidentally left behind during the Ares III manned Mars mission.

Man versus Nature movies rarely work when there's only one character. Humans have an aversion to watching silence, much less one endless monologue. And it takes one hell of an actor to keep someone's attention for any length of time in that silence. (Will Smith in I Am Legend is a prime example.)

Drew Goddard's screenplay and Ridley Scott's direction find ways to alleviate the quiet. The movie is edited to flip between Watley's efforts and initial loneliness, the guilt of the crew of the Ares III over Watley's apparent death, and the stunned realization of NASA that he's alive before their frantic efforts to put together a rescue mission.

There's a lot of similarities between The Martian and Apollo 13. Frankly, I don't see how the filmmakers could do otherwise. We're still talking about the same federal government agency. In fact, a friend commented that they tried to turn Jeff Daniels's NASA director, Theodore Sanders, into the so-called antagonist and it didn't work. To me, Sanders was what the director of any government agency always is and has to be, a politician looking at how to spin a disaster into something good. Or at least, not get your ass fired.

I want to show The Martian to every kid in the world to show that knowledge and ingenuity can carry you a long ways, but in the end, we humans caring about each other is how we all survive at the end of the day.

Saturday, April 1, 2017