I started this blog in 2009. Back then, every writer was expected to have a blog. I've tried a few different styles. None of them seemed quite me. So over time, I simply talked about stuff I liked or affected the writer community or irritated the hell out of me.
September of 2009. Nearly ten years ago. I've published twenty books under my own name since then. That's in addition to the 2,000 blog posts, and I-don't-remember-how-many short stories, and the stuff I published as Alter Ego.
So what should I do to celebrate? Anybody have any suggestions?
In a bowl, sprinkle Colonel Sanders' secret recipe seven herbs and spices over Lucky Charms you have stolen from a leprechaun. Pour a bottle of Coca-Cola (preferably the cane sugar formula from Mexico) over the mixture. Stir thoroughly and eat.
Have you vomited yet?
Unfortunately, there's newbie writers out there who would do exactly as I say because I'm a published writer. If you tell them the truth, they think your lying. But if you lie to them, they lap it up. So here are my answers from now on:
How do I write a book?
Hire someone on Fiverr for $100 to write it for you.
What if the middle part sucks?
Pay someone from Fiverr $1,000 to fix your shit.
How many times do I need to rewrite the book before I submit it to a publisher?
At least twenty times.
What if I can't come up with any ideas?
Pay someone on Fiverr $100 for five outlines.
How do I get readers' attention?
Pay me $100, and I'll tell you.
How do I market my books?
Pay me $10,000, and I'll do everything for you.
What if I don't want to do any of this shit? I just want my name on a book and see it on a shelf in Barnes and Noble.
Pay me $1,000,000, and I'll make it happen.
Let me know if you want to take me up on any of these offers. I could use the cash.
I live in a small Midwestern town. This is most definitely Trump country. Conservative. Christian. The KKK marches here occasionally. Several folks fly Confederate flags from their porches or their pickups.
June is LBGTIQA Pride Month. The local LGBTIQA community painted a rainbow flag on the asphalt at the intersection of Main Street and Main Cross Street. Rainbow flags graced the light poles along Main. Wilson's Sandwich Shop's huge front windows were painted in glorious colors.
I took this picture with my phone as we drove down Main Street on our way to my father-in-law's house to check the basement after three inches of rain. I never thought I'd see pride flags waving in front of this particular courthouse in a matter-of-fact way.
Of course, some people threw a fit. Some letters to the editor of local paper were vitriolic. Others were loving and compassionate.
I want to believe that people are inherently good. To paraphrase Doctor Who, always be kind, never cruel. It makes the world a much better place.
Two skinwalkers controlling Tandor had been bad enough, but then a demon army waltzed up to the city gates…
Anthea, Luc and their allies are trapped inside the border city of Tandor. They’ve all lost contact with the rest of Issura and their neighboring countries. And if the demons get by Tandor, the entire continent will become their dinner table. But the city is low on food and, more importantly, water.
Can Anthea and Luc find a solution? Or will they be forced to activate the final defense spells of Death to stop the demons, and kill everyone in Tandor and themselves in the process?
Magic and mayhem have never been this desperate. Or this fatal.
Being a regular human in the supernatural world is never easy, something Mai Osaka learned before she could walk. So when her boyfriend’s fairy ex strolls into the casino where Mai is head of security, she knows there’s more to the Seelie’s story than she’s telling. But can Mai figure out the real plan and who’s behind it before the fae pull the biggest heist in the history of Las Vegas?
Poor Darling Husband has been dealing with family freak-outs the last few days.
It started Friday. Genius Kid got a letter from the IRS stating he would not get his refund until he proved his identity. In the letter, the IRS demanded he need to come to their office and show his 2017 return.
I don't know why people spaz about the IRS. Keep your nose clean and don't take $2 billion in losses unless you have the receipts/paperwork to back it up. You'll be fine.
In GK's case, his return was flagged because 2018 was his first year to ever file, and Ohio had massive problems with fraud/stolen identities a few years ago. Both the feds and the state have been cracking down on anything remotely suspicious. In fact, DH and I had to jump through some hoops the first year after we moved back to Ohio.
After calling the IRS, GK found out he only needed to drive to the local office with his identity paperwork.
Also on Friday, I found my notes from A Modicum of Truth regarding the plot threads that needed to be resolved in A Matter of Death. Oops! So, it's meant a few days rearranging the chapters I've already written and adding some scenes. I'm more angry with myself than anything, so DH has been patting my on the back and saying that I'll get this sorted before the July release date.
Then yesterday, DH was sick. Sick enough to take a day off. And his dad called in a panic because his printer was out of ink.
Now, my father-in-law, bless his heart, is not technically inclined. DH has to download books onto FIL's Kindle for him. He'd never be able to swap out ink modules.
But DH tried to be responsible and told his dad he'd be over in a few days because he didn't want to give his dad whatever germs he was carrying. So FIL, not knowing how else to help, called several more times yesterday to check on his son even all DH needed was sleep. Which was pretty much what FIL did when DH had cancer, too.
So today, DH is feeling a bit better and went with GK to the IRS office over his lunch hour. And GK, who has been on our cases about sweets and weight, actually suggested they pick up some Cinnabons on the way home.
Because cinnamon rolls with vanilla frosting will make everyone feel a little better.
Another life roll happened, which means another delay. To give myself and my subcontractors plenty of time to get things done, I'm pushing the release of A Matter of Death back a month. Which means everything else will be pushed back as well.
Here's the revised release schedule for the remainder of 2019:
July 15 - A Matter of Death (Justice #3) novel
August 15 - Reality Bites (Bloodlines Shorts #3) novella
September 15 - Ghouls in the Grocery Store (Bloodlines Shorts #4) novella
October 30 - Resurrected (Bloodlines #9) novel
December 1 - A Very HERO Christmas (888-555-HERO #4) novella
I'll definitely announce here when preorders go up on the various retailer websites.
What about 2020?
I've made plans to attend a workshop in Las Vegas in February, which involves a lot of writing and reading starting in November. I'll continue to work on my own books in between assignments, so I'm not sure how the release schedule will work out yet.
To keep myself and my readers happy, I'll alternate putting out books-- a sword and sorcery, an urban fantasy, a superhero book, then repeat.
If anyone has questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!
This season's Game of Thrones has been a major topic of writers over the last week and a half. Jo sent me the link to the latest episode of the #FatmanBeyond podcast where Marc and Kevin talk about what works and what doesn't in a story, both in general and more specifically the eighth season of GOT and John Wick Chapter 3.
Here's the thing: Kevin Smith is, at heart, a storyteller. It doesn't matter whether you like his shit or not (though the twelve-year-old boy in me LOVES it!), he understands the dynamics that go into a satisfying experience. I always learn something when I listen to one of his college lectures or podcasts.
While both gentlemen here would say they are entertaining, there's far more than a grain of truth for writers in here.
Of course, I wouldn't recommend listening to this without earbuds because it's definitely not safe for work, small children, or your in-laws.
1) The expansion of the Wick universe. An Adjudicator from the High Table tries to punish everyone who "helped" John in the second movie.
2) John's first concern is Dog. It's nice to see John's four-legged companion is retained after what happened to Daisy in the first movie.
3) Holy crap! Halle Berry and her character's dogs more than made up for the evil that was done to Daisy. Moral of JW3 is don't fuck with her babies either!
4) Mark Dacascos as Zero. His turn as the oddly fanboy-ish assassin the Adjudicator personally assigns to deal with John was a delight. The man does not get enough credit.
5) The double-cross. Or was it a triple-cross? Inquiring minds can't wait for Chapter 4!
1) Aurelio and Cassian did not appear in this movie. I want them back!
2) Not enough Halle Berry.
3) The score didn't have the same impact for this movie that it did in the previous flicks.
Overall, I give John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum 9 stars out of 10. Why a lower score than Chapter 2? It feels like this story is a preparation for something bigger. John Wick Chapter 4 was greenlit on May 21st for a 2021 release.
The latest scam making the rounds is where a writer ghostwrites a book for an established author and the writer pays the established author for the privilege.
Yep, you read that correctly.
For example, my friend Angie is nudging me to write Book 4 of the 888-555-HERO series. If I told her she could write the book but it would be published by me under my name, and she would have to pay me $1000 to do it, would she do it?
Angie's smart enough to tell me to fuck myself, and rightfully so. She understands money flows toward the author. I understand that concept. Probably, most of you reading this understands that concept.
But amazingly, there's a ton of writers who think paying for the privilege to write under someone else's name is their ticket to riches and glory.
I've had a couple of people get snippy with me, saying I'm anti-ghostwriter. I'm not. Some folks are awesome at ghostwriting.
A gal I used to know in Houston has ghostwritten a few celebrity memoirs. I admire her skill at capturing different people's voices. And she was paid handsomely by the celebrity or the publisher for writing those memoirs. She did not pay the celebrity or the publisher for the privilege of doing all the research and text for those books.
Cthulu dammit! Not even James Patterson is that evil! He pays his ghostwriters, not the other way around.
If you are doing the writing, you should be getting paid. Here's a snippit from Dreams with Sharp Teeth:
I know it's hard to do every single character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe justice in a huge ensemble movie like this. And if it were just the fact my favorite characters didn't get what I considered adequate screen time, I wouldn't be so pissy.
The sheer numbers of awesome callbacks to both the comics and the previous movies almost make up for the things that drove me crazy.
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1) The A-Force shot was awesome! I want this movie, but I know Marvel Studios won't deliver it.
2) Gray Hulk!
3) Steve got to say both "Hail Hydra" and "Avengers, assemble!"
4) Tony's character comes full circle with "I am Iron Man."
5) Tim Hiddleston and Rene Russo had incredible moments.
6) Thor's joy at learning he was still worthy despite his chronic depression over Infinity War and the beginning of Endgame.
7) Steve's "America's ass, all right" comment to his younger self.
8) The passing of the shield.
9) The closure between Tony and his dad.
1) Why the fuck do we go through the five-minute explanation of the Many Worlds Interpretation of string theory if the writers/directors were going to ignore it anyway?
2) The huge, fucking plot holes/time holes caused by ignoring MWI.
a) If Current Nebula kills Past Nebula, it changes the timeline.
b) If Past Gamora still lives in the current timeline, how can Thanos sacrifice her to obtain the Soul Stone in the past?
c) If Thanos is killed in the present, how can he collect the Infinity Stones to start the whole ball o' wax rolling?
3) And don't even get me started on each teams' multitude of interferences in the past!
Overall, it was. . .okay. I give Avengers: Endgame 7 stars out of 10.
Hero De Novo (888-555-HERO #3) went live this morning on Amazon! If you pre-ordered this book, it should be on your Kindle now. Otherwise, it's available for purchase, or you can read it for free through Kindle Unlimited!
With Captain Justice presumed dead, Aisha faces raising her super baby as a single mother. A message from Asia gives her a glimmer of hope. But is it Rey, or a Corvus trap to take her son?
In the meantime, Patty’s baby daddy, the super assassin Black Death, comes out of the woodwork, filing for custody of Grace. Harri will do anything to keep her goddaughter out of Black Death’s clutches, but will she step across her personal legal and ethical lines to save Grace?
Can both attorneys win the day with their team split up and on different continents?
Call us at 888-555-HERO. The Law Offices of Winters & Franklin, where the only thing more dangerous than a superhero is his attorney.
Now that the first three books are done--yes, I consider Hero De Novo done because I uploaded the ebook files this afternoon--and I look to be on track for the rest of the year (*fingers crossed*), I'm starting to plan my schedule for 2020.
It's a bit of a scary thought, but only because I've had some trial or disaster fall on me every year from 2013 through 2018. I'm trying really hard not to be negative, but there's a bit of a pattern here.
I already know I want to do Justice #5 and #6. I'm throwing around a few ideas for 888-555-HERO #4. I've got a cover already for a stand alone fantasy that may or may not get turned into a trilogy. There's three more urban fantasy series plotted that were pushed to the wayside because of the flooded urban fantasy market. With Aphosis 99942 (an asteroid) on a close-Earth approach for 2029, it seems a good time to resurrect the series concerning the Egyptian gods. *grin*
Not to mention the ton of ideas for Alter Ego that I set aside when the erotic romance market was flooded by scammers.
That's already more than seven books under consideration for writing and publishing in 2020. That doesn't take into account the writing workshop, where I'll have to write at least a half-dozen short stories three months beforehand, I want to attend in February at Las Vegas.
I'm trying to keep my expectations level, and not get too ahead of myself, but it's awesome to look at so many new projects coming down the pike!
In trying to get all my minutiae finished for Hero De Novo, I find myself still awake at 4:30 a.m.
No, I haven't been to bed yet. No, it's not insomnia for once. This is my own stubbornness of sticking to a publishing schedule.
I need to learn how to stick to a schedule again if I want my business to work. Back in 2012 and 2013, I didn't have a problem. I HAD to schedule everything, or nothing got done. I was homeschooling, working a retail job, and writing.
When everything fell apart in 2013, I still managed to keep a schedule. I would have collapsed into a ball of despair otherwise.
But when 2015 rolled around, I was having to keep other people's schedules. That lasted until 2018, when I simply didn't have the mental space to schedule anything beyond the multitude of my own medical appointments.
So I found myself working on relearning something that used to be habitual. Hopefully, this old dog can relearn her old tricks.
Y'all know I don't often plug other people's books, but if you're a writer, you want to make writing a full-time career, and you've never owned a business before, Math = Money for Authors is something you should read.
This isn't one of those self-proclaimed gurus who teach because they can't fucking write. E A West really does write fiction for a living under the pseudonym Elizabeth Ann West. She's also a single mom with two kids and a dog, so her fingers on the keyboard is what feeds her family and keeps a roof over their heads.
Despite my law and business background, she taught me a different way of thinking about my income. One that will help me in the long run. She just might help you, too.
The weather fits my mood. It's been a rough couple of weeks dealing with readers.
I knew I was taking a huge chance by making Hero De Facto free and promoting it through a couple of sites I use as a reader, but never have as a publisher. You do get people to take a chance on you, but they may not be your peeps.
Normally, that's okay. The reader says, "Not for me," sets aside my book, and moves on with their life. Hell, I know I've done that with a few writers. Some of them are even my friends. *grin*
If it was just Hero De Facto, I wouldn't have said anything. I'm all too aware of how white nationalists are trying to politicize the comic book/superhero genre. I expected some backlash because I *GASP* have female protagonists!
But yesterday, Alter Ego put out a new short story. She hasn't released anything in the three years. It was one of those things I'd written over the last five years of insanity in my personal life, but didn't have the energy to publish until now. A friend who writes the same genres as Alter Ego let me do a takeover on her website today. Usually, those events are loads of fun.
But...you guessed it. A reader immediately started ranting about the retail site I was using for my giveaways. *sigh*
Has my mindset changed that fucking much with my cancer? I have bad days, but I wake up nearly every morning just grateful to still be here.
But the entitlement I'm seeing blows my mind. Everyone WANTS to be offended.
I don't have the energy to deal with it on a daily basis. So I'll gripe here for a moment, then move on.
Because Justice Anthea has a city full of people she needs to save from demons. And ironically, a demon battle makes me feel better. *grin*
With the low box office and bad reviews, I took DH to see Hellboy (2019) before it gets washed away in next week's tsunami of Avengers: Endgame. I want to say the critics were wrong about this movie. I really, REALLY do.
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1) Kudos to Ed Skrein for bowing out as Ben Daimio once he learned the character was of Asian decent.
2) I totally agree with Mila Jovovich that a better cast could not have been assembled. Nor do I blame the cast for the movie's missteps. They did the best they could with what they were given. Not to mention, I've seen the entire cast, except for Sasha Lane, in other things and I know these people can act!
1) The producers should never have put Ed Skrein in the position where he felt he had to quit. Read the fucking source material and quit white-washing, people!
2) The writing, directing, and editing were abysmal. The story made no sense unless you are a hardcore Hellboy fan, and you read the original comics. Even then, they crammed at least six different storylines together and made a complete hash of all of them
3) The lack of humor. It wasn't for lack of trying, especially on David Harbour's part.
4) I can't believe I'm about to write this, but there was too much gratuitous swearing and gore. When it is essential to the story, I can totally get behind it, like in Deadpool. This was a teen boy just saying "Fuck" to get a rise out of his dad. Or the five-minute scene of demons ripping apart humans. We got it with the first one, guys.
5) Relying too much on CGI in place of story. This is getting old fast. Don't get me wrong. CGI allows us to tell stories we can't with conventional SPFX, but the key words there are "tell stories". Flashy pictures mean very little in this medium when it's not telling a coherent tale.
Overall, I have to say dig out copies of the Guillermo del Toro/Ron Perlman run on Hellboy. They don't make you scream, "What the fuck!" at the screen. Hellboy (2019) barely earned 2 out of 10 stars. And one of those points is for a shirtless Daniel Dae Kim.
I've been a little out of it this week. Even DH noted it at dinner Tuesday night. My body might be here on Earth, but my mind's in a galaxy far, far away.
It's the same weirdness that afflicts both of us in November when the date of DH's cancer diagnosis approaches. A combination of reflection and fear permeates every waking hour, even if we're not consciously aware of it.
I would much rather blame the head fuzz on the work schedule I created for this year. The second book of a series launched, I'm editing the third book in the same series, and I'm writing the third book in another series. But I'm not busy enough to clear the cobwebs.
Heck, I wish I could blame my distraction on allergies. Buds have exploded on the local trees, the grass is a lovely shade of green, and daffodils are blooming.
So I just need to be patient. Next week, the mind fuzz will pass. Spring is in bloom, and the weather is warming. I'm alive and healthy and happy. That's what I need to focus on.
After all the hoopla of releasing Hero Ad Hoc on Amazon Monday, doing a large (for me) promo on Hero De Facto, and going in for my latest mammogram yesterday, my body said, "That's enough excitement."
And that's after we didn't get to see Shazam! The movie was supposed to be our date night treat after both DH and I have been on the Hamster Wheel of Doom with the craziness of our respective jobs so far this year. But nope, our theater (the only one in town) suffered a power surge that knocked out all the projectors last night. So we settled for a quiet dinner out and the season finale of The Rookie before we went to bed.
Where I proceeded to sleep for twelve hours straight.
The first plus was the mammogram results were negative for my remaining breast. The radiologist had me wait until he could look over the scans since I now have a history of breast cancer. Hell, my cancer-versary is Friday. But no waiting for a letter in the mail, so WHEW!
The second plus is readers are buying or borrowing copies of Hero Ad Hoc. Any promo is a gamble, and it can take a bit for readers to pick up other books in the series. It was a relief to wake up this morning afternoon and see the graphs rising.
The third plus is my alpha reader finished Hero De Novo and loved it. So I need to finish up the proofing and pass it on to my formatter.
Despite the fatigue, the last three days have been pretty darn good, and I'm damn happy!
Hero Ad Hoc (888-555-HERO #2) dropped this morning! If you're one of the folks who pre-ordered, a copy should be on your Kindle or Kindle app right now.
I'm so excited about this release because I'm alive, healthy, and sticking to my writing and publishing schedule. Considering a year ago, I was facing some serious and possibly life-ending news, I'm more excited about a release than normal.
Writing what you know has been a mantra for the nearly twenty-five years I've been writing. However, a speaker at a book event in Texas said something that's been stuck in my head for the last ten or so years, "Write what you can imagine."
To me, that means empathy for and through your characters no matter who or what they are.
But in our society's efforts to be equitable, to get more minority voices heard, there's a question of whether a writer can adequately write about "the other". Even more, should they?
These concepts have become a huge subject among the writers I know. For example, if I'm a white, middle-aged, straight woman, can I accurately write about a teenage African-American boy? Should I even attempt to write about a person who's not exactly like me?
So many authors are afraid to touch "the other" for fear of retaliation. That fear isn't exactly helping the overall problem of ignoring minorities.
The following is my opinion and mine alone:
I think we artists do ourselves and our readers a disservice not to explore other cultures and other peoples. Doing so was the epitome of my first love, science fiction. Writers in that field could explore social issues without to much fear of repercussions because hey, we're talking about aliens here, not real people. Right?
Sometimes though, writers create a blatantly obvious corollary. People forget how radical Gene Rodenberry was in the '60's. Women didn't serve in the U.S. military at the time. Men of color rarely rose in the ranks despite Truman ordering desegregation of troops. And, oh my god, a Russian serving alongside Americans?!
Star Trek inspired so many people of my generation, of all colors and genders, to enter the scientific fields. What would have happened if Gene and the ST:TOS writers room had only written about straight, white, middle-aged men? What if that were all they were allowed to write?
But how does a writer step into a new realm without committing cultural appropriation? I have mixed feelings about this. Cultures are not static. What we call American culture is a hodgepodge of things from all over the world. But on the other hand, I don't believe it's ethical to use something from another culture without acknowledging its source. For example, I wouldn't put a character of European or Asian decent in dredlocks. At least, not without a damn good reason.
But deep down, I do think representation matters. I want people other than me to identify with my characters regardless of the readers' or the characters' superficial characteristics. It isn't just important for my family and friends to see themselves in a story. It's important for people not like us to see we are just as human as they are. And for us to see them as human as well.
Maybe that's my goal in the end, not just delivering entertainment, but for my readers, to see the human race as a whole instead of its pieces.
**Like Monday's post, I'm leaving comments open, but if you decide to be a shitbird (a term I borrowed from author Joseph Bradshire), I will delete your comment. Remember--company manners, everyone.**
I love romance. I'm a romance writer under the Alter Ego pen name. And if any of you have read my fantasy genre books, you know I have romance subplots.
I left because of the regular dissing of erotic romance and indie publishing and e-books. I was told I would never have a career if I indie-published, or kept writing trash or...pick your poison. The anger from others and myself was affecting me physically. I didn't need to end up in the hospital. Ironically, I quit both my day job and RWA in 2012.
Over the last seven years, I've had friends, old and new, suggest that I come to a meeting again. "Things have changed," they said. "RWA had lots of workshops on indie publishing," they said. "RWA is more open now than ever," they said.
Then the Rita nominees were announced at the end of March.
For those who don't know, the Ritas are the major awards in the romance genre. For romance writers, nabbing a Rita is a big deal.
Except the membership noticed at glaringly bright white problem. Yep, all the nominees for 2019 are white, straight women. And for the whipped cream on that milk pie, all stories nominated involved contained heroines who are ...straight, white women. After all the bullshit with the Oscars, you'd think other entertainment-related organization would learn.
The original brouhaha allegedly happened on RWA's PAN (Published Authors Network) forum. Things got so bad it spilled into other writer forums and the publishing industry at large.
However, it isn't just writers and publishers who are the problem. How we deal with reader biases?
Anyone who's written a series, regardless of the genre, can tell you how the sales numbers go down for each volume. For example (and these are hypothetical numbers):
Book #1 sells 100 copies.
Book #2 sells 50 copies.
Book #3 sells 35 copies.
Book #4 sells 20 copies, and so on.
Alter Ego's first series contained four books. The heroine of the third book was African-American. (I'll get into writing the other in Wednesday's blog post.) I bought a photo of a lovely dark-skinned black woman I used as the cover of Book #3.
If I posted my sales spreadsheets for this series, you would see that sales for Book #3 went way behind the normal drop off after Book #2. In fact, Book #4 with a white heroine on the cover outsells Book #3 roughly 3 to 1.
Recently, I redid all the covers for this series because the male model I used in the original covers decided to be, using my friend Jo's favorite term, a shitbird on Facebook. It'll be interesting if the sales ratios start to shift for Book #3 now that I'm using generic high-heeled shoes for all the covers.
So what's the perfect answer? I don't know, but this is a conversation our society needs to have.
**I'm going to leave comments open as long as everyone uses their company manners. If you get personal or nasty, your comment will get File 13'd.**
Another crazy week at Casa Harden is coming to a close.
Poor GK returned from the testing facility not enlisted in the Army. He failed one stupid little balance test. One, that with his height, he'll never pass no matter how much he practices because his center of gravity is too high. GK returned home sorely disappointed.
However, his recruiter, not wanting to lose a valuable asset especially with record low volunteers, has started the paperwork for a waiver. He texted GK yesterday to confirm this. GK then proceeded to boogey through the apartment for the next two hours.
In the meantime, I've been focusing on Camp NaNo to keep from spazing about GK's future and my own upcoming medical tests. It's the first anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, so I'll be scanned and stabbed in an effort to make sure a few cells haven't created a new home somewhere else in my body. Of course, those all start the week Hero Ad Hoc drops.
Tomorrow, I'm making nachos for dinner and we'll watch the Final Four games. And we'll try to have a quiet family weekend at home.
For those who may not know, Camp NaNo is a slightly more sedate version of November's National Writing Month. You join cabins, which have a camper limit, instead of having national regions. And unlike November, which has the major American holiday of Thanksgiving, April may or may not have big holidays in it, though this year Passover/Easter is the third week of April.
On the other hand, most schools had Spring Break back in March, so those with kids will only have a couple of extra days of screaming rugrats, instead of a whole week plus in-laws.
I joined a cabin with some friends. All of us have books to finish or write, so the impetus and/or camaraderie can help push through whatever may be holding us back.
Writing is a solitary occupation, but sometimes it helps to associate with others in our occupation. As hard as our loved ones try, they don't understand the trials and triumphs of this quirky profession.
We finally made it to a movie after three months of our noses to the grindstone. This is the Marvel movie I've been looking forward to the most over the last ten years.
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1) Three of the people who carried the title of "Captain Marvel" in the comic books appeared in this film. I was particularly thrilled the CM #2 made an appearance! I'm hoping she's eventually be shown in the contemporary MCU timeline under one of her alternate monikers, especially since said moniker was her mom's callsign.
2) The change of a certain characters nickname from "Chewie" to "Goose" totally made sense with the change in Carol's age.
3) It was great seeing Coulson on the big screen again!
4) All the girl power digs!
1) Not enough Coulson.
2) The changes in Carol's backstory in the MCU means she never was Ms. Marvel, which also means the battle royale between Ms. Marvel and Rogue will never happen on the big screen, even though Marvel has the rights to the X-Men back. I'm a little sad about this.
Best of all, there's no more questions about whether audiences will watch movies about female superheroes.
Overall, Captain Marvel earned 10 stars out of 10. It's definitely on my must-buy list!
DH is incredibly hoarse tonight because he's been on the phone so much this week. I'm finalizing everything for Hero Ad Hoc's release next month and wrapping up Hero De Novo before the production phase begins.
But GK had the biggest week of all. He went to enlist in the army. Physical tests, medical exams, the ASVAB, etc. He wants to become a tank mechanic. So I taped the following picture to his bedroom door for when he gets home...
I got up this morning, and instead of writing, I got caught up on a lot of maintenance tasks since I plan a massive writing expedition to my favorite haunt tonight.
- Entered basic information on A Matter of Death for its two ISBNs.
- Added the new covers to Bowker for one of Alter Ego's series.
- Tracked down the internet pages for Alter Ego's books on Apple, and updated the links on the general info documents.
- Started entering Alter Ego's revised series into Google Play
- Took down Alter Ego's series from her account on Amazon in order to add to the publisher's account.
- Started entering Alter Ego's revised covers and updated book files to Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.
- Realized the ending for Hero De Novo needs to come from someone else's perspective, so I can tie up loose ends and still leave room for expansion in case sales warrant another book in the 888-555-HERO universe.
- Jotted down some notes for HDN's ending so I'd know where to pick up this evening.
- Toying with the idea of a crossover event between my various universes, a la Michael Moorcock's Universal Champion. It tickles me, but would the readers go for it?
Sometimes, I need the mundane redundancy of office task work in order for my Subconscious to come up with an alternant storyline for a wip.
Cleaning the bathroom when I'm stuck on a story can do in a pinch, but the business clerical work is what keeps my publishing company going, too.
I just woke up at 1 p.m. EDT, and the only reason I'm awake is because DH came in to get me up.
My sleep cycles were finally getting back into a "normal" pattern after Groundhog Day, then came the damn cold virus. I didn't worry about my sleep patterns because sleep and lots of fluids are what's needed in that situation.
But now, I reasonably healthy again. DH and I are back to walking every evening. And my sleep is still screwed up.
I haven't had to do a reset in five years, but it looks like it's time to consider it. What's a reset? I go to bed a little later each day until I'm back to going to bed at my normal time. I just have to make sure I have no daytime appointments over the couple of weeks I need to do it right.
I could do a hard reset over a weekend, but I'm getting too old to stay awake 36 hours straight. Often the stress leads to getting sick. That's unacceptable when I'm trying to finish my next two releases.
On the plus side, being self-employed makes a longer reset so much easier than when I was employed by a third party. I lost a bit vacation time by sleeping through it to rest my internal clock.
I swear to Cow this is the best backhanded compliment I receive on my books.
Look, I know I come up with some wacky ideas. Hence, the name of this blog. It's funny how surprised readers, especially if they are also writers, are that I can make my crazy concepts work.
On the other hand, I guess I'm disappointed by how many other writers think I can't write at all. By no means do I think I'm the most gifted writer to grace the planet, and I do try to improve on a daily basis. Over the last fifteen years, I just tried to stitch together something fun that would entertain me.
I do find backhanded compliments useful because, let's face it, they are meant to be an insult.
Which they are in the right hands.
But when you don't know how to use them, you sound like a jealous bee-yatch. So use your power wisely.
Because my laughter can deflect your attempted insult.
Too much social activity over the weekend left me in bed for the entire morning. Introversion or chronic illness doesn't begin to cover what socialization does to me these days.
If I described what I did this weekend to most people, they'd be like, "What are you talking about? That's a normal weekend for me."
Once upon a time, it would have been a normal weekend for me as well. On Friday, DH and I went for our walk (trying to get back in the rhythm after recovering from the cold we both contracted), bought groceries for our empty cupboards, and picked up some dinner.
Saturday was date night, the first one we've had since December. We went out for Mexican before attending the high school's production of "Mamma Mia!" (which was totally awesome).
Then on Sunday, one of DH's uncles on his dad's side organized a family reunion/birthday party for FIL who turns 87 today. FIL had seven siblings, so when the surviving sibs, all the kids, grandkids, etc. gather, it's huge event. It's not like DH's family are crazy party animals though. We had a low-key potluck and cake.
Not really a lot right? But I woke up this morning with such muscle pain that I rolled over and tried to sleep off the discomfort. Or I did until DH woke me a little after one p.m.
I hate having to blow a good chunk of my day. My fingers ache as I type this. And I need to wait a half-hour before I can take my next dose of naproxen.
Tonight, DH and his sibs, spouses, etc. are taking FIL out to dinner to his favorite restaurant for his birthday. Which means, I'll be pretty much physically useless tomorrow and possibly Wednesday.
This type of stuff makes me so thankful for my writing. It's something I can do while sitting on my recliner on the bad days. And I can still live through my characters.
This is probably the best release in my life. Eleven months ago, I got some pretty bad news, and with each medical test, the news got worse. At one point, I wasn't sure if I'd ever finish writing another book.
So I'm simply grateful to be here, writing and publishing again.
And guess what? Y'all won't be guessing, "When the hell is she going to put out the next book?"
I got the final print version of Hero De Facto back from my formatter yesterday. For once, the print version of a title will be available, if not at the exact same time as the e-book, within a couple of days, instead of several months.
It's the little things like this that make me happy. My business is solidifying into a regular tempo. I feel like for once I'm keeping up with what I should be doing. I WANT to get the edits on Hero De Novo done so I can get back to writing A Matter of Death.
Maybe it's the warmer weather and longer days improving my mood, but I'm going to enjoy this feeling of accomplishment while I can.
And we have the plague in spades here at Casa Harden. DH started showing signs Sunday night of the same crap I came down with a week ago. By Tuesday morning, GK was sniffling. This cold actually encouraged DH to call in sick for the first time in years. It's a little hard to talk on the phone when you can't breathe.
I'm feeling a bit better, but the household chores rest with me now that the guys are down. So I find myself doing things in small increments because I still exhaust easily at this stage.
Still plugging away on the new releases though rather slowly. Luckily, most of the work can be handled from a reclining position.
In the meantime, take care of yourselves. There's a strain of the flu making the rounds that isn't covered by your flu shot. You know it's bad when any Ohio school shuts down because so many students and teachers are out sick. Last thing I need is the damn flu on top of this cold!
I worked on the writing biz on Saturday, but Sunday, I had to get tax stuff done. It's a pain in the ass, but it's off to the accountant to plug things into his computer. I'm not holding my breath that we'll get a large refund, but it's one thing off my plate.
Next month, I know my headspace won't be there. April starts the annual round of checkups, but I'll be poked and prodded thoroughly thanks to the C-word.
But I'm getting my publishing groove back. That feels pretty damn good.
I was on a roll Wednesday morning. The second book in the 888-555-HERO series was delivered to my formatter. I sent the blurb and info to my cover artist so she could do the print cover on Thursday. I jumped into the edits for Book 3.
Except I started winding down during the afternoon. Which is totally unlike me. This is the point of the day where I'm usually the most productive. Then came the sinus headache.
Crap. It's too early in the season for spring allergies. Heck, we still have pockets of snow here and there.
DH and I tried to get our evening walk in. I hadn't even made it a full mile before the tickle started in the back of my throat, so we cut it short. By the time we picked up dinner (which we'd planned on because of some additional errands that evening), my nose gushed like Niagara Falls.
So he's slept on the couch to hopefully *fingers crossed* not pick up my germs.
In the meantime, I'm working, but it's at a crawl instead of the steady jog I was on. I should be glad that this is the first cold I've had in two years. And I will be.
Once my eyeballs decide whether or not they will explode.
My task for today and tomorrow is to go through the formatted e-book of Hero De Facto. Once I sign off on it, my formatter will deliver the files, and I'll upload them to the various retailers.
The nerves are already hitting hard and fast, despite this being my 35th book to launch. As a friend said, it's textbook Psych 101. I'm afraid of failure. I'm afraid of success. I'm afraid people will hate it. And it goes on ad nauseam.
Here's the thing, my publisher voice says none of it really matters. Here's your next deadline. Get this shit done!
My publisher has no time for my artist's existential crises because she knows it's all bullshit. It's one of the reasons I love her. *grin*
I stand by that statement. Both The Orville and Star Trek: Discovery are in the middle of their second season runs. Our family is still watching The Orville, and we've given up on Discovery.
Genius Kid had been on our case about watching last Thursday's episode, "Deflectors". He watched it while Darling Husband was visiting Papa and I was hiding at Panera to get a chunk of the current wip done. DH and I watched it last night, and GK was "What did you think? What did you think?" We had a rather lively discussion about love, prejudice, and justice.
But DH capped it off by saying, "This could have easily been a NextGen episode."
At that speaks volumes. About what Star Trek is to us older fans. The values we've tried to instill in our children and grandchildren. Our hopes for the future.
Don't get me wrong. I wanted Discovery to succeed, but I wanted it to succeed on its own terms, They have a wonderful cast led by the fabulous Sonequa Martin-Green. But they won't let that cast or the writers move into truly new territory. Instead, it's a rehash of plot points from ST:TOS.
The feelings we have aren't about the reprise of yet another version of Spock. Therein lies Paramount/CBS's problem. They think if they throw old favorites at us, we'll all subscribe to their streaming service and they will make lots of dough.
It's not just about the characters. We want good stories. Stories that make us think. Stories that challenge our preconceptions.
But most of all, we want stories that are essentially positive. Our characters may stumble along the way, but honestly, that's one of the things I love about Captain Mercer. He means well. He tries to do the right thing. He's not intentionally a butthead.
Lt. Cmdr. Burham mutinies in the very first episode. Out of what? Pride? She think she's better than the captain? Not even Martin-Green's charm and earnestness could bring me back. It makes me wonder what the showrunners are thinking. Or if they reflecting what are current culture is, instead of what it could be?
Maybe that's what some of us want out of our entertainment. To be shown the path forward. Because let's face it, we can never really go back in time.
Why, oh why, do guys think their junk is their best feature? The body part that must be immortalized by cell phone cameras and shared with the world?
Look, we've all done stupid things in our youth. I'm just thankful most of my stupidity happened before the advent of the smart phone. But Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon is my age, i.e. mid-fifties.
Instead of being a stupid kid, he hit that wall we lovingly call a mid-life crisis. That point where full-grown adults, faced with their own mortality, decide to act as stupidly as a lot of teens and twenty-somethings. Yep, he allegedly sent his girlfriend a dick pic.
Ok, Bezos was stupid. But why is there always a guy who feels the need to prove he's even more stupid than the first one?
DH and GK lovingly refer to this as the Malfoy Effect, after Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter books. The inciting incident in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is when Malfoy breaks a school rule in order to tattle on Harry, Ron, and Hermione for breaking a school rule. Malfoy is then shocked when Professor McGonagall punishes him as well as the other three.
Our Malfoy in this case is Mr. David Jay Pecker, CEO of American Media, Inc. (AMI) Yes, that IS his real name. AMI publishes the loved/hated gossip magazine The National Enquirer.
AMI already got in trouble with the U.S. Justice Department last year when it came to light that they had paid off several folks with dirt on the current president of the United States. Part of the plea deal was that company keeps their noses clean.
Well, allegedly, a representative of AMI got hold of Bezos's dick pic through his girlfriend's brother. (I wonder what that next family get-together will be like!) Instead of running an embarrassing cover story as is their wont, AMI allegedly decided to extort Bezos for political reasons.
And here's where Bezos pulled the Madonna Move.
You see, when Madonna was a starving artist on the streets of New York, she had posed for some nude photographs. A few years later, Like a Virgin was climbing the charts, and guess what popped out of the woodwork? The singer's reaction to the attempted extortion and embarrassment was "So what?"
The story quickly died, and a few years later, Madonna went on to publish her own book of nude pictures of herself entitled Sex.
So, back to the original topic, Bezos's junk. He did the smart thing by calling AMI's bluff and posting his response in an op-ed on a news site owned by a third party. He allegedly also turned the matter over to the FBI for investigation.
If the e-mails allegedly from an AMI executive are found to be fact, then not only did AMI violate the plea deal from last year, they're looking a extortion charges, which is a hell of a lot more serious than paying off porn stars and prostitutes.
Here's the thing, folks. Don't let your middle-age fears get the better of you. It doesn't matter how good that girlfriend/boyfriend half your age makes you feel. If you'd tell your kids not to do it, then you shouldn't be doing it either.
Because you never know what could happen to those pics after you send them to your significant other.
It's winter, and I no longer have a beagle to keep my feet warm while I write. So I looked up beagle videos on YouTube to cheer me up. If you've never had a beagle, here's a list of reasons not to get one.
Story length is one of those odd ducks that writers, editors, and publishers can argue about over several nights at a bar.
Here's my two cents: It doesn't fucking matter. The story needs to be as long as it takes to write the complete story. That means it can be six words or six hundred thousand words.
Thanks to trad publishing, it became an accepted myth that books need to be a certain length. As paper costs rose, trad publishers wanted longer books in order to validate higher prices.
The first two hundred-seventy-five-page mass market paperback I bought way back in 1973 was $0.95. That book today, if it were still in print, would cost me $7.99. Ironically, the writer's relative share of a trad paperback has gone shrunk over the last nearly fifty years. But that is a conversation for another time.
Today, story telling isn't limited by physical resources. A 100K-word e-book takes up 850 kilobytes. By comparison, the digital copy of Star Trek (2009) on my laptop is 1.24G.
The times when readers complain a story isn't long enough are when they feel you haven't told a complete story. It's not that it's really too short. It means either you've missed story beats along the way, you left out the emotional transition, or you left plot threads dangling.
Don't get me wrong. You can leave a thread or two for the next book in the series, but you can't leave too many without making the story feel incomplete.
As I've said before, you got to have a beginning, a middle , and an end. Samwise Gangee can't simply go from the Shire to Mount Doom because his best friend has a problem. The relationships he makes, the changes he goes through on the journey, and finding his inner strength are essential for his happiness at the end of The Lord of the Rings.
What? You thought Frodo was the hero? Nope. It's not just about the One Ring. Sam is the one who saves Frodo's soul. Without both victories, the story would be incomplete. In other words, Tolkien's readers would say that huge-ass epic was too short.
Readers feel the truth even if they can't put a name to it.
So make your story true regardless of how many words you use. The readers will love you for it.
...instead of nurturing their current customers? I googled the question because I see so many different industries do this, not just publishing.
It seems to come down to our cultural obsession with growth. Bigger is better! You must have the most followers on social media! You must have the largest mailing list! You must have the most widget sales!
And I see my fellow indies making the same damn mistakes that the big corporations are making. Throwing all kinds of money at attracting new customers, i.e. readers, instead of serving the customers/readers they've already cultivated.
Seriously, what's the point of trying to sell your book to folks that aren't interested? And spending gobs of moola on advertising when you're getting a piss-poor return on your investment (ROI)?
Even better, why aren't you delivering new product to the people you've already attracted?
Any time I've asked that of most indie acquaintances who are bemoaning how much they spend on ads, they look at me like I've grown a second head. Then they tell me they are afraid to stop advertising because when they do, their rank on Amazon falls.
That's their fear talking. They want to stay afloat when maybe they should be deep-diving for more treasure.
You know what reader acquaintances tell me? Some get pissed off when a writer they love stops putting out books in the middle of a series. Others tell me they won't touch a series until the writer completes it.
So what do you do about this catch-22 situation?
Here's my two cents: write a trilogy with a solid ending on the third story but a possibility to keep going. Don't release them until all three books are completed.
Think I'm joking? The first four books of the Bloodlines series were written before I decided to go indie, and I put them out in pretty rapid succession between May of 2011 and April of 2012. I was having a ton of sales at the time.
Then everything went to hell in a hand basket in my personal life. My writing suffered. And I lost a good number of readers because Blood Sacrifice didn't come out until October of 2013.
Nurture the readers that already love you! Let them tell their friend how great your books are. The best way to grow your readership is organically.
Nor am I saying don't advertise at all, but don't do it willy-nilly either. Have a plan.
For example, I'm sticking the 888-555-HERO series in Kindle Select at first, which means it will be exclusive to Amazon. I plan to set Hero De Facto to free when Hero De Novo comes out, and then advertise on a couple of places that specialize in the fantasy genre.
On the other hand, don't be a afraid to pivot. I put out a teaser on FB last year, just a post with the cover of Hero De Facto with the series tagline, "The only thing more dangerous than a superhero is his attorney."
An attorney friend shared the post, and I got 600+ hits from OTHER ATTORNEYS! Not my usual fantasy readers.
So be prepared to adjust your advertising if needed. Be ready to pivot if your assumptions aren't working. Be willing to try outside-of-the-box techniques.
But most of all, be writing that next book.
P.S. I'll report back here later this summer about which plans of mine worked and which didn't. Just remember there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution in the publishing industry!
One of my major projects for 2019 was moving all of my books under the same publishing umbrella. As in, the company would own the publishing accounts for the various retailers rather than have them under my personal e-mail addresses.
Why? Why the hell do all that work when I'm so behind in my writing?
Because my cancer diagnosis clashed with the common sense former probate attorney. The one who told her clients to be prepared before the worst can happen.
Now that GK is legally an adult, he could, in theory, take over the publishing aspect. In fact, we've had a couple of talks already about passive income and copyright.
GK: So let's say you live to eighty-four like Nana. The extra seventy years on a copyright doesn't kick in until then.
GK: I'd be over a hundred before it was done!
GK (with a gleam in his eye): How many books do you think you'll have published by the time you die?
Yeah, he's already doing the income calculations in his head. LOL
The point is I want to make the transition for DH and GK as seamless as possible should I die sooner rather than later. They know where my account list and passwords are. I just want to make it easier for them, and for me.
I'd planned on starting the process of consolidation during the fall dead time in publishing, but a badly behaving model forced me to start the process now.
That's not necessarily a bad time. I just need to pay close attention to my writing production and juggle the tasks as efficiently as I can.
Two weeks ago, I talked about reselling paper books. I'd meant to talk about e-books on the following Friday, but I lost track of everything as I tried to finalize the files for Hero De Facto so I could send them to my formatter.
So back to our original topic...
In general, you can't resell e-books like you can a paper book. Your e-book is essential software. If you read the Terms and Conditions of your retailer, you'd find out what you're actually buying is a license to use the software.
The issue of selling electronic files has been partially dealt with through litigation in the music industry and computer applications. However, that case law has yet to be applied to e-books. After seeing what happened with the music industry, many retailers and publishers slap on DRM (digital rights management software) to keep readers from making illegal copies.
What about your software backups then? Technically, you may not be allowed to do that on some e-books. After being in the IT industry myself, I'm a HUGE believer in backups, which is why I don't put DRM on my files. I also request that retailers don't use DRM on the e-books I publish.
DRM punishes legitimate buyers of e-books by not allowing them to make software backups. Nor does DRM actually prevent piracy. Guys, I've been out of IT for over twenty years, and I can crack most DRM'd files. For the record, I wouldn't on principle, but most pirates don't have any sense of ethics. DRM isn't going to stop them.
So what does this have to do with libraries?
With e-books, libraries can buy a book that will never fall apart. They won't have to spend their minimal funds having to replace a book some idiot patron defaced. Or stole.
The same holds true whether you borrow a paper book or an e-book. However, I'm discovering more and more indies who are as short-sighted as trad publishers. They think they are being cheated for a library buying their e-book and then, in theory, allowing the e-book to be borrowed forever. The trad pubs put a timer on their e-books so the library can only loan a particular e-book X times before the library has to pay a new licensing fee.
Except the library won't be able to do to loan an indie e-book forever.
Why? Because our tech is changing so damn fast. People forget the Kindle and the iPhone were both introduced in 2007, only twelve years ago. My iPhone 4 is considered obsolete even though it's only five years old. Libraries will have to pay for new licensing when formats change.
Then there the issue that folks using the library may not have the money to buy an e-book. I used our county library like crazy when I was a poor student and an even poorer college graduate. Guys, I couldn't afford a freakin' TV! I depended on the library for my entertainment.
On the other hand, I still used the library when I did have disposable income. The library allowed me to try out several different series and authors. Then I'd buy the ones I wanted to re-read multiple times.
At a time when so many of my fellow writers bemoan the lack of discoverability, they ignore one of the easiest solutions--their local libraries. And the thing I really don't understand are the same writers who will GIVE AWAY thousands of e-books through Amazon are the same ones bitching about libraries not paying them for every copy borrowed.
If anyone can explain it to me, I'd like to hear it.
Sorry for the radio silence over the past two weeks!
I've been racing to finish proofreading Hero De Facto before sending it to my formatter. The final version clocked in at roughly 105K. People are either going to love it or hate it.
I've also been trying to finish the first draft of Hero De Novo. The words are flowing, But I don't think it'll be wrapped up by Thursday like I had hoped.
My real problem for not having things I'd planned done by the end of January is kind of weird. I'm sleeping way too much. Like 11-12 hours a night. The issue has gradually become worse over the last five months. So I made a point of mentioning the issue during my quarterly checkups this month.
Of course, the first thought of the medical personal was I have clinical depression. But I've been there before. None of the other symptoms have happened. My work and personal life are chugging along like they should. Hell, I only wrote 1500 fewer words than last year at this time, but that's thanks to losing a couple of hours a day to the oversleeping.
When the docs were convinced it wasn't depression, that's when a bunch more appointments and tests were added to my calendar. Including a trip to the sleep clinic and a fun contraption I had to wear to bed.
You see, I'm still considered a cancer patient, and I will be for another four years. So a weird symptom shows up, every one jumps into action to make sure a few of those cancer cells haven't set up shop somewhere else.
But I'm not as far behind as I feared I could be when the extra appointments were added.
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